Bellwether by Connie Willis

24985– [The book’s] premise was…Everything happens for a reason…All of it – the train wreck, Lilith’s suicide, Halvard’s drug addition, the stock market crash – it was all so we could be together…–

– [The trend] died out when the first generation of Dr. Spock-raised children became teenagers, grew their hair down to their shoulders, and began blowing up administration buildings. –

– Barbie’s one of those fads whose popularity makes you lose faith in the human race. –

– Why do only the awful things become fads? I thought. Eye-rolling and Barbie and bread pudding. Why never chocolate cheesecake or thinking for yourself? –

Sex with Shakespeare by Jillian Keenan

25817303–A penguin tried to feed me by vomiting on my foot. I watched the nutritious brown gel roll off the toe of my green boot and onto the snow beneath, and knew that my childhood wasn’t typical. –

– A handgun, I’ve decided, is like a typo: you don’t notice it until you do. But then it’s the only thing you see. –

– “Privacy” is one of the most potent and insidious weapons a sexual majority can use against people with nonnormative sexual identities. “Privacy” sounds good. It sounds responsible and mature. But “privacy” is tied up with isolation and shame. It drives people underground. It puts people in danger. . . Without sexual privacy, discretion suffers. Without sexual transparency, people suffer. –

– We don’t really read literature. We only read ourselves, and each new book is another chapter. –

– David, my boy with the baseball cap, was spanking me to the rhythm of iambic pentameter. –

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

12844699.jpg– Some people would say it’s a bad idea to bring a fire-spider into a public library. Those people would probably be right. –

– Magic had always messed with my dreams. –

– “Oh, shit.” I spoke four languages, but sometimes good old-fashioned swearing worked best. –

– The biggest liar in the world is They Say. –

– I thought immortality would teach people patience. Instead, you end up with vampires rushing about at superhuman speeds, even more stressed out than before they died. –

The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

33586211.jpg– Not in chess and not in life. You can’t undo a mistake after it’s made. Choose wisely before you move. –

– You can never fix [a crack] completely. Clay has a memory. Once it’s scarred, the heat helps it remember. –

– He was a dweller of two lands, accepted by none. –

– Marilyn looked out the window. “Everybody wants me to fight. They say I’m a fighter.” She turned back to Anil. “But you’ve got to decide what’s worth fighting for, right?”

– “But here’s the difference [between my doctor friend in Australia and doctors in America], Charlie continued. “Jeremy goes surfing every morning before work, he has dinner with his wife most nights, and they travel all the time because he’s on call only every other weekend. He works to live, y’know? Here, everyone lives to work.” –

Review for the Sunday Times:

Traveling With Ghosts by Shannon Leone Fowler

33289571.jpg– “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” “You have your whole life ahead of you.” Time heals all wounds.” “It was just his time.” “I know exactly how you feel.” …”You’re so strong, if I lost Rob, I wouldn’t survive.” … It also seemed to imply that *something like this* could never happen to them. Because they wouldn’t survive, they wouldn’t be able to get through it, they would just curl up and die. That it had happened to me because I was strong. It made it feel like a choice. Or my fault. –

– The girls had let me initiate the conversations, or they’d let me choose to be quiet. They made sure to talk about Sean, to use his name and to say it often. But they never offered platitudes or cliches. They’d brought me food, and encouraged me to keep eating and drinking. And they’d done their best to avoid leaving me alone. –

– In the books that I read and the movies I watched after Sean died, I was always taken aback by how quickly the plot fast-forwarded through grief and on to recovery and the lessons learned. My own journey has not been a tidy story of triumph over grief. It took a lot longer, and was a hell of a lot harder, than I ever thought it would be. –

– When I first started writing this story down, an early reader said, “I didn’t find the silver lining.” But this is what Poland taught me – that real tragedies don’t need to be redeemed, they need to be remembered. –

Review for the Sunday Times:

Mischling by Affinity Konar

28664920– How can it be possible that we remain so curious to the end, so intent on knowing and experiencing even as we are dying? –

– Touch – it had grown so complicated and strange. The curl-pulling was a gesture I’d been familiar with all my life, or at least in the parts of my life where boys sat behind me in school, but this tease felt different. It carried a pleasant thrill, and I knew this was the closet I might ever come to an affectionate touch from a boy. But the fact that this could be my last thrill – it undid me. –

– I don’t believe in talking to the dead – if you talk to the dead here, it’s not long before you stop speaking your true language, whatever it may be. So I wrote him a note instead. –

– “No one’s looking back.” He laughed bitterly. “The whole world will never look back. And if they do, they’ll probably say that it never really happened.”

– People wrote where they were going, where they’d been, who they were looking for. They wrote who they had been but were careful not to write who they had become. –

– These trains we never should have trusted again, they appeared to be our only way home. –

– I was put in that cage because I loved too much. –

Review for Sunday Times:

Delilah Now Trending by Pamela Power

34654960.jpg– She was still surprised [her ex] hadn’t installed a mirror on the ceiling of his new bedroom. After all, as she’d always maintained, he used to shout out his own name during sex. –

– Lilah cursed her breasts, which were more ungovernable than a bunch of EFF MPs in parliament. –

– ‘You’re talking to yourself again,’ said Henry over her shoulder.
Cass added: ‘You need to watch that, Lilah. Seriously, if you start collecting cats I don’t think I can be your lawyer any more.’ –

–  ‘There! Now, that is a presentable looking lady garden. Even if I do say so myself.’…
‘What are you talking about?” There’s no garden left. It’s a bloody-rockery now!’ –

My review for the Sunday Times:

Dead to Me by Lesley Pearse

27162607.jpg– From what I see of married life around where I live, marriage isn’t idleness but slavery. –

– ‘Mum said [menstruation is] a good thing, because it means I’m becoming a woman,’ Susan said. ‘But if the tummy ache you get is a regular thing, I’d rather be a man.’ –

– Our real stories are far more exciting than the ones we make up. –

– But how did you make a friend? You could hardly stop someone in the street and demand they became your friend. –

– ‘Don’t you think with war likely to break out soon that people should say what is in their hearts?’ Wilby said. ‘In the last one everyone I knew lost someone, and I heard many women, including my own mother, speak of their regrets at not telling the person they’d lost how much they loved them.’ –

Dancing the Death Drill by Fred Khumalo

33823881.jpg–A man is never without some shit in him.–

–He had come to the realisation that thoughts needed to be dressed in appropriate clothing before being sent out to do the speaker’s bidding.–

–Based on the evidence before me, I therefore conclude that you don’t know yourself.–

–We are drilling the drill of death, we are drilling the drill of death, we are drilling the drill of death, nasi isporho! Hamba sporho!–

–Today I am dancing the death drill, I’m telling my story.–

 Fred Khumalo @FredKhumalo


Read Surfing & Shakespeare by Tiah Beautement

I am delighted to have another story published FunDza, a wonderful literary trust that gets teens reading. The story, “Surfing & Shakespeare,” is a tale about a Grade 10 teen, Tazmin, who has been going through some rough times. Her only escape is surfing.

Chapter 1:

The water catches me. The roar sounding in my ears as the board lifts. That moment of weightlessness – before my feet touch down, before the water thrusts me towards the rocks – that is what I love most. In that instant, I am flying. This is when I believe I could go anywhere, be anybody, live a life without crying babies and daddies that never come home. What follows is the rush. Knees bent, crouched low, toes gripping the board, I glide, zip-zip, owning that wave. I am fierce. Powerful.

Then I plunge into the swirl, water rushing over my head, pressing against my nostrils, trying to work its way in. Leash on my ankle is tugging, as if my borrowed board is trying to join the schools of fishes and swim alongside the seals. As my head breaks into the open air there is Sir, on the shore, waving at me to come in.

I emerge from the sea and plod across the rocks, holding the board against my thigh. With each step I shrink, turning back into plain old me. Nobody special. Just another teenage girl, and not even a popular one at that, with frizzy plaits made coarse and dry by the sea. “No boy going to look at you like that,” my ma keeps saying. But since Gabriel arrived, that comment has turned from a bad thing to a good thing.

“Not too bad,” Sir says when I get closer. “But you’re bending your a back a bit. Need to stay straight.”

I nod, showing him I’m listening. Sir needs to know you are listening. Everybody thinks surfers are a bunch of laid-back dudes with hardly any cares in the world. Maybe that’s true for most, I’m not saying it isn’t. Might even be true for Sir when he’s not in his coaching mode. But give the man a whistle and he loses any cool he has ever possessed. He’s just blah, blah, blah about my form, from how I hold my chin, to the extension of my fingers. And I nod and nod because any wrong word out of me and I’ll get the angry-Sir. The one that reminds me I’m here fee-free, borrowing his boards and wearing his ripped up and baggy wetsuit that stinks like old men’s socks. At least I hope that’s what that smell is, because otherwise I do not want to know.

I never remind Sir that I’m here to make him look good. Make his team appear open-minded and inclusive. But we know the score, Sir and I. So I keep nodding until he says, “Am I going to get a better commitment out of you this term than I did last? Because the waves don’t run to our schedule, can’t be two-thirty to four o’clock every day. They come mornings, late afternoon, weekends and I need to know you can be there.”


To read the full short story, please click HERE

To read the sequel, “Sting Like A Bee”, please click HERE