Categories
Mysteries Suspense Thrillers

ARC Review: The Safe Place by Anna Downes

  • Title: The Safe Place
  • Author: Anna Downes
  • Series: no, standalone
  • Publisher & Release: Minotaur Books, 7/14/20
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌞🌞🌞🌞 probably

Thank you so much to Minotaur Books for my free ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Emily is a mess.

Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day.

Emily is desperate.

Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix. Until he meets Emily.

Emily is perfect.

Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn’t play along, the consequences could be deadly.

The Safe Place is a slow burning suspense novel, perfect for anyone itching to get out and visit the French countryside this summer.  Emily is a trainwreck and her new job offer seems too good to be true. Her boss, Scott, clearly has some issues of his own as well. We travel with Emily to his remote French estate and meet Scott’s wife and daughter. Everything looks normal as long as Emily doesn’t look too hard. What secrets lie in the house and why is the daughter, Aurelia, also such a trainwreck? Is it really just an illness or something more sinister?

I enjoyed this one. It is told from alternating perspectives, resulting in a fairly quick read.   I kept wanting to read more to get back to Nina’s chapters.  The book winds its way slowly through the women’s lives on the estate, through afternoons spent poolside and Saturdays in the local market.  The dark undertones are subtle and present throughout, and the end result wasn’t what I was guessing at all.

I felt like not enough truly suspenseful things happened though until the end, and a few great shock opportunities were passed by the author and never resolved at the end.  I mean that odor that Emily kept smelling…

Anyway – the book never dragged nor got boring. I definitely enjoyed meeting Emily and the others, she was a good character.  Naive but found her way in the end.  All of the perspectives were pretty easy to read although i did favor Nina’s the most.  I think lower level suspense fans who enjoy a twist of mystery will love the book!

Have you read it? Want to discuss it? Drop a comment below!

Categories
Fiction Mysteries

All That’s Bright and Gone by Eliza Nellums

Thank you so much to Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“I know my brother is dead. But sometimes Mama gets confused.”

Six-year-old Aoife knows better than to talk to people no one else can see, like her best friend Teddy who her mother says is invisible. He’s not, but Mama says it’s rude anyways. So when Mama starts talking to Aoife’s older brother Theo, Aoife is surprised. And when she stops the car in the middle of an intersection, crying and screaming, Aoife gets a bad feeling–because even if they don’t talk about it, everyone knows Theo died a long time ago. He was murdered.

Eventually, Aoife is taken home by her Uncle Donny who says he’ll stay with her until Mama comes home from the hospital, but Aoife doesn’t buy it. The only way to bring Mama home is to find out what really happened to Theo. Even with Teddy by her side, there’s a lot about the grown-up world that Aoife doesn’t understand, but if Aoife doesn’t help her family, who will? Between Aoife’s vivid imagination and her steadfast goal, All That’s Bright and Gone illuminates the unshakable bond between mothers and daughters in an increasingly unstable world

I spent most of the book thinking ‘oh my gosh, poor Aoife’ (ee-fah)! She was a very brave little girl and I felt so bad for her situation. The book opens with an incident involving Aoife’s mom, then we slowly find out the events and circumstances that led up to that day.  Her mother had some sort of psychological melt down, in public, and Aoife was thankfully attended by a stranger who called for help.

We meet Aoife’s uncle Donny as he steps in to take care of her while the mother in the hospital. It is also revealed that there is a brother, Theo, and the plot actually revolves around his disappearance.

I think the book’s language sounded a little advanced, but about right for a six year old narrator. I don’t normally like books narrated by kids but this one really worked. Aoife was a good little detective as she and her neighbor friend found out what happened to her brother. News flash to all the adults out there: kids can understand basic explanations of things! A big part of the plot was built around miscommunications and Aoife’s curiosity over her brother, when no one would talk about him

I also really liked the little paranormal element with Teddy. Was Aoife a normal kid with an imaginary friend, or was she also schizophrenic or schizoaffective? (Was that the family disorder? It fits?). Or was Teddy…something else? The end was so perfect I loved it.

My only question…was Neddy Siobhan’s third kid or was he unrelated? Who was the third kid if not? Why mention it if they’re not in the story? The profile for Siobhan’s father might fit but they probably wouldn’t have lived that close by…  Only having one loose end is not bad for a mystery though!

This is a short book. I read it in 3-4 hours  and think it’s a great debut novel. Would fully recommend if it sounds up your alley!

Categories
Fiction Mysteries Suspense

Good Little Liars by Sarah Clutton

First off, a huge thank you to Bookouture for the eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“Emma held the photo for a long moment before her eyes focused on the girl’s face. She dropped it and let out a muted cry.The girl in the photograph was Tessa.
Twenty-five years after losing her friend Tessa in a tragic accident, Emma’s life is happy and settled. She rarely thinks about the day that Tessa fell to her death, or the secret that she made Emma swear to keep just hours before. But when her marriage implodes, Emma and her daughter find themselves unexpectedly moving into the headmaster’s former cottage on the grounds of her old school – Denham House. And it’s here she finds the photograph: an explicit image of Tessa, looking directly at the camera.
Between catching up with old friends Marlee and Clementine, who are home for a reunion, and the demands of single parenthood, Emma has plenty to distract her… but she can’t shake the image of the photograph. Or the thought that it’s proof of something she had long suspected: Dr Brownley, now headmaster, was involved with Tessa. Was it a mistake to keep quiet about what she knew?
Marlee and Clementine have their own complex feelings about returning to their hometown. And when Emma starts to question what really happened to Tessa, each woman must deal with the consequences of decisions they made all those years ago. Because the more Emma digs into the past, the more she discovers that everyone remembers it differently, and that the innocent schoolgirls she thought she knew are hiding some very big secrets.
A page-turning novel about family drama, lies, and the secrets we keep to protect those we love. Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, The Silent Wife and Kerry Lonsdale.”

I feel terrible that it took me forever to get to this book, but once I did I read it in two huge sittings. On a road trip but still, it really kept me engaged from start to finish.

It all started back in school with a dead classmate, and a group of friends that are just full of secrets and lies. In the present day, a large group email is sent by accident which opens up the can of worms again in relation to the deceased student. Someone saw this, someone heard that, and all of a sudden the whole mystery is on everyone’s minds again.

There are multiple different viewpoints being told within the small circle of friends, each with their own issues, lives, marital problems, and point of view on the situation. It flipped around enough that I stayed pretty interested as I would want to get back to one woman or the other.

The part with Emma and the house keeper, omg😂. Also some parts with Marlee and Ben😂

It all ended a little conveniently once they figured out what happened, but it wasn’t a terrible ending. There was one character mentioned in the epilogue portion that hadn’t been mentioned before and I didn’t know what it meant!

All in all this is a funny mix of mystery, drama, women’s fiction, bit of a thriller at times, and a whole lot of lies to unravel. I would recommend for readers who enjoy multiple points of view and seeing storylines come together. It released in early October so give it a shot if it sounds up your alley!

Thank you again to Bookouture for the advanced copy!

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Categories
Crime Mysteries Thrillers

The Wedding Guest by Jonathan Kellerman

Title: The Wedding Guest

Author: Jonathan Kellerman

Release Date: 2/5/19

Rating : 3/5 ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine, for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis are at it again, this time solving the murder of a lovely young woman at a wedding reception. The problem? She wasn’t invited, and none of the guests knew who she was.

This book had plenty of friendly banter between our long running characters. Characterization is one of Kellerman’s strongest writing points, but I felt like the villian was totally disconnected. I never felt the psychological pull, the urgency, the fear for the next target. The detectives seemed almost lackadaisical when the action finally happened, and the bad guy flopped out of the blue.

There are plenty of misdirections and wrong turns, although the detectives never had to get too frustrated.

Will you read it if you are a long time Kellerman fan like myself? Absolutely. Objectively, was it one of his best? No, but I would still recommend it to fans of his style. I enjoyed it as a quicker, easy read, but it is not the most gripping of his thrillers.

Thank you again, so much, to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the chance to review The Wedding Guest!

Categories
Fiction Mysteries Suspense

Love You Gone by Rona Halsall

Title: Love You Gone

Author: Rona Halsall

Publisher: Bookouture

Rating: 4/5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Here is the description per Amazon:

‘Hello? Police? My husband and our children… they’re gone.’

When Mel arrives at the holiday cottage in the Lake District, she expects to find the heating on and her husband Luke and the two children waiting for her. Maybe a bottle of wine open…

Instead, there is just a note on the side, saying they’ve gone out for a walk.

But they aren’t back several hours later, and Mel knows something is wrong. Really wrong. When a search doesn’t find them, she has to confess to the police that her marriage isn’t all that it seems.
Even if that risks her own secrets being revealed

The plot: See above, then enter the story as told from Mel, then Luke’s point of view. I read the book in two days mainly due to the fact that I couldn’t put it down. There are plenty of plot twists and turns to keep it addictive. First you are pointed in an obvious direction then the secrets start coming out!

The characters: I don’t think Halsall wants you to like any of the characters, although I promise that your initial opinion of them all will change! None particularly stood out to me except for Luke’s parents, who were amazingly receptive to the entire shenanigan and I liked them.

I would 100% recommend this to anyone who likes a good suspense story.  It’s hard to talk about the book too much without giving away hints at spoilers but the entire plot does a 180 from what I originally suspected had happened, and the result was that I couldn’t put it down.  Once the cops get involved and you start hearing Luke’s story, the whole façade starts cracking and I had to fight not to skim to the end just to get the answer sooner!

Thank you again for the eARC and I hope everyone will check the book out for a quick page turner!

Categories
Fiction General Fiction Mysteries

Review: The Secret of Seaside by Agatha Ball

This morning was cold and rainy, and with a bit of down time I picked up The Secret of Seaside by Agatha Ball. I grabbed it for the cute little cat on the cover, who played a bit role in the book. This was released in March of 2017, and I believe is Ms Ball’s first full length book! It is also my first “cozy” mystery.

I will openly admit that I have never read one of these before, and had to Google what “cozy” meant. It feels like Nancy Drew for adults!?

In general, a small town person rises to the occasion and solves or helps to solve a mystery with the support of the local residents. This is the gist of the story – a tourist town post collegiate feels helpless after a local murder, for which the local cops are beyond useless – and starts to sleuth around.

It is a fairly simple story. The characters stay one dimensional but are likeable enough. It is about a three hour long read. The dialogue is written as it would be spoken and carries the story along. I can’t mention the murderer without a spoiler – I did not expect the last few chapters though. The conclusion felt rushed and could have been drawn out a little more, but I have no real complaints.

There were no loose ends, and I believe it correctly fits the bill as a clean, “cozy mystery”. If I have down time this winter I may read more, so to Mrs Ball: I appreciate the introduction! If this is your kind of story I would say grab a cinnamon roll and cozy up!

As always, please let me know if you stop in! I love feedback and talking books! This is a 100% unsolicited review with no compensation

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