What We Are Reading Right Now #29… the Penguin Books South Africa Edition.

It was one of those weeks were very little got done around here. While it is frustrating to get “nothing done” it was wonderful to conquer a heap of reading. Mountains of books have been read, recipes have been tried and tested and before we knew it the pile of review books was looking slightly under control again. So here you are some great books hot of the press:

A Recipe Book

Jamie’s Food Tube: The Family CookBook by KerryAnn Dunlop published by Penguin Books South Africa. I would pop this book onto the “Can’t Leave Home Without it Pile.” This is the recipe book for folk who want to be able to cook the basics without any airs and graces… good simple recipes and just the sort of meals that you wold expect to dart at home and if there is a twist, then it is a simple twist and one worth pursuing. It is not often that I get to review a cookbook and I don’t have to buy any extra ingredients… the only thing we didn’t have were red peppers… that folks is unheard of. Cook book reviewing inevitably finds you dashing about looking for obscure ingredients and trying desperately to figure out how to scale the recipe up for ten. This book is nothing like that… regular meals, regular ingredients and if it says it serves ten then it does.

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This is also not a huge format, glossy hardback coffee table cookbook it is a practical softcover that survived two weeks of intense time and attention on our kitchen counter and still looks good to go many many more months of meals. The book is divided into easy access sections: breakfast, snacks, batch cooking, dinner dishes and sides. I was a little surprised there were no desserts, but there were a few sweet treats in the snack section. So what did we try: cheesy scrambled eggs, sweet eggy bread, jam tarts, roasted tomato soup, majestical mac ‘n cheese, pimped up baked beans, roast potatoes and honey and cumin roasted carrots. There are heaps of other easy and practical recipes that are on our list to eat later on in the month, chicken pie, lasagne, spaghetti and meatballs, lots of family favourites and comfort food. Written so that even the most domestically challenged couldn’t go wrong… this is a great “go to gift” for kids in the coming of age or leaving home book… a practical guide to many meals that everybody enjoys eating. Armed with this book you really could set up home.
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This is a fairly small unassuming cookbook and it is absolutely packed with recipes that you can actually use, written by KerryAnn Dunlop, one of Jamie Oliver’s original Fifteen team. You can take a look at Kerry Ann Dunlop’s YouTube Channel over here to see her recipes in action.

A Memoir

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Warsaw Boy by Andrew Borowiec is memoir, published by Penguin books. Andrew Borowiec was born in Poland in 1928, by the time he was eleven Britain and Poland were at war. This is the stark reality of his childhood, his life growing up and surviving. This is definitely the year for heaps of war stories to be published, if you are planning to read one then this is it. Apart from the fact that it is true, it is written from the heart. When he found himself in a prison of war camp, the Red Cross medics provided him with sheets of toilet paper to write on, he kept notes and journalings of his daily life… and so began his memoir more than half a century ago.

This book is not a collection of arbitrary memories popped together because one must, it is a well thought out plan, begun by a very young man. The book launches with a small boy playing with tin soldiers and takes us on a journey through a terribly difficult time in history. Not only does he write his story as the world around him cascades… but he comes of age, through incredible pain and hardship, tragedy in fact, will be found within the covers of this book. And yet true to life, there is humour and a warmth, not to mention an overpowering will to survive. This is a very real picture of a terrible war, as seen through the eyes of a child, while survivors are few and stories change over time… this story hasn’t… his notes kept him closer to the truth than faded memories.

This is one of those books that you will read and then have to pause and absorb before carrying on, but you also cannot put it down… you have to read this book through. This is an adult read, it steps back in time and very clearly shows you a crazy world of war and all that goes with that, as seen through the eyes of a child. This is an excellent read, I would put this on one of my must read list for this year.

An Adventure

The Long Ride Home by and published by Penguin Books South Africa. This book is about Rowan, who has lived an incredible life and done incredible things and yet he is so young and yet he is autistic. His parents thought he was unreachable, and saw their hopes and dreams for their son slip away. A chance meeting with the neighbours horses and a discovery that while Rowan is in the presence of the horses he makes amazing leaps and bounds from being unable to communicate at all, to conversations. This book is the story of a family’s journey as they seek spiritual healers around the world, to help them reach the heart and soul of their son. I found the parents confidence and absolute belief in what they were doing quite different to most parents, “we’ll do our best and see how it turns out” attitude. They have to succeed, there is everything at stake, not least their relationship with their son.

Their journeys take them to Mongolia, Namibia, Australia and to the Arizona… When I saw this book, I think I may have had a somewhat romantic idea that it would be the true story of a brave family on an epic adventure. It is that, but lose the romance… life is hard at the best of times and for this small family unit and especially for Rowan, life is very hard. This book is a difficult read… the emotional ups and downs will get to you. In fact I haven’t finished it… I had to take a breather from it. The harsh realities between these pages were in places hard to stand and I may never finish it. So why would I blog about a book that I didn’t love, because I know that I have followers who would find this book intriguing… This is a true-to life, the nitty gritty look at reality, a story that should be told but be prepared for an emotional roller coaster. You can read about more about this book in the Telegraph.

A Teen Read

Eoin Colfer W.A.R.P. The Hangman’s Revolution published by Penguin Books South Africa: Well you just can’t go wrong with Eoin Colfer… and WARP is his latest offering to the pile of adventurous teen reads. W.A.R.P. stands for Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme and the second in a fast paced time traveling series. The Hangman’s Revolution sees F.B.I. Special Agent Chevie Savano return to present day London, from the Victorian Era, only to find that Europe is run by by the Boxites, a Fascist group. In some places the plot is confusing but all is revealed as Chevie’s memory returns in fits and starts. Once again, Eoin Colfer packs in gadgets, a desperate race against time, larger than life characters and a wicked sense of humour. Another great read and a series worth pursuing.

All four books reviewed in this post were given to us by Penguin Books South Africa for review purposes. We were not paid to write these reviews and as usual the opinions expressed were entirely our own.

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