Book Review - ADHD Nation

by Alan Schwarz (Little, Brown) ISBN: 978-1-4087-0657-2 


Diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have exploded in the USA over the past twenty years. However, the research shows that it can’t be that prevalent. 

ADHD Nation interrogates ‘the disorder, the drugs, the inside story’. It examines its history, starring the father of ADHD, Dr Keith Conners. It scrutinises drugs like Ritalin and Concerta that evolved to treat the (very real, the author emphasises) disorder. It investigates the role of a billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry that clearly sells products not healthcare. Within this context, ADHD Nation gives voice to Connors, to doctors, to parents, and mostly to patients who are misdiagnosed, some with devastating consequences. 

Schwarz is a New York Times journalist and this book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. It’s clear why. It is impeccably researched non-fiction that reads like fiction, making it enthralling and accessible. I particularly enjoyed the history of ADHD (originally ‘Minimal Brain Disorder’) and the ironic science of using stimulants to quell hyper-activity. The Big Pharma imperative to sell products (not healthcare) no doubt prevails in South Africa too. 

ADHD is an ‘everyone knows someone’ phenomenon in SA and this book provides informed and objective context. 

Deborah Minors
www.writerswrite.co.za 
3/5 

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

Book Review - The Street

by Paul McNally (Macmillan) ISBN: 9781770104563 


The street is Ontdekkers Road in Sophiatown and Paul McNally is a journalist writing a book. He is the founding member of The Citizen Justice Network. He produces feature articles and narrative radio documentaries for Wits Journalism on criminal justice, health and science.

This story begins at a charge office in Sophiatown. Raymond is having an outburst at the police. Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Khaba becomes interested in Raymond as he has his own axe to grind from a previous case. Lerato, who is a cop, is married to Obi, a Nigerian drug dealer and they work hand-in-hand much to the chagrin of many. How will these people interact and what will the outcome be?

McNally points out the difficulties of all the parties involved. There is temptation for the law-abiding citizens, criminals and police. The story captures the feelings and dilemmas that each face. Who is the bad guy?

Two years ago McNally thought he was writing about a man who failed to conquer corruption. Now he sees reality in the power of adaptation and the capacity to survive.

I found this non-fiction story insightful and interesting. 

Dawn Blankfield
www.writerswrite.co.za
3.5/5

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

Book Review - Duty And Honour

Jack Ryan Universe #21 by Grant Blackwood (Michael Joseph) ISBN: 9780718181956


Jack Ryan is thrust from what is meant to be a relaxing vacation, back into the world of espionage when an assassination attempt is made on his life. Working without the backing of The Campus, Jack needs to use all his training and prior knowledge to get to the bottom of who wants him eliminated.

Clues lead him to Jurgen Rostock who heads up a dubious security company out of Germany. Rostock has crossed paths with Jack before on a previous mission. It would seem that Jack is a liability Rostock needs removed. Armed with only his training, wits and the reluctant help of journalist Effrem Likkel, Jack is soon on a mission to uncover the truth behind Rostock’s company dealings, and why he wants Jack killed.

Fast-paced and written for easy translation to the screen, this is an action-packed thriller set in stunning locations with an engaging storyline. Grant Blackwood continues the legacy of Tom Clancy admirably.

Merissa Himraj
www.writerswrite.co.za 
3.5/5

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

Book Review - Jack Simons: Teacher, Scholar, Comrade

by Hugh Macmillan (Jacana) ISBN: 9781431423347


Jacana’s pocket series is truly delightful. These little books have been written to offer a content packed overview of a range of African historical and political topics and are all authored by African thought-leaders. They also fit neatly into a handbag which appeals to the need to adapt traditional paperback reading to modern consumer behaviour and time poverty. 

Jack Simons was one of original “A-Team” of the ANC. He worked alongside struggle stalwarts and during the ANC’s golden era including the likes of Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Helen Joseph. Simons was born in 1907, before the formation of the Union in 1910, and he died in 1995, one year after South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.  During that life he was a constant critic of racist thinking, an advocate of feminism and a vital role player in the production of the ANC’s Constitutional Guidelines for a post-apartheid South Africa. 

I enjoyed this insight into the life of a remarkable man with the courage of his convictions. I greatly appreciate the emotive yet candid incorporation of the light and shade of a man’s life that Macmillan has bravely included in the story. Even heroes are human and Macmillan shows that Simons is no different.  

Justine Cullinan
www.writerswrite.co.za 
4/5 

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

Book Review - Africa Solo

my world record race from Cairo to Cape Town by Mark Beaumont (Bantam Press) ISBN: 9780593076330 


What makes a man decide to ride a bicycle down the length of Africa as fast as he can? For Mark Beaumont, it’s a follow up to several extreme adventures: cycling across America, smashing the time record for cycling around the world, and nearly drowning in a team attempt to row across the Atlantic in less than thirty days.  

To be this driven, you’ve got to be passionate. And a little bit crazy. Maybe the pain and adrenaline are addictive. I never did get to understand this man. I didn’t really even get to like him very much, but I did find the account of his attempt to set a new record in the Guinness Book of Records by cycling, unsupported, from Cairo to Cape Town in under 50 days, completely fascinating. 

Every day brings new challenges: The daily challenge of achieving the kilometres required, finding food and lodging in some of remotest places on earth, and negotiating bureaucracy. There are many warm encounters with the local people, quite a few temper tantrums, mainly with slow kitchen staff (long-distance cycling makes you “hangry”- that anger brought on by extreme hunger) and some hard cycling. 

The book also includes some of the photographs taken en route, which highlight some of the sights and experiences he describes – a great addition to an epic story. 

Judy Ward
www.writerswrite.co.za
3.5/5

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

Book Review - The Last One

by Alexandra Oliva (Michael Joseph) ISBN: 9781405923170


Zoo needs one last adventure before she settles down to domestic bliss which is why she signed up for this show. The premise to the series is ground-breaking. A melding of real world meets reality where nothing is over-staged and contestants are in real situations with only hints and clues thrown in along the way to assist them. 

Set in the world of reality TV, The Last One explores what happens when twelve contestants take on a challenge like no other. Primed to give off their best and determined to win, contestants have no idea that life outside of their carefully filmed environment is also shifting and changing, while they duel it out for survival. 

Zoo is soon a fan-favourite working with fellow contestants to make it through each episode. Having found it easy to navigate at first, she begins to question why props seem uncharacteristically realistic and gruesome and clues and assistance seem to be scarce. 

Off camera a horrific scenario unfolds, forever altering the external landscape. The Last One is a spectacular look at our obsession with reality television, and a brilliant commentary on real life versus manufactured scenarios. 

Merissa Himraj
www.writerswrite.co.za
4/5

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

Book Review - Insanely Gifted

Turn Your Demons into Creative Rocket Fuel by Jamie Catto (Canongate) ISBN: 978 1 78211 803 9 


Jamie Catto is a founding member of the band Faithless and 1 Giant Leap, an album and film project that seeks to showcase “Unity Through Diversity”. He has been leading personal development workshops for over a decade. 

I enjoyed this book thoroughly but think I need to read it a few more times. The cover grabbed me straight away with a zany reptile staring out defiantly, but it’s the wisdom it contains that had me inhaling each page. I appreciated Catto’s irreverent style of calling a spade a spade. 

I learned, to my enormous relief, that all the junk rattling around in my head can be pure gold. There are simple games and strategies in each chapter that are so useful without being overly academic about the psychology behind them. The book does what is says on the cover, the stuff that weighs you down is also the stuff that can propel you to living a miraculous life. Although this is the work of a lifetime, this book is a great boost in the right direction. 

It’s the perfect read for those feeling stuck in situations or frozen by the fear of the unknown. Also, it’s completely entertaining. 

Ewa Fabris
www.writerswrite.co.za
5/5

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

Book Review - Christmas Under The Stars

by Karen Swan (Pan Macmillan) ISBN: 9781447280163 


Swan is an international best-selling novelist with a penchant for fashion and a reputation as a romantic. This, her eleventh novel, certainly lives up to that image. 

Meg and her best friend Lucy live in a remote part of the Canadian Rockies where skiing and snowboarding in the breath-taking surrounds is what attracts tourists from all over the world to their little corner of heaven. As beautiful as Banff is, it is also treacherous and tragedy strikes setting Meg on a path of discovery involving an astronaut, her estranged sister, a bear attack and a series of realisations that her best friend isn’t the person she believed her to be. 

A real page-turner this novel doesn’t let the reader rest for excitement. Swan’s experienced story-telling fulfils all those good book requirements avid readers expect. There’s plenty of drama but none of it is unrealistic, lots of depth without the length and prose of a saga, and a smattering of factual information that really bring the words to life. A great summer read and a very quick 500 pages. 

Justine Cullinan
www.writerswrite.co.za
4/5

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

Book Review - The Insect Farm

by Stuart Prebble (Alma Books) ISBN: 9781846883545


Jonathan and Roger Maguire are brothers. They lead fairly normal lives, with Roger, the elder, being mentally challenged. 

Roger builds an insect farm. He purchases varieties of insects, and observes their behaviour. Jonathan, our narrator, attends an out of town university, together with his girlfriend Harriet. The boys are obsessed, Roger with his insect farm, and Jonathan with beautiful flautist Harriet. 

Described as a psychological thriller, the pace of this is somewhat gentle. More eerie than terrifying, and more lurking evil than in-your-face axe murderer, I found that made it all the more disturbing. 

The plot unfolds cleverly to a satisfying conclusion, and you will want to reread the prologue, as I did. This is a taut, well-written debut, and I couldn't put it down. 

Bev Bouwer
www.writerswrite.co.za
4/5

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

Book Review - Dead To Me

by Lesley Pearse (Michael Joseph) ISBN: 9780718181215

Dead To Me begins in 1935 in Hampstead Heath. Verity is a well-mannered rich girl who meets the dirty and uncouth Ruby on a spring day. When their circumstances are reversed, they help one another through the transition. Their friendship lasts a lifetime, through tragedies and injuries, and troubles with parents and boyfriends. 

Although Verity is in London and Ruby in Babbacombe for most of the Second World War, and an incident leaves them estranged for years, they eventually reconnect at just the right time. 

The novel is a harrowing story of trials and tragedies for both characters. The story makes the realities and daily life of wartime Britain more tangible. After all the challenges the two face, it is good to see their resilience shine through.  Dead To Me is a good read. 

Amanda Blankfield-Koseff
www.writerswrite.co.za
3.5/5

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