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‘Hey, Dad,’ the boy said.

‘Hi,’ his father said, standing from his chair to embrace his son.

His father was a tall man, solid, with hands as big as baseball mitts—hands that had picked up his little boy and thrown him a million miles into the air, watching the tyke laugh and flail with glee before catching him. The boy smiled, remembering, and the man smiled too, perhaps with the same memory surfacing in his mind. There was safety and security in his father’s arms, a love expressed through action, and that had made up for all the absent days, the boy reflected.

His father’s smile was easy and his expression genuine, yet his hazel eyes were deep and serious and watchful as though every movement came under scrutiny, and maybe it did. His voice could command a room, if required to do so, and those large hands had been known to silence a disrespectful few, if also required to do so. He was old fashioned, moulded from old fashioned values and a man true to his word. This earned him the respect he required but it was his kindness and integrity to do right that made him a good leader and a hero in the boy’s eyes.

Excerpt (novel) – The Wish List – Grant Ackermann

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Which book, first published in 1605, has sold more than 300 million copies worldwide?

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It wasn’t until my third blood nose that Mum decided, with temper at boiling point, to go and speak to Johnny Lindell’s parents. She dragged me by the arm, the tissue paper still plugged into my nostril and hanging from my nose, and marched up the road in a lengthy stride and charging demeanour, which would have frightened even the biggest herd of on-coming stampeding buffalo, to the Lindell’s place. I jogged to keep up, matching my two or three steps to Mum’s one, and I knew that Mum meant business. I had never seen her this fired up before.

Afternoon had not yet settled to dusk, and the sky flared deep oranges and pinks from the lowering sun. We reached the small brick house with our cheeks flushed and our faces glistening with sweat. Rubbish and toys lay scattered across the front yard. The tall, tangled grass desperately needed a mow and graffiti marked the dirty white walls of the front of the house in a colourful tag of scribbles and letters. A window was open and we could hear heavy-metal music and voices from within. Mum pulled back the mesh of wire that served as a front screen and banged on the door. Specks of brown paint floated to the floor, settling with others that had already made the journey down from where the paint curled back and flaked away from the corroding wooden door in protest.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

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Which author’s breakthrough book was described by Salman Rushdie as a ‘book so bad it makes bad books look good’?

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On the days when loneliness appeared and entered her world, drowning away her strength and clarity, as it seemed to do more often these days, she would surrender to the tears and question God. Why was she to suffer like this? Hadn’t she done enough to serve Him? Hadn’t she been a good disciple and served her Lord dutifully ever since her first church visit? Well … most of the time, she conceded.

She remembered her father leading her by the hand while she craned her neck at the enormity and beauty of the church, the large colourful windows, the high ceiling, the way the light floated in like fairy dust to settle amongst rows of filled wooden pews of men and  women dressed in suits and frocks and hats. Yes, her pale-blue dress that hung to her ankles was stiff and starchy and whooshed and rustled when she walked, but she felt like she had fitted in, like she had belonged. But where was her hat she had wondered, looking up at her father whose eyes stayed forward and his expression stoic. This she reminded herself to ask mum later. Being four years old was not too young for a hat, she had decided.

Her father led her to a seat in the front row under the watchful eye of Mrs. Myrtle, who sat facing her from the first seat in the choir, while he went off to fulfill his duties as an elder of the church. Mrs. Myrtle looked as wicked as a scarecrow with a voice as rough as a cement mixer, but sang her heart out in the choir as if the day of judgement had arrived and her effort could earn her a place in the kingdom … and perhaps it did.

So why now was she being punished like this, even after a lifetime of heartache? This was as Father James had preached at almost every service, “Her cross to bear,” and bear she would. What choice did she have? She sighed and breathed out, willing her strength to return. She would fight, she had to. Yes, the cancer was spreading but she would be damned if she would let that control her.

Excerpt (novel) – The Wish List – Grant Ackermann

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Stephen Hawking

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Who collaborated with his daughter Lucy, in 2007, to write the children’s book George’s Secret Key to the Universe?

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