Archive > March 2010

Family Planning

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Introducing the Ahujas

Family Planning By Karan MahajanIt is a truth universally acknowledged, that a 16-year old with a crush on a girl on the school bus, must be in want of a less embarrassing family.

In the case of Arjun, his family is so personally embarrassing to him that not even his best friends know that in addition to the 6 siblings he admits to (the ones he can’t deny since they go to his school) there are another 6 making up the total brood at home. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, his mother’s about to add another to the collection. Arjun’s father Rakesh Ahuja is a politician – the Minister for Urban Development – and he has two great passions; his lust for pregnant women which leads him to keep his wife almost permanently in a state of pregnancy and lactation and his determination to improve the city infrastructure for which he is responsible by building lots of flyovers.

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Under The Skin

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Under the Skin By Michel FaberIsserley spends much of her time driving up and down the A9 in Scotland in her old Toyota Corrolla, looking for male hitchhikers. After driving past a hitchhiker two or three times looking to see if he is well built and alone, she stops and offers them a ride.
Why does she do this?

All the reader is told about this book is that Isserley picks up well-built male hitchhikers. Of course this is not something you come across every day and it did sound intriguing. Along with the words ‘macabre mystery’ on the cover, it was enough to make me want to find out more.

Right from the first page I was drawn into this book which is quite possibly the strangest book I have ever read!


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I Will Survive

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Emergency: One Man's Story of a Dangerous World, and How to Stay Alive in it By Neil StraussIf you had asked me a week ago what one thing I would most want if I was about to live through the collapse of Western civilisation, my answer would almost certainly have been “Ray Mears”. As a life-long urban dweller who has only once been camping, my only means of survival should we lose all the comfy trapping of civilisation that most of us have come to depend on for food, warmth and safety is a battered old Swiss army knife dating from the days I went on archaeological digs; a pair of hiking boots (ditto); a torch, and a husband who was once a boy scout. Thinking about it now, it seems quite a trivial haul to last until rescue comes (you will be on your own for 3-5 days is case of a major disaster according this book, if help comes at all). In an emergency, people apparently respond in one of three ways, known as to 10-80-10 rule: 10% would be utterly useless and a potential liability to their fellow survivors, 80% would be too shocked to think or act rationally, and 10% would remain calm and become the leaders of the group. A sneaking suspicion that I would definitely fall into the second group if not the first suggested that it would be no bad thing to read Neil Strauss’ “Emergency”; it may not make me into a Ray Mears, but I might just pick up something useful from it.


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Batting on the Bosphorus

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Batting on the Bosphorus: A Skoda-powered Cricket Tour Through Eastern Europe by Angus BellWhat I know about the game of cricket could easily be written on the back of a postage stamp. I do know however, that a cricket commentator once said” The batsman’s Holding, the bowler’s Willy” which I consider (almost) side-splittingly funny. “Batting on the Bosphorus’’ is not quite so funny but it did make me chuckle quietly to myself on plenty of occasions. It’s an account of the summer the young Scotsman travelled the eastern reaches of Europe meeting cricket teams in the most unlikely of settings in the continued hope of scoring his first “international century”.

The premise is that the cricket-mad Bell visited a medium who made several predictions which in combination with a chance thought (the words “Ukraine” and “cricket” popped into his mind) inspired him to surf the net and find out whether his beloved sport was played in eastern Europe. After several months spent e-mailing contacts from Minsk to Istanbul, and working in a methadone programme centre to raise some funds, Bell set off on his adventure.

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Testing KS3 English: Skills and Practice – Year 8

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Testing KS3 English: Year 8  By Christine Moorcroft, By Ray BarkerTesting KS3 English: Skills and Practice, Year 8 contains six test papers based on the themes of Work, Science fiction, Prejudice, Families, Wolves and Dancing. Within each test paper are three reading passages, each followed by questions, and two writing assignments, one major and one minor. The first reading passage in each paper is a shortish one, the second requires ‘more complex skills’ to be used, and the third is intended to provide an opportunity for more independent work by the pupil. All except two of the reading passages have coloured drawings accompanying them, which would encourage a visual learner or a less confident reader.

Year 8 in England and Wales is the second year of secondary school, when pupils are aged between twelve and a half and thirteen and a half. By now they should be used to their school and have begun to develop a more independent way of working.

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The 5th Horseman

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The 5th Horseman By James Patterson, By Maxine PaetroThe 5th Horseman, written by James Patterson (with Maxine Paetro) is the fifth in his series of ‘women’s murder club’ novels. Each book has a numerical theme in the title (1st to Die, 2nd Degree, etc), so the title of this one – ‘The 5th Horseman‘ – follows the same theme. I have to admit though, that I was not absolutely sure of the relevance of the title until right at the end of the book when all becomes clear! The same main characters appear in all five books, but even though there are some references to earlier storylines, you do not need to have read the previous books in order to enjoy and follow ‘The 5th Horseman‘.

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The Club

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The Club By (author) Mandasue HellerI have to admit that as a reader I tend to stick to my favourite authors, but every so often I do like to try and read someone new. Mandasue Heller was a new author for me and ‘The Club‘ is the first of her books that I have read although in total she has written at least six! She has also been likened to Martina Cole so if you like her books it is quite probable that you will enjoy ‘The Club‘.

The Club‘ is set in Manchester and the story revolves around a nightclub called Zenith.

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Skin and Bones

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Skin and Bones By Tom BaleA glance to her left was all it took. If she had kept her eyes straight ahead, or looked to the right instead, she might never have become involved. She might have been spared…

There was a dead man in the street.

On a cold January morning in a small Sussex village, a man goes on a killing spree, shooting anyone in his path, as well as entering houses and buildings shooting anyone he happens to come across before eventually taking his own life, or at least that’s what everyone thinks.

Julia Trent however, knows otherwise. Having survived despite being shot at and badly injured, she knows there was a second man involved. A second man who fled the scene.


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Six Dinner Sid

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Six Dinner Sid By Inga Moore‘Six Dinner Sid’ is a delightful and humorous picture book, written by Inga Moore, which tells the story of a cat called Sid and how his life is somewhat complicated to say the least…

Sid lives in a very pretty place called Aristotle Street. He lives at number one. However, unbeknown to his owner at number one, he also lives at number two, and three, four, five and six as well! He manages to live in all six houses with six different owners with no one realising this at all!

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Still Thinking of You

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Still Thinking of You By Adele ParksStill Thinking of You‘ is a really light, easy read and definitely comes under the category of ‘chick lit’! If this is your sort of read (even if only occasionally) then I would definitely recommend it! I had already read a couple of books by Adele Parks – both of which were very enjoyable, and I was definitely not disappointed by this book either.

At the start of the book we meet Tash and Rich – they haven’t known each other long but already know that they are both ‘the one’ as far as the other is concerned! Rich has been down on one knee and the date for the wedding is set! All set for a happy ending then…

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My wobbly tooth must not ever never fall out!

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My Wobbly Tooth Must Not Ever Never Fall Out (Charlie and Lola)  By  Lauren ChildMy wobbly tooth must not ever never fall out!‘ is another children’s picture book in the delightful Charlie and Lola series by Lauren Child. All the books take on a similar pattern revolving around sensible brother Charlie and slightly precocious little sister Lola.

In this story, Lola has her first experience of having a wobbly tooth. When she discovers this she exclaims ‘I do not ever NEVER want my wobbly tooth to fall out. I need it!’ Charlie and his friend Marv try to explain what it is like to have a tooth fall out and the fact that the baby teeth need to go to make way for the grown up ones.

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The Fire Engine that Disappeared

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The Fire Engine That Disappeared  By Per Wahloo, By Major Maj SjowallOne cold winter’s night police detective Gunvald Larsson temporarily covers for a junior officer charged with keeping a watch on the house of a suspect. While he is on shift there is an explosion and Larsson becomes a hero, rescuing several people from the burning house. The suspect is not one of the survivors; initial reports suggest that he was dead before the explosion, probably suicide and it is also believed that the method of his suicide later caused the explosion. The case is quickly closed but Larsson, on sick leave after being slightly injured in the fire, quietly sets out on his own investigation, refusing to believe that the answer is so simple. His doubts are confirmed when the body of a “business associate” of the dead man, both known to be involved in car thefts, is recovered from the docks and the case has to be re-opened.

The Fire Engine That Disappeared” is the fifth novel in the ten book series featuring Martin Beck.

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