So in the past month I have been lucky enough to go to a number of Book Events, showcasing the books that will be launching over the next couple of months.


Penguin Random House always puts on a fantastic show and after a week or two of loving my goodie bags it is definitely time to report back…

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And I will try and unpack all the magic that was in the Goody Bag…

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Everybody loves a little book bling…

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Children’s Books to Launch in 2019

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Let’s Talk About the Catalogue

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Usborne Book’s delightful series: “That’s not my…” Is twenty years old, I can’t even believe it!!! And new editions just keep on launching, That’s not my Unicorn, That’s not my Llama, there is even a That’s not my Meerkat. These funky touchy feely books have become icons of childhood.

  • 0-3 Year Olds: That’s Not My… the entire series is everything to love. And can I mention the local wonder that is: Angry Owl.
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    Local books on point, if you haven’t met the Angry Owl… then it is definitely time you did!!!

  • 3-6 Year Olds: Usborne has as usual tons of lovely books coming out: Little Sticker Dolly Dressing: Mermaid, and Peep inside the Forest.
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    And for Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fans… There is a new book out…

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    AND…

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    Cape Town is on the tour… if you have never taken your kids to meet and author that they love… then do it… it will inspire them to read like nothing else will…

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  • 6-9 Year Olds: We are looking forward to Of thee I Sing by Barack Obama, and Usborne sticker books of the Great Artists. Roald Dahl’s Matilda is on point: How to be a Genius, looks absolutely fabulous. Also classics like The Magic Faraway Tree Collection will be coming out again and will be loved all over again. The DK Book, called What a Waste looks incredible, and just the sort go book, packed with useful environmental factoids, that my kids would totally love.
  • Tweens: Absolutely cannot wait for Rachel Ignotofsky’s The Wonderous Workings of Planet Earth. We love her work… it is fantabulous. And then The Boy who sailed the Ocean in an Armchair, just the title sounds like magic.
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    And for all of you wanting to take your kids’ writing to the next level… there is a Roald Dahl Creative Writing Series: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and the BFG… these look funky and fun, packed with writing activities. And then Genius from DK, and Survival for Beginners a quiz encyclopaedia.

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  • Young Adults: The Fork, the Witch and the Worm, Tales from Alagaësia by Christopher Paolini… can we hear a “Yay” and “At last.” There is a review of this further down this post… can I just say that my older kids literally inhaled this book… because that is the only way to read a Christopher Paolini…

    And my kids would love to read Youth Revolution by Kiara Nirgin, a 16 year old high school student from Johannesburg, who overcame her health problems and won the grand prize for the Google Science Fair in 2016.

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Max Einstein looks fantastic and I think we need to get to know Max just a little better.

The Adult Presentation and Books I Am Looking Forward Too


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Can I just say… feasting for the win!!!
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And then books… apparently Daisy Jones and the Six is going to be a winner (if not already)… and if you enjoy thrillers…
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My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing, is the story of a couple whose hobby is serial killing – have you ever. Anyway it turns out the wife is much better at it than her husband and then he annoys her. Another thriller, The Whisper Man by Alex North about a man and his son who move to a small town to start over. A Town where five small boys went inexplicably missing fifteen years ago, and now the boy starts hearing whispering at his window… creepy indeed.

Meanwhile… there is a new Sophie Kinsella, I Owe You One, who I love for weekend reading. And a new Katie FForde, A Rose Petal, coming out. My name is Anna, by Lizzy Barber… looks like a great mystery. It is about a girl who has grown up under the shadow of a missing sister and has never been allowed to go anywhere, but on her eighteenth birthday visits the biggest theme park in Florida, and everything seems strangely familiar. And then if you love historical fiction, The Confessions of Frannie Langton. Mr and Mrs Benham have been murdered in London, and their maid is accused. The book is set in the eighteen hundreds, Frannie has to tell her own story, beginning with her childhood on a plantation in London. And a local book, set in the Karoo: The Tortoise Cried it’s Only Tear by Carol Campbell, the same author who wrote the book about The Karretjie People (scroll down this post to meet them). If you want to get a feel for the wide open dramatic and emotional space that is the Karoo, then this is a must read for you. Then in non-fiction, The Boy Who Followed his Father into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield looks so good. The title says it all, Fritz is a teenage boy that refuses to leave his father’s side. The story is brought to life by the secret diary of the father, who managed to keep an account of their journey through the Holocaust.

Books from My Goody Bag


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I am looking forward to The Parisian by Isabella Hammad. As World War I erupts a young Palestinian sets off for France to study medicine and “find himself.” His world is shattered and he returns home to a place that he cannot recognise as home. Just from the first few pages, I know that there is a richness in language in this book that I can’t wait to immerse myself in. Otherwise I am working in a South African cookbook series, so look out for my review of Simply Zola. I think our readers are going to love her… family friendly food with local ingredients… it is a winner.

And What About Struik Nature

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As you know, we use a lot of Struik Nature books for our nature study and in our home school. Beachcombing in South Africa by Rudy Van Der Elst, looks like the perfect book for this beach-life loving family. Otherwise one of our projects this year is to resurrect our garden, that became a desert during the drought. We are hoping to create a garden full of little invitations for the surrounding nature to enter into it. Gardening With Nature by Roy Trendler and Peter Chadwick, is going to be the best resource for us.
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Meanwhile, What We Have Been Reading Lately…

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Becoming by Michelle Obama: This was my first read of the year and it was unforgettable. Keep in mind that I am not American, I had absolutely no political agenda to read this book… apart from a fascination with a woman, who has had to face the world and all their criticisms head on, and all the while maintaining a steady decorum, a grace unprecedented and a winning smile. I loved this book, a memoir with a distinct lack of self-pity. There was no “we never had…” despite growing up on a side of town where the struggle was real, she clearly wasn’t wealthy her father suffered from Multiple Sclerosis… and they battled. But she never once mentions the battle in a negative way, it was just the battle that their family had been meted out, and how they overcame it. She does mention striving. Striving to always be better, to out shine, to work harder, to be kinder, to just be lovely in the face of many trials. In fact if I had to sum up this book in a word it would be just that “Striving.” The book is divided into three smaller books: Becoming Me, Becoming Us and Becoming More. The first book is about her childhood, the second about her relationship with Obama, and the third about their life in the Whitehouse, trying to raise to girls as “normally” as possible… she does somewhat blow the whole “We are better than you because we live in the White House” idea right out of the water. An extraordinary life, trying to live an ordinary life in a world that is so much bigger than herself. Which brings to mind the next word, selfless… really one has to give up a lot if your husband is the president of the United States… its not all gala balls and fancy functions… it is a lot of hard work, on your own… while your husband is off down the corridor, out of reach, out of contact and just uncontactable. This book is a fantastic read, had I realised how long it was I might have chosen to listen to the audible, 19 hours, so totally worth an audible credit, I am glad that I powered through the real book, it was totally worth it.

Brene Brown’s famous Ted Talk… grab a coffee, sit down and take a listen


Dare to Lead by Brené Brown: I think I could possibly be the last person on earth to read a Brené Brown book… I have had so many folk telling me to read her books, and I did eventually get around to watching her Ted Talk… and then of course this book landed on my desk and I had to dive in and read it. It isn’t a quick read… it took me a while to get into it, her lingo and style is not what I am familiar with, and hence the slow start. One I got going I realised that you are supposed to read this book in chunks, a section at a time… and processing in between. It was worth pushing through the slow start there is a lot to learn about yourself and your relationships with the people around you in this book, and that alone makes it a valuable resource. I loved that she is all about curiosity, and having the courage to pursue and ask the right questions. Don’t expect a quick and easy read in this one. This book is a good place to start your journey to caring better for yourself, and just working alongside others in a whole new way. It is a good read, but I found it quite a tricky read… her Ted talks are much easier to glean her life lessons from.

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Minette Walter’s Series: The Last Hours and The Turn of Midnight: I read The Last Hours last year and absolutely loved it, so much so, that when I saw that the next book in the series I grabbed it immediately… I bought the audible and listened and listened and listened. The series is set in the 1300’s and a village in England during the time of the Black Plague. In the first book, to protect her surrounding villagers, Lady Anne brings all the locals into the castle, and quarantines them against the world. The ins and outs of keeping a small town running as food runs out and cabin fever sets in, makes for a gripping read. In Book Two, The Turn of Midnight, the containment is becoming a bigger problem than the plague and people are beginning to wonder if there are other survivors… our hero from the first novel, Thaddeus ventures forth… only to discover that they are definitely not all alone in the world. Meanwhile, Lady Anne is left at home to hold the fort. Not an easy task with hungry serfs crying out for their “rights.” An excellent read, gripping and very much a “just one more chapter” kind of a series.

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The Fork, the Witch and the Worm by Christopher Paolini: A surprise indeed, it has been years since Christopher Paolini published his highly acclaimed Inheritance Series: Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr and Inheritance. Years. And these are right up there as favourite books in the house, for sure. So huge excitement to discover a new book by the author, set in the land of the Inheritance Series, Analgaësia. This is a beautiful book, that opens with a map. Enough said!!! Matthew Courtney, [24 Feb 2019 at 23:30:48]:
Ever wondered what happens to the hero after the story is finished? It’s easy to get attached to the fascinating characters we meet in books and often we wish we could peep in on their lives and see how they are doing. In the Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, we get to do exactly that with Eragon, Murtagh, and Angela, three of the heroes from the inheritance cycle which Paolini wrote first. This isn’t an ordinary sequel – it’s a chance to be a fly on the wall after the story is done and to see what our heroes are up to. There’s a story about a fork, a witch, and a worm… of the dragonish kind, of course! Each of these stories stands on its own and you can read this without knowing the story so far… but this book is definitely the most fun if you’ve read the other books first! All in all, a fantastic read.

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The Train to Impossible Places by P.G Bell and illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino: Firstly, if you are going on a train trip… you have to save this book for then. Secondly, if you look on the book’s website you will see that this is Book 1… and that is very good news. Because this book is an absolute winner… the illustrations totally make it. You have to look at the end pages… and yes bananas are significant. But the most magnificent thing is under the dust cover, there is another incredible beautiful cover underneath it… and you have to keep checking on it as you read your way through the book. Our heroine, Suzy Smith, wakes up in the middle of the night (as one does) and discovers a giant train and a cranky troll in her living room (as one definitely doesn’t)…. Curiosity gets the better of her and she finds herself off on the most incredible rip-roaring adventure. An impossible train, to impossible places, magical moments and fantastical fantasy… middle-grade heaven. This book was read under the covers late late late into the night, and now is the most asked for as our next family read-a-loud. It’s an Usborne book, which means it comes with activity pages and author interviews and such like… take a peek here.

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The Trouble With Perfect by Helena Duggan and illustrated by David Shephard: Another brilliant Usborne book, that comes with all the trimmings. This is the second book in the series and honestly I don’t know why we haven’t read the first one, A Place Called Perfect, already. So I began this… it is a mystery of note… but I hadn’t gone far before I realised that I really wanted to read the first book in this series… it is too good to read as a stand alone. So you have to watch this space for a review in the future…


The Incredibles 2, Disney/Pixar Collection: The Story of the movie, this was a goody bag book and one that I would never buy… because well, story of the movie, so they know it… But now it has been read and read and reread… this book has been in the house about a month and read about a million times. I really don’t mind what my kids read if it is a book that makes them want to read and then read some more than I am all for it. If you have seen the Incredibles, then you definitely know the story… and this is a book that will promote the love of reading in a very “let’s read it again” kind of a way!!!

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Billy and the MinPins by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake: Hood 8 has been on a Roald Dahl reading binge and was thrilled to read this a Roald Dahl that hasn’t been owned or even read by his older siblings. This is the story of the Billy, whose mother does not allow him to do anything adventurous, especially he may not go out of the garden into the woods. And, it is a Roald Dahl story, so of course he goes out of the garden and into the woods, where he discovers the Minions, who are miniature people. A magical world, where tiny people have larger than life problems. And of course all the incredible and descriptive, Roald Dahlish new words and ling. It is fabulous its fun… and a fantastic read. I especially love the large format book… with beautifully colourful Quentin Blake illustrations… this book is just lovely.

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The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig: This is the third in Matt Haig’s Christmas Collection of stories… this is a lovely giftable book… and don’t worry about the Christmas theme in February, because you can read and enjoy Matt Haig during any season. So much fun, a story in rhyme… very clever wordage and fabulous illustrations. This book is a perfect read for beginner readers, the kind of book that results in a lot of chortling. Loved it!!!

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These books were given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa and Struik Nature. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

2 Replies to “Fantastic Books to Look Out For From Penguin Random House South Africa This Year…”

  1. Oh wow, sooo many books this time!
    It has indeed been years since Christopher Paolini wrote his first series, I’d be totally intrigued to read his new series and compare how he has developed as a writer. Considering he was only in his teens when he wrote the first I’d expect some development. And now I should go and re-read him 🙂

  2. Hay Erin, Good to hear from you, I remember flying through the Eragon Series… could not read it fast enough. Loved it. And because of his new book have decided that this would be a good year for a re-read!!! So lovely to hear from you… lots of love from sunny Cape Town!!!

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