#BookReview: The Island by C.L. Taylor @HQstories #TheIsland #damppebbles

Welcome to The Island.

Where your worst fears are about to come true…

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island.

But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re becoming a reality.

Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret.

Who will make it off the island alive?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Island by C.L. Taylor. The Island was published by HQ Young Adult on 21st January 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats.

I had a bit of a break in my planned reading so I turned to my own groaning bookshelves for inspiration. It’s true, there are a LOT of books all vying for attention on my shelves but The Island by C.L. Taylor easily won out. I’m really enjoying YA fiction at the moment (in the form of thrillers, mysteries and horror) and I’ve read a number of this author’s adult books so I was very keen to get stuck into The Island, the author’s second YA thriller.

Six teens are heading out on the holiday of a lifetime to Thailand. Their parents, who met at an antenatal class seventeen years ago and have always stayed in touch, get together once a year for a holiday. This year they’re upping the ante thanks to Jefferson’s dad who is hiring an isolated island and guide to celebrate his son’s 17th birthday. Whilst the parents relax in the lap of luxury, their kids will be skinning rabbits and building shelters. But once they arrive on the island things start to go wrong. Their guide dies suddenly and the boat is rendered useless when they discover the starter cord has been cut. And then their worst nightmares really start coming true. Long held phobias start manifesting themselves. Someone on the island knows what terrifies the teens the most and they’re going to do everything they can to make their lives a living hell…

The Island is a very engaging, very readable novel which I enjoyed. The story is told from two points of view – Jessie’s and Danny’s. I really liked Jessie from the moment I met her. Recent events hang heavy over her head and she’s clearly still grieving following the horrific death of her older brother. Since her last holiday with the group she’s changed and feels more on the periphery. She refuses to discuss what happened to her sibling and the others don’t ask or offer support so a lot is left to bubble beneath the surface. She’s unpredictable and perhaps a little reckless at times, changed by events but more than anything, she needs someone to talk to. Jessie’s character is very well written as I felt her pain and her angst. The other characters in the book – Jefferson, Milo, Meg, Honor (and of course, Danny who I’ve already mentioned) – are interesting and well-drawn. They play their parts well and help move the story along.

The plot is fast paced and gripping, with something always happening to hold the reader’s attention. I enjoyed the isolation the author creates and the way tension builds throughout the story. I did feel the numerous mentions of help only being one week away (when their parents realise their children haven’t returned to the hotel) did dampen the tension a little bit, but only a smidge. After all, there’s still the risk that not all six teens will make it out alive (no spoilers here). I’m afraid I was able to guess whodunit fairly early on and each new clue only cemented my suspicions further. However, I will say I am NOT the target audience for this book, I DO read a lot of thrillers AND I’m always on the lookout for whodunit, no matter what book I’m reading.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re looking for a well-written, engaging YA thriller then The Island is it. The author is skilled at writing interesting, complex characters which this book once again proves. I didn’t like all of them. At times one in particular made my blood boil, but they were my camp mates for the two days it took me to read The Island and I did (mostly) enjoy spending time with them. Well-paced, well written and a book I’m keen for my kids to read when they’re old enough to. A gripping and emotional YA thriller which I recommend.

The Island by C.L. Taylor was published in the UK by HQ Young Adult on 21st January 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

C.L. TaylorC.L. Taylor is an award winning Sunday Times bestselling author of nine gripping psychological thrillers including SLEEP, a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for autumn 2019. Her books are not a series and can be read in any order:

2014 – THE ACCIDENT / Before I Wake (U.S.)
2015 – THE LIE
2016 – THE MISSING
2017 – THE ESCAPE
2018 – THE FEAR
2019 – SLEEP
2020 – STRANGERS
2021 – HER LAST HOLIDAY
2022 – THE GUILTY COUPLE

She has also written two Young Adult thrillers, THE TREATMENT and THE ISLAND.

C.L. Taylor’s books have sold in excess of a million copies, been number one on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play and have been translated into over 25 languages and optioned for TV.

Cally Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014. She lives in Bristol with her partner and son.

#BookReview: Sleep by C.L. Taylor @AvonBooksUK #Sleep #damppebbles

“All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

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.

The million-copy bestseller is back in her darkest, twistiest book to date. Read it if you dare! Perfect for fans of Lesley Kara’s The Rumour and Cara Hunter’s DI Fawley Thrillers.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Sleep by C.L. Taylor. Sleep was published by Avon Books on 24th September 2019 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC copy of Sleep but that has in no way influenced my review.

Anna’s world is shattered when on the way home from a team building exercise, the car she’s driving is involved in a major collision. Two of her colleagues die. One is paralysed. Anna walks away with a few cuts and bruises and a whole lot of guilt. Her relationship with her boyfriend was flagging anyway but the trauma, regret and guilt she suffers pushes them over the edge. Newly single and with nowhere to live, Anna makes the decision to change her life completely – moving to the small Scottish island of Rum and starting work in a hotel. But the latest cohort of guests have their own secrets. Trapped by a storm, the hotel is cut-off. And there’s a killer in their midst…

I really felt for Anna who, despite not being responsible for the accident, was living with so much sadness, grief and guilt. The reader watches as it eats away at her, impinging on her life and in particular her sleep. When she starts to feel as though she’s being watched, her boyfriend puts it down to exhaustion and the effects of the accident. I could feel the condescending ‘pat on the head’, the ‘there, there…’ at his empty, meaningless words. The author sets up her introduction to Anna and her life very well. I felt as though, by the time she gets to Rum and starts her new life, that I had the measure of the character. Which meant that when the pace really picked up and the threat is closing in, you couldn’t help but feel invested.

When a catastrophic event happens, it really ramps the tension up. I tried to guess who was responsible but I couldn’t. The author is very adept at throwing lots of red herrings into the story so you end up questioning everything and everyone. On the rare occasion when the characters did venture out of the hotel, the blustery winds and hammering rain were easy to picture thanks to the author’s great descriptions. It’s a very atmospheric read.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. Sleep is a very compelling psychological suspense novel which had me turning the pages faster than most other books I’ve read recently. I liked that the person ‘whodunit’ wasn’t obvious. I thought their reasons behind their actions were utterly chilling. Anna was a terrific protagonist who I was behind all the way. I thought the other characters in the book were all fully formed characters and had their part to play in the story. This is my second book by this author and I would happily read more in the future. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC copy of Sleep. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Sleep by C.L Taylor was published in the UK by Avon Books on 24th September 2019 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014.

She started writing short stories in 2005 and was published widely in literary and women’s magazines. She also won several short story competitions. In 2009 and 2011 her romantic comedy novels (as Cally Taylor) were published by Orion and translated into fourteen languages. HEAVEN CAN WAIT was a bestseller in Hungary and China and HOME FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a feature film by JumpStart Productions. Whilst on maternity leave with her son Cally had an idea for a psychological thriller and turned to crime.

C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son.