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This spring I’ve finally got around to reading all the books in my TBR (To Be Read) queue and there have been some really great ones. Far too many to list here but a handful stood out and I continue to think about them.

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Bitterburn was a great rethink of the Beauty and the Beast tale, moody, intense and the romance is anything but syrupy sweet.

Amarrah Brewer is desperate and grief-stricken.
For ages, the town of Bitterburn has sent tribute to the Keep at the End of the World, but a harsh winter leaves them unable to pay the toll that keeps the Beast at bay. Amarrah volunteers to brave what no one has before–to end the threat or die trying.

The Beast of Bitterburn has lost all hope.
One way or another, Njål has been a prisoner for his entire life. Monstrous evil has left him trapped and lonely, and he believes that will never change. There is only darkness in his endless exile, never light. Never warmth. Until she arrives.

It’s a tale as old as time… where Beauty goes to confront the Beast and falls in love instead.

 

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Loved The Lost Apothecary! For me it was the best of Historical and Feminist fiction and if you are into either of those you really should check it out!

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.

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.

 

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This has been lingering in my TBR queue for quite a while and I’m so very glad I got around to it! I wasn’t prepared for how much I would identify with James Rebanks’ story but I should not have been surprised considering I married into a family who has their roots planted deep in the farming community. 

Some people’s lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks’ isn’t. The first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, his family have lived and worked in the Lake District of Northern England for generations, further back than recorded history. It’s a part of the world known mainly for its romantic descriptions by Wordsworth and the much loved illustrated children’s books of Beatrix Potter. But James’ world is quite different. His way of life is ordered by the seasons and the work they demand. It hasn’t changed for hundreds of years: sending the sheep to the fells in the summer and making the hay; the autumn fairs where the flocks are replenished; the grueling toil of winter when the sheep must be kept alive, and the light-headedness that comes with spring, as the lambs are born and the sheep get ready to return to the hills and valleys.

The Shepherd’s Life the story of a deep-rooted attachment to place, modern dispatches from an ancient landscape that describe a way of life that is little noticed and yet has profoundly shaped the landscape over time. In evocative and lucid prose, James Rebanks takes us through a shepherd’s year, offering a unique account of rural life and a fundamental connection with the land that most of us have lost. It is a story of working lives, the people around him, his childhood, his parents and grandparents, a people who exist and endure even as the culture – of the Lake District, and of farming – changes around them.

Many memoirs are of people working desperately hard to leave a place. This is the story of someone trying desperately hard to stay.

 

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“Calling all font and calligraphy nerds!” My younger son is a graphic designer and one of his hobbies is creating new fonts (lettering or typeface style). Thanks to him I knew what the calligrapher character was talking about when she described her work (not that it’s hard to follow, I was just tickled that I knew without being told what “kerning” was) 

 

In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts a woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .
 
Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing custom journals for her New York City clientele. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Knowing the upcoming marriage of Reid Sutherland and his polished fiancée was doomed to fail is one thing, but weaving a secret word of warning into their wedding program is another. Meg may have thought no one would spot it, but she hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid.
 
A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other, both try to ignore a deepening connection between them. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .  

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Those of you who have been hanging out here for awhile know what an absolute fan I am of Andy Weir’s work. I preordered this book so dang hard I broke my enter key! It did not disappoint. There are twists and gasp out loud plot bombshells that I can’t tell you about for fear I’ll ruin it. Let’s just say if you loved The Martian and Artemis you’ll will want to read this! 

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.
His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.
And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

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