Sunday, 3 November 2013

BACK IN PRINT!!! A truly remarkable story which is guaranteed to give you goosebumps at some stage

Four days before Christmas 1943, a badly damaged American bomber struggled to fly over wartime Germany. At its controls was a 21-year-old pilot. Half his crew lay wounded or dead. It was their first mission. Suddenly, a sleek, dark shape pulled up on the bomber’s tail—a German Messerschmitt fighter. Worse, the German pilot was an ace, a man able to destroy the American bomber in the squeeze of a trigger. What happened next would defy imagination and later be called the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.

This is the true story of the two pilots whose lives collided in the skies that day—the American—2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17—and the German—2nd Lieutenant Franz Stigler, a former airline pilot from Bavaria who sought to avoid fighting in World War II.

A Higher Call follows both Charlie and Franz’s harrowing missions. Charlie would face takeoffs in English fog over the flaming wreckage of his buddies’ planes, flak bursts so close they would light his cockpit, and packs of enemy fighters that would circle his plane like sharks. Franz would face sandstorms in the desert, a crash alone at sea, and the spectacle of 1,000 bombers each with eleven guns, waiting for his attack. Ultimately, Charlie and Franz would stare across the frozen skies at one another. What happened between them, the American 8th Air Force would later classify as “top secret.” It was an act that Franz could never mention or else face a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search for one another, a last mission that could change their lives forever.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Twice on one day

Big titles.  Wilbur Smith and "Vicious Circle", Frederick Forsyth and "Kill List", William Boyd and "Solo" to name but three.

Does absence make the heart grow fonder?

Miaow, miaow and has been a long time since anything was written.  We, the cats-in-residence,  have been on vaCATion, and our owner has been distracted by many other things. 
Now we are all back and raring to go.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Adam Johnson has made just one trip to North Korea, but the American academic's novel The Orphan Master's Son has won him the Pulitzer prize for fiction for carrying his readers "on an adventuresome journey into the depths" of the totalitarian country, according to the judges.
The story of a young man, Jun Do – a homonym for John Doe – and his passage through the prison camps and dictatorship of North Korea, Johnson's novel beat Nathan Englander's acclaimed What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank and Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child to win the $10,000 (£6,500) Pulitzer for fiction on Monday. The award is America's most prestigious for fiction, and has been won by some of the country's greatest novelists, from William Faulkner to Toni Morrison.
Last year, Pulitzer judges declined to award a fiction prize, with finalists Karen Russell, David Foster Wallace and Denis Johnson all missing out on a place in literary history. But this year Johnson, who teaches creative writing at Stanford University, was said by judges including the Pulitzer-winning novelist Geraldine Brooks to have written "an exquisitely crafted novel" which journeys "into the most intimate spaces of the human heart", and was named winner of the prize.
Having written the book following years of research into North Korea, including one tightly-controlled state-sponsored trip to the country,Johnson told the Stanford News that he had come "to care very deeply about the people of North Korea", and that he hoped his novel – and his win – would shed light on the country's situation.
"People thought I was crazy to be writing on North Korea. They said, 'You're just some dude in California!' But one of the things I discovered through my research is that most North Koreans can't tell their story. It's important for others to hear it, though. So I had a sense of mission to speak about the topic," Johnson said.  "It's an unverifiable place," the author said of North Korea. "But to the fiction writer, the myth, the legend, the fables are all powerful tools to create a psychological 

Indulgence at its best...forget chocolate!

What a wise woman!  She sounds as if she could have a bookshop in Hermanus.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Iain Banks announces he may just have months to live

Acclaimed novelist Iain Banks has left the literary world and legions of fans in shock after revealing he has terminal cancer and may just have months to live.

The Scottish writer, whose books include The Wasp Factory and The Crow Road, announced the news of his late stage cancer of the gall bladder in an emotional personal statement that was tinged with black humour. It started: “I am officially Very Poorly”.

Iain BanksThe Quarry, which has been delivered to the publisher and is being fast-tracked for publication, looks like it “will be my last” book, he said.

Banks sent an email to his close friends with the news last month. Ken MacLeod, a science fiction writer who has known Banks “for a long time,” told The Independent: “It was a complete shock; it came totally out of the blue.”
He has seen Banks since learning the news. “Iain has that attitude of what he called ‘stoic cheerfulness’ in his email. It obviously gets to him, but for most of the time he has a very commendable equilibrium and equanimity.”

The author, 59, built up a huge following writing mainstream fiction as Iain Banks, as well as science fiction using Iain M Banks.

Mr MacLeod said: “There’s nobody else who’s professionally active at the moment who has so consistently written very well received mainstream novels and at the same time likewise well received unabashed genre science fiction.”  "He’s very well liked in the literary and science fiction worlds. He’s great company and kind hearted and generous with it,” he added.

Fellow authors and fans posted messages of support on social networks as well as on the Friends of Iain Banks site that went online in the morning. Edinburgh crime writer Ian Rankin called the news “just awful”.  Science-fiction writer William Gibson wrote he was “speechless as the morning’s dreadful news” while Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh said: “Very, very sad to hear this. Amazing writer and excellent guy.”

Little, Brown Book Group has published all of the author’s work since the paperback version of his debut novel The Wasp Factory. Chief executive Ursula Mackenzie called it a “terrible shock for the whole company”.  She continued: “Everyone who has ever come into contact with Iain shares our shock and sadness. Iain is a man whose vibrancy, energy and creativity seemed so unstoppable.”

In January, Banks thought a sore back was due to time spent “crouched over a keyboard all day” writing his new novel, yet a series of tests revealed the “grisly truth” that he has cancer last month.
“The bottom line, now, I'm afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I'm expected to live for 'several months' and it’s extremely unlikely I'll live beyond a year,” he wrote.
Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister and a friend of Banks, called him a “remarkable writer who has made a lasting contribution to Scottish literature and culture, inspiring and enthralling readers for 30 years”.
Banks is currently on honeymoon after he asked partner Adele Hartley “if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow” adding “sorry but we find ghoulish humour helps”.
“We intend to spend however much quality time I have left seeing friends and relations and visiting places that have meant a lot to us,” he said. He has withdrawn from all planned public engagements.

His Career

Iain Banks, who was born in Dunfermline in 1954, had a “very happy childhood”. He says that he acquired a nautical gait from his father, an officer in the Admiralty, and his balance from his mother, a professional ice skater.

In 1984, at the age of 30, he published his first book The Wasp Factory. The Quarry, published this year, will be his 27th novel writing as Iain Banks or Iain M Banks, the name he uses for his science-fiction writing, which includes the acclaimed Culture series.

Banks’s deeply held political views saw him tear up his passport after the invasion of Iraq and he has also publicly revealed his support for Scottish independence. He is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.

His Full Statement

"I am officially Very Poorly. After a couple of surgical procedures, I am gradually recovering from jaundice caused by a blocked bile duct, but that – it turns out – is the least of my problems.
I first thought something might be wrong when I developed a sore back in late January, but put this down to the fact I’d started writing at the beginning of the month and so was crouched over a keyboard all day. When it hadn’t gone away by mid-February, I went to my GP, who spotted that I had jaundice. Blood tests, an ultrasound scan and then a CT scan revealed the full extent of the grisly truth by the start of March.

I have cancer. It started in my gall bladder, has infected both lobes of my liver and probably also my pancreas and some lymph nodes, plus one tumour is massed around a group of major blood vessels in the same volume, effectively ruling out any chance of surgery to remove the tumours either in the short or long term.

The bottom line, now, I’m afraid, is that as a late-stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for “several months” and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.

As a result, I’ve withdrawn from all planned public engagements and I’ve asked my partner, Adele, if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps). By the time this goes out we’ll be married and on a short honeymoon. We intend to spend however much quality time I have left seeing friends and relations and visiting places that have meant a lot to us. Meanwhile, my heroic publishers are doing all they can to bring the publication date of my new novel forward by as much as four months, to give me a better chance of being around when it hits the shelves.

There is a possibility that it might be worth undergoing a course of chemotherapy to extend the amount of time available. However, that is still something we’re balancing the pros and cons of, and anyway it is out of the question until my jaundice has further and significantly reduced.
Lastly, I’d like to add that from my GP onwards, the professionalism of the medics involved – and the speed with which the resources of the NHS in Scotland have been deployed – has been exemplary, and the standard of care deeply impressive. We’re all just sorry the outcome hasn’t been more cheerful."

Friday, 15 March 2013

It's here, it's here!

Inferno Dan Brown's new novel, Inferno, features renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon and is set in the heart of Europe, where Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centred around one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces.

As Dan Brown comments: "Although I studied Dante's Inferno as a student, it wasn't until recently, while researching in Florence, that I came to appreciate the enduring influence of Dante's work on the modern world. With this new novel, I am excited to take readers on a journey deep into this mysterious realm…a landscape of codes, symbols, and more than a few secret passageways."

The new Dan Brown book "Inferno" will be released on 14 May.




Man Asia Booker 2012 winner announced

Tan Twan Eng wins the Man Asian Literary prize 2012 (equivalent to the Booker Prize), for "Garden of Evening Mists".

Monday, 11 February 2013

An entry from The Cat Diary

Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a ‘good little hunter’ I am.   Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight.  I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event.   However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of ’allergies.’ I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow — but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released – and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.  (No source traced)

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe...for now.

An entry from The Dog Diary

8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm – Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm – Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Of course, cats aren’t nearly so easy to please, or so grateful either;  (no source traced)

Friday, 8 February 2013

Christmas 2013... a read worth waiting for!

I've just heard from mum that there's a new Deon Meyer coming out in November this year.  There are no details yet, not even a title, but you'll be the first to know (you'll be at least second to know, maybe even third, but you know what I mean!) when the information is released.

Friday, 25 January 2013

It's published!

Jeffrey Archer's third book in his pentalogy/quintology/quintet (you choose), the Clifton Chronicles, will be released in March.  It's titled "Best Kept Secret", and the CD will be available the following month.

Best Kept Secret by Jeffrey Archer
According to The Bookseller, in the first ten days, the second book "The Sins of the Father" sold 170% more than the first in the series "Only Time Will Tell" sold in its first six weeks. According to Jeffrey "When you're actually writing the third book, news like this is both inspiring and demanding - in equal measure."

We wait...

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Too hot for fur coats


Far too hot for cats today, so decided to stay inside and copy humans who seem to enjoy this book thing...reading.  They talk about "getting your teeth" into something, so that's what I did.  I wouldn't say it was particularly productive, but it certainly helped sharpen the canines (terrible to have that word associated with us felines).

Then they say they've "got their nose" in a good book,
so I tried that too.  Marginally more interesting,
but a lot of fuss about nothing in my opinion.
Now it's off to the land of dreams, full of mice, catnip and other catty delights.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Love him or hate him

Dan Brown's new book "Inferno" due on May 14th in Canada and the US, so we'll see it the next day in SA. This is a new Robert Langdon novel.

There's no available jacket as yet, but the following is from Dan Brown's website :

Inferno, featuring the return of renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, is set in Italy and centers on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces, Dante’s Inferno. The book will have a first printing of four million copies.

“Although I studied Dante’s Inferno as a student, it wasn’t until recently, while researching in Florence, that I came to appreciate the enduring influence of Dante’s work on the modern world,” said Brown. “With this new novel, I am excited to take readers on a journey deep into this mysterious realm…a landscape of codes, symbols, and more than a few secret passageways.”

“Dan Brown is a masterful storyteller” said Mehta (Chairman and Editor in Chief of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group), “his ability to fuse codes with well-researched history has helped to make his novels some of the most popular works of all time. With Inferno, Dan has taken a literary classic and animated it in a way that only he can.”

Our breaths are bated.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Back in stock soon

Excellent photography in this coffee table book, a MUST for cat lovers.

I couldn't resist this.

Happy Friday, everyone! What are you reading this weekend?

History of LADYBIRD books

In 1867 Henry Wills opened a bookshop in Loughborough and moved into printing in 1873. Henry and William Hepworth, his business partner and friend, published "pure and healthy" literature for children and registered the Ladybird trademark in 1915.

The first Ladybird book, "Bunnykins Picnic Party" was published in 1940. The books were pocket sized and had 56 pages which came from just one sheet of paper, 30" x 40". This kept the price down which was very important for parents.

The global market started with a translation of "Child of the Temple" into Swedish - Stieg Larssen followed in some fine footprints! Now the books are available in over 60 languages. Arabic sales are a large part of the market.

The "LEARN ABOUT" books appeared in the '60s eg "How it works -the motor car" was used by the Thames Valley police driving school. 200 copies of "How it works - the computer" were used by university professors to make sure students started at the same level. 200 copies of the same book were bought by the Ministry of Defence and bound in plain brown covers to save embarrassing their trainees! This series was so popular that one noted politician asked Parliament "Has the Right Honourable Member read 'The Ladybird Book on Politics?" This might not go amiss today!

In 1971 Wills & Hepworth became Ladybird Books, and the following year were taken over by the Pearson group, then owners of Longmans, The Financial Times and the Westminster Press.

For Charles and Diana's wedding, Ladybird produced a book in 5 days and sold
1.5 million copies. Apparently Prince William learned to read using Ladybird books.
In 1991 a publishing partnership was forged between Ladybird and Disney with triumphs such as Tarzan, Lion King, Toy Story and Winnie-the-Pooh.

Ladybird books are synonymous with quality and value for money and are trusted the world over by parents.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Thursday, 10 January 2013

What I'm reading by Tabby Lloyd

Rebus has returned! Ian Rankin has brought back the Detective Inspector Rebus character after a gap of five years. Of course, in real life, the retirement age for police in Scotland has changed and this allows Rebus to return to work.

When Rankin was asked about television adaptations, he said: “It’s good that so much crime fiction is being written, though I sense people are getting a bit tired of the Scandinavian model.
STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN'S GRAVEMaybe we could turn to the Indian subcontinent, or just somewhere that isn’t bleak and windswept and snowy and full of psychopathic serial killers running amok. Like every crime writer in Britain, I’m very jealous of Scandinavian crime writers whose work gets 20 hours on TV.
Rebus gets 45 minutes per book – one hour on the television with 15 minutes of adverts. Everything got dropped apart from the title!"

Test your knowledge of Rebus with this quiz from Rankin's website :

1.  What was the first Rebus book to be published. 
2.  What is the name of Rebus’ ex-wife?
3.  Name the deadly internet role playing game contact in The Falls?
4.  Under what does DC Siobhan Clarke find her first clue in the Restaurant Bleu in The Falls?
5.  Who is Rebus’ nemesis?
6.  In which pub does Rebus regularly drink and on what street is it?
7.  In which book does the serial killer the Wolfman appear?
8.  In which book does MP Gregor Jack get caught in an Edinburgh brothel?
9.  Rebus’s daughter Samantha is injured in a hit and run accident. In which book does this incident occur? 
10. In which book does the Lord Provost’s daughter disappear?

None of this "the answers are on page 9" or "the answers are at the foot of the page" (easy for those of us who are experts at reading upside down)...happy puzzling!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Tabby Lloyd's (I'll explain again -' tabloid'...feline journalist), slow start to the new year

The Pedant in the Kitchen. Julian BarnesIt's difficult to rush anything through the holidays, shopping, parking, driving, visiting etc, but now things are slightly easier.  At least blood pressures are lower in Woolies.  I gather it was quite unpleasant at times with queues around the store and people being rather impatient.  So glad I was home reading and waiting for my food to be delivered  and my water to be topped up.

I was perusing "Pedant in the Kitchen" by Julian Barnes, who was the winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize for "Sense of an Ending".  His new book is about his search for gastronomic precision.  He is not a Nigel Slater fan, but loves Jane Grigson (mother of Sophie Grigson who knew her marriage was doomed when her future husband, William, asked before their wedding: "Do we have to live together?").  Many other chefs are critiqued as he writes.

His style is delightfully dry and his observations may be obvious, but which of you could have written 2 pages on owning cookery books?

1. "Never buy a book because of its pictures.  Never, ever, point at a photo in a cookbook and say 'I'm going to make that.'  You can't."

2. "Never buy the chef's recipe book on pointed display as you leave the restaurant.  Remember : that's why you went there in the first place - to eat their cooking, not your own feebler version of it."

3. "Remember that cookery writers are no different from other writers : many have only one book in them (and some shouldn't have let it out in the first place)."

There is great pleasure  to be had from reading about the pedant, and a dictionary will prove an invaluable accompaniment for many....'raillery', 'obeisance', 'relict', 'uxorious', 'cavils' and 'voluptuaries' might be understood better!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Wind and straw hats don't really go together, but I tried...much better to be at home and wind free (still attached to the hat, or is it..the hat attached to me?). 
Cassie slept through New Year (see picture).  I s'ppose she was dreaming of what to write in her new column.  Today I saw her having a browse through the Collins dictionary as she was reading a book by Julian Barnes.  No doubt all will be made clear tomorrow.