The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony

The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony

The Elephant Whisperer crop

The Elephant Whisperer is a book close to my heart. Although I did not have the privilege of meeting Lawrence Anthony, whose courage and respect for nature is legendary, his game reserve is just a couple of hours drive away from my home.

The elephants, the heroes of this story, show remarkable intelligence, resilience and loyalty. They prove, yet again, that man is arrogant to believe he is superior to animals. Respect.

The Elephant Whisperer is one of those books that will remain in your heart forever.5 Star

The Elephant Whisperer
Author:
Lawrence Anthony
Co-Author: Graham Spence
Publication Date: 7 May 2010The Elephant Whisperer
First Published:  1 January 2009
Publisher: Pan Publishing
Source: Purchased


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When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of ‘rogue’ elephants on his reserve at Thula Thula, his commonsense told him to refuse. But he was the herd’s last chance of survival – notorious escape artists, they would all be killed if Lawrence wouldn’t take them. He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be completed the animals broke out again and the matriarch and her baby were shot. The remaining elephants were traumatised and very angry. As soon as they arrived at Thula Thula they started planning their escape…

As Lawrence battled to create a bond with the elephants and save them from execution, he came to realise that they had a lot to teach him about love, loyalty and freedom.
— Extract from Goodreads.com

 

This article (link below), published this week in our local paper, tells of the elephants annual pilgrimage to Lawrence Anthony’s home to pay their respects on the anniversary of his untimely death two years ago.

Read article here:  Elephants commemorate late conservation hero

 

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My Top 10 YA Dystopian Books

 My Top 10 YA Dystopian Books

 

Heart 1

Slated by Teri Terry 

 

Kyla’s memory has been erased,Slated
her personality wiped blank,
 her memories lost for ever.

She’s been Slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist and that they are giving her a second chance – as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth? -Extract from Goodreads.com

This is one of my favourite reads, definitely deserves the Number 1 slot.

Heart 2Divergent  by Veronica Roth

 

DivergentIn Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. -Extract from Goodreads.com

Another  favourite  – reviewed here 

 

Heart 3
Acid  by Emma Pass 

 

Acid by Emma PassThe year is 2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID—the most brutal controlling police force in history—rule supreme. No throwaway comment or whispered dissent goes unnoticed—or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a horrendous crime she struggles to remember. But Jenna’s violent prison time has taught her how to survive by any means necessary. -Extract from Goodreads.com

Gripping read – don’t miss this one!

 

Heart 4
Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien 

 

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'BrienIn the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother’s footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be “advanced” into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve. Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying. -Extract from Goodreads.com

Beautiful story with great character development.

 

Heart 5
1984 by George Orwell 

 

1984 by George Orwell1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions. A legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time. -Extract from Goodreads.com

An older book, and my first dystopian read, back when I was still at school. This is a powerful story – the original ‘Big Brother’.

 

heart 6
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsWinning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature. -Extract from Goodreads.com

Original and frightening, this book is a must read.

 

heart 7

The Maze Runner  by James Dashner 

 

The Maze Runner by James DashnerWhen Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is blank.

But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the glade, a large expense enclosed by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as anyone can remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, for just as long, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered n the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the Maze after dark. -Extract from Goodreads.com

A gripping, original plot with a sci-fi feel.

 

heart 8

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi 

 

ShatterJuliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder.

No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.  Extract from Goodreads.com

I loved Juliette, the strong and edgy main character. Hearing her thoughts along with her spoken words gave the story an edge as well as unexpected humour!

 

heart 9

Delirium by Lauren Oliver 

 

Delirium by Lauren OliverNinety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t. Extract from Goodreads.com

Love a disease? Maybe it does make us crazy sometimes!

 

 

 

  Uheart 10nwind  by Neal Shusterman 

Unwind

 

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive. 
Extract from Goodreads.com

This story had a chilling tinge, I felt as though it was skating too close to reality –  this world is possible which makes it all the more frightening.

Now you know my top 10 dystopian stories…
What are yours?

 

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. It is a chance to share and get to know fellow bloggers.

This week the task is to list your top 10 books within a genre of your choice, I have chosen YA dystopian books.

Dragon’s Curse by H.L. Burke: YA Book Review

For some reason I want to describe this book as charming, which it is, but this is not a word I normally use as it conjures up an image of an old lady commenting on the child, hasty scrubbed up and ushered forward to meet Great Aunt Maud! That aside, the book tells an underlying story of longing and hope in between the more dominant emotions of revenge, loyalty, betrayal and love.

Although the story line was, at times, predictable and parts felt a little too rough, as though written in haste, I found myself drawn into the story and wanting to know the outcome. The dragon’s character was my favourite and the most believable, while the other characters felt underdeveloped which contributed to the roughness of the story.

I have mixed feelings about this book, despite the shortfalls I felt emotionally connected to the characters which made it difficult to review and rate. I look forward to finding out what happens in the next book. 3 Star

Recommended age: 12+

Dragon’s Curse 
Series: The Dragon and the Scholar # 1
by  H. L. Burke
Publication Date: 2 January 2014Dragon curse
Publisher: H. L. Burke
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review


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On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous.

Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family? –Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton: Children’s Picture Book Review

Splat the Cat crop

A cute, funny picture book that children everywhere will love.

Rob Scotton is extremely talented. The story will make you laugh out loud, but it is his bright illustrations that will captivate you. I particularly love how he has portrayed Splat and the other cat’s fur – I can imagine my fingers sinking into the soft fluff!

Splat starts off nervous about starting school for the first time but along the way he  finds out how much fun school can be and learns that he is Amazing!

A very good story to read to children starting school for the first time.5 Star

Recommended age – 3-6 years

Series: Splat the Cat
Author: Rob Scotton
Illustrator: Rob ScottonSplat the Cat by Rob Scotton
Publication Date:  1 July 2008
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased
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It’s Splat’s first day of school and he’s worried. What if he doesn’t make any new friends?Just in case, Splat decides to bring along his pet mouse, Seymour, and hides him in his lunchbox.

The teacher, Mrs. Wimpydimple, introduces Splat to the class and he soon starts learning all his important cat lessons. But when Seymour escapes and the cats do what cats do (they chase mice!), Splat’s worried again. Maybe now he’ll lose all his friends, old and new!

Just in time, wise Mrs. Wimpydimple takes charge and teaches everyone an important new lesson. Maybe Cat School is going to be okay after all! – Extract from Goodreads.com

 

Digital Parents Blog Carnival

Across The Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe crop

It was the beautiful cover of this book that first attracted my attention on Goodreads. I bought the book and WOW! This is my new favourite book…

Totally unexpected and original I was captivated from the beginning and could not part with this book – for several weeks after I finished it I still carried it around with me. I don’t usually like Science Fiction, but this book has a more Dystopian feel and the plot was so unpredictable with twists and turns that kept me hanging on for dear life.    5 Star

Recommended age 13+

Across The Universe
Series:
 Across The Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Publication Date: 11 January 2011Across the Universe
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Purchased

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A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder. 

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone – one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship – tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.  — Extract from Goodreads.com

Being an Indie Author in South Africa by Rachel Morgan

Being an Indie Author in South Africa by Rachel Morgan

Introducing  author Rachel Morgan (see my review on her book here). Thank you so much for agreeing to write a guest post on my blog!

Creepy Hollow

Being an Indie Author in South Africa

Self-publishing has taken off in a BIG way overseas, due mostly to the ebook revolution. If you have any interest in the publishing world, you’ll have heard of names like Amanda HockingJ.A. Konrath, and Hugh Howey (and there are loads more!). But what about here in South Africa? What does it mean to choose the self-publishing route?

As a South African author who’s chosen to go independent, let me share a little of my experience …

Amazon is great but FAR away!

Amazon is the biggest player on the board, so after deciding to self-publish my books, it was only natural that I’d upload my works to Amazon before looking anywhere else. When it comes to ebooks, it doesn’t matter how far away Amazon is. Having internet means that no matter where you are in the world, purchasing an ebook is little more than one click away. When it comes to print books, however, Amazon isn’t quite as convenient for the South African author. Yes, using Amazon’s print-on-demand service, CreateSpace, is easy and inexpensive (free, if you take care of the cover and formatting yourself). Printing a single copy of my first book, The Faerie Guardian, currently costs $4,42. That’s cheap! To get a unit price that low from my local printer, I’d have to order at least 200 copies, possibly more! So that’s a plus for Amazon. BUT the problem comes in when I want to have that book (or several books) sent to South Africa. To deliver one book to South Africa, the shipping cost is $11. And the book will only arrive on 15th APRIL if I order today! APRIL, for goodness’ sake! The earliest I can get the book delivered here is 7th March, but then I have to pay $46! Now let’s just say I want to order, say, 30 copies to do a book launch and signing. Can you imagine the cost?!

Bottom line: Amazon’s CreateSpace is awesome if you’re an author based in the US (and I do use them to get my print book listed on Amazon so that international customers can easily purchase it). Otherwise, I recommend Mega Digital if you’re a South African author looking for a good local printer.

Getting paid by cheque

Amazon won’t pay into South African bank accounts. Full stop. They also do not use PayPal. This means that South African indie authors are stuck waiting for Amazon to send cheques. Cheques are made out in a foreign currency, which means when we cash them, we have to pay sizeable foreign exchange fees. Sure, if the cheque is enormous, it’s not a big deal (I can keep dreaming, right?!), but for the very first cheque I cashed, the fee worked out to be more than 10% of the value of the cheque!

The mission of getting an ITIN

Amazon automatically deducts 30% of an author’s royalties for tax. If you don’t want this to happen (because you’re technically supposed to pay tax in the country where the work was produced, and because the US has a tax treaty with South Africa), you need to apply for an ITIN number. This was a mission that involved me driving into scary parts of the center of town to find the US embassy so that I could get a US notary to notarise a copy of my passport. I then had to send that off with forms to the IRS and wait a number of weeks for my ITIN number to be sent to me. And then there were more forms to send to Amazon and Smashwords and CreateSpace …

Bottom line: MISSION! (But worth it.)

 Print distribution is tough

You can’t simply walk into Exclusive Books and say, “Will you please put a few copies of my book on your shelf?” They work with approved distributors, which means I’d have to approach those distributors. The distributor wants to make money, Exclusive Books wants to make money, and it would be nice if I could also get paid a bit for the books I spent many months slaving over! And that all results in a book that is just too expensive for the average browser to think about buying.

Bottom line: I’m still investigating options for print distribution in South Africa…

It can be a little “lonely”

There are other South African indie authors out there. I know there are. But they’re difficult to come across because there aren’t nearly as many of them here as there are overseas. I see all the many, many authors I interact with online meeting up with each other, going to conferences, attending and hosting workshops … and it feels a little lonely to be on this side of the world. (But that will be changing soon, thanks to the efforts of the lovely Carlyle Labuschagne and the upcoming SA Indies Rock Book Festival!)

Readers love a good book, no matter how it’s published

I’ve visited a number of schools, and I’ve chatted to many teen readers, and it doesn’t matter to them who published my books. They don’t care if it went through a Big Five publisher, a small publisher, or whether I produced the interior format myself (which is exactly what happened). All they care about is whether they like it or not and where they can get copies for themselves.

Bottom line: WRITE A REALLY GOOD BOOK! That’s the most important thing!

Thank you so much, Sue, for hosting me today and allowing me to share my indie author experience with your readers 🙂

A little bit about Rachel …

Rachel MorganRachel Morgan was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. After completing a degree in genetics, she decided science wasn’t for her—after all, they didn’t approve of made-up facts. These days she spends much of her time immersed in fantasy land once more, writing fiction for young adults. She is the author of the Amazon bestselling YA fantasy series, Creepy Hollow.

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

The Secret Life of Prince Charming crop

This beautifully written book examines relationships and how women are so often seduced by the idea of love and end up in relationships with all the wrong men.

I started reading on Valentine’s Day, in the mood for a fun, light romance promised by the gorgeous cover. Was I disappointed? Maybe a little at first, but soon I was caught up in the lives of these incredibly brave, strong women, their stories and their determination to prevail, and just like life, romance came along unexpectedly – not the sweep you off your feet only to drop you later love – but the real thing – the one where he sees the real you through all the armour you’ve put up.

The women in the story are all linked by their relationship with Barry. Wives, girlfriends, daughters – he let them all down. It was through the daughters who embarked on a journey to help right the wrongs and in doing so, enabled friendships and healing to touch and positively link the women together. This is a feel good story that will 4 Starstay with you for a long time.

Recommended age 13+

The Secret Life of Prince Charming
Author: Deb Caletti
Publication Date: 16 March 2011 (First published 2009)The Secret Life of Prince Charming
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Purchased

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Maybe it was wrong, or maybe impossible, but I wanted the truth to be one thing. One solid thing.

Quinn is surrounded by women who have had their hearts broken. Between her mother, her aunt, and her grandmother, Quinn hears nothing but cautionary tales. She tries to be an optimist — after all, she’s the dependable one, the girl who never makes foolish choices. But when she is abruptly and unceremoniously dumped, Quinn starts to think maybe there really are no good men. -Extract from Goodreads.com

Quote from ‘The Secret Life of Prince Charming’:
“I went for Prince Charming himself at High School. Barry was my first serious boyfriend. If you look up ‘charming’ in the dictionary, you’ll see that it is not only has reference to strong attraction, but to spells and magic. Then again, what are liars if not great magicians?”

Are we ready for book-free libraries?

Are we ready for book-free libraries?

The Los Angeles Times published an article earlier this month about America’s first all-digital bookless public library which has opened in San Antonio:

The article goes on to clarify that while this isn’t actually the first all digital library, the Tuscan-Pima public library in Arizona opened a book-free branch in 2002, this didn’t stay book-free for long – books were brought back after complaints from the public!

So the question is – are we ready to give up print books altogether?
What do you think?

003Personally, while I have no problem reading on my kindle or ipad, there is one thing that I miss – seeing the book cover every time I pick up the book!

I love book covers and am not afraid to admit I judge a book by its cover…  those with boring covers tend to gather dust at the bottom of the pile of to-read books.

Our school library was one of the first in South Africa to introduce an e-Library, but this runs alongside our traditional print library and adds value by being available to students anytime & anywhere, thus allowing them to exchange books outside school hours, even while on holiday at the beach.

Legend by Marie Lu

Legend by Marie Lu

Legend crop

I had high hopes for this book and was really disappointed. Although there is probably enough action and tension in the story to make it popular enough with readers new to the dystopian genre, it fell flat for me.

The story was predictable and lacked the originality needed to compete with this growing, ever popular genre. 3 Star

Recommended age 13+


Legend
Series: Legend
Author: Marie LuLegend
Publication Date: 16 April 2013 (1st Published 2011)
Publisher: Speak
Source: Purchased

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From different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths…

Until June’s brother is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect.

In a shocking turn of events, the two uncover what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets.

Extract from Goodreads.com

The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan

The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan

Faerie Guardian crop

AMAZING! I love this book – in fact the whole series!  Okay, I know what you’re thinking – I’m biased because I am proudly South African. Well maybe a little… but this series is good!

Rachel Morgan has created captivating new Faerie world full of magic, romance, betrayal, action and adventure. You will fall in love with the characters as you are sucked further and further into a world like no other, wondering if, when the story is over, you will find your way back home…

What more could you want? Read this now..! You won’t regret it!

5 StarRecommended Age: 12+

The Faerie Guardian
Series: Creepy Hollow
Author:
Rachel Morgan Faerie Guardian
Publication Date: 27 October 2012
Publisher:
Rachel Morgan
Source:
Purchased

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Enter a hidden world…      

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until a cute human boy who can somehow see through her faerie glamour follows her into the Fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion. — Extract from Goodreads.com

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