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

Review by Norma: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

The Twelve Lives of Samuel HawleyThe Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Date read:  March 15 to 17, 2017

Wow!  This book definitely took me on one heck of a scary and thrilling roller coaster ride!

THE TWELVE LIVES OF SAMUEL HAWLEY by HANNAH TINTI is an absolutely riveting and captivating tale of a father’s love for his daughter.  This book drew me in right from the very first chapter and throughout all of the 12 bullet wounds that Samuel Hawley endured to the very last heartfelt chapter. Loved it!

HANNAH TINTI delivers a touching, moving, heart-wrenching, impressive, and very descriptive read here which was beautifully told through two alternating timelines of the past and present.  Each bullet that Hawley takes is a way for us to explore his past and influences some part of Loo’s story in the present which links both stories together in the end.  The structure of this tale took me on an adrenaline filled ride that was exciting, fun, and fearful for an absolutely enjoyable and thrilling reading experience.

I couldn’t help but to feel a little bit scared of Samuel Hawley and love him at the same time.  I was rooting for him as I could see his goodness and the love that he had for his wife and his daughter.  The love and connection that Hawley had with his daughter outshined all the violence and flaws of this character in this adventurous story between a father and daughter.

To sum it all up it was a harrowing tale of love, hope, discovery, acceptance, and forgiveness that was entertaining, exciting, fast-paced, and a quick read with a satisfying ending. Highly recommend!!

Thank you to NetGalley, Hannah Tinti, and Random House / The Dial Press for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book for a fair and honest review.


Thoughts by Brenda:  Orphan Train by Christina Barker Kline

Orphan TrainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

Read March 14-16 2017

I am not sure if this was the best time for me to have read Orphan Train, so it’s hard for me to rate this one. I read mostly for enjoyment and to learn something and how I feel and timing play a huge part in when and what I choose to read. I really did enjoy this one and I do love to be taken on an emotional journey and I definitely learned something here, as I was unaware of Orphan trains. I was mostly on my own emotional train and missed feeling some of the emotions I would of normally felt while reading this one.

The story is told in alternating chapters from present time of 17 year-old Molly who is doing community service and told in the past from Irish immigrant 91 year old Vivian who Molly is doing the community service for. In the past we learn of Vivian’s childhood. They seem like an odd match with nothing in common but we learn soon that they do and they start to form a bond. They both are orphans, had to adapt to one foster family to another, have had loss, suffering and perseverance. As the stories are told separately we start to understand their interconnections with each other and their stories become one.

Orphan Train had all the elements I love in an emotional read for me with a satisfying ending. My rating for this one is 3.5 at the time of reading for my enjoyment. I do highly recommend.

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Review by Norma: Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

Every Last Lie: A NovelEvery Last Lie: A Novel by Mary Kubica

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Date read:  March 14 to 16, 2017

Publication Date:  July 1, 2017

This was another enjoyable read by one of my favourite authors, Mary Kubica!

EVERY LAST LIE by MARY KUBICA is an interesting, thrilling, suspenseful, and cleverly written novel that has a really engaging storyline and solid characters that grabbed my attention from the very first chapter.

MARY KUBICA delivers an impressive read here told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation into the death of her husband, Nick and in Nick’s voice of his last months leading up to his accident.  The only thing that I found a little distracting was that there were no chapters separating Clara’s and Nick’s stories.  They just ran into each other and I found that I had to go back and re-read to see if I was reading Clara’s perspective or Nick’s.  Once I realized that there were no tell-tale signs to differentiate the two then I found it a little easier to follow along with the storyline and all the characters involved.  (I am sure this was just a NetGalley formatting issue though and won’t be like this on the actual print copy when released.)

I found it a really interesting read that explores how when are minds are so tormented with grief it can really mess with our psyche and how we ultimately perceive things as being the truth or fiction.  I could really relate to how Clara reacted to her overwhelming grief as she presented with quite a few things that I know that I would and could have done.  Can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t think straight, can’t function normally, overactive imagination, and obsessive behaviour to name a few.

To sum it all up it was an entertaining, fast-paced, and an easy read with an unexpected but satisfying ending. Highly recommend!!

Thank you to NetGalley, Mary Kubica, and Harlequin (US & Canada) / Park Row Books for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book for a fair and honest review.


Sister Read Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright PlacesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sister Read Review by Norma & Brenda
3.5 stars

Brenda’s Thoughts: I was interested in reading All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven because I was curious about how a character with a mental illness was going to be portrayed in this story. I am not even really sure if that was what the story was even about. I think different life experiences and exposure to mental illness will have some people like Norma and I feeling different ways towards this book.

Norma’s Thoughts: As usual I went into this book blind so I didn’t have any preconceptions or idea on the subject matter of this book. I wanted to listen to another audiobook so I chose this one as it was available on Overdrive. I really liked the narrators and I found it was another enjoyable audiobook that was easy for me to stay focused while listening to.

For both of us we read mostly for the pure enjoyment of it and love feeling many emotions as we read so with that being said we both really enjoyed this book. If we were to look at it that way All the Bright Places is a heartbreaking, charming, tragic love story between two young people with themes of mental illness, suicide, loss, grief, bullying and abuse. Which we both believe was what this story was about. Both of our hearts broke for Theodore Finch and at times Brenda wasn’t sure she could finish reading as seeing his darkness was very real to her. For me I just accepted the story for what it was and felt for Finch and Violet throughout both of their struggles and Violet’s recovery with the help of Finch’s love for her.

Some Quotes from Finch that were very real to us:

“The thing is, they were all perfect days.” At the end of the day all the perfect days don’t change anything when you are dealing with the darkness within yourself.

“I am not a compilation of symptoms. Not a casualty of shitty parents and even shittier chemical makeup. Not a problem. Not a diagnosis. Not an illness. Not something to be rescued. I am a person.”

If we were looking at it solely on a book about a character with a mental illness we wanted a little bit more from the story here. We wanted to see some type of hope and more depth in how someone can be treated with a mental illness. We won’t get too much more into this as we don’t want to reveal too much.

We often hear people say that this subject matter is a difficult subject and that we need to hear more about it and we agree we definitely need to hear more but are not sure like this. We need to know that there is hope for mental illness and it can be treated.

To sum it all up it was an enjoyable, at times amusing, heartbreaking, and an emotional read with a bittersweet ending. Would recommend.


Sister read review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow ChildThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Date read:  March 7 to 10, 2017

A magical & classic fairytale story for adults!  (bringing back memories of our childhood)
Sister Read Review by Norma & Brenda

THE SNOW CHILD by EOWYN IVEY is a wonderful, heartwarming, sad, and beautifully told bewitching tale based on a Russian fairytale titled “Snegurochka”, The Snow Maiden a girl who is believed to be half-human and half made of snow.  This enchanting story had us both asking ourselves was there something magical happening here or not?  Oh, but for us, there definitely was something magical about IVEY’S writing style here.

THE SNOW CHILD captured our imagination as the characters captured our hearts.  Leaving us questioning the mysteries surrounding this so real story that had us hovering between reality and fantasy. Asking ourselves if Faina was actually a real girl or a fantasy?  Was she a product of their imagination because of their desire for a child of their own?  Or was she something magical?  This added some suspense to the story as we tried to figure out who this little girl was.

EOWYN IVEY delivers a very vivid story here that gives you an extremely good feel of sense of time and place of these characters homesteading in Alaska. The wonderful feel of the land, their battle against nature, the harsh cold (that actually had Brenda feeling chilled as she was reading) and their isolation.  IVEY’S description of life on the farm was very real and we could imagine the battles they endured along with all their hard work to survive.

We both loved the fantasy and magical aspect of this story which made it a thoroughly pleasurable reading experience!

To sum it all up it was a enjoyable, fun, fascinating, and a fast-paced read with a bittersweet ending. Most definitely would recommend.


All the Bright PlacesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

From Goodreads:  Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink

The Twelve Lives of Samuel HawleyThe Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

From Goodreads:  A father protects his daughter from the legacy of his past and the truth about her mother’s death in this thrilling new novel from the prize-winning author of The Good Thief.

After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter, Loo, to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife’s hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother’s mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past; a past that eventually spills over into his daughter’s present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. This father-daughter epic weaves back and forth through time and across America, from Alaska to the Adirondacks.

Both a coming-of-age novel and a literary thriller, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley explores what it means to be a hero, and the cost we pay to protect the people we love most.

Review by Norma: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen HouseThe Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Date listened:  March 2 to 8, 2017

Absolutely wonderful narration!  This was definitely a winner for me because of its awesome narrators who made this such an entertaining and enjoyable read!  I must say this is the first audiobook that I have thoroughly enjoyed and was captivated from start to finish.

THE KITCHEN HOUSE by KATHLEEN GRISSOM is a very touching, powerful, gripping, heart-wrenching, and a beautifully written Historical Fiction novel which is set on a plantation in the antebellum South that grabbed my listening ears right from the very first chapter.

The novel was told in alternating perspectives of Lavinia and Belle with a different narrator for each voice.  I fell in love with these characters and empathized with them as they shared their stories of love, friendship, family, commitment, survival, and loss. I couldn’t help but be totally lost in this story as I found myself listening rather intently to all of their struggles and triumphs at THE KITCHEN HOUSE.  I could hear their joy and their sadness coming through so vividly which had me totally engaged in this story.

KATHLEEN GRISSOM delivers a very descriptive and well-written novel here that I found was easy to follow along with the storyline and all the characters involved.  There is a lot happening throughout this story and I thought it was a fantastic account about this part of history.

Would recommend!


Review by Norma: The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

The Marriage LieThe Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Date read:  March 4 to 6, 2017

Okay first off I am definitely all about how a book makes me feel while reading and after finishing it. The emotions can either be positive or negative doesn’t matter it just has to make me feel something. Have you ever felt like you were just reading a book just to finish it? To be totally honest that is how I felt. It just seemed like I was just reading it and knew what was going to happen next. Although I did like the storyline and the characters which kept me interested enough to finish this book otherwise it was definitely a strange feeling for me!

THE MARRIAGE LIE by KIMBERLY BELLE is a good domestic psychological thriller that had me pretty engaged and interested throughout the first half of this book. Then it fell a little bit flat as I could see where everything was headed and there were no real surprises for me along the way or even on the outcome. So with that being said I am pretty sure that is why it just wasn’t a better read for me.

KIMBERLEY BELL does deliver a well-written and interestingly enough read here but with typical characters. I did really like the premise of this story and needed some clarification on some of the events that transpired to keep me wanting to turn those pages to get to the ending.

To sum it all up it was an interesting, slow-paced, suspenseful, quick and easy read with a satisfying and twist ending! Would I recommend if asked? Sure it was still mostly enjoyable!

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