Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Every so often, if you’re lucky, you find a book – in this case, I stole a copy of this proof off Tarryn Talbot’s desk. It was ear-marked for some more deserving and prominent media person – or at least was going to be. I am rather glad I committed a petty crime with book – I didn’t realise that this little gem was buried beneath the surface.

We meet Suzy Swanson, a rather lovable narrator who doesn’t actually speak. So begins the novel at the point where Suzy cannot come to the terms that "sometimes, things just happen", after her ex-best-friend drowns. Even when she was a good swimmer; or that she wasn’t that nice to Suzy for a while. It’s an incredibly heart-breaking novel, to say the least.

So to try and grapple with such grief, Suzy convinces herself that Franny was stung by a deathly-venomous jelly-fish. So she researches her way around various breeds of jelly-fish, slowly convincing herself that she is right about how Franny died.

As Benjamin weaves a vast amount of information throughout this tiny-looking novel, you learn alongside Suzy that perhaps life isn’t just how it used to be. A protagonist so real and grotesquely hurt she captures the readers heart with one page. It’s easy to see ourselves in Suzy, in the journey it takes her to unpack her grief, her life, and the moment of learning that bad things can just happen.
I don’t want to give you a long-winded review on plot, and on narrative, nor do I want to unpack the woeful battle of grief and adolescence. I do want to tell you that you will have to pick this book up, sooner or later, you will cry, and you will be pulled in (by the collar) and forced to watch this gorgeous girl – Suzy Q – learn about jelly-fish, and make new friends.

For lovers of John Green, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald and E. Lockhart – This is one for the books, get your hands on it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Kelly meets Chris Riddell

Taken from Chris Riddell's website

I am sure you have guessed what this post is about? Well, if not, I am still going to loudly tell you that I got to meet and interview my favourite illustrator/author/person in the entire book world (besides the great Dahl or Suess). Yes. Yes. I got to meet Mr Chris Riddell. It didn't simply just happen, so before I carry on, I have to thank Tarryn Talbot.

Yes, this is a portrait of Tarryn.

I also want to thank Tamarin from I Want a Dodo, who so wonderfully (as she always does) arrived to help hold a camera, get my books signed when I had to rush off, and is just all round awesome. She even went so far as to capture pictures from his doodle book.

While I had big plans to make a video of my interview, and frame Mr Riddell's artwork, it didn't really end up like that. Which is why I owe most of the post to these two lovely ladies (and Mr Riddell of course!).

During his author tour, Chris Riddell, charmed and captivated audiences around the country with his vivid and gorgeous illustrations. Rightly named the Children's Laureate for 2015-2017 (you can follow his Laureate Log on Instagram) I got the profound opportunity to interview him in front of a growing crowd of children at Love Books. If you haven't managed to get your hands on a Riddell book, I suggest you do. You can find a list of his books here.

It's not a blog post without a signed book (or books), in my opinion. 

I even got my very own Riddell original!!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Gillian Flynn's Dark Places Official Trailer

Perhaps you cannot call me a fan of Gillian Flynn, if I only loved her from her third book - which, incidentally, was the first book I had read of hers. I waved Gone Girl around like the hero soldier of the book world. It was what we had been waiting for - something dark, disturbing and incredibly violent. 

I went trudging through her backlist, but it was Tamarin at I Want a Dodo (her review of the novel can be found here), who finally convinced me to get through this one. And look, a movie - again - starring Charlize Theron.

About the Book

Taken off Goodreads

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars. Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben's innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother's? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back? She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day... especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find. Who did massacre the Day family?

Cannot wait to see what it is like?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

It is no secret that I am a fan of Marisa de los Santos. I was handed her first novel Love Walked In and the title gave it all away, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My review of Falling Together can be found here.

“He smiled the kind of smile that is the reason for wars and poetry.”

The Precious One is a beautiful evocation of the chosen daughter in the Cleary Family. Taisy and Marcus, twins, have been cast aside by Wilson Cleary – a brilliant man, an inventor, a scientist – but Willow, who is his love child from an affair with artist Caro.

When Wilson invites Taisy and Marcus for an extended stay, Marcus says no immediately, but Taisy goes because it’s Taisy, and she is a sucker for all things Wilson Cleary.

So begins this family saga of old meets new, and new has to move over. Marisa de los Santos truly knows the family dynamic, its bristle points and where to let up the drama. Compared to her previous novels, this one is by the darker of the four.

As young Willow is sent to public school for the first time because Wilson has taken ill, she is forced to navigate life in territories he hasn’t prepared her for in her widely educated home schooling. A teacher takes a liking to Willow and lines begin to blur. Luka who befriends Willow, adds a definitive point in what Willow is going to learn about love.

When Taisy arrives at the house, she also arrives back to a town she left ages ago. Ben, the boy Taisy gave her heart to, is also back. So begins the facing the past, the deciding of the future and secrets in between them all.

A beautifully crafted novel with the deft hand of previous novels, de los Santos moves around family, love and hidden skeletons so easily. In parts, I found them melodramatic, and contrived, but then again I hadn’t picked up a book of cynical love triangles and brutally honest characters. I picked up a book that would whittle away at the bad and end up good – the modern day fairy tale, the ‘They All Lived Happily Ever After’ book.

I can happily tick this off the to-be read pile (you can watch the video here).

Monday, June 15, 2015

Alex van Tonder answers questions

It is with great excitement, and I mean excitement, that THE Alex van Tonder took the time in (no pun intended) to create a video response to some questions for the blog. 

Alex van Tonder is a copywriter, blogger (My Branded Life and Cape Town Girl), advertising guru and was named one of South Africa's most influential women on twitter. Her debut fiction novel is now available on Amazon and at your nearest bookshop. Check out more on This One Time.

Sit back, sip on your tea/coffee/hot beverage/wine (it's a public holiday - what the heck) and enjoy.

You can find Alex on twitterfacebookinstagram and on her website.

Thank you to Alex for doing this video interview for me!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Joburg's Literary Fest - Kingsmead Book Fair 2015

Now in its fourth year, Kingsmead Book Fair has fast become Joburg's Literary Festival. This is where authors, publishers, booksellers, and book lovers can be found rubbing shoulders, wine glasses in their hands and piles of signed books being passed around.

It all started in 2011 when a group of Kingsmead College, based in Rosebank, hosted a small book fair for the surrounding community. This event only hosted SA's top eight authors. It was the incredible support and response that grew this tiny community book fair to one of the Book Trade's biggest events next to Franschhoek Literary Festival.

This year was my first year, having heard all the things about wine and books being shared all at once with some of the world's biggest authors, I had to make an appearance. (Not to mention that Lood du Plessis was chairing a panel).

Kingsmead hosted mounds of food stalls, book stalls and let's not mention the likes of Toby Shapshak, Khaya Dlanga, Alex van Tonder, Sarah Waters, John Boyne, Chris Bradford, and Olivier Truc, and that is actually only naming a mere few authors that stamped their way through the book fair.

I managed to squeeze in two talks, one on the art of translation (Gained in Translation: Chaired by Lood du Plessis. Authors: Karin Brynard, Carol Campbell, Jaco van Schalkwyk & Olivier Truc); and a digital one (Digital Overload: Chaired by Ben Williams. Authors: Emma Sadleir & Tamsyn de Beer, techno guru Toby Shapshak and Alex van Tonder).

You have to get to next year's one, no doubt it'll be bigger, better and boasting tons more literary gems. So keep looking for updates on their website.

We even took a selfie

Monday, May 18, 2015

Vlog #2: My To-Be Read Pile

To kick off Monday, I spent the weekend doing a vlog (rather than bashing away at my research project). 

This month's blog is my To-Be Read Pile. It's a mixture of Young Adult, Fiction, and a Local Non-Fiction book. I really hope you enjoy it. 

If you happened to miss the last vlog you can check out the Book Rut Un-Rutters here.

Don't forget to subscribe, follow, tweet, tag or email me any suggestions. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Colouring Craze

I have been neglecting you. I have taken up a health column on Daily Planet and trying to make it out alive while doing an Honours Degree in Creative Writing at Wits. So my reading time has halved, well my 'relaxing-reading-time' - I really do read ALOT but not the reviewing kind. 

So it is all now the craze to colour-in. As a holey-letter colourer myself and on-the-phone-doodler I find this new fad fascinating. Oh, don't get me wrong, I hold myself to the high standard that is the cover and it stresses me out. So with not much reading time under my belt each day, I gave it a bash. Before I knew it an hour had gone past and I had created a semi-idyllic-Van-Gogh, ok maybe not a Van Gogh, but it was as close as I was going to get.

I went looking around the net. IOL reported that the colouring in book called The Secret Garden has now sold over 1.5 million copies! And illustrator Johanna Bashford is outselling Harper Lee and George R.R. Martin on the Amazon charts. 

It is a craze that is hitting Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter; pulling families together, destressing the stressed and making booksellers a new fad to bulk up on.

See my attempt at colouring...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Pen's Behaving Badly by Paige Nick

It is no secret I am Paige Nick's biggest fan, from her Sunday Times column; stalking her on twitter; reading her smutty choose-your-own-sex-adventure novels penned with Helen Moffat and Sarah Lotz (Helena S. Paige); and now it is with the greatest excitement to present Paige's collection of columns in one bountiful tome, Pen's Behaving Badly

Paige is best known for her weekly column in the Sunday Times Life & Style magazine. As one of the anchor columnists of the Life & Style section since 2011, she has produced hundreds of hilarious columns and received hundreds more hilarious responses. Pens Behaving Badly is a collection of the best of her columns and the best of the wild letters they’ve inspired. 

This is a great honour to host Paige's blog tour, I hope you enjoy the video, it's quite raunchers (hehe).

Follow Paige on twitter, and visit her on her blog.

Monday, March 23, 2015

John Green's Paper Towns Official Movie Trailer

If you are a huge fan of John Green, wait who am I kidding, of course you are! If you haven't gotten your grubby book-whorish hands on Paper Towns you haven't yet lived. 

Set to release in the US 24 July 2015

About the Book

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life – dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge – he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues – and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

Paper Towns debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and won the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery. It is taught in many high school and college curricular, often in conjunction with Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, which is an important text within the novel.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tribute to Sir Terry Prachett

Photo by Kaleem Rorke

I picked up my first Terry Pratchett novel when I was thirteen years old. It was Mort, and it remains, in my opinion, his greatest Discworld novel to date. It was with this fine work of literary hilarity that Terry Pratchett introduced me to the fantasy genre. In the years to come his books continued to work their magic on my eager young mind and I found myself gravitating towards books stores, solely in search of the latest Discworld Novel. 

Through Sir Pratchett (because I would never presume to be on a first name basis with the man) I discovered my next favourite fantasy author, Neil Gaiman, when I read that defining classic of the fantasy-humour genre: Good Omens. I found the mixture of Pratchett's humour and Neil Gaiman's dark and often disturbing writing style, an exhilarating mix. I have lost count of the number of times I have read that book, trawling through pages trying to distinguish which author wrote which paragraph or chapter. 

It was this kind of passion and love for reading that Terry Pratchett inspired in his fans. His comedy was on point and his satire was biting. Groups of friends were built around a mutual love for his works, quoting select lines as 'in jokes'. He was a hero to every geek, fantasy reader, D&D gamer, lover of laughter, and many more besides.

It would be no stretch of the imagination to say that Terry Pratchett shaped my childhood and ultimately the man I would become. Before Pratchett I did not read. At all. Because of him I feel lost while waiting for the next favourite instalment of whichever fantasy epic I am reading at the moment. Because of him, my first real job was with Exclusive Books, because I needed to be close to the escape that books provided. Because of him I decided that teaching English simply must be my chosen profession. 

Without a sound education in the English language, the next generation will not know that sense of underlying pity for Death in his efforts to be more like the living; the sense of pride in our Captain Vimes when he comes out on top; the elation I felt every time Moist von Lipwig gets one over whoever is foolish enough to try and outsmart him; or the exasperation that comes whenever Rincewind stuffs up again. I could name favourite Discworld characters all day, but I won't. Read the books and decide who you love best.

Terry Pratchett was a pillar of the comedic fantasy genre and to say that we have lost a great man is an incredible understatement. We have lost the one man who understands that, as Death so eloquently puts it, ‘Humans need fantasy to be human’. The real world is so often unforgiving and cruel, as Mr Pratchett found first hand, and it is only through the escape of fantasy that we are able to conjure some magic into our lives. 

Terry Pratchett, you were and will always remain the magic in my life.

No one gets pardoned for living
- Death

- Robert Smith

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Trailer: Touch by Claire North

Cover image (SA Edition)

I have never been the strongest fantasy fan, but after The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Claire North's first novel, which I have to admit (rather sheepishly) that I didn't really enjoy.  It seems North has taken a turn with her new novel, Touch. You have to see the trailer below to know what I mean.

Looks like a goodie...

Friday, February 20, 2015

I met Amanda 'F**king' Palmer

Working in the publishing industry gives you more perks than you can count on one hand - besides the facade of glamour, the free books, the access to books, the ability to talk books, sell them and constantly be around like-minded book lovers. 

So, you have to imagine my excitement when I was given the task to sub in or in layman's terms to 'sell' in Amanda Palmer's title The Art of Asking. (Subscribe, or in short Sub, is a jargon word in the industry meaning to get stores to take stock of a list of titles for a month). You can ask my boss, papers flew and there was a fair amount of screaming.

Amanda Palmer took JHB by storm, by doing what only Amanda Palmer could do, but just simply tweet and arrive - she rocked up, performed, did a signing at Exclusive Books Rosebank. THREE AND A HALF HOURS this woman captivated the audience and signed books. 

While I have an amazing video of Amanda Palmer reading the first chapter of her book, I thought the interview with Maria Popova, from Brain Pickings, was far more informative. (See it below).

So as the crowd gathers around the coffee counter, Amanda Palmer reads the first chapter of her book, The Art of Asking, gets fans to pick passages at random and reads them aloud, and when she has each audience member in the palm of her hand, she whips out a ukulele and stands on the coffee counter and sings The Ukulele Anthem.

Amanda Palmer on a coffee shop counter

Palmer is everything you expect her to be, artsy, ballsy, with a trait that catches every one's eye.  She talks, hugs, and takes photographs with every single fan. Truly awesome.

Bradley Lutz, Amanda Palmer, Me
Photo Credit: Talita van Graan
Then, if Amanda Palmer couldn't get any cooler look what she left fans, booksellers, coffee lovers, and all to gander on (I think this has to be the COOLEST thing I have ever seen an author do).

The signed coffee counter

And that is what happened when I met Amanda 'F**king' Palmer...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vlog #1: Book Rut Un-rutters

As the year speeds along, I needed new fresh inspiration for the year of blogging ahead. So, I get to share my very new project with you. A VLOG! 

While I realise it's new, probably badly edited, and a few things need to be changed - I am excited to see what you guys think.  Vlogs aren't the only thing I'll be adding and rejigging this year.  So stick around to find out.

In this month's vlog, I talk about book recommendations that are bound to get you out of any reading rut.  Check out the video below.

Please do let me know what you think of the video (thumbs up, comments, or even pop me an email).

Happy Reading

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