Friday, June 23, 2017

#SRC2017 Book Spotlight: Last Seen by J.L. Doucette

Title: Last Seen
Author: J.L. Doucette
Series: Dr. Pepper Hunt, #1
Published: May 2017, She Writes Press
Format: Paperback, 330 pages
Psychologist and police consultant Dr. Pepper Hunt, struggling to deal with the murder of her husband, leaves the private practice they shared and relocates to Wyoming. There, in the stark landscape of the high desert, there is nothing to remind her of everything she lost and left behind. Then her new patient, Kimi Benally, goes missing in a Wyoming blizzard after her last therapy session -- making Pepper the last person to see her.

She knows the secrets Kimi shared in therapy hold clues to her mysterious disappearance, and she joins forces with Detective Beau Antelope to try to discover what's happened to her. But as she follows the trail of Kimi's obsession with the past, Pepper begins to fear the worst for her missing patient--and her own haunted memories surface.

What Readers are saying: 

"The projected first in a series, Last Seen makes the southwest landscape and culture an integral part of the story. This self-sufficient community is one that readers will be intrigued to visit again." ―Booklist

“Readers will grow enamored with these characters and the twisty dark plot – so much so, they may forget about BLL completely.” ―Redbook, “6 Books to Cure Your Big Little Lies Withdrawals”

"A missing person tale with a strong setting and cast of characters…Doucette’s auspicious first novel puts a welcome focus on the players instead of transgressive twists.”  ―Kirkus

"Author J.L. Doucette gives readers a keen sense of Wyoming winters, three-dimensional characters, and taut, descriptive writing. An enthusiastic welcome to Dr. Pepper Hunt!”  ―Linda Barnes, Edgar Award-winning author of the Carlotta Carlyle mystery series

“There’s a detective named Antelope, at least two registered sex offenders, a scoundrel in pricey ski gear, his lying mistress, and tellingly, his missing wife. At the middle of this many-sided mess is Dr. Pepper Hunt, psychologist―clear-eyed, intelligent, beautiful, brave. You’ll fall in love with Pepper and with J. L. Doucette’s subtle, immersive, beguiling tale.” ―Bryan Gruley, Anthony, Barry and Strand Award-winning author of the Starvation Lake Mystery series

“With clear, crackling prose, at times breathtaking, and characters so real that I felt flesh and bone back on that wild western landscape, mingling with the people and inhabiting their world. Combine Doucette’s voice and prose with a story that haunts and intrigues again and again, and we know we are in the hands of a very talented writer. I loved these characters. I loved the terrain. I never wanted to leave. This is the kind of writing that stays with me long after the novel is finished.” ―Diane Les Becquets, author of Breaking Wild

“Last Seen is a tantalizing psychological thriller in which J. L. Doucette masterfully weaves a chilling plot around a cast of complex, well-drawn characters led by psychologist, Dr. Pepper Hunt, a woman running from her own nightmare past. As the tiny Wyoming town searches its frigid horizons for a missing local woman, Dr. Hunt and Detective Antelope spark some warmth in an investigation all their own. A suspenseful ride that will keep you turning pages to the very end!” ―Michelle Cox, award-winning author of A Girl Like You and A Ring of Truth, from the A Henrietta and Detective Howard series



Last Seen  by J.L. Doucette is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks. 
 Follow the #SRC2017 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #SRC2017  and other fun links. You can participate in weekly secret missions for chances to win signed copies of selected books and more! There's a new secret mission each week :)

#SRC2017 Book Spotlight: The Half-Life of Remorse by Grant Jarrett

Title: The Half-Life of Remorse
Author: Grant Jarrett
Published: May 2017, SparkPress
Format: Paperback, 256 pages

When two vagrants meet on the streets of Muncie, Indiana, they are both unaware that their paths crossed years before. Chic, crude and uneducated, is convinced that Sam is nothing more than a harmless lunatic, and Sam, emotionally scarred and psychologically traumatized by events long past, regards Chic as just another denizen of the street. But Chic has spent his adult life trying to purge his soul of the brutal crime he committed as a teenager―the same botched burglary that resulted in the deaths of Sam's wife and son. Meanwhile, Sam's daughter Claire is still unable to give up hope that her father might someday reappear. 

When these three lives converge, the puzzle of the past gradually falls together, but redemption commands a high price, and what is revealed will test the limits of love and challenge the human capacity for forgiveness.

What readers are saying: 

"An often engaging and heartwarming novel…”―Kirkus Reviews

"The true wizardry of The Half-Life of Remorse is how the random intersection of two homeless men evolves into a story of irresistible forward motion, stunning revelations, deepest human complexities and highest consequences. Underwriting this feat is Jarrett's ability to inhabit his fated characters absolutely, conjuring their voices, their minds, their wounds, their guilt, their haunted and mingled histories, with such spooky fidelity that you feel you are each one of them, and all of them, all at once. Original, gorgeous, exciting and deeply moving, The Half-Life of Remorse put my heart through all the paces." ―Tim Johnston, author of New York Times bestseller Descent

"Acts of searing violence transform vulnerable lives in Grant Jarrett’s The Half-Life of Remorse. Through the anguished accounts of survivors who nearly died in that night of violence, and the delusions of one of the survivors who imagines himself capable of magic, Jarrett creates echoes of The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale. This resonant novel traces the lingering effects of trauma and exposes the greatest challenge for its primary characters: self-forgiveness."―Lee Upton, author of The Tao of Humiliation

"In The Half-Life of Remorse, Grant Jarrett proves his mastery of narrative voice, unflinching realism, and adroit yet artful storytelling.” ―Mark Wisniewski, author of Watch Me Go


The Half-Life of Remorse  by Grant Jarrett is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks. 
 Follow the #SRC2017 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #SRC2017  and other fun links. You can participate in weekly secret missions for chances to win signed copies of selected books and more! There's a new secret mission each week :)

Review: The Dry by Jane Harper (audio)

Title: The Dry
Author: Jane Harper
Series: Aaron Falk, #1
Narrator: Stephen Shanahan
Published: January 2017, Macmillan Audio
Length: 9 hours 46 minutes
Source: Library
Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well...

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret... A secret Falk thought long-buried... A secret which Luke's death starts to bring to the surface...

My thoughts: I am completely blown away by the fact that this is a debut novel! I had been hearing a lot about this book as soon as it was released, but didn't have time to pick it up until now. And to know that this is going to be a series -- how happy am I!?! You know how I love my series and when I find one that I love from the start...and get into when it starts and not get into late in the game - it's a home run!

There are so many good things going for this's hard to know where to start. First, there's the setting. The small farming town of Kiewarra that is in the middle of a draught and is now dealing with the murder of three of their own...really set the scene - talk about atmospheric! Think of a pressure cooker trying to let off steam...that's what this book is like. It's tightly woven and intricately plotted, getting hold of you and not letting go until you reach the end!

The characters are all richly developed and you just want to find out all there is about them. There are secrets to uncover and that is the driving force behind what is going on. The plot moves between the past and present and you get more and more intrigued trying to figure out how they are connected. 

I really liked Detective Aaron Falk and am excited that this series is based on him. The twists and turns kept me guessing and engaged and while I did figure a few things out, I was still surprised at the end in the way everything played out. I will be eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.

Audio thoughts: This was a great book to listen to...and I thought Stephen Shanahan did a great job narrating it. It's the first time I've listened to him narrate and I really hope he continues to narrate this series as I thought he did a great job with the voices and the pacing. His accent - to me what seemed an authentic Australian accent - was just perfect for this book!

Books in this series: 
  1. The Dry
  2. Force of Nature - due out 2/18  (in the US)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

Title: The Identicals
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Published: June 2017, Little Brown & Company
Format: ARC Paperback, 432 pages
Source: Publisher
Identical twin sisters who couldn't look more alike...or live more differently.
Harper Frost is laid-back, easygoing. She doesn't care what anyone thinks of her. She likes a beer and a shot and wouldn't be caught dead wearing anything fashionable. She's inherited her father's rundown house on Martha's Vineyard, but she can't hold down a job, and her latest romantic disaster has the entire island talking.

Two beautiful islands only eleven miles apart.
Tabitha Frost is dignified, refined. She prefers a fine wine and has inherited the impeccable taste of her mother, the iconic fashion designer Eleanor Roxie-Frost. She's also inherited her mother's questionable parenting skills--Tabitha's teenage daughter, Ainsley, is in full rebellion mode--and a flailing fashion boutique on Nantucket in desperate need of a cash infusion.

One unforgettable summer that will change their lives forever.

After more than a decade apart, Harper and Tabitha switch islands--and lives--to save what's left of their splintered family. But the twins quickly discover that the secrets, lies, and gossip they thought they'd outrun can travel between islands just as easily as they can. Will Harper and Tabitha be able to bury the hatchet and end their sibling rivalry once and for all? Before the last beach picnic of the season, there will be enough old resentments, new loves, and cases of mistaken identity to make this the most talked-about summer that Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket have experienced in ages.

My thoughts: It's the start of summer and I have my favorite summery read in hand - a new Elin Hilderbrand book!!! I was fortunate to pick up this gem at BookExpo this year and even more exciting - I got to see Elin in person and get the book signed! I just love seeing her - she is such a delight and while it was a very quick hi and thanks for writing these fun, summery reads, I loved it all the same! Plus, she was giving away cocktails at her signing - how could you not love that?

One of my favorite things about Elin's books is that they are always set on Nantucket - my favorite summer reading destination...but this time, she brings in a new setting! She also sets part of the story in Martha's Vineyard - another place I am sad to admit I have never been to...but hope one of these days to visit. I loved the descriptions in the beginning of the book where the two islands are compared...this helped me to put things into perspective a little bit.

So, about this book - it reminded me a little bit of The Parent Trap - oh how I adored that movies - the original of course with Hayley Mills as the twins. Of course, this book has much more substance than The Parent Trap, but with the twin story and Harper and Tabitha switching islands for the summer - how can you not think of that?

This story also made me think of the bond between strong that bond really is. Yes, there is always going to be some sibling rivalry, but when push comes to shove, your sister will be there for you no matter what. Of course, these sisters let that rivalry play out a bit long, much like the rivalry that exists between the two islands, but it turned out it worked to their favor in the end. 

This is an enjoyable summer read, filled with the usual gossip and fun characters that is the trademark of an Elin Hilderbrand book, times two if you take the two islands into account! My only complaint is that now I have to wait another whole year before the next summer book comes out...

Friday, June 16, 2017

BookExpo - Day 4 (Friday): The Last Day!

Today is the final day of was only 2 full days on the floor. But it's another full day and I am all-set to go. I got another good night's sleep, so I am up and at 'em bright and early. And since it's another nice morning, I decided to walk again to the Javits - I really do love walking around NYC! So, after a brief stop at Starbucks, I was on my way.

Today, my schedule involved less galley drops and more signings. That just meant a lot of waiting...waiting in lines to get the book. And the first one was almost as soon as the doors opened. But, as I was in that line, I happened to see Abby from Crime by the Book, who was walking by. I just adore her...and was excited to chat with her for a bit.  

Some of the authors I got to see/meet over the course of the two days include: Kate White, Kate Moore, Claire Messud, Eva Wood, Celeste Ng, J.T. Ellison, Kaira Rouda, A.F. Brady, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Rene Denfeld, Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Sara Blaedel, and Elin Hilderbrand.  

I didn't necessarily get a book from all these authors but I did say hi to them all. For instance, I had just won a signed copy of J.T. Ellison's upcoming book, so no need for another one, but I've never met her in person (and she was signing at the Harlequin booth along with Kaira Rouda and A.F. Brady so in order to get their books, I had to go right by J.T. - win-win for me!) And she totally understood why I wasn't taking a book - she had sent me the copy of the book herself, not her publicist. 

And I also didn't get a book from Liz and Lisa - I had just gotten the audio version of their book and their signing actually conflicted with Sara Blaedel's signing - so I had to make a choice - Sara's book totally won that context, sorry Liz and Lisa! But, Liz and Lisa happened to be walking around the Harlequin booth during J.T., Kaira and A.F's signing, so I was able to say hi to them then! It was all good...I got to say hi to those whose books I already had and got to meet/see those whose books I wanted! Total win-win for me :)

Kate White (top left), Sara Blaedel (top right), J.T. Ellison (bottom, in white)

Elin's event is always at the end of the day and she always has a cocktail to offer - this year it was Corona's! I just love getting the chance to see her - and this year, she was all done up. Fashion plays a big part in her latest book, The Identicals, so she is giving us a fashion show  during her book tour through Instagram (make sure you are following her there!) and BookExpo was the first stop. She's so awesome!!! 

Me & Elin

The big event of the day was the Book Group Speed Dating Event that I go to every year. This is one of my favorite events - definitely a highlight of the show. What happens is that different publishers go around the room chatting about their upcoming books. So we, the attendees get to stay at our tables and they come to us. We were all assigned a table and every 9 or 10 minutes, the publishers switch tables. I think this year, 8 publishers came to my table. And at each table are stacks of some of the books that were presented that we were free to take.

What I found most interesting about the event this year is that there were quite a few books that were presented that were ones I had already picked up. But it just goes to show you how strong a pitch can be because there was one book that I ended up taking that I had been on the fence about and yet when the publicist pitched it, I was sold! Having that personal pitch, that human contact, really does make a difference.

After dropping our books back at the hotel, the girls and I headed out to dinner. We wanted to find a good pizza place - but a place where we could sit down. After all, we had just spent the last two days on our feet. We walked down to Cara Mia's for dinner and then stopped at Junior's Cheesecake for dessert. We walked through Time Square and then headed back to the hotel. But we weren't quite ready to say goodbye, so we hung out in Alison and Rhiannon's room, and the chatter and laughter continued until it was time to go back to our room to pack...Tamara and I were both leaving bright and early the next morning. Tamara had an early flight home and my husband was coming to pick me up.

Tamara, Me, Rhiannon, Alison - in Times Square

And so ends another fun and successful BookExpo trip...with plans made to attend #BookExpo2018, provided bloggers are invited. 

So here is a final picture of all the books I picked up at BookExpo during the 3 days. I didn't get as many as I have in years past, and the majority are in the mystery/suspense category - can you tell where my reading habits lie these days!?! I was super selective with the books I did pick up and I know that I have some really good reading coming my way...I can't wait to share my thoughts on these with you as soon as I get to them!!!

My 2017 BookExpo book haul.

* And in case you missed it: 

#SRC2017 Book Spotlight: The Rules of Half by Jenna Patrick

Title: The Rules of Half
Author: Jenna Patrick
Published: June 2017, SparkPress
Format: Paperback, 376 pages

If Will Fletcher’s severe bipolar disorder isn’t proof he shouldn’t be a parent, his infant daughter’s grave is. Once a happily married, successful veterinarian, he now lives with his sister and thrives as the small-town crazy of Half Moon Hollow. But when a fifteen-year-old orphan claims she’s his daughter, Will is forced back into the role he fears most: fatherhood.

Her biological dad isn’t the hero Regan Whitmer hoped for, but he’s better than her abusive stepfather back in Chicago. Still haunted by her mother’s suicide and the rebellious past she fears led to it, Regan is desperate for a stable home and a normal family―things Will can’t offer. Can she ride the highs and lows of his illness to find a new definition of family?

The Rules of Half explores what it is to be an atypical family in a small town and to be mentally ill in the wake of a tragedy―and who has the right to determine both.

What readers are saying: 

“The Rules of Half is easily the most captivating and emotionally harrowing family drama of summer, and it’ll keep you guessing until the captivating conclusion." ―Redbook, “10 Books You Have to Read This Summer”

"In her debut novel, Patrick writes with sensitivity about the trials of mental illness for both sufferers and caregivers….[A] novel that’s strengthened by its attention to how people forgive and connect.” ―Kirkus Reviews

"For those who crave the deepest of feels, this is your perfect entertainment pairing. These two heartbreaking but hopeful tales combine dysfunctional families, human connections, and unthinkable tragedy in the best way possible. There isn't a chance these dazzling dramas (set in completely different eras) won't move you to the core.” ―Popsugar

“The perfect trifecta of a dysfunctional family, mental illness, and inescapable small town dynamics, The Rules of Half will steal your attention mercilessly from the first page to the last." ―Redbook

“In her debut novel The Rules of Half, Patrick flawlessly delivers both a deeply thoughtful depiction of mental illness, and a heartwarming, and dare I say humorous, story about the scars people carry, the healing power of human connections, and the wondrous child that lives in us all. Rules will have you feverously turning pages, and in the end, wanting to know what Jenna Patrick has planned for us next.”  ―Brady Stefani, award-winning author The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman

"Both hopeful and heartbreaking, The Rules of Half explores how one man's mental illness can impact an entire town, and how the bonds of family, however strained, can pull you through even the darkest of times." ―Kristin Contino, author of The Legacy of Us

“A story rich in complex characters, Jenna Patrick’s debut novel The Rules of Half is a darkly compelling and ultimately redemptive tale of loss and regret, and the often-painful truths we must confront in order to heal.”  ―Barbara Taylor Sissel, author of Faultlines


The Rules of Half  by Jenna Patrick is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks. 
 Follow the #SRC2017 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #SRC2017  and other fun links. You can participate in weekly secret missions for chances to win signed copies of selected books and more! There's a new secret mission each week :)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

BookExpo - Day 3 (Thursday): The Floor Opens!!!

Today the floor - where all the booths and galley drops and authors signings are - was finally opening!!! Because I had gone to bed relatively early the night before with a bad headache, I was up bright and early (really though, this was my usual wake-up time at home!), so rather than relying on the shuttle to get to the Javits Center, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful morning and walk! I stopped by the nearby Starbucks, got my Chai Latte and a yogurt/granola combo and was on my way!!!

I got to the Javits pretty early - it was a little after 8am and the floor wasn't opening until 9, but I checked my little suitcase - that was for carting whatever books I ended up with back to the hotel at the end of the day - and found the Publisher's Weekly Show Daily. I learned my lesson the first year that this is a very valuable tool to read each day - it contains updated signing and galley drop information along with articles about the certain authors and the industry in general. That first year, I just took the magazines, but never looked at them until I got home after the event was over!

As I was walking to get on line, I ran into a fellow blogger, Donna from OnDBookShelf. We got on line together and got a chance to chat while perusing the PW Magazine. She had gotten there early, too, to check that out. Besides getting a chance to hear about and pick up lots of new books and see a lot of authors, I love getting to see the bloggers I talk to virtually in person, like Donna. As we were talking, we realized that Ashley from Nose Graze happened to be sitting in line in front of us - yes we were sitting on the floor while waiting! 

Once the floors was go time. I was pretty organized with my schedule - it was color-coded! I had a game plan and I knew what I wanted as far as the books I was hoping to get/signings I wanted to go to. I had done my research and knew when most of the books I wanted were being given out either through galley drops or at author signings, but there were a few that I wasn't sure about, so when I first went in, I went to those booths to see if I could find out. 

One thing I noticed right away this year as opposed to the years prior was that the floor was noticeably less crowded and the aisles seemed wider. Even at the table signings in the back, the lines were much quieter. Not that I was complaining...I was liking that it was quiet. 

One of the bloggers I was most looking forward to meeting, besides the group I was with, was Felicia from Geeky Bloggers Book Blog. She was in NYC because she was going to the AUDIES - because she won the Audiobook Blogger of the Year award...YAY Felicia. I was so excited when I heard that she was going to be on the floor at BookExpo. Felicia is the gal who started the #FitReaders group that I participate in and we have been bloggy friends for what seems like forever and were finally, hopefully, going to meet in person! And we did...

The one non-book thing I did was to visit a new booth, 2020 Vision USA. I saw their ad on the BookExpo website and I saw that they carried SunReaders. I wear reading glasses but when I'm outside reading, I don't...which can be a problem. So, before I headed to my vision place and spent $$$ on a pair of SunReaders, I thought I'd see if I could get an inexpensive pair and try them out. 2020Vision USA really caters to wholesale orders, but they did have a few pairs to sell individually and because I knew my prescription, I was able to buy a pair. I've already tried them out - so far, so good...not bad for $20!!!  

The highlight of the day, though, was being invited to have lunch with B.A. Paris - the NYT bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors. The luncheon was held at this little French restaurant called Marseille, and while a bunch of bloggers were invited, only 9 ended up attending. The food was delicious - I had a delicious salad and the Steak Frites and for dessert, Profiteroles! YUMMY!!! 

I happened to sit next to B.A. Paris during lunch, though really with such a small group, it wasn't hard to hear her from anywhere at the table. She is so charming and delightful. I loved being able to chat with her - she is so humble and surprised at how well her first book did. It turns out she writes under a pen name - she didn't even tell her friends she had written a book! How such a nice, kind woman can write such a disturbing book is a mystery to me...and one blogger even asked her about that. 

I am really excited to read her next book, The Breakdown, which we all got a copy of at the luncheon along with a cute tote bag. I haven't read the book yet - I'll be reading it this weekend, and my review should be posted sometime next week. 

After the luncheon, which lasted a bit longer than any of us thought it would, it was back to the Javits Center. I had walked to the restaurant and back - it was such a nice day and I wanted the fresh air knowing I would be cooped up most of the day. Once back, I had a little bit of time before my next event, so I just wandered the floor. I happened by the HarperCollins booth and ran into Adriana Trigiani...I adore her! She had just had her signing for Kiss Carlo, which I missed due to the luncheon. I guess there were still a few copies of her book leftover and she asked me if I had a copy - they were the finished versions - hardcover. I told her I had a galley (unfinished/unedited version) at home and she told me I needed the finished one, so she gave it to me. She's so funny! And the fact that she remembers me year after year is always astonishing! LOVE HER!!!

I also stopped by the BookSparks booth. They had a fun game to play - you spun the wheel and got some type of prize. I ended up with landing on "Blind Date with a BookGram" - I've never had a blind date with a book before...and luckily the book I ended up with is a good fit!

At the Harlequin Cocktail Party, which they were hosting to help celebrate the launch of their new imprints, I had a brief meeting with Sarah from Little Bird Publicity. I love Sarah, and her team, Katie and now Claire. Unfortunately, Katie and Claire were not able to attend this year, but Sarah was there and she introduced us (Tamara and I) to Eva Wood, the author of the upcoming book, Something Like Happy, which comes out in September.  

From there, I headed over to the Simon & Schuster booth to say a quick hello to David Brown, who handles the @AtriaMysteryBus twitter handle among other things. Getting to meet in person the publisher/publicists that I email back and forth with and that send me books to read and review on my blog is just so amazing. I love being able to thank them in person and just chat with them about books and ways we can work together to promote the books and authors we all have a passion for. This is why I love attending this event!!!

Boy, this was a busy day...and there was still another full day to go! 

. . Stayed tuned for a recap of  Day 4!

* And in case you missed it: 

Blog Tour & Review: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Title: The Essex Serpent
Author: Sarah Perry
Published: June 2017, Custom House
Format: ARC Paperback, 432 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

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).

My thoughts: This is very much not a typical read for me with the themes of religion and science running through it, but there was just something about it that called to me when I heard about it that made me want to read it. Definitely the cover drew me in - this cover is so striking and intriguing, but it's also the story itself that intrigued me. I guess my point is that sometimes it's good to go out of our comfort zones every once in a while as we might find something that surprises us!

This book really surprised's full of wonderfully quirky characters and a multi-layered story that explores real world issues relevant even today. Set in Victorian England, the issues tackled are superstition and faith versus science and fact. As Cora and William develop a friendship after the death of her husband, they realize they are on opposite sides of this issue. Yet their friendship continues to blossom despite this - truly a testament to the old adage opposites do attract - as soon they find themselves more and more drawn together, despite his being not only a vicar, but also married.

The cast of characters that make up this book are so well-drawn and developed. They are relatable and vivid and I loved following them on their journey. This is definitely more of a character-driven book than a plot-driven one, and we certainly meet some interesting and unique characters along the way! I was particularly enamored and charmed by Cora's son, Francis, who is withdrawn and tends to see the world in black and white - there is no shades of gray with Francis. I just loved him!

The writing of this book is just beautiful - it's so descriptive, almost at times lyrical. It's very atmospheric, using the small coastal town of Essex to it's advantage. This is the type of book you just want to immerse yourself in, enjoy each and every word, savor it, and not rush through it. 

I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be keeping an eye out for what else Sarah Perry writes!

About the author: 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.

Author Links: Website | Twitter

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #TheEssexSerpent). 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

BookExpo - Day 2 (Wednesday): Conference Day

This year, things were being run a bit differently in regards to BookExpo. The floor itself - where all the booths and author signings and galley giveaways would be - wasn't opening until Thursday. Today was considered a Conference Day. There was really only 1 session I wanted to attend, The Adult Editor Book Buzz Session, and it wasn't until the early afternoon. Then I had I a meeting scheduled with a publicist after that.

Tamara and I had a lazy morning...we slept in and got ready for the next two days which were definitely going to be long, jammed-packed days. Rhiannon came down to our room and as we finished getting ready, we compared schedules for the next few days, checking to see if there was anything any of us had missed. Then we decided to go get a late breakfast/early lunch before heading to the Javits Center. We ended up at Roxy's Diner, right across the street from our hotel - I had a delicious BLT sandwich with a tasty sauce on it - a little spicy but oh so good! 

Me, Rhiannon & Tamara waiting for shuttle to Javits Center

We got to the Javits Center a little early, so we had time to pick up our coveted badges. This would save time tomorrow when the floor finally opened. We walked around a little bit, and then headed to the meeting room where the Adult Editor's Buzz Session was that we were attending. I've always wanted to go to this session in previous years, but it is usually while the floor is opened and there are signings going on or galley drops happening and I just haven't made it. I loved that this year, it was held before the floor was opened - there were no conflicts!

When we got to the session, it was mobbed! We ended up in the front of the room - but we had seats, so that was good. Six books were presented by editors from their respective publishing houses and while I only had four of these books on my list, it was really interesting hearing them tell why they were so passionate about the books. Here are all the books that were presented at the session...I'm sure you will be seeing lots about these books in the coming weeks and months:

After the panel, there was mass chaos as galleys of the books were out...on two tables against the wall. It was like a stampede trying to get to the books and then if you were lucky enough to make it up to the table, you found yourself trapped there for a that's when you just started handing books out overhead...MASS CHAOS!!! But, I got my four books and I was happy! This would allow me to not have to stand in line for a book signing or galley drop to get these books over the next two days.

The 4 books I picked up from the Adult Editor's Buzz Session

Then it was time to meet with Ashley and Kristin from Amazon Publishing. Tamara joined me in this meeting. Ashley and Kristin were just great - I've been working with Ashley for a while now and it was so great to actually meet in person. We chatted about our blogs and the types of books we liked to read and then Ashley and Kristin pitched the upcoming books they were going to be working on. They were super fun to meet with and I am looking forward to all the books I'll be working with them on to promote - a good mix of fiction, women's fiction, mystery and suspense books, with a few translated books, too!

After that, we headed back to the hotel to meet up with Rhiannon. From there, the three of us headed down to The Mysterious Bookshop where Jenny Milchman was going to be presenting with three other mystery writers. It just so happened I got a message from Jenny the week before about this event and when I looked at the date - I realized I would already be in the city - I was psyched!!! I loved getting a chance to see Jenny, and I had never been to The Mysterious Bookshop - what a great book store. I will definitely be visiting there again!

The event was called: It's As Easy As 1-2-3 Ways to Get Published and Jenny was presenting with fellow mystery writers Kathleen Kaska, Triss Stein and Cathi Stoler. It was very informative and I enjoyed listening to the ways all four of the women got published and how they work with their publishers now.

After the event, we headed back to the hotel. I ended up with a bad headache, so I went right up to the room to go to sleep, but Tamara and Rhiannon went to get something to eat. I knew I needed to get a good night's sleep, knowing I would be on the go all day for the opening of the floor...and a special event we had been invited to the next day!

. . . Stayed tuned for a recap of  Day 3!

* And in case you missed it, here is the recap of Day 1.


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