Reading Review: September 2020

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

           

Pines (Wayward Pines #1) by Blake Crouch

Wayward (Wayward Pines #2) by Blake Crouch

The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3) by Blake Crouch

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

Total Library Books Read This Month: 2
Total Own Books Read This Month: 2
Overall Total Books Read This Month: 4

Total Library Books Read 2020: 16
Total Own Books Read 2020: 5
Overall Total Books Read 2020: 21

MY READ OF THE MONTH

I could say the whole Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch but I’ll go for the first book, Pines. There’s so much mystery and so many questions that it’s a great start to an enjoyable trilogy.

BEAT THE BACKLIST

My total for this challenge is currently 18 books read.   So far I’ve read:

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
The Six by Luca Veste
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Poirot #20) by Agatha Christie
Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi
The Poison Song (The Winnowing Flame #3) by Jen Williams
The Colour of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett
Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker
The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg
A Different Kind of Evil (Agatha Christie #2) by Andrew Wilson
Darkness There: Selected Tales by Edgar Allan Poe
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill
The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger
The Light Fantastic (Discworld #2) by Terry Pratchett
Pines (Wayward Pines #1) by Blake Crouch
Wayward (Wayward Pines #2) by Blake Crouch
The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3) by Blake Crouch
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

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.

           

              

               

              

Borrowed it for the cover – The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I wanted to read this from the moment I first heard about it, but I’m using it for this category because I never got tired of looking at the cover. I also think this may be a contender for the category of a top 10 read of the year.

Released in the 2010’s – The Six by Luca Veste

Written before 2010 – Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Poirot #20) by Agatha Christie

Wish you had read it sooner – Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

Book you never finished before – The Colour of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett

One word title – Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker

Genre you never/rarely read – The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Book with less than 200 pages – Darkness There: Selected Tales by Edgar Allan Poe

Book with 600+ pages – Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Cover redesign is better – A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill

New to you author – The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger

Shocking plot twist – Pines (Wayward Pines #1) by Blake Crouch

Owned for over 2 years – Wayward (Wayward Pines #2) by Blake Crouch

GOODREADS

I’ve read 21 books so far this year.

GOALS

  • I’m doing better with reading books I already own at the moment as I read two this month.
  • Discovered a new-to-me author in Blake Crouch and as I enjoyed the Wayward Pines trilogy so much I’m interested in checking out more of his books in the future.
  • I made more Beat the Backlist progress this month as all four of the books I read counted towards the challenge. My total stands at 18 and I’m hoping I might be able to manage 20 before the end of the challenge.
  • The Readers Imbibing Peril read-a-thon is ongoing throughout September and October so I’m participating in that.
  • I’m continuing my monthly update posts to record my reading and any challenge progress I’ve made.

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

Book Review: Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

Name: Wakenhyrst
Author:  
Michelle Paver
Number of Pages:
368 (ebook)
Published:
April 4th 2019 by Head of Zeus
Genre:  Historical, Gothic

Goodreads

“Something has been let loose…”
In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father.
When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened.
Maud’s battle has begun. She must survive a world haunted by witchcraft, the age-old legends of her beloved fen – and the even more nightmarish demons of her father’s past.
Spanning five centuries, Wakenhyrst is a darkly gothic thriller about murderous obsession and one girl’s longing to fly free by the bestselling author of Dark Matter and Thin Air. Wakenhyrst is an outstanding new piece of story-telling, a tale of mystery and imagination laced with terror. It is a masterwork in the modern gothic tradition that ranges from Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker to Neil Gaiman and Sarah Perry.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Wakenhyrst is an Edwardian era gothic tale of mystery, folklore, secrets, tragedy and a young woman growing up amidst all this.
It starts out setting the scene wonderfully through an article and some letters; they’re mysterious and full of the horrors that occurred when the troubled Dr Stearne ran from his house and committed murder, a crime that saw him imprisoned for the rest of his life, during which time he dedicated himself to creating a series of surreal paintings. The eerie isolated house, the fens that surround it, the scary paintings, the connection to another painting from years gone by, all this made me want to read on.

The narrative goes back many years and settles into the story of Maud, who grows up witnessing her mother’s repetitive cycle of pregnancy, miscarriage and stillbirth, which eventually results in tragedy.
Maud becomes enchanted with a rescued magpie, Chatterpie, who becomes almost like a friend to her for a time.
On her wanderings Maud encounters Jubal Rede, who apparently  lives out in the fens and may know something about her father’s past, and she becomes friendly with the young under-gardener, Clem Walker.
Alongside these everyday events and at the centre of Wake’s End is Edmund Stearne, Maud’s father, who becomes increasingly preoccupied with interpreting The Book of Alice Pyett, whilst becoming ever more disturbed by the house and the grounds and whatever may be lurking outside.

I love the atmosphere of the book – the house, which almost becomes a character itself, shrouded in ivy and surrounded by the countryside, the wilderness, the wildness and the suggestion that there may be something out there in the wilds of the fens. The superstitions of the locals contrast with the firm beliefs of Maud’s father, whilst Maud herself loves the natural surroundings and the tales of local folklore.

Maud is clever and curious and forced to see certain truths after finding and reading her father’s notebook, which holds many revelations and the key to the tragic events that transpire. The use of the notebook is a direct view into the thoughts of Edmund Stearne, although Maud’s secret and continual reading of these private, blunt writings is sometimes awkward and you can see why it fuels her hate and hurt. She goes from wanting to help her father in his work, believing that he values her company and thoughts, to finding out that his opinions on women in general and Maud in particular are far from what she imagined. Worse still, when she attempts to use the notebook to gain help as things start to take a dangerous turn, it ends in failure.

Wakenhyrst has mystery, drama, tragedy, an element of eeriness, a great central character in Maud, and a range of interesting supporting characters. I enjoyed discovering the tale of Wake’s End and all that happened there so many years ago. An ideal read for a dark autumn night for anyone who enjoys the gothic or historical in their reading.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall 2020 TBR List

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:  Books on my Fall 2020 TBR List


Time to talk TBR lists which is always something I enjoy as there are so many books I want to read. I can’t guarantee I’ll be sticking to ten books this week but let’s see. I’m going to divide the topic into two sections this week because…

Readers Imbibing Peril has been happening through September and runs all through next month too. I set out some potential reads in my intro post, but have decided on a couple of other options since, so, for the rest of the challenge and therefore earning places on my Autumn TBR list are…

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

Endless Night or Halloween Party by Agatha Christie

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Christine or Misery by Stephen King

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

The Hill and King books are both pretty long so whether I’ll manage to read all of the above I don’t know.

Other books I am hoping to read over autumn include…

Dark Matter or Recursion by Blake Crouch – I enjoyed the Wayward Pines trilogy and so would like to check out other works by this author.

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne

The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier


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

Book Review: The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3) by Blake Crouch

Name: The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3)
Author:  
Blake Crouch
Number of Pages:
294 (ebook)
Published:
July 15th 2014 by Thomas & Mercer
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

Welcome to Wayward Pines, the last town.
Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrived in Wayward Pines, Idaho, three weeks ago. In this town, people are told who to marry, where to live, where to work. Their children are taught that David Pilcher, the town’s creator, is god. No one is allowed to leave; even asking questions can get you killed.
But Ethan has discovered the astonishing secret of what lies beyond the electrified fence that surrounds Wayward Pines and protects it from the terrifying world beyond. It is a secret that has the entire population completely under the control of a madman and his army of followers, a secret that is about to come storming through the fence to wipe out this last, fragile remnant of humanity.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

The Last Town is the third and final instalment of the Wayward Pines trilogy. As such, this review contains spoilers for things that have gone before, and what a lot went before!…

 

In the aftermath of the fête and it’s unanticipated revelations David Pilcher apparently reached a new level of cruelty and did some pretty bad things, knowing what was beyond the fence and what would happen. A tense way to end, and a guarantee that I would move swiftly onto book 3.

And so we witness the inevitable carnage and chaos that comes from that decision as the viewpoint switches between the main characters we’ve come to know over the last two books and various people and families who’ve been living in Wayward Pines with no clue about the danger only to meet a grim and gory end.
It’s action from the outset and the pace rarely lets up as residents flee for their lives despite the odds being so stacked against them.
Ethan and Kate do have a plan to try and save as many people as possible, and Ethan also decides to go after Pilcher, the man behind the chaos.

I found this final volume hard to put down, from the non-stop action to the constant wondering how on earth it could all possibly end and whether anyone at all would actually survive. There are no disappointments on the surprises front as even in the latter stages, just when it looks like things might start to calm down, yet more strife and seemingly impossible dilemmas to tackle arise. Right up until the closing stages I had no idea how this whole saga would conclude.

I’ve really enjoyed my first Blake Crouch novels and without giving anything away I wish there was more in this series. Fast-paced, full of action, many twists and turns along the way, I read the whole trilogy really quickly because I couldn’t wait to get back to the story.

Top Ten Tuesday: Cover Freebie

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:  Cover Freebie


Time for another Top Ten Tuesday! My first thought when I saw this prompt was to go with autumn-themed colours, but then I saw that’s coming up as a topic in a few weeks time, so this week I’ve decided to go in complete contrast to the vibrant colours of autumn and feature covers that are mainly dark coloured. I’ve linked the covers to my reviews in case anything catches your attention.

           

           

           

           


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

Book Review: Wayward (Wayward Pines #2) by Blake Crouch

Name: Wayward (Wayward Pines #2)
Author:  
Blake Crouch
Number of Pages:
311 (ebook)
Published:
September 17th 2013 by Thomas & Mercer
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

Welcome to Wayward Pines, population 461. Nestled amid picture-perfect mountains, the idyllic town is a modern-day Eden…except for the electrified fence and razor wire, snipers scoping everything 24/7, and the relentless surveillance tracking each word and gesture.
None of the residents know how they got here. They are told where to work, how to live, and who to marry. Some believe they are dead. Others think they’re trapped in an unfathomable experiment. Everyone secretly dreams of leaving, but those who dare face a terrifying surprise.
Ethan Burke has seen the world beyond. He’s sheriff, and one of the few who knows the truth—Wayward Pines isn’t just a town. And what lies on the other side of the fence is a nightmare beyond anyone’s imagining.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Wayward is the second book in the Wayward Pines trilogy and as such it’s really hard to talk about this next episode without spoilers for the first book. If you just happened upon this post haven’t read Pines I probably wouldn’t read any further, just in case. I don’t want to ruin the surprises from the first book.

I had so many questions upon finishing Pines. So, this is the truth, this is what Wayward Pines is hiding, but what next? If that really is it, then what for the people of Pines, those there and those still to come? What happens if the secret is known, and how do the people deal with that? I was fascinated to find out what lay in store for Ethan, now serving as sheriff and apparent agent for Pilcher.
The observed becomes the observer, but only in part, because all of the revelations so far do not sit at all well with Ethan. Knowing what’s going on, the lengths of surveillance and control those at the top have, and having go back into town and live a life pretending that he doesn’t, and that all is well, puts Ethan in a unique position.

It was interesting to watch further events in Wayward Pines unfold. The unnerving atmosphere and sense of dead pervades as newly introduced residents try to come to terms with their new home, which evokes every response including trying to escape.
There’s an ominous air as Pilcher and his team strive to keep control and various residents have their own secrets and plans, yet there are also moments of hope and nostalgia in this grim and unsettling reality. A murder investigation takes up Ethan’s time and throws him into the path of a face from his past, all while he tries to keep himself and his family safe from dangers on both sides of the fence.

The threat from outside remains as fierce as ever, as witnessed by new character Tobias.
Threats, secrecy, general unease from all sides and ever increasing suspicion drives Wayward on to an ending that saw me reach for the concluding volume of the trilogy right away. Can’t say more for now, I have to know how all this is going to turn out in the end.
What an intense, exciting and frightening ride it’s turning into. I can’t remember the last time I read books at this rate. Onward to The Last Town.

Book Review: Pines (Wayward Pines #1) by Blake Crouch

Name: Pines (Wayward Pines #1)
Author:  
Blake Crouch
Number of Pages:
309 (Kindle)
Published:
August 21st 2012 by Thomas & Mercer
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels?off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact? He may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. Intense and gripping, Pines is another masterful thriller from the mind of bestselling novelist Blake Crouch.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Welcome to Wayward Pines. Tranquil, peaceful, idyllic, a town of picturesque houses surrounded by woods and mountains and just very, very… wrong.
There’s definitely something afoot in this too good to be true setting, just follow the adventure of Ethan Burke and you’ll see what I mean.
Ethan wakes up in Wayward Pines, no recollection of how or why he is there, or even who he is at first.
After various strange events featuring trips to hospital, a bartender who vanishes without trace, and discovering that the outward perfection is a facade, Ethan recalls his life, his family, and his purpose in coming to Wayward Pines.
And then he tries to leave, to contact his family, to take the road out of town in a hot-wired car and get back to normality before he starts to question his sanity.
And that’s when things really take a turn…

One sign of a good book is that you can’t wait to get back to reading, and that definitely happened for me with Pines. I always wanted to read just one more chapter, and found myself trying to find more reading time in my day because with each surprise and revelation things just became more strange and inexplicable.

The writing is engaging and fast paced, and the mystery only deepens the further you read and the longer Ethan remains in Wayward Pines. The mounting questions kept me reading on, and there were many of them. The tension builds and after some wonderfully eerie moments Ethan’s precarious situation escalates into a dangerous fight for life.

I could go on about this book, but a lot of the excitement comes from not knowing, and guessing at what’s going on, and watching as Ethan slowly uncovers the secrets that Pines and some of the residents are trying to keep hidden. It races to such an unanticipated conclusion that it made my mind up to carry on with the series straight away. I’d wondered whether to read something else in between volumes but I have so many questions about what’s going to happen next that it’s on to Wayward to find out. I hope the rest of the trilogy is as good as this first book.

Readers Imbibing Peril XV – #RIPXV

The days are growing cooler and the nights are beginning to draw in, which can mean only one thing – Autumn is on its way! I love this time of year, so what better way to mark the changing seasons than by participating in a suitably eerie Readathon? Two whole months of reading to enjoy. Want to know more about RIPXV? Here you go…

Welcome to the FIFTEENTH year of Readers Imbibing Peril, or RIP, as it is affectionately called. The challenge runs from 1st September to 31st October. There are no official sign ups this year, it’s an event with as much or as little commitment as you like. To participate just use the hastag #RIPXV and @perilreaders when talking about what you’ve been reading or watching.

The R.I.P. Challenge includes books that could be classified as:

Mystery
Suspense
Thriller
Dark Fantasy
Gothic
Horror
Supernatural

The goals are simple.

1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.

A Potential TBR List

I don’t have a definite reading/viewing plan at the moment, but glancing through my TBR list, a few books have caught my attention, so I may read a selection from the following:

The Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver
Halloween Party by Agatha Christie
Endless Night by Agatha Christie
I Am Dust by Louise Beech
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Selections from the Dark Corners short story collection

Progress

           

Pines (Wayward Pines #1) by Blake Crouch
Wayward (Wayward Pines #2) by Blake Crouch
The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3) by Blake Crouch
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver


I’m really looking forward to one of my favourite reading events during my favourite season. Are you tempted to join in with #RIPXV?

Booking Ahead: September 2020

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.

It’s time to take a look at the TBR pile and select some reads for the coming month. Here’s a selection of what I’m hoping to read…

I’ve already started Pines by Blake Crouch and it’s such a page-turner that the other two books, Wayward and The Last Town are definitely going onto my TBR list. Whether I’ll read straight through or choose a totally different book in between I’m not sure yet.

The arrival of autumn usually sees me craving something a little gothic or slightly spooky in my reading choices. Actually, parts of Pines have been a little creepy, and if the book ends on a cliff-hanger I might not be able to resist carrying on.

In keeping with a change of reading mood, and Readers Imbibing Peril (#RIPXV) happening through September and October, a few other titles catching my eye at the moment are…

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I watched The Turning recently, and there’s a new Netflix series apparently loosely based on this story, so am tempted to check it out.

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver – I love the description, a ‘darkly gothic thriller’, and the setting of the manor house out in the wilderness. It sounds like the ideal scenario for some autumnal evening reading.

I Am Dust by Louise Beech – Eerie events haunting the new cast during a revival of a musical called Dust. Sounds tempting…

I’m also interested in sampling at least a couple more of the Dark Corners collection after I enjoyed The Sleep Tight Motel so much. There are a few more stories, most of which sound intriguing, and being able to read a whole story in one sitting is still pretty unique to me.

I doubt I’ll be able to manage even half of this list over the course of one month, so some titles may make a reappearance in October.


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: August 2020

Welcome to another Monthly Summary on Pages and Tea.

August is drawing to an end and it’s been a varied reading month.

Opium and Absinthe featured a young woman in search of answers after her sister is killed. There are similarities between her death and events in the novel Dracula, and Tillie, determined to find out who or what killed her sister, goes to great lengths to seek out the truth.

Next, for something completely different… I picked up a short story, The Sleep Tight Motel. I don’t usually read short stories, but I just fancied a change, and something that I might actually finish in one sitting, so this was the right book at the right time. I loved the eerie atmosphere, the mystery surrounding the motel, and the way the story concluded. I only wish I’d saved it for a dark, rainy autumn afternoon, but there are more stories in the same collection so I might sample a few of those over the coming weeks.

I also ventured back to the comic, colourful, bizarre Discworld to find out if Rincewind and Twoflower did indeed meet their doom falling of the edge of the world, or whether they lived to enjoy another adventure. I’m going to carry on with Discworld, and for now I’ll probably stick with reading the books in order, although this may change at some point. Anyone seen the Luggage?!

I also wrote a post for Top Ten Tuesday featuring books that I would love to see made into shows or movies.

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

Book Reviews

           

Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang

The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger

The Light Fantastic (Discworld #2) by Terry Pratchett

Featured Posts

Booking Ahead

August 2020

Top Ten Tuesday

Books that Should be Adapted into Shows/Movies

Reading Review

Reading Resolutions 2020

August Progress

Beat the Backlist Challenge Progress