Wednesday, August 27, 2014

EB Cafe - An Erudite's Wonderland

What I say is, a town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it's got a bookstore it knows it's not fooling a soul.” ― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

I can't imagine my life, let alone life itself, without a book or the comfort of out-facing spines peeking out from a shelf. This is the life and soul of what we book lovers are, live for, and what keeps us alive as readers, seekers and thinkers.

Books have always crawled into my life. I can, almost always, pin a book to a place, a time, a heartbreak, or even a person. Books are who we are - who I am. I truly never understood my love and passion for books until I was given an opportunity to shelve, pack and serve books to like minded (sometimes not very like minded) book lovers like myself. I all of a sudden had opinions, thoughts and favourites when it came to books. They made me fiercer, hungrier, and sharper with everything.

I find myself heading straight to a bookstore, any bookstore, if it holds tomes of choice, I head there - my personal compass. Books introduced me to my friends, my job and this blog - the Madonna.

The book trade has seen tough times, digital swooping in as the favourite sibling while Amazon plays bully to pestal mortor stores in the playground leaving no book and publisher without a piece of the pie uneaten. In swoops a fairy godmother and saves us all from our almost permanent woebegone expressions, and suffering in the trade. 

Exclusive Books Rosebank launched to a full house of invite only guests with applause, and a gasp-point-oh-look-at-that expression. A store that spent many months under construction, no air con, no shelves, and no semi-decent books poking out from their shelves - they are repaying this struggle with temultuous rapture. A book lovers ecstacy is this store displaying french atrisan stationery, poofy bean-bags (that aren't just for the kids), wooden ladders, and all wafting with exciting chatter of customers dying to buy something. 

This can usually be seen as an average store opening, but this is where Exclusive Books is showing it's rejunviation in the trade, after being taken over by consortium headed by CEO Benjamin Trisk, former MD of Exclusive Books. This store has shaken off the franchise of Seattle or Vida Cafe, but has now formed it's own coffee shop: EB Cafe, elbowed onto the already elegant Rosebank store. EB Cafe, a new chapter in coupling books and coffee. Offering locally based and roasted Legado Coffee in all ways possible (even variations of Chemex pour overs), a Burundi: Buhorwa, El Salvador: La Divina and an 'exclusive' Signature Blend, and surely when you havent had enough the Cafe also hosts a variety of homemade goodies; my personal favourite: the carrot cake with an amarula icing.

It surely sounds like a dream come true, but this store is something to be proud of, what a bookseller would envy, a bookstore chain to mimic and a lover of books (and coffee) something to enjoy. 

Get down to Exclusive Books Rosebank, grab a coffee, settle in a bean bag, and find the book that will capture you more than the shelves pouring before you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: The Three by Sarah Lotz

I am glad I missed the hype on this title. With the likes of The Guardian’s Alison Flood saying

It's reminiscent of Stephen King's Carrie and The Three comes preloaded with praise from the master of horror himself. It deserves it: this high-concept thriller is a blast; you’d be glad to. 

I find myself constantly disappointed with titles that are overly hyped, as if they are the favourite grandchild that never amounts to anything. 

You have never experienced local fiction if you don’t know Sarah Lotz, the bun fight for The Three commenced ringing bells and boxing matches, when home-grown capetonian Sarah Lotz took the big guns and was picked up by huge publisher Hodder & Stoughton. Oh, we beamed with pride – yup, especially us Lotz fans. She’s done the work, and by George this woman is talented.

So now you understand the hoohah this title made, the type that makes you delirious because you want it NOW! I waited patiently to delve deep into this story. And I was certainly paid for my efforts.

The format also proves interesting, set out as a non-fiction book compiled with interviews, emails, dictations, etc, as a journalists expose on Black Thursday, which branded the day of four airplane crashes that left only three survivors, all children. 

It’s creepy, detailed and thrilling. Yes, I am being cliché, but Lotz really knows how to string a reader along with various accounts, voices and methods that left no gap to wonder what was going to happen next. I was happily reading, slowly, instinctively and really enjoying it, until Lotz whipped out the big guns of creeps and took this story to the next level.

It truly is a great read, however, the ending left something to be desired, and perhaps that was intentional. Lotz leads her reader on a journey through a dark forest and then abandons them there as they finish her novel; as if she ended the story too early, that the thrilling 400 plus pages before it were a preface. 

You really do need to read this one...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Confessions of a Book Whore: “Library is a Dirty Word...”

Wife and mother of 3, Melissa Delport is the author of The Legacy Trilogy and the stand-alone self-published e.books Rainfall and The Traveler. Her first novel, The Legacy, self-published in 2013, is the first in The Legacy Trilogy, and is followed by the sequel The Legion. The main-stream publisher, Tracey McDonald Publishers, is re-releasing The Legacy and The Legion  in July 2014. Book 3 of the trilogy, The Legend, is due out in 2015. Melissa has also written an independent novel entitled Rainfall, a psychological romance, and a science-fiction, action-adventure called The Traveler.

Find Melissa on Twitter, Facebook, and blogging up a storm on her website

Being a voracious reader, I simply cannot get enough of books. Literally...cannot-get-enough. You would think then, that a library crammed with books of all sizes, sorts and shapes would fulfil my every fantasy - be the Mecca to my pilgrim - but sadly this is not the case. In fact, just the opposite is true. I avoid going into the library at all costs. Not least because the sheer sensory overload of such an abundance of books might cause me to faint, right there on the old carpet tiles, but mostly because (lowers voice to a whisper) I do not like to share.

Now that it’s out, burning a hole through the book-whore confessional, I feel the need to explain myself. Books are my indulgence, my escape from the world, my home away from home. And I’ve always fancied myself more of a “home-owner” than a “tenant” kind of girl. I am territorial and possessive over my fictional friends and I shudder at the thought that so many others have laid claim to the library’s offerings. Filthy fingers touching the pages, eyes devouring the sanctity of the script...these books have been violated...tainted even. “Communal contamination” I call it. A vulgar prostitution of the things I hold most dear.

I cannot bear it. Instead, my Mecca is the book store. The hushed, hallowed aisles of reverent shelves filled with brand spanking new books that have known no touch before mine. Where the pages emit the spine-tingling creak that can only be heard when a book is opened for the very first time. The heady smell of all that new paper and the whispers of fellow book whores, wandering the aisles in search of their next meaningful relationship.

Of course, this obsession comes with a price. In order to keep up with my bookish whim, a credit card (or two) must be sacrificed. Perhaps my wardrobe is a little barer than most and regular trips to the hairdresser must be forsaken. I’m prepared to go ‘Ombre’ naturally, one week at a time, if it means new books. My children, too, have been caught up in my web of self-gratification. They own more books than they can count, and they cannot even read yet.

And then there are those who want to “borrow” my books (shudders involuntarily). Borrow my books? As in, take them away and put your filthy paws all over them? Erm...I don’t think so. You can borrow my husband instead, or better yet, go to the library – they’re all about sharing over there.


The Legacy is available at most bookshops in South Africa, or you can order it online: – HERE | – HERE | - HERE 

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