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
One of the things I love about my life is how flexible it is. I spent most of last weekend on the phone to various doctors because my body’s being a pain again. They said they’ll need to do a load more tests (cue more hospital time) and told me to take it easy, to spend lots of time resting for the next few weeks and to go to bed early. So I emailed the lovely people at FMCM and said I had a bit of extra reading time on my hands… and they sent me the nominees for the British Book Awards!
These are all up for Debut Book Of The Year. I’m going to write mini reviews of each of them, and talk about which one I’d like to see win. Read more
I finally have my brain fully back! It’s been switching on and off over the past year based on the number and strength of pills I’ve been on at any given time. So more like a dimmer switch than a straight on/off affair. However, as of yesterday I am off aaaaallll the meds. Let’s see how this goes.
The most exciting thing about this, of course, is that I can read books again. And not just novels and things that require zero brain power, but real books. Big books. Thick philosophical books. (I know novels can be all those things too, but boy have I missed philosophy.)
Here’s what I read this week.
Previously I’ve been mini-reviewing books in the reading list section at the end of my weekly round-ups, but they’ve been getting a bit long and unwieldy of late so I thought I’d move them to their own separate post.
Sometimes a book will merit a post all of its own, or I’ll be given a book by a publisher in exchange for a full review, in which case they’ll be reviewed separately. But I do like to keep track of the books I’ve read and what I liked / disliked about them, and I read so much that I don’t have time to write full reviews of everything. So here we go: the first of the weekly book review lists.
I love Umberto Eco’s books. The Prague Cemetery, however, is the one I find the hardest. I finally got through it, having started it a couple of times and put it down again because I hate the depiction of Jews in it. I know it’s there to make a point, to highlight the prejudiced views of some of its main characters, but I still find things like that hard to read.
However, there were one or two quotes I enjoyed. I’m glad I read it, because I’m gradually making my way through all Eco’s books, but I have no desire to revisit it.
Last week’s reading list went like this
“There are many about us, Cardinal, who seem as one thing but are another. Do you think Mary here is one of those?” The queen pokes my shoulder hard. I flinch. “She and her family of traitors. Look how scared she is. What do you think she fears?” I can barely breathe and my heart is beating so hard that I fear she can hear it. I am wondering what Jane would have done – would she have told the truth and died for it?
Sisters of Treason focuses primarily on three disregarded figures from the Tudor period. Lady Katherine and Lady Mary Grey are the two younger sisters of deposed ‘Nine Day’ Queen, Lady Jane Grey, and their Tudor blood is more a curse than a blessing, meaning they live their lives at the perilous epicentre of the struggle for the Tudor succession. The fact that the Stuart line eventually won that struggle has meant that the younger Grey girls became little more than forgotten footnotes in history. Their stories though allow us a glimpse of the danger, drama and intrigue of the period and offer an alternative perspective on the turbulent reigns of Mary and Elizabeth Tudor. Another overlooked Tudor woman, court painter Levina Teerlinc, helps the girls negotiate the perilous terrain in which they find themselves, whilst also offering an outsider’s perspective on the Tudor Court from a woman who defied convention to earn her living as a portrait painter.
In Sisters of Treason, Lady Jane Grey has just been executed by her cousin Mary Tudor; her two younger sisters, Mary and Catherine, live in the shadow of their sister’s tragic demise. Lady Catherine’s fatal flaw is her compulsive desire for love, while clever Lady Mary is burdened with a crooked spine and tiny stature – and both have inherited the curse of royal blood. It is court painter Levina Teerlinc who helps the girls survive Mary Tudor’s reign, but when the Queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth, inherits the crown, court life becomes increasingly treacherous for the Grey girls.
Sisters of Treason is available in hardback for £14.99 from the 22nd of May 2014