Book 12: Helena S. Paige: A Girl Walks Into a Bar

Books I've read

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Growing up, my sister and I often spent weekends at my paternal grandmother’s house. Granny Moira, loved to read and do crosswords. She had an amazing flat in Umhlanga Rocks with a massive balcony and swimming pool. Whilst we didn’t always see eye to eye, I have so many happy memories of lying on the bed in her spare room reading books.

Normally those weekends would include vast amounts of cold pork sausages or roast chicken, chocolates, playing card games, and a trip to the Umhlanga library. Sometimes they also involved painting ceramics, or chipping the old plaster off of the back of old tiles (I’m not sure why because I don’t remember her ever re-tiling).

Some of my favourite books to take out where the choose your own adventure stories. I would make sure to mark each option that I had chosen, and read them over and over again until I had exhausted all the options. I was always left with that lingering feeling though that I had missed one, and so because they were quick, often did a double-check.

With A Girl Walks Into a Bar, I had the exact same feeling of thrill and excitement. Would I be able to choose all the options? Where would they lead me? For the uninitiated, A Girl Walks Into a Bar is a choose your own adventure erotica. You begin the journey by choosing the underwear you’d like to wear for your night out on the town, and the rest is history (the type of history you should probably not read on the train because it is that saucy and because you will blush the whole way home).

I have never read erotica before, mostly because I didn’t like the idea of a woman being rescued by a man, which I’ve been led to believe is the plot of most of them. (Side note – if I’m wrong, tell me now, and recommend some more books!) This book, however, was nothing like that. This was a woman, enjoying herself, experiencing sexual pleasure, and going home afterwards with a grin on her face. As will you. A big grin.

Part of the pleasure of this book, aside from the obvious, was in the choosing. The whole focus was on choosing an experience that you thought would be pleasurable, a narrative which is sadly often missing from discussions about women’s sexuality. I loved that. This book has been published the world over in a host of different languages, pointing to the fact that a) many women love sex and want to read about it, and b) we love stories that affirm our right to make choices.

The other cool thing about this book is that it is written by three female writers, together. As a writer, that thought excites me. (Note to self: plan famous novel collection with friends). The ‘Helen’ in Helena is Helen Moffett, whose book of poetry I reviewed earlier in the project. The S. is Sarah Lotz, whose thrilling speculative fiction I reviewed earlier in the project. The Paige is Paige Nick, a novelist also from South Africa (watch out Paige, I’m coming for your fiction).

Finally, the coolest thing about A Girl Walks In is that it is a series! So you can also get A Girl Walks into A Blind Date, and A Girl Walks Into a Wedding. I’m super keen to read the next two.

Follow A Girl Walks In on twitter here and on Facebook here.

 

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Book 6: Sarah Lotz: The Three

Books I've read
The Three

The Three

What an exciting book in both form and plot!

Four plane crashes happen at the same time in different places around the world and the only survivors are three children. A religious fanatic suggests they are the harbingers of the apocalypse. Can you hear that music – it’s thrilling (best onomatopoeic description – dee noo nee noo dee noo nee noo). It has just been nominated for the Mbokodo award.

The story follows what happens after the crashes through the words of the families and communities of the survivors. The children are ever-present but you don’t often get to hear from them, which just adds to their eeriness.

Lotz is a master at creating thick characters. In any story that is going to follows characters from different countries and backgrounds style and tone become so important.

In The Three each chapter features a narrative about the events told by a different character (some characters are repeated), and each character has a different voice. At no point in time was I confused about who was talking, despite them talking about similar issues, because the voices Lotz creates are so distinctive. You get a strong idea of the type of people that the characters are, when they are being disingenuous to you the reader (or to themselves), and can almost anticipate their reactions to the events from the first time you meet them. I wish I had made a point of counting how many narrators you meet just so you could realize how amazing this feat was.

I wish this book could be made into a movie. I think it would be gripping.

Lotz is a South African author, who has also written a few other books including Pompidou Posse, Tooth and Nailed and Exhibit A. She is also part of the threesome responsible for the Girl Walks into a Bar series along with Paige Nicks and Helen Moffett. She is also part of the horror duo S.L. Grey.

I’m looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.

Follow her on twitter @SarahLotz1