The Lost Apothecary, Sarah Penner – Book Review

A female apothecary in the late 1700s secretly dispenses poisons to women, only to be used on men who have wronged them. This intriguing, feminist premise – coupled with a gorgeous colour in my favourite colour – drew me into reading this little historical debut.

The story is told using a dual timeline, with three female narrators. There’s the apothecary herself, Nella, and a young servant who visits her shop called Eliza. Our present day protagonist is Caroline, an American tourist in London.

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10 March Book Releases I’m adding to my TBR

I don’t often do posts anticipating upcoming releases, but – why are there so many great looking books coming out in March?! This is part rant really as I’m trawling through NetGalley, knowing there’s no way I could get through them all in time for their releases. So, here’s a round-up of the new releases I’ve got my eye on coming out next month. If there’s any you’ve had a chance to read already, let me know in the comments!

The Girls Are All So Nice Here, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

This just looks like a book to indulge in, a thriller that I’d fly through about girls who are not so nice AND it’s been compared with The Girls and My Dark Vanessa, both of which I loved. I haven’t tried this author before, but I might be starting with this one.

Every Last Fear, Alex Finlay

This debut psychological thriller with a true crime theme has been getting a lot of hype, and apparently the author is a pseudonym – so who is it?! There’s a little mystery within a mystery there, and I’m intrigued.

Win, Harlan Coben

Thriller readers can always rely on Harlan Coben for a great read. This novel is from the point-of-view of Windsor Horne, a character who has appeared in his novels before.

The Last House On Needless Street, Catriona Ward

I’ve been saving this galley on my Kindle for a while, but I’ll be reading it very soon. I’ve got very high hopes for this gothic thriller which has received rave reviews from both Stephen King and his son Joe Hill. I’m hoping it’ll be the perfect creepy thriller read for these snowy winter days.

The Lamplighters, Emma Stonex

This debut mystery based on real events looks atmospheric and intriguing, and it’s been getting a lot of hype.

Acts Of Desperation, Megan Nolan

I saw this compared to Normal People somewhere and it immediately piqued my interest. It’s an Irish debut about a toxic relationship. It sounds interesting, but possibly a little depressing.

The Lost Apothecary, Sarah Penner

That gorgeous cover got me straight away – and the plot is equally intriguing. This historical mystery is about a female apothecary in the 1700s, who dispenses poisons for women to use on men who have wronged them. I’ve requested this one, and I’m waiting hopefully.

The Shadow In The Glass, J. J. A. Harwood

Just because we always need a dark fairytale retelling – this one is based on Cinderella, and it’s recommended for fans of Erin Morgenstern and Laura Purcell. I haven’t seen too much hype about this yet, but I’ll be keeping my eye out.

Wild Women And The Blues, Denny S. Bryce

Another one which drew me in with a great cover, this novel promises to bring jazz-age Chicago to life.

Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro

The first novel from Kazuo Ishiguro since he won the Nobel Prize for literature, this book looks at the modernisation of our world through the eyes of an AI. And I’ve got it on pre-order.

I could go on. I know there’s new instalments in series from Leigh Bardugo and Cassandra Clare too that lots of readers will be excited about, but as I haven’t read the others in those series I’m including them in my list. This is just the top ones I have my eye on but I’m sure there’s many more so let me know what you’re looking forward too! One thing is for sure – 2021 is looking like a good year for book lovers!

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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke – Book Review

This book has been sitting on my shelf for years. I’m sure I’m not the only reader who recoils at the thought of a book over 1000 pages. What about aall the other books I could be reading? What if I invest all that time and I don’t love it?

But I finally bit the bullet with this – the book Neil Gaiman was quoted on the cover saying is “Unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic in the past 70 years.” And, I think he’s onto something. This book is long, but it’s rich in detail, luscious descriptions and an enchanting, intriguing plot. And, of course, plenty of magic.

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Beat the Backlist Challenge 2021

New year, new reading challenge! I haven’t joined in Novelknight’s Beat the Backlist before, but it seems like a great concept and *hopefully* easy to follow too. It’s all about working through the backlist, not getting distracted by galleys, and reading those TBR book published before the current year. There’s additional prompts and a handy spreadsheet too – you should definitely check it out.

Confession, I have over 200 books unread on my Kindle right now, plus physical copies too, so I have plenty to choose from. So, I chose not to really follow the prompts and just go with my own list. It made me realise just how many books I have to read – I’ve narrowed it down to around 30 right now (this list may get changed if I read different older titles along the way).

I don’t know if I’ll get through this lot with ARCs coming in along the way, but I’m going to aim for two a month from this list and see how I go. I may even tackle this as a TBR jar challenge too, and pick them at random each month, if I’m feeling brave!

There’s a few new-to-me authors in this list where I own a few of their books. For those, I’ve put all the options – I’d love recommendations on where to start with these new authors! Give me all your recommendations in the comments – please 🙂

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Commonwealth
The Thirteenth Tale OR Once Upon A River
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)
Wonder (Wonder, #1)
City of Girls
The Giver of Stars
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
Machines Like Me
Expectation
The Lost Man
Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)
The Huntress
The Turn of the Key, The Woman In Cabin 10 OR In A Dark, Dark Wood (How have I ended up with three books by Ruth Ware and not read one?!)
The Familiars
The Whisper Man
Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Mexican Gothic
Queenie
Utopia Avenue
The Vanishing Half
A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, #1)
The Pull of the Stars
An American Marriage
Clap When You Land OR The Poet X
The Heart’s Invisible Furies
The Midnight Library
The Little Stranger OR Fingersmith
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

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The Last Migration, Charlotte McConaghy

The Last Migration (UK edition) is also published as Migrations in the US. I just picked this book cover to feature because I think it’s stunning and captures the poignant, lonely feel of the story better.

So, this book. Wow. I nearly let this one pass me by suspecting it would be too depressing for me. I would have been missing out. It is pretty depressing – it’s wild, raw and brutal – but it’s beautiful and incredibly original too. This author has managed to pack in an epic journey both metaphorical and literal into less than 300 pages. It’s dark, compelling and powerful.

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Top Top Tuesday – New-to-me- authors I read in 2020

Well, it’s been a while folks. This is actually my first Top Ten Tuesday in almost two years! While I didn’t really go in for New Years Resolutions this year, I do want to spend a little more time on blog posts that aren’t solely reviews, and trying to engage with the bookish community a little more. There’s no point just rambling my little reviews into the void of the internet without talking to other people about the books I love right?!

TTT is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (it was originally created over at The Broke and the Bookish) and she provides great prompts week in and week out to get us talking about books! This week’s prompt is all about new-to-me authors I read last year. I figured it should be quite an easy one for me, as I actually read a lot of new-to-me authors and only generally give a second chance to authors I really enjoy. There are just so many books and authors to try out there – so here we go!

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The Burning Girls, C. J. Tudor – Book Review

This is my second read from this author – I was a little late to the party starting with The Other People last year. But I think I’ve got a feel for her style now, and I like it. This is another smart, fast-paced mystery thriller with just a hint of supernatural horror lurking.

The setting is perfect for a creepy tale – an old chapel in a small village; a creepy graveyard and a nearby derelict building. The sleepy Sussex town is the sort where everyone knows everyone’s business, and everyone respects tradition. One of the town’s oldest and darkest traditions gives the book its title. The ‘burning girls’ are sacrificial twig dolls burnt every year in the village to commemorate the protestants burnt at the stake decades before.

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Luster, Raven Leilani – Book Review

This debut has been receiving rave reviews, but I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. Leilani does have a way with words; a way that is brutally honest, raw and powerful in places, but in others just felt like shock value for the sake of it and left me a little cold.

This is the story of Edie, a young twenty-something black woman living in New York. Edie has a decent job at a publishing firm, but she doesn’t really care about it – art is her real passion. She has a reputation as the ‘office slut’ (her words, not mine) and moves from meaningless affair to meaningless affair, seemingly using sex to fill a void of loneliness. She definitely has some self-worth issues.

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The Survivors, Jane Harper – Book Review

I received The Survivors in exchange for an honest review

I don’t know why I haven’t revisited this author since loving her debut The Dry back in 2016. But that changes now. Having just devoured her latest offering, The Survivors, I won’t be waiting so long for my next read by her. This author skilfully blends intriguing mystery with authentic, sympathetic characters and a unique, exotic (to me, at least) setting. It’s the perfect ingredients for a gripping read.

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2020 Wrap-Up: Top Ten Books of the year

Happy New Year folks! Let’s hope it’s better than the last one anyway. One thing that hasn’t stopped in the last year is my love of reading, and I’ve read some great books both new and old. I didn’t quite hit my reading goal for the year (and for some reason over Christmas decided to start the epically long Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell so who knows when I’ll be done with that…) but it was close enough for me, considering what a year it’s been. So, here’s the top ten run-down for 2020…

Daisy Jones & The Six / Goodreads / My Review

My first experience of this author and oh this book was just so much fun! It’s sex, drugs and rock and roll in the 1970s but there’s some emotional depth here too. A real gem that lives up to the hype. I’ve got a galley of her 2021 release Malibu Rising to read soon too!

Normal People by Sally Rooney / Goodreads / My review

I know, everyone has read this now and everybody loves it. Well, I jumped on the Sally Rooney bandwagon this year too too. Not a whole lot really happens in Normal People but I loved it anyway – it was a compelling and poignant read.

The Testaments / Goodreads

I know this one divided readers, but I actually preferred this novel to its chart-topping predecessor, The Handmaid’s Tale. Attwood game more of an insight into the world of Gilead, and it was gripping.

Three Hours / Goodreads / My Review

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything I’ve read by this author. This one is set at a school under siege during a snowstorm – it’s a tense, atmospheric thriller which touches on a myriad of topical issues.

The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue / Goodreads / My Review

This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it did not disappoint. This adult offering from Schwab is a magical, romantic dance with the devil across continents and centuries. Perfect for fans of The Time Traveller’s Wife too.

Recursion / Goodreads

My first read from this author and it won’t be my last. This mind-bending sci-fi was a thrilling rollercoaster ride through time travel and alternative realities, with authentic characters holding it together and a touch of romance. I loved it.

My Dark Vanessa / Goodreads / My Review

So, I didn’t actually give this book five stars at the time of reading simply because of the dark subject matter and graphic content that some may find disturbing. But it is an incredibly powerful read and clearly a lot of the author’s effort and personal experience has gone into it. If you don’t shy away from darker topics, I’d recommend. 

Punching The Air / Goodreads / My Review

This was totally not my usual type of read, but it’s an incredibly powerful, timely novel. Based upon real experiences, this YA novel written in verse tears apart racism and ingrained biases in the American judicial system through art, poetry and raw emotion.

The Silent Patient / Goodreads / My Review

I was a little torn on this as I’ve read a few great thrillers this year, but I think this one still tops the list. It’s clever, twisted and unputdownable.

The Haunting Of Hill House / Goodreads

One of the only classics I’ve read this year, this was my Halloween read and it was great. Creepy and clever, this horror masterpiece stands the test of time and was my favourite read from this author so far.

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