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Something to read

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Once I have read an exceptional good book, I find it hard to find something to read again, And this year I have been enjoying some of the best sellers _ New York Times bestsellers.

First of course Dead Wake by Erik Larson, the extremely well researched history of the sinking of the Lusitania. But I have written about this in a previous blog and ARK has also concurred with me – this is a brilliant book, not to be missed.

dead wake

Then I picked up The Girl on the Train, quite an unusual murder mystery. Although this book will not win the Pulitzer Prize for literature it is still an engaging story. A fun-read. ‘ Like its train, the story blasts through the stagnation of these lives in suburban London and the reader cannot help but turn pages.”—The Boston Globe

Alfred Hitchcock may have said all there is to say about the fallibility of making assumptions about what you see through a window, but, like most important lessons, this one can bear some repeating. To the limited scope of a window frame, the former London journalist Paula Hawkins, in her debut thriller, “The Girl on the Train,” offers a few additional obfuscations. First, her novel’s protagonist, Rachel, looks out through the window of a moving train on her daily commute. Second, Rachel is your basic hot mess: depressed, unemployed, still in mourning for the death of her marriage and prone to alcoholic blackouts that coincide with critical moments in the tale of a missing woman later found dead. Rachel might as well be wearing a sign that reads “Unreliable Narrator.” New York Times review.

The girl on the train

The next book was Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days – whosebewitching debut takes us from the cosy confines of a London home to the dark heart of the forest, following the breadcrumb trail of eight-year-old Peggy Hillcoat. […] Like all good fairy tales, this is a book filled with suspense and revelation, light and shadow and the overwhelming feeling that nothing is quite as it seems in the Hillcoats’ lives. It’s spellbinding, scary stuff.
The Sunday Express

Is it all possible? I had to think about it. Are the characters for real, even the imagined friends? Oh yes for sure. But if you could survive that long in the wilderness I doubt very much.

our endless numbered days

And then Hausfrau. Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel, but remember that Essbaum is first and fore mostly a poet which explains the beautiful prose.

Hausfrau

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER  “Sexy and insightful, this gorgeously written novel opens a window into one woman’s desperate soul.”—People
There are echoes in Hausfrau of those other frustrated wives, Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina. Here, as in those novels, we expect tragedy at the turn of every page. 

So now I am reading for the second time ASA Harrison’s The Silent wife.

(I almost never read books twice so this should tell you something. The other book that I read twice was Julian Barnes A Sense of an Ending – superb.) “Harrison has spun a masterfully suspenseful tale in which the main plot point is given away from the beginning – no easy feat. It’s a story of the end of a marriage, the end of love and how long buried secrets can cast a long shadow.” – The Cleveland Plain Deale

Beautifully and superbly written. And had she lived I would imagine she would have gone on to   win many literary prizes.

None of these above should ever be compared with the third rate book (and very poor movie) Gone Girl. Please.

 I was never a fan of ‘Gone Girl’, and am glad I did not know that this novel, ‘The Silent Wife’ was being compared to ‘Gone Girl’. This is an entirely separate novel, connected only by the season, a summer novel/thriller. Amazon Review.

Here we call it autumn

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But it is actually fall.

Because although the nicest season of the year, it is a bit messy when the leaves start to fall and the grass is looking bleak. But the days are wonderful and sunny and Charlie Fox  is not yet ready for a coat. Not that I know if the coat will last. (Bully prefers the comfort of a chair.) And so on the doorstep of winter the color from the garden has gone and the changes to the trees are subtle. Nothing spectacular (yet). We are slowly getting ready.

Bully xxx

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Is the cat going up the stairs

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or down?

cat

Have you read…?

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dead wake

From the #1 New York Timesbestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania, published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the disaster

On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds” and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew, moreover, that his ship–the fastest then in service–could outrun any threat.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game.

A really great book that sheds light on the USA entering the First World War and the sinking of the Lusitania is written by Erik Larson in Dead Wake.  This is a great read. You get to travel with the passengers on the Lusitania in 1915. It sheds light on how the Germans did not care if they sunk passenger liners with women and children, whether there was indeed ammunition on the Lusitania as claimed, and the clever code breaking done in secret. Also about Woodrow Wilson’s romance!

And a funny true little story –when the war broke out in 1904…

In Paris, the big fascination was the trial of Henriette Caillaux, wife of former prime minister Joseph Caillaux, arrested for killing the editor of the Paris newspaper LeFigaro after the newspaper had published an intimate letter that the prime minister had written to her before their marriage, when they were having an adulterous affair.

 

Enraged, Mrs. Caillaux bought a gun, practiced with it at the gunsmith’s shop, then went to the editor’s office and fired six times. In her testimony, offering an unintended metaphor for what was soon to befall Europe, she said, “These pistols are terrible things. They go off by themselves.” She was acquitted, after persuading the court that the murder was a crime of passion.

Beware of Amber Valley…

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Pietermaritzburg – The Amber Valley body corporate in Howick wants Mr Cat out, but the ageing feline’s owner is determined to keep him – even if it means going to court to stay his eviction.

The 15-year-old cat is at the centre of a legal spat, after lawyers representing the body corporate sent a letter of demand to Penny Reid giving her two weeks to “remove” her companion.

An online petition to stop the body corporate forcing Reid to remove her cat has gone viral, receiving nearly 10 000 signatures in under a week.

You can read here:- http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Claws-out-in-fight-over-retirement-village-cat-20150216

Sounds like a real witch hunt to me!

Mr cat

But the 5 star comment came from Don Clark who wrote

MORON OF THE MONTH
My first message is to the people at Amber Valley, Howick who complained about 88-year-old Sylvia Reid’s 15-year-old cat. Although you are elderly, it is clear that your hearts have died long before the rest of your organs. Are your lives really so small that a visit from an old cat takes on the proportions of an invasion of man-eating tigers?! When you gaze out your windows in that beautiful environment are your old souls so full of bitterness and bile that you notice only a single cat instead of the wonderful birds, plants and rolling green lawns? Have you nothing better to do than plot the murder of an old feline and the subsequent murder of an old woman’s soul? Why don’t you just clean your dentures more often or sharpen your kitchen knives? Are you not aware that there are people starving to death out there, children dying in wars, people being murdered for their possessions, and millions living with AIDS or dying from Ebola? No, probably not. The biggest problem in your tiny, useless little lives is a visiting pet cat!
Shame on you, and shame on you again. May your callous, heartless, petty actions render you sleepless at night. And should you manage to dream, may they be filled with the sobs of a heartbroken old woman and the smell of pentobarbital; the solution used by vets to euthanise animals.
My second message is to the Body Corporate of Amber Valley. You decision to evict Sylvia Reid’s cat was not based on rules per se. You have made it clear that residents are allowed pets, but that it’s a privilege, not a right. So it would seem that Sylvia Reid’s “privilege” was violated on the strength of her neighbour’s complaint. And this complaint was precipitated by the cat simply “visiting” them.
At the end of the day, what I would like to know is whether the “pain” of a cat visiting them could possibly exceed the pain of an old lady being permanently separated from what may be her only loving companion? Did you even bother to take that into account? This is a moral and ethical situation, not a legislative one. I do hope you searched your consciousnesses deeply before making such a dreadful decision. 
So, to the cruel neighbours for their pedantic, overbearing attitude towards an old cat, and the Amber Valley Body Corporate for taking the easy way out, you are quite deservedly my morons of the month.

Fighting Cancer – new perspectives

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I have just lost a friend so this is of interest to me.

James P. Allison is the chairman of the immunology department at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. His seminal research opened up a new field in cancer treatment: immunotherapy. Instead of poisoning a tumor or destroying it with radiation, Dr. Allison has pioneered ways to unleash the immune system to destroy a cancer.

Two years ago, Science magazine anointed immunotherapy as the “Breakthrough of the Year.” More recently, Dr. Allison, 66, won the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, often a precursor to a Nobel.

Something from the interview… on a different note if you will excuse the pun.

On a less serious subject, is it true you once sang with Willie Nelson?

Only once. I was a postdoc in La Jolla, Calif., and I had this little band that played local bars. He came by and we sang “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” Seeing someone survive cancer because of something I’ve been part of is about as good it gets. But at that time, singing with Willie was big.

James Allison

James P. Allison in his laboratory in Houston. He discovered an alternative to using radiation to fight cancer, finding a way to set T-cells loose on the disease. CreditScott Dalton for The New York Times

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Here  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/science/arming-the-immune-system-against-cancer.html?_r=0  you can find an interview with Dr Allison on getting the body’s t-Cells to do the work. This is probably the way to go in the future.

This is probably becoming the focus now because here is another article http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-human-leukemia-cells-harmless-immune.html on new directions in treatment of cancer (with a difference to the one above)..

Majeti and his colleagues have some reason to hope that when the cancer cells become macrophages they will not only be neutralized, but may actually assist in fighting the cancer. Like a bloodhound owner who gives the dog a sniff of an object that was associated with the person or animal he wants to track, macrophage cellspresent recognizable bits of abnormal cells to other immune cells so that they can launch an attack. “Because the macrophage cells came from the cancer cells, they will already carry with them the chemical signals that will identify the cancer cells, making an immune attack against the cancer more likely,” Majeti said.

Can you spot the rabbit?

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Spot the rabbit

Not a good photo I know…. taken from far with a cellphone.

I don’t find rabbits, they find me! Now if I believed in dark psychic energy I could spin you a story of the supernatural here. But I don’t. I believe in coincidence.

This little one has come to live in the bottom of the retaining wall. I take him a carrot 2x per day plus a bowl of pellets but of course there are grass and twigs to eat too. I am this time round not trying to tame him, although I would love to cuddle him. But he is safe where he is. He knows me by now but I am not trying to touch him. I want him to know some 2 legged beings are nasty and he should avoid.

I LOVE RABBITS!

 

 

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