What I’m Reading: I Am Pilgrim

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TITLE | I Am Pilgrim

AUTHOR | Terry Hayes

STAR RATING | 4

ABOUT | A former intelligence agent who wrote a book on forensic pathology becomes involved in a case where someone uses his book to commit untraceable murders.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | It’s a smart, satisfying, ambitious thriller. Technically it’s a debut novel but scriptwriter Hayes is an accomplished storyteller. The pages turned themselves.

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | It is a bit US-propaganda-ish and I believe the editor could have been a little more ruthless in cutting out extraneous detail and author intrusions.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who enjoys full-tilt, action-packed thrillers.

FAVOURITE QUOTE |

‘What are you doing?’ he asked, leaning against the door frame, so tired his face looked like an unmade bed.

What I’m Reading: Blood, Bones & Butter

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TITLE | Blood, Bones & Butter

AUTHOR | Gabrielle Hamilton

STAR RATING | 4

ABOUT | Gabrielle’s unconventional journey through the kitchens she inhabited through the years before opening her acclaimed New York restaurant ‘Prune.’

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | I don’t think I’ve ever read a more authentic, gritty (yet tender) memoir before. In addition to that — she writes so beautifully — Hamilton’s prose deserves a Michelin star.

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | The scene about the rat. It was an important scene and she was right to include it, but I’ve had a nightmare or two since reading it.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who loves authentic cooking and/or writing, especially if they are interested in Italy and Italian cuisine.

FAVOURITE QUOTE | So many — but here is one from the first chapter (p.7), when she is describing her mother:

She lived in our kitchen, ruled the house with an oily wooden spoon in her hand, and forced us to eat dark, briny wrinkled olives, small birds we would have liked as pets, and cheeses that looked like they might well bear Legionnaire’s Disease.

Pens Behaving (not so) Badly

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Paige Nick, author of ‘A Million Miles from Normal,’ ‘This Way Up,’  ‘A Girl Walks into a Bar’ and her latest ‘Pens Behaving Badly’ was kind enough to post her review of my latest novel ‘Why You Were Taken’ on the fabulous Facebook book club The Good Book Appreciation Society.

It’s a goodie. Thank you Paige!

… It’s mostly set in a futuristic Joburg in 2021. Infertility is an epidemic. They have inflatable motorbike helmets and schmeat. Kirsten is a synaesthete (which means she hears and sees in colours and numbers because her senses get jumbled) with a fertility problem. And Seth is a hot-shot chemgineer who works for an underground biopunk truth organisation.

It’s a tightly wound and imaginative thriller. An enjoyable read that ticks along quickly and raises some really thought-provoking and terrifying questions about population growth and the future of bio/chemical/gene engineering.

What I’m Reading: The Crimson Petal and the White

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TITLE | The Crimson Petal and the White

AUTHOR | Michel Faber

STAR RATING | 5

ABOUT | Sugar, s 19-year-old prostitute in Victorian London who years for a better life.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | Its glorious sweep and subtlety. I fell for Sugar on page 28 and was in love by page 894. (Yes, it’s 894 pages long, and not one page is extraneous.)

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | That it ended.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who enjoys Victoriana or a cocky heroine with big ideas and a heart to match them.

Feed Your Brain

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I have a new Buzzfeed post up! Check it out if you like. Here’s the intro:

Feed Your Brain: 21 Ways to Find More Time to Read

I want to stick a fork in my eye when people tell me they ‘love reading’ but just don’t have the time. Life is so bloody exciting with all this sitting at my desk and looking at the Facebook and the Twitter. I get it. Who has time for anything anymore?

I want to take you (firmly, but not unkindly) aside. Your brain is starving, I want to say.Your brain is like the carnivorous plant in the Little Shop of Horrors.

I know all that! I can hear you yelling from behind your smarty-pants handheld devices. I know it’s good for me but where do I find the TIME? Well, here are some lifestyle hacks that will up your reading consumption, which will in turn help me to keep my eyeballs intact.

You’re welcome. [continued]

I believe I ordered the EXTRA LARGE

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I promise that I’m not going to become one of those authors who spam you constantly with news on their books BUT I just wanted to say an EXTRA LARGE THANK YOU for all the amazing messages and support. Oh, and I sold 56 copies of my newborn book in the first day! (25 to my mom! Ha!!) (Thanks Mom.)

*more rainbows shooting out of my head and other places* — New commissions

I am seriously hyped to type that I have been commissioned to write TWO NEW PLAYS AND EIGHT NEW SHORT STORIES.

This, and knowing that my new novel is coming out this month, is making me properly giddy. I apologise in advance if you find rainbow vomit on your shoes. My bad.

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What I’m Reading: The Kick-Ass Writer

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TITLE | The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience

AUTHOR | Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.com

STAR RATING | 4

ABOUT | Excellent writing advice delivered in an easily accessible, totally hilarious way.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | Funny! Oh, so funny. I was ROFLing all over the place. Also: great, up-to-the-minute practical advice.

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | There were a couple of typos. A minor thing that if nothing else made him come across as more human and less like a velociraptor writerbot from the future that has come to eat us up like the happy skinbags of soylent green that we are.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Every single one of my writer friends. (Except those who don’t like naughty words. Wait … I don’t have any friends that don’t like naughty words).

FAVOURITE QUOTE | ‘Self publishing is a viable path. It is not, however, the easy path. […] You don’t just do a ballerina twirl and a book falls out of your vagina.’

Also: ‘So plan the plot, for Chrissakes. This isn’t an improvisational dance. Take some goddamn notes.’