21 May 2014


Author: Peter Ackroyd
Year published: 2012
Series: A History of England, vol. II
Pages: 528
Time It Took To Read: A week or so, intermittently

I love the Tudor period of history. It's the soap opera tangle, with far more death, sex, and personality than is usually considered decent in history. It makes history seem real, and present in a way that other periods don't (although the Plantagenets are finally getting an airing). It took me by surprise when Peter Ackroyd devoted an ENTIRE BOOK of his history of England to them, when the first book managed to take in several thousand years. However, Ackroyd is a hell of a history writer, with an almost deranged prolixity. 

Anyway, I haven't read the first in the series, and was surprised to find this book on the Tudors misses out the very first, Henry VII. I found this a bit of a disappointment, as you can't really understand much about them without knowing that Henry VIII's older brother Arthur was both married to his first wife (Katherine of Aragon), and supposed to be king before dying in late adolescence. 

It's a good read, though can feel a bit aimless and loose at times. It's also difficult to keep track of what years he's talking about. I think David Starkey has pretty much written the definitive Tudor books for non-expert readers, but it was nice to read an alternate historiography. 

Book count: 18/50

It's nearly exam time, so reading is seriously limited at the moment, but come June I SHALL READ ALL THE THINGS!

12 May 2014


Author: Nigel Slater
Year published: 2013
Pages: 464
Time It Took To Read: About a week

I cook for two adults, and two young children. My fiancé doesn't get home until 6pm most nights, so whatever we eat has to be able to feed me and the boys around 5pm, and stay 'fresh' til 6, when he can reheat his. Souffles are out. I think most families tend to fall into something of a cooking rut, moreso when children are young and picky. My eldest son is on the autistic spectrum, and will occasionally decide not to eat something because he doesn't like the look or texture of it. I do the majority of the cooking, and tend to have about ten 'favourites' that I do on rotation, notably something-and-chips, enchiladas, sausage/mince casserole, sausage and mash, chicken curry, roast chicken, chicken noodle soup, a parade of pasta bakes, and chilli con carne. These are things I know everyone likes and will eat. But it gets boring, and I am a greedy food fanatic. 
I love Nigel Slater. His recipes are always totally reliable, and delicious. I have only cooked one recipe from this so far, and that was sausage and tomato lasagne. It involved mushing sausage meat up, and making a simple sauce from cream and mustard, and was delicious. I can't wait to cook more. The recipes are ordered into sections such as handheld food, stews, bakes. There's a tiny pudding section. There are two indexes: one at the front by main ingredients, and one at the back by other ingredients. Everything sounds gorgeous, and most recipes fit on one page, so no missing half the instructions because they're over the page. Recipes feed one, two or four and are easily multiplied. Nothing takes long to cook, or prepare. I love it.

Book count: 17/50