Cover Image: Safe and Sound

Safe and Sound

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Member Reviews

I did enjoy this novel, but it was hard in places. Getting out of a place you feel trapped is hard. Characters were well written

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4.5 STARS - If you enjoy gripping, tense and atmospheric novels with well-drawn characters (as one does), you need to read Laura McHugh. I've been a fan of hers since reading her previous books The Weight of Blood and What's Done in Darkness and now she's back with a new suspense read.

Safe and Sound is her upcoming book that centres around two sisters - Amelia and Kylee - who are eager to escape their small town and the hardships of their childhood as soon as possible. The mysterious loss of their much-loved cousin Grace six years prior continues to haunt the girls and from the meagre clues, it looks like teenage Grace was abducted and did her best to save her younger cousins.

Amelia and Grace start to dig into Grace's disappearance before they leave their small town forever and unearth the dark underbelly of Beaumont, Missouri and secrets Grace had been keeping. [Please note that there is subject matter that could be triggering for some readers]

Told by the POVs of Grace, Amelia and Kylee, readers will be pulled into this emotionally charged and haunting story with its small-town Ozark vibe, its cast of complex characters.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Unique mystery told from two perspectives. If you go in expecting Safe and Sound to be a standard mystery, you'll get elements of that. If you're expecting a neat resolution, well...

McHugh gets the perspective right! Amelia is forced to be mature for her years, but she's still an older teen/new adult and her actions and thought processes reflect that. When you think you've got it figured out, you may correct but there are still surprises coming.

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"𝘍𝘰𝘭𝘬𝘴 𝘸𝘒𝘯𝘡 𝘡𝘰 𝘡𝘩π˜ͺ𝘯𝘬 π˜ͺ𝘡'𝘴 𝘴𝘡𝘳𝘒𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘢 𝘨𝘰𝘡𝘡𝘒 𝘸𝘒𝘡𝘀𝘩 𝘰𝘢𝘡 𝘧𝘰𝘳, 𝘣𝘢𝘡 𝘒 𝘱𝘭𝘒𝘀𝘦 𝘭π˜ͺ𝘬𝘦 𝘡𝘩π˜ͺ𝘴, 𝘸𝘦 𝘦𝘒𝘡 𝘰𝘢𝘳 𝘰𝘸𝘯."

When my friend Carrie (@mamacapssreads) posted she saw Anna Quindlen and that the author recommended π—¦π—”π—™π—˜ 𝗔𝗑𝗗 𝗦𝗒𝗨𝗑𝗗 by Laura McHugh, and I knew I had to read it. I was not disappointed.

This dual POV-dual timeline thriller follows sisters Amelia and Kylee who vow to find out what happened to their beloved cousin, Grace, who disappeared while babysitting for them. The deeper they dig, the more secrets they unearth that could threaten their chance to do what Grace couldn't - escape their dead-end town.

This atmospheric thriller hooked me from the start. The depressing small town reminded me a bit of π˜–π˜― 𝘡𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘒𝘷𝘒𝘨𝘦 𝘚π˜ͺπ˜₯𝘦 which I loved and the twists surprised me. With short chapters and brisk pacing, it's a quick read with an ending that you won't see coming.

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the copy to review.

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I've had the pleasure of reading another book by this Missouri native Laura McHugh and hearing her talk after The Weight of Blood was released during one of our GFWC conventions. I was excited to see this available on NetGalley! I started reading this morning and accidentally read it all. Now it's 10:22 pm and I should be asleep but I'm all jacked up and want to talk to someone about this, so here you go!

It's so easy to picture the small town of Beaumont, Missouri and the two sisters that are chomping at the bit to leave town as soon as graduation comes. They're right off the interstate with a Waffle House, a Kum & Go, a meat processing plant. Their cousin Grace went missing a few years back, but she always talked about getting out of town and going to college, but instead there was a trail of blood and a lot of questions. There are a lot of suspects, and we go back and forth between present day with the sisters and in the past with Grace. The ending is wild and unexpected and I really need to process this with someone! It releases Tuesday, so if you read it, let me know!! I also need more to the ending or an epilogue or something!!!

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Laura McHugh has found a niche writing gritty, emotional stories in which the past and present collide, set in some of America's most rural, poverty-stricken areas. In Safe and Sound, she takes readers to Beaumont, Missouri, where Amelia works at the Waffle House, trying to save enough money to get herself and her younger sister, Kylee, out of town. Six years ago, their teenage cousin Grace disappeared while babysitting them, leaving a kitchen covered in blood -- and now human remains have been found in town. Amelia and Kylee are desperate to get out of Beaumont, to start a life somewhere better -- but even more than that, they want to find out what happened to Grace, once and for all. Their journey for answers will unearth secrets they never expected, and put them in much more danger than they could have anticipated.

Safe and Sound is a dark, emotionally resonant, immersive story about the complex bonds of family, the consequences of repressed trauma, and what it means to feel stuck, desperate and hopeless, in a place where you no longer fit (and maybe never did). The narrative completely transports readers to Beaumont, where the smell of the meat-packing plant permeates all of the town's dusty, worn-down nooks and crannies. Laura McHugh's characters are some of the best I've ever read; they are richly textured, flawed, and in the case of Amelia and Kylee, so endearing and determined. But McHugh can also write a vile, reprehensible character very well -- and there are more than a few that feature in this book.

The subject matter is dark and sad, and McHugh is unflinching as she addresses the topic of abuse head-on. But at the end of the novel, the reader is somehow left feeling optimistic for the futures of these characters. It's this quality of peeling back the layers to reveal and explore the darkest parts of humanity, while also leaving readers with a message of hope rather than despair, that makes McHugh one of the strongest, most authentic voices in modern grit lit. If you haven't read her other novels, I highly recommend them in addition to this one. Thank you to Random House for the early reading opportunity.

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Two sisters living in a small town where the main employer is a meat packing plant, plan to escape the dismal future by making better choices than their mother. Too many of the adults in their lives have settled for the same sorry existance of their parents, setting the example of what the sisters can expect if they don't escape. The only person they ever had that pushed them to suceed was their cousin and babysitter, Grace. But Grace disappeared one evening, leaving a bloody kitchen but no other clues. The sisters have always believed they could find Grace and now they are old enough to try.

As a plot line, it might not be the most unique, but McHugh's characters give an edge of desperation to the story that will keep your attention focused on the sisters as they discover that the town they already hated has some secrets that add to their determination to leave and not look back. The only question is whether they can find what happened to Grace and escape with their lives. Definitely worth reading and sharing.....and then looking to see what else McHughhas in her library.

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Couldn't get into it

I started this book four times, but never got more than a quarter pf the way through. Although the characters were good, pretty much everything seemed like many books I have read over the years. Missing girl, slimy boss, small-town secrets. I will try this again later, and will revise this if it finally catches my attention. but so far i keep putting it down for other options.

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Laura McHugh (favorite author) returns following What's Done in Darkness with another haunting dark mystery thriller, SAFE AND SOUND β€”set in a claustrophobic small town in the Ozarks, where no one leaves, the feeling of being held captive, and few places to hide.

Darkly chilling, psychological, atmospheric, and compelling.

"Folks want to think it's strangers you gotta watch out for, but in a place like this, we eat our own."

As children, Amelia and Kylee were in Beaumont, Missouri, with their teenage cousin, Grace (their babysitter). Then she disappeared when they were hidden in the closet.

That was six years earlier, and no clues as to her whereabouts. Missing or dead.

Grace was excited to be so close to escaping this rural town after graduating from high school. Everyone wants to leave, but few are able to.

So what happened? The only clue was so much blood in the farmhouse. The three have always been close.

Amelia and Kylee are preparing to leave this dead-end town as Grace had always encouraged them. They want to find their cousin.

Then, the remains of a woman are found, and they wonder if it is Grace. They need a plan and uncover secrets in the town and their families. They also discover Grace is hiding secrets. Who can they trust? The more they learn, the more dangerous their search becomes with a long list of suspects.

Told cleverly from POVs: Amelia and Kylee with alternating chapters as the past unfolds through Grace's POV.

Dark secrets and abuse are interwoven with multi-layered, well-developed characters and a bond between the girls. The atmospheric setting has darkness lurking on every page. You will love the girls' unique personalities, which are tenacious and determined.

SAFE AND SOUND is beautifully written, gritty, haunting, vivid, emotional, and gripping. Character-driven and written with lyrical prose, it is a raw look into dark family secrets, evil, and the search for the truth. I'm a big fan of the author; all her books are hauntingly beautiful! If you have not previously read this author's books, I highly recommend them.

Thanks to Random House Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced reading digital copy. I look forward to listening to the audiobook narrated by (favorite) Jorjeana Marie.

Blog review posted @
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
Pub Date: April 23, 2024
My Rating: 5 Stars
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4.5 rounded up! Read this book!! Author is going on my automatic read list!!

So to start, my first by this author and I’ve already added all her other books to my library list and will definitely be reading her other books!!

I absolutely loved Grace, Amelia and Kylee. Each was developed so well and written perfectly to a small town girl looking for more out of life, each in a different way.

There are some triggers for child abuse and inappropriate touching/pictures of children. Didn’t bother me, just heads up. It’s written skillfully.

I didn’t want the story to end and just when i thought I’d figured something out, nope, it would twist a different way and i definitely didn’t see the ending coming.

Thanks to Netgalley and Random house for my electronic advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Life in Beaumont, Missouri for teenage sisters Amelia and Kylee has always come with a countdown attached; in the small town heart of the Ozarks, folks who don't get out by a certain time don't seem to get out at all. With the shadow of their mother Shannon, a middle-aged stripper who's yet to get motherhood down, constantly looming as a reminder of what their future could hold, Amelia and Kylee are saving all they can to leave Beaumont permanently in their rearview mirror.

The one thing holding them back, however, is the unsolved disappearance of their cousin Grace.

Six years ago, Grace vanished from the Crow house with hardly a trace. Though the trail is long-cold and the community has moved on, Amelia and Kylee have a feeling that Beaumont knows more than it's letting on; after all, if there's one thing small town folk do well, it's burying secrets deep if it means protecting their own.

"Safe and Sound" is my first novel by Laura McHugh, and as far as thrillers go, I found it solidly middle-of-the-road. Despite quick pacing and an intriguing-enough premise, it follows what feels like a too-familiar design of small town secrets unearthed and seedy, down-on-their-luck characters. While not memorable enough to be a standout in the genre, if you're looking for a read-in-a-day thriller as a palette cleanser, this could be one to keep on your to read list.

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I really enjoyed this novel. This is my first time reading this author, and I look forward to reading more from her.

Grace, Kylee and Amelia are cousins who live in a small town wanting so deaperately to get out and never look back. When Grace goes missing after a night babysitting Kylee and Amelia, her body is never found. Now it's up to Kylee and Amelia to undercover what happened the night Grace disappeared.

Trigger warnings present such as child molestation, sex, drugs, and alcohol abuse.

4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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An engrossing tale by McHugh, who has really hit her stride as an author. The story is centered on two young women seeking to flee their dismal small town and discover the opportunities within the outside world, with both facing obstacles that make this escape more challenging than expected. It's extremely effective how the events of the book are relayed in chunks from the present and past through Amelia and Grace's perspectives, which had the feeling of putting together a puzzle with pieces that would emerge a little at a time. There is some extremely unsettling content and several scenes are difficult to read, but I admired the devotion and determination of these characters. Although the ending felt a little rushed and there are a few plot threads left dangling, overall this is an extremely compelling tale and I didn't want to put it down once I hit the halfway point. I can't wait to see what McHugh writes next.

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I so wanted to like this one but I struggled to get through its opening pages. I am still very thankful to the publisher, author, and netgalley for granting me advanced access to this one before publication day.

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I’ve never read from this author before, but I enjoyed her writing style and I would like to read a backlist title. This was an atmospheric fast paced mystery thriller, about a young girl who goes missing and family members try to solve the mystery of what happened to her. I thought the characters were written very well in this book and it kept my interest throughout. The writing is reminiscent of Jennifer McMahon, because it follows sisters and has dual timelines. I love McMahon’s books so I think that’s why I enjoyed this.

The story starts with Grace who is a young girl who has everything going for her, she’s smart, pretty and has a serious boyfriend. She wants to get out of their small town and start her life, but things don’t go as planned. Sisters Amelia and Kylee wake up in the morning, and the kitchen is covered in blood and Grace is nowhere to be found. Amelia and Kylee try to put together pieces and try to unravel the mystery. As they are searching for Grace, they uncover more girls that have gone missing and try to bring the killer to justice. What happened to Grace and are the other girls all connected to one killer?

Thank you Netgalley and Random House for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I always enjoy Laura McHugh's books. They are concise and quick reads. I stayed up late to finish the last 50% of this one. This book features teenaged sisters searching for answers about their cousin Grace 6 years before. Amelia and Kylee are technically kids, but they are pretty mature and thoughtful for their age. The story alternates between Amelia and Grace. The book deals really well the the generational trauma of the Crow family.

I don't generally use trigger warnings, but the book includes pretty graphic depictions of sexual assault.

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This one was twistyyyy and I didn’t see the ending coming until it hit me in the face. Stocked full of suspense, this one had so many possibilities laid out and I loved guessing what was going to be revealed next. I was really impressed with the depth of the characters in this one and found myself caring about so many of them. I will definitely be looking out for more from this author in the future.

Safe And Sound does have a lot of parts that are hard to stomach. I highly recommend checking the trigger warnings before jumping into this one and that’s something I very rarely say.

This one will resonate with anyone that’s ever felt stuck in a small town, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys thrillers, suspense, well-done characters, and twists.

**Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the eARC of this title and to PRH Audio for the amazing advanced audio copy!!**

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An intense and atmospheric thriller that starts by asking what happened to Grace and then moves back and forth in time to tell her story as well as the story of her cousins Amelia and Kylee. Beaumont is a claustrophobic small town that all of the women want to escape because there's just nothing to look forward to. In the present, Amelia is working at the Waffle House and saving for college-and then she decides to look for answers. Grace also worked at the Waffle House, had a boyfriend, and seemed to have it all together. None of the three are well served by their mothers Elsie and Shannon but have other advocates (not, btw, that help them). Veterans of the genre might suspect the menace she faced but I bet that like me won't see the answer or the ending coming. This has great characters and strong storytelling-and you'll find yourself rooting for all three women. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Great read.

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This was hard to me to get into due to a trigger warning I wasn't made aware of. I have a hard time reading about children who have suffered from child abuse. Due to this nature, this book was a miss for me. I felt queasy and angry reading some parts that deal with the trauma Grace had suffered. Additionally, I feel like some of the red herrings that McHugh threw in there were just SO random and had no closure. For example, her boss having loads of money in his freezer, love story between Grace and her highschool rival, and the dead body found under Grace's house. Zero closure.

Grace is itching to leave the town of Beaumont behind. Everyone who stays either becomes a stripper, works at the Waffle House, or at Savor meats. No one leaves and most people drop off to support their family, but Grace wants a different life. She wants to go to college and never find herself in the decrepit town of Beaumont again. One day, she is watching her two nieces Amelia and Kylee, when she disappears from their house with blood staining the walls. Amelia and Kylee are determind to find out where she went. Was she murdered? Was she stalked? They will stop at nothing to find the truth and it may be CLOSER TO HOME than they realize.

Thank you to Random House for the ARC.

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PUBLICATION DAY: April 23, 2024

Kylee and Amelia are sisters and as close as can be. Ever since losing their beloved cousin Grace years earlier, they have known that they need to get out of their small town as soon as they are able. But when a body is found, everyone wonders if Grace has finally been found. What will the girls discover as they dig into Grace’s life? Will they finally solve the mystery of what happened that fateful night?

I love McHugh’s writing style. Descriptive (but not overly), with tension and dread mounting, she intrigues the reader until the end. She is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers! I felt a little let down at the ending on this one, felt there were a few things unresolved and it wrapped up in a hurry. Still, McHugh is a talented writer whose style I enjoy very much.

If you are interested in dual timeline mysteries - then you should give this one a try!

4 Stars

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