Friday, March 30, 2012

1 Club Festival: The Children’s Books Experience

School Holiday's SOLVED!

This year, the 1 Club Festival will celebrate the very best of youth titles for children from the ages of three to 15 then catering for the older teen in the young adult category with many fabulous new reads, as well as classic children’s stories featuring prominently in store along with fun filled children’s events from 16 March to 16 April 2012. 

Parents looking for entertaining, educational activities for their children during the Easter holidays need look no further with daily events at 11h00 in flagship Exclusive Books stores around the country between 16 March and 16 April 2012.

Check out your nearest Exclusive Books for their 1 Club Festival events

The campaign is designed to get South African children reading more and realising that there is huge fun to be had in books, and everything to do with book stores. As the premier destination for Children’s books, Exclusive Books offers an all-round fun experience and can’t wait to welcome South Africa’s kids for the 1 Club Festival.

Who can resist meeting The Gruffalo in the flesh, with his turned out toes, and poisonous wart on the end of his nose!

I certainly couldn't! 

Please note that all the books are available at your nearest Exclusive Books store or online at

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos

About the Book

What would you do if an old friend needed you, but it meant turning your new life upside down? Pen, Will, and Cat met during the first week of their first year of college and struck up a remarkable friendship, one that sustained them and shaped them for years – until it ended abruptly, and they went their separate ways. Now, six years later, Pen is the single mother of a five-year-old girl, living with her older brother in Philadelphia and trying to make peace with the sudden death of her father. Even though she feels deserted by Will and Cat, she has never stopped wanting them back in her life, so when she receives an email from a desperate-sounding Cat asking her to meet her at their upcoming college reunion, Pen goes. What happens there sends past and present colliding and sends Pen and her friends on a journey across the world, a journey that will change everything.

Thanks to Andrea, Claire and Anika from Jonathan Ball for the review copy


When I get asked who is my favourite author the first one to pop into my head is Marisa de los Santos, the sound of her name wraps me up in a hug and hands me a freshly baked cupcake.

It seems all the BIG events in my life have been surrounded by one of her books.  Love Walked In taught me to love a book in its pure form; Belong to Me, held me ransom to the people I surrounded myself with; and Falling Together, came to me at a time when old friends came flooding back into my life.

A story of Pen, Cat and Will; three best friends who vow to go their separate ways because juggling the unbreakable bond of friends and living a life where distance might sever ties.   It isn’t until Pen, now a single mother, and Will, a famous children’s author, receive a mystic email from Cat that sends them flocking to the College reunion to find out what is wrong.  It isn’t until they arrive that they are forced to face their past and travel across the world to find answers.

A story written with poise, extravagance and talent, definitely my book of 2012!

About the Author

I'm the New York Times bestselling author of Love Walked In, Belong to Me, and Falling Together. I've also published a poetry collection called From the Bones Out.

I was born in Baltimore; grew up in Virginia; went to school for a very long time (UVA, Sarah Lawrence, and The University of Houston); studied poetry; published poetry; got married to David Teague (children's book author and all-around good egg); had two kids, Charles and Annabel (funny, smart, full of opinions); moved from Philly to Wilmington, Delaware; and began writing novels.  (from Haper Collins website)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Smacked by Melinda Ferguson

About the Book

For six years Melinda Ferguson was driven by one motivating force - the next hit. For this, she would abandon her promising film-making career, lose her comfortable suburban home, her husband, her two children and, in a gruelling finale to six years of remorseless self-destruction, herself. Rescued from the maw of Hillbrow's drug and prostitution underworld, Melinda not only survived, but recovered to tell this harrowing tale of how an intelligent, middle-class girl from Joburg hits rock bottom, face first, and claws her way back to redemption.

Thanks to Jean Fryer for the review copy


I sat across from Melinda during the introduction lecture of a Publishing Honours course I had started, almost a year ago.  Her bold and bubbly personality took over the room as peacock’s feathers would spread out.  I had seen her book do amazing things at that stage and meeting her only made me want to read it more, again late bloomer here.

If you have ever driven through the streets of Joburg and known the goings on but never seen them first hand, you and I would be in the same boat.  I have never seen a line of heroine, a crack pipe or even a bong (I know what marijuana looks like, thanks to a PowerPoint presentation given on drugs in Grade 3).  So imagine the brutal slap I woke up to with Melinda’s edgy and evocative opening chapter.  She opens your eyes to a hunger, unlike any other and to what extent one would go to feed that hunger: Drugs.  I call Melinda the queen of simile; the tool she uses to wrestle you down and listen (or read).

The entire read made me think it was written for film, a Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels movie ready for screens!  This book becomes more than a crack addiction, it asks questions about God and what of us we really want to show people.  

A gritty tale that will shove itself right up into your perfect little world and scream “Hello, I am addiction”, the question is do you want to face it?

About the Author

Melinda Ferguson is the senior feature writer for True Love magazine. Shortlisted for several prestigious awards, including the Revlon Woman of Courage, she devotes her time to writing and speaking publicly about her battle with drug addiction and raising her sons.

Also see Hooked by Melinda Ferguson

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

About the Book

All Joe Spork wants to do is live quietly. He repairs clockwork and lives above his shop in a wet, unknown bit of London. The bills don’t always get paid and he’s single and in his mid thirties and he has no prospects of improving his lot, but at least he’s not trying to compete with the reputation of Mathew “Tommy Gun” Spork, his infamous criminal dad.

Edie Banister lives quietly and wishes she didn’t. She’s nearly ninety and remembers when she wasn’t. She used to be a spy, and now she’s… well… old. Worse yet, the things she fought to save don’t seem to exist anymore, and she’s beginning to wonder if they ever did.

When Joe repairs one particularly unusual clockwork mechanism, his quiet life is blown apart. Suddenly he’s getting visits from sinister cultists and even more sinister lawyers. One of his friends is murdered and it looks as if he may be in the frame. Oh, and in case that wasn’t enough, he seems to have switched on a 1950s doomsday machine – or is it something even more alarming? Edie’s story and Joe’s have collided. From here on in, nothing will be the same – Joe’s world is now full of mad monks, psychopaths, villainous potentates, scientific geniuses, giant submarines, determined and extremely dangerous receptionists, and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe – and if Joe’s going to fix it or even survive, he must show that he can be everything Mathew was, and much, much more.



A criminal thief’s son who is trying to do good, a ninety year old lady who happens to be a retired spy, her ugly loyal dog who has marbles for eyes, an archenemy who wishes to elevate himself to godhood, and a 1950’s weapon which threatens the modern world... What do you get when you throw the above combination in with some good humour and wit and philosophy? A hugely entertaining adventurous romp called Angelmaker. 

Our protagonist is Joshua Joseph Spork, who fixes mechanical devices, especially clocks. Spork is a large, polite man and is attempting to make an honest living but his late father’s criminal activities make this rather tough. He is constantly dodging figures from the past in an effort to stay on the straight and narrow. It all goes quite pear shaped when a ninety year old lady, Edie Banister (who is most definitely not what she appears to be), who owns an extraordinarily ugly dog, hires him to fix a particularly peculiar clockwork device. This sets in motion a chain of hilarious and dangerous events beginning with a visit from two men bearing the ridiculous names of Titwhistle and Cummerbund. Spork’s relatively quiet life erupts into madness with the emergence of secret societies, serial killers, scientific revelations, and the impending doom that is possibly the end of the world. 

Notwithstanding the rip roaring escapade, Harkaway’s novel has some serious undertones. The idea of how we choose to define ourselves and what we consider truth is sketched alongside the lighter and fast paced action. At one point, Spork debates his own existence; his own truth: 

"Be someone. Be no one. Be yourself. Be happy - but how? He has no idea. He is a nowhere man, caught in between".

Nick Harkaway’s second book is a wonderfully fun read. The Gone Away World author has stitched incredibly fascinating characters together with a quirky, compelling storyline. The scope of the story allows the characters to be fleshed out and feel genuine, despite their surreal qualities. Angelmaker is a credible modern fantasy story, making for a read which one can plunge into with absolute delight and no fear of being disappointed. 

About the Author

Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall in 1972. He studied philosophy, sociology and politics at Clare College, Cambridge, and then worked in the film industry. The Gone-Away World is his first novel. He lives in London with his wife.

Review by Bradley Lutz

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Confessions of a Book Whore: Do I feel lucky, well do ya, punk?

There is that one character, hands hovering over a gun in a deserted cowboy town, that you want to have a standoff with. “This book isn't big enough for the both of us” you mutter, in your best Clint Eastwood impersonation, with each turn of the page. Once you have finished beating your head against the wall, repeatedly, you concede and decide that this character is just too much for you, so you lunge the book at that wall and move on...? Or is that just me?

I have always said that a life is too short for a bad book; but life is shorter when the character makes you want to swallow broken glass. Today, heaven help me, I will confess the characters that irritate me the most... Cover your eyes; it’s going to get messy...

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t pick up a book hoping to place a Godfather-like hit on a character. There is always one character that sends me off the edge it could be a belief, a gripe or even a hair colour.

From Stephanie Meyer’s Bella Swan, whose whining really gets to me (Forgive me Twilight fans – but I blame Kirsten Stewart for this); David Nicholls’ One Day, Sylvie (Dexter’s wife/ex-wife); Cecily, in Lauren de Stefano’s Wither, the youngest of the sister wives; Mayella and Bob Ewell from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird; and Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Paul Marshall.

The world would be a far happier place without the characters listed above, no doubt, and I would be a fair few grey hairs less should these characters have not waltzed across the page and caused a ruckus! I’d easily set up a dart board, pictures attached, and commence my target practice.

BUT, what if each of these characters were dramatically obliterated into oblivion, would Edward Cullen be cursed to roam the earth alone? Would Dexter and Emma have got together earlier? Would we have seen Rhine’s character, if it wasn't for the connection between her and Cecily? How would we have fallen in love with To Kill a Mockingbird if Harper Lee had skimped on the Horror? And would Atonement have been my favourite book if Paul Marshall hadn't set the wheels in motion for the plot that yanked me hither and yon? 

So as much as I despise these characters and, without a doubt, stomp off if they ever walked past me, each of the books wouldn't have made an impact if it weren’t for these characters. So love the characters you hate, because they set the wheels in motion that keep you glued!

(Thanks Bradley for the topic idea)

Which characters do you hate?

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