Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: The Evening and the Morning The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett

Author:  Ken Follett

Publisher: Viking

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 720 Pages

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Blurb: It is 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages, and in England one man’s ambition to make his abbey a centre of learning will take the reader on an epic journey into a historical past rich with ambition and rivalry, death and birth, love and hate.

Thirty years ago, Ken Follett published his most popular novel, The Pillars of The Earth, which has sold over 27 million copies worldwide.

Now, this novel, the prequel, will take the readers on an epic journey that will end where The Pillars of The Earth begins…

Why I’m Excited For It:  This week I discovered that there are not one, but two new books in beloved series that are releasing this fall (the other one I’m saving for a future post).  The Pillars of the Earth and its sequels are some of my favorite books of all time.

They feature large casts swept up in endless drama, romance, scheming villains, the roller coaster ride of the character’s triumphs and defeats… I’ve often described these books as medieval soap operas, all centered around the same fictional church and town.

Now it seems this book is set during the Viking age, and you already know how I feel about that.  It’s the prequel I didn’t know I needed.

Have you read any of The Pillars of the Earth books?  Are you as excited for this as I am?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I meant to read in 2018

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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.

Here’s a post that could go on forever.  I like to buy and collect books.  It’s just what I do.  I have a shelf on GoodReads dedicated specifically to reminding me about books I own and should read.  The saddest part is hardly any of them are spontaneous purchases.  They are books I legitimately want to read.  I picked the top 10 based on books I meant to plug in for my still unfinished PopSugar 2018 challenge.

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10. Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – This was my “Book set in the decade you were born” prompt.  I want to read this.  I sort of want to read the whole Pendergast series.  They all sound like a lot of fun.  Plus I loved the movie.  I really don’t know why I haven’t read it.

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9. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill – This was my “Book with an ugly cover” prompt.  It’s not really that the cover is that ugly, just sort of plain.  I love Joe Hill.  I love the premise.  No reason for not having started it.

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8. 11/22/63 by Stephen King – This was supposed to be my “Book about time travel” and instead I plugged in Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays.  It’s the oldest book on my TBR.  I’ve owned it for years.  I looked at a couple of “Best of Stephen King” lists the other day and this was on most of them.  I think the length is intimidating me.

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7. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett – Okay so this was actually listed in my Around the Year in 52 books challenge for the prompt “A book that scares or intimidates you”.  It looks like I ended up changing it to State of Fear by Michael Crichton, which took me like 6 or 7 weeks to read.  I love Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth series but I’ve been nervous to try anything else by him, like nothing else will ever live up to those books (they probably won’t).

6. Golden Son and Morning Star by Pierce Brown – THESE BOOKS.  I read Red Rising and loved it.  Seriously- I was over the moon crazy about it.  I immediately went out and purchased Morning Star, but was disappointed to find I had to order Golden Son because it was out of stock.  By the time I received it, I was already reading something else and I just never got back to them.  They’ve been on my list for TWO YEARS.  They were originally slated for “Past GoodReads Choice Awards Winner” and “Next book in a series you started” which I replaced with Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Necessity by Jo Walton.  No regrets about what I actually read, but man I would like to get these off my list.

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5. Leviathan Wakes by James Corey – I *think* this was my original “Book set on another planet” prompt, but I ended up plugging Provenance by Ann Leckie in instead.  This book and series comes so highly recommended.  No idea why I haven’t picked it up.

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4. Consider Phlebas by Iain Banks – I actually can’t remember what I had this plugged for.  I just know that I really, really wanted to read it last year.  I bought it in 2017, planned to read it with a group this past December, and then the dreaded reading slump hit.

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3. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson – This was plugged for my “book with your favorite color in the title”.  Red isn’t really my favorite color.  I don’t really have a favorite.  Blue and purple are probably more accurate than red, but I needed an excuse to plug this in somewhere and it had a color in the title. I ended up plugging The Black God’s Drums instead, and had no regrets about that either.

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2. The Once and Future King by T.H.White – Another one I’ve owned for two years, had on two/three different lists for two years, planned multiple group reads for it.  I’m supposed to be reading this right now actually.  I wish I was joking.  I haven’t even read the first line.  Le sigh.

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1. The War of the Wolf by Bernard Cornwell – This was supposed to be: “Book with an animal in the title”.  I’ve been waiting for it for over a year.  I might not actually ever read it.  I’m too scared Uhtred will die and life will become meaningless.  Should I read it and stop before the end?  I don’t know.

Other stuff I have no excuse for not having read yet:  IT by Stephen King, Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky, King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence… and the list goes on.

What about you?  What haven’t you read yet?  Leave me a link below and I’ll come check out your list!

Top Ten Tuesdays: Favorite Villains

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.

With Halloween just around the corner- favorite villains is a perfect topic for Top Ten Tuesday!  Villains also happen to be one of my favorite things to talk about.  Villains can make or break a book.  A sympathetic villain might leave you questioning your own feelings about the grayer spaces of morality.  Some villains bring unexpected charm and leave you delighted with their every move.  And the evilest of villains will make you speed through a thousand page tome just to see justice served.  Just a note about some of my villains- a few of them fall more into the realm of anti-hero, but I promise I can justify their place here!  (Also – possible spoilers ahead!)

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10.  King Severn Argentine – The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler – I don’t see this series talked about much, and I really think it’s a shame.  This book is my favorite in the series and it’s largely due to King Severn.  This series imagines what might have happened if King Richard had never died on Bosworth field (and if he had some magical powers to help him along).  What I loved about King Severn- is the way your opinion of him changes through out the book.  He starts very clearly as the bad guy, and before it ends you’re not sure if he’s really a villain, or just a really unfortunate hero.

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9.  William Hamleigh – The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – Lord Hamleigh is the second most evil villain on this list.  He will absolutely make your skin crawl.  Every time he thwarts our heroes plan you’ll want to scream and throw your book across the room.  The guy is pure evil.  He’s the villain you absolutely love to hate.  If I recall correctly – the revenge was cold and the justice was poetic.  The only villains that can compete with this guy- are other villains from Follett’s world.

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8.  Kaz Brekker and crew – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – This duology is one example of YA done right.  I don’t know why it took my reading sixty seven bad YA books last year to figure out that I don’t actually like them.. but Six of Crows is the exception.  I love Kaz because he’s sort of a genius, he’s completely unreliable, and Bardugo never once handed him anything on a silver platter.  Despite it all- he always comes out on top.

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7.  T-Rex – Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – She’s a T-Rex!  How could I not include her?  My only regret is that Crichton didn’t write like eight more Jurassic Park novels.

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6.  Haesten – The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell (First appearance: The Pale Horseman) – Full disclosure: the name I really, really wanted to put here was King Alfred and/or King Ecbert from Vikings.  The problem was both kings were more frenemies than villains.  So I went with Haesten.  Haesten is a slippery little fellow.  Uhtred finds him and sets him free.  Haesten swears him an oath.  Haesten betrays him.  Uhtred spanks him.  Haesten swears another oath.  Haesten betrays him.  And so it goes on.  This goes on for like seven books.  He’s the only enemy that I think has ever made Uhtred look stupid.  So his place here is well deserved. (And he’s quite charming when he wants to be- hence his repeated oaths to Uhtred.)

5.  Brady Hartsfield – Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King – So if I had to give an award to the most evil villain- it would probably be Brady Hartsfield.  Much like Big Jim Rennie- he’s a walking cliche.  He’s got mommy issues, he’s got daddy issues, he picks on innocent little animals, he’s an uber nerd with like 7 computer monitors.  Reading Brady’s parts are a lot like what I imagine Heath Ledger went through when he played the Joker.  He is straight up disturbing.  Don’t let the label of “Mystery/Thriller” on Mr. Mercedes fool you- it’s definitely horror.

4.  Mycroft Canner – Terra Ignota series by Ada Palmer – Mycroft Canner is more of an antihero than a villain, but I feel justified adding him to this list because (spoiler alert) he’s a homicidal maniac (now reformed).  Of all the characters I have here- it’s Mycroft I love the most.  You know he’s a little cuckoo.  You know he’s sneaky and unreliable.  You know he’s a murderer.  And none of it stops you from wanting to tuck him under your wing like a tiny baby bird.

3.  Big Jim Rennie – Under the Dome by Stephen King – You’re probably sick of reading this- but Under the Dome is one of my favorite books.  And it wasn’t because of Lt. Baaarrrbie and his journalist girlfriend.  It’s largely in thanks to: Used Car Salesman and City Council 2nd Selectman, Big Jim Rennie.  I don’t care that the guy was probably one of the worst cliches out there.  The first time I read that- I was in solid disbelief at just how evil the guy was.  Those pages just kept turning to see how low he would go.  (Also- the TV show was an abomination- skip it and read the book.)

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2.  Jörg Ancrath – Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – I’m not entirely sure Jorg is the most evil villain on my list.  I’m not even sure he’s really a villain.  The thing that makes Jorg so very fascinating to read is that he is a sympathetic villain.  The way he turned out, isn’t entirely his fault.  Between witnessing his mother and brother’s murder, and being stuck with a crap father, it’s not surprising the kid can’t stop stabbing his friends.

1. Time – The Green Mile by Stephen King – Now before you go whining and telling me it was Wild Bill who was the villain- hear me out.  The entire book is about time.  The prisoner’s on death row have months, weeks, days before they run out of time to reconcile their sins with their higher power.  John Coffey has the ability to grant people more time in the world by curing their sicknesses (in some cases, their deaths).  Finally, when we get to the end of the novel, Paul Edgecomb is talking to his friend Elaine, and he says:

“And you, Elaine. You’ll die, too. And my curse… is knowing that I’ll be there to see it. It’s my torment, you see. It’s my punishment for lettin’ John Coffey ride the lightnin’… You’ll be gone like all the others, and I’ll have to stay. Oh, I’ll die eventually — of that I’m sure. I have no illusions of immortality. But I will have wished for death… long before death finds me.”

It was the first time I’d seen a book portray “immortality” as a bad thing.  And not just a bad thing- but a really, horrible, terrible, no good, very bad thing.  Usually we see it portrayed as eternal youth, stay young and beautiful, never die!  But The Green Mile couldn’t imagine anything worse than an extraordinarily long life span.

The burning question I never could answer? What the hell happens to Paul when Mr. Jingles dies?  Please- someone- imagine me a happy ending for Paul.  I’m begging you.  It still haunts me!

Top Ten Tuesday: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

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.

So I decided to break this post up a bit, and tell you the top five longest books I’ve ever read, along with the top five longest books I plan to read (and have likely been putting off… due to their length).

5. A Column of Fire by Ken Follett – 916 pages (according to goodreads.com).  For me, Column of Fire was the least enjoyable of Follett’s Pillars of the Earth series.  Don’t get me wrong- it was a four star read overall, but if I compared it strictly to the first two books, it would only be three stars.   Review here!

4. Four Past Midnight by Stephen King – 930 pages. This was one of King’s less enjoyable short story collections. This is comprised of: The Langoliers, Secret Window, Secret Garden, Library Policeman, and The Sun Dog.  At least two of these are probably considered King classics, and The Sun Dog is one of the many Castle Rock short stories.  Review here.

3.  The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – 973 pages.  One of my favorite historical fiction books of all time.  It’s a sweeping epic set in 12th century England.  Poor Tom Builder is in need of a job.  His wife dies during child birth, and he is left with three children to raise.  Luckily for him, Prior Phillip is in want of a new church.  I know this summary sounds boring, but this is anything but.  It’s filled to the brim with drama, and just when you think these characters can’t fall any lower, the trapdoor gives way.  Sadly I have no review for this one.  (Maybe I could solve that problem with a re-read?)

2.  World Without End by Ken Follett – 1,014 pages.  Again- one of my favorite historical fiction books of all time.  I loved this one even more than Pillars of the Earth.  Follett dropped a lot of the medieval masonry talk (though trust me, there is still plenty) and cranked up the drama.  I can’t say enough good things about these books.  Review here.

1. Under the Dome by Stephen King comes in at 1074 pages.  One of my absolute favorite books of all time.  Period.  I know a lot of King fans disliked this one, but honestly I can’t tell you why.  I’ve read this three times and at least on one occasion, in the span of two days.  Unfortunately, this is probably the only book on the list I could reasonably classify as Science Fiction and I have no review to share.  (Shame on me!)

Honorable mentions: A Passage to Shambhala by Jon Baird and Kevin Costner at 770 pages; Needful Things by Stephen King at 790 pages; A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin at 819 pages; Outlander by Diana Gabaldon at 850 pages; and Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray which GoodReads clocks at 912 pages, but seems suspect to me.

Longest books on my TBR:

5.  The Song of Ice and Fire Books (#2-5) by George R.R. Martin – I’m giving this the number five spot, because A Clash of Kings is only 784 pages, but technically, books three, four and five are all on my TBR and much longer.  (If I had included them, three of these spots would have gone to him, and that’s kind of boring.)

4. Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton – 948 pages.  This sounds like a family saga where the “family” are actually all clones.  The world building has the potential to be amazing: cloning, clean energy consumption, instantaneous travel across light years.  Throw in a murder mystery… I am VERY eager to check this out.

3. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – 1,007 pages.  Here’s an embarrassing factoid: I’ve never read anything by Sanderson.  I see his name everywhere… for some reason I can’t motivate myself to check him out.  (Someone please convince me in the comments below!)

2. IT by Stephen King – 1,116 pages.  UGH.  THIS BOOK.  Do you know how many times I’ve tried and failed to read IT?  Like eight times.  I pick it up, read the same two chapters, put it down and move on.  I’m not even giving it a fair shake.  I think the problem is that I own it in paperback.  I did make it through a decent chunk of the audio, which was well done, but I’d need like six weeks to listen to it all.

1. The Stand by Stephen King – 1,153 pages.  I’m also embarrassed I haven’t yet read this.  I feel like people who don’t even like King have read this.  I’ve heard the edited “abridged” version is the better one… and I aim to complete it in the next year or two, because it sounds very similar to Under the Dome, if the Dome trapped the whole world and that world had already ended.

Honorable mentions for my TBR:  The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan at 814 pages; 11/22/63 by Stephen King at 849 pages (are we sensing a theme here?); Seveneves by Neal Stephenson at 880 pages; Fall of Giants by Ken Follett at 920 pages; 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami at 925 pages.

What’s sad is looking at the books on my TBR, is I already own most of them.  I don’t dislike long books… Most of the ones on my have read list were four and five star reads for me.  I think I’m just scared to commit to them with the number of buddy, group, and challenge reads I actually have committed to.

What about you?  Long books, yay or nay?