It worked for me

by Colin Powell and Tony Koltz (HarperCollins) ISBN: 9780062135124


When I picked up this book by Colin Powell about Life and Leadership, I wondered how relevant four-star general Colin Powell still was, and just then a breaking news story of Powell endorsing Barack Obama again, interrupted my thoughts. I think Powell has earned a place in history and because of that, his book is important.


The book is set up in six parts. In the first part he explains his famous thirteen guidelines, like get mad, then get over it, followed by four parts full of advice: kindness works, potential not just performance and mutual respect, and the last part with his reflections. I think most of his advice is something everyone already knows, but it is useful to be reminded of now and then.


It is a good book, full of anecdotes, personal stories and experiences of growing up as a black kid in New York, his life in the army and as Secretary of State. He mentions his regrets and writes about the achievements he is most proud of. He admits that he should have listened to more people with ground truth experience in the region and fewer idea-heavy, big egos in Washington. Maybe a lesson for the leaders of this country?


Pauline Vijverberg


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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


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by Paulo Coelho (Harper Collins) ISBN: 978-0-00-7435551-7


The popular writer of spiritual books is not happy. A conversation with J, his mystic mentor, does not help him with his frustration. Paulo Coelho decides to embark on a journey to reconnect with his fans, much to his publishers’ dismay. They will need to accompany him on a train journey. Not just any train. He chooses the Trans-Siberian Railway, one of the longest railways in the world.


A young woman, Hilal insists on accompanying him. She is a talented musician who claims that she has to help Coelho with his spiritual journey. He is mildly irritated but realises he cannot stop her. As the journey progresses, and Hilal’s connection to Paulo Coelho’s past life becomes clear, Coelho realises the encounter is not by chance. Hilal was his lover 500 years ago. Her purpose in his present life is to help him discover forgiveness. Hilal helps Coelho to achieve a spiritual awakening that surpasses time and space.


The book is jarring. Coelho appears arrogant in certain chapters. I found his journey uncomfortable and not always clear. Perhaps it his ‘out of body and out of this world’ that I could not relate to. Coelho loyal fans will still enjoy the book.


Ulrike Hill



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by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins) R98, 00 ISBN9780007420421 

Beatrice is 16. Born into a world with five factions, it is time for her to decide where she belongs. She turns her back on her world. She feels as if she is not the same as her parents and her brother, Caleb. Or is she? She does not feel as if she belongs anywhere. 

Known as Tris in this new world, her choice takes her on a brutal journey, filled with violence and the discovery that nothing is as it seems. She falls in love with Four, the instructor who seems to take her under his wing. She discovers how brave she really is and makes new friends and new enemies. 

Roth writes well. The book is interesting. It is a good read. But it lacks the magic that sets it apart. It feels hollow to me, although I am not sure how I would improve it. A good enough Young Adult Dystopian read.   

Amanda Patterson

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15 Seconds

by Andrew Gross (Harper Collins) ISBN: 9780007296903


Amanda is an unhappy teenager. She's high, on her way to work, when she loses control of the car she's driving. She kills a young mother and her eight week old son.


Plastic Surgeon, Dr Henry Steadman is on his way to a medical conference in Florida. He is stopped by police for no apparent reason. He is detained and manhandled. But that's just the beginning. A policeman is shot and he is framed for the murder.


The only person who believes he is innocent is Carrie Holmes, the woman who answers the phone when he calls the hotline set up to catch him.


Amanda and Henry’s stories are linked. Aren't they?

Intricately plotted, and perfectly paced, 15 Seconds is a gripping thriller. Clever writing, plausible twists and interesting characters elevate this story. 


Andrew Gross is a brilliant crime writer. I read this book in a day.


Amanda Patterson


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