The Essex Serpent #FirstChapterFirstParagraph

The Essex SerpentThe Essex Serpent

Written By Sarah Perry

First Chapter, First Paragraph

“A young man walks down by the banks of the Blackwater under the full cold moon. He’s been drinking the old year down to the dregs, until his eyes grew sore and his stomach turned, and he was tired of the bright lights and bustle. “I’ll just go down to the water”, he said, and kissed the nearest cheek:  “I’ll be back before the chimes.” Now he looks east to the turning tide, out to the estuary slow and dark, and the white gulls gleaming on the waves.”

Currently Reading #FridayReads

I’m thoroughly enjoying The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. The wonderful Simon from “Savidge Reads” has been recommending this book for as long as I’ve been watching his Youtube videos. When I discovered my local library didn’t have a copy, I asked them to order one, and they did! I’m on page 191, and loving the characters and story. I’m not exactly sure where it’s leading, which is quite exciting. I feel like there might be some twist coming that I simply cannot begin to guess.

The Essex Serpent

Back Blurb:

“London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne’s husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was an unhappy one. Seeking refuge in fresh air and open space, she leaves for coastal Essex, accompanied by her eleven-year-old son and his nanny. Once there, they hear rumors that after nearly three hundred years, the mythical Essex Serpent, a fearsome creature that once roamed the marshes, has returned. When a young man is mysteriously killed on New Year’s Eve, the community’s dread transforms to terror. Eager to investigate, Cora is introduced to parish vicar William Ransome. As they attempt to discover the truth, these seeming opposites find themselves inexorably drawn together in an intense relationship that will change them in ways entirely unexpected.”

I’m also reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix aloud to my kids. We read one chapter before bed. I like to think my kids are quite impressed with my skills attempting to mimic the accents of the movie characters. HAHA!

Harry Potter and the order of the phoenixBlurb on Goodreads:  “Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…

Suspense, secrets and thrilling action from the pen of J.K. Rowling ensure an electrifying adventure that is impossible to put down. ”

 

 

 

Once I finish The Essex Serpent I’ll be starting Little Deaths by Emma Flint.

Little DeathsBlurb on Goodreads: “It’s 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone—a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress—wakes to discover her two small children, Frankie Jr. and Cindy, have gone missing. Later that day, Cindy’s body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, Frankie Jr.’s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth.

As police investigate the murders, the detritus of Ruth’s life is exposed. Seen through the eyes of the cops, the empty bourbon bottles and provocative clothing which litter her apartment, the piles of letters from countless men and Ruth’s little black book of phone numbers, make her a drunk, a loose woman—and therefore a bad mother. The lead detective, a strict Catholic who believes women belong in the home, leaps to the obvious conclusion: facing divorce and a custody battle, Malone took her children’s lives.

Pete Wonicke is a rookie tabloid reporter who finagles an assignment to cover the murders. Determined to make his name in the paper, he begins digging into the case. Pete’s interest in the story develops into an obsession with Ruth, and he comes to believe there’s something more to the woman whom prosecutors, the press, and the public have painted as a promiscuous femme fatale. Did Ruth Malone violently kill her own children, is she a victim of circumstance—or is there something more sinister at play?

Inspired by a true story, Little Deaths, like celebrated novels by Sarah Waters and Megan Abbot, is compelling literary crime fiction that explores the capacity for good and evil in us all.“

Fantastic Beasts #SpoilerFree #BookReview

Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them.jpg

Photo from Goodreads

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Written By: J.K. Rowling

Illustrations by Minalima

Published 2016

This enchanting tale begins in Europe, 1926. We then meet Newt Scamander, the chaser of truth, as he arrives New York. He claims he came to New York to buy an Appaloosa Puffskeins. We later find out he’s really there so he can bring Frank the Thunderbird home to Arizona. Newt stumbles across a crowd who are watching Mary Lou Barebone’s lecture about how we should be fearful of magic, and the wizards who are all around us. She has three adopted children: Credence, Chastity, and Modesty. I like the creative naming of the children, their meanings being the complete opposite of what Mary Lou Barebone is;

Credence: belief as to the truth of something

Chastity: the state of being pure

Modesty: being humble, free from vanity

As Newt is watching Mary Lou, he’s being watched by Tina Goldstein. She works for the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA). She spies the latch of Newt’s case opening on its own, and suspects he is entering America with dangerous magical creatures. She’s recently lost her auror status at MACUSA, and is intent on finding out exactly what Newt is up to in hopes that she can regain her status.

MACUSA are concerned with the dangerous magical activity that’s been going on in the city, and are also extremely worried about an evil wizard named Grindelwald. Percival Graves, who also works for MACUSA, suspects it’s the work of an Obscura, which is an unstable, uncontrollable dark force that busts out of a witch or wizard who has been trying to suppress their magical abilities. Percival’s been secretly pushing Credence to try and figure out where the obscura is.

A Niffler escapes from Newt’s case and they set off on a wild goose chase, running into Jacob Kowalski who was on his way to the bank in order to inquire about a loan so he can open his own bakery.

Newt carries a briefcase which, like the TARDIS, is much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. In this case Newt carries extraordinary creatures:

Niffler

Occamy

Thunderbird

Graphorns

Fwooper

Bowtruckle

Mooncalf

Nundu

Diricawl

Erumpent

Swooping Evil

Swooping_Evil_concept_art.png

Demiguise

Newt’s case is accidentally switched with Jacob’s case when they run into each other. He tracks Jacob down, and discovers many magical creatures escaped from the case while he was separated from it. Jacob, agrees to help Newt find his missing creatures. Tina hunts Newt down, suspecting him of breaking magical law, thinking if she can land a big arrest she may be able to regain her auror status. She thinks it’s one of his creatures that have been wreaking havoc on the city, so she agrees to help him find his creatures and recruits her sister Queenie (my favourite character, she can read minds).

There are parts of Fantastic Beasts which are quite comical. But at its heart it’s an enchanting, adventurous, dark, page-turning mystery. You don’t need to read, or know about Harry Potter in order to be able to enjoy this story.

Happy Reading!

 

 

Outlander: Spoiler Free Book Review

Outlander is Diana Gabaldon’s debut historical fiction, romance, adventure, Sci-Fi, fantasy novel published in June 1991. It’s the first book in a series that has also produced novellas, graphic novel, spin-off book series, and a tv show (the first two seasons can be found on Netflix).

“In a remarkable debut – vigorous, eloquent, and wholly original – Diana Gabaldon fuses a wry modern sensibility with the drama and passion of the eighteenth century, and vividly brings to life a heroine whose journey through time forces her to make an agonizing and fateful choice.” (part of the book cover blurb)

 

It’s 1945 in Scotland, and many are celebrating the end of the war. Claire, a royal army nurse, is off on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank, a history professor. They’ve been married for seven years, but have spent the majority of those years apart due to the war.

Claire and Frank witness a strange moonlit dance at a stone circle. The next day Claire returns to the site in order to fetch some flowers she spied the previous day. While doing so she hears a buzzing noise coming from the stone. As she lays her hands on it she is transported two hundred years into the past.

Moonlit stone circle.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The past is a very different country, boiling with rumors of the Jacobite Pretender’s Rising, beset with ignorance and superstition, ravaged by pestilence and disease. Alone where no lady should be alone, and far from the familiar comforts of her other life, Claire’s usual resourcefulness is tested to the limit. The merciless English garrison captain so feared by others bears a disturbing resemblance to the husband she has just left behind. Her own odd appearance and even odder behavior expose her to accusations of witchcraft. And the strands of a political intrigue she doesn’t understand threaten to ensnare her at every turn” (part of the book cover blurb)

Jamie Fraser.jpg

From IMDB

A group of Scottish warriors save her from being raped. In this group of Highlanders is Jamie, a tall, broad, muscular,  fetching young warrior with blazing red hair and sky blue eyes. Believing she may be a spy, the Scots take her with them back to Castle Leoch. When Claire sees a castle that was nothing but remnants the last time she saw it, now at it’s best, she realizes she was most likely in the 18th Century.

Castle-leoch-still-1.jpg

Outlander Wiki page

Claire plots her escape, so she can find the magical stones which can take her back to 1945. As she gathers info, waiting for the perfect moment, she is forced to marry Jamie in order to keep her from harm. Jamie takes to calling her Sassenach – which means “Englishman” or “Outlander”. Their marriage gives them permission to admit to the love they have had for each other since they first met.

Jamie and Claire marriage.jpg

IMDB

“Claire is forced to choose between the future she has left and the past she now inhabits. And, having been plunged into an adventure that is at once unimaginably bizarre and unmistakably real, she learns an unforgettable lesson: that a man’s instinct to protect the woman he loves is as old as time.”

At 627 pages, with small lettering, Outlander is quite a lengthy novel packed with big themes; love, lust, trust, infidelity, sexual harassment, rape, domestic abuse, war, and adventure highlighting the fact that there are always good and evil people, no matter what time period we find ourselves in.

Gabaldon did a fantastic job conveying the Scottish accent in the dialogue. I could clearly picture every character’s appearance and voice. Her writing is positively splendid. I often found myself reading aloud, attempting to imitate accents. The words nicely slip off your tongue. I didn’t notice any awkward sentences (something I am guilty of doing at times and hence notice in other people’s writing). Here is a passage that I found quite striking:

“There was a feeling, not sudden, but complete, as though I had been given a small object to hold unseen in my hands. Precious as opal, smooth as jade, weighty as a river stone, more fragile than a bird’s egg. Infinitely still, live as the root of Creation. Not a gift, but a trust. Fiercely to cherish, softly to guard. The words spoke themselves and disappeared into the groined shadows of the roof.”

hugh munroOne of my favourite characters has quite a small part, and I wish we got to know more of him. Hugh Munro is an interesting man with a “jack-o-lantern” grin, orange-brown leathery skin, and bright blue eyes. His broad shoulders are off balance with one higher than the other, and he speaks sign language because he had his tongue cut out. He can also write Latin, as he was once a school teacher. I mean – doesn’t he just sound fascinating!? I could read an entire novel about his life.

There were some strange fantastical moments thrown in to this story which I feel weren’t necessary such as Claire seeing the Loch Ness “waterhorse”. I also had a really hard time getting over the fact that Jamie beat Claire and somehow she’s to blame. The fact that he hit her violates the oath he took at their wedding that he would protect her until his last drop of blood. I could write an entire blog post on this topic…in fact, in University I wrote an entire research report for an Anthropology class about domestic violence in Medieval England. But that discussion is for another place, another time. 😉

The TV show follows the novel pretty closely, with some liberties taken from parts of the plot, and the ending was slightly altered. The casting director chose quite well for Jamie’s part, he is exactly as I had imagined in my mind. I had imagined Claire to look and speak differently, and at first I didn’t like the Claire in the TV show, but within a few episodes she grew on me.

I recommend both the book and the TV show to anyone who enjoys an adventurous story, filled with love, war, and sex (at times graphic).  ***warning*** There are many scenes of graphic violence, including flogging, injuries, and rape.

Wyrd Sisters Spoiler-Free Book Review

wyrd sisters

Wyrd Sisters (Discworld #6) by Terry Pratchett

Originally published: 1988

A magical/paranormal, science fiction fantasy comedy, inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear.

Goodreads blurb:

Kingdoms wobble, crowns topple and knives flash on the magical Discworld as the statutory three witches meddle in royal politics. The wyrd sisters battle against frightful odds to put the rightful king on the throne. At least, that’s what they think…

I chose to read this book because it was the r/fantasy Goodreads Group book of the month for May (which satisfies one of my Fantasy Bingo squares).

1st paragraph: Wyrd Sisters #FirstChapterFirstParagraph

Characters:

Nanny Ogg

Granny Esme Weatherwax: most highly regarded witch

Magrat Garlick: junior witch

DEATH

Verence the Fool

Tom John

Takes place in Lancre, within Discworld. Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax agreed to Magrat’s proposition and they form a coven. King Verence, Monarch of Lancre is dead, and replaced by Duke Felmet and his wife, the horrible Lady Felmet. The three witches see how horrible this new king is, and try to dethrone him. While watching the theater the witches are reminded that words can be powerful – and hatch their plan, which includes altering time itself.

The banter between the witches was quite amusing, and I did laugh out loud quite a few times. The first half of the story is a little slow – but the second half makes up for it. It’s been many years since I’ve read Macbeth or Hamlet, so a lot of the jokes whizzed right over my head. In fact, I found the first half of the book confusing – so much so that I went back to the start and re-read it more slowly. I know many readers love Pratchett and his Discworld stories and it’s highly rated on Goodreads, however it’s a 3 star read for me…maybe even 2.5 star. This may be due to the fact that it’s the first book I’ve read from this world, perhaps I need a little background on the characters before jumping in. I’m willing to go back and read some previous novels, and maybe some newer releases as well.

Have you read any Terry Pratchett? What did you think?

Things I watched on Netflix: May 2017 #BeyondTheBooks

The Loft

The Loft

“Five married guys conspire to secretly share a penthouse loft in the city–a place where they can carry out hidden affairs and indulge in their deepest fantasies. But the fantasy becomes a nightmare when they discover the dead body of an unknown woman in the loft, and they realize one of the group must be involved. ”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1850397/?ref_=nv_sr_1

I watched this one with my husband and we both agree it was….MEH. There is an unpredictable twist that we guessed before the reveal.

Chelsea Season 2

Chelsea Handler

Chelsea is a hilarious show with great guests, and surprisingly thought-provoking. She interviews guests, asking out-of-the-box questions about important topics. There are also funny skits. It’s a seriously intelligent show with a bunch of laughter thrown in. Definitely recommend this one!

 

 

 

 

Bill Nye Saves the World

Bill Nye Saves The World

“Acclaimed TV host, educator and bow tie fan Bill Nye is back with a new show that looks at topics from a scientific point of view, refuting myths and claims that rebuke science.”

“It’s not magic – it’s science!”

My kids, husband, and I enjoy watching Bill Nye Saves the World. There are some parts that weren’t kid-appropriate in our opinion, but we just paused and watched those parts when the kids weren’t around. It’s precipitated some fantastic conversations about how we can do our part to save our world.

Infinitely Polar Bear

infinitely polar bear

“In Boston, a bipolar individual (Mark Ruffalo) takes over sole responsibility for his two spirited daughters while his wife (Zoe Saldana) attends graduate school in New York.”

https://g.co/kgs/sT7gNn

I enjoyed Infinitely Polar Bear one evening when my husband was working an overnight shift. Touching. Sad. Happy. Many emotions watching this story unfold. I recommend this one!

 

Marcella

Marcella

“Marcella Backland left the Metropolitan Police for the sake of her family, only to have her husband leave her. She returns to her job on the murder squad, investigating a case that seems disturbingly familiar to her.  ”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5269594/

If you liked The Fall, then you’ll probably like Marcella.

 

 

The 100

The 100

“Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet.  ”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2661044/

My husband and I have been watching this one since it first released. We finished up Season 4 in May, and I’m happy to say it was MUCH better than Season 3. So if you were a fan, but stopped watching – pick it back up. It’s worth it.

 

Denial

Denial.jpg

 

“Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt must battle for historical truth to prove the Holocaust actually occurred when David Irving, a renowned denier, sues her for libel.”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4645330/

I had no idea that there could ever be anyone who tried to say the Holocaust was a myth. Eye-opening emotional film.

Forks Over Knives

forks over knives.jpg

 

“Examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. ”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1567233/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Interesting! I’ve been cutting back on meat for years now, but had no idea just how much you can alter your health by eliminating meat and animal products.

Call the Midwife

call the midwife.jpg

 

“Chronicles the lives of a group of midwives living in East London in the late 1950s to early 1960s.  ”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1983079/?ref_=nv_sr_1

I started re-watching this one from the first episode after putting it aside a couple years ago. If you liked Downtown Abbey then give this one a try.

 

Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King

Hasan Minhaj.jpg

“In his first stand-up special, Hasan Minhaj weaves humorous and heartbreaking anecdotes to tell his life story as an Indian-American Muslim. Topics include racism, bullying and meeting the demanding expectations of his immigrant parents.  ”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6900644/?ref_=nv_sr_2

Hilarious! My husband and I absolutely LOVED this special! Knowledgeable, original, perceptive, and entertaining!

Netflix #BookTag #TagTuesday

Time for another book tag 😉

As always – link your answers in the comments. Scroll down to find the questions and original tag video 🙂

1. Recently Watched: The last book you finished reading.

13RWanniversary

 

5 Stars from me! Check out my full review: Thirteen Reasons Why #spoilerfree #bookreview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Top Picks: A book/books that have been recommended to you based on book you have previously read.

Based on my Favourites shelf, Goodreads recommends:

Deal Breaker

 

Sports agent Myron Bolitar is poised on the edge of the big time. So is Christian Steele, a rookie quarterback and Myron’s prized client. But when Christian gets a phone call from a former girlfriend, a woman who everyone, including the police, believes is dead, the deal starts to go sour. Trying to unravel the truth about a family’s tragedy, a woman’s secret, and a man’s lies, Myron is up against the dark side of his business where image and talent make you rich, but the truth can get you killed.

In novels that crackle with wit and suspense, Edgar Award winner Harlan Coben has created one of the most fascinating and complex heroes in suspense fiction Myron Bolitar a hotheaded, tenderhearted sports agent who grows more and more engaging and unpredictable with each page-turning appearance.”

Uzumaki

 

Shortly after Shuichi Saito’s father becomes obsessed with spirals — snail shells, whirlpools, and man-made patterns — he dies mysteriously, his body positioned in the shape of a twisted coil. Soon, the entire town is afflicted with a snail-like disease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kushiel's Dart

The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good… and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission… and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair… and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel’s Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.”

3. Recently Added: The last book you bought

Vienna Waltz

 

I bought Vienna Waltz at my local library used book sale for a fantastic price, along with a few other books. I wouldn’t normally buy this genre, but thought for the price I would give it a try.

“Europe’s elite have gathered at the glittering Congress of Vienna–princes, ambassadors, the Russian tsar–all negotiating the fate of the continent by day and pursuing pleasure by night. Until Princess Tatiana, the most beautiful and talked about woman in Vienna, is found murdered during an ill-timed rendezvous with three of her most powerful conquests. . .

Suzanne Rannoch has tried to ignore rumors that her new husband, Malcolm, has also been tempted by Tatiana. As a protégé of France’s Prince Talleyrand and attaché for Britain’s Lord Castlereagh, Malcolm sets out to investigate the murder and must enlist Suzanne’s special skills and knowledge if he is to succeed. As a complex dance between husband and wife in the search for the truth ensues, no one’s secrets are safe, and the future of Europe may hang in the balance. . .”

4. Popular on Netflix: Books that everyone knows about. (2 you’ve read and 2 you haven’t read or have no interest in reading)

2 I have read

Harry Potter and Sorcerer's STone

 

To Kill a Mockingbird

Two I have NO INTENTION of reading. Or any of the other Fifty Shades books. Ever.

Fifty Shades of Grey.jpg

 

Fifty Shades Darker.jpg

5. Comedies: A funny book

#1 book on Goodread’s “Best Humorous Books” is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I can’t wait to finally read this one – might be a great summer read actually.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.jpg

6. Dramas: A character who is a drama queen/king.

a game of thrones

 

Cersei Lannister. Such a drama queen – love her and hate her, all the same time.

 

 

 

 

7. Animated: A book with cartoons on the cover

The eye of the world

8. Watch it again: A book/book series that you want to re-read

Wizard's First Rule.jpg

 

I read the first…8 or 9 books from the Sword of Truth Series, and would love to re-read the series from the beginning so I can read the more recent ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Documentaries: A non-fiction book you’d recommend to everyone

The Elements of Style.jpg

 

Great little book that can help everyone improve their grammar and writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Action and Adventure: An action packed book

Lunar Chronicles

11. New Releases: A book that just came out or will be coming out soon that you can’t wait to read.

Our Dark Duet.jpg

 

 

Publication Date is June 13th, 2017. So excited to read this one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVryd…

Questions:
1. Recently Watched:The last book you finished reading.
2. Top Picks: A book/books that have been recommended to you based on book you have previously read.
3. Recently Added: The last book you bought
4. Popular on Netflix: Books that everyone knows about. (2 you’ve read and 2 you haven’t read or have no interest in reading)
5. Comedies: A funny book
6. Dramas: A character who is a drama queen/king.
7. Animated: A book with cartoons on the cover
8. Watch it again: A book/book series that you want to re-read
9. Documentaries: A non-fiction book you’d recommend to everyone
10. Action and Adventure: An action packed book
11. New Releases: A book that just came out or will be coming out soon that you can’t wait to read.

#FirstChapterFirstParagraph Outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

“It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance. Mrs. Baird’s was like a thousand other Highland bed-and-breakfast establishments in 1945; clean and quiet, with fading floral wallpaper, gleaming floors, and a coin-operated hot-water geyser in the lavatory. Mrs. Baird herself was squat and easygoing, and made no objection to Frank lining her tiny rose-sprigged parlor with the dozens of books and papers with which he always traveled.”