ARC Review: A Bold and Dangerous Family – Spoiler Free 🇮🇹 🔫 👩

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and Edelweiss for allowing me to review.

A bold and dangerous familyA Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Two Sons, and Their Fight Against Fascism

Expected Publication October 3, 2017
Non-Fiction, 20th Century History
Nominated for The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction Longlist
“The acclaimed author of A Train in Winter and Village of Secrets delivers the next chapter in “The Resistance Quartet”: the astonishing story of the aristocratic Italian family who stood up to Mussolini’s fascism, and whose efforts helped define the path of Italy in the years between the World Wars—a profile in courage that remains relevant today.”
Caroline Moorehead uses letters, family interviews, and photographs to tell the story of the Rosselli family and their courageous actions during the first three decades of the 20th Century. Amelia, a girl who grew up in Venice, triumphed through many hardships to raise her three sons who grew up to become extremely involved in Italian politics. They refused to allow Mussolini and his squaddristi to deter them from standing up to fascism, which ultimately had an enormous impact on Italian history.
Amelia was born in Venice January 1870. She had an extremely lonely and tough childhood. After her father’s death Amelia moved to Rome with her mother when she was 15. She met her future husband Giuseppe Rosselli in Rome when she was 19. She gave birth to her son Aldo in 1895, Carlo in 1899, and her third son Sabatino (Nello) in 1900. In 1903 Amelia moved to Florence with her sons after Giuseppe and Amelia separated. She spent her time writing poems, short stories, and articles for magazines. As an extremely vigilant mother she was sometimes perceived as harsh. In 1911 Giuseppe fell ill, Amelia went to look after him until his death later that year.
There was incredible political tension in Florence at this time. Amelia became extremely involved with fighting for women’s rights, in particular education. In May 1915 Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary, and Amelia’s son Aldo left to join the war. Sadly he died and she opened a home for children of soldiers who had no mothers and named it after her son, La Casina di Aldo. Her other sons Carlo and Nello went to war, thankfully both returned safely in 1920.
Benito Mussolini took advantage of a broken Italy, created the Fascist Party in 1919, and a military unit called “The Black Shirts” to silence anti-fascists like the Rosselli brothers. Moorehead provides a detailed account of the action-reaction relationship between Mussolini and the Rosselli family over the next two decades. I had never heard of the Rosselli family before reading this book, and am grateful to have gained that knowledge.
My favourite part of the book was reading about Amelia. The book started with her being the star of the story, but as her sons become more involved with politics her thoughts and actions become less visible. This book is obviously well-researched, and it should have interested someone with a minor in history, but I was often bored and feel like it would have been better if useless information was omitted. I debated not finishing this book, which is something I don’t do very often (there are only maybe 2 or 3 books that I started and haven’t finished). It was the title that drew my attention and made me think this would be an exciting historical account of a “dangerous” family, but in actuality it’s extremely dry and academic.
That being said, I do feel like there are many readers who would love to learn more about the Rosselli family and their impact on Italian history. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy WWI and WWII history, especially if you’re interested in learning more about Italian political history during that time period.

 

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“Caroline Moorehead is the New York Times bestselling author of Village of Secrets, A Train in Winter, and Human Cargo: A Journey Among the Refugees, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. An acclaimed biographer, Moorehead has also written for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, The Times, and The Independent. She lives in London and Italy.”
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September 2017 Releases I want to Read

September 2017 new books! 🙂

Clash of Kings Graphic novel #4George R.R. Martin’s A Clash Of Kings #4

by George R.R. Martin, Landry Q. Walker (Adapter), Mel Rubi (Illustrator)
Expected Publication: September 20, 2017
Arya continues to travel north to the Wall, and makes the acquaintance of a most unusual character – Jaqen H’ghar– but when the recruits for the Night’s Watch are stopped by the Gold Cloaks, a confrontation seems inevitable… Meanwhile, Catelyn Stark must come to terms with her son, Robb, is now also the King in the North – and that sometimes family and politics conflict.”

Sleeping BeautiesSleeping Beauties

Expected Publication September 26, 2017
In this spectacular father-son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men?

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is wildly provocative and gloriously absorbing.“

Little Fires Everywhere.jpgLittle Fires Everywhere

Published September 12, 2017
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

There's someone inside your houseThere’s Someone Inside Your House

Expected Publication: September 26, 2017
Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.“

they both die at the endThey Both Die at the End

Published September 5, 2017
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.”

The Language of ThornsThe Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

by Leigh Bardugo and Sara Kipin(Illustrator)
Expected Publication: September 26, 2017
Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.“

What new books are you excited to read?

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The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower Book III) #FridayReads

I’m currently reading…

The Waste Lands

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower Book III)

By Stephen King

With Illustrations by Ned Dameron

Back Blurb: “With The Waste Lands, the third masterful novel in Stephen King’s epic saga, The Dark Tower, we again enter the realm of the mightiest imagination of our time. King’s hero, Roland, the Last Gunslinger, moves ever closer to the Dark Tower of his dreams and nightmares – as he crosses a desert of damnation in a macabre world that is a twisted mirror image of our own. With him are those he has drawn to this world, street-smart Eddie Dean and courageous wheelchair-bound Susannah. Ahead of him are mind-rending revelations about who he is and what is driving him. Against him is arrayed a swelling legion of fiendish foes both more and less than human. And as the pace of action and adventure, discovery and danger pulse-poundingly quickens, the reader is inescapably drawn into a breathtaking drama that is both hauntingly dreamlike…and eerily familiar. The Waste Lands is a triumph of storytelling sorcery – and further testament to Stephen King’s novelistic mastery.”

 

The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower Book #2) By Stephen King #SpoilerFree #BookReview

Drawing of the ThreeWhile pursuing his quest for the Dark Tower through a world that is a nightmarishly distorted mirror image of our own, Roland is drawn through a mysterious door that brings him into contemporary America.

Here he links forces with the defiant young Eddie Dean, and with the beautiful, brilliant, and brave Odetta Holmes, in a savage struggle against underworld evil and otherworldly enemies.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5094.The_Drawing_of_the_Three

Fiction: Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi

First Published May 1987

A newer edition was published August 2003

Stephen King

 

If you haven’t heard of Stephen King yet then you must have been living under a rock.

http://www.stephenking.com

 

 

 

 

The Drawing of the Three begins with Roland, the Gunslinger, on a beach not long after the man in black had predicted Roland’s future with tarot cards. The cards showed a man called The Prisoner, a woman called The Lady of Shadows, and Death. A 4-foot-long lobster-like creature with eyes on stalks attacks Roland. Roland’s bullets were soaked by the tide as he was sleeping and he’s unable to defend himself against the attack. The lobster creature bit off Roland’s first and second fingers, then took a chunk out of his calf and his toe. Roland’s injuries are severe and infection is spreading. He decides to walk North, and after three hours comes across a door, made of ironwood, with two words written on it “The Prisoner”. He looks through the door and finds himself looking through the window of a plane. It takes Roland awhile to figure it out, but he finally realizes he’s looking through the eyes of The Prisoner, Eddie Dean. Eddie is an addict attempting to smuggle cocaine into America.

The flight attendant, Jane, brings Eddie a “tooter-fish” (tuna) sandwich and notices that his eye color has changed. Her training taught her to pay attention to strange things, no matter how small they may seem. She decides to keep a close eye on Eddie. Roland manages to bring the sandwich back through the door to his body lying on the beach.

Before landing Jane notices Eddie’s eyes had changed back to hazel. She fills a thermos with hot coffee, alerts her coworker Suzy that there may be a problem, then sits down to watch Eddie. If he whips out a gun or a bomb she’ll throw the hot coffee on him. Suzy catches a glimpse of Eddie’s cocaine packaged taped around his ribs when he bends over to pick up a paper. The Gunslinger sees Suzy’s face and knows what she’s discovered. Roland is hoping Eddie will be able to get medicine for Roland’s infection, but the only way to do that is if Eddie can get through customs without being caught with drugs. Roland needs to make this happen so he can continue his journey to The Dark Tower.

I admire how King writes characters in such a realistic way. The setting and descriptions make you feel like you are right there with them. Holding your breath when things get intense, laughing when something funny happens, crying when there is sadness. The Drawing of the Three is a roller-coaster ride of emotions. My favorite character is most definitely Odetta, The Lady of the Shadows. I don’t want to say too much about her because it will be better for you to learn about her through the story. At 463 pages it seems like a hefty read, but the short sections within chapter inspire you to keep reading – just one more, just one more. I honestly can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this story.

I recommend this book to anyone over the age of 16 (profanity, graphic descriptions, violence, sex) who are fans of stories about hope, fighting inner demons, unlikely friendships, trust, and justice.

 

 

The Drawing of the Three By Stephen King #FirstChapterFirstParagraph

Drawing of the ThreeWhen I pick up a book to decide if I’d like to read it I often read the first chapter, first paragraph. I thought perhaps other readers do the same. I also like to share the first chapter first, paragraph so I can highlight fantastic writing. That first paragraph is often the one that draws you in to the story. Without further ado, here is first chapter first paragraph of The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) by Stephen King.

“Three. This is the number of your fate.
Three?
Yes, three is mystic. Three stands at the heart of the mantra.
Which three?
The first is dark-haired. He stands on the brink of robbery and murder. A demon has infested him. The name of the demon is HEROIN.
Which demon is that? I know it not, even from nursery stories.
He tried to speak but his voice was gone, the voice of the oracle, Star-Slut, Whore of the Winds, both were gone; he saw a card fluttering down from nowhere to nowhere, turning and turning in the lazy dark. On it a baboon grinned from over the shoulder of a young man with dark hair; its disturbingly human fingers were buried so deeply in the young man’s neck that their tips had disappeared in flesh. Looking more closely, the gunslinger saw the baboon held a whip in one of those clutching, strangling hands. The face of the ridden man seemed to writhe in wordless terror.”

July Wrap Up

The Books of Magic

The Books of Magic

By Neil Gaiman

Illustrated By: John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, Paul Johnson

Published January 2013 (first published 1993)

Genre(s): Graphic Novel, Fiction, Fantasy

My Review: The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman #spoilerfree #bookreview #fantasybingo

 

Little Deaths

Little Deaths

By Emma Flint

Published January 2017

Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery, Historical, Thriller, Crime

My Review: Little Deaths: #SpoilerFree #BookReview

 

 

 

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)

By Stephen King

Published October 2016 (First published June 1982)

Genre(s): Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction

The Gunslinger by Stephen King #FirstChapterFirstParagraph

My Review: The Gunslinger Book One of #TheDarkTower by #StephenKing

 

 

 

 

 

The Edge of EverythingThe Edge of Everything

By Jeff Giles

Published February 2017

Genre(s): Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

My Review: The Edge of Everything By Jeff Giles #spoilerfree #bookreview

The Gunslinger Book One of #TheDarkTower by #StephenKing

The Gunslinger is an American wild-west, fantasy, horror, science fiction novel set in an alternate universe. I read the 1982 version of The Gunslinger as a teen, and didn’t like it, which was odd because Stephen King is my favorite author. When I heard that a movie was being made about The Dark Tower series I knew I would have to read the series, and re-read The Gunslinger. The edition I just read was published in 2003, and in the foreword King explains that in 2001 he decided to go back and revise the entire series so he could finish Roland’s story properly – adding about 9,000 words (35 pages) to The Gunslinger. This edition is leagues better than the 1982 publication. So – if you read the 1982 edition of The Gunslinger and didn’t like it, you may want to give this new 2003 edition a shot.

Want to read the first paragraph? The Gunslinger by Stephen King #FirstChapterFirstParagraph

 

The Gunslinger is set in “Mid-World”, similar to “the Old West”, but it’s an alternate universe where “the world has moved on”. Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, is traveling across the Mohaine desert chasing the sorcerer called the man in black. “The gunslinger had followed the man in black across the desert for two months now, across the endless, screamingly monotonous purgatorial wastes, and had yet to find spoor other than the hygienic sterile ideographs of the man in black’s campfires.” (page 6)

Roland stumbles upon a dwelling, owned by a man named Brown who has a pet talking raven called Zoltan. Brown tells Roland that the man in black had passed through about six weeks before and stayed for supper.

The gunslinger had been going 16-18 hours a day since “the horror that had occurred in Tull”. Brown (is he the man in black in disguise?) doesn’t push it, but gently prods the gunslinger to tell the story. And so, Roland tells Brown the story of a woman he met in Tull who told him the story of when the man in black had come through town and brought a dead man to life. Sometimes I hate it when there is a story, within a story, within a story, but when King does it he weaves it in such a way that you are drawn down into the pits of the tale.

After Roland leaves Brown’s place he travels for an extremely long period, becomes severely dehydrated, then miraculously stumbles across an old way station where a young pre-teen named Jake Chambers provides him water, food, and shelter. Jake had somehow been transported to Mid-World after dying in an alternate universe that is similar to our own world. Roland tells Jake that he needs to find the man in black so he can make him take him to find the tower. Jake joins the gunslinger on his quest, and together they travel across the desert, chasing the man in black.

“The greatest mystery the universe offers is not life but size. Size encompasses life, and the Tower encompasses size…” “Size defeats us. For the fish, the lake in which he lives is the universe. What does the fish think when he is jerked up by the mouth through the silver limits of existence and into a new universe where the air drowns him and the light is blue madness?” (page 313)

The Gunslinger is a slow-burning novel that will draw you into The Dark Tower story. You’ll be wanting to know more and more about each character, and King will give it to you in dribs and drabs. Who the hell is the man in black? Is the gunslinger really the good guy? Where is this tower, and why does the gunslinger need to find it so badly?

I can’t wait to read the next book, in fact I was perusing books at a second-hand store yesterday, and coincidentally out of the half a dozen Stephen King books there, The Drawing of the Three was one of them.

 

 

Mid-Year #BookTag #TagTuesday

Technically Mid-Year was a few weeks ago, but I’ve seen this tag all around Youtube and thought it would be a fun way to see how my reading is going this year. I tag anyone who wants to do this Tag: the questions are at the bottom in a list for easy copy/paste.

Original Tag Creators:
ReadLikeWildFire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03gz6k0IB-Y
Earl Grey Books https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_Wh0rPGfRg&t=6s

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017.

The Essex Serpent

 

The Essex Serpent

By Sarah Perry

Here’ s the link for my review: The Essex Serpent Book Review – Spoiler Free

 

 

 

 

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017.

I’ve only read one sequel so far this year!

library of souls

 

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Book 3)

By Ransom Riggs

My review Library of Souls: Third Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #bookreview

 

 

 

 

 

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

Dress Codes for Small Towns.jpg

 

Dress Codes for Small Towns

By: Courtney Stevens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

Sleeping Beauties.jpg

 

Sleeping Beauties

By: Stephen King and his son, Owen King

In this spectacular father-son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men?”

Expected Publication: September 26, 2017

Book Tour Updates and More: www.stephenking.com

 

 

5. Biggest disappointment.

wyrd sisters

 

Wyrd Sisters

By: Terry Pratchett

A lot of people recommended this one to me, and it was just okay. Here’s my review: Wyrd Sisters Spoiler-Free Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

6. Biggest surprise.

Outlander

 

Outlander

By: Diana Gabaldon

I wasn’t sure I would like this one, and have been putting it off for years. I thoroughly enjoyed the book AND the first season of the TV show (on Netflix). I can’t wait to continue this series! Here’s my review: Outlander: Spoiler Free Book Review

 

 

 

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

dianagabaldon

 

Diana Gabaldon

www.dianagabaldon.com

Diana Gabaldon on Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Newest fictional crush.

August Flynn from This Savage Song, by Victoria Schwab. My Review: This Savage Song #spoilerfreebookreview #borrowathon

This Savage Song

9. Newest favorite character.

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-1476282246-custom-0.jpg

 

Newt Scamander from “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, written by J. K. Rowling. His character is quirky, smart, and mysterious. I can’t wait to learn more about his past, and hopefully learn more about his interactions with Dumbledore and involvement at Hogwarts.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them

 

My Review: Fantastic Beasts #SpoilerFree #BookReview

 

 

 

10. Book that made you cry.

A Tapestry of Tears

 

A Tapestry of Tears

By: Gita V. Reddy

My Review: A Tapestry of Tears #SpoilerFreeBookReview

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Book that made you happy.

momswhodrinkandswear

 

Moms Who Drink and Swear

By: Nicole Knepper

My Review: Book Review: Moms Who Drink and Swear: True Tales of Loving my Kids While Losing My Mind

 

 

12. Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year.

Jamie and Claire marriage

 

Outlander TV series (I watched on Netflix)

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. Favorite review you’ve written this year.

Thirteen Reasons Why #spoilerfree #bookreview

 

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

LOVE the cover of Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King!

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15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Dark Tower Book Series.jpg

I have an ARC to read:

A Bold and Dangerous Family in Edelweiss by HarperCollins.

A bold and dangerous family.jpg

Fantasy Book Bingo (Reddit) r/Fantasy Challenge:

  • Non-Fiction Fantasy Related Book
  • Fantasy Novel on “To be read” list for over a year
  • Award Winning Fantasy Novel
  • Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic/Dying Earth
  • r/Fantasy Big List 2016 Under-read/Under-rated
  • Horror Novel
  • Fantasy Novel featuring a Desert setting
  • Re-use any r/Fantasy Bingo Square
  • Self-published fantasy novel
  • Fantasy Novel published in 2017
  • Sequel: not the first book in the series
  • Novel by an r/Fantasy AMA(Ask me anything) Author or Writer of the Day
  • Fantasy of Manners
  • Fantasy Novel Featuring Dragons
  • New Weird
  • Fantasy Novel Featuring Seafaring
  • Steampunk
    • Five Fantasy Short Stories
    • Novel by an author from an r/Fantasy Author Appreciation Post

    Getting Too Old For This Crap: (50+) Protagonist

 

Dewey Decimal NonFiction Challenge

  • A book with Dewey Decimal 400-499
  • 600-699
  • 800-899
  • 900-999

 

A TO Z CHALLENGE — LOCATION EDITION

Book with location starting with the letter J, K, U, X, Y, Z

 

The questions:
1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017.
2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017.
3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.
4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.
5. Biggest disappointment.
6. Biggest surprise.
7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)
8. Newest fictional crush.
9. Newest favorite character.
10. Book that made you cry.
11. Book that made you happy.
12. Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year.
13. Favorite review you’ve written this year. (Booktube version: Favorite video you have done so far in this year)
14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

 

Little Deaths: #SpoilerFree #BookReview

Little DeathsLittle Deaths, a debut novel by Emma Flint, is a mystery crime thriller inspired by a true story (Alice Crimmins case). Flint mentions two books in the acknowledgments which were also inspired by the Alice Crimmins case, The Alice Crimmins Case by Kenneth Gross, and Ordeal by Trial by George Carpozi Jr. Little Deaths is a new book published in 2017 by Hachette Books.

We learn a lot about the main character, Ruth Malone, in the first chapter. She is telling us how much life has changed now that she’s in prison.

First chapter, first paragraph:

“On the rare nights that she sleeps, she is back in the skin of the woman from before.

     Then: she rarely slept neat in a nightgown, pillows plumped, face shining with cold cream. She sometimes woke in a rumpled bed with a snoring figure beside her; more often she woke alone on the sofa with near-empty bottles and near-full ashtrays, her skin clogged with stale smoke and yesterday’s makeup, her body tender, her mind empty. She would sit up, wincing, aware of the ache in her neck and of the sad, sour taste in her mouth.

    Now she wakes, not with the thickness of a headache or the softness of a blurred night behind her, but with forced clarity. Her days begin with a bell, with harsh voices, clanging metal, yelling. With the throat-scraping smells of bleach and urine. There’s no room in these mornings for memories.”

Ruth Malone used to be a cocktail waitress living in Queens, New York, 1965. She was recently separated from her husband, Frank, and was struggling to take care of her two kids Frankie (almost six years old) and Cindy (four years old). Ruth was a poor, proud woman who felt like she’s had a harder life than anyone else. She wears too much makeup, moves in a sexy, smooth way that enabled her to get almost any guy she wanted. Ruth cheated on her husband, with Lou Gallagher, and was also sleeping around with Johnny Salcito. Lou was using her as arm candy, while Johnny was madly in love with her.

Ruth and her kids lived in a cramped apartment building neighborhood with lots of nosy women like Carla Bonelli on the third floor, Sally Burke’s prying mother in the next building, and Nina Lombardo next door.

At times I loved Ruth for her spit-fire attitude, but most of the time I disliked her choices, especially how she put herself before her children. For example, she kept their bedroom door latched at night (claiming it’s for their safety), and doesn’t unlatch it until she has gotten dressed, had coffee, a smoke, and walked the dog Minnie. On July 14th, the day everything changed, it was 9:10am by the time she unlatched the kid’s bedroom door. I have two kids, and I can’t even imagine doing that. When my eyes open in the morning my first thought for the past ten years is to check on my kids.

And the sight of her hand in front of her, lifting the latch, pushing the door. And again, and again, every moment since: the slow sweep of the white-painted wood, and the widening expanse of light, and her hand falling to her side through the weight of the still air, and her voice catching in her dry throat. And the room beyond. Empty.” (page 21)

When her kids are reported missing, Sergeant Devlin and his noobie partner Detective Quinn immediately blame Ruth, and become obsessed trying to discover evidence to prove her guilt.

Pete Wonicke, one of the newer journalists writing for The Herald, scores the missing children story thanks to his quick-thinking. Pete’s boss Friedmann instructs him to ignore the truth and write the story that readers want to hear.

“”Readers want three things, Wonicke.” He ticket them off on his fingers. “They want to see the money. Or the lack of it. To feel envious, or superior.”

Another finger, bent back. “They want sex. There’s always a hot dame. Or a dame we can work up into hot. There’s always an angle we can use.”

A third finger. “And every story needs a bad guy. Every story needs fear.”

On the day children go missing at 1:30pm, little Cindy is found dead. On July 25 Frankie is found dead. And we begin to believe that maybe Sergeant Devlin was right. Maybe Ruth did kill her children.

Over the next three months the cops and Pete follow Ruth’s every move. The cops are trying to find that final piece of evidence that will allow them to make an arrest. Pete is talking to everyone who every knew her, her ex husband Frank, or her lovers Lou and Johnny. He’s fallen madly in love with Ruth and believes she is innocent.

At the end of November, three months after her son is found dead, Ruth is arrested for the murders of her children and the trial begins. The courtroom proceedings are exciting, and surprising.

I whipped through the pages so fast wanting to know who did it. I constantly shifted back and forth on Ruth’s innocence. GREAT novel, my only complaint is that we don’t find out for sure who did it until the last ten pages. The ending felt quite rushed to me, and I would have liked another 30-50 pages for resolution.

If you like stories inspired by true crime, or mystery thrillers, you’ll love this quick read.

The Essex Serpent Book Review – Spoiler Free

The Essex Serpent is a slow, seductive, mysterious, historical literary fiction novel set in the Victorian era.

The Essex Serpent

 

The Essex Serpent

By Sarah Perry

Published 2016

The Essex Serpent #FirstChapterFirstParagraph

This tale begins on New Year’s Eve. A drunk man wanders to the edge of Blackwater estuary, flirting with the idea of going for a dip, he suddenly catches a glimpse of “something vast, hunched, grimly covered over with rough and lapping scales” (page 5). He is later found dead, with his head turned 180 degrees.

Time is marked by the tide,
Time is served in jail,
Time can be wasted and lost,
Time is money,
Time passes no matter how we try to stop it.

“In a Circle Line carriage, Westbound, fitful lights showed The Times had nothing happy to report, and in the aisle a bag spilled damaged fruit. There was the scent of rain on raincoats, and among the passengers, sunk in his upturned collar, Dr. Luke Garrett was reciting the parts of the human heart.” (page 13) Dr. Garrett, a 32 year old man with short stature and a lopsided gait, is traveling to the funeral of his patient, Michael Seaborne, who died from cancer of the throat. Mr. Seaborne’s wife, Cora, is our main character. She is a tall, strong, not slender, gray-eyed, independent woman who does not mourn for her abusive husband. While Mr. Seaborne was ill many nurses walked out on him, one claiming he was the devil. With Mr. Seaborne dead, Cora has been born again, and is free to pursue her passion for science. Their eleven year old son Francis has some odd characteristics, and I suspect he is on the Autism spectrum. Francis has had the same nanny since birth, a thirty three year old woman named Martha.

While caring for Mr. Seaborne, Dr. Garrett has fallen in love with Cora. She thinks of him as a friend, but doesn’t return his romantic feelings. She travels to Colchester with Martha and Francis for some peace and quiet. Martha and Cora meet Thomas Taylor, who tells them a story about the earthquake that shook the Essex Serpent from it’s hiding place. They run into Charles and Katherine Ambrose who were also visiting Colchester. Charles was once a colleague of Cora’s late husband, Michael.

Charles tells Cora about the Essex Serpent while enjoying pastries at a café. “Three hundred years ago or thereabouts a dragon took up residence in Henham, twenty miles northwest of here. Ask at the library and they’ll show you the leaflets they nailed up round the town: eyewitness accounts from farmers, and a picture of some kind of leviathan with wings of leather and a toothy grin. It used to lie about basking in the sunshine and snapping its beak (its beak, mind you!), and no one thought much of it until a boy got his leg broken. It vanished soon after, but the rumors never did. Every time crops failed or the sun eclipsed, or there was a plague of toads, someone somewhere would see the beast down on the riverbank, or lurking on the village green. And listen: it’s back!” Charles then tells Cora about the man who had washed up on shore New Year’s Day with a broken neck. This convinces Cora she must go to Aldwinter and search for the serpent in hopes that she can make a great scientific discovery. Katherine suggests Cora meet up with the Ransome family while in Aldwinter.

William Ransome is a reverend, married to Stella, and they have three children named Joanna, John, and James. Will does not believe in Darwin, or the Essex Serpent, and tries to convince Cora and all other believers in town that there is nothing to be a afraid of.

Henry Banks believes his lost rowing boat is a result of the Essex Serpent. His daughter Naomi Banks is friends with Will’s daughter Joanna.

One of the most interesting characters is Mr. Cracknell, who lives on the edge of the marsh. During the past three years he has lost his wife, sister, and his son. He has witnessed some strange happenings and also blames them on the serpent.

In April Cora, Martha, and Francis move to Aldwinter, which enables Cora to become quite good friends with Will and his family. As Will and Cora strengthen their relationship everything else falls apart.

The Essex Serpent may be a slow-burning story, but you’ll be on the edge of your seat trying to figure out if there really is a monster terrorizing the small town.

 

As soon as I finished the book I wanted to go back and start it all over again. (In fact, I did go back and re-read the first 100 pages). This is a story in which you’ll see something new each time you read it. Sarah Perry developed authentic friendships that change with time and circumstance. I highly recommend you give this one a read – I have a funny feeling that it will be picked up and made into a movie. Such a great story about good vs evil, love, family, lust, loyalty, guilt, fear, and how time creates the ebb and flow changing everything in its wake.