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Book Bites: 18 February

Published in the Sunday Times

What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky
*****
Lesley Nneka Arimah, Headline, R305

Lesley Nneka Arimah’s debut is a vibrant collection of 12 compelling stories set in the US and Nigeria. From fantastical myths to a post-apocalyptic world, all the shorts are varied but cleverly connected by the theme of complexities in relationships, focusing on women in particular. “When Enebeli Okwara sent his girl out in the world, he did not know what the world did to daughters. He did not know how quickly it would wick the dew off her, how she would be returned to him hollowed out, relieved of her better parts.” Women find themselves in extraordinary situations: a daughter whose mother’s ghost appears to have stepped out of a family snapshot, another woman, who, haunted by childlessness, resorts to fashioning a charmed infant out of human hair. Arimah is a new literary talent to watch out for. – Nondumiso Tshabangu @MsNondumiso

Can I Speak to Someone in Charge?
***
Emily Clarkson, Simon & Schuster, R285

Emily Clarkson was tired of seeing clothes that only catered for size 12 women. She was surprised at the emergence of online trolls and, like many women, had tons of thinspiration. So, she started a blog, Pretty Normal Me, which led to this book. It is a series of letters to herself, Hollywood, trolls and, well, just about everything and everybody who is living and affected by various societal norms. It’s often funny, sometimes sad but always honest. – Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

Keep You Safe
***
Melissa Hill, Harper Collins, R285

Hill jumps straight into modern-day controversy, pitting anti-vaccination parents against pro-vaccination. Two five-year-olds come down with the measles. The first is Clara, whose parents didn’t vaccinate their children due to personal choice. Three days later, Rosie, who is allergic to the vaccination, is ill. But unlike Clara, Rosie doesn’t get better and ends up in hospital fighting for her life. Tension fills the small Irish village while internet opinions explode: should Clara’s parents be held accountable for what happened to Rosie? A fast-paced drama with twists. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

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"Walters creates a sense of claustrophobia and fear which is compelling" - Margaret von Klemperer reviews The Last Hours

Published in The Witness, 12/02/2018

The Last Hours

Minette Walters
Allen & Unwin

Minette Walters, better known as an author of psychological crime novels, has moved into new territory here – back to the 14th Century and the arrival of the Black Death in southern England.

The results, the loss of around half the country’s population and with that, a mortal blow to the old feudal system of serfdom, are well documented historically and form an important backdrop to what is planned to be a two novel saga.

In the manor of Develish, the brutal Sir Richard of Develish is planning to ride to a neighbouring estate to arrange a marriage for his deeply unpleasant 14 year old daughter, Eleanor. He leaves his wife Lady Anne in charge, and while he is away, news of the rapidly spreading plague arrives.

As the bodies mount up, Lady Anne bars the estate to all comers, including her dying and unlamented husband and his entourage. Only when the survivors are out of quarantine (she has considerable medical knowledge, considering her era) does she let them return. But besides the plague stalking the countryside there are other dangers: starvation and marauding bands of dispossessed and chancers.

Walters creates a sense of claustrophobia and fear which is compelling – her work as a writer of psychological drama standing her in good stead here. She also draws a hierarchical and patriarchal society, ruled by an often corrupt church.

Tensions rise within the barricaded estate as serfs begin to realise there will be advantages for them once they can sell their labour. Their loyalty to their mistress keeps things on a more or less even keel – she has protected them against her horrible husband, and, maybe a trifle anachronistically, taught many of them to read and write.

Once a group of lads, led by the bastard Thaddeus, heads out to see what is happening beyond their boundary and to look for desperately needed food, the story divides into two parts, and loses a little of its tension. But it still rollicks along, and should delight fans of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and the like.

My main criticism would be that the goodies are so good and the baddies so bad that there is little room for nuance. But Walters produces a suitably cliffhanging ending so that there will be plenty of readers keen to find out the further fortunes of Lady Anne and Thaddeus, and even nasty little Eleanor. - Margaret von Klemperer

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Sewe kinderboeke om na uit te sien in Februarie!

Z is vir Zackie 9: Die dieretuin
Jaco Jacobs
Illustreerder: Alex van Houwelingen

7+

Vandag is ’n spesiale dag. Zackie se klas gaan dieretuin toe! Hulle kan nie wag om die leeus, olifante, apies en ander diere te sien nie. Maar Anton gaan ook saam. Anton is ’n boelie. Hy hou vreeslik baie van spog. En hy gaan sy bes probeer om almal se dag te bederf.

Z is vir Zackie 10: Die vreemde fossiel
Jaco Jacobs

Illustreerder: Alex van Houwelingen
7+

Zackie en Vincent is op soek na fossiele! Dalk is daar ’n T-rex in die tuin begrawe? Of ’n trikeratops in die parkie? Of ’n stegosourus op die sypaadjie! Almal dink hulle is laf. Daar is tog nie fossiele in Granaatstraat nie. Maar dan ontdek hulle iets fantasties!

Hoezit! Die wonderwêreld van perde en ponies
Jaco Jacobs & Fanie Viljoen

Wat is die verskil tussen ’n perd en ’n ponie? Watter soort perd kan meer as ’n klein motor weeg? Waarvoor word verskillende soorte perde regoor die wêreld gebruik? Hoe moet jy jou perd of ponie versorg? Ontdek die wonderlike wêreld van perde en ponies met hierdie boek propvol prettige feite en aktiwiteite! Met 48 bladsye vol fassinerende feite, volkleurfoto’s en hope aktiwiteite, speletjies en kopkrappers waarmee jy die wonderwêreld van perde en ponies kan verken, is hierdie boek gewaarborg om jong feitevrate se tone te laat omkrul van lekkerkry! Maak van naderby kennis met van die indrukwekkendste perderasse, vind uit wat alles by ’n ryskool gebeur, ontmoet perde se verlangse familie in die diereryk, en ontdek ’n paar asemrowende perderekords! Die temas en aktiwiteite maak hierdie reeks boeke die perfekte hulpbron vir skoolprojekte en sal sorg vir ure se prettige vermaak by die huis. Sedert Hoezit! se bestaan in boekvorm, is daar al meer as 51 700 kopieë van hierdie reeks verkoop.

Reënboogrant Maats: Omnibus 1
Maritha Snyman
9+

Een van die gewildste Afrikaanse reekse is nou vir die eerste keer in ’n omnibus beskikbaar! Kom deel in die lekkerste tye van Shani en haar sussie Sunette se lewens – tydens die Reënboogrant-jare! In die Reënboogrant Maats-boeke is Shani-hulle op laerskool, en hulle beleef allerlei opwindende avonture – van ’n dief wat straatnommers steel, tot ’n droomrol in ’n balletkonsert.

Hierdie omnibus bevat die eerste drie titels uit dié gewilde reeks: Skelmstreke en kattekwaad, Alleen tuis en Die balletkonsert.

Die Reënboogrant-boeke, waarvan die eerste in 1995 verskyn het, was uiters gewild. Reënboogrant is destyds as ’n “boeksepie” beskryf. LAPA is trots om dit weer aan jong lesers beskikbaar te stel.

Kattekwaad
Susan Ongansie
lllustreerder: Linki Lutz

3+

Susan Ongansie is ’n splinternuwe skrywer!

Mietsie en haar boetie, Maans, is twee katjies. Hulle hou daarvan om met hulle bal op die sagte gras te speel. Maar toe Mietsie aan die slaap raak, besluit Maans om oor die muur te spring en iemand te gaan soek wat met hom wil speel.

Mietsie word wakker en ontdek haar boetie is skoonveld! Toe sy hom gaan soek, kry sy vir Mors en Jors, die twee grys straatkatte wat hou van stry en baklei! Sal die twee straatkatte haar kan help om haar boetie te kry – en uit die pad van die gevaarlike straatbrakke te bly?

Susan Ongansie is ’n grondslagfase-onderwyseres wat op Beaufort-Wes gebore en getoë is. “Die aard van my werk bied ’n lekker geleentheid vir skryf, aangesien ek graag stories, liedjies en gediggies skryf wat vir my leerders relevant is. Ek geniet die genot op hul gesiggies.”

Linki Lutz het aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch gegradueer met ’n cum laude vir haar prakties in Skone Kunste. Piet Grobler is haar peetpa, so sy wou van ’n vroeë ouderdom reeds ’n loopbaan as illustreerder volg.

Kom ons praat oor waar babas vandaan kom
Robie H. Harris
Illustreerder: Michael Emberley
7+

Hierdie deernisvolle boek fokus op belangrike dinge waaroor kinders wonder: babas, voortplanting, liggame, gene, grootword, liefde, gesondheid en nog baie meer. Die inligting word op ’n eenvoudige manier oorgedra met humoristiese kommentaar van ’n baie nuuskierige voëltjie en ’n teësinnig by wat sou verkies om eerder nie oor dié dinge te praat nie! Vrolike volkleurstrokiesprentillustrasies help om die teks nog meer toeganklik te maak.

Seksvoorligtingboeke vir jonger kinders is in groot aanvraag en hierdie titel is al vir 15 jaar in Amerika en Engeland ’n topverkoper.

Robie H. Harris is ’n bekroonde skrywer wat veral bekend is as skrywer van kinderboeke oor seksualiteit. Sy het jare se ondervinding as onderwyser en as die direkteur van ’n náskoolprogram vir jong kinders. Sy woon saam met haar man in Boston, VSA. Michael Emberley skryf en illustreer al meer as dertig jaar lank kinderboeke. Hy woon in Ierland.

Aksieheld Austin: Nag van grille
Skrywer en illustreerder: Fanie Viljoen
9+

Ligte, kamera, aksie!

Ewald is nog op laerskool, maar sy naam is reeds op almal se lippe. G’n wonder nie – hy is immers die ster van die gewilde Aksieheld Austin-rolprente. In die flieks is hy ’n dapper held met vuiste soos kanonkoeëls wat skurke laat les opsê!

Die tweede fliek, Aksieheld Austin: Nag van grille, is pas voltooi, en Ewald kan nie wag vir die bekendstelling nie. Dit gaan by ’n ou fliekteater in die stad gehou word.
Die middag voor die vertoning gaan maak Ewald en sy beste vriend, Carlo, egter ’n draai by die grillerige ou fliekmuseum wat deel van die teater is. Kort voor lank is hulle vasgekeer in die museum – saam met ’n geheimsinnige figuur wat in die donker rondsluip …

As hulle wil ontsnap, sal Ewald hierdie keer net so dapper soos ’n REGTE aksieheld moet wees!

Dié asemrowende reeks avontuurverhale uit die pen van Fanie Viljoen is perfek vir jong lesers wat hou van stories propvol aksie en adrenalien!

Boekbesonderhede

Fiona Snyckers's first book in a new series is fun, fast-paced and features a strong female protagonist, writes Tiah Beautement

Published in the Sunday Times


 
 
 
Hacked
****
Fiona Snyckers, Indie Publishers,
Available on Amazon, R40

This fun and fast-paced read is the start of the six-book Eulalie Park murder-mystery series, which includes a hint of romance.

Private investigator Eulalie Park is used to working alone. But the new chief of police, Donal Macgregor, is not easy to ignore, especially after he accuses Park’s best friend of murder. As Park sets off on her cherry-red Vespa to prove her friend’s innocence, sparks ignite between the detective and the chief.

“Chief Macgregor is a series regular,” says Snyckers. “I like to think he would be played by fellow Scot James McAvoy if this series made it to the big screen.”

Hacked is set on the fictitious Prince William Island, near Madagascar.

“I’m fascinated by the way in which parts of the world were carved up on paper by Europeans sitting at a conference table thousands of miles away,” says Snyckers. “I wanted Prince William Island to be a real melting-pot of cultures, with a strong Francophone influence.”

The novel’s pacing is smooth, keeps readers guessing, and the narrative avoids deus ex machina to resolve the case.

“It is very important that readers should feel satisfied after reading a murder mystery,” Snyckers says.

“You don’t want want your readers actually to solve the mystery themselves, but you want them to look back on the build-up of evidence in the book and to feel as though they could have solved it if only they had been a little more alert.”

Snyckers’s long-time fans expect stories that feature strong and intriguing female characters. Park is no exception – a heroine with larger-than-life abilities, she’ll be admired by readers young and old. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

Start the year off celebrating three timeless and tasty works of fiction

Did you know that Jack London, James Joyce and Charles Dickens, who count among the world’s most iconic authors, would have celebrated their 147th, 136th and 206th birthdays respectively during January and February this year? They may be gone but their words are widely read and revered by literary enthusiasts from around the globe.

In honour of these icons and their birthday anniversaries, visitors to Social Kitchen & Bar can pay tribute to their works by sipping on tailor-made, book-inspired cocktails named after each of their most famous works of fiction.

Ulysses by James Joyce

 
Heralded by some as the best novel in the English language Ulysses has inspired a cocktail that matches the book by taking you on a long journey of flavour. Beginning with light floral and raspberry notes, then moving into a touch of nuttiness and finishing off with delicate vanilla and caramel, this cocktail will make you want to continue the odyssey.
 

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

 
Much like the book, our Call of the Wild cocktail is for adventurers and nature lovers. This earthy cocktail, with cucumber water, a touch of elderflower and a splash of apple soda, is then brought to life by Ketel One vodka. A true adventure for your mouth.
 

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

 
The best of cocktails. Wine purists might tell a tall tale about this one, but when they taste the extraordinary combination of crisp South African wine, fresh apple juice and vanilla, shaken together with Ketel One, they will only have reason to pronounce themselves living, truly, in the epoch of belief and the season of Light.

So, now that it’s a new year and dry Janu-worry is over, don’t delay. With such a delicious variety of book-inspired cocktails on offer, be sure to visit Exclusive Books’ Social Kitchen & Bar in Hyde Park. Not only is it Johannesburg’s best restaurant to share conversations and hand-crafted food, but it completes the epicurean adventure with inspired cocktails and a view fit for royalty.

Social Kitchen & Bar can be found in the heart of Hyde Park Corner – level six, inside the Exclusive Books store. For reservations call them on 011 268 6039 or email reservations@socialkitchenandbar.co.za. For more information, visit www.socialkitchenandbar.co.za.

Ulysses

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The Call of the Wild

 
 
 
 
A Tale of Two Cities

Watch Margaret Atwood's 200 Women interview

“You can’t empower women without listening to their stories” – Gloria Steinem

 
200 women from a variety of backgrounds are asked the same five questions. Their answers are inspiring human stories of success and courage, love and pain, redemption and generosity. From well-known activists, artists, and innovators to everyday women whose lives are no less exceptional for that, each woman shares her unique replies to questions like “What really matters to you?” and “What would you change in the world if you could?”

Interviewees include US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actor and human rights activist Alfre Woodard, and Nobel laureate Jodi Williams, along with those who are making a difference behind the scenes around the world, such as Marion Wright Edelman, head of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Each interview is accompanied by a photographic portrait, resulting in a volume that is compelling in word and image – and global in its scope and resonance. This landmark book is published to coincide with an immersive travelling exhibition and an interactive website, building on this remarkable, ever-evolving project. With responses ranging from uplifting to heartbreaking, these women offer gifts of empowerment and strength inviting us to bring positive change at a time when so many are fighting for basic freedom and equality.

Local interviewees include Graça Machel, Caster Semenya, Zelda la Grange, Mpho Tutu van Furth, Hlubi Mboya, Sahm Venter, Joanne Fedler, Ingrid le Roux, Gillian Slovo and Zoleka Mandela, among others.

A minimum of 10% of the project’s revenue will be distributed to organisations devoted to protecting and advancing the rights of women. Each interviewee can nominate an organisation (or themselves if they are in financial need) to receive their portion of the charitable pool or they can select the principal charitable partner, the Graça Machel Trust.

Here the acclaimed Canadian author, Margaret Atwood, discusses happiness, the importance of conservation, freedom of expression, women’s rights, and what she considers to be the lowest depth of misery:

 

 

 

200 Women

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