Monthly Archives: March 2016

BOOK REVIEW – Garage Band by Adam Rabinowitz

Garage BandAdam Rabinowitz presents us with a raw, gutsy and thoroughly entertaining caper, carried out by the most unlikely protagonist. Lanthus Trilby, our hero, represents Everyman:  every man (and of course, when I say man, I mean woman too) who has ever been put down, belittled, demeaned, ignored and unappreciated.

Over the last 17 years, Trilby has loyally worked for South Africa’s largest insurance company, Eastland. He has given them his all without question, day in, day out, (and some nights too) after which he then returns home to a nagging, dissatisfied wife and 2 cheerless teens who prefer to behave like he doesn’t exist.

But on the day that Lanthus is unceremoniously told that he is about to become superfluous to the company’s needs, something inside him snaps. He is sick and tired of being a nobody, fed up with being ignored, and has had quite enough of being taken for granted. He decides that the time has come to strike back, and he knows exactly how and where to do it!

It is quite fortuitous that while he is down at the local pub drowning his sorrows and pondering his next move he happens to meet Reyno, an explosives expert (we should all have one of these in our lives – I can see you all heading off to the nearest bar to find one!).  Reyno fully understands his new acquaintance’s predicament and willingly assists Lanthus in putting together what could probably be considered a rather unconventional, although highly skilled, team consisting of a hacker, a female cage fighter, and a pair of acrobats pilfered from the popular Madame Zingara travelling circus!

What follows is a riveting, roller-coaster of a romp as our quirky crew endeavour to pursue justice at all costs. Lanthus and the hacker, Jason, are the only members of the group whose characters we learn any background about – purely because they’re the only ones whose backgrounds bear any relevance to the storyline. However, I became so involved with the action and everyone involved that by the end I really wanted to know more about all of them.

The plot is skilful and clever, and most of all, it’s based on a theme that so many of us will easily identify with. Joburg locals will get an added kick from the inclusion of many recognised landmarks, most notably, Sandton City (which you’ll look at with new eyes after reading this; I know I do!).

This book is an extremely exciting entry onto the South African fiction landscape. I know that I always preach the mantra ‘Be Bold’ to all SA authors I interact with, and I’m going to be exceptionally bold here and I’m going to mention two little words …  FILM RIGHTS … (I’ve even put them in bold – see?) I’ll just leave that there, then.

Oh, and also, I do think a sequel would be very brilliant … please!!Adam Rabinowitz

 

Many thanks to the author, Adam Rabinowitz, for sending me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Garage Band is due for publication on 1 April 2016.

Get it. Read it. You’ll enjoy it!

READ WHAT SOUTH AFRICANS WRITE

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BOOK REVIEW – A Mother’s Secret by Renita D’Silva

A Mother's SecretMany thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for my advance copy of this book in return for an honest review. It is due for publication on 7 April 2016.

This is a beautifully written book that takes you on a journey into India both past and present, and into the intricacies and complexities of traditions and long-held customs. Alternating between the voices of Durga, sent to live with her ajji (grandmother) while her parents recuperate after an accident; Jaya, mourning the loss of her baby boy Arun to cot death, and struggling to maintain her relationship with her husband, Ben; Kali, who fluctuates between the past and the present; and Sudha, Jaya’s mother who has passed away, leaving Jaya with a sense of loss and of too much left unsaid and misunderstood.

Durga arrives in the village of Gaddehalli, scared and apprehensive after learning that she is actually going to stay in an old ruined mansion, rumoured to be haunted, and frequented by a mad-woman! She’s already lived most of her young life labelled as being difficult, rude and disruptive – she doesn’t need this added complication to add to her misery. But she’s surprised to find that her ajji is not what she expected, and neither is Kali, the misunderstood landlord’s wife who discovered that life as the overseer was not what she expected it to be, and that true love could not easily be replaced.

Meanwhile, in London, Jaya is trying to deal with the loss of her baby son to an inexplicable cot death. The loss has created a distance between her and Ben, her husband, and has led to many questions surrounding her relationship with her own mother who she feels died at too young an age. Why did she feel that her mother never quite connected with her? She knew that she was loved, but why then did she always feel kept at arm’s length, and why did her mother never share the details she so desperately needed to know about her father or her family?

How is Jaya connected to the old ruin in Gaddehalli? Renita D’Silva skilfully weaves an enthralling tale, neatly bringing her characters together. In so doing, she manages to seamlessly incorporate love, betrayal, disappointment, heartbreak, deceit and victory. This is a wonderful, evocative story that readers will easily embrace and enjoy.

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BOOK REVIEW – Sleep Sister by Laura Elliot

Sleep SisterMany thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for my advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

I’ve enjoyed Laura Elliot’s previous books, but somehow this one seemed to fall a bit short. I kept thinking that I could see where she was going with it, and what she was aiming to achieve, but then it just didn’t deliver what I was expecting. It’s a pity because all the ingredients are there for a really powerful story: characters you can identify with, a villain who you want to see brought to justice, heartaches and triumphs, and weaving it all together, the author’s skilful writing that is still very much in evidence, even though she doesn’t wrap it all up with the punch I very much wanted to see!

Beth McKeever is worn down by the cards that life has dealt her. A difficult childhood (I never really understood the favouritism her mother had for her sister over her), despite always trying to do the right thing, which extends into adulthood. Beth never seems to catch a break and never manages to attain real happiness despite marriage and 4 children. Her mother Marjory remains a misery throughout, determined to thrive on bitterness and refusing to see what’s right under her nose. Her brother Albert is her shining light, always there to help out in times of trouble and need and she depends on him for support. And support her he does when her husband, father of her two daughters, ups and leaves, tired of her endless harping. It’s a choice that is to have catastrophic consequences.

And these are the themes that are carried through the book: bitterness, favouritism, negativity and unhappiness. Quite honestly, I found that they put a bit of a dark cloud over me as I continued to read.

By about three quarters of the way in, I started to find that I was losing track of the characters. There seemed to be a lot of names and people that I couldn’t quite place and who didn’t seem altogether necessary to the story and I started to skim a bit. I did want to get to the end, and despite my criticism, the thread of the story is maintained throughout – it never loses itself.

So, I’m giving this one 3 out of 5 stars. It just wasn’t what I’ve come to expect from Laura Elliot’s books as it’s a lot weaker than its predecessors. Nevertheless, it still carries a sound message.

PS:  I don’t understand the title of the book either, but I really don’t want to sound like I’m being entirely negative!

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BOOK REVIEW – The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell

The Silent TwinMany thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for an advance copy of this book (due for release on 14 April 2016) in exchange for my honest review.

This is an enjoyable read – well as enjoyable as a book about a missing child can be, so no, that’s not the right word really. What I mean is that it captures you and holds you so that you want to know what happens, but I did find that I was racing to get to the end, more to just find out how it would all turn out, rather than because it was so well written that I was gripped by the writing. Also – I had guessed who the perpetrator was, and wanted to see if I was right (yay! I was!) The supernatural aspect wasn’t as apparent as I would have liked – it was more alluded to than blatantly obvious. I felt that it could have been used with a lot more strength, as this is where Caroline Mitchell really excels, and I felt that she held back here. But where she held back with the supernatural, she did come to the fore with the psychological element and she used this to her advantage quite brilliantly.

Feisty 9-year-old Abigail, has disappeared. Her more subdued twin sister Olivia hasn’t spoken since the incident, and with time running out, DC Jennifer Knight needs to wade her way through the heavy atmosphere at the family farm. While she tries to decipher the mixed messages she gets from the twins’ mother Joanna’s odd behaviour, and their distraught cop father, Nick, she also needs to try and block the dark energy that seems to pervade the house and anyone who enters it.

I struggled to get to grips with what DC Knight’s superior’s wanted from her. They’d sent her to be the family liaison officer on this case, which required her spending as much time as possible with the family, but then got annoyed with her for missing briefings. I’m not a police procedure expert, but I don’t know how they expected her to be in 2 places at once and I found that quite frustrating. [This is my own personal issue though – definitely not an issue with the writing or the story.]

But, having said that, the tension builds well and maintains a steady pace throughout the book, making it a breath-taking thriller. Interspersed with extracts from a diary, telling a heartbreaking story of abuse, bullying and self-harm, we are  led through the heart-wrenching clock-watching tension as Abigail is missing for six hours, seven hours, one day, three days, five days … and Caroline Mitchell ensures we’re there for every suspense-filled second!

 

 

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