THE SAFE PLACE by Anna Downes

Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★¾


In THE SAFE PLACE, main character Emily’s life is a wreck. She’s broke, unemployed, and days away from being kicked out of her apartment. So when Scott, her former boss, offers her a position as caretaker at his estate in the South of France, she simply can’t say no.

In theory, the job sounds like paradise, but in reality, Emily finds things a bit off. Scott’s odd wife and child live there permanently, isolated, and with strange rules for Emily to follow. No internet! Emily is soon convinced that something isn’t right with this seemingly perfect family…

This was a fast-paced and suspenseful thriller, set in a gorgeous, summery location. Poor Emily! She was so naïve, but I suppose she had to be for the set up of the story to happen. Her gullibility did frustrate me though, especially towards the end. The author created a good amount of tension as the story progressed, and I was surprised when the final big twist was revealed. I was convinced things were going in a different direction!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

EVERY SUMMER AFTER by Carley Fortune

Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek — the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books — medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her — Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic story of love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 10, 2022
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

★★★¾

This is a sweet & summery story about friendship, love, mistakes, and forgiveness. It’s told in alternating time periods — during Percy and Sam’s teenage years when they met and fell in love, and then 12 years after the end of high school, when a huge mistake drove them apart.

I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop over the course of six summers, with endearing childhood moments and angsty teen drama. I do feel like the resolution was rushed in the end, and I wish there had been more focus on them as adults working through their conflict.

The setting was amazing. A cottage by the water and lazy summer days made me nostalgic for my childhood family holidays. Lovely! Would recommend to fans of second chance romances.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT LIVES IN THE WOODS by Lindsay Currie

For fans of Small Spaces and the Goosebumps series by R.L Stine comes a chilling ghost story about a girl living in the decrepit and creepy mansion, who discovers something in the woods is after her.

All Ginny Anderson wants from her summer is to sleep in, attend a mystery writing workshop, and spend time with her best friend. But when Ginny’s father ― a respected restoration expert in Chicago ― surprises the family with a month-long trip to Michigan, everything changes. They aren’t staying in a hotel like most families would. No, they’re staying in a mansion. A twenty-six room, century-old building surrounded by dense forest. Woodmoor Manor.

But unfortunately, the mansion has more problems than a little peeling wallpaper. Locals claim the surrounding woods are inhabited by mutated creatures with glowing eyes. And some say campers routinely disappear in the woods, never to be seen again.

As terrifying as it sounds, Ginny can’t shake the feeling that there’s something darker… another story she hasn’t been told. When the creaky floors and shadowy corners of the mansion seem to take on a life of their own, Ginny uncovers the wildest mystery of all: There’s more than one legend roaming Saugatuck, Michigan, and they definitely aren’t after campers.

It’s after her.

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Source: Borrowed from the library

★★★¾

Main character Ginny Anderson is a Chicago tween obsessed with Agatha Christie novels, and she dreams of publishing her own mysteries someday. She feels her summer has been ruined when her dad gets a job renovating a spooky old mansion in Michigan. Instead of attending a fun summer writing class with her bestie, she has to spend a month stuck at Woodmoor Manor. When some creepy unexplained occurrences start happening in the house, Ginny finds herself immersed in her own mystery to solve.

What lives in the woods? I’m not sure, because the title & blurb of this book are a bit misleading. I enjoyed the mystery and the creepy atmosphere of Woodmoor Manor. If I were Ginny, I would’ve loved to spend the summer exploring an old mansion with Agatha Christie vibes, but she was focused on a way to get back to Chicago. She’s a clever and brave character who wouldn’t let ghosts get in her way. This book is a great pick for fans of middle grade horror.

THE WOLF WANTS IN by Laura McHugh {Review}


Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


In a small town ravaged by the opioid crisis, a woman confronts a dark secret about her brother’s shocking death–a gripping novel of suspense for fans of Sharp Objects and S-Town.

Sadie Keller is determined to find out how her brother died, even if no one else thinks it’s worth investigating. Untimely deaths are all too common in rural Blackwater, Kansas, where crime and overdoses are on the rise, and the small-town police force is consumed with the recent discovery of a child’s skull in the woods. Sadie is on her own, delving into the dark corners of a life her brother kept hidden and unearthing more questions than answers.

Eighteen-year-old Henley Pettit knows more than she’d like to about the seedy side of Blackwater, and she’s desperate to escape before she’s irreparably entangled in her family’s crimes. She dreams of disappearing and leaving her old life behind, but shedding the past is never easy, and getting out of town will be far more dangerous than she ever imagined.

As more bones are found in the woods, time is running out for Sadie to uncover the truth and for Henley to make her escape. Both women are torn between family loyalties and the weight of the secrets they carry, knowing full well that while some secrets are hard to live with, others will get you killed.

Like Laura McHugh’s previous award-winning thrillers, The Weight of Blood and Arrowood, The Wolf Wants In is an atmospheric, beautifully told novel that barrels toward a twisting, chilling end and keeps us turning the page to find out how these small-town secrets will unravel–and who will survive.


THE WOLF WANTS IN is a quiet mystery/family drama set in a small Kansas town. Sadie Keller believes her brother has died under suspicious circumstances and wants answers. At the same time police are investigating the discovery of a child’s skull found in the woods. Henley Pettit is just looking for a way out of Blackwater, a town of people plagued by the opioid epidemic, including her mother.

I very much enjoy Laura McHugh’s writing style and the way she crafts her atmospheric Midwestern settings. I don’t think the mystery & suspense elements in this book were as strong as in her previous novels (The Weight of Blood & Arrowood). There weren’t a lot of clues presented until the end, and I was left a bit confused about what happened & why. However, this character-driven book presents a realistic look at how poverty and opioid abuse affects people in small town America.

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