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YEI Book Reviews

Posted By admin / November 3, 2019 / 1 Comment

Read the latest book reviews, fiction, non-fiction and children’s books.
Get info on new reads including reviews and biographies. 

PLUS YEI member book reviews!

Book reviews

(If you would like to submit a book review, click here)

Jane’s Delicious A-Z of Herbs by Jane Griffiths

Janes delicious A-Z of herbs

ISBN: 9781928363118

Herbs are rewarding and versatile plants.

They are easy to grow and add colour, texture and fragrance to our gardens and food.

Jane’s Delicious A-Z of Herbs is a full colour, richly illustrated, hands-on guide to growing and using these productive plants.

With a detailed and richly illustrated A-Z reference of 80 plus herbs, the book covers planting and growing, medicinal and culinary uses, as well as their many healing properties.


Call of the Raven – Wilbur Smith and Corban Addison

ISBN: 978-1-785767-794-4

‘The right of the cat over the mouse, of the strong over the weak. The natural law of existence.’ call the raven Wilbur SmithMungo St John, A Falcon Flies

The son of a wealthy plantation owner and a doting mother, Mungo St John is accustomed to the wealth and luxuries his privilege has afforded him. That is until he returns from university to discover his family ruined, his inheritance stolen and his childhood sweetheart, Camilla, taken by the conniving Chester Marion. Fuelled by anger, and love, Mungo swears vengeance and devotes his life to saving Camilla – and destroying Chester.

Camilla, trapped in New Orleans, powerless to her position as a kept slave and suffering at the hands of Chester’s brutish behaviour, must learn to do whatever it takes to survive.

As Mungo battles his own fate and misfortune to achieve the revenge that drives him, and regain his power in the world, he must question what it takes for a man to survive when he has nothing, and what he is willing to do in order to get what he wants.

An action-packed and gripping adventure by bestselling author, Wilbur Smith, about one man’s quest for revenge, the brutality of slavery in America and the imbalance between humans that can drive – or defeat – us.

Click here for an extract of this book


Grown Ups – Marian Keyes

ISBN: 978-0-71817-975-5

I must admit I was slightly intimidated by the shear size of this book, thinking that no-one could hold my attention for that long. Well I was wrong, the Casey family, brothers Johnny, Ed, Liam and their families held my attention. I love the way Marian deals with serious issues in a funny yet compelling and compassionate way. What a lovely read.

About Grown UpsGrown ups

A brand-new book from the #1 bestselling author of The Break and The Woman Who Stole My Life.

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys. Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together–birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie–who has the most money–insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Still, everything manages to stay under control–that is, until Ed’s wife, Cara, gets a concussion and can’t keep her thoughts or opinions to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, and Cara starts spilling all their secrets.

As everything unravels, each of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s–finally–the time to grow up.


Saving the last Rhinos – The life of a frontline Conservationist

ISBN: 978-1-47214-252-8

The remarkable story of the white Zulu, Grant Fowlds, a conservationist who has dedicated his life to saving Saving the last rhinosthe last rhinos, vividly told with the help of Graham Spence, co-author of the bestselling The Elephant Whisperer.  This is a truly great read and a must for all those whose hearts lie in the African bush and who have an affinity to wildlife conservation.

What would drive a man to ‘smuggle’ rhino horn back into Africa at great risk to himself? This is just one of the situations the brave and committed Grant Fowlds has put himself in as part of his ongoing fight against poaching, in order to prove a link between southern Africa and the illicit, lucrative trade in rhino horn in Vietnam.

Growing up on a farm in the eastern Cape of South Africa, Grant developed a deep love of nature, turning his back on hunting to focus on saving wildlife of all kinds and the environment that sustains both them and us. He is a passionate conservationist who puts himself on the front line of protecting rhinos in the wild – right now, against armed poachers; but in the longer term, too, through his work with schoolchildren, communities and policymakers.

In 2016 the number of rhinos poached in South Africa stood at 1054 (Department of Environmental Affairs).  In 2017, 529 rhinos had been slaughtered by 24th July. In the last nine years, over 6100 rhinos have been poached in South Africa leaving fewer than 19000 white, and 2000 black rhinos in the country.  The situation is critical.

Review: Angela Watkins

Website: www.penguinrandomhouse.com  



Quick ID Guide: Wild Flowers Of The Cape Peninsula – Hugh Clarke & Corrine Merry

ISBN: 978-1-77584-640-6Wild flowers

The colour coding is a brilliant idea and the info in the description has enough to satisfy the amateur as well as the professional. the pictures are clear and colour accurate. so glad the geographical reach of the book has expanded.

“Written with the non-specialist in mind, this guide is a must-have for flower lovers, hikers, tour guides and tourists – anyone interested in identifying the wild flowers that grace the Cape Peninsula. Quick ID Guide: Wild Flowers of the Cape Peninsula covers the most remarkable and commonly seen wild flowers of Table Mountain, Silvermine and Cape Point. The book was originally published as Common Wild Flowers of Table Mountain in 2007, then revised in 2013 to include the flowers of Silvermine.

This new edition offers:

– 360 (previously 208) of the region’s most remarkable and commonly seen wild flowers

– Clear photographs of all featured flowers and concise, informative text

– Flowers grouped according to colour, to help with quick ID

– Walking routes in the Peninsula’s famed reserves, plotted on 3 clear maps.

– Illustrated glossary of terms”

Review: Anthony Watkins (NDH)


Wildlife in Namibia A Photographic Guide – NIKOS PETROU & NEIL MACLEOD

ISBN: 978-1-77584-662-8 |RRP: R250.00Wildlife in Namibia

Having lived in Namibia for many years, I eagerly picked up this book as reminder of those days. I wish it had been published then as it would have been well used in my travels through the country. the easy to follow index and colour photos are an absolute gem. I would recommend this book if you are planning on visiting this amazing country or even as a book to browse through on those lazy days.

“Namibia is a fascinating land of contrasts, where floodplains, swamps and the world’s oldest desert have contributed to a rich biodiversity. Wildlife of Namibia is an easy-to-use guide to the country’s most conspicuous and interesting mammals, birds, reptiles, invertebrates and plants.

The book includes:

  • An informative introduction to the country’s geography, climate and vegetation
  • Accounts describing each species’ appearance, habits, size and conservation status, as well as information on habitat and best viewing localities
  • Full-colour photographs of each species, along with distribution maps to show their range.

This all-in-one compact guide will prove invaluable to visitors to national parks, nature reserves and other wildlife-rich places in Namibia.

Nikos Petrou is a wildlife photographer and author, and is very active in nature conservation. He has written or co-authored 15 books, including An Expert’s Guide to Finding the Animals in Etosha, and has produced numerous articles on wildlife and environmental issues.

Neil MacLeod, founder of SafariWise, is a safari guide who specialises in birdwatching and photography. He has extensive and intimate knowledge of Namibia’s flora, fauna and habitats, and of the best locations to find wildlife. He is co-author of An Expert’s Guide to Finding the Animals in Etosha.”

Also available in German as: Wilde Natur in Namibia

Website:  www.penguinrandomhouse.co.za

Review: Angela Watkins

The Next Step
– Personal & Family Information ebook

The Next Step

A useful personal information document which will assist you to help keep track of you and your family’s personal details as well as your financial situation. The purpose of this document is reducing the stress of your family and beneficiaries when your estate has to be wound up. In some sections, it will assist to keep an effective record of any documents which fall form renewal.

Examples being driver’s license, passports etc. In the event of a serious accident, illness or death, all vital information is recorded accurately and comprehensively in one place, which will avoid unnecessary time spent in trying to trace these important documents.

RRP: R40.00 | Click here to order

The Last Widow – Karin Slaughter

ISBN: 978-0-00-830339-6

I could not put this book down and spent my weekend in bed reading. I read a lot (in fact my friends say I absorb Last Widowthem) and its rare for me to get so excited about a book. This book, the latest in a series by Karin Slaughter kept me absorbed. Most of the characters were familiar to me, having read all her other books and I enjoyed being part of their continued journey

A mysterious kidnapping
On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. Vanished into thin air, the authorities are desperate to save the doctor.

A devastating explosion
One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast—followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhood’s has been bombed—the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.

A diabolical enemy
Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre—putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves.”

Review: Angela Watkins

Shadow Flicker – Melissa A.Volker

ISBN: 978-0-6399942-0-8

I am already a huge fan of Melissa’s writing having enjoyed “A Fractured Land’ enormously (review below) but this Shadow Flickerlatest offering has taken my “fandom” to a new level. I loved the Eco theme (which is something that runs through all her books and articles) but what really caught my attention was the vulnerability of Kate Petersen who suffers from Panic attacks and the strength she shows that helps her to live life to the fullest despite them.

“Kate Petersen keeps her panic attacks to herself, until the day she experiences one in front of her boss. With her personal life in ruins, her job is all she’s got. When an important renewable energy assignment in an Eastern Cape surfing village comes up, she is allowed to take over only if she promises to get her anxiety under control. She decides not to tell her boss that he is sending her to the very place where all her troubles began with a tragedy which continues to haunt her.

Determined to put the past behind her, she arrives in St Francis Bay ready to placate environmental opposition to her employer’s planned wind farm. Trouble brews when she begins to fall for Matthew Sykes, the attentive vet and surfer who is still grieving the death of his wife.

Meanwhile, the parochial locals escalate their protests, from peaceful resistance to creepy threats, and Kate is forced to confront her worst fears as well as risk exposing her fragile state of mind to Matthew and her client.

Then the violence intensifies and Matthew turns out to have a few secrets of his own. Kate understands that their growing relationship and her job are at stake, but she doesn’t know that her life is also in danger.”

Review: Angela Watkins


We are going to Kruger National Park – Liza M Roux

ISBN: 978-0-620-83819-1 | RRP: R120

Have your children enjoy the wild in the comfort of their imaginations with this beautifully illustrated wildlife We Are Going To Kruger National Parkconservation storybook by author Liza Roux and artist Alex van Houwelingen.  We Are Going to Kruger National Park is the interesting story of a family going on holiday in the Kruger National Park. The lovely illustrations capture much-loved family traditions and the story includes underlying conservation-themed messages to provoke young minds.




A Fractured Land – Melissa A.Volker

ISBN: 978 0 6399942 1 5

I think as South Africans we tend to judge local authors too critically.  We sometimes think that they are not as good asA fractured land by Melissa volker international writers, I certainly have done so in the past…. And its definitely in the past now, because this book was a brilliant read and will pass muster in comparison to any internationally written book.

Melissa weaves her story well around her characters and creates a beautiful story of romance  infused with intrigue and crime.  The story is so well described that I could imagine myself walking down those dusty Graaff-Reinet roads.

But what will linger in my memory other than the story of Lexi and Carter and that small town, is my new awareness of the impact that fracking has on the ecology/economy of not only a small town, but on all of us. Melissa has created a great awareness in myself about my place and impact in the fragile world in which we live.

I am waiting in anticipation for her next book “Shadow Flicker”

Review: A.Watkins


The Cutting Edge – Jeffery Deaver

ISBN: 978 1 473 61874 9

a cutting edge Jeffrey Deaver

Another brilliant read by Jeffery Deaver who can always be counted on to deliver a well written crime thriller. We are once again drawn into the world of Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs who are now married. When reading his books, nothing is as it seems and this book follows that trend. a really good read with several twists woven in.

Review: A.Watkins

Into the Water – Paula Hawkins

ISBN: 978 0 8575 2443 0 | RRP: R 295.00

This is, without doubt, one of the most eagerly awaited novels this year.   Paula Hawkins’ previous best-seller,  The Girl on the Train, sold a staggering 15 million copies, and was turned into a suspense-filled movie.   It was a hard act to follow.    Into the Water was very different, even though the writing was of the same quality and the book carried similar expectation and mystery.  Paula Hawkins brilliantly weaves her complex characters into an intriguing read – although this is not particularly groundbreaking stuff, with a story being told from multiple viewpoints, with possibly too many characters, and sometimes being a trifle difficult to make sense of it all.   Nevertheless, a moody and chilling thriller that will have you see you reading the book to the end.

Review:  YEI staff member

Fifty Fifty – James Patterson and Candice Fox

ISBN:  9781780897127  | RRP:  R295.00

Fifty Fifty by James Patterson and Candice Fox is the second novel featuring Detective Harriet Blue. The first novel in the series was Never Never. 

The world’s bestselling thriller writer James Patterson once again joins forces with award-winning crime writer Candice Fox for a compulsive page-turner in the Australian outback.

 I have to admit that I had stopped reading James Pattersons books.  They were becoming very “samey”  and I had the impression that his books were becoming a type of “cut and paste” novel. However, I decided to give it a “go” and the result was I stayed up until 3am to read to the finish.  I  loved this book and literally could not put it down.  The main character, Sam Blue is quite compelling.  She is strong and capable but very damaged which makes for a very complex and enjoyable character.  I also enjoyed the fact that the book was not set in the United States.  Having never visited Australia I do not know how accurate the book was in describing the lives of people in the Outback, but it all really rang true. Once finished I immediately got hold of the first book in the series, Never Never, and have now read that as well. I am really looking forward to the next in what I hope is a series.  All in all, A really good read.

Review by Angela Watkins


Dead To Me –  Lesley Pearse

03 May 17  |  ISBN 9781405921046  |  PB Release

What an awesome read!  This is essentially a story of friendship, with all its ups and downs.  It’s a story of  the  trials and tribulations of two very different girls.  The story is set at the start of the second world war.  When Ruby and Verity met as girls, they came from different worlds. Verity was privately educated, living in a beautiful Hampstead home, while Ruby was being raised in extreme poverty. Nevertheless, they became firm friends.  They then experience changes in fortune and find that their situations are reversed.  As Ruby goes up in the world, Verity encounters more and more tragedy, but still the girls remain a large part of each other’s lives. That is, until one day in 1938 when Ruby says the terrible words ‘You’re dead to me’ and it looks like their friendship might be over for good…  I won’t tell you the end of the story, but what wins in the end is something you cannot buy.

I have now become a Lesley Pearse fan, and am definitely going to go out and get other books written by this spinner of tales.

Review:  Angela Watkins


A Harvest of Thorns – Corban Addison

9781784295233 | Quercus | TPB | R295

You often read of tragedies that happen on the other side of the world.  A factory fire in a warehouse in India, refugees in Greece, a ferry sinking in Japan.  One wonders, idly, while eating your popcorn in front of the TV what will happen to those people and how they got to where they are. Sometimes we see a picture of a child sprawled on the ground after jumping out of a building or a little body washed up on a beach, but apart from those fleeting thoughts, we do not do much to find out what happened or to help those affected, apart from sometimes putting together a small care package and sending it off.

This book is about those from the other side of the world, caring enough to do something about the injustices connected with the tragedies seen in the News.  It is about a group of people who decide to try and  hold Big Corporation responsible for what happens in their chain of supply. I won’t give any spoilers in this review but I will say that this book is another brilliant novel by Corban Addison

Review:  Angela Watkins

The History of blood – Paul Mendelson

9781472121820 | Jonathan Ball Publishers | R195

One look at the book and you see that it is set in South Africa, set against the richly described backdrop of Cape Town. I was, however, not expecting such international quality writing. This book introduced us to South Africa in the here and now, and moved seamlessly between current South Africa, and South Africa in the middle of the apartheid years.

Paul Mendelson takes the history of those times and weaves it into a modern day crime story without making comment on the politics of those times or present-day politics. Even if you were not aware of what was happening in South Africa, you will still be able to enjoy this book.

What a brilliant read. International quality with a local flavour.

This is the third chilling psychological thriller from Paul Mendelson.

Review:  Angela Watkins

Fool Me Once
Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben has become one of my all-time favourite authors in the last few years.  He constantly delivers un-put-downable thrillers that are filled with his trademark edge-of-your-seat suspense!  His last nine consecutive novels have all reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, as well as lists around the world.

I do believe that we all have times when we are not in the mood to read – a cardinal sin, I know, but it happens to the best of us.  I have taken a long time to review this book, because I believe that I was in exactly that frame of mind when reading Harlan Coben’s latest page-turning thriller – Fool Me Once.  For me, it did not deliver quite the same page-turning thrill.  And so, I am going to reserve my judgement, and read this book again in the future, when I am in my usual love-reading mode.

In a nutshell, the story is about a former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war.  She spots an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: Can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to? To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband—and herself.

So there you have it, the recipe for another readable thriller.   Let’s have your views…..

Review:  MH

Published by Dutton
Aug 09, 2016 | 464 Pages | 4-1/4 x 7-1/2 | ISBN 9781101984352

Vuvuzela  Nation – Author:  Zapiro

ZAPIRO_VUVUZELA_NATION_COVIn a country that often takes itself far too seriously, it is refreshing to have a character like Zapiro around to bring us back down to earth.

The satirist and cartoonist has done it again with the release of  ‘Vuvuzela Nation’, a compilation of more than 200 iconic cartoons which poke fun and tell the difficult truths about our heroes on and off the pitch.  These colourful sporting characters include – Louis Luyt, Hansie Cronje, Caster Semenya, Herschelle Gibbs, Benni McCarthy, Bryan Habana, Lucas Radebe, Peter de Villiers and Oscar Pistorius.

Beginning in 1995, Zapiro takes us on a crazy journey through our sporting years since becoming a democracy, all of which is brought forward in his own zany style – resulting in a curious, glorious, calamitous and chaotic story of sport in the New South Africa.

From the Springboks’  1995 World Cup triumph to Kamp Staaldraad, from cricketing chokers to champions and to  Oscar Pistorius’  issues with the law, no sporting event on the field or in private,  escapes Zapiro’s sharp pencil of candour.

The cartoons are accompanied by incisive text and the insatiable wit of journalist Mike Wills.  This coffee table conversation starter ticks all the right boxes for our sports-mad country.

This new title by Jacana provides a comprehensive and entertaining look at our nation’s favourite pastimes.

Review by AH

Title:  Vuvuzela  Nation
Sub-title:  Zapiro on SA Sport 1995-2013
Author:  Zapiro – Text by Mike Wills
ISBN:  9781431401642
RRP:  R175 (price subject to change)
Click here to order directly from the Jacana website at a 20% discount –
Contact person at Jacana: Lanore@jacana.co.za
Or you can buy the book from your nearest book store at the RRP.

Publication date:  May 2013

The Dying Hours – Author:  Mark Billingham

Dying HoursTom Thorne returns in Billingham’s most compelling thriller to date.  The Dying Hours is a haunting portrait of London’s dark heart, and the darker heart of a twisted killer bringing terror to its streets.

Tom Thorne has stepped out of line once too often and now he is back in uniform and hates it!  He is convinced that a cluster of suicides among the elderly is suspicious, and because his concerns are dismissed by the Murder Squad that he used to be part of, he is forced to investigate alone.

Thorne is unable to trust anyone and risks losing those closest to him as well as endangering those being targeted by the killer, who is unlike anyone Thorne has hunted before.  The killer appears to be a man who has the power to make people take their own lives.

I have not read many of Billingham’s books, but this one is fast-paced and a page-turner.  Nothing is quite what it seems, and the chase hots up as Thorne calls in favours from old friends and lies to his partner about what he is really doing while the killer speeds up what appears to be a suicide spree.  An excellent book and a highly recommended read with interesting characterization and complicated plot.

Review by MH

Title:  The Dying Hours
Author:  Mark Billingham
ISBN:  978-1-84744-424-0

My Granny’s Pantry – Author:  Margaret Wasserfall

rox revised cover.inddThis charming memoir-cum-cookbook, written by Margaret Wasserfall, well known as former editor of SA Garden and Home and SA Country Life, tells of the influence of her redoubtable Scottish grandmother who taught her, as she grew up, about food and cooking.

Wasserfall has drawn together the food memories of her childhood when she cooked with her Scottish granny and made trips into town to shop for food.  Life was completely different in those days.  At home, the kitchen cupboard was filled with homemade cakes, biscuits and crunchies for everyone in the household to snack on.   A 25-litre paraffin tin of crayfish cost 2/6d.  Frikkadels were made to stretch the household budget.

The book is fascinating in many regards.  It is a collection of timeless recipes – recipes that you will remember from your childhood.  There are photographs from Wasserfall’s family photo album.  There are beautiful photographs that illustrate the recipes.  Wasserfall’s stories, anecdotes and observations reflect how the family slowly changed their lives and their way of cooking – from strong Scottish roots to a South African way of life.

A nostalgic and enjoyable read, and a book that one will periodically pick up to browse through to find that tried and trusted recipe of yesteryear.

If you live in KwaZulu-Natal, you might be interested going to a “Coffee morning with Margaret Wasserfall” – click here to see the details.

Review by MH

Title:  My Granny’s Pantry
A Kitchen Memoir
Author:  Margaret Wasserfall
ISBN:  978-1-43140293-9
URL:  http://www.jacana.co.za/new-releases/new-releases-6593/my-granny-s-pantry-detail
Orders Contact: Lanore@jacana.co.za
RRP: R260.00
My Granny’s Pantry; A Kitchen Memoir is available at all good stores or at 20% off on the Jacana website.


Sisterland – Author:  Curtis Sittenfeld

Sisterland pbI have always found the subject of twins fascinating and in her latest book, Curtis Sittenfeld adds a twist to the subject of twins.  The twins, Violet and Daisy (aka Kate) have psychic abilities.

Sisterland is a good read, though strange at times and thought-provoking – the story of family, identity, loyalty and deception.  The twins  know that they are unlike other people and although they were both born with “senses”, Vi embraces her visions and Kate/Daisy tries to hide them.  The story takes place with the twin sisters in their thirties.  Daisy who narrates the story is married with two young children.  Eccentric Vi works as a professional psychic and is an embarrassment to her sister.  Vi predicts that an earthquake will take place in their hometown of St Louis.  The story continues with the days leading up to the predicted earthquake with flashbacks to the twins’ past.

Sittenfeld is a great writer with a talent for creating believable, although not always pleasant, characters.   There is plenty of intrigue and tension to keep your attention.

Review:  MH

ISBN: 9780385618502
RRP:  R265.00
Imprint: Doubleday UK
Available at all good bookstores countrywide

Common Wildflowers of Table Mountain & Silvermine – Authors:  Hugh Clarke, Bruce Mackenzie & Corinne Merry

Common-WildFlowers_TableM&Silvermine_200kb-coverCommon Wild Flowers of Table Mountain has proved to be a valuable guide for flower-lovers, hikers and mountain climbers who wish to know more about the flowers they encounter on their outings. Now expanded to take in the expansive Silvermine reserve, and generally updated for the entire area, this new edition will appeal to an even wider market.

It offers

• Flowers grouped according to colour to enable quick ID
• Some 260 flowers that can be seen along the way
• Clear photographs and concise, informative text for each species.
• A variety of walking routes that crisscross the mountain and reserve, plotted on accompanying route maps

For anyone with an interest in identifying the flowers ofthe mountain and reserve, this will be an indispensable guide.

Principle author Hugh Clarke joined forces with Bruce Mackenzie, who contributed valuable information based on his extensive Table Mountain database, and Dr Corinne Merry, who brought extensive knowledge of the Silvermine area and flower photographs from that area.

All three authors are keen hikers with a passion for the outdoors

ISBN: 978-1-77584-039-8| RRP: R160.00

For more information, visit www.randomstruik.co.za.  Join the Struik Nature Club www.randomstruik.co.za/natureclub

Pocket Guide – Trees of Southern Africa

Trees of Southern AFrica Southern Africa boasts a rich variety of tree species, both indigenous and exotic. Pocket Guide Trees of Southern Africa is an authoritative introduction to the region’s trees, describing and illustrating 132 species. This publication has its origins in Van Wyk’s A Photographic Guide to Trees of Southern Africa and has been fully revised and updated by well-known authority Braam van Wyk. Each species account highlights the key identification features, and also touches on the medicinal and commercial uses of the trees.

This compact, easy-to-use guide makes an ideal travelling companion and will help readers to become more knowledgeable about trees.

Author:  Piet van Wyk, Braam van Wyk
ISBN:  9781920572020
RRP:  R120.00

Pocket Guide – Butterflies of South Africa

Pocket-Guide-ButterfliesWatching and ‘ticking’ butterflies is a rewarding hobby and one that is gaining popularity in South Africa. This handy pocket guide details more than 250 of the region’s 670 species, from the tiniest blues and coppers to enormous swallowtails and emperors. The most commonly encountered butterflies are included, but there are also a few elusive ‘specials’, for those who enjoy a challenge.

The book offers

  • Concise text describing the habits, favoured habitat and early life stages of each butterfly (egg, larva and pupa)
  • Details of seasonal and other variations
  • Similar-looking species and status information
  • Full-colour photographs and distribution maps
  • Colour-coded calendar bars, showing at a glance when a particular butterfly is most abundant.

This handy little guide should prove invaluable to beginners and more experienced butterfly enthusiasts alike.

Steve Woodhall is a butterfly enthusiast and photographer who began watching and collecting butterflies at an early age. He is President of the Lepidopterists’ Society of Africa, has contributed to several books, among them Living Butterflies of Southern Africa (Umdaus Press), and is author of Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa and the highly popular What’s that Butterfly? (both Struik Nature). When not chasing butterflies, Steve works as a technical manager in the plastics industry.

Author:  Steve Woodhall
ISBN:  978 1 92057 247 1
RRP:  R120.00
Imprint:   Nature

Sky Guide – Africa South 2014

Astronomical Society of South Africa

Sky-Guide-Africa-South_2014For novice, amateur and professional astronomers, Sky Guide Africa South 2014 is a practical resource covering the upcoming year’s planetary movements, predicted eclipses, meteor showers – any events and facets of the night sky that change annually – as well as star charts for identifying stars and constellations.

There’s a wealth of information about the Sun, Moon, planets, comets, meteors and bright stars, with photos, diagrams, charts and images.

There’s also an excellent list of useful websites. An annual publication, this is an invaluable resource and ‘… an absolute must for first-time star-gazers and professional astronomers alike’.

Struik Nature joins forces with the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa to publish this annual guide. Now in its 64th year of publication, the book is prepared by a team of contributors, all specialists in their fields.

ISBN:   978 1 77584 032 9
RRP:  R110.00

Watching Whales and Dolphins in Southern Africa

Watching-Whales and DolphinsSouthern Africa has some of the best whale and dolphin watching opportunities in the world, with over half of the world’s species being found in our waters.

Watching Whales & Dolphins in Southern Africa is an essential guide to watching the region’s more common species.

In addition to species accounts and charts that aid identification, this guide provides detailed information on cetaceans – their evolution, senses, behaviour, classification and anatomy. Multiple, clear images, both photographic and illustrated, help identify each species by showing how to read the partial signs that cetaceans usually offer, such as a flipper, tail, or even just their ‘blow’.

The book also discusses the tragic toll that hunting has had on whale populations, and the ongoing struggle to protect these majestic mammals. This is an invaluable guide for anyone wishing to know more about whales and dolphins of the region.

Noel Ashton, with a background in environmental and geographical science, has specialised as a whale and dolphin scientific illustrator, developing a complex process of morphological mapping.

Noel and his wife Belinda Ashton have worked towards whale and dolphin conservation through their Oceans of Africa programme. Their acclaimed Sacred Ocean anti-whaling campaign in the Two Oceans Aquarium was launched by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and their IFAW Whale Show is shown daily in the Whale Museum in Hermanus.

Authors:  Noel & Belinda Ashton
ISBN:  978-1-77007-957-1
RRP:  R130.00

Adventure Trails in Kirstenbosch

Adventure-Trails-CoverThese five imaginative trails capture the magic of nature within Kirstenbosch, South Africa’s best-known botanical garden.

Eager young adventurers will have hours of fun discovering prehistoric gems, enchanted forests, secret gardens, mysterious mirror pools and much more.

Each route description is accompanied by a map and beautiful photographs and illustrations, while the text is packed with information about striking and surprising trees, flowers, birds, insects, animals and tidbits from history, as well as descriptions of the best places to play and relax.

This whimsical guide is a must-have companion for any young adventurer setting off into Cape Town’s much-loved garden.

Daphne Mackie has painted the flowers of Africa for as long as she can remember. After marrying a Capetonian in 1964, Daphne discovered the sanctuary that is Kirstenbosch, and her love of nature led to a fulfilling career in art, reproducing the indigenous Cape Flora. She lives in Cape Town with her husband and springer spaniel.

Author:   Daphne Mackie
ISBN:   9781431701193
RRP:  R95.00


The Book of Fate – Author:   Parinoush Saniee”

m_Book of FateFifty years of life in Iran.

I found this book to be very moving and powerful – a stimulating and interesting read, yet at the same time, a good story simply told.  It is the story of Massoumeh, a teenager at the beginning of the book, and her maturing into a woman of grace, charm and intelligence, despite having a very difficult life.

The period covered by the book was one of turmoil in Iran.  The question of whether to be carried along by fate or to persevere and find one’s own way, whilst remaining true to one’s beliefs and loyalties, is the main theme of the book.  To a Western woman, the Persian lifestyle and restrictions pertaining to women seem so antiquated, yet the reader is made to understand why it is necessary to accept life-impacting decisions made on one’s behalf, without any consultation or consideration.  I found it hard occasionally not to be angered by Massoumeh’s seeming indifference to her fate, but particularly towards the end of the book had to admire how she dealt with the various vicissitudes inflicted on her.

The story is told plainly and without self-pity.  It certainly makes one appreciate the freedoms and advantages enjoyed by Western women – in all a thoroughly good read and highly recommended.

Review:  Maureen Lawrence


“The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa

Sasol 4 Larger final cover_1mbThis new larger edition is based on the recently updated fourth edition of the standard-format Sasol Birds of Southern Africa.  The region’s best-selling, most comprehensively illustrated and trusted field guide, it offers:

  • Rewritten species accounts, now with group introductions;
  • Newly designed plates for ease of use and comparison;
  • More than 380 new improved illustrations;
  • Illustrations with simplified labels, pinpointing key differentiating features;
  • Updated distribution maps showing relative abundance and indicating resident or migrant status;
  • Calendar bars showing species’ occurrence and breeding periods, and sonograms depicting the calls of difficult-to-distinguish birds that have distinctive calls;
  • The larger fomat allows for better appreciation and easier use of the plates.


Review by Dave Tye

A beautiful addition to South Africa’s already impressive collection of birding guide books.

The most striking feature is the amazing illustrations.  Where sexual dimorphism occurs, both male and female are clearly shown with distinguishing features described.  For many birds, in-flight views are also illustrated.  In fact, I randomly found one bird with ten different illustrations.

All birds are comprehensively described – distribution maps, seasonal presence, breeding season, size, distinguishing features, habits, call, status and biology are all covered.

As an amateur birder, this is a “must have” addition to my library, but be warned – its size and weight means it will not make an ideal field guide!

Authors:  Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboten & Peter Ryan
ISBN:  978 1 77584 099 2
RRP:  R320.00
Imprint:  Struik Nature
To buy the book direct from Exclusive Books, click here.
The book can also be bought from Kalahari/Takealot.com &  Graffiti Books



Pilot in the Wild – Author:  John Bassi

PILOT_IN_THE_WILD_COV.inddJohn Bassi has dedicated most of his life to the plight of wildlife in Africa. Raised in north eastern Zimbabwe, he was inspired by a life of living and working in wilderness areas throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Learning about the cruel realities of war and human greed, he made a vow to devote his life to protecting nature.

Fuelled by a passion for wilderness and aviation, John embarked on a challenging and fascinating journey through the birth, growth and change of South Africa’s game capture industry. On the flip side, he has been witness to elements that hide commercial exploitation under the guise of conservation and he has seen the degradation of some of South Africa’s pristine wilderness areas; an all too familiar sight echoing the ruin of his beloved Zimbabwe.

Pilot in the Wild takes us into the world of South Africa’s game capture industry and the plight of wildlife in Africa. Packed full of biographical accounts, and information about wildlife, the war on poaching, and flying, makes one grateful to all the people involved in conservation and what they do to help preserve this wonderful place we live in.

For those of you who enjoy wildlife and a bit of adventure this book will tick both those boxes. I found Pilot in the Wild both interesting and captivating.  One to read.

Review by Kyle Cowen, Pilot

ISBN:  978-1-4314-0871-9
RRP:  R225.00  (price subject to change)
Imprint:  Jacana
A Pilot in the Wild is available at all good stores or at 20% off on the Jacana website
Orders Contact:  reception@jacana.co.za
Website:  www.jacana.co.za


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One Comment

  • Mercia clarke
    July 23, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Wow! Spent a fantastic 1 hour reviewing your recommendation’s of all the new books. Thanks

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