"What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do" Alan Bennett

Friday, September 5, 2014

Whilst I wasn't reading

For the longest time I have been struggling to get back to being the prolific reader that I was before I moved to Cape Town. Whilst I have been reading, I have not read as fast or as much as I wanted to be reading. It was rather distressing which slowed down my reading even more.

I still am not where I would like to be with regards to my reading speed, nor have I met the challenges that I have set out for myself, but I decided that to stress about that would simply delay the reading process even further which would start an even more vicious cycle. I decided to stop reading for two weeks. I decided to starve myself of the pleasure of reading so that I could really get sucked in when I did start reading again. So far it has proven effective, and I have decided to tell you about what it was that I was doing whilst I wasn't reading.

Since I was battling to get lost in a story in my head through reading, I decided I would become involved in a story by watching them. There are so many phenomenal series available at the moment. Some of them newish, some of them, finished up either this or last year.

Breaking Bad.

The Americans.

House of Cards.

These are the stories I got lost in.

I watched the American version of House of Cards - Kevin Spacey was phenomenally despicable. I am looking forward to seeing the British version to compare, as the British are just so much more acerbic than the Americans are. It is also quite exciting that House of Cards is based on Michael Dobbs' novel of the same name.

The Americans got me thinking about Russia and Russian Literature, the reference to Anna Karenina and The French Lieutenant's Woman did not escape my notice. The Americans got me wanting to read the Russian Classics. It made me want to read about the Cold War and find out why Russia was seemingly on the wrong side of the war. Interestingly enough, there are also bookish ties to this show - An Ordinary Spy by Joe Weisberg.

Breaking Bad made me think of Voldemort, looking at Walter White and seeing how he turned from good, innocuous Walter White to full on Heisenberg - poisoning children and taking names. We understand through this 5 series journey why it is that Walter White turned bad, but do we actually truly know why Tom Riddle became Voldemort? I am due for a reread of Harry Potter, so perhaps I shall find that we already know, but I think it is splendid when a series makes you think of books.

This is what I was doing when I was not reading, I was getting lost in other story worlds, yet always thinking of books!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Patrick Ness calls writing for children a ‘cry in the wilderness’

Patrick Ness called writing for children 'a cry in the wilderness' as he delivered the inaugural Siobhan Dowd Trust Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Saturday 16th August.

The A Monster Calls author addressed the subject of 'Why Write for Children' in his speech and explored the idea that each book is a 'swift pure cry' as Siobhan Dowd put it. A cry that says 'This is the world I recognise, do you recognise it too?'. He continued to talk about the reasons he writes and put it down to empathy and love. He looked back at a time in his life when he wished he'd felt less alone, including being a gay teenager.

Ness criticised the media for portraying teens in a bad light, and the debate about whether books can be too dark for teens. Instead, he believed books should show teenagers the whole world out there and be an 'exploration of ideas'.

He attributed Siobhan's writing as being 'smart, clear-eyed, unsentimental; tough but full of truth. Just plain damn good'. Did she write it for "some worthy and progressive reason?", Ness discussed. "We can never know for sure of course, but I am going to say the answer is now, for the simple reason that it's a good story to read."

Ness reasoned that to be a good writer you have to be an artist and "trust yourself that you're responding to a story for a reason. And if you follow that story the best you can, it's going to contain everything you believe. And kids might read it, because it's a story."

Patrick Ness is linked to Siobhan Dowd after completing the novel A Monster Calls (Walker Books) following the death of Siobhan who had written the outline for it. Dowd wrote several novels for children, including The London Eye Mystery, A Swift Pure Cry and Bog Child (DavidFickling Books). The Siobhan Dowd Trust was started by the late teen author just before she died from breast cancer. Since then it has funded a huge variety of projects from starting libraries in schools in deprived areas to supplying books to counselling charities to most recently funding  75 schools to visit the first YA literature conference in the UK.

More information on the trust can be found here.

P.S. Patrick Ness is an American-born British author, journalist and lecturer who lives in London and holds dual citizenship. He is best known for his books for young adults, including the Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls (set to be an international movie in 2016, starring Liam Neeson and Sigourney Weaver). Ness won the annual Carnegie Medal both in 2011 and 2012. He is one of seven writers to win two medals consecutively.

The Chaos Walking Trilogy books have been re-issued, with a new short story in each book.

Knife of Never Letting Go

The Ask and the Answer

Monsters of Men

Siobhan Dowd was a writer and before that spent the majority of her career working for PEN. Her work involved investigating human rights for writers in Indonesia and Guatemala. In the UK her work included taking authors to socially deprived areas, prisons, and other community projects. Siobhan also worked as Deputy Commissioner for Children's Rights in Oxfordshire. working with local government to ensure that statutory services affecting children's lives conform to UN protocols.

The London Eye Mystery

Bog Child

A Swift Pure Cry

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Frog Music - Emma Donoghue

Title: Frog Music

Author: Emma Donoghue

Publisher: Picador

Pages: 403

Source: Received from Pan Macmillan South Africa

The Synopsis

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. 

The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice - if he does not track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires, of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts. 

In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no otherGOODREADS

The Review

For a long time, I have been mulling over Frog Music.  I want to be truthful in my critique of this book which managed to leave me feeling the same way I did after reading Wuthering Heights.

If you do not recall my reaction to Wuthering Heights, that is fine, you can go to my review or you can get the gist of it below.

This has been a difficult book for me to dissect. Whilst I am rather fond of stories about real people, the people in Frog Music got no love from me. Much like with Wuthering Heights, I felt compelled to see the entire course of events; but I found the characters rather despicable. The story left me feeling rather bereft, and abused.

I will admit, I found Jenny and Blanche to be interesting - almost Oliver Twist-like characters who appear to be plagued by tragedy. Jenny intrigued me the most - she certainly appeared to have been a feminist ahead of her time. She was actually the one that I most enjoyed, it is just a pity that she remained an enigma throughout the story.

Frog Music is set in an interesting, yet grotesque period of time. The opportunities of a new world are made ugly by the repugnant reality of the exploitative nature of man as well as the great fear we all have of the other. This is not only echoed in the story of San Francisco, but also in the fleeting relationship between Jenny Bonnet and her new found French friends - Blanche, Arthur and Ernest.

Of all the characters in Frog Music, I found Arthur and Ernest to be the most vile. Their shameless exploitation of Blanche to support their lavish lifestyles - which sadly is something that we are seeing more and more of in the 21st century. The more things change, the more they stay the same, but I digress.

Since Frog Music is based on actual events, my disliking the story cannot be attributed to the author. Frog Music is not a likeable story - it is a slice of history, a slice of life without a sugar coating. It is like Angela's Ashes - an ugly reality. My critique is thus not so much of the story, as of the nature of the people - which is to say that it is a critique of the nature of man - Emma Donoghue has done a fantastic job of describing it so perfectly.

One thing that vexed me throughout my reading of Frog Music was the lack of footnotes. Whilst I appreciate the way that French words and phrases were sprinkled throughout Frog Music, I hated that I had to page to the back of the book and look for the meaning amongst a host of other French terms defined. It detracted from the reading experience for me. I feel it would have been so much better had footnotes been used.

What I most enjoyed about Frog Music, was figuring out how the title of this book ties in with the story. It is actually quite clever, but I shan't tell you here, in case you are like me and enjoy solving things like that. I thought it was savvy of Donoghue to switch between past and present, giving you two glimpses which makes the reader all the more curious about the mystery at hand. I also enjoyed, the forgotten art of story telling in songs - something that is now mostly relegated to nursery rhymes - in a way that somehow captures something that we have largely lost.

Frog Music is not a book for the fainthearted, nor for sensitive readers, as it can at times be rather graphic and savage. For other perspectives on Frog Music, please see this review from the New Yorker or this one from the Washington Post.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The thoughts of a 'recovering' compulsive book buyer

It has been 101 days since I purchased my last book.

101 days!

101 days?

101 days.

That is more than 3 months. It is closer to 4 months. I have gone almost 4 months without ordering or buying any books.

A few months ago, I would have found that appalling. As I write this today, I consider it progress.

You see, before this, I was a compulsive book buyer. As the name of my blog suggests - I am a Bibliophile. In 2013 alone, I purchased well over 100 books. At this moment in time, I own more than 600 books. A few months ago, I found that to be quite an achievement. I still consider it to be quite an achievement, but I now wonder whether it isn't slightly insane. An insane achievement, but an achievement none the less.

Cicero said that 'A Room Without Books is like a Body Without a Soul' - if that is the case then my house is full of soul. There are books in all the bedrooms, the lounge, the passage, the dining room, the study, the kitchen...

The books have taken over. Fiction. Non-Fiction. YA. Classics. Children's Books. Books about Books. Cook books. They are all there. There are duplicates and sometimes triplicates - because I just had to have the book in its new cover.

In the 101 days since I purchased my last book I have had an epiphany of sorts. The rate at which I have been acquiring books vs the rate at which I have been reading them is not in-sync. If I continue at this rate, I will leave more than 2000 books unread by the time that I die. I also came to realise that about 25% of the books that I own are books that I am not actually interested in - so they will just sit there - unread and unloved forever.

What of the books that I own that I have already read, you wonder? Well those books, who have already received my attention will either remain under my curatorship, or if I did not absolutely love them, or do not see myself rereading them at any stage in the future, well I am willing to part ways with them.

Does this mean that I have changed as a reader or even a bibliophile? Perhaps. Then, perhaps it is part of a reader's evolution to become more selective about which books take up the limited amount of reading time you have whilst alive?

I still love books, I still love to read. I am still a purist - preferring physical books to digital ones. After I cull part of my collection, I shall still have very many books. It just takes a bit more to get me excited and 'trigger happy' about buying a new book that excites me.

After all, I have enough books to keep me busy for the next 5 years at the very least.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blog Tour: The Legacy - Melissa Delport

One man obsessed with power.

One woman prepared to sacrifice everything to stop him.

One war that changed the world.

“World War Three lasted twelve days. Twelve days was all it took for mankind to devastate the planet and almost eradicate the human race. No victor emerged from the ashes and billions lost their lives.

We survivors lived through the bleakest of winters. A primal existence became the new order, and the little that remained of our humanity hung in the balance.

Then one man stood up and changed the world. I believed, as did everyone else, that he was the hero of our time, the man who had saved us from our own demise. His name is Eric Dane and he is the President of the New United States of America. 

He is also my husband, and my greatest enemy.

I grew up oblivious to the truth, until my father found me when I was nineteen years old. He told me about the many horrifying facts that our new leader kept hidden from us. And he told me that beyond the borders the Resistance grew and fought for freedom from the oppression that Eric Dane had imposed on us.

My name is Rebecca Davis. I am twenty-six years old, and in me the Resistance has found the ultimate weapon.”

A narrative of good and evil, love and passion, right and wrong – and at the centre of the story a strong woman who is prepared to sacrifice everything for the cause she believes in.

The Legacy is an action-packed, adrenalin-inducing thrill ride which will leave you riveted long after you have turned the last page.

TITLE: The Legacy
SERIES: Book 1 of The Legacy Trilogy
AUTHOR: Melissa Delport
PRINT ISBN: 978-0-620-59636-7
eISBN: 978-0-620-59637-4
PAGES: 366 pages
WORD COUNT: 99 160
GENRE: Speculative Fiction
MARKET: Adults (with crossover to the 16+ reader)
PUBLISHER: Tracey McDonald Publishers
Amazon.com - HERE
Amazon.co.uk - HERE
Barnes & Noble - HERE
Kobo - HERE
Kalahari.com – HERE
The Legacy is available at most bookshops in South Africa, or you can order it online:
Kalahari.com – HERE
Takealot.com – HERE
Loot.co.za - HERE
Wife and mother of 3, Melissa Delport is the author of The Legacy Trilogy and the stand-alone self-published e.books Rainfall and The Traveler.
She graduated from the University of South Africa with a Bachelor’s Degree in English in 2000
At the age of twenty-four Melissa started a logistics company (Transmax) from the spare room of her flat and built it up to two fully operational depots in Durban and Johannesburg. Now, 10 years later, she has sold her business in order to write full time.
Melissa lives with her husband and three children in Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The Legacy (book 1 of The Legacy Trilogy) and The Legion (book 2) are available now and the final book, The Legend, will be released early 2015.
An avid reader herself, Melissa finally decided to stop ‘watching from the sidelines’ and to do what is her passion.
“I was driving home from work when inspiration struck, and a storyline started unravelling in my head. For a few days it was all I could think about and eventually I realised that the only way to get it out of my head, was to put it all down on paper. I started writing, and that was that.”
The Legacy Trilogy Website: www.thelegacytrilogy.com
Publisher’s website: www.traceymcdonaldpublishers.com
Twitter Hashtag for the book blog tour: #TheLegacyBlogTour

Character Outlines - The Legacy by Melissa Delport

Today, we are quite lucky to have Melissa Delport over at Bibliophilia giving us an outline of the characters in her nail biting trilogy The Legacy. Over to you, Melissa...
One of the things I consider most important in any book is character development. For a reader to truly immerse themselves in a story it is imperative that they can connect with the main characters, and in order to do this, your characters need to be well-rounded and fully fleshed-out.

The Legacy Trilogy encompasses a variety of diverse characters, each with their own unique attributes and mannerisms. Here are a few of the main characters, summed up in a few short lines.

Rebecca Davis: The strong and fiery leader of The Legion, Rebecca’s commitment to the Resistance knows no bounds. She is prepared to sacrifice everything in order to protect the people that she loves, and will become the Resistance’s ultimate weapon.

Aidan Moore: Rebecca’s childhood friend and the love of her life, Aidan is dependable, pure and honest and he represents everything that Rebecca is fighting for.

Reed McCoy: Created as Rebecca’s equal, Reed is courageous and fiercely protective, but at the same time he is not afraid to challenge her. Sarcastic, sexy and rugged, he is Rebecca’s greatest temptation, while also being her greatest asset.

Eric Dane: Eric is the President of the New United States. Charismatic, arrogant and cruel, he is Rebecca’s husband and her greatest enemy. A narcissistic, power-hungry tyrant, Eric will stop at nothing in his quest for control.

Kwan Lee: Warrior and mentor, Kwan is the voice of reason and he keeps Rebecca grounded, while determined to seek retribution. Kwan has his own score to settle with Eric Dane.

Michael Kelly: 16-year-old Michael is naive, quirky, and the eternal optimist. Fun-loving to a fault, he is a stark contrast to his older sister, Morgan.

Morgan Kelly: Reckless, sassy, sullen Morgan is a thorn in Rebecca’s side, but there is a vulnerability about her that is endearing. Her protectiveness over her brother is admirable. Morgan is the girl we love to hate.

Jonathan Moore: The only father Rebecca has ever known, Jonathan is Aidan’s biological father and has been in Rebecca’s life since before she was born. A giant of a man, Jonathan has always protected Rebecca and he thinks of her as his own.

Jeffrey Davis: Rebecca’s biological father, believed dead for most of her life. Jeffrey is a serious, stern man, and one of the founders of the Resistance. His sense of loyalty and patriotism is inspiring, although his stoic, steadfast manner initially keeps Rebecca at arms length.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sharp Edges - S.A. Partridge

Title: Sharp Edges

Author: S.A. Partridge

Pages: 192

Publisher: Human and Rosseau

Source: Review Copy

The Synopsis

Six friends attend a music festival in the Cedarberg.Only five come back. For her seventeenth birthday Demi Crowley invites her five closest friends to join her at a party to end all parties. But what was supposed to be the night of their lives soon becomes a nightmare none of them will ever forget.

The Review

It has taken me quite a while to get a concise review penned that comes close to conveying my feelings and thoughts on Sharp Edges by local author S.A. Partridge. Despite this taking months, I am not sure if I am yet able to write a review that is worthy of the message that the book carries across. 

To help you understand, the closest comparison I can make -for those of you who have yet to read- Sharp Edges, is the British series Skins. Much like Skins, Sharp Edges manages to brilliantly switch between the perspectives of the many characters involved to give a fuller picture of the story. A picture as faceted as those involved – because we all know there is more than one side to a story.
At the heart of Sharp Edges is a story of a group of teenage friends who plan a weekend away at a music festival for everyone’s best friend – Demi’s birthday. As you will have gathered from the synopsis above, there is not a happy ending; through shifting between the perspectives of each of those involved in what was supposed to be the best weekend ever, you glean two perspectives from each of those involved – during and having to live afterwards.

I was a bit confused initially when I started reading Sharp Edges, but once I got to the third perspective it all started to fall into place and I started to see the picture that S.A. Partridge was putting together for us using shards from the experience of those involved.  

Sharp Edges is a chilling story of how the best laid out plans can go awry and no matter how hard you try you cannot escape from the consequences of your actions. I think Sharp Edges will resonate quite deeply with those who have suffered from a tragedy and are left behind to put the pieces together to try and figure out how it all happened, and how to go on with their lives. For those who have experienced the loss of a friend Sharp Edges will help you to see that grief takes on many forms, and is very rarely rational. Sharp Edges will help you to see that even though your world stops turning when someone near to you dies, it continues to turn, and you have to get back to living your life no matter how difficult it may be. 

Sharp Edges, much like Dark Poppy’s Demise should be compulsory on all high school reading lists.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Books I'm Looking Forward To - Shotgun Lovesongs - Nickolas Butler

Books I'm Looking Forward To is something new that I am going to be trying here on Bibliophilia, it is helpful in two ways:

1) I can share with all of you the books that I am looking forward to reading *all the better to spread the bookish word...*

2) I am constantly losing my list of books that I would like to read and or buy, so this way it is someplace permanent.

In this week's Books I'm Looking Forward To, here is a little bit about Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler to whet your reading appetite...

Henry, Lee, Kip and Ronny grew up together in rural Wisconsin. Friends since childhood, their lives all began the same way, but have since taken very different paths. Henry stayed on the family farm and married his first love, whilst the others left in search of a better life. Ronnie became a rodeo star, Kip made his fortune on city stocks, and musician Lee found fame - but heartbreak too. 

Now all four are back in town for a wedding, each of them hoping to recapture their old closeness but are confronted with how much things have changed. Amid the happiness of reunion and celebration, old rivalries resurface and a wife's secret threatens to tear both a marriage and a friendship apart.

This is a novel about the things that matter - love and loyalty, the power of music and the beauty of nature - told in a uniquely beautiful, warm-hearted and profound way as it explores the age old question of whether we can ever truly come home. 

Sounds absolutely riveting, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Books I'm Looking Forward To : Life Drawing - Robin Black

Books I'm Looking Forward To is something new that I am going to be trying here on Bibliophilia, it is helpful in two ways:

1) I can share with all of you the books that I am looking forward to reading *all the better to spread the bookish word...*

2) I am constantly losing my list of books that I would like to read and or buy, so this way it is someplace permanent.

In this week's Books I'm Looking Forward To, here is a little bit about Life Drawing by Robin Black to whet your reading appetite...

Life Drawing is a fierce, honest and moving story of married life - its betrayals, intimacies, and secrets. 

Augusta and Owen have taken the leap. Leaving the city and its troubling memories behind, they have moved to the country for  solitary life where they can devote their days to each other and their art, where Gus can paint and Owen can write. 

But the facts of the past betrayal prove harder to escape than urban life. Ancient jealousies and resentments haunt their marriage and their rural paradise.

When Alison Hemmings moves into the empty house next door, Gus is drawn out of isolation, despite her own qualms and Owen's suspicions. As the new relationship deepens, the lives of the two households grow more and more tightly intertwined. It will take only new arrival to intensify emotions to breaking point. 

Fierce, honest and astonishingly gripping, Life Drawing is a novel as beautiful and unsparing as the human heart.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Books I'm Looking Forward To: Frog Music - Emma Donoghue

Books I'm Looking Forward To is something new that I am going to be trying here on Bibliophilia, it is helpful in two ways:

1) I can share with all of you the books that I am looking forward to reading *all the better to spread the bookish word...*

2) I am constantly losing my list of books that I would like to read and or buy, so this way it is someplace permanent.

To start us off with Books I'm Looking Forward To, here is a little bit about Frog Music by Emma Donoghue to whet your reading appetite...
San Francisco, 1876: a stifling heat wave and smallpox epidemic have engulfed the City. Deep in the streets of Chinatown live three former stars of the Parisian circus:  Blanche, now an exotic dancer at the House of Mirrors, her lover Arthur and his companion Ernest. When an eccentric outsider joins their little circle, secrets unravel, changing everything - and leaving one of them dead. 
Frog Music, inspired by true events, is an evocative novel of intrigue and murder: elegant, erotic and witty. 

I received a review copy of Frog Music from Pan Macmillan South Africa, and will be reviewing it shortly. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

To bring you up to speed...

2013 was an interesting year. It saw me make a big change in my life. I relocated to Cape Town for my job and experienced a host of new things. A lot more of my energy and focus was dedicated to my job; as a result my reading and this blog suffered greatly.

As we all know, the only constant in life is change – it is not much of a surprise that my life has once again changed. I finished up my contract at work and have moved back home to the Eastern Cape. I have decided to take some time off to regain the balance I lost by being so focussed on my job.

Focussing only on the good of this new chapter, I am quite happy that I am going to have a lot of free time – a lot more time for reading, and definitely more time to get Bibliophilia looking less like a ghost town and more like a proper blog again. 

I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things with the Classics Club, memes, reviews and opinion posts. 

For now though, I would like to wish you all Happy Reading! And it’s good to be back!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Coming Soon: Sharp Edges by SA Partridge


For her seventeenth birthday Demi Cowley invites her five closest friends to join her at a music festival for a party to end all parties. But what was supposed to be the night of their lives soon becomes a nightmare none of them will ever forget. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Here lies Bridget - Paige Harbison

Title: Here Lies Bridget

Author: Paige Harbison

Pages: 219

Publisher: Harlequin

Source: Purchased

The Summary

Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don't worship as attentively, teachers don't fall for her wide-eyed look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she's always loved can barely even look at her anymore. When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she's wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she's inflicted on the people who mean most to her. And Bridget's about to learn that, sometimes, saying you're sorry just isn't enough.

The Review

I like the premise of this book and the way it makes you think about how you treat others, and the impact that your treatment of them has on their self-esteem. Words have the power to harm and heal, and Here Lies Bridget reinforces that. Well written, well plotted and well thought out - Here Lies Bridget is a book that all young adults, especially the Queen Bees of the world should read. So many invisible scars are left behind by the words of those like Bridget, who are more concerned with their popularity than their impact. Whilst this is a good and necessary story - I am not exactly the target audience for it. A younger reader would definitely find it more enjoyable and relate-able than I did. It made me think of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why which is a must read for everyone.