Book Review - The Sins of the Mother

by Danielle Steel (Random House) Price R195 ISBN 978-0-59306-313-2 


As always Danielle Steel is an author to be enjoyed. Whether the moral of the story is correct is for you to decide.  Olivia Grayson has made difficult choices. The successful businesswoman missed out on much of her children’s lives while she built her legendary home-furnishings empire. 

It does seem as though lots of money can cover old wounds between parents and children, and Olivia plans one lavish holiday every year to make amends. Will her daughters, Cassie, and Liz, ever understand? And will her sons, John and Phillip, who work for her, forgive her? 

I didn’t see Olivia as a sinner. She chose to work and see little of her children growing up and the family’s resentment of that fact cannot change. I felt sympathetic towards a mother who never stops loving her family in spite of their resentments. Problems arise and Olivia is always there to help out. A very well written, enjoyable Danielle Steel story. 

4/5

~~~

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Crusher

by Niall Leonard (Random House) R150  ISBN 978-0-857-53209-1



Finn McGuire discovers his father bludgeoned to death in a pool of blood at his desk. He becomes the prime suspect in his murder. Finn must race against time to clear his name and find out who the real murderer is.  

Scouring the sordid London streets of the underworld for answers, Finn faces danger at every turn. He is about to find he people you trust are the ones who deceive you. This story is about blood stained fights, where Finn survives by a whisker. This is a thrilling crime fighting book that takes you from one bloody scene to the next. Terror lives with Finn. No matter where he looks friends turn out to double cross him. The silence of the house when he is alone hides enemies crawling towards him in the dark.  

His only ally is himself and in the end he wins and is proved innocent. This is not a book for the faint hearted but the story grips you and forces you to turn the pages. This is well-written and hard-hitting. It is probably a man’s book, but tough women will welcome the terror. 

Dee Andrew
3.5/5

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The Watch

by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya (Random House) R215 ISBN 9781781090039



This cleverly crafted novel is set in Afghanistan, but based on the play Antigone by Sophocles. The theme is about the conscience of the individual versus the conscience of the state. 

A legless woman arrives at an American military outpost to fetch the body of her deceased brother to bury him and deliver him the last rites. The soldiers stay in an isolated area and suffer from boredom and heat. They have killed men in a nightlong battle, but it is unclear if these men were local tribesmen at the wrong place in the wrong time or if they were dangerous terrorists. The pledge of this woman confuses the soldiers. Is she a spy? Is she a bait to draw out the soldiers? Or is she innocent? 

The story of this dilemma is narrated through eight viewpoints and it forced me to understand the actions and reasoning of each individual. The Watch is very well written. After so many American hero-books, it is good to read about the voiceless Afghan (women), the futility of war, the misunderstandings and lack of trust and poor communication amongst men. 

This is Roy-Bhattacharya’s third novel. His previous novels were translated into eleven languages. 

Pauline Vijverberg
4/5

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Philida

by Andre Brink (Random House) R215 ISBN 0 781846 557057

 

In 1832, after following the Elephant Trail that runs from the Village of Franschoek to the small town of Stellenbosch near Cape Town, the young slave woman, Philida arrives at the Drostdy. She is directed to the Office of the Slave Protector, to lodge a complaint against her owner, Cornelius Brink, and his son, Frances Brink.

 

They cross question her. ‘When did I leave last light? Where did I sleep? Did I get a pass for coming here?’ Philida thinks and knows it is hopeless trying to become a free slave, especially after she made babies with a white man.

 

Zandvleit is where it started in the shadow of the mountains. She was nine when she was brought there. She learned how to knit only to have her pretty patterns destroyed time and again for small offences.  Her best friend was a tiny cat, and Frans made a bamboo basket for the creature.

 

The grootbaas decides to make an example of Philida and strips her and lays her on the flogging table. The whistle of his langriempie slashes her buttocks.

 

I put the book down in horror and took it up some time later. But slavery was slavery and some were beaten to death for dropping a basket of figs. You cannot ever reconcile the world of slavery and the world we live in now, without counting your blessings. Andre Brink has brought that world to life. A giant of a writer, he says it exactly as it was.

 

Dee Andrew

5/5

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Home

by Toni Morrison (Random House) ISBN 9780701186074

 

As a big fan of the Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Price-winner Toni Morrison, I was excited to get hold of her newest book.

 

Morrison has succeeded, again, in creating a beautiful novel, or rather a novella with its 145 pages. It is rich in allegories and her sentences read like poetry. ‘The sun, try as she might, could not scorch the yellow butterflies away from scarlet rosebushes, nor choke the song of birds.’

 

Disturbing memories of the Korean War haunt 24-year-old veteran Frank Money, a year after his return. The atrocities of the war and the death of two of his hometown friends are the reason he is now almost homeless and nearly losing his sanity. His girlfriend, Lily never asked about the war and he has never brought it up.

 

Everything changes when he gets a note that his beloved sister, who ran off with ‘that waste of the Lord’s air and time,’ is very sick. ‘Come fast. She be dead if you tarry,’ her friend writes. He returns to his birthplace Lotus in Georgia, despite his vow never to go back after an unhappy childhood.

 

In Lotus, ‘the worst place in the world, worse than any battlefield,’ he tries to come to terms with his past.

 

Pauline Vijverberg

5/5

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Seraphina

by Rachel Hartman (Random House) ISBN 978 0 857 53157 5

 

Generally a book about dragons is about some nobody going through a soul-changing quest until he finds the strength to kill an evil old lizard. That always leaves me feeling like I’m being lied to. A giant flying fire-breathing god of death is always going to win.

 

That is, unless the humans band together, make fire-proof armour and specialized equipment for tearing through scaly skin. And that’s where this book begins. Humans have become just enough of a threat to the Dragons that they, for the first time, have considered a truce.

 

But neither side is completely dedicated to peace and war threatens to break out again. It might take more than good intentions and treaty documents to stop it. Perhaps, the only ones that can save the peace are those who can see the world of both the species. Maybe, a half-dragon is needed.

 

But surely no such creature could exist.

 

Seraphina was the most original dragon story I have read in many years. It deserves great praise even if the writing at times is not perfect.

 

Christopher Dean

4/5

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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 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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Fallen in Love

by Lauren Kate (Random House) ISBN: 978-0-857-53164-3

 

Fallen in Love is a glimpse into the emotions of the characters who are part of Daniel and Luce’s cursed love story.

 

Readers of the Lauren Kate trilogy will know the characters. Miles, Shelby, Arian and Roland have walked alongside Luce and Daniel’s doomed love. The setting in all the stories takes place in medieval England on Valentine’s Day.

 

An Announcer dumps Miles and Shelby in medieval England. Out of place and out of sorts, they have to depend on each other. In their story snapshot, they find that there is an attraction growing between them.

Arian and Roland land up in medieval England as well but find that love is not dependable and can be torture; rather like Daniel and Luce’s love.

Finally, Daniel and Luce come face to face in medieval England. Not surprising, their reincarnated visit shows that their love is strong and everlasting.

 

The stories will make no sense if readers have not read the books from the Fallen series. This book feels like a filler – meant to satisfy the gap before the big meal. It fails dismally and detracts from Daniel and Luce’s tragic love story.

 

I felt lost and disappointed. I wanted to know how Luce would end the curse. Not worth the effort. Perhaps Kate’s next book Rapture will end the ‘torment’.

 

Ulrike Hill

2/5

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I've got your number

by Sophie Kinsella (Random House) R195.00 ISBN 978-0-593-05982-1

 

Poppy’s life changes when she loses her engagement ring at a function. It has been in Magnus’s family for three generations. It is also the very same day that his parents are coming.

 

There’s worse to come when she loses her cell phone too. As she paces around the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers, she thinks. Now she can leave a number with the hotel staff. 

 

Except the owner of the phone, businessman, Sam Roxton doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back. He doesn’t appreciate Poppy’s reading all his messages and wading into his personal life.

 

As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, phone messages and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents, things do get more tangled. 

 

You can imagine how hilarious the story becomes. The outcome is a big surprise. This is a very easy book to read and written with much wit and sending up of characters. I enjoyed it.

 

Dee Andrew

4/5

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