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TWO SISTERS LOST IN A COULEE READING

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

Month

July 2017

Traveling Sisters NetGalley Review: Until I Met Her by Natalie Barelli

Until I Met HerUntil I Met Her by Natalie Barelli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

A book within a book – how can we go wrong with that?  We all absolutely love reading books that are about or have books within the storyline.

UNTIL I MET HER (The Emma Fern Series, Book 1) by NATALIE BARELLI is a fun, clever, exciting, compelling, and character-driven debut thriller novel that grabbed our attention right away and had us all totally engaged and curious throughout this story as we were trying to figure out the direction, motivation, and intentions of all the characters involved.

NATALIE BARELLI delivers a wonderfully written story here with the most standout character that we have ever read and the highlight of this book was our main character’s personality.  The snarky commentary of Emma Fern was one heck of an entertaining, amusing, and the most enjoyable aspect of this novel!

To sum it all up it was an intriguing, mysterious, fast-paced, and a quick and easy read that will keep you entertained right to the very end with the help of our main character’s quirky and sarcastic inner dialogue which will leave you wanting more in the end.  We are looking forward to what the author has in store for Emma Fern in the next book of this series, AFTER HE KILLED ME which is due out in October, 2017.  Would recommend!!

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

 

 

BRENDA’S THOUGHTS:

What a fun, pleasant and clever little gem Until I Met Her was for a Traveling Sister Read with Norma, Lindsay and Kaceey.

Until I Met Her is a wonderful and delightful web of deceit, lies and betrayal that had me engaged, interested and excited to find out the consequences to the deception.

Natalie Barelli does a great job creating such unlikeable characters it was hard not to loved them.  Emma’s wit, snarkiness and inner thoughts had me laughing and cheering her on in her web of deceit and in the things she did to maintain that deceit.

The ending wrapped up a little too neatly and quickly and had Kaceey yelling out loud again with  “A little more drama please”.  I too could of used a little more in the ending I will definitely be looking out for the second book to see what web of deceit Barelli might have in store for us.

Thank you so to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and Natalie Barelli for a copy to read and review.

KACEEY’S THOUGHTS:

An intriguing debut thriller!

Emma lives a rather ordinary life. She owns a small furnishings store and is married to an economist who never seems to fully appreciate her. One fateful day, Beatrice Johnson-Greene, an award-winning and bestselling author walks into her shop…and into her life. Emma is awestruck. What grand fortune! See, Emma has secretly, desperately always wanted to be an author. Her dream since childhood.

All it takes is one little lie from Emma “I wrote a novel once.” And with that, their chance meeting blossoms into a new friendship. Only Beatrice has a deeper motivation behind this new whirlwind of a friendship! She wants Emma to be the name and face of her latest novel. And for Emma to take ownership of it. (Why she would want this I could never understand!?).

It’s a dream come true for Emma. To become the successful author she always wanted to be.  But how far will she take this farce? When is it no longer a far-fetched fantasy but a reality?
I found Emma’s quirky and sarcastic inner dialogue both entertaining and endearing. It was great fun watching her deal with the consequences and fallout of this very bizarre experiment. Emma truly was the best part of this book! You couldn’t help but love her!

The books reads very fast and held my attention throughout. There were parts I thoroughly enjoyed and was hopeful the intensity would hold till the end. But it left me wanting more. (Is that good or bad??). I can’t imagine what the author has in store for Emma (or us readers) in book two After He Killed Me due out in Oct 2017.

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and Natalie Barelli for an ARC to review.

LINDSAY’S THOUGHTS:

4 stars!   This was a quick, entertaining, character-driven read.

A book about a book – how can you go wrong with that? I enjoyed reading about the life of a writer and the accomplishment of publishing a highly successful debut novel.   The author, Natalie Barelli, did an excellent job keeping me curious as to the intentions and motivations of each of the characters throughout the story – it kept my interest from start to finish.   With that being said, I did feel that the ending wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly.   I would have liked a more dramatic finish (my ‘sisters’ and I agree that we love drama in our books, not in our lives 😊).

I loved the main character, Emma Fern.  Her snarky inner thoughts and comments were highly entertaining, often making me laugh out loud. I enjoyed following Emma on her crazy journey – her character was, by far, my most favourite part of this novel!

As always, it was a pleasure reading along with my sensational sisters – Norma, Brenda and Kaceey!

We Have Some Exciting News To Share!

Norma and I are really excited to announce that our Traveling Sisters has grown. We have now started a Traveling Sisters Goodreads Reading Group for a few wonderful ladies we have come to know and interact with on Goodreads. We will still be doing our Traveling Sisters Reviews but with a lot more book options and with a few more sisters.

We want to personally thank all of our sisters for joining and we are looking forward to reading and chatting books with you!

 

Traveling Sisters Review: The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

The Girls in the GardenThe Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Traveling Sisters Review by NORMA, BRENDA and JALINE!!

LISA JEWELL sure has a knack at keeping us totally engaged with all the red herrings and leaving so many cliffhangers throughout this book that had us all turning those pages as fast as we could.

THE GIRL IN THE GARDEN by LISA JEWELL is an engrossing, intriguing, steady-paced, and a suspenseful mystery with lots of twists and turns along the way that kept us all reading and guessing right to the very end.  We were pretty much suspicious of every character!

LISA JEWELL delivers a character-driven story here that is cleverly written in such a skillful way that allowed us to really get into the voices of our main character’s and the storyline.  With the help of a map of the communal complex on the first page of the book we were able to picture the characters homes and where the events took place within the book.

We all loved the enchanting communal garden that appears to be the perfect oasis and a parent’s dream place to let their kids play and always have friends around, however we soon learn of the danger lurking in the garden.  Two mysteries are among the bushes and thorns that had us suspecting almost everyone and Jaline even suspected a total bystander.  We came up with a few different scenarios and our thriller imaginations were running all over the place. In the end we were very happy we were wrong about many.

Although, we wouldn’t say that this was a nail-biting thriller it was the way that the story was told and the drama within that really grabbed our attention.  Would recommend!

 

Traveling Sisters NetGalley Review: Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Here and GoneHere and Gone by Haylen Beck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Here and Gone was a surprise and last minute read that we were able to come together and read as a Traveling Sister NetGalley Read. Even though this was a NetGalley read for just Brenda and Norma we have added Lindsay and Kaceey’s thoughts after Norma’s review to this Traveling Sister NetGalley review. What a great reading experience with our sisters Lindsay and Kaceey this was.

Here and Gone is a haunting, unsettling and chilling story that drew us in shortly after meeting nervous and desperate Audra who is fleeing on a country isolated road. We were drawn into her life and her fears and then into her nightmare of losing her children in a heart stopping moment as they were here and then they were gone.

Haylen Beck does a great job bringing on a parent’s worst nightmare not just with the missing children but with the dangers lurking in a place where things can be bought and sold and where some of the “worst expressions of humanity” can be found. He cleverly leaves it lurking in the background of the story and leaves out any disturbing descriptions. We all were very happy for that.

In some ways Here and Gone read like a crime and action movie for us with the villain and the kick ass hero and in a way that was entertaining. After reading the book we found out the rights have been acquired for a movie. We found that interesting.

We found the FBI agent, and the sheriff were somewhat unbelievable and not so convincing for us, making them hard for us to connect with. We did find Audra a well-developed character and loved her strength and liked how she fought for her children and not take on the role of a victim. We all really liked how strong and protective Sean was for his sister Louise and seeing into Sean’s perspective added some suspense and tension to the story and left us cheering them on.

Not too many surprises or twists to this one however the tension did build for us as we read the ending together. We all absolutely love reading the ending together. We all held our breath except Kaceey who was yelling again, right to the end, leaving us all satisfied with the ending.

Thank you to NetGalley, Crown Publishing and Haylen Beck for a copy to read and review.

Norma’s Thoughts

4 stars for another enjoyable and entertaining novel read with my Traveling Sisters Brenda, Lindsay and Kaceey!

HERE AND GONE by HAYLEN BECK is a gripping, intense, terrifying, and fast-paced suspenseful thriller that had me racing through those pages as fast as I could with my heart palpitating quickly all the way to that killer ending.

HAYLEN BECK delivers an extremely angst driven read here with an unsettling storyline that had me totally panic stricken for Audra and the safety of her children, Sean and Louise. Although, I really enjoyed this story I thought some of the scenes from the FBI was a little unbelievable in the way that the case was handled. I wanted to jump into the book and say listen to her already! Please….lol

To sum it all up it was a compelling, enjoyable, suspenseful, fast-paced, quick and easy read with an intense, heart pounding, and a killer ending! Would recommend!

Thank you so much to Netgalley, Haylen Beck, and Crown Publishing for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Lindsay’s Thoughts

3.5 stars

This was a quick, gripping and fast-paced novel that I read along with my fantastic “sisters” Norma, Brenda and Kaceey. This story had an intensity to it that had me turning the pages as quickly as possible, curious to find out how it would all wrap up.
The storyline is frightening and highly disturbing! It is a terrifying, creepy, unsettling and nauseating plot that would be one of my worst nightmares as a mother. While reading thriller-type books together, my “sisters” and I often question why we read scary stories like this – I was happy I had them along with me on this crazy reading journey!

 

I enjoyed this novel, however, it isn’t one that stands out for me. The start of the book was excellent and drew me right in, however, the novel slowly lost its edge for me as I continued on. The scenes including the FBI and local sheriff lacked believability for me. I didn’t fully connect with any characters other than the two young children, Sean and Louise, who stole a piece of my heart along their journey. Even though the story lost its spark for me, I still found myself flying through the pages to find out how it would all end so the author did a good job keeping my curiosity piqued.

 

This was another wonderfully enjoyable Traveling Sister reading experience! They are so much fun – we have so many great chats and laughs along the way! Overall, I enjoyed the novel and reading experience, but it wasn’t a stand out book for me.

Kaceey’s Thoughts

We’re on a roll with yet another fantastic, heart- pounding thriller.

Audra is escaping a violent husband with her two young children in tow. Driving across the blistering, Arizona desert in seemingly the middle of nowhere, she’s pulled over by the local sheriff. With no explanation, she’s handcuffed and tossed in the back of his cruiser. Her children are whisked away by yet another officer. As Audra makes a desperate plea for her children, the sheriff just gives her a cold, blank stare …”What children?”

And so Audra’s nightmare begins!

Tension-filled. So hard to put down! The characters were strong. Audra was your typical mama bear when someone attempts to mess with her cubs! The 2 kids were portrayed as good, strong and loving to each other and of course to their mother.
The only shortcoming was the portrayal of the all the coordinating authorities (FBI, State Department and of course the local sheriff). It just didn’t ring true.

Overall a great thriller that was filled with edge of your seat excitement

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Traveling Sisters Review: The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

The Girl Who Was TakenThe Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Traveling Sisters Review by Norma, Brenda, Kaceey and Lindsay!

Two girls taken, one returns.

THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN by CHARLIE DONLEA is an extremely gripping, haunting, and perfectly paced suspenseful psychological thriller that had us all totally engaged, entertained, and interested throughout this whole book.  Having Lindsay right away racing through the pages unable to put it down with Norma right behind her.  Although, the pace was a little slow in the beginning for Norma and Kaceey it didn’t last for long because as the tension and suspense grew stronger with every chapter it moved into a fast-paced and thrilling read!

CHARLIE DONLEA delivers a well-done, solid, and fantastic story here with a well-rounded cast of characters that were believable to this story even though it’s a disturbing and bizarre storyline. The characters personalities are well-crafted and well-developed having us believing in the characters perspectives which added layers and suspense to the storyline.  We see the perspectives of the abductor which adds more tension to the story, the girls who were abducted, the police and mostly we follow along with determined and resourceful Livia who is driven by guilt as she uncovers the truth about what happened to her sister Nicole. The past and future timelines were easy to follow along which kept the story very intriguing.

The medical aspect of this story from Livia’s point of view was extremely interesting, especially for Lindsay, right from the start which was both fascinating, disturbing, and frightening.

CHARLIE DONLEA does an absolutely fantastic job at throwing our suspicions all over the place with the many twists and turns, suspicious characters, and clues that had us running around in circles trying to get to the bottom of this nail biting case and Kaceey silently screaming through her messages that weren’t all that silent on her side as we were learning the truth of this story!

To sum it all up it was a riveting, enjoyable, suspenseful, fast-paced, quick and easy read with an intense, heart pounding, and the best ending we have ever read yet!  It wasn’t wrapped up quickly, neatly with a bow, or everyone lives happily ever after it just left us wanting more.  Perhaps there is another book in the future? Highly recommend!

 

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, 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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