THE PERFECT GUESTS by Emma Rous


Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: January 12, 2021
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★½


The USA Today bestselling author of The Au Pair returns with another delicious, twisty novel—about a grand estate with many secrets, an orphan caught in a web of lies, and a young woman playing a sinister game.

1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game—and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined—even with damage from a fire decades before—but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.


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. :)

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

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.

THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS by Lisa Jewell


Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★½


From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.


THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS is a creepy and atmospheric domestic thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed. When Libby turns 25, she inherits a grand home left to her by her deceased parents, whom she did not know the identity of until now. Libby is about to learn the dark and disturbing history of the family’s house as well.

Twenty-five years earlier, three individuals died mysteriously within its walls, and the children living there disappeared. The timeline moves back and forth between past and present as three characters tell the story of 16 Cheyne Walk. Yet, how are they connected? It wasn’t easy putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but fun to try. Such a web of dark secrets.

Lisa Jewell has written another fantastic thriller that grabs you with complex characters and chilling suspense. Highly recommended.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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