Archive > April 2010

Six Suspects

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Six Suspects By (author) Vikas SwarupVikas Swarup is the writer who created Q&A, the book on which the blockbuster film Slumdog Millionaire was based. Q&A is a fantastic books so I was excited when I learned his second book, Six Suspects, was available.

Vicky Rai is the son of an influential politician and is a thoroughly nasty piece of work. With his corrupt and violent playboy lifestyle he has left such a trail of havoc and destruction that his led his politician father to spend a fortune bailing him out of trouble and buying off (or killing off) those he has harmed. When Rai is shot dead at his own party nobody is really very surprised that his young and dirty little life has been brought to an abrupt halt.

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Captain Pike Looks after the Baby!

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Captain Pike Looks After the Baby By (author) Marjorie Newman, Illustrated by Kate PankhurstWell, you can probably tell from the title – ‘Captain Pike Looks after the Baby!’ that there is likely to be a certain amount of role reversal in this story! Mind you, as it is the 21st century, we should probably expect nothing less than daddies looking after babies, although in my experience it still seems to be mums that take the leading roles when looking after children!

Anyway, as you will probably have realised by now, Captain Pike is a daddy who is left to look after his little girl. However, Captain Pike is no ordinary daddy, as he is also a rough, tough pirate who sails the seven seas fighting his pirate enemies. I think from the outset you can tell this is likely to be a funny story!

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One Night at the Call Centre

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One Night at the Call Centre By Chetan BhagatModern Indian fiction comes in two main types; first are the exquisitely crafted tomes that get short-listed for the Booker and similar prizes and the second are the rubbishy trendy boy-meets-girl-boy-looses-girl trash that’s perpetually constrained by the author’s desire to shock his/her readers whilst avoiding writing anything that might make their friends and relatives blush. Popular fiction Indian-style is hard to swallow from our western ‘anything goes’ perspective because the social mores of 21st Century India are still so different from ours and we’re not used to how easy it is to shock your mum if you live in India. According to the author’s website, he’s supposed to be the best selling of all contemporary Indian writers – I can only say that if that’s true, it’s exceptionally sad. However I have to remind myself that people buy Katie Price’s books by the gazillion too.

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Bunker 13

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 Bunker 13 by Aniruddha BahalIt’s rare that a book leaves me with a nasty taste in my mouth, but Bunker 13 is a thoroughly unpleasant piece of work. Thank God it’s fiction.

Minty Mehta – or MM as he’s referred to through the book – is a disgraced army-cadet turned investigative journalist who has managed to get himself embedded with the Indian military. The novel starts with him at the parachute training centre and then follows him on missions with the Indian Special Forces engaged in conflict in Kashmir on the disputed border with Pakistan. He takes a lot of drugs, gets involved in smuggling operations, sets different regiments off against one another brokers deals with foreign ‘organisations’ for guns, drugs and secrets, and isn’t averse to killing people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time. His apparent mission is to kill plenty of ‘mossies’ (Muslims to you and me) and to take as many hard drugs as possible. In between he has strangely unfulfilling sexual encounters with various women.

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Severed

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Severed By (author) Simon KernickOne night stand…
One dead girl…
One bad day…

The above words on the front cover of this thriller by Simon Kernick were enough to make me pick up this book and take a closer look. It certainly sounded promising enough, so I began to read. Tyler wakes up one morning and finds himself in a strange room on a strange bed. He hasn’t a clue where he is or how he got there. The only thing that isn’t strange to him is his girlfriend lying next to him. The only problem is, the bed is covered in blood and his girlfriend is dead. What is confusing, as well as sickening, is his discovery that she has been decapitated and her head is missing.


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Life, The Universe and Everything

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A Really Short History of Nearly Everything By (author) Bill Bryson“Welcome. And congratulations. I am delighted you could make it. Getting here wasn’t easy, I know….Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favoured evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely – make that miraculously – fortunate in your personal ancestry. Consider that for 3.8 billion years…every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstance to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stuck fast, untimely wounded or otherwise deflected from life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combination that could result…in you”. [Introduction, “A Short History of Nearly Everything”]


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Fidgety Fish and Friends

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Fidgety Fish and Friends By Paul Bright, Illustrated by Ruth GallowayFidgety Fish‘ is a wonderfully colourful and vibrant picture story book written by Ruth Galloway for young children. Every page is filled with gorgeous pictures and beautiful language and in my opinion is a must in any small child’s book collection!

Fidgety Fish‘ tells the story of a very small fish called Tiddler who was always fidgeting so much that he drove his mum mad until one day she had had enough and sent him out of their cave into the big sea in order to swim so much he would tire himself out! Tiddler did as he was told and had a wonderfully exciting but also scary adventure out at sea!

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This is How

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This is How By M.J. HylandAfter his fiancée breaks off their engagement, Patrick Oxtoby, a quiet young man in his mid twenties, packs a bag and leaves his family to go and live in a boarding house by the sea. His employer helps him find a new job and Patrick is trying to feel hopeful about the future but it doesn’t help that he’s an introverted young man who finds it difficult to communicate his true feelings. He isn’t really to his fellow lodgers, Ian and Shaun, both from wealthy backgrounds and both carousing womanisers.  The landlady, Bridget, tries to encourage Patrick to become friends with the others but, quite the opposite, their brash and arrogant behaviour only irritates Patrick.  Things should be looking up for Patrick with a new job that brings him praise and a blossoming friendship with Georgia, a waitress in a local cafe but Patrick commits a shocking act of violence, one that changes his life forever.


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A World Apart

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A World Apart By Caro FraserCaro Fraser has been a favourite author of mine for quite a few years now. In her books, she usually writes about a set of barristers who all work together in London. However, occasionally, she tends to write a ‘one off’ type of novel with different characters and nothing to do with the law! ‘A World Apart‘ is one of these ‘one offs’.

The story centres on Mark Mason, a forty something businessman who appears to be going through a midlife crisis. He has been married to his wife Paula for about half his life and they have two almost grown up sons. He also is partner in a successful waste compacting company. So, on the surface it appears that life is very good for Mark!


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Noko’s Surprise Party

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Noko's Surprise Party By Fiona MoodieSouth-African Fiona Moodie wanted to write and illustrate children’s books from a young age and it is easy to see that she had the talent to fulfil her ambition. Her latest picture book, Noko’s Surprise Party, is a follow-up to Noko and the Night Monster.

As Takadu the aardvark and Noko the porcupine have been friends for so long, it is only natural that Takadu wants to plan a party for Noko’s birthday, but it is to be a surprise. Takadu goes to considerable trouble to write and hand out invitations to Mrs. Warthog, Bat-eared Fox, Pangolin (a scaly anteater), Velvet Monkey and Guineafowl.

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Reasons to be Cheerful

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The Optimist: One Man's Search for the Brighter Side of Life  By  Laurence ShorterGiven the choice, would you rather hang out with optimists or pessimists? It seems like a simple choice doesn’t it? Wouldn’t we all choose a life uplifted by rubbing shoulders with perpetually sunny cheery glass-half-full types over one dragged down and depressed by those who always expect to lose a fiver and find a shirt button?

Laurence Shorter’s book ‘The Optimist‘ is a one man quest to uncover the secret of optimism and is based on the premise that optimists have better lives – or maybe optimists just cope better when faced with adversity. That’s part of the problem; it’s quite hard to get a clear idea of why Shorter really wants to discover the secret of positivity. He believes that if he can become an optimist, then his life will be better and he will be more successful.


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The French Experience 1 Language Pack

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French Experience 1 Language Pack Plus CDs (French Experience)  By Marie-Therese Bougard, By Anny King, By Daniele BourdaisWhether you are embarking on self-study or a private tuition course in French, The French Experience 1 is worth considering. Writing and grammar are not over-emphasised, but if you wish to speak, understand and read texts, there is a wealth of material here. Each unit focuses on a particular topic such as health, travel, food and drink, professions, holidays and so on, providing useful vocabulary for tourists as well as residents. The CDs contain authentic dialogues and interviews recorded in France; within each unit the recordings concentrate initially on listening and recognising vocabulary, and then on the learner producing similar language through role-play.

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