Book Review - To Quote Myself

by Khaya Dlanga (Macmillan) ISBN: 978-1-77010-471-6


As far as memoirs go, Dlanga’s book is a damn good story. It is well written, often humorous and sometimes really sad. 

To Quote Myself also has the dubious honour of being South Africa's most stolen book. Go figure. Perhaps it is a book that people cannot afford, but really want to know how a person goes from being homeless to one of the most influential voice in South Africa. 

To Quote Myself is about Dlanga’s childhood in a Transkei rural village. His mother had to work and his father abandoned his family for another woman. Dlanga grew up with his grandfather and grandmother who, according to the author, ‘what she lacked in physical appearance, she made up for it in spirit’. His grandfather Kaiser is a well-respected and feared person in the village. From this setup, the reader gets a glimpse into a patriarchal society, a childhood that lacked material resources and often faced difficulties like getting a quality education. 

The stories are written as standalone chapters so sometimes storylines are repeated or names, such as Dlanga’s grandfather’s name, is often introduced as if the reader is meeting the character for the first time. I felt that this made the book a little choppy. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the character that is Khaya Dlanga. 

To Quote Myself is a fascinating story and a must-read for the urban South African. 

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 Boy Called Christmas

by Matt Haig (Canongate) ISBN: 978-1-78178211-826-8 


Nikolas tries to be a happy boy even though his mother has died and his father is a poor woodcutter. He was born on Christmas day and the only gifts he had ever received were a wooden sleigh and a doll carved out of turnip. Still Nikolas, who is nicknamed Christmas, tries to be happy. 

That is, until his father decides to go to the North Pole to discover if there are such things as elves and pixies. If he can prove their existence, then he will make a lot of money. Nikolas’s cruel aunt comes to live with him while his dad is away. She is mean and makes Nikolas sleep outside. He decides to go to the North Pole. 

And this is the true story about Father Christmas and how he met Blitzen, the reindeer. It is a story about how they nearly die and a kind elf saves them. There are some sad parts, but mostly, it is happy. The illustrations by Chris Mould are wonderful. 

My only criticism? The story seems to have unnecessary toilet humour with people peeing and reindeers pooping all the time. I am not sure what that has to do with magic and Christmas. Perhaps young readers will understand. 

Ulrike Hill
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 - 113 Minutes

by James Patterson with Max DiLallo (Book Shots) ISBN: 978-1-786-53041-7


The school has called Molly – it is an emergency and her son is in trouble. As she races to school, she expects the worst. But Molly is too late - her son has died from a drug overdose. She is determined to find the person who gave him the drugs and killed her son. Evidence points in one direction. 

The problem is that Molly has no money and her farm is about to be repossessed. With the help of her brothers, she robs banks and manages to pay off her debts and begins the hunt to confront the killer. The problem is that Special Agent Mason Randolph is investigating the bank robberies and Molly may spend the rest of her life in jail. Time is important. 

Patterson’s stories ‘at the speed of life’ are easy to read, and perfect for holiday getaways. Although the ending of this thriller was unpredictable but when I did reach it, I was disappointed. 

Ulrike Hill
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 - Awakening The Heroes Within

by Carol S Pearson (Harper Elixir) ISBN: 978-0-06-250678-8 


According to the introduction to the twelve archetypes represented in this book, “the heroic quest is about saying 'yes' to yourself and in so doing, becoming more fully alive and more effective in the world…” 

Carol Pearson introduces the reader to the archetypes that are presented at different stages of his/her life journey. There are simple diagnostic tests that will determine what archetype stage a person may be at. Each archetype has a goal, fear, response to problem, a task as well as a gift which is handy. The various lessons will empower the reader to lead a fulfilling life. 

By applying the principles in the book, the reader can recognise their potential by awakening their inner guides. Pearson also applies these principals to cultural heritages, which is useful for people who need to understand their frame of reference and outlook of the world shaped by their background. 

This psychologically-based book is interesting especially if people who are discontented with life. This book requires an in-depth examination of the self and to take responsibility for living with that understanding. 

This offers an interesting perspective from a world-renowned expert on depth psychology and transformational leadership. 

Ulrike Hill
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 - 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 - 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
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 - Sigh The Beloved Country

by Bongani Madondo (Picador Africa), ISBN: 978-1-77010-495-2 


Sigh The Beloved Country is a beautiful book of narrative essays that illustrates South Africa’s social complexities. 

The book kicks off with an adequately titled Black Eish and White Eina chapter. He pokes fun at the concept of whiteness and the ignorance of white racists. He then humorously turns the table on his reader when tells the story about the time he and his friends, on spotting a white person, would make a show of rolling up their car windows and locking the doors. By writing about uncomfortable truths and then poking fun, Madonda is forcing people to question their ideas about racism. 

The book further exposes underlying social stereotypes, for example, why did Oscar Pistorius think the ‘intruder’ may have been black and not white. As Madonda writes, “I am actually feeling no mad love for my fellow South Africans as a collective right now, I will never ever have issues with individuals.” This is an important consideration especially in light of Paton’s quote from the book that Madondo has crafted his title: “… one day when they[whites] are turned to loving, they will find we[blacks] are turned to hating.” 

There’s a certain type of melancholy in Sigh The Beloved Country, but it is also funny and at the same time serious. Madondo’s reflections are important as South Africans find their space in a diverse country and that is why this book is highly recommended. 

Ulrike Hill
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 - A Time Of Torment

by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton), ISBN: 978-1-444-75158-1


John Connolly’s latest Charlie Parker novel is an eagerly anticipated book of the year and fans will not be disappointed. The opening of the story, the kidnapping of a young girl is enough to capture Connolly fans’ interest. 

Evil simmers in the story as the plot unfolds and it takes a while for Parker and his side-kicks, Louis and Angel, to make an appearance. 

Jerome Burnel has recently been released from prison. He hires Parker to prove that he is innocent of child pornography charges. He also tells Parker that he is afraid that he will be killed for a heroic act that involved members from a small town cult known as The Cut. 

Initially the reader doubts Burnel’s innocent, a skilful technique on the behalf of Connolly who constructs the story in such a way to question Burnel’s innocence. Before too long Parker finds links from Burnel’s case to other violent crimes in the Maine area, and this leads the investigation to a reclusive town in rural West Virginia. The town is ruled by The Cut who live in Amish-like seclusion. They control the town and (ironically) the criminals, but it is evident that their income is based on criminal activities instigated by The Dead King. 

The Cut and Parker’s dead daughter provide a supernatural element which may be confusing for readers who have not read A Wolf in Winter. This should be a compelling reason never to miss out on any of the Charlie Parker books.


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 Sword of the North

by Luke Scull (Head of Zeus) ISBN: 978-1-781851562


Luke Scull’s Sword of the North is book two of The Grim Company fantasy trilogy. 

Brodar Kayne is the hero of the book and has earned the Sword of the North title because he has killed more ‘demonkind than he can recall’. He is part of small band of rebels whose aim is to destroy Salazar and liberate the people of Dorminia.  Kayne is past his best and has to struggle with the consequences of age and choices that he made years before. This is evident through flashbacks and a very confusing plot that takes the reader back to the past and then immediately to the future. 

The heroes from the first book are scattered in different places and appear powerless; the Age of Ruin is upon the land. Emerul, the half-mage is reduced to sending a messenger about the dangers that the White Lady poses and Shanna is reduced to being that messenger. Cole is dying but it won't be the last. I got the impression that he was a survivor in a Bondesque way. 

I was excited when I started reading the first chapter but as I progressed through the book, the first person narrative style did not maintain my interest in the point-of-view characters. I found Brodar Kayne interesting enough to care about but towards the end I wondered why he had not just settled down with his beautiful wife instead of being suckered into another quest. 

The story will appeal to fantasy readers and Game of Thrones fans but everything felt one-dimensional. I recommend reading the first book in the series in order to get an idea about the plot.

Ulrike Hill
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 - Blackout - The Eskom Crisis

by James-Brent Styan (Jonathan Ball), ISBN: 978-1-86842-696-6 

Load shedding has dominated headlines so readers may believe that a book does not provide any new information about a topic that is public knowledge. Styan’s book offers a comprehensive view of the problem. As a journalist who covered this story since 2008, he has the credentials to write this unauthorised story about Eskom’s continuing woes. 

Blackout shows the magnitude of the problem and it is scary. Poor leadership, political interference and favours, bad decisions, and the exodus of highly skilled people from the organisation are the main reasons. 

The infograph provided in the book shows the depth of Eskom’s problems as well as its inability to keep the lights on despite public assurances from the executive and government. Simply put: South Africa has a crisis on its hands and it will take many years to sort this crisis out even if the company manages to sort itself out. 

Styan does write about alternative energy sources and the implementation but these are too small or are beset with a number of logistical problems to make an impact on the energy crisis. 

A well-written and researched book but be warned: it will depress. 

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