Why I love this authentic collection of short stories

A thing you must know about the people here in the scheme is that we go to sleep early. If the day goes to sleep, we all sleep and if something interrupts it, people lose their chickens, you know, like in they go bedinges.

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Growing up in a multilingual country has it’s advantages. Most South Africans are fluent in at least two languages, so it’s not uncommon for people to code-switch in everyday conversation. And it’s not always because you can’t find the English or Afrikaans word for something. No, we simply fuse different languages into one. In her debut short story collection, Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories, Jolyn Phillips captures the multilingual heart of average South Africans.

Initial Insights

Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories is a whimsical collection of tales set in the fishing villages around Gansbaai, South Africa. Using memorable characters, witty dialog, and a charming background, Jolyn takes the reader on a journey of loss, laughter, and sheer calculated silliness.

What I liked

I enjoyed Jolyn’s writing style. I could read her writing every day. In a world of dragons, hobbits, and dark lords, it’s refreshing to find writing I can relate to. Each story filled me with nostalgia for childhood days spent playing in the neighborhood until streetlights signalled it was time to go home. A street with nosey neighbors, unfortunate dogs, and the messiness of small-town life.

Jolyn also explores themes like mental illness, secrets, poverty, rape, and molestation with an authenticity that I appreciated. My favorite stories in this collection were The Photograph, Secrets, The Fire, The Big Box, and The Legend of Tjieng Tjang Tjerries.


What I didn’t like

This collection is multilingual and although I understood the references other readers may not, so I would have liked to see a glossary. At times Phillips translated phrases and colloquial sayings into English which was annoying at times. Some of the stories fell flat and could have used a bit more punch.

Final Thoughts

I believe good writing should invite the reader to visit the locations described in the prose and Jolyn did just that. Her words painted landscapes on the canvas of my imagination. For the brief moments between the pages of Tjieng Tjang Tjerries, I traveled the streets of the small fishing villages of the West Coast. I would definitely recommend Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories.

My Dusty bookshelf rating
Rating: 4/5 Stars

About the Author

Jolyn Phillips was born and bred in Blompark, Gansbaai, South Africa. Her debut collection of short stories, Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories, was published to great acclaim in 2016. She is currently studying towards a PhD at the University of the Western Cape. She lectures part-time and is also known as a singer. Radbraak is her first collection of poetry.


Vertigo – an epic poem about love, loss, and freedom

Fantasy Friday(2)

“When a mountain begins to smoke,

rest assured an ancient fire

has begun a holy pilgrimage to the surface”

– Analog de Leon, Vertigo


Initial insights

Vertigo: of love and letting go, was a breath of fresh air. Chris Purifoy, writing as Analog de Leon, transported me into a world of vibrant color, engaging images, and a captivating tale of love, loss, and letting go. This epic poem chronicles the journey through the start and end of a relationship and unearths the wreckage left in the aftermath. The protagonist struggles with heartache, denial, and anger until he finally experiences the freedom that comes with forgiveness and letting go.

Image result for vertigo of love and letting go

What I liked

Vertigo is the best of both worlds: poetry and prose. Each poem weaves into the next from start to end like a Shakespearean plays of old. Yet each poem is strong enough on its own. Most of the poems were short one or two stanzas. But de Leon infused a variety of styles and techniques creating a unique reading experience. Vertigo was such a pleasure to read. The rhythm of on each page translated well as I read. I often found myself racing and jumping and falling as the words quickened, slowed, and exploded in my consciousness. There were also little surprises on the paper, something I’m quite a fan of.


What I didn’t like

I enjoyed Vertigo. The accompanying website offered a virtual tour and playlist, neither of which I cared for. The pieces were really short and I kept hoping a long form poem would be lurking on the next page. Having said that, the selected pieces added perfectly to the rhythm, theme, and message of Vertigo. A long form poem would have taken away from that.


Final thoughts

I’d like to thank Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for sending me a free copy of Vertigo in exchange for an honest review. My own experiences with love and letting go were echoed by this raw and authentic epic poem. The grief that accompanies breakups is not something you toss aside and get over. It takes time. It comes in waves and just when you think it’s over it hits you like an unexpected wave. Vertigo translated that exceedingly well and is definitely a poem worth experiencing. I recommend reading it in one sitting with the suggested playlist or music that you feel suits the moment.

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Rating: 5/5

Buy Vertigo on  | Going Vertigo | Amazon

About the author

Chris Purifoy (aka Analog de Leon) is a writer with more than 200k followers online, a technology architect, and one of the pioneers of a global subculture of modern poetry. He speaks in global forums about the slippery slope of progress and the importance of art with purpose. Chris is the Co-Founder of Lost Poets, an organization dedicated to this resistance, with leadership ranging from entertainment powerhouses such as Gregg Latterman and global policy leaders such as Ana C. Rold.

Creative Ways to Skyrocket your Productivity all Day


Creative ways to skyrocket your productivity

There’s nothing quite like being in the zone. You know the place. When you’re undistracted and words pour onto the page like summer rain. All the world fades away and there’s nothing but your thoughts, the keyboard, and an increasing word count.

Being in the zone is magical. But all magic comes at a price. And soon your happy place turns into a black hole; sucking every last ounce of energy and imagination out of you until your completely drained and it’s not even 10 a.m.

All work and no play makes Robyn a dull writer. You’ve probably heard this a million times. Perhaps from friends inviting you to hang out after work or over a weekend. But the saying is not only true for “after hours”. It’s true for working hours too. Our bodies and brains need a break every now and then. To relax and reboot so you can end your day without feeling like your head is empty. Here are five tricks I use to sustain my productivity during a workday.



A colleague and I usually go for a midmorning walk. Sometimes around the block. Sometimes we walk to the Company Gardens or we stop by one of the many coffee shops around the office building. The change of scenery, chitchat, and activity are like pushing restart.



If coffee isn’t your thing tea or WATER work just as well. The aim is to put distance between you and your desk. Just standing away from your desk waiting for the kettle to boil offers relief to the tired worn out mind. It’s like coming up for air.


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For me, it’s admin. Believe it or not, organizing spreadsheets energize me. I don’t know why. So when I need a little boost after lunch I update one of my many trackers, my Goodreads TBR, or if I have nothing to update, I create a new tracking sheet. The break from whatever task you were doing gives your brain time to rest.



Desk stretches are good for posture, meditation, and they reduce stress. Simple movements like stretching your neck or swinging your arms can help release tension that builds up while you work.



My last resort is checking my e-mails, messages, and Instagram. Remember to keep it brief though. The goal is to take a short break to boost your productivity for the next stretch. Or sometimes I type a quick note like this one. In fact, this post was drafted during one of my mini-breaks.

What are your go to productivity boosters? Do you prefer regular short breaks or one long break? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

How to Get Better at Managing Your Blog

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The best plans are a wasted time if you don’t follow through. No one will make you do this.

We live in an exciting time where being your own boss is possible. Thousands have made successful careers as professional bloggers. And for many, the blogosphere has led to business opportunities that have changed their lives for good. Successful bloggers make it look easy. Think about a blog you follow. Have you ever wondered how they manage to publish interesting posts on a regular basis while juggling everyday life? I’ll let you in on one of their secrets: time management.

It seems uninspiring but if managing your blog seems daunting or if you can’t seem to find the time for your blog, assessing your time management skills could be the answer you’re looking for. Blogs are like babies. They need attention. If you neglect your blog by not posting regularly or not posting well-written content, your blog won’t reach its full potential. The truth is, if you don’t publish content there’s no reason for people to visit your blog. I struggled with this for years. I learned this lesson the hard way. And I realized that if I wanted my blog to reach its potential, I had to make some changes.

Budget your time

We all have 24 hours a day 7 days a week. But some people seem to accomplish more with the time they’re given than others. I used to say that I didn’t have the time to blog. But that’s not true. I make time for the gym, I make time for Netflix; so I should be able to make time for my blog. I simply wasn’t doing it.

Time is money. You can spend it, invest it, and waste it. Take an average day in your life and write down how much time you spend, invest, and waste. Be honest. It’s amazing how much time we actually waste. I used to waste hours on weekends instead of working towards my goals.

Next, re-assign your wasted time to your blog. Decide to be intentional with your time. For the past few months, I’ve had eight-hour rehearsals every Saturday. When I got home, instead of doing something constructive, I binge-watched series or fell asleep. Before I knew it, my weekend was over and I had accomplished nothing.

That’s not good enough anymore. I made a decision to repurpose my Saturday evenings so that I have space to work on my blog (since I’m too sore or tired to go out anyway). Once you carve out time to work on your blog, mark it on your calendar. Block it out and actually do something blog related during that time. For me, that includes reading books. Yeay!


Map your posts

Now that you have time for your blog, make the most of it. Mapping out my blog posts has helped me. Planning is my happy place. I love calendars, spreadsheets, to do lists, and all those organizational tools so this part is exciting for me. I found a lovely, user-friendly planner especially for blogs on Let’s Gab About Books. It’s meant for book blogs but its well-designed and functional, any blogger could use it.

Each month has a full calendar where you can plot post days. When I started using it I didn’t have ideas for all my posts but I marked the days I wanted to publish a blog post and the theme: is it a book review, a poetry review, something else? As I added the days. Ideas started to flow. I knew I didn’t want to follow the usual WWW Wednesday or Top 10 Tuesday memes that book bloggers usually do – it’s just not my thing. I wanted to write poetry reviews. I liked the idea of publishing fantasy or sci-fi reviews on a Friday (Fantasy Friday). And I realized that I needed something bookish that wasn’t a review (so I could actually read). That’s how the Behind the Scenes segment was born. Once you map out when you want to post you can play around with the what.


Write. Edit. Schedule.

If you’ve followed the process thus far, you should have a block of time devoted to your blog and you should have an editorial calendar. Now play around with potential topics. Think about the theme of your blog. What is your audience interested in? Sara Tasker gave a great tip on her blog Hashtag Authentic that I’ve found helpful. Look at your best post. This would be one of the highest views, likes, and/or comments. Then imagine your blog if every post was as good as that one. Use this post as your launch pad and then make a list of similar topics and add each topic to your calendar.

Writing down potential topics helps me focus. When it is blog time, I know exactly what I need to prepare for the following week. I might need to finish reading a book, write a blog post, or work on the images accompanying my post. Whatever the task is, I know my time will be well spent. Whether I’m there for an hour or 30 minutes, I can step away from it knowing I’ve accomplished something. And I can schedule my posts ahead of time so that they’ll be published on the right day, at the right time just in case life happens and I forget.

Next, be realistic about how much to post and how often. I know how much I read. Publishing a daily post is not practical. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself. Especially if you have other things to juggle. And all work and no play makes for a dull life. You don’t want blogging to become burdensome. Find a nice balance that gives you space to nurture your blog and attend to life’s other demands.


So your posts are mapped out. You know what you need to work on when. All  that’s left for you to do is to stick to the plan and follow through. The best plans are a wasted time if you don’t follow through. No one will make you do this. Sometimes we need to adult and manage ourselves.

I hope you find these tips helpful.


What tools or strategies do you use to balance blogging and life? Do share in the comments below.


From Cape Town with love

Failing Maths and My Other Crimes: A Review

Fantasy Friday(2)

See how the grass grows, no matter

what? We grew up like that,


– Thabo Jijana

This week, My Poetry Corner looks reviews Failing Maths and My Other Crimes. A debut poetry collection by South African poet, Thabo Jijana. The collection has been on my bookshelf for almost a year.


What I liked

Failing Maths and My Other Crimes read like a short story. Each poem weaved into the next, creating a storyline that allows the reader to journey with the character from childhood through adolescence to adulthood and beyond. His clear narrative and use of imagery create a world for the reader to live in. It felt authentic and touched on a variety of themes such as culture, politics, religion, manhood, childhood, parenthood, the deaths of Steve Biko and Brenda Fassie. It read really well from start to finish.

Jijana used a variety of styles in this collection. From shorter to long form, free-form and classic structured poems. His voice carried through each of them. One thing intrigued me though. I realized that the actual poems read like prose poetry despite the variety of structure and length. Overall a cohesive, captivating collection.


What I didn’t like

Although the overall piece was lovely, there weren’t enough stand out moments. Most of the poems blended into the overall story but weren’t memorable enough on their own.


Final thoughts

Thabo Jijana is definitely a voice I read again. He’s a captivating storyteller and uses techniques similar to my own. His style and clarity communicate his values and thoughts well. A good read.


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Rating: 3 out 5

About the Author

Thabo Jijana, born in 1988, was the 2011 recipient of the Anthony Sampson Foundation Award and the 2014 winner of the Sol Plaatje/European Union Poetry Award. In 2014, he published his first book, Nobody’s Business, a memoir. Born and raised in eNgqushwa, Thabo currently lives in Port Elizabeth, where he works as a writer. In 2016 Thabo Jijana was awarded the Ingrid Jonker prize for his collection Failing Maths and my other crimes.



Growing Pains: Starting a Book Blog

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“Start a book blog,” she said. “It’ll be easy,” she said.
When I discovered the wonderful world of book blogging, I saw a sustainable way to revamp my blog. After all, I enjoy reading and I’m quite opinionated. How hard can it be?

When I revamped my poetry blog to a book blog I had enough content. There were my Goodreads reviews and a few others that lay in the archives. I had also finished reading a few books which gave me some extra content but that soon dried up. It dawned on me that writing a review is one thing, reading the books is a horse of a different color.

Then life happened. My schedule filled. I was reading bits and pieces of everything without actually finishing anything which wasn’t very productive. I needed a plan. I needed a schedule. Off I went in search of advice and tools to keep my book blogging dream alive.

Along the way, I’ve learned that my blog can’t survive on reviews alone – I don’t read that fast. I’m not a fan of weekly – or monthly – tags so I need something else. Something authentic.

This month, I’ll be introducing a few new segments.

  • Behind the scenes: A look at my book blogging adventure. I’ll share tips, horror stories, and victories.
  • My Poetry Corner: A weekly segment where I’ll review Poetry books. My current TBR pile has quite a few pre-release titles which I’m excited about. Also look out for reviews featuring work by South African poets.
  • Fantasy Fridays: A weekly segment featuring reviews, opinions, and all things sci-fi and fantasy.
  • Soul Food Sundays: A monthly segment with devotionals, bible studies, Christian fiction, and non-fiction. I read a lot of Christian literature and when I find something interesting I’ll share it here.

I’m looking forward to sharing this with you and I can’t wait to read your comments and suggestions.

From Cape Town with Love.

P.S. What discoveries have you made recently? Share in the comments below.

Review: Eat.Pray.Hustle by Havilah Cunnington


The only way to truly leave a lasting legacy is to live as a Dream Chaser. We can’t forget our dream is always connected to the big dream of God. God’s dream is for the family. It’s for lasting fruit, and He wants our story to be connected to His GREAT story.

It’s official. I’m a dream chaser. I’ve wanted to do the Eat.Pray.Hustle bible study since the first time I stumbled across the author, Havilah Cunnington’s YouTube page. Somehow, I never made it past the first week – until now.

Initial insights

eatprayhustlecoverEat.Pray.Hustle is a practical guide to creating a lifestyle that enables you to pursue your aspirations. This 20-day devotional tackles four aspects of dream chasing: being a dream chaser, discovering your dream, sabotaging your dreams, and protecting the dream until it is fulfilled.

What I liked

Havilah’s anecdotes give the devotional a personal touch. Drawing on her experiences chasing her goals, she provides tried and tested tips that helped me face my fears.

Each chapter is based on a section of Abraham’s life and she unpacks the biblical principles of dream chasing with clarity and simplicity. At the end of the chapter, Havilah recaps the main points and lists discussion questions that challenge the reader to delve deeper into their own reality.

The chapters are short and divided into four sections with five chapters each. That’s a perfect daily devotional for anyone who wants to do bible study but can’t find the time.

What I didn’t like

Personally, I’m a bit bias where Havilah is concerned since I enjoy shorter, practical devotionals. However, if you’re interested in lengthier theological discussions, this one isn’t for you.

Final thoughts

I’m glad I waited this long to do the Eat.Pray.Hustle devotional. It’s inspired me to take myself seriously, to set realistic goals, and to go after those goals. I’ll probably re-read chapters when needed.

Favourite quotes

“Part of partnering with God is doing your part well and leaving God’s part to God.”

“Everything we do is training.”

About the author

Havilah is a wife, mom, and author who has been in full-time ministry for over 18 years. She has travelled throughout North America and beyond speaking at conferences, retreats, church gatherings and events equipping the church to live with passion, purpose, and power. With their four young sons, Havilah and her husband, Ben, reside in Redding, California, where they currently serve together as the Directors of Truth to Table.



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Rating: 5/5


Buy this on Havilah’s website or on Amazon