Review: The Divide by Nicholas Evans

I finally got round to reading Nicholas Evans’ book The Divide.  It came out a while ago and I’ve been meaning to read it for ages as he is one of my favourite authors.  The books I most enjoyed of his were The Smoke Jumper and The Horse Whisperer.  I can’t say I didn’t enjoy The Loop because it was great and I hadn’t read a story like that before so I would recommend all of his books.  His great strength as a writer is being able to tell stories about the human heart in the face of difficult situations.  He does so with such ease and completely without frills. The Divide His writing flows easily and is always right on the mark.  He does dialogue like no other – I would say the most authentic dialogue I’ve ever read in books that take on these issues.  He also seems to be able to take you to the heart of a relationship without overwriting it.  He always gets me thinking about people and why they do what they do and shows me the truths of others’ lives different from my own.  The Divide covers a number of different relationships although what struck me in this novel was how Ben and Sarah’s marriage broke down so suddenly…but don’t think this book is about marriage.

THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE HORSE WHISPERER… returns with an epic new novel of the human heart.

On a Montana morning, two skiers find the body of a woman embedded in the ice of a mountain creek. She’s identified as Abbie Cooper, a brilliant college student who was on the run from charges of murder. But what was the chain of events that led this golden child astray? The answers are in the secrets of an American family fractured by lies and reunited in a tragedy.  (GoodReads)

I hate putting spoilers in my reviews because the reason I write these reviews is just to give a bit of info to those who may be interested in reading the book themselves.   So no spoilers here.  However, another relationship that really struck me was the relationship between Abbie Cooper and her ‘environmental terrorist’ boyfriend.  The Divide is set in Montana mostly and this follows on from Evans’ other novels which are set in the same area of the US.  It has that Evans Montana feel to it but is also different as it follows the lives of the family of a girl who made a decision that changed everybody’s future forever.  It is part crime story, part love story.  It deals with carrying on after your relationship fails and moving on after losing a loved one as well as exploring the different kinds of love in life against a backdrop of bad choices.  It’s a great book to read to escape a bit.  I recommend The Divide along with all his other books.  Love them all!  If you’ve read this or another of his books I’d love to hear what someone else thinks of them.

 

3 stars

2014 Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction

I completely missed the announcement of the winner of the 2014 Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction on June 4th…as you may have noticed my blog has had to take a backseat recently but without further ado let me share with you what I believe was an unexpected winner given the other entries on the shortlist.  And the winner is:

 

A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

baileys

What the judges said:

Helen Fraser, chair of judges, says of McBride’s startling debut: “An amazing and ambitious first novel that impressed the judges with its inventiveness and energy.  This is an extraordinary new voice – this novel will move and astonish the reader.” (read more)

Eimear McBride’s debut tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator’s head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn’t always comfortable – but it is always a revelation.  Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is moving, funny – and alarming. It is a book you will never forget.  Eimear McBride was born in Liverpool but moved to Ireland when she was three. She grew up in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo and Castlebar, Co. Mayo, before moving to London aged 17 to study at The Drama Centre. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is her first novel. (read more on GoodReads)

Oprah’s Top 10 Books

I may not have the same reading preferences as Oprah all the time but I know that she often picks really great books for her readers.  This is a list I particularly like.  Oprah was asked to pick the top 10 books that have mattered to her during her magazine’s first decade (2000-2010) and this is what she chose…

 

A NEW EARTH By Eckhart Tolle

“There’s a reason Oprah picked this for her Book Club in 2008 – and that she gave audience members Post-It pens along with their copies. So much wisdom, so little time! A real-life guide to living your best life.”

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

In “A New Earth,” Tolle expands on these powerful ideas to show how transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world. Tolle describes how our attachment to the ego creates the dysfunction that leads to anger, jealousy, and unhappiness, and shows readers how to awaken to a new state of consciousness and follow the path to a truly fulfilling existence. “The Power of Now” was a question-and-answer handbook. “A New Earth” has been written as a traditional narrative, offering anecdotes and philosophies in a way that is accessible to all. Illuminating, enlightening, and uplifting, “A New Earth” is a profoundly spiritual manifesto for a better way of life?and for building a better world. (GoodReads)

 

 

NIGHT By Elie Wiesel

“A memoir of a childhood suffered in concentration camps during the Holocaust. It’s horrific but uplifting. “I gain courage from his courage,” says Oprah.”

Night (The Night Trilogy, #1)

Night is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945, at the height of the Holocaust and toward the end of the Second World War. In just over 100 pages of sparse and fragmented narrative, Wiesel writes about the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the father–child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his resentful teenage caregiver. (GoodReads)

 

 

DISCOVER THE POWER WITHIN YOU By Eric Butterworth

“Advice from the internationally known spiritual teacher.”

Discover the Power Within You

One of the greatest challenges facing mankind today is the need to find a faith that will serve modern man and his problems. The lack of such a faith could explain why so many people are becoming drop-outs from Christianity. Eric Butterworth’s book is a result of the author’s personal search for a practical way-of-life Christianity. The greatest discovery of all time, he says in Discover The Power Within You, was that made by Jesus of the divine dimension in every human being. Christianity, says the author, has emphasized the divinity of Jesus, but Jesus Himself taught the divinity of man. His most vital mission on earth was to help man discover this. The entire Gospel message deals with techniques for unfolding this divine potential, and Eric Butterworth’s book, in its close relationship to the teachings of Jesus, is thus a valuable self-help book for modern men and women who are seeking a truly full way of life. Like Emmett Fox, the author asks, “What did Jesus really teach?”, and the direct and simple answers he presents should bring great comfort to many who have forgotten even to ask the question. This is a book in which the author tells us what Jesus Himself taught about such vital subjects as: How to succeed; How to pray; How to find confidence; How to overcome personal problems; How to find healing. (GoodReads)

 

 

EAST OF EDEN By John Steinbeck

“This classic is about good and evil as played out in a late-19th-century California ranch family. If you didn’t read it in high school, read it now. If you did, reread it.”

East of Eden

Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence. (GoodReads)

 

 

THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH By Ken Follett

“About the challenges of building cathedrals in 12th-century England, this novel couldn’t be more different in setting, time and plot from the author’s breakthrough success, Eye of the Needle. Oprah declares it simply “great.””

The Pillars of the Earth  (The Pillars of the Earth, #1)

The spellbinding epic set in twelfth-century England, The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the lives entwined in the building of the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known—and a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother. (GoodReads)

 

 

THE KNOWN WORLD By Edward P. Jones

“When this book was published in 2003, it shocked everybody with its depiction of slave-owning blacks before the Civil War. A daring, unusual examination of race.”

The Known World

The Known World tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Making certain he never circumvents the law, Townsend runs his affairs with unusual discipline. But when death takes him unexpectedly, his widow, Caldonia, can’t uphold the estate’s order, and chaos ensues. Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all its moral complexities. (GoodReads)

 

 

THE BLUEST EYE By Toni Morrison

“How to choose among the great Morrison’s novels? Start with this one about a girl who thinks she has to have blue eyes to be beautiful. Oprah considers it one of the best in a crowded Morrison field.”

The Bluest Eye

THE BLUEST EYE chronicles the tragic, torn lives of a poor black family in 1940s Ohio: Pauline, Cholly, Sam and Pecola. Pecola, unlovely and unloved, prays each night for blue eyes like those of her privileged blond white schoolfellows. She becomes the focus of the mingled love and hatred engendered by her family’s frailty and the world’s cruelty as the novel moves toward a savage but poignant resolution. (GoodReads)

 

 

THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE By David Wroblewski

“A kind of Hamlet on the prairie, this is the wrenching story of a mute boy and his dog. Oprah compares it to East of Eden and To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose remarkable gift for companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar’s lifelong friend and ally. Edgar seems poised to carry on his family’s traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he finds his once-peaceful home engulfed in turmoil.  Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the Sawtelle farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who accompany him, until the day he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.  Filled with breathtaking scenes—the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain—The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a meditation on the limits of language and what lies beyond, a brilliantly inventive retelling of an ancient story, and an epic tale of devotion, betrayal, and courage in the American heartland. (GoodReads)

 

 

A FINE BALANCE By Rohinton Mistry

“A Dickensian novel about India during the Emergency. Like the aftermath of September 11, it teaches us about cultures we haven’t understood. “It takes us out of our own little shell and exposes us to a whole other world out there,” Oprah says.”

A Fine Balance

With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers–a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village–will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future. As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state. (GoodReads)

 

 

THE POISONWOOD BIBLE By Barbara Kingsolver

“This novel is about a family embroiled in the political turmoil of postcolonial Africa. It established Kingsolver as one of our wisest observers of history, politics and human nature.”

The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa. (GoodReads)

2014 Sunday Times Fiction Prize Winner

The winner of the 2014 Sunday Times Prize for Fiction is:

The Spiral House by Claire Robertson

 

Sunday Times books editor Ben Williams said, “The Spiral House emerged as the unanimous winner in the tightly contested Fiction category. The judges called it an astonishingly adept and richly imagined novel, a layered, subtle story that resonates with important ideas about history. We applaud the sensuous quality of the writing and were amazed by its remarkable language.” (read more)

Katrijn van der Caab, freed slave and wigmaker’s apprentice, travels with her eccentric employer from Cape Town to Vogelzang, a remote farm where a hairless girl needs their services. The year is 1794, it is the age of enlightenment, and on Vogelzang the master is conducting strange experiments in human breeding and classification. It is also here that Trijn falls in love.  Two hundred years later and a thousand miles away, Sister Vergilius, a nun at a mission hospital, wants to free herself from an austere order. It is 1961 and her life intertwines with that of a gentleman farmer – an Englishman and suspected Communist – who collects and studies insects and lives a solitary life. While a group of Americans arrive in a cavalcade of caravans and a new republic is about to be born, desire is unfurling slowly. (read more on GoodReads)

10 Books That Make You Feel Dumb

BookRiot conducted a survey with 463 of their readers to find out which books have left readers feeling dumb.  Their list includes 17 of the top novels to have dumbfounded readers but here I will share with you the top 10.  I’m particularly interested in the list entries as a number of them are on my TBR list so I’d love to hear if you all agree with BookRiot readers.  Some of these books have also been featured on my FBF posts as part of the All Time 100 list so I know some of you have already read some of these books.  So guys, without further ado here is the top 10 books that leave you feeling dumb…let me know what you think.

books that make you feel dumb

  1. Ulysses by James Joyce (71 votes)
  2. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (43)
  3. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (22)
  4. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce (18)
  5. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (17)
  6. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (15)
  7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (15)
  8. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (14)
  9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (14)
  10. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (14)

 

To see the rest of the list (which is surprising so go check it out) head over to BookRiot

FBF: All TIME 100 Novels – The Confessions of Nat Turner

All TIME 100 Best Novels

#22 The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron

 

After a 2 week hiatus I’m back with the FBF!

The Confessions of Nat Turner was published in 1967 and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  The novel is viewed as having cemented Styron’s reputation as a highly acclaimed writer.  Confessions is loosely based on the confession document of real historical figure, Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831 which resulted in The Confessions of Nat Turner55 white deaths.  Whites responded to the rebellion with 200 Black deaths.  This novel is written with Turner as the first person narrator who makes his ‘confessions’ while in jail awaiting execution to a white lawyer, Thomas Gray.  Just how accurate the novel is in terms of Turner’s character and the contents of the document is debated.

“The novel is based on an extant document, the “confession” of Turner to the white lawyer Thomas Gray. In the historical confessions, Turner claims to have been divinely inspired, charged with a mission from God to lead a slave uprising and destroy the white race.  Styron’s ambitious novel attempts to imagine the character of Nat Turner; it does not purport to describe accurately or authoritatively the events as they occurred. Some historians consider Gray’s account of Turner’s “confessions” to be told with prejudice, and recently one writer has alleged that Gray’s account is itself a fabrication.[3Styron takes liberties with the historical Nat Turner, whose life is otherwise undocumented. The “Confessions” is largely sympathetic to Turner, if not to his thoughts.” (wikipedia)

Despite initial acclaim and acceptance, having won the Pulitzer, receiving great reviews, and appearing on the best sellers list, the novel was condemned by some of the African American audience though not by all.  This also in spite of Styron’s good friend James Baldwin’s praise of the novel.

“But in the broader African-American intellectual world, the novel was widely condemned. “Ten Black Writers Respond” has to be read in light of this history: as a polemic and corrective that introduced a spectrum of opinion mostly ignored in the mainstream press. “For all its prose power and somber earnestness,” Loyle Hairston wrote, “Styron’s novel utterly fails the simple test of honesty.” “This is meditation mired in misinterpretation,” Charles V. Hamilton wrote, “and this is history many . . . black people reject.” John Oliver Killens: “In terms of getting into the slave’s psyche and his idiom, it is a monumental failure.”(Styron’s Choice by Jess Row)

Some found the book to be worthy of the acclaim it received while others didn’t.  Bill Clinton is said to have cited this as one of his favourite books.  It does seem an interesting book and I think it was quite a task to take on to reinterpret those particular historical events.  Without having read this novel I will say that the books that deal with important issues like race and slavery are almost always met with a huge range of feelings.  Good or bad, I’m all for anything that provokes dialogue.  If you’ve read this novel I’d love to hear what you thought about it.

Here is the link to the 1968 NYT review of the novel; The Nat Turner Case by Eugene D Genovese

 

All TIME 100 Novels – The Confessions of Nat Turner  

 

 

The New York Times Best Sellers List – 25 May 2014

This week there are a whopping 8 new entries on this week’s NYT Best Sellers List!  Top spot this week goes to James Patterson and Maxine Paetro for their book, Unlucky 13.

Unlucky 13 (Women’s Murder Club, #13)

San Francisco Detective Lindsay Boxer is loving her life as a new mother. With an attentive husband, a job she loves, plus best friends who can talk about anything from sex to murder, things couldn’t be better.  Then the FBI sends Lindsay a photo of a killer from her past, and her happy world is shattered. The picture captures a beautiful woman at a stoplight. But all Lindsay sees is the psychopath behind those seductive eyes: Mackie Morales, the most deranged and dangerous mind the Women’s Murder Club has ever encountered.

To see the rest of the List click the title link.

 

 

 

 

2013 Nebula Award for Best Novel Winner

Nebulacolor-300x258

 

Here is the winner of the SFWA’s 2013 Nebula Award for best Novel:

 

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

 

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.  Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.   An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

From debut author Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice is a stunning space opera that asks what it means to be human in a universe guided by artificial intelligence.

read more on GoodReads

 

http://www.sfwa.org/2014/05/2013-nebula-awards-winners/

 

 

2014 Sunday Times Fiction Prize Shortlist

Over the weekend people in the Western Cape of South Africa got to enjoy the Franschoek Literature Festival where the shortlist for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize was announced.  Here is the 2014 Shortlist:

 

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The Shining Girls

Publisher Blurb:

Chicago, 1931. A strange house gives serial-killer Harper the power to travel through time; to hunt and kill his ‘shining girls’. They’re bright young women full of spark – until he cuts it out of them, leaving clues from different times behind to taunt fate. Kirby, the 90s girl, survives his attack and turns the hunt around. Tracing Harper’s bloody trail of victims – from a glowing dancer in the 30s to a tough welder in the 40s and a bombshell architect in the 50s – Kirby is running out of time trying to solve an impossible mystery. And Harper is heading towards her once again. – See more at: http://www.randomstruik.co.za/books/the-shining-girls/5011#sthash.zBwE42nn.dpuf

Chicago, 1931. A strange house gives serial-killer Harper the power to travel through time; to hunt and kill his ‘shining girls’. They’re bright young women full of spark – until he cuts it out of them, leaving clues from different times behind to taunt fate. Kirby, the 90s girl, survives his attack and turns the hunt around. Tracing Harper’s bloody trail of victims – from a glowing dancer in the 30s to a tough welder in the 40s and a bombshell architect in the 50s – Kirby is running out of time trying to solve an impossible mystery. And Harper is heading towards her once again.

GoodReads

 

False River by Dominique Botha

False River

Publisher Blurb:

“You are too close to the water,” Paul whispered. “There are barbels in the mud. They will wake up if you step on them.”  When Paul and Dominique are sent to boarding schools in Natal, their idyllic childhood on a Free State farm is over. Their parents’ leftist politics has made life impossible in the local dorp school. Angry schoolboy Paul is a promising poet, his sister his confidant. But his literary awakening turns into a descent. He flees the oppression of South Africa, only to meet his death in London.  Dominique Botha’s poignant debut is an elegy to a rural existence and her brother – both now forever lost. The novel is based on true events.

GoodReads

“You are too close to the water,” Paul whispered. “There are barbels in the mud. They will wake up if you step on them.”

When Paul and Dominique are sent to boarding schools in Natal, their idyllic childhood on a Free State farm is over. Their parents’ leftist politics has made life impossible in the local dorp school. Angry schoolboy Paul is a promising poet, his sister his confidant. But his literary awakening turns into a descent. He flees the oppression of South Africa, only to meet his death in London.

Dominique Botha’s poignant debut is an elegy to a rural existence and her brother – both now forever lost. The novel is based on true events. – See more at: http://www.randomstruik.co.za/books/false-river/5115#sthash.1GNkLgGR.dpuf

Penumbra by Songeziwe Mahlangu

Penumbra

Publisher Blurb:

Mangaliso Zolo is a hapless recent graduate, still living in the southern suburbs of Cape Town near the university. Manga has an office job at a large insurance company, but he is anonymous and overlooked in this vast bureaucracy.   Penumbra charts Manga’s daily struggles with mental illness and the twin pull, from his many friends and acquaintances, between a reckless drug-fuelled lifestyle and charismatic Christianity. The novel brings an alternative experience of Cape Town to life, one far removed from both the gloss of tourism brochures and the familiar poverty of the Cape Flats. Mahlangu’s voice is unlike anything South African literature has yet seen and this debut novel dissects young, urban slackers in South Africa with startling precision.

GoodReads

 

The Spiral House by Claire Robertson

The Spiral House

Publisher Blurb:

A grand tale of love, wig-making and the Enlightenment set in the Cape Colony.  Katrijn van der Caab, freed slave and wigmaker’s apprentice, travels with her eccentric employer from Cape Town to Vogelzang, a remote farm where a hairless girl needs their services. The year is 1794, it is the age of enlightenment, and on Vogelzang the master is conducting strange experiments in human breeding and classification. It is also here that Trijn falls in love.  Two hundred years later and a thousand miles away, Sister Vergilius, a nun at a mission hospital, wants to free herself from an austere order. It is 1961 and her life intertwines with that of a gentleman farmer – an Englishman and suspected Com­munist – who collects and studies insects and lives a solitary life. While a group of Americans arrive in a cavalcade of caravans and a new republic is about to be born, desire is unfurling slowly.  In Claire Robertson’s majestic debut novel, two stories echo across centuries to expose that which binds us and sets us free.

GoodReads

A grand tale of love, wig-making and the Enlightenment set in the Cape Colony.

Katrijn van der Caab, freed slave and wigmaker’s apprentice, travels with her eccentric employer from Cape Town to Vogelzang, a remote farm where a hairless girl needs their services. The year is 1794, it is the age of enlightenment, and on Vogelzang the master is conducting strange experiments in human breeding and classification. It is also here that Trijn falls in love.

Two hundred years later and a thousand miles away, Sister Vergilius, a nun at a mission hospital, wants to free herself from an austere order. It is 1961 and her life intertwines with that of a gentleman farmer – an Englishman and suspected Com­munist – who collects and studies insects and lives a solitary life. While a group of Americans arrive in a cavalcade of caravans and a new republic is about to be born, desire is unfurling slowly.

In Claire Robertson’s majestic debut novel, two stories echo across centuries to expose that which binds us and sets us free. – See more at: http://randomstruik.co.za/books/the-spiral-house/4965#sthash.vW4mIcJA.dpuf

A grand tale of love, wig-making and the Enlightenment set in the Cape Colony.

Katrijn van der Caab, freed slave and wigmaker’s apprentice, travels with her eccentric employer from Cape Town to Vogelzang, a remote farm where a hairless girl needs their services. The year is 1794, it is the age of enlightenment, and on Vogelzang the master is conducting strange experiments in human breeding and classification. It is also here that Trijn falls in love.

Two hundred years later and a thousand miles away, Sister Vergilius, a nun at a mission hospital, wants to free herself from an austere order. It is 1961 and her life intertwines with that of a gentleman farmer – an Englishman and suspected Com­munist – who collects and studies insects and lives a solitary life. While a group of Americans arrive in a cavalcade of caravans and a new republic is about to be born, desire is unfurling slowly.

In Claire Robertson’s majestic debut novel, two stories echo across centuries to expose that which binds us and sets us free. – See more at: http://randomstruik.co.za/books/the-spiral-house/4965#sthash.vW4mIcJA.dpuf

A grand tale of love, wig-making and the Enlightenment set in the Cape Colony.

Katrijn van der Caab, freed slave and wigmaker’s apprentice, travels with her eccentric employer from Cape Town to Vogelzang, a remote farm where a hairless girl needs their services. The year is 1794, it is the age of enlightenment, and on Vogelzang the master is conducting strange experiments in human breeding and classification. It is also here that Trijn falls in love.

Two hundred years later and a thousand miles away, Sister Vergilius, a nun at a mission hospital, wants to free herself from an austere order. It is 1961 and her life intertwines with that of a gentleman farmer – an Englishman and suspected Com­munist – who collects and studies insects and lives a solitary life. While a group of Americans arrive in a cavalcade of caravans and a new republic is about to be born, desire is unfurling slowly.

In Claire Robertson’s majestic debut novel, two stories echo across centuries to expose that which binds us and sets us free. – See more at: http://randomstruik.co.za/books/the-spiral-house/4965#sthash.vW4mIcJA.dpuf

Wolf, Wolf by Eben Venter

Wolf, wolf

Publisher Blurb:

He presses the button to activate the screen of the CCTV system: two sharply pointed dog’s ears. A wolfhound; except that a wolfhound can’t reach that high. He keeps the button pressed in and peers at the blue-grey night scene of the pavement and the section of the road covered by the cameras at the gate. The dog’s head, abnormally large, stares back at him. There’s something about the hairiness of the dog hairs and the oddly impassive gaze of the dark pin-hole eyes that doesn’t seem quite right. And where’s the rest of the dog-creature’s body? He knows who it is even before the deliberately-gruffened voice comes over the intercom.  ‘Matt,’ says the dog-muzzle, ‘it’s me. Please open up.’  Mattheus Duiker, the only son of Benjamin Duiker, the former owner of Duiker’s Motors, opens the gate of their Cape Town mansion to his lover, Jack. Disguised as a wolf, Jack invades the intimate darkness in which Matt is waiting for his father to die and for his own life to take off. Shiny-eyed at the prospect, the two young men sneak past the study where the old blind man, dwelling on melancholy attachments and sombre suspicions, sits listening for the footfall of death.

GoodReads

2013 Bram Stoker Awards

stoker-logoThe 2013 Bram Stoker Award for Novel went to:

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantlyDoctor Sleep (The Shining, #2) riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.  On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.  Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”  Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon. (read more on GoodReads)

 

The 2013 Bram Stoker Award for First Novel went to:

The Evolutionist by Rena Mason

At night, down-to-earth Las Vegas socialite, Stacy Troy, dreams that everyone is dead. Nosebleeds and head-splitting The Evolutionistalarms only she can hear become a regular occurrence. In her nightmares, Stacy dismembers bodies, stuffs them into a shopping cart, then takes them two at a time to the pile where she will burn them and say her last goodbyes.  Waking nightly to her own screams, Stacy is convinced she’s on the brink of a mid-life crisis and begins secretly seeing a psychiatrist. But as eerie as Dr. Light may be, his treatments work and her circumstances improve. Until the nightmares return with a vengeance taking on a life of their own. Still uncertain what to believe, Stacy carries on living the only life she remembers. But her other, nocturnal world refuses to die. The images it shows her hold clues that lead her to a shocking discovery, threatening to unravel the last thread of her sanity and Stacy must make a heartrending decision…Before her post-apocalyptic nightmares come true. (read more on GoodReads)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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