Book review – The Shining Girls x Lauren Beukes

Why hello there. I haven’t done a book review in AGES.

I have a good one for you:


The Shining Girls

Lauren Beukes

It has been a long time since i have read anything as good as this. I have, for the past few months while writing my thesis, been reading trashy romance novels that I can start and finish in a day.

I was invited by my ex-colleagues at Exclusive Books to attend a talk by Lauren Beukes about her new book. I went even though I knew nothing about the book, nor have I read any of her previous books. The talk was fascinating and I got immediate book envy because I wanted to read it IMMEDIATELY and it had not been available in store yet. I spent the next few days thinking about it, as you would think of a boy you had a crush on.

I had a book crush.

This was based solely on what I had heard from others and the author herself (which I think is pretty cool). Anyway, skip ahead to 19 April and finally acquiring my book and attending the launch (still not having read it) and spending the Saturday thereafter in my pajamas reading the one of the most amazing stories I have ever read.

Harper Curtis is a time-travelling serial killer. Call it luck, call it fate, he finds a key that unlocks the door to a House that allows him to travel back and forth across time. This allows him to be probably the best serial killer I have come across in any book I have ever read. I have read lots of crime fiction but never anything like this. Beukes’ portrayal of this man is both charming and vile (mostly vile) at the same time. There were times when I wanted to throw the book against the wall because of this horrible man.


Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who got away. She encounters Harper once when she is a little girl, and then again when he tries to kill her. She spends most of her time trying to find Harper.

I was very impressed by the speed of the events and particularly the extensive research that went into the book. The historic accuracy and details is simply amazing and transports you through the decades into Harper’s journey. Lauren Beukes is a masterful storyteller.

The timing of this book could not have been more perfect. Recently in South Africa, there has been a very bright spotlight on violence against women in this country. Beukes’ work gives a face to the victims. She said in her talk, and at the launch that one of the aims of writing the story was to tell the story of the victims; who they were, what they did, who they loved. Harper Curtis’ mission is to snuff the burning light, the potential of his victims. By the author’s own account, the book is a commentary on the beautiful young women who are killed every day in this country. Women who have ambitions, goals, dreams. Women with the potential to be a driving force for change in our country.

Not only is this work a beautiful, fast-paced thriller that straddles genres and engrosses you completely, I believe it raises important issues at such a crucial time in our country.

All in all, this book gets 5 stars from me for just being so excellent.

Find out more about The Shining Girls and Lauren Beukes on her website and blog:


Have a great week, everyone.

Muneera xoxo


Book Review – Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend x Matthew Green

…you have to be the bravest person in the world to go out everyday being yourself when no one likes who you are.

This one sentence made me cry the hardest while reading the most beautiful book I have read in a long while. It rings true with so many of us, yet so few are able to go out and actually do it.

Max is an 8 year old with some very serious problems. He hates people touching him, he hates bonus poops and when people don’t mean what they say. The things he loves are Star Wars themed LEGO, Mrs. Gosk, his teacher and Budo, his imaginary friend. When Max gets into big BIG trouble, Budo must do everything he can to save his best and dearest friend.

Budo has a dilemma: he is having somewhat of an existential crises. He is the oldest imaginary friend he knows, and he is not sure how much longer he will exist.

In this gorgeously descriptive story, Matthew Green explores the complex thing of being human, told from the point of view of a boy that was imagined into existence. The wonderful thing about this book is that Budo experiences very much the same anguish that human beings experience when they wonder why they are here and what their purpose is.

The characters in the story are well developed; each character has a story to tell but intertwines so fluidly with the others in the story, weaving a tale that is tinged with perpetual sadness. The story comes with hilarious moments, sad, sad moments and so much heart-wrenching emotion that it is more like you FEEL the story as opposed to just reading it. I fell in love with Max and his little quirks; and I love how the author describes his condition so succinctly without ever mentioning what it is.

This is a story close to my heart, as I am involved in genetic research for Autism; and this story gave me so much motivation to complete my Master’s research, as I was feeling a bit BLEGH about it.

This book will make you experience a myriad of emotions just from the descriptions of two boys who just want to be left alone to be who they are

Book Review – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children x Ransom Riggs

If a customer had not asked me to try and find this book for her, I would not have known about it. I was instantly attracted to this book by it’s jacket:

The story revolves around Jacob, a 15 (almost 16) year old American boy who describes his life as being particularly UNDERwhelming. The one bright thing in his life is his grandfather, who tells him outrageous, interesting stories about his own childhood, fashioned around a series of old photographs. But as is the way with growing up, Jacob starts believing these tales less and less. When his grandfather dies suddenly and very violently, his last words prompt Jacob to re-think his belief in the “fairytales” he was told as a child and he makes a life-altering decision to find out what the truth is behind his grandfather’s old photographs.

I found this book both fascinating and slightly disturbing. I also had weird dreams after finishing it; I think the fact that the book contains images not only lets your imagination form a picture in your mind but vivid images that stay with you long after you have finished it. The story is fast-paced and rife with emotion, dealing with topics like family relationships and how the past literally will come back to haunt you. The characters are well-formed; Ransom Riggs shapes his characters with individual personalities and backgrounds, so that they are utterly believable. Some parts of it reminded me of Professor X and the X-Men, without being blatantly obvious. All in all I think this was a really good story, considering I am not a great fan of sci-fi/fantasy, and a great debut novel. The book is now making it’s rounds among my friends.

Here is the book trailer for the novel:

Also, some images from the book:

All images are used with the permission of the author

Book Review – Dust Devils x Roger Smith


I have been eagerly anticipating a new novel by my favourite crime/suspense/thriller author, Roger Smith. I just finished Dust Devils (after having to share it with my father or having him steal it from my room so he can get a few chapters in before I steal it back) and I was absolutely not disappointed. I am a great fan of crime fiction but Roger Smith does it like no other author I have ever read. His portrayal of South Africa and it’s contrasts is so honest and provoking, so if you have an idealized perception of this place, after reading this book you will be shocked. I was.

In contrast to his other two novels, which were set in Cape Town, Dust Devils is largely set in Bambatha’s Rock, in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province. The story follows Robert Dell, a journalist who is on the run after being framed for his family’s murder and he turns to his oldest enemy: his own father. In the mix we also have Disaster Zondi (a character who I hope will be featuring in future novels), who is seeking revenge of his own kind.

Roger Smith portrays a vivid picture of the realities of the politics in this new democracy, the attitude of people toward the HIV/AIDS pandemic that has the country in a grip of panic, and the sad and unfortunate ways that some groups still have of dealing with it, the aftermath of the Apartheid regime and what kind of legacy -and indeed, scars- it has left with the people of the country and most importantly, I think, the attitudes of South Africans toward one another.

This explosive and dynamic novel is an eye-opener to the realities of what South Africa has become, but even more than that, it is a damn fine piece of writing.

If it were a film, I would have given it a standing ovation.

Book Review – The Language of Flowers x Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Dear Vanessa Diffenbaugh,

It is almost 2am in Cape Town and I have just finished your book. My eyes are gritty and I am emotionally exhausted. Thank you, THANK YOU for this exquisitely crafted novel. This is more than just a story. It is a masterpiece of human emotion; a tumultuous, exhilarating, resplendent tale that has left me breathless with its’ impact on my soul.

Although I could not identify with Victoria’s situation in any way, the emotions you describe so succinctly and with such honesty is definitely something I am sure everyone can identify with at some point in their lives. Thank you for telling a story that is not lace with shocking accounts of abuse and neglect, but for telling a tale of sorrow and despair and wanting to be loved and wanting to be worthy of that love and finally of finding a way to achieve all of this.

Thank you for this book, this beautiful gift you have given to the world. May you receive blessings and prosperity in abundance.

Thank you for teaching us the language of flowers.

Sincerely, Muneera