Wednesday, November 30

The December /January book list

I don't know about you, but I love reading over the holiday season. It's probably one of the only times I get a chance to really dedicate some time to just reading. Here are some cool books you may want to check out this holiday season (click titles to read more):

1. The Hunger Games Triology - by Suzanne Collins
Highly recommend this if you looking for an exciting read. It falls into "Young Adult", but I think its great read for adults too. I'm almost on the third book and I am absolutely loving it. The movie has been made and is set to be released in March 2012 (note: this is not a love story, more of a dark adventure)

2. Summer Sisters - by Judy Blume
This is a great holiday read. It's Judy Blume for adults (aka great chick-lit) . I read it years ago and liked it so much I got a few of my friends to read it too.

3. The Tiger's Wife - by Tea Obreht
I just read about this book recently and it sounds very interesting.  

Thursday, November 3

Dark Poppy’s Demise by S.A Partridge

Reviewed by Bobby

What the books about:
Jenna often feels like those around her don’t “get her”. She is a perfect product of a broken home, with a father who would rather be at work than with his children and a younger brother who she can only just bear to be around. Besides that, she has a best friend who is her polar opposite and is hopelessly in love with a boy who just started dating the school’s It girl. The only place Jenna really feels like she belongs is online, where she goes by the name of Dark_Poppy. Jenna receives a Facebook invitation by a rather gorgeous stranger called Robert Rose who seems to be completely into her. Jenna quickly falls head over heels for this mysterious boy but things go horribly wrong and she learns the hard way that people are not always what they seem, especially not people you met on the internet.

What I thought:
I was transported back to teenagerdom from page one of this book. Jenna is like so many young girls who spend time obsessing over things that seem to matter so much during adolescence and who just want to belong and be loved, I definitely recognised my teenage self in some of her behaviours. She is also the perfect example of what might happen when a child is allowed unsupervised internet access, something which I’m vehemently against. I think this is a must-read for any young adult girl as the lesson that can be learnt from this book is definitely an invaluable one.

Sunday, October 9

The October/November book list

Here are the 4 books that  Ive chosen for my Oct/Nov book list (aka my reading suggestions and books I hope to read) -You can click on the title to read more about book:

1. The Night Circus - by Erin Morgenstern
2. I Don't Know How She Does It - by Allison Pearson
3. The Dovekeepers - by Alice Hoffman
4. One Day - by David Nicholls

Thursday, September 8

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Reviewed by Bobby

Helen Hamilton has always known that she was different to the rest of the small town, Nantucket teens that surround her but has done her best to hide her strangeness for all her life. But when the Delos family move to town, things begin to change for her. The first time Helen lays eyes on the gorgeous Lucas Delos, she is overcome with the desire to kill him. The three weeping figures Helen sees when any of the Delos family are around do nothing to help her predicament. Once Helen shakes the wrath of the Three Furies she begins to learn about where she comes from and learns that what she always thought was myth and fantasy, is actually very much her reality. Helen also finds herself irrevocably in love with Lucas but quickly discovers why they can never be together…

This book should come with a disclaimer stating that you will be addicted. More often than I’d like, I find myself reading books just for the sake of finishing them and when a book comes along and casts a “can’t-put-it-down” spell, it’s just so wonderful. I adore Josephine Angelini’s beautiful, descriptive writing style and enjoyed the way she’s weaved a modern day story so rich in mythology. The love story (or none love story, whichever way you want to look at it) between Helen and Lucas was butterfly inducing and totally epic. The last page of the book left me utterly disappointed though, when the conflict in the story wasn’t revolved, so I quickly whipped out my laptop to discover that Starcrossed is the first part of a trilogy, which allowed me a sigh of relief (note: unfortunately, it seems like we have to wait until May next year for part two) 

Starcrossed fills the hole that Twilight left after Breaking Dawn, the novel, was released and I’m sensing we’ll see a movie coming along soon with a heck of a lot of hype (i.e. screaming teenage girls).

To read is to fly...

To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries." - A C Grayling

Sunday, August 21

Books I love... by Kelly

Written by Kelly, from It's a book Thing blog
Follow her on twitter: @QueenKelso

 1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

I would hold my breath each time I read this book.  The pages would crunch in that overheated classroom as the revolution took over!  It wasn’t the love story between Lucie Manette, Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay or the menacing knitting of Madame Defarge.  This story had everything from the brilliance of writing from Dickens to characters that I hold dear to my heart.  A mighty feat is this read, but one that should and will stay with you forever.
2. Atonement by Ian McEwan

This book will always be the first of many books I read as a bookseller and the one book that ended a bookclub between Tarryn and I in varsity.  Ian McEwan has a way of describing scenes so delicately that you the reader see the thin line in which Briony Tallis is about to cross.  A story of misunderstanding and blame that sets a ripple effect in motion, impacting and ruining lives, leaving Briony Tallis atoning for one event in her life…

3. Matilda by Roald Dahl

I am Matilda!  Matilda is my past and my future as I stalk bookshops and hang around libraries.  Dahl’s intricate manner of describing things so disgustingly and Eek-worthy leaves me cringing, even today.  Matilda, a book lover, tells us all that no matter the hardships you face books will always be your savior.
4. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Set in the revolution is the greatest adventure novel I have ever read.  This novel is peppered with mystery, love, beauty, grand masque parties, painted faces and a race against time to save lives.  What more could you want when lying in the bath with a bottle of wine…

Please note: "Books I love..." is a new series, where an awesome, book-loving ladies share a few of their favourite books with us.

Monday, August 1

The August/September book list

Here are the 4 books that  Ive chosen for my August/September book list (aka my reading suggestions) -You can click on the title to read more about book:

1. State of Wonder - by Ann Patchett
2. The Red Garden - by Alice Hoffman
3. Starcrossed - by Josephine Angelini (young adult)
4. This Way Up - by Paige Nick (Local)

Friday, July 15

Books I love... by Annika

Written by Annika

1.The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

This book made me so happy when I read it and I laughed so much people stared at me when I was in a public place. It is part comic book, part family saga with an unlikely hero:

Meet T.S. Spivet - boy cartographer, award nominee, hobo. The story follows him on his journey to accept his award and ultimately to find peace with his silent, stone-faced cowboy father.

The layout is part of what makes this book so special as the square format literally holds the story together. Each chapter is accompanied by maps, graphs and observation by T.S. Notes about the human condition and life as we know it and sometimes just how it is in the eyes of a little boy.

2.Why do you kill? by Juergen Todenhoefer

Reading this broke my heart in a good way. It’s a bit difficult to explain as this book just confirmed for me what I suspected all along.

Juergen Todenhoefer, former German government member turned media mogul, travelled undercover to Iraq to speak with the local resistance. People fighting not only for their freedom from the Americans, but also from Al Qaida in their own country. He tells their story of how this is achieved by the highest standards of humanity and utter respect for the innocent human life.

In a nutshell he is a man who inspired me, telling a sad, true story that gives hope.

3.The Travel Book by Lonely Planet

I think technically this could be considered a coffee table book, but then again usually coffee table books are not meant to be read. I read in this book all the time. Two pages dedicated to each country there is in the world: pictures, map, things to do, best time to go, etc. Condensed to give an overview in the most beautiful and inspiring way possible. At one point mine was covered in two different coloured post-its from front to back – one colour for countries I have been to, one colour for countries I still want to go (quite a lot more of those unfortunately).

It’s quite big and heavy, but I love it so much that it has moved across oceans already twice with me. If I can’t travel, I will browse to feel away and better. It’s my mini-vacation vacation book.

4. The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren

When I was little my cousin’s mother died and I just asked her if she was sad. She said no, because her mother was in Nangijala. Astrid Lindgren created Nangijala, an afterlife and a land in the “campfire and storytelling days”. That’s where the Brother Lionheart meet again after they both have died and where the story really starts. It’s simply the most amazing story of two very unlikely brothers, having adventures and conquering evil against all odds.

I always liked the idea about this kind of afterlife. It also stuck with me since childhood that a story can give someone such comfort and would have such beautiful power to change a grieving child’s world. My Dad gave me a new copy a few years ago and it travels with me; it has become my ‘Alchemist’ and my ‘Little Prince’, explaining the inexplicable things in life.
Please note: "Books I love..." is a new series. Each week an awesome, book-loving lady will share a few of her favourite books with us.

Wednesday, July 13

A book is the only place...

"A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face.  It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy."  - Edward P. Morgan

Friday, July 8

Summer in the City

Summer in the City - by Candace Bushnell
reviewed by Eeden

What's it about?
'Summer and the City' is a wonderfully written prequel to Sex and the City. In this follow-up book by Candace Bushnell -prior was The Carrie Diaries- we discover how Carrie found her lifelong friends, get into a mature relationship and also test the waters of serious journalism. She joins a writing school named, ‘The New School’ in which she meets new friends, gain confidence and most importantly, find love.
With only a few months in New York, Carrie needs to find a way that prevents her from going to Brown University in the fall. Follow her on a journey through the streets of the Big Apple as she fights her way back into society.

My thoughts:
It was a very girly book, which I can never resist. I found it very easy to relate to and I love that I now know all the details about how the four girls met, etc. It is an easy to read book with loads of excitement and I can't wait for the next one (there simply has to be  a next one). I love how the four girls are so grounded and always entertaining. I can honestly say, there was never a dull moment in the book where I want to skip a few pages. The book is set in the summer time and the descriptions are exactly how I'd imagine summer in New York to be. Loved it.

 Who should read it?
‘Summer and the City’ is an exciting page turner for all the SATC lovers out there. It is a perfect read for the winter days, under the covers with a cup of coffee.

Thursday, July 7

Author interview: Sally Partridge

Sally Partridge may still be young -  but she has already had three of her young adult fiction novels published, won awards for her writing and was recently named one of the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans for 2011. As if thats not enough, she finds time to contribute to various publications and is currently the editor of  The Event Newspaper.
 This week I got to ask this talented writer a few questions.... 

Your latest novel, Dark Poppy's Demise, has just been released in South Africa. Can you tell me a bit about it?

Dark Poppy’s Demise is my third published novel for teen readers. Sixteen year old Jenna Brooks is your average teen trying to get through high school without making too many waves, crushing after the class hunk, and living vicariously through her best friend’s love life. When Jenna meets a guy online she believes her greatest wish has finally come true: to be loved. But anyone who’s read my previous two novels will know that I don’t do happily ever after and terrible things tend to happen to my characters. Long story short: meeting strangers online is a bad idea. Full stop.

How long did it take you to write this book?

This book took an inordinately long time. After I had finished it in third person I then decided to re-write the entire thing in first person. I’d say it took me about six to eight months before I finally let go.

What mainly inspires and influences your writing?

Anything and everything. Here’s a list: Karen Russell’s short stories, Winter, Overcast days, The White Stripes, The smell of second hand books, Chapman’s Peak, The little streets in Noordhoek that abound with gnarled trees, Ivy covered houses, De Waal Drive at twilight, The ocean, Mountain drives, The X-Men cartoon series, Roman Polanski movies, Tom Waits, Abandoned houses, Dub step (don’t ask me why), The TV series 'Skins', Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Are your characters ever based on people you actually know?

I always joke that Principle Crabtree from The Goblet Club was based on my own high school principle who used to make us sing hymns over and over again until he was satisfied but usually I stay clear of basing characters on people I know. That said I can safely say that Jenna in Dark Poppy’s Demise has a little bit of me in her.

Have you already started work on your next novel?

I’m generally busy with at least two projects at any given time, but its not like I slave away day and night writing novels. I have a full time job so what generally happens is I’ll lie in bed jotting down thoughts in a notebook or if I have a spare Saturday I’ll write a few chapters. I do have a completed manuscript waiting in the works so hopefully something will happen with that.

So far all your books have been young adult fiction, would you ever write in another genre?

I never set out to write for the youth. I enjoy writing about young people. They tend to experience life on a much grander scale than the rest of us. (Plus I enjoy doing terrible things to them ala Christopher Pike) I wouldn't want to change.

Who is your favourite author?

I have several authors that I really enjoy. Growing up I devoured anything and everything by K.A. Applegate, Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. I thoroughly enjoyed the Twilight and Harry Potter series (even though by that stage I was well into my adulthood). I also read a lot of South African fiction.

Do you have any advice for writers who are struggling to finish their first novel?

Just finish it. When you get halfway you’ll probably start to lose interest and write less and less. Push through that. It’ll be worth it at the end when you have a completed manuscript.

Where can people buy your books?

Exclusive Books, Wordsworths, Kalahari, Loot.
Thanks, Sally.
You can follow Sally on Twitter @Sapartridge
and can visit her blog here

Wednesday, June 22

Books are the perfect entertainment...

" Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life." -  Stephen King

Monday, June 20

Books I love... by Jean

Written by Jean

1. The life of Pi - by Yann Martel

I can’t believe I was ever reluctant to read this book. It is quite possibly one of the best I’ve read.

Let me start by saying the writing is superb, each image perfectly formed by the literary genius that is Yann Martel. More than that, the story line is magical. We follow the journey of 16-year-old Pi and his zookeeping family as they emigrate from India to Canada. Only they never arrive. Instead, an edge-of-seat adventure begins when the boat sinks, leaving Pi to face nature, to learn what it means to be human, to discover what it means to have faith. A dichotomous relationship is formed with a seasick Tiger named Richard Parker, who stays with Pi throughout the journey. Although mystical, Life of Pi leaves you with insight into things that are very real, forcing you to question your own beliefs and the purpose of it all.

2. One Day - by David Nicholls

It's one of those books that people either love or hate. And I love it. I don't want to give too much away but must say that David Nicholls has created a Modern classic.

One Day is not your average love story, it's no "Love in the Time of Cholera", instead it offers an honest look at the relationship between Emma and Dexter, its key protagonists. The book covers the same day for 20 years, and we watch as the two struggle to understand their feelings for each other. They seem to live in parallel worlds, but Nicholls writes in a way that makes you eagerly await the intersections. The characters are rich and the writing, although at times humorous, has a sad undertone. One Day is about fate, compromise and loneliness. And it's beautiful. Truly beautiful.

3. Like Water for Chocolate - by Laura Esquivel

Many of you may have read this one because it came out ages ago, but I have recently re-read it and re-fallen in love with it.

A book for all the romantics out there, Like Water for Chocolate will win you over. It’s about all things hedonistic, written like you’re hearing it from an old friend. Each section begins with a Mexican recipe, followed by the happenings on a Mexican ranch. Mama Elena rules the lives of her three daughters, and Tita, her youngest is forbidden to marry the man of her dreams. She begins to cook and transfers all her emotions onto her dishes. This in turn, affects anyone who eats the dishes. This book is totally addictive, and very easy to read. A definite YES if you haven’t read it already.

4. The Year of Magical Thinking - by Joan Didion

This is probably the most ‘serious’ of the lot. But such a wonderful read. Joan Didion writes about the grief of losing her husband, which if you have ever lost someone, will affect you profoundly. She writes intelligently with special consideration placed on style throughout.

I was not fully aware of the grieving process before reading this book. It opens with the death of her husband (John) and begins to rehash the past, their relationship, the birth of their daughter, the little things she took for granted and didn’t. It’s also not as sad as you think, in fact Joan discovers things about their relationship through death that she wouldn’t have in life. It’s worthy of the awards. Beautiful book.

Please note: "Books I love..." is a new series. Each week an awesome, book-loving lady will share a few of her favourite books with us.

Wednesday, June 15

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell
reviewed by Sally Partridge (writer)

I have a dedicated shelf of favourite reads that includes among others Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Sarah Lotz’ Pompidou Posse and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, but St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves tops the list and is something I can pick up again and again and again. It’s haunting, and beautifully written and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

To say that someone was raised by wolves implies that they had little or no adult supervision growing up. In the nineties, we called them Latchkey Kids – literally meaning that after school unsupervised kids would have to let themselves in to the house with a spare key when there was no-one home. Being raised by wolves can have a profound effect on a person. You can develop a maturity not present in others your age, or seek parental nurturing elsewhere – in other adults, and more often than not, in older or more dominant children ready to steer you up the wrong path. It can also result in you having to learn some very hard lessons about life, much earlier than you need to.

Karen Russell’s St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is an anthology of ten stories about children left to fend for themselves in an imagined fantastical America of an almost childish imagining.

It’s an indulgent, magically escapist read with a shadowy realism that transports the reader into the lives of the unfortunates living between its pages. Each story is deliciously imaginative, but comes with a sting in the tail that often ends the story on a bitter note.

  • In Ava Wrestles the Alligator, two young girls are left alone in their grandfather’s bayou theme park, Swamplandia! surrounded by alligator infested swamps.. Ava believes in her mentally handicapped sister’s made-up stories wholeheartedly, and it’s this childish naïveté that sees her lose her childhood in the worst way possible.
  • In Haunting Olivia, two brothers spend their days and nights riding giant sea turtle shells around an island, searching the dark haunted waters for the ghost of their little sister who died whilst under their care. It’s a tragic story of loss, made all the more poignant by the fact that the brothers use the imaginary maps that their sister drew of the island, to try and find her.
  • In Z.Z’s Sleep Away Camp for Disordered Dreamers we meet Elijah who sees the past in his dreams. It was because of this that his parents sent him to a summer camp for children suffering from dream disorders. There he meets Ogilvy, the only other kid that shares his disorder and falls in love with Emma, the hopeless insomniac.
  • In The Star-Gazer’s Log of Summer-Time Crime junior astrologist Oliver really wants to be part of the popular crowd. A chance encounter on the beach makes this dream a reality but Oliver soon discovers that being popular can sometimes mean being cruel to others, and breaking the law.
  • From Children’s Reminiscences of the Western Migration is truly fantastical, yet provides the most chilling insight into the cruel nature of humanity. Set in the wild prospecting age of America, Jacob’s family decide to uproot and follow the wagon trail west to seek out greener pastures. The fantastical comes in the form of Jacob’s father, who is a mythical Minotaur, who as the journey progresses becomes the symbol for every prospector’s misfortune.
  • In Lady Yeti and the Palace of the Artificial Snows a local ice rink becomes the focus of one boy’s hatred after he discovers that his father (and indeed most of the townspeople) uses the blizzard disco to mask their infidelity. Ice skating monkeys add an air of the impossible to this story of broken homes.
  • The City of Shells is an Easter Island sort of place framed by eerie giant conch shells. During a school trip to the island best friends Lillith and Laramie look for affection in two different but equally disturbing places. Laramie takes her conquests into the giant shells as a way of getting back at her father while fatherless Lillith discovers a twisted camaraderie with the island’s janitor during a storm.
  • In Out to Sea we meet Ava from the first story’s grandfather. It is years later, and grandpa Sawtooth is living out the rest of his days on a houseboat in the Out-to-Sea retirement community. He discovers a new lust for life after juvenile delinquent and kleptomaniac Augie has to visit him as part of her court ordered community service.
  • Accident Brief, Occurrence #00/422 tells the tale of a boy descended from pirates. Tek is a member of the Waitiki Valley Boys Choir that makes the annual pilgrimage to the Aokeora Glacier to sing down an avalanche. He hates the ritual, his stepfather, his choirmaster, and forms an unlikely alliance with Rangi, a self-inflicted mute that hates the world more than he does.
  • The title story St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves takes the old adage literally and deals with a nunnery devoted to the education and sophistication of girls born to werewolves. At St Lucy’s, were-children are taught to speak English, wear shoes and mind their manners. It’s a frightening allegory on the loss of childhood, and sums up neatly the theme of the anthology, in a way that will stay with the reader for days after.
The novel was first recommended to me by a friend with an individual taste for off-beat and unconventional literature. But I only picked it up years after, while waiting to meet a friend in a bookstore. As a child raised by wolves myself, I was immediately drawn to the title, and after the first line I was hooked. Russell attacks her theme with an expert grasp of language and a flair for the fantastic. Its small wonder the author was picked as one of Granta’s best young American novelists and New York Magazine’s 25 people to watch under 25.

Get it, and devour it.

Monday, June 6

The June/July book list

Here are the 4 books that have made it onto my June/July book list (aka winter reading suggestions) -You can click on the title to read more about book:

1. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (just started this)
2. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
3. Sex & Stravinsky by Barbara Trapido
4. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

I hope I can read them all, but I will probably only get to 1 or 2. Will you be reading any of these book suggestions?

The man who does not...

" The man who does not read good books
 has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."
 -  Mark Twain

Image from

Tuesday, May 31

Books I love... by Rox

Written by Rox

1. Hunter S. Thompson – The Gonzo Papers Anthology

I have loved Hunter. S for many, many years - ever since reading The Rum Diary. So when a friend recently gave me this epic three parter, I was very excited!

The Gonzo Papers Anthology comprises of three collections: The Great Shark Hunt, Generation of Swine and Songs of the Doomed. The good Doctor doles out some epic views, reviews and other such madness, spanning across the 60s, 70s and 80s. For any Hunter S. Thompson fan, this is a must-read!

2. Haruki Murakami – Kafka on the Shore

I love every single Murakami book I have read (and that’s been a lot!), but of all of those, Kafka on the Shore is my favourite. His stories combine a bit of magic, a bit of innocence, a bit of craziness and most of all, an ethereal aspect that leaves you thinking about the books long after you finish.

Kafka on the Shore is about a boy, a librarian, an old man, a bad man, a young man and a quest for answers and meaning. It’s impossible to explain further without ruining the story – just read it and see for yourself!

3. Charlaine Harris – Dead to the World

I’ve read every single one of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, and I love all of them – dare I say, I even love them more than the True Blood series!

Of all these books, book 4 is my favourite. Plenty of Eric and Sookie moments, loads of action and some delectable twists! True Blood season 4 is about to come out in June, so I can’t say any more than that without ruining it… what I will say is that Eric fans will adore this book for many, many reasons!

4. Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho is one of the most amazing writers ever. I love The Alchemist because it gives me so many lessons and things to remember in life. Much like The Little Prince, this is one of those books you will read over and over again at various points in your life.

On the surface, The Alchemist is about a boy in search of a treasure, who discovers a lot more than he expected to find on his epic quest that takes him to the faraway land of pyramids and desert. It’s so much more than this though… finding meaning and realising what we are searching for in the first place.

Please note: "Books I love..." is a new series. Each week an awesome, book-loving lady will share a few of her favourite books with us.

Monday, May 23

I often hear people say...

"I often hear people say that they read to escape reality, but I believe that what they’re really doing is reading to find reason for hope, to find strength. While a bad book leaves readers with a sense of hopelessness and despair, a good novel, through stories of values realized, of wrongs righted, can bring to readers a connection to the wonder of life. A good novel shows how life can and ought to be lived. It not only entertains but energizes and uplifts readers." - Terry Goodkind

Tuesday, May 10

Notes From My Kitchen Table

For my upcoming birthday my lovely mommy bought me a copy of "Notes From My Kitchen Table" by Gwyneth Paltrow (which I picked out). I don't usually buy or use cookbooks - mainly because im what I like to call a "simple cook" & most recipes you can find online anyway -  but this one I wanted.

Initially Gwyneth Paltrow's face got me curious about the book, but as soon as I browsed through it,  I saw quite a few recipes I wanted to try and I liked how it's not written by an actual chef.

Since my mom has insisted on wrapping it and giving it to me this weekend (which is closer to my actual birthday), I have not had a chance to read the book properly. I am really looking forward to trying some of the recipes soon and sharing them on my main blog.

Here is a bit about this cookbook (via
The Academy-Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow is an icon of style and taste around the world. But for her, family comes above everything, and cooking and eating together are the key ingredients of a happy home. Now she has put her passion for food into her first cookbook which is full of 150 fresh, original and practical recipes (both healthy and indulgent) that all the family will love. Both accessible and inspiring, this beautifully illustrated and easy-to-use cookbook is full of lavish photographs, many featuring Gwyneth's family and friends. This is Gwyneth Paltrow as you have never seen her before - a busy working mum who understands the time pressures on all of us as well as the desire to cook delicious and original food. Inspired by precious memories of cooking with her father, it is a truly personal book that celebrates cooking with - and for - the ones you love.

*UPDATE - I have the book at home with me, finally, and I am loving it. Gwyneth favours very interesting ingredients, does not seem to eat red meat (she prefers Turkey, fish & chicken) and even embraces vegan cooking sometimes. I have found a few great recipes that I am dying to try (mainly because the recipes all sound healthy and yum). Check my main blog for recipes.

Monday, May 9

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

A review by Kelly
(She can also be found  here and here)

A bit about the book:

Witty, entertaining and provocative, this is a unique and important memoir that will transform your perspective of parenting forever.

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what Chinese parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it…

Amy Chua’s daughters, Sophia and Louisa (Lulu) were polite, interesting and helpful, they had perfect school marks and exceptional musical abilities. The Chinese-parenting model certainly seemed to produce results. But what happens when you do not tolerate disobedience and are confronted by a screaming child who would sooner freeze outside in the cold than be forced to play the piano?

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. It was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it’s about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how you can be humbled by a thirteen-year-old.

Read an Excerpt from Amy Chau's  book over here

My Review:

How great is this book’s cover treatment? Simple, Clean and Bright. It stands out on the shelf and definitely on my list of Things to Read. I am not a mother, nor do I have the urge start learning parenting skills just yet (Yes Dad you can wipe your brow). I picked this book up purely because of its cover (ok and because I was hearing such wonderful things about it), the wonder of this book lies purely in Amy’s writing. She displays her family out for you to see and do with what you please (well make assumptions, pass judgement & marvel at). You can see Amy loves her family with every fiber, bone, piece of skin & nerve of her body and soul. She before you situations of any family, but the catch is that she is telling you how she raised her children the ‘Chinese way’. The Chinese way? Yup! The musical-talent-mathematician-hard-worker-self-disciplined-genius baby maker model of parenting. A no nonsense way to allowing your children to be who they want to and discover their talents.

I have to admit Amy’s methods seem a tad extreme and, in some parts, flawed. I didn’t say it – she did. That is what is so great about this story – everything is a learning curve. Amy did what she, the Chinese mother, could do for her children and accepted the hardships and cuddles that came with it. Hard lessons are learnt in this book; lessons that encourage Western parents to accept only mediocre from their kids because of the fear of damaging them. Amy also points that it sometimes doesn’t work, but only once out of twice.

I loved this book, filled with wit, laughter, tradition, excruciating fights (I am all too familiar with) and family.

Wednesday, April 6

The April / May book list

After much thought here are the books that made my April/May reading list (click title to read more about the book):

1. The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards
2. Ape House by Sara Gruen
3. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
4. Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Thursday, March 31

Finished & starting: Sarah Addison Allen

Since discovering Sarah Addison Allen, a year or two ago, I have been smitten with her style of writing and the way she interweaves the real with the magical (much like my other favourite author, Alice Hoffman does).

Recently I finished The Girl Who Chased The Moon, the third novel by Sarah Addison Allen, and absolutely loved it.
In a nutshell - it's a very sweet tale about a girl who, after her mother passes away, moves to a new town to live with her almost giant-sized grandfather. While on her search to discover more about her mother's past, she befriends a boy with an unusual family secret and a woman who hopes her baking will bring lost loves back to her. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a sweet and whimsical read.

This week I ordered her latest novel, The Peach Keeper, online (note: it will be available in South Africa from April). I really cannot wait to read it and have read nothing but good reviews about it. Heres a tiny bit about the book :
"At 30, Willa Jackson returns to her small Southern hometown, Walls of Water, N.C., in the wake of a failed marriage to her college sweetheart. She's determined now to lead the quiet life she believes her father wants her to have, but is soon derailed by the wealthy and powerful Osgoods, the family that shaped her high school experience." -

Tuesday, March 22

Books are...

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends;
they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors,
and the most patient of teachers." - Charles W. Eliot

Monday, March 7

Review: Murder is as easy as clockwork

A review by Sally Partridge (writer)

Margie Orford's Like Clockwork is a gritty crime novel set in the Cape Town most tourists don't get to see: the underground.

A serial killer is murdering young girls and arranging their bodies publicly in grotesque poses meant to shock. The police call on the expertise of part-time profiler and journalist Dr Clare Hart, but she's already way ahead of them, and is about to crack the lid on a human trafficking ring that could be the answer to the whole mystery.

 The book is structured like a cat and mouse chase, with Clare and her on-again-off-again squeeze Captain Riedwaan Faizal racing after a killer before he murders someone else. There's a also a juicy back story between the pair that's hinted at throughout the novel, as well as Clare's own mysterious past that is inextricably linked to the case. Ms Orford is a terrible tease. These tasty titbits are designed to make the reader reach for the next in the series to find out more.

The book delivers a glimpse into the inner workings of the local sex trade which is nothing like the glitzy billboards you see on national roads. Even the V&A Waterfront is shown to have a shady side, and whether its fact or fiction is anyone’s guess. It also offers a unique insight on the challenges faced by the South African police force on a daily basis which I’m sure will challenge many preconceptions.

Like Clockwork is definitely recommended as a holiday guilty-pleasure read, especially if you're in Cape Town and want to read more about the places you're seeing, whether a murder took place there or not.

Five reasons to read Margie Orford

1. She's South Africa's queen of crime
Margie Orford is something of a legend. She's a Cape Town local cum crime writer extraordinaire with international book deals coming out of her ears. She's also fabulous, never attending a function without dressing the part.

2. It’s not overly gratuitous
Any fan of crime novels will know that serial killers do some nasty things to their female victims. Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is testament to this fact. Orford's murders are just as violent, but they're not as grisly as the more established crime novels out there, which read like they’re extensions of the movie Saw.

3. Its like a tour of Cape Town
Like Clockwork is set in Cape Town and if you look past all the crime scenes and gangsters, there's some lovely descriptions of the Mother City. Look out for the V&A Waterfront, Sea Point Promenade and even Century City.

4. Because chicks rule
Dr Clare Hart is an awesome. She's a tough-as-nails hardened journalist and criminal profiler, but she's also sexy. She keeps her body toned with morning runs and never hesitates to show it off when the rugged Riedwaan is around.

5. It's the first of three
If you hate that depressed slump that comes after finishing a good book, fear not. Like Clockwork is only the first in a series of crime novels featuring Dr Clare Hart. When you're done with this one, get straight into Blood Rose and then Daddy's Girl.

Tuesday, February 1

The February / March book list

Here are the books that made the feb/March book list....

1. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
2. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
3. The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard
4. Room by Emma Donoghue

* click on book title for more info

Thursday, January 20

One must always be careful of books...

"One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa,
“and what is inside them,
for words have the power to change us."
- Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Angel)

Tuesday, January 11

Finished and starting...

This holiday I finished reading The Brave by Nicholas Evans. Like all of Evans books before, I really enjoyed it and found it hard to put down. The book contained great characters and vivid imagery.

Right now I am about to start reading The Memory of Running  by Ron McLarty. It sounds very interesting. Here is a bit about the book (taken from the authors website): 
"Meet Smithson "Smithy" Ide, an overweight, friendless, chain-smoking, forty-three-year-old drunk who works as a quality control inspector at a toy-action-figure factory in Rhode Island. By all accounts, especially Smithy's own, he's a loser. Then, within one week, Smithy's beloved parents are killed in a car crash, and Smithy learns that his emotionally troubled, long-lost sister, Bethany, has turned up in a morgue in Los Angeles. Unmoored by the loss of his entire family-Smithy had always hoped Bethany might return-he rolls down the driveway of his parents' house on his old Raleigh bicycle into an epic journey that will take him clear across the country." 

What book are you finishing or starting right now?

Monday, January 3

My favourite book of 2010

I read quite a few really good books last year, but the book that wins the title of  "my favourite book of 2010" has to be Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. If you have not read it, I highly recommend you do :)

What was your favourite book of 2010?

A note: this book has actually just been made into a film and will be out this year.