Blog Tour Book Review: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

About The Essex Serpent

• Hardcover: 432 pages
• Publisher: Custom House (June 6, 2017)

Costa Book Award Finalist, Waterstones Book of the Year, winner of the British Book Awards Fiction Book of the Year and overall Book of the Year

“[T]he most deeply satisfying fiction you will read this year.”

Waterstones Book of the Year

An exquisitely talented young British author makes her American debut with this rapturously acclaimed historical novel, set in late nineteenth-century England, about an intellectually minded young widow, a pious vicar, and a rumored mythical serpent that explores questions about science and religion, skepticism, and faith, independence and love.

When Cora Seaborne’s brilliant, domineering husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one. Wed at nineteen, this woman of exceptional intelligence and curiosity was ill-suited for the role of society wife. Seeking refuge in fresh air and open space in the wake of the funeral, Cora leaves London for a visit to coastal Essex, accompanied by her inquisitive and obsessive eleven-year old son, Francis, and the boy’s nanny, Martha, her fiercely protective friend.

While admiring the sites, Cora learns of an intriguing rumor that has arisen further up the estuary, of a fearsome creature said to roam the marshes claiming human lives. After nearly 300 years, the mythical Essex Serpent is said to have returned, taking the life of a young man on New Year’s Eve. A keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, Cora is immediately enthralled, and certain that what the local people think is a magical sea beast may be a previously undiscovered species. Eager to investigate, she is introduced to local vicar William Ransome. Will, too, is suspicious of the rumors. But unlike Cora, this man of faith is convinced the rumors are caused by moral panic, a flight from true belief.

These seeming opposites who agree on nothing soon find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart—an intense relationship that will change both of their lives in ways entirely unexpected.

Hailed by Sarah Waters as “a work of great intelligence and charm, by a hugely talented author,” The Essex Serpent is “irresistible . . . you can feel the influences of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Hilary Mantel channeled by Perry in some sort of Victorian séance. This is the best new novel I’ve read in years” (Daily Telegraph, London).

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Hello all! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review of it.

The Essex Serpent is a historical fiction novel set in the Victorian era. We follow a recently widowed Cora who having gained her independence from an abusive husband travels to Essex. Rumors of a fabled sea serpent rising from the depths of the sea as a result of an earthquake draws her attention, as well as an unlikely friendship with the local vicar who is struggling to assuage the fear from the townspeople on the basis of faith.

I knew next to nothing going into my reading of this book and I am really glad. For some reason I thought it was purely a romance book but when I started reading it I was pleasantly surprised. I have been missing a book like this in my life for awhile.

The Essex Serpent is gothic-esque in its atmosphere and feel. It reminded me of the books that made me fall in love with English Literature in college like works written by Wilkie Collins. The language and writing was just beautiful and I found myself deeply absorbed in the story from the get go because the whole Victorian era, gothic vibe was just beautifully done in this book.

There are a slew of interesting themes to take away from this book but the one that drew me the most was the relationship between religion and science, which we see embodied in two of our main characters.

This was a super interesting, super absorbing book. It was dark, beautiful and creepy at times. It’s not a super fast paced read as most classics aren’t (and this book was so similar to a classic in writing style) but if you love the style of Victorian literature and gothic literature you will love this book! I can’t wait to see more from this author!

Also, isn’t this cover just gorgeous?!

Photo by Jamie Drew

About Sarah Perry

Sarah Perry was born in Essex in 1979. Her first novel, After Me Comes the Flood, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Folio Prize. She lives in Norwich. The Essex Serpent is her American debut.

Find out more about Sarah at her website, and connect with her on Twitter.

Blog Tour Book Review – A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice (a memoir in four meditations) by Christine Hale

29402018About A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice

• Paperback: 254 pages
• Publisher: Apprentice House Press (July 1, 2016)

In this layered collage of memory within memory, Hale recreates for readers her kaleidoscopic experience of a decades-long journey to acceptance and insight. Writer, prodigal daughter, single parent, Buddhist disciple, and, late in midlife, a newlywed, she is transformed through an unconventional relationship with a female spiritual teacher and an odd ritual of repeated tattooing with her two young adult children.

“Christine Hale’s A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice is an exquisite engagement with those tough human questions that must be asked even if they can never be answered. Hale writes toward acceptance, every page brimming with honesty, insight, and deep understanding. A truly beautiful meditation in lovely, lively prose.”~ Dinty W. Moore, author of The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life

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Purchase Links

                           Amazon | Books a Million | Barnes & Noble

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Happy Friday!! Today I am pleased to blog my review of A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A memoir in four meditations by Christine Hale. I’d like to thank the author, TLC Book Tours and the publisher Apprentice House Press for giving me the chance to review this book in exchange for my honest review of it.

For the past couple of years, I have been trying to make a conscious effort to read more memoirs (especially after discovering that I harbor a secret love for them) and also to read more short story collections. I love memoirs, but this one in particular was pretty different in format from the memoirs that I usually read. The author tells us stories of her life in four meditations, or sections. Within these sections are stories from her life which are also broken up into their own sections that alternate between time frames, people and events.

I wasn’t too much a fan of the writing because I typically like to read memoirs that read pretty much like fiction in tone however, I enjoyed reading this book. It was hard to swallow in some places because some of the topics are pretty heavy like child abuse, spousal abuse, divorce and such but it was a very personal look into the life of a person who has gone through some things and come out on the other side. I found it very honest and affecting; to me it sent the message that we are all human, we can go through trials and we also make mistakes of our own and our journey to be okay with ourselves is affected not only by those trials and mistakes but by the other humans we encounter through them as well. I really loved that the author addressed specific people alot at the end of the sections in which she has written about a certain event in the past or just about that person in general. I found it interesting to be able to glimpse a bit how a person worked through events and people in her past. I loved the symbolism of the tattoo shared between mother and children.

I did somehow think that this book would have a little more about her journey in Buddhism. It definitely included some things like the retreats she would go on to get away from the world and live pretty much in seclusion trying to get in touch with herself and de-stress but there was alot less than I thought there would be. Nevertheless, I really liked this book and appreciated it’s message. When I was reading it, I even thought to myself that I need to start taking time out of my day and meditating to clear my mind and de-stress. I think readers who are interested in memoirs may find something to enjoy here! I am giving this book a 3.5 (I liked it!) star rating.

Happy Weekend Reading everyone!

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Chris_Hale_Finals_Web-Res-9-680-200x300About Christine Hale

Christine Hale’s prose has appeared inHippocampus, Arts & Letters, Prime Number, Shadowgraph, and The Sun, among other literary journals. Her debut novel Basil’s Dream(Livingston Press 2009) received honorable mention in the 2010 Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Hale has been a finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers and the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Presently, she teaches in the Antioch University-Los Angeles Low-Residency MFA Program as well as the Great Smokies Writing Program. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Connect with Christine at her Website.

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Blog Tour Guest Post & Book Review: The Marian by Taylor Hohulin

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Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Marian written by Taylor Hohulin! I’d like to thank Taylor Hohulin for including me in his blog tour and giving me the opportunity to read and review his book! This blog tour post is a special one for me as I have never had an author guest post and I’m excited to have Taylor as a guest on my blog today as well as excited to share what I thought of his book! In this post you will find the synopsis, Taylor’s guest post where he talks casting (awesome!) and lastly, my review! We hope you enjoy this post!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00039]Fifteen-year-old Ethan Denby doesn’t know how he got on the Marian. He just woke up one day inside the body of its captain.

The Marian is unlike any ship Ethan has ever seen. It crawls on long, metal legs over dunes of salt in search of water, despite laws granting exclusive harvesting rights to a corrupt organization known as HydroSystems Worldwide.

HydroSystems is closing in, tensions are mounting aboard the Marian, and on top of all that, Ethan is beginning to think the dreams he’s been having aren’t completely harmless. If he doesn’t get home soon, Ethan could die inside someone else’s body in this wasteland of a world. The only way back seems to be through a place known simply as the Cloud, but how can he convince the crew to take him there when it means confronting a dangerous cult and venturing into a place where the very fabric of reality has worn thin?

Casting the Crew of the Marian
Ethan Denby – Tom Hiddleston
Tom (8)
This was a hard role to cast. Whoever played Ethan would essentially spend the movie playing a teenager with a pretty good life trapped in the body of a wasteland-hardened adult. I settled on Tom Hiddleston, mostly based on his portrayal of Loki in the last few Marvel movies. He’s able to handle the action-heavy scenes, but still maintains a youthful glee. Obviously, Loki would need to have much worse skin, and a nice scraggly beard. Dude looks like a Covergirl commercial.
We don’t get to see Ethan in his own body in The Marian, but if we did, he’d totally be Asa Butterfield of Ender’s Game/The Boy in the Striped Pajamas fame.
Jackie Sparks – Dylan O’Brien
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I had trouble finding someone for the Marian’s wild, wisecracking teenage engineer, but then my wife suggested Dylan O’Brien. Apparently, he’s best known for his role on the Teen Wolf TV show, and will appear in the film adaptation of The Maze Runner. After a few YouTube clips of him cutting up, I was sold. Give him some crazy red hair and a bag of tools, and he’s got the look I’d imagined, too.
Tucker Frye – Thomas Hayden Church
Actor Thomas Haden Church arrives for th
Tucker is the Marian’s doctor, unofficial encyclopedia, and voice of reason. He needs to be portrayed by someone is able to appear simultaneously likeable, wise, and exhausted…something that I think Church achieved pretty darn well in Easy A. Should that be a guilty pleasure movie? I don’t care. It was surprisingly fantastic.
Percy Hale – Tom Hardy
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Percy was the Marian’s quartermaster until he learned the person inside his captain’s body didn’t have a clue how to run a ship. As second in command, he declared himself captain, much to the dismay of a few members of the crew. Percy is a big, scary man, and there are some who wonder if his loyalty is for sale. It would be interesting to see Tom Hardy take on this role. He’s an imposing physical presence, but he’s also got some real acting chops.
Bonnie Sparks – Emma Stone
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Remember the five minutes Emma Stone spent as Hollywood’s “it” girl before Jennifer Lawrence became Katniss Everdeen and dominated our nation’s consciousness? I like Jennifer Lawrence, but I always preferred Emma Stone…and still do. No matter what movie she’s in, she manages to have instant chemistry with every other person on screen. That’s essentially Bonnie’s character. She’s a peacekeeper when tempers flare and a Jill-of-all-trades around the ship.
Lester – Jared Leto
Jared_Leto-Mr-Nobody
No one knows much about Lester. The crew of the Marian thinks he might have been alive when the bomb was dropped and Earth transformed into a waterless wasteland, but no one can be sure because he rarely speaks. He’s a mean-spirited beanpole of a man, and Jared Leto might seem like an odd casting choice for him…unless you’ve seen Mr. Nobody. Among other things, Leto plays a pretty convincing 120-year old man, thanks to some impressive makeup work. The performance is over-the-top and almost cartoonish at times, but Lester is kind of an over-the-top, cartoonish character.
The Navigator – Bill Murray
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I’m of the firm belief that any film, no matter the genre, benefits from Bill Murray’s presence. The Navigator has been a blast to write. Like Lester, he was alive when the bomb was dropped and the earth changed forever. The only problem is he either didn’t notice the bomb and its effects, or he’s completely blocked the memory from his mind. He thinks the Marian is a deep-sea fishing vessel. Bill Murray’s comedic chops and ridiculously high likeability quotient make him the perfect candidate for the Navigator.
Buddy – Jorge Garcia
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Buddy is the Marian’s big, loveable engine operator. He needs to be portrayed by someone who can inspire pity without being a guy who whines all the time, and who can be instantly likeable. Jorge Garcia’s portrayal of Hurley in LOST definitely fits the bill here.

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Taylor Hohulin is a DJ at a Christian rock radio station in Dallas, Texas. He lives in Arlington with his wife, where they are owned by two cats and a dog. His greatest fear is working a job where he is required to shave daily. And spiders.

Title: The Marian written by Taylor Hohulin
Genre: YA – Post Apocalyptic/Steampunk
Page count: 198
Format: Ebook (read on Microsoft Surface Nook App)
Rating – 5/5

When I read the synopsis for The Marian I immediately jumped at the chance to read and review it! Not only do I lack considerable experience with steampunk-esque novels, but the synopsis drew me in and I wasn’t disappointed!

I don’t want to give too much away about the plot because I definitely think this is a book that you’d want to read and I don’t want to spoil it but I did want to talk a little about the story. The Marian is a ship, crawling through the desert of the ocean whose crew specializes in water smuggling under the nose of the government corporation that holds “all” of earth’s remaining water. Ethan Denby suddenly finds himself aboard The Marian and thrust into this life of constant danger as part of this crew, always looking over their shoulder and hoping to make a difference in a world where hope is scarce. The big question is, will he ever get back home?

I gave this book a 5 star rating because I really enjoyed this book and this world. This is my first steampunk novel and I really enjoyed the steampunk influence and being thrust into this world of post apocalyptic machinery. I love how the ship has been outfitted to crawl on the ocean floor and drill into “water wells”. The world building and the history of how the world got this way was so interesting to me and I found myself lost in this world and the characters.

One of the best things about this book, besides the well crafted world, is the cast of characters. I love all of them! I’d have to say my favorite character is Buddy and the sort of conundrum he is to me. I see him as this big burly guy yet he’s this teddy bear of a man who loves reading and writes poetry, I love it! I also love Bonnie, the fierce female of the crew who can hold her own amongst the men in a seemingly all male industry like water smuggling where danger abounds.

The plot of this book is so interesting and definitely different than any other post apocalyptic book I’ve read so far. It made me think of what could happen if one day we found ourselves in a similar predicament. I liked this story because the “pirates” were the good guys and we live in a world where pirates rating is bad so it was good to see a positive spin on pirates in this book!

All in all I loved this story and I can’t wait to continue reading it because, good news, it is the start to what I think is going to be a killer trilogy. If you are a sci-fi or fantasy fan you need to check this book out and embark on a truly interesting and entertaining journey that will leave you at the edge of your seat!

Free preview chapter download: http://books.noisetrade.com/taylorhohulin/the-marian-excerpt

Book Review: Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Title: Ghost Planet written by Sharon Lynn Fisher
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
Published by Tom Doherty Associates LLC (Tor Science Fiction)
Page count: 257
Format: Ebook (read on Barnes and Nobles Nook HD+)
Rating: 4/5
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #23

Needing an escape, Elizabeth has accepted a new position on the planet, Ardagh 1. Ardagh 1, whose atmosphere models itself after Earth is inhabited by the colonists and their “ghosts”. The colonists are human immigrants from Earth that are trying to populate Ardagh 1 and the ghosts are the alien natives of the planet whom have attached to humans which has in turn weakened them so that they are dependent on us. Much research is being put into the relationship between the humans and the ghosts but research that is mostly in favor of humans taking over the planet and ridding themselves of the ghosts. Under the “Ghost Protocol” which was pioneered by Elizabeth’s new boss, Murphy, the colonists are forbidden to interact with the Ghosts that basically shadow them throughout their daily lives. The ghosts cannot travel past a certain distance of their host without experiencing some pretty painful repercussions.

At Elizabeth’s first meeting with her new boss she is immediately drawn to him and his intriguing blue eyes…a sense of familiarity overwhelming her. As they become acquainted and shamelessly flirt each other up, Elizabeth and Murphy discover something about her that changes their work and personal relationship, as well as ultimately culminating in their efforts to amend the rift between humans and the ghosts.

This was an interesting book!

I actually read this book because it was the April pick for the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club (which I have discovered fairly recently!) This is a book club ran by Felicia Day, Bonnie Burton, Kiala Kazabee, and Veronica Belmont who are all just super awesome. Needless to say I am super addicted to all things Vaginal Fantasy Book Club related at the moment and the next hang out is on April 30th (I believe!) so I wanted to read the book they were reading and be prepared. The books being read in this book club are romance books but romance books that have strong stories to them as well which I really really like…so far I’ve seen them read Historical Romances, Paranormal Romances, Erotica, etc. Anyway check it out! Sorry about that sidebar!

I have to say that I really like the cover to this book. I love that it’s this very ethereal color green which seems sort of like an alien like color and it also fits in nicely with the story and the plants in the story (I will say no more on that!) I really like how it shows Murphy on the top of the cover and then Elizabeth on the lower part of the cover in what looks like a reflection of him…except its her. I think this fits so perfectly to the whole colonist/ghost relationship we have going on in this book.

I really liked the world the author has built for us in this book. I think the story itself is really interesting and creative. I love the sci-fi feel of this book. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. In the past I haven’t read a lot of romance books but I am really trying to fit some into my reading list this year. What I really liked about this book is that it certainly does have its pretty strong romantic element to it but it has this really strong sci-fi story that is really just a treat to read, it really is. I loved the romantic story of this book too. They are like the two most unlikely people to fall for each other and when things are just stacking up against them I just found myself just wanting them to be together. It was frustrating for Elizabeth and also frustrating for me lol. There is quite a bit of storybuilding in this book so if you’re looking for a romance, it takes a bit for the romance to actually build up. I felt a personal connection with the character and I think this may be from the way the story was written or just because I really liked Elizabeth’s character. As I was reading it I was thinking that the story was paced pretty slow but looking back and putting the book and the story back into perspective I really like the way the story  unfolded.

I definitely could not put this book down…my poor husband would try to talk to me sometimes and I was just too engrossed in this book to listen most of the time lol but he understood, when my nose is in a book there’s pretty much no getting it out until I’ve at least finished the chapter I’m reading. I loved this book and I really wanted to give it five stars but the only reason I didn’t is because the book did leave me with questions that were unanswered, which would make sense to me if it was a series but I don’t believe it is going to be. I wish it were though because I would totally read the next one lol. I can’t wait to read more of the author’s books though. I cruised on over to her website and it looks like she is sticking to the sci-fi genre which is fine by me!