This Writer’s Reading Round Up – Q1 2022

Virginia Woolf quote: For once the disease of reading has laid hold upon the system, it weakens it, so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the inkpot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing.

I’ve really enjoyed my first quarter’s reading this year. As I’m sure I’ve told you before, I love to read almost as much as I love to write, and I strongly believe that the more good writing I read, the more my own writing improves.

I generally choose to read books that have been recommended by other people, mostly my WP reviewer friends. Once again they’ve picked real winners. I’ve also read a couple of well-known authors whose books I’ll always turn to (Jasper Fford and Isabel Allende) and a couple of instructive books to hone my ‘word-smithery’ (Kathy Steinemann’s Writer’s Lexicon) and to improve my poetry-crafting (Colleen Chesebro’s Wordcraft).

It has long been one of my missions to read more authors from South Africa and the African continent, since I feel we are frequently under-represented in the wider world. You’ll see that my first four reads were all SA authors, after which I spread my reading wings and flew north to find Jude Italkali in Uganda.

I hadn’t read a collection of short stories for ages, but Chris Nelson’s excellent collection, The Beautiful Silence, has re-kindled my appetite. As soon as I’d finished reading Chris’s book, a reading recommendation made to me by Liz Gauffreau* on the thread of a post about Magical Realism on Jacqui Murray’s excellent site, led me to seek out a short story by Gabriel García Márquez, The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World – a delightful read! Encouraged by the fact that I found a copy via Mrs Google, I also sought out Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which I’ve been keen to read ever since I began dipping into Hemingway’s Boat by Paul Hendrickson. My obsession with Hemingway’s prose continues.

Here are the books I read as the scorching South African summer mellowed into a glorious golden autumn. My next round up will find me shivering as we head into the depths of winter!

As a writer, I know how exciting it is to receive a review from a reader, and I offer a big, big thank you to my readers (and listeners, now I’ve three books published as audiobooks) who’ve taken the time and trouble to rate/review my books. That aside, to know someone has read one of my books is enough.

My reviews:
Open a New Door by Robbie Cheadle and Kim Blades
Operation Outperfect by Alex Canna
Fire Angel: Igniting the Spark by Paul English
Noah and his Solar-Powered Ark by Jill Morsbach
One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
The Writer’s Lexicon Volume II by Kathy Steinemann
The Beautiful Silence by Chris Nelson
Ghosted: Disappearing Acts by Paula Light
Wordcraft: Prose & Poetry: The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry by Colleen M. Chesebro
Violeta by Isabel Allende
Realms of the Mist by Jude Itakali
Holly Ward Investigates: The Steam Train by Mason Bushell

*A quick heads up for poetry lovers: Liz Gauffreau is hosting a live poetry event Poets in the Blogosphere, on 23 April 2022 from 4-5:30 PM ET. This is a perfect opportunity to enjoy poetry being read out loud. Just as it should be. You can find out more here.

Grab your advance reader copy now!

Spirit of the Shell Man, the sequel to Song of the Sea Goddess will be released next month. Set in the same fictional town, located somewhere on the beautiful west coast of South Africa, our favourite characters return in a new adventure – Albertina and the Aunties, the Professor and little Toti, Abdu and Jannie are all back, ready to face whatever new challenges await them.

It is with the greatest pleasure that I offer you a free Advance Reader Copy from Booksprout: simply click here to download your copy and start reading.

Here’s the blurb:

“A series of strange events accompany the delivery of an unusual wooden box to the bookish Professor who lives on the hill, while down by the sleepy harbour a dusty convoy of huge earth-moving machines roll into town. Soon afterwards, an expensive-looking yacht arrives, skippered by an enigmatic sea captain, accompanied by her weird and troublesome little crew who cause chaos in Albertina’s chicken-run and wreak havoc in the posh new hair salon.

The mysterious mute captain, her nose permanently buried in an old notebook, is clearly seeking something. Meanwhile the Professor’s interest is piqued by an unusually attentive congregation of praying mantises in his back yard. Then, as construction work begins on the unspoiled hillside beyond the town’s looming headland, the disturbance of long-buried bones unleashes a grim and ghostly presence from the ancient past with the potential to destroy the tranquil little town.

Join the cast of colourful characters from Song of the Sea Goddess, as they embark on a new adventure where legend and reality intertwine, and once again they must join forces to combat a deadly threat to their otherwise peaceful lives.”

The ebook and paperback will be available to purchase on Amazon, Kobo and Google Books in March, and the recording of the audiobook is underway. I’m really excited to share my new novel with you!

Spirit of the Shell Man in paperback and on multiple reading devices

P.S. thanks so much to Paula Light of Light Motifs for her lovely review of Song of the Sea Goddess. It really made my day when I saw it this morning. Do pop over and take a look around Paula’s site!

This Writer’s Reading Round-up July to Dec 2021

As 2021 draws to a close, although there are aspects of the year I’d prefer to forget, I’m looking back with a happy and satisfied smile on the books I’ve enjoyed in this second half of the year.

I love to read almost as much as I love to write, and I firmly believe that the more good writing I read, the more my own writing improves.

Here’s what I read as our wet and windy winter gave way to a hot and breezy summer. The most recently read books are shown first.

Once again I’ve enjoyed my half-year’s reading. Books I’ve frequently found via reviews and recommendations here on WordPress, including a nice helping of works by fellow indie authors. I’ve read a mixture of old books and new – mostly prose and poetry – a long, long history/geography of Africa, and a witty and instructive writer’s manual. Thanks to the latter, written by Kathy Steinmann, my latest MS is all the more sparkly and shiny!

More news on my new release coming soon.

As a writer I know how exciting it is to receive a review from a reader, and I offer a big, big thank you to my readers (and listeners, now I’ve two books published as audiobooks) who’ve taken the time and trouble to rate/review my books. That aside, to know someone has read one of my books is enough.

I continue to faithfully post a review of all the books I’ve read on Goodreads and usually on Bookbub, so long as the book comes up in a search. It’s good to recognise fellow writers and give something back for the enjoyment I’ve had from their words.

Happy reading, happy writing and a Happy New Year!

This Writer’s Reading Round-up, June 2021

It’s half the way through the year already, can you believe it? Almost the end of June and it’s wet and wintry here, and while many of you are enjoying your ‘summer reading’ and I thought I’d share what I’ve been reading this year. I love to read almost as much as I love to write, and I firmly believe that the more good writing I read, the more my own writing improves.

Last year I did the ArmedWithABingo year-long reading challenge hosted by Kriti Khare & Ariel Joy which was great fun, and which encouraged my to read a few books that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise picked up. But this year I’m on a ‘free choice’ foray, guided mostly by some great reviews I’ve read by some great reviewers here in our WordPress family, who’ve wickedly tempted me to augment my already tottering ‘TBR’ pile way beyond normal safety parameters.

I’ve also over-stuffed my book shelves with piles of pre-loved books from our local indie book stores.

However, I must confess to my shame that I haven’t been to our lovely local library for ages. I really should, even though under lockdown regulations you can only spend half an hour at a time there. Before Covid, I used to go to write there sometimes since being surrounded by all those books was rather inspiring (and it’s lovely and warm in winter).

Anyway, enough rambling. Here’s what I’ve read so far this year.

I’ve had a most enjoyable half-year’s reading: a mixture of old books and new, prose and poetry, even a cookery book. I’ve continued to honour my resolve to read more books from the southern hemisphere, especially by African writers, as I feel authors down here don’t get the exposure they should.

As a writer I know how exciting it is to receive a review from a reader, and I offer a big, big thank you to all of my readers who’ve taken the time and trouble to rate/review my books, although to know someone has read one of my books is even enough.

I faithfully post a review of the books I’ve read on Goodreads and usually on Bookbub, so long as the book comes up in a search. You can find all of my reviews here on Goodreads.

As for the next half of the year, I did promise myself not to buy any more books until I’d made a proper dent in the tottering TBR pile, but there’s a sale at Bookworms tomorrow, and I have to support the store which carries copies of my own books, don’t I?

Bookworms, Somerset West, South Africa

Happy reading folks!

When all else fails…

…visit a bookshop. One with a cat!

Bikini Books is one of my favourite second hand bookstores and fortunately it’s only a short drive from home. An added bonus is that it’s right by the ocean, with a fabulous view all the way across False Bay to Cape Point. The beach was completely empty since it, like almost every beach on our beautiful coastline, is currently closed for Covid.

It’s not the kind of store where you can go looking for a particular book. It’s a bit chaotic.

Francois and Jackie vlogs

You just have to run your eyes over the titles and wait for the books to choose you!

Here’s the book haul. All of them, apart from the art books, cost the equivalent of $3 or less, which is huge bargain, since new books are very expensive here. As always, my taste is eclectic.

I really ought to have read Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie before now: such an important book. There’s a Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behaviour, with a climate change theme. She’s such a good writer. I’ve read La Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible in the past and loved them both. Then there are a couple of books set in South Africa, to keep my promise of reading more books by local and Southern Hemisphere authors, Andalus by Jason Webster, who wrote Duende (another past favourite) and a collection of short stories by Sara Paretsky involving her feisty private eye, V.I. Warshawski, one of my favourite fictional characters (apart from my own, of course).

Under ‘normal’ circumstances, we would have been on a little summer break to a beautiful West Coast town on the banks of the Berg River, but the new lockdown last week scuppered that plan. Never mind. That’s what photos and imaginations are for… and, of course, books.

I’ll be taking you with me to that very town at the end of this week, when we visit the location where I wrote the first words to my new novel, Song of the Sea Goddess – available on pre-order now.

USA ~ UK ~ IND ~ AUS ~ CAN ~ ESP ~ South Africa and the Rest of the World

ARC Invitation

This is the novel I started to write during NaNoWriMo last year. I’d already discovered a few of the key characters early on that year in a handful of short stories I wrote, set in a fictional town located somewhere on the beautiful west coast of South Africa.

Some of you might remember Albertina, Auntie Rose and Auntie Grace, Jannie, Sam and the Professor from those stories; some of you also know that my characters have a habit of plucking at my sleeve, reminding me that they more of their stories need to be told.

And so now, it is with the greatest pleasure that I can tell you that Song of the Sea Goddess is ready to share with you via the ARC: simply click here to download your copy and get started.

Here’s the blurb:

Sam thinks his problems are over when finds his fishing bucket filled with gold coins. There’s a problem though. The gold burns the fingers of anyone who touches it. His unlikely find coincides with the appearance of a mythical sea creature on the headland overlooking the town and the resumption of quarrying up in the mountains that is poisoning the streams and contaminating the town’s water supply.

Determined to keep his coins hidden, Sam goes up-river to bury them. There he encounters a beguiling young woman called Shasa, who lives by one of the tainted springs and just happens to have a fish’s tail.

As the blasting continues, the discovery of a series of recently-made drawings in the cave under the headland reveals a terrifying prophesy that will result in the earth spilling apart. Fearing for Shasa’s safety, Sam sets out find her again, only to meet the danger head on, as nature takes its revenge for the damage being wrought by humankind.

Will Sam and Shasa survive?

Set in a fictional location on the West Coast of South Africa, this moving story blends the charm of small town life with the threat of ecological disaster at the hands of a powerful force beyond human understanding.

Come the New Year the ebook and paperback will be available to buy on Amazon and I’m already excited!

Now I must get back to writing the so far untitled sequel… be right with you, Albertina!

What I’ve been reading #2

chris's #armedwithabingo book update Q2


#ArmedWithABingo is a year-long reading challenge hosted by Kriti Khare & Ariel Joy and this is my end of June update. 

The books I read for the challenge in this second quarter of the year are outlined in yellow, and straight away I’ll tell you that my stand out book was Trevor Noah’s ‘Born a Crime’. If you’re curious to know what I thought of this or any of the books I’ve read, pop over to Goodreads where you’ll find my reviews. I do think it’s important to support authors with reviews – I know how much it means to us.

You can also find out more about my reading habits and my response to the #ArmedWithABingo challenge in an interview I did with Kriti Khare at the beginning of this month.

And now, with only four more books to go to complete the challenge, maybe I’ll try do a second bingo board for the second half of the year. Meanwhile, if anyone has a suggestion for a book with a food in the title, please let me know.

How much the world has changed since I did my first ‘check in’ for the challenge. Here in South Africa we were about to go into lockdown. We thought it would be for just 21 days, but it continued for 100 days. Like most of the rest of the world, the country is only just beginning to open up.

My reading has continued and so has my writing. Most of all though, I’m so grateful to all of you, my online friends, for being there and being you! 

Stay well, stay safe.







Bunnies Abound!

Bunnies abound on lunasonline image courtesy of Beyond the Sphere
‘White Rabbit’ by Tom Merriman at Beyond the Sphere

Easter Bunny
Mad March Hare
Celebrating Rabbits Everywhere!

What’s this all about?
Well, spring (for most of you) is just around the corner and the Easter Holidays will follow hot on its heels. Maybe you have children? Grandchildren? Friend’s children?

Why not get them something original for Easter? It’s bunny-related…

Following the Green Rabbit by Chris Hall order on Amazon

Following the Green Rabbit

It’s my children’s fantasy historical adventure story for ages 9 years and up (and that includes the grown ups too).

It’s a book for adventurers everywhere!
You can read a bounding bunny bit here.
Order from Amazon

publicity pic

…for young adults upwards:
The Silver Locket
There was a little rabbit in my first novel too. With summer on it’s way, why not grab a copy for that lazy afternoon you’be been promising yourself?

Read a rabbit related snippet here.
Order from Amazon

Ever wondered what I sound like?
You can hear me rabbiting on about my books in a recent radio interview on Chat and Spin Radio, an internet radio station, based in the UK with a worldwide audience. I
t was my first live radio interview and a little bit daunting, but Ron and Ian who host the programme made it very easy.

My five minutes of fame start 42 mins into the programme after Diana Ross and before Sheena Easton so I was in good company.

And remember…

A child that reads will be an adult who thinks