Book Review: Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey

Name:  Someone Like Me
Author:  
M. R. Carey
Number of Pages:
  500 (Hardback)
Published:
November 8th 2018 by Orbit
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller, Horror

Goodreads

SHE LOOKS LIKE ME. SHE SOUNDS LIKE ME. NOW SHE’S TRYING TO TAKE MY PLACE.
Liz Kendall wouldn’t hurt a fly. She’s a gentle woman devoted to bringing up her kids in the right way, no matter how hard times get.
But there’s another side to Liz—one which is dark and malicious. A version of her who will do anything to get her way, no matter how extreme or violent.
And when this other side of her takes control, the consequences are devastating.
The only way Liz can save herself and her family is if she can find out where this new alter-ego has come from, and how she can stop it.


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Aah, a new M. R. Carey novel. The blurb is so brief and gives so very little away that it’s difficult to know where to begin talking about why this book definitely warrants your reading time and attention.
With Carey’s novels you go in knowing so little that you have little idea what to expect and anything becomes possible. That’s certainly the case with Someone Like Me.
So, what can I say to persuade you, without telling you anything that will detract from your enjoyment?

Read this book for the incredibly real characters. The two leads, Fran and Liz are very different, so far removed from each other, or so you would think, yet there are various things that link them. They’ve both been hurt and abused, enduring enough trauma for a whole lifetime, but they are both surviving and trying to live their lives.
They are both surrounded by wonderfully supportive people who only want the best for them, yet the trauma of the past still touches their lives albeit in different ways.

Oh, and there’s Jinx, who is a fox, and may or may not be real. And she talks, but only to Fran, for she is Fran’s constant companion and guardian, and dons her armour and sword at the first sign of trouble. Sounds strange? Maybe a little, but I doubt it will be long before you’re calling Jinx a fave.

The story is surreal and strange, will make you guess and second guess, and then still be dumbfounded as the plot delivers another twist which leaves you having to read the next chapter immediately, because you just cannot wait to find out what happens next. 500 pages feel as though they fly by, especially towards the latter part of the book.
You’ll fear for your favourites, and hope beyond hope that the villains are vanquished, whilst never quite being sure which direction the tale will take next and how it will all end.

It’s hard to pin this book down – part thriller, part psychological, sometimes family drama, blended with elements of paranormal and a touch of horror. It defies any one genre, and is so good for it. Someone Like Me begins in violence, and ends in… well, you’ll just have to read it and find out! Can’t wait for M. R. Carey’s next tale.

Book Review: The Corset by Laura Purcell

Name:  The Corset
Author:  
Laura Purcell
Number of Pages:
  416 (Hardback)
Published:
September 20th 2018 by Raven Books
Genre:  Historical

Goodreads

The new Victorian chiller from the author of Radio 2 Book Club pick, The Silent Companions.
Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?
Dorothea and Ruth.
Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless.
Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.
When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.
The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption.
Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed The Silent Companions so much that I was really looking forward to reading Laura Purcell’s next book, and The Corset didn’t disappoint. It was very different to her first novel, but still so readable. I think sometimes it’s the writing that draws you in straight away, and I do enjoy the way Purcell writes. This tale is atmospheric and intense, and very sad in parts too.

The Corset follows two main protagonists. Dorothea Truelove is a young lady of adequate fortune and circumstance that she can occupy herself with ‘good projects’ and charitable acts. She is intelligent, and fascinated by the ’science’ of phrenology, and so combines her good intentions with an urge to gain scientific information.
She visits women in New Oakgate prison and it is here that she meets with alleged murderer Ruth Butterham. She listens as Ruth spins a fantastic yarn; she’s imprisoned for one murder, but to hear her own ideas she has actually killed far more than that, and not via any regular method, but through the ill-will that occupied her mind whilst she stitched clothing items for these people.

Ruth’s tale is fairly dark. There’s deprivation, poverty, disappointment right from the earliest memories, and these lead on to bereavement and cruelty. Her life has been hard, and she evokes sympathy in the reader despite her current situation. She’s apparently done something terrible, and she has been surrounded by people who commit equally despicable acts.
The idea that some supernatural element is at play that allows Ruth to exercise a destructive power simply through thoughts and stitches, well, it makes you wonder whether she really has done the things she claims, and Dorothea herself tries to remain incredulous whilst getting swept along by the idea that maybe Ruth does have some influence via her stitching after all.

Dorothea is equally as intriguing, although her story is far less brutal. She is a woman of her time; her father aspires to find her a suitable match so she can marry, but her heart lies elsewhere, and she hides her true feelings for fear of the outcome.
She is fascinated by phrenology, the study of the human skull and the idea that certain traits can be mapped out in certain areas. She wants to prove that behaviour can be anticipated via this method of examination and therefore changed. It’s the idea that drives her to the prison in search of people with criminal pasts so she can study their heads.

Through beautiful writing both these characters and their surroundings come to vivid life on the page, and I was soon absorbed in the dark tale being woven during Dorothea’s visits to Ruth in prison. There’s a great uncertainty to what has actually happened, and whether Ruth really does have supernatural power or whether something else is going on.
And when things start to happen that Dorothea cannot account for, Ruth’s claims start playing on her mind, all adding to the sense of the surreal. Is Ruth a young woman with a troubled mind after all she’s experienced, or does she have power?

A colourful cast of supporting characters surround these two very different women, and they all add to the tale, contributing a vast range of kindnesses and cruelties depending on which narrative we’re following.

I’ve enjoyed both of Laura Purcell’s novels, and they’re both so very different that I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.

Booking Ahead: December 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 Booking Ahead.
December, already?!? Next thing you know it will be Christmas. With that in mind I’ve added at least one festive looking cover to my potential reading selection for this month. Here are a few books I hope to sample over the next few weeks…

New Books

Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey – I’ve read Carey’s previous novels and enjoyed them all, and I’ve seen some great, non-spoilerish reviews for this latest which have all made me quite excited to get started on the book.

The Lingering by SJI Holliday – Another book that I keep seeing everywhere at the moment. It sounds really creepy, set in an old asylum now used as a community dwelling, but I can’t wait to start it. Am intrigued about the bath bit, because I’ve seen that mentioned in quite a few reviews already.

The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan – It’s that time of year again folks! The arrival of December usually sees me reaching for the latest from Karen Swan.

Books from the Backlist

I’m not sure I’ll manage anything from the Backlist this month. I requested so many new books from the library and as usual they’ve all arrived at the same time. I have no idea how I’ll get through them all before the loans expire but I’m going to give it a good go.


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: November 2018

Welcome to another Monthly Summary on Pages and Tea.

Another enjoyable month of reading for me. It started off all mysterious as I ventured to Blackwater Abbey and discovered A House of Ghosts.
After that I was space-bound, cast Adrift with the passengers of tour ship The Red Panda. I haven’t read much sci-fi but I enjoyed this book so much that I’m on the lookout for something similar.
Time’s Convert took me back to the world of the All Souls trilogy, but added in some great historical fiction too as Marcus’s back-story was revealed.

I wrote a post for The Sunshine Blogger Award, which was something I’ve never done before. Here’s what happened on Pages and Tea…

Book Reviews

            

A House of Ghosts by W. C. Ryan

Adrift by Rob Boffard

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

Featured Posts

Booking Ahead

November 2018

Book Tags

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Reading Review

Reading Resolutions 2018

November Progress

Beat the Backlist Challenge Progress

Reading Review: November 2018

Welcome to my Monthly Reading Review.

This post is my attempt to keep track of how I’m doing with my reading challenges and resolutions.

BOOKS I’VE READ

            

A House of Ghosts by W. C. Ryan

Adrift by Rob Boffard

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

Total Library Books Read This Month: 3
Total Own Books Read This Month: 0
Overall Total Books Read This Month: 3

Total Library Books Read 2018: 38
Total Own Books Read 2018: 0
Overall Total Books Read 2018: 38

MY READ OF THE MONTH

Adrift by Rob Boffard. It’s my first foray into sci-fi for ages (or possibly ever) and I really enjoyed it. Adrift tells the story of a group of survivors who witness the destruction of their station from a touring vessel. It’s tense and exciting with a great cast of characters.
I’ll definitely be looking out for similar books in future.

BEAT THE BACKLIST

My total for this challenge is 14 books read.  I’ve read:

The Watcher by Ross Armstrong
The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Year One by Nora Roberts
A Gathering of Shadows by V. E Schwab
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence
A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie

GOODREADS

My current total for the year so far is 38 books. Do you think I might make at least 40 by the end of the year?!

GOALS

  • I’m keeping up with reviews
  • And I guess it might be time to start thinking about goals and challenges for next year. I cannot believe how quickly this year has flown by.

So concludes November’s Reading Review. See you again next month

Book Review: Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness


Name:
  Time’s Convert
Author:  
Deborah Harkness
Number of Pages:
  480 (Hardback)
Published:
September 25th 2018 by Headline
Genre:  Fantasy, Historical

Goodreads

Set in contemporary Paris and London, and the American colonies during the upheaval and unrest that exploded into the Revolutionary War, a sweeping story that braids together the past and present.
On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life, free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus’s deeply-held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.
Fast forward to contemporary London, where Marcus has fallen for Phoebe Taylor, a young employee at Sotheby’s. She decides to become a vampire, too, and though the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable in the modern world than they were in the 18th century. The shadows that Marcus believed he’d escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both – for ever.
A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities for change, Time’s Convert will delight fans of the All Souls trilogy and all readers of magic, the supernatural, and romance.


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

A new tale set in the world and featuring characters from the All Souls trilogy? I was looking forward to this so am glad to say that I really enjoyed it…

Time’s Convert tells how Marcus met Matthew and became a vampire during the American Revolution. There’s a current day narrative in which Phoebe, Marcus’s mate, is becoming a vampire, and a current narrative featuring Matthew and Diana, who have settled into their life as partners and parents to twins who begin to display magical abilities.

I really enjoyed they story of Marcus as a young man, the struggles at home, his eventual flight and joining the army, and the historical detail. His struggles in his human life, dealing with an abusive father and living in fear for his mother and sister were well done. After a fateful meeting with the Chevalier de Clermont, Marcus begins a new and very different life, leaving behind his family and the home he grew up in, having ensured that his mother and sister should be a little safer.
His travels take him far and wide, meeting all manner of historical figures, and I really enjoyed the time he spent in France once he was a vampire. It’s a steep learning curve for Marcus, a young man who believed in revolution and freedom, and it’s interesting to read how a man of this mindset deals with the rules of his new life. We follow him to New Orleans eventually, where things start to spiral out of control.

Interspersed with Marcus’s memories of his past is Phoebe’s transformation into a vampire, and the supervised existence she must endure before she and Marcus can be together again. This narrative was enjoyable too, as Phoebe is reborn and must relearn everything she knew. She has to master movement, to mirror the way a human would move, and learn how to feed, and also how to include her human family into her new situation without being a danger to them.

Matthew and Diana and their twins Becca and Philip provide another interesting story, and I really hope there will be more appearances from the twins in future, either in their own book or incorporated into another story the way they were here. Becca could be really feisty, and Philip and his power will be interesting to read more about.

This tale felt a little more of a drawn out affair then previous novels set in this world as for the most part it is memories and reminiscences without a massive sense of danger or threat in the present timeline but it was an entertaining read nonetheless, with Marcus experiencing plenty of life after his own rebirth. I hope there will be more books in this series, featuring other characters previously encountered throughout the All Souls trilogy.

The Sunshine Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by Kelsey from There’s Something About KM – thank you very much! You can check out Kelsey’s answers here.
I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, but here goes…

First, the rules:
Thank the blogger who nominated you by linking their blog.
Answer the questions.
Nominate 11 blogs with 11 questions.
List the rules as well as display the award logo on your post.

I’m going to bend the rules just a little and not tag anyone, but if you do fancy it, then feel free to have a go. On to my answers…

1) What is something you’re obsessed with right now?

I’ve been watching The Haunting of Hill House and it’s pretty addictive. I’m trying to space out episodes so I don’t end up binging the whole thing. I actually would have enjoyed a whole series just set in the house timeline, because that’s one creepy old house with so many ghosts lurking (I’ve also been trying to spot as many of the background/hidden ghosts as I can, but I’m pretty sure I’ve missed quite a few!).

2) Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

Not really. I sometimes make notes of passages from books that caught my attention, usually something lyrical/funny/striking.

3) What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My capacity to get lost in whatever book I’ve chosen to pick up at the time. A bit of escapism is always good.

4) If you could travel anywhere (fictional or non-fictional) right now, where would you go?

Non-fictional (but based on my fictional readings) – I’d love to travel on the Orient Express.

Fictional – Totally random but I fancy a visit to the Chocolate Factory from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Just thinking about it is making me hungry!

5) What book would you take with you, and why?

A travel guide relevant to wherever the Orient Express happened to be going. I don’t tend to read when I’m away, so hopefully a travel guide would be a useful compromise.  Or…


Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie of course!

6) Which book do you find yourself always recommending?


At the moment it’s The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. I enjoyed this book so much that I had to buy a copy when it came out in paperback even though I’ve already read it. It’s just so different.

7) Have you discovered any now-favorite books by reading about them on a book (or general) blog?


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I read somewhere online that there’s going to be an adaptation of this book and it sounded like a great story so I got a copy and sure enough, it’s a new favourite and one that I would read again.

8) What is the last book or magazine or movie or item you checked out from the library?

The last book was Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker and I really hope I get around to starting it soon.

The last movie I put a request in for was Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

9) What is the last object you used for a bookmark (can be an actual bookmark)?

Through the course of my last read I used a variety, one of which was an actual real bookmark. I also had a little paper bookmark and even a paperclip at one point!

10) Do you keep track of all the books you own (in a spreadsheet, notebook, etc.)?

I use GoodReads to keep track of my reading.  I can refer back to it if there’s a sequel due and a long wait before publication.

11) What is your favorite reading weather?

I love a cool, grey autumn afternoon with gentle rain pattering down the windows. I’ll sit and read and occasionally look outside to watch the world go by as I enjoy a lovely mug of tea. Fantastic!


Thanks again to Kelsey for nominating me for this, I enjoyed answering your questions. As always, if you’ve enjoyed reading this and haven’t done it yourself then consider yourself tagged!