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5/25/2021 • comments off • Filed Under: Adult Fiction, Historical, Reviews

Publication date: March 2nd 2021
Publisher: Park Row
ISBN: 0778311015 (US hardcover)
ISBN13: 9780778311010 (US hardcover)

Summary: Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-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 twelve-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 two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

When this book came up as a selection for Book of the Month in March, it was an instant pick for me. Apothecaries, murders, and London? Sign me right the hell up. Not to mention that cover; absolutely gorgeous.

For me, this book was a quick read, both because of its length and the immediate investment I had in the fate of the characters, particularly Nella and Eliza. One thing I noticed quite glaringly is I cared little for Caroline or her involvement, while at the time understanding her purpose in the story. Something about her simply just… needled me. It seemed she loved to blame her bitterness on others rather than coming to terms with her responsibility in the matter. That, however, is my largest complaint about the story.

The London setting was richly atmospheric, especially Past London. I almost felt as though I was the one walking the cobbled streets. Even as Caroline’s present-day London vacation began with her stumbling around the Thames at low tide, I found myself planted firmly within the story. Nella’s shop, tucked away in a back alley, is illicit in her times but an incredible mystery in present day that I wish would’ve been explored more thoroughly in a way we could’ve seen.

The plot itself is fascinating and though I don’t know if this was the author’s intent, sounds strikingly similar to the murders carried out by Giulia Tofana in 1600s Italy. If you don’t know that tale, look it up immediately. I loved the way the story wove its way between the past and present, unraveling pieces of the mystery for the reader that Caroline would never get to know. There is a moment that connects the present and past together so perfectly, and it’s a moment I wish I could touch on without being spoilery, but it was the moment that cemented this book as one of my favorites (so far) of 2021.

Though I found the ending to be missing something very small—SPOILER which is that Nella’s fate should’ve been clearer—I absolutely loved this book. I would love to learn more of Nella’s past, whether in another book or short story, but one could only wish, right? This was Sarah Penner’s debut and it made me so eager to get to read more from her!

Currently Listening To: Euphoria - Angels & Airwaves Currently Reading: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

5/18/2021 • comments off • Filed Under: Classics, Reviews, Special Editions

Special quote inserts are throughout the books

The Secret GardenBefore 2017, it was rare I ever went out of my way to get a collector’s or special edition of any book. A book is a book, after all, but thanks to Instagram, I found myself enamored with special editions. When OwlCrate began to do their own editions for the monthly boxes, I realized how special they were. Fast forward to now, my shelves are full of them. I would buy special editions of every one of my favorite books now, lol. My latest acquisitions are the Books-A-Million Seasons (Spring) editions of Emma by Jane Austen and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The jackets of those books are laser-cut with stunning artwork; for Emma, it features who else but Emma at its center, surrounded by trees, flowers, and picnic baskets, to name a few things, and for The Secret Garden, Mary discovering the garden is beautifully set against a magenta case. I was worried about the laser-cut being fragile but the publisher thought of this, including a removable plastic cover on top.

The books are quite solid, weighing almost two pounds each, which surprised me, given the length of The Secret Garden but as they say, I really do like big books! When I was taking the photos for this post, it took a while to figure out how to hold them and it was impossible for me to hold both up at the same time. Just a blogger things ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

One of my favorite things about these editions is that they’re numbered. Personally, it’s never been a huge thing if a book is numbered; it doesn’t affect my reading nor my collector experience. But it’s an added touch to these editions, as the back card explains they’re each limited to 10,000 copies and individually numbered. On the front endpapers, you can write your name or add your personal library stamp in a special spot provided.

There's something satisfying about the number 8,848 My Emma is number 3,075

Everything a collector could possibly desire is packed into these special editions. There’s a ribbon bookmark or under the info card, they included a laser-cut bookmark which gorgeously compliments the books. The one included with my copy of Emma was surprisingly a little burnt but I didn’t actually notice it at first and it probably should be expected, given that they use a whole laser to cut paper, lol. At first, the editions do seem expensive, priced at $34.99, and if you’re not a collector, they probably are, but the quality is superior for what you get out of these very special books. They’re meant to be put on display and are on par with the popularity of custom editions that so many companies seem to be doing these days. There are two other books in the Spring edition I did not pick up: The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. If you’d like to order a copy of either of these Books-A-Million exclusive editions, click here for Emma and here for The Secret Garden.

Books-A-Million also has Summer editions available for purchase and preorders are open for Fall editions! I’m for sure going to need The Wonderland Collection and Dracula. I mean, I’m absolutely obsessed with the latter. To see more pictures of these beautiful editions, head over to my Instagram.

Currently Listening To: Die For You - Starset

5/17/2021 • comments off • Filed Under: General

I’m super excited to present my brand new blog/website! I’ve been wanting to bring this site back for a while but time, resources, and energy were lacking. With the past year’s events, I realized that I needed to be doing things that I loved and not just what other people wanted me to do.

I reached out to the amazing Kaci Elizabeth on a friend’s recommendation with literally just an idea for a galaxy theme and she came back with this incredible design! I couldn’t be more thankful and I highly, highly recommend her if you need a new theme for your WordPress site. I mean, wow. <3

If you aren’t familiar with me, hello! I’m so glad you’re here, really and truly. That you’ve found your way here is just crazy and awesome to me. I’m Lizzie and I first started my book blog at Blogger in 2010, aptly titled Darkly Honest. I was 15 at the time so naturally, I was quite the wordsmith with that name. The blog moved around a bit, from Blogger to WordPress and later to this very domain (powered by WP then and now) before I decided in 2015 that blogging was somehow not what I was supposed to be doing. Unfortunately, that decision was enormously stupid. I lost my way, a little bit, and it was a long time before I realized that it actually was the right thing to be doing. I love talking about books, reading them, writing them, just being in the conversation! I missed a lot in those six years and I hate how I let that happen all because of some self-imposed timeline.

In the years since, I’ve job-hopped, went back to school to study cyber security, decided I hated that, job-hopped some more, and decided on pursuing a degree in Creative Writing and English Literature at Southern New Hampshire University. I know my calling in life is have my feet firmly planted somewhere in the book publishing industry, whether that be through authoring, editing, or agenting. The hope is being an author but I’m exploring all my options because the creative landscape is decidedly difficult. But knowing firmly what I’d been suspecting all along is a good place to start.

I’m still working on some finishing touches but I’ve tried to make a couple pages accessible to start out. Try not to judge me too harshly if they’re strange or strangely worded as I get everything sorted. 😉 My first review is in the works right this second so be sure to keep an eye out!

In the mean time, please follow me on social media! Instagram, Goodreads, Twitter.

Currently Listening To: Ivy - Taylor Swift Currently Reading: Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare