Boitumelo Vero Rikhotso

Destined for greatness!

The Cobra (Deon Meyer) September 30, 2018

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2015, Hodder & Stoughton, Pages: 367 ISBN: 978-1-444-72376-9

 

So this was my first Deon Meyer book. I loved this book for many reasons. One, it is well written. Two, it is by a South African author. Three, having worked for the South African Police Services, it delivered on the inside day to day realities. Four, it is set in one of my favourite cities – Cape Town, my home for about three years. He captured the street life of the city, the train operations, the hustle and buzz of the V&A Waterfront and the scenic picturesque expanse of this iconic city.

 

Meyer writes a well plotted and thought out narrative about the ins and outs of what happens behind the scenes in the lives of people in a number of high profile offices of the police services, embassies, private businesses and the underworld. He writes like an insider. Having used real names for some of the ‘by the way’ characters in this story such as Richard Mdluli, and others, the story is personal, relatable, relevant as it is gripping.

 

A triple murder and a high profile foreigner goes missing in the wine suburb of Franschhoek, Cape Town, the big guns under the leadership of Captain Benny Griessel are called in to investigate. Inside politics, government secrets and interests threaten the investigation which places the investigation team in direct fire. On the other side of town, a smart pickpocket, who’s taking his sister through school with his illegal activities showcases the everyday realities of life around the Cape flats. Two parallel seemingly disjointed stories collide head on when the pickpocket steals from the wrong guy. The story is all tied together by one puzzling part, shell casings with a Cobra inscription wherever the obviously professional hits take place. The book keeps the two stories parallel so well that when they eventually come together one is sitting on the edge of the seat trying to piece the case together along with the investigators.

 

Meyer used brilliant writing style at the climax of the book where for a while, two separate scenes taking place at the same time are written together almost without paragraph marks. So like done in a movie, you jump from one scene to another at a moment’s notice, Riveting.

 

I dedicate this review to all police officers. Yours is a thankless job yet each day you bravely leave your families to daily face deadly criminals with the full knowledge that you might not return home. The fact that there are corrupt or police officers who are not doing their work will not stop me to praise the ones that do! I salute you all!!

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Not a penny more, Not a penny less (Jeffrey Archer) September 25, 2018

Filed under: Book reviews — Boitumelo Vero Rikhotso @ 9:44 am
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Penny

Pages: 336, Pan Macmillan, First issue: 1976. Review based on 2012 edition. ISBN: 978-1-4472-7231-1

I almost gave up on this book a couple of pages in. The first couple of pages are heavily technical with detailed explanations and comments on the stock market and economics. Although these are subjects I have an interest in, since I wanted to read for pleasure and to relax while on vacation, the book was kind of heavy for me to begin with. But on a 15 hour flight, with other books in my checked in luggage, I decided to hold on a bit more. My patience was well rewarded.

 

Four men are swindled out of their money by a smart self-made millionaire stork market trader who’s been doing it for years (not always above board) without being caught. Harvey Metcalfe has a rags to riches story of one who worked his way up and paid more attention than most of us ever do and managed to build himself an empire while at it. He manages through other people, to ‘steal’ a million dollars from four random strangers by getting them to invest in a loser company ‘Prospecta Oil’ which never opens shop. One day they are on the brink of riches with the company about to apparently ‘hit an oil rig,’ and overnight, their shares are worthless with Harvey Metcalfe at large without as much as a warning. The book centres around the quad’s sophisticated plan to beat Harvey at his own game and get all their money back, quietly and expertly – not a penny more, and not a penny less. What a treat!

 

Jeffrey Archer is a phenomenal writer. The plot, the characterization and the flow of the book is excellent. His use of language is simple yet specifically fitting for each character. He gave each character a distinct repertoire while they were executing an excellently drafted plan of action for each one. The ending has an unexpected twist which made it worth the first pages of slog I endured. Simply exceptional.

 

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How to make your first million (Warren Ingram) July 1, 2018

2016, Cape Town: Zebra Press, Pages: 155
ISBN: 978-1-77022-761-3 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-77022-762-0 (ePub)

For a book that’s not a novel, this book was a pleasant surprise to read. It was not boring at all and as such I read it in two days. Warren was very successful in making difficult concepts easy to understand and I now get why the book is so repetitive. If you are hearing concepts for the first time, or are a recent learner of a particular subject, you may want to hear it in a number of ways and the book dishes that up plain and simple. I want to do another round of it but I’m already lagging behind on my one-book-a-month plan for 2018 so it will have to be reread once a year until I make my own million :). I will buy this book for others as a gift. That’s how much I loved it. Oh did I also mention that all proceeds from the book go to Serendipity Trust? A fund that Warren and his wife, Vanessa started to put children through school.

 

This book is a successor of his premier, Become your own Financial Advisor, which I am reading right now. So, most of us want to be millionaires right? Or if not millionaires, financially independent whatever that means for each of us but how much are we willing to sacrifice in order to achieve that? Not all of us are savers. In fact the statistics on saving culture in South Africa are shocking and even more shocking is our debt levels. We have all this information nowadays but for some reason we are still making bad financial decisions that are landing us in trouble and hope that we will win the lotto and become overnight millionaires – well, let me not generalize. I had that hope alas! 😂

 

I am not a financial guru so my understanding of what I read in this book is this… There is a difference between saving and investing. If one is a regular saver, they are already on their way and must be commended. So, saving, typically in a bank does not yield one in the long term the kind of rewards or interest that beat inflation. Inflation being the ratio between what the amount you have buys you now vs what the same amount will buy you in future. So, if R15 can buy you a loaf of bread today, and in 5 years time bread is R18, if you keep your R15 under a mattress, you’ll still have the R15 but it will not buy you bread anymore at that price. I hope I make sense. I am describing the concept to myself in my head as I am typing.

 

So then, in order to build wealth, one has to grow their assets in such a way that it beats inflation hence keeping all your assets in cash is according to Warren, other investors and common sense, may not be the best way to grow one’s wealth. Additionally, to grow your wealth, your assets have to be spread over a number of portfolios, something called asset allocation. There are as I’ve come to learn from this book, a number of asset classes where one can spread their money, 5 of which are explained in the book;

 

⁃ Cash

⁃ Bonds

⁃ Listed Property (shares in companies that own property, e.g malls)

⁃ Equity (shares)

⁃ Residential property (i.e residential rentals)

 

I have 1 residential property that I have rented out as an investment and my plan was to add a few more. A strategy that I have now revised after reading the book. Get the book and understand the advantaged and disadvantages of having a rental property and the advantages and disadvantages of buying shares from a company that owns properties and decide for yourself – something I am now looking at. If you’re anything like me :), you may have thought that being a millionaire meant one has six zeroes in their bank account. It may very well be so, but does not always have to be like that. One can be a millionaire from a combination of the above asset classes. The book then goes into detail explaining each assets class, recommendations on the spread ratios, meaning how much percentage to have on each class and how to start investing. The books offers recommendations based on research but one can make their own determinations and decisions.

 

What I also loved from the book were the stories of 8 people featured who shared their own testimonies of how they made their first million. So I was tempted to go straight to chapter 8 when I first got the book, but I’m glad I read it chronologically and when I got to the testimonies, I had the background to understand. Theory is one thing but hearing stories of live people is another. The last chapter also focused on advice from people who have created riches and wealth and it was amazing to read that for most of them, the focus wasn’t money but the value and purpose behind it. In essence, money is what you spend and value is what you get back.

 

The book does not only focus on finances which I think is such a welcome surprise. Although the book is about money, I got so much out of it non related. The lessons can be replicated in one’s health and fitness goals, your spiritual goals and careers or passions. He forces you to think beyond money and ask yourself why you want to build wealth. What are the objectives or motives? What are the causes you want to support or what are the dreams you wish to explore? What is your life’s vision? No vision, no results. Indeed people perish for lack of knowledge hey. Just read the book. I will come back for the review of his first book as soon as I am done with it.

 

In sum, discipline and consistency are the two main ingredients of growing wealth over the long term and I have begun my own journey of getting there in 10 years. I hope to be one of those who will look back in 10 years time and say, I did the work, and the results show for themselves.
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Without a silver spoon (Eddie Iroh) May 31, 2018

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On my 12th birthday my mom gave me a box full of books. These were books she read as a young lady and books she discovered during her tenure as a teacher. This was one of the books read at one of the schools she taught at and I never got around to reading it. What a nifty little book. The other day I watched a YouTube lecture by Erin Meyer titled The Culture Map and in this video she talks about cultural differences in various aspects of human life but specifically in organizations such as communications, giving feedback, leading, trusting etcetera. She then goes into the notion of low and high content culture and what that means. In sum;

Low context cultures

These are cultures that will tell you something repeatedly to make sure you get it. So when giving a presentation, they will tell you what the presentation will be about, go into the details of the presentation and then do a recap. Countries such as the USA are typical low culture countries.

High context cultures

These are cultures that assume that you have the same shared knowledge of things and meaning is read between the lines and not always literal. Countries such as Japan, Zimbabwe, typically some Asian and African countries have such context.

Of course in each country there will be variances but this is just a guide.

Now what does this have to do with this book? I couldn’t help but agree with Erin’s notions on some African contexts. This book is full of proverbs and sayings that Africans will easily identify with which may not be so obvious to other cultures. Iroh did good work in expanding these so the book was in a way ahead of its time because the author managed to keep it African and also go beyond by expanding these known African sayings. Often times in our cultures, there are things that are considered taboo, like sweeping at night, talking while adults are speaking and many others which as children we aren’t expected to question. African mothers for instance can look at a child smiling and convey a chastising message while another culture may think the mother is being affectionate.

Ok, now to the book. It is about a boy called Ure from a poor family in monetary terms, but rich in values. He is faced with the possibility of dropping out of school at a very young age, a plight still faced by many children in my continent, Africa. Money goes missing and he is the prime suspect. This is a story about honesty, values such as respect, diligence and resilience. I recommend each parent to read this book with their children as it has many life lessons. They are too many to mention. This boy is my hero. This is an excellent book for children in primary school and early teenage years.

 

The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) April 30, 2018

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First published: 1988, This edition: 2012, Harper Collins, Pages: 161

With over 65 million sold copies and translations into 80 languages (holds Guinness World Record for the most translated book by a living author), I needed to find out for myself what the book was all about. Those are some serious accolades. I didn’t read any reviews before writing this one because with such a popular book, I wanted to be undiluted so to speak. A few people in my circle have read the book and have differing opinions. Some sing its praises, others are just ok while others don’t get the overfuss.

I understand why some people are left underwhelmed by this book. The book is super simple; a simple story line, simply written with simple language for everyone to understand. Teenagers and even pre teenagers can easily read this book. It is simply a story about a Sheperd boy who’s on course to find treasure and learns a lot of lessons along the way. The book is only 160 Pages so you could read it in a day or two. Similar to a tiny book I read in my first year at tertiary, « Who moved my cheese? » by Dr Spencer Johnson, I believe the strength of ‘The Alchemist’ lies in its simplicity. I’m not going all ga-ga about it but I love the plenty subtle life lessons I found in it. In its simple wording are nuggets that are dynamite. It’s the kind of book that has ideas that provoke conversation for everyday life. I would call it a self-help book in novel form. I’ve decided that I want to read the book again and then take pictures of underlined areas I had to stop and ponder on. If you focus on the simplicity of the plot or the writing, especially if you’re an avid reader used to reading some heavy crime / thriller type books, you will miss the ‘stop and smell the roses’ kind of lessons. From the first read, I took the following from it;

1) Following one’s dreams comes with sacrifices. Sometimes the sacrifices pay off and sometimes they don’t. No dream worth pursuing will cost you nothing.

2) There are many challenges in searching for one’s ‘treasure,’ whatever it may be for each one of us. Others will take the plunge and others will be overwhelmed by the responsibility and not even attempt.

3) We only have now. Tomorrow or the next second is promised to no one. We need to learn to be present in the moment instead of letting moments pass us by, by always looking to the future.

I also want to look at some of the challenges I had with the book but I’ll leave these for when I’ve done a second read…But I think this will be one of those books where you either love it or you don’t.

Often we have to go beneath the surface to discover treasure.

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A Voice in the Wind (Francine Rivers) April 7, 2018

2013, Tyndale House Publishers,
ISBN: 0-8423-7750-6, Pages: 520
Book 1 of 3: Mark of the Lion Series

I love Francine Rivers! Wow! Honestly she doesn’t seize to amaze me. This is one of the oldies but only got around to reading it now.

The story is simply about holding on to one’s faith and sharing it with those around you in situations that don’t call for that. Courage and passion fill the pages of this book. All of us, no matter how insignificant we think we are can make a difference. A supernatural God uses us ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Wow! I laughed, cried and fell in love with God and His Word reading this book. The emotions are vividly real. Hadassah – the main character, an orphan, a servant, a slave under the Roman Empire in a home that doesn’t know or have any regard for God lives a life that is impossible to ignore. Sometimes we witness more by actions and not by words. A love for God and a love for people – that’s what this book is about. There is also such a beautiful love story in the mix that reminds us not to settle for cheap romances. The ending is still a sore point for me. I will write a letter to Francine about this. Not at all what I was expecting. More than anything, reading Francine’s books make me crave for a deeper knowledge of the Bible.

It’s true, you can serve God with your gifts and talents. Tjo! Lord help me to be as bold! Remind me that I am not my own and that I am here on assignment.

I will be starting Book II (An Echo in the Darkness) soon.

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KWEZI – The remarkable story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo (Redi Tlhabi) December 31, 2017

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2017, Jonathan Ball Publishers,
ISBN: 978-1-86842-726-0, Pages: 248

 

When ‘No’ means something else…

 

The last one for 2017! Where do I even begin to put words together that make sense after reading such a book? Redi Tlhabi (a journalist of impeccable reputation) is exceptionally sensational in this book.  It is 22:18 on New Year’s Eve and I should be busy with my New Year’s Eve routine of taking stock and praying new plans through but I am feeling rather otherwise after completing this book.

I became increasingly angry with each page as narration after narration I was reminded about the gruesome violence experienced by women and children on a daily and how we just go on. So essentially, being human will be used against you if you are ever raped. Your sexual history will be laid bare for the whole world to see because being raped clearly has something to do with how many men you’ve slept with before and that as young as 6 or 13 you could be seen as a seductress. It is sadly obvious how much the burden and responsibility of rape is still skewed towards the victim. We are always taught and teach our daughters / sisters / nieces about how not to dress a particular way so as not to entice men, how not to move our hips in such a way that’s suggestive, how not to walk alone because some men might take advantage of us and see that as an invitation to rape us. The tips are well meaning and some even helpful because it’s apparently unfortunate that we have to take responsibility for the men who don’t know that they can’t take what’s not been given to them, that no doesn’t mean maybe, but no. We also have to bear the responsibility for men who aren’t ‘aware’ that they have ownership over their own sexual desires, and that like many other needs, this appetite can be tamed because we are not animals.  Ok, ok, ok the book…

So for those who may be reading this review and unaware of the story behind the book, short intro. The book is about a woman called Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo who accused the President of South Africa, (Deputy President at time of charge), Mr Jacob Zuma of rape. He on the other hand maintains that the sex was consensual and in 2006, he was acquitted of the charges. He became President of South Africa in 2009 while she, under a pseudonym  ‘Kwezi,’ sought refuge abroad and was once again thrust into life in exile just as her young life began.

 

Maybe I should rather do this review tomorrow so I can blow off some steam and welcome the New Year with a positive and hopeful outlook…

To be continued…

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