Bout of Books 17 (August 2016) – Final Summary

Bout of Books

 I can’t believe Bout of Books 17 is over already.

I had quite a decent final day of reading. I managed to finish Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but didn’t get around to starting anything new.

As always writing daily progress updates has been fun. So, here’s my grand total…

Number of pages I’ve read today: 150

Total number of pages I’ve read: 735

 

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog. Hope you all had a great Bout of Books!

The Week’s Progress Revisited…

Continue reading

Bout of Books 17 (August 2016) Goals and Daily Progress Updates

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team


It’s time for Bout of Books 17!  I had no idea this event was happening until just recently, so I’m glad I haven’t missed out because I love a good readathon, and Bout of Books is one of my favourites.  As always I’ll be using this blog for the majority of my updates during the read-a-thon, but you can also find me on Twitter (link in the sidebar).

Time Devoted to Reading

Half an hour minimum each day, but hopefully a lot more.

My Goals

  • To finish reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  • To read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
  • To start The Fireman by Joe Hill
  • To keep track of my reading progress via daily blog updates
  • To visit other blogs and comment regularly

Books to Read

  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
  • The Fireman by Joe Hill

UPDATES

MONDAY

Here we go… Bout of Books time again!  I know exactly what my first read is going to be, The Essex Serpent, as it was the book I’d already started before the readathon began.  I’ve loved what I’ve read so far, so it’s definitely my book of choice for the start of this event.

TUESDAY (MONDAY’S PROGRESS)

I don’t know why but when Bout of Books comes around I usually manage to pick myself a great read.  It’s happened again.  The Essex Serpent is turning into one of those books that I don’t want to put down but I don’t want to read it too fast either.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens in this story.

Number of pages I’ve read today:  50
Total number of pages I’ve read:  50

WEDNESDAY (TUESDAY’S PROGRESS)

Received an email from the library today and another book has arrived for me. I can see I’ll have to change my reading plans a little to try and fit that one in too, because last time I checked there were quite a number of requests on it. I’ll go and collect it later this week and maybe start reading it during Bout of Books.

Today I read more Essex Serpent and I’m still really enjoying it. I love both of the main characters and the setting of the story. I’ve read more than I expected today, so might have a change tomorrow, so that this book lasts longer…

Number of pages I’ve read today:  85
Total number of pages I’ve read:  135

THURSDAY (WEDNESDAY’S PROGRESS)

What a poor day for reading.  I didn’t manage a single page.  Hopefully I’ll be able to read plenty tomorrow.

Number of pages I’ve read today:  0
Total number of pages I’ve read:  135

FRIDAY (THURSDAY’S PROGRESS)

Isn’t this week flying by? I can’t believe we’re closer to the end of Bout of Books than the beginning!
Happy to say I managed to read much more today. I’m still really enjoying The Essex Serpent, and will definitely finish it now before the end of the readathon.
I also started Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Number of pages I’ve read today:  150
Total number of pages I’ve read:  285

SATURDAY (FRIDAY’S PROGRESS)

I finished The Essex Serpent. I was sad to reach the end, but what a great read, and one I would recommend.
I read some more Harry Potter too, and hopefully I’ll get that finished before Bout of Books ends.
How is everyone doing with their reading so far?

Number of pages I’ve read today:  200
Total number of pages I’ve read:  485

SUNDAY (SATURDAY’S PROGRESS)

I think I’ll finish Harry Potter today and still have time to move on to another book.
I was going to start The Fireman (I’ve been saying that since the book first came out), but then another library book arrived and of course it has a big request list, so that’s going to have to come first.
Can’t believe the readathon is almost over.

Number of pages I’ve read today:  100
Total number of pages I’ve read:  585

MONDAY (SUNDAY’S PROGRESS AND FINAL THOUGHTS)

Posted HERE.

Book Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Name:  The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Author:  
Natasha Pulley
Number of Pages:
  336 (Hardback)
Published:  
2nd July 2015 by Bloomsbury Circus
Genre:  Fantasy, Steampunk

Goodreads

1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

5diamonds

My Thoughts:

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is definitely one of my favourite recent reads. Sometimes everything just seems ‘right’ for you as a reader – the characters, tone, setting and story all come together in the perfect way. That’s what happened for me reading this book.

From the very first tea-scented opening paragraph I was immersed in the wonderful world created by Natasha Pulley. I love Victorian London anyway, but add a touch of the exotic by way of a beautiful oriental show village, and the mysterious in the form of intriguing lead characters, and I’m hooked. There’s also an element of fantasy to the story which absolutely made it for me.

The main characters are wonderful, but I can’t go into detail about them without first giving honourable mention to probably my favourite of them all – Katsu the clockwork octopus. I want one, I need one… please? Katsu and his life-like antics were real scene-stealers (especially the idea of him breaking free when Thaniel shut him in).
On to the other characters…

There’s Thaniel, trying to do right by his widowed sister and her family, earning money as a telegraphist, whose world is utterly changed by the unexpected arrival of a beautiful pocket watch which, several months later, saves his life and throws him into the path of the watchmaker, Keita Mori.
Mori is fascinating, an enigma. He apparently has some sort of clairvoyant powers, although it’s a bit different than that – he sees what is possible, and forgets what becomes impossible. His back-story in Japan and his history as a nobleman weaves seamlessly with the current London storyline, and was beautifully written. I felt as though I was almost at the castle with Mori.
Grace is a woman beyond her time, sneaking into the university library dressed as a man because otherwise she wouldn’t be allowed in without a chaperone. She is a scientist, and wants so much more than the marriage her father so longs to arrange for her. She is brave and determined, which becomes apparent early on but even more so towards the end of the story, as she doesn’t believe all is as it seems with Mori, of whom she has grown fearful. It makes for interesting reading, seeing how she changes as the story plays out.

At the heart of this sprawling, mysterious, intriguing plot is the new and developing friendship between Thaniel, the young Foreign Office clerk and Keita Mori, the Japanese watchmaker of the title. Thaniel ends up renting a room from Mori, and watching the pair become accustomed to each other, and learn from each other, and experiencing their day to day life in Mori’s shop (which sounds amazing) is truly heart-warming, and it’s almost a shame that events and people will inevitably come between these two characters.

Events unfold at a leisurely pace as Thaniel moves in with Mori, but as the plot develops the pace quickens and even though I wanted to draw out my reading of this book for as long as possible towards the end I just couldn’t put it down. I just had to know how it would end as I was really invested in the characters and wanted something of a happy ending for them.

Great read.

Book Review: Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Name: Finders Keepers
Author:
Stephen King
Number of Pages:
371 (Hardback)
Published:
2nd June 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

1978: Meet Morris Bellamy, a reader obsessed by novelist John Rothstein, the reclusive genius who created the celebrated fictional character Jimmy Gold.
Morris is livid – not just because Rothstein has stopped writing but because he has made the nonconformist Jimmy sell out for a career in advertising. Morris breaks into Rothstein’s house and empties his safe of cash. But the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel – and Morris is prepared to kill for them. Later, he goes to jail for another crime but not before he has hidden the spoils.
2009: Meet young Pete Saubers, whose father was brutally injured by a stolen Mercedes while he was queuing at a job fair. When Pete discovers a buried trunk containing the money and notebooks, he realises he has the means to rescue his family from poverty. If he can keep it secret…
2014: Morris is up for parole. And he’s hell-bent on recovering his treasure. That’s when retired detective Bill Hodges – who has set up a company called ‘Finders Keepers’ – is asked to investigate. Together with colleagues Holly Gibney and Jerome Robinson, Hodges must rescue Pete from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris…
Not since Misery has King written with such visceral power about a reader with such a dangerous obsession. Finders Keepers is spectacular suspense, and it is also King writing about how literature shapes a life – for good, for bad, for ever.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

4ddiamonds

My Thoughts:

Finders Keepers is the second book in a trilogy featuring retired detective Bill Hodges and his colleagues Jerome Robinson and Holly Gibney. In Finders Keepers the trio don’t make an appearance until over 100 pages in, as the tale of Morris Bellamy and Peter Saubers is established.

Their narrative is built around the power of books and stories. In the 1970s Morris Bellamy is a lost young man, down on his luck, with an absent father and an over-achieving mother. He finds solace in the tales of Jimmy Gold by John Rothstein. He becomes obsessed with the author and disappointed when Rothstein takes his lead character on a route Morris doesn’t believe was right. Driven by his obsession Morris seeks out the now-reclusive author, with devastating results.
The consequences of that murderous night during which Bellamy discovers a trove of unpublished manuscripts featuring his beloved Jimmy Gold will reach all the way to the present day and affect the life of young Peter Saubers, who stumbles upon the prized manuscripts hoarded away by the desperate Bellamy so many years previously.

The tension builds as Bellamy, convicted of another crime and sent to prison for a number of years, becomes more obsessed and driven. Having spent so much time in prison unable to reach his hoard of notebooks and cash, he goes in search of them after his release. Inevitably he will cross paths with Pete, who already has so much to deal with.

I liked Pete a lot. He tries his best to help his family during a tough time, and even when he is in over his head with dodgy book dealer Andrew Halliday Pete is quick thinking. One of his negotiations with the book dealer was so tense – what great writing!

It is upon the exit of Halliday and the re-emergence of the obsessed and increasingly dangerous Bellamy that you release what he‘s truly up against.
The story builds to a thrilling conclusion and showdown, but I felt a little sad at the eventual fate of the notebooks.

Would it matter if you picked up Finders Keepers without having read Mr. Mercedes?
At first I thought possibly not.
Events of Mr. Mercedes are referenced to refresh our memories, and would serve to give enough background info for a new reader, so it depends whether you mind spoilers and whether you want to read Mr. Mercedes later on.

Then I reached the end and changed my mind – yes, read Mr. Mercedes first!

I think certain characters may return to the forefront in the final book of the trilogy in a potentially amazing way. I loved that ending and the hints of what may be to come, especially the possibility of the supernatural – that’s the kind of writing I love in a Stephen King book, so I can’t wait to see where he takes this great trio next, and the nature of their adversary. I have a feeling the final book could be brilliant.

Booking Ahead: August 2016

Booking Ahead is a new feature here on Pages and Tea where I glance through my never-ending TBR list/pile and select a few potential reads for the coming month. If I’m not reading books I love talking about books I’d like to read, so this post is a perfect excuse to do just that.

The beginning of a new month can only mean one thing here on Pages and Tea.. It’s time to talk once again about the books I have my eye on and hope to read during the coming month.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry – I was drawn to this one in the bookstore based on the cover alone in the first instance, because it’s really striking, but a quick glance at the synopsis left me convinced I needed to give it a try. I’m in the mood for a historical novel at the moment, and the description of the relationship between the two protagonists sounds interesting.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher – Fantasy! I love a regular return to the fantasy genre. It’s still quite new for me and I enjoy finding new-too-me authors to check out. I’ve read many good reviews for this book, and have possibly read something about talking cats (!?) somewhere along the way? Sounds good. I can’t even remember how long ago I requested this one from the library, so I was really pleased when this gorgeous brand new paperback turned up for me on my last visit.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler – I read that this novel is one for fans of the Night Circus. That’s me! In fact, the Night Circus in currently sitting on my TBR pile even though I’ve already read it once. No idea when I’ll actually get around to a re-read when I have so many new books to read too, but it will happen one day. Anyway, if this story is anything like that one then I should be in for a great read. A story of books and mysteries and a possible curse, and featuring a librarian as the main character? Sounds like a good start.


What are you planning to read this month? Have you read any of my choices and if so which would you recommend?

Monthly Summary: July 2016

I’m slowly starting to emerge from the little blogging slump I seem to have hit lately. I posted a few entries on Pages and Tea during July, and hope to add more to this next month. I also added something new, Book Tags, and took part in Top Ten Tuesday for the first time in a while, which I really enjoyed. Here’s the usual monthly round-up…

Book Reviews

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Featured Posts

Booking Ahead

July 2016

Top Ten Tuesday

July 19th – Books Set Outside The US

Book Tags

The Spring Has Sprung Book Tag

Reading Resolutions

Reading Resolutions Introduction
July Progress
Flights of Fantasy Progress

Reading Resolutions Revisited: July 2016

Welcome back to another installment of my new Monthly Reading Resolutions updates. I decided I wouldn’t participate in many official challenges this year; instead I created some Reading Resolutions. This post is my attempt to keep track of how I’m getting on with reading and blogging.

Another pretty slow month, although I have blogged more this time than in recent months, so that’s quite good. I’ve also been reading a lot more lately, but haven’t actually finished some of the books so can’t count them towards my total this month.

Books I’ve Read

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Total Library Books Read This Month: 1
Total Own Books Read This Month: 0
Overall Total Books Read This Month: 1

Total Library Books Read 2016: 15
Total Own Books Read 2016: 0
Overall Total Books Read 2016: 15

Flights of Fantasy

My new total for this challenge is 6 books now I’ve finished reading Uprooted.

Goodreads

I set myself a target of 25 books this year. So far I’ve read 15 books.

Goals

July saw the addition of Book Tags to Pages and Tea, so meets my goal of introducing new features the my blog.

I’m also keeping up with writing these monthly progress updates – even when I’ve read or blogged very little I always manage to find time to write these little summaries!


So concludes July’s Monthly Reading Resolutions update.
Have you signed up for any challenges this year, or are you taking a more general approach to reading?

See you again next month!