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TWO SISTERS LOST IN A COULEE READING

Home of the Traveling Sisters! Two sisters coming together and sharing their love of books and reviews with their Traveling Sisters!

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August 2017

Traveling Sister NetGalley Reviews by Norma, Brenda and Lindsay: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, SingSing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Date read:  August 22 – 23, 2017

4.5 stars!

SING, UNBURIED, SING by JESMYN WARD is a haunting, sad, heartfelt, and an absolutely exceptional novel that had me totally engaged, entertained, and interested throughout this entire book. Although, this book was so infuriating to read at times because of its heavy subject matter it was also so well-written with such beautiful prose that this book was extremely hard for me to put down.

JESMYN WARD delivers a beautifully written multi-layered story here with absolutely wonderful character development and an extremely enthralling storyline. I really enjoyed the spiritualistic mythology aspect within the storyline.

To sum it all up it was an interesting, deep, unforgettable, emotional, and an enjoyable read with a very touching, heart-wrenching, and satisfying ending that was so lyrical that it sang to me. Would highly recommend!

Publication date: September 5, 2017

Thank you so much to my fellow Traveling Sisters for another awesome reading experience!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Canada / Scribner and Jesmyn Ward for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Brenda’s thoughts

3 Stars

Sing, Unburied, Sing was a Traveling Sister Group read and we had some mixed feelings on this one and it brought out a lot of different emotions from us.  We had some interesting group discussions with this one.  Some of us really connected to the story on a very emotional level and some of us could not connect at all to the story.  For me, I struggled with connecting with the story.  

 

Jesmyn Ward takes on some sad and ugly truths here and the writing is beautifully well written, however, I exhausted myself searching for a deeper meaning and trying to figure out some insight from the voices of the dead. What insight and emotion I did find was lost in the magical, supernatural and ghost part of the story and that just didn’t work for me.

Even though Sing, Unburied, Sing didn’t really work for me I did appreciate the strong well-written story that took us on a journey through Mississippi’s past and present giving us a look into the sadness, poverty and life of a Mississippi family

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Canada / Scribner and Jesmyn Ward for the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy to read and review.

Lindsay’s Thoughts

2.5 stars.

This book simply wasn’t a good fit for me. Magical realism and fantasy are not themes that I connect with or generally enjoy reading. I hadn’t realized those aspects were such a large part of this story and I found them confusing and highly distracting. I think this came down to me not being the “target market” for this book.
There were some unforgettable characters within this tragic and unsettling story. Pre-teenaged Jojo stole my heart as he took on the parental role to his toddler sister, Kayla. He accepted and stepped into the care-takers role for his baby sister with both feet – he was wise beyond his years and my hero throughout this sad and heart-breaking story. Jojo’s grandfather, Pop, was also a stand out character for me. He took on a parental and mentor role to Jojo as Jojo’s drug-addicted mother had no way of controlling her selfish tendencies in order to care for her children.

I found the storyline uninteresting and depressing. As heart-breaking as the story was, I felt no emotional investment or attachment whatsoever. In the end, reading this book felt like “work” to me rather than pleasure.

It was a wonderful experience to read this along with my lovely Traveling Sisters Norma, Brenda, JanB and Susanne!

A big thank you to NetGalley, Scribner and Jesmyn Ward for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!

 

 

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Traveling Sisters NetGalley Reviews: The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

The Secrets She KeepsThe Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Norma’s Review – Date read:  August 19 – 21, 2017

4.5 stars! There are no secrets here – I absolutely loved how this story was told and what a perfectly fitting title!

THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS by MICHAEL ROBOTHAM is a gripping fast-paced suspenseful character-driven psychological thriller that had me totally engaged, entertained, and interested throughout this whole book.  This book was extremely hard to put down.

MICHAEL ROBOTHAM delivers an engrossing and angst-ridden read here with absolutely wonderful character development and an extremely enthralling storyline. The story is told in alternating chapters from our two main characters points of view, Agatha & Meghan.  I equally enjoyed both of their stories and uncovering their secrets.

MICHAEL ROBOTHAM doesn’t share all of Meg’s & Agatha’s deepest secrets to us all at once, we get a character study into the true nature of these women as their secrets and motivations are revealed to us layer by layer.  This is what actually really stood out for me while I was reading this shocking story.

Although, I wouldn’t say that this novel was all that suspenseful for me it was the pacing, the writing, and the characters that I found so compelling.  Some aspects to this story might have been a little unrealistic but all in all I don’t think it really mattered too much and I was able to just accept it for the wonderful story that it was.

To sum it all up it was an interesting, unforgettable, and an enjoyable read with a satisfying ending. Would highly recommend!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group/Sphere and Michael Robotham for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

It was a pleasure reading this along with my wonderful Traveling Sisters Brenda, Lindsay, Mackey and Linda (The Sisters Mom).

Brenda”s Thoughts

The Secrets She Keeps is a well-paced character driven suspense thriller that is skillfully written that drew me into the secrets and lies kept by two very different women Meghan and Agatha.  I really enjoyed delving deep into their minds especially Agatha and I really enjoyed both their stories.

The Secrets She Keeps started out a bit slow for me at first and then picked up speed till I became engrossed in the lives and minds of Meghan and Agatha and I could feel their desperation to keep their secrets and lies.  At times it felt like I was watching a car wreck and I knew what was going to happen but still hoping for a different outcome.

Michael Robotham does a fantastic job creating rich, interesting and compelling characters and slowly, skillfully revealing the secrets and lies Meghan and Agatha keep. He did a great job shocking me with their webs of deceit and delusions yet still leaving me feeling a little compassion for their situations.

I did make the mistake of looking and trying to figure out some big twists that never came for me and the end did leave me wanting a bit more but after discussing this one with my sisters I ended up feeling very satisfied with the ending.  I highly recommend.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group/Sphere and Michael Robotham for a copy to read and review.

Lindsay’s Thoughts:

4.5 stars!   This was a highly addictive, fast paced and character driven read.

I loved the way this story was told!   The author, Michael Robotham, did a fantastic job with the two female narrators, Meg and Agatha.   Character development was definitely a 5-star experience in this gripping novel!   I was completely engrossed in Meg and Agatha’s lives, hanging on their every thought and word to see what would happen next.  I felt as though I was actually right inside their minds, feeling their feelings, and weighing out decisions with them.   

The storyline revolves around one of my worst nightmare’s as a parent.   This made for a heart-pounding, anxiety driven, nail-biting reading experience.  Even though the plot was a terrifying nightmarish situation for me, I couldn’t put the book down – I had to know what would happen next.  I was thinking about this book even when I wasn’t reading it.  Robotham does an exceptional job slowly revealing the pieces of this shocking story – he kept me hanging on every word.  The title of the book, “The Secrets She Keeps” is perfectly fitting for this novel!

There were a few aspects of this story that seemed far-fetched to me which took away slightly from my rating.  However, I was able to accept it and move forward to continue enjoying this addictive story.

A big thank you to NetGalley, Scribner and Michael Robotham for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

It was a pleasure to read this along with my wonderful sisters Norma, Brenda, Mackey and the sister’s mom Linda. 

 

 

Traveling Sister Group Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars

Traveling Sisters Group Read Review by Brenda, Norma, Holly, PorshaJo, Jennifer and Linda (sisters mom)

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a unique, delicious, fun, steamy, and stunning story that reads like a tell-all memoir with rich and scandalous content that had us all flipping those pages as fast as we could. Not one of those pages were boring!

Taylor Jenkins Reid does a fantastic job creating and bringing together realistic, rich, diverse and well-developed characters to life that we all quickly loved and adored. Even some of the not well-loved characters brought some kind of lesson, insight, and wisdom into the story through all of the topics and situations that incurred throughout Evelyn’s life.

Taylor Jenkins Reid uniquely leads us through Evelyn’s life as she relays her life story to writer Monique which is told to us in husband sections. Through Evelyn’s telling we learn about Evelyn’s life that she shared with her seven husbands and we could see and feel her struggles, and how calculated yet graceful she was to keep herself in the limelight. We admired her determination and strength. Taylor Jenkins Reid does a great job weaving in so many different scenarios and topics within the storyline. We loved how we could see how vulnerable she was and how she refused to let that stop her to get what she wanted.

We all really enjoyed all the stories and each section of the husbands and their title and found them fitting to each husband. It was a very clever and unique way to introduce us to each husband. The husband and story we all loved the most of Evelyn’s was Brilliant, Kind-hearted, Tortured Harry Cameron. Their relationship sparked the most emotion in us and we really enjoyed their very special relationship. Taylor Jenkins Reid does such an excellent job with each of the husbands stories and we could really see how much Evelyn grows and learns something about herself through each of her husband’s and the relationship she had with them.
We all really enjoyed the tabloid articles that were weaved into the story adding a sensational feel to this story for us.

Taylor Jenkins Reid does a brilliant job of making Evelyn so real by deriving insight from her, giving her many words of wisdom. Throughout our discussion, we really enjoyed sharing her words of wisdom that we thought highlighted her story even more as we were reading. We really enjoyed her insight and wisdom that she brought to her own story. So we can’t leave this review without sharing one. “The world doesn’t give things, you take things.”

The ending left a few of us teary-eyed and caught us all off guard as we never saw it coming. At times it felt a little over the top but it really worked for us and in the end, it left us wondering how many relationships, similar scenarios, and cover-ups really do happen in Hollywood. It had us thinking and picturing different actresses and discussing who we felt was similar to Evelyn and who she reminded of us and would go to the lengths that Evelyn did to stay in the limelight.

 

Review by Norma: Void by David Staniforth

VoidVoid by David Staniforth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars!

Thank you so much to David Staniforth for providing me a copy of this book.

VOID by DAVID STANIFORTH is an interesting, moving, unique, and a suspenseful mystery/thriller that I thought was an absolutely fascinating look into a psychological journey of discovery from our main character’s perspective through the help of journal entries and song.

The author does suggest that you listen to the lyrics of the songs that are mentioned within the book to enhance the journey you take with the main character but I didn’t end up listening to the songs and I was still able to enjoy and connect to the narrative and the atmosphere through the author’s descriptive and expressive writing style.

What really grabbed my attention when I first noticed this book on my feed was that great cover and the title which I thought were absolutely perfect and very fitting to this story!

DAVID STANIFORTH delivers a well-written and slow-burning read here where the story builds up slowly but in a way that grabs your attention right from the very beginning.

To sum it all up it was an extremely entertaining, refreshing, interesting, and steady-paced read with an ending that left me feeling totally satisfied. Highly recommend!!

 

Traveling Sister NetGalley Review: When You Disappeared by John Marrs

When You DisappearedWhen You Disappeared by John Marrs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

When You Disappeared started off with seven of us for a Traveling Sister Group read, and then they started to disappear with three sisters dropping out and the thread started to read like a thriller itself. Norma with a full weekend ahead had to drop out as well, leaving Kaceey, Lindsay and me as the last standing Sisters for this read

When You Disappeared is a family drama thriller that is heavy on the drama and light on the thrills. Some parts of the story dragged and were unrealistic for us. We had the believability police on duty for this one and reporting back to the rest of us. We found much to be unrealistic but came to the conclusion it was for the convenience of the story and thought it was written more for drama than believability.

The story is told by Catherine and Simon in two different timelines which we all enjoyed. At times when the story dragged we really wanted Catherine to put down the wine and do something. We really had some strong feelings of dislike for Simon and there was nothing likable about his unlikeable character for us.

The story had no suspense for me and I was rushing to get to the end but for Kaceey and Lindsay the suspense kept them turning the pages to see how it ended. In the end, we all found the ending to be over the top and underwhelming. We still recommend for thriller lovers who really like a lot of drama to their thrillers.

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and John Marrs for a copy of this book to read and review.

Lindsay’s Thoughts

3 stars.

This novel had such potential with a highly enticing premise, however, the extreme lack of believability meant the story fell flat for me. I enjoyed the way the story unfolded. The novel was told through Catherine and Simon’s perspectives ranging from 28 years ago to a present-day meeting. The author, John Marrs, does a great job revealing pieces of the story in a suspenseful and intriguing way, all the while making me curious to see how the story would play out. Unfortunately, many of the situations, particularly those involving Simon seemed highly unlikely and absurd. Believability is a huge requirement for my reading enjoyment – I have a hard time truly immersing myself within a story that isn’t realistic (the “believability police” within me kicks in quickly!). My reading mind can stretch to accept slightly exaggerated situations, but the list is fairly long
of the things that I found far-fetched within this novel. There were some very serious parts to this story that really pulled at my emotions and maternal instincts. I had a hard time reading some pages as there is such a devastating family loss that deeply affected me.

Overall, I found this to be an averagely enjoyable read with nothing that truly made it stand out other than its lack of believability.

A big thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and John Marrs for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Kaceey’s Thoughts

Catherine wakes up in the morning oblivious that her world is about to change forever. Her husband is gone! And she is frantic! He never showed up to work…maybe lying injured or dead in a ditch somewhere. The hours turn into days and eventually fall away into years. Simon has never been heard from again…until now!

We’re also given a view into Simon’s world during his disappearance. What would have motivated him to leave his family? What is the unforgivable act that triggered his vanishing act? And why stay away so long? There are whispers throughout this book of what drove a wedge between Catherine and Simon and eventually led to Simon leaving. There-in lies the mystery, buried deep within the pages. (Unfortunately not deep enough for me as I guessed most of it early on. I know…junior detective in the makings…Lol!).

Told in past and present tense from the POV of both Catherine and Simon. Including the journey Simon traveled to find himself in his new life. Which at times became soooo far-fetched! He was not at all a likable character.

In fact, I ended up having a love-hate relationship with this book. I absolutely loathed everything about Simon, wishing him ill-will at every turn. Yet, I couldn’t pull myself away from tale he told.

Aren’t the best books the ones that make you feel unsettled, setting off a wave of emotion within you? Especially if that emotion may be a troubling one. Well this book did just that!

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and John Marrs for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Brenda and Kaceey’s Thoughts: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Final Girls was a Goodreads Giveaway win for me! Yay!

Final Girls is an entertaining, fast paced, and a suspenseful psychological thriller that played out like a slasher horror film in my head. Leading me down a cringe-worthy path of twists and turns that had me guessing right to the very end.

The story is mostly told from Final Girl Quincy who is the only survivor of a mass murder. The chapters alternate from her perspective and from scenes of the night of the murders allowing me to see the events of the night along with some things that Quincy can’t remember. This had me asking myself a few questions about Quincy. Sager does a good job leading us down a path of planted clues that kept me turning those pages as fast as I could.  Of course, I thought I had it figured out only again to find out I was wrong.

Even though I can’t say this was a well or badly written story as it had its moments that made me cringe and parts of it that annoyed me. I let it go and enjoyed it for what it was. I recommend to horror thriller lovers who just want to be entertained.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for my copy to read and review.

Kaceey’s Thoughts

“Final girls is film-geek speak for the last woman standing at the end of a horror movie.”

Quincy was the one and only survivor of a horrible massacre that took the lives of her close friends. The media eats it up and gives her the nick-name “A final girl.” They follow up by aligning her with 2 other well-known F.G. survivors. Enter Samantha and Lisa, who each walked away from their own version of hell.

Ten years later, Quincy is trying to move on. She has a loving boyfriend and a successful baking blog. She still has limited recall of the tragedy and is unable to even speak the name of the person responsible for the attack without becoming physically sick. When a recent tragic event brings one of the F.G. girls literally to Quincy’s front door, the peaceful world she has slowly re- built for herself is beginning to spiral out of control.

Very well written thriller. I devoured this one in 2 sittings! Could not put it down. Once again, I thought I had it all figured out but the author creatively dropped in some fantastic twists I never saw coming. I had wanted to read this one from the moment I heard about it!! It totally lived up to my expectations! Highly recommend for all thriller lovers!

 

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Traveling Sister Group Review: All The Best People by Sonja Yoerg

All the Best PeopleAll the Best People by Sonja Yoerg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars

Traveling Sisters Group Read Review by Brenda, Norma, Lindsay, Susanne, and JanB

All The Best People by Sonja Yoerg is an intriguing, easy flowing and multi-layered story that is beautifully written that explores family, hope, and acceptance surrounding mental illness through three generations. The story also explores the relationships between mothers and daughters.

Sonja Yoerg does a fantastic job compassionately creating , realistic, conflicted, and complex characters here as we were really able to feel the emotions of all the characters allowing us to open our hearts and drawing us right into their fears, pain, and heartache. She gave us understanding, insight, and compassion into mental illness for families of loved ones as she shines light in the dark far corners of mental illness for all the characters. She gracefully shows us how fast and difficult life can sometimes be. Her descriptions are vivid, insightful and moving.

The story combines four different perspectives which are told in three generations from one family in two timelines from the past of 1926 and present day of 1972. As we first meet Carol we start to see signs of her illness and we were all drawn into her mind and we could hear her thoughts and feel her fears. We meet Solange when she is young and learn her backstory and events leading up to her being committed to an asylum and see how younger Carol deals with the absence of her mother. We learn of past treatment, shedding light on stigma and the treatments given. We also hear from 11-year-old Alison as we see her start to lose her mother when she needs her the most. She tugged and captured our hearts. We admired her strength and perseverance.

We can’t leave this review without mentioning Walt as a few of us had such a book crush on this sweet and genuine character.

We felt a strong connection to some of the characters and it brought quite a bit of insight and personal experiences into our discussions as we were reading this book. We could see a bit of ourselves within this story which for some of us was at times a little emotional and heartfelt. With love, hope, compassion and understanding that shined through within this book and our discussions we could see who All The Best People are.

Thank you, NetGalley, Berkley Publishing and Sonja Yoerg for a copy to read and review.

View all my reviews

Traveling Sisters Group Review: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Missing PiecesMissing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Traveling Sisters Group Read Review by Brenda, Norma, Lindsay, Kaceey, JanB, Linda (Sisters Mom) and Holly

We love how everyone experiences the same book in such differing ways and we really value each other’s opinions.  So with that being said this gets 5 Stars for this sister reading experience!

So we were split on our feelings and ratings on this one for some of us we rate 3.5 to 4 stars for others it gets a rating of 2 to 2.5 stars.  So for the purpose of this review we have a combined rating of 3 stars!

We really enjoyed gathering the missing pieces from this story with our group of sisters and wow were we ever split on our feelings towards this one.  It made for some fun laugh out loud moments and interesting “book talk” among us.  A term from Holly that we will now be using as a sister term.  This book also inspired another new sister term and we also gave a title to Lindsay the “believability police.”  We sure had the believability police out on full force while we were reading this one.  Striking up quite the conservation for us.

HEATHER GUDENKAUF has taken a different direction here with her who dunnit plotline with MISSING PIECES from her usual stories that centre around children and family dynamics.  It still had a lot of family dynamics to it which kept the conversation going and had some of us questioning the believability to the story.

The story was told from our main characters point of view Sarah who swings from a quiet supportive wife to a suspicious one with many thoughts and questions sparking quite the conversation with us.  We follow along with Sarah as she tells us the story and we gather clues by her thoughts through the many questions she asks herself.  This became repetitive and unnecessary for some of us and just didn’t work for them. For others it did work and appreciated the lightness of being told instead of being showed and it was a nice break from some of the heavier thrillers that they have read.

All of our suspicions were all over the place with this one as the mystery shifted a few times. Kaceey had us laughing out loud with her comment my radar is pointing in — direction (today anyway). In the end we pretty much suspected everyone with a few of us picking out the suspect quite early on.

For some of us the setting to MISSING PIECES stood out and the creepy old house was like a character and added to the atmosphere of the story for them, giving them an ominous feel.  For others it brought nothing to the story.

Of course the ending had us split with some rushing through it just to get it done, some disappointed, and for others they were completely satisfied.  So if you are looking for a quick and easy read with no real guess work and lots of questions we would recommend this book to you!

 

Traveling Sisters Group Review: Ragdoll (Detective William Fawkes #1) by Daniel Cole

Ragdoll (Detective William Fawkes, #1)Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Traveling Sisters Group Review by NORMA, BRENDA, KACEEY and KENDALL!!

Norma’s rating:  4 stars!

Our second pick for our Traveling Sisters Group Read was RAGDOLL by DANIEL COLE and we all had varying thoughts on the ending with this one.

RAGDOLL (Detective William Fawkes #1) by DANIEL COLE is a clever, gripping, dark, and an action-packed crime thriller novel that was gory, thrilling, and exciting which moved along at a breakneck speed leaving us feeling a little spent after finishing this novel.

DANIEL COLE delivers a fast-paced story here revealing shocking and gruesome scenes to drive the plot instead of adding layers to the plot and the characters. This left some of us a bit confused and needing more juice to grasp some of the happenings within the storyline and at times we felt like we missed something.

Daniel Cole does a great job adding some humor within the dialogue here between our team of detectives taking away some of the tension from the story and had us laughing out loud.  We all loved Edmunds and his character quickly became the favorite part of the story for Kaceey and Kendall.

This was an extremely challenging read for us and we were conflicted with the ending.  The story falls apart at the ending for Kaceey and Kendall and they found some things just didn’t add up for them. Driving their rating down. However, for Norma and Brenda it did work for them.  The more Norma thought about this one the more brilliant she thought this novel was.  Would recommend!

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