Monday, July 30, 2012

Beside Table Reviews #1

Bedside Table Reviews is a segment that allows me to showcase books that can be reviewed in snip-bits.  Books-on-the-go.

Unrest by Michelle Harrison

Ghost Stories at its best.  Ghost Whisperer eat your heart out.

Michelle Harrison brings you the chilling story of 17 year old Elliot.  Elliot can't sleep, well not since a car accident that nearly killed him, instead he half wakes, paralysed, with shadowy figures moving around him (on occasions it's his figure moving about while his body lies asleep).  Harmless 'out-of-body' experiences are what his doctors are calling them.

Elliot is determined to find out the truth and he manages to find a job at a haunted museum where he meets Ophelia - but also something sinister.  One night, after Elliot's out of body experience, he finds that his body is gone.

Something dead wants to live, and it's looking for Ophelia too ...

From the author who wrote 13 Treasures, comes a ghostly chilling story of the 'unrested' battling the living!

The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

Seraphina has been alive for 700 years, but immortality comes at a high price!  After a strange dapple in Alchemy years ago with her then-boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered the secret to immortality that allows them to swap bodies with other humans, killing them in the process.

As the years drag on, Sera's guilt begins to weigh her down, she escapes from Cyrus and vows never to kill again.  It isn't until Sera accidentally switches bodies with 16 year-old Kailey Morgan, who dies in a horrific car-accident.  Sera finds, for the first time, that she loves Kailey's life and falls in love with Noah - the boy next door.

Sera quickly discovers that Cyrus will stop at nothing to keep her in his clutches and every moment she stays she is putting herself and those she cares about in danger.
Will Sera have to give up the one thing that’s eluded her for centuries: true love? A classic coming of age story told through a great paranormal plot.

Endure by Carrie Jones

I love seeing the new plot lines for Young Adult books filling bookshelves lately.  I was intrigued (and still am) with this series of fairies by Carrie Jones.  Tammy February reviewed Need the first book in the series, I knew it had to be good. 

This is the third book and while I haven't sat down to read it just yet, I thought it would be a perfect ending to this post.  So here is the Goodreads blurb:

It’s all-out war (and no-holds-barred romance) in the climactic conclusion to Carrie Jones’s bestselling series.

Zara is at the center of an impending apocalypse. True, she’s successfully rescued Nick from Valhalla, but it simply isn’t enough. Evil pixies are ravaging Bedford, and they need much more than one great warrior; they need an army. Zara isn’t sure what her role is anymore. She’s not just fighting for her friends; she’s also a pixie queen. And to align her team of pixies with the humans she loves will be one of her greatest battles yet. Especially since she can’t even reconcile her growing feelings for her pixie king . . .

Unexpected turns, surprising revelations, and one utterly satisfying romantic finale make Endure a thrilling end to this series of bestsellers.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Author's Pie: Edyth Bulbring

During the winter months, pie is the be all and end all in my life.  The steamy, wholesome goodness in each mouthful... *shivers with delight* So I give you another installment of Author's Pie

This week we have Edyth Bulbring is the author of The Summer of Toffie and Grummer, Cornelia Button and the Globe of Gamagion, The ClubPops and the Nearly Dead, Melly, Mrs Ho and Me, and Melly, Fatty and Me.  Edyth is a former journalist and lives in Johannesburg.

A huge bookey pie Thank You to Edyth for taking part in this week's Author's Pie!

1. What is the one book that sparked a love of reading for you as a child?
My love of reading was not sparked by one particular book, it was newspapers that did it. Every morning I used to lie in bed between my mother and father while they read the newspapers. And I would point to some photo and ask my father what the story was. And he would tell me all about it. It was really special. Actually I lie, he used to say: For crying in a bucket, I’m trying to read my newspaper; give me some peace. I couldn’t wait to be able to read the stories behind the pictures for myself. That’s what sparked my love for reading.

2. Who is your favourite young adult writer (local and international)?
I don’t read young adult fiction unless I have to. But the one author I really like who writes for both adults and teens is Philip Pullman. I loved His Dark Materials Trilogy. They are cross-over books which I think are the best sort of novels. I also like Roald Dahl. I didn’t mind reading his books to my children too much.

3. What are you reading at the moment?
I am reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

4. Tell us about Melly.
Melly, Mrs Ho and Me and Melly, Fatty and Me are two books in a series published by Penguin. The books are about a girl called April-May February (she is known as the calendar girl) who wins a bursary to a posh private school and meets a girl called Melly who breaths through her mouth. She gets up to all sorts of nonsense. They are books for teenagers but some adults seem to enjoy them too. They are being taught in some SA schools, so I suppose my name is rubbish among lots of poor students who are being forced to read them. The rights have been bought by a UK publisher and they are going to be published in the UK next year.
5. Which of your characters do you hate/love writing?
That’s a bit like asking me which one of my children I love most. But I have loved writing the Melly books as I like April-May February. She reminds me of my daughter Sophie who is an original soul who makes my life both hell and heaven. I wouldn’t have a character in one of my books that I didn’t enjoy writing about. That would be like eating bad food. I even enjoy writing about the mean and ugly people. I particularly liked writing Pops and The Nearly Dead which is a book about a teenage boy who spends three months with his grandfather in a retirement village. A lot of the book comes from true stories about my mother’s retirement village – as well as some of the rather disturbing things that happened to my father before he died. I enjoyed being able to take real people and events and give them different histories and endings. In a sense, I loved the fact that I had the power to rewrite history and make it all better.

Edyth's Books

Pops and The Nearly Dead
When I told my two best friends that I'd be spending three months with my grandfather at a retirement village in Port Elizabeth, they said there was no ways I'd survive the boredom. Not in a million years. Themba said it sounded worse than being sentenced to life in a monastery without his stash of naughty mags. And Buster said that even James Bond couldn't have survived this kind of torture - and we all know what happened to his goolies in Casino Royale. X a trillion. But Themba and Buster didn't know anything about my crazy grandfather Pops - who isn't boring at all - or the weird stuff that was going to happen to him. And they hadn't met Regina Versagel - a girl who may or may not wear black knickers. In fact, looking back, the only thing that Themba and Buster did get right was that surviving three months at Nelson Mandela Gardens with Pops and a bunch of nearly dead people was going to be a whole lot harder than I could ever have imagined ...

The Club
To outsiders, St Patrick's High School in Johannesburg is a model of excellence, producing well-balanced young adults equipped to claim their inheritance as the new leaders of the fledgling democracy. But behind this facade lies a dark secret: the school is dominated by 'The Club', a powerful group of senior students who have adopted the values of the business and political elite of a post-Mandela South Africa - pride and its six deadly offspring: greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy, and sloth. Bright, privileged and utterly ruthless, they manipulate the school for their own gain, their antics invisible behind the polished exterior of the exclusive institution. It is 2007 and senior member Mammuso Mazibuko is hot favourite to become the next chairman of The Club. Life could not be better. But when her naive younger brother Jacob attracts the attention of a brutish fellow Club member, Mammuso is drawn into a sinister and increasingly desperate battle of wits to protect him. With wonderfully drawn characters and a riveting plot, Bulbring paints an extraordinary and often chilling portrait of the life of the young elite in Johannesburg today.

The Summer of Toffie and Grummer
Roll on holiday from hell! It sucks that I have to spend my summer break with Grummer, my boring old grandmother. And the fat loser down the road, Toffie Appel (what a name - get it?), won't stop bugging me. Staying sane is the goal. Bring on my secret mission: to find a new husband for Grummer. FOCUS! First action point: target places where suitable old wrinklies might hang out. Ka-ching!
Techno-savvy and full of attitude, Beatrice Wellbeloved discovers that all is not what it seems, and the best laid plans can go wrong

Cornelia Button and the Globe of Gamagion
Cornelia Button and the Globe of Gamagion is a story about three children living in Johannesburg. Cornelia's dream is to be a famous singer, but she can't sing for toffee. Her sister Maude is furious about the birth of her baby brother and wants to be a gypsy princess so that she can cast spells and make him disappear. And their friend Zwelabo Maluleke wants to be a brave hero like his mysterious, absent father. Cornelia's Aunty Hilda tells her that she can be anything she wants to be if she can imagine it. The secret to realising their dreams is their father's globe, which has special qualities. So the children spin Mr Button's globe which opens the doorway to the Kingdom of Gamagion. Everything is perfect until Gamagion comes under attack from the Master of Evil, Darko Drogbarl. Cornelia is tasked by the King of Gamagion to find the weapon to destroy this monster and bring peace to the divided Kingdom.

Melly, Mrs Ho and Me
April-May February hates: Her name, Her new school -- Trinity College, Her new teacher -- Mrs Ho. That she doesn't have a cellphone, That her mum now lives with a guy called Sarel/ Sarel's wig/ Sarel. April-May February doesn't really care about: Frogs, Not having a proper school uniform, The mouth-breather Melly, Mrs Ho's son -- Sam Ho, Two-minute noodles, April-May February loves: Stephenie Meyer, Fluffy -- her dad, Doors that lock, That Sarel is allergic to chillies, Sebastian.

Melly, Fatty and Me
April-May February's New Year's resolutions: Not get expelled from Trinity College; Get along with Mrs Ho -- even though she's moving into Chez Matchbox; Help Fluffy snare a cash-rich soccer tourist; Avoid Sebastian (if possible); Not talk to Mom. April-May February's New Year's wish list: A laptop and the Interweb; That Melly gets to breathe like a normal person (in this lifetime); To bump into Sebastian (if possible); A decent cellphone -- one that wasn't built before the Ark; That Mom will stop calling. April-May February's New Year's hit list: That annoying boy-troll Sam Ho; That new bursary kid -- aka Fatty; Tiffany, Britney, Courtney and Stephney and all the rest of the mean-girl gang; Mr Gainsborough -- the school shrink; Mom.

Edyth's books are published by a variety of publishers in South Africa but you can find her books online at Amazon or at your nearest Exclusive Books.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dead Man's Grip by Peter James

About the Book

The seventh novel in the award-winning Detective Superintendent Roy Grace crime series.

I want them to suffer, and I want them dead ...

Carly Chase is traumatised ten days after being in a fatal traffic accident which kills a teenage student from Brighton University. Then she receives news that turns her entire world into a living nightmare. The drivers of the other two vehicles involved have been found tortured and murdered. Now Detective Superintendant Roy Grace of the Sussex Police force issues a stark and urgent warning to Carly: She could be next. The student had deadly connections. Connections that stretch across the Atlantic. Someone has sworn revenge and won't rest until the final person involved in that fatal accident is dead.

The police advise Carly her only option is to go into hiding and change identity. The terrified woman disagrees - she knows these people have ways of hunting you down anywhere. If the police are unable to stop them, she has to find a way to do it herself. But already the killer is one step ahead of her, watching, waiting, and ready ...


DEAD MAN’S GRIP refers to rigor mortis that sets and stiffens a corpse’s muscles so that they are incredibly difficult to manipulate. Creepy, huh? Peter James doesn’t reveal this until the first body is discovered in a sunken car, gripping the steering wheel.

Peter James does what he does best in his 7th Roy Grace novel. Dead Man’s Grip has more action and death than a Guy Ritchie movie.

Imagine a car accident so foul that even the paramedics are cringing, a woman whose alcohol reading shows she is over the limit, a truck driver who is over tired and a white van that disappeared after hitting a cyclist. The victim, a student at Brighton University, is the grandson of a Mafia Mob boss. This is where it gets interesting. When the driver of the white van turns up drowned and the truck driver hanging and gutted like a fish, Roy Grace knows that he has a murder case on his hands; when an accident turns ugly.  

If you thought that is all Peter James leaves you with, you are highly mistaken. This master storyteller manages to weave together past and present of our favourite detective. The reader is allowed snip-bits from Roy Grace’s past now promising to haunt him in his future, with shocking developments that are sure to shake you to the core...

It wasn’t the cookie-cutter pacey plot that had me glued; it was the complete and utter brutality James brings to the page with a hint of expletives and great characters. He manages to capture grief and survival in each of these characters, the way they react, develop and ultimately survive ...

Another great read from the King of Crime and bestselling author, this is a must read.


About the Author

Peter James was educated at Charterhouse, then at film school. He lived in North America for a number of years, working as a screenwriter and film producer before returning to England. His novels, including the Sunday times Number One bestselling Roy Grace series have been translated into thirty-four languages, with world sales of 11 million copies. Three of his novels have been filmed. All his books reflect his deep interest in the world of the police, with whom he does in-depth research, as well as science, medicine and the paranormal. He has also produced numerous films, including The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes. He divides his time between his homes in Notting Hill, London and near Brighton in Sussex.

Find the Author

Buy your copy at your nearest Exclusive Books

Friday, July 13, 2012

Author's Pie: Amanda Coetzee

There is nothing better than taking a whiff of some glorious pie crust at the end of a long day. So welcome to another deliciously, delectable Author's Pie.  

This week we have head-mistress by day and crime writer by night, mother of one, charismatic and London born author Amanda Coetzee in the oven today.  Amanda was shortlisted for the Citizen Book Prize (run in conjunction with The Citizen and Pan Macmillan South Africa) in 2009 and though she didn't win, they offered her a 3 book deal!

You can find Amanda on Twitter and Facebook.  You can also find her books on Amazon or at your nearest Exclusive books (Don't forget to Sticker the book when you visit

A Big PIE-Y Thank you to Amanda Coetzee for taking part in this week's Author's Pie!

1. When you entered the Citizen Book Prize in 2009, did you think you would be 2 books published and a third in 2013?
When I entered the Citizen Book Prize in 2009 it was for the second time. The dream of being published was slightly faded after innumerable rejection letters from anonymous agents – but not entirely quashed. The carefully worded expression of interest from Pan Macmillan was thrilling. I remember sitting in the board room with Wesley [Thomspon] and Andrea [Nattrass] and thinking that if I was never published – at least I had this!

The first contract was signed with my husband taking photos of a slightly bemused Andrea forced to pose with a pen and me obsessively hoarding souvenirs of different steps along the day (I still have the parking ticket). A three book deal was so far past my expectations that I still slap my face at regular intervals to remove the slightly moronic grin and ‘happy dance’ around my house.

2. Where do you get your inspiration? A nice lady like you writing such violence?
Ah. The question that I dread because I really don’t (or perhaps don’t want to) know. Let me give you a sample of my answers and allow you to pick your favourite.

Defensive: We live in a violent world and experience its terror vicariously throughout our lives. I dip in and out of the madness and leave it behind as soon as possible.

Mysterious: Perhaps I am not as nice as you think.

Pretentious: Writing is a process; I approach each character as honestly as I can.

Blasé: I love reading crime and separate it entirely from real life. I read about horrific serial killers while my toddler watches Toy Story and have rarely been tempted (beyond any mother) to murder random strangers. It may seem a strange form of escapism but losing myself in the mind of a madman can be exhilarating.

3. Who would your choice to play Badger in the Bad Blood movie be?
Finally I have the answer for this question, although I don’t know if you will agree. Jim Cavaziel is my Badger. I have seen him play vicious murderers, white power thugs, FBI agents, special-forces soldiers, even Jesus in Mel Gibson’s Passion of Christ. He has the moral complexity of Badger with his physical strength and of course the smouldering blue eyes and dark hair. Yum! Of course my husband would be perfect but then I would have to murder the women playing Emily and Beth. Perhaps the unwise choice with my penchant for devising methods of violent death... 

4. What two books would you risk your life for?
Ah Kelly, you can ask the tough questions. I tossed and turned and ultimately chose only one book. ‘Howards End’ by EM Forster.

Howards End was my 6th form set work at school. It was the first time I realised that books could articulate ideas and feelings that I didn’t yet have the words for. It still resonates with me today and it is one of the few books that I pick up and read and always feel myself touched and challenged by. I have never forgotten the impact it made upon me and the awe I felt at the beauty and power of the written word.

5. Which of your characters (besides Badger) is your favourite?

I’m going to cheat and say I think my all time favourite character is Kyle Reese from the first Terminator movie. He was everything I wanted a man to be; strong, capable of great sacrifice, loyal, in love with one woman whom he would die protecting. Damaged, scarred and intensely private. Sadly he was killed off, but perhaps it was for the best. Heroes need to die before they disappoint. Husbands survive a little longer. 

The literary equivalent is Will Trent from Karin Slaughter’s new series. I love his secret dyslexia and vulnerability that drives his need for control and privacy. I love male characters that are flawed but redeemable. It’s a relationship fraught with danger though; I loathe self pity and get bored with angst. 

My favourite male characters tend to lose their allure if they resist change. I’m horribly predictable with my secret crush on Jack Reacher and my phobic response to any male character that cheats. I have a more complex relationship with female characters; I judge them too harshly and accept it is a flaw. I run from emotionally driven books and have only ever read 3 biographies. I find the self exposure uncomfortable, sometimes cringe worthy and am not ashamed to admit I read for escapism and entertainment. Of course I was originally going to lie and come up with a literary giant or obscure character from a socially relevant novel – but who am I kidding?

Amanda's Books

Bad Blood

Blending in everywhere; belonging nowhere ...

An eight-year-old boy is abandoned by his mother at a fairground and raised by a clan of Irish Travellers as one of their own. Given the name ‘Harry’ (as in any Tom, Dick or Harry) he carves out a reputation as a young, bare knuckle boxer who never backs down, and earns himself the clan name ‘Badger’.
Eight years on, Badger is angry, dangerous and ready to make his own way in the world. He severs all ties with his clan and in a final act of rebellion joins the London Metropolitan Police Force. He soon finds his niche as an undercover operative, blending in everywhere yet belonging nowhere. Just as Harry believes he has left his clan roots and ‘Badger’ behind him, he is sent by his superiors to establish a connection with a clan living on an informal land settlement in Bedford. A Traveller child named Mikey has been abducted and the clan is refusing to cooperate with the investigation.

Harry pairs up with Emily, an idealistic social services liaison officer, to investigate the case. Together they uncover a string of gruesome child murders and abductions dating back to 1985. Badger finds himself drawn deeper into clan life and he is ultimately forced to confront the truth about his own conflicted childhood if he is to save Mikey from becoming another victim of a twisted serial killer.

This gripping debut novel is guaranteed to keep you spellbound from the first page all the way through to its twist-in-the-tail climax.

Redemption Song

She thought she would stop breathing. Looking back, she wished she had

A thrilling adventure set in Albania that sees Badger, aka Harry O’Connor, using his wits and his Traveller connections as he tries to save a mother and her daughter from the control of a brutal local warlord.

Beth, a fourteen-year-old English girl finds herself in more trouble than she could ever imagine when she runs away from home in Bedford. Fast forward twelve years. Badger is on long leave from the London Metropolitan Police Force and living once again with the Traveller community as he heals physically and mentally from his previous case.

At the request of Emily Meadows, in Bad Blood the social worker love interest who he worked with to solve the serial killer case, Badger sets off to the unlikely location of Albania on a mission to rescue a mother and daughter from the brutal control of Jak Kraja, an Albanian warlord. When things go horribly wrong, Badger finds himself forced to call in favours from his former police colleagues and in desperation he turns to the mysterious Albanian Traveller community for help as he seeks to escape the country. What follows is a thrilling race for survival as Badger pits his wits and skills against the wily cunning of Kraja and his henchmen.

You can buy Amanda's books from your nearest Exclusive Books

Find Amanda

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sarah House by Ifeanyi Ajaegbo

About the Book

Nita wakes up one night to discover herself in a dark world very different from the life of opportunities promised to her by Slim, the man she loved and trusted to take her away from the small island town of Opobo, Nigeria. Soon she realises she is a slave, bought and sold without her consent and forced into a life of prostitution and sleazy strip clubs.

Every day Nita walks a tightrope of survival surrounded by vicious pimps and thugs. She meets Tega, a fellow slave lured into prostitution by Slim; she is sold to Madam, who runs Sarah House and makes money from young girls and children; she finds favour with Chief, an influential politician who provides protection for Madam's illicit business in human trafficking, and she must survive Lothar, a renegade porn film maker. Life in this nightmare world gets more complicated when Nita meets pretty, young Damka and is approached by a police detective working undercover.

When Damka disappears and Nita discovers the child's bloodied clothes in a room in Sarah House, she knows she has to work with the police in spite of the dangers to her own life.


There is always one book that claws its way deep into your heart. You sit back and wonder “Why this book?”

Ifeanyi Ajaegbo is an award winning Nigerian author; winning the 2005 African Region Prize for the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. His debut full length novel Sarah House was found in the trenches of the slush pile (The ever growing pile of unsolicited manuscripts that can be found on any publisher’s desk).  

The poignant writing of this new talent, that is sure to win many a prize, grips you by the throat and thrusts hauntingly descriptive fear into you, the reader. Nita’s story is not the happy tale of a young woman freed from prostitution that we have become used to. This story doesn’t leave you wanting to pump your fist in the air and know that humanity will overcome its battles.

Nita is kidnapped by a “so-called” boyfriend and marched soldier-like into the world of prostitution, strip-clubs and an illicit porn syndicate. Forced to sleep with men and sold like an animal, she comes to work for Madam – The owner of the brothel Sarah House. It isn’t until Nita young Damka, a girl living in the orphanage attached to Sarah House, does she begin to see some light (if that is even possible in Nita’s position). Nita discovers Damka’s bloodied clothes one day and soon realises the true use of Sarah House.

A story told in innocence, descriptive flair and a world so dark you stare wide-eyed at the ceiling wishing what you are reading is truly fiction!


About the Author 

IFEANYI AJAEGBO is a development consultant and communications practitioner who lives and works in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. His writing has won several awards and fellowships, including the 2005 African Regional prize for the Commonwealth Short Story competition. Sarah House is his first novel.

Find the Author

Buy your copy at your nearest Exclusive Books

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Confessions of Book Whore: When Life Gives you Books ...

Have you ever heard the saying “When life gives you lemons make lemonade” – Oh wait, you must have. If you haven’t, then crawl out that hole you have been sitting in and slap the person that has kept you hostage (unless you are there on your own accord, then slap yourself).

My own little proverb of “When life gives you books, read them” – Easier said than done.

What to read next? The question that plagues my very existence; holds me ransom, fear-stricken and wide-eyed standing like a pauper before my bookshelf. What next? WHAT DO I READ NEXT? Is there a book God that can advise or simply slap me over the head with a book and boom in a God-like voice “Here Mortal, read this!” and heaven forbid it would be something like Fifty Shades of Grey (Ok, ok! Sheesh! Just saying!). 

I don’t have a method/reason for picking a ‘next read’. I find myself yawning at the book. “It’s not you, it’s me book”, I whisper and I tentatively place it back on the shelf, skulking away. It’s a horrible feeling not knowing what comes next? What journey will fill my life for a week? Which new friends will greet me when I open the cover? 


I have said it before and I’ll say it again, Books Find Us. However, I can’t wait for every book to tap me on the shoulder and yell “Boo! Read me!”, not only my heart not take it but I am more inclined to a rather bitchy reply of “No, Shew with you beast!”

SO I asked the Masses, How do they choose their next read?

These are the answers:
Andrea Nattrass, Publisher – Sadly it's often whatever is next on my "To do" list. That plus whatever book there is local or international buzz about...

Tamarin du Toit, Blogger – Lost book club, rummaging through previous purchases, recommendations. New books usually trump all others though...

Shubnum Khan, Author – I usually try for 1 local & 1 other author a month. God of Small things, my ultimate read :)

Exclusive Books, Retail Chain – Combination of recommendations and whimsy :)

Tammy February, Blogger and Online Book Editor – I choose mine by mostly rotating between the various publishers. I like to give exposure to everyone who sends me books. When I don't go via publisher route, I choose books based on my mood!

Tarryn Talbot, Children’s Publicist – Eenie, Meeney, Miney, Moe...

Lood du Plessis, Fanatics Manager – It's easy. It's a combination of jacket image, title, concept, hype, recommendation and proximity to me when I want to start reading.

Paige Nick, Author – yeah I do the one local, one international author too, or whatever grabs my fancy at the time, but the to-read pile never gets smaller.

It seems that a more calculated process gets taken into mind when choosing the next read. A mathematical process of:

Recommendation + Look and Feel + Author + Region/Proximity = Next read

But can we seriously, honestly and comfortably make reading mathematical? That’s what I love about a book, it’s so forgiving about how you choose it, read it, hate it, love it or even give it away. So how ever you choose a book, if you finish it that is the true test of how it chose you (or the other way around).

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Exclusive Books Winter Sale

It’s that time of year again. The wind picks up, the temperature drops and books become everyone’s best friend (that and a heater). The seasons force us homewards, we stifle blocked noses, and blankets and jerseys grow tighter around our shoulders. 

This time of year also brings Exclusive Books' Winter Sale. The sale that made me poor in my student years and still does. As a bookseller we would be allowed to raid the sale tables first (on condition that we unpacked the books and got the store ready for the sale – not an easy feat but worth it in the end). Books in a box that could be kept until the 50% discount. It was like the Reggies rush, except we had to pay, and we would revel over our sale spoils every shift comparing, whittling down or swopping.

When it all comes down to it, as a bookseller, some of my best talents came from packing sale tables. I knew what prices were the best deals and that patience is a virtue that allows you to find the gems; I could pack a sale table so tight (in order to get as much stock out as possible) that a bomb would go off and nothing would move; I fought a box cutter off a shopper once; and that anyone will do anything for a cheap book, including me.

So when I get that media preview invite to the sale from Exclusive Books I do an automatic jig and an award-winning squeal. A-for-away

I love this time of year, the smell of a cheap book on the horizon. The thrill ignites me. So head over to the sale, rummage through the hoards and then come back and tell me about the gems you managed to pry from a child or dig out of an unwatched box. I want to know!

Happy Gem Hunting.

Also check out Tamarin’s Sale blog...
Check out the sale at your nearest Exclusive Books Store

Find Exclusive Books

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Confessions of a Book Whore: Book Nerd or Fraud!

So I claim to be a book nerd? I march around town, head held higher than most, glasses perched on nose and shouting – in a somewhat gruff voice – “Hallo Thar, I be a book nerd. A book whore, bow beforeth me before I papercut they knowledge from thee soul, hethen!”. Sounds horrific, doesn’t it!

I make loud proclamations of reading and devouring text each and every minute of a day. I lap up fiction at an ungodly rate that fills my belly like a gluttonous child. Once that is done, I stomp around the house like Augustus Glug (From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) wanting MORE (said in zombie like tone).

I want more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, MORE, MORE, MORE!!!!!!!!!

It’s a deadly habit that siphons funds like sugar through a sieve (any book lover will tell you that). I’ll claim that it’s better than crack, cocaine, alcohol or cigarettes. I can sit for hours on end telling you how I couldn’t live without reading? How my world would be a dim, uneventful place; queues would be spent tapping my foot and singing to pass the hours or sitting in my car (when I arrive too early) would consist of actually learning how to change a tyre.

A friend mentioned the other day “Sport is far easier than culture”. I have to disagree, when given the option I’d rather be covered in books and chocolate than in sweat, crawling my way to the end of the rugby field.

But does this really make me a book nerd? That I’d save my books first before myself [and on occasion my family], or that I always carry a book with me?

I’ll preach my guts out to the choir but sometimes, books don’t make it on to the priority list. Please don’t un-follow me, tut in disgust and shake your head in disbelief, but it’s true. I found myself for the first time last night opting sleep (which never came, instead insomnia waved hello) over three sentences. I find myself declining book events for dinner events and buying clothes/food instead of books more and more. Say that I am growing up and maybe finding a balance, but I feel a tad like a fraud; hence the confession.

I need the written word like I need air and water, but sometimes I need a pair of socks or a chocolate bar and I’d happily give a book up for that. Some days!

Disclaimer: This blog post was written while highly stressed and frazzled on what book to read next and the author of this post cannot be hung from the rafters, mutilated or un-followed in any way or on any social platform, both digitally and publically. The Author offers any apology for any offence made in jest. Oh bugger it. READ AT OWN WILL

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bitten by Sarah Graham

bitten. is a fun, funky, relevant recipe book for twenty- and thirty-somethings who love life, love food, love their friends, and love to squeeze the last drop from their time and money.
The blurb can be found here

Page 154 presents a delight in everything chocolate-worthy.  I flipped through the pages craving chocolate and came out with a mouthful (or should I say MOUTHFULLS) of pure chocolatey heaven.  My week of non-stop running at gym can be owed to this delicious recipe from Sarah Graham's (afoodieliveshere blogger and unpretentious cook) Bitten (Published by Random House Struik).

Mini Molten Chocolate cakes

Serves 8 | Prep 10mins | Baking Time: 10-12minutes


300g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
50g unsalted butter, softened
150g icing sugar
4 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
2Tbsp cake flour
50g white chocolate, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat oven 200 degrees and lightly grease eight holes in a muffin or cupcake tin with a little butter.
  2. Melt dark chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring regularly so that you get a silky texture. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Cream together the butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl and slowly add eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the flour, mix gently and then add the melted chocolate. Mix a little more until its nice and smooth, and then stir in the white chocolate bits.
  5. Divide the mixture between the holes in the tin and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove the cakes from the tin as soon as possible and serve with whipped cream.

You can get your copy of Bitten  from your nearest Exclusive Books

Find Sarah Graham

My thoughts:
The recipe was incredibly easy to follow - easier to follow than to lose the calories gained.  I ended up making 12 instead of the 8, and better for it, because if the cakes were any bigger they would leave you with a sickly rich feeling.  They are divinly rich and gooey.  I also baked them for 15mins as mine were too gooey to remove from the tin.  I would advise letting them cool rather than whipping them out immediately and then warming them up if need be.  They taste good: hot, cold, or even on toast.

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