ARC REVIEW: Strangers – by C.L. Taylor @AvonBooksUK

Title: Strangers
Author: C.L. Taylor
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: April 2nd 2020
Publisher: Avon Books UK
Finished reading: March 6th 2020
Pages: 400

“She’d learned through bitter experience that when you sit back and wait for what life throws at you, you mostly get covered in shit.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Avon Books UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been eagerly anticipating C.L. Taylor‘s newest title Strangers ever since I first heard about it, as I’m most definitely a fan of her writing style. Although I still have to read Sleep (yes, I’m still miffed my pre-ordered paperback copy never arrived last year), I think it’s safe to say that I now have a new favorite C.L. Taylor title. What a read! I’m glad I cleared my schedule before diving into this story, because there was just no way on earth I was going to stop reading before I knew how it would all end. What an absolutely masterful and simply brilliantly constructed psychological thriller!

I’m going to keep this review on the short side to avoid spoilers, but I absolutely loved the sheer complexity of this story. In Strangers, you get not one, not two, but THREE storylines for the price of one. Yes, you read that right, three completely different storylines with three different POVs and characters to follow… And you will only understand how the three will fit together in the story until after the final plot twist bombs. Each different storyline is developed thoroughly and realistically, giving us insight in the lives of Alice, Ursula and Gareth as well as truly making them come alive. Each character has their own set of issues, secrets and background, turning Strangers into a thoroughly complex, rich and utterly satisfying psychological thriller.

There are a lot of elements in play in Strangers, including infidelity, stalking, kleptomania, Alzheimer, abuse, violence and bullying. That seems like a lot to juggle, but each element is incorporated into the plot in such way that helps enrich the plot without feeling chaotic. They give the different characters extra dept and without doubt take the character development as well as the plot to the next level… The characters themselves might not be 100% likeable if you look critically, but you will find it quite easy to fully immerse yourself in their stories and root for them along the way. And as each character has their own issues, you will find your mind in overdrive as you try and juggle all those storylines and suspicions about motive and who could be behind it.

The writing is 200% engaging and combined with a fast pace and a fantastically constructed plot you will find yourself reaching that final page in no time at all. Especially as the suspense is starting to build up and things are getting more intense… Plot twists, secrets and POV switches are used to both keep you on your toes and send you off the wrong track, and I don’t think it will be easy to guess the full truth about how the three storylines come together before you actually read about it happening. What a way to end a story! If you are a psychological thriller fan, you definitely need to add Strangers to your must-read list.


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WWW Wednesdays #259 – March 11th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently flying through Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb in preparation for my upcoming blog tour stop… It’s so good to meet up with favorite character Lori again! I’m also starting yet another ARC: The Missing Sister by Elle Marr. And of course I’m still reading the Spanish version of the seventh and final Harry Potter book: Harry Potter Y Las Reliquias De La Muerte… I’m currently about a quarter into the book and I’ve already rediscovered so many details I had completely forgotten about!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Strangers by C.L. Taylor (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 31/03
I think it’s safe to say that I now have a new favorite C.L. Taylor title. What a read! I’m glad I cleared my schedule before diving into this story, because there was just no way on earth I was going to stop reading before I knew how it would all end. What an absolutely masterful and simply brilliantly constructed psychological thriller!

2. The Body In The Garden by Katharine Schellman (3/5 stars) REVIEW 
I loved the historical setting in 1815 London and the final twist was without doubt well played. I did have some issues with The Body In The Garden, including the pace, focus on frivolous high society events and characters, but I also think this might not have been exactly right story for me. If you enjoy character-driven and slower paced cozy mysteries with a historical setting and a hint of crime, you will be in for a treat with The Body In the Garden.

3. Mexico Street by Simone Buchholz (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 23/03
Look out for my review during my stop of the blog tour!

4. The Secret Admirer by Carol Wyer (4/5 stars) REVIEW 20/03
I’m a huge fan of Carol Wyer‘s detective thrillers, and Natalie Ward book number six is without doubt another shocking and solid ride. The writing makes it really easy to keep turning those pages, and I think the bigger focus on Natalie’s private life was definitely needed after that nuclear plot twist bomb in book five. The investigation in this one is intriguing, although I do have to guess I saw the ending coming early on… But the developments in Natalie’s private life are less easy to guess. That said, I will never like David and even the events in The Secret Admirer weren’t enough to make me feel sympathetic towards him… I can’t wait to discover how things will continue for all the main characters in play though.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I need a little break from thrillers, so I’ll probably read Love And Other Words by Christina Lauren next. Then I have one March ARC left pending: She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be by J.D. Barker. It’s a big one with almost 800 pages, but I loved his writing in the 4MK books and I just can’t wait to dive into this one. I also want to read my first Rachel Abbott book, And So It Begins, in preparation for the blog tour of the sequel next month…  My latest TBR jar pick is still The Way Back To You by Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott; I’m hoping to read that one soon in between upcoming thrillers.


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WWW Wednesdays #257- February 26th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently on another series mini binge-read and I’ll be reading Blue Night and Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz one after the other in preparation for the blog tour next month. I’ll probably take a little break before reading the third one so I can get those shorties reviews written before I have tot think about the blog tour review. 😉

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Where The Lost Wander by Amy Harmon (4/5 stars) REVIEW 06/04
I think most people will know by now that I’m a huge fan of Amy Harmon’s work and I have been eagerly anticipating her newest title Where The Lost Wander. I was stoked when I was able to get a chance to read this story early, and it was without doubt a wonderful experience. While not my absolute favorite title, this is still a beautifully written story that is definitely able to provoke emotions. I found the pace to be a tad slow, but the characters are well developed and it was a fascinating portrayal of 19th century US.

2. The Boy From The Woods by Harlan Coben (4/5 stars) REVIEW 16/03
I admit I was sold as soon as I read the blurb! I never would have guessed my request for such a popular title would actually be approved, but I’m definitely happy I had the chance to read this one early. Such a fascinating read! While certain aspects of the plot might be a tad farfetched, it has a high entertainment factor and I literally flew through the pages. This makes me want to give priority to more of his titles this year! I had forgotten how much I enjoyed his writing in the past.

3. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara (4/5 stars) REVIEW
I’ve been wanting this true crime title for so long now, and I’m still not sure what held me back… I’m happy I finally did take the time to read it, because it turned out to be a fascinating (and terrifying) read.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

With a possible trip happening in the second half of March, I need to step up my ARC game for a bit and read a bunch that are due soon… First up is Strangers by C.L. Taylor, which I’ve been dying to read anyway. Then I’ll probably read The Body In The Garden by Katherine Schellman, and I need to read Mexico Street by Simone Buchholz for the upcoming blog tour too. My latest TBR jar pick is still The Way Back To You by Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott, which I’m not sure I’ll end up having time for soon…


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YVO’S SHORTIES #75 – The Treatment & Heart Berries

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a title I picked up on a whim and I title that has been recommended to me. The first turned out to be a solid decision and another author I will be looking forward to read more of in the future: The Treatment by C.L. Taylor. The second an emotional and lyrical memoir that I’m very sad I failed to connect with: Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot.


Title: The Treatment
Author: C.L. Taylor

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: October 19th 2017
Publisher: HQ
Finished reading: January 9th 2019 
Pages: 299

“He taught me about body language, micro expressions and verbal tics. He showed me how much people give away about themselves without realizing it.”


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I’ve been meaning to read one of C.L. Taylor‘s books for quite some time now… I decided to finally start reading The Treatment on a whim after browsing my kindle for something thrilling to read. It turned out to be a great decision! I normally tend to stick to adult fiction when it comes to the mystery/thriller genre, but this YA story was a nice change of scenery. The first thing that stood out for me was the writing, which was both engaging, well constructed and together with a fast pace made me finish it in one sitting. The plot itself is intriguing and has elements that are almost on the border of science fiction, but with a strong focus on mental health and family as well. There is a lot of mystery and suspense around the Residential Reform Academy and what happens behind their doors, and it was definitely interesting to see how things developed. The Treatment started with a bang and sets the right mood of what the author calls is a story that is ‘Prison Break meets One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest but for teens‘. I can definitely understand that reference, especially during those chapters set inside the RRA. It was very interesting to see the characters develop and to see Drew adapt as she tries to figure out what to do… I’m not sure all aspects of the plot were completely credible, but it sure made for a very entertaining story! If you are looking for a fast-paced, intriguing and well written YA mystery with a mental health angle, The Treatment is an excellent choice.


Title: Heart Berries
Author: Terese Marie Mailhot

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Feminism
First published: February 6th 2018
Publisher: Counterpoint
Finished reading: January 10th 2019
Pages: 178

“Sometimes trying to be the absence of something makes you that very thing.”


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I remember this memoir being recommended in the past and after it was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards I decided to finally get a copy and give it a go. I’m always intrigued by #ownvoices memoirs as it gives us a way to learn more about a culture and/or person we might not know much about. Heart Berries is a fascinating and emotional memoir written by woman born in the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in Canada. Let me say before I continue that the problem here is most definitely me, and not this story. Heart Berries is powerful, raw and simply devastating and the writing is lyrical and almost poetic at times. Oh yes, the prose is gorgeous and this is definitely one of the things that stood out most for me apart from the way the author isn’t afraid to bleed and give us the ugly truth about her childhood and past. There is a lot to love and I truly admire Terese Marie Mailhot for not only surviving her childhood and other life obstacles including mental illness, but also for not being afraid to get her memories out there. Why didn’t I enjoy this memoir better then? Well, this is mostly a case of me, while truly appreciating the wonderful prose, somehow being unable to connect to the words, story or the things that happened to her. This failed connection made it hard for me to keep myself invested and I didn’t enjoy my reading experience as much as I thought I would. This is 100% my own experience with Heart Berries and has nothing to do with the excellence of this memoir.


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WWW Wednesdays #205 – January 16th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m trying to get rid of my backlog of pending NG ARCs so I can go back to my backlist titles, so I’m currently reading We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott. So far it’s proving to be a fast read… I’m also starting The Winter Sister by Megan Collins, a title I’ve been really excited about.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Treatment by C.L. Taylor (4/5 stars) REVIEW 20/01
The Treatment started with a bang and sets the right mood of what the author calls is a story that is ‘Prison Break meets One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest but for teens‘. I can definitely understand that reference, especially during those chapters set inside the RRA. I’m not sure all aspects of the plot were completely credible, but it sure made for a very entertaining story! If you are looking for a fast-paced, intriguing and well written YA mystery with a mental health angle, The Treatment is an excellent choice.

2. Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot (3/5 stars) REVIEW 20/01
Let me say before I continue that the problem here is most definitely me, and not this story. Heart Berries is powerful, raw and simply devastating and the writing is lyrical and almost poetic at times. Why didn’t I enjoy this memoir better then? Well, this is mostly a case of me, while truly appreciating the wonderful prose, somehow being unable to connect to the words, story or the things that happened to her. This failed connection made it hard for me to keep myself invested and I didn’t enjoy my reading experience as much as I thought I would.

3. Finding Grace by K.L. Slater (5/5 stars) REVIEW 17/01
Finding Grace is definitely a great way to start the year with a bang. Well written, intriguing, suspenseful, complex and nailbitingly good: oh yes, say hello to my very first 5 star read of the year! I’m a big fan of her work in general and this one might just be my new favorite. What seems to be another kidnapping case at first glance turns out to be so much more… With a lot of extra layers, flashbacks and twists to form a properly complex and well executed plot. You will want to clear your schedule for this one, because it will be VERY hard to stop reading before reaching that final page.

4. The BFG by Roald Dahl (4/5 stars) REVIEW 27/01
I had a wonderful time revisiting this story and its illustrations. I had forgotten most things about the Big Friendly Giant and just how funny his speech is (especially when read out loud to children). The story itself is simple, easy to follow and is actually quite scary if you think about it… But the BFG and his dreams give the story a whimsical twist. It’s a great story for young and old!

5. The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble (3/5 stars) REVIEW 27/01
The story wasn’t told in a linear way, and the actual ‘mystery’ is pushed into the background only to be revealed and rushed to finish at the end of The Insect Farm. Instead, it’s more of a romance story of how Jonathan and Harriet first met and how their lives progressed afterwards. It even has a love triangle! *shudders* It wasn’t my cup of tea, but fans of slower character driven family dramas with a romantic focus and a hint of crime will probably have a better experience.

6. Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen (3/5 stars) REVIEW 22/01
I had high expectations for Here And Now And Then and this might just have been part of the problem. That and the fact that I was expecting a proper sci-fi story, and encountered myself with mostly a family drama with a lot of romance and only a hint of sci-fi instead… Definitely not what I had in mind when I started this time travel story. I wish the time travel aspect would have been more developed as well as more present in the story… It’s not a bad read and the writing is good, but the story read quite slow and as always with more character driven stories, not being able to connect to the characters puts a damper on things. I’m sure the right audience will love this debut though!

7. A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 31/01
I have to say that this story was a slowburner for me. It took me a while to get into the story and get a proper feel for the plot and characters. The warming up was slow, but once I did my feelings soared. There is just something about Eric Lindstrom‘s writing and character development that will manage to win you over even if you think it won’t happen. I can really appreciate how bipolar disorder is put in the spotlight with the help of this story, and it was interesting to see how it was portrayed in both Mel’s character and those around her.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to make a dent in my February NG ARCs… End Of The Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach is up next and also conveniently the first series I will be able to finish this year. Then I’m going to go back to a few backlist titles, with Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes and Bright We Burn by Kiersten White coming up next. I was going to finish the Fire And Thorns trilogy first, but I saw Bright We Burn mentioned a few days ago and I just couldn’t resist picking it up any longer. I need to know what happens to Lada, Radu and Mehmed! My newest TBR jar pick is still The Shattering by Karen Healey. This one is classified as a YA paranormal crime story, so I’m very curious as to how I will react to it.


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