I can honestly say that this has been the year of the book for me… reading and reading. If I am not working then I am reading… and my book worms have been reading up a storm alongside me. I thought it was time to share some of our latest and greatest reads from Penguin Random House. Grab a ticket and pull up a seat…

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Books To Look Forward Too…


I recently attended a Penguin Random House Event, showcasing books for children that will be launching over the next couple of months…

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The usual suspects were there… Diary of a Wimpy Kid…
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Loads of lovely Ladybirds…
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Otherwise, for Frozen fans…
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And why have we never read Max Einstein…
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And teen reads…
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And another stunning book cover!!!
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Books That Most Caught My Eye…


The book that I have to read and with the most beautiful cover in the world ever…
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Have you ever seen anything more beautiful…
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And What a Waste… (you can look inside this book on the DK Website here).
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This book is just fantastic, a source of inspiration to eco-warriors of all ages. Packed with facts…
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And easy actions to take… because small changes lead to big changes…
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The other book I spotted that looks right up our street: Let’s Get Gardening… (you can take a peek inside at the DK Website here). Another book absolutely packed with potential projects, filled with amazing things to learn…

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And suitable for every type of garden: big, small, wild, contained, inside, outside…
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And can I say dormouse…
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A glance at the contents page, tells me that this is a book that would keep us busy for weeks.
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Otherwise… One of the most anticipated book in our house right now, from the author of the fabulous House With Chicken Legs… is The Girl Who Speaks Bear.

Books We Have Been Reading from Penguin Random House

Can I say that we absolutely love and adore Claude, I blogged about them in this post on the Best Ever Middle Grade Readers.

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Well Claude has recently been published in Afrikaans and we have been reading them for school… They are just as funny in Afrikaans as they are in English. My kids have been rolling about laughing…
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Claude and his best friend, Meneer Bobbelkous, go on many adventures together.

  • Claude Gaan vir Goud: Claude and Sir Bobblysock have a daily adventure, in this story his Sport’s Day ambitions come to life.
  • Claude in die Stad: In this adventure Claude and Sir Bobblysock manage to go into the city for a shopping excursion and a visit to a museum… and the hospital. Not everything goes according to plan.
  • Claude in die Kollig: In this story Claude and his side kick, Sir Bobblysock, manage to bring the backstage drama behind the scenes drama to life… a new and dramatical life!!!
  • Claude Hou Vakansie: Claude and Sir Bobblysock head for the beach, on their daily adventure, they end up being chased by a shark and building sandcastles, not to mention a pirate treasure hunt… and they still manage to get home before his owner gets home from work.


I Don’t Want to Be A Hyena, written by Avril Van Der Merwe and illustrated by Heidi-Kate Greeff: This story is the third picture book by this author, set on the plains of Africa. Poor hyena wishes she could be anyone else… everyone else is so fabulous… and there is a moral to the story… just be yourself… you are perfect, just as you are!!! Bright and colourful with an African theme.


A Wishing Chair Adventure by Enid Blyton: My younger kids love these series of easy readers. In this book, A Daring School Rescue, Peter and Molly are transported in their magical wishing chair to find their missing toys, only things go awry and they end up in a school for extremely naughty brownies by mistake. Fun reading, richly illustrated and short snappy chapters, these are fantastic reads for beginner readers who are launching their “chapter book” careers.

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Teen Crime…



A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson: I have read a load of really serious books this year and I have been looking for something a little lighter… well here is a fast and furious young adult murder mystery. Fantastic weekend reading that I kept putting down, because I had so many things to do… and then kept picking up, because I wanted to see what would happen next. The story is about a girl called Pip, who is in her final year of high school and she has to write a research paper. She chooses to research a five year old crime that occurred in her small town… a teenage school girl called Annie, went missing, and Annie’s boyfriend, Sal was assumed to have killed her, committed suicide two days later proved his guilt. Pip decides to see if she can find concrete evidence to prove or disprove Sal’s innocence. Five years down the line the crime is still raw and close to the surface of a number of folk in town, including fellow students. She begins with a series of interviews… unearthing more and more details that were allegedly overlooked by the authorities at the time. The deeper she digs the more unsettling the story becomes and she starts to receive a series of alarming threats. From who? Weaving the story together is her Production Log, which is essentially a diary of her research. She experiences a number of road blocks, people deliberately misleading her, and pulling her attention away from the crime… but she is tenacious, and convinced that Sal is innocent… there is a really surprising twist in the tale… that you will not expect, and neither will you believe it if you are one of those folk that read the last page first… This is a great, easy-reading, long weekend kind of book. I really enjoyed it and I know that my crime loving teen would love it too. This goes on my list of best books of the year.


All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klefoth: Another teen crime read… and this one is creepy. It calls on the darker side of teenage life, not to mention from one generation to the next. Charlie has everything going for her… she attends an elite private school, has everything money can buy, as well as outstanding grades and a secure future. But Charlie doesn’t have a mother, she left… for no apparent reason when she was a small child. When she is invited to be part of the elite “A-group” at the school… a very secret and sinister group that will make sure that she has allies and connections for every ambition that she might eve have… she will be called to do things that she never wanted to do, and she will be bound to silence through her membership. If you can get through the start of this book, and it is worth reading on, you will discover what Charlie always knew… her mother didn’t “just leave.” The deeper she digs, the more she feels trapped by the secret society and the more she realises that the adult in her life are bound to the same laws. If she speaks out she will lose everything, including her chance to discover what really happened to her mother. This is gritty reading and worth it. Charlie is one of the good kids, despite all the masquerading as “cool” and “one of the pack.” Turns out she is not afraid to stand out, and spoiler alert, she will find a way to speak out. Excellent and gripping reading, get through the gritty start and you won’t be able to put it down.

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The Girl Who Came Out of the Woods by Emily Barr: An extremely excellent read… really if you read only one teen read this year… then make it this one. Imagine you have grown up in a clearing in the Indian jungle, surrounded by a handful of folk in a peace loving community, who have escaped all that is wicked in the great wide world. All of you are brothers and sisters in peace, and then illness strikes and sixteen year old Arty has to fend for herself, with one of her little brothers (until he is taken away). Her mother has always supplied her with a steady stream of books, so she has an inkling of the “big bad world” but she has no real experience of it. She finds herself entirely alone and where everything has been provided for her until now, she has to find her own way. For instance, Arty has never seen or been in a motor car before, and her only experience of riding a bicycle is what she has seen in a Richard Scarry book.

The thing is, I have sixteen year olds and I can imagine what this would be like for them, venturing into town… navigating who is helping her, who is manipulating her and the power of adults over her. Where she has always had autonomy and freedom, she is now ruled by adults she has never met… and yet, somehow in her naivety, there is a feistiness and resilience that means she can not give up. I love this girl… this is a fantastic read… that I thought would be all kind of “airy fairy” but definitely isn’t. Arty is a hero… she navigates the world at large, the urban world, the online world and crazy world of social media, and she survives… not only survives, but thrives. Fantastic read.

When Legends and Life Collide



Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina: I couldn’t possibly classify this book… there is so much in it. It is a book with a difference, poetic and surprising on ever level. There are a few books out lately where the main protagonist has died and yet somehow remains behind to narrate the story to us… what sets this one apart is that it is set in Australia, and so the story introduces to legends that have passed on from generation to generation in Aboriginal families. I was intrigued with this very “different to one’s typical read” as a stage… and it was a lovely introduction to a culture that I am not very familiar with. The story revolves around Beth and her detective father. Beth has died, but cannot leave her depressed father alone, and he can see her and talk to her. Beth hopes that by accompanying her father to a crime scene he will be inspired to work, keep his job and get on with his life in a positive way…

And Our Latest Adult Reads

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Death on the Limpopo by Sally Andrews: I cannot begin to explain how much I enjoyed Tannie Maria’s first book, Recipes for Love and Murder, definitely one of my favourite books ever. This one, Death on the Limpopo is just as brilliant, I love how she incorporates South African issues into her stories, I love how her books are real and written from a truly South African perspective… without all the political correctness thrown in. Real stories, local context and unputdownable. I literally read this book in a day… It is the story of Tannie Maria, who is the “agony aunt” for her local Karoo town’s newspaper… she responds to folks letters about their broken hearts with a recipe. The book begins with a visitor arriving in town, Zabanguni, or Zaba as she is referred to, she is a rising star on the South African journalism rankings and has been sent to lie low after writing a series of particularly contentious articles for the “national papers.” Unfortunately for Zaba, danger tends to follow her. Zaba, appears to be visiting the paper, under the guise of Africanising the paper… and folk are not particularly happy to have her along. Tannie Maria and Zaba don’t appear to hit it off from the start, but time and worrisome incidents in the night, bring the two closer together. Tannie Maria’s boyfriend, Detective Henk Kannemeyer, remains the voice of reason throughout, continuously warning these two against impending dangers – to no avail… they dive straight in to dangerous situation after dangerous situation… they end up on a road trip, through sunny South Africa… and eventually, give or take a few surprising twists and turns here and there… (spoiler alert) it all turns out just fine. Absolutely perfect holiday reading and absolutely and fabulously giftable… for someone looking to gift a little South African flavour to friends overseas.

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I think we need to add poppy seeds to our recipes

As usual at the back of the book there are a couple of very South African recipes… I haven’t tried any of them yet… in the rush to get the review out, but… things like Roosterkoek, oxtail stew and creamy potato bake; And otherwise, buttermilk and poppy seed rusks, pineapple and butternut cake as well as grapefruit cake.

We have reviewed and loved the previous Tannie Maria Mysteries here:

  • Tannie Maria and Recipes for Love and Murder.
  • Tannie Maria and the Satanic Mechanic.
  • Spies and Crime


    Secret Service by Tom Bradby It has definitely been a month of crime reading over here… Secret Service is the story of Kate Henderson, who takes “just a mom” to a whole new level. She is a mom of two teens, navigates the highs and lows of an elderly mom with Alzheimers, has a really annoying husband (I found), and is also an MI6 agent. The book begins with her recruiting a young girl, who works as an au-pair on an important Russian’s luxury liner… political intrigue and international drama. The British Prime Minister has to step down at the height of it all… and their suspected mole, becomes a lot more than a reality. And Kate thinks she knows the answer to the problem… but there is a twist in the tail of this story. Not the most gripping spy saga ever, but a fabulous weekend read and I loved the just a “regular mom of teens” angle that wove its way through the story, while Kate got on with the job at hand.


    Hush, Hush by James Patterson
    This is the fourth in the Harriet Blue series, a collaboration between Candice Fox and the ever popular James Patterson. I have heard that if you really want to get into this series, then read it through from the start. Needless to say, Hood 2 read this one, and just dived straight in. Detective Harriet Blue finds herself in prison for allegedly murdering her brother’s murderer. The Detective who put her in jail, Detective Woods arrives on the scene, he is not so much there to protect her from other inmates, but to recruit her as he looks for his “missing” daughter and granddaughter. There are wild ins and outs, a loaded conspiracy and a race against time. A Very quick read… because James Patterson is the master of suspense.





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

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