Safe House by Jo Jakeman

Full of mystery, suspense and a stormy setting, this book is intriguing throughout.

The morning after a terrible storm, a woman turns up in a remote Cornish village. 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. This sacrifice cost her everything.
And now she has a chance to start again. But someone is watching her, waiting for her, wondering if she’s really paid the price for what she did.

This is not your normal thriller – this is a thriller with a domestic drama feel to it and it really keeps you hooked throughout. Charlie’s flashbacks and memories of the past played strongly on domestic themes and the reader was made to feel really conflicted about Charlie herself. It was clever writing at times, making the reader question how they felt about Charlie.

The plot is fast-paced and tricky to predict – with lots of new characters being introduced and the finger of suspicion being pointed at all of them, there are times when it’s hard to guess who is behind the mysterious things that keep happening to Charlie. All the characters bring something to the story, there’s not one person who seems to be involved for the sake of it. Each person helps deflect suspicion, leaving the reader confused and curious right until the last minute.

I thought the ending was built up perfectly, with a nice storm to go alongside the suspense and emotions that Charlie was feeling. It was one of those chapters you just have to finish, and left the reader feeling satisfied by the end. The whole way through Charlie’s character and choices was described brilliantly, making the reader feel a connection with her right until the end and I loved the parts that delved into her past. It made the ending mean even more and overall everything tied in together nicely.

This is the perfect book to blend the genres of thriller and domestic drama together, with great characters and a plot full of suspense. I was hooked throughout and would recommend this to anyone.

Safe House
Jo Jakeman
Vintage, 31st October 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Undoing of Arlo Knott by Heather Child

This was such an emotive, beautifully written and unusual story, and I would 100% recommend.

Arlo Knott develops the mysterious ability to reverse his last action. It makes him able to experience anything, to charm any woman and impress any friend. His is a life free of mistakes, a life without regret. But second chances aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. As wonderful as his new life is, a mistake in Arlo’s traumatic childhood still haunts him and the temptation to undo, undo and keep undoing could be too much to resist.

I loved the whole concept of this, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Arlo was one of the most fascinating main characters I’ve read in a long time, he was angry, emotional, desperate and a bit heart-broken. His search for joy and happiness was definitely hard to watch at times, but he was just such a strong character.

This book is definitely more about the character progression than the story itself (or that’s how it seemed to me), but I loved it. Seeing Arlo’s guilt about the choices he makes, the things he chooses to redo, the actions that he erases, it’s all very emotional. It’s powerful at times, and also tackles some very deep and distressing emotions for Arlo, and so seeing his progression throughout the novel is very meaningful.

The story itself, while simple, complements the power of the story very well. It’s not complex, but it’s emotive, and I loved Sabra. She’s vivid, bright and full of big emotions, which pairs with Arlo’s intensity very well.

I really didn’t expect the ending, it was touching and sad, but also was something that made perfect sense to me now that I knew Arlo’s character so well. I really don’t see how it could have ended any other way, and I loved how it was written.

If you want something different to read, this is such a beautiful book, so I’d definitely recommend this.

Thank you to Tracy Fenton for organising this!

The Undoing of Arlo Knott
Heather Child
Orbit, 1st August 2019

They Call Me The Cat Lady by Amy Miller

This adorable, personal and moving story of Nancy Jones, her five cats, and her past, was honestly lovely to read.

You’ve seen me on the street. You’ve walked past my house, and pointed, and wondered. The cat lady. All on my own, with only my five cats to keep me company. Did no-one ever tell you that you can’t judge a book by its cover?
Everyone in town knows Nancy Jones. She loves her cats. She loves her tumbledown house by the sea. She loves her job in the local school where she tries to help the children who need help the most. Nancy tries hard not to think about her past loves and where those led her…
Nancy never shares her secrets – because some doors are better kept locked. But one day she accepts a cat-sitting request from a local woman, and at the woman’s house, Nancy sees a photograph, in a bright-red frame. A photograph that opens the door to her painful past…
Soon Nancy doesn’t know what frightens her the most: letting her story out, or letting the rest of the world in. It’s impossible to find companionship without the risk of losing it. But can Nancy take that risk again?

Nancy is such an uplifting yet sensitive character – I really love novels that are character-centric. Her relationship with her cats was so cute, the way she spoke to them was so genuine and their personalities seemed to really shine through. The moments with Nancy and her cats were some of my favourite scenes in the whole novel, as she was at her most comfortable and relaxed, and the reader got to see another side to her than during her interactions with other people.

Nancy’s story was honestly so heart-breaking. Her cautiousness and safety-conscious attitude were an intrinsic part of her, and it was devastating that the one time she relaxed a bit something tragic happened. I won’t give too much away, but seeing her genuine pain and guilt affect her present-day relationships and decisions was very emotional. Her relationship with her ex-husband was clearly problematic in various ways, with overwhelming feelings of guilt and blame hanging over both of them. Their reunion towards the end was super sweet, and it was satisfying for the reader to see some of their issues being resolved.

I felt like Nancy’s journey throughout the novel was so beautiful, and it was explored in a really in-depth way. She started as a really lonely and fragile woman who slowly became more confident and happy throughout. Her friendships and relationships improved dramatically as the story went on, and I loved how the improvement of her house mirrored this. Her house started as a ruined and dusty dumping ground, with an overrun garden and unused rooms. By the end it was transformed, reflecting Nancy’s personal growth and increased happiness, and I loved how this connection between the two worked.

I would definitely recommend this, it was different to a lot of my recent reads, but it was fun, inspiring and a very sweet story.

They Call Me The Cat Lady
Amy Miller
Bookouture, 26th April 2019