Sarah Perry

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British Books Challenge 2017 – The Round Up

Published January 3, 2018 by bibliobeth

BBC pointed shaded

2017 was another fantastic year of British books. I really love participating in this challenge and always surprise myself with the amount I manage to read. Here’s what I read this year:

Checkmate (Noughts & Crosses #3) – Malorie Blackman

The Dry – Jane Harper

 The Ballroom – Anna Hope

The Muse – Jessie Burton

A Boy Made Of Blocks – Keith Stuart

Monsters Of Men (Chaos Walking #3) – Patrick Ness

Burned And Broken – Mark Hardie

Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller

Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? – Paula Daly

The Girl Who Walked On Air – Emma Carroll

The Trouble With Goats And Sheep – Joanna Cannon

The Wishing Tree – Lucy Wood

The Cuckoo Sister – Vivian Alcock

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time – Mark Haddon

Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon

How To Be A Good Wife – Emma Chapman

Blood Red, Snow White – Marcus Sedgwick

Faithful Lovers – Margaret Drabble

Stasi Child (Karin Müller #1) – David Young

A Place Called Winter – Patrick Gale

Double Room – Ramsey Campbell

Etta And Otto And Russell And James – Emma Hooper

Tastes Like Fear (Marnie Rome #3) – Sarah Hilary

The Adventure Of The Engineer’s Thumb – Arthur Conan Doyle

In Darkling Wood – Emma Carroll

Lie With Me – Sabine Durrant

The Girl In The Red Coat – Kate Hamer

That Girl From Nowhere – Dorothy Koomson

Bamboo Heart – Ann Bennett

Bamboo Island – Ann Bennett

 Bamboo Road – Ann Bennett

Awful Auntie – David Walliams

Shadow Magic – Joshua Khan

Dream Magic – Joshua Khan

The Stranger In My Home – Adele Parks

Fleeing Complexity – Jon McGregor

Six Tudor Queens – Katherine Of Aragon: The True Queen

A Kiss In The Dark – Cat Clarke

Double Cross – Malorie Blackman

Close To Me – Amanda Reynolds

The Birds – Daphne du Maurier

He Said/She Said – Erin Kelly

Glow – Ned Beauman

Gone Without A Trace – Mary Torjussen

 The Drowned Village – Kate Mosse

This Must Be The Place – Maggie O’Farrell

Jane Austen At Home: A Biography – Lucy Worsley

Alice Through The Plastic Sheet – Robert Shearman

I See You – Clare Mackintosh

Black Water – Louise Doughty

Anne Boleyn: A Kings Obsession (Six Tudor Queens #2) – Alison Weir

The Owl At The Window – Carl Gorham

Fruits – Steve Mosby

The Prime Minister’s Brain – Gillian Cross

Quieter Than Killing (DI Marnie Rome #4) – Sarah Hilary

The Book Of Souls (Inspector McLean #2) – James Oswald

The Shut Eye – Belinda Bauer

Living The Dream – Lauren Berry

Leopard At The Door – Jennifer McVeigh

Together – Julie Cohen

Conclave – Robert Harris

An Anxious Man – James Lasdun

Ask No Questions – Lisa Hartley

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry

Miss You – Kate Eberlen

Broken Branches – M. Jonathan Lee

Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell

Necropolis – Guy Portman

Blue Moon – Lucy Wood

The End We Start From – Megan Hunter

Master – Angela Carter

Possum – Matthew Holness

This Beautiful Life – Katie Marsh

The Adventure Of The Noble Bachelor – Arthur Conan Doyle

The Snow Sister – Emma Carroll

Wages Of Sin – Kaite Welsh

Last Seen Alive – Claire Douglas

The White Doe – Rosy Thornton

Beyond Black – Hilary Mantel

How To Be Both – Ali Smith

Animal: The Autobiography Of A Female Body – Sara Pascoe

The Way Back To Us – Kay Langdale

Cartes Postales From Greece – Victoria Hislop

Did You See Melody? – Sophie Hannah

Vessel – Jon McGregor

Madness Is Better Than Defeat – Ned Beauman

Fortunately, The Milk – Neil Gaiman

Monte Verita – Daphne du Maurier

Good Me Bad Me – Ali Land

The Watchmaker Of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley

The Last Letter From Your Lover – Jojo Moyes

The Prisoner Of Ice And Snow – Ruth Lauren

The House On The Hill – Kate Mosse

The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters

The Farm – Tom Rob Smith

Girl 4 – (January David #1) – Will Carver

The Two (January David #2) – Will Carver

The Immortals – S.E. Lister

Fire Lines – Cara Thurlbourn

Saffy’s Angel – Hilary McKay

Western Fringes – Amer Anwar

The King’s Curse – Philippa Gregory

The Next Together (The Next Together #1) – Lauren James

A Place For Violence – Kevin Wignall

Black Hearts In Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles #2) – Joan Aiken

The House – Simon Lelic

Is Monogamy Dead? – Rosie Wilby

A Dangerous Crossing – Rachel Rhys

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead – Charlie Laidlaw

Hush Little Baby – Joanna Barnard

The Art Of Hiding – Amanda Prowse

What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky – Lesley Nneka Arimah

Under A Pole Star – Stef Penney

Wisht – Lucy Wood

Witch Child – Celia Rees

Dead Set – Will Carver

The Strangler Vine – M.J. Carter

The Hangman’s Song – James Oswald

Seeing Double – Sara Maitland

Dreamwalker (The Ballad Of Sir Benfro #1) – James Oswald

Strange Star – Emma Carroll

High House – Rosy Thornton

Finding Jennifer Jones (Jennifer Jones #2) – Anne Cassidy

So if my calculations are correct, that makes 123 British books/short stories read this year which has smashed last year’s record of 72 which I’m very pleased about. Highlights of this year have to be The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry which just captivated me, A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale which completely stole my heart and I still think about today and A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys, a fantastic surprise that I didn’t anticipate enjoying as much as I did. I’ve also enjoyed catching up on Emma Carroll’s back catalogue (one of my targets for the year) and read some beautiful short stories, including one very recently by Rosy Thornton. I’m very excited for some more British books in 2018 – bring it on!

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Mid Year Freak Out Tag 2017

Published July 18, 2017 by bibliobeth

Hi everyone! Now I don’t normally do tags but I’ve seen this one hopping around blogs and book tube videos and it just looked too fun not to participate in. Here are my answers!

1.) The Best Book You’ve Read So Far This Year

Aaagh, this is so hard already! According to my GoodReads stats, I’ve awarded twenty books five stars this year so far and there were quite a few contenders for the crown. I’ve gone with The White Road by Sarah Lotz however as it’s a book I’m still thinking about months after reading it. SO GOOD.

2.) Your Favourite Sequel This Year?

Tastes Like Fear is the third book in the Marnie Rome series by Sarah Hilary. I could quite easily have picked the fourth book as well but again, if I only had to pick one, this would be it. I loved the plot of this novel and don’t even get me started about how amazing the characters are.

3.) A New Release That You Haven’t Read Yet But Really Want To?

There are so many fantastic books on my TBR but this one in particular I’m really looking forward to getting to. It was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction earlier this year and I’ve only heard great things about it!

4.) Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half Of The Year?

Regular visitors to my blog may not be surprised at my choice! If I had to choose ONE author over all others, it would be Stephen King every single time. This new novel is a collaboration with one of his sons, Owen King and I literally cannot wait. Although I’m going to have to as I’ve banned myself from buying anymore SK’s in hardback which means I’m going to have to wait for the paperback release. SOB 😦

5.) Your Biggest Disappointment?

This is a very recently finished graphic novel for me and SUCH a disappointment. I was really hoping I would love it and if it hadn’t been so short, I would probably have DNF’d it to be honest. I will be doing a Mini Pin It Review with more of my thoughts about it at some point.

6.) Biggest Surprise Of The Year?

Conclave by Robert Harris. I wasn’t expecting to like this book at all after being disappointed with a previous read by this author. I was so shocked and pleasantly surprised when I thoroughly enjoyed it! Who knew that the process of electing a Pope could be so thrilling?

7.) Favourite New To You Or Debut Author?

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt is a novel based on the real story of Lizzie Borden whose father and step-mother were murdered with an axe, allegedly by Lizzie but other culprits are also suggested. It’s macabre, shocking, disgusting and AMAZING. I will now read anything Sarah Schmidt writes!

8.) Your New Fictional Crush?

To be honest, I don’t really get fictional crushes. If I had to choose someone that makes my heart beat slightly faster when I’m reading however, I’d have to go for Roland Deschain from Stephen King’s epic Dark Tower series.

9.) New Favourite Character?

Can I cheat and have two?! Robbie and Emily from Together by Julie Cohen were adorable and I loved reading about their relationship.

10.) A Book That Made You Cry?

The Snow Child was a recent re-read for me and really affected me on a personal level this time round. I actually upped my rating to five stars (from four stars previously) after I had finished. It’s such a stunning story and you can never go wrong with a bit of fairy tale!

11.) A Book That Made You Happy?

I don’t read very many “happy,” books, I’m afraid I tend to verge towards the darker, more depressing tomes but reading The Essex Serpent recently made me so happy. The writing was out of this world and the plot and characters made me feel like I was in bed all cosy with a hot cup of tea.

12.) Your Favourite Book To Movie Adaptation That You’ve Seen This Year?

I haven’t actually watched a book to film adaptation recently, I always worry that it’s going to be nothing like the novel! I did recently re-watch Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone which is always excellent!

13.) Favourite Book Post You’ve Published This Year?

I found this question so tough! I never know how my blog posts are going to be received – sometimes I write one that I think is really good and I don’t really get a response then I write one I’m not so happy with and I get a really brilliant response. One of the reviews I most enjoyed writing this year was The Birds by Daphne du Maurier for my Short Stories Challenge. It’s easily one of the best short stories I’ve ever read.

14.) The Most Beautiful Book You Have Bought/Received This Year?

Again, there were a few contenders for this crown! I’ve been lucky enough to receive/buy some really gorgeous books this year, my Penguin Clothbound Classics come a close second but I had to choose Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. It looks even better in the flesh and I can’t wait to get to it.

15.) What Are Some Books That You Need To Read By The End Of The Year?

This has been on my TBR for the longest time and I really need to get to it by the end of this year. I will, I will!

I got this book for my birthday after wanting it for ages. I’ve heard some terrific things and it needs to be read.

Another book I’ve only heard great things about and it’s just crying out to me at the moment from my shelves!

Non-fiction feminism? Yes please! Will. Read. Before. End. Of. Year!!!

So that’s my answers, thank you so much for reading and I hope you’ve enjoyed my choices. Let me know in the comments if you agree with me or tell me what you might choose yourself. I’d like to tag my sister Chrissi Reads to do this tag as I think it’s something she would enjoy and anyone else who would like to do it, consider yourself tagged!

 

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry

Published July 17, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890’s, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way.

They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist is enthralled, convinced the beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his parishioners’ agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart.

Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.

What did I think?:

If you haven’t heard of The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, where on earth have you been?! This gorgeous, one of a kind novel (with equally stunning cover art) has been critically acclaimed and nominated or won a host of awards including being long-listed for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction this year, nominated for best novel at the Costa Book Awards in 2016, winning the Waterstone’s Book Of The Year in 2016 and the British Book Award for Book Of The Year earlier this year. It was picked as one of the books for the Richard and Judy Summer Book Club recently and although it’s been languishing on my shelves for months now, I’ve finally had an opportunity to pick it up. All I can say is I have no idea why it took me so long! The Essex Serpent deserves all the praise and glory that it has had so far and is truly one of the most beautiful and special books that I’ve had the honour to read.

The scene is set in the 1890’s where a young woman, Cora Seaborne has just become widowed from her controlling, manipulative husband and relatively loveless marriage. Feeling like the entire world has been lifted from her shoulders, she decides to travel to Colchester with her son and good friend, Martha to explore one of her biggest passions – the natural world and fossil hunting. While she is there she meets local vicar, Will Ransome and his wife Stella who she develops a strong friendship with as they discuss science and faith, myths and legends. The village of Aldwinter has become subject to a terrifying prospect in recent times. Unexplained deaths and strange occurrences for the inhabitants of the village are being blamed on the return of a mythical creature, The Essex Serpent who appears to be terrorising the land and the people.

Will and Cora form an intense bond as The Essex Serpent continues to roam the land, Will believing that it’s a lot of superstition and nonsense and as the parish vicar, has the thankless job of trying to reassure and calm his flock. Meanwhile, Cora sees things scientifically and believes it may be the potential return of an ancient creature only previously captured in fossils and is determined to make history by cataloguing its existence. This story is about the relationship between Will and Cora, the differences between hard science and true faith and about love in all the ways that it happens upon us.

I have to admit, this story is a bit of a slow burner to begin with. Please, please stick with it though because by about one hundred pages through I was completely hooked. It’s a study on nature, the environment, superstition and logic and has some of the most beautifully descriptive writing that I’ve ever experienced. It gives you that cosy feeling that’s a rare experience which only happens with a very unique type of book – like you’re warm and cosy under a thick blanket with a cup of hot tea and you’re experiencing the happiest moment of your life. That’s exactly how I felt when reading this book. There are so many secondary characters as well as the wonderful Cora and Will to relish and each one of them was so perfectly drawn that I felt I knew them intimately as friends.

I also loved that there were a number of sub plots and extra things going on that felt equally important and connected to the main narrative like Dr Luke Garrett’s fight to control his feelings for Cora, the excellent passage where he performs open heart surgery for the first time and the wonderful Martha’s determination to improve living conditions for the poor people in Victorian London, parts of which really rang true when we think about conditions for those living in poverty today, horrifically enough! I really can’t gush enough about this extraordinary novel. It’s one that will stay with me for a long time and I feel lucky just to have had the opportunity to read it.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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