Monday, July 22, 2013

The Skinny Rules Book by Bob Harper

About the Book

Losing weight has never been so easy! With so many conflicting diets around, it's no wonder people find it hard to shed the pounds and keep them off. At last, here's a weight-loss plan that is clear, logical and easy - no gimmicks, no fads, just a no-nonsense way to get thin.
Bob Harper is a renowned fitness trainer and is the star of The Biggest Loser USA. Bob has used his vast knowledge of nutrition, weight-loss strategy and human nature to devise twenty simple principles that will enable you to step into a newly thin lifestyle. His rules are as easy as: Don't Drink Your Calories; Eat Protein at Every Meal and No Carbs After Lunch. Bob doesn't stop at just teaching you the rules, either.
He also shows you how to integrate them into your everyday life by supplying menu plans and 90 delicious, rule-abiding recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If that wasn't enough, there are also tips for what to stock in your fridge and meals you can prepare ahead in case you don't have time to cook during the week. With Bob as your coach and mentor, you can and will lose weight - whether you want to shed two pounds or two hundred. It's the sure fire way to a thin new you.

I have never been one for diets. Says the girl who spent most her adolescences fretting over a scale; having lost and laboured over 50 kilos in three years diets are a thing of the past and are now merely lifestyles that allow for the occasional treat and a good healthy workout. 

We all know Bob Harper, personal trainer and hotty of THE BIGGEST LOSER USA, so who can resist being told what to do by a man of this stature? The Skinny Rules Book is a diet book, I won’t lie. It tells you losing weight is good and healthy food is even better, but the secret behind the facade is that Bob Harper knows that living in a world of temptation and good food (too much good food; read fatty, high calorie food) is reality for some of us. So he puts you through a list of rules, guidelines more like, to help you condition your way to a healthy lifestyle and hopefully an even better scale reading.
Bob’s rules include:
Drink a large glass of water before every meal,
Don’t drink your calories,
and Eat a protein at every meal – or stay hungry and grouchy.

The rules are simple, easy to follow and are backed up with an extensive and tasty set of recipes. It’s a tricky one to review a diet book, especially since this is my first. And while I don’t condone limiting your food intake to barely half an apple, I’d have liked Bob to give some advice on training for weight loss, how to eat when gymming (and what to eat – because we all know those smoothies can’t be all that healthy), and what workouts burn the most fat/calories.  

 So while I wouldn’t say grab yourselves a copy of an eating meal, I would put this one forward for anyone interested in getting beach ready and healthy for summer.
About Author
Bob Harper is a world-renowned fitness trainer and star of The Biggest Loser USA. He has several bestselling fitness DVDs, his own line of supplements, an online fitness club and the inspirational book Are You Ready! to his credit. He still teaches a local spin class in Los Angeles, where he resides with his dog, Karl.
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Girl Walks into a Bar... by Helena S. Paige, an Interview

Throw away your copies of Fifty Shades of Grey and Bared to You, there are three new sassy authors in town.  The highly contested for and anticipated A Girl Walks into a Bar... by Helena S. Paige, launched this week.  I got the pleasure of interviewing these incredibly talented women.
About the Authors
Helena S. Paige is the pseudonym of three friends. Paige Nick is an award-winning advertising copywriter and novelist. She also has a weekly column in The Sunday Times, which covers everything from sex and dating to general lunacy. Helen Moffett wears many hats: freelance writer, poet, editor, activist and academic, who has lectured as far afield as Trinidad and Alaska. She is also a cricket writer and flamenco fan. Sarah Lotz is a screenwriter and novelist with a fondness for fake names. She writes urban horror novels under the name S.L. Grey with author Louis Greenberg, and a Young Adult series with her daughter, Savannah, under the pseudonym Lily Herne. 
Find A Girl Walks into a Bar on Twitter and Facebook


1. A Girl Walks into a Bar... series is sassy and original in format and plot, how did the concept fall into your lap?

Paige: The three of us went for a long lunch in November last year. After a couple of bottles of something or other, we got chatting about how much fun it would be to collaborate on something together. Sarah had the idea of a choose-your-own-ending erotic novel. And once the ball got rolling, we couldn't stop it.
Helen: That’s how I remember it too, although it was Paige who went straight home, wrote up all the notes, and gave the ball a good kick downhill…
2. Three of SA's talented women writers in one tome, how did you manage – busy schedules and all – to collaborate this project?

Paige: We met to discuss plot together and then did most of it over email, writing chunks and then passing them back and forth for ruthless commenting and rewriting.
Sarah: I am going to jump in here to say that Paige and Helen did the majority of the writing – it was a fabulous bonus to have a brilliant chick-lit author and world-class editor on the team. 
Helen: We’re very different, but we have one thing in common: we’re all major workaholics.


Danish Cover
3. The format of choose-your-own-ending is unique, why did you decide this was the way to go with A Girl?

Paige: It was the only way to go with A Girl.
Helen: We wanted to write something where the reader was in control. There is good erotica out there (and bad), but a lot of it feels like it's stuff being done to women, rather than women taking charge of their own sexual choices. And we wanted the woman – you, the reader – to be the one making things happen.  

4. How many of the scenarios were drawn from real-life situations?

Paige: Now that would be telling. But we do have a pact to delete each other's Google search histories in the event anything happens to any of us.
Helen: Ahem. Are you saying we don’t have vivid – very vivid – imaginations?

5. What percentage of your time was spent blushing than actually writing?

Paige: Our aim was to write non-cringe-making sex scenes for either the author or reader.
Sarah: This is far harder to do than it seems – many, many hours were spent discussing what to name various anatomical parts. We hope we've avoided the 'flowery lady garden' or 'throbbing manliness' euphemism trap. 
Helen: No one will believe this, but I wrote all my saucy bits without a single blush. It wasn’t until I started re-reading that my cheeks went scarlet.
US Cover
6. Writers usually talk about researching the content of their books; what research did you find yourselves doing?

Helen: I am way too much of a wuss to do any research. If I need to know something about vibrators or studded condoms, I ask Paige to look it up for me. The joys of co-authors. 
Paige: That's the beauty of writing as a threesome. We each have such unique voices and have each had such different life experiences, which means that a scene is always going to resonate with at least one of us. 
7. Lesbian threesome or a night in watching an Officer and a Gentleman?

Paige: Neither floats my boat.
Sarah: These days, it's more likely to be a night in watching Project Runway for me, while eating three chocolate bars.
Helen: Both sound SO eighties. I’d rather go and drink champagne at a book launch, preferably one involving poetry.
8. G-string or commando?
Paige: Underwear is situation-dependent. Nobody wears a g-string when they're going horse-riding, or goes commando in a skirt when it's windy.
Sarah: Can’t say I have a preference as I spend 90% of my life in front of my computer in my ancient PJs. That’s glamour for you. 
UK Cover
Helen: Sorry, I’m the Cotton Knicker Queen. I like comfort.
9.Vaseline or lubricant?
Helen: Everyone does know that Vaseline isn't good for latex, right? 
Paige: Latex, now we're talking.
Sarah: Note to self, do not Google latex, Vaseline and lubricant EVER AGAIN. 

10. Hot candle wax or a whip?

Sarah: Oh dear. Can I go with hot chocolate and whipped cream instead? 
Helen: Neither, unless someone wants a smack in the chops. 
About the Book

SA Cover

When your friend cancels on your girls' night out at the last moment, you suddenly find yourself all dressed up and alone at an exclusive bar.

What do you do now?

Will you spend the evening drinking tequila with a rock star? Or perhaps the suave and charming millionaire businessman is more your style? But the angelic young barman with a body made for sin has also caught your eye . . . Then there's the bodyguard who has the keys to his boss's sports car and is offering you a ride . . . Maybe you want to head home instead - to your sexy new neighbour.

Whichever way you decide to go, each twist and turn you make will lead to an unforgettable encounter. Can you choose the ultimate sensual experience? The power is entirely yours.
You can buy the eBook: Amazon | Exclusives | Kalahari

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Boeke 2013 July Selection

Like the Starks of Winterfell, Winter is coming - oh, who am I kidding, Winter is here. And it feels like it won't relent.  Good thing we have books aplenty to keep us busy beneath the sheets, unless you've just started the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.  First came Ben Elton's Two Brothers (March); then the impressive Maggie O'Farrell's Instructions for a Heatwave (April); our very own Local is Lekker Lauren Beukes' The Shining Girls (May); and the evocative fiction novel from Khaled Hosseini And the Mountains Echoed (June).

Now we have the July selection:
Maya’s Notebook, the latest must-read from one of the world’s most popular authors. The protagonist is a 19 year-old-girl who grows up in Berkeley, California and falls into a life of drug addiction and crime. 

Confessions Of A Sociopath by M.E. Thomas is a fascinating look into sociopathic behaviour, as written by a sociopath. The author is a non-criminal sociopath - charismatic, ambitious and successful. 

The Hope Factory by Lavanya Sankaran is a remarkable first novel about modern India that weaves together a rich tapestry of expected social behaviour, ambition, greed and love. 

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo features a daring child narrator called Darling. She and her friends live in a shantytown in Zimbabwe known as Paradise, which of course is no such thing. It isn't all bad though. 

Lionel Shriver’s new book Big Brother characteristically tackles a controversial issue that is becoming the biggest health problem affecting Western society – excessive weight gain.
And the Winner for July is...
Maya's Notebook by Isabelle Allende

You can find my Boeke 2013 posts here

Friday, July 5, 2013

Author's Pie: Joan De La Haye

Welcome to a horrifically tantalising edition of Author's Pie.  Fresh out the oven, zombies and gore galore in the pie pan today.  Joan De La Haye, a South African horror and thriller writer who thrives on the weird and wonderful. You can find Joan on her website and follow her on Twitter.

1) Your novels usually centre on your protagonist/killer that is bordering on insanity, where do you get your inspiration for your character building?
I think I get my inspiration from the insanity that I see going on around me every day. Everybody is capable of doing crazy things; it just depends on whether their buttons get pushed hard enough. Characters who are teetering on the edge fascinate me and that question of how much of a push does somebody need to go over that edge keeps me wondering and writing. 

There’s a line in the first scream movie when Billy Loomis says “We all go a little mad sometimes.” That line sums it up quite well. 
2) Which of your novels/short stories/anthologies/novellas did you enjoy writing the most?
That’s a tough one. I enjoyed writing all my books. Requiem in E Sharp and Shadows were both very dark and in some ways hard to write. Oasis, on the other hand, while still pretty dark, was much lighter and a lot more fun. Oasis was a bit of a reprieve and a holiday from the more serious material running around my head. 
3) What are you working on next?

At the moment I’m working on a short story for another anthology as well as a novella called The Incubus Project. The Incubus Project started out as an attempt to write something a little more romantic but has turned out to be anything but romantic. 
4) How do you name your characters?

The names depend on the book, the characters, and what mood I’m in. Sometimes I have people ask me to name someone after them. Sometimes someone pisses me off enough to name a really bad character after them. And sometimes a name just falls out of the ether and into my subconscious. Naming a character can be rather complicated and at other times it’s incredibly simple.

5) What have you learnt through your experience as a writer in the local South African market?
The local South African market is very small and competitive, especially in genre fiction. Most of the writers in SA involved in the genre market know each other and we all seem to cooperate with each other and support each other, which I think is pretty important. We’re all in the same boat. But focusing on the local market, as a writer, is a mistake. It’s too small to support us. We need to be looking at the rest of the world. The world is our oyster.

Joan's Books
Sarah is forced to the edge of sanity by the ghosts of her family’s past. Suffering from violent and bloody hallucinations, she seeks the help of psychologist and friend, Michael Brink.

After being sent to an institution in a catatonic state covered in blood from stabbing her unfaithful boyfriend, Sarah is forced to confront the truth about her father’s death and the demon, Jack, who caused her fathers suicide and is now the reason for her horrific hallucinations. Unlike her father, Sarah refuses to kill herself. She bargains for her life and succeeds.

In Sarah’s struggle to regain her life and her sanity, she discovers more things to the world than she could ever have imagined and leaves her seeking the answer to the nagging question, Who is really mad?

2013 – The planet has been fried by solar flares turning it into a desert. The surviving population has been affected by solar radiation, turning them into Zombies. Only a handful of people remain unaffected. A family of civilians, guided by a crack army unit who has seen more action than they can handle, must make their way to the safety of a UN base at the South Pole called New Atlantis.

But can they make it to this oasis alive or will they only reach it as the undead?
A tormented serial murderer

Sundays in Pretoria are dangerous for selected women.

A murderer plagued by his childhood, has found a distinctive modus operandi to salve his pathological need to escape the domination of the person who was supposed to cherish him.

As The Bathroom Strangler’s frenzy escalates and the body count mounts, Nico van Staaden, the lead detective on the case, finds himself confronting his own demons as he struggles to solve the murders of the seemingly unconnected victims. The lack of evidence in the sequence of deaths and pressure from his superiors are challenges he must overcome.

The resolution is bloody, savage and merciless.
These are just a few of Joan's books, you can find her short stories on her blog.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Confessions of a Book Whore: There is something about a bookstore...


What kind of a book lover would I be if I sat here and declared I hated bookshops, I have worked long hours in them, headed straight for them, browsed around them, met dates in them, sat on their floors, and spent vast amounts of money in them. They are the be-all-and-end-all of my universe, in every shape, form and online affiliation.  

There was a time when I loathed stepping foot in one, it reminded me too much of the days working in one, finding more solace in ordering online for convenience – but in the end nothing bested the stroke of fingertips on raised font on spines. After my slight flirtation with online ordering, I stepped into a bookshop, the warm smiles enveloped me but the lack of range, and outburst and flamboyancy of commercialism slapped me in the face.  
Love Books

Bookshops were forced to tighten the proverbial belt on stock as the digital age swept among us, a cold lurking mist that tainted shelves, booksellers grew grumpy, mass-market fiction dominated the bestseller lists and the plush and pomp of bookstores faded behind the smells of coffee and discounted tables, to lure more customers in.

Without stamping my feet and causing a raucous, I stood back and admired. For it wasn’t the huge chain stores like CNA and Exclusive Books that seemed to dominate, the under dogs (your independent stores) began to shine all that more brighter in the chaos of the looming death of book. These stores began to shine all that more brighter for me, while I do love the service Exclusive Books brings, and the range, it’s those lazy Saturday mornings/evenings that I would find myself with a cup of coffee in my hand roaming bookstores like Skoobs, Love Books, Novel Books and Nice Books on 4th; granted these are bookstores based in Johannesburg, and shining gems like The Book Lounge and Kalk Bay Books whom have me roaming shelves every time I visit Cape Town. How can one forget Bargain Books, and Graffiti Lynnwood Mall in Pretoria?

Business Day Live journalist, Eugene Goddard, wrote in the article The future lies in books backwards back in 2011:

Called Skoobs, its name (a reversal of the word "books") is the only backwards thing about it. This multidimensional auditorium of well-stocked bookshelves is more like an event, a phantasmagoric porthole into the world of the written word.

This is a mere spotlight in an article that seems to proudly boast that the quirk seems to work in these dark times. So I asked Skoobs myself, what makes them different?

Marcia Love, Book Manager at Skoobs says:
What sets us apart is that we (staff) are all in it for the books rather than for the JOB. WE have a fantastic and enthusiastic team. Another thing that separates us from some others is that we have comfortable chairs scattered around and encourage people to find a quiet spot to read (rather than the usual "we're a bookstore not a library" vibe). I don't have a problem seeing the same people day after day, reading an entire book from front to back, because they'll remember us as a happy place, and when they need to buy a gift for someone, we will be first and foremost in their mind. And then there's the champagne with the baby grand, which makes it a great meeting spot over the weekend - listen to a pianist, sip bubbly, and chill surrounded by books and people who love them.  

When it comes to a bookstore, a physical-pestle-and-mortar bookstore, I find myself relating to it like I would a potential partner. A good bookstore should allow me to be myself (slippers, curlers and all), that will inspire me, challenge me, respect me, and make me feel loved.
Kalk Bay Books
I want nothing more than to roam silently among the shelves, and when I grow tired, or cannot figure out what to read, I need a bookseller to nudge me in a direction, as a parent would. I cringe when I am greeted with a dull-paled face bookseller who cannot tell me where they keep Roald Dahl, or when asked what is selling well the reply is merely “Oh, I don’t know” ended with an awkward silence.

It does sound like I expect the world from a bookstore, from its stock holding, to its knowledgeable and approachable staff.

Besides the glowing covers, helpful staff and the books (no doubt) what is it about a bookstore that envelopes us readers, book lovers and information seekers so? There is just something about a bookstore, the feel of raised spot UV on the spines.  

I’d love to know what you love about your favourite bookstore. Tell us where it is?

Monday, July 1, 2013

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

About the Book

So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one...

Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and step-mother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Adbullah, Pari, as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named, is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their skulls touching, their limbs tangled. 

 One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand. Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways that we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history, and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.


There is a beauty in the written word; stringing together instructions, plots, feelings, scenery, song and secrets. Hosseini does this with the woeful hand of ease, he makes the daunting task of wielding power, heartache, and disappointments seem easy as if it unrolls like a tablecloth.
His previous novels have always been set aside, intimidating and coercing me to delve past the veil. And the Mountains Echoed is a novel woven together with great skill of an accomplished author, the tellings of one act of sacrifice (A finger must be cut to save the hand) that ripples through the lives of generations, family and wavers the strongest of men.
There is no need for me to lament the victories of this novel, it’s an undeniable truth, one I am happy to give Hosseini – he proves it in his skill. So strip the commerciality of it away and delve deeper into a setting of war, poverty and family. Hosseini’s characters are dreadfully unhappy, from Nila Wahdati, a wounded woman chastened by her time and expectation of being an Afghan woman torn between freedom and security, to a Greek aid-doctor based in Kabul who cannot seem to find what it is he is looking for?
It strikes the reader almost instantly that this story is more than just a journey, but a sneezed-in-pepper advice code book of sorts. Characters are flung across the world, only to be magnetically drawn to their fates; so begins the fable. The formula that strings along in the premise of his other novels. 
In a review by The Guardian, by Alexander Linklater:
... the threat of bland formula is instantly dissolved in Hosseini's elemental narrative chemistry.

Do we comment on the way the story was so evocative? Or merely accept it as fiction? Or is this how we western-cultured dwellers experience a ravaged world?
I can find fault in the sameness of Hosseini’s novel to what we are calling the Afghanistan-Fiction genre that happily plays house to some of the twenty-first century’s greatest novels. I find novels such as this one almost paramount to our reading experience, as we know the stove is hot and that swearing will earn you soap on your tongue. We of reading cultures need books like this, even if they give us turning stomachs, broken hearts and sour moods.  
Hossieni didn’t disappoint with his third novel.
And the Mountains Echoed was chosen as Exclusive Books recommended books for June.  You can follow my posts here.
About the Author
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the United States in 1980. His novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns were international bestsellers, published in thirty-four countries. The graphic novel of The Kite Runner was published in 2011. In 2006 he was named a US Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency. He lives in northern California. 
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