Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Confessions of a Book Whore: My To Be Read Pile

Firstly, let me apologise for not being ever-so present on the web as of late; my mind has been knee-deep in whimsical reading. Not to mention that this is the book industry's busiest time as it gears up for Christmas. But if you're anything like me, you forget about the frenzy and panic what you'll be reading during the festive season! There are SO many books to choose from, almost a lucky packet of literature.  I'll be heading off to the beaches of Mozambique, I need some entertainment for those long lounging hours.
So today I wanted to record my 'planned' reading for my holiday...
The Banned and the Banished series by James Clemens
The Banned and the Banished is a fantasy novel series by James Clemens and follows a girl named Elena, "who ripens into the heritage of lost power". Elena's journey throughout the series eventually leads to the defeat of the Dark Lord and an important process of self-discovery. (taken from Wikipedia)  
I started reading this series years ago, when I started out as a bookseller at Exclusive Books; I never did finish it, and a expanse of beach is the perfect place to delve into a fantasy series.
Girl Walks Into a Bar by Helena S. Paige
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.
 Do I really need to say more? I cannot wait for this one!!
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
Spanning fifty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement is a deeply moving narrative of family secrets, the legacy of trauma, and the profound connections between mothers and daughters, that returns readers to the compelling territory Amy Tan so expertly mapped in The Joy Luck Club. With her characteristic wisdom, grace, and humor, she conjures a story of the inheritance of love, its mysteries and senses, its illusions and truths. (Taken from Goodreads)
The Joy Luck Club was such an amazing piece of fiction, and yes it is the only piece of fiction I've read of Tan's.  The Valley of Amazement has buzz fizzing off the title alone this season - needless to say, I'll be diving into this one!
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
A remarkable literary debut -- shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize! The unflinching and powerful story of a young girl's journey out of Zimbabwe and to America. (Taken from Goodreads)
Local flavour on the Man Booker Shortlist - I am lazy enough to delve into the select few that shine on the prestigious list.
I could go on forever with the books that need reading over the festive season, but then we'd run out of time and post space. I am interested in hearing what your Christmas books are?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Author's Pie: Mary Watson

I have been on diet - can you tell?  The lack of pie is my fault alone - the world of golden pastry and bubbling filling is enough to set my pant size to increasing at the drop of a chocolate bar.
Since it's summer and fruit is the poetry of food for this season, how could I not serve up some delicious pie this month. Today we have Mary Watson, author of Moss, a collection of interlinking short stories. Originally from Cape Town, she currently lives in Galway, Ireland. She won the Caine Prize for African Literature in 2006 and was shortlisted for the Rolex Protégé and Mentorship programme in 2012. Her novel, The Cutting Room was published by Penguin South Africa in April this year.
1) How would you classify The Cutting Room?

It’s something of a hybrid book. It has been described it as a literary thriller because it engages with genre while retaining features of a more literary novel. 

2) Why did you use the Haunted House as a predominant plot anchor for The Cutting Room?

I wanted to write a story about criminals, ghosts and buildings. A haunted house seemed good way to integrate some of my main ideas. And I love gothic fiction where run down old houses indicate a kind of inner decay.

3) What is your favourite scene in your novel?

Hard to say, but I quite enjoyed writing the scenes where the rot in Lucinda and Amir’s relationship begins to show. Perhaps the scene where she finds him reading about prisons in the middle of the night and they discuss tailor made punishment – it’s clear that they are disconnected, yet there is still something tender in their interaction with each other. 

4) What book changed your life?

Beloved by Toni Morrison made a huge impact on me when I read it almost twenty years ago. I love the way it combines social commentary, magic, ghosts, genre and prose. Most of all, I love the style of the book, how it uses words in way that is strong, beautiful and acrobatic. 

5) What is your favourite smell and why?
Jasmine at the beginning of a Cape Town spring; small children out in sun and grass then freshly bathed; traces of my mother’s perfume on her clothes.
Mary's Books
A dark, all-pervading sexuality haunts this beautifully wrought collection of interlinked short stories set against the backdrop of the diverse communities of Cape Town. The voice of the collection opens up territory that has only been gingerly approached in South African literature, tenderly probing the occult regions of the psyche in order to expose sexuality and repression, passion and inhibition, and joy and sin. The intriguing overlap of ambiguities and contradictions exposed by this gentle inquiry illuminates the rifts and tears in the tapestry of ardent yet unrecognized South African longings and desires.
The Cutting Room

When her husband Amir abruptly leaves home, film editor Lucinda is left angry and puzzled. Where has Amir gone, and why? In the months before he left, Amir seemed troubled and preoccupied and their marriage had become strained and tense. Now Lucinda worries that his departure could be her fault. Soon afterwards, Lucinda is brutally assaulted in a knife attack, which throws her even more off balance.

 Searching for composure, she finds a distraction in assisting an older friend, Austrian film-maker Thomas, with a documentary he is making about an old mission station which is allegedly haunted. But the experience becomes an unnerving one for Lucinda who finds Thomas’s growing obsession with the story behind his film worrying. As tensions build, so does the underlying mood of constant menace, until Lucinda is confronted with a disturbing revelation.

The Cutting Room is a thoughtful and provocative novel of loss and loneliness, longing and guilt, and the different ways in which people can be haunted.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Boeke October Selection 2013

This will be the last EB Recommends blog post for 2013.  This year is screaming to an abrupt halt and I cannot seem to keep up.  I won't bore you with my lack of posting, the lack of time and my slow up take of the next big fiction read but I will tell you, that for eight months, I have always had a book to read, some surprised me, others bored me, but all engrossed me.  So with a stray tear I give you the last EB Recommends for October... The winning book will be announced on the 25th of October - I'll keep you updated.

 The Round House is a tender story by Louise Erdrich that has been compared to To Kill a Mockingbird. One Sunday in the summer of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatised and reluctant to reveal the details of what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill-prepared. While his father endeavors to wrestle justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated and sets out with his trusted friends Cappy, Zack and Angus to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them to the Round House, a sacred place of worship for the Ojibwe. 

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick is the latest incredible novel from the author of The Silver Linings Playbook. Matthew Quick asks poignant questions about loneliness and friendship, and how society can so utterly forget its neediest citizens. On the day of his 18th birthday, Leonard plans a murder-suicide - he packs the Nazi pistol his grandfather brought back from the war and starts his school day with a plan, targeting his best friend turned bully. Creeping through the morning with this secret knowledge, he attempts to reconcile the lives that have gone wrong around him, and to savour the freedom that comes from his imminent demise. Ultimately this is a quirky story about hope, and how just a glimmer of something more can make a world of difference.
The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison, a long-awaited novel from one of the most popular writers of the last few years. Zoe Fleming is an American attorney working with an NGO devoted to combating child sexual assault in Lusaka, Zambia. When an adolescent girl is raped in the dark of night and delivered by strangers to the hospital, Zoe’s organisation is called in to help. Working alongside Zambian police officer Joseph Kabuta, Zoe learns that the girl’s assailant was not a vagrant or a paedophile, but the son of a powerful industrialist with deep ties to the Zambian government. As the rape trial builds to a climax and sends shockwaves through Zambian society, Zoe must radically reshape her assumptions about love, loyalty, family, and especially the meaning of justice.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon is the first book in a seven-part series of dizzying imagination. The novel is set in the year is 2059 and features nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney who works in the criminal underworld of Scion London. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. Paige is a dream walker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing. The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut that is sure to be a huge success.

One Night in Winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore is a chilling thriller that will have you glued to each page. Set in Moscow in 1945, Stalin and his courtiers are celebrating their victory over Hitler when shots ring out. On a nearby bridge, a teenage boy and girl lie dead, but this is no ordinary tragedy and these are no ordinary teenagers. These are the children of Russia’s most important leaders who attend the most exclusive school in Moscow. Is it murder? A suicide pact? Or a conspiracy against the state? Directed by Stalin himself, an investigation begins as children are arrested and forced to testify against their friends – and their parents. Based on a true story and featuring real-life historical characters, this heartbreaking novel of passion, intrigue and betrayal takes you inside 1940s Russia with thrilling authenticity.
And the winner is...
The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison

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