Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie AKA All The Library Books I was Reluctant to Return

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Click on the link for more info and to find out about future topics.

This weeks theme is:   Freebie.

It’s Freebie week on Top Ten Tuesday, and recently I was thinking about just how many books I have on loan from the library at any one time.
It’s a LOT.
I love libraries. All those wonderful brand new books, all for free. Also, there’s the added bonus of not having to store all these great books, because I ran out of bookshelf space a long time ago.

So, having books on loan forces me to eventually take them back and saves on space. Great. Until you come across one of those books that you really love…
It’s a beautiful book to look at, the story has been amazing, you’ve lived that tale with those characters and you can’t imagine not having that book in your possession any more.

So, here’s a post devoted to a few of the library books that I’ve been very reluctant to part with…


Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden


The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley
Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan


The Autumn Republic
by Brian McClellan
The Essex Serpent
by Sarah Perry
The Diviners by Libba Bray







The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Have you read of the books that made my list this week? Let me know what you thought of them, and what topic you chose for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday freebie!


Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Name:  Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
Number of Pages:
  386 (Paperback)
January 30th 2018 by Broadway Books (Orig. published 2011)
Genre:  Science Fiction


In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines–puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win–and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.    – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

I meant to read Ready Player One a while ago, way before I knew anything about the new film, but at the last minute something always seemed to hold me back. Would it be a little too different/sci-fi/technical? I have little to no experience of videogames. I kept putting it off and the book never got read.
Then I saw the trailer for the new movie.
I knew it was something I would want to see, and decided the time had finally come to pick up the book before I saw the movie.

And I enjoyed it.
Admittedly many of the references were lost on me. A walk-through of WarGames? No idea. If they’d gone through Back to the Future I may have been far more carried along. I like a good bit of 80s, but apparently not so much the things that were heavily referenced here.  There was still a lot I did enjoy, and I do find the idea of old favourites becoming (virtual) reality very very cool, as was the whole OASIS.

It was quite amazing how real the world of the OASIS felt; I found myself at various points thinking ‘wow, Wade’s actually just sitting in a van/room, in real life, yet this vast other-world is there for the taking.’
If the OASIS was real I imagine it would be great fun, but dangerously addictive. You can design your look, visit any fictional world you’ve ever dreamed of, take on quests and tackle monsters, and if you die in the game, you just create a new avatar, go back to being level one and start all over again. Epic battles and quests, all whilst facing no real danger. Sounds good.

Inside the OASIS an epic quest is taking place.  It’s creator, James Halliday, has died and left his entire simulation/fortune to the first player to find three keys and locate an Easter egg.
There are individuals, clans, and an evil corporation determined to solve the puzzles, the latter wanting to gain total control and dominance over the OASIS, which totally defies the spirit of Halliday and the game he constructed.

In the real world, everything is pretty much falling apart. Resources are depleted, people are forced to live in Stacks, trailers stacked 20 or more high and linked with frameworks, and there’s little opportunity available.
As the stakes within the OASIS raise, so too do people in the real world find their very lives threatened by those fixated on winning the virtual quest.

There’s a group of gunters (egg hunters) at the heart of the quest who become known as the High Five when they top the scoreboard after finding the first key. Each of these has their online avatar which of course may be nothing at all like their real life identity so when the group finally have the opportunity to meet in real life there may be a few surprises in store.
Within this group is Wade, our lead character, who goes by Parzival in the OASIS, his best (online) friend Aech, and his long-time crush Art3mis, and I was really looking forward to the moment when these three would collide in the real world, having endured so much as both allies and competitors in the virtual world.

Ready Player One is an enjoyable, immersive read with a giant puzzle, real danger, epic battles and so much nostalgia. I did feel at times a little overwhelmed by the detail provided in these scenes, and the technical descriptions of equipment and the like was wasted on me, which was probably one of the reasons that it took me so long to give this book a try in the first place, but I found myself swept along on the quest anyway, and I was rooting for Parzival, Aech and Art3mis to triumph over the sinister IOI corporation and find the Easter egg in time to save the OASIS.

The Book Courtship Tag

It’s time for another Book Tag. I’ve seen this one around on various blogs recently and thought it looked fun, so here goes…

Phase 1: Initial Attraction (A book you bought because of the cover)

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower is a lovely looking book, and based on the summary it’s one I would have picked up regardless of the cover design, so being so pretty is an added bonus.

Phase 2: First Impressions (A book you got because of the summary)

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin. I found out about this book online a while before it was published and I knew it would be one I’d have to check out:

The year is 1831

Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and no one is willing to speak out on behalf of the city’s vulnerable poor as they disappear from the streets.

Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible.

When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock. But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations.

Hester and Rebekah find themselves crossing every boundary they’ve ever known in pursuit of truth, redemption and passion. But their trust in each other will be tested as a web of deceit begins to unspool, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking . . .

Phase 3: Sweet Talk (A book with great writing)

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I really enjoyed the descriptive writing in this book, the locations, the seasons changing, the mysterious air surrounding the serpent.
I also really liked Cora and Will, and the way their friendship developed throughout the novel.

Phase 4: First Date (A first book of a series which made you want to pursue the rest of the series)

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire. They’re such massive books but once I’d started I was hooked.

Phase 5: Late Night Phone Calls (A book that kept you up all night long)

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant. All at sea with killer mermaids on the loose, I couldn’t put this one down because I needed to know whether the crew would escape and who would survive.

Phase 6: Always On My Mind (A book you couldn’t stop thinking about)

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell. So spooky, so atmospheric, and I’m still thinking about the ending…

Phase 7: Getting Physical (A book you love the feel of)

I love any paperback book. Just the perfect size to be comfortable and portable for on-the-go reading. Give me a paperback and I’m a happy reader.

Phase 8: Meeting the Parents (A book you would recommend to your friends and family)

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I read this recently because I’d watched and enjoyed the new movie. I had a great time reading it, even knowing the outcome, and I’m now going to read more Poirot books. I had no idea I’d been missing out, somehow Christie had always passed me by, so I’d recommend this hoping someone else may get as much out of reading it as I did.

Phase 9: Thinking About the Future (A book or series that you know you’ll re-read many times in the future)

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m currently enjoying my first ever series re-read. I don’t often re-read books as I have so many new books to try and fit in, but there’s definitely something comforting about revisiting a favourite series.

Phase 10: Share the Love (Here’s who I’m tagging)

Anyone who’s seen this and fancies a go at the tag themselves. Enjoy!

Book Review: Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Name:  Force of Nature
Jane Harper
Number of Pages:
  400 (Hardback)
February 1st 2018 by Little, Brown
Genre:  Mystery, Crime


Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.
The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.
Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – in just a matter of days she was to provide the documents that will bring down the company she works for.
Falk discovers that far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. But does it include murder?    – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

If I liked The Dry then I really liked Force of Nature.

Aarok Falk is back on the case as he and his partner Carmen investigate a disappearance. A group of women went out hiking for a teambuilding event. Five set out, four returned, and Alice Russell is missing.
She’s of particular interest to Falk as she was to provide crucial information regarding potential dodgy dealing at the company she works for, so her disappearance comes at a convenient time for some, and a very awkward time for Falk.

The narrative switches between the police investigation and the time the women spent together out in the wilds, and both are fast-paced and taut with tension.
What starts out as a little-anticipated teambuilding event (none of the women were overly eager to go) soon descends into a serious need to survive, and the women themselves are shocked at the turn their behaviour takes as resources begin to dwindle and rescue seems a lifetime away.

The setting for Force of Nature was fantastic. The women go off-track into the forest, the paths getting narrower and harder to trace, the trees closing in on them from all sides; there’s a really claustrophobic air to it, which intensifies the longer they’re stuck out there becoming more and more lost with each wrong turn they take.
There’s something quite creepy about the great outdoors in this context – the darkness, the cold, the threat of wild animals, and that’s before you add in the fact that the area these women have gone to was once the haunt of a serial killer.

The tension created between the group gives so many potential suggestions for what could have befallen Alice. Will she walk out of the forest alive? Did someone know she was about to inform on suspect activities within the company? Was someone else following the group and spied an opportunity for a random attack? Or was it personal? As details come to light about the lives of the women and their families there are just so many possibilities.
And with each revelation the chapters become shorter, switching from the present to the time of the disappearance which makes it so easy to think ‘just one more chapter, I HAVE to know what’s happened’.

I didn’t guess what had happened, and that made the read all the more entertaining. I’ll definitely look out for Jane Harper‘s next novel.

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Name:  Murder on the Orient Express
Agatha Christie
Number of Pages:
  265 (Paperback)
October 10th 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks (Orig. published 1934)
Genre:  Crime, Mystery


What more can a mystery addict desire than a much-loathed murder victim found aboard the luxurious Orient Express with multiple stab wounds, thirteen likely suspects, an incomparably brilliant detective in Hercule Poirot, and the most ingenious crime ever conceived?    – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

I read my first Poirot novel, and I had a really good time!
I picked this up after watching the recent movie adaptation, so I already knew the outcome, but that didn’t spoil my reading enjoyment at all.
And I had NO idea. None. Right up until the moment the great Poirot made his final reveal I would never have thought that…
Here’s a conundrum though – how to review this intriguing murder mystery without giving anything away. Because I initially went into this totally blind.

There’s a train, a very lavish train, The Orient Express.
And on the train… there’s a very dubious character, and a murderer who means to do away with this person.
There’s a whole array of varied characters within the same compartment of the train, all of whom become potential suspects. And, of course, most of them have a convincing story to tell, in which they are completely without suspicion or blame.

But, what the murderer never counted on… a snowdrift which sees the train stranded, and a last minute addition to the passenger list, a certain Monsieur Hercule Poirot.
And that’s about as much as I can say before we get well into spoiler territory. Seriously, am I going overboard with the secrecy element here, when these spoilers have been around for over 80 years? Because before I saw the movie I felt like I was in the small minority of people who had no idea whodunit.

So, let’s talk all the non-spoilerish things I enjoyed about Murder on the Orient Express:

The setting. A luxurious train, stranded out in the snowy wilderness, with a dead body, and possible further risk to other passengers.
The time period adds to the isolation – there are no mobile phones, no internet, no means of communication with the outside world. It’s a whole different era. This mixed group of strangers have no idea how long they will be stranded, or whether the killer will strike again.  Tense stuff.

The characters – Poirot himself. He’s a cool character. Out in the wilds, a murderer in their midst, does he panic or worry? No, he keeps a level head and sets about investigating everyone on board, finding out all manner of things, some of which are designed to lead him astray, and yet somehow, through all those twists and turns and little white lies, the Belgian detective keeps his head and manages to come to a solution that I never for a moment considered. I’m blurring my experience with my movie watching here but I can safely say that either way I would NEVER have worked it out.

Of the rest, two of the ladies stood out. Mrs Hubbard is an older American lady, very vocal, very present, constantly talking about her daughter and what she has said or advised. She provides some comic moments in a tense situation.
Mary Debenham is a young Englishwoman who remains cool under Poirot’s scrutiny, even when it’s clear he suspects she is hiding something. I enjoyed reading the scenes where the two confronted each other.

The writing makes for fast-paced reading. I can’t remember the last time I flew through a book in the way that I did with this one, which made a lovely change for me. The chapters are mostly short, there’s quite a lot of dialogue and I felt really immersed in Poirot’s questioning and investigation.
It was so fluid that I was happy at times to sit back and go with the flow, just observing as Poirot worked his way to the correct conclusion. There were also plenty of clues and narratives to put together if you fancied playing detective and trying to work out who the killer was, but I missed out on this a little with the book as I’d tried it with the film (and failed miserably!).

What more can I say?
This was my second Christie; I read And Then There Were None after I’d watched the tv adaptation. It was my first Poirot novel, and again, only read once I’d watched the movie. I enjoyed it so much that it won’t be my last, and I’m already eyeing up a copy of Death on the Nile.
Yes, I will finally get to play the whodunit guessing game with the book rather than the movie version, and I’m looking forward to that a lot.

Booking Ahead: April 2018

Booking Ahead is a feature 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.

Welcome to another wander through my endless TBR pile. I seem to be on something of a mystery/crime/detective fiction spree at the moment. It all started when I watched the new Murder on the Orient Express movie and it’s spilled over into my reading as well. I don’t generally read much in these genres, so it’s a bit of a change. Hopefully I’ll still be able to squeeze in something a little magical too. Here are a few of the books I hope to read over the coming month…

New Books

Force of Nature by Jane Harper – I read The Dry last year and enjoyed it, so am looking forward to the latest offering from this author.
Five women go out into the wilderness, but only four come back, each with a different version of events.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – This book is making a return appearance on Booking Ahead as I hoped to read it in March but somehow became sidetracked with other things. It’s a murder mystery with a twist as one of the characters relives the time leading up to the murder over and over from the point of view of other guests at a party until he can solve the murder.

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower – Another repeat appearance; hopefully April will be the month that sees it read.
The story sounds a little magical – a captain has apparently sold a ship for what appears to be a mermaid. Can’t wait to see how that turns out.

Books from the Backlist

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – I saw the new movie recently and it left me wanting to read the book. I think I read somewhere that the ending is different, but I’ve avoided spoilers for the book ending so have no idea yet what the difference is. This will be the first Poirot book I’ve read, so I might end up trying more if I enjoy it.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – This book has caught my eye a few times before but or some reason I’ve never actually picked it up. I saw the new movie trailer recently and it looks really good, so I want to try and find time to read this before I see the movie.

So concludes my monthly meander through my huge pile of potential reads. I may have been overly optimistic here, but you know how it is sometimes… So many books, and you want to be reading them all right now. I’m sure some of these will make a return appearance next month!

What are you hoping to read this month? Have you read of my picks, and if so what did you think?
See you again next month for another Booking Ahead.

Monthly Summary: March 2018

Welcome back to another Monthly Summary here on Pages and Tea.

I’ve ventured back in time for a while during my reading this month in two tales featuring very different faces of the same city, London. From the dark, dingy and dangerous streets of London during a series of disappearances starting in 1831 to a magic-filled London emporium in a saga stretching from the early 1900s all the way to the 1950s, both of these stories were good reads with some great characters, one of which was a patchwork dog!
In the midst of all this I found time for my first Book Tag in a while.
Here’s what’s been happening on Pages and Tea…

Book Reviews

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

Featured Posts

Booking Ahead

March 2018

Book Tags

The Spring Has Sprung Book Tag – 2018 Edition

Reading Review

Reading Resolutions 2018

March Progress

Beat the Backlist Challenge Progress