Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Every so often, if you’re lucky, you find a book – in this case, I stole a copy of this proof off Tarryn Talbot’s desk. It was ear-marked for some more deserving and prominent media person – or at least was going to be. I am rather glad I committed a petty crime with book – I didn’t realise that this little gem was buried beneath the surface.

We meet Suzy Swanson, a rather lovable narrator who doesn’t actually speak. So begins the novel at the point where Suzy cannot come to the terms that "sometimes, things just happen", after her ex-best-friend drowns. Even when she was a good swimmer; or that she wasn’t that nice to Suzy for a while. It’s an incredibly heart-breaking novel, to say the least.

So to try and grapple with such grief, Suzy convinces herself that Franny was stung by a deathly-venomous jelly-fish. So she researches her way around various breeds of jelly-fish, slowly convincing herself that she is right about how Franny died.

As Benjamin weaves a vast amount of information throughout this tiny-looking novel, you learn alongside Suzy that perhaps life isn’t just how it used to be. A protagonist so real and grotesquely hurt she captures the readers heart with one page. It’s easy to see ourselves in Suzy, in the journey it takes her to unpack her grief, her life, and the moment of learning that bad things can just happen.
I don’t want to give you a long-winded review on plot, and on narrative, nor do I want to unpack the woeful battle of grief and adolescence. I do want to tell you that you will have to pick this book up, sooner or later, you will cry, and you will be pulled in (by the collar) and forced to watch this gorgeous girl – Suzy Q – learn about jelly-fish, and make new friends.

For lovers of John Green, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald and E. Lockhart – This is one for the books, get your hands on it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Kelly meets Chris Riddell

Taken from Chris Riddell's website

I am sure you have guessed what this post is about? Well, if not, I am still going to loudly tell you that I got to meet and interview my favourite illustrator/author/person in the entire book world (besides the great Dahl or Suess). Yes. Yes. I got to meet Mr Chris Riddell. It didn't simply just happen, so before I carry on, I have to thank Tarryn Talbot.

Yes, this is a portrait of Tarryn.

I also want to thank Tamarin from I Want a Dodo, who so wonderfully (as she always does) arrived to help hold a camera, get my books signed when I had to rush off, and is just all round awesome. She even went so far as to capture pictures from his doodle book.

While I had big plans to make a video of my interview, and frame Mr Riddell's artwork, it didn't really end up like that. Which is why I owe most of the post to these two lovely ladies (and Mr Riddell of course!).

During his author tour, Chris Riddell, charmed and captivated audiences around the country with his vivid and gorgeous illustrations. Rightly named the Children's Laureate for 2015-2017 (you can follow his Laureate Log on Instagram) I got the profound opportunity to interview him in front of a growing crowd of children at Love Books. If you haven't managed to get your hands on a Riddell book, I suggest you do. You can find a list of his books here.

It's not a blog post without a signed book (or books), in my opinion. 

I even got my very own Riddell original!!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Gillian Flynn's Dark Places Official Trailer

Perhaps you cannot call me a fan of Gillian Flynn, if I only loved her from her third book - which, incidentally, was the first book I had read of hers. I waved Gone Girl around like the hero soldier of the book world. It was what we had been waiting for - something dark, disturbing and incredibly violent. 

I went trudging through her backlist, but it was Tamarin at I Want a Dodo (her review of the novel can be found here), who finally convinced me to get through this one. And look, a movie - again - starring Charlize Theron.

About the Book

Taken off Goodreads

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars. Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben's innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother's? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back? She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day... especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find. Who did massacre the Day family?

Cannot wait to see what it is like?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

It is no secret that I am a fan of Marisa de los Santos. I was handed her first novel Love Walked In and the title gave it all away, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My review of Falling Together can be found here.

“He smiled the kind of smile that is the reason for wars and poetry.”

The Precious One is a beautiful evocation of the chosen daughter in the Cleary Family. Taisy and Marcus, twins, have been cast aside by Wilson Cleary – a brilliant man, an inventor, a scientist – but Willow, who is his love child from an affair with artist Caro.

When Wilson invites Taisy and Marcus for an extended stay, Marcus says no immediately, but Taisy goes because it’s Taisy, and she is a sucker for all things Wilson Cleary.

So begins this family saga of old meets new, and new has to move over. Marisa de los Santos truly knows the family dynamic, its bristle points and where to let up the drama. Compared to her previous novels, this one is by the darker of the four.

As young Willow is sent to public school for the first time because Wilson has taken ill, she is forced to navigate life in territories he hasn’t prepared her for in her widely educated home schooling. A teacher takes a liking to Willow and lines begin to blur. Luka who befriends Willow, adds a definitive point in what Willow is going to learn about love.

When Taisy arrives at the house, she also arrives back to a town she left ages ago. Ben, the boy Taisy gave her heart to, is also back. So begins the facing the past, the deciding of the future and secrets in between them all.

A beautifully crafted novel with the deft hand of previous novels, de los Santos moves around family, love and hidden skeletons so easily. In parts, I found them melodramatic, and contrived, but then again I hadn’t picked up a book of cynical love triangles and brutally honest characters. I picked up a book that would whittle away at the bad and end up good – the modern day fairy tale, the ‘They All Lived Happily Ever After’ book.

I can happily tick this off the to-be read pile (you can watch the video here).

Monday, June 15, 2015

Alex van Tonder answers questions

It is with great excitement, and I mean excitement, that THE Alex van Tonder took the time in (no pun intended) to create a video response to some questions for the blog. 

Alex van Tonder is a copywriter, blogger (My Branded Life and Cape Town Girl), advertising guru and was named one of South Africa's most influential women on twitter. Her debut fiction novel is now available on Amazon and at your nearest bookshop. Check out more on This One Time.

Sit back, sip on your tea/coffee/hot beverage/wine (it's a public holiday - what the heck) and enjoy.

You can find Alex on twitterfacebookinstagram and on her website.

Thank you to Alex for doing this video interview for me!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Joburg's Literary Fest - Kingsmead Book Fair 2015

Now in its fourth year, Kingsmead Book Fair has fast become Joburg's Literary Festival. This is where authors, publishers, booksellers, and book lovers can be found rubbing shoulders, wine glasses in their hands and piles of signed books being passed around.

It all started in 2011 when a group of Kingsmead College, based in Rosebank, hosted a small book fair for the surrounding community. This event only hosted SA's top eight authors. It was the incredible support and response that grew this tiny community book fair to one of the Book Trade's biggest events next to Franschhoek Literary Festival.

This year was my first year, having heard all the things about wine and books being shared all at once with some of the world's biggest authors, I had to make an appearance. (Not to mention that Lood du Plessis was chairing a panel).

Kingsmead hosted mounds of food stalls, book stalls and let's not mention the likes of Toby Shapshak, Khaya Dlanga, Alex van Tonder, Sarah Waters, John Boyne, Chris Bradford, and Olivier Truc, and that is actually only naming a mere few authors that stamped their way through the book fair.

I managed to squeeze in two talks, one on the art of translation (Gained in Translation: Chaired by Lood du Plessis. Authors: Karin Brynard, Carol Campbell, Jaco van Schalkwyk & Olivier Truc); and a digital one (Digital Overload: Chaired by Ben Williams. Authors: Emma Sadleir & Tamsyn de Beer, techno guru Toby Shapshak and Alex van Tonder).

You have to get to next year's one, no doubt it'll be bigger, better and boasting tons more literary gems. So keep looking for updates on their website.

We even took a selfie

Monday, May 18, 2015

Vlog #2: My To-Be Read Pile

To kick off Monday, I spent the weekend doing a vlog (rather than bashing away at my research project). 

This month's blog is my To-Be Read Pile. It's a mixture of Young Adult, Fiction, and a Local Non-Fiction book. I really hope you enjoy it. 

If you happened to miss the last vlog you can check out the Book Rut Un-Rutters here.

Don't forget to subscribe, follow, tweet, tag or email me any suggestions. 

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