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

This Week in Books (March 4)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Jo Palmer’s peaceful and happy life is about to end.

Ash – the man she loves – will be arrested by the police.
Millie – her precious daughter – will be taken from her.

She will lose her friends.
She will doubt her sanity.

Someone is stealing everything Jo loves, and will stop at nothing.

But right now, Jo is laughing in her kitchen, eating dinner with her family, suspecting nothing.

It’s raining outside.

There’s a knock on the door. They are here.

[Another brilliant addition to the DCI Tom Douglas series!]

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

For almost fifty years, Katie Carroll has kept a box tucked away inside her wardrobe. It dates from her time working as a nurse in a west of Ireland mother and baby home in the 1960s. The box contains a notebook holding the details of the babies and young women she met there. It also holds many of the babies’ identity bracelets. 

Following the death of her husband, Katie makes a decision. The information she possesses could help reunite adopted people with their birth mothers, and she decides to post a message on an internet forum. Soon the replies are rolling in, and Katie finds herself returning many of the bracelets to their original owners. She encounters success and failure, heartbreak and joy. But is she prepared for old secrets to be uncovered in her own life?

[I love Rachael English’s novels and I can’t wait to get stuck into this one.]

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

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. 

[I read this one years ago. It’s one of those novels that has always stayed with me and I may just treat myself to re-reading it.]

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how much reading I’ll get done at all this week because in the battle between the lurgy and myself, I am most definitely losing for the moment. 🤧

Have you read any of these? Anything tempting you? What are you reading this week? Do let me know! Happy reading! xx

February Wrap-Up

I’m really going to have to replace that picture with something else if I keep doing these monthly posts instead. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Anywho, welcome to my February Wrap-Up! There shall be books because yes, I have been reading. I know, you are as shocked as I am. Really, with four storms in four subsequent weekends, there was very little else to do. Not that I’m complaining about the lack of socialising, you understand. I am, however, complaining about the weather! It feels like we’re stuck in a never-ending loop of Autumn. Dark, wet, miserable days. All that wind. And white fluffy crap! What the hell?! I need blue skies and sunshine!

This wrap-up is a day late as I am a little under the weather. I’ve been successfully dodging people with all various sorts of germs since before Christmas but apparently the universe decided that I was not going to get through this ridiculously mild Winter unscathed. Still, excellent timing, if I do say so myself, since it got me out of socialising yesterday. Silver lining and all that.

Other than that, February was a quiet one and yet, it flew by.

Anyway, let’s move on and see what I read.

| BOOKS I READ IN FEBRUARY |

Would you look at that? 20! I’m impressed with myself. 😂 One or two disappointments on that list but overall, a fab month of reading.

| BOOKS I LISTENED TO IN FEBRUARY |

Yes, you are seeing this right. Audiobooks. I may have joined Audible. I don’t even recognise myself anymore.

Apple Tree Yard was okay. I didn’t particularly like the narrator so that was a bit of an issue. The story itself is incredibly slow paced, somewhat implausible at times, I thought, and it has left me with unanswered questions. But I did enjoy the premise, the bit-by-bit unraveling of the how, the what, the why and the mysterious who.

Bitter Sun, on the other hand, is absolutely brilliant! I wasn’t entirely sure it would be for me because while the synopsis grabbed my intention immediately, it’s also a coming-of-age story and I don’t usually do that well with them. But I was hooked from the start and couldn’t stop listening. The narrator’s American accent took a while to get used to (I personally prefer the British one) but it fit the story perfectly. I really, really enjoyed this one!

| BOOKS I BOUGHT IN FEBRUARY

Personally I feel that’s not too bad for an entire month 🤔

| BOOK POST WHAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP IN FEBRUARY |

With thanks to Orenda Books, Penguin Random House, Jane Corry and Rachael English!

| ON THE BLOG IN FEBRUARY |

Review | Rebecca Reid – Truth Hurts
Review | Claire Allan – The Liar’s Daughter
Review | Louise Beech – I Am Dust
Review | Michael Wood – The Murder House
Review | Joanna Schaffhausen – All The Best Lies
Review | Steph Broadribb – Deep Dark Night
Review | Helen Fields – Perfect Kill
Extract | Marian Womack – The Golden Key
Review | Will Shindler – The Burning Men

| COMING UP IN MARCH |

You may have noticed the lack of reviews so far this year. My reading mojo is still nowhere to be found so I’m constantly avoiding reading books I must review for one reason or another. So all I can tell you right now, looking ahead to March, is that there will be at least 3 reviews since I have 3 blog tours coming up. But other than that, I honestly have no idea.

I may need to reconsider these monthly wrap-ups. If I post weekly ones, at least the dust won’t have a chance to settle on my blog. And also, these monthly posts are a lot of work to put together! I’m exhausted! 😂

That’s a wrap for February! Back to the sofa with a cuppa and my current book, which is A Keeper by Graham Norton, and possibly a nap. 🤔

Wishing you all a great week and lots of happy reading! xx