Jozi’s books and blogs festival 2017

I attended the Jozi’s books and blogs festival(jozisbbf) for the second time this year and it was wonderful!

The line up of authors and guests was extensive and exciting. The program was great and the entire event was extremely organized.

The place was buzzing with energy and I loved how bright, colorful and inviting everything was. The hosts were highly effective in terms of assisting to find the correct rooms and were very helpful not to mention kind.

Due to a bit of unfortunate timing (on my side) I only managed to attend one panel and one workshop both of which were interesting, inspiring, organized, educational and really fun.

The panel was called Young Adult Novels and was in the teen part of the programme. There was meant to be five authors but unfortunately, one of them did not make it. The panel was chaired by Rafiq Jajbhay  and the authors were Joanne McGregor author of Hushed, Fiona Snyckers author of the Trinity series, Layla Khan author of That Nerd and Ayesha Desai author of Jasmine in the Wind. I had previously not read any of the books by these authors but at the end of the panel they were all promptly added to my (very long) tbr.

I absolutely loved the panel. The questions were well thought out and each one led to an interesting discussion. It was such an interactive panel and I really liked that too. I found that getting to know the people behind the books makes reading a much better experience because now I understand a bit more about the thought processes and the writing processes behind books and it makes reading, for me, more enjoyable. The panel had an amazing, relaxed atmosphere which made it very comfortable and as I said I loved how interactive it was-the audience was asked questions constantly and kept engaged through the entire discussion. The authors were such lovely people and they were so funny and absolutely brilliant. It was an honour to be there, to be able to hear them speak and I left feeling happy and inspired.

The workshop I attended was a teen writing workshop with Ameera Patel who is both an actress and an author,  she wrote the book called Outside the lines. The workshop was a huge learning opportunity and I still cannot believe how much I learnt in such a short time and without even realising it. Ameera was vibrant, energetic and a great teacher. The workshop was also very interactive and it pushed me right out of my comfort zone. I am a bona fide introvert and I find it quite difficult to speak out in front of strangers and during the workshop I had to speak up, loudly. I had to read the things I wrote in front of a room full of people I didn’t know and I did it. It was an exhilarating experience, something new, and I loved every minute of it because it helped me realise that doing something, however small, out of my comfort zone is one of the best ways to learn.

In addition to that I felt motivated, inspired and ready to write anything when I walked out the door.

Another feature at the event that I really enjoyed was the photo exhibition held by the Roshni photo club. I like that a different form of art, that is besides the written word, was showcased. I do also take an interest in photography and I enjoyed the exhibition very much.

Overall I think that the jozisbbf 2017 was an enormous success and an incredible achievement in the way of literature, reading and blogging within our community. I enjoyed myself immensely and I am really looking forward to the festival next year.

I only bought one book off the list at the festival, Jasmine in the wind by Ayesha Desai and I thought it was stunning. I plan on getting my hands on all of the others soon so stay tuned for full reviews!

xx

tbn

 

Windfall by Jennifer. E. Smith

*This book was sent to me by PanMacmillan South Africa in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis: 

“Alice has been in love with her best friend, Teddy, for the last three years. On his eighteenth birthday she buys him a lottery ticket, and to their astonishment he wins the jackpot. The two of them are suddenly thrown together with the world at their feet. And when Teddy finally decides how to spend his money, who better to go on that adventure with him than Alice?

But money can’t buy love, and Alice and Teddy are about to find out more about themselves and each other than they ever could have imagined.”

My thoughts:

The good things about this book are plentiful but there definitely were some things about it I didn’t like. That is why I gave it a 3half/5 stars.

Before I even talk about the book, I have to mention the cover. It is absolutely stunning and I would want to read it based on the cover alone.

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The first half of the book was incredible. A real page-turner, original, funny, interesting and well written. It got my heart racing a couple of times (all. of. the. feels.) which every contemporary should do (in my opinion).

The characters were lovely and very well-developed through the book. I found that they had real depth and interesting as well as very intriguing pasts.

The book was written very nicely and everything was beautifully described. I found myself marvelling at the imagery on every page. Really just wonderful pictures were created in my mind.

I found the second part of the book, more specifically towards the end a little bit less enjoyable and interesting and a lot more cliché. For me, the pace was too slow and I really just wanted to get to the end.

It was all sunshine and rainbows and very predictable. I did not like how everything Teddy thought about in the end, was this huge, brilliant, generous idea. It was a tad bit overdone which, to me, made it unbelievable.

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It did deal a lot with loss and I loved that because it really taught me about grief and pain and truly helped me to understand more about that. It also deals with the concept of money and how money is not the most important thing which I really liked. When YA books are deeper, more real and deal with things that make them more than just fluffy they are, in my opinion, automatically more enjoyable

Overall despite the few things I did not quite enjoy about the book I would still recommend. I thought it was good enough to read to the very last page. The pros outweigh the cons and the things I did not quite take to, are things that other people may not notice at all. It is the kind of book that causes a feeling of warmth and happiness inside.

xx

tbn

P.S Shout out to PanMacmillan South Africa for sending me a review copy of this book. It is always an honour!

 

How to: Bake a Harry Potter birthday cake!

I’m not sure it’s possible to outgrow Harry Potter and so for my elder sister’s birthday a few days ago, I baked her a Harry Potter birthday catke. More specifically, I recreated the cake Hagrid gave Harry on his eleventh birthday.

I am somewhat of an amateur baker and I thought it would be cool to do a blog post with the recipe and instructions on how to decorate it, especially because it was very easy to make.

I took a basic vanilla sponge cake recipe and I added a little bit of cocoa to make it chocalat-ey. I used whipped cream instead of icing because it’s lighter and not as rich-which is preferred in my house. So, let’s get started!

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Bake the cakes & make the topping!

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1/2 a cup of cooking oil
  • 1/2 a cup of water
  • eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of cocoa powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line two 22cm cake tins with parchment paper.
  3. Separate the eggs and beat the whites until they form stiff peaks. Then set aside.
  4. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, water and vanilla essence into a large mixing bowl. Beat at a medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg yolks to the mixture and beat until it is well incorporated. Be careful not to overmix.
  6. Add the egg whites to the mixture and fold them in. Be gentle but thorough.
  7. Stir in the cocoa powder.
  8. Divide the batter equally between the two tins, knock them gently on a hard surface  to release air bubbles and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.
  9. Once the cakes are removed from the oven allow them to cool for at least 30 minutes. 

In the meantime, prepare the topping!

Ingredients 

  • large tub of whipped cream
  • pink/peach food colouring
  • green food coloring

Method 

  1. Divide the cream between two bowls, in the ratio 3:1
  2. Add pink/peach food coloring to the larger portion and green food coloring to the smaller portion. Mix until the desired colour is achieved.IMG_8194

Decorate the cakes!

  1. Ensure that the cakes have cooled completely. Then sandwich them together using a thin layer of cream.
  2. Next, cover the entire cake with the pink cream. Remember that this is Hagrid’s cake, he probably sat on it at some point, so… we’re not going for perfect. It is supposed to be a little rough around the edges.
  3. Using either a toothpick or a skewer draw a jagged line down the centre of the cake(use the pictures as a guide). Be light at first and once you’re sure it’s how you want it to look, dig a little deeper so that the cake shows through.
  4. Use the toothpick/skewer again, this time to lightly outline the words (HAPPEE BIRTHDAE [NAME OF PERSON]) 
  5. Attach a small round tipped nozzle to the end of a piping bag and fill it with the green cream, pipe over the letters you traced out and again, this is Hagrid, so be a little messy, it will look more authentic if it’s a little jagged! 

And that’s it! It seems really long but I promise you it’s the easiest thing to make and it tastes amazing. Also, it’s a great photo prop if you’re a bookstagrammer!

I would love to see how it turns out if you re-create it so please tag me in your pictures on instagram- @thebookishnerd

xx                                                                         tbn

 

What is a good book?

Within the last couple of months I have been evaluating my thoughts on various different books. I have been reading some of the reviews I’ve written and looking at the number of stars I have given each book and I noticed a pattern. I seem to like or really like most books. Looking over the ratings I have given in the past it seems as if majority of the books I read get a 5/5 or 4/5 rating. And this got me thinking, why do I think all of these books are good enough to earn 5/5 or 4/5 ratings? And if they are deserving, what makes them good books?

Books that I recommend are generally the ones that I have most enjoyed and I wonder is that okay? Should I recommend books that I have enjoyed or ones that actually impacted my life and are they not usually the same thing?IMG_0159

I read because I love reading. Because it fills me up with joy. Because I get excited about books. Because I care about the characters. Because it transports me to magical places. Because it allows me to dream. I read because I love reading.                                                     However, I also read to learn. To expand my knowledge. To increase my understanding of how the world works. To explore new things. To satisfy my curiosity.

So I am now in a predicament: do I read books simply for enjoyment or do I read books that will make me think? I think that a good book is one that encompasses both. A book that can be enjoyed immensely and that is able to simultaneously open minds.

Looking back again, I believe that I have not looked at both elements whilst judging books. In the past I have rated books based purely on whether I enjoyed them or not.

Books need to be fully inclusive of every single element that makes a good book to be a good book. Its ability to be both enjoyable and thought provoking are the two very broad elements and each of them have many sub-categories. For example when judging a book based on its ability to be enjoyable, was the plot interesting? Was it a page-turner? Did you fall in love with the characters? Did you feel happy/angry/sad etc with the characters? Do you love the book?

And when judging a book based on its ability to make you think, how good was the character development? Did the characters have depth? Were some of the main ideas centered around an important issue? Did you learn something? Did you have a stop-and-stare-at-the-wall-for-a-few-minutes moment?

These are just some of the elements to look at. There are some that apply to both categories like: How well was the book written? and Is there a quote on every page you’d like to write down?

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Ultimately though the elements that make up a good book are a little bit different for each person. The point of this blog post being: Are the books you love good books because they are more than just enjoyable, because they have depth and because you learnt something valuable from them or are they good books simply because you love them?

In the end however, sometimes all we want to do is pick up a book that does not make us think just so that we can escape for a little while and that too is okay. Sometimes the books we pick up to make us not think are the ones that make us think the most and maybe those are the good books. Maybe, they are the best books.

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xx                                                                                                                                                        tbn

 

My favorite book

As a classified bookworm who has already read hundreds of books in just one decade, picking a favorite is one of the most difficult things you could ask me to do. However, in August of last year I read my favorite book.

It’s funny because the book was actually a cover buy. I fell in love with the cover from the first time I saw it and I had to own it even if it was only for photographing purposes(I am a bit of a book photography enthusiast, but that is no surprise). I had also read many good reviews and with very good reason.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon is my favorite book. It still feels a bit weird having a favorite book because I simply could not decide for so long!

I read the book twice, both times in one sitting, and I loved it.

Everything Everything is a YA contemporary novel about a teenage girl, Maddy, who cannot leave her house, she is essentially allergic to the world and the boy next door, Olly, who desperately wants to reach her. It is about how much we are willing to risk for love.

The book was everything, everything(pun intended). I read the first sentence and it brought a smile to my face, I read the first paragraph and I felt excitement build up in my chest, I read the first 2 pages and I couldn’t put it down. It’s as simple as that.

IMG_6660The writing was eloquent and so, so beautiful. It was definitely my favorite thing about the book. The story itself was amazing because of its unpredictability, it was the least cliché love story I’ve ever read. I would describe it as shockingly beautiful because I found myself surprised and amazed at every thought.

I found everything about the book unexpected in a really good way. The characters, the story, the words and the illustrations all surprised me. There is something to be said about books that are so specially unique in not only their characters and plots but their styles as well. Nicola Yoon managed to hit the mark on every aspect of the book.

Joyful grins, loud laughter, audible gasps and pure wonderment are just some of the feelings I experienced whilst reading it not forgetting the many heart-pounding-in-my-chest-excitement-building-in-my-stomach moments.

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If I were to describe the book in one word it would be: Breathtaking. I have read a few breathtaking books before but this was the only one that literally took my breath away. Hence, it is my favorite book.

I must say that after a full decade of not being able to name my favorite book it feels absolutely exhilarating to be able to name it now. That may sound a tad dramatic but in the life of a bookishnerd it is in fact quite exciting.

xx                                                                                                                                                               tbn                                                                                                                                                                                                            IMG_6653