The Lost Apothecary; Sarah Penner
Park Row - 2021
Book Group Read
The Lost Apothecary was our book group pick for May (discussion this week). I thought the premise sounded really good. Set in 1791 London, Nella Clavinger took over an apothecary after her mother's death. Her mission was to help women with their illnesses, afflictions and other more personal issues like providing them with poison when the men in their lives have done them wrong. There is also 12 year old Eliza Fanning, who helps her mistress/employer Mrs Armwell but, when Eliza enters the picture and frequents the apothecary, Nella wonders how long the secret of what she has been doing will be safe.
In the present day, Caroline Parcewell who has been married to James for ten years, but James is a cheater - she'll deal with him later. She is also a woman who loves history. and after finding a mysterious blue vial in the Thames River (yes suspend belief here) with the help of a research librarian who Caroline develops a friendship with, she realizes the vial may be tied to the apothecary murders.
Told between (3) POVs, I really only enjoyed Nella's storyline. Caroline's melodrama was and the way her storyline was written was way too over the top at times. I had never read about the terms "mudlarking/mudlark" ( the name given in the 19th century to children and adults who scavenged the banks of the River Thames in London.) I alway love when I learn something new when I read even though in this case it did not help with my overall opinion on the book.
Rating - 3/5 stars
(NOTE: An eGalley was provided to me by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for my unbiased review.)
The Shore; Katie Runde
Simon & Schuster - 2022
The Shore was a debut novel that takes place over the course of one summer in Seaside, New Jersey. It's the story of the Dunne family: Brian (father), Margot (mother) and teenage daughters Liz and Evy. The family has made a business of renting summer cottages along the shore to vacationers. When Brian is diagnosed with a brain tumor, the family is forced to shift their focus while trying to maintain at least a little sense of normalcy while struggling to care for Brian as well.
The story is told from MPOV and this ended up being a much heavier read than what i had anticipated from the lovely cover art and title. I alway struggle about reading the descriptions provided by the publishers which often reveal too much of the story. Unfortunately, in this case I wished I had. As it turns out I was not a good a fit for this book. I kept wishing the story stayed more focused on the family unit but, oftentimes it seemed to meander to details about the teens and their friends which caused me to lose interest. There were several audio book narrators: Andi Arndt, Priya Ayyan, Dan Biltner and Ines del Castillo. The ones portraying the adults were good, the ones who portrayed the teens seemed to irk me at times. Although this book was not a good choice for me, I can see how others might enjoy this story a bit more.
Rating - 3/5 stars
(NOTE: An audio download and eGalley were provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review.)
The Kind Worth Killing; Peter Swanson
Harper Audio -2020 - 10 hours and 17 min.
(Narrators - Johnny Heller, Karen White, Kathleen Early, Keith Szarabajka - very good)
Peter Swanson is one of those author's I'm always drawn to. I like the fact that most of his books are set in New England and tend to have a riveting storyline that makes it hard to put down. The Kind Worth Killing was such a story.
In a Heathrow (UK) airport lounge to strangers, Ted Stevenson and Lily Kintner strike up a conversation after their Boston bound flights have been delayed. Their conversations get quite personal after a few drinks and, Ted confesses that he thinks his wife of three years, Miranda has married him for his money and believes she is having an affair and even knows who she is involved with. He also tells Lily that he has thought of killing her to avoid a messy and costly divorce. Lily, stuns him by saying that she thinks he should kill her and even offers to help him get rid of his problem.
Why would a complete stranger get involved? Well, it seems Lily has her own reasons.
This is a story built on deceit and revenge. The characters are all detestable but, it was hard to stop listening to this one. Flashbacks into Lily's past give the reader insight into just what a nut job she is. A good story with several unexpected plot twists. The audiobook was read by (4) different narrators - all did a great job.)
Rating - 4.5/5 stars
(NOTE: I downloaded this audiobook from my public library)
Healing: When a Nurse Becomes a Patient; Theresa Brown
Algonquin Books - 2022 (library book - hardcover)
Theresa Brown was an oncology and hospice nurse when she found herself on the other side in the role of patient - newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Although she had non cancerous lumps removed at the age of 16, she did have relatives who died of breast cancer. She tells her story of being diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, her surgery, follow up care and treatments. She speaks about how healthcare professionals failed her at times and she has quite a bit to say about why compassionate care and positive attitudes are so important. One thing she mentioned was that while she was in treatment, she felt she was doing something meaningful to avoid future recurrence but, added that once her treatment was finished those previous fears had a way of resurfacing. It seems once you are diagnosed with cancer, it never is truly gone from your mind.
In alternating chapters the author speaks of some of her unnamed patients during her time as an oncology and hospice nurse, recognizing how she, as well, had failed some of her patients.
I was drawn to this memoir for personal reasons and while I was happy I read it, I wished it had felt a bit more personal (I don't even think she mentioned her age when she was diagnosed). I can't describe it accurately but, I felt a little bit distanced by the way the author shared her breast cancer journey; it left me wanting more.
Rating - 4/5 stars
NOTE: I borrowed the print edition of this book from my public library.
This Week's Reading Plans
Father's Day; Simon Van Booy
Harper Audio - 2016
6 hours 58 min - Bronson Pinchot narrator
Klara and the Sun; Kazuo Ishguro
Random House Audio - 2021
(Sura Siu - narrator - 10 hours 16 minutes)
(almost done with this one - so very good)
The Foundling; Ann Leary
Simon & Schuster Audio - 2022
(12 hours 40 minutes - Laura Benanti narrator)
I'm so excited about 20 Books of Summer and have just about finished compiling my list. I'll be posting next weekend and looking forward to what I've picked. Are you making a summer reading list?
Share your week by posting a link on Deb's Blog HERE