Steve Jobs

by Walter Isaacson (Little Brown) ISBN 978-1-4087-0374-8

 

Once upon a time when all the world used typewriters, a giant of a man, Steve Jobs, dreamed of changing everything.

 

Walter Isaacson describes the determination of a little adopted boy who strove for absolute perfection. Ironically, Jobs also gave up a little girl for adoption only to be reunited with her years later. He also discovered he had a famous novel writer as a sister.

 

His towering rages when things were not perfectly done were legendary, and out of all this came the computer that set the world alight. His wife and family put up with his picky eating, and days of silence and introspection. His son, Reed, played a special part in Job’s life. True, it is a modern fairy tale, but it is about real people who gave their all for Jobs’ ambition.

 

The real miracle is that Jobs abandoned the first Apple only to find it again years later and turn it around into the great and famous computer that it is today. Jobs’ love of Art and Music and Poetry were all somehow entwined with this computer, proving that science and the humanities can work together.

 

I first looked at the size of the biography and wondered whether I would ever read it to the end. However, it was fascinating, saddening, and enlightening and I read every page with new interest. This is the book of the past, present and future of our lives.

 

Dee Andrew

5/5

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The Boy who Fell to Earth

by Kathy Lette (Random House) Price R195.00 ISBN 978-0-593-06084-1

 

The title of this book is absolutely misleading and I picked it up with reluctance.

 

However, I cannot recommend it highly enough. My sides are still aching from laughing. What a delight each character is, even the smelly, bearded guitar player who helps Lucy’s son with his autism. The successfully slimy ex-husband almost had me believing in him when he returned to fetch the lovely Lucy, who sent him away in the first place. Lucy’s protective mother tells her daughter, “You should have taken tips from the spider that mates once and then eats her husband up.”

 

Merlin, the autistic child, cannot walk on uneven lines, takes grown up talk out of context, has a mother who absolutely adores him and a grandmother who is spending the family inheritance fast on exotic holidays like whale spotting.  In between Merlin, his family, and Archie who loves Lucy, I really cannot say when last I enjoyed a book so much.  

 

Don’t miss it, buy it and light up your life with a wonderful kind of laughter. There are serious moments and perhaps farfetched moments near the end, but even so, buy this book and enjoy yourself.

 

Dee Andrew

5/5

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The Weird Sisters

by Eleanor Brown (HarperCollins) ISBN: 9780007393725

 

What a delight this book was. It was easy to read, and easy to identify with if you’ve ever had a sister.

 

The weirdest part about the sisters is that they quote Shakespeare to each other in the middle of a fight.  Which is normal in their house as their Dad is a Professor of English, and their house is littered with books.

 

Each girl decides to travel to find a new life but they eventually come home to their sleepy village because their mother has cancer. Rose has a PHD and is engaged to Jonathan. Bianca cannot share the horrific reasons for returning home with her family. Cordy has a huge secret that she reveals in the beginning to an old flame but the family is unaware of the looming disaster. Cordy has led a hippie existence, trying to escape from the real world. 

 

The relationship between the absent minded Professor and his darling wife is exceptionally well described. The sisters have a difficult time communicating with each other. What can the shy responsible eldest sister, the fast living middle child and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Eventually they find they are more similar than they thought. 

 

A very well written story. I couldn’t put the book down.

 

Dee Andrew

4/5

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For the Mercy of Water

by Karen Jayes (Penguin) ISBN 978-0-14-353021-3

 

This is no ordinary story and most of the time the meaning eludes me. A lot is left to the imagination of the author. I did glean from the novel that there was a shortage of water and there are guards who are ruthless and in control of the water supply.

 

An unexpected rain leads a group of water security guards to an abandoned town. They find an old woman, identified only as Mother, and a group of girls in a classroom. A journalist, two aid workers and a doctor arrive and what they discover soon afterwards shortly afterwards defies ordinary explanation.

 

When strange dislocated fragments of Mother’s story appear in the media, a young writer is intrigued enough to set off on a journey to find out about Mother, a journey that takes her deep into the heart of broken country in search of a truth that no one wants uncovered.

 

It is not possible to enjoy this novel. It is totally without meaning and I read it to the end hoping to find some logic in the story. This is one of the most unreadable stories I have ever come across.

 

Dee Andrew

1/5

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The Governor’s Wife

by Mark Gimenez (Sphere) ISBN  9 781847 443816

 

Bode Bonner is the governor of Texas. He has everything he could want in life but he longs for some new excitement. 

 

Lindsay Borner is Bode’s wife and she’s bored too. Bored with the endless cocktail parties, and Bode’s womanising. She decides to break free of her bland wealthy Texan lifestyle. And that moment comes when she saves a poor Hispanic boy’s life. She uses her skills as a trauma nurse and her life is changed forever in ways that she could never have predicted.

 

Predictably, Lindsay falls for Jesse the dedicated doctor who helps the poor. He is a highly skilled doctor. But when push comes to shove and Lindsay finds herself in an untenable situation, she knows that the governor will come to her aid.

 

Filled with dramatic and ingenious twists and turns, plus a lot of uninteresting padding, this is still a good read.

 

Dee Andrew

3/5

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The White Shadow

by Andrea Eames (Random House) Price R215.00 ISBN 9 781846 555695

 

The White Shadow is set in a small rural village in Zimbabwe, and I would suggest that, unless you have had that experience, this will be a difficult book to understand.

 

The guerrilla war of the ‘60s haunts the bush lands but doesn’t touch the small schools and villages. The knowledge of this war was worldwide but the actual facts were not seen by anyone living away from the war of that time. 

 

Tinashe, a Shona boy is thrilled when his tiny sister, Hazvinea, is born. He knows there is something special about her, and spends his life trying to protect her from harm. They have a rich Uncle who lives in town who occasionally visits the family with his son, Abel. Abel becomes embroiled in both the Shona spirit world, and the political turmoil of the nation.

 

Tinashe will go to any lengths to protect his sister but how can he compete with dark and sinister forces that are threatening her.

 

The reason for the book being written is not clear and I came away feeling empty and wondering if I had missed the point. I’m afraid I found this book hard to recommend.

 

Dee Andrew

1/5

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Nightmare

by Stephen Leather (Hodder & Stoughton) ISBN 9 781444 700718

 

This is a haunting story in every way possible. Don’t stop your hands from clutching the book because terror reigns on every page.

 

A little girl called Sophie kissed her doll’s head as she slid from the balcony of the fourteenth floor building.  Jack Nightingale was too late to save her from falling although he was nearby.

Is everyone he meets going to call out “Jack Nightingale”? Even strangers on the street?  No wonder he tries to run away from his life.

 

The hellions of Death seek him out at every possible moment. And he seeks, through supernatural means, to find out what is going on. His secretary, Jenny believes in him and his innocence, but that’s not enough to help him. He has to find the little girl Sophie who lost all her family and then decided to take her own life.

 

This is a different kind of thriller, much like a ride on a roller coaster. If it is possible to research satanic worship and other supernatural things, then Stephen Leather has really done his homework. 

 

The end is mind blowing and challenges all your beliefs about death. Whew, it is a really good read.

 

Dee Andrew

5/5

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A Bosman Companion

by Craig Mackenzie & Tim Sandham (Human & Rosseau) ISBN 9780798152532

 

Herman Charles Bosman is one of South Africa’s best known authors and story tellers. His creation Oom Schalk Lourens, an old Boer farmer, is undoubtedly one of the best loved characters in South African literature.

 

A Bosman Companion covers all aspects of Bosman’s life and work in short, informative, alphabetically arranged entries.

 

This alphabet of Bosman’s life and times covers even the unseen drawings that he did which are so precious. Personal memories of how when he was late for Jeppe School, he told the teacher he had to chop wood first thing every morning.  Most of the boys came from middle class homes and laughed at his explanation. No matter where he was he was always the odd man out and yet he did so well in life.

 

However there is more than just Bosman here. The dictionary of South African words made me remember all sorts of sayings when I was growing up in the Free State. What a lot of hard work went into this wonderful book, along with insight into the character and great respect and love for his memory.

 

This should be in every Bosman collection. Craig MacKenzie edited 10 volumes of Bosman’s stories amongst many other works, and he and Tim Sandham a teacher, a TV writer a part time playwright, are the authors of this book.

 

Dee Andrew

5/5

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Pioneer Woman

(Pan) by Ree Drummond ISBN: 9781447202073

 

Marlboro Man, a cowboy, meets Ree, a typical city girl, in a pub.

 

Ree Drummond has had a four year affair with J who seems to fulfil her every need. And then a kiss with Marlobo Man changes her life completely.

 

This is the story of a sizzling love affair finding Ree growing more bewildered by the way of life on the ranch. Her country life starts with a horse ride, where she lands up in a ditch, fuming. Marlboro Man sympathises with a chuckle in his deep voice.....

 

Later on Ree tears up the road to deal with a prairie fire which terrifies and exhausts her. And on every page there is serious kissing which leads to marriage and a baby girl.

 

You cannot put this book down. You laugh at the descriptions and have butterflies in your tummy every time he kisses her. The baby turns her into a wreck. Her husband loves her anyway.

 

What a delightful story. You will love it.

 

Dee Andrew

5/5

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The Burning Soul

by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton) ISBN 978-340-99354-5

 

After Haight and Lonny have done their time, Haight moves far away to Pastor's Bay in Maine where he hoped no-one would ever find out his secret past.

 

Haight remembers how he had wanted to let her go but Lonny was the one who took it too far, closing her nostrils so she couldn't breathe. Lonny and Haight were tried as adults and spent years in separate facilities, from juvenile to adult. The judge ordered that all records of the trial should be sealed.

 

Now someone attacks Haight about his past. He asks the police to intervene but keep the matter private. Haight is a private man, a man of figures, an accountant who lives a solitary life, except for his customers who were happy with his work. Pastor's Bay seemed to be as far away as he could get from his past.

 

But her ghost begins to haunt him, and then another little girl who was missing, played and sang in his basement. She seems quite happy there.

 

There is a shocking twist to this story, one you'd never believe could happen. The police come up with a solution in the end, in the woods, in an old caravan.  What happens to Lonny and Haight who did the worst thing they could ever have done?

 

Dee Andrew

4.5/5

 

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