Wednesday, 27 February 2013

E-Book: Hostile Witness (First Book in The Witness Series) by Rebecca Forster


This story is inspired by a real-life case the author's husband - a superior court judge - handled.

In one of his cases, he had to sentence a minor to life in prison.

Rebecca Forster wondered how she felt about minors arrested for violent crimes.

How are they perceived - as adults and yet emotionally children or purely as adults because they were capable of horrible violence?

Kindle:  When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice of the California Supreme court, her distraught mother turns to her old college roommate, Josie Baylor-Bates, for help.

Josie, once a hot-shot criminal defense attorney, left the fast track behind for a small practice in Hermosa Beach, California.

But Hannah Sheraton intrigues her and, when the girl is charged as an adult, Josie cannot turn her back.

But the deeper she digs, the more Josie realizes that politics, the law and family relationships create a combustible and dangerous situation.

When the horrible truth is uncovered, it can save Hannah Sheraton or destroy them both.

About the author:  USA Today best-selling author Rebecca Forster worked as an advertising executive, did business in China and mucked around with sheep before turning her hand to writing her first book.  She earned her BA English at Loyola, Chicago, and her MBA at Loyola/Marymount in Los Angeles.  When she is not writing, she speaks to philanthropic and writers' groups about publishing for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers, teach at UCLA Writers Program or having a ball at middle schools teaching with The Young Writers Conference.  Her specialty is legal thrillers.  She is the proud mother of two grown-up sons and the wife of a Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles, California.

Check out Rebecca Forster's author page for more news, updates and a whole lot of her books.

Hostile Witness (2004) is priced at £0.00 on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com right now!

Other books in the Witness series are

Silent Witness (2005)
Privileged Witness (2006)
Expert Witness (2011)

Rating:  4/5

Monday, 25 February 2013

E-Book: Mulholland Dive: Three Stories by Michael Connelly


Kindle:  Three stories.

In Mulholland Dive, a fatal accident on Mulholland Drive turns out to be part of an ingenious plot - but is it too ingenious?

In Two Bagger, a dedicated cop working for the Gang Intelligence Unit finally gets the payoff he's worked so hard for - but it's not what he's expecting.

In Cahoots, a team of scam artists meet for a high-stakes poker game but who is scamming who?  (Cahoots is particularly hard to read if you do not play poker).

About the author:  Michael Connelly is a former police reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and is the author of the acclaimed and bestselling Harry Bosch thrillers, as well as several stand-alone bestsellers, including The Poet.  Michael Connelly is a former President of the Mystery Writers of America.  His books have been translated into thirty-nine languages and have won numerous awards.  He lives with his family in Tampa, Florida.

Mulholland Dive was first published in Great Britain in 2012 by Orion Books.  It is priced at 99p including VAT.

Rating:  3/5

E-Book: The Devil's Gold (Short Story) by Steve Berry


Kindle:  Once he was called the Sphinx, a man so inscrutable that neither his adversaries nor fellow intelligence operatives could predict his next move.

Now a contract agent with a secret mission, Jonathan Wyatt has gone rogue.

For eight years he's been plotting.

Waiting.

Scheming to kill Federal agents Christopher Combs and Cotton Malone, whom he blames for the loss of his career.

But as Wyatt prepares for a final confrontation in a remote South American village, he makes a discovery that stretches back to the horrors of World War II, to the astounding secret of a child's birth, to Martin Bormann and Eva Braun - and to a fortune lost in gold.

About the author:  Steve Berry is the New York Times bestselling author of The Emperor's Tomb (2010), The Paris Vendetta (2009), The Charlemagne Pursuit (2008), The Venetian Betrayal (2007), The Alexandria Link (2007), The Templar Legacy (2006), The Third Secret (2005), The Romanov Prophecy (2004), The Amber Room (2003), and the short stories The Balkan Escape (2010) and The Devil's Gold (2011).

His books have been translated into forty languages and sold in fifty-one countries.  He lives in the historic city of St Augustine, Florida, and is working on his next novel.  He and his wife, Elizabeth, have founded History Matters, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to preserving our heritage.

Surprisingly, The Devil's Gold is currently unavailable on Amazon.co.uk

Rating:  3/5

E-Book: Freaks (A Rizzoli & Isles Short Story) by Tess Gerritsen


Kindle:  In this FREE Rizzoli & Isles short story from Sunday Times No 1 bestselling author Tess Gerritsen, a bizarre death comes with a supernatural twist.

Homicide cop Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles have seen their fair share of mortal crimes, but the death of Kimberly Rayner may qualify as inhuman in more ways than one.

When the corpse of the emaciated seventeen-year-old girl is discovered next to an empty coffin in an abandoned church, mysterious bruises around the throat suggest foul play.

Caught fleeing the scene is the victim's closest friend, Lucas Henry, an equally skeletal, pale teenager who claims he's guilty only of having a taste for blood - a craving he shared with Kimberly.

But the victim's distraught father doesn't believe in vampires, only vengeance.

And now, another life may be at risk unless Rizzoli and Isles can uncover the astonishing truth.

About the author:  Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen is also a physician, and she brings to her novels her first-hand knowledge of emergency and autopsy rooms.  Her thrillers starring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the hit TV series Rizzoli and Isles.

But Tess's interests span far more than medicine and crime.  As an anthropology student at Stanford University, she catalogued centuries-old human remains, and she continues to travel the world, driven by her fascination with ancient cultures and bizarre natural phenomena.

Freaks was first published in Great Britain in 2011.

Rating:  3/5

E-Book: John Doe (A Rizzoli and Isles Short Story) by Tess Gerritsen


Kindle:  It should have been a night to remember, but Maura Isles can't recall a thing.

Maura is at a party.

A handsome man approaches.

He's charming and sophisticated.

She flirts and drinks champagne.

And then nothing.

Total blackness.

Nothing, that is, apart from these two facts:  a man is dead and her address is found in his pocket.

About the author:  Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen is also a physician, and she brings to her novels her first-hand knowledge of emergency and autopsy rooms.  Her thrillers starring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the hit TV series Rizzoli and Isles.

But Tess's interests span far more than medicine and crime.  As an anthropology student at Stanford University, she catalogued centuries-old human remains, and she continues to travel the world, driven by her fascination with ancient cultures and bizarre natural phenomena.

John Doe was first published in Great Britain in 2012 priced at £1.49 including VAT.

Rating:  3/5

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng


My take:  The story of the Japanese occupation and the Malayan Emergency in Malaya is written to an  exhaustive extent by a number of Asian authors so much so that I approached this book with a sense of dread, wondering what else is there to write or read about those terrible times in the 1940s.

To my chagrin, The Garden of Evening Mists is such a poetically elegant piece of work - cleverly written and -thought-out - that I read it with wide-eyed interest and fascination.  Tan's so-beautiful prose sets off both visual and emotive reactions at every turn of the page, in his understated descriptions of nature and its surroundings, scenes and of his characters.

One gets the sense of a paradox here;  on the one hand, the book exudes calmness and serenity in the harmony of a created garden and on the other, the backdrop of continuing war and healing in the aftermath of unimaginable brutality persists.  Of the two scenarios, the former reigns supreme.  There is something to learn from the book and I derived great enjoyment from the book and if that does not constitute a good book, I don't know what does.

Tan Twan Eng is an author to watch out for, now, and in the future.  I highly recommend his works.

My favourite line from the book:  I found the viewing tower half hidden in trees, like the crow's nest of a galleon that had foundered among the branches, trapped by a tide of leaves.  (Chapter One, page 18)

Paperback:  Teoh Yun Ling was seventeen years old when she first heard about him, but a war would come, and a decade would pass before she would journey to see him.

A survivor of a brutal Japanese camp, she has spent the last few years helping to prosecute Japanese war criminals.

Despite her hatred of the Japanese, she asks the gardener, Nakamura Aritomo, to create a memorial garden for her sister who died in the camp.

He refuses, but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice 'until the monsoon' so that she can design a garden herself.

As Yun Ling begins working in the Garden of Evening Mists, another war is raging in the hills and jungles beyond.

The Malayan Emergency is entering its darkest days;  communist guerillas are murdering planters, miners and their families, seeking to take over the country by any means, while the Malayan nationalists are fighting for independence from centuries of British colonial rule.

But who is Nakamura Aritomo, and how did he come to be exiled from his homeland?

And is Yun Ling's survival of the Japanese camp somehow connected to Aritomo and the Garden of Evening Mists?

About the author:  Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang, Malaysia.  He worked as an intellectual property lawyer in Kuala Lumpur before becoming a full-time writer.  His debut novel, The Gift of Rain, was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2007 and has been widely translated.

The Garden of Evening Mists (2012) is his second novel and was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2012 and won the Man Asian Literary Prize.  He divides his time between Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town.

Do visit Tan Twan Eng's website for more news and updates.

The author tells us what the story is about:



Tan Twan Eng reads the first two paragraphs from his book:



Rating:  5/5

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Black Box by Michael Connelly


The Black Box (2012) is the latest and the eighteenth book in the outstanding Harry Bosch series.

Hardback:  Los Angeles, May 1992.  Murder just got a whole lot easier.  And investigating them got a whole lot harder.

After four LAPD officers were acquitted following the savage beating of Rodney King, LA is ablaze.

As looting and burning take over the city, law and order are swept away in a tidal wave of violence.

But under threat of their lives, homicide detectives like Harry Bosch are still stubbornly trying to do their job.

When Harry finds the body of a female journalist in an alley - apparently executed - he is forced to hand the case over to the Riot Crimes Task Force, knowing that it will never be solved.

And twenty years later, Harry has still not forgotten the woman for whom he was unable to deliver justice and since then, there has been five other murders.

Possibly just one gun used in all six murders.

New ballistic evidence now confirms her death was not a case of of random violence but something much more personal.

This time Harry is determined that the killer isn't going to escape - even if it means stepping back into the darkest days of the city he loves.

About the author:  A former police reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Michael Connelly is the author of more than a dozen acclaimed Harry Bosch thrillers and several courtroom dramas featuring Mickey Haller, as well as stand-alone bestsellers such as The Poet (1995).  Michael Connelly is a former President of the Mystery Writers of America.  His books have been translated into 39 languages and have won numerous awards.  He lives with his family in Tampa, Florida.  For the latest information, check out Michael Connellly's official website.

The next Harry Bosch book, The Burning Room, will be out on 6 November 2014 in hardcover, eBook and audio formats.

Rating:  6/5

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin


Baking Cakes in Kigali (2009) is a uniquely charming, gently moving, deliciously funny novel about life, love and cake.  Ultimately, it shows how the human spirit - even when pushed to its limit - endures and unifies us all.  What a great book to read at the end of a long day!

Paperback:  In Rwanda's capital, Kigali, Angel Tungaraza runs a small business, baking cakes for the celebrations of her neighbours.

As her customers tell her their stories, Angel comes to realize how much each of them has to mourn as well as what they have to celebrate.

And, finally, she comes to accept how much that is true of her too.

About the author:  Gaile Parkin was born and raised in Zambia and lives in Africa.  Her first job was in Soweto still simmering from the violent uprising of the school students who had begun to loosen apartheid's control of the education system in South Africa.  She has worked in Rwanda, counselling women and girls who had survived the genocide.  She is also a published author of children's books and numerous school textbooks.  Baking Cakes in Kigali is her first novel.  When Hoopoes Goes to Heaven (2012) is her second novel and also a sequel to the first novel.

Rating:  5/5

Carpe Librum!


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Scaredy Cat by Mark Billingham


Scaredy Cat (2002) is the second book in the excellent DI Tom Thorne series.

Paperback:  It was a vicious, calculated murder.

The killer selected his victim at Euston station, followed her home on the tube, strangled her in front of her child.

At the same time, a second body is discovered at the back of King's Cross station, killed in the same way.

And this grisly event eerily echoes the murder of two other women, stabbed to death months before on the same day.

It is Detective Inspector Tom Thorne who sees the link and comes to the horrifying conclusion.

This is not a serial killer the police are up against.

This is two of them - and two killers are way more deadly than one.

About the author:  Mark Billingham has twice won the first Theakston's Old Peculier Award for the Best Crime Novel of the Year, and also won a Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British writer.  Each of the novels featuring Detective Inspector Tom Thorne has been a Sunday Times bestseller.

Currently, there are ten books in the DI Tom Thorne series with the eleventh due to be released on 6 August 2013 on hardback.  If you have a Kindle, you can get a head start on 23 May 2013.

The author lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children.

Check out Mark Billingham's official website for more updates and information and you can also like him on Facebook.

The television version of Scaredy Cat shown on Sky 1:



Rating:  5/5

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Complications: Surgeon's Notes On An Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande


From the book's Introduction (by Atul Gawande):  Medicine is, I have found, a strange and in many ways disturbing business.

The stakes are high, the liberties taken tremendous.

The thing that still startles me is how fundamentally human an endeavour it is.

Usually, when we think about medicine and its remarkable abilities, what comes to mind is the science and all it has given us to fight sickness and misery:  the tests, the machines, the drugs, the procedures.  And without question, these are at the center of virtually everything medicine achieves.

But we rarely see how it all actually works.

You have a cough that won't go away - and then?

It's not science you call upon but a doctor.

A doctor with good days and bad days.

A doctor with a weird laugh and a bad haircut.

A doctor with three other patients to see and, inevitably, gaps in what he knows and skills he's still trying to learn.

We look for medicine to be an orderly field of knowledge and procedure.

But it is not.

It is an imperfect science, an enterprise of constantly changing knowledge, uncertain information, fallible individuals, and at the same time lives on the line.

There is science in what we do, yes, but also habit, intuition, and sometimes plain old guessing.

The gap between what we know and what we aim for persists.

And this gap complicates everything we do.

About the author:  Atul Gawande is a resident in surgery in Boston, Massachusetts, and a staff writer on medicine and science for The New Yorker.  He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford where he studied politics, philosophy and economics before deciding on a career in medicine.  He went on to receive his MD from Harvard Medical School as well as a Masters of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.  His writing has appeared in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2000 and the New Yorker essay collection In Sickness and In Health.  He was an adviser to President Clinton on Health Policy.  Gawande lives with his wife and three children in Newton, Massachusetts.

Complications is Gawande's first book published in the United States in 2002 by Metropolitan Books.  It is divided into three distinct sections:  the first part examines the fallibility of doctors;  the second part focuses on mysteries and unknowns of medicine and the struggles with what to do about them;  and the third part centers on the core predicament of medicine - uncertainty.

Do check out Atul Gawande's website for more information.

I do not rate books based on true accounts and experiences.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Royal Physician's Visit: A Novel by Per Olov Enquist


Paperback:  An international sensation and bestseller, The Royal Physician's Visit magnificently recasts the dramatic era of Danish history when Johann Friedrich Struensee - court physician to mentally ill King Christian VII - stepped through an aperture in history and became the holder of absolute power in Denmark.

His is a gripping tale of power, sex, love, and the life of the mind, and it is superbly rendered here by one of Sweden's most acclaimed writers, Per Olov Enquist, who is a novelist, playwright, and poet with works published in twenty-six countries.

A charismatic German doctor and brilliant intellectual, Struensee used his influence to introduce hundreds of reforms in Denmark in the 1760s.

He had a tender and erotic affair with Queen Caroline Mathilde, who was unsatisfied by her unstable, childlike husband.

Yet Struensee lacked the subtlety of a skilled politician and the cunning to choose enemies wisely;  these flaws proved fatal, and would eventually lead to his tragic demise.

The Royal Physician's Visit (1999) won Sweden's most important literary prize - the August Prize - and France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger.

The Royal Physician's Visit is translated from the Swedish into the English by award-winning Tiina Nunnally.

Film:  En Kongelig Affære (A Royal Affair) is a 2012 historical drama film focusing on the romance between the Queen and the royal physician.  It was directed by Nikolaj Arcel starring Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and won the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival Award and the Satellite Award in 2012.  Watch the official trailer:



I highly recommend reading the book and watching the film - both are outstanding.

Rating:  6/5

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Friday, 8 February 2013

Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (edited and with Commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC)


Come Be My Light (2007) is the revealing private writings of Mother Teresa - the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner - "for those, especially the poorest of the poor, who find themselves in any form of darkness, that they may find in Mother Teresa's experience and faith, consolation, and encouragement".  

Come Be My Light shows how our experiences of despair and loss (as well as joy and achievements) need not hold us back from living a purpose-filled life, in all its richness.  It is a truly inspirational (and thought-provoking) book by an extraordinary selfless icon.

Father Kolodiejchuk's preface is a personal and intimate introduction to this book and makes a better commentary of what this book is really about.

From the preface:  For decades, Mother Teresa and her work received extensive public interest.

In view of all the attention she garnered during her lifetime, and particularly at the time of her death at the age of eighty-seven, the question arises:  What was the source of this attractive force drawing so many people to her?

She would have certainly preferred to remain unnoticed.

She considered herself just "a pencil in God's hand" and was convinced that God was using her "nothingness" to show His greatness.

She never took credit for her accomplishments and always tried to divert the attention she received to God and "His work" among the poorest of the poor.

Yet it was not in God's providential plan for her to remain unknown.

People of all creeds and walks of life recognized her selfless love and compassion for the poor;  they admired her simplicity and genuineness and were attracted by the joy and peace that radiated from her.

At the same time, all those who met her, even just once, were left with the sense that there was something more behind her penetrating gaze.

Mother Teresa could not hide her work among the poor, but what she did manage to keep hidden - and with astonishing success - were the most profound aspects of her relationship with God.

She was determined to keep these secrets of love far from mortal eyes.

The late archbishop Ferdinand Périer of Calcutta and a few priests were the only ones who had some insight into the spiritual wealth of her interior life, and even with them she constantly begged that they destroy all her letters regarding it.

The reason for such insistence can be found in her deep reverence for God and His work in her and through her.

Her silence now stands as a testimony to her humility and they delicacy of her love.

Providentially, Mother Teresa's spiritual directors preserved some of her correspondence.

Thus, when testimonies and documents were gathered during the process for her beatification and canonization, the remarkable story of her intimate relationship with Jesus, hidden from even her closest collaborators, was discovered.

In contrast to her "ordinariness," Mother Teresa's confidences reveal previously unknown depths of holiness and may very well lead her to be ranked among the great mystics of the Church.

Her life and message continue to fascinate.

This book, then, is a response to the plea of many who knew, loved, and admired her and who desire to know the motive of her action, the source of her strength, the reason for her joy, and the intensity of her love.

These pages, unveil her interior life, with all its depth and drama, and add unsuspected riches to the spiritual heritage Mother Teresa offers to the world.

- By Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, Postulator, Cause of Canonization fo Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and Director, Mother Teresa Center.

Book Metaphor


Literature is my Utopia


Definition: Abibliophobia


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Sleepyhead (The Detective Inspector Tom Thorne series) by Mark Billingham


Karin Slaughter said "Tom Thorne is a wonderful creation" and the Guardian enthused Sleepyhead as "...thrilling and disturbing with memorable characters and bundles of atmosphere" and I cannot agree more.  It is a very well-written and -thought-out debut and highly recommended if you haven't already read it.

Paperback:  Alison Willetts has survived a stroke, deliberately induced by a skilful manipulation of pressure points on the head and neck.

She can see, hear and feel but she is completely unable to move or communicate.

In leaving Alison Willetts alive, the police believe the killer's made his first mistake.

Then Detective Inspector Tom Thorne discovers the horrifying truth:  it isn't Alison who is the mistake, it's the three women already dead.

Thorne must find a killer whose agenda is disturbingly unique, and Alison, the one person who holds the key to the killer's identity, is unable to say anything.

About the author:  Mark Billingham has twice won the first Theakston's Old Peculier Award for the Best Crime Novel of the Year, and also won a Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British writer.  Each of the novels featuring Detective Inspector Tom Thorne has been a Sunday Times bestseller.

Currently, there are ten books in the DI Tom Thorne series with the eleventh due to be released on 6 August 2013 on hardback.  If you have a Kindle, you can get a head start on 23 May 2013.

The author lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children.  Check out Mark Billingham's official website for more updates and information and you can also like him on Facebook.

Billingham's character is on Sky One entitled Thorne showing on Sundays at 9pm .  Here is a sneak peek:



Rating:  6/5

Vendetta: The Mafia, Judge Falcone and the Quest for Justice by John Follain


I believe that each of us must be judged for what he or she has done.  What matters are actions, not words. - Giovanni Falcone (1939-1992)

It is beautiful to die for something you believe in. - Paolo Borsellino (1940-1992)

Paperback:  On 23 May 1992 the Mafia assassinated its 'Number One Enemy', the legendary prosecutor Judge Falcone, with a motorway bomb that also killed his wife Francesca and three bodyguards.

The prosecutor Luca Tescaroli, who investigated Falcone's murder, has called it "the most despicable of the ambushes that the history of our country remembers".

Fifty-seven days later, the Mafia killed Falcone's friend, colleague and an anti-Mafia magistrate, Judge Paolo Borsellino, with a car bomb outside his mother's home that also killed five bodyguards.

These two murders changed forever how Italy viewed the Mafia.

Follain is an incredible investigative writer and this latest book of his confirms that.  Vendetta (2012) tells the inside story of the assassination plots and investigations that followed.  It is divided into three parts:  the Plot (1939-1992), the Ambush (23 May 1992 - 26 July 1992) and the Hunt (July 1992 - 2012).

Based on new and exclusive interviews and the testimony of investigators, Mafia supergrasses, survivors, relatives and friends, Follain's book recounts the events hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute as the Mafiosi plan and carry out the murders, and as the police hunt them down.

About the author:  John Follain has covered Italy for the Sunday Times and the Sunday Times Magazine for the past thirteen years.  His previous books include Death in Perugia (2012), The Last Godfathers (2009), which was translated into ten languages, Mussolini's Island (2005) and the international bestseller Zoya's Story (2002).  He was voted runner-up for the 2006 Paul Foot Award for Campaigning Journalism, and nominated for the 2008 Magazine Journalism Awards for his interview with the Knox family.

Hope


What Is Your Bookshelf Like?


Monday, 4 February 2013

Chinese Whispers: The True Story Behind Britain's Hidden Army of Labour by Hsiao-Hung Pai


Non-fiction paperback:  Do you notice the harassed waitress from your local Chinese restaurant?

What about those builders across the street working funny hours and without helmets?

You've probably eaten the lettuce they picked, or bought the microwave they assembled.

Do the words 'cockle pickers', 'Morecambe Bay', 'Chinese illegals found dead in lorry' ring a loud bell?

Did you know that there are hundreds of thousands of undocumented Chinese immigrants in Britain?

They've travelled here because of desperate poverty, and must keep their heads down and work themselves to the bone.

Hsiao-Hung Pai, the only journalist who knows this community, went undercover to hear the stories of this hidden work-force.

She reveals a scary, shadowy world where human beings are exploited in ways unimaginable in our civilized twenty-first century.

She exposes the truth behind the lives of a hidden work-force here in Britain.

You owe it to yourself, and them, to read it.

About the author:  Hsiao-Hung Pai was born in Taiwan and came to Britain in 1991.  She started writing for Chinese publications, and later for the Guardian, specializing in stories about the Chinese community.  She covered the Morecambe Bay cockle-picking tragedy for the Guardian.  In order to understand the plight of other Chinese migrants, she went undercover and is the only journalist working in Britain who has truly penetrated the world of undocumented Chinese migrants.

Hsiao-Hung now works as a freelance journalist, writing for the Guardian, the New Statesman and many UK-Chinese publications.  Nick Broomfield's film, Ghosts (2006), was based on her work.  Chinese Whispers (2008) is Pai's first book and was shortlisted for the 2009 Orwell Book Prize and the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award in 2008.  Chinese Whispers has been dubbed "the most worth talking about books" by World Book Day.

Her second book, Scattered Sand:  The Story of China's Rural Migrants was published in 2012 and has been named Migration Book of the Year by Migrant Rights Network.

Her third book, Invisible:  Britain's Migrant Sex Workers will be released on 15 April 2013 by Westbourne Press.

The author is currently working on her first fiction book in Chinese.  She lives in London.

Warning by Jenny Joseph



When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick flowers in other people's gardens

And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

And pay our rent and not swear in the street

And set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


Jenny Joseph reads her best known post-war poem composed in 1961.  It can be found in her second book of poems, Rose in the Afternoon (1974), which won the Cholmondeley Award:

Friday, 1 February 2013

Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell by Tom Bower


He who seeks revenge should remember to dig two graves. - Chinese proverb.

Hardback:  Simon Cowell has made an international name for himself as the no-holds-barred judge on the television phenomenon The X Factor.

He's been called mean, arrogant, brash and unapologetic, but his stinging barbs and abrasive personality have also earned him cheers from fans, a huge personal fortune, a string of exotic girlfriends and industry clout to develop his projects.

But Cowell's story is also one of revenge, from his failures as a frustrated young music executive in London to his explosive rivalry with Simon Fuller over the genesis of the American Idol franchise, as others have tried to plot his downfall.

With unique access to Cowell - from private jets criss-crossing the Atlantic to chartered yachts, from his new home in Los Angeles to the studio lot - bestselling author Tom Bower reveals a man who is insecure, ambitious, easily bored, vain and needy, but one who is also a loyal friend, a loving son and a relentlessly driven businessman.

Based on unprecedented access, Bower's latest book, Sweet Revenge (2012), is the ultimate insider's account of Simon Cowell's ambitions to "become a TV mogul with an empire stretching across the globe.  At the moment, his quest seems realisable.  How he achieved that status is the essence of this book."

About the author:  Tom Bower is an investigative historian, broadcaster and journalist.  A former producer and reporter for BBC Television, he is the author of nineteen books usually about men with power and money, including biographies of Robert Maxwell, Mohamed Fayed, Gordon Brown, Richard Branson and Conrad Black.  Broken Dreams, his investigation into corruption in English football, won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award in 2003 and his most recent work, No Angel:  The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone (2011), was a Sunday Times bestseller.  He lives in London.