Booking Ahead: December 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.

I have one month to go, and two books to complete if I’m going to meet my Goodreads challenge target for this year. So, to complete my challenge I’m hoping to read…

Christmas Under the Stars by Karen Swan – I’ve read a few of this author’s books already and enjoyed them, so looking forward to this one, which has a gorgeously festive looking cover. Perfect seasonal reading.

Outlander – I’ve been reading Outlander for a while now, and I really want to get it finished so that it can count towards this year’s challenge.

I have SO many other books just waiting for my attention too, but for now I’m only going to list the two, because I’ve been reading so slowly lately, and December always turns into a busy month so I don’t think I’ll manage much more than that anyway.


Did you sign up for the Goodreads challenge this year, and are you close to reaching your target? What are you planning to read this month? 

Monthly Summary: November 2016

November turned into my busiest month for a long time, both in terms of reading and blogging. I managed to complete three books, which is a record for me at my current slow reading pace, and I posted reasonably regularly to the blog. Here’s what happened on Pages and Tea during November…

Book Reviews

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Featured Posts

Booking Ahead

November 2016

Top Ten Tuesday

Books To Try If You Fancy A Post-Apocalyptic Type Situation

Recent Additions to my TBR List

Book Tags

The Fall Activities Book Tag

The Greek Mythology Book Tag

Reading Resolutions

Reading Resolutions Introduction

November Progress

Flights of Fantasy Progress

Reading Resolutions Revisited: November 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.

Books I’ve Read

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith

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 2016: 23
Total Own Books Read 2016: 0
Overall Total Books Read 2016: 23

Flights of Fantasy

My total still remains at 7 books.

Goodreads

My target of 25 books for the year is just about manageable, I think. I’ve read 23 books so far, so only another 2 to go.

Goals

I read some non fiction.

And I’ve kept the blog updated fairly regularly this month.


So concludes November’s Monthly Reading Resolutions update. See you again next month for the final Reading Resolutions revisited of the year.

The Greek Mythology Book Tag

Thank you to Cristina of My Tiny Obsessions for tagging me for the Greek Mythology Book Tag. Let’s get started…

ZEUS (JUPITER): GOD OF THE SKY AND THUNDER / KING OF THE GODS

Favorite book (choose your own category!)

Always a hard category, there are SO many books to choose from, so I’m going to limit myself to books that I’ve read this year. Even doing that there’s no way I can settle for just one so I’ll go for The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, Uprooted by Naomi Novik and Fellside by M. R. Carey.

POSEIDON (NEPTUNE): GOD OF THE SEAS AND EARTHQUAKES

Book that drowned you in feels

The latter books of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. When the lead characters met their various fates I was a mess. I had no idea whether that really was the end, and saying goodbye to them after a whole series read virtually back to back was NOT GOOD, but in the best possible way.

HADES (PLUTO): GOD OF THE UNDERWORLD

Favorite book with a dark / ominous plot

Fellside by M. R. Carey was pretty dark, and a really good read.

HERA (JUNO): GODDESS OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY

Cutest fictional couple

Claire and Jamie Fraser from the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon. Thrown together by circumstance and necessity their relationship becomes genuine. They’re both such strong characters and would go to great lengths to protect each other.

ATHENA (MINERVA): GODDESS OF WISDOM, HANDICRAFT AND STRATEGIC WARFARE

Series with the best world-building

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. I LOVE Westeros and the descriptions of all the different regions. I’m not a fan of hot weather, but Dorne sounds absolutely amazing in those books. I think my favourite location would be Winterfell where it’s colder. Winter is coming, after all!

APHRODITE (VENUS): GODDESS OF LOVE AND BEAUTY

Most beautiful cover on a 2016 release

EssexSerpent
The Essex Serpent
by Sarah Perry. I love the patterns and colours.
Uprooted
I also really like the cover on the paperback version of Uprooted by Naomi Novik too.

ARES (MARS): GOD OF WAR AND BLOODSHED

Most violent book you’ve ever read

I may need a little help here in picking out which book this happened in, but the battle scene and the death of the Red Viper in A Song of Ice and Fire was quite violent, made worse by the fact that I really liked the character and wanted to read more about him.

HEPHAESTUS (VULCAN): GOD OF BLACKSMITHS AND FIRE

Scorching hot swoon worthy character

Just one? Don’t limit me to just one.
The Dragon from Uprooted (I hoped him and Agnieszka would get together from the moment early on they collided on the stairway).

And Jamie Fraser from Outlander.

I also liked John Rookwood AKA The Fireman from Joe Hill’s book. (And it just occurred to me that this one actually is scorching hot; he can control the fire that should in theory burn him alive, and creates all manner of trickery from the flames).

ARTEMIS (DIANA): GODDESS OF THE HUNT AND VIRGINITY

Favorite Kick-Ass Heroine

Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson.

PHOEBUS APOLLO (APOLLO): GOD OF LIGHT AND HEALING

Sequel book that redeemed its series

Redeemed its series is taking it a bit far, because the whole Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King was really good, but I think I ended up with a greater appreciation of the characters and the team once I’d reached the end of End of Watch, which was so good it made me want to go right back to the beginning of Mr. Mercedes and start the trilogy all over again.

HERMES (MERCURY): MESSENGER GOD OF THIEVES AND COMMERCE

Book with the best message

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith usually delivers some wisdom in a very readable way. I really must start reading Precious and Grace soon.

HESTIA (VESTA): GODDESS OF THE HEARTH AND HOME

Book with the most relatable story

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. The characters in that story seemed so real, especially Cath.

DEMETER (CERES): GODDESS OF FERTILITY AND AGRICULTURE

Favorite bookish setting

Le Cirque des Rêves from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were a real place?

DIONYSUS (BACCHUS): GOD OF WINE AND CELEBRATION

2016 release you are most anticipating

As the year is almost over I’m going to do this looking back on the books I was eagerly awaiting…

Fellside by M. R. Carey. I loved The Girl with all the Gifts and wanted to see what the author wrote next.
The other two books I must mention are The Fireman by Joe Hill and End of Watch by Stephen King. I added both of those to my TBR list months before they were published.


I enjoyed writing that tag.  As always, if you’ve made it to the end of this post and haven’t already done this tag, feel free to join in.

Book Review: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Name: The Essex Serpent
Author:
Sarah Perry
Number of Pages:
416 (Hardback)
Published:
27th May 2016 by Serpent’s Tail
Genre: Historical

Goodreads

Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890’s, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way.
They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist is enthralled, convinced the beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his parishioners’ agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart.
Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

5diamonds

My Thoughts:

What a wonderfully woven tale The Essex Serpent is.

Cora Seaborne takes to life after widowhood with surprising ease, but then her husband Michael doesn’t exactly seem a nice character. Whilst not delving into great depths there’s enough to make you feel that he’s no great loss to his wife, who can find her way in the world perfectly well on her own, or with the support of her companion Martha and some close friends. Cora seems truly in her element wandering the countryside in mens clothing, always in search of something new and interesting.

Cora is fascinated by the natural world, especially fossils and the discoveries of Mary Anning. When she hears tell of the Essex Serpent, some kind of monster from the deep set on making Aldwinter it’s hunting ground, she is fascinated, determined to find a new species not yet recorded and make her name.
And so Cora goes to Aldwinter with he young son Francis and friend Martha and gains an introduction to the local vicar and his family by way of mutual friends.

The Reverend William Ransome is not one to indulge the rumours, scare-mongering and collective fear raised in the village by talk of the ‘Trouble’ as he calls it, and would be glad for day to day life to settle down and the serpent to be forgotten.

Initially you would think there would be little to encourage friendship between this man of faith and the woman of science in Cora, yet the two strike up an intriguing friendship which I found a joy to read.
From their very first unanticipated meeting (I loved this scene) I couldn’t wait to see the situation develop between them. They clash almost constantly, their viewpoints so opposed so often, yet they can speak openly to each other.
Will and Cora are drawn to each other in a way even they probably don’t understand at first. They part and miss each other, yet know on the surface there should be nothing between them for they are so different. Is it friendship? Is it love? Maybe it’s both. It’s great to read.

There are gothic and almost supernatural elements to the story, in that fear and paranoia over the supposed sea serpent seems to overtake rational thought, leading to all manner of odd behaviour among the locals, including the school children.
Every animal that meets an unfortunate end of course becomes the work of the serpent, and even a death or two among the local populace adds fuel to the fire of this legend/rumour/superstition, until the whole place is convinced there is something lurking out on the estuary just waiting to drag some unsuspecting person out into the depths.

There are also more everyday and real world themes, as shown through some of the other characters.

Luke Garrett is a doctor who attended Michael Seaborne in his final illness, and has since fallen in love with Cora, although she sees him as a friend and fondly names him the Imp. His ambition and drive to perform complex medical procedures such as heart surgery make him a man beyond his time, and he comes up against resistance from those who don’t believe it can be done.

Martha becomes interested in social change, and the living conditions of the poor, wanting to make a difference to those who live in the poorest areas through little fault of their own. Her quest throws her into the path of Edward Burton, and the two becomes friends, an association which may lead to tragic consequences for one acquaintance.

Stella Ransome is Will’s wife. I loved the way the friendships and relationships developed between Cora, Martha and Francis and the Ransome family.

The Essex Serpent is wonderfully written, from the landscape and the changing of the seasons, or the possible sighting of a ghostly ship out on the water, to the ruined house in Colchester where a man spins tales of an earthquake and the ominous Essex Serpent. Aldwinter is at times warm and inviting, at others eerie and ominous as the fogs draws in off of the water and envelops the community.

This is the first book by Sarah Perry that I’ve read, but I’ll certainly read more by this author.

Top Ten Tuesday – Recent TBR List Additions

toptentuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week they provide a prompt and other lovers of listmaking join in with their own top ten list.  Click on the link for more info and to find out about future topics.

This weeks theme is:   Books I’ve Added to my TBR List Lately


 The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking – This is a lovely, eye-catching little book which looks like it might be interesting, especially at this time of year.

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford – This historical fiction came with the most enthusiastic recommendation from a bookseller that I’ve ever had. She literally couldn’t say enough about the story, the characters, the writing. It left me with high expectations, so let’s see whether the book lives up to them…

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon – I’m finally back into Outlander again and am reading the first book at the moment. I’m really enjoying it, despite having had a reading break, so I’m definitely going to carry on with the next one. I’ve already seen the tv series, so have an idea what the story will be about, but I love reading the books too.

Feedback by Mira Grant – I saw this one in the library and picked it up on impulse (because I cannot resist brand new library books). I haven’t actually read Feed yet (!!) so I’m not sure whether I’ll get around to reading this, or whether I’ll start at the very beginning. Either way, Mira Grant definitely makes my list this week.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – The underground railroad in this story is an actual real railway system, and Cora and Caesar use it to escape from slavery on a plantation.

The Trees by Ail Shaw – The first thing that caught my eye was the striking cover. The story features a world that becomes engulfed by a forest overnight. Sounds like it might be good.

Christmas Under the Stars by Karen Swan – I usually like to check out the latest from Karen Swan at this time of year.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery – I don’t know why but I’ve never read any of these stories and I think they’ll be a nice change from my usual reading.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber – I know this on isn’t out until early next year, but what I’ve seen around online about the story sounds fascinating. Magic, mystery and adventure? Count me in!


I can’t wait to get started reading some of these books.  Have you read any of the books on my list?  What have you added to your TBR lately?

The Fall Activities Book Tag

I was tagged by Kat of Life and Other Disasters to do the Fall Activites Book Tag (originally created by Dreaming Through Literature).  Thanks for tagging me.  I love Fall, so I’m putting this tag to the top of my list so I can get it finished during my favourite season while it’s kinda on-topic.

APPLE PICKING

A book on your TBR that looks so delicious you can’t wait to take a bite out of it

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking – This is a lovely looking book, and very different from the kind of thing I would usually pick up to read. Definitely one I want to pick up now the Autumn nights are drawing in.

CORN MAZE

A book that’s so much fun to get lost in

Mount! By Jilly Cooper is my latest read and is proving to be a lovely distraction. The animals are just as great characters as the humans, and the lifestyle of Rupert Campbell-Black and co is just really great escapism.

HAUNTED HOUSES

A book that scared you silly

The Shining by Stephen King. I thought I was doing so well with this one, thinking ‘it’s not actually that scary’, then Danny went into room 217, and the least said about that the better.

PUMPKIN PATCH

The latest book you picked up (purchased)

It’s been so long that I can’t remember! I have a TBR pile of around 20 or so library books sitting waiting for me, so I daren’t buy anything new. I guess my last book purchase may have been the final Dark Tower book by Stephen King.

SCENIC DRIVES

A book that is lyrically beautiful

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I love her writing style, it’s totally engrossing.

PUMPKIN CARVING

A book you didn’t like and wouldn’t mind carving up

I’ve been sitting here for a while now trying to think of a book for this category, but nothing’s coming to mind. I can’t even recall the last book I just gave up on because I wasn’t enjoying it. Hhmm…..

DRINKING APPLE CIDER

A sweet book to curl up under the covers with

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. I only realised recently I’ve never actually read these books, so decided I’d give the first one a try, and I have a feeling it’s going to be a really nice read.

JUMPING IN A LEAF PILE

A book that reminds you of your childhood

I used to be a big fan of Enid Blyton, so any of her Famous Five or Secret Seven books.

SCARY MOVIE NIGHT

Your favorite spooky read

IT by Stephen King. There are so many memorable scary moments in that book. I really want to read it again sometime, but it’s such a long book and my TBR pile is so huge at the moment.

BONUS! COSTUME PARTY

A book with an eclectic cast of characters

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. It’s such a vast series and there are so many brilliantly written characters, form the heroes to the villains and all those who lie somewhere between the two.


I really enjoyed writing this tag.
As always, if you’ve seen this post and you haven’t already had a go at the tag, feel free to consider yourself tagged.
Until next time…