The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner – #AudiobookReview – #TBT

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

 

Goodreads Choice Award nominee 

Book Blurb:

A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary….

Hidden in the depths of 18th-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious 12-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London 200 years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate – and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters, and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance, and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time. 

My Review:

I have to admit, half the fun of this book is reading the reviews. Everyone has an opinion and they literally run from one star to five, more than a few quite vehemently.

Okay, so it isn’t the 2021 great American novel. I borrowed an audiobook from my lovely local library for the purpose of participating in their virtual book club choice for the quarter. (Yes, quarter—nothing is read in a month—or an audiobook listened in a week.) Obviously, a babe in the woods, I had no idea the controversy this title generated after its release of a much anticipated fantasy thriller-mystery. Well, picky, picky, picky.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah PennerIt does actually start off with a hook, Nella (more than one POV, btw), is a late eighteenth-century apothecarist dispensing poisons to women seeking relief from abusive, explosive relationships. No simple divorce remedies back then. Eliza, however, (another POV) is only twelve sent to retrieve the potion for her mistress. Eliza is smart, manipulative, and brilliantly maneuvering herself into a position from which Nella may end up paying the price.

Okay, now switch to Caroline, an eccentric American in London using reservations previously meant to celebrate her wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, prior to leaving on the vacation, his affair is disclosed which pretty much puts the kibosh on any celebration. Yes, she goes anyway, sans said husband. She’s different, you see.

On a little tour of the mud from the river Thames, she discovers a little bottle—cue Gaynor the local library historian. But at least solving the burning question of the bottle takes her mind off her cheating husband and what?? She thinks she might be pregnant? Uh oh. That could be a sticky wicket!

So, are we having fun yet? Ah, come on—it’s magical realism—fantasy. I say, just go for it!

So flipping back to 1791, things are getting mighty dark for Nella and Eliza is a quick study. It doesn’t look like this can end well though—and doesn’t—Eliza lacking the experience. Phooey. And I preferred that timeline.

The storyline with Nella and Eliza can be pretty intense, while the timeline with Caroline packs in a little filler. Some of Caroline’s motives are muddled and you might be scratching your head, wondering where this is going. Or, is it going at all? Yeah, but not real fast.

This is a narrative that you are not to supposed to over think. So much to stop and contemplate, totally dismiss. In consideration, was it engaging or entertaining—sufficiently so that you finished the book? I zipped right through the audiobook—waiting—I’m not sure for what. Forget magical realism. Fantasy takes a hit as disbelief can’t be stretched far enough to think you could survive jumping very far into an icy river and surviving. Okay, I’m taking it too literally again. No over thinking.

While the conclusion seemed a bit abrupt and left more than a few shakes of the head, it was a bit farcical, remember? Just go with it and if this is a genre you enjoy, you’ll no doubt enjoy this novel. The narrators did a good job, too, you might enjoy that even more.

Rosepoint Rating: Three-point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Magical Realism, Historical Fantasy Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
ASIN: B08BXB3JVY
Listening Length: 10 hrs 18 mins
Narrators: Lorna BennettLauren AnthonyLauren Irwin
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Sarah Penner - authorThe Author: Sarah Penner is the New York Times bestselling author of THE LOST APOTHECARY (Park Row Books/HarperCollins), available now wherever books are sold. THE LOST APOTHECARY will be translated into two dozen languages worldwide. Sarah and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida with their miniature dachshund, Zoe. To learn more, visit SarahPenner.com.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

Lost Coast Literary by Ellie Alexander – #BookReview – #booktour

Lost Coast Literary by Ellie Alexander

Digital Reads Media blog tour

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Lost Coast Literary by Ellie Alexander, just released. 

“Does every book need a happy ending? No, but every book needs resolution.”

Book Blurb:

When an editing pen has the power not only to change stories but also to change lives.

Book editor Emily Bryant finds herself unexpectedly in the charming town of Cascata on California’s Lost Coast, holding the keys to her grandmother’s rambling Victorian mansion. While sorting through her grandmother’s things, Emily learns that she must edit old manuscripts to inherit the estate. It’s a strange request from a family member who was basically a stranger.

Emily quickly realizes that there’s something different about these manuscripts. Any changes she makes come true. At first, she embraces the gift. She has a chance to help characters find true love or chart a new course for their future. But then things go terribly wrong. Her edits have the opposite effect. The sweet and funky seaside community of Cascata is reeling from the chaos Emily has created. Everything she thought she believed about her family and her past is in jeopardy, and no amount of editing can fix the damage she’s done.

Then she finds one last manuscript. If Emily can get this edit right, maybe she’ll have a chance to create a new narrative for herself and everyone around her.

My Review:

Protagonist Emily Bryant moved to New York to finally start her new career as an editor and she’s about to pitch her first book when she is informed her grandmother died and left her The Ballad, a mansion in Cascata. How rude!

She would love to just sell the thing, but no, Emily must edit a pile of “Forsaken” manuscripts and cannot legally do anything with it until she has, but sharing the news with her father, his advice is to dump it and proceed with her new job. Her father and his extended family have been estranged since the death of her mother. She felt abandoned by them but has nagging questions she’d like answered—and her father won’t.

A stretch of the Lost Coast Highway.
A stretch of the Lost Coast Highway.

 First, the Lost Coast of California is intense and volatile and a sunny warm day can turn quickly. Except for Highway 1 (which doesn’t extend the length of the Lost Coast), the area is isolated and stretches from Humboldt to Mendocino Counties. The weather is unpredictable, but…it’s the coast. The Victorian mansion is not only tied to her grandmother’s will demands but to regulations for registered Victorians. She’ll have to go to Cascata.

A Queen Anne Victorian mansion--this one in Eureka, CA.
An example of a Queen Anne Victorian mansion–this one in Eureka, CA.

Grandma Gertrude apparently had a business as an editor working out of a room of the mansion, something that surprised Emily, who had grown up with a deep-seated love of books. It was her theory, fostered by her grandmother, that if she didn’t like an end to one of the classics she was reading as a child, she could rewrite a better one. A fun thing that took flight with her imagination and she took to rewriting conclusions often and has since.

So after the enthusiastic greeting of most of the family, she is more intrigued than ever at what might have created the rift between her grandmother and her father.

After discovering and rewriting the ending of the first “Forsaken” manuscript, she is astounded later to watch it play out in real life. She continues to wrestle with herself over the conundrum of the family that appears to be happy she’s back with the picture painted by her father.

Lost Coast Literary by Ellie AlexanderWorking on the manuscripts and discovering the power she wields, however, she is cautioned to exact careful study of the possible repercussions her pen may cause.

In the meantime, the reader is introduced to the charming atmospheric little coastal town and its inhabitants, the redwoods and palms (which really threw me as I didn’t remember palm trees around Ft Bragg and Westport where we camped for years when hubby was still diving for abalone).

Emily’s constant angst juxtaposing her New York position with that of her ability in Cascata got a bit taxing, as well as her still unanswered feelings of abandonment, but these were offset by getting to know the amazing characters, including her cousin Shay, who totally understood what was happening to Emily with her rewrites. So many authors noted, classics, books I’ve read, including the more recent The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel (Pie) Society by Anne Barrows (also a beautiful Netflix movie).

A heartfelt and thoughtful novel of family, grief, redemption, friendship, and connection.

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour. My thanks to the author and to Shalini at Digital Reads Media for the complimentary review copy and the opportunity to read and review this delightful new release. Immersive and entertaining. These are my unbiased thoughts and heartily recommended.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Magical Realism, #Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Sweet Lemon Press LLC
ASIN: B09PKS8H5K
Print Length: 298 pages
Publication Date: March 29, 2022
Source: Author and Digital Reads Media 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble Kobo

 

Ellie Alexander - authorThe Author: ELLIE ALEXANDER is a Pacific Northwest native, a voracious storyteller, and a lover of words and all things bookish. She believes that stories have the ability to transport and transform us. With over twenty-six published novels and counting, her goal is to tell stories that provide points of connection, escape, and understanding.

She loves inhabiting someone else’s skin through the pages of a book and is passionate about helping writers find their unique storytelling lens. As a writing teacher and coach, she guides writers in crafting the story they’ve always wanted to tell while navigating the path to publication that’s right for them.

Find out more about Ellie, her books, and writing courses by visiting her online:

Website: https://www.elliealexander.co/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellie_alexander

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/elliealexanderauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliealexanderauthor

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@elliealexanderauthor

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/ellielovesbooks

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/elliealexanderauthor

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint Publishing

The Great Witch of Brittany: A Novel by Louisa Morgan – #BookReview – #historicalfantasy

The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan

Book Blurb:

Return to the world of A Secret History of Witches with the bewitching tale of Ursule Orchière and her discovery of magical abilities that will not only change the course of her life but every generation that comes after her. 

Brittany, 1762

There hasn’t been a witch born in the Orchière clan for generations. According to the elders, that line is dead, leaving the clan vulnerable to the whims of superstitious villagers and the prejudices of fearmongering bishops.

Ursule Orchière has been raised on stories of the great witches of the past. But the only magic she knows is the false spells her mother weaves over the gullible women who visit their fortune-telling caravan. Everything changes when Ursule comes of age and a spark of power flares to life. Thrilled to be chosen, she has no idea how magic will twist and shape her future.

Guided by an ancient grimoire and the whispers of her ancestors, Ursule is destined to walk the same path as the great witches of old. But first, the Orchière magical lineage must survive. And danger hovers over her, whether it’s the bloodlust of the mob or the flames of the pyre.

A tale of magic and fate, triumph and heartbreak, and the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters unfold in the late 1700s in this spellbinding novel from master storyteller, Louisa Morgan.

My Review:

I’d guess it’s difficult to find any area around the world that has not at some point furthered the supposition of witches and witchcraft as the answer to unexplained phenomena, particularly any country with a history of gypsies, many now called Travellers. People, different, are labeled and viewed with suspicion.

The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa MorganThis novel picks up the story of Ursule Orchière in her early teen years as she supports her mother in the telling of fortunes. Witch-hunting, however, is an ever-present danger and her mother Agnes doesn’t escape the notice of the superstitious villagers, particularly of those in the church seeking higher status. The ugly dispatch of witches by burning at the stake puts another notch on his mitre.

When her mother is dragged off one night to suffer that fate, Ursule must act without the aid of those in her clan. She is forced to flee her caravan in an effort to rescue her mother, aided by a clan canine and her familiar, a raven. But it’s an experience that changes her mother forever and Ursule is not yet aware of the magic she possesses.

They are fortunate in their circumstances, finding a safe haven on a farm where Ursule gradually realizes she has been chosen out of the Orchière line to carry the secrets, the power, the incantations, and the whispered knowledge of her ancestors. She has recovered the grimoire and studies the pages intently, gradually adding to her experience of the philters and potions.

“…the cost of magic did not always match its reward.”

As Ursule and Agnes cement their position on the farm, tending animals, Ursule finds a way to subtly protect and increase productivity, sweetening crops, as Agnes tends her gardens. When Ursule feels the biological clock hammering, mother and daughter conspire on arranging a relationship with a local traveling sightless musician. The relationship yields a daughter.

The plot expands to cover the travails of three generations while preserving the fourth. The author writes with convincing authority, three times three times, slipping in the prose, mixing the languages of French, Breton, and Romani, hardships, practices, and heavily scented descriptions of the land. Overlain all, the cloud of the imminent terror of being found out.

This novel might be considered a prequel to A Secret History of Witches, released September 17, 2017, that I reviewed early last year. That audiobook got me started with this series and I discovered The Age of Witches last year as well. This might also work well as a standalone. The series spurs the imagination and conjures scenes of history both horrific and fascinating. I’m hooked and happy to recommend. Currently on pre-order.

I received uncorrected advance content collected for this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Women’s Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Magical Realism
Publisher: Redhook
ASIN: B096RS2G56
Print Length: 446 pages
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Louisa Morgan - authorThe Author: Louisa Morgan lives and writes and rambles with her Border Terrier on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. A musician and a yogini, she finds inspiration in the artistic environment where she makes her home. [Amazon]

Louisa Morgan is the author of A Secret History of Witches, The Witch’s Kind, and The Age of Witches. She’s looking forward to the publication of The Great Witch of Brittany in 2022!

Louisa is a yogini, a musician, a mom, and a dog lover. She lives in scenic Northern Idaho with her family and her spirit familiar, Oscar the Border Terrier. Visit her at www.louisamorgan.net. [Goodreads]

©2021 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

 

Coming Soon – My reviews for these Exciting Books currently on the #TBR

#comingsoon - my December reads

So many great books on tap this month, I singled out just six to highlight upcoming books on my #TBR.

While there doesn’t appear to be Christmas books on this list, you may still find just the book you are looking for (including two audiobooks) in this wide variety of genres. I’m including a short (in most cases, excerpt) blurb and the cover links will take you to the Amazon listing. Check them out!

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Apples Never Fall by Liane MoriartyDomestic Thrillers, Suspense, Family Life Fiction

Listening Length: 18 hrs 3 mins

Released: September 14, 2021

From Liane Moriarty, the number one New York Times best-selling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, comes Apples Never Fall, an audiobook that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest.

The Delaney family love one another dearly – it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other….

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company

I finished this audiobook a week ago. I can understand why this was a (final) nominee for Mystery and Thriller in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2021. My review on Thursday, Dec. 16.

►►►►►▼

The Great Witch of Brittany: A Novel by Louisa Morgan

The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa MorganHistorical Fantasy, Magical Realism, Women’s Fantasy Fiction

Print Length: 446 pages

To be Released: February 15, 2022

Return to the world of A Secret History of Witches with the bewitching tale of Ursule Orchière and her discovery of magical abilities that will not only change the course of her life but every generation that comes after her. 

Brittany, 1762

There hasn’t been a witch born in the Orchière clan for generations. According to the elders, that line is dead, leaving the clan vulnerable to the whims of superstitious villagers and the prejudices of fearmongering bishops.

A tale of magic and fate, triumph and heartbreak, and the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters unfolds in the late 1700s in this spellbinding novel from master storyteller, Louisa Morgan.

The author weaves a hypnotic tale of the arts in the seventeenth century. I greatly enjoyed A Secret History of Witches and in April, 2020, The Age of Witches, and I’m excited to jump into her new book to be released early next year—currently on pre-order. My review scheduled for Dec 19.

►►►►►▼

Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door (A Jane Darrowfield Mystery Book 2) by Barbara Ross

Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door by Barbara RossCozy Craft & Hobby Mysteries, Amateur Sleuth Mysteries

Print Length: 250 pages

To be Released: December 28, 2021

Jane Darrowfield is using her retirement years to work as a professional busybody, with most of her business coming from her West Cambridge, Massachusetts, community. This time her client is right next door . . .
Megan, who’s purchased the house next to Jane’s, needs some help from her snooping neighbor. Megan’s been having blackouts, hearing voices—and feeling like someone’s following her. Are these symptoms of an illness—or signs that she’s in danger?

I enjoy the author’s Maine Clambake Mystery series including this year Shucked Apart, and Professional Busybody Book 1 of this new series in an audiobook. Enjoyable, easy, fun, and fast reading. My review scheduled for Dec 24.

►►►►►▼

Targeted (Bob Lee Swagger Novel Book 12) by Stephen Hunter

Targeted by Stephen HunterAssassination Thrillers, Political Thrillers & Suspense

Print Length: 384 pages

To be Released: January 18, 2022

After his successful takedown of a dangerous terrorist, Bob Lee Swagger learns that no good deed goes unpunished. Summoned to court by the United States Congress, Swagger is accused of reckless endangerment by a hardheaded anti-gun congresswoman. But what begins as political posturing soon turns deadly when the auditorium where the committee is being held is attacked…

A CE review scheduled for tomorrow, Dec 10.

►►►►►▼

The Last House on the Street: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain

The Last House on the Street by Diane ChamberlainWomen’s Historical Fiction, Mothers & Children Fiction, Family Life Fiction

Print Length: 346 pages

To be Released: January 11, 2022

A community’s past sins rise to the surface in New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain’s The Last House on the Street when two women, a generation apart, find themselves bound by tragedy and an unsolved, decades-old mystery.

Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth–no matter what that truth may bring to light–in Diane Chamberlain’s riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice.

My review scheduled for Dec 12

►►►►►▼

The American Agent: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear

The American Agent by Jacqueline WinspearWorld War II Historical Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries, Women Sleuth Mysteries

Listening Length: 11 hrs 2 mins

Beloved heroine Maisie Dobbs, “one of the great fictional heroines” (Parade), investigates the mysterious murder of an American war correspondent in London during the Blitz in a pause-resisting tale of love and war, terror and survival.

When Catherine Saxon, an American correspondent reporting on the war in Europe, is found murdered in her London digs, news of her death is concealed by British authorities. Serving as a linchpin between Scotland Yard and the Secret Service, Robert MacFarlane pays a visit to Maisie Dobbs, seeking her help. He is accompanied by an agent from the US Department of Justice – Mark Scott, the American who helped Maisie get out of Hitler’s Munich in 1938. MacFarlane asks Maisie to work with Scott to uncover the truth about Saxon’s death.

Fresh from a raving review of the audiobook by a blogger buddy, I discovered a copy in my wonderful, well-stocked local library. My review on Dec 30.

►►►►►▼

See any here that you’ve either read or will want to read? Winners all, NYTimes bestselling authors several, favorite authors, and stories you don’t want to miss. I can highly recommend both audiobooks mentioned above and I know Ms. Morgan’s book will have my head swimming in fantasy soon. I can’t wait.

©2021 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

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