June 14, 2013

Book Reviews: The Borgias, Queen Victoria, and Barbecue!

I've read some pretty fun books for Shelf Awareness lately - and I have a whole stockpile of reviews I haven't cross-posted here. I decided to do a couple of round-ups, and this time I lumped all the nonfiction together, even though they're wildly different.

  The Borgias: The Hidden History

G.J. Meyer's The Borgias is a fascinating look into the lives of the notorious Italian Renaissance family and its reputation for womanizing, murder and corruption. Meyer (The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty) turns centuries of accepted wisdom about the Borgias on its head, probing deep into contemporary documents and neglected histories to reveal some surprising truths...

Read the rest of my review here. Rating: 4 out of 5

Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household

Queen Victoria reigned over the British Empire for 63 years. In Kate Hubbard's Serving Victoria, her servants provide an intimate glimpse of the real, vibrant--perhaps a little bourgeois--queen behind the historic icon, revealing the origins of the modern royal court.

Hubbard's history opens in 1838 with a letter from Lady Sarah Lyttelton to her daughter, talking about her time as lady of the bedchamber for the new Queen Victoria. Over the decades, Victoria is seen through many different eyes, including ladies in waiting, her secretary and her personal physician. Victoria commanded respect among her servants; even when frustrated with her whims and quirks (including keeping most royal apartments at 50 degrees or lower, since she thought "bracing" temperatures were healthy), they still felt love and fondness for her and shared her grief over her beloved husband Albert's death.

Read the rest of my review here. Rating: 4 out of 5

The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue

Self-proclaimed barbecue snob Daniel Vaughn embarked on a series of road trips around Texas, stopping at every barbecue place he found along the way. With his photographer friend Nicholas McWhirter, and occasionally another friend or two, he spent 35 days and 10,343 miles on the road. Together, they ate at an astounding 186 barbecue joints. The Prophets of Smoked Meat details their journey through Daniel's words and Nick's pictures, bringing to life the wide variety of meat, pitmasters and restaurant workers in the Texas barbecue world.

Read the rest of my review here. Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Well, maybe 4 out of 5. It was oddly fascinating, even though I don't actually like barbecue).

Which of these would you be most likely to read?

I originally wrote all these reviews for Shelf Awareness. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.