The Safe Place by Anna Downes

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The Safe Place is a tantalizing mysterious story in which the reader, desperate to solve, willingly will exhaust themselves by staying up all night as they desperately try to answer the not so simple question, is this a safe place?

Emily Proudman wants to be an actress but is having absolutely no luck.  At least she has a job to pay her bills and an agent to send her on casting calls.  Although barely making ends meet, she still has a roof over her head.  And then in a blink of an eye it’s all gone.  She loses her job, agent and with those gone, her apartment.

Adopted at a young age, Emily has never really felt a bond with her mother.  Perhaps she never gave her a chance since her childhood prior to adoption is a bit fuzzy.  She rarely sees her parents and when she does it’s usually to ask for money.  But this time they will not have it.  Enough is enough and Emily must grow up and figure this out on her own.

Scott Denny is her very wealthy previous boss who unbeknownst to her has had her fired from the job she desperately needed.  Although married, his wife and daughter live in a secluded house in France.  He visits only once in a while.  The work rumor mill runs rampant with reasons why. His life seems mysterious.

So when Scott offers Emily a job at the house in France assisting his wife Nina with their daughter Aurelia, doing odd jobs around the house and running errands, even giving her a credit card and use of a car, she jumps at the chance to make some money.

At first the job is perfect.  Nina is loving, a bit obsessed with her daughter, but that’s natural right?  Although Aurelia has her problems, they all begin to bond.  Emily is taken by Nina’s beauty.  She realizes Aurelia has two sides, a good one and a bit of a destructive one.  But Emily had been warned that Aurelia had been very sick as a baby and figures this acting out must be part of the illness. The days easily flow into each other and Emily could not be happier in this picturesque world.

Until Emily starts to think perhaps something is not right.  Maybe what she is seeing is not real. But how can she question Nina’s passion and love for her daughter? And then she sees something she should not have and her world explodes. She begins to question everything, including why Scott wanted to hire her for this job.  Is he aware of what’s going on?

But by the time she realizes there is something not right with this perfect little family, it may be too late for Emily.  She is now trapped in paradise.  As the walls begin to close all around her will she be able to break the hold this family has on her?  Will she ever be able to leave this wonderland turned prison?

The Safe Place is a wonderful mystery with a compelling ending as all the clues and suspicions the reader has gathered come together for a jaw dropping ending.

Thank you #NetGalley #MinotaurBooks #AnnaDownes #TheSafePlace for the advanced copy.


Death By Dumpling by Vivien Chen

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So let me start by saying a few of by blogger friends reviewed this book. I had never heard of the series.  But I am glad I discovered it!

Twenty-something Lana Lee, (I love the name!) lost both her job and her boyfriend and now works in her parent’s restaurant Ho-Lee Noodle House in the Asia Village Plaza.  Depressed and a bit embarrassed at having to return to her parent’s business she is at a cross-road in her life.  Her parents, of course, think she needs to get her life in order, find a boyfriend and get married. Clearly this is not in Lana’s future.  Her sister, who is in law school seems to be able to carry on with her life without the obligatory companion, but Lana… .

Then the property manager of the complex Mr. Feng ends up dead after Lana delivers him his lunch. And everybody becomes a suspect.  It seems although respected, Mr. Feng may have not been very liked by some of the shop owners.  There are an array of quirky, funny, intense suspects who each have there own hidden reason for wanting Feng dead.

Lana, against explicit instructions from the (cute) detective on the case, decides to make it her mission to find out what happened, if only to salvage her own reputation as she seems to be one of the prime suspects.  She, along with her roommate become very unsophisticated sleuths.  But what they uncover unfortunately may get Lana killed.

Adding to the chaos of Lana’s life is a dog named after a soy sauce, a mother and aunt who seem to know more than they are saying, and who are also pressuring her into dating someone who, unbeknownst to them is on her suspect list!

Death By Dumpling is an unexpected enjoyable funny cozy with interesting plot twists and comical dialogue.  The characters are believable and most are lovable.  This is the first in A Noodle Shop Mystery series which I look forward to reading more of.


The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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The Night Swim is from the author of my absolute favorite book last year, The Escape Room and Goldin once again does not disappoint!

Rachel Krall is a true-crime podcaster whose next season’s episodes will be broadcast from a small town where everybody knows everybody.  It is a rape case and Rachel will be in court and reporting to her fans on the daily testimony.

The accused is a college boy who is a talented swimmer, perhaps heading to the Olympics.  The accuser is a high school girl he saw at a party and decided to have sex with in an alleged contest he was having with his roommate as to who could sleep with the most girls in a month.  He insists the sex was consensual.  She says she repeatedly told him to stop.

But along with the trial, which has the town divided, Rachel is getting notes from a woman named Heather who insists she wrote to Rachel to try and get her to investigate the death of her sister Jenny twenty-five years earlier in the same town.  Her sister was found dead in the water.  The medical examiner ruled it a suicide.  Heather insists it was murder because her sister was a strong swimmer.  It never added up and Heather and her mother could never get any answers.

Heather claims there was some kind of cover-up and knowing Rachel was going to be in town for the rape trial pleads with her to look into what happened to her sister Jenny years ago when she went for that night swim.  Through letters to Rachel, scared to meet her in person, Heather chronicles her and Jenny’s last summer together before Jenny’s shocking untimely death and perhaps what actually may have happened.

As Rachel begins to ask questions about Jenny’s death, what she discovers is that no one wants to talk about her.  Jenny, whose family was poor, was not looked well upon by her high school classmates. Also, at the time of her death there was a horrific car accident which had taken the lives of two of their classmates. Most were focused on that tragedy. But curiously there seems to be no paper trail of this young girl’s death.  Why?

Questions also arise in the rape trial.  Something does not feel right to Rachel, but she can’t quite put her finger on what’s bothering her.  Then the accuser breaks down on the witness stand and may be unable to complete her testimony.  If she does not get back on the stand, there is a good chance the charges will be dropped for lack of evidence.

Goldin hits it out of the park with another chilling psychological thriller, an unbelievably startling ending in which the story lines both explode! The fluidity of the writing and the telling of each account makes you not want to get to the end, but curiosity as to the conclusion will keep you up at night until you know all the answers.

I can’t wait for her next book!

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #MeganGoldin #TheNightSwim for the advanced copy.

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks


Daisy and Simon have been married for years.  As in all marriages they have had their ups and downs.  So when they finally got pregnant and had their daughter Millie five years ago they were ecstatic.  Now Simon wants to have another child and Daisy is reluctant.  Millie is a handful. But Simon insists they at least go for the consult.  Daisy agrees not knowing that Simon has already started the process behind her back. And what Simon discovers will change their lives forever.

Daisy notices Simon, who has always been a heavy drinker, begin to spiral out of control with his drinking.  They begin to fight.  He drinks even more.  Daisy cannot understand what has happened to Simon.  Then Simon loses his job and begins to resent Daisy.  Now at home, he drinks even more.

Then a horrible accident destroys their family.

Daisy and Simon, who both have had secrets and lies between them are shattered to the core.  They are haunted by what happened.  Daisy refuses to see Simon.  Simon finally begins to get what little life he has left back together. But Simon has been lying.  Daisy tries to move on and begins a not so healthy relationship with someone she knew from college. She has her own lies to deal with.OIP (1)

But Simon and Daisy even with a shattered marriage have one common denominator…Millie, who they both love unconditionally.  They will do anything to keep her safe. No matter what that entails.

With so many lies, can either of them really trust the other to offer up the truth? Could they possibly work through all the falsehoods they have told? For Millie’s sake?

Up until the last page, this is an unpredictable story with hidden nuggets which make you want to read a second time to see what you may have missed.  With each lie, there is a surprise and with each surprise there is a consequence. The story will make you gasp out loud at times.  It is a masterful heart-thumping page turner, with characters you think you know, but perhaps you really never did.

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she's had seventeen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages, including I Invited Her In. She's been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa. She's lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, teenage son and cat.

Adele Parks author photo credit Sekkides

Author Website

Twitter: @AdeleParks

Instagram: @adele_parks

Facebook: @OfficialAdeleParks


Q&A with Adele Parks


Q: Please give an elevator pitch for Lies, Lies, Lies.

A: Daisy and Simon’s marriage is great. Isn’t it? After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three. But Simon drinks too much and one night at a party, things spiral horribly out of control. The consequences are horrific, their little family of three will never be the same again. Lies Lies Lies explores the darkest corners of a relationship in freefall as lies are exposed and secrets will not stay hidden. A domestic noir with themes such as addiction, jealousy and secrecy raging throughout.


Q:  Which came first: the characters or plot line?

A: The two things are intrinsically linked and need to work together, but for me it is nearly always plot line that comes first, a hare’s breath before characters. My domestic noir or psychological thrillers (call it what you will!) are dependent on reveals, rug-pulls and twists. They only work if the author is confident about where the plot is going from the beginning. That way every word written works harder. If the author is making it up as they go along in this genre it can get complicated at best, farcical at worst! So, I had a plot. Then I thought, ‘which people in the entire world would this be most devastating for?’ At that point I draw my characters. The same circumstances that Daisy and Simon endure would have a different outcome if they didn’t have particular character traits.


Q: Why do you love Daisy and why should readers root for her?

A: Honestly, hand in the air, time to confess – Daisy is tricky to love to start with. She’s reserved, closed, a little judgemental. However, the more you get to know her, the more you’ll understand she’s incredibly resilient, has a strong moral compass, an incredible sense of loyalty and is a fiercely strong mom! All great qualities.

Q: What was your last 5 star read?

A: The Guest List by Lucy Foley This is a classic whodunit? Set on a beautiful windswept Irish island, the Wedding of the Year is about to take place between beautiful fashion-forwards magazine editor Jules Keegan and her TV star finance Will Slater. The novel shimmers with tension: past rivalries, family rifts and barely disguised grudges. The cake has just been cut when a body is found. As a storm is raging, no one can get on or off the island, so which of the guests is the murderer and who is dead? It’s tense, brilliantly paced and keeps the reader guessing!


Q: What is one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?

A: It is an industry for the kind and patient. That is a great thing, right? Two fabulous qualities. Nearly everyone I’ve ever met in publishing has been genuinely lovely, with a sincere passion for their work, good intentions and big hearts. However, it is not a speedy industry! I worked in a global management consultancy before I became a published novelist and was used to a very fast pace in my working life. Publishing is generally rather sedate. I hope I am known for my kindness, but I

Lies Lies Lies

 doubt I am known for my patience! I’m so glad that my last three books have been published by HarperCollins. Luckily for me, they are an incredibly nimble publishing house, not only responsive and reactive, but proactive too.

Q: Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

A: The next novel of mine that will hit the States is a novel called Just My Luck. It’s about – a lottery win so big, it changes everything for a group of friends who learn to understand what money can, can’t should and definitely should not buy!

For fifteen years, Lexi and Jake have played the same six numbers with their friends, the Pearsons and the Heathcotes. Over dinner parties, fish & chip suppers and summer barbecues, they’ve discussed the important stuff – the kids, marriages, jobs and houses – and they’ve laughed off their disappointment when they failed to win anything more than a tenner.

But then, one Saturday night, the unthinkable happens. There’s a rift in the group. Someone doesn’t tell the truth. And soon after, six numbers come up which change everything forever.

Lexi and Jake have a ticket worth £18 million. And their friends are determined to claim a share of it.

A look at the dark side of wealth, in this gripping take on friendship, money, betrayal, and good luck gone bad…

Thank you #NetGalley #MIRA/Harlequin #Lies,Lies,Lies #AdeleParks for the advanced copy. You can buy a copy now at the following links:


Barnes & Noble




Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty


Rules of the Road is the touching story of two best friends who take a first and last road trip together and discover the true meaning of their friendship along the way.

Terry is a wife, mother and doer for everyone else.  Completely taken advantage of by her family, it’s just her job.  From finding ties for her husband, to dropping everything for a daughter who just broke up with a boyfriend to planning vacations, Terry does it all. And she relishes it. Terry does not live outside her comfort zone afraid of what she may find there, or what she may fail to find there.

Iris is her best friend.  Iris has decided to go on a trip of a lifetime and never come back.  You see, Iris is single and has Multiple Sclerosis, and rather than become a burden she would rather leave this earth before her illness begins to completely consume her which it has already started to do.

When Terry finds out about Iris’ plan, she drops everything to try and convince her that she has so much more to live for.  She decides to go with Iris on her journey to persuade her that her life is worth living.  This, Terry is sure will give her great distress in so many ways.  Terry must also take along her father Eugene who is in the throws of dementia. His nursing home is being exterminated and he has no one else able to take care of him.OIP (10)

This pilgrimage will take the three of them to places they never would have imagined seeing and put t

hem in situations they could never dream. Their travels are often funny and poignant and filled with excitement, but always looming is the end of their journey.

During the trip, Terry begins to have revelations about her past as well as with her present situation.  She realizes she may not have ever been living her true life.  Her life so far has al

ways been wanting and needing acceptance from others, fearing of letting them down, fear of so many situations she just decided to stop trying. Perhaps, she begins to think, SHE is the only one she has been letting down all these years.

Rules of the Road is a charming, amusing, sensitive story of learning to let go…letting go of your fears, letting go of your ideas about yourself and others, and especially letting go of loved ones.  I suppose you can have a rite of passage at any age, it’s just about knowing which direction you want to go and that will decide your next path.


CG, photo credit Doreen Kilfeather79025_2019-04-09_1632


Ciara Geraghty was born and raised in Dublin. She started writing in her thirties and hasn’t looked back. She has three children and one husband and they have recently adopted a dog who, alongside their youngest daughter, is in charge of pretty much everything.

Author Website:

Twitter: @ciarageraghty

Facebook: @CiaraGeraghtyBooks

Instagram: @ciara.geraghty.books

Q&A with Ciara Geraghty
Q: What message do you hope readers take away from Rules of the Road?

A: First and foremost, I hope they enjoy it. My mantra for writing is ‘A good tale, well told’. I don’t write fables or books with morals to be endured and lessons to be learned. I write about people and the messiness of their lives. Because, as everyone knows, life is messy. And complex. And complicated. I want my readers to read one of my books and maybe come away feeling less alone. That is the comfort I take from books as a reader, when I come across characters I can relate to.
Q: What’s the story behind the story of how you came to write it?

A: Female friendship and solidarity have always been very important to me. I wanted to examine the importance of female friendship, the impact it has, the difference it makes. When I was writing the book, we had two referendums in Ireland – marriage equality and access to abortion and both were passed with resounding majorities. While my book does not deal with these specific issues, it is a book about personal autonomy, bodily autonomy, a woman’s right to choose.  My subject matter suddenly felt very relevant and positive and hopeful. While the book has a dark heart – Iris, one of my main characters, is determined to end her life in a clinic in Switzerland – I always meant for the book to be ultimately uplifting and life-affirming; a love song sung by women.

During the writing of the book, my father was dying of dementia. I found the writing of Eugene – Terry’s father in ‘Rules’ who has dementia – a very cathartic experience. This is one of the great things about writing; it helps me make sense of the world and the way I feel about it.
Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals (outfit, snacks, pen,music, etc)?

A: Well, I’d love to get all ‘writery’ and say that I repair to a tall tower where I wander around in a caftan and smoke cigarettes from long, slender cigarette holders and wait for the MUSE to arrive…..Now, wouldn’t that be grand!

But, no.

Instead, I write at home, in the attic, at a desk, with a laptop. How pedestrian is that? I will say that, for me, the most important part of the process is getting my butt into the seat at the desk. The chair is an all-singing, all-dancing display of ergonomic engineering (it’s got wheels!) and this is important because one thing is for sure; I’m going to be sitting on it for a LONG time. Caftan and cigarette holders are optional (and rarely employed) but the rule I absolutely insist on is never, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, wait for the MUSE to arrive. I just steel myself and start writing. Even when I don’t want to. Especially when I don’t want to. Otherwise I’ll convince myself that the words have all dried up and the cupboard is bare.
Q: Which character do you most relate to in this novel and why?

A: There are certain traits that I have in common with aspects of both Terry and Iris. Like Iris, I am a year-round sea swimmer. Like Terry, I am a mother who is coming to terms with the fact that some of her children are – technically – grown-ups. I have lived with both of these characters for the past four years and love them both equally, for different reasons. I’d say I relate more to Terry because Iris, for the most part, has it all figured out. She is a woman who knows what she wants and then goes right ahead and gets it. Terry is less certain, she is still feeling her way through her life. She tries so hard to be all things to all people, to the detriment of her own sense of self. As a woman writer who is also a daughter, a mother, a wife, a friend, I relate to this aspect of Terry. I imagine many women these days do. It is the great burden of being a woman, as well as being one of our great strengths.
Q: What is your bucket-list trip?

A: In the current climate, even thinking about a bucket-list trip feels a bit revolutionary. Or like a plot in a science-fiction novel. However, I can reveal that tomorrow, I’m off to Kerry (in the south west of Ireland) for a week. For anyone who has never been to Kerry, I advise you to put it on your bucket-list immediately. Because of the mountains – the highest in Ireland – and the winds that rush in from the Atlantic ocean, rain is a frequent visitor there. BUT – because of the rain, the vegetation is vivid and lush and almost tropical, with the influence of the Gulf Stream. The place is falling down with ancient castles, monasteries, fairy forts and islands (including Skellig Michael for the Star Wars fans amongst you). The Atlantic may be ‘fresh’ (this is Irish for ‘biting cold’) but the waters are crystal clear and the sand is fine and white and an excellent exfoliator of skin. Afterwards, in the pub where you’re eating a bowl of seafood chowder and struggling to eavesdrop on the locals (the accent is as thick as an Aran jumper), you’ll suddenly realise you’re tingling all over. This could be your blood, doing its best to resume normal circulation after the icy immersion in the sea. Or it could be something else. Something a little more other-worldly. The magic of Kerry, rushing through your body, seeping into your bones, engaging every sense you’ve ever had. And a few you didn’t even know you had. Can you tell I’m looking forward to getting away?


In this emotional, life-affirming novel, two women embark on an extraordinary road trip and discover the transformative power of female friendship–perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Gail Honeyman.
The simple fact of the matter is that Iris loves life. Maybe she’s forgotten that. Sometimes that happens, doesn’t it? To the best of us? All I have to do is remind her of that one simple fact.
When Iris Armstrong goes missing, her best friend Terry—wife, mother and all-around worrier—is convinced something bad has happened. And when she finds her glamorous, 9780778309710_TS_PRDfeisty friend, she’s right: Iris is setting out on a bucket-list journey that she plans to make her last. She tells Terry there’s no changing her mind, but Terry is determined to show her that life is still worth living.
The only way for Terry to stop Iris is to join her—on a road trip that will take them on a life-changing adventure. Along the way, somehow what should be the worst six days of Terry’s life turn into the best. Told in an irresistible voice and bursting with heart, Rules of the Road is a powerful testament to the importance of human connection and a moving celebration of life in all its unexpected twists and turns.

Thank you to #NetGalley #HarperCollins #RulesoftheRoad #CiaraGeraghty for the advanced copy. You an buy the book now at the available links: