Posted in Reviews

Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Verdict: uhmmmmm… don’t bother. Severely lacking in all aspects

Recommended: no
because of a lack of compelling plot, uninteresting characters, a distinct lack of promised magic, a book that’s ultimately just pretty dry and boring. Maybe it’s a good plane book to read then ditch or donate.

Summary

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago.

Thoughts

To turn a common phrase on its head, this book was entirely putdownable. Which I did, many times, and only picked up again out of a general sense of obligation to see it through.

Continue reading “Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner”
Posted in Reviews

Review: To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
Verdict: wow.

Recommended: yes indeed

For an exploration of Alaskan wilderness, for a story that feels real and immediate, for a journey with so many others that ties you into a larger part of history, for a fabulous example of how multimedia can create a powerful effect

Summary

The cover is as entrancing as the contents

Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska’s hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. The Wolverine is the key to opening up Alaska and its huge reserves of gold to the outside world, but previous attempts have ended in tragedy.

For Forrester, the decision to accept this mission is even more difficult, as he is only recently married to Sophie, the wife he had perhaps never expected to find. Sophie is pregnant with their first child, and does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband embarks upon the journey of a lifetime. She has genuine cause to worry about her pregnancy, and it is with deep uncertainty about what their future holds that she and her husband part.

Thoughts

I bought a used copy of this book, because I like stories that have the stories of people on them as well as in them. The well-creased spine of my new-old copy made me think I had chosen well in this particular story, and I was not disappointed.

I was first surprised at how heavy the book is, physically. Despite it’s average length and being a paperback copy, it was significantly heavier than other books of similar style and size that I had. Now that I’ve finished the book, that feels strangely appropriate. I’m still in that world enough to feel that maybe the man who flies on black wings has something to do with it.

Continue reading “Review: To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Lantern Boats by Tessa Morris-Suzuki

The Lantern Boats by Tessa Morris-Suzuki

Recommended: sure
For a slow ready to sink into, for a story as it may have happened, for a book where what you want to happen isn’t necessarily what will happen

Summary

Tokyo, 1951.

Elly Ruskin is still struggling to settle. Half-Japanese by heritage, Elly was repatriated to Japan after the war, but Tokyo is a city she barely knows. And now she’s certain her new husband is having an affair with the enigmatic Japanese poet known as Vida Vidanto. 

Yet Elly is not the only one suspicious of Vida.

The occupying American forces have their eye on her too. Kamiya Jun has been recruited to spy on the poet and find out why Vida spent her war years in China. He is perfect for the part. A war orphan, he has honed the art of becoming invisible in order to survive. But following Vida leads Jun to the Ruskins. And he soon finds himself delving into their private lives as well. 

Then Vida Vidanto is found murdered in her apartment. Is it a case of mere jealousy or has there been a betrayal of a more dangerous kind? 

Because Vida had more than one secret worth killing for.

Thoughts:

This is not really a happy story, so definitely know that going in. Throughout the whole thing, there’s an edge of tension and fear, so even when things seem to be going fine, it all feels a bit perilous. That’s magnificently well captured because of the situations Elly and Jun each find themselves in, which are certainly anything but secure and comfortable.

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Lost Apothecary, 3/2/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner!
Expected Release: March 2, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Revenge! OOooooh, Coriolanus made me really love revenge. Thanks Misty ✌ So I’m all in for a story of love and vengeance. Add in some poison and you’ve got this very medieval feel to it almost.
  • The setting! 1700s London was a pretty wild place, and that allows for a lot of wild things in any story set then. Combined with the modern-day setting in the connected plot, I think they will blend beautifully. I’ve also been reading a lot of those dual-timeline connection kind of stories lately.
  • Powerful women! Look, they can be flawed, that’s fine. They don’t have to be good and kind women. I just want to see them wield power and badassery, even if it ends poorly.
    Just a small note that this post got corrupted after publishing, so this is a re-written version that’s not nearly as good as the first. 😦 BUT, the book should still be fab!

Summary

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Top 5 books with House in the title!

Hey y’all! I’ve gone and done another list of top 5 books, this time with the word house in the title. I was lounging around in bed this morning thinking about the trends in book titles lately, and house kept popping up as one I remembered seeing a lot of. So I decided to see where it takes us!

To get the below list of books, I went to Goodreads and found the 5 most popular books with the word house in their titles. So take a look and let me know what ones you think deserve to be in this list!

5. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Top 5 genre tags for this title:
Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Adult, Paranormal

2 Sentence Summary:
A girl with no future is suddenly offered a full-ride to Yale after surviving a horrific multiple homicide. The catch is that she has to infiltrate the inner echelons of the elite and see what kind of shady shit they’re up to.

Have I heard of / read this before?
Oh yes, I’ve heard of this. xD

Do I like the cover?
I do! Shades of black and gray can be very effective, plus I love snakes.

Will I read it?
Eh, maybe eventually. I’m not really feeling the whole “elite of the school” vibe, but I’m totally in for demon summoning or devil bargains or whatever the hell it turns out they’re into. I might read this in a year or two, particularly once the hype has died down even more. Just won a Goodreads choice category, but that doesn’t always work out for me…

Continue reading “Top 5 books with House in the title!”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: We Are All Birds of Uganda, 1/28/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! and even when it’s actually not Friday, I still want to shout about it. this one in particular, because We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hofsa Zayyan is one I’ve already been recommending to people. 😅

Expected release: January 28, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • I am forever interested in reading about places I’m not familiar with, and Uganda in the 1960s is certainly one of them. For me, the setting alone was enough to interest me from the start. Historical Uganda in the midst of a regime change is enough of a plot to hold me on its own.
  • Adding a present day timeline for Sameer learning about his own family past for the first time as he travels home from London only sweetens the deal. Learning about your roots as well as the blending of two cultures are two storylines I usually love.
  • So of course I’m in it for the drama! The drama of a regime change. The drama of discovering who you are and what life you want to live. The drama of current versus past.
  • Plus a little bonus point: if the writing is as gorgeous as the title, I expect this will be like a refreshing stream of poetic prose with lush imagery abounding.

Summary

1960s UGANDA. Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.

Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past he never knew.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Arctic Fury

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look ahead to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is one somewhat outside my usual, but that I’m curious about: The Arctic Fury by Greer Macalister.
Expected Release: December 1, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • Partially set in Boston, and partially set in the wild arctic. I am forever favoring stories set in Boston, and the arctic is this symbol of untameable natural wild that can so easily destroy people. With two settings like that, I’m expecting some really incredible atmosphere. Plus, in a place like that, people are bound to go a little crazy and relationships are destined to be frayed. And since this may have ended in murder…
  • A female-focused expedition to the arctic, especially in 1853, is a big deal. I’m sure there will be some flak towards the women from the public due to how unusual it would have been at the time. Besides the social aspects of this, I’m also very curious to see what the plan was for the women in preparing for such a harsh environment in a time before so much of the technology that makes it a bit easier today.
  • This is an adventure exploration of the unknown and a murder mystery tied up into one story. What an amazing combination! I feel like with those two main stories, this is going to have something for everyone. I also already have an opinion: there’s no way anyone was murdered. It’s the freakin’ arctic. I’m sure they just froze, or got eaten by a bear, or drowned.

Summary

In early 1853, experienced California Trail guide Virginia Reeve is summoned to Boston by a mysterious benefactor who offers her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: lead a party of 12 women into the wild, hazardous Arctic to search for the lost Franklin Expedition. It’s an extraordinary request, but the party is made up of extraordinary women. Each brings her own strengths and skills to the expedition- and her own unsettling secrets. A year and a half later, back in Boston, Virginia is on trial when not all of the women return. Told in alternating timelines that follow both the sensational murder trial in Boston and the dangerous, deadly progress of the women’s expedition into the frozen North, this heart-pounding story will hold readers rapt as a chorus of voices answer the trial’s all-consuming question: what happened out there on the ice?

Posted in Reviews

Review: Notorious by Minerva Spencer

Notorious by Minerva SpencerExpected Release on November 24, 2020!
Verdict: a fun sexual-tension kind of romance with hints of deeper issues of culture, love, family, etc.

Recommended: sure
For a feminist regency romance, for a bit of cultural/religious tension as well, a drawn-out enemies-to-lovers by force plot

Summary

Drusilla Clare is full of opinions about why a woman shouldn’t marry. But that doesn’t stop the rush of desire she feels each time her best friend’s brother, notorious rake Gabriel Marlington, crosses her path. So imagine her dismay when she finds herself in the clutches of a scoundrel, only to be rescued by Gabriel himself. And when Gabriel’s heartless—and heart-pounding—proposal comes, it’s enough to make Dru’s formidable resolve crumble. She’s sharp-tongued, exasperating—and due to one careless moment—about to become his wife. Still, something about Drusilla has Gabriel intrigued. First there’s the delicious flush of her skin every time she delivers a barb—and then the surprisingly sensual feel of her in his arms. Gabriel even finds himself challenged by her unusual philosophies. And when he discovers a clandestine rival for Dru’s affection, his temperature flares even hotter. But the real threat to their happiness is one neither of the newlyweds sees coming. If they’re to save their future—and their very lives—they’ll need to trust in each other and their growing love.

Thoughts

I haven’t read much of this genre, but this felt like a good introduction! It was a little more complex than I expected. I figured we would have the standard timeline:
– something “scandalous” happens and the only clear solution is… marry
– they end up really into each other and sparks fly
– maybe some kind of family drama or brief misunderstanding
– and then they’re happy again

I mean… that is mostly what happens. But! There was more to it that I enjoyed.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Verdict: Probably a better read for everyone else than it was for me. My experience was somewhat dull, but I have no doubt this will be a hit with most other readers if they think they would like it!

Recommended: eh
For a glimpse into 1920s Shanghai, for a historical fantasy gangster story (not a common combo I think), for flavors of Romeo & Juliet but ultimately its own standing story

Summary

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery. A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal. But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Thoughts:

Look, I know. This book has everything. Shanghai in 1920s, one of my favorite place-time combos. A basis in Shakespeare. A fantasy element of monsters. A touch of brutality and gore to darken the story.

So why didn’t I love it???

I’m a bit baffled, honestly. I’ve tried to pinpoint what kept me from falling in love with this book, as I should have by all rights. I think my issue was partly that I wasn’t expecting it to be intertwined with magic and I wasn’t really in the mood for that — and obviously that’s a personal issue, nothing with the book. But the bigger issue I faced was that I just didn’t really care about either of the main characters.

Continue reading “Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
Verdict: Absolutely fantastic in its dark and complex world

Thank you to Elise for sending me a recommendation and a copy, as only the best friends would 🥰

Recommended: yes!
For a darkly atmospheric world, for the loveliest gray shaded characters, for an MC that is so purely good and selfless and my god is that just what I needed to read especially in the midst of 2020 elections…

Summary:
In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement. But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood. Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

Thoughts:
October was my month of reading spooky witchy books, and this one was SO much better than I expected! I went in somewhat blind to it thanks to a recommendation from my friend, so maybe it’s more accurate to say I didn’t really have expectations. Regardless, the atmosphere and world of this book was incredible. The sinister yet compelling darkwoods came to life despite their immersion in death. The brutality of the world was cruel to face, but didn’t allow you to look away as brides are cut to bleed and hot pokers brand justice from loved ones.

Continue reading “Review: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson”