Nowhere To Run : a list of books set in isolated locations

With most of the world’s population self-isolating and not being able to go anywhere, I thought I’d put together a wee list of books set in isolated locations. Let’s face it, things could always be worse. You could be somewhere with a murderer on the loose, for instance. Or zombies. Or one of my worst nightmares, on a ship, surrounded by nothing but water. 😱😂

These ten books were some that popped up in my head straight away when I thought of isolated places. I’m sure there are many more.

Anywho, off we go!

Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide.

The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…

Of course, I’m kicking things off with the brilliant Agatha Christie. I haven’t read that many of her books yet but this is definitely a favourite.

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway … until the bodies start piling up. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in for the long haul. Soon, though, a body turns up–surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. They can’t leave, and with no cell service, there’s no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it’s their first time away. For others, it will be their last.

Note to self : never book a break at a remote lodge in Winter

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up.

Island. Water. Never going to happen.

This was meant to be the perfect trip.

The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship.

A chance for travel journalist Lo Blackwood to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse, and to work out what she wants from her relationship.

Except things don’t go as planned.

Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.

Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that her sleep problems might be driving her mad or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer – and she is the sole witness.

Anyone want to know the odds of little old me ever getting on a cruise ship?

1939: Europe is on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd, a servant girl, boards an ocean liner for Australia. She is on her way to a new life, leaving behind the shadows in her past.
For a humble girl, the passage proves magical – a band, cocktails, fancy dress balls. A time when she is beholden to no one. The exotic locations along the way – Naples, Cairo, Ceylon – allow her to see places she’d only ever dreamed of, and to make friends with people higher up the social scale who would ordinarily never give her the time of day. She even allows herself to hope that a man who she couldn’t possibly have a future with outside the cocoon of the ship might return her feelings. 
But Lily soon realises that her new-found friends are also escaping secrets in their past. As the ship’s glamour fades, the stage is set for something awful to happen. By the time the ship docks, two of Lily’s fellow passengers are dead, war has been declared and Lily’s life will be irrevocably changed.

Like I said, ships are a bad idea.

Jon thought he had all the time in the world to respond to his wife’s text message: I miss you so much. I feel bad about how we left it. Love you. But as he’s waiting in the lobby of the L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland after an academic conference, still mulling over how to respond to his wife, he receives a string of horrifying push notifications. Washington, DC has been hit with a nuclear bomb, then New York, then London, and finally Berlin. That’s all he knows before news outlets and social media goes black—and before the clouds on the horizon turn orange.

Now, two months later, there are twenty survivors holed up at the hotel, a place already tainted by its strange history of suicides and murders. Those who can’t bear to stay commit suicide or wander off into the woods. Jon and the others try to maintain some semblance of civilization. But when the water pressure disappears, and Jon and a crew of survivors investigate the hotel’s water tanks, they are shocked to discover the body of a young girl.

As supplies dwindle and tensions rise, Jon becomes obsessed with investigating the death of the little girl as a way to cling to his own humanity. Yet the real question remains: can he afford to lose his mind in this hotel, or should he take his chances in the outside world? 

As far as doom scenarios go, it can’t get much worse than this.

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves. 

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil. 

As Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence. 

Islands are clearly a popular isolated location. This one has no men. Doesn’t sound too bad 🤔

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast. 

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Oh, look! Another island! And a wedding party go wrong. At least there’s champagne 😂

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. 

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard. 

Iceland. Always brings the goods. I know, it’s an island too. Sounds so pretty though. Not that Agnes is in any way able to appreciate that. Such a great novel! Read it! I’ll pimp it until I’m blue in the face!

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. 

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. 

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Quite possible the worst case scenario? All alone on another planet with no means of escape EVER! I don’t know about you but suddenly this self-isolation stuff doesn’t sound so bad, huh?

If you have any suggestions, please do leave them in the comments and I will be more than happy to compile a new list next week with your ideas. Or heck, do a post of your own. That works too!

Have you read any of the books on this list? Would you like to?

I have more lists planned over the next few weeks. I mean, I’m not reading so I might as well make lists, I guess. 😉

Stay safe and take excellent care of yourselves! xx

I Am Dust by Louise Beech | @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks | #IAmDust #recommended

Author : Louise Beech
Title : I Am Dust
Pages : 340
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : February 16, 2020 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Let me just tell you up front that this review, if I can even call it that, will not do this novel any justice at all as Louise Beech’s novels always leave me speechless. I Am Dust is one of those stories that left me in need of a breather, some time to reflect, to let it all sink in before even trying to compile thoughts and put words to what I was feeling. But as I start writing this review, I’m still very much speechless and the only word my brain seems to be able to come up with is WOW.

One of the many joys in picking up a book by Louise Beech is that you never know what to expect. This extremely talented author criss-crosses and combines genres like no other. The one thing you CAN always count on is truly glorious and beautiful writing. And quite possibly the need for tissues at some point or other.

I didn’t read the book description so all the information I had to go on was right there on the stunning jacket of my proof copy. (Which I just realised you can’t see on the cover I used on top of the page)

A haunted theatre, a murdered actress, three cursed teenagers, a secret that devastates them all …

Little else was needed for me to be absolutely sold on this book from the get-go. A psychological thriller then? And maybe, just maybe, no tissues required this time around? Ha! It becomes clear quite quickly that no, of course this isn’t going to be your typical run-of-the-mill psychological thriller. This is Louise Beech after all!

Twenty years ago, actress Morgan Miller was found dead in her dressing room at the Dean Wilson Theatre during the run of the musical Dust. Rumour has it she’s been haunting the theatre ever since, looking for her killer. Now, the theatre’s most successful play is making a comeback. But who would want to take on the iconic role of Esme Black? As a fan of the original Dust musical and now working as a theatre usher, Chloe Dee is right in the thick of things.

Ah, the bright lights of the stage. Yet, this story isn’t all glamour and glitter. Definitely not for a theatre usher and I truly enjoyed seeing things from Chloe’s perspective. Her uniform, the jobs she needs to do, the way she’s almost invisible to the audience. It all stands in stark contrast to the adoration the actors receive.

I Am Dust is a haunting tale of jealousy and ambition with a dose of teenage angst, unrequited love and a dash of witchcraft. I found myself utterly mesmerised by all of it, as if I was under a spell. Immensely gripping, hugely addictive and fabulously atmospheric, this novel just swept me off my feet from the very first page and I wasn’t at all able to put it down. Without giving anything away, there is a sense of foreboding throughout. That feeling you get when you just know things will probably not end well but I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out.

I see it as a personal challenge not to reach for the tissues when I read one of Louise’s books and I was convinced I was going to nail that particular challenge this time around. But no. Sucker-punched in the final pages, right there in the feels, as the kids would say? Check! I swear she does it on purpose. Reaching the end of this wonderful story, flipping that final page and realising there was no more, I felt quite bereft. I was sad to say goodbye to these characters, sad that their stories had reached their conclusions, sad that the magic spell had been broken and I found my two feet planted firmly back into reality again.

Louise Beech is an author who needs to be on everyone’s bookshelves. She’s an author who leaves everything on the page and as a reader you feel it from the top of your head to the tips of your toes but mostly, way deep down in your heart. I absolutely loved this book and you can rest assured you’ll be seeing it again on my list of “books of the year”.

Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for the stunning review copy!

I Am Dust will be published in ebook format on February 16th, with the UK paperback to follow in April.

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Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Hive | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allan | @ClaireAllan @AvonBooksUK @SanjanaCunniah | #blogtour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allan. My thanks to Sanjana at Avon for the opportunity to join and for the review copy!

Author : Claire Allan
Title : The Liar’s Daughter
Pages : 336
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : January 23, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Joe McKee – pillar of the Derry community – is dead. As arrangements are made for the traditional Irish wake, friends and family are left reeling at how cancer could have taken this much-loved man so soon.

But grief is the last thing that Joe’s daughter Ciara and step-daughter Heidi feel. For they knew the real Joe – the man who was supposed to protect them and did anything but.

As the mourners gather, the police do too, with doubt being cast over whether Joe’s death was due to natural causes. Because the lies that Joe told won’t be taken to the grave after all – and the truth gives his daughters the best possible motive for killing him…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Something tells me I will never stop enjoying stories about dysfunctional movies and hoo boy, is this a dysfunctional family.

Joe McKee is dying and he wants nothing more than having his family around him. His sister Kathleen, his daughter Ciara and Heidi, the daughter of a woman Joe used to live with. But Ciara and Heidi would much rather be as far away from Joe as possible. As much as Joe appears to be liked by the Derry community, Ciara and Heidi know the real man behind the mask. And then Joe dies but doubt is being cast over whether his death was due to natural causes. Or did someone help him on his way?

I must say, this was a bit of an uncomfortable read. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what caused the tension in this household. I was constantly wondering what I would have done had I been in Heidi’s or Ciara’s shoes. Could I put my own life on hold to take care of a dying man who failed to protect me? Or would I simply walk away and leave him to his own devices?

This is not a fast-paced story but the slower pace really works here and I still ended up reading this book in one sitting. If there’s anything Claire Allan does well, it’s writing an addictive page-turner and The Liar’s Daughter is definitely that. Not only do we get this incredible insight into the psychological impact of the dark and disturbing secret Ciara and Heidi have been carrying around with them, but there’s also the mystery surrounding Joe’s death to solve. My attempts in trying to figure things out were constantly muddled by a cast of quite unlikeable characters. It could have been anyone, it could have been no-one. I just didn’t have a clue and was left guessing until the end, desperate to find out.

With tempers flaring and paranoia rearing its ugly head, the suspense and tension build up to an almost unbearable level. As I said, this is an uncomfortable story to read but it’s also immensely gripping and I flew through the pages as if my life depended on it. The Liar’s Daughter is a dark, powerful and twisty psychological thriller that will keep you glued to the pages.

The Liar’s Daughter is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published in July.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Hive | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Claire Allan is a Northern Irish author who lives in Derry~Londonderry.

She worked as a staff reporter for the Derry Journal for 17 years, covering a wide array of stories from court sessions, to the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday, health and education and human interest features.

She wrote her first novel in 2006, to mark her 30th birthday and it (Rainy Days and Tuesdays) was subsequently published and became an instant bestseller in 2007. Claire wrote seven further women’s fiction novels between 2007 and 2015.

In 2016 (when she turned 40) she decided to change genre and try her had at domestic noir. Her first domestic noir novel, Her Name Was Rose was published by Avon/ HarperCollins in 2018 and became a bestseller in the UK, Canada, Australia and was a USA Today bestseller. It was subsequently nominated in the Dead Good Reader Awards in 2019. Claire has followed up on the success of Her Name Was Rose with Apple of My Eye and Forget Me Not.

Claire still lives in Derry with her husband, two children, two cats and a very spoiled puppy.

Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid | @RebeccaCNReid @TransworldBooks @BeckyShort1

Author : Rebecca Reid
Title : Truth Hurts
Pages : 362
Publisher : Transworld
Publication date : January 23, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Poppy has a secret. 

It was a whirlwind romance. And when Drew, caught up in the moment, suggests that he and Poppy don’t tell each other anything about their past lives, that they live only for the here and now, for the future they are building together, Poppy jumps at the chance for a fresh start.

Drew says he has nothing to hide.

But it doesn’t take long for Poppy to see that this is a two-way deal. Drew is hiding something from her. And Poppy suddenly has no idea who the man she has married really is, what he is hiding from her or what he might be capable of.

Drew is lying.

Which is more dangerous, a secret or a lie?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Prince Charming on his white horse sweeps down-on-her-luck young woman off her feet …. wait, sorry, wrong story. Although I must admit I did wonder for a minute if I had accidentally wandered into the wrong genre.

Poppy is fired from her job as a nanny in the middle of a night on Ibiza. With nowhere to go and no means of returning to England, she ends up in a bar by the road and this is where she meets Drew. He’s a fair bit older than her, attractive and apparently money is no issue. I mean, come on, every young girl’s dream, right? What follows is a whirlwind romance. However, Drew suggests they don’t tell each other anything about their past, to live in the present, and nothing about their past is important to them in the here and now. Now, I don’t know about you but I was hearing a deafening alarm bell in my head at that point. Because, yes, Poppy has a secret but surely Drew wouldn’t make a suggestion like this if he didn’t have something to hide as well?

On their return to England, Poppy is indeed living the dream. Fancy house, no need to work but why do the people in the village avoid her? What is it about this house? What is Poppy hiding? And is Drew everything he seems to be? So many questions!

Truth Hurts is one of those books you end up carrying with you everywhere because once you start reading, it’s incredibly hard to put down. It’s extremely addictive and captivating. While quite a bit of it is somewhat of a gushy love-fest for a non-romantic like myself, there is a constant sense of impending doom. A little threatening vibe, a ticking bomb you know will explode at some point but you don’t know when and you don’t know why.

Poppy’s secret is revealed bit by bit through flashback chapters. While I didn’t particularly like her, it was easy enough to sympathise with her and especially with the way she felt like a fish out of water in this new life of hers. Drew, on the other hand, remains a mystery and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why he so blatantly refused to talk about his past. Just imagine how odd it would be to be in a relationship with someone and not even know which school they went to, which subjects they learned or where they grew up.

Rebecca Reid manages to build up the suspension bit by bit until you’re flipping the pages faster and faster and then ….. There’s a delicious sting in the tail that completely blew my socks off! Full of intrigue and mystery, Truth Hurts is an extremely engrossing and gripping psychological thriller with a dash of romance that even I, lacking that romantic bone in my body, heartily approved of and the kind of book that tempts you to just read one more chapter. And then another one.

My thanks to Becky at Transworld for the review copy!

Truth Hurts is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

She Said, Three Said by David B. Lyons | @TheOpenAuthor @DamppebblesBTs | #blogtour

I’m delighted to kick off the blog tour for She Said, Three Said today! My thanks to Emma at damppebbles for the invitation to join and for the review copy.

Author : David B. Lyons
Title : She Said, Three Said
Pages : 314
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : January 22, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a juror in a high-profile celebrity trial?

Well.. now you don’t have to. Step inside the jury room to deliberate one of the most talked-about court cases of the decade.

SHE SAID…

…all three men got her drunk, led her to a hotel room and took advantage of her.

THREE SAID…

…she was a willing participant and consented to sex with each of them.

After five-weeks of listening to all of the evidence and all of the arguments in a celebrity rape trial that has gripped an entire nation, the jury sit down to begin their deliberations.

But they don’t know who to believe…

…will you?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Why, yes, I have always wondered what it would be like to be on the jury at a trial but I have to tell you, after reading this book, I can safely say it’s an experience I’m happy to do without.

After five weeks of listening to evidence in a rape trial, jury members start their deliberations but they have no idea who to believe. There is little or no evidence to go on and it’s very much a case of she said, three said. She said three men got her drunk and took her to a hotel room to take advantage of her. The three men say she was willing and everything that happened was consensual. To complicate matters further, one of the three men is a well-known football player.

There are always two sides to every story and the truth is often found somewhere in the middle. But with a case like this, how do you keep a clear head? How do you remain objective? How do you leave prejudice, instinct and personal opinions out of the jury room and merely focus on the evidence in front of you? It’s a hard thing to do and being in that room with the other jury members really brings that to the fore.

Bar one, all jury members remain anonymous for most of the story. No names, no genders. They are merely known by their numbers. It felt a little odd to read the story like that but at the same time, it stopped me, as the reader, to be prejudiced against the jury members. None of that “of course, he’s going to vote not guilty” because you don’t know if the person is male. Personally, I thought that was quite a clever way of tackling things.

The chapters alternate between the deliberations in the jury room and snippets of what actually happened on that fateful night. This allows the reader to try and make up their own mind. Or does it? Because quite frankly, I didn’t have a clue and I kept going back and forth. This isn’t an easy read and at times it made me pretty uncomfortable but it also shows how quickly we can point the finger, see what we want to see and judge a book by its cover. I’m desperately trying not to give anything away here (and hopefully not failing) but sometimes things just aren’t what they seem. And all the while, it is immensely difficult to keep in mind that this is information the jury members just do not have.

In these times of the MeToo movement, this story is incredibly apt and the inclusion of statistics really drives home how tough it is for women everywhere to even get a case like this to trial, never mind about a just verdict. She Said, Three Said is an extremely thought-provoking and compelling story. Days after finishing it, it is still very much at the front of my mind. Who’s telling the truth? Who do you believe? How would you vote? Guilty or not guilty? And once you’ve made that decision, would you be able to live with yourself? I cast my vote, purely based on the evidence in the jury room, all the while ignoring what I was being told in the other chapters. I’m obviously not going to tell you what my verdict was and whether I was right or wrong but do feel free to get back to me when you’ve cast your vote and let’s discuss. Because if there is one thing She Said, Three Said is perfect for, it’s a (book club) discussion. An uncomfortable, compelling, clever story that I won’t forget any time soon.

She Said, Three Said is available to buy.

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Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

David B. Lyons is an international bestselling author — a writer of psychological thrillers.

He has reached No.1 in charts in Ireland, the UK, Canada and Australia.

David grew up in Dublin – the city his novels are set – but currently spends his time between Birmingham in the UK and the Irish capital. David is married to a Brummie, Kerry, and they have one daughter, Lola.

He has lectured in Creative Writing in colleges and universities in both Ireland and in the UK and coaches people how to write with free tutorials at TheOpenAuthor.com.

Beast by Matt Wesolowski | @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks | #recommended

Author : Matt Wesolowski
Title : Beast
Series : Six Stories #4
Pages : 242
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : February 6, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

In the wake of the “Beast from the East” cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger Elizabeth Barton had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as “The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged “cult,” were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a “prank gone wrong.” However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses—people who knew both the victim and the three killers—to peer beneath the surface of the case.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Goodness gracious me. What do they put in Matt Wesolowski’s food?!

Another year, another episode in the absolutely brilliant Six Stories series. If you’re not reading this series, I’m judging you like you wouldn’t believe. And if this fourth book in the series doesn’t get under your skin and make you think about the truly warped-up world we live in these days, there is something really wrong with you.

Scott King, our not-so-much-elusive-anymore online podcaster, travels to the, quite frankly, utterly miserable town or Ergarth to delve in to the case of Elizabeth Barton’s death. Elizabeth was twenty-four years old and a successful and popular vlogger when she was found murdered inside, what locals refer to as, The Vampire Tower. Three young men were found guilty of her murder. The “who” seems to have been solved, but what about the “why”?

Murder, a vampire legend and a young dead woman at the centre of it all. It has all the ingredients of a gripping thriller right there, doesn’t it? But there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Beast is a story of hidden truths, of secrets, of labels and masks and more than anything, of the most horrific manipulation and Matt Wesolowski once again manages to prove that the monsters we all fear are sadly very much real. It brings to the fore the power some people are able to exert over others, the power of social media and the growing dangers of modern society’s almost unhealthy obsession with “likes” and “followers”, while all the while showing that most people will only see what they want to see.

Obviously I don’t want to give anything away but there is something to be said for an author who somehow makes a reader feel compassion for those who at first glance don’t seem to deserve it. Beast is immensely compelling and a true page-turner with each of the six stories and points-of-view giving the reader an opportunity to try and figure out for themselves what went on in the tower that night and why. I had a bit of an inkling but the truth ended up being far more devastating than I could ever have imagined and at the end of this thrilling ride, what I was left with the most, was this overwhelming feeling of sadness.

This is one of those series that just keeps getting better and better. With impeccable writing, believable characters and folklore combined with a modern scenario, there is so much to love about Beast. Dark, disturbing and thought-provoking, Beast is an impressive addition to the series; a must-read like its predecessors, and you’d better believe you’ll be seeing this book on my list of “books of the year” in December. Just outstanding! Way to kick off my year in style, Mr. Wesolowski. I can’t wait for more!

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my fabulous review copy!

Beast is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published in February.

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Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

My Top 20 Favourite Books of 2019

What a year! This list has been nearly impossible to put together. I’ve read so many incredibly brilliant books in 2019 and it’s been a real battle trying to narrow it down to 20. I do so apologise to the authors whose books I had to drop from the list (not that you know who you are 😂) but lines must be drawn somewhere and I’ve had to be utterly ruthless.

Note : These were all published this year.

So, without further ado, in random order except for the top 4, here are my Top 20 Favourite Books of 2019.

John Marrs – The Passengers [my review]
Phoebe Locke – The July Girls [my review]
Jo Spain – Dirty Little Secrets [my review]
Taylor Jenkins-Reid – Daisy Jones and the Six [my review]

Kia Abdullah – Take It Back [no review]
James Delargy – 55 [my review]
Søren Sveistrup – The Chestnut Man [my review]

Anita Frank – The Lost Ones [no review]
Stacey Halls – The Familiars [no review]
Elizabeth Letts – Finding Dorothy [my review]

The Orenda Collection 😂

Sarah Stovell – The Home [my review]
Will Carver – Nothing Important Happened Today [my review]
Doug Johnstone – Breakers [my review]
Helen Fitzgerald – Worst Case Scenario [my review]
Louise Beech – Call Me Star Girl [my review]
Thomas Enger – Inborn [my review]

4. Ruth Ware – The Turn Of The Key [my review]
3. Rowan Coleman – The Girl at the Window [my review]
2. C.J. Tudor – The Taking of Annie Thorne [my review]

| And Novel Deelight’s Book of the Year award goes to ….. |

If you read my review back when I posted it, this will not really come as a surprise. I have to say The Taking of Annie Thorne (!!!!!! infinity) and The Girl at the Window came incredibly close and I almost had to resort to drawing straws to pick a winner. Such a hard choice to make but The Whisper Man just had that little bit of an edge. [my review]

So, there you have it. Thoughts? Suggestions? Criticism? 😂

As 2019 is coming to an end, I want to say a huge thank you to all the fabulous authors and publishers for an absolutely outstanding bookish year! Thank you to YOU, my lovely fellow bloggers and readers for your enthusiasm, your support, your comments and for sharing the book love. ❤️

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and I’ll see you on the other side when I’ll be taking a look at what 2020 has in store for the book world. Until then, stay safe, be merry and keep reading. xx

The Home by Sarah Stovell | @sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks | #recommended

Author : Sarah Stovell
Title : The Home
Pages : 303
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : November 28, 2019 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When the body of pregnant, 15-year-old Hope Lacey is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away. 

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking revelations and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Oh …. goodness gracious me. Devastating doesn’t even begin to cover it. Wow!

It’s been a while since Sarah Stovell’s last offering, Exquisite, and while I thoroughly enjoyed that one when I read it, I’m just going to go right ahead and say that The Home is on a completely different level and most definitely worth the wait!

On Christmas morning, the body of a fifteen year old girl is discovered in a churchyard. Hope was a resident at The Home, a place where three young girls lived. Three girls who have been severely affected by violent and disturbing pasts. But what happened to Hope?

I wasn’t at all able to figure out what happened to Hope and to be honest, I wasn’t even really trying. I became so utterly absorbed by these girls’ lives that solving that particular mystery almost became secondary. Despite knowing what happened to Hope, I oddly found myself wishing for a happy ending throughout, which is a credit to Sarah Stovell’s amazing writing.

This incredibly powerful story about the lives of Hope, Annie and Lara will get under your skin and will be impossible to forget. These three girls are so realistic and believable, they almost jump from the pages and you want to reach in and help them in any way you can. It was abundantly clear to me from the very first pages that this book would leave me completely and utterly broken and it did. It is so extremely dark, brutal and raw that I often couldn’t decide if I should keep reading or maybe take a break, have a breather and trawl YouTube for some funny clips.

It should almost go without saying that this is one incredibly uncomfortable book to read. It’s harrowing, it is insanely disturbing, it is shocking. It’s positively heartbreaking but also immensely gripping and compelling. It hurts, people. It’s really, really painful in that way where it feels someone has reached into the very core of you, pulled out your heart and stomped all over it. And yet there is also a sliver of hope and love throughout, amidst all this darkness.

The Home will draw you in from the start and not let go. It will haunt you and linger in your mind for eternity. It will leave you with a lump in your throat and it will make you admire Sarah Stovell for tackling such hard topics in the most exquisite (see what I did there?) way possible.

I have no more words left. Completely and utterly broken. 😭

Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my review copy!

The Home will be available to buy in ebook format next week. The UK paperback will be published in January.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland

Author : Shalini Boland
Title : The Other Daughter
Pages : 270
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 5, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Two-and-a-half-year-old Holly is playing happily in a pink plastic playhouse, while her mother Rachel sips coffee and chats with a friend nearby. It should be an ordinary day for all of them. But, in the blink of an eye, it turns into every family’s worst nightmare. 

Holly is taken by a stranger and never found.

Nine years later, Rachel is living a quiet life in Dorset. She’s tried to keep things together since the traumatic day when she lost her eldest daughter. She has a new family, a loving partner and her secrets are locked away in her painful past. 

Until one afternoon when Rachel meets a new school parent Kate and her teenage daughter Bella. Rachel’s world is instantly turned upside down – she’s seen Bella before. She’d recognise that face anywhere – it’s her missing child. 

And she will stop at nothing to get her back…

| MY THOUGHTS |

You can always expect Shalini Boland to deliver a tense story that will keep you hooked throughout and The Other Daughter does exactly that.

Every parent’s worst nightmare comes true for Rachel when her two-and-a-half- year old daughter, Holly, is abducted from a shopping mall. Now, nine years later, Rachel has moved away, picked up the pieces of her life and has a new partner and a new family. But then Kate and her family move into town and when Rachel meets Kate for the first time, Rachel’s life comes tumbling down around her. Because she is absolutely convinced that Kate’s daughter Bella is her very own missing daughter, Holly.

And off we go to find out if Bella really is Holly. Rachel is quite obviously the character to root for. She is going to stop at nothing, which is completely understandable. Yet I couldn’t help but think some of her actions were a tad on the dubious side. But it all does make you wonder what you would do in a situation like that.

Is Rachel imagining things? Is her conviction that Bella is her daughter driving her somewhat paranoid? What is Kate hiding? So many questions and the answers take quite a long time in coming. This story is one big puzzle, often switching between “then” and “now”, and I had a really hard time trying to put the pieces together. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have bothered because I couldn’t have predicted the outcome at all and it absolutely boggled my mind.

The Other Daughter is a twisty, gripping and addictive story that I devoured in one afternoon. Granted, there were moments where I felt I needed to suspend belief somewhat and I wasn’t entirely sure if things actually made sense in the end but I enjoyed it anyway. This is yet another suspenseful read from Shalini Boland and once you pick it up, you will not want to put it down.

The Other Daughter is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

The Ex-Girlfriend by Nicola Moriarty | #blogtour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Ex-Girlfriend by Nicola Moriarty. My thanks to Sriya at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and for the review copy!

Author : Nicola Moriarty
Title : The Ex-Girlfriend
Pages : 385
Publisher : Michael Joseph / Penguin
Publication date : October 31, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

SHE WANTS HIM BACK. SHE WANTS YOU GONE.

Luke is the one. After everything she’s been through, Georgia knows she deserves someone like him, to make her feel loved. Safe.

The only problem is his ex-girlfriend. Luke says Cadence is having trouble accepting their break-up, but Georgia thinks there’s more to the story. She has the feeling someone is watching her.

So when everything starts to go wrong at work, at home, in her old friendships and her happy new relationship with Luke, Georgia starts to feel afraid.

It’s becoming clear Cadence wants what she has. But how far will she go to get it? 

| MY THOUGHTS |

My Ex-Girlfriend is one of those books that is hard to review without giving anything away so this might quite possibly be one of the shortest reviews I’ve ever written.

Girl meets boy in bar, after having been stood up by a Tinder date. Georgia and Luke’s romance is one of the whirlwind kind. But Georgia knows she has finally found the one. Luke is everything she could possibly want in a boyfriend. Except for the fact that he can’t seem to shake his crazy ex-girlfriend, Cadence.

Now, I read a lot of books from the psychological thriller and suspense genre and I’m not entirely sure I’d put this book in that particular category. On top of that, I have a truly suspicious nature. So I pretty much figured out where things were heading right from the start. Yet that didn’t mean I wasn’t invested in the story. I often caught myself rolling my eyes, urging the characters to see what I was seeing or practically imploring them not to do certain things.

Personally, I prefer my psychological thrillers a lot more on the gripping side, which is something I felt was lacking somewhat in The Ex-Girlfriend. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining and quickie read and Nicola Moriarty tackles a range of subjects from mental health issues to depression to self-harm. It’s remarkably easy to imagine how a stalker can drive you to the brink when you’re already feeling vulnerable.

And really, that’s all I’m going to say. Very sorry but I’ve already had to delete certain things because they came too close to spoiler territory. I will say that things turned out quite a bit more harrowing than I expected them to and if there are lessons to be learned from this story, they are to stay as far away from the dating scene as you possibly can and never trust anyone. Ever. You’re welcome.

The Ex-Girlfriend is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Nicola Moriarty lives in Sydney’s north west with her husband and two small daughters. She is the younger sister of bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty. In between various career changes, becoming a mum and studying teaching at Macquarie University, she began to write. Now, she can’t seem to stop.