The Missing Wife by Sam Carrington

43351584Lou Lou (Louisa) is a new mom to Oliver. She’s sleep-deprived, and not coping at all, so why Tiff – her best friend (really?) – would organize a surprise party by hacking her Facebook account is beyond me. It sounds like my worst nightmare. But that’s just the beginning. Oliver (gorgeous and part of Lou Lou’s chequered past) shows up with his wife. Only she goes missing at the party.

The good is that this is a thrilling page turner. You can’t really stop and think, that would kill the vibe. And I suppose that’s the bad. The ugly is that this is one of those books where everyone is the suspect and then the ending comes completely out of left field. It’s an enjoyable weekend read, if you’re prepared to just go with it, not think too much and suspend your disbelief for an extended period of time. There are also some pacing issues – parts of this speed past, whilst others feel unbearably dragged out.

Not bad, but not wonderful either.

3 stars.

ISBN: 9780008348038

You may also enjoy The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, or My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry.

The Afrikaner by Arianna Dagnino

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Zoe du Plessis is The Afrikaner. She’s also a palaeontologist, who has lost her fiancé (and also her work colleague) in a car hijacking in Johannesburg. She wants to complete the work they were busy on in the Kalahari. Her own family history and secrets also emerge and threaten to disrupt her life completely.

When I observed that Adrianna Dagnino had spent only five years in South Africa, and written a novel from the perspective she chose, I approached with caution. Surely there would be some clangers – language perhaps, or interactions between diverse people groups that wouldn’t ring true. South Africa is a rainbow nation of very different people groups, with complex histories and relationships. I am happy to say that this was not the case. Whilst I am still wondering how appropriate it is for  a person who is a different nationality to write from the perspective of “The Afrikaner”, I found the elements of the diversity in the novel beautiful, non-judgemental and complementary, which was uplifting and inspiring. The plot was interesting, the tension nicely built, and the ending satisfying.

A diverting and interesting book.

ISBN: 9781771833578

You may also enjoy Deon Meyer’s Icarus, or what about Love and Wine by Paula Marais? Both about Afrikaners, by South Africans. Or for a book with history in Franschhoek, set in France, what about Kate Mosse’s The Burning Chambers?

The Confession by Jessie Burton

44439342._SY475_Jessie Burton, writer of The Miniaturist, The Muse and most recently The Confession, is one of my favourite authors. Not only because she  spends time on her work – evidenced by the carefully constructed characters, intricate plots, and true-to-life settings created with words,  she is an original and talented craftsman. These are books you can judge by their appealing and finely-drawn covers.

In The Confession, we meet Constance Holden and Elise Morceau as they meet for the first time in 1980 on Hampstead Heath. Elise is young and attractive, the older enchanting Connie a writer about to be launched into the world of filming and screenplays in Los Angeles because of her wildly successful novel, Heartlands.

Skip forward three and a bit decades to 2017 (yes, sad but true), and Rosie is looking for her mother, Elise. Elise disappeared on Rosie and Dad when Rosie was just a baby. The last person to see her alive, says Dad, was Constance Holden, still an author, but now reclusive and somewhat batty. Has Rosie the courage to find and confront Constance, who has become expert at hiding herself away?

These two timelines weave and intersect as we discover what happened to Elise, and the story of the relationship between Connie and Elise takes centre stage. It’s gorgeous. The sense of place and setting (LA in the 1990s) is nicely done, and this makes the book a place you can hide in for a few days, where the words and the worlds wash over you, taking you outside your present reality for just a little bit.

“Like all cities, parts of it they drove past looked abhorrent; there was the layer of smog, the air of enslavement, the endless streams of cars. Healtheeeeeee 4 U! screamed a billboard. The taxi had its radio on. ‘Buy, buy, buy’, it yelled. The advertisement seemed never to stop; the word threatened to overwhelm her.”

I loved the three protagonists, their actress and agent sidekicks, and their complex interactions. This is one of those books you’ll want to rush through, and then slow down, because you don’t want it to end. Not yet.

5 stars

ISBN: 9781509886142

You may also enjoy The Only Story by Julian Barnes, or Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

 

The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen

43808355I’ve read quite a lot of Tess Gerritsen. She is famous for her Rizzoli & Isles (R&I) series – a detective and a medical examiner who solve all the crimes. As one came out, it was  downloaded to Kindle (by my husband and me) and then devoured at a cracking pace. In between, I went on the hunt, and found her older, romantic suspense novels, which I also enjoyed. And lately, I loved Playing With Fire, which was a standalone, and far better than her recent R&I, Die Again, where I wondered if Tess was not perhaps a teensy bit bored.

Cue The Shape of Night – another standalone. This is not your average “mystery thriller”, as it claims on the blurb. Ava escapes Boston, where some shit went down and heads for the coastal village of Maine – Brodie’s Watch, specifically. This is a rental house – old, haunted, wuthering, creaky and squeaky. But it’s all good – she has her cat Hannibal to help her uncover the legends and the sightings of Captain James Brodie, the captain who built and lived in the house. She’s come because she needs to complete a cook book, and there are some mouth watering descriptions of the food, eerie evenings in the house,  some strange stories of past visitors and even stranger appearances of visitors and strangers. Who do you trust? Ava didn’t expect to have to confront all her demons and then some more in sleepy Maine.

All good. The part that requires some suspension of belief is the interaction with the paranormal sojourners. While I wouldn’t describe it as “ghost porn”, as some of my fellow reviewers have, it’s certainly raunchy, and more than a little weird. Not sure about this part, but the book does work. And with Tess, you know you’re in good hands, she sets a great pace, and most of the sexy scenes with “suspicious” characters are forgivable. I still think she was veree bored when she wrote this though.

Not a yawn, but maybe a miss if you’re not into paranormal thrillers.

4 stars

ISBN: 1984820958

You may also enjoy Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, or Blacklands by Belinda Bauer.

 

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

reid_9781524798628_jkt_all_r1.inddWhile reading this book, I noted the following in my journal, which I know is a quote, but where from? Either the book itself, or a review of it. It doesn’t really matter, I suppose. I’ll just add that this is accurate when it comes to Daisy Jones and the Six.

“We love broken, beautiful people. And it doesn’t get more obviously broken and more classically beautiful than Daisy Jones. So it makes sense that Daisy starts to find herself on the sunset strip. This glamorous seedy place.”

Daisy, if you haven’t figured it out, is a singer. And The Six were her band. And this is the story of them, their lives, their interactions, their heady fame and short-lived glamour. This was my first Taylor Jenkins Reid, and it will definitely not be my last.

It’s written as a series of recorded interviews with key people from the time of their fame and after. You’ll be forgiven, if like me, you keep thinking this is history, not historical FICTION (mostly fiction). The band, and Daisy are so unforgettable and real, you will want to go and find their music to read more about them. Apparently the author immersed herself in 70s rock – Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt to mention a few. It shows. There are even a few (fictional) lyrics from Daisy’s and The Six’s own hands – which I loved, because it seemed to add an extra layer of authentication.

And that, probably is the single factor (if I have to narrow it down) that made me love this book so much. I loved the authenticity. It’s amazing when gorgeous flawed characters reflect our humanity in all its forms from the brokenness to the moments of extraordinary courage and beauty. This story was set in the 70s, in LA, mainly, and the sense of place was extraordinarily beautiful.

There were lots of favourite moments, which I won’t explain, because spoilers. Suffice to mention the relationships – Karen and Graham, Daisy and Billy, Camila and Billy, were so real and raw and honest and I gasped and wept and laughed and cried.

A full and fabulous 5 stars to this brilliant book.

ISBN: 9781524798628

You might also enjoy Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.

Here’s a link to my last round of recommendations. Yes, I know it was a long time ago – I’ve been a bad blogger, but as my gynaecologist told me last time I went – “You’re here now” I’m blogging. For now.

Ten of the Best #5

Zapiro Boris HulkHappy weekend, everybody. This edition is earlier than usual, because I’m so busy this weekend. What a lovely thought. But we couldn’t have a weekend without a catch-up of our favourites on all our social media posts. Don’t you just love the Zapiro. Even more delightful is the fact that Boris set himself up for this by making the initial comparison.

I’ll start with an admission. I had no idea what a “homecoming assembly” is. But apparently ’tis the season for them, and their dances. A quick Wikipedia look-up revealed that homecoming is a fundraiser for a school/college that usually takes place around a major sporting event and even a prom-like dance, parades and general festivities. Sounds like a fabulous idea. Here’s a Marvel-themed dance, with a great mash-up of songs.

 

 

Have you watched Downton Abbey? You need to, before the movie, which released 20 September. If you haven’t, or haven’t finished, here’s the recap.

 

 

 

Want to train your brain? Learn a musical instrument – from The Guardian. Click the pic.

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Wait up, did the judges of America’s Got Talent just try to adopt Ndlovu Youth Choir as Americans? Well, then they should at least have won the competition, which they didn’t. But they remain OUR stars after all. Here’s the performance, for those of you who’ve been living under rocks (and missed it).

 

This was their competition – Detroit Choir, who came in second place. What do you think? Better? No, I don’t think so either.

Melville made it! One of the best neighbourhoods in the world.

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And still in SA, Caitlin Rooskrantz won a gold medal for gymnastics.

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Bravo, Theresa Kachindamoto. Ending child marriage in Malawi and sending girls back to school.

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Nicely written by Kathleen Ebersohn – Teaching our boys to love.

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I loved this too – Scientists Show How Gratitude Literally Alters The Human Heart & Molecular Structure Of The Brain.

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We will sign out with this one… Naomi Osaka was on Ellen, again. Naomi is the cutest, nicest person ever, and I love the gentle teasing from both these women.

That’s all for the weekend, guys. Happy resting. Here’s the link to last week.

Ten of the Best #4

Good Morning all. It’s Saturday again, and I had such a great time collecting all the best from FB, Twitter and all the social media sites this week. Here they all are in one place, for me and you to watch at our leisure. Hope you find something worthwhile.

If you haven’t heard about Trump’s Sharpie Scandal,the good bad news is, it’s not over…Seth Myers weighs in.

Confession time, I haven’t read this whole article – but do read even the opening lines. For this is honesty here… “I voted Remain, not because I was so convinced (at the time I was too uninformed to have such strong conviction)…” Wasn’t 99% of the population? And now? Well maybe after reading this we could all be better informed? Barry McGuinness, British person on “Why Remainers are so convinced they’re right”, to paraphrase it ever so slightly.

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Meanwhile, back in SA, we have the NHI. Here’s a letter, written in the future, describing possible outcomes. Thanks Dawie Roodt.

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More from the Ndlovu Youth Choir. Apparently this week, America’s Got Talent finals happen. I also read that they would not have been voted to stay in the finals – the judges had to save them at the time. So we need to get all our American friends to vote for them. It’s such a pity that we can’t vote for them from SA. These guys are brilliant, and I’m so proud of them.

On sisters, and how to win in sports events, and just quite lovely writing.

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Did you know there’s a new John le Carre novel out soon? Here’s more detail, and an excerpt. Click the pic of Carre, and try not to think how aged he looks (!). Because he’s only a little older than us, isn’t he?

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This is just the cutest thing.

Someone decided to complete the cheesy memes with sarcasm. These are great.

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This is interesting. Nikki Bush on the value of a degree these days. Some good advice here.

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Another cute video – little girl and her cat singing “We built this city”.

 

That’s me done and signing off for the weekend. Enjoy, everyone.

More? Here’s the link to last week’s Ten.