THE SWEET TASTE OF MUSCADINES by Pamela Terry


Publisher: Ballentine Books
Release Date: March 16, 2021

☆ Stunning Debut ☆

THE SWEET TASTE OF MUSCADINES is a gorgeously written novel about siblings who uncover shocking family secrets after their mother Geneva Bruce dies unexpectedly.

Lila and Henry have avoided their childhood home in Wesleyan, Georgia, for most of their adult lives. Their relationship with Geneva was strained, yet their younger sister (who never left) was very close to their mother. All three Bruce children are baffled as to why Geneva died under the muscadine arbor in the middle of the night, and they also have no idea about the secrets she kept hidden for decades that will upend their lives.

The prose is lovely and lyrical, and you can pull passages from every page and say “wow!” As someone who grew up in small-town Georgia, I can say that the author perfectly captured the South in her rich descriptions and within her characters. If you enjoy compelling women’s fiction with true Southern flair, move this book to the top of your list! — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

📚 Find THE SWEET TASTE OF MUSCADINES on Goodreads 📚

THE PERFECT GUESTS by Emma Rous


Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: January 12, 2021

Delightfully twisted! THE PERFECT GUESTS is an entertaining combination of Gothic mystery and family drama that kept me glued to the pages. The timeline flips back and forth between Beth in 1988 and Sadie in 2019, with an unknown narrator woven in between.

It’s the mysterious country estate of Raven Hall at the center of this book. Both main characters end up there as a pawn in a dangerous game, 31 years apart. I found the story cleverly plotted with several twisty surprises. There’s a large group of secondary players, and I had fun trying to figure out how they fit together.

I enjoyed Emma Rous’ first novel, THE AU PAIR, and her follow-up is just as wonderful. I’m ready for her next. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

📚 Find THE PERFECT GUESTS on Goodreads 📚

ONE BY ONE by Ruth Ware


Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★½


The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?


Ruth Ware gives a modern twist to a classic Christie-inspired mystery in her latest thriller, ONE BY ONE. Executives of a hot up and coming tech firm called Snoop head to a remote chalet high in the Alps for a company retreat. This dream getaway of skiing, great food, and breathtaking views takes a tragic turn when an avalanche hits, trapping their party in a half-buried chalet. Their situation becomes more terrifying when guests disappear or are found dead, picked off one by one. But who among them is the killer?

This was an exciting and fast-paced thriller told in the alternating POVs of two women, Erin, a chalet employee and Liz, a guest and Snoop shareholder. I really enjoyed the chilling atmosphere of the desolate mountain after the avalanche, with those left at the chalet cut off from the rest of the world without power or WiFi, and killer on the loose.

Though there were only two narrators, there was still a large cast of characters to keep track of, and I did find myself flipping back to the beginning where each person was introduced on the “About Us” page of Snoop’s website to refresh my memory. I did love how the book also began with a news report of the tragedy, and we’re left to wonder who are the dead and who survived the “house of horror” mentioned.

ONE BY ONE is another fantastic whodunit from one of my favorite suspense authors. I’m already eagerly awaiting her next!

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

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

BEAUTY MARK: A VERSE NOVEL OF MARILYN MONROE by Carole Boston Weatherford


Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


In a powerful novel in verse, an award-winning author offers an eye-opening look at the life of Marilyn Monroe.

From the day she was born into a troubled home to her reigning days as a Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe (née Norma Jeane Mortenson) lived a life that was often defined by others. Here, in a luminous poetic narrative, acclaimed author Carole Boston Weatherford tells Marilyn’s story in a way that restores her voice to its rightful place: center stage. Revisiting Marilyn’s often traumatic early life — foster homes, loneliness, sexual abuse, teen marriage — through a hard-won, meteoric rise to stardom that brought with it exploitation, pill dependency, and depression, the lyrical narrative continues through Marilyn’s famous performance at JFK’s birthday party, three months before her death. In a story at once riveting, moving, and unflinching, Carole Boston Weatherford tells a tale of extraordinary pain and moments of unexpected grace, gumption, and perseverance, as well as the inexorable power of pursuing one’s dreams. A beautifully designed volume.


I’ve always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe, a captivating icon who hid a lot of pain behind her dazzling smile. Author Carole Boston Weatherford has done a beautiful job giving Marilyn a voice to tell us her own amazing yet heartbreaking story in poems.

The novel is written mainly in first person free verse format, beginning with Marilyn’s childhood, then moving through her adult life as a star, and ending just a few weeks before her death. Though this is fictional retelling of Marilyn’s life, the poems are very raw and personal, like lyrical journal entries.

BEAUTY MARK gives us a poignant look at the complicated, intelligent, and troubled woman underneath the beauty. Gorgeous & heartrending.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers Program in exchange for an honest review.