Archive > December 2010

A Week in December

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A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks, book reviewApart from his recent appearance as the reincarnation of Ian Fleming, I devour the novels of Sebastian Faulks with relish, and saved the reading of his most recent to appear in paperback, “A Week in December”, to coincide with a trip to the capital. It’s a rather ambitious project with an extensive cast of largely unlikeable and unsympathetic characters; the story follows them over a week and gradually the connections between them become stronger. Place and time are paramount to the story; this is clearly a comment on modern society, with an emphasis on the financial sector, at which Faulks directs particular vitriol.


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This Way Ruby

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This Way, Ruby! By Jonathan Emmett, Illustrated by Rebecca HarryA couple of years ago I read a lovely book with my daughters that was called ‘Ruby Flew Too’. It was written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Rebecca Harry and we thoroughly enjoyed this lovely tale of a little duck called Ruby who was the last to hatch and slow to catch on to all the things that her brothers and sisters could do. She did however always manage them – but in her own time! The reason why I am telling you all this is because on a recent visit to the library, my girls were very excited when they discovered another book about this lovely character – ‘This Way Ruby!’ Of course we had to borrow it and I don’t think that my daughters will want to take it back!

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Armistice

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Armistice by Nick Stafford, book reviewLike so many other young men, Philomena Bligh’s fiancé, Daniel, died on the battlefields of France in the First World War. But Daniel’s death is perhaps harder for Philomena to accept than for most women because Daniel died on the final day of the war and only seconds after the fighting was meant to have ended. Philomena needs to know whether Daniel’s death was merely the final action of the war, or whether for some reason the fighting had not ended where Daniel was. Armed with the names of three other officers Daniel had mentioned in his letters to her, Philomena goes to London to try to get some answers.


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Coffee @ 4.00

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 Coffee @ 4:00 by Kavita Nalawde, book reviewI can only wonder if Kavita Nalawde the writer of ‘Coffee @ 4.00‘ will consider she was lucky or unlucky when she got me as the person who volunteered to review her new e-book. On the one hand she got a reader who loves contemporary Indian literature, knows Mumbai where her story is set, and is (for a non-native) pretty genned up on Indian culture. On the other she wasn’t so lucky in getting a reader who loathes and despises the chick-lit genre and likes nothing more than looking for holes in the plot. I think it’s important that I hold up my hand and confess to both points before going any further because I don’t believe I am the type of person for whom this book was written.


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Surviving the Slums

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Slum Child by Bina Shah, book reviewBina Shah is one of those Pakistani writers in English who has made a name for herself outside Pakistan. She has written five books, of which Slum Child was first published in Italian as La Bambina Che Non Poteva Sognare, or The Girl who Could not Dream, in 2009. The English name of course, immediately evokes memories of Slumdog Millionaire, even though the two stories have very little in common. Slum Child is the story of 9 year old Laila who is growing up in Issa Colony in Karachi’s backwaters and who is, surprisingly a Christian. Laila’s mother works for a rich household and has remarried.


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The Beasties

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The Beasties by Jenny Nimmo, Illustrated by Gwen Millward, book reviewWhen Daisy’s family move house, she can’t sleep in her big bed in a strange room. She doesn’t notice when the Beasties, Floot, Weevil and Ferdinand, creep into her room. After they spread their treasures under her bed, however, Daisy hears a growling noise. It’s Ferdinand, and he tells Daisy the story of how he prevented robbers from stealing a king’s treasure. As a reward, the king gave Ferdinand a ring; Daisy keeps thinking about the ring and eventually drifts off to sleep.

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The Last Romantic Out of Belfast

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My grandfather used to ask me why it was that I liked to travel so much. “I went abroad once”, he’d say, “I didn’t like it much”. It wasn’t really surprising – his ‘world tour’ had been entirely funded by the government but seeing South Africa and India en route to the jungles of Burma to fight the Japanese in World War II wasn’t likely to have been the type of experience that he’d want to repeat. Throughout my childhood Grandad was prone to going on and on about the war and my sister and I developed the ability to fake a look of mild interest that would avoid offending him but not encourage him to continue. Like many of his generation, it had been an awful time but was undoubtedly the most interesting thing that happened during his life.


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The Associate

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The Associate By John Grisham, book reviewI used to be an avid reader of John Grisham novels but for some reason they started to lose their attraction. I think they started to get a bit samey which is why I didn’t read any for a couple of years. However, I was recently reminded me that this book was still in my ‘to read’ pile so I thought that I would give it a go. I did enjoy reading ‘The Associate’ although I don’t think that it really has the same edge and suspense as some of Grisham’s earlier books.


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I Want My Mummy

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I Want My Mummy By Mij Kelly, Illustrated by Mary McQuillan, book reviewA baby blue egg comes out to play: its two legs have emerged, but that is all. All the other creatures nearby, however, hear a shout from inside the egg calling, ‘I want my mother!’ First there’s a red pterodactyl in a ginko tree, who implores the egg not to make a noise that will wake up the ‘scary thing’. The egg runs off in fear with the red creature and hides under a yellow creature that is not unlike a stegosaurus. They realise that the scary thing is already awake, so they all run off again and hide under a huge green dinosaur. They hear frightening sounds of trees and rocks being thrown around by the scary creature, so the red creature, the green dinosaur, the yellow dinosaur and the blue egg all run away together. Oh dear: they run into something blue, and it’s the scary thing itself!

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Thirty Nothing

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Thirty-nothing By Lisa Jewell, book reviewI have recently become a huge fan of the writer Lisa Jewell and I am now on a quest to read as many of her books as I can. Hot on the heels of reading ‘One Hit Wonder’, which I absolutely adored and couldn’t put down, I was able to get a copy of Thirty Nothing which I have just finished reading. It had a lot to live up to after One Hit Wonder, but Lisa Jewell has done it it again with this book and has written another fantastic book that I really loved reading.

Thirty Nothing features two main characters – Dig (short for Digby) and Nadeen – who have been best friends ever since they were at school together and are now just entering their thirties – hence the title!


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Irrational Logistics

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The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home By Dan Ariely, book reviewDan Ariely’s The Upside of Irrationality is a summary of the behavioural patterns that he has been studying over the years. The book is a follow up to his Predictably Irrational, which was a runaway success when it came out, and The Upside of Irrationality shows every sign of following in its footsteps. What it is is a study of the irrational way in which people behave in a manner that goes against their best interests. The book tries to change the “rational consumer” principal into advice on how to lead a better life and it is fairly successful in this endeavour. However, some of what Ariely points out as habitually irrational behavior cannot be changed despite out best efforts to do so, which is why ‘fairly successful;’ best describes Ariely’s work.


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Dogs Go Shopping

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Dogs Go Shopping By Sharon Rentta, book reviewMax, a puppy, is off to the shops with his Mummy to buy a birthday present for Max’s Daddy. Max is full of bright ideas, but Mummy just wants to buy boring old flea powder. She won’t listen when he asks to go to the toy department. Max creates havoc at the beautician’s, then gets so bored while Mummy is looking at men’s jackets that he sneaks off to find the toys. There he has a whale of a time.

Having played with all the toys, Max decides that Daddy would like a skateboard best. Suddenly, however, he realises he is lost; fortunately Mummy is looking everywhere for him. She eventually finds him amongst the toys and is so relieved that she agrees to buy the skateboard.

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