Written in Blood by Chris Carter

The blurb …

A serial killer will stop at nothing…

The Killer

His most valuable possession has been stolen. Now he must retrieve it, at any cost.

The Girl

Angela Wood wanted to teach the man a lesson. It was a bag, just like all the others. But when she opens it, the worst nightmare of her life begins.

The Detective

A journal ends up at Robert Hunter’s desk. It soon becomes clear that there is a serial killer on the loose. And if he can’t stop him in time, more people will die.

If you have read it

You must die

My review …

I was thrilled when my copy of this book landed on the doormat, mainly because it was one of the first physical proofs I have ever received (I will always remember it) and secondly because it was a hardback! The cover is striking and the blood spattered end papers give a hint of what’s to come. I didn’t realise what a popular book I had in my hands until I posted on Instagram and I had so many comments from hardcore Chris Carter fans who had read the whole Robert Hunter series. 

Blood spattered end papers!

This is not a genre that I usually read, because I’m a bit of a wimp, but I think it’s good to read out of your comfort zone sometimes and I loved it!

The story is set three weeks before Christmas in LA.  We meet troubled soul Angela Wood who is a pickpocket working in a bustling shopping street and, unfortunately for her, she picks on the wrong man. She steals a bag containing the journal of a depraved killer and she knows she’s made a monumental mistake.

The journal ends up with Detective Robert Hunter and his partner Carlos Garcia of the LAPD’s Ultra Violent Crimes Unit. The journal appears to be a kill diary and the detectives need to figure out who it belongs to before it’s too late. But this is no ordinary killer. He is intelligent, controlled, meticulously organised, he doesn’t make mistakes and he doesn’t lose! 

I’m absorbed straightaway. The story telling is effortlessly smooth. The chapters are short and together with the urgent nature of the plot makes this a real page turner.

The characters were so well drawn I felt like I knew them and could picture them in my mind straightaway. I loved Hunter’s character and his relationship with Garcia, they make a great team and complement each other perfectly. Hunter is calm, intelligent, professional and completely convincing. He is an expert in psychology and criminal behaviour and you can tell that the author knows exactly what he is talking about. The details and insights into what appears to be a delusional schizophrenic serial killer are absolutely fascinating! 

As previously mentioned, I am a wimp, and Chris Carter’s books are known to be pretty gory and violent, which at times I found difficult to read, but I’m sure that’s what the author wants, so, mission accomplished! 

I found this to be a great standalone book in a series of eleven featuring Robert Hunter. It didn’t matter at all that I hadn’t read the others, apart from a brief hint of a past romance for Hunter that made me wonder about his back story.

Overall this book is a full on, dark, sickening, tense, fast paced thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat as Hunter and Garcia race to catch an evil killer. And I loved it!

Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster and Chris Carter for my copy of the book and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for this fantastic book, which is OUT NOW!

About the author …

Chris Carter

Born in Brazil of Italian origin, Chris Carter studied psychology and criminal behaviour at the University of Michigan. As a member of the Michigan State District Attorney’s Criminal Psychology team, he interviewed and studied many criminals, including serial and multiple homicide offenders with life imprisonment convictions. He now lives in London.

Visit his website http://www.chriscarterbooks.com

P.S. I was saddened to read in the Dedication and Acknowledgments that whilst writing this book Chris sadly lost his partner and I would like to offer my sincere condolences 💔


To read more great reviews, take a look at the other bloggers on this tour …

 

Cock & Bull by Laura Barnard

The blurb…

Who knew that owning a pub would come with so many extras?

When Phoebe and Ella Bellerose left England behind to run the Irish pub they’d inherited, it sounded like a great adventure… until they saw for themselves what a wreck they’d been left.

With no experience, a severe lack of money, and a rival pub owner threatening to ruin them, the two girls aren’t convinced they can actually make this work.

Not until they meet Clooney Breen, who just so happens to be packed with charm, charisma, and barman skills that could help them all survive. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s the son of Cock & Bull’s biggest rival, and he’s desperate to help Ella and Phoebe teach his father a lesson.

But can mysterious Clooney, with his obvious secrets and desire to be their saviour, really be trusted? Or are they being played by this handsome lothario who seems too good to be true? Their problems only seem to grow and grow, until Phoebe discovers a ‘gift’ of her own that changes everything for all of them…

Things you should know about this rom com:

🍺 Tortured Bad Boy Hero
🍾 Enemies to Lovers Tension
🍸 Small Town Vibes & Gossiping Tribes
🍹 Quirky Sisters & Family Secrets
🍷 Slow burn, ‘will they, won’t they?’ romance.
🤣 LAUGH OUT LOUD comedy.

My review…

I really enjoyed this lighthearted sexy rom com!

We follow Phoebe and her sister Ella as they move to Ireland after inheriting a pub from their aunt. The pub is in a shocking state of repair but Phoebe sinks her life savings into its renovation and the sisters work their socks off to try to get the place up and running. The venture is plagued with problems and everything seems to fall to responsible and sensible Phoebe to sort out. 

But that’s not the only problem she is faced with. As well as a shocking revelation from her hippy parents, a thriving rival pub and a huge crush on gorgeous but untrustworthy bad boy Clooney, and you can imagine the pressure poor Phoebe is under! 

Brimming with sexual tension and romance, the story is told in a lighthearted manner through loveable characters and with a lot of expletives and laughs along the way! That being said the author also sensitively deals with more serious issues and the story definitely has its emotional moments.

A must read for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes. I’ve definitely got my eye on one of Laura’s Christmas books to add to my December #tbr! Thank you so much to Laura for inviting me to be involved in the release of this book and for the gifted ARC 💚

You can read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited – mybook.to/cockandbull.

Here is the Amazon link for the paperback edition: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1916273432/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_RcxgFbNGM9AWX

Author bio…

Amazon Best Seller Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes quirky British romantic comedy. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks on Pinterest.

She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She’s a real fan of the power nap, loves setting her friends up together and of course READING! 

​She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book it makes the midnight typing worth it!

Giveaway! …

Head on over to Laura’s accounts to be in with a chance of winning a signed paperback and £10 / $10 Amazon Gift card.  She’s also having a release party, with a host of author giveaways, in her facebook group – Laura’s Barn-Hards!

www.laurabarnardbooks.co.uk

www.facebook.com/laurabarnardbooks

www.instagram.com/laurabarnardauthor

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

The blurb …

‘Awfully opinionated for a girl’ is what they call Hillary as she grows up in her Chicago suburb. Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus. Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader— and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm ‘No’.

The rest, as they say, isn’t history. How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?

With her sharp but always compassionate eye, Sittenfeld explores the loneliness, moral ambivalence and iron determination that characterise the quest for high office, as well as the painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world ruled by men. Uncannily astute and witty in the telling, RODHAM is a brilliant reimagining – an unmissable literary landmark and truly a novel of our times.

About the author …

In addition to Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller American Wife, in which she painted a picture of an ordinary American girl – a thinly-disguised Laura Bush – who found herself married to a President. It was longlisted for the Orange Prize, as was her debut novel Prep.

Her other books are Man of My DreamsSisterland (a Richard & Judy Book Club pick), Eligible, and the acclaimed short story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It.
Her books are translated into 30 languages.

She lives with her family in the American Mid-West.

My review …

I’m so grateful that I was invited onto this tour because it’s given me a chance to read this incredible book when otherwise I’m not sure I would have picked it up. I love the concept of this novel and Sittenfeld’s writing is outstanding and easy to read considering the complex subject matter. I must admit that I know next to nothing about American politics and although a lot of this went over my head, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story.

I was about 19 years old when the scandal surrounding Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky hit the news so I remember quite a lot about Bill Clinton but not necessarily about Hillary and I didn’t have an opinion about her before I read this – apart from wishing she had won the Presidency in 2016! Narrated by Hillary we follow her from her 1969 graduation speech at Wellesley and subsequent attendance at Yale Law School, where she meets charming and handsome Bill, right the way through her political career up until the 2016 presidential campaign. We discover what Hillary’s life would be like if she hadn’t married Bill, hadn’t had her daughter and had focussed solely on her career. We see how Hillary’s life and career is plagued by the sexist media who scrutinise and criticise every area of her appearance, personality, private and public life in ways that wouldn’t happen if she was a man. The story highlights these disgraceful double standards and the glass ceiling that exists for women who have to choose between having a career, or being a wife and mother, and for fictional Hillary and real life Hillary, she just can’t seem to please anyone in this regard.

I became so immersed in this book that I had to remind myself that I wasn’t reading Hillary’s autobiography. Because the book is written around real events, and obviously because the ‘characters’ are real people and the dialogue was so convincing, this whole alternate reality was completely believable and absolutely fascinating. One of my favourite ‘characters’ to make an appearance was Donald Trump and I thought his involvement and idiosyncrasies were spot on and very amusing! I also found the story to be quite emotional and I did feel quite tearful at certain points, particularly when Hillary and Bill separated despite being very much in love, and also the moment when Obama took to the stage with his family after winning the presidential election.

I liked Hillary’s alternate ending, but at the same time I can’t say I wish this for her in real life, even though her marriage and career have had some extremely hard times, I kept thinking about Hillary without her daughter Chelsea and, as a mother myself, that is really unthinkable. I truly respected the decisions of fictional Hillary and feel that she would be an inspiration to girls and women the world over but I’m not sure if I can say the same about real life Hillary. Would I want my young daughters to be inspired by someone who allowed themselves to be mistreated by their husband even if it meant furthering their career, possibly to be the first female president of the USA? I really don’t know. This is such a thought provoking story in so many ways. It not only made me question Hillary’s decisions but also my own life choices and I pondered on how things could have turned out differently for me if I had done X instead of Y. I would actually be interested in finding out more about the real Hillary and reading her autobiographies. I also wonder whether she will read this book!

Rodham is published in hardback by Doubleday on 9th July 2020.

Thank you so much to the author, Doubleday and Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this blog tour and for a digital copy of this book in exchange for my review.

My June 2020 Wrap Up

I read seven and a half books in June. This might not seem like a lot to some of my fellow readers, but I think it’s a good effort considering I’m homeschooling three children during lockdown! I sneakily included Rodham in my round up, even though I haven’t finished it yet, because I have read over halfway, so I thought it was only fair.

The reviews for most of these books are already on previous blog posts, or on my instagram, but here is a star rating recap out of 5:

Normal People ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Safe Place ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Truants ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Women at Hitler’s Table ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Half Sister ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Babysitter ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Wives ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My favourites this month would be a choice between The Safe Place, The Babysitter or The Wives. All fantastic page turning thrillers that I would highly recommend.

Books Acquired

As you can see I acquired a lot of books this month!! I was so lucky to be gifted The Doll Factory, Daisy Jones & The Six, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Catch and Lies, Lies, Lies from my lovely instagram followers either from competition wins or ‘random acts of kindness’ gifts, which are circulating all over bookstagram. The Guest List was a bookclub pick for June that unfortunately I didn’t get around to reading and The Nanny was loaned to me by my lovely neighbour. The others were gifts to myself and it really was a case of bookstagram made me do it!

Bookstagram really is the nicest part of the internet. In these strange and worrying times of lockdown, creating my own book account really has taken my mind off the news and lowered my anxiety levels. Everyone is helpful, kind and supportive. It is heaven for bookworms but not so good for your bank balance! The ‘random acts of kindness’ really do make my day. Bookstagrammers make a public wishlist on Amazon containing items such as sweets, chocolate, books and stationary and post the link to the wishlist in their bio. Bookstagrammers can then randomly gift other bookstagrammers and it’s such a lovely surprise when the Amazon delivery guy or gal knocks on your door. It’s equally heartwarming when someone is thrilled to receive your gift. However, I have developed an unhealthy addiction to Candy Kittens since all this started. If you know, you know.

I can’t wait to get stuck into this wonderful pile of books. I’m particularly keen to start The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and Half a World Away by Mike Gayle, so look out for my reviews on those.

I also have the following blog tours coming up in July, which I am very excited about:

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld 1st-10th July

Broken Flowers by Kate McQuaile 9th-12th July

Cock and Bull by Laura Barnard 28th July

Written in Blood by Chris Carter 23rd-30th July

July is shaping up to be a fantastic month, not only with this fabulous stack of books to get through, but with lockdown restrictions gradually being lifted in Wales, be prepared for lots of book on the beach photos, as we can head back down to the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast.

Have a great month book lovers!

❤️

P.S. You can find the June reading update template on instagram @librarygoblin make sure to give her a follow and some likes!

The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan

The blurb …

On the hottest day of the year, Caroline Harvey is found dead in Suffolk. Her body is found draped over a cot – but the baby she was looking after is missing.  

Hundreds of miles away, Siobhan Dillon is on a luxurious family holiday in France when her husband, Callum, is arrested by French police on suspicion of murder.

As Siobhan’s perfect family is torn apart by the media in the nation’s frantic search for the missing baby, she desperately tries to piece together how Callum knew Caroline. 

What happened that night? Was Caroline as innocent as she seemed – or was she hiding a secret of her own?

My review …

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

I thoroughly enjoyed this cleverly plotted thriller which kept me guessing right up until the bitter end. It’s the kind of book that once you’ve picked it up, you can’t put it down!

The story is brilliantly weaved via alternating chapters between Siobhan, Caroline and DS Wildy (which is my favourite format for a book) together with police interview transcripts and social media posts, which highlight the modern culture of trial by social media. The chapters told from Caroline’s point of view on the day of her murder were brilliant and they completely ramped up the suspense of the story! We then follow Siobhan as she struggles to piece together what happened on the night of Caroline’s murder and DS Wildy and his team as they race to try and solve the murder and find baby Eve.

The book is largely based in Ipswich but begins in gorgeous Saint Juillet on the North West Coast of France in a luxury villa on the hottest day of the year. Siobhan and her husband Callum are on holiday with their 16-year-old daughter Emma and Siobhan’s sister Maria who owns the villa. We learn that Siobhan has been ignoring the flaws in her marriage to handsome TV executive Callum, and trying to hold the family together for the sake of her daughter, from whom she is becoming increasingly distant. Emma is a typical moody teenager and a daddy’s girl and takes it very badly when Callum is arrested at the villa. Maria is Siobhan’s rock throughout the whole dreadful period in her life and they share a wonderful sisterly bond.

I thought Caroline was a brilliant character. Lonely, obsessive, jealous and longing for a baby, poor Caroline had never got over the death of her mother and has been treated very badly by the man she loved. I felt sorry for her and terrified of her in equal measures. As a mother myself the descriptions of Caroline babysitting for baby Eve had me squirming anxiously in my seat and Eve’s subsequent disappearance was heart wrenching. In fact, baby loss, in one form or another, is sadly relevant to most of the characters in this story.

A tense and gripping story full of lies and deceit this really did have me on the edge of my seat and I would recommend it to everyone. I will definitely be reading more of Phoebe Morgan’s books. I love the cover of this book too, so colourful and eye catching!

Thank you very much to Netgalley and HQ Stories for the digital ARC of this book for my review.

About the author …

Phoebe Morgan is an author and editor.  She studied English at Leeds University after growing up in the Suffolk countryside.  She edits commercial fiction for a publishing house during the day and writes her own books in the evenings.  Phoebe lives in London and you can follow her on Twitter @phoebe_a_morgan, or find her website about publishing and writing at phoebemorganauthor.com.  She is the author of The Doll House and The Girl Next Door, and The Babysitter is her third book.  Her novels have been translated into multiple languages and are available in the US, Canada, France, Croatia, Italy, Estonia, Norway, Portugal and more!

The Half Sister by Sandie Jones

The blurb…

Her arrival will ruin everything

Kate and Lauren.  Sisters who are always there for each other.  But as they gather for their weekly Sunday lunch, a knock on the door changes everything.  

The new arrival, Jess, claims to be their half-sister, but that would mean the unthinkable … that she’s the secret daughter of their beloved, recently deceased father Harry.  Their mother Rose is devastated and Kate and Lauren refuse to believe Jess’ lies. 

But as the fall-out starts it’s clear that each is hiding secrets and that perhaps this family isn’t as perfect as they appear.  

Where there was truth, now there are lies and only one thing is certain, their half-sister’s arrival has ruined everything …

My review …

⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

I think I judged this book by its cover and was expecting it to be an eerie thriller when it fact it reads more like a family drama until the last few chapters.  It took me until well over halfway through the book to be drawn into the characters and the plot and I must admit that I almost didn’t want to finish it at the halfway point.  I feel that the half-sister Jess was introduced too soon into the story before we’d had a chance to get to know and therefore empathise with the main characters.  However, the plot thickens at the midway point, it definitely got more interesting and changed pace into more of a page turner.  I found that the characters had grown on me and I did actually want to know what was going on.  Who was Jess and what did she want from the family? 

The story is told from the alternating view point of sisters Kate and Lauren.  Jess arrives at a time when the sisters are still grieving the loss of their father and a divide has grown between them.  They have very different lives and both sisters feel that the grass is greener on the other side, which leads to resentment and a crippling lack of communication.  When self assured and in my opinion, unlikeable, Jess arrives on the scene, her search for answers dredges up painful secrets that the sisters would have preferred to have stayed in the past.  I really did grow to like the sisters’ characters and found certain parts to be very emotional. I especially liked Lauren’s character, I found her very relatable particularly as I can sympathise with her as to the demands of three small children!

This story has themes of infertility, domestic abuse, infidelity and grief with some great twists and turns in the second half, that culminate in a very surprising ending.

Thank you to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for the ARC.

About the author …

Sandie Jones is the author of the bestselling The Other Woman and The First Mistake. A freelance journalist, she has contributed to the Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Woman’s Weekly and Hello magazine, amongst others. If she wasn’t a writer, she’d be an interior designer as she has an unhealthy obsession with wallpaper and cushions. She lives in London with her husband and three children.

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

The blurb…

You’ve never met the other wives.  None of you know each other, you see your husband only one day a week.  Thursday.  But you don’t care, you love him that much.  Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself…

And then, one day it all changes.

You thought you were fine with this, with only having a fraction of a husband.  But you can’t help yourself, you start to dig.  You begin tracking them down, the other days…who is Monday and why does she have bruises on her arms? Is she being abused? By who? Her husband? Your husband?

What else is he keeping from you? And who is he, really?

My review…

⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Well, I love a good thriller and this certainly was a rollercoaster ride of a book!  

This gripping story is told by Thursday Ellington, and is set in damp and grey Seattle, which sets the whole tone of the book.  Thursday is the second wife to handsome and charming polygamist Seth whom she gets to spend every Thursday with.  The other wives are described as Monday and Tuesday.  Thursday paints a picture of her lonely existence waiting for her day of the week with Seth, as she puts all her efforts into being the sexiest and most uncomplicated wife that Seth could ever want.  However, underneath the facade that she creates for Seth, she is plagued by insecurities comparing herself to the other wives and also suffering terribly after a devastating miscarriage.  As Thursday spins a web of deceit and starts digging into the lives of the other wives, everything starts to unravel and all their lives will be deeply affected.  

With themes of secrecy, infidelity, lust, miscarriage and mental illness this book is a superb thriller with so many brilliant twists and turns that I didn’t know who or what to believe right up until the shockingly brutal end (which for me went just a tiny step too far).  I thought that the writing was fantastic and edgy and the characters were so well drawn as seen from Thursday’s perspective.

I could say so much more about Thursday and the events which take place but there would be so many spoilers that I just can’t! I would highly recommend this book to fans of suspense/thrillers and I will definitely be reading more of Tarryn Fisher’s work. I would also like to say thank you to Netgalley and HQ Stories for the ARC.

About the author…

Tarryn Fisher is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nine novels.  Born a sun hater, she currently makes her home in Seattle, Washington, with her children, husband and psychotic husky.  She loves connecting with her readers on Instagram.  

The Women at Hitler’s Table

The blurb…

East Prussia, 1943. Hitler hides away in the Wolfsschanze – his hidden headquarters. The tide is turning in the war and his enemies circle ever closer. Ten women are chosen. Ten women to taste his food and protect him from poison.

Twenty-six-year-old Rosa has lost everything to this war. Alone and scared, she faces the SS with nothing but the knowledge every bite might be her last.

Caught on the wrong side of history, how far is Rosa willing to go to survive.

Published by Harper Collins Publishers

My review…

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

I thoroughly enjoyed this powerful story set in East Prussia 1943.  Inspired by a true story it tells the incredible tale of Rosa, who is selected as one of ten women to taste Hitler’s food to protect him from poisoning towards the end of the war.

This is a compelling story of love, lust, friendship and the hardship of life in wartime Nazi Germany told in intelligent and cool writing style, reflecting the atmosphere of the time.  Rosa is an intriguing character, she is caring, loyal and introspective and the author gives vivid descriptions of Rosa’s thought processes and reflections.  

The book gives a fascinating insight into Hitler’s personality and idiosyncrasies.  It was also interesting for me to read a book set in World War II from a German perspective (as opposed to British or Polish) with the women’s opinions of Hitler and how little they knew of Hitler’s atrocities during that time.

Most of all I loved reading how the relationships between the women developed into friendships that would have a lasting effect on Rosa. 

I would have liked more emotion in this story but it’s definitely a thought provoking read that I would highly recommend to fans of historical fiction.

It was fascinating to read the author’s notes and acknowledgments to see that she got her inspiration for this story in 2014 from an article about Margot Wolk, Hitler’s last surviving food taster. Unfortunately by the time Postorino had tracked Margot down she had sadly passed away and so she never got to talk to her. You can just imagine the stories she had to tell!

About the author…

Rosella Postorino is an internationally bestselling author and an editor. She speaks fluent English, Italian, French and German. The Women at Hitler’s table is her first novel to be translated into English.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

The blurb…

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life-changing begins.

Normal People is a story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find they can’t.

Published by Faber & Faber

My review…

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

This book follows Marianne and Connell’s relationship on their journey from adolescence to adulthood in a story of love, abuse, mental health and social class.

Rooney writes with effortless style and the dialogue so well written that I barely noticed the quirky lack of speech marks. This makes the book a page turner despite the melancholy tone and lack of any major plot twists.

I found myself fully invested in these vulnerable characters. Especially Marianne who, due to various dysfunctional relationships, sees her self worth deteriorate terribly throughout the story and my heart aches for her and the abuse she tolerated.

I have seen many reviews saying that they are disappointed with the lack of a ‘happy ending’ but I didn’t expect one. It was never really on the cards with this story and the characters are still so young at the end I’m glad they didn’t ride off into the sunset together. What was lovely was that they helped heal each other and grow as individuals and I especially liked the line ‘But for her the pain of loneliness will be nothing to the pain that she used to feel, of being unworthy. He bought her goodness like a gift and now it belongs to her.’  That was my happy ending for Marianne, at that point in her life.

There was some repetition to the storyline and some instances of annoying self analysis but this didn’t put me off. I really enjoyed this book from an exceptionally talented writer and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

About the author…

Sally Rooney was born in County Mayo, Ireland, and presently lives in Dublin. She is the author of the novels Conversations with Friends and Normal People. Her writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the London Review of Books, and elsewhere. Conversations with Friends was shortlisted for both the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Rathbones Folio Prize, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. Rooney was also shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award for ‘Mr Salary’ and was the winner of the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. Normal People won the Costa Novel of the Year in 2019, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2018 as well as the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Rathbones Folio Prize in 2019.

Normal People has also been adapted for a television series by the BBC to rave reviews.

The Safe Place by Anna Downes

The blurb…

No phones

No outsiders

No escape

Emily Proudman has been offered the chance of a lifetime – leave her messy London life, move to a beautiful estate in France and help her boss’s wife take care of their daughter. It seems like the perfect opportunity to start again.

But once there, Emily soon starts to suspect that her charismatic new employers aren’t telling her the whole truth. That there are even dangerous secrets hidden beneath the glamorous facade.

Why have the family been moved to this isolated house so far from home? Why does her boss’s daughter refuse to speak or be touched? Why are there whispers in the night?

The only problem is, the more Emily knows, the less chance there is she will ever be able to leave…

My review…

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Doesn’t the sparkling blue swimming pool on the cover of the book just draw you in! I thoroughly enjoyed this brilliantly written, eerie, page turner. After having read the blurb, just the thought of being stuck somewhere with no phone is enough to make most people feel vulnerable!

With themes of loss, grief and mental health, the story is told from the points of view of the two main characters Emily and Scott, in alternating chapters, with flashbacks from Nina. Emily’s life is crumbling down around her but she is saved by her knight in shining armour, Scott, with the job opportunity of a lifetime. Emily heads off to France to help Scott’s wife Nina, and their daughter Aurelia, as a live-in housekeeper/personal assistant. Emily is in awe of the property as well as the owners, but struggles to connect with Aurelia whose behaviour is troubling. The characters are all so well developed I felt sympathy and empathy with all of them, even when they were in the wrong. I particularly liked Emily, she was such a relatable character and some of her internal dialogue was very witty.

The descriptions of the house and grounds on the coast of France were beautiful and created such an atmosphere that I almost felt I was sitting at the side of the pool in the sun sipping a chilled glass of Rose (or definitely wished I was!). There were two houses on the estate, Emily lived in the guest house and Nina, Scott and their daughter Aurelia lived in the main house where Emily was not allowed under any circumstances. The descriptions of the coldness of Nina’s house were so vivid that you could feel the chill and I found I was actually holding my breath in several places waiting for something dreadful to happen.

I was well over halfway through this book and I still didn’t know where the story was going and what Scott and Nina were hiding, it definitely keeps you guessing right up until the heartbreaking ending. When you do finally realise what is going on with the family, it will definitely remind you of something but I won’t give anything away!

I would highly recommend this book to fans of suspense novels, and I look forward to reading more of Anna’s work in the future. I also really enjoyed reading the author’s note at the end of the book. It’s so interesting to get to know the author and the inspiration behind the writing.

I would also like to say thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the ARC.

About the author…

Anna Downes grew up in Sheffield, UK. She studied drama at Manchester University before winning a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and moving to London to pursue an acting career. In 2009 she left to go travelling and spent time in France, Egypt and Central America before finally settling in Australia in 2011. Anna became a dual citizen in 2016 and now lives just north of Sydney with her husband and two children. The Safe Place is her first novel and is partly inspired by her experiences working as a live-in housekeeper / caretaker on the French coast during her travels.