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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.1 out of 5
5 Stars
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All Book Reviews

  • Gripping

    If you have enjoyed previous books by Cally, I have every confidence you will enjoy her latest. I certainly found it really hard to put down! I found myself rooting for all 3 main characters at different times, flitting between who I (thought) I wanted to come out on top, never entirely convinced that’s what I really wanted! I enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t sure who was ‘good’. If you enjoy a mystery/thriller, I think you’ll really enjoy #HerLastHoliday.

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  • Great author

    I do love C.L. Taylor’s books so I did start reading this with high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed! There’s no shortage of very well formed characters starting with prickly Fran who likes to keep people at arms length but has to let people close when she goes on a retreat in Wales to try to discover what happened to her sister Jenna when she went on a retreat a few years back and disappeared. Told from both Fran’s perspective now and troubled Jenna’s perspective then we encounter the discombobulating retreat leaders and varied but intriguing other participants not to mention Fran and Jenna’s domineering mother. It took me a little while to get to know the characters but once I did I was engrossed in their stories and with the foibles that most characters displayed it was very difficult working out who could be trusted and who couldn’t never mind what happened to Jenna!

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  • Another great read from CL Taylor

    I feel like C.L Taylor and I share very similar interests in true crime topics! Taylor has written so many books that I have really enjoyed and something I really admire is that they are all on different themes - she isn’t afraid to step out of her comfort zone and push to find a new way of telling an interesting story. Her Last Holiday really reminded me of a podcast I listened to recently called ‘Guru’ by Wondery which tells the true story of Arthur James Ray - a self help guru who went to prison after killing people in a sweat lodge as part of a retreat he was running. There is a lot of similarities here, with fictional Fran trying to find out what happened to her sister who disappeared at a similar retreat where others had died. The story is split into pieces – we have a past and present timeline between the two sisters that alternates and then there is also a perspective from Kate who is dating the Guru himself. There’s a lot of twists and turns (I’d expect nothing less!) and quite a few surprises that I did not expect throughout. The flashbacks could have gotten confusing but this is not the case here with assured writing which keeps the pace up throughout. We got a lot of background into the drama happening at the past retreat but I would have perhaps liked to see a little more build up to the sweat lodge and the experience itself as it’s not really spelt out what in particular causes the characters to die. Our main character Fran is interesting – she is a no-nonsense teacher in her 50s who is posing as her retired mother in order to access the retreat. Although some interactions with her were quite refreshing as she struggles to navigate social conventions, I felt like this could have been pushed further in places. I kept picturing her as around 30 years old instead of 50! It perhaps doesn’t help that her sister is so much younger than her though. At least two characters are pretending to be other people in the book and this does sometimes make things confusing. There are times when a character is yelling the other person’s real name outside their door which I thought was a little unrealistic as anyone could have heard them. In the ARC that I was given there are also some major mistakes where a character refers to someone as the wrong name to a character that would have had a large reaction if they had known the truth. This made the prose jarring as I was first shocked they had given the game away or slipped up but then there is no reaction from the other person so it seems to have just been a mistake in the editing – I have flagged this to the publisher and hopefully it will be fixed by the time of publication. Overall Her Last Holiday is a gripping read and another great read from C.L Taylor – I look forward to the next one! Thank you to NetGalley & Avon Books UK for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Entertaining psychological thriller

    Her Last Holiday is a classic suspense thriller. It is set in everyday surroundings with activities that are not beyond the expectations of most of us. Let’s face it, many of us feel that our lives are humdrum and lacking direction; what harm can there be in a retreat break to learn more about ourselves, to meet like-minded people and to experience something different? The author has an easy writing style. The story is told in the third person, mainly from the perspectives of three ladies; Fran, Jenna and Kate, with the action switching from Jenna’s retreat and Fran’s retreat about three years later. Each chapter is clearly headed so that we are in no doubt which time period we are in and whose view we are seeing. C. L. Taylor uses a reflective technique so that key events are repeated from the different viewpoints, which is always useful. As the book developed I felt I fully understood the characters of those three central ladies and of Tom who is the key link to them all. There are several peripheral characters that we learn just a little about and which may cause some confusion; if in doubt jot down their names. The tension grows, the action keeps moving and the final chapters fly by as the various threads are tied up. Some of the reveals were as anticipated whilst others totally surprised me. I was however left wondering about one or two actions by lesser characters which I could not quite understand. That said, Her Last Holiday is a very tense and entertaining psychological thriller. I have awarded 4.5 stars.

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  • C.L. Taylor does it again!

    I loved the intro to this book and how quickly we learned of Fran’s strong, bolshy character! Jenna, whose introduction takes place two years earlier at a retreat in Gozo, is a softer, uncertain character hoping to find herself and sort her life out. Growing up, Fran and Jenna, haven’t had a great relationship with each other, nor with their parents. In Gozo, we’re also introduced to the other two main characters, Tom and Kate, who run SoulShrink, as well as a host of other characters. However, there are a lot of weird and sinister goings on, culminating in Tom being imprisoned. After his release two years later, Fran takes herself off on a SoulShrink retreat, with the hope of finding out what happened to her sister. I loved the way the book flitted between these two periods and the main characters of Fran and Jenna are gradually built up, until we learn everything we need to know about them….or do we. The book is filled with unanswered questions and remaining characters are cleverly woven into the story, each finding their place and use. There are lots of great references with regard to self help issues and many thought provoking questions throughout. This is another blockbuster of a psychological thriller from C.L. Taylor, filled with lashings of twists and turns and kept me guessing until the end. Once again I got the ending wrong, which was cleverly hidden throughout! Definitely one to reread!

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