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I've had this book sitting on my bookshelf for sometime. When I bought it I was studying, and it got put on one side and text books read instead. Then I plain forgot it was there.
Anyway, I was looking for a more literary book to read, something to get my teeth into, and remembered this one, thought it was time I read it.
The story is based around the life story of Cal/Calliope Stephanides, and the circumstances which brought about her existence.
For those who like a straightforward narrative this book might be confusing, however, the narrator is very clear which tale they are telling, and they are told in the way they are, as the narrative needs to be woven together.
For a long book, the story never loses pace, and keeps the reader engaged. Towards the end the pace starts to quicken, especially during Cal's "running away", and although the story is complete in the book, there could be further descriptions of Cal's life after they accepted what they are, and found someone who felt the same way. (Sorry for being vague, but I don't want to spoil the book for anyone.) gives a link to the publisher's website, and some information about the book. author information.,6000,805334,00.html I think says everything there is to say about the book.
Towards the end it could be classed as a coming of age novel, but leading up to that point it has the flavour of a family saga.

The first link has the "bumph", so I won't rewrite it.
I found this a compelling book to read, and very easy to read. I hope his other Book is just as easy to read.

I was just looking through my book club magazine, when I spotted a book called "Small Favour" by Jim Butcher. I put it into one of the book sites to look for a better price, and noticed it said, "the eighth book about Harry Dresden".
So I had a look around for other books by the same author, but it didn't say the order they were in. Next thought, "an author who has written so many books probably has a website".
So I looked, and he does.

I've had a brief look, but what I particularly like about it is you can read part of the book, so that you can gauge if you like it, before you buy.

The genre is definitely fantasy.

This another of the "Vintage Blue" books I got. There was a pack of seven or eight, and when you get books like that, there's always one you aren't fond of. I did try to read this book, but after reading the first three chapters I had no interest in the slightly bizarre plot, the main character, or what might possibly happen him.
What I read, is set against the early 70s, late 60s possibly, as the book was originally published in 1973. The main character is in a car crash, and we are party to his thoughts immediately after the crash, and during his recovery, and they were that strange I'm afraid that is when I lost patience. Perhaps it was the long descriptions that got to me, I'm not entirely sure, just despite giving the book a good shot, it's not for me.
Maybe one day I'll pick it up again, and try to read it. for more about J C Ballard

As with other books of Jodi Picoult's I have read, this one was was accessible, and an enthralling read.
From the moment Emily Gold is born Christopher Harte is there, their parents are close friends, and when Emily and Chris become girlfriend and boyfriend both sets of parents are happy about it. However, Emily feels she has to finish her life. The novel opens with the two sets of parents being called to the hospital, where both Emily and Chris are in the Emergency Room. Emily dies, Chris survives. The Pact follows the events in the 12 months after the suicide, and the events leading up to the fateful night. I had trouble putting the book down to get on with other things, and think if I'd had the leisure to, I probably could have just sat and read until I finished. The book is constructed well, and the characters quite vivid

For a synopsis of the book, go to books, and click on The Pact.

This is one of Ian McEwan's early novels, 1978, but it is very accessible, in fact I found it easier to read than Atonement.
Saying that, the subject matter of this novel may put off some readers. It didn't put me off.

The idea behind the novel is very novel in itself, and McEwan has just followed through one possible scenario, with shocking results in places.
I don't think this could be made into a film, it's far too short, (but maybe an after the watershed TV drama.)
I couldn't put it down, literally, as I read it in less than 24 hours.

In the relentless summer heat, four abruptly orphaned children retreat into a shadowy, isolated world, and find their own strange and unsettling way of fending for themselves....

Written by the same author as "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian", and just as amusing.
Some may find this novel a little difficult to follow, as it is told by several voices, the sections are broken up, and once you realise that is how the novel is narrated, it's much better than having an omniscient narrator. First person narration can be unreliable, but as you get the other characters input this is not a problem. There's a certain "quirk" in this book, that I did wonder about at first, but once I realised what was going on, it makes for light relief at the more tense sections.
The novel tells the story of a group of migrant workers, who as the novel opens are strawberry picking in Kent, and their accommodation is two battered caravans, one for the men, one for the women. After an incident with the farmer and his wife, the workers take the farmer's Land Rover, and one of the caravans, and try to find work elsewhere. This novel gives an insight into the world of migrant workers, and gangmasters, and the organised crime that is springing up around these workers, being run by gangmasters.
The dedication at the start of the book is quite touching, "To the Morecambe Bay cockle-pickers". I wish that this had been qualified a little more, I suspect it means the Chinese who lost their lives, back in February 2004, where at least 21 lost their lives by being caught by the notorious tides. But I think the underlying dedication also refers to the language problems encountered by migrant workers. They still use migrants for cockle-picking, as it supposed to be good money, but the cockle beds are closed from time to time.
Back to the novel, none of the characters end up cockle-picking, but they do fish of a pier at one point.
If you read "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" and enjoyed it, this novel will appeal as well, there is even a brief visit to Mr Mayevskyj from "A Short History......", and he provides the same gentle humour.
For a little information about the author,,9780670916375,00.html
For further information about the novel.

Another book about vampires, but this one has shape-shifters, werewolves/panthers and fairies in it. (And.... No, the fairies are not Cicely Mary Baker types, they have quite an attitude.)

The book opens with Sookie, the main character, dropping of her brother in a village where werepanthers live for the first full-moon after his "conversion".
The man she leaves her brother with gets shot. Sookie finds this out the next day in her workplace. The book is liberally sprinkled with "supernatural" beings, some openly recognised by the authorities, others still hiding their existence.
One thing I will say, this book is supposedly a romance......if it is, the person who classed it as romance has a very strange idea of what is romantic.
I'll share the bumph with you.

Sookie Stackhouse enjoys her life, mostly. She's a great cocktail waitress in a fun bar; she has a love life, albeit pretty complicated, and most people have come to terms with her telepathy.
Problem is, Sookie wants a quiet life, but things just seem to happen to her.
Now her brother Jason's eyes are starting to change: he's about to turn into a werepanther for the first time. She could deal with that, but her normal sisterly concern turns to cold fear when a sniper sets his sights on the local changeling population..... not just because Jason's at risk, but because his new were-brethren suspect he may be the shooter.
Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who's behind the attacks - unless the killer decides to find her first.

To find out more about Charlaine Harris, visit her website

This book got me really mad when I finished it.
Because it is one of two, Kingmaker, kingbreaker books. Usually when you read a series, there is some resolution at the end of the book. OK, you know there are others to follow, but this one, like I say, got me mad. The book ends, literally, on a cliff edge....a true cliff-hanger.
Saying all that though, I thouroughly enjoyed the book, and was just annoyed that I don't yet have the next one. (My personal theory is, that maybe Karen Miller wrote the two as one story, and was told by her publisher that they wouldn't print a 1000+ page book, as Innocent Mage had over 600 pages. So they just split the book.)
The story is about Asher, a fisherman's son in the country of Lur, who decides to go to the capital to make his fortune, then retrun home and keep his Dad in luxury. He gives himself a year to achieve this, and quite luckily lands a job working for the Doranen prince, Gar. In the kingdom of Lur there are two races, the Doranen, blond, and gifted with magic, and Olken, darker and have no magic, so the Doranen are the ruling class. All is not how it appears though, and there are Olken who can work magic, but their's is a secret magic, in tune with the earth, whilst Doranen magic is flashy, showy magic controlling weather, repairing houses and such. Gar however has been born with no magical abilities, but has a good heart, and works well in his father's name.
The kingdom of Lur is proected magically by Barl's wall.Barl, being the founding magician, who is considered a god, she is said to have built the wall to protect her peoples from the wildness beyond the wall.
As the plot unfolds we learn more about the politics of the palace, and the hidden magic of the Olken. It turns out that the appearance of Asher in the capital had been predicted, and he has a destiny to fulfil.

I will be toddling off to the bookshop for Awakened Mage, soon.

I must admit whilst I was reading this book, I did wonder if Lur could be either Australia, or South Africa, with the white/blond assuming power over the darker/original residents who are closer to nature. Just a thought. If you read that, it should be one story, not two, it obviously got too big.

This has become my latest "Favourite" book, you know the one you want to read and read again. It doesn't matter in the slightest that I have read this book before, it is so well written and constructed that it still engages me . I think I have possibly read it at least once a year since I got it in 2000. If anyone ever asks me to recommend a book that is a little different, it is this one I would recommend. I've read all of Michel Faber's books apart the collections of short stories, because I've never found them in the bookshop, but not for want of looking.

As I say, I've read this novel several times, and whilst at university wrote a brief review of it. Below is the review .

Under the Skin. Michel Faber. Century Publishing. £6.99 296 pages.
Thriller, suspense, or horror? I’m not sure which genre Under the Skin falls into, the blurb on the back of the book isn’t either. Therefore to write a normal review would not do the book justice. No, Under the Skin is not a weird, minor cult type book, it just defies classification. Fans of Iain Banks’ Wasp Factory would probably enjoy the twists in the plot, yet it is not necessary to have read Wasp Factory to enjoy this novel.

Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. She was looking for big muscles: a hunk on legs. Puny, scrawny specimens were no use to her.” (p 1).

The opening page introduces us to the main character, Isserley, and the fact that she picks up hitch hikers, and we are told that she is selective. The plot unfolds slowly, giving enough information to keep the reader engaged, whilst not spoiling the suspense.
Under the Skin introduces the reader to a world where the normal is abnormal, and vice-versa. The heroine and her work colleagues are not what the reader would expect. Isserley’s true identity is not revealed until she meets her employer’s son. Even then we are not told directly what she looks like, but are left to draw our own conclusions, after a detailed description of Amlis Vess. Her aim in life is not at all genteel, or ordinary, her living conditions unusual.

“The bathtub was clean but a little rusty, as was the sink. The yawning interior of the lidless toilet bowl, by contrast, was the colour and texture of bark; it had not been used for at least as long as Isserley had lived here.” (67)

The omniscient narrator does not seem biased, reporting all thoughts and actions equally. Even the fate of the hitch-hikers is not the obvious one that the reader would assume from the all-seeing narrator’s balanced narration.

“She tried to project herself forward in time, visualizing herself already parked somewhere with a hunky young hitch-hiker sitting next to her; she imagined herself breathing heavily against him as she smoothed her hair and grasped him round the waist to ease him into position.” (7)

And from the viewpoint of one of the hitch hikers picked up by Isserley:

“Maybe he was being a hypocrite. He did recognise this woman as… well…a woman, surely? She was a female; he was a male. These were eternal realities. And, let’s face it, she was wearing amazingly little clothing for the weather. He hadn’t seen so much cleavage in public since well before the snows had set in.” (202)

If certain other indicators were not given, the reader could be forgiven in thinking this novel was just warming up to be a kinky sex romp. However, we are disillusioned from having any such silly thoughts at the end of the first chapter, and are given a hint at what might be the true situation.

Isserley flipped another toggle, her fingers trembling ever so slightly. The gentle tick of the indicator lights set the rhythm of her breathing as she allowed the car to drift off the road and smoothly enter the lay-by. The speedometer wobbled to zero; the car stopped moving; the engine stalled, or maybe she turned off the ignition. It was over.
As always at this moment, she saw herself as if from a height; an aerial view of her little red Toyota parked in its little asphalt parenthesis. The FARMFOODS lorry roared past on the straight.” (21).

The novel is set north of Glasgow/ Edinburgh, the location never being named directly. Although geographical pointers are given. This choice of setting is crucial to the plot, as the novel could not be credible if it had been located in a more approachable site. The disappearance of the hitch hikers would have been more noticeable elsewhere, and Isserley’s method of assessing their worth impractical in a more highly populated area. The language is easily accessible, encouraging the reader to read on. Without giving too much away all I can say is, Under the Skin is a very user-friendly novel, with a totally unexpected storyline, which is gradually revealed as the novel progresses. I believe it is in the process of being filmed. This is one adaptation I will try to see on the screen.

For further information on Michel Faber.

Fascinating book. With a pretty sensible plot, that seems sensible, but the consequences ...well!
Jonny Hooker receives one of those letters, you know the sort we all get in our junk mail, and most sensible folk bin without even reading. But does Jonny do that, NO, he decides to "crack the code" and be THE winner. The book is based around what happens once Jonny has decided to crack the code.
Like the previous book of Rankin's I've read, he finds humour in every day life.
I haven't read The Da Vinci Code, (or even seen the film, ) but I'm guessing that this book is a skit on it. is a link to the publisher's website, and an interview with Robert Rankin.
I loved the book, and will read more of his in the future.

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