Book Review - Nomad

by James Swallow (Macmillan) ISBN: 978-1-78576-183-6 


Marc Dane is a member of a special M16 team called Nomad. Whilst the focus is often on the tactical squad, Marc shies from the limelight and prefers a backup role – as a technician operating drones and computers from the mobile van. It’s a role that attracts scorn from the alpha males in the team. 

But it is this role that saves his life when a raid goes badly wrong and Marc is left as the only survivor. Under immediate suspicion by M16 he finds himself on the run but bent on revenge for his team, which includes his friend and lover. 

Marc must pursue an Islamic terror group ready to deploy a secret weapon in the heart of America. The terrorists however are not the only obstacle as they are supported by an international crime syndicate that’s reach extends even within Marc’s own agency. Providentially he is not alone and finds an ally in a shadowy organisation that may have a similar agenda to his own. 

Nomad has all the ingredients of a fast paced spy thriller – terror cells, the dark underworld of international crime, and the shadowy subterfuge of spy agencies. This all may sound so clichéd, but Nomad works, and the best part is that James Swallow is not finished with Marc Dane. 

Wayne 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 - The Comet Seekers

by Helen Sedgwick (Harvill Secker) ISBN 9781910701744 


‘Why draw a square house with a triangular roof when you can draw the patterns in the stars?’ 

This is definitely my best book of the year. It has everything I’m always looking for in a book: magic, science, and love stories. The tone and lyrical clear writing resonate with Sarah Winman’s books, including When God was a Rabbit and A Year of Marvellous Ways

Several stories are intertwined, like echoes of past generations, moving backward and forward through time. But the two main storylines are about Róisín and François who meet in Antarctica at a research centre. She is fascinated by comets. He is the chef of the team. 

The comets that have passed through the skies for the last hundreds of years connect them and influence the destiny and fate of this unlikely pair. The ghosts of the past also play an important role in the lives of Róisín and Francois. A thread through the embroidery of this narrative is the tapestry of Bayeux. 

This is Sedgwick’s debut novel. She is a research physicist from Edinburgh. Science and poetry often go together. I can’t wait to read her next book. 

Pauline Vijverberg
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 - Here I Am

by Jonathan Safran Foer (Hamish Hamilton) ISBN 9780241146187 


The Blochs are an upper middle-class American family consisting of Jacob, the father: always questioning himself, ambivalent, neurotic; Julia, the mother: artistic, unfulfilled, controlling, argumentative, neurotic; Sam, the eldest son: intelligent, rebellious, aloof; Max, the middle son: hungry for facts which he is always collecting; and Benji, the youngest son: bright child, observant, impressionable. 

Sam, who is is studying for his Bar mitzvah, might be expelled from school. Jacob believes his son is innocent; Julia does not. This friction escalates towards a marriage breakdown. Meanwhile, their cousins from Israel arrive for a family reunion and while they are there a catastrophic earthquake causes a crisis in the Middle East. With their own personal crisis and the one in the Middle East, they are forced to do some soul searching. 

Safran Foer wrote Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. In this novel, he often puts too much on the plate. He tries to shock his readers which often does not add to the story but rather confuses the issue.  The characters are searching for meaning in their lives but often go round in circles. 

Dawn Blankfield
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 Black Widow

by Daniel Silva (Harper Collins) ISBN: 978-0-00-755236-8 


With the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, global terrorism, and ISIS, it is not surprising that there is a plethora of novels that orbit this phenomenon. So after finishing one book on terrorism it was with a sense of trepidation that I picked up The Black Widow

As the title suggests, Daniel Silva’s latest novel engages the theme of terrorism, and particularly the use of radicalised women becoming terrorists, specifically suicide bombers (from whence the term Black Widow originates). Silva resurrects his celebrated character Gabriel Alon, thought to be dead, to engage a new terror threat. 

After a particularly brutal bombing in Paris and a rise in attacks in Israel, Alon recruits a young doctor to not only infiltrate ISIS but to travel into the heart of the Caliphate in Syria. His new protégé must win the trust of one of the masterminds of a terror cell, as well as convince them that she herself is prepared to become a martyr for the cause. 

The Black Widow is an engaging read that confronts us with a threat that is closer to home than we think. 

Wayne 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 - Andy And His Magic Phone Visit The World Next Door

by Kim Ebner (Struik Children) ISBN: 978-1-43230-516-1 


This is the first book from Johannesburg-based attorney Kim Ebner who has a penchant for fantasy novels. 

Andy receives a second hand phone from his parents for his twelfth birthday. He is over the moon. While at school with his new phone, he gets several urgent messages from a stranger wanting to meet with him to give him a brand new phone in exchange for the one he has. His science teacher, Mr Casper, catches him texting in class and he gets detention. Detention turns out to be at Mr Casper’s house. In the basement science lab, Andy discovers his phone has magical powers that transport him to another world. Upon his arrival, he loses his phone but makes a new friend, Harold. From Harold he learns that evil adults have been trying to enslave this world that used to belong to children.

The two friends set off to find Andy’s phone and to save the “world next door”. 

As a parent, I thought it was inappropriate for Andy to be receiving text messages from a strange adult, meeting the stranger and then going to detention at a teacher’s home. I felt uncomfortable reading it to my children. 

Ewa Fabris
www.writerswrite.co.za
1/5

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

Book Review - Tannie Maria & The Satanic Mechanic

by Sally Andrew (Umuzi) ISBN: 978-1-4152-0767-3


Get out of the way, Jessica Fletcher and make way for the Klein Karoo’s Tannie Maria. 

This wonderfully-written South African read will have you laughing all the way to the kitchen to prepare of one of Tannie Maria’s Venus chocolate cakes. Her solution to all her agony aunt column questions in the local newspaper is one of her delicious recipes. The crime and investigation story line, although serious, is quickly lost in another delicious recipe. 

As she sheds a few pounds, and enjoys an interesting love life, she uncovers a few of her own problems. She seeks help from the ‘satanic mechanic’ – straight out of the rocky horror picture show. During this journey, she finds herself tangled up in another murder that she and her detective boyfriend may, or may not, solve. The cultures and languages of South Africa are richly and beautifully expressed.

This book is the sequel to Recipes For Love And Murder, but it can easily be read as a standalone book with its charm and lovable characters. 

Tammany Barton
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 - Agents Of The State

by Mike Nicol (Umuzi) ISBN: 978-1-41520-718-5 


Nicol’s latest thriller is filled with interesting characters, including the President and his son, who are involved in some dirty deeds. 

Initially, Agent Vicki Kahn’s first assignment for the State Security Agency is to bring a child trafficker back to South Africa. When the child trafficker disappears and Vicki Kahn’s next contact in Berlin is found dead, she wonders why she left her safe job as a lawyer. There seem to be more answers to questions. 

Vicki’s lover, PI Fish Pescado investigation, is somehow linked to Vicki’s case and he is told to warn Vicki. The only problem is that Vicki is not answering his calls and seems to want nothing further to do with him. Pescado and the reader is left wondering who is leading Vicki into danger and why. 

Everyone wants to get closer to the President including Vicki and Fish. Vicki must solve the case but she faces dangerous people who are politically connected. 

Agents Of the State is an exciting story filled with conspiracies, power struggles, and agency secrets. 

Ulrike Hill
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 Owl Always Hunts At Night

by Samuel Bjork (Doubleday) ISBN: 9780857522535


The Owl Always Hunts At Night - part crime thriller, part human drama, is the second book in the Munch and Kruger series.
 
The carefully posed body of a teenage girl is found in the forest of Sandefjord, Oslo. She is naked except for some feathers and a white lily in her mouth. 

Detective Holger Munch suspects that he might have a new serial killer on his hands, and needs Mia Kruger on the case. Only Mia with her keen observation skills and ability to understand the darkness of the human psyche will be able to help him find this killer before he strikes again.
 
Mia, suspended from work pending a psychological assessment, is battling her own demons. Still haunted by loss of her beloved twin sister, she wrestles with the addictions that help her numb the pain. Brought back into the team by Munch, Mia struggles to hold it together but soon gets wrapped up in delivering justice for the victim.
 
With the help of a young hacker they uncover the depths of the depravity of the killer. What they don’t know is just how close to home this case will come.

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 - Ratner’s Star

by Don Delillo (Picador) ISBN: 9780679722922 


Delillo first released this book in 1976 after undertaking a period of study in mathematics for fun. Anyone who can find mathematics fun is admirable in my view. As an enjoyable read however, this book didn’t add up for me. 

Boy genius Billy is the first person to win a Nobel Prize in Mathematics, his work understood by less than a handful of people worldwide. He is recruited by a strange and at times sinister group of well-funded scientists to decode a message that earth has received from outer space near Ratner’s Star. 

My experience of this novel is lodged somewhere between a Salman Rushdie novel and a George Orwell novel. That is, I could compute more meaning in the book than I could while reading Midnight’s Children, but it didn’t convey metaphorical meaning as effectively as 1984 or Animal Farm. I might simply not be smart enough to grasp the message or the maths. 

Justine Cullinan
www.writerswrite.co.za
1/5

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

Book Review - Fear Of Dying

by Erica Jong (Canongate) ISBN: 9781782117476
 

Who says life ends at sixty? Certainly not Vanessa Wonderman. At sixty-years-old, she is fighting the fight against ageing with as much grace and determination as she can muster. Having been a small-screen villain for many years, lived the New York high life and partied with the best, Vanessa is just not yet ready to retire. 

Life however has other plans. Vanessa’s ageing parents are getting closer to death’s door and resort to emotional blackmail to get her to visit. Her wayward daughter, Glinda is pregnant and Vanessa is going to be a grandmother. Lastly, her marriage to Asher is not quite what is used to be. So, what’s a girl to do but sign up to a casual encounters website? 

What ensues is a wild ride with Vanessa as she tries hard not to embrace getting older or being responsible, and fails at both. A hilarious juxtaposition of relationships, online dating, wild suggestions and normal real life issues ensues. This is a bittersweet read that will leave you thinking about mortality. 

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.