Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Follow (2) - Book Blog Hop

Not only does Friday signify the oncoming of the weekend, a book buying, reading, devouring-words frenzy spread over 3 days, but also Friday Follow.  Tarryn & I relish in Fridays for both reasons.  We are satisfied with long baths, large glasses of wine and what seems like an endless 3 days of reading; but there is something that gets us all glowing and clapping our hands in ungracious delight as we skip about, flipping and flapping our hair and hands in excitement – You guessed it!  Blog Hop Friday!!!
If you have, or would have a daughter, what book would you want your daughter to read?
Kelly:  Matilda by Roald Dahl.  This book was one of the first that I sat huddled over in our local library every Saturday morning.  I relished in the sense of fantasy and the utterly grotesque descriptions that Roald Dahl is famous for.  It was this book that harvested my love for reading, taught me that reading makes you smarter (Who would have THUNK!) with each word, broadens your horizons and anything that keeps you captivated is everything.
Tarryn:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  This novel is a book considered ahead of its time. In spite of the dark, brooding elements, it has a strong sense of right and wrong, of morality at its core.  This book highlighted so many things for me as a girl: morality, independence, gender relations, love and passion (not necessarily the same thing), forgiveness and the importance of family. Why would you not want your daughter to read this?

Book Blogger Hop
What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?
Tarryn: My Bookish Dream would be a library in my home.
Kelly:  My Bookish Dream is to one day own a bookstore with dark mahogany shelves, spilling over with books.  There would be four enormous couches and huge, delicious, gooey cupcakes would be sold off the one side of the bookstore.  BLISS!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating...

Tarryn’s Pick

Birth by Peter Harris
ISBN: 9781415201022
Publisher: Random House (Pty) Ltd South Africa
Publication Date: 1 November 2010

I have just finished The Fear by Peter Godwin and I suddenly cannot get enough of political biographies to do with the African continent. On another note, I have met Peter Harris-been fortunate to be deserted by a shuttle with him-and I have heard him in discussion with other supporting justice-seekers and he is a very fair, honest and intelligent man that does not take himself too seriously.

In the early 1990s South Africa was repetitively rocked by violent incidents that often threatened to derail the delicate peace process and negotiations for a new state. Among these was a right-wing conspiracy to ruin the 1994 election by staging a coup d'etat from the northwest of the country, aided by mutinous elements in the SA Defence Force. Harris relates grippingly how some of the biggest bombs in the country's history were exploded in the then Transvaal, and, with moving sympathy, the desperate plight of the right-wingers in their pitiful invasion of the then homeland of Bobhuthatswana.

But the biggest drama was perhaps the attempt to break into the electronic counting system of the election, for whose supervision Harris was responsible. Harris has one at the edge of one's seat as he tells of the drama behind the scenes, eleventh-hour meetings with Mandela and de Klerk, the plans to make the results flow again, and of how closely the country steered away from disaster and ended giving itself a miracle result.

Kelly’s Pick

Cooked Out of the Frying Pan by Justin Bonello
ISBN: 9780143026372
Publisher: Penguin Books (SA) (Pty) Ltd
Publication Date: 1 November 2010

I have to be the BIGGEST Justin Bonello fan (Ok so are 5000 other people) but after meeting him in the flesh I could just pack him up in my bag and carry him around with me – what a great person to sit down and chat to (Well in his case humble and shy and me mumbling like a 14 year-old intimidated teen meeting Edward Cullen). After religiously watching his TV program (Cooked in Africa) I am dying to see what he comes up with in this new cookbook...

Justin visits 13 professional kitchens - all beacons on the South African culinary landscape - and gets to cook with some of the most celebrated chefs in the country. In spite of a baptism of flour, after three seasons of Cooked in Africa he's up for the challenge and finds these culinarians warm and willing to share their secrets. Along the way he manages to lift the lid on a smorgasbord of tips and take aways that surround fine dining. Follow the adventures of this self-confessed bush cook as he makes this giant leap and smarts up to the value of salsa verde and a good mirepoix. He'll guide you through the intricacies of deboning a pig and quartering a rabbit and let you in on how the experts prepare dishes like potato gnocchi and dim sum dumplings.

All information from Exclusive Books’ Website (

Three Stations by Martin Cruz Smith

Martin Cruz Smith does it again with his new Arkady Renko novel called Three Stations.

The story begins on a Moscow-bound train, with Maya and her 3-week-old daughter Katya, where “snoring, sex, body odour and domestic quarrels were shared by all”. Later, Maya wakes from a drugged sleep in Yaroslavl Station to discover her possessions and her baby missing.

While trying to rescue Sergeant Victor Orlov from a drunken state, Renko, a Moscow Prosecutor, gets call about a dead girl found without a mark on her at a train station.
A distraught Maya, still in search of her baby, is running from the police (who think that Maya sold the child) when she runs into Zhenya, Renko’s surrogate son. Zhenya is a chess hustler on the streets and has made himself at home in the casino of Peter the Great Casino. Maya & Zhenya are on the run from the cops, muggers, killers and gangs in search of 3 month-old, Katya. 
The local authorities feel Renko should drop the case of the dead girl putting it to a drug overdose – only piquing Renko’s curiosity and deepening his quest to find out the truth.
The reader is pulled into the underbelly of Russian aristocracy, drug dealers, prostitution, and gambling.  Renko, Maya and Zhenya all go on a journey in finding the killer and the missing baby and soon all three find out that the hunter now becomes the hunted.
This novel keeps you hooked and intrigued with great character sketches and fast paced writing.
To know how it ends you need to read it...

- Review by Rene Burgers

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Conversations with Myself by Nelson Mandela Early Morning Launch - 12 October 2010

‘These archives contain traces of my life and those who have lived it with me. It is a treasure house, one that is full of surprises, crossing paths, dead ends, painful reminders and unanswered questions’ – Nelson Mandela
Invitation to the Early Morning Launch

Tarryn: I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw that I (Well, Kelly and I and most probably the rest of South Africa) had been invited to an event that Nelson Mandela-in his own way-had played a part in.  I know that most of us (before this book) thought “not another Nelson Mandela book”.  But that’s just it: this isn’t “another Nelson Mandela book”. It’s personal from his own words.  Also, what I find very appealing in any book, are the little notes, letters and diary entries that spring out at you when you turn the page.  This book is full of it, including little annotations he made on calendars throughout the years and letters to his daughters (that never reached them). 

Counter Display

Counter Display

Anyway, back to the launch.  So there Kelly and I stood, bright-eyed and eager to purchase our copies.  Early-morning opening was no joke. Waking up at sparrow-fart meant I was looking as forward to the free latte as I was the purchase of the book.  Once the doors opened, it was a bit like a 50%-off couture sale.  One woman did a little jig, threw her arms into the air and grabbed a book, running to the counter: all done in less than a minute. This really got the mood going for the rest of the morning, in the traditional Zulu-dance spirit (even if it was just in our heads).  Plenty of media meant that I got interviewed by one of the more popular news stations (nervous much?).
After we bought our books, and posed like regular celebs for media, we grabbed our coffees, huddled around the tables with other CWM (Conversations with Myself – As Kelly and myself, now owners of this book, so loosely refer to it) customers and swopped notes on what-we think-will be our favourite parts of the book, guarding our individual purchases like hounds.
Laura Hammond, Nina Gabriels & Tarryn Talbot - Showing off their purchases

It was a great way to start the day; book and coffee in hand. In fact, I’m considering making it a daily ritual.  It’s simply convincing my regular book hang-out to open early that may be a bit of a problem.
Get it. You’ll love it. Your Family will love it. Your coffee table will love it. Your family tree 100 years down will love it.
Nicola Almond, Justine Lloyd-Jones, Graham Isaacs & Belinda Weyer - Pan Macmillan & Macmillan Staff

Kelly: Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to attend the early morning release of this highly anticipated book?  It was that, that attracted Tarryn and I to this exciting occasion.  Decked in our best (because the Invite said “Don’t forget your Camera’s” and as you well know Tarryn and I jump at the chance of a new photo op) we battled through the traffic ridden streets of Johannesburg to be there to pick up our very own copy of this iconic book – because it’s a book we just had to have on our bookshelves for years to come.

Window Display - Exclusive Books Hyde Park

Free coffee with every copy bought, what could be better.  Media arrived in their droves snapping pictures and interviewing enthusiastic consumers baying to get their hands on this book.  So naturally Tarryn and I snapped away and here are the pics.  I really hope you all can get your book – loving hands on this book it truly is something to own, read and to live by.
Conversations with Myself and a FREE Coffee

Kelly & Tarryn
It's a Book Thing Team

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating...

Tarryn's Pick: Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy
Published: March 2011

"Maeve Binchy is back with a tale of joy, heartbreak and hope in a close-knit Dublin community.

When Noel learns that his former flame is terminally ill and pregnant with a child she claims is his, he agrees to take care of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a recovering alcoholic whose demons are barely under control, he can’t do it alone. Luckily, he has an amazing network of family and friends who are ready to help: love-starved Lisa, who becomes his round-the-clock partner in little Frankie’s care; his American cousin and pep-talker Emily; and the many eager babysitters from the neighborhood, including old friends like Signora and Aidan, Dr. Declan and his parents.

The unconventional arrangement works out beautifully—until a nosy social worker becomes convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home. Now it’s up to everyone in town to persuade her that each of them has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie."

Kelly's Pick: The Peech Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
Published: March 2011

There are no details on this title as yet, but rest assured if her previous titles are anything to go by I know it is going to be worth the long wait...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Frankfurt Book Fair: A personal journey through the eyes of a South African publisher

Macmillan Stand at Frankfurt Bookfair
Heading to Frankfurt was the culmination of many weeks of preparation in terms of setting up meetings with various literary agents and other publishers, mostly with the goal of generating overseas rights interest in our local publications. I had 31 meetings lined up for the three days I was at the Fair and I was ready for the challenge!
Macmillan UK Stand at Frankfurt Book Fair
Fortunately, I had heeded the advice of various people who had been to Frankfurt before in terms of packing comfortable shoes because the scale of the Fair was both daunting and inspiring. To give you an idea, the ENTIRE Cape Town Book Fair could fit into half of ONE of the halls at Frankfurt – and there were eleven halls, some of which had more than one storey!

Cape Town Book Fair Floor Plan

Frankfurt Book Fair Floor Plan
Initially it made me feel completely overwhelmed by how small our publishing scene is on the global scale – we are a really tiny piece of the global publishing puzzle. But fortunately, as I went from one meeting to the next and spoke about our books to people and saw the interest that some of the titles generated, my faith was restored in terms of the quality and variety of the titles that we are producing.
Rights Centre

Key results that came out of the trip to Frankfurt for me include the following:

-         The chance to meet and talk to many of the publishers and directors of the various companies in the broader Holtzbrinck group at the Trade Publishers’ meeting the day before the Book Fair started. It was great to be able to showcase some of our South African titles and to hear what the other companies have had success with and are looking forward to in 2011.  
-         For our local titles that we own world rights to we now have literary sub-agents selling rights to some of these titles in France; Italy; Holland; Germany; the UK; Australia; and the US interested in seeing some of our books. This increases our chances of selling rights to our local titles, which would be fantastic for our authors as well as for our brand and profile.
-         Being exposed to such a variety of publishers and titles from around the globe. Even when my feet were aching I kept walking – and collecting catalogues along the way.

Beautiful Stand
All in all it was a fantastic and eye-opening experience. 
View from my Hotel

For all you Wally Fans!

Andrea Nattrass
Pan Macmillan South Africa

The Cupid Effect by Dorothy Koomson

I was first introduced to Dorothy Koomson in the heart breaking Goodnight Beautiful-a novel that sent me from reading it like any other drama-chicklit to becoming engrossed and tearful by each page.  I am an avid Marian Keyes fan and was struck that my fellow Marian fans had suggested this book as a quick-fix until her next one.  I am now a huge fan of Dorothy Koomson and-granted this isn’t her newest novel-I still felt I needed to review it as it was her debut novel published in 2003.
Ceri D'Altroy has given up her life working for a top magazine in London to move to Liverpool to lecture Psychology at a university there: all this because of Oprah.  Cheri has a gift or curse (you can decide for yourself). People are drawn to her to express and rant about their lives.  Within days of Ceri’s ‘new life’ she has outed the secret relationship of two of her colleagues, managed to convince her flatmate to confront the girl of his dreams (who is clearly out of his league) and her boss has a secret that she wants to tell Ceri.  Being a modern day Cupid leaves Ceri out in the dust when it comes to her own love life and so she finds herself mixed up in love triangles, secrets and she may even have a stalker?
A real beach book... though it is no Jane Austen, it is a cosy funny read ready to be bought.

 - Review by Kelly Ansara

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Blog Hop Friday


A Blog Hop, has nothing to do with a new type of dance move, is a great way for book bloggers and blog readers to hop from one blog to the next; inspiration – Twitter!
This is where the underworld of book blogging comes to life, we all hop from one blog to the next finding new and exciting reviews, interviews, giveaways and maybe (in our case hopefully) more followers.  A book geek’s wonderland by combining social networking and books?
Each blog adds their name to a “Linky List” on a host blogger’s page (our hosts are Crazy for Books and Parajunkie) and off they go surfing the book-blogosphere with the other added blogs.  Hop host posts a question related to books and blogging about books that each follower should answer either in a blog or comment.  Once the blog is posted followers and Webbers reign free of internet constraints and comment away with their answers to the questions – creating a Book Lovers Frenzy!  What is better?

Here goes!
Parajunkie’s Question:
What is your reading suggestion this week?
Tarryn:  My reading suggestion for this week has to be-Undoubtedly-Conversations with Myself by Nelson Mandela. Finally, we are able to learn about the man and not just the leader.  An iconic book written in his own words from journals, post-its and calendars during his political years; said to be the new Long Walk to Freedom­: but better!
Kelly:  My reading suggestion for this week is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.  A classic tale that some have compared to Jane Eyre – a Masterpiece!  Get a copy now!

Crazy for Books’ Question:
"When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?"
Tarryn: I feel that there are too many books to get through in a lifetime.  Why waste part of the journey on something you don’t enjoy?
Kelly: Life is too short for books you cannot enjoy – If you need to read it, read it.  But there is probably a better novel waiting to be devoured.


So, as an official kick off, we are setting ourselves a reading list (above and beyond the incoming reviews!) that we pledge to ultimately evaluate honestly, objectively and descriptively. However; we are sly little foxes and won’t spill the beans of each novella or great read, we promise to give you everything you need to pick up the book and read it yourself because you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it read... 

Oh look at us, getting all philosophical on you bloggers! 

Tarryn & Kelly’s Reading List:
1.       Distant Hours by Kate Morton
2.       Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
3.       Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger
4.       Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
5.       Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
6.       World without End by Ken Follett
7.       Not without my Sister by Christina Jones
8.       Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
9.       Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
10.   The Blue-Eyed Boy by Joanne Harris
11.   The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
12.   Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
13.   Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larson
14.   The Fear by Peter Godwin
15.   Mathew Shardlake series by C.J Sansom
16.   Conversations with Myself by Nelson Mandela

So now the promise is sealed and our goals set!  Time to get our blog on...

Kelly & Tarryn
Book Geek Extraordinaires

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


It is Official! Tarryn and I are bloggers in the world wide web of the blogosphere...

We sit here bug-eyed and bushy tailed ready to give everything and read anything to post, picture and comment.  Four reviews under our belt (Thank you Marvellous Reviewers) and the adrenaline is pumping.
So begins sleepless nights of page-turning horrors, fantasies, crimes, historical dramas and maybe a bodice ripper or two – if we can manage it – not to mention all good things that make up the wonderland of bookshelves.  The world of books is an open Wonder Emporium of classics and paperbacks and the occasional hardcover and we want to spread it over this blog like jam on toast. 

We started this blog with the intention of expanding our bookshelves and to try branch ourselves out into various reading groups, tomes and new authors and, yes, this includes the genre of the Teen Gothic Romance phenomenon.  This is the place where Tarryn and I urge you to challenge us with new and exciting reads, up and coming trends, author videos, interviews and maybe a few photo ops.
So from myself and Tarryn WELCOME readers – stick around; open your minds with tantalising reviews that serves as hot chocolate for the literate and maybe a few crazy nuts in-between.
Welcome to It’s a Book Thing...
Kelly & Tarryn
Book Geek Extraordinaires
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