Book Reviews: Tsunamis In Autumn In Minecraft, Or Strangers To Passion

April 21, 2019

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Too Many Tsunamis by Vincent Pienaar

Autumn by Ali Smith

Minecraft: Guide To Creative by Craig Jelley

We All Begin As Strangers by Harriet Cummings

The Quiet Side Of Passion by Alexander McCall Smith


Meet Bert, a young man who wants to shape his own destiny, starting with suicide. He fails, as he has with many things in life. Within this theme, the plot of Too Many Tsunamis unfolds in a humorous yet moving story about the sadness of unfulfilled dreams, life’s struggles, new possibilities and strange surprises. Bert is a failed writer, living under the strict guidance of a tough and domineering mother. He also lives between reality and an imagined fanciful world. Writing a suicide note, he fails again, never quite satisfied with the message he wants to leave his mom. The harsh waves of life keep coming, knocking Bert about. Relationships, love affairs, work stress, motherly interference – all get at him while he keeps editing and rewriting his last masterpiece. This story combines humour and compassion for Bert as he stumbles through life. Historical notes describing the tragic deaths of talented people like Johannes Kerkorrel, Ingrid Jonker, Virginia Woolf and Elvis Presley are inserted into the narrative. This unusual addition to the text makes us aware of the vulnerability of life as we reflect on Bert’s destiny. But destiny takes care of itself – and offers surprises. Pienaar’s style of writing is superb, crossing the line between great story telling and word artistry. Reading this book is a special treat. – DB


Autumn is an amazing book. An elderly man befriends a young girl. We see them together – she growing up to be a young woman, he ending his life in a comatose slumber, but still dreaming in images. The book is as much a pictorial work of art as a literary masterpiece. Ali sometimes treats words like objects, fitting them together in a kind of collage to create images that the old man makes her see. This narrative of companionship is at times  interrupted by hilarious scenes. Passport renewal and National Health registration underline the red tape bother in British officialdom, showing how man becomes a servant to technology rather than being served by it. The story has a very personal appeal. – DB


Minecraft: Guide To Creative is a very good book explaining all the different buildings fit into landscapes, settings how to build a few things, contrast and a few other things. I really enjoyed  reading it and it helped improve my Minecraft skills. Any child or adult ready to play Minecraft should read it. I give it a dashing 8 out of 10 stars. – BD


Remember Miss Marple and Midsomer Murders? The idyllic life in a typical English village, uprooted and shattered by murder most foul? This is one of those stories. Is it murder or a missing person case? We don’t know till the end, but getting there, we get to the village, the characters who live there and the skeletons in the cupboards. Strange events and mysterious break-ins keep the plot flowing and takes the reader to a surprising finale. We All Begin As Strangers is more than a whodunit, as it traces man’s inner self and psychological loneliness, even as he is surrounded by caring people. Great reading and highly recommended. – DB


The Quiet Side Of Passion is a delightful, light-hearted but yet profoundly intelligent novel in Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series. For the as-yet uniformed, Isabel is a philosopher and editor of The Review Of Applied Ethics, a serious publication. She is also the fortunate heir to a beautiful Edinburgh house, the means to sustain her household, including a rather younger musician husband and their small son and a housekeeper, and is also to give help and support to a niece who runs a delicatessen. She has the means, but not the necessary time, which persuades her to hire an au pair from Italy, an exuberant and competent girl who appears to be a solution to her problems. She also recruits a bright young researcher to help her with the journal. The story is a merry chase, interspersed with deep and careful discussions, involving high principles. Dalhousie the philosopher, mother, wife, employer and editor finds herself at odds with the local Head of the Department of Philosophy, an unlovely man named Lettuce, is confronted by another unsavoury man in a seedy neighborhood, becomes involved with the mother of a child at the same nursery school as her son, and discovers that an acquaintance of good reputation is being swindled. You do not have read any other novel In the series,  but I warrant you will be searching them out once you have read this. – RH[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”default_sidebar”][/vc_column][/vc_row]