Thursday, April 16, 2015

Event: Blogger's Social Evening - 11th April 2015



The evening of the 11th of April 2015 was possibly one of the most rewarding experiences in my 30-odd years.

Two months previously, I had the random idea of setting up a small event for local bloggers, much like the one Skoobs hosted in 2012. I had no idea what that idea would eventually grow into and I am so very thankful for everyone who supported me on the journey of setting up what will be the first of many similar events.

Yes, I did say many. I am so inspired by all the support and the discussions that were had that evening that I am simply itching to get another project in the pipeline!

But let me not diverge from the topic of this post.

I arrived at the venue 2 hours before it was die to start absolutely laden with boxes of goodies we were going to be giving away to 30 lucky bloggers later that evening. With the much needed help from Colleen at Skoobs, we sorted everything into the fantastic bags kindly donated by Tracey Loves History.

All the bags are packed, they're ready to go...


Just when I thought I had time to catch my breath and possibly grab a bite to eat, people started to arrive... early! I calmed what was left of my nerves and made sure everything was 100%.

The wine bar at Skoobs filled up pretty quickly with people digging in their goodie bags and enjoying the free welcome drink kindly supplied by Skoobs / JC Le Roux.

All too soon, it was time for me open up the discussion panel and hand the mike over to Lood du Plessis, who makes the most fabulous Emcee!

The panel engaged in serious discussion.

The panel was made up of Joanne Macgregor (author of Dark Whispers), Fiona Snyckers (Author of the Trinity series), Philani Dladla (The Pavement Bookworm) and Carlyle Labuschagne (Author of The Broken Destiny).

Wonderful turnout!

I wish I had been making notes, as the discussion was interesting and many good points were raised.

Some of the key take away points were:

  • The Blogger-Author relationship is key in reaching a broader audience
  • We need to make reading cool, that way kids will want to read
  • Do not be ashamed of what you read
  • Interfacing with your audience sells more books
  • Be authentic!
 I hope everyone had a good time. I really enjoyed meeting you all and making new friends!

A big thank you to PanMacMillan. JonathanBall Publishers, Firewater Light, Fourways Chiropractic, Tracey Loves History, Tracey MacDonald Publishing, Carlyle Labuschagne, Romy Sommer, Joanne  Macgregor, Fiona Snyckers and of course BooksLIVE for the KoboGlo giveaway!

(All pics in this post are used with the permission of Lu-Marie Fraser who rocked the camera!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Arthur C. Clarke Shortlist Announced

The Girl With All The Gifts - M.R. Carey (Orbit)
The Book Of Strange New Things - Michel Faber (Canongate)
Europe In Autumn - Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
Memory Of Water - Emmi Itäranta (HarperVoyager)
The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August - Claire North (Orbit)
Station Eleven - Emily St John Mandel (Picador)

... I know what I need to add to my TBR pile!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Review: Wake by Amanda Hocking (Watersong #1)


Title: Wake
Series: Watersong
Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: Tor (July 2012)
Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they've taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.
Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.
 I really did not like the first in the Trylle series by Amanda Hocking. The whole novel felt like all the YA tropes had been tied together and the main character was basically a super-special Mary Sue type. I decided to give Wake a bash as I live in hope that authors can improve and do not write off all their work based on one novel.

This one is certainly better, but I still had some problems with it. That does not take away from it being a light, fun read, just perfect for the weekend or relaxing by the pool.

I enjoyed the mythology of the sirens that Hocking explores in this series. She goes into a bit of detail regarding their backstory and I was pleased that I didn't have the feeling of having read something similar before. That is quite a feat with YA these days as everyone wants to be the next TFIOS / Hunger Games / Twilight.

What really fell flat for me were the characters, They didn't really have anything distinctive about then other than those characteristics that were told and not shown. I did not connect to Gemma at all and found that she was more of an irritation than anything else. Her romance is terribly forced and I felt was simply put in there because the author felt that it had to be present. Why she could not have had just a big adventure without falling in love in the first 50 pages, I simply do not know.

I much preferred her sister, Harper, who felt a lot more well-rounded as a character. Plus her little romantic interactions were possibly my favorite part of the story. Daniel is a ridiculous flirt and Gemma is so awkward about it. It's adorable.

I hope Harper gets more attention in the next few books. I really do.

The pacing was also an issue for me, albeit a minor one. I think authors feels the need to drag their stories out so they can pump out more books. Not a whole hell of a lot happened in Wake. But perhaps it is just setting up for things to come.

Having had my gripes, I will read the others in this series. I love the sirens. I love Harper. I want to see where the story goes.

I recommend this for a quick weekend read. But do not expect too much depth and complexity.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas



After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.  
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.
Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. (Goodreads.com)

I have been meaning to read this series for a while due to the great things I had been hearing about it on other blogs and social media.

I am so glad I picked this one up. I am a big fan of uncomplicated fantasy that is rapidly paced with a strong female lead, much like the Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan. Like Canavan's series, Mass does not waste time with useless prose and delivers a great story.

In fact, I would say that this is even better, as Celaena is a great character with an interesting past. She also brings extra appeal to the story as one is never quite sure what she will do next.

There is romance and I found myself rooting for the so-so-sexy underdog, Captain Westfall.

What I love with this book is that Maas does not rely on tropes and tired stereotypes. Each character feels fresh and new and they bring something new to the story. Even Prince Dorian is not your typical Princely character.

Love, love, love it. You cannot go wrong if you are looking for thoughtful YA Fantasy.