Noon

by Aatish Taseer (Picador) ISBN: 9780330540414 R189, 00

 

When a book is endorsed by V.S. Naipul it raises high expectations, but Noon was not as unforgettable and compelling as I hoped it would be.

 

The novel describes four episodes of the narrator’s life from 1989 to 2011.

 

The first portrays Rehan living with his squabbling mother and grandmother.

The second is about a glamorous dinner party in honour of the Rajamata, who humiliates the host by arriving late. The wealthy nouveau riche plans his revenge years later.

The third part depicts a burglary and Rehan’s effort to identify the suspect amongst his servants. He struggles morally and attempts to analyse the behaviour of his employees.

In the last chapter Rehan is trying to find a place amongst his stepbrothers in the dysfunctional family, but only encounters corruption, blackmail and violence.

 

Taseer makes the political tension in India and Pakistan tangible, but the book would have worked better as a collection of short stories. I missed the coherency and flow of the storyline; it lacks a narrative that brings the stories together.

 

I found Taseer’s perspective on a menacing world and the apocalyptic scenes in the last chapter the best things in the book.

 

Taseer was shortlisted for the 2010 Costa First Novel Award for a previous book.

 

Pauline Vijverberg

3/5

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All The Hopeful Lovers

by William Nicholson (Quercus) ISBN 978-1-84916-390-3 R225, 00

 

It's called nothing - just a moment.

 

Tom loves Belinda but he was unfaithful to her. The moment causes misery in their marriage. She never knew he was a liar and now she knows it for sure. He told her it was just a fleeting moment of madness.

 

She thinks, "husband shits on family home, leading surgeon lies and cheats and expects to be forgiven".

 

Belinda gets lost in her computer - mailing an old flame whom she only kissed in the past. Their meeting is unreal. The absolute arrogance of her lover defies description.

 

Now Belinda and Tom are even but why does she still feel jealous of Tom’s lover?

 

This is a light hearted book about serious feelings that have to be dealt with and heartaches that have to be solved. In spite of hurting each other, they still love each other.

 

Is there anyone out there who has been there? Try reading the book                                           

 

Dee Andrew       

3/5

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Fallen

by Karin Slaughter (Random House) ISBN 978-1-8460-5795-3

 

Expecting to find her mother home minding her new baby daughter, Emma, Faith is horrified to find her baby locked in the shed.

 

Her mother, Evelyn, is missing; the safe is open, her gun missing and a trail of blood leads to the front door. A man lies dead in the bloodied hallway.

 

Faith doesn't wait for back up but explores the plundered house alone. She stumbles across two more intruders and within minutes they are shot dead.

 

When the Atlanta police force turns up, Faith has some difficult questions to answer. Her mother, Evelyn, was the ex-Atlanta police chief. There is a lot of conflict in this novel and savage scenes of questioning.

 

Will and Dr Sara Linton, try to piece together the fragments of a brutal and complicated case. They are on the lookout for a vicious and troubled murderer. This is a well written book and you are in for a joyride if you want to solve this mystery.

 

Dee Andrew

4/5

 

Fallen became an instant bestseller and I know why…. this is the best Karin Slaughter novel I have read!

 

Special Agent Faith Mitchell of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrives home to find a dead man in her house, her baby hidden in the shed, and her mother missing. From the moment she realises her mother is in danger, the pace and the action never stop. You get completely drawn into the case.

 

I connected with her characters – it’s not just a series of action events, but action embedded in a very personal story about a woman facing a threat to her family and her home. I step into Faith’s world and it feels real. Faith needs to find her mother, but as she is personally involved as witness and suspect, she is taken off the case.

 

So she turns to her partner Will Trent, who delves into the investigation to dig beyond the lies and secrets to help find her mother. Along with trauma doctor Sara Linton from the Grant Count series and Trent’s tough boss Amanda Wagner, we are taken on a fast paced journey to solve the case.

 

Well worth the read; I was enthralled and did not want it to end!

 

Shelley Roe-Berning

5/5

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Bloodline

by Lynda la Plante (Simon & Schuster) ISBN: 978 0857 201812

 

Inspector Anna Travis, still haunted by the murder of her fiancé, takes on an investigation that, on the surface, looks like a missing person’s case.  Alan Rawlins was a loving son and boyfriend. He wouldn’t just leave his life behind without a trace, would he?  His elderly father suspects foul play; that his girlfriend has something to do with his sudden disappearance.

 

When evidence of blood is found in Alan’s flat, it’s clear this is a murder investigation – and the case is blown wide open for Anna. As the story unravels, it becomes clear that Alan’s life was far from perfect. Family secrets, clandestine lovers, this victim was living the classic double life.

 

Not only does Anna have to sift through a web of subtle, seemingly irrelevant clues and forensic evidence, she has her superior, James Langdon, second-guessing her every move. Langdon doesn’t believe she’s worked through her own recent bereavement and it could be affecting her judgement.

 

La Plante, creator of a string of successful novels and television dramas, writes with a compelling sense of immediacy. What she lacks in style, she makes up for in a cracking good story and a brutally fast pace. It’s crime entertainment at its best – like a really good episode of Law &Order.

 

Anthony Ehlers

4/5

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Unbearable Lightness

by Portia de Rossi (Simon & Schuster) ISBN 978 0 85820 411 0

 

Amanda Rogers, who renamed herself Portia de Rossi, faces her demons with anorexia. She literally falls apart during her first leading role in a Hollywood film.

 

Ever keen for the limelight, in the form of acceptance, admiration and sex appeal, Portia, at the age of twelve, begins modelling and works her way in front of the camera.

 

Years later she is cast as the sexy, cold lawyer, Nell Porter, in Ally McBeal. The pressures of maintaining this perfect exterior as well as hiding her undisclosed sexuality lead her down a self-destructive path. Her obsession leaves her starving herself, and she weighs only 82 pounds at one stage.

 

This book is honest. Many readers will easily connect with De Rossi’s struggles. It is ultimately liberating for the reader when she finally overcomes her demons.

 

there is much scene repetition within the plot, I understand it needs to be so. How else can you put across the extent with which she was obsessed? The writing is naked and that is why it is so appealing.

 

Liz Breet

4/5

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Limitless

by Alan Glynn (faber and faber) ISBN: 978 0 571 27334 8

 

The book has superhottie Bradley Cooper in a slick suit on the cover, so of course it grabbed my attention. Formerly titled The Dark Fields, this Irish author’s 2001 debut novel has been reissued for the movie tie-in.  It’s easy to see why Hollywood picked it up for a big screen release.

 

At the core of it lies a fascinating gimmicky premise – a down-on-his-luck writer discovers an experimental drug that transforms him into a super human. MDT-48 is like super-charged Ritalin for grown-ups. Within days, Eddie Spinola has finished his book, learned a new language is processing information at such an electric rate he is able to exploit the stock market.

 

This transformation brings him unlimited power – and unwelcome attention from some shady, greedy characters. And then he realises this new brain-Viagra has some nasty little side-effects: blackouts, excruciating headaches and violent flare-ups.

 

Limitless is a horrifying allegory for a society obsessed with self-improvement and increasingly reliant on designer pharmaceuticals; it grittily explores the temptations and downfall of Eddie as a chemical Icarus in present day New York.

Glynn’s novel is written at a hypnotic pace, but it hardly translates into eloquent prose.

 

The premise is brilliant, yes, but Eddie gets lost in the convoluted plot and the reader loses sympathy for him as the main character.  Maybe the movie would be better – if only for the fact that it stars the sublime Mr Cooper!

 

Faith Parker

2/5

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Passion

by Lauren Kate (Doubleday) ISBN 978 03856 1808 3

 

Los Angeles-based author Lauren Kate is the internationally bestselling creator of the wildly popular Fallen series.

 

Passion is the third in the quartet of romantic paranormal novels aimed at young adults.

 

Ethereally dark and exquisitely beautiful Luce travels back through time and history to test her relationship with the tormented blond fallen angel Daniel. She wants to know if he really loves her – or if he is simply caught up in the curse neither of them seems able to break. Daniel is forced bring her back from the dangerous shadows of the past to face the risks of the present.

 

Passion not only explores the extremes young lovers will face to be together, but also neatly sets the stage for the final book.

 

The story is told in a crisp, evocative style, although some of the dialogue is less than elegant. While the time travel plot line can be annoying at times, it does feed the story and give us a background to the main characters.

 

Recommended for anyone who is looking for a paranormal fix after Twilight and a must for those who enjoyed the first two books Lauren Kate’s series.

 

Anthony Ehlers

3/5

 

~~~

 

Luce Price is desperate to break the curse that keeps her from her one true love, Daniel.

 

Luce with the apparent guidance of a gargoyle must go back through the centuries and revisit her various reincarnations that each hold a different clue to her fate.

 

Meanwhile Daniel and other fallen angels are in hot pursuit of Luce through the ages to stop her before she makes a choice that alters their history.

 

Passion is the sequel to Lauren Kate’s novel, Fallen. The reader can pick up on the essence of the first book and ease into the romantic plot of the second even if they have not had a chance to read the first.

 

The story is focused on the intense connection between the two main characters Luce and Daniel and Lauren does well to relay this concentrated emotion to the reader. The chapters are divided into centuries and moves rather swiftly.

 

To enjoy the culmination of the story one will need to read the third book, Torment.

 

Liz Breet

3/5

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Harvest. Recipes from an Organic Farm

by Christine Stevens (Jacana) ISBN: 978-1-77009-594-6

 

Christine Stevens has a life many corporate workers will envy. She lives on a farm that provides her with a rustic lifestyle and organic vegetables. The pictures in this cookbook reflect the easy living and the healthy bodies of her three children.

 

I usually approach cookbooks as a sceptic. I don’t like cooking anything that takes more energy, time and concentration beyond boiling an egg. When a book has ‘organic’ in the title I start to sweat imagining having to find the obscure shop to buy the ingredients.

 

Although the recipes use organic vegetables and herbs from Steven’s farm, they are as easy to grow in the average backyard or in a container.

 

The recipes are easy to understand and the result is delicious. The pot roast chicken was a breeze to make. It required very little preparation. Worried about growing your own vegetables? Your local Woolworths supplies most of the organic ingredients. I do not think that I can motivate myself to grow the vegetables and keep a few chickens in the yard.

 

The person, who likes whipping up a dish with very little effort, will enjoy the recipes. I do not recommend this book for the Jamie Oliver type of chef. The recipes are too simplistic and lack imagination for the more adventurous cook.

 

Ulrike Hill

3/5

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The Making of Us

by Lisa Jewell (Century) ISBN: 9781846055744 R215, 00 

Lisa Jewell wrote 31 Dream Street, one of my favourite chick lit novels. The Making of Us begins in a disjointed fashion. I wasn't sure which character was which and I wasn't sure if I wanted to carry on reading. I'm glad I did. 

Daniel is dying in a hospice in Bury St Edmunds. Maggie listens to his life story. He tells her his secret, his 'legacy'. He was a sperm donor and he has three children - Lydia, Dean and Robyn. 

Lydia is damaged, wealthy and successful. She is also lonely and unfulfilled. Robyn always knew she was a sperm donor baby because of family health problems. She is intelligent and studying to be a doctor. She is also losing her motivation and wondering what it's all about. Dean comes from a poor family and his girlfriend is pregnant. 

As the story unfolds, these three lost children find each other and everything changes. Lisa Jewell's strength has always been her superb characterisation. She doesn't disappoint. You will grow to like these people and you will find yourself thinking about them when you've finished the book. 

Amanda Patterson

4/5

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The House at Sea's End

by Elly Griffiths (Quercus) ISBN 978-1-64916-365-1

 

Ruth is an archaeologist whose career is interrupted by the birth of a baby girl. Ruth is torn between her demanding job and looking after Kate.

 

Bones are unearthed in the sea at the foot of a sheer Norfolk cliff. Some of the skeletons have their hands tied behind their backs. Ruth and her boss, DCI Nelson, discover that the bodies are German, possibly from the last war.

 

As the mystery unravels there is a sense of surrealism. They discover a hidden box under the lighthouse which points them in the right direction. Every clue is in code which they have learnt to break. The murderer comes upon you suddenly. I couldn't figure out any clues that led to him. I felt this was a weak spot in the story.

 

The description of the House at Sea's End is magnificent and yet the home is crumbling under the thundering waves of the sea. Is the owner of the Sea House part of the plot? you wonder this all through the book. Nelson is a married man who finds Ruth's intelligence matches his. Who is Kate’s father?

 

This is a stop start story with many characters. I did somehow manage to read to the end.

 

Dee Andrew

2/5

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