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TWO SISTERS LOST IN A COULEE READING

Two sisters coming together sharing their book reviews and just talking books!

Traveling Sisters Review: The Child by Fiona Barton

The ChildThe Child by Fiona Barton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Traveling Sisters Review by Norma with Brenda and Kaceey

Norma’s thoughts:  After reading The Widow by Fiona Barton I knew that I had to read this one right away.  Although, I did enjoy The Widow I thought that this novel was a much better read!

THE CHILD by FIONA BARTON is an engaging, suspenseful, and character-driven psychological thriller novel that was packed full of twists and suspense that had us on another guessing marathon, messaging back and forth as we were reading.  Soon after meeting our three main characters Kate, Angela and Emma we were intrigued and immediately drawn into their emotional stories trying to figure out how they were all connected and what secrets they were withholding.  At times having Kaceey and Brenda suspicious of everyone and Norma trying to keep us under control with our theories.

FIONA BARTON delivers a well-written and fast-paced story here that is told in four different women’s perspectives Kate, Angela, Emma and Jude that had us all engaged in figuring out their scars, wounds, and secrets leaving Norma on the right track right away. However, Brenda who was off on her own out of the box theory was a bit disappointed with the outcome and the ending of the story. She wanted a bit more for one very interesting character than the ending she was given.

FIONA BARTON cleverly reveals information at key times for us to figure out key points just before the characters do but not clever enough for Norma who pieced together some of the twists earlier on and then guided Brenda into figuring some out and Kaceey on the right track for another shocking twist.

To sum it all up it was a well-crafted, creative, gripping, fast-paced, and an enjoyable read with a twist ending. Would recommend!!

 

Traveling Sisters Review: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

Midnight at the Bright Ideas BookstoreMidnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Traveling Sisters Review by Brenda, Norma and Kaceey.

5 Shiny, Sparkling, and Bright stars from all of us!

When we first thought about reading Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore we wanted to read it with Kaceey and Lindsay, however, the timing was not on our side and we ended up only being able to read it with Kaceey. We really missed Lindsay on this one and wished it would’ve worked out for all of us.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is an intriguing, dark, clever, and one of the most original and engrossing thrillers we have read. It starts off fast and dramatic and caught our attention right away. It quickly turned into a fast page-turner afternoon with us turning the pages as fast as we could and messaging each other quite often with our theories and guesses until life demanded our attention. Making this the best and funniest Traveling Sister Read we have done so far with Kaceey.

Matthew Sullivan delivers a well-paced and well-written solid story here with one of the most perfect settings in our opinion taking place in an eccentric bookstore with quirky and unique characters. We all loved the feeling with the sense of place and could visualize ourselves walking through the aisles of the bookstore as he described all the areas so vividly. He had us all wanting to visit and explore that bookstore. We were amused by the Bookfrogs and enjoyed how they were part of a community within the bookstore that Lydia and her quirky colleagues would try to protect and embraced them as part of the bookstore.

The clever solid original plot with savvy connections and puzzles incorporated in the storyline had us searching for clues but very little clues were given along the way for Norma to follow and her detective skills were stalled. So very clever of Sullivan but not clever enough for Kaceey who shocked us and herself with figuring out right away who the Hammerman was but not knowing the reasoning behind it. Of course, Brenda is off in left field trying to lure them to join her there with her out of field theories. It really adds more fun to our reads with how different of readers we are and how we compliment each other. We could really see that with this book and in this reading experience.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is one not to be missed and we highly recommend pushing this one to the top of your list.  

Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner and Matthew J. Sullivan for copy to read and review.

Review by Norma: The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King's DaughterThe Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Date read:  July 12, 2017

Wow!  Well that was one heck of a good read!

THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER by KAREN DIONNE is an extremely gripping fast-paced suspenseful psychological thriller that had me totally engaged, entertained, and interested throughout this whole book. I was flipping those pages as fast as I could in anticipation and fascination finishing this book in less than 24-hrs.  I could not put this book down!

KAREN DIONNE delivers an intense, atmospheric, and an angst driven read here with well-developed characters that is extremely well-written with a lot of detail.  Just a warning that there is also a very graphic hunting scene that some readers might find disturbing.

THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER is told in our main characters, Helena’s perspective alternating between the past and the present.  When we first meet Helena we learn that she is happily married with two little girls and then she gets news that her convicted father has escaped from prison and then the action begins with a heart-stopping cat and mouse game of daughter against father.

From Helena’s story in the past we learn all about her childhood of being raised in captivity where she is actually oblivious to the fact that her and her Mother are being held captive by her father.  The way that Helena lived and survived while growing up in the marsh was actually quite amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed her story.  Her story from the past and present were both equally compelling to me.

Although, I wouldn’t say that this novel was all that suspenseful for me it was the pacing, setting, writing, and the characters that I found so compelling.

To sum it all up it was a riveting, enjoyable, suspenseful, fast-paced, quick and easy read with a satisfying ending.  Highly recommend!  This book is definitely going into my favourite reads list for 2017!

 

Brenda’s Thoughts: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little LifeA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read June 28-July 7, 2017

3.5 Stars

A Little Life was a slow and heavy read for me that I read in small amounts with other books in between as to not allow Jude to overcome my thoughts. It turned out to be the longest it’s taken me to read a book in a very long time.

A Little Life is an unsettling, dark, and harrowing story of the brutal physical and emotional lifelong suffering and trauma endured by Jude but also a beautiful story of love, compassion, and friendship.

Hanya Yangihara allows us to get to know Jude and his friends and I started to deeply care for Jude. She takes her time and carefully reveals pieces of his trauma piece by piece until it becomes endless and relentless, forcing us to see the horror Jude endured. We learn of his feelings of self-loathing, shame and self-worthlessness. Leaving me asking how much suffering can one character take and how much can I take.

There is some brilliance here as to how Hanya Yangihara shows no mercy in the relentless and endless suffering of Jude. At time showing no escape for it, wanting me to put down the book and skimming through the horrific scenes. This allowed me to see just because we can look away from someone suffering, it doesn’t mean it will go away.

There is some beauty here in the friendships and friends Jude has and in their fight to care for him, their compassion and their refusal to look away and give into Jude’s self-loathing. Compassion it not just something we feel it’s something we give. The most difficult kind of compassion is the kind that we refuse to look away from.

A Little Life left me conflicted with the brilliance of this story and the way it made me feel. As the story progressed I felt no hope, no resolution, no mercy for the suffering. I felt at time Yangihara stretched the suffering to the point I was exhausted from reading so much of it. This, after all, was purely fiction with no research or a study on trauma or the effects of trauma. She left me feeling there was no hope, there was nothing that could be done to help, including therapy and that is just not something I can believe in.   In the end, I looked at Jude as a concept for a story and not a believable character. Based on how this story made me feel, I rate it 3.5.

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Traveling Sisters NetGalley Review: Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

Dead Woman WalkingDead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Traveling Sisters NetGalley Sister Review by Norma with Brenda, and Kaceey’s thoughts.

4 stars for an extremely clever story!

DEAD WOMAN WALKING by SHARON BOLTON is an action-packed, intense, compelling, and tension-filled crime thriller novel that grabbed our attention right away with the unique start to this story with a tragic incident involving a hot-air balloon ride.

The action starts off right away and had us using our detective skills quite early on trying to figure out the direction of the story and the motives of the dead woman walking.

Norma’s thoughts:  I personally like going into all my books blind as I like to try to figure out the direction of the story on my own with little detail as possible. This one had me totally confused so I did have to read the synopsis after a few chapters in which didn’t really help me all that much still leaving me with more questions than answers.  But, I guess that is good though……

We all had a little trouble connecting with the story at first and struggled with the multiple narratives and the plot jumping back and forth in time although it did create a constant sense of unease throughout this story though.  Sending Kaceey off in the wrong direction, Norma asking questions and finding out that she was heading in the right direction, and leaving Brenda with a nagging feeling something is up here. That’s what made this a very interesting reading experience for us and where Sharon Bolton does her magic.

SHARON BOLTON delivers a cleverly and skillfully written story here giving us little information at first and dropping those clues so subtle into the plot and then pulling it all together in a heart-stopping and thrilling ending.

To sum it all up it was a gripping, complex, fast-paced, and an enjoyable read that will keep you guessing with all those twists and turns right to the dramatic ending. Would recommend!!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Sharon Bolton for the opportunity to read a copy of this book for a fair and honest review.

 

 

BRENDA’S THOUGHTS

Dead Woman Walking was an excellent choice for a Traveling Sister Read.  A great one for all of us to use our different detective skills.  Timing was a bit off for us on this one as we read at different paces. However we were able to come together at the end and read the heart stopping finish together.  What a great discussion that made for the ending. I highly recommend for group reads.

Dead Woman Walking is a brilliant and compelling story with many layers to the well-crafted plot that caught my attention right away with the opening scene.  After reading a bit more into the multiple stories and the two timelines it did leave me confused and frustrated at times as I didn’t know which way to focus my detective skills towards. I had a hard time connecting at first.  But that is where Sandra Bolton shines with the cleverness of the story. She is sneaky and holds back some information leaving several clever clues along the way that did leave me with a nagging feeling something is not right here but still not being able to piece anything together.

Sandra Bolton cleverly merges the plots together, leaving clues along the way and springs the twists and turns at the perfect time. She has developed an array of interesting and compelling characters.  I loved the nuns who added some fun and humor to the story.

I highly recommend for the cleverest of thriller lovers to challenge their detective skills.

Thank you so to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Sharon Bolton for a copy to read and review

 

KACEEY’S THOUGHTS

A fantastic, thrilling traveling sister read with my Canadian sisters Norma and Brenda!

What could be a better birthday present than a hot air balloon ride? Jessica treats her sister Isabella to an experience of a lifetime! But of course – this special treat ends in tragedy, with most of the balloon party dead and the remaining survivor running for her life. Why won’t she go to the police for help? What is she so frightened of?

I had a hard time connecting with this book in the beginning. So much happening from different angles that I kept wondering how or even if it would all come together. Left me confused, and felt like I missed something along the way. Told in different timelines, I occasionally found myself stumbling to keep track. Finally, near the half-way mark, I was supremely confident I had it all figured out. So when the first bomb-shell twist occurred, it just about knocked me off my sofa!!

At that point it’s like a run-away train…. don’t look away or you’ll miss something huge! Turns out, the book is jammed packed full of curve-balls! And I only managed to figure one of them out! Perhaps losing my touch? No…Sharon Bolton is just that good!! Bravo! So be patient, it is absolutely worth the wait for all the twists and shocking moments!

If twisty thrillers are your cup of tea then you will love this one!!

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Sharon Bolton
for a copy to read and review

Review by Norma: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter PeopleThe Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Date read:  June 24th – July 10, 2017

4 shivering stars! Well that was one heck of a spooky good read!

Why I wanted to read this one……I have read quite a few JENNIFER MCMAHON novels and although it has been a little while since I have read one I do remember really enjoying them so when I found this novel while perusing Overdrive I quickly borrowed it. What initially attracted me to this book was that beautiful cover and I found the title very intriguing as well which definitely enticed me to pick this one up!

Thoughts & what it’s all about…

THE WINTER PEOPLE by JENNIFER MCMAHON is a spooky, dark, eerie, and creepy tale that actually gave me the heebie-jeebies and goosebumps while reading this suspense-filled horror/thriller novel. Right from the opening of the very first chapter I was hooked!

The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea – The first time I saw a sleeper, I was nine years old.

JENNIFER MCMAHON delivers a well-written and an extremely atmospheric read here that is told in two separate timelines. One from the past from the perspective of Sara Harrison Shea through diary excerpts and also from the perspective of her husband Martin which takes place mostly in 1908 and present day told from alternating perspectives of Ruthie and Katherine. I enjoyed both timelines equally.

What I liked….I was quite immersed in this tale because I loved the creepy feel, all the characters stories, setting and legends that surrounded the town of West Hall, Vermont and reading about the superstitions surrounding “The Sleepers” was extremely enjoyable to me. I love a good ghost story and this one definitely delivered!

What I didn’t like…..The only thing that I didn’t like has nothing even to do with this novel. I wish I would have timed this book a little better and read it without having other books on the go. This one definitely would have been a 5 star read for me if the flow of this tale didn’t get interrupted. Once I was able to give this book my full attention it gave me exactly what I needed for another enjoyable read!!!

To sum it all up it was a gripping, chilling, thought-provoking, fast-paced, and a solid read with an implicit ending which I found quite satisfying. Would definitely recommend!!

 

Traveling Sisters NetGalley Review: Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan

Finding Claire Fletcher (Claire Fletcher, #1)Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Traveling Sisters NetGalley Sister Review by Norma with Brenda, Lindsay and Kaceey’s thoughts.

An absolutely brilliant take on the double meaning of the title!!  Loved it!!

5 stars!! Well that was one awesome all-around great read for Norma & Kaceey!

4 stars!! From Brenda & Lindsay (So for the purpose of this review 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars)

We thought it was time to bring our regular Traveling Sisters Lindsay and Kaceey together to do a Traveling Sister Read/Review with us.  After a bit of searching by Brenda and trying to coordinate all four us with the same book at the same time with a few unsuccessful attempts, we finally decided to go with FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER by LISA REGAN from NetGalley. What a great choice this book was as we all thoroughly enjoyed this emotional and heart-breaking read.

FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER is an intense, dark, disturbing, haunting, gripping, and suspenseful psychological thriller that captured all of our attention right from the very start and had some of us reading way past our reading goals as we kept thinking of this story and simply could not put it down.

LISA REGAN delivers a well-written and fascinating story here told in two alternating timelines from the perspective of our main character, Claire as we follow along her horrific ordeal that she endured while being held captive for 10 years. As well as the point of view from Connor a detective and his involvement and determination in FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER.  We were really able to feel the nightmare that Claire went through because LISA REGAN gave us a clear picture and a good understanding and insight into the horror that Claire endured asking ourselves why do we read this stuff.

Right away Brenda and Lindsay put their detective skills to work and thought they figured out someone suspicious, almost having Norma convinced but leaving Kaceey not convinced and waiting for it to go somewhere. We had a good laugh over that one.

To sum it all up it was a gripping, fast-paced, and an enjoyable read with a perfectly paced satisfying ending that didn’t feel rushed. Would recommend!!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and Lisa Regan for the opportunity to read a copy of this book for a fair and honest review.

BRENDA’S THOUGHTS

Sometimes I have to say I come up with some pretty good ideas and I have to say bringing Kaceey, and Lindsay together to do a Traveling Sister Read with Norma and me is definitely one of them. It was a little challenging finding the perfect book for our read and in the end it turned out quite simple with Finding Claire Fletcher from NetGalley.

Finding Claire Fletcher is a dark, disturbing, intense, yet fascinating story that had me wondering why I am reading this but so engrossed in the story I couldn’t put it down.  I wanted to learn more about what Claire had endured in her years of captivity and wanted to understand the psychological effects it had one her.

Lisa Regan does a good job going deep into Claire’s mental state, giving a good understanding and insight to the psychological side of the abuse she received from her abductor.  I could really feel her terror, her shame and her will to survive her captivity.  She is strong yet damage along with compassionate yet revengeful and she had me gripping my IPad intensely with fear but cheering her on as well.

I highly recommend Finding Claire Fletcher to thriller lovers who like some psychological insight to the characters.

Thank you so to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and Lisa Regan for a copy to read and review

LINDSAY’S THOUGHTS

4 stars!   This was an intense and gripping thriller!

I was completely intrigued and hooked to this novel from the very first page.  The author, Lisa Regan, does a fantastic job creating an extremely addictive story, building suspense as each page and chapter passes.   I loved the main characters, Claire and Connor.   I cared about their lives and what was happening to each of them on this gut wrenching, devastating and terrifying journey.

The story revolves around solving a ten-year-old child abduction case.   Claire has been beaten down – mentally, physically and sexually abused while living in captivity for ten years.  At the hands of her abductor, she lives in a world that is so disturbing and sickening that I had to turn away from the book for moments to calm myself.  I was so upset and frustrated with Claire’s situation and wanted to reach into the story to save her.  Regan’s writing is so addictive that even though I had a hard time reading these scenes, it didn’t deter me from continuing with the book – I absolutely HAD to know what was going to happen.
The first 85% of the book was a 5-star reading experience but the last 15% of the story lost its spark which is why I took one star away.  I felt some of the things that happened near the end were somewhat unrealistic and didn’t fully add up for me.   It was still a good ending and I did feel a sense of closure, but for me, the ending simply wasn’t as amazing as the rest of the book.

Overall, this was a great read that I would definitely recommend!  It was such a pleasure to read this along with my amazing Traveling Sisters – Brenda, Norma and Kaceey!!   It always makes for a much more enjoyable reading experience when I can chat with my lovely ladies along the way!

A big thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and Lisa Regan for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

KACEEY’S THOUGHTS

A traveling sister read with my 3 favorite Canadian sisters Norma, Brenda and Lindsay!

Wow! Powerful and heart-wrenching.
Claire Fletcher is a young lady of just 15 when she is brutally kidnapped off the street, only blocks from her home. Now she’s in the hands of a deeply disturbed maniac, who takes great pleasure and sick joy abusing her physically and emotionally over the next 10 years. Nearly half her entire lifetime. Absolutely frightening!

During her endless captivity, Claire has earned the so-called privilege of working part-time. She takes advantage of this small window of opportunity to slip out past her “curfew.” On one such outing, destiny leads her to Connor Parks, a recently divorced police detective.  He quickly realizes there is a great deal more to this young, mystery lady. Is it possible she’s the same girl that’s been missing for the last 10 years?

This book explores the horrific acts and depraved mind of a pedophile. Then also delves into the psyche of the kidnapped victim. The guilt Claire is burdened with, and the small sliver of herself that she desperately clings to throughout this living nightmare.

Now you ask… why in the world would Claire remain in this crazy animal’s grasp for 10 years?  Why wouldn’t she run for home or to the police when given the chance? Well, keep turning the pages. You will be enlightened after finishing this book.

The hardest part of reading this with my lovely sisters is that I wanted to keep reading (I think we all did, actually!). It took everything I had not to finish this in one sitting! (I’m only human!)

This book may be hard for some to read, the subject matter is difficult, but it is so well crafted. It will leave you cheering for Claire’s strength, will and determination.
Absolutely amazing. Highly recommend!

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and Lisa Regan for an ARC to review.

 

Review by Norma: Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

Pretending to DancePretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Date read:  June 20 to July 1st, 2017

3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars!

Judy Blume’s Forever & Johnny Depp need I say more…….

Why I wanted to read this one……Diane Chamberlain is one of my favourite authors and I always like to pick up one of her novels to change up the pace between all the thrillers/suspense novels that I read.  I really like her writing style as it always flows so naturally, and her novels are always enjoyable, ingenious, easy to follow along, and engaging stories with relatable and loveable characters.

Thoughts & what it’s all about…

PRETENDING TO DANCE by DIANE CHAMBERLAIN is a wonderful, interesting, engaging, and an entertaining read here that transported me right into the lives of all the characters.  Although, the mystery from the past was not too hard to figure out it still didn’t take away any of the drama from the big reveal for me. There is some family drama, love, humor, hidden secrets, lies, betrayal, and a past mystery that kept me interested enough throughout this whole story.

The story is told in two alternating timelines from the perspective of our main character, present Molly and 14 year old Molly. Molly is married and a successful lawyer who is in the process of adopting a baby with her husband.  From 14 year-old Molly we learn her backstory from when her and her family resided on their family plantation, Morrison Ridge which brings both stories together of what happened one summer from the past into the present for an emotional and heart-wrenching read.

What I liked…..I really liked the title of this book and learning the powerful meaning behind it.  I also really enjoyed 14 year-old Molly as it brought back quite a few memories of my childhood and the references of Judy Blume’s book Forever and the crush she had on Johnny Depp was quite humorous.

What I didn’t like…..The story was a little predictable and did somewhat drag for me but nevertheless I did enjoy it.  The book just wasn’t as gripping as some of her others that I have read.

To sum it all up it was a compelling, steady-paced, and an enjoyable read with a heartwarming and touching ending. Would recommend!!

 

Thoughts by Brenda: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

July 1-3, 2017

When I saw the title Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine it intrigued me right away and had me asking myself is she really fine. I have learned when people say they are fine they usually are not. So when I found this one on the fast read shelf at the library I grabbed it and started reading it right away to find out why Eleanor Oliphant was not completely fine.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a brilliant, witty, yet uplifting and hopefully story that explores the deep unspoken sadness caused by loneliness and how a little kindness can make a difference in someone’s life.

Eleanor had me laughing, crying and shocked at times with her lack of knowledge of social interaction and I soon learned she is socially awkward. I found her to be an original, believable, and likeable character that I could relate to and I could understand her social awkwardness.

Gail Honeyman does a good job here with Eleanor’s story holding out till just the right time with the mystery of Eleanor’s isolation and past, creating some suspense that left me wonderfully frustrated at times. She even throws in a twist to add to the suspense.

Eleanor left me thinking with a little kindness, compassion and understanding we all could become closer to really being completely fine. I highly recommend

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