Book Review - The Ice Lands

by Steinar Bragi (Macmillan) ISBN: 9781447298816
 

Set in Reykjavik, The Ice Lands tells the story of four friends. Egill, Hrafn, Anna and Vigdis who decide to go on a camping trip to regroup and recover from a very difficult year. 

As they leave behind the city and move further into the countryside they are forced to reflect on themselves, their relationships, and decisions they have made. Driving in a dense fog they crash and break down nowhere near to their intended destination. They stumble upon an isolated house, the only inhabitants being an elderly couple. 

Trapped in this dwelling until the weather clears, the four are forced to confront tensions amongst themselves. More unsettling is the strange behaviour of the old couple, who barricade themselves in every night. Something has been butchering animals near the house, and as the days stretch out they begin to uncover some unsettling facts. Are they trapped here, and will they ever get back home? 

Intense, fast-paced, and unsettling, The Ice Lands builds suspense and delivers surprises. It’s a stomach-turning read. 

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 - The Fireman

by Joe Hill (Gollancz) ISBN: 9780575130722 


A new disease is destroying mankind - an incurable spore that kills by causing spontaneous combustion in the host. There is no cure for Dragonspore, and once you have the mark, it’s only a matter of time before the Cremation Squad hunts you down. 

Ever positive and unflappable, Harper Grayson is three months pregnant when she becomes marked to burn. With some doctors stating that she could deliver a completely healthy baby, Harper becomes driven to protect her as yet unborn child. Hearing stories of a mysterious figure called The Fireman, Harper sets out to track him down, so that he can help her bring her baby to term. 

Along her journey she befriends a group of people like her, scrappy survivors who refuse to be rounded up and killed, who take on the forces hunting them in often violent clashes. 

The Fireman is an adventure story like no other, a keen observation of prejudice, government control, and the sheer determination of the human spirit. I loved this brilliant heart-warming read.

Merissa Himraj
www.writerswrite.co.za
4.5/5

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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 - 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 - Zodiac

by Sam Wilson (Michael Joseph) ISBN: 9780718181536 


Imagine if everything you did and were taught was determined by your Star Sign. This is the stunningly original premise of Zodiac. 

When a string of high profile, seemingly unrelated murders begin to threaten the community of San Celeste, top Detective Jerome Burton is brought in to help solve the mysteries and restore order to the city. He enlists the help of Lindi Childs, a seasoned astro-profiler to help bring the killer to justice. 

Together they begin to piece together a complex puzzle that crosses all sign-lines, that makes them start to question those higher up the chain of command and puts them in immense danger. Zodiac manages to be both a taut crime-thriller, as well as an acutely critical look at how we judge and categorise each other. 

Set in a society divided along Zodiac lines, where your identity is determined by when you were born, and cross-sign breeding is seen an abomination, this is a clever commentary on the absurdity of racism. Written by local South African author Sam Wilson, Zodiac leaves you pondering the nature of human beings, while still reeling from the final reveal. Well worth the read. 

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 - The Safest Place You Know

by Mark Winkler (Michael Joseph) ISBN: 9781415209097 


Home should be a refuge and solace - the safest place you know. This is not the case for Hennie Durant or Antoinette Maidenstone Basset. Both children of abusive, cruel fathers, Hennie and Antoinette are kindred spirits. 

Having lost most of his family to tragic circumstances, Hennie lives with his father Hendrik on their struggling farm, until he gets a letter from his sister, Rose. Rose has not been in contact with Hennie for six years. The letter sets in motion a chain of violent events that result in Hennie leaving the farm. 

In Cape Town, Antoinette Maidenstone Basset returns to the estate she has inherited from her estranged father. Antoinette hated Oliver Maidenstone Basset and his controlling nature. Even in his death, she finds herself tied to the estate forever due to a clause in his will that prevents her from ever leaving. 

Hennie and Antoinette’s lives intersect when Hennie arrives one afternoon at Antoinette’s wine estate, bringing with him a young mysterious girl called Charlotte who may be his long lost niece. 

The Safest Place You Know is a well-crafted story of love, betrayal and redemption.

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 - 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 - 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.

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 - 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.