​Dealing With Death - Ellen Pakkies And A Community's Struggle With Tik  by Sylvia Walker (Penguin Random House)

The film Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story has just been released nationwide. The story of the Lavender Hill mother who strangled her tik
-addicted son indesperation after sustaining years  of abuse cannot fail to leave many dry eyes in audiences. Pakkies was acquitted, doing community ser
vice in lieu of a sentence.

When "Dealing in Death" was first published in 2009, the scourge of drug addiction was sweeping across South Africa, affecting every level of society. Little, if anything, has changed since then, as this new edition reveals. 

The use of tik, particularly in the Western Cape, has skyrocketed. Pakkies '  much-publicised trial exposed the dark underbelly of a community crippled by drug and alcohol abuse, and focused attention on the plight of those who live in  dire circumstances and don 't have recourse to drug-rehab centres and other measures effective in the treatment of addicts.

"Dealing in Death" looks at the global and local drugs culture, the predicament of Ellen Pakkies and other mothers like her, and an impoverished community and the apartheid laws that gave birth to it.

Revenge by James Patterson and Andrew Holmes (Century)

Former SAS soldier David Shelley belong s  to one of the most covert operations teams in the special forces. Now as he settles down to civilian life in London, he plans a safer and more stable existence. But the shocking death of a young woman he once protected, changes things.  While police deem it a suicide, Shelley's grieving parents can't accept  that  their beloved Emma would take her own life. They turn to their former bodyguard, for help. When they discover that Emma had fallen into a dark and seedy world of drugs and online pornography, the father demands retribution.

His desire for revenge will make enemies of people that even Shelley may not be able to protect them from, and take them into a war from which there may be no escape.

Sleeper by Mike Nicol (Umuzi)

The minister of energy is killed . T hen the investigating cop commits suicide. Fearing a conspiracy, the minister’s lover hires  a private investigator Fish Pescado to find the killer.  But the minister's lover goes missing  Fish is stonewalled by the cops  and in Cape Town's dark shadows a complex game is being played out. It's got to do with Iranian agents, the theft of highly enriched uranium, the kidnapping of a top scientist, and ex-spy Vicki Kahn being bribed by her former handler to track the terrorists.

The hunt is on - a deadly one where nothing is what it seems. A sleeper has been awoken. I sis  is involved, as is the CIA. And chatter leads to talk of a dirty bomb. A rollercoaster of a story.

Help! There's A Guest At My Table!  by Annabel Frere (Penguin Random House)

The author's first cookbook "Help! There’s a Stove in My Kitchen" was a runaway success with many  young adults depending on her sage advice and tips. Frere again provides a repertoire of tasty and relatively simple recipes f or the now young professionals, ranging from impromptu gatherings to well-organised occasions.

Good planning is key, as well as preparing foods in advance so that the cook can spend as much time with guests, rather than in the kitchen on the day itself. Attention is also given to texture and presentation, with plenty of tips and suggestions for effortless entertaining. 

Frere is an expert at demystifying the more complex-sounding dishes and als o  offers help on creating the right cocktails.

Being Lily by Qarnita Loxton by Kwela Books

Dr Lily De Angelo is counting down the final weeks before her wedding to Owen Fisher, making sure everything is perfect. Owen’s dad from Elsies River on the Cape Flats will have to be seated far away from Lily’s snobbish parents who keep insinuating that Owen is not good enough for their  " trust fund  baby. Owen might look like a young Robert de Niro, but it seems they are all too aware that he is of mixed Capetonian rather than Italian stock. 

But Lily’s seating arrangement woes are nothing compared to the shock she gets when Owen’s ex , Courtney Hay shows up with her   15-year-old  daughter  Chiara. With silver bullet suitcases in tow they have come to break the news that Owen might be Chiara’s dad. Suddenly everything goes pear-shaped for Lily, including her ass – and that's despite the incentive bonus to her personal trainer.

Courtney and Chiara move in with Lily and Owen and not only is the ex from hell making eyes at him, but Owen seems a bit too happy at the thought of potentially being a dad.  Funny, charming and poignant.

* Books available from  loot.co.za