Reading Review: December 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

            

The Corset by Laura Purcell

Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey

The Lingering by SJI Holliday

The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan

Total Library Books Read This Month: 4
Total Own Books Read This Month: 0
Overall Total Books Read This Month: 4

Total Library Books Read 2018: 42
Total Own Books Read 2018: 0
Overall Total Books Read 2018: 42

MY READ OF THE MONTH

Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey. As I got further into this book I found it almost impossible to put down. I just had to know how it was going to end, having experienced so many twists and unexpected happenings. Also, how could you resist a book with a talking, cartoon-ish fox as a character?! I can’t wait to see what Carey writes next.

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 grand total for 2018 is 42 books read, which is probably more than I was expecting!

GOALS

  • I think I managed to keep up with many of my goals, and now it’s time to think about a new list. I like the idea of some general ideas rather than committing to a number of challenges, although I’ll probably stick with the old favourites.

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

2018: The Year-End Book Survey

This Year End Survey is hosted by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner.

I love this opportunity to look back over the last year of reading.
Going through my list of what I’ve read usually makes me smile as I remember some of the great stories and characters I’ve encountered over the last 12 months.

2018 Reading Stats

Number of books you read:  42

Re-Reads:  0

Most Popular Genre:  It’s all been a great mixture this year!

Best in Books

1. Best Book You Read In 2018?
(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2018 release vs. backlist)

           

               

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan
Transcription by Kate Atkinson
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Someone Like Me by M. R Carey

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The Pisces by Melissa Broder and The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton, although I do know someone who absolutely loved the latter.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

Someone Like Me by M. R Carey had many unexpected twists. I really enjoyed it.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. I wouldn’t say they did, but the intent was definitely there!

5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

     

A Time of Dread by John Gwynne was the first book in a new series, Of Blood and Bone, and my first book by this author.

The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams is the second book in the Winnowing Flame series. It’s really good (and has talking dragons!).

I’m not sure I’ve finished a series this year.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

     

Stuart Turton. The plot to Seven Deaths… is so complex and detailed, it must have taken a lot of time and attention to detail to get it all sorted, and the writing was really good. I can’t wait to see what he writes next.

And an honourable mention to Agatha Christie. I know she’s not a new author, but she’s new-to-me and I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Adrift by Rob Boffard. I haven’t read much sci-fi so far, but I really enjoyed this book, describe it, so I’ll try more.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan. It’s the second book in the Gods of Blood and Powder series and continued the story begun in Sins of Empire really well. Can’t wait for the next book!

9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I don’t re-read very often at all. There are so many new books and backlist books and library books that I want to read that my TBR pile seems endless.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

           

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

11. Most memorable character of 2018?

            

Hercule Poirot. I can’t believe I’d never come across this detective in my reading life before.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower

13. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read?

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I also can’t believe that I saw the new movie version without a clue as to whodunit.

14.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

    

The shortest, at 213 pages is Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie.

The Longest, at 639 pages is Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan.

15. Book That Shocked You The Most?

            

Almost any of the Agatha Christie books I’ve picked up leave me shocked because even though I concentrate and try and pick out the clues, I’m usually wrong and it takes the great Poirot to sort it all out in the end.

16. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)?

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik featured Miryem and the Staryk. I loved that dislike and resistance and a great battle of wills eventually led to mutual respect and affection.

17. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year?

Fran and Jinx from Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey. There MAY have been a tear or two at their final exchange. Maybe.

18. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?

The Outsider by Stephen King.

19. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure?

The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse seemed to be everywhere at one point earlier this year.

20. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

Count Rostov from A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

21. Best 2018 debut you read? 

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. I had a feeling this book would make several appearances during this year-end survey.

22. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The toyshop in The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale was pretty magical and vivid.

23. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Sounds strange but I loved reading Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I’d seen the new movie, and know whodunnit, but reading Poirot for the first time was memorable.

24. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I’d not read anything by this author before, but I really enjoyed the tale of Count Rostov.

25. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?

Have a guess? No ideas? It’s The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. I’ve named this one as I’ve been looking for something similar to read because I enjoyed it so much but I haven’t found anything that has that unique twist to it so far.

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?

I’ve followed quite a few new blogs this year, and they’re all great. I enjoy reading about all the great new books out there, but my TBR list is NOT thanking me at all.

2. Favorite reviews that you wrote in 2018?

            

               

       

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey
The Corset by Laura Purcell
Adrift by Rob Boffard
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower
The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah
The Outsider by Stephen King
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

If it’s not book reviews then my favourite posts to write are Top Ten Tuesday topics. I enjoy the chance to think back about books I’ve read, and make lists about books I’ve still to read. I also like engaging with other readers about the things they’ve read, and TTT gives the opportunity to do this. Here are some of my recent favourite Top Ten Tuesday posts…

Falling Into Fall
Hidden or Not-So-Hidden Gems
Poolside Reads AKA My Summer TBR List

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

As always… Bout of Books. I love a readathon.  I also enjoy Readers Imbibing Peril, it’s the sign that Autumn is coming!
If there’s one thing I would like, it would be to know about readathons before they start so I have time to plan and participate. They’re great fun.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

Taking part in readathons.

6. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My Falling into Fall Top Ten Tuesday post.

7. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Any review posts.

8. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Unbound Worlds. This site is devoted to all things Fantasy and Sci-Fi. I can’t believe I’d not come across it until very recently after I saw it mentioned in a blog post.

9. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I completed my Goodreads challenge, but I did set a fairly low target.
I participated in Beat the Backlist and read 14 books, which was more than I was expecting.

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

This list could be endless. I’ll just mention a few of the first titles that come to mind, but this really is only the beginning…

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
Circe by Madeline Miller
Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)?

I’m always on the look out for something new by Stephen King.
I believe John Gwynne also has a new book, A Time of Blood, which I’d like to read.

3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Can The Binding by Bridget Collins count? From what I read this is the author’s first adult novel, so it’s sort of a debut but not really.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. I really want to read The Girl in the Tower as soon as I can, but I’m already looking forward to this next book too!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019?

I think my answer for this is the first as last year.  I’d like to read some books I already own. I think I may sign up for Beat the Backlist again, and give myself an incentive to pick up the books I’ve been neglecting.


So concludes this year-end survey, Congratulations if you made it all the way through to the end! What have you been reading this year? And what are you looking forward to reading next?

Book Review: The Lingering by S. J. I. Holliday

Name:  The Lingering
Author:  
S. J. I. Holliday
Number of Pages:
  256 (Paperback)
Published:
November 15th 2018 by Orenda Books
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller

Goodreads

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there, and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.
When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution. The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalizingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Send two secretive and troubled characters bound by a traumatic past they’re apparently desperate to leave behind out into the isolated countryside to an old country house that served as an asylum and saw a fair amount of trouble in it’s time, add in a young and overly enthusiastic ghost hunter who becomes determined to find out the truth about these new arrivals and you have the makings of The Lingering.

I enjoyed this book but I went in thinking the haunted house and ghostly elements would be more present than they were. I think I was expecting the house itself to become something of a character. There’s certainly an air of unease and menace surrounding past events at Rosalind House, with talk of patients being ill-treated and further back than that, an association with women accused of witchcraft but those stories aren’t touched on as much as the current day narrative in which Ali and Jack are running from a past that won’t leave them behind. Glimpses of the past are recorded in entries from Dr. Henry Baldock’s journal. He was sent to the hospital in the 1950s to uncover the truth about events taking place there.

Ali and Jack are secretive from the outset, with good reason, and watching their lives slowly unravel until their past comes to light in a new wave of violence and suspicion made for fairly gripping reading. Neither of them are especially likeable characters, but they’re surrounded by a varied group living within the commune. Angela, the young woman convinced that she will find evidence of paranormal activity if she persists with her monitoring around the house provides is a good contrast to the other two mains characters, although her story is also quite tragic.

Narrated via Ali and Angela, with occasional glimpses from other viewpoints, and the historical journal entries, The Lingering is a good psychological crime thriller mystery with an undertone of a ghostly atmosphere and some unexpected twists along the way.

 

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