Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

Seems my streak of picking up lackluster books continues. Like last month, there were a few standouts, but overall my reading was still just pretty blah. 


Happily Ever Afters- Elise Bryant; 3/5
To Sir Phillip, With Love- Julia Quinn; 4/5
A Touch of Darkness- Scarlett St. Clair; 3.5/5
These Violent Delights- Chloe Gong; 2/5
The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah; 5/5
Remote Control- Nnedi Okorafor; 3/5
Accidentally Engaged- Farah Heron; 3/5
The Mist- Stephen King; 3/5
The Chalk Man- CJ Tudor; 4/5
The Shadow in the Glass- JJA Harwood; 3/5


An Unexpected Peril- Deanna Raybourn; 4/5
Bruised- Tanya Boteju; 2/5
To Love and to Loathe- Martha Waters; 4/5
Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Vol. #1- Kelly Thompson; 2/5


The Ladies of the Secret Circus- Constance Sayers; 3/5
Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood- Sarah J. Maas; 5/5 (re-read)
Call Me By Your Name- Andre Aciman; 3.5/5
A Certain Hunger- Chelsea G. Summers; 2/5
You Had Me at Hola- Alexis Daria; 3/5
The Divines- Ellie Eaton; 2.5/5
Gods of Jade and Shadow- Silvia Moreno-Garcia; 4/5
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters- Emily Roberson; 4/5
Twice Shy- Sarah Hogle; 4/5
84, Charing Cross Road- Helene Hanf; 5/5

Some favorites were: The Nightingale (oh, how this wrecked my heart), To Love and to Loathe, and 84, Charing Cross Road. Some least favorites were: A Certain Hunger, Bruised, and The Violent Delights.

How was your reading month? What was your favorite/least favorite?

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

March OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "Of Witches and Wonder."

First up was this adorable tumbler designed by @mletteringlover with a quote from Sylvia Plath. I really like the design of this and think the colors work so well together. I actually don't have any tumblers this size, so yay for now having options for my drink ware!

I've said before that I don't really enjoy the personal care items they usually include in their boxes, and unfortunately, this roller perfume created  by Fiction Bath Company can be added to that list. It's inspired by The Year of the Witching and smells of blackberry, sage and cypress and it's just too woodsy for my liking.

How cute is this little tea bag plate! This was designed by Team OwlCrate and has a quote from Practical Magic. I think this is adorable, and I may actually just use it as a catch all tray because I tend to leave the tea bag in while I drink.

We've gotten plenty of book sleeves in these boxes, but never one for bookmarks! This A Discovery of Witches one was designed by Aimee Mac Illustrations. While I think it's a cool concept, I'm not sure how much use I'll get out of it, and I do wish that the actual design fit the aesthetics of the book a little more since I think the colors are a little too cheery.

I'm a notebook hoarder, so I'm always pumped to add a new one to my collection and this one by @saphiraas is so pretty! It's actually a sketchbook, but since I can't draw to save my life, I'll probably just find some other use for it.

The book this month was Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley. Tamsin is the most powerful witch ever seen in generations, but after committing a magical sin, is exiled from her coven and cursed with the inability to love. In order to feel that emotion, she must steal it from others. Wren is what's known as a source-- a rare kind of person who is made up of magic, but unable to use it for themself. When her father succumbs to a dangerous plague ravaging her village, Wren strikes a deal with Tamsin: if Tamsin will help Wren find out the source of the sickness, Wren will give all her feelings of love to Tamsin. But of course, love bargains aren't as simple as they seem.

I've never heard of this book before and I'm slightly intrigued. I mainly love the lavender sprayed edges, but the premise sounds interesting. Is this on anyone's radar? 

Let me know what you thought of this months box!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 3-23-21
YA - Contemporary

Bruised- Tanya Boteju: After surviving a car accident that killed her parents, Daya has spent every moment seeking pain as a way to feel something other than emptiness. Whether it's throwing herself into skateboarding or bashing her hand into her headboard, she uses her bruises as a way to feel alive but soon she finds that's not enough. When she discovers roller derby, Daya believes she's finally found something to keep her emotional turmoil at bay. Not the most social person, Daya is at first hesitant at the thought of being on a team, but the allure of all the hard-hitting contact is too great an opportunity to pass up. The more time she spends with the rest of the girls, not to mention a budding romance with the soft-spoken shy team manager, the more Daya starts to open up to a whole new world of emotions. The road to healing will be a long one, but for the first time, it's one that Daya is looking forward to skating down.

I didn't know much about this going into it, and while I can appreciate the topics it dealt with, this just wasn't for me. Daya was taught her whole life to be tough and that any sign of being emotional was to be taken as a weakness. This leads her to be very abrasive and hard-headed which made her came across as being very mean. I understand that she went through a lot and that she feels as if these cement walls she placed around herself are the only way to deal with her issues, but her actions made her feel unlikable. Everyone around her tries to help her and she just completely shuts them all out and instead turns to really unhealthy means of letting out her aggression. I did like watching her inevitably grow by the end, but I just wish it happened sooner. There were some bits I liked, namely all the representation throughout and the actual roller derby aspect. I don't know much about the sport besides the movie Whip It, so it was fun and exciting to learn more. Overall, this is a story about grief and healing from loss, and despite it not working for me, I still think it'd be an impactful read for someone else.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 8-4-20
Adult - Contemporary

You Had Me at Hola- Alexis Daria: As a soap star, Jasmine Rodriguez is used to being hounded by paparazzi's, but after her recent break-up is splashed all over every tabloid cover, she decides she needs to re-evaluate her life. She comes up with a "Leading Lady Plan" which starts with her new role as the star of a bilingual rom-com for a big streaming service. The one thing Jasmine didn't factor into her plan? Her co-star, Ashton Suarez. When his character was killed off his telenovela, Ashton was worried his career would go with it, but he's hoping the opportunity to play a lead in an American show will prove he's got what it takes to make it big in Hollywood. After a disastrous first impression and with both their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to start rehearsing together off-screen. Running lines soon turn into more as Jasmine and her infectious personality start to tear down the walls Ashton has built around himself. As someone who shies away from the media, will Ashton be able to handle all the attention that comes along with Jasmine, or will their behind-the-scenes romance fizzle before it's ever really begun especially after a secret from Ashton's past is dug up?

This was fun and definitely had the telenovela vibe. Jasmine is so charismatic and bubbly, whereas Ashton was reserved and a bit mysterious. They each had their flaws-- Jasmine focuses too much on pleasing other people and Ashton is secretive to a fault--but Daria did a nice job of explaining just what caused them to be this way and they each grew and developed into better versions of themselves by the end. The chemistry between them wasn't as explosive as I was expecting, but I still enjoyed it. Aside from the relationship, I liked the family dynamic, especially Jasmine's two cousins, and how Daria incorporated the scenes from the show as they were filming them. I would've liked to have seen the ending developed a bit more because I felt like it all wrapped up fairly quickly, but other than that, I thought this was enjoyable.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 12-1-20
YA - Contemporary

It Only Happens in the Movies- Holly Bourne: After dealing with the horrible fallout of her parent's divorce and a break-up of her own, Audrey has sworn off love. She believes nothing good can come of romance, and she's embraced her new cynical outlook on relationships. Then she meets Harry, her charming coworker at the local cinema. At first, she tries to put distance between them, but eventually, even her hardened heart can't help but melt under his touch, especially after she agrees to star in Harry's zombie film and the pair find themselves spending a lot of late nights together. Harry is determined to show Audrey that love can be like it is in the movies, but the two quickly learn that reality is way more complicated than fiction.

While I can appreciate how this had a more realistic ending than the typical HEA of most fluffy contemporaries, the majority of this I could take or leave. I thought Audrey and Harry were fine characters, but I liked them much more before they got together. I loved all their flirty banter in the beginning, but once they started dating, it just became far too dramatic. This whole book was just one big drama after another. If it's not something with her family, it's something with her friends, if it's not something with her friends, it's something with Harry, and it got to the point where my head was starting to spin. So much of the frustration could've been solved if the characters had just communicated with one another. My other big annoyance with this was that the book tells you how it's going to end, so it takes a lot of the satisfaction out since you know what's coming. I can see where the author was trying to go with this, but I just don't think it worked out.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Ladies of the Secret Circus Review

Hello, all!

Last year, I read A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers and really enjoyed it (review here), so I was eager to jump into her newest release, The Ladies of the Secret Circus. Big thank you to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 3-23-21
Adult - Historical Fiction/Fantasy

There are plenty of ways to entertain yourself in 1920s Paris, but they all pale in comparison to the circus. To receive a ticket to the famed Secret Circus is to open a door to an entirely different world than our own. Here you'll see acts that defy imagination: from carousels that take you back in time to trapeze artists that seemingly float through the air. Cecile Cabot has spent her entire life bound to her father's mysterious circus, only allowed out for certain amounts of time along with her twin sister and best friend. The circus is all Cecile has ever known, but when she meets a charming young artist, she begins to wonder if there could be more for her out in the real world. The pair enter into a passionate affair, and while Cecile may be blissfully happy, she soon finds that joy comes with severe consequences.

In Virginia, 2004, Lara Barnes is getting ready to marry the love of her life, but her excitement soon turns to heartbreak when her fiancé goes missing on their wedding day. Despite many search attempts, it's as if he disappeared right into thin air. When a strange man appears to Lara with information, she begins an investigation which leads her to her great-grandmother Cecile's journals. Here she discovers the strange history of her family and their relationship to a dark circus that has been claiming payment from all the women in her family for generations. Lara has always known her family was different from others, but it will take all of her might and powers beyond her measure to break the curse before it's too late.

For whatever reason, I'm drawn to stories that take place in the circus so this immediately caught my eye. I loved the premise of this dark twisted circus and a curse that's been plaguing a family for generations, but I found the execution lacking a bit. The first half was very hard to get into and a little confusing due to all the time jumps that were spliced in. It felt like I couldn't get my bearings and it was difficult to figure out what was actually happening. Midway through, I felt the story hit its stride and I started to enjoy it a lot more. The writing felt more cohesive and less clunky. I liked learning more about Lara and her family and how they tied in with this Hell circus. The mystery of the curse itself was well done and there were a few twists I wasn't expecting. Overall, I thought this was very atmospheric, I just wish the first half was as strong as the second.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Ex Talk Review

Hello, all!

I hosted a radio show in college for three years and it was such a blast. I loved shooting the breeze and playing music with my friends, so when I heard the premise of The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon, I was hoping it'd give me all the nostalgia vibes with a fun romance thrown into the mix. It definitely gave me the vibes I was hoping for, but the romance not so much.

Pub Date: 1-26-21
Adult - Contemporary

For as long as Shay Goldstein could remember, she's wanted to work in radio. She and her father used to bond over public radio, and her dream was to one day have a show of her own. She just didn't think it would be with her least favorite co-worker, Dominic Yun. Ever since Dominic started working at their small public radio station fresh off the heels of his master's degree in journalism (which he doesn't let anyone forget), tensions have run high between the pair.

With their station desperately needing something new and fresh to keep them afloat, Shay comes up with an idea for a relationship advice show hosted by real-life exes. What started as an off-handed comment quickly turns into The Ex-Talk, and her boss decides she and Dominic would be the perfect co-hosts. The pair aren't thrilled with the idea of basing their show on a lie, but when it's made clear that they either do the show or kiss their jobs goodbye, they have no choice but to put their morals aside for the sake of entertainment. As the hype around The Ex Talk grows bigger, so do the lies. While Shay and Dominic may have been prepared to lie to everyone around them, nothing could prepare them for actually falling for one another and the fallout that comes along when the truth is eventually uncovered.

The whole setting of this public radio station gave me Fraiser vibes which is so random but I loved it. Shay was focused and career-driven, yet also relatable in how she felt about not measuring up to others in her age group. Dominic unfortunately didn't make as much of an impression on me. I felt he had his tender moments, but he mostly wasn't too memorable. Because of the disconnect I felt from him, I wasn't as invested in his and Shay's relationship besides just finding it cute. This was marketed as a hate-to-love type of romance, and I didn't feel that was the case. The pair never felt like they fully disliked each other, so for me, it wasn't as big of a deal when they finally got together, but I did like how it was a different spin on the fake-dating trope. I may have just gone into this with higher expectations, but it still was a cute and quick read.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

A Vow So Bold and Deadly Review (Cursebreakers #3)

Hello, all!

I love a retelling, so I was instantly taken with the Cursebreakers series by Brigid Kemmerer which is a spin on Beauty and the Beast with tons of political drama, magic, and action. (You can read my reviews of the other two books here.) I had a lot of expectations going into the final installment, A Vow So Bold and Deadly, and well, you'll see.

Pub Date: 1-26-21
YA - Fantasy

After the shocking revelation that Grey, once a Commander of Emberfall, is not only the true heir to its throne but also in possession of magical abilities, loyalties among the people have been divided. While most believe that Rhen is the rightful prince, others long for a new age under Grey's reign. Despite not wanting to go to war, Grey has given Rhen a grace period of two months before he and the forces of Syhl Shallow will march on Emberfall. Instead of using that time to devise a plan, Rhen has chosen to isolate himself from everyone, especially Harper who is desperately trying to find a peaceful resolution.

But Rhen isn't the only one facing hardships. In Syhl Shallow, Lia Mara is struggling to gain the respect of her people after becoming Queen. She yearns to rule with a just and fair hand, and not lean on violence like her mother before her. Syhl Shallow has lived in peace without magic for years, and its people are not eager to follow a queen who aligns herself with magical beings. Many of Lia Mara's soldiers do not respect Grey or trust his motives, and as the deadline for war reaches a close, Lia Mara can't help but feel she has gotten in way over her head. As if the impending war between the brothers wasn't enough, both kingdoms will be tested even further when an old enemy thought to be dead resurfaces seeking to destroy them all.

I only have one word to describe this concluding novel, and that is woof. It was just so lackluster and a bit disappointing. The pacing was all over the place which led to it feeling very disjointed. The beginning was incredibly slow where it felt like nothing was happening except for the characters just standing around talking, and then the ending felt rushed and was over before you could blink. The actual conflict itself was resolved so quickly and easily that it felt too convenient and anticlimactic. There was also a ton of miscommunication throughout this between basically every character and it was just frustrating. I also felt there was a lot that was left unanswered (especially in regards to Lillith) so I couldn't help but feel unsatisfied. I did like a few bits, namely the parts between Grey and Lia Mara because I just enjoy them both so much, but other than that I don't think this lived up to its potential.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, March 11, 2021

An Unexpected Peril Review (Veronica Speedwell #6)

Hello, all!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll already know that the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn is one of my absolute favorites. (You can read my reviews of the others here.) The newest installment, An Unexpected Peril, was one of my most anticipated reads for this year and I'm happy to say it didn't disappoint!

Pub Date: 3-2-21
Adult - Historical Mystery

As a member of the Curiosity Club, Veronica is tasked with putting together a memorial exhibit for Alice Baker-Greene, a pioneering mountain climber who recently passed away on an expedition. While getting things together, Veronica, along with her natural historian partner/beau Stoker, discover evidence that Baker-Greene's death may not have been an accident as reported but murder. Veronica and Stoker relay their findings to Princess Gisela of Alpenwald, the patron of the exhibit, and are put out when Gisela's Chancellor refuses to look further into it. With Europe on the brink of war, the tiny country of Alpenwald can't risk making any waves that could potentially turn any allies against them. 

Not to be deterred, Veronica and Stoker take it upon themselves to uncover the truth behind Baker-Greene's death, but they soon find themselves in way over their heads when Gisela suddenly goes missing. Noticing that Veronica bears a striking resemblance to the princess, the Chancellor begs Veronica to pose as the royal to fulfill the duties they came to England for. Namely, signing a peace treaty that is imperative to the safety of Alpenwald. Veronica is reluctant, to say the least, but she agrees to the ruse as a means of furthering her and Stoker's investigation. Somewhere between brushing elbows with royals, breaking-and-entering, and assassination attempts, Veronica and Stoker will have to uncover who the true murderer is before it's too late.

No other series hooks me the way this one does. I just always have such a blast being in this world with these characters trying to figure out whodunit. Veronica and Stoker both work so well together and this installment was no exception. The way they banter and bounce off one another continues to be my favorite aspect of this series. I love how Veronica felt much more brazen and ready for another mystery, whereas Stoker was just like, "Ugh, again?" It just perfectly summed up their personalities. I also couldn't get enough of their romantic dynamic, it's so fun and realistic. They bicker constantly, but they have such respect and fondness for one another and take the other as they are whole-heartedly. The mystery itself was fun, but I'm starting to notice them getting a bit predictable as the series goes on. I was still satisfied by the end and liked how it played out, but I would just like to see something that'll totally shock me going forward. No matter what, I'll continue to eat this series up with a smile on my face.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Act Your Age, Eve Brown Review

Hello, all!

It's no secret that I have an iffy relationship with the Brown sister series by Talia Hibbert. I didn't care much for Get a Life, Chloe Brown, but I loved Take a Hint, Dani Brown, so I was very interested to see where the final installment, Act Your Age, Eve Brown, would fall for me. Big thanks to Netgalley for the copy!

Pub Date: 3-9-21
Adult - Contemporary

Eve Brown has always had trouble sticking to one path in life. She's tried and failed at so many different careers and after a mishap with some doves at a wedding she planned, her parents have finally had enough. Through coddling their adult daughter who should know better by now, Eve's parents decide to cut her off from her trust fund for one year during which she must prove to them that she can hold down a job and make her way in the world. Beside herself with embarrassment and frustration, Eve vows to grow up and prove herself and she stumbles upon the perfect opportunity: a B&B looking for a new chef. The only problem? She may have gotten off on the wrong foot when she accidentally runs over the owner.

To say Jacob Wayne is a stickler for rules and order would be a massive understatement. Everything about himself and the B&B he runs is neat and orderly, so he is instantly affronted by the tornado that is Eve Brown. So when she breezes in to interview for a position, he responds with an emphatic hell no. When he realizes it's her or nothing, Jacob runs after her and meets the backend of her car. Now, with a broken arm and an understaffed B&B, Jacob has no choice but to let Eve help. It's only a matter of days before Eve has wiggled her way into everything from his kitchen to his spare bedroom, but the biggest threat of all may be how her sunny disposition is slowly melting away at all the ice around Jacob's heart.

Wow, Talia Hibbert really saved the best Brown sister for last! This was hands down my favorite of the series. It was just so much fun from beginning to end. Eve may come off as a bit flighty, but deep down she has all these insecurities and she truly cares so much about everyone. Jacob, I knew I was going to love as soon as he opened his mouth. He's so blunt and a bit abrasive, but the way he eventually opens up to Eve was so sweet. Their back-and-forth banter was everything because they each gave as good as they got and weren't afraid to push one another's buttons. There were so many moments that had me laughing out loud. I also loved the adorable B&B setting and all the new secondary characters we get to meet. This is definitely one of the best opposites attract tropes I've seen done in a while. If you're a fan of this series or are just looking for a new romance to squeal over, this is the one to pick up.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 2-2-21
Adult - Contemporary

Much Ado About You- Samantha Young: After being passed up for a promotion at work and with her love life taking a nosedive, Evie decides she needs to shake things up. During a rare moment of spontaneity, she books a trip to a quaint little village in England. The vacation also comes with a perk: she gets to run the bookshop beneath her apartment. As a life-long book lover, Evie can't think of a better way to get out of her head. Soon, Evie finds herself swept away by village life. She's never felt more at home than she does in this little bookshop or sharing a pint down at the local pub with the townspeople. Evie wasn't planning on falling so hard for this place or the people, especially not handsome farmer, Roane. She knows her stay is only temporary, but she can't deny the feelings welling up between the pair. As the weeks go on, Evie can't help but think she could make a life here, but is she willing to upend everything for a man she hardly knows?

I looked at the premise of this and thought, "Well, that sounds like it's going to be great!" and the let down was real. It's not a bad book by any means, but it's just so boring. There's not a ton of character development so everyone felt very flat and no one stood out. Evie felt more like a secondary character rather than the lead. The only time I felt her pop was during the third act conflict when she completely overreacted towards certain aspects of Roane's life. Speaking of Roane, like Evie, there wasn't much substance there and all I really got out of him was that he owned a dog, but I still gravitated more towards him rather than Evie. I wasn't a huge fan of their insta-love and actually burst out laughing at some points just over the sheer cringe of it all. The main thing I enjoyed was the setting. I loved the small English village where everyone's in everyone's business and the bookshop itself, but other than that, this just didn't work for me.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 2-9-21
Adult - Historical Contemporary

A Lady's Formula for Love- Elizabeth Everett: Lady Violet Hughes doesn't fit in much with the rest of England's high society. She doesn't wear the right dresses, she doesn't host the grandest events, but the biggest reason is that Violet is hiding a massive secret. She founded a secret club for England's most brilliant female scientists, and she's also using her knowledge of chemistry to assist the Crown on a dangerous mission. To protect her and her work, Violet is assigned a bodyguard, the rugged Arthur Kneland, who has quite a few secrets of his own. Arthur knows to keep a clear eye on what's at stake he can't divert from his task, and Violet is quite the distraction. The more time he spends around her, the more his attention starts to shift and feelings begin to grow. But with bombs and thieves threatening Violet's life and work, the pair must work together to uncover the culprit before everything goes up in flames.

This had so much potential! Everything from the setting to the characters to the premise sounded right up my alley, but it was all just one big mess. You're thrown right into the plot with no lead-up, so the first few chapters are all jumbled with action that you're trying to wade through to understand what's going on. There are so many characters introduced and none have any distinguishing factors so they all mesh into one. There were maybe one or two characters who grew on me, but the rest I could take or leave. Another thing I didn't love was the romance. There was zero chemistry between Violet and Arthur which made everything feel so unbelievable. Since I wasn't invested in the relationship, I didn't care much about what happened to them. I also found the mystery itself to be all over the place and unfocused, and the way the villain was ultimately handled was completely unsatisfying. Overall, I think the author tried to do too many things at once which led to an uneven plot and lackluster characters, and sadly, it just didn't work.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 1-26-21
Adult - Historical Fiction

A Thousand Ships- Natalie Haynes: Everyone knows the story of the Trojan war. Of the countless men who battled bravely and the heroes who go on to live in infamy in all the bard's songs. But what of the women? War doesn't just affect the males of society, but them as well. From a woman waking in the middle of the night to her city engulfed in flames, to the Queen of Troy and her daughters, to Penelope waiting decades for the return of her husband Odysseus, to the three spiteful goddesses who had a hand in starting it all, it's finally time for their stories to be told.

I love any sort of reimagining of Greek mythology, so I was very excited to pick this up. While I did enjoy it, it did take me a bit to get into. I think a lot of that had to do with the narrative and the way the story was told. You're thrown right into the mix with no clear distinction of what's going on besides that Troy has fallen, so everything is very chaotic. Once I figured out how the story was being told and how it was developing, I was able to get my bearings, but it did take a few chapters before that happened. I thought it was clever telling the story through the women's perspectives and I enjoyed watching their take on the events. Some of the women were more cutthroat than the males, and most met even more heartbreaking ends. I liked Haynes's writing style, although I didn't feel it came off quite as impactful as it hoped to be on occasion. Overall, this was really enjoyable and I'd definitely recommend it if you're a fan of retellings or Madeline Miller because this has the same vibe.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

February OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

There was a slight delay in shipment for the February "Magic Unleashed" box, but it's finally arrived so let's dive in.

First up we had some bath salts from The Soap Librarian inspired by We Hunt the Flame. I'm not usually a fan of the bath products they include but this one has a lovely hibiscus scent (one of my faves!), and if it didn't have petals mixed in, I'd be very tempted to use it. Are you all fans of things floating in your bath products like petals, etc? It bothers me so much!

Next, we had a Star Daughter inspired hairbrush created by the OwlCrate team. I think the design is pretty and brushes always come in handy, so I'm sure I'll get use out of this.

Then there was this Daughter of Smoke and Bone keychain designed by Lively Ghosts. I've never read that series, but the design is cool.

To be honest, OwlCrate pouches are always hit or miss for me. This Legendborn inspired one was created by By Chenelle isn't my favorite they've ever sent, I just find the design to be a little busy, so I may pass this off.

My favorite item was this metal book tin inspired by A Darker Shade of Magic created by Forensics and Flowers. I love the design and it looks like they'll be creating four different tins based on each London in the series which is cool. This one is obviously for Red London, and I can't wait to see what the others will look like.

The book for the month was The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. This is a fast-paced and action-packed West African inspired story following Deka and her quest to discover her destiny after finding out she has near-immortal magical powers that could potentially help break her kingdom out of its oppressive patriarchal rule. I've heard it's supposed to be very Mulan-meets-Black Panther and I'm intrigued.

Let me know what you thought of last month's box!

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Blog Tour: The Lost Apothecary Review

Hello, all!

Big thanks to Park Row for having me as part of the blog tour for The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner!

Pub Date: 3-2-21
Adult - Historical Mystery

There aren't many places that cater to women's needs in 1791 London, except for one, but you have to know how to find it. In a dark back alley hidden from view lies an apothecary shop whose customer's come seeking very specific help. Nella was once a respected healer, but after enduring hardships and betrayals, started using her knowledge for a darker means. Instead of goods for healing, Nella sells well-disguised poisons to the desperate women who come to her door seeking a way to rid themselves of the men in their lives. When one of her customers turns out to be an inquisitive twelve-year-old named Eliza, it sets off a chain reaction that will cost one of them their lives.

Meanwhile, in the present-day, Caroline is spending her anniversary trip to London alone after discovering her husband's infidelity. In a moment of spontaneity, she decides to join a group mudlarking along the Thames. Here she discovers a tiny glass vial which the historian in her just can't help but investigate. As she digs into this mysterious vial, she uncovers an unsolved case of apothecary murders that took place hundreds of years ago. Caroline is completely fascinated and will do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this mystery, but after her discovery catches some unwanted attention, she'll have to decide if the past is better left buried.

The premise of this sounded right up my alley, and I did enjoy it just not as much as I was hoping to. I thought the historical elements were absorbing, and I liked following Nella and learning about what drove her to such a dark place that she'd turn to making poisons for people. She and Eliza's chapters were my favorites to read from just because I found their points of view a lot more interesting than Caroline's. I didn't think Caroline was a bad character, I just wasn't as keen on her storyline. I think most of that disconnect had to do with the fact that I found her investigation to be way too convenient. Her basically solving a cold case from the 1700s in a matter of days just didn't seem realistic to me. Aside from that, I did still like this and would recommend it if you're a fan of historical fiction with a dash of mystery.

Rating: 3/5