About Me

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Tea-drinking introvert found either behind a book or within arm's reach of one. Book reviewer, and book sniffer. You may have seen me on W24, BooksLive, Aerodrome, Bark Magazine, CultNoise Magazine, or Expound Magazine.

25 Sept 2017

Review: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

It started with Carla’s story about her son David. Through Carla’s words and shadowed memories, she birthed David into Amanda’s life, his presence threatening and mysterious. In her holiday home in a rural town, Amanda did not expect to befriend someone like Carla; someone beautiful and yet so damaged – haunted by her own son. When Carla’s intensity spills over into her own life, Amanda decides to leave the house early, to return to the sanity and normality of the capital, where her life and husband await.

But she doesn’t get that far. Amanda is in a hospital ward, with David. Sitting at the edge of her bed, listening, urging, waiting, David whispers at her to remember, to pay attention. As Amanda retraces her past, so delicately and fatally interwoven with David’s, she must accept that perhaps Carla was right, and that her stories, although macabre and twisted, were true.

The aptly named Fever Dream is a surreal experience. The line between recollection and reality is as fine as the edge of the pages the story spills across, luring the reader into to Amanda’s disorientation, to this whirlwind of past, present and dreams. Despite the limited space of 151 pages, Samanta Schweblin delivers a powerful experience, rich in chaos and an interrupted narrative that builds and disrupts tension like waves in the ocean. 

Though it be little, it is fierce – you may be able to finish this book in a single sitting, but it will linger in your mind for hours afterwards. Diving between taboo, horror and psychological thriller, Fever Dream is just the shock to the system needed to remind us that great literature is still out there, and that it’s stylish, accessible and sexy.

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin is published by Oneworld Books, and is available in South Africa from Jonathan Ball Publishers.

22 Sept 2017

Review: The White Road by Sarah Lotz

Simon Newman is basically a shit. Once a decent rock climber, an accident knocked his confidence enough to let him sink to the world of website listicles. His new assignment involves going into (read: breaking into) a cave system to film the bodies of a couple young man who died in the cave. He’s done this by hiring a random caver from the internet, and without admitting his real reason for being there. But karma is a bitch, at the best of times, and things go horribly awry once Simon is in the bowels of the earth. Rescued three days later, and decidedly psychologically scarred, his regret at going to film the bodies is tempered only by how many hits the video receives on his website.

Naturally, bigger is better, so Simon and his business partner Thierry need to one-up themselves, and decide that where they once went low, they need to go high – this time, Simon is tasked with filming the bodies of fallen climbers on Everest. I warned you; he’s a shit.

Of course, amid his deception, things are bound to go wrong. And they do; horribly. But Simon is not alone in this – he’s come across the diary of Julia Michaels, a female climber who has her own horrible experiences on the mountain, and using her as a secret motivation, Simon powers through, or at least, tries to.

Sarah Lotz is a manipulative genius of the best kind – she presents the reader with a truly morally inept protagonist, yet one can’t help but cheer him on, despite his lacking of common humanity. In addition, the vastness of the story from the dark crevasses below the earth to some of its highest peaks is absolutely exhilarating and fresh. The White Road takes horror to a new, sneaky level, and it is brilliant. Lotz has no need for monsters or murderers, because she has utilised one of the scariest things in the world – the human mind. Go on, get your goosebumps on, and join Simon on hellish adventures.

The White Road by Sarah Lotz is published by Hodder & Stoughton, and is available in South Africa from Jonathan Ball Publishers.

8 Sept 2017

Review: Generation One by Pittacus Lore

The Loric are back, but this time they’re training the next generation of Garde. After the epic battle against the Mogs, and the surprising appearances of Legacies within humans, things are a little different on Earth. An Academy has been established by the UN to train the new Earth Garde in using their powers, in a move that ironically sees the original Loric Garde as the new Cepans. Briefly featuring a few of our much-beloved numeric friends (as introduced in the original series), Generation One focuses on the new Garde, who are still tasked with honing their skills, fighting the bad guys, and protecting the Earth.

An international group of teens form our new heroes, and with them, usual teenage drama – love, angst and anxiety, all the while growing up and bonding as only those with Legacies can. The Mogs may have been eliminated and their plans thwarted, but the Earth Grade nevertheless discover that they still have enemies – closer to home than anyone would have imagined. Pulled into battles, kidnap plots and dastardly deeds, they need to stay together and work as one to overcome their challenges.

I am a huge fan of the Loric series – the books are so fast-paced, easy to read and enjoyable. This, thankfully, goes for the newest addition to the series, too. Often, sequels disappoint, but Pittacus Lore has proven (multiple times) that the Loric are the exception – each book is an addictive serving of something wonderful. Generation One is great and so much fun! It is an exciting start to a new story line, which ends with a definite hint of more to come. So I ask, on behalf of all fans, when the next one will come out? I can’t wait.

Generation One by Pittacus Lore is published by Penguin Random House.

5 Sept 2017

Review: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Tom has only been in love once. In all his four centuries of life (yes, you read that correctly), he had only a single great love. Her name was Rose, and she was taken by the plague.

Tom’s life has been unconventional – apart from its phenomenal length, he has travelled all over the globe. A new country every eight years, to be exact. The reason for both these achievements is due to a condition which causes him to age incredibly slowly, appearing to freeze his features in youthfulness and giving the appearance of immortality. Yet Tom is not alone; there is an organisation of others with the same condition, hiding in plain sight. While the society helps its members to remain unnoticed, it seeks to destroy those who threaten it. Tom seeks a fresh start in London, where his love story began many years ago, yet the passage of time has done nothing to dull his painful memories.

How To Stop Time is an enjoyable story, albeit somewhat slow in parts (a reader with a short lifespan results in great impatience with plot developments). Apart from covering centuries of time, from Shakespeare’s era to the Prohibition, punks and Pluto being declassified as a planet, we travel across the globe with Tom, from his birth in France, to his current teaching post in London. The universe is contained within this book, and it is vast.

Tom’s constant battle with life – from self-loathing to boredom – is refreshingly relatable. His is not a world of amassed power, celebrity or taboo. Content to be under the radar at all times, and abiding by the rules of the society to which he belongs, one could almost say he is not living his (long) life to the fullest. His meander through time and geography amid continuous existential crisis is both profoundly moving and deeply frustrating. Though he has a myriad experiences and memories, he has no one to share them with, begging the question of what it is that makes life worthwhile – time, or someone to share it with?

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig is published by Canongate Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House

4 Sept 2017

Review: The Second Sister by Claire Kendal

Ella’s sister Miranda disappeared ten years ago, leaving behind her infant son and all of her possessions. She did not run away. Despite Miranda’s alleged murderer being arrested and locked up, Ella never gave up hope that her sister would return. When new evidence suddenly comes to light through the media, Ella’s decade-long ‘paranoia’ seems to pay off. She uses the information the police have cast off and dismissed to search for her sister, yet what she finds is unexpected, and puts her own life in danger.

Ella is determined and passionate, and the reader can’t help but cheer for her. It is refreshing to have a character radiate such integrity and honesty (while many around her do just the opposite). Her immense likeability make her frantic search for answers all the more desperate and vital. In addition, she’s literally a kick-ass-and-take-names kinda girl. Ella can hold her own, and her toughness and level-headedness make her a sassy and loveable protagonist. Despite this, Ella is a complex, wholly human character with an enviable family life (despite the hole left by her sister’s disappearance). She is caring, motherly and fun. A winning combination not usually seen in your girl-gets-her-own-back novel.

The Second Sister is a thoroughly enjoyable read – my only problem was that it ended (and induced an hours-long sulk). Claire Kendal has a talent for contrasting wholesome characters like Ella with deliciously messed-up counterparts such as killers, obsessed and deluded best friends, and pining boyfriends. It’s a brilliant combination which feels as exciting and varied as society can. A delightfully unpredictable twist adds the final punch to an otherwise action-packed story that will make anyway a fan of Kendal, asking (as I do) ‘When is the next book coming out?’.

The Second Sister by Claire Kendal is published by Harper Collins, and is available in South Africa from Jonathan Ball Publishers.