BOOK REVIEWS for Booklovers from The Booklover
Book Reviews for Booklovers from The Booklover this MAY!
This Month's Must Read: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
Jonas Jonasson $35
As delightfully wry and witty as his bestselling The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, this is a tale of how one young woman’s attempt to change her future ends up changing much more. Born in a tiny shack in Johannesburg, Nombeko Mayeki, put to work at five and orphaned at ten, quickly learns that the world expects nothing more from her than to die young, be it from drugs, alcohol, or just plain despair. But Nombeko has grander plans. She learns to read and write, and at just fifteen, using her cunning and fearlessness, she makes it out of Soweto with millions of smuggled diamonds in her possession. Then things take a turn for the worse...
Nombeko ends up the prisoner of an incompetent engineer in a research facility working on South Africa’s secret nuclear arsenal. Yet the unstoppable Nombeko pulls off a daring escape to Sweden, where she meets twins named Holger One and Holger Two, who are carrying out a mission to bring down the Swedish monarchy.
Nombeko’s life ends up hopelessly intertwined with the lives of the twins, and when the twins arrange to kidnap the Swedish king and prime minister, it is up to the unlikely heroine to save the day. In this wild romp, Jonas Jonasson tackles issues ranging from the pervasiveness of racism to the dangers of absolute power while telling a charming and hilarious story along the way. In the satirical voice that has earned him legions of fans, he offers another rollicking tale of how even the smallest of decisions can have sweeping consequences.
A God In Every Stone
Kamila Shamsie $37
From the acclaimed author of Burnt Shadows. In July 1914 a young Englishwoman, Viv Spencer, is fulfilling a dream by joining an archeological dig in Turkey. Working alongside Germans and Turks, she falls in love with her father’s old friend, Tahsin Bey, and joins him in his quest to find an ancient silver circlet. The outbreak of war in Europe brings her idyllic summer to a sudden end, and her friends become her nation’s enemies.
The following spring, in the battlefields of Europe, Qayyum Gul, a lance corporal from Peshawar fighting for the British, loses an eye, and is sent to recover in England, where he slowly begins to doubt his loyalties to the King. Returning home, he shares a train carriage with Viv Spencer, whose search for the circlet has led her to Peshawar in the heart of the British Raj. Fifteen years later, they will meet again, and their loyalties will be further tested amidst massacres, cover-ups, and the disappearance of a young man they both love.
A powerful story of friendship, injustice, love and betrayal, A God In Every Stone will carry you across the globe, into the heart of empires fallen and conquered, reminding us that we all have our place in the chaos of history and that so much of what is lost will not be forgotten.
Jang Jin-Sung $35
Containing astonishing new insights about North Korea which could only be revealed by someone working high up in the regime, Dear Leader is also the gripping story of how a member of the inner circle of this enigmatic country became its most courageous, outspoken critic. Jang Jin-sung held one of the most senior ranks in North Korea’s propaganda machine, helping tighten the regime’s grip over its people. Among his tasks were developing the founding myth of North Korea, posing undercover as a South Korean intellectual and writing epic poems in support of the dictator, Kim Jong-il. Young and ambitious, his patriotic work secured him a bizarre audience with Kim Jong-il himself, thus granting him special status as one of the ‘Admitted’. This meant special food provisions, a travel pass and immunity from prosecution and harm. He was privy to state secrets, including military and diplomatic policies, how the devastating ‘Scrutiny’ was effected, and the real position of one of the country’s most powerful, elusive men, Im Tong-ok. Because he was praised by the Dear Leader himself, he had every reason to feel satisfied with his lot and safe. Yet he could not ignore his conscience, or the disparity between his life and that of those he saw starving on the street. After breaking security rules, Jang Jin-sung, together with a close friend, was forced to flee for his life: away from lies and deceit, towards truth and freedom.
He will be a guest at the 2014 Auckland Writers Festival this month.
Dave McArtney $45
‘It was like David and Goliath. Only Goliath wasn’t about to be blown away, and David was stoned.’ Dave McArtney’s description of Hello Sailor’s campaign to conquer the American music scene is as funny as it is accurate. In this long-awaited memoir, completed just weeks before his untimely death, Dave gives an access-to-all-areas pass to the life of a working rock’n’roll musician. From the band’s earliest days at
the notorious ‘Mandrax Mansion’ in 1970s Ponsonby, to becoming the biggest band in New Zealand and then taking on the world, Gutter Black is a story of music, mateship (Mandrax) and a good deal of madness. It is also the memoir of a uniquely creative musician, who went on to further success with his band the Pink Flamingos, and a very personal story of love, family and facing one’s own mortality. Complete with previously unpublished photographs and band memorabilia, Gutter Black is
the definitive account of the man, the bands and the music that rocked a nation.