Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dead Like You by Peter James

“Don’t imagine for one moment that I’m not watching you. . .

I can still remember the day I read the first Inspector Roy Grace novel, Dead Simple. His writing completely captured my imagination; it had been a long time since I had read a thriller that had left me guessing until the very end.
Now every year I wait as patiently as possible for the next novel from Peter James to arrive and every year I am impressed and saddened at the thought of another 12 month wait.
Dead Like You was definitely worth that wait. Peter James has spiced up this story by linking the past and the present. The case is an unusual one, a serial rapist who has an obsession with shoes. Not just any kind of shoes, more of your Jimmy Choo variety. The twists begin in true Peter James style and in this scenario there are far too many suspects that have strange shoe obsessions!
You will definitely be left hanging on the edge of your seat until this story ends.

 - Review by Nicola Almond

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Foot Soldier for Freedom by Rica Hodgson

Okay, I won’t mince words here.  When I first saw this book I thought “not another South African struggle book”.  There are so many political resistance books out there, that I catch myself wondering why there was a fight to be had at all, if (pretty much) everyone from that period has a story to tell, all fighting for the ‘right’ reason? 
But then I heard that Rica had just turned 90.  To be 90 years old, agile (both physically and mentally) and to produce a book worth publishing must mean that there is something different about this.  I decided to take the plunge, put down my fictitious crime novella, and reached for the very modest-sized Foot Soldier for Freedom and was proven how I had misjudged this book in the beginning.  This book reads like a novel.  Told in first-person narration, in the past tense of course, the reader (me) could not help but want to know what happened to Rica and her family, her friends, her fellow comrades, and even ‘the bad guys’ on the next page.  This is a tough feat, considering that history cannot be changed and is expected to flow in a manner appropriate to auto-biographies. 
Rica has a gift for informing people about the past and the events of apartheid history in South Africa that prevents “another history book” idea but-instead-allows for “Yes, this is what happened.  But we move on” story-telling, which can be used for political and book cub debates alike.
 - Review by Tarryn Talbot

Room by Emma Donoghue

As someone who is completely put off from being told what to read, dare I say “You have to read this book”.  And especially since its recent announcement of the Shortlist on the Man Booker, who can resist the temptation not to pick it up now!

But seriously, Room is a spectacularly crafted novel and truly a work of art is what you can expect from Emma Donoghue’s seventh novel. A writing style perhaps more suited for the fantasy and storytelling genre, Emma breathes life into inanimate objects to create this gem. You are instantly hooked and will continue to be hooked till the very end.

This haunting story is told entirely in the voice of 5 year old Jack who is confined to only the world of the Room that he shares with his Ma and his cartoon characters. There is innocence to this writing and in parts you wish you could whisper into Jack ears to tell him what to do, but that is beauty of her writing.  Essentially, it is the strong relationship between a mother and her son that will see them survive the impossible, and so it illustrates that the human will to survive is really far stronger than we perceive or imagine it to be even for a 5 year old.

- Review by Sharon Naidoo

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eggs to lay, chickens to hatch by Chris van Wyk

"Writing a memoir is a little like travelling into your own past. Unlike science fiction, you can't change your past. But, like science fiction, it does have its own magic" – Chris van Wyk.

I spent 4 days reading Eggs to lay, chickens to hatch - casting off conversations, phone calls and meals. 

This is the story of a young, polite coloured boy in Riverlea set against the backdrop of apartheid.  With the help of Agnes, the van Wyk’s domestic worker; young Chris learns that the world beyond his stoep isn’t just sweets, cents and smokes. Agnes is not a Major Protagonist however, as Chris van Wyk weaves you, the reader, through the colourful life he has before him and Agnes begins to impact the reader and young Chris with the little things from conversations between them to the sequence of Agnes teaching Chris how to count in Zulu.

I would catch myself in a coffee shop laughing hysterically or late at night, the house asleep, giggling & snorting at the people Chris describes for you.  I laughed while I kept the lump in my throat at a distance.

The last couple of books that expanded my world were Wally Lamb (She's Come Undone) and Charles Dickens (A tale of two Cities) - This is on the list with them.  It’s simple, funny, provoking, thoughtful, subtle and just plain wonderful.  I felt a sense of accomplishment after each chapter feeling like it was one soft, warm biscuit delicious but sad when finished.  I could picture Chris telling me the story and how I felt so at home in a time that was WAY beyond my childhood or even near.

- Review by Kelly Ansara
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