Love Sex Fleas God

Confessions of a stay-at-home dad by Bruce Clark (Umuzi) ISBN: 9781415201701

 

The point of no return was reached with two simple words, ‘I’m late’.

 

When Bruce Clark (48) discovers his wife Christine (38) is pregnant, he is in his own words ‘Mr Stunned’. Still trying to come to terms with what it means to be a husband and trying to find his way in the career minefield, he didn’t anticipate that parenthood would turn his life upside down.

 

This is brutally honest memoir—often funny and bittersweet, sometimes too angry and self-indulgent—of what it means to be a stay-at-home parent to his son and daughter. It is, as Bruce points out, a simple job that is surprisingly difficult. It is the most important job in the world. Clark traces his life from his fractured relationship with his mother, his difficult youth and feelings of disenfranchisement in the new South Africa until he meets Christine — she is his soul mate, his anchor.

 

His story will strike a chord in all parents: we all have the chance to see our own innocence in our children, to find joy in them that we perhaps didn’t have or remember.

 

Faith Parker

3/5

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The Agony Chef

by Kate Sidley (illustrations by Leigh Forrest) Macmillan ISBN 978177010269 9 R214 



The Agony and the Gastronomy. Have you ever wondered what to cook when your boyfriend’s dumped you? Run over a neighbour’s cat? How to make the perfect snacks for your kid’s first sleep over? 
Maybe you don’t see yourself as much of an amateur chef—and let’s face it, most of us spend more time watching Master Chef or Food Channel to dust the cobwebs from our Salton blenders—then maybe the answer to these culinary niggles is moot. 
But, come on, surely you’ve been curious as to the etiquette in asking for a doggy bag at a posh restaurant, or wanting to know which foods are considered aphrodisiacs? 

If, like me, you’re a lazy eggs-on-toast slob, then The Agony Chef has the answer to these cheeky questions and more—it’s the chic lit of cookbooks. Kate Sidley has created the irreverent and smart Delilah as an agony aunt, ready at the drop of a whisk to provide a recipe for whatever life throws at you. From comfort food to gourmet fare, there’s a recipe to match every mood, environment and occasion. I’ll admit the book hasn’t left my bedside—she’s a really funny writer—but one of these days I’m going to test out something in my narrow, pristine and unused kitchen. 

While I loved Leigh Forrest’s charming illustrations, the book could have done with some colour photos of the prepared dishes as inserts—nothing like a real life pic to get the taste buds watering. Still, it’s the perfect gift for that annoying foodie friend who has every recipe book from Julia Child to Jamie Oliver. When she’s not indulging her alter ego, Kate Sidley whips up a weekly column for the Sunday Times and other fun features for magazines. 

PS: Incidentally, I did know the answer to ‘What to cook when your boyfriend’s dumped you?’ His bunny. Duh. 

Faith Parker
4/5

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Dolphin Tale

A movie tie-in (Scholastic) ISBN:  978 0 545 348 423

 

When a dolphin named Winter loses her tail in a crab trap, it’s up to a young boy named Sawyer and the staff at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to help her survive against the odds.

 

Sawyer is a withdrawn boy, but as his bond with Winter deepens, he starts to come into his own. Soon he starts to have the idea of a prosthetic tail for the dolphin – and gets the support of the whole community.

 

Dolphin Tale is a tie-in to the 3-D movie of the same name. It’s an ideal bedtime story for a boy or girl, especially if they’re familiar with the movie.

 

Kids aged 8-10 could well manage to read it on their own. Great story, great reading.

 

Faith Parker

3/5

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The Promise of Rain

by Donna Milner (Quercus) ISBN: 978 1849 162326

 

There is something endearing about Donna Milner’s story telling. Perhaps it’s because she mainly uses the first person narrative, or seeks out bittersweet stories, but she always managed to create an emotional bond with the reader. She has a deft ear for dialogue, a gift for creating suspense and much compassion for her characters.

 

In her second novel, she tells the story of Ethie Coulter and her family in Canada. The shock of her mother’s death is almost too much for her to bear. Her father, never a warm-hearted Daddy figure, retreats into alcohol, leaving Ethie and her brother to fend for themselves.

 

But Ethie is brave and she wants to help her father come to terms with his past and heal her family. In flashbacks, we learn of her father’s horrific experiences in WW2, surviving an attack in Hong Kong and becoming a prisoner of war.  He is haunted by this memories and this has changed the way he relates to his family.

 

The Promise of Rain is a poignant tale of pain, loss and hope that delivers a surprising but believable twist in the tale as Ethie’s father’s secret comes to light. It’s book for those who want to understand history and families a bit better.

 

Faith Parker

3/5

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Devious

by Lisa Jackson (Hodder & Stoughton) ISBN: 978 1 444 71341 1

 

Lisa Jackson is the author of twelve spine-chillers, with suitably creepy titles like Chosen to Die and Fatal Burn.  Devious, her new novel, opens with a gruesome taste of things to come – a young nun is found brutally murdered in a Cathedral and detective duo, Bentz and Montoya, are called to the scene.

 

The disturbing part is that the young novice was pregnant at the time of her death and Montoya knew her well. She was once his brother’s girlfriend. As other nuns are slaughtered, the hunt is on for a devious, depraved serial killer.

 

The maniac seems to know all the victims’ secrets, but the detectives are left cold as to his identity. Their prime suspect may not be the man they’re looking for – the only other possibility on their list is a man who died years ago. Or did he?

 

Devious takes the reader into the hushed, shadowy world of a New Orleans convent and to the heart of police procedure as the mystery unravels. The pages are salaciously loaded with intrigue, lust, revenge and even a bit of a romance.

 

Some may not care for the author’s sometimes choppy style of writing, but Jackson writes with intensity and keeps up a fast pace. Another minus point is that some of the plot threads weren’t tied up or resolved. All in all, it’s a juicy and creepy story to keep you up at night. Say your prayers, girls!

 

Faith Parker

3/5

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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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