Search

Go Buy The Book

Tag

HQ

**BLOG TOUR** The Island by C L Taylor

Six teenage friends decide to spend a week on a a remote tropical island, something that, on the face of it, sounds idyllic. This is no ordinary holiday, however, as they will be living off the land with just one guide to help them survive. When the guide has a stroke and dies, the teenagers begin to panic: with no way of getting back to the mainland and with limited means of acquiring food, how will they survive? Soon, when strange things start to happen, they realise that maybe they have more to worry about than they at first thought…

One of my favourite books of last year was Sleep by the same author, which was about a murderer on the remote Scottish island of Rum. I really enjoyed the claustrophobic atmosphere and so when I saw that this one had a similar setting, albeit on a slightly warmer island, I couldn’t wait to read it! I am not a big reader of YA fiction, but I knew that as this was written by C. L. Taylor, I’d love it. I was right!

Although there are some important events leading up to their arrival on the island, it is once they actually got there that I became fully invested in the plot. What seems, initially, like a Bear Grylls-type adventure soon evolves into some kind of Lord of the Flies scenario when their guide tragically dies, leaving them to fend for themselves until someone realises that they are missing. The teenagers soon discover that strange events begin to happen, leaving them to wonder who they can trust. Is there someone else on the island with them or should they be looking amongst themselves for the person who is wreaking havoc?

The setting of the plot really helps to create a sense of foreboding where you wonder how on earth they are going to escape from these hellish conditions. I rushed through the book, desperate to find out how it would end and whether there would still be six teenagers leaving the island or whether any would not make it out alive. I had my suspicions throughout the book about what was actually happening and who was responsible, but was thrown completely off the scent by the author’s great plot.

The Island is a great quick read for anyone wanting a story they can totally immerse themselves in. C. L. Taylor is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.

With thanks to HQ and Net Galley for my copy and to Sian Baldwin for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** The Prized Girl by Amy K Green

After a teenage girl, Jenny,  is found brutally murdered, the police are convinced that the culprit is a man who was an obsessive fan of her work in beauty pageants. Something doesn’t sit right with her older half-sister, Virginia, however, and she undertakes on an investigation of her own. It soon becomes apparent that in a town where everyone seems to know everyone else, there are many people with secrets to hide, Jenny and Virginia included, and soon the suspect list rises. With numerous potential motives coming to light, just exactly who did kill Jenny?

Told from the perspectives of both Jenny and Virginia, we get an insight into the weeks and days leading up to the death of the teenager and also Virginia’s uncovering of what actually happened. I really enjoyed this writing technique, as it helped to create a slow burner of a story which had me constantly asking questions about what had occurred.

This is one of those books where the more you read, the more suspects you encounter, each one with their own motives for wanting Jenny out of the way. My opinions of Jenny changed throughout the book, as initially I felt a great deal of sympathy towards her as she found herself desperate to leave the beauty pageant world. This is a phenomenon that has never sat right with me and I found it interesting that the author addresses my concerns as part of the plot. Jenny undergoes a great transformation as the book progresses and, whilst I was horrified by some of her actions, I could see her need to rebel.

Virginia was a fascinating character, and I found her backstory a very tragic one. Despite the strained relationship she had with her family, the love for her half-sister was evident as she worked tirelessly to find who had killed Jenny. Like the murdered girl, she too had secrets she would prepare to remain hidden, these secrets surfacing and playing a major role in the killing. I enjoyed reading how something that happened a long time ago could create a ripple effect, creating a chain of events that ultimately led to the murder.

The Prized Girl  is a very strong debut from Amy K Green, full of twists and turns that had me gripped right until the end.

With thanks to Sian Baldwin at HQ for my copy of The Prized Girl.

 

**BLOG TOUR** A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

After finally building the beach house of her dreams, Caroline Stark feels like she has it all. Little does she know what is around the corner… Finding out that her husband, Jason, has been lying to her, she finds comfort with a man who works in the local bar, but is he who she thinks he is? As her life begins to crumble around her, her lover’s infatuation with her begins to grow and soon she begins to fear for her life. What is the truth and who will make it out alive?

Well, Michele Campbell has definitely written a page-turner in A Stranger on the Beach! Starting off from the perspective of Caroline, alarm bells were ringing straight away as she first encountered Aiden. It was understandable how, after being humiliated by her husband, she would find herself attracted to the younger man. As we found out more about Aiden, those alarm bells were ringing louder as I willed her to put an end to their dalliance before something serious happened.

Now this is where my head nearly exploded! After spending the first part of the book reading about and fearing for Caroline, we started to get the story from Aiden’s perspective, and what a perspective it was! All of a sudden, we were reading two accounts of the same event, each telling a completely different story. So, who was telling the truth? Was Caroline in fear for her safety or was Aiden hopelessly in love with the older woman? I loved this twist in the plot and I started to desperately search for holes in their stories to try to determine what exactly was happening.

As the story progressed, I did have an inkling as to what was going to happen, but the events were even more twisted than I could imagine. This book definitely shows how we should not always take people at face value and that people are not always who they say they are.

A Stranger on the Beach was one of those books that I could not put down, even taking it with me to read whilst queuing up in the Boxing Day sales! A thrilling, roller-coaster ride of a book with some very unsettling moments, A Stranger on the Beach is a superb read.

With thanks to HQ for my copy and to Jessica Lee for organising the blog tour.

 

**BLOG TOUR** She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

51xSXTTs1CLRose and Bel Enright haven’t had the best start in life. After the death of their parents, they are sent to live with their grandmother who wastes no time in packing them off to boarding school, albeit the exclusive Odell. Heath and Sarah Donovan are also at Odell, but as teachers, starting a new life after a scandal threatened to tear them apart. All is not as it seems at the school, however, and one night there is a murder on campus. Who has been killed and who is the perpetrator? The lives of all involved will never be the same again…

The idea of a boarding school is quite an alien concept to those of us who have never experienced anything of the sort and Odell is definitely not the sort of school I am used to! From the outset, we see the rift beginning between the sisters when Bel, already beginning to go off the rails, ingratiates herself with the ‘cool’ crowd. Rose, on the other hand, is keen to experience all that Odell has to offer, working hard and befriending her tutor, Sarah Donovan. This is a stark contrast to Bel, who is more than keen to develop a friendship with Sarah’s husband, Heath…

From quite early on in the book, we learn that the murdered person is one of the sisters, but we do not know which one. This was very clever as, due to the way the story progresses, both had a motive to kill the other one, and, indeed, there may be more people who would want to see one, or both, of the sisters dead. As both of the sisters find themselves deeper into situations beyond their control, the tension mounts and there is a definite sense of foreboding. One part of the book, in particular, left a nasty taste in the mouth – the incident leading up to the major rift between the sisters. I do not want to go into detail as I do not want to spoil the plot, but I will say that I was incensed by the attitude of some of the adults in the book who did not seem to think that there was anything wrong with what happened.

Throughout the book, I had the most sympathy for Sarah Donovan, a woman trying to bring up her family and work in a particularly demanding job, not knowing if there is any truth to the whispers that are spreading round the school. I willed her to investigate further and found myself fearful that something untoward was going to happen to her.

She Was the Quiet One was a fantastic fast-paced read that shows how quickly life as we know it can change as a result of the decisions we make. Highly recommended.

With thanks to Joe Thomas at HQ / Harper Collins for allowing me to review this fantastic book.

 

 

The Drowned Village by Kathleen McGurl

51JZymFAkPLWhen a lake dries up and reveals the remnants of Brackendale Green, an old deserted village, Laura is spurred on by her grandmother, Stella, to visit. The village has a particular significance for Stella as it was where she grew up before having to leave to make way for the new dam. What secret does the village hold and will Laura be able to uncover it before Brackendale Green, once again, disappears underwater?

Like Kathleen McGurl’s previous books (The Pearl Locket, The Emerald Comb, The Daughters of Red Hill Hall and The Girl from Ballymor), The Drowned Village has a dual time frame, told from the modern-day perspective of Laura, and her grandmother, Stella, in 1935, then an eleven-year-old girl. The stories told in both eras are equally as compelling and their plots tie together seamlessly to provide an entertaining read.

While there are elements of the plot that came as no surprise as the story progressed, this was not a problem as I was so engrossed in what was happening. It is testament to the author’s description that, as I was reading, I was transported back to 1935, and could truly visualise the landscape and houses making up the village of Brackendale Green.

In stories of this genre, the two time frames are often generations apart so it was nice to have the same character, Stella, featuring in both. This also provided a stark reminder to anyone interested in their own family history that they should speak to older relatives now while they have the chance. Although Laura was able to discover the circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s past, she realised that if it wasn’t for the re-emerging of the village, there would be a fascinating and emotive story that would have gone undiscovered.

Due to my love of crime and genealogical fiction, Kathleen McGurl’s books tick all the boxes for me and The Drowned Village is no exception. This is a great, easy read that is highly recommended.

With thanks to HQ and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

 

I Know You by Annabel Kantaria

Having recently moved to the UK from her native USA, Taylor is lonely. Her husband is at work most of the time and with her being heavily pregnant, she is finding it hard to make new friends. All seems to change, however, when she is invited by a neighbour to join a book club and she decides to take part in a local walking group. Has she finally found the friends she craves for or is one of them not exactly what they seem?

Before going any further, it would be useful in sharing the book’s blurb with you:

You trust me.

You shouldn’t.

That picture you just posted on Instagram? I’ve seen it.
The location you tagged? I’ve been there.

You haven’t been careful enough, have you?
Because I know all about you.

But when I meet you, I won’t tell you that.
I’ll pretend. Just like you do.

You’ll like me though. You’ll trust me enough to let me into your life.

And then I’ll destroy it.

Throughout the book, which is mainly told from Taylor’s perspective, we are privy to the thoughts of another, unknown character: the character from the blurb. From the outset, then, we realise that someone in Taylor’s life is not who they say they are and the author does a good job in introducing several characters who could, quite easily, be candidates for this dubious role. Could it be her newly-found friends at the walking group or one of the women at her book club? Aspersions are cast on all of these characters at different times in the book, helping to keep you guessing until all is revealed.

I liked the way the story was written in that although we know that there is a threat towards Taylor, she is blissfully unaware of what is going on around her. In most books of this genre, we are used to seeing the main protagonist becoming more and more paranoid as their world starts to implode. Here, however, she has no clue as to what is about to happen to her, meaning that it is a huge shock when it finally does!

Although I Know You is a fast-paced book anyway, once the event that the unknown character is preparing for finally takes place, I found I could just not put it down! It is difficult to say too much without revealing any spoilers, so all I will say is that I found the ending satisfying and worthy of the build up.

I am a big fan of Annabel Kantaria’s writing after reading The One That Got Away and The Disappearance, so I am pleased that I Know You lived up to my expectations. Highly recommended.

With thanks to HQ and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

The One that Got Away by Annabel Kantaria

 

A Facebook-organised school reunion after fifteen years is hardly top of Stella’s to-do list but she is intrigued as her ex, the renowned businessman George Wolsey will be there. Ever since they split up at the age of eighteen, in rather acrimonious circumstances, they have not been in contact, but that night changes everything. Embarking on an affair built on a web of lies, it soon becomes apparent that once someone gets you back, they may never let you go…

On paper, this is not the sort of book I would usually read, but after being enthralled by Annabel Kantaria’s last book, The Disappearance, I had to give this one a go. I am so glad I did even though I am now suffering from lack of sleep through not being able to put it down!

At the start of the book, my heart went out to Stella, a woman who, despite her highly successful catering company, has always been missing something from her life. George, on the other hand, came across as a bit of a playboy, a ‘jack the lad’ who is used to getting everything his own way. When they met at the reunion, I cringed as he tried it on with Stella despite his wife, Ness, being in the same room. Ness appeared to be the sort of woman content with turning a blind eye to her husband’s misdemeanours as long as she was able to wear the finest clothes and receive the latest cosmetic procedure.

What happened next completely shifted my opinion of all three characters as Annabel Kantaria gives a masterclass on how we can’t always know what goes on behind closed doors. Appearances can certainly be deceiving and this is definitely the case in The One That Got Away as George descends into a spiral of despair and Stella’s manipulations come to the fore. By the end of the book, my opinions of the characters had changed so much that I was willing George to return to the philandering ways we experience at the start.

My only concern was the ending. Don’t get me wrong – it was a very unexpected and worthy finale, but I really wanted a different form of closure for George. That is just my personal opinion though!

The One That Got Away is another fantastic read from Annabel Kantaria and I thank her, Net Galley and HQ for the ARC.

 

 

The Girl From Ballymor by Kathleen McGurl

510u-LpbteLIn Ballymor, Ireland in 1847, Kitty McCarthy is struggling to keep her family alive due to the potato famine that has already killed all but two of her children. In the present day, Maria has arrived in Ballymor to research the life of her ancestor, the Victorian artist Michael McCarthy. Will she be able to discover the circumstances surrounding his early life and also what became of his beloved mother, Kitty?

I have loved all of Kathleen McGurl’s previous books and The Daughters of Red Hill Hall was one of my favourites of last year.  I had, therefore, been eagerly anticipating The Girl From Ballymor, and am pleased to say that it is just as good as the rest!

One of the things I like most about Kathleen McGurl’s books is how she seamlessly merges past with present and this is evident here. Speaking as somebody who has ancestors who left Ireland during the potato famine, I found Kitty’s plight highly emotive and could understand her desire to ensure that her son escaped to a better life. Despite living in horrendous conditions, Kitty was an incredibly strong woman and, like Maria, I too became engrossed in the mystery surrounding what became of her. Inevitably, her story was never going to end well, and when her fate was finally revealed it was tinged with more than a touch of sadness.

Sometimes in a dual-timeline story, I find myself liking one of the timelines more than the other but this is not the case in The Girl From Ballymor. Both parts of the story were equally as engaging and were interlinked in a way that moved the plot on. I felt that Maria was a very real character and could sense her trepidation as major changes were about to affect her life in a huge way.

With its cross-genre approach, The Girl From Ballymor will appeal to fans of historical and genealogical fiction and also anyone who enjoys a gentle mystery. This is another great book from Kathleen McGurl and I hope there isn’t too much of a wait before the next one!

With thanks to HQ and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑