The Wreckage

by Michael Robotham (Sphere) R236.00 ISBN: 978-1-84744-221-5



In his seventh fiction production, Michael Robotham reacquaints us with Vincent Ruiz, a worn, imperfect but likeable retired London police detective, and Joe O’Laughlin, a perceptive psychologist. 
He introduces us to cast of other characters that ultimately collide after being launched into the story by a number of separate incidences. 
We have Ruiz in London, robbed by a young confidence artist and her traumatized soldier boyfriend; a journalist in Baghdad investigating a series of bank robberies; a UN auditor delving into Iraq reconstruction funding; and the wife of a missing London banker.
This ignites the story that follows Baghdad reconstruction funding all the way up the chain to source, pulling in bankers, state agencies, terrorists, criminals and other interesting characters along the way. 
Robotham constructs the novel much like an expert patch-work quilt maker. He starts by developing rich individual characters, settings and experiences. As the story progresses, he weaves the various components together. In a skilful manner, Robotham spends just the right amount of time on each instalment, leaving the reader disappointed that they have to move on, but looking forward to returning to each storyline. 
A great read that will keep you looking forward to picking up the book and jumping back into the action. 

Patrick Duff
3.5/5

I like Robotham's writing style. He understands the value of short sentences, lots of dialogue and beautiful white space on the right hand side of the page. And he understands that this suits the genre of political thriller writing. 
I would have found it difficult to be critical of this novel after meeting the author less than a month ago. He was a lovely, inspiring man, and I was grateful that his novel was really good. 
Written in present tense, based on true stories from Iraq and London, and cleverly woven together, you won't regret reading this. 
Robotham opens the book by alternating stories of retired detective, Vincent Ruiz chasing a thief, journalist, Luca Tarracini investigating robberies in Iraq, and Elizabeth North searching for her missing banker husband. 
How do they fit together? Read the book and find out. 

Amanda Patterson
4/5

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The Hummingbird and the Bear

by Nicholas Hogg (Corsair) ISBN 9781849016476 R216, 00 

‘I never understood why men went to war, why men would die in the corner of a muddy field…until I saw her at the wedding.’ 

Sam Taylor has escaped a childhood hell by the grace of his intelligence, his sporting ability and his capacity to love. Kicked out of his mother’s house by his stepfather at 16, he could have become a dropout. Instead, he escapes the haze of drugs, and the women who love him into the perfect life. 

He is a high-flyer. A London banker who dismantles banks in the financial meltdown before the last US presidential elections. He is engaged to the perfect woman, Jenni. Beautiful, blonde and intelligent. A woman with the family he wished he could have had. Jenni’s parents welcome him into their lives and into their home. 

Then Sam meets Kay, an American woman, married to ruthless New York businessman, Chris, at a country wedding in England. In a moment, in a second, a heartbeat he knows he has met the one who completes him. Sam drives Kay to Heathrow the next day and they fall into each other. There can be no other. Kay is as damaged as Sam, with a past to rival his. They are so perfectly imperfect for each other. She is the hummingbird to the bear in his dreams. 

Sam can’t stop thinking about her and leaves London two months later for New York. 

Their love is the reason for breathing, for their hearts beating. Kay leaves Chris, telling him she is going shopping and meets Sam at the airport. They fly to New Orleans, drive to Texas, heading for Mexico as her crazy husband pursues them. Jealousy kills. But even death doesn’t kill love. 

‘I feel so close to her that I can barely see her. Because she is in me, part of who I was, who I am. That I can’t escape.’ 

And if you think you know what happens, after reading that, you don’t. I read this book in a day. I fell into it. You may fall into it too – if you have ever found the one who completes you. 

Amanda Patterson
5/5

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Nightshade

by Andrea Cremer (Atom Books) R180, 00 ISBN: 9781907410277 

I do not like paranormal / fantasy / science fiction novels. Twilight was torture for me. Bella is a million miles from what I conceive a strong female character to be. The writing was poorly executed, and the plotting ridiculous. 

So I took Nightshade only because a good friend said I should read it. She doesn't like Twilight either. I'm glad she insisted. (Her review is in The Bluestocking Review as well.) 

Calla Tor is a werewolf, or a 'guardian', as she says. She is an Alpha, the beautiful blonde leader of the Nightshade pack. A strong woman with the nerve of a wolf and the heart of a human. She is to be mated with Ren Laroche of the Wolfsbane pack. The two Alphas are to form a new pack to protect the sacred site they patrol from the 'Searchers'. 

The guardians are ruled by the 'Keepers’ who apparently have the magic that keeps the world in balance. They are also slave masters beautifully disguised. Everything is going along swimmingly until Shay Doran arrives in town. He is human. And Calla saves his life when she is on patrol. A bear attacks him and she lets him drink her blood. He survives. 

This is Twilight in reverse, I suppose. But it's so much more than that. It is perfectly written by a writer who knows how to make you turn the page. The plot is supported by philosophy and mythology and history. Andrea Cremer is a history professor who has written about violence, sex, religion and power. She uses all this knowledge in this novel. 

The plot is, as it always is in this genre, the quest. The pacing is perfect. The suspense well-executed. The characterisation is what sets Cremer apart in a writing world swamped with Twilight lookalikes. Meet Bryn, Ansel, Sabine, Fey, Neville, Mason and all the others. Lumine, Effron and Logan will make your skin crawl. 

Nightshade is for anybody who loves a good read. It will remain with you. You will order Wolfsbane as soon as you are finished. Highly recommended. 

Amanda Patterson
4/5

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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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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

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

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Writers Write - Write to communicate