Welcome to the arena…

Christian fiction can go one of two ways

Christian fiction can go one of two ways

I first discovered this gem in my local library, in the days before Kindles and Amazon. Since then (I was about 16 at the time) I have reread this book (and Karen Hancocks other works of fiction) many, many times.

Arena is a great story, and I’ll tell you why. Christian fiction (especially Christian scifi) can go one of two ways: either it becomes horribly cheesy and drenched in cliches , or it is amazing. For me, this book falls into the latter category.

Arena tells the story of Callie Hayes, a 20-something stuck in a dead-end job and feeling a little lost with life (don’t all 20-somethings?). When participating in science experiments for extra cash with her lifelong friend Meg gets her thrown into another world- The Arena- where she has to battle deadly life forms and evil to get out and make it home.

Hancock skilfully weaves Christian allegory into the battlefield of the Arena that can be both scary and moving at turns. I love this story, and I love the fact that Hancock displays delicate skill in putting together an entertaining read with a moral lesson.

A hard copy of this book (as with most of her works) is really hard to find in SA, but you can order one on most online stores and on most e-readers.

I paired this with the Moya’s Vineyard range. The start-up boutique wine farm only makes two varietals, a pinot noir and a savignon blanc. The pinot is light and a rich ruby colour while the savignon blanc has deep notes of green pepper, due to the dry soil it’s grown in. Like Arena, these wines are pretty hard to get your hands on, but once you find them, it’s worth it.


Something to seek your teeth into

I don’t do scary very well. The closest thing to scary I can watch is a Zomedy (zombie-comedy). However, I do do classics extremely well, and maybe this is what continuously tugged me to tackle a scary story I would never (ever) have read otherwise.

For a long while it has been in my mind to attempt Bram Stoker’s Dracula. By nature I am a coward, and if I overthink things I don’t do them because I rationalise myself out of it. But there was no way around this one, so late one night I dived right in before I could look back.

It was an amazing journey! Bram Stoker’s way of writing is odd, and jarring at times because he writes from different character perspectives, as though they are journalling their experiences. By the end of the story, the characters have a rich inner life and you feel like you have experienced a world of terror, death and the supernatural with them.


In the custom of the day, Stoker describes everything down to the finest detail, giving the story a hauntingly real feel, which is probably what makes it so scary. If I ever become a famous film-maker someday, I would re-do this masterpiece of fiction-fantasy.

There are no sparkly vampires here, I could only read it during the day, twice I tried at night and twice I couldn’t sleep, but all-in-all I’m so glad that I read (and finished) this book.

I paired it with the always-excellent Leopards Leap CabSav Merlot blend. This smooth and easy drinking wine is lovely and soft and inoffensive. Bound to quench any thirst (mwa ha ha ha *in a Dracula voice*)

“In real life there are only monsters”

**Disclaimer: I don’t watch the television series version of Game of Thrones, so all comments pertain to the first book in the series of five.

Why doesn't George RR Martin use twitter? Coz he already killed all 140 characters

Why doesn’t George RR Martin use twitter? Coz he already killed all 140 characters

Phew, I’ve finally done it! I finished the first book in George RR Martin’s epic series, Game of Thrones. Since the tv series launched to huge success, Game of Thrones has become a household word, and hundreds of Game of Thrones memes appear daily, the characters have even been on the Simpsons!

It took  me a month to read (its really thick, don’t judge me) and I probably won’t bother reading the other four, it was just too exhausting.

I guess my fomo regarding the TV series prompted me to tackle the books, and I think if I was still in school with long weeks of holiday before me I would probably read them all, but to be honest, I hate that it took me so long to read the first one, and I don’t think I care enough about the characters to find out what happens next.

Martin does an amazing job of creating a rich internal world for each character, and I find it fascinating how a crusty old man can get into the head of a mother of four or girl of eleven, though it does become repetitive after a while.

What upsets me most about the story is that all the good people die or have really bad things happen to them, while the evil characters thrive and get more power. Everybody dies. I know that I am a Disney-princess sort of girl, so maybe Martin’s take is a more accurate reflection of reality, but I prefer stories where goodness, honour and bravery get rewarded rather than punished. I think if Tony Stark had been included in the Stark family tree, the story would have been over on page 300.

All in all it was a good read, but as I have emphasised, somewhat exhausting. Tackle it if you love the tv series, but from what I’ve heard its an accurate reflection of the books, except for the pornography, which is far less apparent in the books.

Over the month I paired this with a few wines, but I found a spicy-rich red (like the Dieu Donne pictured below) goes best, because, after all, Winter is coming.


Winter is coming, make sure you have a good red to see you through

Winter is coming, make sure you have a good red to see you through

<p>Article by Aimee McDonald</p>

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Locks, Jocks and Rugby Socks

The author is obviously writing from experience

The author is obviously writing from experience

I’ve just finished the third installment of the home-brewed Spud books.

These wonderful books tell the boyish tales of young John “Spud” Milton as he navigates his way through a jock-dominated traditional all boys school in the Natal Midlands.

They are literally laugh-out-loud books. John van de Ruit (who is obviously following the authors maxim of “write what you know”) writes in a simple, flowing way so that you enjoy every minute of these easy-reading stories.

They are also very moving at times, when you aren’t laughing at the hilarious antics of the Crazy Eight (the protagonist and his dorm-mates). The books have since been turned a  movie franchise, staring John Cleese as The (lovable) Guv and Tanit Phoenix as drama teacher Eve. The second movie premieres later this week at Sun City.

If you are looking for a good read, do yourself a favour and get your hands on these books. I’m off to enjoy the last installment Exit, pursued by a bear.

Pair these books with the soft and warm Laborie red blend. It is a smooth, light Paarl wine that goes down like a pinot noir and has the same colouring. Perfect for these warm and heart-warming books.

This is a post about wine

My two best friends are Kim. No that’s not a grammatical error, they are both named Kim and have been friends since primary school. They allowed me to join their mosh-pit of craziness in 2009 when we all moved in together (of course they shared a room). I promptly named them Kim 1 (brunette) and Kim 2 (blonde). Kim 1 is a logical, everything-is-black-and-white lawyer, Kim 2 is a conservation graduate that works in spectrums of colour.

Over the past year and a half (since Kim 1 returned from Belgium where she met the love of her life) every time we get together, Kim 2 brings with a free bottle of wine she got as a party favour from a friends 21st. The girls parents printed her photo on the bottle (thanks Azel’s ma & pa). Being the wine-snob I like to think I am, I consistently refused to drink this wine, always bringing my own.

When Kim 2 decided to move to London, we knew we would have to open and drink Azel’s bottle in farewell and memorium for our trio of madness.

I was put to shame.

In spite of the kitsch bottle the wine was smooth, rich and delicious. (that said I did have a killer headache the next day)

Thanks my Kimmy for showing this snob that looks can be deceiving


Kim 1 suspiciously sniffs the bottle of wine, and says it smells like olives