Booking Ahead: April 2021

Booking Ahead is an opportunity to 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 monthly wander through the endless pile/list of books is upon us again as I select a few potential reads for April. Bring on the books…

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3) by Stephen King – I have a feeling that my Dark Tower reread will be continuing this month as I can’t seem to put those books down at the moment.
I’ve seen various suggestions for other King books connected to the Tower, and as if several thousand pages of Tower wasn’t enough, I’m actually considering adding a few of the connected novels in too.

That said, there is at least one other book I would like to mention here too…

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I’m reading this at the moment and it’s very good. I picked it after enjoying Mexican Gothic so much.

So, there are a couple of the books that may feature in my reading this month. There’s also the chance that something completely unexpected will catch my eye…


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.

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Monthly Summary: March 2021

Welcome to another Monthly Summary on Pages and Tea.

Hello, and welcome. What a quiet month March has been for my blog. I haven’t done much blogging at all, but I have managed to fit in a fair amount of reading…

It started out with a new mystery series, the Joe Pickett series by C. J. Box. A new-to-me author and quite a large series so far to go at if I enjoyed this first book. I did, and I’d probably be tempted to pick up the next book in the series at some point. The central character is a game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, and the setting for the story was absolutely beautiful. Likeable characters and a bit of a mystery made this a good read.

From that point on it’s been all about The Dark Tower. I decided I would reread the series, something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, and last month I finally began with The Gunslinger. March saw me pick up The Drawing of the Three and that proved just as good second time around, so I doubt it will be long before I’m grabbing the next book in the series.

I think that’s about all for now, so here’s a very short summary of March on Pages and Tea…

Book Reviews

Gunslinger

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

Featured Posts

Booking Ahead

March 2021

Reading Review

Reading Resolutions 2021

March Progress

Beat the Backlist Challenge Progress

Reading Review: March 2021

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

OpenSeason DrawingoftheThree

Open Season (Joe Pickett #1) by C. J. Box

The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) by Stephen King

Total Library Books Read This Month: 0
Total Own Books Read This Month: 2
Overall Total Books Read This Month: 2

Total Library Books Read 2021: 0
Total Own Books Read 2021: 6
Overall Total Books Read 2021: 6

MY READ OF THE MONTH

DrawingoftheThree

The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King. I couldn’t wait to get back to the world and the characters and continue with my series reread and I enjoyed reading this just as much the second time around. I don’t think it will be long before I start The Waste Lands.

BEAT THE BACKLIST

My total for this challenge is currently 5 books.   So far I’ve read:

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King
Open Season (Joe Pickett #1) by C. J. Box
The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) by Stephen King

Beat the Backlist Bingo is making another appearance this year. I have no idea how many categories I’ll manage to complete but it’s a little extra to add to my challenge.

OpenSeason

Standalone – The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

A book with illustrations – NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – There is an illustration of the Christmasland advert that first attracts Bing Partridge’s attention, and it also has Vic’s various bikes and Manx’s Wraith between paragraphs. I could also have used this for the ‘map’ prompt as there’s the United Inscapes of America map as well.

Kept you up late reading (definitely not a book you can easily put down) – The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

Genre you never/rarely read (there has to be at least one genre you don’t usually pick up) – Open Season (Joe Pickett #1) by C. J. Box

From the 52 Prompts List…

You can find the complete prompts list here.

OpenSeason       DrawingoftheThree

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – Standalone

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – A book with illustrations

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King – Kept you up late reading

Open Season (Joe Pickett #1) by C. J. Box – Genre you never/rarely read

The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) by Stephen King – Author has a book releasing in 2021

GOODREADS

I’ve read 6 books so far this year.

GOALS

  • My Dark Tower reread continues. I don’t think it will be long before I start The Waste Lands.
  • Discovered a new-to-me author when I read the first book in the Joe Pickett series.
  • My Beat the Backlist challenge continues and both of my reads this month have counted towards the challenge.
  • I’m continuing my monthly update posts to record my reading and any challenge progress.

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

Book Review: The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

Name:  The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)
Author:  
Stephen King
Number of Pages:  
340 (ebook)
Published:  
11th March 2010 by Hodder (first published 1982)
Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads

In THE GUNSLINGER, Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey into good and evil, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own. In his first step towards the powerful and mysterious Dark Tower, Roland encounters an alluring woman named Alice, begins a friendship with Jake, a kid from New York, and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black. Both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike, THE GUNSLINGER leaves readers eagerly awaiting the next chapter. And the Tower is closer…

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
So begins the epic tale of gunslinger Roland Deschain and his quest for the Dark Tower. I’ve decided to reread the books, see how much I remember from the first time and to see what else I discover this time.

It’s an intriguing beginning. Why is Roland so determined to follow? Who is the man in black anyway and what is he to Roland? Some of this will be revealed throughout the duration of the story.
It begins as a traditional Western type tale, as one pursues the other and they pass through the town of Tull. Although their paths never cross directly, between them they manage to wreak havoc of various kinds and leave destruction in their wake, and still the pursuit relentlessly continues.

The story draws you in, as Roland travels across the desolate and barren desert and up into the mountains, often reflecting on his past – hints of a completely different life lived in castles and a walled city, of courtly intrigue, schemes and plots, of friends and loves lost along the way. Of a young boy on the path to becoming a gunslinger but forced to challenge his teacher in order to become a man as various threats to his family and home become apparent. I loved these glimpses into the life that Roland left behind.

The Gunslinger introduces this strange world, a mix of the Old West but with hints of our own world and a time that has possibly been and gone. As Roland often reflects, ‘the world has moved on’. It’s similar to our world, with some familiar features, such as songs, ‘Hey Jude’ is mentioned more than once, but it’s also quite different, a world of magic and mutants, and a place that I’m looking forward to spending more reading time in (again).

On his travels Roland meets a young boy, Jake.  Jake is not from Roland’s world, and doesn’t quite remember how he came to be at the abandoned way station where he encounters the gunslinger. It becomes clear as the two journey on together that Jake may be important in Roland’s relentlessly determined quest to find the man in black. This eventually throws up an interesting dilemma for Roland, What will he do, if a choice has to be made between a newfound friend and a long-time adversary?

The Gunslinger packs a lot into quite a short novel, and serves as a good introduction to Roland and his quest for the Dark Tower. To end, another quote, ‘go then, there are other worlds than these’, something that Roland is about to find out as his epic quest continues.

 

Booking Ahead: March 2021

Booking Ahead is an opportunity to 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 TBR pile, where you find me wondering what I should read next. I’m not too sure what I’m in the mood for at the moment, but there are at least a couple of books I’m definitely hoping to read over the coming month…

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Last year I had the pleasure of reading my first novel by this author, Mexican Gothic. I enjoyed it so much that I knew I would have to pick up at least one of her backlist titles and Gods of Jade and Shadow caught my eye with it’s lovely cover. I’ve already started reading and so far I think I’m going to enjoy it just as much as Mexican Gothic. It’s very different to that story, following Casiopea, a young woman who accidentally frees the Lord of Xibalba and ends up having to go adventuring with him as their fates become entwined. Can’t wait to read more of this.

The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) by Stephen King – I’ve started my Dark Tower reread and don’t want to wait too long between volumes, so I might pick up book 2 this month. I think I might enjoy another Western/Weird West tale. From what I remember this one features more modern time periods too as Roland draws his ka-tet together for the first time.
From memory The Drawing of the Three is a longer read than The Gunslinger, so I’m not sure I’ll manage to fit in anything else over the month but you never know.


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: February 2021

Welcome to another Monthly Summary on Pages and Tea.

February has been a quiet month on the blog, but it has included some very good books…

I finally picked up NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. I’ve enjoyed previous reads by Hill and have had a copy for this for so long but never picked it up until now. What a mistake. I loved the tale of good and evil played out between Vic McQueen and Charlie Manx, two characters who couldn’t be more different but who both have unique talents and that allow them to enter inscapes, worlds of imagination. Vic can find lost things via a magical covered bridge, while Manx has created his own playground in the form of Christmasland.

I’ve mentioned many times before that I’d like to reread The Dark Tower series by Stephen King and this month I found myself in the mood for a Western, or more specifically, a Weird West type tale, and so I finally decided the time had arrived to begin this much-spoken-of reread and picked up my copy of The Gunslinger, the first book in the series. It’s going to be an ongoing read, and one there’s no real plan for. I’ll just dip back in whenever the mood takes me. Can’t wait to discover new things and see what I missed first time around. I rarely reread because there are so many books that I can’t wait to start, so this is a new experience for me.

Next, a police procedural, more new territory as I don’t visit this genre at all usually but I fancied something a bit different. An Eye for an Eye is the first book featuring DI Kate Young, faced with a potential serial killer whilst dealing with traumatic events in her own past.

And last but not least, I’ve started reading Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. No doubt I’ll be mentioning this one again but for now I’ve only just started reading. I think it’s going to be a good one.

So, a varied month of reading, and somehow time has flown by and I haven’t had chance to post my reviews for a couple of this month’s reads, but I did write about The Ten Thousand Doors of January, a book I very much enjoyed last month, and also participated in a cover-centric edition of Top Ten Tuesday based around the colours of Mardi Gras.

Here’s a summary of February on Pages and Tea…

Book Reviews

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Featured Posts

Booking Ahead

February 2021

Top Ten Tuesday

The Colours of Mardi Gras

Reading Review

Reading Resolutions 2021

February Progress

Beat the Backlist Challenge Progress

Reading Review: February 2021

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

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

An Eye for an Eye (DI Kate Young #1) by Carol Wyer

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

Total Library Books Read 2021: 0
Total Own Books Read 2021: 4
Overall Total Books Read 2021: 4

MY READ OF THE MONTH

It’s very close, having to choose between NOS4A2 and The Gunslinger, but I’m going for NOS4A2. The conflict between Vic McQueen and Charlie Manx, the creepy Christmasland, the whole idea of the inscapes, all of this made NOS4A2 a great read.

BEAT THE BACKLIST

My total for this challenge is currently 3 books.   So far I’ve read:

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

Beat the Backlist Bingo is making another appearance this year. I have no idea how many categories I’ll manage to complete but it’s a little extra to add to my challenge.

Standalone – The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

A book with illustrations – NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – There is an illustration of the Christmasland advert that first attracts Bing Partridge’s attention, and it also has Vic’s various bikes and Manx’s Wraith between paragraphs. I could also have used this for the ‘map’ prompt as there’s the United Inscapes of America map as well.

Kept you up late reading (definitely not a book you can easily put down) – The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

From the 52 Prompts List…

You can find the complete prompts list here.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – Standalone

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – A book with illustrations

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King – Kept you up late reading

GOODREADS

I’ve read 4 books so far this year.

GOALS

  • I’ve read a book that I’ve owned for absolutely ages in NOS4A2 by Joe Hill and can’t believe that I waited so long to finally pick it up.
  • I went for a bit of mood reading in picking up the first of the Dark Tower books, The Gunslinger by Stephen King. I’ve talked for a while about wanting to reread this series and I was in the mood for something a little Weird West-ish so thought I’d begin.
  • My Beat the Backlist challenge continues and both of the books mentioned above count towards this challenge and I‘ve managed to find bingo categories for them too.
  • I’m continuing my monthly update posts to record my reading and any challenge progress.

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

Book Review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Name: NOS4A2
Author:
Joe Hill
Number of Pages:
995 (ebook)
Published:
First published April 30th 2013 by William Morrow
Genre:  Horror, Thriller

Goodreads

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.
Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”
Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

NOS4A2 is a tale of two people, massively different in every possible way, yet destined for a collision course due to their unique abilities.
There are different worlds, the regular world, and the world of inscapes, the world of the imagination. Not everyone can access these worlds, and they’re different for everyone.
For Vic McQueen, she has the unique ability to find lost things via a covered bridge that appears only for her, so she can go where she needs to.
For Charlie Manx, he has Christmasland, more on that soon.
There are apparently others with talents too, and they’re all harnessed through different things.
Vic‘s ability first comes to light when, as a young child out riding her bike and thinking about her mother’s lost bracelet, she rides across the Shorter Way bridge and emerges in a completely different location. Later on, her childhood bicycle is replaced by a motorbike.
Manx owns a classic Rolls-Royce Wraith, which not only allows him to access Christmasland, but drains all the goodness out of its passengers as fuel for the journey. Manx long ago left anything good in himself behind, and so he needs passengers. As they are drained, Manx seems to take on some of their vitality, becoming younger as time goes on.

NOS4A2 starts out with a spooky, eerie air, but also adventure as the young Vic discovers her power for finding lost things, and the story picks up pace as years go by and Manx threatens Vic’s family, deciding that a fair exchange for her telling tales about him and getting him incarcerated, robbing him of his family (his own daughters are in Christmasland, and they’re happy to see him when he returns), is to repay her in similar fashion by taking Vic’s son from her and introducing Wayne to the Christmasland kids.

It’s immersive and detailed with great world building, particularly with Vic’s magical covered bridge, right down to the bats that reside in the roof space and the way the bridge degrades over time. There’s also the playground of Charlie Manx, Christmasland, with it’s reindeer-go-round, enormous Christmas tree festooned with unique decorations and the Sleighcoaster. Christmasland where every day is Christmas and party games include Scissors for the Drifter and Bite the Smallest. Warm and cosy it is not, but the residents seem to enjoy the place.

On to the characters surrounding our two leads. First, the good…

Lou Carmody is wonderful. When Vic stumbles into him whilst fleeing for her life he accepts it without question, hauling her onto his motorbike and riding away from danger. He’s heroic but in a quiet way. Lou is steady, dependable, trying his best to be a good father to Wayne, and to support Vic through her trials, and they are many. His faith in her, even when what she’s saying seems impossible or incredible, is unwavering.

Maggie Leigh, friend and fellow person with unique skills (courtesy of a unique set of Scrabble tiles) is the Here, Iowa librarian who Vic meets in her earliest travels across the bridge and who returns when it’s apparent that Manx may not be gone after all. She’s a tragic character who seems to have a lot of hardship and hurt in the years between her first and second encounters with Vic, and I would have enjoyed more glimpses into the years that separated their encounters.

And now for the bad…

Bing Partridge is a disturbed individual long before he becomes enthralled with Charlie Manx and Christmasland, and this only gets worse with the promise of Christmasland dangled before him by Manx. If he just does the things that Manx asks, then he’ll be able to visit this land of magic and wonder, so he thinks. He is truly monstrous with his basement of horrors, and has no redeeming features at all. For all that Manx is a bad ‘un, and he really is, Bing is skin-crawling.

As a reader of Stephen King I enjoyed the nods to other works including the Dark Tower series and IT. As if Manx wasn’t scary enough, the idea that he possibly knows of Pennywise or The True Knot from Doctor Sleep… I’ll leave that thought there.

I’ve enjoyed a number of books by Joe Hill now and NOS4A2 is another one to add to the list. It’s a book that languished on my TBR list for far too long.  I wish I hadn’t waited because what a book it is. For a pretty long book it never felt too drawn out.   Time spent with these characters made me root for Vic, for her desperate attempt to save the life of her son, and to hope that she triumphed over the threats against her family.  I can’t say more about whether she does win through in the end, you’ll just have to pick up the book to find out.

Top Ten Tuesday: The Colours of Mardi Gras

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 week’s theme is:  Purple, Yellow, and Green Book Covers (Mardi Gras!)


Top Ten Tuesday this week is an opportunity to gaze at some lovely colours themed around the colours purple, yellow, and green. I always enjoy a cover edition so as usual I may have gone a little (or a lot) beyond ten books. I’ve linked each of the covers to their reviews in case anything catches your attention. On to the books…

 

      


What did you write about this week?
See you again next time for another Top Ten Tuesday.

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Name: The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Author:
Alix E. Harrow
Number of Pages:
385 (ebook)
Published:
September 10th 2019 by Redhook
Genre:  Fantasy

Goodreads

In the early 1900s, a young woman searches for her place in the world after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

From the earliest moments of this book, as January narrates her initial discovery of Doors and the worlds beyond them, and her love of books and stories, I had a feeling I was on to something special.
I was pulled in right away. When the mystery developed further as January’s father disappeared and it became apparent that someone or something was also interested in Doors, and more specifically closing them, cutting off access to all these magical places, I could hardly tear myself away and had to read on.

As January herself notes, it starts with a Door, but it also starts with a book, the mysterious Ten Thousand Doors, a volume that almost magically appears in January’s life from some unknown source and paints a vivid, consuming tale of other worlds, mysterious Doors, and two people who literally crossed worlds for true love. It’s a real slow burning tale for the spirited Adelaide Lee Larson and scholarly Yule Ian, and January takes every opportunity to escape into their tale when her own real life situation becomes increasingly difficult, little realising at first just how important their story will be.

The writing is something to savour. I found myself going back to reread passages at times, just for the way something was expressed with such imagination, or for the imagery created. It gave me slight Starless Sea vibes at times, another book I really enjoyed. From the stifling atmosphere of the vast museum-like Locke House on the shores of the lake to the confines of Brattleboro and out into the vivid and varied worlds that can be found beyond the Doors, including the world of the Written, the home of Yule Ian, all these places were so vivid and provided some great settings.

Now to talk of the characters. January is the heart of the story of course, and she’s an interesting character, setting out to find her family and somewhere to belong having had such a unique upbringing with Mr. Locke as her guardian and fleeting visits from her own father, whom she always hoped would return one day to announce that she could go travelling with him.
The characters surrounding January all add something to this tale, be it for better or worse.
One of my favourites was Jane, a woman who initially arrives in January’s life when she is employed by January’s father to act as a companion, but there’s far more to Jane, and her history and personal interest in the Doors was one of the highlights of this story. I wish Jane had her own book of stories.
And there’s a dog called Bad, who is far from that. As animal companions go, Bad is very good.
The villains of the piece are provided for the most part by various members of the mysterious Society. Havemeyer starts out as a vaguely creepy gentleman before becoming something altogether more nightmarish, and there are others of his ilk who are interested in the Doors and the worlds to which they lead.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a tale of magic and imagination, stories and books and the power of words. It’s all about friendship, family, finding somewhere to belong, and the lengths people will go to find each other when the odds are stacked against them. I loved the time I spent reading this, and am already looking forward to reading The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. I can’t wait to see if it’s as good as Ten Thousand Doors. What a start to a new year of reading!