Book Review - Never Go Back

by Lee Child (Bantam Press) ISBN: 9780857503497 


Another brilliant page-turner from Lee Child – another glimpse into the tall, dark and handsome loner called Jack Reacher, and another Number one best seller! 

And there’s a movie out, so why would I read this -simply because reading Lee Child is so exciting. He writes cinematically. The action sequences come alive without the need for sound effects; the maze of Washington D.C. is thrummingly real; the “baddies” are really bad; and the stakes are high. Every chapter ends on a sentence that simply drives you forward and I couldn’t stop until I got to the very last page. 

I can’t give away any of the plot line, but it’s everything one expects of the author, and of his legendary character, Jack Reacher. This is fast, engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable read - escapism at its best. 

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

Review 2 (October 2013)

Jack Reacher has travelled to Virginia from South Dakota because he liked Major Susan Turner's voice when he spoke to her on the phone.

When he finally reaches his destination, he discovers that Major Turner has been arrested, and that he has two charges against him, one a 16-year-old homicide. He is told that he has been called back to active duty and that the army is in charge of his future. Anyone who reads the series knows the hero doesn't like being told what to do. Reacher and Turner escape from prison and decide to find out what is really going on.

Reacher is an enigma - of sorts. Lee Child has created a semi-unreliable narrator. We know what he's thinking but we don't know everything. Or maybe he isn't thinking. Maybe he is just an efficient machine determined to always win. 
It doesn't matter though, because Lee Child is very good at what he does. He writes entertaining thrillers that keep you turning the page. 

Amanda Patterson

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

Book Review - Terrestrial Game Birds & Snipes Of Africa

by Rob Little (Jacana) ISBN: 9781431424146


This handbook on Guinea fowls, Francolins, Spur fowls, Quails, Sandgrouse, and Snipes offers a detailed glimpse into the lives of these remarkable species. As a beginning bird enthusiast I was thrilled to learn more about these African game birds. 

The book has a wide selection of beautiful photographs. It is divided into six parts with detailed information on for example habitat and habits, food and feeding, breeding and conservation of each species. The descriptions and pictures were helpful to identify and distinguish adults and juveniles. 

I was also interested by the paragraphs on habits including a description of the call of each species. It’s full of fascinating facts: Some birds are monogamous, of some their breeding is triggered by rainfall, some birds react to calls played back to them. 

I never knew that the Helmeted Guinea fowls in my garden were so sociable: they socialise and dust-bath at dawn, then a couple of hours before sunset they socialise again and flock members emit a single-noted ‘cheenk’ to each other. 

I can highly recommend this book to bird lovers, but also to anyone who is interested in Africa’s beautiful bird life. 

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 - Double Echo

by Francois Bloemhof (Penguin) ISBN: 9781485903093


Bloemhof is a decorated South African writer and this makes his 24th novel for adults. Double Echo is translated from Afrikaans which attracted me to the book because I often find a fresh use of the English language reveals itself in the translation process. 

Ex-cop Paul Mullan finds himself employed as a chauffeur in the household of wealthy, wheel-chair bound wine farm owner Bernard Russell. Over four days Russell’s daughter makes naïve advances on Paul while his sceptical and protective household staff mistrust him immediately.  All the while Paul fights his feelings for Russell’s much younger, cliché of an ex-waitress girlfriend as well as his cop instinct on a number of mysterious fragments of this household’s past. 

I was not disappointed in the style of the writing and the well-worded descriptions for characters and scenery. The book did however fail to meet acceptable standards of a compelling thriller.  It’s as though Bloemhof pressed fast-forward just when the plot itself got underway and glided over any real depth or relevance to reach an all too convenient and thoroughly unbelievable conclusion. 
 
Justine Cullinan
www.writerswrite.co.za
2/5

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

Book Review - The Woman In The Photo

by Mary Hogan (William Morrow) ISBN: 978-0-06-238693-9


Mary Hogan is the New York based bestselling author of Two Sisters and a number of young adult titles. 

Hogan weaves together two coming-of-age tales, one set in the late Victorian era and the other in the present day. 

Elizabeth Haberlin, of the Pittsburgh Haberlins, holidays with her family every summer at the exclusive South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. The club is built on the banks of a lake in the Allegheny Mountains, above the steel-mill town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. When the lake wall disintegrates during heavy rains and floods the community below, her life is irrevocably changed by the destruction. 

Lee Parker is about to turn eighteen, becoming eligible to receive information about her closed adoption. The information includes an old photograph of two women standing together amongst rubble. One of them is the founder of American Red Cross, Clara Barton, and the other is Lee’s ancestor. She juggles her love and respect for her adoptive mother, Valerie, with the desperate need to know where she comes from as she hunts for more information. 

A beautiful, detailed, and well-researched novel, Hogan uses actually historical events as the backdrop. It is a satisfying, but not memorable read. 

Ewa Fabris
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 - Truly Madly Guilty

by Liane Moriarty (Michael Joseph) ISBN: 9780718180287


Erika is the perfect automaton who manages her life on a tightly controlled schedule, and is equally matched by her anxious husband Oliver. Together they seem to have it all, although Erika hides a tragic past that threatens to derail her. Clementine is a flighty cellist who is married to creative marketer, Sam with whom she has two little girls, Holly and Ruby. 

That Erika and Clementine are friends is a surprise to anyone who meets them. After all, Clementine would never describe Erika as her best friend, even though they have been friends since primary school. 

A chance invitation to an afternoon barbecue with Vid and Tiffany, Erika and Oliver’s colourful neighbours make Clementine and Sam eager to spend time with Erika and Oliver. The afternoon proves to be one that none of the participants will ever forget. The events that transpire over that Saturday in perfect suburbia will have far reaching consequences for every one of them. 

Truly Madly Guilty builds up slowly to a satisfying conclusion, and showcases human frailty and love in spectacular detail. 

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 - Orphans Of The Carnival

by Carol Birch (Canongate) ISBN: 9781782116547
 

Carol Birch is a true author. I know this because with this novel she has taken an innocuous collection of facts and created an entire life and a deeply believable story of that life out of them.  The finesse with which she has done this is nothing short of charming. 

Julia Pastrana was born covered in hair with several appearance similarities to the evolutionary father of the human race, that being the ape. The novel follows a possible life that Ms Pastrana might have had, incorporating her performance on the stage, her undignified and endless examinations by scientists and doctors for financial gain by her employers, her marriage to her manager and her death after giving birth to a child who inherited her hirsute condition. 

This novel is bittersweet pathos. At a time where the whole world is embroiled in a raging war on inequality, the story of Julia reminded me of the true nature of humanity, both beautiful and terrible.  

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 - Never Never

by James Patterson and Candice Fox (Century) ISBN: 978-1-78-089544-4 


Candice Fox is billed as one of Australia's best crime writers. This is her first collaboration with James Patterson. It was my first James Patterson co-authored novel. I wasn't blown away. For a crime thriller, the story took too long to unfold and the short chapters did little to create tension. A lack of any discernible difference between the three different viewpoints through which the story is told didn't help. 

Sydney sex-crimes detective, Harriet (Harry) Blue, is quickly shipped off to the outback – the never never – by her boss after her brother is accused of and arrested for the murders of at least three women. The emotionally volatile Harry is partnered with a detective also running from personal matters. They're sent to investigate the disappearance of a miner. But things at the mine are not as they first appear. 

As they dig deeper, they discover a militant environmental group that sabotages mine equipment; a drug lord with a temper and penchant for violence; prostitutes with information for sale; more missing miners and mine bosses more concerned with profit than human life. It's an uninspired race-against-the-clock to catch the perpetrator. 

Liesl Williams
www.writerswrite.co.za
2/5

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

Book Review - Beyond The High Blue Air

by Lu Spinney (Atlantic Books) ISBN: 9781782398875 


Lu Spinney’s athletic, fun-loving son, Miles is injured in a snowboarding accident at age 29. The injuries lead to brain damage, and the book follows Lu’s painful journey from when Miles is brought back to a hospital in Innsbruck to start his recovery. What unfolds is the story of gradual acceptance that things will never be the same again. 

Lu takes us on an intimate journey of what is feels like to lose an aspect of someone you know and love. While Miles is physically fine, his severe brain injury means that he can never return to the life he once had, never be the outgoing adventure seeker he had once been. For his family this is a time of huge adjustment, sorrow and reflection on the son and brother they knew can never return to them. 

Beyond the High Blue Air delves into the depth of parental love with honesty. The fact that this is a non-fiction story makes it even more compelling and heart breaking.

Merissa Himraj
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 Last Star

by Rick Yancey (Penguin) ISBN: 9780141345925


Despite the success of The Fifth Wave and The Infinite Sea, the conclusion to Yancey’s bestselling post-apocalyptic series is, at best, mediocre. 

Four global catastrophes wiped out the majority of the population, and the fifth – the creation of child-driven death squads brainwashed into hunting down survivors – threatens to remove “trust” from the human vocabulary. The enemy, the Other, has almost succeeded in its initiative, yet Cassie, Ringer and Zombie will risk everything to preserve the last flickering fragments of hope on Earth. 

In what should be an action-filled fight to save what’s left of humanity, Cassie and the dregs of Squad 52 do little more than wander around a wasteland reciting monologues about betrayal. Yancey seemed bored with his characters and eager to be done with the series altogether. Unfortunately, this seeped into his storytelling: the eerie, despondent tones that gave the first two novels their edge dissolved into little more than a monotonous drone. Even Cassiopeia – one of my favourite characters in Science Fiction – dulled from a fiery, witty heroine to an impulsive, sulking nuisance. 

Overall, The Last Star was wildly disappointing, with few redeemable elements. As a series finale, it does the bare minimum in providing dedicated readers with closure. 

Amy Bouwer
www.writerswrite.co.za
2/5

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

Book Review - Lament For The Fallen

by Gavin Chait (Doubleday) ISBN: 9780857523761


This is a science-fiction novel set in a remote village of Nigeria called Ewuru. 

The villagers discover the body of a man when a strange object falls from the sky and crashes in the jungle. The villagers know that the warlord from a neighbouring militia will soon be over to investigate the crash site and in turn threaten their livelihood, so they decide to hide their guest and learn more about him. 

The man’s name is Samara and he has managed to escape his planet where he was imprisoned. He wants to go back to release the other prisoners from a world that is similar to the kind of world modern man is progressing towards, yet it has its failings.  
One of the biggest drawbacks of this story is that the characters are not fleshed out enough and I felt no real connection with any of them. 

Chait was born in Cape Town and later emigrated to the UK. He has degrees in Microbiology & Biochemistry, and Electrical Engineering. This is his first novel.  

Ashleigh Seton-Rogers
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.