Book Review - Live Wire

by Harlan Coben (Orion) ISBN 978-1-4091-1253-2

First off, let me admit that I adore Harlan Coben and his books… and this one is no exception.
I feel like I know Myron Bolitar, the quirky sports agent and all-round defender of his clients.  Perhaps because this is the 20th book in the series!

This story takes a very personal look at Myron’s family as his father suffers a severe heart attack and he must find his long lost brother in order to honour his father’s last wish. At the same time, he needs to discover why his client, retired tennis star Suzze T, is being threatened.

As he follows his client’s case and searches for his brother, he uncovers secrets about his client and his family, and is drawn into a web of deceit created by decisions of the past. Certain aspects of the book are slightly fanciful, but in the spirit of the story, I can accept that the gorgeous and proficient multi-billionaire, Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III) can and will do anything to save his friend Myron.

Like the other books in the series, this is a trip into the world of Bolitar, his family, friends and clients that will keep you turning the page… highly, highly recommended.
Shelley Roe-Berning 

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - A Private Affair

by Lesley Lokko (Orion) ISBN 978-1-4091-0173-4

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about girls married to army officers, whose lives are ruled by the dictates of the army. The wives can be alone for months on end and the men have to keep quiet about top secret affairs when they come home. 

Samantha is desperate to be married and adores her good looking husband until she finds he is a beast in bed. But in spite of that she still tries to validate her feelings for him. She was an ugly duckling in her past who grew into a lovely swan. She is very insecure in spite of her personal success. 

Meagan is swept off her feet by the dashing officer, Tom and she is glad to escape her loathsome family. Dani suffers in her marriage but hangs in there. And Abbey, the model wife who carries a dark secret threatens to pull her well-ordered life apart. 

I became totally absorbed in all their lives, so well does the writer get your attention. I must admit I couldn't put the book down and in the end all is revealed and you don't know whether to be relieved or not.  

A stunning, well written story. I would recommend it for book clubs. 

Dee Andrew 

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot (Pan) ISBN: 9780330533447

Hardly anyone knows Henrietta Lacks, but we have all profited from her cells: the so-called HeLa cells were significant in the medical breakthrough of the polio vaccine.

They have been growing for almost sixty years. They have been on the moon and they have been exposed to nuclear testing. They stay young, unlike normal cells, and are in that sense immortal. Ever since hearing of the cells in her biology class, Skloot has been fascinated by it. She wrote a brilliant, moving story, combining scientific non-fiction with the history of the Lacks family.

Henrietta died in 1951 of cervical cancer and without her knowledge or the knowledge or consent of her family, cancer cells were removed. Skloot describes what the implications were for the family and the dark, ethical question of experimenting with Afro-Americans.

What appealed to me most is the sincerity and integrity with which Skloot has addressed this ethical issue. With her book she has brought attention to the problem, but at the same time she told the story of life in poverty of a black family in America, full of abuse and hopelessness. Well written and well researched a book I keep thinking about. Everyone should read it.

Pauline Vijverberg

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Three Seconds

by Roslund and Hellström (Quercus)  R189.00  ISBN: 978-1-84916-151-0 

When selecting this book, two things jump out as possible risks to a good read. One, a novel that has been co-authored can sometimes result in a stumbling story. Two, Scandinavian books translated to English are often infused with a grey undertone that is not to everyone’s liking. 

However, the authors have managed to pull together a gripping, well-paced seamless story that only has one or two gloomy skies. In doing so, this book is elevated from being a book enjoyed by a niche-market reader, to a global best-seller, on a par with the first of Steig Larsson’s works. 

The story is based around the growing drug trade in Sweden and a long-term police informer’s challenges to infiltrate the inner ranks of the Polish mafia. In doing so, he also needs to ensure the continued support from the politically-driven state and police institutions. Interests are not always aligned. The book also deals with his internal strife of having to lie to his beloved family to ensure their safety. 

The novel starts a little haltingly, introducing you to the different players in the story. Once the reader passes these first few chapters they’re pulled into an excellent read, that has one silently admiring and rooting for our protagonist right until the very last page. 

Patrick Duff 

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Inheritance

by Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (Pan) ISBN 978-0-330-51326-5

This story is a clever send up of how the wealthy live.

Lyric lands up at a finishing school. Her own background is undeniably privileged but the other girls who flaunt their enormous wealth totally floor Lyric. They use private jets like buses. A boyfriend takes her first class on an aeroplane and she sits up all night because she doesn't want anyone to know that she can't operate the tray or extend her seat. 

Lyric lives with a friend called Crispin, who helps her to decide on what to wear. When she chooses to shop at Chanel, Crispin dares to go into the change room and begins to cut the dress shorter. Lyric sees that the expensive dress looks better. Crispin says the couturiers would fix up the dress his way.

The name dropping never ends. Jimmy Choo shoes, designer bags, fleets of limousines, Louis Vuitton rope wedges. A Faberge Egg is passed around at a party. You help yourself to the powder in it with a diamond encrusted spoon. At one party she drains her wine glass to find a diamond at the bottom of the glass. Drug rehab is part of the vocabulary.

Eventually Lyric falls deeply in love with Philippe. There is even a sky jacking in this story. I think young people would enjoy this book. It's all happening to them today on different levels of life.

Dee Andrew 

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.


Book Review - Touch, Pause, Engage!

by Liz McGregor (Jonathan Ball ) ISBN: 978-1-868-423095

Liz McGregor is one of the few female writers to have written a book about South African rugby. McGregor does not disappoint.
She shows the heart of rugby: the passion, the triumphs and the disappointments in Touch, Pause, Engage!

McGregor has walked next to muddy school fields and sat next to racist spectators in the rugby stadiums. She has interviewed professional rugby stars whose faces grace the media. She has drunk cappuccino at Loftus with the coaches to gather her information.
McGregor chats to the families who are the invisible people supporting the professional player. The heart-breaking confession of a coach who learnt about his sacking in the media will have readers sympathising.

Touch, Pause, Engage! is about the people in the rugby arena caught between earning money and following their passions. Life in the spotlight is not all glamour. It is about the character behind the public profile.

Although Touch, Pause, Engage! has to fight for shelf space amidst the many books written by Springboks, it is a book that is different to the usual game analysis and I-hate-sports-administrators rugby books.

Three years of meticulous research has been shaped and moulded into a story that explores human values and brotherhood. This book will delight not only rugby fans but also all lovers of a good sports story.
Ulrike Hill 

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Alice Bliss

by Laura Harrington (Pan Macmillan) ISBN 978-0-330-54417-7
This is one of the nicest and most poignant books I have read in a long time. Alice Bliss, a fifteen-year-old girl, is growing up and finding herself in a family faced with change. Alice loves her father and shares many special times with him. But he enlists and is called to serve in the war against terror. After he leaves, Alice and her mother and sister are forced to forge new relationships in their altered family space.
It is a delicate story about a girl maturing emotionally and socially in the context of a home missing a crucial element. All the characters in Alice’s life make up a fascinating slice of life. In particular, the letters and memories are beautifully evoked by Harrington.
However, when her father Matt Bliss is listed as missing, we see how Alice and her family are forced to cope. Highly recommended as an easy, afternoon read – weepy stuff too, so keep the tissues handy. I have passed it on to all my friends as it is an endearing, emotional story. Certainly not for macho types!
Shelley Roe-Berning 


Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

Book reviews by readers and writers for book lovers.

Book Reviews from Amanda Patterson's Book Club - The Bluestocking Review

Amanda Patterson

Amanda Patterson formed a book review club in 2003. Amanda has reviewed over 700 books. Her reviewers have reviewed thousands. We hope you enjoy reading the reviews.

bluestocking (noun)
an intelligent woman with strong literary interests
(After the Blue Stocking Society, a nickname for a predominantly female literary club of 18th-century London)

Our reviewers rate books from 1 – 5

1 - For use as a doorstop only
2 - Keep for publishers’ & booksellers’ strikes
3 - A great holiday read
4 - You’ll remember this with enthusiasm a month later
5 - Unforgettable

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