Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry
Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry will take you by surprise. She is this gentle, beautifully spoken, pretty blonde whose path intersects with mine in a class we sometimes have the privilege of sharing. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to read a book written by someone you actually know on a casually social basis and enjoy it. It would be dreadful for me if I had read this book and thought, eeeeuuuuwwww, how do I fake my way through this, but reading it was not like that at all.
For all that looks can be deceiving Miranda, looking very much an unassuming and gentle soul has written a tale that doesn’t spare you from the harsh realities of crime and life in South Africa. Yet, at the same time the book enchants you as all the threads come together and suck you into the story.
I am not sure what genre to slot this book into, I don’t think that it really needs to be put into a box but for the purposes of this review, shall we say it is an incredibly dramatic suspense thriller or something of that sort.
It took me a little while to get into but once I was in, boy, was I in, and I spent the entire night reading to finish the book.
The writing style is elegant and easy to read. The story poignant but visceral. It is told mostly from the point of view of Sally, the deceased mother of teenager Gigi as she watches her former world in slightly detached fashion. Is it a ghost story? No, well, I don’t think so, but is very much a South African story.
I did have a little giggle because the Silverman family pops up in this novel, not the same branch of the family as in A Beautiful Family by Marilyn Cohen De Villiers, but Silvermans none the less. I got to wondering how come the Silvermans have become the only Jewish family to have achieved debut novel literary fame twice in the last couple of months 🙂

I don’t know if you heard Miranda being interviewed on Classic FM a couple of weeks ago, I did. She read a couple of pages of Black Dog Summer on air and that beautiful voice is a perfect accompaniment to her novel, in fact, I think that is the voice I heard in my head whilst reading her book!
Miranda Sherry’s debut novel is well worth a read and welcome to the new South African talent on the block.

Miranda will be coming to chat to us at Indulgence Cafe, Northcliff on the 15th of November at 2pm. Feel free to come and join us.
FB event:

Oh My Aching Heart, Gareth Patterson

Gareth Patterson's  My Lion's Heart

Gareth Patterson’s
My Lion’s Heart

As I read the final page of this book, I remembered why I read fantasy and fiction novels most of the time; they provide an escape from the hardships of life in general. They create doorways to worlds that don’t exist, they open your imagination to lands of mystical beasts and magic, to wondrous creatures and they pretty much always end happily. One cannot say the same for reading life stories and autobiographies, not all are pretty and not all end happily and some just leave you shaken and stirred, sans the olive.

Gareth Patterson’s autobiography, although being steeped in the harsh reality of life in the African bush does not fail to evoke the images of lands of mystical beasts and magic and wondrous creatures, which is all the more heartbreaking for it’s sad reality. I spent many pages of the book with tears running down my face. Maybe I am just a really sensitive soul but Gareth writes so honestly that one cannot fail to take on his pain as ones own. I felt it, I cried when he cried, I walked with him when he walked with his lions, I sat with him when he looked after cubs, I sat in the back of the Beetle as he motored around Africa and I held his manuscript close to my chest as the lost plane traversed the skies in the dark. I shared his heartbreak and I wondered how he had managed to not go insane.

I find it nothing short of remarkable that a young man would choose to spend his life living in the wild and amongst the animals that he loved, from the bush to the forest when the majority of his contemporaries would have been hanging out in pubs and nightclubs and chatting up pretty girls. One can only be grateful that there are people in this world who put Mother Nature and the call of the wild above that of material possessions and fast cars.

I cannot say I enjoyed reading this book, it is not the type of book you can enjoy. You will not look back on it as one of your “best of all time reads” but if it doesn’t affect you viscerally then there is something lacking in your psyche. My Lion’s Heart is an incredible read about an amazing man who has selflessly dedicated his life to the well being of lions and to elephants, and in turn to mankind. It is not an easy read but it is easy to read. Gareth’s style is simple and elegant and hauntingly evocative. This book is a sad testimony to the greed of man. A very sad indictment indeed. It belongs on every school syllabus throughout South Africa and the World at large.

Humankind has a tendency to destroy everything we touch in the name of progress (and religion). By encroaching and eroding the natural habitats of these amazing animals we do ourselves and our planet a huge injustice. We ridicule Mother Nature and we insult the Universe. Progress is not the annihilation of species and the hanging of their preserved heads on the trophy wall.  If we do not wake up and lend assistance the the people who go out of their way to help preserve the Kings of the Jungle and the Majestic Elephants of the Forest, as well as our very own Unicorn, the Rhino, then these creatures can only end up as the mythical beings of ages past, and the animated characters of musicals and Hollywood animation.

I salute you Gareth Patterson. Thank you for allowing me into your head, for bearing your wounded soul and sharing your broken heart. And thank you for bringing your lion children to life in my world

Did you Say Coffee???


So, I was sitting down to write an article about coffee and wondering where to start, when suddenly it occurred to me, with a cup of coffee of course. So I ordered one, and I got to thinking about coffee. For someone who owns a café that makes a whole bunch of interesting coffees I actually know very little about coffee itself so I will steer clear of trying to talk to you about the merits of this bean over that bean, this roasting technique over that roasting technique or even the latest coffee art trends and fair trade.

As much as I love a “good” cup of coffee, I know that my good is completely different to a coffee connoisseur’s good for the simple reason that we have different requirements from our respective cups. My good cup of coffee, has to be coffee at the perfect time of day, as in when I need it. It needs to be fresh, hot and delicious and mostly, it needs to be shared with friends. So for me, I can make a cup of Nescafe (Shush now, it’s my turn to talk) at home with a couple of friends and enjoy it as much, if not more so, than an overpriced cappuccino at a la-di-dah café amongst the hoity toity of Jozi. For me, coffee is not a status symbol but a moment in time. Coffee is the pause button I press to take a little break from the harsh realities of life. It is that five minute sit down before rushing onto the next thing. It is the after a delicious meal round off, with a slow grappa on the side to be enjoyed with good friends as you linger around the dining room table. It is the let’s catch up at the local café with an old friend and the my, how your children have grown moments that it allows you to capture. You may not remember how remarkable the coffee was but you will remember the gentle moments spent with special people. I know I sound a bit of a romantic about a simple cup of coffee but we live such fast paced lives dashing from one meeting to the next or bumping into people in the supermarket just before you dash off to fetch the kids that I really believe that sitting down with a cup of coffee allows you time to pause, rest and reflect a moment. It gives you that moment to mull over a new idea that is lurking in the back of your mind, before you nurture it into existence or lose it forever in the mad dash to the dentist.


What is a connoisseur?
A person with expert knowledge or training, especially in the fine arts or cooking or wine.
it is someone competent to pass critical judgment. I.E an expert.
‘Connoisseur’ means to be a person with extensive knowledge, especially of the fine arts; a person with refined taste.
A connoisseur is someone that is well-versed and knowledgeable in a field (of study)

I think you get the idea, my cup of coffee is not anything like what a coffee connoisseur would expect, so what exactly are the true lovers of the coffee bean expecting from their cup of Joe? I am not going to even attempt to answer that question for you. I mean, you know what you want from a coffee, a latte, a cappuccino or an espresso (yes, there is no “X” in espresso) but I will direct you to this really fascinating article and you can decide for yourself, .
I read this article and I had a good giggle because, well because, I am a simple girl who likes a simple cup of hot coffee shared with good friends and great conversation and on the odd occasion with a dash of Friggin Coffee’s Chilli essence and loads of condensed milk


This post was written as a guest post for the Friggin Coffee blog