Itโ€™s Tuesday! Iโ€™m talkinโ€™ BIG BOOKS. Itโ€™s #Tomesday!

Good morning/afternoon/evening!

Today I’m chatting about books of size. Once in a while, I fancy something big and thick to hold (stop it! ๐Ÿ˜†) and I dig around my shelves for some inspiration of epic proportions.

I’ve a tendency to be drawn to mahoosive tomes, particularly when I’m in my favourite place ever, the book department in my local charity shop. (For which I have a self- imposed ban on until 2020, but that’s a whole different story).

What do you consider to be a Tome-sized book? 500+ pages? 700+ pages?

Well, Did You Know?

Tome comes from Latin tomus, which comes from Greek tomos, meaning “section” or “roll of papyrus.” Tomos comes from the Greek verb temnein, which means “to cut.” In ancient times, some of the longest scrolls of papyrus occasionally were divided into sections. When it was first used in English in the 16th century, tome was a book that was a part of a multi-volume work. Now a tome is most often simply a large and often ponderous book.

PONDEROUS. I just love that word! Here’s the gorgeous Jodie Comer from Killing Eve pondering how to kill her next victim. (Any excuse to add her to my post, I JUST LOVE HER!)

Okay, books, BIG, FAT, JUICY BOOKS THAT WEIGH AS MUCH AS A BREEZE BLOCK.

Let’s get some pictures, that’s a lovely stack wouldn’t you say?

Okay, I’ll quit messing with you, let’s get on with it. Here’s four Tomes of mine that are all 700+ pages.

Let’s start with the wonderful Kingsbridge series by Ken Follett, the first of my tomes for Tomesday. I do believe there’s a third in this series which I have yet to purchase. Just take a moment to feast your eyes on these beauts.

Pillars of the Earth is 1076 pages long, but World Without End is a whopping 1237 pages!

The Independent quotes on the cover for WWE;

‘You won’t be able to put it down’.

To be fair, I couldn’t pick it up for long either as holding it for more than half an hour gave me tennis elbow! (I’m an in-the-bath reader). Anyway, I’ve read them both, and they are ‘up there’ with my all time favourite in the Historical Fiction genre, both receiving five star ratings from me on Goodreads.

Next, I have two tomes that I’ve not read, but were bought in a charity shop for such a ridiculously low price, how could one resist?!

The Theatre of the World by C B Butler.

‘England 1586. Elizabeth I’s privateers are called into service to save England from its greatest peril’.

Another big chunk of history, the main character having been born in Southampton, my home town. I’ve got to get cracking on this one ASAP. I’ve just reminded myself how excited I was when I found it! Purchased at the British Heart Foundation for a quid! At 771 pages, it’s not as big as the two Folletts, but heavy enough to knock someone out cold.

And finally, my last tome for Tomesday is By Gaslight by Steven Price.

‘A dark tale of love, betrayal and murder from the slums of Victorian London, to the diamond mines of South Africa…’

And it is still on my TBR, I forgot all about it until today! Oh my life, honestly, I was DESPERATE to read this when I bought it. But off I popped it onto the shelves of oblivion, only to be found again today. *sighs*.

Note to self: leave it in full sight, a place where I stub my toe on it’s 731 page bulk.

So there we have it, four giant-size books, two I’ve read, two TBR.

What massive books do you own? Do you enjoy a book that you know you have to invest a lot of time into? Let me know in the comments. Or you could even do your own #Tomesday post. Don’t forget to tag me so I can pop over and have a read!

Right, I’m off, it’s sad, but I must dash. (Any excuse to use another Jodie GIF ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜†)

Thanks for dropping by, and until next time, cheerio!

The Yorkshire Witch: The Life and Trial of Mary Bateman by Summer Strevens

‘When Mary Bateman was born, she was of so little importance that the date of her birth went unrecorded. When it came to her final moments on the gallows however, thousands of spectators witnessed her execution upon York’s ‘New Drop’ on the morning of Monday 20th March 1809, some of whom, packed shoulder to shoulder in the crowd, were convinced to the very end that the Yorkshire Witch would save herself from death at the last moment by employing her supernatural powers to vanish into thin air as the noose tightened. Needless to say, she didn’t.’

Mary Bateman was no witch! More a petty thief and fraudster with a sociopathic personality. She was intelligent and used her reading and writing abilities (a rare attribute for women of this era) for unsavoury financial gains.

This was an interesting account of crime in the early 1800’s, as rarely were women seen to be of criminal mind, often simply being deemed ‘mad’ and locked away in an asylum.

Mary was charming and manipulative and had an inventive imagination, often making up non-existent characters, used purely to back up her dodgy dealings, to improve her chances of getting more money out of her victims.

She was labelled a witch because of her wicked ways, having some knowledge of herbs and remedies and offered her own kind of ‘healthcare’ to many unfortunate women. Poisonings were her main go-to MO all in the name of lining her own pockets.

I enjoyed how Strevens’ put this book together, it read well as a nonfiction and had enough creativity to keep me reading. I particularly liked how the time period was described, this added to my reading experience in a positive way. The centre of the book has glossy photos which always gets bonus points from me in a nonfiction read!

As I was coming to the end, I really enjoyed how macabre this era was. I won’t give too much away, but the following picture shows how Mary ended up! As a museum exhibit, of all things, how shocking!

I’d recommend to British history enthusiasts, particularly folk who have lived in and around Leeds and York. A lot of settings would be familiar to folk who dwell in these parts!

The Yorkshire Witch gets 4 stars from me!

I’d like to say thank you to those lovely folk at Pen & Sword Publishers, in particular Rosie, who kindly sent me my copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author

Born in London, Summer Strevens now lives and writes in Oxfordshire. Capitalising on a lifelong passion for historical research, as well as penning feature articles of regional historical interest, Summerโ€™s published books include Haunted Yorkshire Dales, York Murder & Crime, The Birth of Chocolate City: Life in Georgian York, The A-Z of Curiosities of the Yorkshire Dales, Fashionably Fatal , Before They Were Fiction and The Yorkshire Witch: The Life and Trial of Mary Bateman.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (20th Anniversary Edition)

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Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

…’we were girls with curious histories โ€“ girls with pasts like boxes with ill-fitting lids.’

My lid has never seemed to fit properly!

This is a ‘I can’t possibly review this’ review.

Sarah Waters can do no wrong in my eyes. She could publish her shopping list and I’d give it five stars.

Every book I’ve read by this author (all of them) pleases me like nothing else. I’m sure her pen, laptop or notebook is really some kind of magic paintbrush that comes pre-installed with genius edition software for which she alone knows the password.

Tipping the Velvet is perfection. Sarah has an incredible ability at sucking me in, chewing me up, and spitting me out. I feel satisfied, yet longing for more. I need more, Sarah, write more, write fifty more.

I’m invested in all her characters one hundred percent, I feel for them, I want to be their friend, I want to tell them it’ll be alright and pass them a smoke and appreciate their taste in attire, without judgement.

I am suffering from the biggest book hangover ever. Send help.

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Please note: This is a representation of my feelings, and not, I REPEAT NOT, a representation of my taste in clothes. I don’t do beige. YET.

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Anne Boleyn: A Kings Obsession by Alison Weir (A 2017 top read)

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bravo!!!! All the stars ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Historical fiction is quickly becoming my favourite genre, particularly when I find a royal gem like this. I requested this from NetGalley, half expecting to be turned down, as Alison Weir is an established author. But, lo and behold, I got accepted, and I was delighted!

Anne Boleyn was Henry’s second wife out of the six. Their relationship was an uphill struggle from the outset as Henry was still married to Katherine of Aragon for the best part of their courting, which caused controversy among the masses. This painted poor Anne as a harlot and whore. She was neither. In fact, she was a sassy, educated, well travelled woman who certainly knew what she wanted out of life. But back in the 1500’s, women generally weren’t to be seen as having an opinion to voice. They were there to help secure families’ futures, the most important thing of course was to have a son, and in royalty, an all important heir.

Alison Weirs historical knowledge shines from page one. She portrays the era with pinpoint perfection, every minute detail brought to living colour with ease. What I found most satisfying was that the basis of the story was factual. The author achieved an in-depth history lesson that was fascinating because the characters actually existed. She gave them their own part to play, and added their personalities, reactions and mannerisms based on her fantastic knowledge as a historian. The vision she had as a fictional author brought together an accurate depiction of events with drama and passion to make for a truly memorable read.

I’ll be honest in saying that it wasn’t the easiest read for me at times. At around half way through I had to stop for a while, in fact, for well over a week, because it was getting heavy. Not to hold, as it was on my kindle, (the physical book is a satisfying 544 pages) but heavy on the politics and religion. That was by no means a bad thing, because during the Tudor period, England was going through some very tough times, and Henry Tudor was responsible for a huge amount of uproar and change, so it was necessary and relevant to the story. But in order for me to get full enjoyment from it, I really did need that break. I’m not the best at taking in political plots and religious intricacies, and on various occasions I found I wasn’t connected to what I was reading. That, however, did not have any adverse effect on the story flow, it didn’t make me enjoy it any less, if anything, it made me more determined to finish it.

On finishing, I discovered at the end a ‘Timeline’ and a ‘Dramatis Personae’ or character list which really helped fill in a few gaps due to me not quite connecting or understanding certain areas of the book.

All in all, this is a fantastic read which I recommend to any fan of British History, it’s not the easiest, but it’s well worth persevering with because Alison Weir is an incredible author whom I shall be reading much more of in the future.

I’d like to thank the author, Alison Weir, the publisher, Ballantine Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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