#BookReview : All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault #AllthePrettyThings #Mystery #Thriller @PRHGlobal #BooksTeacupnReviews

All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault
Publication Date : March 17th 2020
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Genre : YA / Mystery-Thriller
Pages: 352
Stars : ★★★☆☆

For fans of Sadie and The Cheerleaders comes an all new thriller about a boy who turns up dead under suspicious circumstances and the one girl who may be the key to solving the mystery of his untimely death.


For Ivy, summer means roller-coaster season, spinning cotton candy at the Fabuland amusement park, and hanging out with her best friend, Morgan. But this summer is different.


One morning, Morgan finds a dead body. It’s their former classmate and coworker Ethan. To make matters worse, Morgan is taken to a hospital psych ward only days later, and she’s not saying much–not even to Ivy.


The police claim that Ethan simply took a bad fall, but Ivy isn’t convinced and realizes it’s up to her to get answers. What she finds is unsettling–it’s clear that some people aren’t being honest about Ethan’s last night at Fabuland. Including Morgan. And the more secrets Ivy uncovers, the closer she gets to unraveling dark truths that will change her life forever. 

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

All the Pretty Things was YA small town mystery that revolved around Fabuland amusement park, Ethan’s death and reason behind Morgan’s silence. It was about workplace harassment, health risks at amusement park, motivated perception and ignorance.

Writing was easy, intriguing and good but not best. Setting of Fabuland- amusement park in small town, Danville was fabulous. Story was first person narrative from Ivy’s POV.

All the Pretty Things started with Ivy receiving news about her best friend- Morgan. She discovered dead body of coworker and classmate on her way to Fabuland. Soon they found Morgan but she wasn’t herself and was admitted in psych ward. She wouldn’t talk to anybody, not even to Ivy. She just vaguely pointed her questions about Ethan’s death. To find out what happened to Ethan and how it affected to Morgan, Ivy carried out her own investigation. And what she found out in process was disturbing that might change her life. The story was all about what was the mystery behind Ethan’s death and Morgan’s distressed state, Why she would shut out her best friend, and what Ivy discovered at the end.

Mystery behind Morgan’s state was clear. I could figure out what might have happened to her. Within few chapters I also could see who might have caused her distress. As for Ethan’s death that was tricky in first half but easy to figure in second half. First half was all about introduction of Fabuland, Ivy’s family, her friendship with Morgan, Fabuland employees who were mostly young high school students and Ivy’s class mates, her father’s nature and dreams, and mainly Ivy’s investigation. This part was a bit slow.

Characters were interesting but not in depth. We see the world and characters through Ivy’s eyes and we know them only with their connection to mysteries so it was really hard to know or connect with characters, even with Ivy. 

 Ivy was okay, she was mostly playing Nancy Drew and piping her thoughts on what she found out. I couldn’t exactly say if she liked working at Fabuland or not or if she was working their out of love for her father- It seemed like combination of all of these. I didn’t like her for judging her brother as he didn’t came back to work at Fabuland and for taking side with her father without knowing whole story. At one point she was developed for her age- responsible daughter and helping her father and other employees, while at some point she was naïve and saw the world and her family’s issue through what she perceived as child during her parents’ divorce. And I can’t imagine how she couldn’t see her father’s vulgar language and behavior. One thing I liked was her reaction to truths she discovered. It was realistic and her decision at the end was perfect.

Best part of the book was setting. Amusement park was described wonderfully. Roller coasters, carousel, spin rides, cotton candy, ice cream parlor, food zone, water rides, princess parade, and sparkly doughnuts- All The pretty Things were there at this park. And I loved new ideas in promoting the park, fun activities and giveaways. And beneath those pretty things there was darkness and shadiness that made the story atmospheric. I liked the way author represented workplace harassment and possible health risk and accidents at amusement park. Through Ethan’s story it was also shown importance of health assessment and parent permission for under age kid before giving them job.

In second half, Ivy not just solved mystery of Ethan and Morgan but also reason behind why her brother Jason wouldn’t join them this summer and never work for their father. Winnie’s story and revelation at climax was perfect. Loved Ivy’s development and the way she accepted her ignorance and took right step at the end. End was perfect. I loved that big revelation just before end, slight different from what I guessed but I enjoyed it.

Why 3 Stars-

It wasn’t exactly thriller. I would say it was more like cozy mystery with a bit darkness. Plus it was easy to predict who was culprit because there was only one person who behaved wrong and inappropriately.

Dialogues were not good. All conversations started with huh, uh-huh, umm…! I lost count how many times these words were used. It really made conversations dull.

As I said above in characters part, there was no feel or connection to characters. Book was first person narrative but I know and see everyone else except main character. Maybe because it was more plot driven but characters were important part so I was expecting to know them better, at least Ivy and Morgan.

Overall, All the Pretty Things was simple and quick read with had great setting and interesting plot but predictable and not exactly a thriller. If you want an easy mystery, love amusement park and mystery in it with a little creepy feel, go ahead.

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#BookReview : Pretty Things by Janelle Brown #PrettyThings #Mystery #Thriller @PRHGlobal #BooksTeacupnReviews

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown
Publication Date : April 21st 2020
Publisher : Random House
Genre : Mystery Thriller
Pages : 496
Stars : ★★★★☆ (4.25)

Two wildly different women – one a grifter, the other an heiress – are brought together by the scam of a lifetime in a page-turner from the New York Times bestselling author of Watch Me Disappear.

Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in L.A. alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.

Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wanted to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer—traveling the globe, receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locales. But behind the covetable façade is a life marked by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family’s sprawling mountain estate, Stonehaven: a mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa’s past, but from that of a lost and troubled girl named Nina.

Nina’s, Vanessa’s, and Lachlan’s paths collide here, on the cold shores of Lake Tahoe, where their intertwined lives give way to a winter of aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.

This dazzling, twisty, mesmerizing novel showcases acclaimed author Janelle Brown at her best, as two brilliant, damaged women try to survive the greatest game of deceit and destruction they will ever play. 

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

Pretty Things was slow-burn mystery thriller that revolved around two women from different background, one a con with plan of heist and other rich heiress spending her time in loneliness. It was about grift, con, gap between rich and poor and their mindset about it, social media and its illusion, pretty things and its not-so-pretty reality, dysfunctional family, friendship, love, deceit and betrayal.

Writing was beautiful, descriptive and often lyrical. I love it when there’s more than just story and characters. Deep, thought provoking and meaningful messages and quote worthy line are something I always appreciate it most in book and this had it in abundance.

Plot was interesting. Story was first person narrative from Nina and Vanessa’s perspective. They were given few chapters each sharing their view points on their present situation, telling their life story, how their path collided and what happened after that.

Pretty Things had intriguing beginning with Nina swindling a young rich Russian along with her Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina conned rich people to pay her mother’s medical bill, but had set of rules- “Don’t take too much and only con those who deserve it and can afford to replace things they stole”. But when police came knocking at her door and sending her on run, they had to break the rules for one last big grift with more than enough cash that can help her mother’s treatment and give her new start. So, they decided to con Vanessa Liebling, young privileged heiress of Liebling estate, Stonehaven at Lake Tahoe. Now Nina has history with this place and she hated Lieblings. I was curious to find out what was the history, why she hated the rich and specially Lieblings so much, what they did to Nina?

This was character driven story. Most part of the book was character building and development. First 50% of the book told about present life of characters, their childhood, past, what happened in their lives that shaped their present and their mindset. This was slowest part and long chapters didn’t help in speeding the story.

All characters were flawed, complex and complicated. It was interesting to read their life stories, their mindset, insecurities and strength. The story was written in such way that my likeness scale kept tipping from left to right.

At first I didn’t like Nina. She was presumptuous, judgmental and selfish. She saw the world in only two shades, poor and rich and defined life based on that. Her judgement was fractured once she got involved with Vanessa in real life, living with her at Stonehaven with her.

The cold judgement she formed based on Vanessa’s Instagram v-life warmed eventually and she saw the reality of Vanessa’s life, her pain and emotions. I liked her development from this point onward. After major turning point she discovered many secrets that shattered the definition of world she created. I loved her for trying to do right thing at the end, taking decision that was hard for her. It steered her away from what she did whole life. At the end I loved her.

It’s easiest to judge from distance. That’s why the Internet has turned us all into armchair critics, experts at the cold dissection of gesture and syllable, sneering self-righteously from the safety of our screens. There, we can feel good about ourselves, validated that our flaws weren’t as bad as theirs, unchallenged in our superiority. Moral high ground is a pleasant place to preach, even if the view turns out to be rather limited in scope.

Vanessa was vulnerable, lonely woman desperate for love and appreciation. She was privileged and she knew she could get everything with money and looks. She used it to hide her flaws, her insecurities and lack of any talent. Circumstances lead her towards Instagram influencer life that gave her fame and illusion of world where people loved her and appreciated what she did, until it was shattered by one tragedy after other. She believed what her parents said and taught and one of those thing was Nina Ross ruined her brother- Benny’s life.

It was easy to like her and empathize with her. Her only flaw was she had low self-esteem and lot of self-doubt. She was naïve and stupid. Maybe not totally but I didn’t like how she turned blind eye to all the signs. But then again I liked her once the fog of naivety was cleared and she started using her brain.

Benny was diagnosed schizophrenic but he was most smart and sane person in the book. I felt for him. I wish he stood up against his dad all those years ago but at the same time I could see he was just boy whose parents didn’t understand him.  

I blame adults for everything wrong happened to Vanessa, Benny and Nina. Liebling family was typical rich dysfunctional family and had major impact on Benny’s mental condition and Vanessa’s self-esteem, while Nina’s mother was no better.

Perspective is, by nature, subjective. It’s impossible to climb inside someone else’s head, despite your best-or worst-intentions.

What I liked most was characters’ background and development and description of Lake Tahoe. It was both beautiful and atmospheric setting. Along with the luminous water of the lake, beautiful peaks of mountains, there lurked the darkness and coldness of Stonehaven. I liked the descriptions of Stonehaven and all the antiques there.

Another thing I loved was deep insights on social media and rich life, how people view it from outside and how the reality of pretty things are so different when you get close to it, and how actions of parents causes horrible consequences for their children.

Second half was brilliant, fast paced with surprises and twists that made me appreciate that slow first half. I liked character development and redemption arc in this part. The way Vanessa and Nina realized their mistakes and cleared misunderstanding was amazing. Turning points, surprises and twists were well written without giving away true intentions of characters and what they were going to plan next, and how they will come out of the mess they created.

Nothing is ever as pure as it seems at first glance; there is always something more complicated to be found when you peel back the unmarred surface of pretty things.

Climax was tense, surprising and brilliant. At this point I knew what they were going to do and what will be the end. End was good. I like it when characters get what they deserved. Epilogue was best, I liked how characters pulled their life together and tried to form a bridge over their differences.

Why 4.25 star-

First half was too slow. It took me more than 1 hour to read 10% of the book. I thought I would rate this book 3 or 3.5 at 50% of the book but then I loved second half and I could see how important the first half was, it helped in understanding characters and what was going on in their mind. I appreciated all those back stories. But then there was a little repetitiveness in first half which was, I think, because of narration style.

Overall, Pretty Things was impressive, deceitful, and twisted tale of two women with lots of secrets. I recommend this to fans of this genre, specifically those who don’t mind slow pace and descriptive, philosophical writing.

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#BookReview: The Twin by Natasha Preston @PRHGlobal #TheTwin #Psychological #Thriller #YA #BooksTeacupnReviews

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The Twin by Natasha Preston
Publication Date: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Psychological Fiction / Thriller / YA
Pages: 336
Stars: ★★★☆☆ [3.5]

In this twisty psychological thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of THE CELLAR, Ivy finds out that her twin sister, Iris, is trying to push her out of her own life–and might be responsible for their mother’s death.

After their parents divorced, 10-year-old twins Ivy and Iris were split up–Ivy lived with Dad, Iris with Mom. Now, after a tragic accident takes their mom’s life, the twins are reunited and Iris moves in with Ivy and their dad. Devastated over Mom’s death, Iris spends the first few weeks in almost total silence–the only person she will speak to is Ivy. Iris feels her life is over and she doesn’t know what to do. Ivy promises her twin that she can share her life now. After all, they’re sisters. Twins.

It’s a promise that Iris takes seriously. And before long, Ivy’s friends, her life at school, and her boyfriend, Tyler, fall under Iris’s spell. Slowly, Ivy realizes she’s being pushed out of her own life. But she’s just being paranoid, right? And Mom’s accident was . . . just an accident. Right? It’s not like she–or Dad–or Tyler–are in any danger. . . . 

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

The Twin was psychological thriller that revolved around twins- a good perfect one, really affected by mother’s death and other one who was twisted, evil, crazy, psycho, wasn’t affected by mother death but used it for her own gain! Basically an evil vs good twin novel. It was about unhealthy and toxic sister relationship, trust, betrayal and manipulations.

Now this book can be hit or miss. I’m somewhere in middle! In most of the book it was hit but the end changed it for me. Writing was amazing. Creepy, compelling, thrilling, and fast. Some may find it repetitive but that’s because main character has habit of overthinking and she kept asking herself same question. As per her nature it was perfectly written. Setting was atmospheric. The dread, fear and darkness never left till the end.

Now that synopsis says a lot. I was pretty sure- from synopsis and the way first few chapters were written– Iris killed her mother, she didn’t have feeling for her dead mother or grieved her death. She was only interested in getting to know Ivy’s friends and school. She was reserved at home, not speaking to anybody and staying in her room all the time but out of house with Ivy’s circle and friends in school, she was chirpy, happy, enjoying every moment and making it difficult for Ivy. It was obvious she wanted Ivy’s life, like everything her friends, dream, her place as daughter, student. The only big fat, million dollar question was why?

It made me curious to find out why she was doing these to her own sister who shared a womb with their own mother, who was only nice to her, understanding and ready to share her life with her. I was even more curious to see what Ivy was going to do about her sister and her crappy behavior, how she will save her loved ones or herself, how she was going to expose her.

I tell you answers weren’t pretty and so characters. Let’s make a good start, I hated them all at the end. I didn’t like her friends (I mean how can they say they were best friends), her dad (he should see through his daughters, parents are good at it, aren’t’ they? Or at least he should have known Ivy better), or any single character there was. They were big fat disappointment. Except Ivy but I wasn’t even happy with her as well. I will get there later. 

Iris was gave bad vibes from the beginning. She was evil and manipulative in mind and nature, a psychopath who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted. She was definitely a pathological liar, damn smart, confident, and always four step ahead of her victim. She was nightmare throughout the book, literally. I just wanted to read this book as fast as I can to get away from this twisted character. Author did brilliant job with her. She was best psychopath I ever read.

Ivy was lovely girl. She was good to a fault. She worked hard for whatever she was and got in life. Best student, friend, swimmer and daughter and even tried to be, if not best, better sister. He weakness was overthinking, overworking her mind and body, and lack of patience. Not able to play the game right, Iris started. She was bit naïve. I get it was all new for her but she should have drew a boundary from the beginning, should have reminded people that she loved her space and swimming was only thing that could chase away her worry and grief but she didn’t.

She gave Iris benefit of doubt even though her instinct said otherwise, even though she saw she was up to no good, and gave bad feeling! Her biggest mistake! Still she held on pretty good. She was resilient, tried to ignore rumors, gossips, hostile gaze and crappy behavior. Her boyfriend was her sole support and I’m glad to see him staying with her most of the book. She tried to get to bottom of this, find something to make her life better and expose her sister and that was great but she didn’t time it right. Patience is virtue was lost to her.

What made me lose my mind about her was, her lack of brilliance! You know she could get the evidence but she didn’t think about it. I did feel for her, though. She was such nice person. She didn’t deserve this. My heart felt the ache of her crumbling life.

It fast paced that kept me hooked to book till the end. I did feel it was bit stretched in middle because well, readers can easily see what Iris was doing and how Ivy’s life was snatched from her, you keep expecting there might be some glitch in Iris’s plan and keep hoping Ivy might find a clue or way to expose her evil side but we don’t see it coming, not until the confrontation and that came at 95%! Till this I felt so much hope, even during and at the end of confrontation, I kept hoping the light will shine on Ivy and chase of that dark witch Iris. But it turned out so hopeless. End totally froze my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking all that happened in that last 5% of the book. I literally couldn’t sleep. Honestly I was disappointed with the end.

Why 3.5 stars-

Where exactly it totally blew my mind was, I could get why Iris did that to her mother. What I cannot get my head around was why she did all these to Ivy. You see, usually there can be reasonable explanation like, ‘parents favored other sibling or she was popular or your boyfriend preferred her over you…’ something you can a put a finger on. Here it wasn’t case, there was not a particular reason that can explain Iris’ behavior except she was not right in mind, got a kick out of doing all these.

As I said I didn’t like the end.

Another thing is it was so implausible. I mean how 16 years’ worth life can be snatched from a person in 6 weeks! Wouldn’t there be a single person who can help or see through this!

Overall, it was great, dark, twisted, psychological thriller with brilliant villain but heavy and tragic end. Those who doesn’t want or expect happy ending in thrillers, will love it.

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#BookReview : I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson

I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson
Publication Date: October 8th 2019
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: YA / Thriller /Psychological thriller
Pages: 336
Stars: ★★★★★

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Jennifer Donaldson is back with another twisted thriller perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying and Gone Girl.

Zahra Gaines is missing.

After three long years away, Ruthie Hayden arrives in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska to this devastating news. Zahra was Ruthie’s best friend–the only person who ever really understood her–and she vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Zahra vanished from a party just days before Ruthie’s return, but the more people she talks to, the more she realizes that the Zahra she knew disappeared long before that fateful night. Gone is the whimsical, artistic girl who loved books and knew Ruthie’s every secret. In her place is an athlete, a partier, a girl with secrets of her own. Darker still are the rumors that something happened to Zahra while Ruthie was gone, something that changed her forever…

As Ruthie desperately tries to piece together the truth, she falls deeper and deeper into her friend’s new world, circling closer to a dangerous revelation about what Zahra experienced in the days before her disappearance–one that might be better off buried.

In her stunning follow-up to Lies You Never Told Me, Jennifer Donaldson once again delivers a propulsive thriller with a masterful twist, skillfully creating a world where nothing is quite as it seems.

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

I Know You Remember was suspenseful YA thriller that revolved around Ruthie and her lost best friend Zahra. It was about obsession, dysfunctional family, abusive parents and their addiction issues, friendship and jealousy.  

Writing was addictive, it pulled me into story right from the beginning. Setting was fabulous. The story had that sad, heavy darkness hanging over it all the time and Alaska’s cold weather, trails through wilds and stories of predator attacks heightened those feelings. I loved that dark fantasy characters wrote in the book. That fanfiction story, Starmaiden and Lyr characters and bits of the world was fascinating.

Book was first person narrative told from Ruth’s POV. Her voice was believable, it felt real, made me see all characters the way she wanted. It started with Ruth at her mother’s funeral who died in hiking accident. She decide to go back to her hometown, Anchorage, to her dad’s home. She left the town 3 years ago after her parents’ divorce because of her alcoholic father. But now he was sober, married, and only relative left. On arriving back, she tried to contact her best friend Zahra all through weekends but couldn’t even find her at her home. I kind of felt sorry for Ruth and then on Monday, school announced terrible new, Zahra was missing.

Things turned dark and uncertain soon and fast. Ruth felt so much change in Zahra’s room at her home and personality. The Zahra people were talking about was not the same she knew. It was scary to see a drastic change in girl going from kind and lively to aloof and caught up in teen drama. I was worried for Zahra. I kept thinking what might have happened to her to cause this change, what happened to her after party, where she went and who might have hurt her. I was worried for Ruth who not just lost her mother but her best friend.

Ruth was determined and fierce girl, obsessed to find Zahra. And so she friendship with Zahra’s friends and tried to get to know people she was connected with. Tabitha, Zahra’s now best friend, was never sober. She was this rich and bitch girl who mostly lived alone in big house. Ben, Zahra’s ex-boyfriend, was volatile, popular guy but not everybody liked him. They had big fight the night she disappeared. There was rumor Zahra was cheating and then there was her grandfather, a famous pastor who was misogynist. No single character was reliable and likable except Ingrid. She surprised me. She was brave, smart, caring, and protective step-sister of Ruth. Though I didn’t appreciate her blind belief, she was most likable person in the book.

There were many elements in story– PTSD, social anxiety, drug and alcohol addicted parents, their ill-treatments and its effects on kids’ mentality and psychology, exploitation of religion and using it to gain power and control. All the big serious topic that gave so much to discuss over. I blame parents here for the all wrong thing happened in the book.

Climax was most interesting. Once I got to know characters, I knew where this story was heading. I had my guesses and when I reached climax, bingo. I thought I would give it 4 star because I could figure it all out at some point, but then came most shocking twist. I read in some reviews saying it felt like author decided to change the end all of sudden but I feel it was a clever. I felt like why I even tried to guess who the real culprit was! I couldn’t have guessed that twist. End was satisfactory but still mind-boggling.

Overall, it was gripping, thrilling, page-turner with brilliant twist and amazing setting. I surely recommend this book.

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#BlogTour #Review : Safe House by Jo Jackman #SafeHouse @HarvillSecker @JoJakemanWrites @mia_qs

Hello readers! Today is my stop during the blog tour for Safe House by Jo Jackman. Many thanks to Mia for the tour invite and providing the copy for review. Check out the book details and review in this post.

Safe House by Jo Jackman
Publication Date: October 31st 2019
Publisher: Vintage
Genre: Thriller / Psychological Thriller / Suspense
Pages: 352
Stars: ★★★★★

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THE NEW NOVEL FROM THE ACCLAIMED AUTHOR OF STICKS AND STONES A REFRESHING THRILLER WITH A FEMINIST TWIST PERFECT FOR FANS OF CLARE MACKINTOSH, FIONA BARTON, LISA JEWELL, EVA DOLAN & LAURA MARSHALL

Charlie just wants to be forgotten but everyone else wants to know her story…

The morning after a terrible storm, a woman turns up in a remote Cornish village. She has bought the crumbling cottage that has lain empty for over a decade, and she’s going to make it her home. She calls herself Charlie, but it’s a name she’s only had for a few days. She keeps herself to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. Because Charlie has a secret.

Charlie was in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. But Lee Fisher wasn’t a murderer to her; he was the man she loved. Convinced of his innocence, Charlie said she was with him the night a young woman was killed. That lie cost her everything.

And now she has the chance to start again. But someone is watching her, waiting for her, wondering if she’s really payed the price for what she did.

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Mia and publisher. ***

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Safe House was intriguing psychological thriller that revolved around Charlie, desperate to put behind her past, murderer ex and hate-filled judgmental people of the town. The book was about seeing the signs and heed to warning bells before it’s too late, misreading and misjudging a person, guilt, betrayal, manipulation, lies, deceit, blind love, unhealthy relationship, and facing past to give it closure.

I have just one word to describe this book- wow! The writing was easy and gripping, plot was suspenseful and intriguing, characters were interesting and setting was atmospheric. Short chapters made me flip the pages quicker.

It started with Charlie starting her new life with a new name in new place- a remote coastal village- after serving her 10 months sentence for giving false alibi. It was hard for her to move on. She felt paranoid someone might find out who and where she was and would try to harm her. She was restless and desperate to get over what she had gone through and so she tried to be part of the close-knit community letting her guards down. But the sense of someone was watching over her never left. Who was it? Can she really run from her past? Will friends she made stay friends when they will know about her sectret? Can she save them from the person who was trying to harm her?

Story was first person narrative told in dual timeline- past and present. Present told about Charlie’s efforts to stay safe and cautious, start new life, becoming a person she couldn’t because of her controlling father and then manipulative ex-boyfriend. Past was about what happened to her and how her life took unexpected turn, how she was sentenced for false alibi, how she discovered her boyfriend’s deceit. There were snippet of news articles telling what world thought about her, how people blamed her and how difficult it made her life before and after her sentence; interview with officers working on murder case told about what they thought about Steffi and her statements; and then there was Ben and unknown narrator who were out to get her, bring her to justice. Basically you get the wide perspective of the story- from victim, victim’s relatives, culprit, police, media and people who believed what was served on papers.

Charlie’s past life was most interesting to read. I was shocked at first to see she didn’t see through Lee’s lie and deceit, how could she not recognize manipulation? The way he treated her, detached her from her family and friends, not letting her enjoy her hobbies, weren’t those enough signs of unhealthy relationship? Oh but she was so naïve, stupid and blindly in love. As I knew more about her I could see why she was like this, less confident, eager to please and fearful to upset others, putting other before her, easily influenced.

Charlie’s voice was believable. I could empathize with her. Her thoughts and emotions were impactful. It made me think would I have done the same. Surely it’s not easy to believe the person you love is murderer, when they didn’t give away anything. It also made me think how her life would have been different only if her father was loving and supportive. The more I heard her thoughts the more I believed she deserved second chance. Author did amazing job in representing how a person feel after being manipulated, judged by people and serving sentence in prison.

I loved how she morphed into new Charlie. Confident, helping and seeing good in people but cautious, working on her skills and hobbies, turning the house into home, being helpful and trying to be part of community, trying to do right the thing, faced the past with calm and steady mind. It was great to see development in her.

All side characters were interesting. They made an impression, surely not easily forgettable. I liked Aubrey the most. Charlie’s conversation with him served as breather in this gloomy suspense. Cop duo was also good. I wish I could know them more. I loved the community and people who helped Charlie.

Author did amazing job with suspense. I couldn’t guess who that unknown narrator was, why Ben was after Charlie and what his motive was until climax. Climax was tense, kept me on the edge, flip the pages like maniac. There were many revelations from climax to end. End was unpredictable but satisfactory.

Overall, it was steady paced, intriguing, suspenseful thriller with interesting characters and strong plot. I definitely recommend this book.

Purchase Link:

The ebook will be 99p throughout November

Affiliate Link: Book Depository

About Author:

JO JAKEMAN was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition at the York Festival of Writing. Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. Safe House is her second novel and Sticks and Stones was her debut thriller.

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