I’ve been dying to read Mary Watson’s The Wickerlight ever since I saw the cover reveal on Twitter. The novel follows on from The Wren Hunt, which I reviewed last year. If it was anything as dreamy and atmospheric as the first book, I knew I had to read it.
This is not a review of The Outcast Hours. Well, not really.
I have a story in the collection, which makes it hard as a blogger and reviewer, because I really, really, really want to tell you all about these stories, but then I would be reviewing something I’m involved in, which would be weird.
So instead, I made LEGO stories of my favourite pieces from the anthology. No conflict of interest whatsoever.
This Book Will Find You by Lauren Beukes, Dale Halvorsen and Sam Beckbessinger
Ambulance Service by Sami Shah
Blind Eye by Frances Hardinge
Bag Man by Lavie Tidhar
Gatsby by Maha Khan Phillips
Swipe Left by Daniel Polansky
Not Just Ivy by Celeste Baker
Above the Light by Jesse Bullington
Welcome to the Haunted House by Yukimi Ogawa
See? I didn’t give anything away. Now you’re safe to go discover these stories for yourself.
I will say one thing though.
I love short stories. I love how things can go from bad to worse to the very extreme that an author’s imagination can go. And these little snapshots of what goes on during the ungodly hours do exactly that – they up the ante to the next level, going that much further than you thought was possible.
You think Matt in Daniel Polansky’s story Swipe Left is having a bad date. You have no idea how much worse it’s going to get.
Find it on Goodreads.
Or rather, how many books can Sally possibly read before the end of December.
I first encountered Louisa Treger’s writing in 2015 when I was asked by The Sunday Times to not only review her novel, The Lodger, but to also interview the author, who has roots in South Africa.
The Lodger was a captivating and enchanting work of historical fiction that detailed the doomed love affair between HG Wells and the lesser-known but equally brilliant writer Dorothy Richardson.
I must have talked about that book for months after, and recommended it to absolutely everyone.
I was excited to hear that Bloomsbury had picked up her second novel, The Dragon Lady, the idea for which was born during the author’s time in Franschhoek (or so I’ve heard). What I wasn’t expecting, was an advance copy of the book itself, which arrived on my desk completely by surprise last week.
Naturally, it found itself right on top of the reading pile.
The Dragon Lady follows another intriguing woman lost to the front pages of history, Lady Virginia Courtauld. Ginie, as she was known, was quite the scandalous figure in London society. She was a divorcee, didn’t really care what people thought and was rumoured to have a snake tattoo stretching all the way up her leg.
The novel follows Ginie and her husband Stephen’s time in 1950’s Rhodesia, then still under British rule, where instead of finding peace from their enemies, the couple only succeeded in making more.
Written in Treger’s signature captivating style, the book catapults the reader ever forward as Ginie struggles to win over her racist settler neighbours. Ginie and Stephen were outspoken against the wrongs they witnessed and worked tirelessly to change their new country for the better – even going as far as to have secret political meetings in their home. Needless to say, it won them few friends.
Treger has captured the last days of colonial Rhodesia perfectly. It is not just Lady Courtauld’s story, but also the people fighting for the country’s future. And while the book may only focus on a small piece of Zimbabwe’s long complicated history, it does so with emotion and fire.
I love learning about history’s forgotten heroines and The Dragon Lady succeeds in shining a light on a truly remarkable woman. Ginie was a fascinating character, never without her pet lemur Jongy (pictured above, regrettably, as a skunk, which was the closest thing I could find) Her home, La Rochelle, remains standing to this day and is maintained by the National Trust of Zimbabwe.
It’s a marvellous novel best enjoyed in a garden setting, with a large gin and tonic.
According to Amazon, The Dragon Lady will be available in June 2019.
Anyone familiar with this blog knows that I’m an Agatha Christie superfan. I’ve read and re-read all the books. I collect the vintage paperbacks as well as the movie adaptations. I write about her a lot and I get a huge kick out of recreating scenes from her books with LEGO minifigures.
Continue reading “LEGO book review: The Mystery of Three Quarters”
When it comes to my favourite things from childhood, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Fear Street novels are right up there with Monster Munch, Gatti Jelly Jolly and Rainbow Brite.
I was lucky enough to get all three books in Bontle Senne’s Shadow Chasers series recently, so armed with snacks and a more than willing cat companion, I got stuck in over the weekend. It’s what I call self-care, Sally style.
Continue reading “LEGO book review: Shadow Chasers”
Firstly, let me just say this is a blinder of a book.
The last time I tackled a major fantasy saga was in my teens, so I was quite excited to get stuck into this one. I was sent a copy of this beast to read in preparation for my Q&A with Raymond E Feist at his Exclusive Books launch in Cape Town. (Thank you Jonathan Ball!)
My fifth novel, Mine, has been on the shelves for five months exactly (it was published to coincide with Valentine’s Day.) It’s a love story set in Cape Town, but I was totally unprepared for how much love it has received from readers.
There’s a theme I’ve noticed more and more on Twitter: read more women. It’s something I’ve been consciously doing myself, which is why if you’ve been following my blog, you would have noticed outpourings of devotion to writers like Emma Cline, Mary Watson, Sophie Hannah and Karen Russell among others.
Continue reading “LEGO book reviews: Women’s Prize for Fiction”