It’s that time of year again: The British Book Awards, aka the Nibbies. Usually I manage to get my post published before the winners are called, but this year I missed the delivery of books so had to go to the big post office, which was shut, and then I arranged a redelivery and missed that too, and so it went on for a couple of weeks, until finally last week I received all six nominees for Debut Book of the Year.
I read them over the weekend, and didn’t look at the winner until after I’d made my own judgements. Like every other year, I seem to be out of step with the judges, but never mind. Here’s what I thought of this year’s Debut nominees, from the one I liked least to the one I liked most. Read more
I went to this book’s launch party a couple of weeks ago and it was a lot of fun. It was at the publisher’s office near Bond Street, and they had the usual wine, nibbles and talk by the author, but they also had a tarot reader which added an extra dimension to the event. Read more
I hadn’t heard of this book before Penguin invited me, on a balmy summer evening in London, to attend a cocktail party with its author. They were giving out free copies of the book when I arrived, and I took it home and read it that night.
Part of me doesn’t really get why YA is a thing. I think the categorisation can put some people off, because they look at the books and decide they’re for teenagers, and therefore not relevant or of interest to adults. I disagree.
I enjoy reading a good YA novel as much as I enjoy reading a novel written for an adult audience, and I’ve read a few recently so I thought I’d give a run-down and a couple of recommendations. Read more
I know, I know, it’s not so much ‘weekly’ as ‘sporadically’ at the moment. I’ve had a couple of weeks when I couldn’t really read anything because I had no brain due to my internal organs falling apart.
But I’m back on track, so here’s the latest reading list update.
It’s lying on the kitchen table still attached to your arm by bone, muscle and sinew that are visible in the open raw groove round your wrist. The skin that used to be there has formed lava-like rivulets, running down to your fingers as if it has melted and set again. Your whole hand is puffing up nicely and hurts like . . . well, like an acid burn. Your fingers twitch but your thumb is not working.
‘It might heal so that you can use your fingers again. Or it might not.’
She took the band off your wrist at the loch and sprayed the wound with a lotion that dulled the pain.
She was prepared. She’s always prepared.
And how did she get there so quick? Did she run? Fly on a bloody broomstick?
However she got to the loch you still had to walk back with her. That was a tough walk.
‘Why don’t you speak to me?’
She’s right in your face.
‘I’m here to teach you, Nathan. But you must stop trying to escape.’
She’s so ugly that you’ve got to turn away.
There’s an ironing board set up on the other side of the kitchen table.
She was ironing? Ironing her combat trousers?
‘Nathan. Look at me.’
You keep your eyes on the iron.
‘I want to help you, Nathan.’
You hawk up a huge gob, turn and spit. She’s quick, though, and snatches back so it lands on her shirt not on her face.
She doesn’t hit you. Which is new.
‘You need to eat. I’ll heat up some stew.’
That’s new too. Usually you have to cook and clean and sweep.
But you’ve never had to iron.
She goes to the pantry. There’s no fridge. No electricity. There’s a wood-burning range. Setting the fire up and cleaning it out are also your chores.
While she’s in the pantry you go to look at the iron. Your legs are weak, unsteady, but your head’s clear. Clear enough. A sip of water might help but you want to look at the iron. It’s just a piece of metal, iron-shaped, with a metal handle, old. It’s heavy and cold. It must be heated up on the range to do its job. Must take ages. She’s miles from anywhere and anything, and she irons her trousers and shirts!
When she comes back a few seconds later you’re round by the pantry door and you bring the iron down hard, pointed side against her head.
But she’s so bloody tall and so bloody fast. The iron catches the side of her scalp and sinks into her shoulder.