MR. ROCHESTER by Sarah Shoemaker


Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★½


A deft and irresistible retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s beloved classic Jane Eyre – from the point of view of the dashing, mysterious Mr. Rochester himself. For 170 years, Edward Fairfax Rochester has stood as one of literature’s most complex and captivating romantic heroes. Sometimes cruel, sometimes tender, Jane Eyre’s mercurial master at Thornfield Hall has mesmerized, beguiled, and, yes, baffled fans of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece for generations. But his own story has never been told.

We first meet this brilliant, tormented hero as a motherless boy roaming Thornfield’s lonely corridors. On the morning of Edward’s eighth birthday, his father issues a decree: He is to be sent away to get an education, exiled from all he ever loved. Young Edward’s journey will take him across working-class England and the decadence of continental Europe before he lands on the warm, languid shores of faraway Jamaica, where his inheritance lies.

That island, however, holds secrets of its own, and Edward soon grows entangled in morally dubious business dealings and a passionate, whirlwind love affair with the town’s ravishing heiress, Bertha Antoinetta Mason. Eventually, in the wake of a devastating betrayal, Edward must return to England with his increasingly unstable wife to take over as master of Thornfield. And it is there, on a twilight ride, that he meets the stubborn, plain young governess who will steal his heart and teach him how to love again.

Mr. Rochester is a sweeping coming-of-age story and a stirring tale of adventure, romance, and deceit. Faithful in every particular to Brontë’s original yet full of unexpected twists and riveting behind-the-scenes drama, this novel will completely, deliciously, and forever change how we read and remember Jane Eyre.


I spent my summer with Mr. Edward Rochester, and it was lovely. I received an eBook copy from the publisher through NetGalley, though I listened to most of it on audio from the library. (Wonderful narration by Simon Shepherd!)

MR. ROCHESTER is an engrossing tale about Jane Eyre’s Gothic hero, a re-imagining from his point of view, but mostly about his life leading up to Jane. The writing is gorgeous, and I feel like it is complementary to the original.

Edward is sent away to school at a young age, away from Thornfield Hall, the home he dearly loves. His father then sends him to Jamaica to take over the family’s business holdings there, where he meets Bertha Mason, his first wife. The story of Bertha’s life and madness, and the effect it had on Edward was fascinating. Eventually he returns to England where he meets Jane, and from there we hear his side of their love story.

This is a well-written piece of historical fiction, and I greatly enjoyed the author’s vision of Mr. Rochester, and seeing how his turbulent past shaped the man he became.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

MIGRATIONS by Charlotte McConaghy


Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★¾


For fans of Flight Behavior and Station Eleven, a novel set on the brink of catastrophe, as a young woman chases the world’s last birds―and her own final chance for redemption.

Franny Stone has always been a wanderer. By following the ocean’s tides and the birds that soar above, she can forget the losses that have haunted her life. But when the wild she loves begins to disappear, Franny can no longer wander without a destination. She arrives in remote Greenland with one purpose: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and track their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, captain of the Saghani, to take her onboard, winning over his eccentric crew with promises that the birds will lead them to fish.

As the Saghani fights its way south, Franny’s dark history begins to unspool. Battered by night terrors, accumulating a pile of unsent letters, and obsessed with pursuing the terns at any cost, Franny is full of secrets. When her quest threatens the safety of the entire crew, Franny must ask herself what she is really running toward―and running from.

Propelled by a narrator as fierce and fragile as the terns she is following, Charlotte McConaghy’s Migrations is both an ode to our threatened world and a breathtaking page-turner about the lengths we will go for the people we love.


MIGRATIONS is set in the near-future, when climate change, habitat destruction, and unsustainable practices have wiped out most of the wild species on earth. Franny Stone’s mission is to track the final migration of the last Arctic terns from Greenland to Antarctica. Franny convinces the captain of the fishing boat Saghani to let her sail along with them and follow the birds, convincing him that the terns with lead them to fish, a rarity.

Franny is chasing the birds, but clearly she’s chasing or running away from something else. Unfortunately, I just did not like Franny and had a hard time sympathizing with her. Maybe it’s because it took so long for her secrets to be revealed? I got tired of the back and forth to numerous times in her past. Overall her character came across as flat. I found her husband and the crew of the fishing boat more interesting.

I enjoyed the author’s beautiful prose, and her world-building was convincing. The world she has created is terrifying, and it could easily be a reality if we let our current environmental practices continue. I’m going with 2.75 stars for MIGRATIONS. It’s a haunting, cautionary tale, for certain. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, though I’ve read many stellar reviews from others. Please read and decide for yourself.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

THIS TENDER LAND by William Kent Krueger


Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★★★


A magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the bestselling author of Ordinary Grace.

1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.


THIS TENDER LAND is a beautifully written historical novel about the river adventure of four young vagabonds sailing to Saint Louis in the summer of 1932. It richly describes the hardships and desperation of the Great Depression, and the cruelty forced upon Native American families, especially children, at that time. Set adrift on the river, these young people encounter a unique cast of characters along their journey to find home. Though dark at times, the story left me hopeful. Highly recommended!

ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER by Hazel Prior {Review}


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★


A rich, heartwarming and charming debut novel that reminds us that sometimes you find love in the most unexpected places.

Dan Hollis lives a happy, solitary life carving exquisite Celtic harps in his barn in the countryside of the English moors. Here he can be himself, away from social situations that he doesn’t always get right or completely understand.

On the anniversary of her beloved father’s death, Ellie Jacobs takes a walk in the woods and comes across Dan’s barn. She is enchanted by his collection. Dan gives her a harp made of cherrywood to match her cherry socks. He stores it for her, ready for whenever she’d like to take lessons.

Ellie begins visiting Dan almost daily and quickly learns that he isn’t like other people. He makes her sandwiches precisely cut into triangles and repeatedly counts the (seventeen) steps of the wooden staircase to the upstairs practice room. Ellie soon realizes Dan isn’t just different; in many ways, his world is better, and he gives her a fresh perspective on her own life.


Dan is a harpmaker, crafting gorgeous Celtic harps in his barn in the English countryside. Ellie is a housewife who stumbles upon Dan’s barn one day. He gives her a harp that matches the color of her socks, giving Ellie’s humdrum life a gentle nudge in a different direction.

I love Celtic harp music, so the description of this book pulled me in. I enjoyed Dan’s character the most. He was a bit quirky with a unique way of seeing the world. On the other hand I struggled with Ellie’s character. She came off as part flighty and part doormat, though I appreciate what she did for Dan as the story progressed. (Not everything though!)

ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER was a light and sweet story with an almost fairy tale quality to it. I was not quite convinced of the romance between the two main characters, but it is a lovely story of friendship, and also finding one’s self identity.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thoughts on Books (#12): The Fifth of July / Where the Crawdads Sing


The Fifth of July
The Fifth of July by Kelly Simmons
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The well-to-do Warner family has been summering on Nantucket for decades – it’s tradition, after all – but this year tragedy strikes over the 4th of July holiday. The story is told from the points of view of several characters, including different family members, the housekeeper, and the caretaker, of the imposing, timeworn beach house.

Right away you can feel the undercurrents of dysfunction in this family. It keeps you wondering what tragedy is lying in wait for these troubled people, and who among them could be responsible? They may not be the most likable bunch, but I found all of their stories compelling. Actually we’re presented with three mysteries that may or may not be connected, one decades old and two recent.

Overall I enjoyed the writing style, setting, and story (Nantucket Gothic?), though I was disappointed that there were unanswered questions in the end. I felt like two of the three mysteries weren’t truly solved – or maybe they were? Anyway, the ending was confusing, but I still feel like THE FIFTH OF JULY was a worthwhile read.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Where the Crawdads Sing
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here we have it, my favorite book of 2018! I think this one will be hard to top. Amazing!!

A swamp and a marsh are very different environments. A marsh is a thriving and nurturing place, and it’s there, along the North Carolina coast, that Kya lived and survived after being abandoned by her family as a young girl. Kya spent her days alone, observing the surrounding natural world, and it served her well.

Though she loved her marsh dearly, sometimes the loneliness was too much, especially as she grew into a young women. But after being abandoned by everyone she loved and shunned by the locals, who could she trust with her heart?

I don’t want to ramble on too much about the plot. This stirring, character-driven novel is part coming of age story, part mystery, and part love story — between Kya and two young men who she allows in her hidden world, but most of all, between Kya and her treasured marsh.

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is a gorgeously written and haunting novel with an unforgettable heroine, the Marsh Girl. What a bittersweet ending!! Tears, tears, tears. Just lovely.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.


“Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson