Book Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Name:  The Hunting Party
Lucy Foley
Number of Pages:
  400 (Hardback)
January 24th 2019 by HarperCollins
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller


In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.
The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider
The victim.
Not an accident a murder among friends.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

The Hunting Party takes us to the isolated wilderness of the Scottish Highlands during winter for a New Year celebration that may become unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.

It’s a whodunnit with a difference in that you don’t find out until almost the end of the novel who has actually been killed, so that makes it a bit difficult if, like me, you enjoy playing along and trying to work out the facts from the red herrings. With that in mind I just went along with it, rather than trying to work it out, although it’s not so hard to guess which of these mostly unlikeable characters will meet their demise.
So, I was a little surprised that in the end I actually settled on the right ‘who’, and I even picked up on the ‘why’ as well. I absolutely love it when a murder mystery sends me off in totally the wrong direction only to blind me with the simple truth that was there all along, but I didn’t get that with this book.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I kept finding myself thinking ‘just one more chapter…’ as I wanted to know what would happen next.
I don’t think I can remember the last time I read something with such a majority of unlikeable characters, but whereas sometimes that puts me off, in this case it didn’t, it kept reading because I wanted to know for certain who had met their demise.
And secrets? Not one of these people is simple or straight forward, they all have things to hide, or things alluded to in the past.
Even the members of the staff at the lodge appear to have interesting pasts too, and all these hidden things make for some interesting revelations as the story progresses.

I loved the setting of the Highland lodge with it’s mix of modern and old-style, and the vastness of the surrounding loch and woodland really came to life throughout. The isolation, lack of phone signal and wi-fi, accompanied by the real possibility of being cut off altogether should the weather turn bad, (and you just know that’s going to happen) made this a perfect book to snuggle down with, with the heating on and a cup of tea.

The Hunting Party was an entertaining, page-turning murder mystery.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

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 weeks theme is:   Books I Loved with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

I must admit that number of ratings on GoodReads is something I don’t very often pay attention to. I’ll look at the average rating, and read reviews, but the number of ratings? Not so much. So, I was really surprised to find out that so many of the books I’ve really enjoyed over recently months have less than 2000 ratings at the time I wrote this post.

Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey – 1312 Ratings – The Girl With all the Gifts started my enjoyment of M. R. Carey’s novels, and I always look out for the latest. This was really good, and I still really like Fran and Jinx. They’ve stayed in my mind since I finished the novel.

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas – 1344 Ratings – An enjoyable time-travel murder-mystery with a lovely romance and some good characters.

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths – 1171 Ratings – I love the mix of gothic, ghostly, and murder mystery in this.

The Corset by Laura Purcell – 1239 Ratings – Picked up after loving The Silent Companions, I enjoyed this story too. It was very different from her first novel, which remains one of my favourite recent(ish) reads.

Adrift by Rob Boffard – 400 Ratings – I haven’t read much Sci-Fi until now, but this story of a group of space tourists trapped on a ship after their station is attacked left me wanting to check out more from this genre!

A Time of Dread by John Gwynne – 1323 Ratings – The first book in the Of Blood and Bone series (the new book is out soon!) and my very first John Gwynne novel.

The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams – 958 Ratings – The first Winnowing Flame series book introduces Tor, Vintage and Noon, three characters I really took to straight away as they went off on their fantastical adventures.

The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams – 405 Ratings – Sequel to the above novel, and equally as good as the first. I can’t wait for the final instalment of this trilogy, out later this year.

The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan – 686 Ratings – I always find myself with the latest Karen Swan on my TBR list around Christmas-time, and this one was no exception. They’re very different from my usual reading choices and I like them for that.

A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson – 1137 Ratings – An imagining of what happened during those days of Agatha Christie’s unexplained disappearance.

Have you read any of these? Which books were you surprised to discover have fewer than 2000 ratings?

Book Review: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Name:  The Winter of the Witch
Katherine Arden
Number of Pages:
  384 (Hardback)
January 10th 2019 by Del Rey
Genre:  Fantasy, Historical


One girl can make a difference…
Moscow has burned nearly to the ground, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to hold accountable. Vasya finds herself on her own, amid a rabid mob that calls for her death, blaming her witchery for their misfortune.
Then a vengeful demon returns, renewed and stronger than ever, determined to spread chaos in his wake and never be chained again. Enlisting the hateful priest Konstantin as his servant, turmoil plagues the Muscovites and the magical creatures alike, and all find their fates resting on the shoulders of Vasya.
With an uncertain destiny ahead of her, Vasya learns surprising truths of her past as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all…

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

The Winter of the Witch sets off at a great pace. Following immediately on from The Girl in the Tower we join Vasya in the aftermath of battle. A city desolated and burned, people terrified for their lives, and still the danger is not vanquished. An enemy defeated does not mean safety, for other old enemies still remain, and very quickly Vasya is hunted again as a witch, and finds her life in danger.

The pace and tension are there immediately with this final instalment of the excellent Winternight trilogy, and this book picked me up and carried me along in the wonderful, beautiful, dangerous and brutal world in which Vasya resides.

Vasya is such a good character. She’s a young woman determined, brave, and she knows her own mind. Through all her triumphs and losses she never gives up, even when the odds seem to be stacked against her.

I was devastated within a very few chapters of this book. Events shocking and incredibly sad left me on the edge of my seat, hoping for a different outcome.
And towards the end, well, there were certainly one or two scenes that really got to me, which I always think is the sign of a good story well told.

There’s a really beautiful fairytale, almost dreamlike quality to some of Vasya’s adventures as she discovers the magical lands of the chyerti, and finds out more about her own past, and I loved all the revelations and discoveries throughout the story. And venturing into these realms of magic gives the opportunity for some wonderful characters amongst the chyerti.

“You denied both the winter-king and his brother, didn’t you? You made yourself a third power in their war.”

I loved this dynamic, the great powers of the Bear and the Winter-King, and Vasya in between the two of them. Whoever would have imagined that you could end up sort-of liking a character like the Bear, and yet I definitely came to appreciate his unique brand of involvement in human affairs. The chaos-demon and the winter-king, twins, rivals, allies? It was everything I hoped it would be.

Reaching the end of Winternight has been a great reading experience. The blend of family ties, history, folklore and magic, and the inclusion of some of my now-favourite characters just leaves me wanting to go right back to the beginning and experience it all again. What a wonderful trilogy this is.

Book Review: Taken at the Flood (Poirot #28) by Agatha Christie

Name:  Taken at the Flood (Poirot #28)
Agatha Christie
Number of Pages:
  353 (Paperback)
2002 by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd(Originally published March 1948)
Genre:  Mystery, Crime


A few weeks after marrying an attractive young widow, Gordon Cloade is tragically killed by a bomb blast in the London blitz. Overnight, the former Mrs Underhay finds herself in sole possession of the Cloade family fortune.
Shortly afterwards, Hercule Poirot receives a visit from the dead man’s sister-in-law who claims she has been warned by ‘spirits’ that Mrs Underhay’s first husband is still alive. Poirot has his suspicions when he is asked to find a missing person guided only by the spirit world. Yet what mystifies Poirot most is the woman’s true motive for approaching him…

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

You know a Poirot story is doing it right when you suspect literally everyone at some point or another only to find that the actual person/persons was someone you never for a moment considered. That’s what happened in Taken at the Flood.

The tale begins with an ending, a death in the Cloade family. The recently married Gordon Cloade has died in an air raid, leaving everything to his new young wife, much to the consternation of various other members of the Cloade family, who always believed that Gordon would cover their living costs in life and after his death.

Cue a narrative of a country village into which arrives the young widow and her brother, a whole host of Cloades with definite motive to want this young woman out of the way (they would inherit the vast fortune were it not for this woman), and much plotting, scheming, misdirection and red herrings of every kind.

Poirot doesn’t really feature until the halfway point, by which time I’d suspected so many characters that of course via coincidence, prior knowledge and some assistance from those infamous little grey cells, Poirot was left to unravel the threads and present the actual solution in his own inimitable way, leaving me once again surprised.

The very last chapter though… No. Just no!

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Name:  The Girl in the Tower
Katherine Arden
Number of Pages:
  346 (Paperback)
June 26th 2018 by Del Rey
Genre:  Fantasy, Historical


For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic…
The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.
Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior’s training, recognises this ‘boy’ as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical…

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

I loved every moment of this tale of bravery, adventure, escape, mystery and scheming. Driven from her home following events of the first novel and rumours that she is a witch, we meet up once again with Vasya as she tries to make a new life in which she can be free. Disguising herself as a boy, Vasya heads out into the icy wilderness of the world, where all is not well as villages are being burned and people taken from their homes.

At the heart of this tale is Vasya. Brave Vasya, who refuses marriage, refuses the convent, stands against a frost-demon and insists she wants to see the world. She’s lost so much and yet she’s not broken. She wants to fight, to make a difference, and to help where she can, going into dangerous situations with her faithful stallion Solovey at her side.

How can one of my favourite interactions in a book still be between a spirited young woman and a talking, magical bay stallion? I can’t believe I’m even writing that, but it’s true. Solovey is such a character in his own right, and his loyalty to Vasya, and his observations and asides are just great.

The relentlessness and harshness of bitter frost, snow, and wind during winter in the forest was so vivid. Yes, it helped a little that the day I started reading this it started snowing, but this book is all atmosphere without the added weather effects in the real world.

And I have to mention Morozko and Vasya. I love the pair of them, separately and together – the whole ‘will they, won’t they, how can they fall in love when he’s an immortal frost-demon?’, and what exactly isn’t he telling her about the sapphire necklace and witches and horses by the sea? See, all these vague little suggestions just add to the mystery.
It’s utterly enchanting. He’s always there, making sure she’s okay as she ploughs forth into battles that should certainly be beyond her. As Vasya herself admits at one point, girls don’t handle weapons, and yet she’ll face down bandits and fight beside princes.

There are family reunions, political intrigue, plots, schemes, new monstrous villains and so much more to this great story. I’m so glad that I already have The winter of the Witch on request from the library, because I don’t want to leave this richly-created world and these fascinating characters behind just yet.

Booking Ahead: February 2019

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 the first Booking Ahead of 2019.

I’ve signed up for Beat the Backlist again, so I’ll stick with my usual Booking Ahead format where I select a mixture of older and newer books to read over the coming month. Top Ten Tuesday gave me the perfect opportunity to write about at least ten books that I really want to read soon, so where this list provides a narrower section of potential reads, feel free to check out my Recent TBR Additions.

On to the books…

New Books

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden – The final book of the Winternight trilogy, and I can’t wait to read of Vasya’s adventures and what’s going to happen to her next. Am hoping for another appearance from Morozko as well. What a shame it’s the final book though!

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley – A remote hunting lodge. In winter. A murder among friends. It sounds like something Agatha Christe may have written, which sounds good to me.

The Last by Hanna Jameson – Post-apocalyptic murder mystery in a hotel as the world is ending. A murder mystery AND a post-apocalyptic scenario? Can this one really be as good as it seems? I can’t wait to find out.

Books from the Backlist

Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie – Old book, new edition spied upon a visit to the library. I think I’m the first person to loan this one out, so I have that new-book pleasure to look forward to, and it’s Poirot!! I definitely need more Poirot in my reading life!

The Passage by Justin Cronin – I read The Passage years ago, and bought the other two books in the trilogy, but I never found the opportunity to read them. My interest was reawakened when I found out that book 1 has been given the tv series treatment. Of course it’s something I want to watch, and it’s made me want to read the books, but as it’s such a long time since I read the first one I can’t recall that much about it, so I want to read the whole lot starting from the beginning.

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: January 2019

Hello and welcome to my first Monthly Summary of 2019.

Is this new year of reading off to a good start for you?
I spent the first days of the new year in the company of M. Poirot as he enjoyed a traditional family Christmas whilst also solving the mystery of a missing previous stone. Reading The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding also provided me with a passing encounter with Miss Marple, who featured in the short story Greenshaw’s Folly.
After that things took a rather gothic turn in The Stranger Diaries. Murder, mysteries, a possible haunted house, and strange writing appearing in a diary? It certainly made for thrilling reading, and gave me my first 5 star read of 2019.
Next I went time travelling, but not in any way I’ve read about before, for in The Psychology of Time Travel it was actually possible for several versions of the same character to be in the same place, at the same time, interacting with each other. Add a touch of romance, and a murder mystery, and this was another novel I really enjoyed.
And what winter month would be complete without a winter read? In my case… The Girl in the Tower, the second book of the Winternight trilogy. I loved it, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the final book, even though I’m feeing torn because I want to know what happens, but I don’t want the series to end.

I also participated in the latest Bout of Books read-a-thon, and spent a week documenting my reading progress. Then came Top Ten Tuesday. I’m always ready to talk about the books I meant to read, and the books I still want to read, so I joined in on a couple of the topics this month. Here’s a round up of what happened on Pages and Tea during January…

Book Reviews


The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (Poirot #35) by Agatha Christie

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

Featured Posts

Top Ten Tuesday

Books I Hoped to Read in 2018… But Didn’t!

Recent TBR Additions

Other New Posts

2018 End of Year Survey

Beat the Backlist 2019 Challenge

Reading Review

Reading Resolutions 2019

January Progress

Beat the Backlist Challenge Progress

Read-A-Thon Updates

Bout of Books January 2019 Sign Up
Bout of Books January 2019 Progress
Bout of Book Final Summary


Bout of Books Read-A-Thon