Wednesday, January 29, 2014

[Blog Tour: The Secret Of Isobel Key by Jen McConnel]

Author: Jen McConnel
Series: None
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Date Published: December 19th, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Format Read: eBook provided by author for honest review


Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.

They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.

Flashing between seventeenth century Scotland and a contemporary romance, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY is a mystery that will please readers of all ages.

My Thoughts:

An Open Letter To The Secret of Isobel Key,

You were actually a lot cooler then I was expecting, which is a good thing.  I liked that you were a quick read that came together rather nicely, and that you still kept me guessing a bit.  I also enjoyed the fact that I've been to most of the places that you talked about in Scotland, it made reading you more personal.  It also gave me a mad case of wanderlust, so my wallet thanks you for that.  Also I'd like to thank you for some snarky characters.  You can never go wrong there.  On top of that, thanks for not having crazy, explicit sex in your pages and keeping the romance sweet!  Overall, you were a pleasant reading experience, so that's something to be proud about.

-The White Unicorn

So, going into TSOIK, I didn't know what to expect, but I'm happy with what I got.  McConnel did her work and it shows in the details.  The book itself flips back and forth between a modern setting and a time when people actually burned witches (aka the seventeenth century)  She manages to give us folklore, history and an overall feeling of a genuine Scotland feel.  It makes reading the book feel like you're on this grand adventure with Lou and Tammy, not just watching it happen.

The story seems simple at first.  Lou quits her job and next thing she knows she's on a plane with her best friend headed to Scotland for the holidays.  But then we see flashes of a woman, a long dead woman known as Isobel Key.  The chapters swap between Lou and Isobel, bringing the full picture together in the end of the novel.  McConnel does a good job of keeping the puzzle pieces separated enough so that you can't guess everything about the mystery.  Sure, some things aren't that surprising when they come to light, but the story telling keeps some pretty big things under wraps till the right time.  

Lou was a fun main character.  She's snarky, she's unsure of her life and she's pretty darn lost.  All in all, she was just really honest.  Yes, there were times that I just wanted to tell her to get her stuff together, but I think we have either all been where she's at or we will get there at some point.  Let's just say that she's a quirky one and that she's into some pretty strange stuff that ends up propelling the story.

Tammy was an odd ball.  The fact that these two are best pals seems off at first, but as the story progresses it all starts to make sense.  She's a little more crass and confident and their dynamic works.  I also liked that even though TSOIK had a romance arc, McConnel also focused on the gal pal aspect of the novel.  Tammy and Lou's friendship was just as important as Lou's romance with Brian.  Speaking of Brian, he was delightful leading man and added just the right dash of dashing.  He's a foxy, sweet, red headed hunk.  What more could you want?

There isn't much more I can say about the book without giving away plot points.  And who wants to read a review that spoils all the things?  I know I wouldn't want that.  So, this is where my review ends.  Just know that if you give this NA novel a try you'll most likely enjoy it and all of it's world traveling, witch burning and self finding!

    4 Unicorns = Close to perfect!

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 About The Author:

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.  She is the author of The Secret of Isobel Key (NA 2013) and Daughter of Chaos (YA 2014).  Visit to learn more.

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Giselle said...

haha I love the open letter! Glad you liked it, Christianna! This sounds like a really fun mystery and a refreshing new angle for the NA genre that has mostly romances. And the focus not being on the romance is also nice, in my opinion. I also like the setting already I have not been anywhere so I love to travel vicariously through characters! >.< Great review, doll!

Tammy Sparks said...

So the fact that there is a character named "Tammy" warms my heart:) This looks like a fun book, thanks for reviewing it!

Jen said...

Thank you so much for hosting me today! I'm so glad you enjoyed the story! :)

Nicole said...

"On top of that, thanks for not having crazy, explicit sex in your pages and keeping the romance sweet!" hahahaha this was great. Your letter is great! I think Isobel's story sounds really interesting as does the Scotland location! Great review!

Unknown said...

Oh for the love of snarky characters, always the best. And since I've been to Scotland myself as well, it's nice reading a setting you've been in. Plus, witch hunts and burnings at the stake. I've kind of missed that. Glad you enjoyed it, I'll have to check it out, great review! :)