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?

  • Murder and vengeance. Boy oh boy, do I get a little bloodthirsty under the right circumstances. Like a full moon. Like tonight…. Anyway, this is like a blend of domestic thriller, and murder mystery, and historical fiction, and chemistry. Man, I really hope there’s a lot of chemistry – and I mean that literally, not in a romance kind of way. xD I came to adore vengeance stories when reading Coriolanus with a dope professor in my college Shakespeare course. Thanks Misty ✌
  • Old London is RIFE for interesting stories because of the bizarre half-lawlessness of it. I feel like there are so many absolutely crazy things about 1700s London that make any kind of story set there have the freedom to embrace some really exciting and just-enough-believable moments. I guess I blame this on the same professor as above, who taught several 18th century lit classes that I really enjoyed.
  • Sex and gender struggles! Power plays! OOOOOOH BOY am I into that. The Power and Invisible Women both set me on fire for this kind of thing, so I really hope the “poison is never to be used on another woman” thing is put to the test. I wonder if there will be any lesbian couples who end up being like “BUT SHE’S JUST AS BAD AS A MAN!!!” Either way, let’s buck the system ladies. 👊 You know, I’m realizing that this is basically a book I’m interested in BECAUSE I met that professor and learned a lot in life & lit from her. Misty, if you read this, you may also love this book.

Summary

A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course

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.

Continue reading “Review: Notorious by Minerva Spencer”
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”
Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

October TBR: spookin’ it up!

Hey y’all!

I actually have a planned reading list for this month, and I actually think I’ll stick pretty closely to it. The reason? Well, I’m excited for all the books!! Simple as that. 😀

I’m going for a spooky theme for October. Of course that includes a few thrillers and mysteries (though I’ve finished one or two already being a few days into October). I have a few spillover books that I was in progress with that I’m wrapping up as well, but those are left off this list because I really want to highlight all the themed books that I’m excited about!

psycho/killer

Ah, finally I will read Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon!! I wrote about it for a Fast Forward Friday feature ages ago and then recently found the book on Hoopla. But I saved my excitement because I wanted it to be part of my spooky reads in October! FINALLY!! 😁 And I actually read and finished this one right away! It was quite good, and WELL I DID NOT CALL THE TWIST, let’s just put it that way!!!

Another one I’ve been waiting to read forever is The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. And also another gift copy from Elise because she spoils me with bookmail. ❤ I’m about a hundred pages in so far, and it seems to be a murder mystery / ghost story with nannying. I’m not big on children, but I can get into ghosts. Plus Scotland. The descriptions of the landscape alone would probably make this worth reading. 😍

Continue reading “October TBR: spookin’ it up!”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Last Story of Mina Lee, 9/1/20

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! This one, The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim, is pretty in keeping with my love of learning about other’s experiences and particuarly about Korean experiences.
Expected release date: September 1, 2020

  • Unsurprisingly, I’m excited about this because it’s an Asian female familial generational story. While that feels really specific, I realized I love these as I’ve been reading more in the past few months! (Ex. Unbound, The Joy Luck Club)
  • This also seems like its going to be two books in one, in a good way. I get the mystery with Margot around her mother’s death, and I get the love story probably gone wrong with Mina back in her youth. Watching the two intertwine and fitting the clues to the facts is so satisfying.
  • As I get older, I grow to appreciate how parents are still just people. Learning about your parents, the history you never knew, the secrets hidden behind the titles of mom or dad, I find it fascinating now. Learning Mina’s story through the context of Margot’s revelations will require Margot to retrofit her understanding of her mother with the new background. And also, like, who killed her???
  • The historical context of immigrating to the US and the difficulties that can come with it will reflect easily onto current day, I believe. Empathy when reading is a draw for me, as is learning about history and lives that I have never undergone (and likely never would).

Summary:
Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, isn’t returning her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, LA, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the tenuous invisible strings that held together her single mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother.

Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she’s barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.

Posted in Release Day!

Just published: Unbound by Dina Gu Brumfield!

Reminder that Unbound: A Tale of Love and Betrayal in Shanghai by Dina Gu Brumfield (⭐⭐⭐) published today! Check out the full review here or grab your own copy on Book Depository!

Recommended: yes
For a generational story of understanding, for a look at recent historical Chinese eras, for a story that pierces your heart and makes you want only the best for the characters, for a blend of romance and survival and coming-of-age.

love love love the cover. love.

Summary
​Mini Pao lives with her sister and parents in a pre-war Shanghai divided among foreign occupiers and Chinese citizens, a city known as the “Paris of the East” with its contrast of  vibrant night life and repressive social mores. Already considered an old maid at twenty-three, Mini boldly rejects the path set out for her as she struggles to provide for her family and reckons with her desire for romance and autonomy. Mini’s story of love, betrayal, and determination unfolds in the Western-style cafes, open-air markets, and jazz-soaked nightclubs of Shanghai—the same city where, decades later, her granddaughter Ting embarks on her own journey toward independence. 

Ting Lee has grown up behind an iron curtain in a time of scarcity, humility, and forced-sameness in accordance with the strictures of Chairman Mao’s cultural revolution. As a result, Ting’s imagination burns with curiosity about fashion, America, and most of all, her long-lost grandmother Mini’s glamorous past and mysterious present. As her thirst for knowledge about the world beyond 1970s Shanghai grows, Ting is driven to uncover her family’s tragic past and face the difficult truth of what the future holds for her if she remains in China.