For the first month in a few, August is really seeing plenty of exciting releases. We’re talking big titles, smash hits and uplifting gems. Here’s a handful of books that you won’t want to miss this month.
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
It seems like a good time for a redemptive story of friendship. Then again, when does it not?
Rachel Joyce is one of those authors with an exceptional knack for uplifting escapism. With singularly charming and effortlessly touching titles like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy already under her belt, Joyce returns with this coleopterological tale of fall-out and friendship.
Often, Joyce’s tales assume the shape of a pilgrimage. This all began with Harold Fry and his several-hundred-mile journey to visit an old friend. In this case, the pilgrim is Miss Benson – a frustrated teacher in her forties who has grown bored of demonstrating basic domestic chores to her cruel students, who is struggling to adapt to the austerity imposed by WWII, and who undertakes a hunt for a special golden beetle in an attempt to rejuvenate her life. Accompanying Miss Benson, on a journey that will be as full of comic happenstance as with surprisingly insightful and even tragic explorations, is Enid Pretty, a colourful eccentric who, under the right circumstances, could make a joyous friend but is not likely to be the ideal research assistant.
All told, Miss Benson’s Beetle is as full of humour and uplift as Joyce’s other novels, but it is also a powerful meditation on the lasting impacts of war – and the broken characters and lasting trauma’s that it births. Here is resilience, quirk and vibrancy in equal measure.
The Order by Daniel Silva
Silva is easily one of the modern masters of international intrigue and action-packed thrillers. And there are few institutions as full of secrets as The Catholic Church.
Gabriel Allon, famed art restorer and master spy, has decamped to Venice for a long-overdue holiday with his wife and two kids. But, of course, a man of Allon’s talents is not often afforded rest and relaxation and the holiday takes a dramatic turn when Pope Paul VII dies suddenly. Called to Rome by Archbishop Luigi Donati, Allon learns that the Pope’s cause of death is being advertised as a heart attack. But Donati doesn’t buy it. He suspects murder. And with good reason. Missing is the guard who was watching the Pope on the night of his death and an important letter has vanished too. Allon soon uncovers links to the Order of St. Helena, a shadowy group with dangerous affiliations determined to keep humanity in the dark about one of history’s most contentious and influential events. Their ultimate goal is to seize the papacy and, through his delving, Allon has established himself as their main obstacle.
The Order is a book that ticks all the Da-Vinci-Code-esque boxes, delivering non-stop thrills and a compelling historical conspiracy. Bastioned by heaps of research, Silva’s papal adventure is reliably believable and wildly entertaining.
Wild by Kristin Hannah
Prolific bestselling author Kristin Hannah is back with a tale of wilderness, resilience and hope. Heart-breaking, layered and emotive, Wild delivers some of Hannah’s best writing wrapped in fascinating, exploratory story.
Child psychiatrist Julia Cates has retreated to her hometown in an attempt to weather a scandal and rebuild her life outside of scrutiny. Sued for having fatally failed to identify or report the murderous intent of one of her patients, Dr Cates is struggling to regain a handle on her life.
Things take an unusual turn when she is approached by her police officer sister. A puzzling little girl has been found having wandered out of the Olympia National Forest – a vast woodland shrouded darkness and mystery. The girl shows significant signs of abuse but she appears alone, does not speak and offers no clue of either her identity or her past. Naming her Alice, Cates begins to work with the young girl, determined to unlock the secrets of her origins and free her from her homelessness and isolation. But, as they begin to emerge, Cates discovers that the realities of Alice’s life are a shock that will make her recovery even harder to effect.
Sermons of Soul by Iman Rappetti
Radio station Power Talk regularly brings up some heavy topics and uniquely South African issues. As such, host Iman Rappetti sought to provide thoughtful, encouraging introductions to the shows that specifically reached out to listeners. These best-loved of these sermons have been collected in this new book, which can be dipped into whenever the need to feel connected arises.
The collection consists of letters of motivation, social and political critique, calls to action and other messages relevant to the events and affairs of South Africa. It also serves as a wonderful companion to Rappetti’s memoir, Becoming Iman.
Reset, Rebuild, Reignite by Pavlo Phitidis
If recent events have proved anything to business owners, it’s that a new crisis can strike at more or less any time… and that both readiness and recovery are essential when facing such upheavals.
Pavlo Phitidis is a speaker and business authority who regularly contributes to Radio 702 and Cape Talk. In his new book Phitidis points out that Covid-19 is not the only calamity capable of threatening or shutting down a business; the effects can be just as devastating when caused by employees, trade disruptions, fires, floods… any number of emergencies. The key is to use these things as opportunities, to not only recover but to grow in the immediate aftermath.
The wealth of strategies, tactics and practical insights contained herein is essential for learning how to capitalise on a sudden predicament, and the supporting testimonies from business owners who have successfully weathered such storms ably provide even more workable advice and affirmation to anybody facing down a business crisis.
Last Survivor by Tony Park
Though South Africa has the most rare Cycads of any African country, they are critically endangered to a degree that makes their population more precarious than that of the Rhino.
When a rare and priceless Cycad is discovered, and stolen, it initially finds itself in the care of the quite particularly-named Pretoria Cycad and Firearms Appreciation Society. Then it disappears. Cycad and firearm appreciator Joanna Flack is the primary suspect. Around the time of the plant’s disappearance, Joanna arrives in London, where she manages to single-handedly prevent a potentially devastating terror attack.
The investigative efforts of Sonja Kurtz, CIA contractor, links the Cycad to a larger terrorist scheme, believing that if the plant can be found, a tragedy to rival the 9-11 attacks might be foiled.
Along with US Department of Fisheries and Wildlife agent Rod Cavanagh, Sonja enlists the help of a group of South African gardening enthusiasts whose two primary interests make them uniquely helpful. Who better than a group of guns-and-gardening nuts to track down the missing Cycad? No prized garden accessory has ever before controlled so many lives and invited so much treachery.
Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
Every great romance, especially one that sets off an epic chain of events, has more than one side to it. And when one of the lovers involved happens to be immortal, well, there’s a whole lot of context and conflict to explore.
As we’ve said above, Midnight Sun focuses on Edward, and really delves into the extent of his anxiety and misgiving upon meeting Bella. As a companion piece, it is irresistible. After all, if you’re going to invest in a love story, it is well to be familiar with both the parties involved.
Here’s the official blurb:
“When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.
This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?
In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.”