Sunday, 29 April 2018

Isabella's Reading Corner: A Breath After Drowning

A Breath After Drowning
Author: Alice Blanchard
Publication Date: April 10th, 2018
Publisher: Titan Books

Kate Wolfe has a tragic past. Her mother committed suicide when Kate and her little sister Savannah, were still children. Six years later Savannah is horribly murdered. The Wolfe’s next-door neighbour Henry Blackwood is convicted of the crime and is placed on death row. Kate, now a prominent psychiatrist, starts to doubt Blackwood’s guilt after she uncovers some long-hidden family secrets. Kate delves deeper into the mystery and as alternative suspects come to light, danger is just around the corner.

Kate's connections with others highlight the novel. The loss of her mother affected her father greatly and he became emotionally detached from Kate and Savannah. The murder of her sister, combined with her father's neglect resulted in a deep-rooted fear of abandonment and self-destructive behaviour. It was only through the guidance of her friend and mentor Ira that Kate was better able to deal with her anxieties, eventually drawing her into the field of psychiatry.

Kate and her boyfriend James have a close, fun and loving relationship. Although they have their difficulties, they trust each other. He is supportive of her and although he doesn't completely understand what she's been through, he is concerned for her and wants to protect her.

All the characters are well rounded and established, but it's really Kate who shines through. She has a tragic past, and although she continues to have apprehensions, fears, and self doubt, she no longer allows them to debilitate her. Instead of being fragile she is strong, caring, compassionate and genuine. She still blames herself for Savannah's death and craves her sister's forgiveness above all else.

Author Alice Blanchard provides intricate details in her storytelling without becoming overwhelming or excessively wordy. It is easy to visualise the Boston winter setting or hear the crunch of the snow when the characters are walking in the woods.

A Breath After Drowning is an exciting novel with surprising twists, lots of suspense and an intense, intriguing narrative. I couldn't read it fast enough as I wanted to get to the heart of the mystery as quickly as possible. It is a well written, addictive serial killer thriller featuring a strong, likeable female protagonist and a satisfying conclusion.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for the finished copy provided for review.

From the publisher:
The stunning new psychological thriller from the award-winning author of Darkness Peering and The Breathtaker.

Sixteen years ago, Kate Wolfe's young sister Savannah was brutally murdered. Forced to live with the guilt of how her own selfishness put Savannah in harm's way, Kate was at least comforted by the knowledge that the man responsible was on death row. But when she meets a retired detective who is certain that Kate's sister was only one of many victims of a serial killer, Kate must face the possibility that Savannah's murderer walks free. 

Unearthing disturbing family secrets in her search for the truth, Kate becomes sure that she has discovered the depraved mind responsible for so much death. But as she hunts for a killer, a killer is hunting her...

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on A Breath After Drowning here and here.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Isabella's Reading Corner: I Have Lost My Way

I Have Lost My Way
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: March 27th, 2018
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

I Have Lost My Way is a contemporary YA novel, eloquently told through the viewpoints of three very different teens. Converging by chance in the culturally diverse New York City, each has lost something of relevance to them. 

Freya is at the start of a promising music career. She is recording her debut album when she inexplicably loses her singing voice. Harun has not yet come out to his Muslim family and is regretting having recently broken up with his boyfriend James. Nathaniel arrives adrift and alone in the city, with nothing left to live for.

The authentic and believable characters are sensitively portrayed as their lives entwine and their stories unfold over the course of one day. Forman reveals solid histories for each of them, creating intense and thought-provoking moments along the way. 

The author evokes so much feeling that it is difficult not to immerse yourself in the world of her protagonists. I Have Lost My Way is beautifully written, profoundly emotional and compelling. It is about strong connections and friendships and how they can help heal in unexpected ways.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for the finished copy provided for review.

From the publisher:
A fateful accident draws three strangers together over the course of a single day:

Freya who has lost her voice while recording her debut album.
Harun who is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved. 
Nathaniel who has just arrived in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. 

As the day progresses, their secrets start to unravel and they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs. 

An emotionally cathartic story of losing love, finding love, and dis­covering the person you are meant to be, I Have Lost My Way is best­selling author Gayle Forman at her finest.

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on I Have Lost My Way here and here.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Isabella's Reading Corner: The Wicked Deep

The Wicked Deep
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse

The three beautiful Swan sisters, Marguerite, Aurora and Hazel, arrive in Sparrow, Oregon in 1822. No man, single or married, can resist them. The townspeople thinking the women to be witches, tie stones to their ankles and drown them in the ocean. 

In present day Sparrow, tourists overrun the town as the inhabitants prepare for the yearly festivities honouring the Swan sisters. However, the tradition of parties and festivals is not all the residents come to expect each summer. Since the sisters were drowned, death comes to the town, claiming new victims the same time each year. The approaching Swan season is a time when the legendary sisters are resurrected, seeking revenge as they each inhabit the body of a local girl. But there is one person who may be able to break the curse...

Penny Talbot resides with her mother on Lumiere Island, along with two orange tabby cats, Otis and Olga. She uses a small boat to motor across the bay between her home and Sparrow, where she goes to high school. She must traverse a labyrinth of shipwrecks which hark back to the days when supplies were brought in through the port. Now the waters are no longer used for this purpose and there are rumours they are haunted. 

Three years ago, Penny's father, John, disappeared from the island and has not been seen or heard from since. She knows something terrible must have happened for him to leave his family behind. Her best friend Rose tries to convince Penny to leave Sparrow with her once they graduate, but she is loyal and feels an obligation to her mother, who lives in a haze on the outskirts of reality since John vanished. Sparrow is dreary and rainy, but it is familiar and comfortable, that is until Bo the intriguing stranger arrives. From a young age, Penny was taught by her mother to read fortunes from tea leaves. In the leaves she has seen a mysterious boy who will arrive and capture her heart. Whenever she thinks about leaving Sparrow, the island draws her back. 

Lumiere Island is exquisitely depicted, with its lighthouse, heavy morning fog and surrounded by the vastness of the Pacific. I could easily picture the tragic vision of Penny's mother standing on the cliffs and looking out to sea, waiting for her lost love to come home to her. The novel has an enchanting fairy tale quality that I found captivating. The story of the witches coming back to exact their revenge is a dark one, but it is unique and beautifully written. The Wicked Deep is gorgeously atmospheric and a book I highly recommend.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for the DRC to review.

From the publisher:
A New York Times bestseller

Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials in this haunting story about three sisters on a quest for revenge—and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them.

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on The Wicked Deep here and here.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Isabella's Reading Corner: Let Me Lie

Let Me Lie
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Publication Date: March 13th, 2018
Publisher: Berkley

Anna Johnson's parents both committed suicide seven months apart by jumping off a cliff into the sea. She is troubled as to why they would have killed themselves but seems to be the only one with doubts about it. Her partner Mark having never met them, is concerned for her and has difficulty taking her beliefs seriously. A year to the day following her mother's death, she receives a card suggesting there was more to it than suicide. This further convinces her that her parents were murdered. With the help of Murray Mackenzie, a retired detective who now works the front desk at the local police station, Anna is determined to discover what really happened to her parents.

This is one of those novels that you really need to know as little as possible about before reading. The gripping story is told through multiple viewpoints, however whose perspective it is, is intentionally not always clear. Although there is little action, the book is essentially a character-driven one, including solid background development for the main protagonists. With surprising revelations and twists, Let Me Lie does not disappoint and is perfect for fans of psychological suspense and domestic dramas.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for the ARC provided for review.

From the publisher:
The stunning new novel from Clare Mackintosh, the international bestselling author of I Let You Go and I See You.

The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They're both wrong.

Last year, Tom and Caroline Johnson chose to end their lives, one seemingly unable to live without the other. Their daughter, Anna, is struggling to come to terms with her parents' deaths, unwilling to accept the verdict of suicide.

Now with a baby herself, Anna feels her mother's absence keenly and is determined to find out what really happened to her parents. But as she digs up the past, someone is trying to stop her.

Sometimes it's safer to let things lie....

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on Let Me Lie here.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Isabella's Reading Corner: The Hunger

The Hunger
Author: Alma Katsu
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a fictional account of what might have happened to the real life doomed Donner Party of the 1840s. The wagon train of approximately ninety people traveled west from Springfield, Illinois hoping for a new life and opportunities in California, but unfortunately their happy ending was not to be, as an unspeakable fate awaited them.  

Early in the novel the settlers are plagued with misfortune – one of the young wives gives birth to a stillborn baby, there are weevils in the flour and wolves have been stealing their food. When a six-year-old boy goes missing from his tent in the middle of the night and his body is found horribly butchered, suspicions arise that the abominable deed was done by one of their own. 

After a stop at Fort Laramie, those heading to Oregon leave behind the smaller Donner Party who are bound for California. Ominously warned not to take the route they are planning, George Donner seems more concerned about boosting his ego and controlling the group than about the practicality and safety of the journey. Fighting amongst the men begins as there are reservations about separating from the larger part of the wagon train, heading down an unknown trail and lingering for a picnic instead of moving as quickly as possible toward their destination before winter sets in. As the story progresses, more unsettling situations arise as livestock and people disappear and some of the party begin to exhibit increasingly aberrant behaviour…

The author tells her narrative through multiple viewpoints and with such a large cast of characters, there are many secrets among them as their backstories are also relayed. The real historic events that occurred were lurid and shocking enough, but Katsu adds in ritual sacrifices, supernatural and diabolical elements to her version, creating an utterly macabre and hair-raising novel.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for the finished copy provided for review.

From the publisher:
A tense and gripping reimagining of one of America's most fascinating historical moments: the Donner Party with a supernatural twist.

Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere. 

That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos. They cannot seem to escape tragedy...or the feelings that someone--or something--is stalking them. Whether it's a curse from the beautiful Tamsen Donner (who some think might be a witch), their ill-advised choice of route through uncharted terrain, or just plain bad luck, the ninety men, women, and children of the Donner Party are heading into one of one of the deadliest and most disastrous Western adventures in American history. 

As members of the group begin to disappear, the survivors start to wonder if there really is something disturbing, and hungry, waiting for them in the mountains...and whether the evil that has unfolded around them may have in fact been growing within them all along.

Effortlessly combining the supernatural and the historical, The Hunger is an eerie, thrilling look at the volatility of human nature, pushed to its breaking point. 

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on The Hunger here.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Isabella's Reading Corner: Find You in the Dark

Find You in the Dark
Author: Nathan Ripley
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada

Martin Reese has an unusual hobby. He finds the bodies of murder victims that have not yet been discovered. Using old case files for reference, he looks for seemingly random or unimportant clues that police working on the cases originally missed. He keeps photos of the bodies, along with detailed records of how he uncovered them, stored in his 'scrapbook', an old computer which is hidden away in a locked drawer in his house. Once he uncovers the remains he phones 911 anonymously on disposable cells, leading the police to where they are buried. Unfortunately for him, he has caught the attention of a serial killer who is not entirely happy with Martin's activities and is recently making those feelings known. Also hot on Martin's trail is police detective Sandra Whittal who believes he has escalated from being a 'finder' to a murderer.

Martin and his wife Ellen appear to have a good marriage with arguments mainly revolving around her overprotectiveness of their daughter, Kylie. Ellen's sister Tinsley went missing twenty years ago and Ellen believes she was murdered. She's worried the same will happen to Kylie, so she sets heavy boundaries and rules for her. Martin looks specifically for female victims of serial killers in an attempt to find Tinsley and put his wife's mind to rest.

The insight into Martin's personality is fascinating. There's a complexity to him as he conceals what he's doing from his wife and daughter to create some sort of balance within his life and family. He believes he is providing a public service for the victims’ loved ones. However, there might be another motivation that drives him other than providing closure and finding Tinsley's remains. Martin also has a history of secret impulses he's trying to suppress, so there could be an even deeper reason why he is digging up bodies.

The dark and rainy streets of Seattle create the perfect backdrop for the narrative. Author Nathan Ripley conveys such a sense of unease, I was frequently looking over my shoulder as I was reading. Find You in the Dark is a disturbingly sinister novel with plenty of suspense, intriguing characters and a story that kept me riveted.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for the DRC to review.

From the publisher:
In this chilling debut thriller, in the vein of Dexter and The Talented Mr. Ripley, a family man obsessed with digging up the undiscovered remains of serial killer victims catches the attention of a murderer prowling the streets of Seattle.

Martin Reese is obsessed with murder. 

For years, he has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and studying them in depth, using them as guides to find missing bodies. He doesn’t take any souvenirs, just photos that he stores in an old laptop, and then he turns in the results to the police anonymously. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of wrongs that cops have continuously failed to do.

Detective Sandra Whittal sees it differently. On a meteoric rise in police ranks due to her case-closing efficiency, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious caller—the Finder, she names him—leading the police to the bodies. Even if the Finder isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, who’s to say that he won’t start soon?

On his latest dig, Martin searches for the first kill of Jason Shurn, the early 1990s murderer who may have been responsible for the disappearance of his sister-in-law, whom he never met. But when he arrives at the site, he finds a freshly killed body—a young and recently disappeared Seattle woman—lying among remains that were left there decades ago. Someone else knew where Jason Shurn buried his victims . . . and that someone isn’t happy that Martin has been going around digging up his work.

When a crooked cop with a tenuous tie to Martin vanishes, Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder. Hunted by a real killer and by Whittal, Martin realizes that in order to escape the killer’s trap, he may have to go deeper into the world of murder than he ever thought.

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on Find You in the Dark here.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Cover Reveal - Echoes by Alice Reeds

Author: Alice Reeds
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Publisher: Entangled TEEN

About Echoes:

"Fast-paced and thrilling. ECHOES is a heart-pounding and addictive love story." —Mia Siegert, author of Jerkbait

They wake on a deserted island. Fiona and Miles, high school enemies now stranded together. No memory of how they got there. No plan to follow, no hope to hold on to.

Each step forward reveals the mystery behind the forces that brought them here. And soon, the most chilling discovery: something else is on the island with them.
Something that won’t let them leave alive.

Echoes is a thrilling adventure about confronting the impossible, discovering love in the most unexpected places, and, above all, finding hope in the face of the unknown.

Want to read more? Pre-order your copy of Echoes by Alice Reeds today!


About Alice Reeds:

Alice Reeds was born in a small town in Germany but spent her first eight years in Florida, USA. Later on, she moved back to Europe, where her family moved around a lot. She was raised trilingual and has a basic understanding of Russian, read and spoken. After getting her International Baccalaureate Diploma, Alice is studying English Language and Literature at University. In her free time Alice mostly writes, reads, figure and/or roller skates, or watches countless let's plays and figure skating videos.

What do you think of the cover for Echoes by Alice Reeds? Let me know in the comments below!

This cover reveal is brought to you by Entangled TEEN