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: https://www.facebook.com/events/1494981960758865/

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

From the Book Jacket to My Parlour, Raymond E Feist

A Raymond E Feist Collection

A Raymond E Feist Collection

I have been fortunate thus far in my life to have met quite a few authors, some starting out, some ending their careers, some good, some not so good, some have been really well known, some have had no ego to speak of and some have had trouble fitting those super-size-me heads through the door. It has only happened once in my entire life though that I have had the fortune to meet an author who changed the genre of books I read and thereby changed my whole life!

I have always believed in faeries at the bottom of the garden, the monster under the bed and that the garden gnomes come to life when you turn your back on them. A world of fantastical beings, filled with magic and wonder is not a stretch of my imagination to perceive. So, it is no small wonder that the first book of fantasy that I ever read, Magician, by Raymond E Feist, changed my life and set my reading on a path all of its own. I have never given up the thrillers, dramas and historical spectaculars but my one true reading love is fantasy and Ray, as he introduced himself to me when he arrived at Indulgence Cafe is the man who brought that spark into my life and introduced me to worlds not bound by the gravity and sense of the one we live in.

Magic, magicians, dragons, royal families, rags to riches, love, betrayal, elves, good and evil, light and dark, Raymond E Feist’s work brings it all alive. He paints pictures with words and weaves worlds that you can picture in your head as you read and become lost in the forests and the mud splattered roads of Midkemia and kelewan. Careful, or you will find you leave your mind behind and end up a little confused about where you are when you close the book and suddenly return, abruptly to the harsh realities of planet Earth.

This man, this Raymond E Feist, has just returned home to San Diego after a whirlwind book tour of SA with his publishers and I was lucky enough, okay, I did have to grovel quite a bit, to get him to come and speak at Indulgence  Cafe on Heritage Day, 24 September 2014, but that’s okay as well because, I know people 🙂  Of all the authors we have hosted at Indulgence Cafe, this is the first one to have had people begging me for seats and places at the event. One family even brought me a box of chocolates to say thank you for making place for them, I was quite humbled and no, I have no intention of sharing. What a remarkable event, with an incredible author.

SA’s own fantasy author, Dave De Burgh spent an hour chatting to Ray about his work, his characters and how he got started. Never before, has one hour passed by in such a flash and we would love to have had them speak for longer but duty and lunch called. Ray is awesome, funny, witty and he was incredibly patient with the fans who brought along entire collections of his work for him to sign. The poor man must have signed 300 books for the 103 people who were at Indulgence Cafe on Wednesday morning, I have to say that I was incredibly impressed with him.

Raymond E Feist chatting to Dave De Burgh

Raymond E Feist chatting to Dave De Burgh

20140924_102034                                                        The 103 Strong Crowd

20140924_110714                                                                The Man Himself

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20140924_112843                                                      The Fan Collections for Signing

20140924_113040                                         The Happy Staff from Skoobs, Theater of Books

20140924_113259                                             The Never Ending Queue for Book Signings

20140924_120155                                                                                       The Patient Author

A Post Chat Laugh with Dave De Burgh

A Post Chat Laugh with Dave De Burgh

For me, little old me, it was a dream come true and something to cross off my bucket list. I met Raymond E Feist in the flesh, I heard him speak and I have the pictures to prove it.

The link to YouTube  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du7BpOT1R_w

So when is the next one coming out Ray?

Bloody, Bloody Book Week

I am always saddened when the Bloody Book Week, brainchild of Jenny Crwys-Williams, ends every year, as it is a week filled non-stop with the magic of books and lots of truly fascinating people.
The Bloody Book Week over the last three years has given this humble coffee shop owner the opportunity, not always afforded to us ordinary mortals, of meeting and more importantly interacting with a host of some of South Africa and the World’s most amazing authors

This year has been no exception and whilst I didn’t get to host Peter James and Deon Meyer this time around I had the immense luxury of spending an incredibly entertaining Thursday evening with Jacques Steenkamp, Amanda Coetzee, and newcomers Penny Lorrimer and CM Eliot, as well an outstanding Saturday afternoon with 702’s Ray White, Dr David Klatzow and Paul O’Sullivan.

It was fascinating hearing about the different writing styles of the lady thriller writers, to plot or not to plot is the question, character development, getting to know the characters and the joy of discovering the various protagonists, from CM Eliot’s Sibanda in the African bush to Amanda Coetzee’s Badger, a hunky sinewy Traveler (Gypsy). It does take a little leap of imagination to see these ladies sitting at their laptops plotting murders most foul, particularly in the case of Amanda Coetzee who is the bouncy, happy, irrepressible creature who talks at twenty to the dozen and writes a fabulous thriller.
Jacques Steenkamp the absolutely charming crime journalist who lead the conversation spent a few minutes chatting to me about his non-fiction book about the Griquastad murders, also the Steenkamp family but luckily no relation. I wouldn’t be lying if I said it was a truly enjoyable evening.

Four Deadly Authors, Their Books…

Four Deadly Authors, Their Books...

cm elliot

jacques steenkamp

penny lorrimer

Some of the evening’s picture highlights with Authors, Mtutuzeli Nyoka and Mariyln Cohen De Villiers in the audience

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A magnificent Saturday afternoon event spent with three very interesting characters, Dr David Klatzow, Paul O’Sullivan and Radio 702’s Ray White.
What can I say about Ray White apart from the fact that he is a delightful human being, charming, lovely eyes, softly spoken but with some steal under there I think, and a great sense of humour. There are rumours that he too, has a book coming out at some point. I cannot wait for that to happen! Watch this space about Ray White!!!
Paul O’Sullivan and David Klatzow, couldn’t be more different. Paul’s CV must make for fascinating reading, I honestly cannot remember how many different types of policing or police/security services he has been in both locally and abroad. His accent is an unusual mix of Irish, Afrikaans with a little R rolling. I perceived him as a little uncomfortable to be around, he doesn’t radiate warmth but maybe that has something to do with his choice of career. I did fully expect him to arrive with hunky, chunky Kevin Costner, bodyguards in tow, alas I was disappointed. I am pretty sure he is not at the top of Jackie Selebi’s Christmas card list and I never said a word about Glen Agliotti, having taken center stage at Indulgence Cafe last year, with his charm at volcanic level charm. What is it that makes the bad guys charming and the good guys not quite so?
I realize it isn’t polite to have favourites but David Klatzow could quite possibly get a Valentine’s card from me next year. I think that gruff exterior and furry face hides a supremely sharp mind accompanied by a sharp wit and a very dry sense of humour. He does have a lovely smile when you catch sight of it, but the thing that strikes you the most is the passion with which he speaks. He positively radiates when talking about his chosen career and the work he does. For me it was an absolute privilege having spent the time listening to him talk to Ray White at Indulgence Cafe and Alex Eliseev at Bookdealers, The Colony.

The Books…

paul o sullivan

david klatzow

A couple of the pics from Saturday afternoon’s event

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Thank you so much Jenny and Co, for including me and Indulgence Cafe in the 2014 Bloody Book Week events, it was an honour and a privilege
Until next year..

A Beautiful Family…Not

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A golden family, a happy, a beautiful family. The gorgeous wife who never has a hair out of place, with that handsome, blue-eyed, Charlie Hunam, husband, the self-made millionaire. He always looks handsome and debonaire, he holds the door, lays his jacket over the puddle so she can cross without getting those beautiful feet wet. Those amazing straight-A children, who excel at everything they do. That private education is certainly paying off. They look happy, they look fabulous, they’re rich, how could life be anything but perfect? How could you be anything besides envious?
How little we know about what goes on behind closed doors.
How little we know about the people next door.
How little we know…

This book, A Beautiful Family by Marilyn Cohen De Villiers was thrust under my nose by a friend of mine, Marcia, who sent me articles and links and really pushed and shoved me towards reading it, but still I hesitated. I really didn’t feel like a family drama and especially a family drama about a Jewish family. Particularly at this time in a world where Jews are under the microscope and antisemitism is right back in fashion. Who, right now, wants to put the Jews, my tribe, under the spotlight for…..shhhhhhh, don’t say it out loud….ABUSE!
Abuse doesn’t happen in good Jewish families, well not that one would know because what happens in a Jewish home stays in a Jewish home and anyway, how could that pillar of the community truly do the things that he is accused of, it is not possible. Or is it?
This incredible book opens the doors to your mind. It is a book that everyone should read, this could be any family, this family just happens to be Jewish.
Marilyn’s book is a comfortable read, it makes you feel at home. For those who grew up in Johannesburg’s north eastern suburbs there are many bells rung, as familiar corners are turned and local spots are mentioned. Damn, I grew up there, I can picture in my mind exactly where that little car is or the tree lined drive in Westpark Cemetery.
Marilyn’s book is also an uncomfortable read, its topic, disturbing. A Beautiful Family, was not quite the “drama” I expected it to be, the book is more of a suspense drama with a twist, and well worth a read. I loved it and I cannot wait to host Marilyn Cohen De Villiers at Indulgence Cafe so that we can explore the family in more depth! She is apparently working on her second book, but I suggest you don’t miss her first!

Marilyn lives in Johannesburg with her husband, Poen. You can find her on Facebook
The book, A Beautiful Family, is available in limited print editions from Skoobs as well as an e-book, from Amazon. Priced at around R220.
Do yourself a favour and discover what having a beautiful family can mean

Simon Dingle, Forward Thinker

Simon DIngle, Forward Thinker

Simon Dingle, Forward Thinker

This morning I had the privilege of spending an hour or so with a few of South Africa’s more fascinating human beings. We managed to put politics, war and wildlife in distress aside for a while and chat about technology and the human condition. Being a bit of a technophobe I had wondered how much of Simon Dingle’s chat I was going to understand because you know these techie types, the run on acronyms and abbreviations and sometimes they use really long technical terms that the plebs amongst us have no absolutely no understanding of.

I was most pleasantly surprised, and if Simon did throw in a long word here and there it was quickly explained and of course the long words made perfect sense in the context in which they were used. I think I managed to keep up 🙂

The basic premise being that human beings, though being at the pinnacle of the evolutionary table are not necessarily logical thinkers and do not necessarily make rational decisions and choices. Given the example of the car salesman who is about the clinch the deal on your fabulous new R400k vehicle, tossing the suggestion of one or two minor extras into the mix. In the “hot state” or emotional context the odds are you are going to take the extras and to hell with the extra costs involved; in for a penny, in for a pound so to speak.

Simon Dingle’s core belief is that “Innovation starts with understanding people”, and that the sooner that big corporations understand this the soon things will start to turn around, this being particularly evident in industries like banking and telecommunications. When was the last time your bank understood your needs and assisted you according to those needs? Do you even know what your needs are?

Simon’s desire is to work with companies who wish to change their business models in as far as how they look at and deal with their clients. The important question as a business being, how are you going to change lives, moving towards being a force for good instead of a force for evil, which is exactly what prompted Simon to answer my emails requesting him to come and speak at Indulgence Cafe … “That’s why I will reply to Mandi’s email when I won’t respond to some of the major banks “, he was just showing appreciation of me as an end user… 🙂

As technology forces the consolidation of many items into one, i.e. your smartphone now having replaced your radio, camera, diary, alarm clock, diary, book, torch, map book and social life etc. to name just a few gave rise to a conversation that touched on “Contextual Computing”; Information looking for human beings instead of humans having to look for the information, finding out who that information is most relevant to, and giving you answers to questions you don’t even know you should be asking. This is an area that Google has taken the lead on with Ray Kurzweil at the helm, Google being the world’s most powerful contextual computing engine and the world’s biggest brand.

The next logical step? Between all the available social media platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, your Garmin etc, there is enough information out there in the ether to form a virtual blueprint of the person you are and behavioural patterns can be observed at which point the computer, your virtual PA can start to make decisions on your behalf from ordering your lunch at your local nosh stop to notifying the client you’re going to be late for a meeting due to the traffic! Scary much? I think so, but, Simon finds it an incredibly exciting space to be in. His view being that if the computer handled those types of things, it would give him more time to spend with his children.

Out-sourced Consciousness, artificial/synthetic intelligence, I have to wonder if the human species will survive its own inventions. Synthetic Intelligence may question the ultimate good mankind has done to the planet and decide that we need to be eradicated. Movies like Terminator may very well become reality shows.

In summing up, Simon said….:)

It doesn’t matter what your business is, whether you are selling a cup of coffee or a vehicle, the fundamental question remains…….How can you make a positive impact on someone’s life, they won’t know, how do we go and find out that will really a make difference!

Simon’s chat with us was incredibly informative and very, very thought provoking and I can only, most humbly, thank him for giving us his time…………The most precious resource that there is!

A little recommended light reading:
Ray Kurzweil – How to create a mind
Tom Kelly – The Ten Faces of Innovation

Who is Simon Dingle……
Simon loves disruptive new things that deal with finance,
technology, design and behavioural sciences. He is an advisor to 22seven and hosts a radio show on 5FM that focuses on consumer tech. He also co-presents a podcast called Take Back the Day and writes about technology and trends for Finweek magazine.
He is often asked to discuss innovation, behavioural economics, disruptive technology and business trends on television, radio and as a keynote speaker at conferences.

Until next time
Love ‘n Lollipops
Mandi

Special People………….Jodene Shaer

Jodene Shaer and Greg Arthur #MondayNightTalk

Jodene Shaer and Greg Arthur #MondayNightTalk

It Takes a special kind of person to make a success of themselves yet remain humble and not look down their noses at other people. By a success, I don’t necessarily mean make huge pots of money because in my own very humble opinion being loaded doesn’t always make you a success as a person, it just makes you wealthy in cash terms. As nice as it is or would be to be rolling in huge amounts of dosh, and I am pretty sure Jodene shares my opinion, money does not amount to the be all and end all of life but being happy and confident and knowing that you are, does sure go a long way!
That is exactly what Jodene Shaer, partner in the business, Lifeology with Greg Arthur radiates; happiness and the confidence to show her vulnerabilities to the world through the medium of blogging, tweeting, facebooking, talking to people and showing the real Jodene to the world.

Jodene Shaer

Jodene Shaer

Jodene was the guest speaker at last night’s Monday Night Talk and she managed to hold her audience in the palm of her hand for over an hour whilst she chatted about her journey from school to present day. From the trials and tribulations of not knowing where you are going to finding your way and making a go of it. Not afraid to mention her fight to get her weight down, her broken heart and the hardships of finding real people out there in a superficial world, Jodene was forthright and brave enough to answer all of the questions that were thrown her way.

Whilst Jodene does not profess to be a social media guru she certainly has an insiders knowledge and huge insight into the world of twitter and Facebook. Asked for “Twitter” tips she responded with the following five points which I have made into 6 points:
1. Follow people back
2. Engage with people
3. Avoid negativity & drama
4. Make the most of every opportunity
5. Take a picture (or it never happened)
6. hang out with influencers

Sounds easy enough doesn’t it, maybe a little harder to get there than she made it seem. However, considering that last night I got to hang out with Jodene Shaer, David Graham, Greg Arthur, Jared Orlin and a whole bunch of others, there is photographic evidence, we engaged with everyone, kept the evening hugely positive and loved every minute of it, seems to me that pretty much sums up everything that Jodene was talking about last night…………….the tracks are laid, now for the steam train to roll on through!

Proof that the evening happened at Indulgence Cafe

Proof that the evening happened at Indulgence Cafe

We wish Jodene huge future success, go from strength to strength, stay positive and above all else stay the happy, humble person you are!
Thank you so much for your time last night for Monday Night Talk!