The Killing

by David Hewson (Macmillan) ISBN: 9781447213956

 

This is the re-telling, by novelist, David Hewson, of the award winning Danish crime drama originally created by Soren Sverstrup.

 

A girl is found raped and murdered on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Detective Sarah Lund cancels her move to Sweden to take charge of the case, with Jan Meyer, the man who is supposed to replace her.

 

The book does well as a stand-alone story without having watched the TV series. The fast pace and riveting plot kept my attention throughout. The author did well in keeping the pages filled with action. It did not disappoint.

 

The one let down was the font and presentation of the book. The novel is already lengthy (exceeding four hundred pages) and the font seemed smaller than usual. It felt as if the words were squished onto the pages. This had a negative impact on the reading experience.

 

Otherwise a good read. The author stayed true to the genre and fulfilled the basic expectations of a crime novel.

 

Michele van Eck

3.5/5

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Dead Rules

by R.S. Russell (Quercus) ISBN 978 0 85738 675 5

 

Do you believe in life after death?

 

Randy Russell believes you go to Dead School when you die. And that’s where our main character, Jana Webster, finds herself after a freak bowling accident leaves her dead. 

 

Even in death, Jana pines for her boyfriend, Michael, and obsesses about a way for them to be together again. She finally decides that she’ll have to kill Michael herself if he’s ever going to join her in Dead School and enlists the help of Mars Turncote. 

 

This book is a fun read, with a unique and outlandish take on death.

 

The characters are vivid and memorable. They all have unusual stories as to how they came to be in Dead School. The writing is easy to read. Dead Rules is definitely a book for young adults with a taste for the macabre.

 

Ashleigh Seton-Rogers

3/5

 

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Farishta

by Patricia McArdle (Riverhead) ISBN: 978159448

 

In McArdle’s debut novel, diplomat Angela Morgan is sent to northern Afghanistan to secretly assess the accuracy of the interpreters’ translations. For this assignment she learns to speak Dari. Angela, who lost her husband in an embassy bomb explosion in Beirut in 1983 reluctantly accepts the posting to this volatile country, with the promise of a post in London after a year.

 

Farishta means Angel in Dari. The name gets a deeper meaning when Angela introduces her solar ovens in a part of the region with a scarcity of wood for cooking. She manages to find her own place in the male dominated society and earns the respect of warlords and soldiers. She learns to deal with her panic attacks and develops meaningful friendships.

 

McArdle is a good storyteller. Her writing gives insight in the history and archaeology of Afghanistan, the role of the women and opium farmers. The main story takes place in 2004/2005, the same time as when the author lived there. Maybe because of these first-hand experiences the novel is such a riveting read.

 

McArdle, a retired diplomat, based the story of Angela Morgan on her own life. She was also a public affairs officer in Johannesburg and introduced straw bale construction as building materials to South African farmers.

 

Pauline Vijverberg

4/5

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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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Mateship With Birds

by Carrie Tiffany (Picador) ISBN 978-1-4472-1986-6

 

Set on a dusty farm in the rural town of Cohuna, Australia in the 1950s, this novel is really a reflection on what makes a family.

 

Harry is a dairy farmer with a keen love of birds. He keeps a journal on a family of Kookaburra that he observes on his farm. Carrie Tiffany uses this to parallel Harry’s experience of the family he has with Betty, a single mother and her two children.

 

Sex, lust and desire are firmly meshed into this book. It is heavily present within the language and direct descriptions of the characters’ sexual desires. Sexual desires which never seem to be fully realized.

 

If elegant prose and intricate description comes first over plot for you, you will enjoy this novel. The strength of the book lies in the language and description. The parallels drawn between the human characters and the birds create a fragmented storyline, which can be confusing. The same subtlety in the descriptions creates characters that feel one-dimensional. Harry’s poetry about his bird family is well written, but does slow down an already slow story.

 

The book could be interpreted as brilliant or boring. I found it a bit of both.

 

Victoria Malakou

2.5/5

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Wicked Business

by Janet Evanovich (Headline Review) ISBN: 9780755384938 



Lizzy Tucker and Diesel are back. Lizzy was living a normal life baking cupcakes in Salem, until she discovered she had a secret power to find enchanted relics. Lizzy wishes she didn’t have the power. Her life was far less complicated. Now she spends her time chasing after stones that have the power to destroy the world. 

The delicious Diesel needs Lizzy to find the stones so that he can get them back to the ‘office’ for safekeeping. His evil cousin, Wulf, and his sidekick, Hatchet also want the stones. This caper continues where Wicked Appetite ended. Lizzy’s boss Clara, and her ditzy friend and co-worker, Glo play their roles. Then Deirdre Early aka Anarchy makes an appearance and I had a sense of déjà vu. 

Sound familiar? I was reading Stephanie Plum all over again. Clara is Connie, Glo is Lula, Diesel is Joe, Wulf is Ranger, The Bakery is The Bail Bonds Office. Deirdre is Joyce Barnhardt. The only difference is we have some magic added in this series. I felt duped. 
Evanovich writes as well as ever. She is easy to read, and the book is harmless fun. However, I don’t think I’m going to invest any more time in this rip-off of her other successful series. I’ve already read 18 of them. 

Amanda Patterson
3/5

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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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In One Person

by John Irving (Double Day) ISBN: 97808575220975

 

‘You’re not like anyone else, Billy – that’s what’s the matter with you.’ Nobody is like anyone else, yet somehow we are more comfortable putting people into boxes and questioning, if not condemning, those that don’t fit. In In one Person, John Irving throws boxes of gender and sexual identity wide open and introduces bisexual Billy.

 

In the late 1950s Billy spends his formative years at a boys’ school where pupils are warned against ‘unwelcome attractions to other boys’ Billy develops crushes on ‘the wrong people’, including a librarian and a bully who both are not as sexually straightforward as they portray. Through school plays his stepfather teaches him that ‘ gender mattered a whole lot less to Shakespeare than it seems to matter to us’. 

 

Though he’ll always be the one having to explain himself, he chooses to embrace his polymorphous identity. This connects him closely to that awful decade, when more Americans died of AIDS than were killed in Vietnam as Irving pointedly reminds us. Throughout his life the school community continues to play a role and ultimately he returns under different circumstances.

 

This is vintage John Irving; pleading tolerance in a wonderfully rich story filled with familiar landmarks, lovable characters and their idiosyncrasies and provocative opinions and ideas. I’ve read it twice already!

 

Josine Overdevest 

4.5/5

 

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City of Bones

by Cassandra Clare (Walker Books) ISBN: 978-1-4063-0762-7

 

There is a dark side to New York, the city that never sleeps. The mundanes (otherwise known as humans) cannot see the supernaturals that roam the streets and fight in wars. The shadow masters are a group of supernaturals who have to clear the city of demons.

 

Fifteen-year-old Clary Clay witnesses a murder at the Pandemonium Club committed by three teenagers. The problem is she has no proof. The body has disappeared. Worse still, her friend Simon cannot see the murderers.

 

When Clary returns home, her house is ransacked and her mother is missing. When she is attacked by a demon, she knows she is in trouble. No-one can help her but the shadow masters. She meets Jace - arrogant and attractive with scars that are not only caused by the demons he has fought. He decides to help Clary find her mother. Fighting side by side, they discover they have a strong attraction. The problem is their love is forbidden.

 

I loved this book. The characters are believable, heroic and memorable. The plot is interesting and keeps the reader in suspense. The ending was unexpected. It has me panting for the next book – the second in the The Mortal Instruments series. Definitely a book to curl up with late at night.

 

Ulrike Hill

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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