by Kit de Waal (Penguin Viking) ISBN: 9780241207093
A heart-wrenching exploration of the world through a young boy’s eyes, Kit de Waal’s debut novel follows nine-year-old Leon on his journey from agonising loss to love and identity.
The decline of his mother’s mental health sends Leon and his brother Jake tumbling into the arms of Maureen, who carves out a space in her heart and her home for the siblings. But when Jake is offered up for adoption, Maureen cannot shield Leon from the injustices of the outside world, much less the anger and grief bubbling within him.
My Name Is Leon is simple yet highly expressive. Told entirely from the perspective of Leon, a mixed-race child, the novel touches on issues such as racism and the shortcomings of the Social Services system without being didactic. While the story itself builds slowly, almost tentatively, it is by no means boring thanks to its protagonist’s insight and poignant honesty.
De Waal’s delicate prose wound its way through my mind and stayed there, stirring up my emotions for days after I’d turned the final page. This is a beautiful novel.
by Melanie Brummer (Metz Press) ISBN: 9781920479848
As the title succinctly describes it, 50 Silk Scarves shows you how to go about creating the most gorgeous patterned silk scarves.
This book is perfect for anyone looking to make something fun, functional and fashionable. With stunning pictures, easy-to-follow instructions and comprehensive notes on the processes involved, it is truly a great kick starter for anyone who enjoys crafting.
The instructions are clear, and the step-by-step illustrations and use of everyday household objects to make the intricate patterns on scarves only add to the charm of this book. The best part of this book is that even a novice can get stuck into any one of the projects and achieve a stunning outcome.
50 Silk Scarves is an ideal to any crafters collection, and an inspiration for many birthday gifts.
by Eleanor Morgan (Pan Macmillan) ISBN: 9781509813230
"When I was seventeen, I lost part of myself to a toilet cubicle. A part I don't know if I'll ever get back."
As I began to read Eleanor Morgan's investigation, I was fascinated to learn about facing invisible monsters on a daily basis. It was eye-opening to unpack the emotions, battles and wars waged in everyday events, objects and situations.
Eleanor Morgan draws us in to her fraught world. She is talented, with a knack for getting to the point. She adds a dash of humour too. She covers the build-up of anxiety from a child's perspective. She talks about the varied encounters with doctors and therapists, and the medications that can help. Helpful strategies and coping mechanisms are presented; anxiety needs to be managed, it can't be cured.
We need to talk and read about anxiety disorders. We need to understand the battles others face on a daily basis. We need to think about how to create an atmosphere of sharing, openness and trust. Mental illness is crippling, more so if you find yourself isolated and alone. Like being banished to an institution, you’re locked into a frightening world.
This is an excellent way to start undoing that.
by Sam Cowen (MF Books) ISBN: 9781920601720
From Whiskey To Water is the real life story of an alcoholic whose life appeared stable and presentable to the world, but inside, her war against the desperate struggle with alcoholism continues.
What a powerful and deeply moving story from Samantha Cowen as she removes the beer goggles of her life and reveals to us, her loving audience, the truth within the bottle.
She writes beautifully and describes these events, even the tortuous tales of her very private family life, friends and work, with integrity, honesty and always a punch of humour. In 2002 she got sober and this book is her journey from whiskey to water. A wonderful, insightful and brave book, it is a must read for those who need to be inspired to make changes in life. Sam will inspire you.
She shares with us, without telling it, that even though the road is dark and dingy and patterns have been sewn deep beneath the skin. We can change, we can work daily towards a better me and a better you.
Thank you, Samantha, for being so courageous and writing this piece of life from blackouts to conquering fears.
by Margo Jefferson (Granta) ISBN 9781783783021
This denotes the theme of the memoir. Negroes or black people need to prove themselves beyond their white counterparts in all ways possible. They need to extend themselves to prove they are worthy. In America (as a minority) this comes at a price. There is a constant awareness of race, of self-criticism, particularly appearance. The author judges her looks as inferior, unattractive, especially when she wears her thick glasses. Her hair is too frizzy. Her body shape not good enough. She attends a private school where the majority of students are white. She comes from a privileged family. She is a good student who participates in school activities, striving to be accepted.
Margo Jefferson is the daughter of a successful paediatrician. Her mother is a socialite. They are part of Chicago's black elite. The author calls it Negroland. This small group would be the example to other black people and raise their standards. Then into the mix comes feminism. Her we have two discriminations - being female and black. There is also the human rights movement bringing attention to the fallacy of non-racialism in America.
Jefferson's writing is brutally honest, exposing her innermost thoughts, feelings and contradictions. She reveals the complexity of her life as a black woman: Where does she belong? All she asks is to be accepted for who she is.
How many people are experiencing racial discrimination and its effects on their being? This memoir bites to the very core of racism and it is an essential book for greater understanding of discrimination which has persisted for many centuries.
by John le Carré (Penguin Books) ISBN: 9780241975015
Perry Makepiece and his girlfriend Gail Perkins embark on a holiday to the Caribbean, where they meet the enigmatic Dima, a Russian millionaire with a dark past. An unlikely friendship develops between Perry and Dima, and when the holiday is over, Perry finds himself tasked with assisting Dima to get protection from British Intelligence in exchange for crucial information Dima holds around money laundering operations he once ran.
Perry enlists the assistance of British Intelligence, and Hector Meredith and Luke Weaver are assigned to manage the operation and ensure no embarrassment comes to higher up officials who might be implicated by the information Dima holds. Dima himself is a marked man, anxious to secure safe harbour and protection from “The Prince” a vicious criminal eager for Dima’s contact list and information.
What follows is a taut, intricate dance of deception as Perry and Gail find themselves entangled in espionage, plots and schemes to get Dima and his family to relative safety. Never too sure who to trust, Perry finds himself in the middle of a quandary with trying to protect a dear friend and doing the right thing for his country.
by Susan Lewis (Century) ISBN: 9781780891835
Three years ago, Amelia Quentin destroyed Jules Bright picture perfect life. Jules has spent the past three years rebuilding herself from the ruins and memories of her losses, now her life is about to be turned upside down once again. Amelia Quentin is being released from prison.
Amelia had always been a troubled young woman known to Jules and her family. A spoilt rich brat, Amelia’s obsession with Daisy, Jules beloved daughter becomes dangerous and eventually takes a tragic turn. With all the money in the world at her disposal, Amelia is able to slip the bounds of a long prison sentence. Once freed, Amelia sets out to reconnect with Jules. Despite her friends and family rallying around her to protect her from Amelia, Jules is determined to ensure the truth about what happened to Daisy be revealed. She will stop at nothing to expose Amelia for the dangerous psychopath she is, even if the law is against her.
This is a well-balanced story that is part murder mystery, part psychological thriller that delves deep into the nature of crime and the people left behind in its aftermath. Cleverly weaving between present and past, The Girl Who Came Back delivers a thrilling, satisfying read.
by Susie Dinneen (Puffin Books) ISBN: 978-1-48590-010-8
This is the first published book from Susie Dinneen, a Johannesburg based writer and editor for magazines and advertising. Dinneen captures ideas from her daydreams and brings them to life in her stories.
This is the tale of Nombulelo, who loves to sit on her Gogo’s lap and listen to stories of the forest. Gogo tells her of her own magical encounters with animals but Nombulelo can’t help being afraid to go into the deep green wilderness. When tragedy strikes, Nombulelo learns that for the love of her Gogo she can be brave. As she sets off on a journey through the forest, she finds magic and healing for the sorrow in her heart.
Maja Sereda is an award-winning children’s book illustrator. Her whimsical illustrations of animals in the forest and people in this book delighted my children and captured their imagination.
Even though this is a gorgeous book for four to eight year olds, my older children (nine and eleven) loved the endearing storyline.
by Danielle Steel (Penguin) ISBN: 9780593069059
Disillusioned and about to end her life, Ginny Carter hears a noise and goes to investigate. She meets a thirteen-year-old boy named Blue who will set her on a journey she never planned or expected. This night marks the anniversary of the death of her husband and three-year-old son. Blue is alone and has been living on the streets and is not going to school.
Ginny connects with Blue in a way that she thought she never could again. They become the family they both lost. But as they start building a life together Ginny discovers that Blue has been harbouring an awful and shocking secret. Once again they both embark on a journey of retribution, trust and healing.
Ginny finds a lawyer to represent Blue in the hope of bringing the accused to justice and to give Blue a new start in life. Ginny also discovers that Blue is a talented pianist and she pushes him to audition for a place in school for the gifted. Blue is a hopeful story of healing, and finding peace and love again.
by Alec Hogg (Jonathan Ball) ISBN 9781868427154
Alec Hogg is the publisher of BizNews.com and he is a self-confessed 'Oracle of Omaha' worshipper. He attends the annual Berkshire Hathaway AGM in Omaha as often as possible. He goes to the middle of America on a 30-hour trip from Johannesburg, to hear his financial guru, Warren Buffet, and his business partner Charlie Munger give words of wisdom on how they consistently make huge profits despite the turbulent economy. Their company is worth US$350 billion, so they must know something that we don't!
This book has some tips and advice for wannabe investors, such as 'the margin of safety', 'ignoring Mr Market' and 'Buying smart'. Buffet seems to be a friendly and personable man who lives modestly, gives widely through his philanthropy and eats like a teenager. The almost 86-year-old does not believe in retirement, and one of their staff members passed away at the ripe old age of 103. He also says you have to love what you do so it does not feel like you have worked a day in your life.
This is an interesting read, with a list of recommended follow up reading included. It is a taster to the financial world more than a concise guidebook, but one that certainly whets the appetite.