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Book Bites: Sunday 7 July

Get Me StartedBook buff

The Youngsters: Get Me Started
Sipho Hlongwane (Picador Africa, R88)
5/5 stars

Pocket sized to fit into any bag, Hlongwane’s Get Me Started is the perfect winter dinner conversation starter.

The topics will alternately get your guests warmed up, or warm under the collar. Take a chapter at random, such as “My Favourite Type Of Racist”, in which we learn how racist people have a lower IQ. Or have a good chuckle while reading “People Who Should Go Away” – which include Jackie Selebi and the victim-blaming fans of Oscar Pistorius.

Light enough fare, but the last chapter serves up a main course. Hlongwane movingly intertwines a visit to Marikana with memories of his father, who was a rock driller. – Jennifer Platt @jenniferdplatt

Only the DeadBook Thrill

Only The Dead
Hamilton Wende (Penguin, R157)
5/5 stars

Drawing on his experience as a war correspondent, Wende brings us a fast-paced tale that moves from the tortured world of child soldiers to an international terror plot. Sebastian Burke finds himself in Uganda; abducted children are brainwashed into a lion cult.

The children have names and personalities, the minerals are plentiful and the state is non-existent. Burke happens on a plan to use crudely-mined uranium to export a bomb to New York and must take action.

The Eastern DRC, Uganda – geographical boundaries in the jungle are irrelevant. It’s personal boundaries the characters need to cross to find redemption. – Derek Abdinor @derekabdinor

This House is HauntedBook Fiend

This House is Haunted
Jonathan Boyne (Random House Struik, R250)
5/5 stars

Ghosts and governesses, isolated country houses and strange children, family secrets and pervasive menace – Boyne crafts a wonderful Victorian ghost story that combines Dickens and Bronte with a touch of MR James.

Orphaned Eliza Caine accepts a post at Gaudlin Hall in Norfolk, where she discovers she is the only adult in the house and has charge of two children.

She is under supernatural attack from her first night in the ramshackle manor and her attempts to unravel the mystery of the place are met with superstitious silence in the nearby village. Unexpected and chillingly believable. – Aubrey Paton @AubreyPaton

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