Costa Prize 2012

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Overall Winner

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

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Thomas Cromwell is now very far from his humble beginnings. He is Henry VIII's chief minister. Katherine of Aragorn is no longer Queen. The Princess Mary has been disinherited. Anne Boleyn wears the crown and has produced a daughter, Elizabeth. But there is no sign of a son and Henry is beginning to regret his secession from Rome. We pick up from Wolf Hall during the royal progress of 1535 and from there, we chart the destruction of the new Queen. Full review...

Novel Award

Category Winner

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

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Thomas Cromwell is now very far from his humble beginnings. He is Henry VIII's chief minister. Katherine of Aragorn is no longer Queen. The Princess Mary has been disinherited. Anne Boleyn wears the crown and has produced a daughter, Elizabeth. But there is no sign of a son and Henry is beginning to regret his secession from Rome. We pick up from Wolf Hall during the royal progress of 1535 and from there, we chart the destruction of the new Queen. Full review...

Other Books on the Shortlist

Life! Death! Prizes! by Stephen May

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Billy's mum is dead. Billy is 19 years old when his mum resists a mugger; this is the last thing she ever does, leaving Billy with 6 year old Oscar to face life together. They'll be fine. For a start, their life isn't as bad as the 'Life! Death! Prizes!' type magazines at supermarket check-outs. Billy has a job at the local history museum, Oscar's doing ok at school, so, despite their Aunt Toni, despite Oscar's recently reappearing father, despite the PTA mothers at the school gates... and social services... and the fact that the mugger is a local lad that Billy sees around... yep, they'll be fine. Full review...

The Heart Broke In by James Meek

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In The Heart Broke In, James Meek manages to combine some big and serious issues into a compellingly readable and entertaining moral thriller. At the centre of the book are two siblings who are very different. Ritchie is a former rock star, now working in the world of reality television producing a game show about teenage pop bands while his younger sister, Bec, is a devoted scientist working on a cure for malaria. On the one hand it's a story of family dynamics, but it's also a thoughtful and well constructed tale of morality and judgement. Setting science against religion it asks very modern day questions about who is the guardian of morality in today's world and who, if anyone, has the right to judge others' behaviour. Full review...

Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart

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Meet Daniel Bagnold. He is a surly, sullen, modern teenager, permanently in a black hoodie, with long, lanky hair and almost a monobrow, who one would call very quiet were it not for the metal music that forms almost his only interest. He has been forced to spend the summer, not in Florida with his absent father's new family, but with his librarian mother Sue, his best friend and his shyness. He doesn't want much, and neither it would appear does his mother – although she knows she has to get him some posh shoes for her cousin's wedding. This book is about their relationship – the two of them and the dog that completes the household – in telling, devastating and humorous manner. Full review...

First Novel Award

Category Winner

The Innocents by Francesca Segal

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Francesca Segal's debut novel, The Innocents is set in upper class, Jewish, North London. Adam is about to marry his childhood sweetheart, Rachel, and is working as a lawyer in her father's business. Into this romantic idyl though comes Ellie, Rachel's wayward cousin who has been forced to flee the US following an appearance in an 'art house' movie of dubious repute and, it turns out, further scandal. Ellie is everything that Rachel is not; a model, worldly, sexy and tempting. As Adam gets drawn into wanting to 'rescue' her and look after her, his whole future with Rachel is thrown into doubt and the story becomes a will they, won't they get together narrative. Full review...

Other Books on the Shortlist

Snake Ropes by Jess Richards

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It's the time for the tall mainland men to come to the island to trade, so 16 year old Mary prepares. She brings out her handmade 'broideries' and hides Barney, her little brother, in a cupboard. This is a necessary preparation born of fear, for the island boys have been vanishing, taken by the traders. On this particular day Mary's broideries go, but so does Barney. Full review...

Biography Award

Category Winner

Dotter of Her Father's Eyes by Mary M Talbot and Bryan Talbot

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If there's one person able to produce a worthwhile potted history of James Joyce's daughter, it should be Mary M Talbot. She's an eminent academic, and her father was a major Joycean scholar. Both females had parents with the same names too - James and Nora, both took to the stage when younger after going to dance school, but it's the contrasts between them this volume subtly picks out rather than any similarities, in a dual biography painted by one person we know by now as more than able to produce a delightful graphic novel - Bryan Talbot. Full review...

Other Books on the Shortlist

Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper

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The sub-title of this biography is highly appropriate, for the ninety-six years of Patrick Leigh Fermor were packed with adventure. Born in 1915, he was something of a maverick at school, intellectually gifted but perpetually naughty, and his punishments for various refractions included suspensions and even expulsions. Full review...

The Crocodile by the Door: The Story of a House, a Farm and a Family by Selina Guinness

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Selina Guinness lived at Tibradden as a child and in 2002 she and her husband-to-be, Colin Graham, moved back to the house when her elderly uncle Charles became frail. The surname might lead you to suspect that there were brewery millions in the background but this wasn't the case. The couple were young academics and doing what needed to be done at Tibradden would need to be done in addition to full-time jobs. The house was on the outskirts of Dublin - 'derelict fields' if you were a property developer or the last defence against the encroaching city if you were not. Full review...

Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household by Kate Hubbard

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Biographies old and new of Queen Victoria, her husband and her children are plentiful enough. The vast majority of them are based to some extent on the diaries, memoirs and biographies of some of the most important figures who served her, and Kate Hubbard has put these as well as supplementary archive papers to good use in presenting a thoroughly engrossing account of the royal household throughout the Queen’s lengthy reign. I might almost say ‘lively’, though that could be an exaggeration. The court of Victoria may have been homely after a fashion, but for the most part it was hardly lively. Full review...

Poetry Award

We don't review poetry, but here's a list of the runners and riders:

Category Winner

The Overhaul by Kathleen Jamie

Other Books on the Shortlist

Bee Journal by Sean Borrowdale

The World’s Two Smallest Humans by Julia Copus

People Who Like Meatballs by Selima Hill

Children's Book Award

Category Winner

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

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There are certain books that you know, right from the first pages, are destined to be classics. There is something about the phrasing, about the concept and about the main character which chime so perfectly together that they cannot fail to move you, to open a window in your world and show you another, deeper truth. Such a book is Maggot Moon. Full review...

Other Books on the Shortlist

The Seeing by Diana Hendry

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It's 1956 when Natalie comes storming into the quiet seaside town of Norton and slap-bang into Lizzie's life. Natalie is from the wrong side of the tracks and reserved, well-to-do Lizzie is immediately drawn to this unconventional girl who wears her poverty and neglect like a badge of courage. As the two girls grow closer over the summer, Natalie reveals a shocking secret - her odd younger brother Philip has the gift of second sight and can see "left over Nazis" lying in wait, ready to start another war when the time is right. Natalie says it's up to the three of them to rid Norton of these LONs. Full review...

What's Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long

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Jody and Jolene are very alike. They have brown hair and dimples, they're both left-handed and they have feet which makes them look, according to Jody, like long-toed mutants. But in lots of ways they are very, very distinct. In fact, despite the fact that they're twins, they were born on different days and are different ages (because of the leap year thing. Read the book if you don't believe it). And as for their taste in music, school subjects and pretty well everything else . . . poles apart. Useful, though, as they divvy up their homework according to preference! Full review...

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton

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A boy and a bear go to sea, equipped with a suitcase, a comic book and ukulele. They are only travelling a short distance and it really shouldn't take too long. But then their boat encounters "unforeseeable anomalies"... Faced with turbulent stormy seas, a terrifying sea monster and the rank remains of The Very Last Sandwich, the odds soon become pitted against our unlikely heroes. Full review...