Book Review

Recent Reads: The Diviner’s Tale by Bradford Morrow and Temptation Island by Victoria Fox.

A round up of some of the books I’ve recently read.

imageThe Diviner’s Tale by Bradford Morrow. Corvus.
Walking a lonely forested valley on a spring morning in upstate New York, having been hired by a developer to dowse the land, Cassandra Brooks comes upon the shocking vision of a young girl hanged from a tree. When she returns with authorities to the site, the body has vanished, leaving in question Cassandra’s credibility if not her sanity. The next day, on a return visit with the sheriff to have another look, a dazed, mute missing girl emerges from the woods, alive and the very picture of Cassandra’s hanged girl.

What follows is the narrative of ever-deepening and increasingly bizarre divinations that will lead this gifted young woman, the struggling single mother of twin boys, hurtling toward a past she’d long since thought was behind her. The Diviner’s Tale is at once a journey of self-discovery and an unorthodox murder mystery, a tale of the fantastic and a family chronicle told by an otherwise ordinary woman.

When Cassandra’s dark forebodings take on tangible form, she is forced to confront a life spiraling out of control. And soon she is locked in a mortal chess match with a real-life killer who has haunted her since before she can remember.

This book doesn’t fit neatly into any pigeon hole, and I think this is one of the reasons I loved reading it so much. It is a blend of thriller, mystery, and family orientated women’s fiction – sitting wonderfully in its own space carved out somewhere between them all, with Cassandra’s divination, and ability to see the future adding an air of the supernatural to the mix.

This book is quiet, and peaceful, despite its sometimes difficult subject matter it is a beautiful and most satisfying read. The characters are well developed and interesting, I particularly loved the dynamic between Cass and her sons, at times it made my heart ache in the best possible way.

Whilst the book is a quiet read, this doesn’t mean the mystery element is any less gripping – there is a genuine sense of puzzlement as you read the book, Cass is very unsure about what is going on at times and the reader is in the same position. A couple of times I thought I’d worked out the mystery element and then very quickly realised I’d got it completely wrong.

imageTemptation Island by Victoria Fox. Mira.
Welcome to Paradise. Only the rich are invited…only the strongest survive. But is it heaven on earth or a devil’s playground? Fame. Money. Success. Lori wants them Aurora is being destroyed by them, and Stevie’s got them at her best friend’s expense. These three women are all drawn unwittingly to the shores of Temptation Island, all looking for their own truth. But they discover a secret so shocking there’s no turning back. It’s wicked, it’s sensational. Are you ready to be told? The island promises the one thing money can’t buy – but the glittering waters drown dark secrets… The price is devastating.

I loved Victoria Fox’s debut novel, Hollywood Sinners, so had pretty high expectations when I sat down to read this, her second book. It has a quick, pacy opening that has you wondering what happened to cause this incident – the book then jumps back in time a few years and steadily works forward to the opening incident. Needless to say, as you read the book you draw your own conclusions about the opening – I wonder how many readers got it as wrong as I did.

There are three women at the heart of this book, they are all clearly defined characters whose lives appear completely unconnected but naturally over time you start to see their plot threads twisting around each other’s. There’s a really sinister side to this story, I found that the more I read the less sure I became the I actually wanted to know what was going on (though of course I only read faster to discover it).

Overall I enjoyed this book a lot, it ticks all the key boxes and does so in style. I did have one major quibble with how one of the main character’s storyline was resolved, for me it was really unsatisfactory. This didn’t detract from the overall experience of the book, but did leave me wishing that things had gone the way I’d wanted them too – but then that’s not real life is it.

Book Review

Book Review : Hollywood Sinners by Victoria Fox.

POWER Marriage to Hollywood heartthrob Cole Steel secured Lana Falcon a glittering place on the red carpet. But running from a wicked past she has trapped herself in a gilded cage the price of freedom…her soul?

REVENGE Kate diLaurentis’s career is fading as quickly as her looks… What could be worse than discovering her husband’s latest mistress is Hollywood s hottest starlet? Her only option the most shocking revenge.

LUST Chloe French’s innocent beauty has captured a million hearts, but no one s warned her of the dangerous, dark temptation of rock star Nate – will lust destroy her?

GREED Las Vegas King, Robert St Louis s fairytale wedding to Sin City s richest heiress is tabloid gold… But scandal circles like a vulture – dirty secrets are about to be exposed!

I had read brilliant reviews of Hollywood Sinners so I was really excited when I got my hands on a copy of it to read before the Ladies Who Love Day at Bromley Literary Festival. With a fabulous and glitzy cover I was sure that the inside would live up to the outside.

The plot offered everything I look for a good bonkbuster – glamorous women, hunky blokes, and fantastic locations. I was really excited when I started reading and discovered plenty of it is set in Las Vegas, after a holiday there a couple of years ago I’ve got the Vegas bug and had great fun working out where things were happening. It made me feel like I was back walking along the Strip which made me both happy and yearny for a return trip in equal measure.

There were so many interesting storylines within Hollywood Sinners, the move between them had me turning the pages as quickly as I could, eager to discover what was going to happen next. I loved Lana’s story, whilst parts of it were quite standard bonkbuster fare there were parts that were completely new and fresh, things I’d never read about before. I also loved Chloe’s story, it was interesting watching someone totally new to the scene navigate her way through the many pitfalls a glitzy career seem to bring.

The book opens with a prologue and then jumps back a year. It’s not clear who the prologue is featuring, as I made my way through the book I thought I’d worked out who it was, then I changed my mind as was sure I’d got it sussed. When I got to the reveal I was completely wrong all over again!

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t read it fast enough. I can’t wait to read whatever it is that Victoria Fox writes next.

Hollywood Sinners is published in paperback by Mira in the UK priced £7.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.