News Scott Simon, a broadcaster on the US National Public Radio network, staged a Twitter vigil for his terminally ill mother

The American radio broadcaster who won praise for his poignant tweets from the bedside of his terminally ill mother has disclosed that she died on Monday night.

Inside travel: Guidebooks

<b>Andrew Steed</b> reflects on how guidebooks and maps have changed since he started selling them

Santos hold firm on Neymar sale

Santos have no plans to sell teenage striker Neymar and want to keep him at the club for several more years, Santos President Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro said on Thursday.

Theodora, By Stella Duffy

The author of twelve novels, including crime and genre fiction, Stella Duffy is a writer who doesn't stand still. Her latest work - a bravura re-imagining of the life of Theodora, Empress of Byzantium - is her best.

All About Love, By Lisa Appignanesi<br />Love: a History, By Simon May

Our shelves groan with love. Out in the visual world, sex sells, but take down any novel, book of poetry or biography and it's clear that, on the page, love is most often the hook. As a magic word that all can use, but few define, its potency might be down to nothing more than the bewildering variety of experiences it covers, next to which the supposedly exotic range of options on the sexual menu seems staid. That this one word can be applied to romantic love, parental love, love between friends and love of God seems perverse, as if it is a deliberate semantic ploy to complicate and intensify our lives.

Shieldwall, By Justin Hill

There are holes in our sense of the past, places where the average person's knowledge does a jump-cut - from Alfred building his kingdom to Ethelred paying the Danes to go away to Canute and the waves and then the Norman Conquest. There is a lot to be said for historical fiction as a way of filling in those gaps, providing us with a sense of events and progression and giving them a human face. After travel books and novels in which Justin Hill dealt with the matter of China, writing about the forging of England must have seemed not only a challenge but a way of coming home: of writing about the landscapes of Sussex and the North before a millennium of agricultural revolutions, and about a very different and more dangerous Britain.

Then, By Julie Myerson

First came The Road and The Rapture; now Then. It's easy to see why the apocalypse appeals to novelists, with its opportunities for metaphor and for putting protagonists in demanding situations. In Julie Myerson's novel, a scorchingly hot February day is followed by sudden darkness, conflagrations and an Impact Winter. Survivors eke out a brutal existence of scavenging and fighting in the city's ruins. Groping her way from one harrowing day to the next, the first-person narrator can't remember anything, not even her name.

Two reporters held hostage in Afghanistan are freed

Two french journalists held hostage in Afghanistan since December 2009 were freed yesterday in good health.

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood hits back at criticism

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has hit back at criticism of the Gunners board from former director Lady Bracewell-Smith.

Johann Hari: My journalism is at the centre of a storm. This is what I have learned

Johann Hari's professional reputation has been subjected to trial by Twitter. Here he explains what the affair has taught him

ICC chief executives agree to mandatory use of review system

The International Cricket Council's Chief Executives' Committee has unanimously agreed to the mandatory use of a modified version of the Decision Review System in all Test matches and one-day internationals.

The 50 Best European beach breaks

Whether it's Britain's bays, stunning Sweden or the magical Med, Enjoli Liston selects the top spots by the sea

John Gielgud: Matinee Idol to Movie Star, By Jonathan Croall

Even before Twitter and Facebook revelled in gossip and rumour, a few whiffs of scandal were recommended to make a theatre biography more commercially pungent. Jonathan Croall's elegantly written and extended edition of his Gielgud biography, first published in 2000, comes duly retitled and scented with the aroma of fresh revelations about the actor's private life.

Video: Alexander on defence spending

Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander calls for the Government's Strategic Defence Spending Review to be reopened.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, By Charles Yu

Too clever by half, this is time travel &ndash; but not as we know it

Comedians: Laughing all the way to the bank

Stand-up comedians have big followings for live tours, TV shows and DVDs. Now publishers hope fans will pursue them into bookstores.
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?