A charming historical fiction tale set in the early 1900s in Ireland and England. The story follows three young women whose connection weaves thick and thin throughout several years and many life-changing situations. One of the best aspects of this novel is that it largely revolves around an old family castle in the countryside in Ireland. There is love, loss and death. There are ghosts, love triangles and hidden secrets. All of these ingredients add up to one enticing tale that kept me curious to the end.
While I enjoyed this generational saga, it did feel quite lengthy. My attention did waver in and out as far as feeling truly connected to the characters and storyline. It almost felt as though there was one too many storylines involved that made the novel spread a little too far.
Thank you to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Canada and Santa Montefiore for providing me with an ARC to read and review!
Have you read this one? Want to read it? Drop us a comment! We would love to hear from you!
I always have these random bookish questions that I’m curious about so I ask our Traveling Sisters a weekly (sometimes more) book related question. We thought it would be fun and interesting to take some of those questions to our blog and see what you all think or do. I hope that you will also join in on the discussion with us.
Norma’s random book question:
We would love to know some of your absolute favourite books that you have read in 2018. Whether it be a list of your top three, top 10 or just your #1 absolute favourite. What are some of your favourite reads of 2018? They don’t necessarily have to be books that were published in 2018 just any book that you have read and was a favourite or top read.
Here are my 13 (baker’s dozen) favourite books that I have read and loved in 2018 in no particular order.
* Every Note Played by Lisa Genova * The Past is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson * The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah * The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain * One Day in December by Josie Silver * Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine * Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent * Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang * The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol * The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton * Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty * A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza * Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
One Day in December by Josie Silver
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer
The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter by Hazel Gaynor
Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood
Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge
Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone
Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson
*Fallen Mountains by Kimi Cunningham Grant *Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent *The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter by Hazel Gaynor *The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz *The Home For Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman *The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware *The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon *The Taster by V.S. Alexander *Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer *Need To Know by Karen Cleveland *The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Now to the best part. Your answers. Please join in our discussion and let us know your answer. We would love to hear from you!
Oh my goodness…..I don’t think a book has ever affected me and my emotions in the way that this one has. It was definitely an excellent read but a tough one that made me feel a little down and depressed, even finding it a little hard to shake that feeling while I was absorbed in this book.
KELEGEEN by EILEEN O’FINLAN is a haunting, shocking, emotional and heart-wrenching tale set in Ireland in 1846 during the potato famine. The amount of pain, sorrow and suffering was extremely tangible and absolutely devastating to read about. Only knowing minimal information about this part of history really affected and impacted me as a reader.
EILEEN O’FINLAN delivers an atmospheric, compelling and important read here that I am so glad that I read. Even though it was a difficult book for me to…
We did a little something different here with our group read for The Taste of Air by Gail Cleare. I set up a special group and we had the pleasure of Gail joining us in our discussion. We used discussion questions provided for the story and it really enhanced our reading experience. We received some insight into Gail’s writing experience and she answered some questions we had for her and about the story. We really enjoyed our discussion and this story, that we highly recommend this one for group reads. Thank you so much for joining us Gail and for sending Norma and I our copies to read with the group.
The Taste of Air has it all to make this an interesting and engaging family saga with a mystery to it to add some suspense to the story. It is a thought-provoking emotional yet entertaining and pleasing realistic story that explores the secrets, some that are buried that a mother keeps from her children. Her life before and separate from her grown children.
Gail Cleare does a great job creating interesting realistic characters and I really enjoyed the dynamics between them. As we get to know our characters, secrets are revealed that had us thinking about what we would do in that situation. The story and the discussion questions had us also thinking about our own families and sharing stories with each other. We discussed how we thought we would react to some of the situations in the story and this made for a very interesting discussion.
I really enjoyed this pleasing story from start to finish. The pace is well paced and I was intrigued by Mary’s past. I was completely satisfied with how everything wrapped up and came together in the end. I highly recommend.
Heartwarming, delightful & touching!
THE TASTE OF AIR by GAIL CLEARE was such a comforting, uplifting, and enjoyable read that had so much warmth flowing through the pages of this book. I immediately felt a connection to the authors writing style and thought this story was so tastefully told. It wrapped me up tightly in a warm comfy hug transporting me right back to all the tastes of home.
GAIL CLEARE delivers a beautiful, well-written and engaging read here that takes you on a journey full of family secrets, love and relationships with some added revelations and soul-searching for you to ponder right along with the characters. The story is told between the perspectives of Nell and Bridget in the present and Mary’s perspective from the past. I enjoyed all perspectives equally and really enjoyed learning Mary’s secrets as the story progressed. I was totally surprised with the reveal and loved how it all came together in the end.
Can you taste the flavour of the air?
I really never thought of tastes being comforting and nostalgic before reading this novel or else I just took it for granted. It really made me think and realize that different experiences can certainly affect us in how we perceive those different tastes that bring out a sense of happiness, comfort, love and fond memories for us. This novel definitely brought that all out for me!
An eye-opening glance into one woman’s choice to follow her heart and find true happiness. This novel surrounds Mary and her two adult daughters, Nell and Bridget. Nell is shocked to receive a phone call requesting her presence at hospital hours away from Mary’s retirement home. Confused as to how her mother could be so far from home, Nell packs quickly and leaves to pick up the pieces and find answers as to what happened. Upon reaching her mother at the hospital, Nell uncovers an avalanche of secrets and people from her mothers’ life that has been hidden for years. Nell and Bridget work together to reveal the hidden truths behind Mary’s past and the shocking surprises that change their lives forever.
This novel is presented through Mary, Nell and Bridget’s perspectives. Mary’s perspective is revealed through a Past and Present timeline adding multiple layers of intrigue to the story. My favorite parts of the book were the sections from Mary’s past when we learn about her life prior to having children.
These powerful sections reveal much emotion and heartache. I thought the author, Gail Cleare, did a fantastic job with that piece of the story. I found this novel enjoyable and entertaining, however, there were some parts that felt implausible to me. I liked the characters but didn’t ever get to the point of feeling fully invested in them. What I truly appreciate about this book is that it gave me a lot to think about. It challenged me to consider multiple angles of the character’s choices. The topics presented are intense and thought-provoking.
I found this book to be refreshing and interesting. The subject matter is thought-provoking and captivating. There are situations where readers may stop and ponder “what would I do in this situation?” or “how would I react?” and “would I have done the same thing?”. While the focus on the book is on Mary’s secret, each woman had her own secret as well. I enjoyed how the secret cottage became a place Nell and Bridget to reflect and discuss their secrets and goals/hopes/dreams for their futures. Well written and thought out. This is women’s fiction done right. A pleasure to read!
This is my first experience with the author Gail Cleare. I was not disappointed. Her story carried me along, revealing surprises and story twists exactly when needed. Not a book of high drama, nor heart throbbing suspense – but a soothing story about a families life, one that needed to come to the surface. Engagingly told, throughout many years, gave the needed time frame and space to unravel all the secrets that were so lovingly kept.
Sweet tale of mothers and daughters and family secrets.
Daughters Nell and Bridget are shocked when they find out that their mother Mary is hospitalized in Vermont when they thought she was living in assisted-living in Massachusetts. In fact, they discover she’s had a cabin in Vermont for many years. This is just the start of secrets that are uncovered throughout this book.
We are treated to chapters with Mary’s life in the past as a nurse in the Vietnam war and the friends that she makes there. The pieces slowly come together and the daughters are able to figure out the puzzle while Mary is struggling in the hospital.
I enjoyed reading this book with the Traveling Friends and having the author participate in our book discussions. It certainly makes me think more about family secrets and how well we know our parents . . . The writing in this book was enjoyable and it made me yearn for New England!
Norma’s Stats: Cover: Eye-catching, peaceful, relaxing and an excellent and fitting representation to storyline. Title: I had no idea the meaning behind this title before reading this novel. I was quite baffled but after reading a couple of chapters the meaning behind this title became quite apparent. I absolutely loved how the title played into the storyline. Writing/Prose: Well-written, suspenseful, and beautiful. Plot: Engrossing, suspenseful, heartfelt, interesting, steady-paced, and entertaining. Ending: Surprising, heartwarming, and satisfying. Overall: I was definitely taken with this storyline and really enjoyed learning all the family secrets as they unfolded. Making this novel hard to put down. Would recommend!
Thank you so much to Gail Cleare for gifting me a copy of this book, it was an absolute pleasure reading it.
Gripping, suspenseful & an extremely relishing read!
THE LIAR’S ROOM by SIMON LELIC is an engaging, intense, mysterious and haunting psychological thriller novel that was quite the immersive and thrilling book to read. Right from the very beginning this book had me stumped and wondering who’s the liar here and what secrets are going to be uncovered, making this quite the compulsive page-turner.
SIMON LELIC delivers an excellent, thought-provoking, entertaining and well-written read here with an intriguing murky storyline, a claustrophobic setting and compelling unreliable characters. (I absolutely love the voices of unreliable characters!) The intensity of the claustrophobic feeling definitely fills the reader with a sense of unease as the story progresses.
There is definitely some highly emotional & heartbreaking scenes that definitely made this reader sit back to empathize, reflect and ponder along with these characters as well as made me think of what I would do in a similar situation.
I wouldn’t necessarily say this was a spine-tingling thriller as the blurb suggests but there was definitely this sense of impending doom that permeates the narrative to unsettle and rattle the reader.
One room, Two Liars, No escape till someone starts telling the truth. Are you intrigued yet?
What happens when you put two liars in a room together especially when they might be lying to themselves. Well, that made for an intense fast-past story here with our liars. I love the dialogue here that seemed like they were sparring with each other. I thought this lead to some very interesting dynamics between the characters. I was entertained yet pleasingly disturbed as the lies and secrets are revealed. What really made it interesting was the way they were exposed with the sparring going on between them. I highly recommend!
Norma’s Stats: Cover: Intriguing, unsettling, claustrophobic, suspenseful, foreboding, eye-catching and an extremely fitting representation to storyline. The cover and title of this book definitely piqued my interest and I was totally intrigued and fascinated in reading what happens in the room. Title: I absolutely love the title and think it’s a fantastic representation to storyline. Writing/Prose: Well-written, entertaining, engaging, fluid, believable and compelling dialogue. Plot: Engrossing, suspenseful, palpable, interesting, complex, fast-paced, and entertaining. Ending: This is where the book lost a star from me. I would have liked a different ending for this one as the climax definitely left me feeling a little unsettled with the direction it took although I was totally satisfied with how the novel wrapped up though. I’m not sure if another ending would have worked out as well though. Maybe that uneasy and anxious feeling was the intended reaction! Hmmmm Overall: An excellent and riveting read that had me totally absorbed within this tale right from the very start, thoroughly enjoying the escape! Would recommend!
Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing and Simon Lelic for providing us with an ARC to read and review.
This was an extremely hard review for me to write because my thoughts are so conflicted with how I actually feel upon finishing this book. I thought the storytelling and the writing was absolutely fantastic but I was never able to fully immerse myself in this tale though. At times I was finding myself a little bit bored with my mind wandering often and at other times I was excited and in awe of what I was reading.
ONCE UPON A RIVER by DIANE SETTERFIELD is a magical and mysterious tale that takes you on a slow-moving and meandering journey that reminded me so much of a gothic fairy tale. Immediately upon starting this book there is this strong sense of folklore which I absolutely loved and found so appealing.
I was never really able to fully stay within the flow of this novel though which was very frustrating for me. I do not by any means fault the author for my inability to stay fully focused on this tale though because I really think that I just don’t do well with a slow burn. There was so much that was so appealing and unique about this book that I should have absolutely loved.
This was definitely an enjoyable and entertaining read for me and it is one that I knew that I had to read. I am just a little disappointed that I didn’t LOVE this one more as I absolutely loved The Thirteenth Tale. I think if I didn’t have so many books on my plate right now and I was able to just relax and savor this story……I probably would have loved it.
*This was a Traveling Friends Read*
Norma’s Stats: Cover: Eye-catching, intriguing, whimsical, beautiful and a lovely representation to storyline. Title: An absolutely fabulous title that is extremely appealing and a wonderfully fitting representation to storyline and a homage to storytelling. Writing/Prose: Beautiful, elegant, lyrical, vividly descriptive, whimsical, well-written and fluid. Plot: Interesting, enchanting, suspenseful, folklore, intriguing, leisurely-paced, and entertaining. Ending: Satisfying although I wish that I was able to slow down my thoughts while I was reading this book. Overall: This lover of magical folklore would absolutely recommend this book!
Thank you so much to NetGalley, Atria/Emily Bestler Books and Diane Setterfield for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this novel.
A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.
Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.
Is it a miracle?
Is it magic?
Or can it be explained by science?
Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.
Have you read this one? Did you love it more than Norma did or have similar thoughts? Drop us a comment! We would love to hear from you!