Writers Write - Our Book Reviews - January 2016

We reviewed 40 books this month. We hope you find one or two that you will enjoy reading in this list. If you haven't read our reviews before, we have a rating system, which is explained below.

Our reviewers rate books from 1–5
  1. For use as a doorstop only
  2. Keep for publishers’ and booksellers’ strikes
  3. A great holiday read
  4. You’ll remember this with enthusiasm a month later
  5. Unforgettable
The books are listed alphabetically.
  1. 100 Things They Don’t Want You to Know by Daniel Smith (Quercus)
  2. Black Ops by Stephen Leather (Hodder & Stoughton)
  3. Blackout - The Eskom Crisis by James-Brent Styan (Jonathan Ball
  4. Brief Candle in the Dark by Richard Dawkins (Bantam Press)
  5. Detonator by Andy McNab (Penguin)
  6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney (Penguin)
  7. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (William Heinemann)
  8. From Playground To Prostitute by Elanie Kruger with Jaco Hough-Coetzee (Delta)
  9. Golden Age by Jane Smiley (Pan Macmillan)
  10. Gruesome  by De Wet Potgieter (Zebra Press)
  11. Innovation: Shaping South Africa Through Science by Sarah Wild (Pan Macmillan) 
  12. Into The Fire by Manda Scott (Bantam Press) 
  13. Island of Dreams by Dan Boothby (Picador)
  14. Katy by Jacqueline Wilson (Puffin Books)
  15. Let’s Talk Frankly - Letters to influential South Africans by Onkgopotse JJ Tabane (Pan Macmillan) 
  16. Liar Liar - A DI Helen Grace Thriller by M.J. Arlidge (Penguin)
  17. Magicians Of The Gods by Graham Hancock (Coronet) 
  18. Magnus Chase And The Sword Of Summer by Rick Riordan (Puffin Books) 
  19. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (Allen & Unwin)
  20. Precious Gifts by Danielle Steel (Transworld)
  21. Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain (Pan Macmillan)
  22. Private Vegas by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro (Century)
  23. Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot (Macmillan)
  24. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (Penguin)
  25. Satin Island by Tom McCarthy (Jonathan Cape)
  26. Shopaholic To The Rescue by Sophie Kinsella (Bantam Press) 
  27. The Akimbo Adventures by Alexander McCall Smith (Edmont)
  28. The Book Of Human Emotions by Tiffany Watt Smith (Welcome collection)
  29. The Death Of Rex Nhongo by C.B George (Quercus)
  30. The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin (Mantle) 
  31. The Guilty by David Baldacci  (MacMillan) 
  32. The House On Cold Hill by Peter James (Macmillan)
  33. The Melody Lingers On by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon and Schuster)
  34. The Road to Rangoon by Lucy Cruickshanks (Heron)
  35. The Secret Society - Cecil John Rhodes’s Plan for a new World Order by Robin Brown (Penguin Books)
  36. The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett (DoubleDay) 
  37. The Way We Were by Sinead Moriarty (Penguin)
  38. Two Years Eight Months And Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie (Jonathan Cape
  39. Where’s Zuma? by Kobus Galloway (Zebra Press)
  40. Wine, Women and Good Hope - A History of Scandalous Behaviour at the Cape by June McKinnon (Zebra Press)


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

Writers Write - Our Book Reviews - July 2015

July was a good month for books. We have four 5-star fiction titles and two 5-star non-fiction titles in this list. We hope our reviews inspire you to find some books to read.

Our reviewers rate books from 1 – 5
  1. For use as a doorstop only
  2. Keep for publishers’ and booksellers’ strikes
  3. A great holiday read
  4. You’ll remember this with enthusiasm a month later
  5. Unforgettable
If you want to follow our reviews, follow The Bluestocking Review on Facebook.

Fiction - Five Star Reviews

 We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Mantle) 

  The Novel Habits of Happiness - An Isabel Dalhousie Novel by Alexander McCall Smith (Little, Brown) 

 Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig (Canongate) 

 Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver (Hodder & Stoughton) 

Fiction - Four Star Reviews

 Ms Conception by Pamela Power (Umuzi) 

 Eyrie by Tim Winton (Picador)  

 The Defence by Steve Cavanagh (Orion) 

 Theodore Boone: The Fugitive by John Grisham (Hodder & Stoughton) 

 The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver (Hodder & Stoughton) 

 The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson (Little, Brown) 

 Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (Picador) 

 Rage Against The Dying by Becky Masterman (Orion) 

 What If by Rebecca Donovan (Penguin) 

 The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain (Pan) 

 World Gone By by Dennis Lehane (Little Brown) 

 The Liar by Nora Roberts (Piatkus) 

 Before the Fire by Sarah Butler (Picador) 

 Mightier than the Sword by Jeffrey Archer (Macmillan) 

 Middle School: My Brother Is a Big, Fat Liar by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou (Young Arrow) 

Fiction - Three Star Reviews

 Birth Mark by Stephen Clingman (Jacana) 

 Holy Cow by David Duchovny (Headline) 

 Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates (Harper Collins) 

 Dub Steps by Andrew Miller (Jacana) 

 Time of Death by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown) 

 The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons (Sphere) 

 Satellite People by Hans Olav Lahlum (Mantle) 

 The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth (PAN) 

Fiction - Two Star Reviews

 Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee (William Heinemann) 

 Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver (Hodder&Stoughton) 

 The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah (Harper Collins) 

Non-Fiction - Five Star Reviews

 How South Africa Works by Jeffrey Herbst & Greg Mills (Macmillan)

 History’s Lost Treasures by Eric Chaline (Zebra Press) 

Non-Fiction - Four Star Reviews

 ADHD Does Not Exist by Richard Saul (Harper) 

 Alibaba's World by Porter Erisman (Macmillan) 

 J.M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing by David Atwell (Jacana) 

 Bully-Proof by Gail Dore (Struik Lifestyle) 

 Food for your Brood by Sam Gates (Struik Lifestyle) 

 Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly (Picador) 


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

The Thousand Emperors

by Gray Gibson (Pan Macmillan) ISBN 978 0 230 74878 1

In the future Earth has been destroyed. Humanity now lives on its former colony worlds which are split in two.


After the split the human race began to change, or rather one side did. Now the worlds of the Coalition and the worlds of The Thousand Emperors are about to be brought back together. Can they accept the changes or will they be driven to war?


At the same time the murder of one of the “immortal Emperors” in charge of reunification starts an investigation that will reveal the true nature of what it means to be human.


I liked this book for its logical and terrifying depiction of the directions the human race is heading in. The story is a classic crime thriller set a couple of hundred years in the future. The science in this science fiction is underwhelming but it never feels like magic and that’s frankly the way it should be. It is also not obsessed with getting this just right. This leaves you feeling you are not just reading a series of descriptions and that there is a definite story in there.


Space-ships, lasers, clones and doomsday weapons. Classic stuff.


Christopher Dean


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