Highway Queen




Book title: Highway Queen

Author:  Virginia Phiri

Published by: Corals Services

Publication year: 2010


When the bakery from where a family enjoys a wholesome consumption of fresh bake gets burnt to rubbles, then the means of sustenance might probably be a thing of the past.

Virginia Phiri opens the pages of this mind blowing piece with the story of a family whose means of survival rest solely on a husband (Steven) who all of a sudden was retrenched due to some financial upheaval at his workplace. And without thinking, all in the name of making ends meet for her family, Sophie Mumba the wife of the retrenched worker and the lead character in this story seek for a greener pasture doing the incredible. Just as anyone probably would have guessed, it never came cool. Having not enough with her was a good privilege for some ill-hearted men who helped but took advantage of this helpless woman from a squatter camp.

Steven seems not to be responsible. Even though some life threatening situation had tortured him ruthlessly, it still shouldn’t have translated into drinking to stupor or seeing a way out of a mess and ignoring it. Being the head of the family demands lot of work and leadership role, this thus will make a hardworking wife like Sophie go gaga when her husband who ought to be complementing her industrious effort, fails at performing his own part and even had the effrontery to complain about inadequacies of finance and food, (what happened to meat? We’re tired of vegetables!) See pg 81. The author carefully establishes that fact when she tells of Sophie’s grievance towards her hubby’s excessive drinking habit and his lackadaisical attitudes to get any job.

Getting always in the way of having sexual intercourse with several men has now become the way out for Sophie (after her first experience with the truck drivers at the border) who previously had promised not to engage herself in such an illicit act on Pg 73. Even while the story of several people dying of AIDS went viral in the squatter camp, it won’t in any way teach her any lesson. She went further to expand her sex merchandising business by having another unprotected sex on Pg 86, making another stupid pledge of hers.  I convinced myself that would be the last time I exchanged my body for… Of course, you all read about the result of her sex escapade.

As there were many deaths at the camp, we had our own graveyard… This statement sets a tone of ill-predictions, obscure future and poverty. For people to think about death even before it willingly arrives is one crazy thing anyone can ever imagine. Well in a situation where sexually transmitted disease flies all around like a kite, two things should be put in place. You’d either use protection or prepare your final place of rest, six feet beneath the earth.


 All I saw were sad faces, people who moved up and down like zombie…

Restless children cry on their mother’s back…

Pieces of furniture suitcases, bicycles, scotch carts and other household effects were all over the place.

These phrases tell of the emotional torture once hut owners at the camp felt. The anguish dwellers suffered was well expressed for a vivid view here. Virginia did well buttressing her point here with vivid imagery into what seems unpleasant for these city camp dwellers. She made us feel the suffering of the people, their pain and the effect of the displacement suffered at the camp through adjectives and some necessary figures of speech which ensured the conformation of the sentences to suit the author’s intended purpose. Even though Sophie’s family had left the camp for residency in the village, she still connects to the camp, advocates for HIV and AIDS, that’s why she can’t help but attend to the needs of the dying people.

Carefully setting in the Republic of Zimbabwe, the author did her best bringing what could be means of livelihood for women whose effort to cater for their families were been thwarted by incoherency of economic strategies coupled with what seems to be a bleak future. Virginia’s connection to the suffering of the African women-folk here is quite clear enough to be understood here after several deployments of literary ‘tools’.

This is yet another good piece which educates the populace well on the subject of HIV and AIDS after the order of Albert Nyathi’s ‘Ten Conversations to end AIDS’. I think Zimbabweans are really making headway, combating this sniper virus which has claimed thousands of lives in recent time. The Highway Queen is a story which digs deep into the mind and sufferings of an average African woman who finds herself in a dilemma she wouldn’t initially have thought of. A good read it is for everyone who cares to know.


Beyond Mere Words



Book title: Beyond Mere Words

Author: Jane Silverwood

Publisher: Harlequin Super romance

Publication year: 1988


Lawyers are very crafty, analytic and could also be referred to as good legal-case drivers. Their arguments are always spiced with proofs and choices to pick from where the final decision of the judge is concerned. And then when a legal practitioner woos a lady of his choice, what will you expect?  Adam’s careful proposal to Francy and his bait-like offers presented should be well applauded in the whole of this book. His careful use of words and patience deployed to getting innocent Italian Francy was quite laudable for what some may call a sharp shooter’s approach to getting the big game. He had carefully lined up activities even before the days unfold for Francy up to a point where she was totally hooked and couldn’t let go. Well if I may say, it was a struggle that was really worth it, had Francy changed her mind, and then it would have been another thing light-hearted Prosecutor from Howard County will have to battle with for the rest of his bachelor’s life.

Jane’s act of switching too swiftly from one scene to another might be too much in a haste leaving less detail to feast on. From my end, I may say she’s not taking enough time to flesh out each scene before birthing it forth and ten taking on a new one. This was quite vivid in several portions of the book and on Pg 167 where Adam invited Francy to go with him on a vac to Bermuda, and then the author wouldn’t establish this well on Pg 177. Maybe it was just an intentional act to conceal some details but I actually was waiting for her to immerse the reader’s mind into more about Bermuda before eventually embarking on the aeroplane. My opinion, though.

Living with a reading disability like dyslexia (became one central theme determining the progress of Francy’s portion of the story) is one big problem for Francy as she just couldn’t read. Telling Adam even was one big problem for her even though Theresa had told her to explain things to him hoping he would understand. And now with the love in the air, Ben Chalett’s view about Francy’s background, Patricia Pearce’s wanting to know who her daughter-in-law is and Adam’s political ambition at stake, one might just be a bit confused which way to go.

I strongly think Jane did an awesome work building up more tension, drama on Francy’s dyslexic condition and how it affected some other people in this story’s past. The way it linked to Jerry’s inability to read, Adam’s  grade three mate and dyslexia being common amongst the Raseras was one good way this story builds up to be captivating. Francy who becomes the main character to which this dyslexic syndrome was concentrated soon becomes an object of pity when she had a challenge with the onboard restroom on Ben Chalett’s yacht, and then negotiating if she could stay through the day without easing herself. The problem was just too much for her to bear. If privileged to come onto the scene, I would have advised she let go of the fear and tell Adam the truth about her reading disability.

Though Jane did a good job putting ‘Beyond Mere Words’ in our hands coupled with the fact that it does make a good romantic fiction, but some few inadequacies could be corrected in her future works. Inadequacies such as on Pg 281 and towards the end paragraph where Barbara Kains used the word ‘Release’ instead of ‘discharge’ which seems to be the most appropriate professional jargon in the medical world. I also pondered on the fact that there ought to be a bit of a rivalry or simply put drama between Barbara and Francy. You know, I was actually wondering why Patricia would send Barbara over to straighten issues with Francy. Why Barbara?

Learning to live with killing attempts may be one prevalent issue for politicians around the globe, and I pretty take delight in the first strike on Adams. It caught the reader’s attention, caused us to go into suspense, pondering what could happen next to Adam. I can tell every reader was shocked reading that this renowned and successful prosecutor of Howard County was shot.

This work made a good romantic fiction and was a good read if I may say.

The Awakened Mage




Book title: The Awakened Mage

Author: Karen Miller

Publisher: Orbit

Publication year: 2007


I’d likened The Awakened Mage to a TV series in 2008 by the title ‘Merlin’. There is so much resemblance to the characters in The Awakened Mage and the storyline in Merlin. Two Kingdoms played a significant role in the progression of this story by Karen Miller. The Olken and the Doranen. The Olken were the original owner of the land but were scattered all around. The Doranen came with Barl their leader, running away from what has become an evil mage Morg. The Doranen saw that the land was good but the weather was so bad that their farmers were suffering and wouldn’t get a good yield. Both kingdoms went into an agreement. The Olken will do magic no longer while the Doranen will continue doing magic. Generations of Olken born after believed they had no magic, but the prophecy was spoken and the expected Mage who will bring the people out of their trouble was born. As expectantly as possible, some members of the circle had awaited the time for the fulfilment of this prophesy, and finally, the Mage spoken of in this prophecy was eventually identified, though by few people. And then comes Asher of Restharvan.

Asher (the innocent mage) in this story played a significant role, partly in decision making and also as an adviser in his own way in the kingdom of Lur though directly to Prince Gar who later became the king. He was the fate of the kingdom, this which was only known to some few people but of course by members of the circle and the evil Mage himself. Gar being a crowned prince and an apparent heir to the throne of his father, never initially possess any magic (possessing magic is one basic quality any King that will rule in Lur should have) whatsoever but instead, his sister had (this she used in oppressing his brother who seems not to have one). But just as fate will take charge of the turns of event in the story, and after the death of his family, Gar realised he was beginning to have magic, which initially couldn’t take control of. The role of Asher being the protagonist in the story made him to solely determine the rightful placement of the story’s jigsaw, which means without his pictorial part in this ‘puzzle’ there will be a problem getting the puzzle in its right place.

Just as Asher is the Innocent Mage (The Kingmaker), we also have in this mind blowing story the Awakened Mage (The Kingbreaker), in the person of Morg. Morg has always been opposing the coming of Asher who is the destiny of the kingdom of Lur. His goal in the continuation part of this story by Karen Miller is to bring down the wall surrounding the kingdom of Lur built by his lover Barl, years back down.

Karen Miller did a wonderful work bringing into play a work of fiction with a good blend of European tradition, voodoo and magic to tell a tale of a kingdom dividing even while her leaders were still alive. The use of ancient craft, architecture, clothing and even words helps in communicating the story in an understandable way which can hardly be resisted. In a nutshell, the Awakened Mage is all about the final identification of an innocent mage whose personality has been revealed longtime ago even before he was born in a prophecy by a naïve man who will do anything if it means saving the kingdom. This is a good read, rich in culture and garnished with a good salivating taste of a European culture that can’t be resisted. It is a journey back into ancient times where the traditions of the people meant a lot to them up to the extent of playing a lead role in determining the way things are done.

I extend my Special appreciation to my friend Joy Frank for co-reviewing this with me. Sincerely I love the joy deployed into this review. (Lol)