Book Review - Entrepreneurship 101

by Joshua Maluleke (Blackbird Books) ISBN: 9781928337164

Maluleke writes the following in the Author’s Note, “The book aims to educate all South Africans about the fundamentals of entrepreneurship while looking at a uniquely South African business environment.” It is this quote that makes Maluleke’s book different from the many imported business books from top international business people. It is written for the South African market by a South African entrepreneur. 

Maluleke understands the business landscape. His experience in the business world and understanding of the problems that face South Africa’s unemployment rate is clear. His debut book provides simple and practical advice for any person who would like to own their own business. Maluleke provides advice including how to start a business, researching your market and what type of business to register. The case-studies are helpful and the templates are time-savers. 

Entrepreneurship 101 is a short, easy-to-read book but packed with relevant information for any potential business person. It is specifically recommended for the matriculant who has been pounding the pavement looking for a job. Read this book and be inspired. 

Ulrike Hill


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Book Review - The Inheritance

by Katie Agnew (Orion) ISBN: 9781409124917

Sophia Beaumont Brown, the epitome of good girl gone bad, has led a privileged life, now marred by drugs and alcohol. Cut off from her family, Sophia continues to live a party girl existence with her best friend Hugo. 

Her grandmother, dying of terminal cancer, reaches out to Sophia through a series of memoir letters and chronicling the tale of an exquisite pearl necklace. Sophia’s grandmother expresses her need to see the pearl necklace one last time and so Sophia, with a renewed sense of life, sets off to track it down. 

I loved the themes of family and life purpose, of love and dedication spread throughout the book. As Sophia moves from her lonely and empty existence to one of redemption, I couldn’t help but cry through the last few chapters. 

It is a beautifully written book that will keep you hooked until the end so that you cannot help but cheer for Sophia, shed tears with her, and feel some part of you is her.  

Bernadette King


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Book Review - The Thabo Mbeki I Know

Edited by Sifiso Mxolisi Ndlovu and Miranda Strydom (Pan Macmillan South Africa) ISBN: 9781770103412 

The Thabo Mbeki I Know is a book of 46 recollections, and two forewords, celebrating the life of President Thabo Mbeki, one of South Africa’s, and indeed Africa’s, most exceptional thought leaders. The contributors are friends, comrades, statesmen, politicians and business associates who knew him as a young man, in South Africa and in exile, and those who met him as a statesman and worked with him as an African leader. 

The book is not a whitewash nor an attempt to rewrite history in any way. You also don’t have to like Thabo Mbeki to read it and enjoy it. 

What I love most about this book is that it is a history within a history. Everybody should read it to see what this world was like through the eyes of 48 remarkable people who each have their own stories to tell. It is like travelling through time to places I’ve only heard about. Places that now have texture and substance and intimacy. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Smuts Ngonyama’s contribution as well as that of Mavuso Msimang. The Thabo Mbeki I Know provides us with an opportunity to look not only at Thabo Mbeki’s story, but at the story of the ANC, in exile and at home, as revolutionaries and as a governing party. In its own way, it is a history of the current South African government and how it ended up in its current messy state.

The photographs are a wonderful bonus, showing the man, Thabo Mbeki, as a nuanced, complex, and completely human being.

Watch the launch of the book here

Amanda Patterson

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Die Laughing

edited by Joanne Hichens (Tattoo Press) ISBN: 9780994680518

This collection of South African short stories is the latest from the Short. Sharp. Stories Awards, supported by the National Arts Festival. It reminded me of the early Roald Dahl short stories: uncomfortable enough to make you think, delicate enough to touch your emotions, and cleverly twisted to keep you on your toes. 

Comedy can be a delicate line to walk – what’s amusing to one person doesn’t always tickle the funny bone of the next. I didn’t connect with all of them, but I really enjoyed the sheer variety of authors and approaches to humour. Some are light and witty; others are extremely dark and satirical. There are some brilliant twists, and some excellent writing. 

If I had to pick a favourite, it would be This Is Not A Joke, Maureen by Gail Schimmel because she made me laugh at the worst possible moments, and then question why I had. 

Die Laughing is not all fun and games, but laughing into the darkness sometimes brings the light. Definitely worth a read. 


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Book Review - The Uncommoners: The Crooked Sixpence

by Jennifer Bell (Corgi Books) ISBN: 9780552572507

Jennifer Bell began her career in in children’s books as a specialist bookseller at Foyles in London, one of the world’s most famous bookshops. The Crooked Sixpence is the first book in The Uncommoners Series

Ivy and her brother Seb are at the hospital because their granma Sylvie has taken a fall. Ivy spots a strange man lurking in the ward, with deformed hands. That’s when things take a turn for the weird. Upon returning to their grandmother’s house, they find it has been broken into and ransacked. A large floating glossy black feather has scratched “We can see you now” into the wallpaper. 

They evade the two men in black uniforms that appear on the doorstep by jumping into a magical suitcase. It takes them to the world of Lundinor, a giant market beneath London where uncommon, magical objects are traded. 

Ivy and Seb have to race against the clock to save their parents, who have been kidnapped by a dark guild within Lundinor. As they venture on, they learn more about their family heritage and make some interesting friends along the way. 

Exhilarating and enchanting, my children of nine and eleven were hooked from the first page. 

Ewa Fabris


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Book Review - Bullseye

by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge (Century) ISBN 978-1-78-089273-3

Michael Bennett returns in this action-packed story, this time to stop an assassination attempt on the US president. 

Similar to most of the stories in the series, Mike showcases his incredible detective skills as, together with the NYPD, he goes on a hunt to not only prevent the assassination attempt, but to figure out exactly who is behind it. With many more characters than normal, I was confused as suspects kept changing and people were cleared. As he delves deeper, he discovers that a couple might actually be behind the assassination attempt. 

There isn’t much movement in Bennett’s family drama, or further clarification in his on/off relationship with Mary Catherine. However the subplot line does offer some insight into the older children. 

Although the ending felt rather abrupt, as if things weren’t wrapped up properly, it left me waiting eagerly for the next mission. 

Bullseye is an overall good read for Michael Bennett fans. 

Alicia Sibanda


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Book Review - Be Frank With Me

by Julia Claiborne Johnson (Corvus) ISBN: 9781782399179

Julia Claiborne Johnson is an American journalist and this is her debut novel.
Mimi, known as M.M. Banning, is another Harper Lee. She is a reclusive writer who had one literary bestseller. Mimi decides to write a second novel, because she has lost all her money. Upon her request, her editor sends his own assistant Alice, so Mimi can meet her deadline. 

Alice has to look after Mimi’s nine-year-old autistic son, Frank. He is intelligent and unusual, because he dresses like a 1930s movie star. Despite his tantrums, he is lovable and funny. Be Frank With Me refers to his need for honesty. 

The story sounds appealing, but I struggled through the first part, because Frank is a walking encyclopaedia. The information is overwhelming and it does not blend in naturally. The narrative then becomes a bit lengthy.

The novel is well-written, but when I was reading the blurb, I expected a book like Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. It did not live up to my expectations.  

Pauline Vijverberg


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Book Review - Cold Earth

by Ann Cleeves (Macmillan) ISBN: 9781447278214

Cold Earth is the seventh in Ann Cleeves’s acclaimed Shetland series, now a major BBC drama. She has published 25 novels and has a large and faithful following. 

On a cold and wet winter’s day, villagers in the north-eastern archipelago of Shetland gather at a graveside to bid farewell to an old friend. The service, however, comes to an abrupt end as the unceasing rains dislodge the mountainside and a river of mud and earth crash through the cemetery and surrounding countryside. The spectators, safely out of the path of the mudslide, watch as a small croft, thought to be unoccupied, is destroyed in the mayhem. But in the small cottage a body of a woman is found and it soon becomes apparent that she was dead before the landslide, strangled in a red dress. 

Jimmy Perez, a local detective, must solve this murder and unearth the identity of the mysterious woman. The most endearing quality of this book is the characters: Perez, his stepdaughter, his colleagues, and his superior from the mainland Willow. 

Cold Earth is a good, solid detective read but unfortunately hardly a thriller. I found the pace pedestrian at best and almost longed for the book to resolve itself. 

Wayne Bouwer


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Book Review - Rushing Waters

by Danielle Steel (Bantam Press) ISBN: 9780593069158

In Danielle Steel’s new release, a hurricane slams into New York and changes the lives of a group of individuals caught up in the chaos and the heartbreak– an interior designer and her mother, an investment banker, a young ER doctor, and two varsity students. 

As NYU students, sensing an adventure, I really enjoyed Peter and Ben’s storyline. The novel deals well with grief and loss, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The characters – as beautiful and successful as they inevitably are in a Danielle Steel novel – grapple with issues of ageing parents, relocation, divorce, and infertility. But the storm – its destructive power and its aftermath – make up the core of the story. 

Steel has written about natural disasters before – the earthquake in Amazing Grace springs to mind – so this isn’t really a ‘fresh take’ for this bestselling author. However, she creates characters and situations we can all relate to as readers. Even with a heavy subject matter, it’s still an easy read. Steel’s latest release should go rushing off the shelves. 

Anthony Ehlers


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Book Review - Work Like Any Other

by Virginia Reeves (Scribner) ISBN: 9781471152221

Work like any other tells the story of Roscoe T. Martin, an electrician by trade, but married to Marie, a farmer's daughter. 

Roscoe is forced to make the most of what he has, and make farming - which he hates - work. He tries, but nothing cooperates, and everything is failing - the farm, his marriage and his life. Set in the 1920s, you can imagine the difficulties. Reverting to what he knows, Roscoe decides to run in an illegal line of electricity to help with the farming. And it works. Until it all goes horribly wrong. 

This debut novel by Virginia Reeves has many things to recommend it, including an interesting cover, an originality that is refreshing, and a length that won't put you off. 

The writing is great - not a word wasted, making it difficult to believe this is her first. The anxiety is tangible, and the characters strong and brave, true to themselves. I loved the pacing - fast enough to keep you interested, but not breathless - to take in the scenery and everything around you. 

I devoured each word on each page, and found myself satisfied, replete. 

Bev Bouwer


Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.