Posted in Traveling Sisters Read Reviews

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth @SallyHepworth @StMartinsPress @about_thethrill

Sally Hepworth nailed it here for us with this better than expected and not what we expected must read which is out for sale tomorrow April 23, 2019.

Norma’s review

Clever, impactful & irresistible!

This book was nothing like I imagined it to be…..it was so much more than your typical “evil” mother-in-law tale!! Loved it!! 

THE MOTHER-IN-LAW by SALLY HEPWORTH is a gripping, captivating, thought-provoking, and fabulous mystery/thriller that I was immediately drawn into and devoured quickly. The story was so darn entertaining and absolutely un-put-down-able!!!! 

SALLY HEPWORTH delivers quite the unexpected, clever, engaging, complex and well-written story here told in alternating chapters between the past and the present in both Diana (mother-in-law) and Lucy’s perspectives. The storyline was brilliantly plotted, flowed seamlessly and the characterizations were absolutely spot-on. The dynamics between these characters totally fascinated and entertained me. And it was so interesting to hear from both sides as each of them had their own interpretations of what they actually meant or how they felt or thought about certain scenarios. 

The mystery itself here was done so well and not rushed at all. It was another one of those books where the fantastic storytelling guides and entertains you without any shocking unrealistic scenes. The storyline is full of twists and turns and so subtlety interspersed that totally snuck up on me in the end. I love it when an author is so talented to shock you with her writing style alone which just makes that pivotal moment much more shocking in its own right. Brilliant!!

Brenda’s review

Fractured relationships, complicated Mother- in-law, a suicide or murder and family secrets.

The Mother-In-Law is a compelling, multilayered, clever, and suspenseful domestic mystery that felt more like contemporary fiction that explores more the dynamics within the character than the mystery involving a suspicious death. There is a lot to explore and think about here with the depth to these characters.

The story is told in the POV of the mother-in-law Diana and her daughter-in-law Lucy.  We see more of their deeper thoughts through their POV and as we come to understand them and their relationship.  Diana is one of the most interesting characters I have read about with a lot to her then what you see on the surface.  She made for a great character to explore and talk about.

I devoured this one as fast as I could and was completely drawn into the lives of these characters.  I turned those pages as fast as I could and then slowly took in all the depth and layers to the characters.

The Mother-In-Law is a great choice for group reads as it really is a great thought-provoking story that brought out some different views of the characters and their dynamics. For me that is what makes a story so well layered is the many things it leaves you to think, explore and discuss and the Mother-in-Law sure did that for us. With each comment it gave me something else to think about. I highly recommend!

Lindsay’s review

 A twisty, addictive, suspense-filled family drama!

Lucy yearns to connect with her mother-in-law Diana. Having lost her own mother, she craves a maternal connection. However, Diana has always kept Lucy an arm’s length away – always being kind and available, but never quite embracing her with warmth and welcome into the family. 

The police knock on Lucy’s door one evening to inform her and her husband, Ollie, that Diana was found dead in her home, a suicide note tucked into her desk drawer. Left in devastating shock, Lucy and Ollie, along with Ollie’s sister and husband are left to pick up the pieces of their mother’s life. Diana was a wealthy and well-respected community figure who lived alone, having lost her loving husband years prior. As the days progress, several details come to light surrounding Diana’s death. The police come back to question Lucy and Ollie. Everything Lucy thought she knew about her husband and his family is challenged. Was Diana’s death truly a suicide? Did someone want Diana dead? 

I loved the pace and flow of this novel. It is narrated by several characters, all of which held an intricate perspective to the story. It was an engrossing, truly addictive journey that I hungrily devoured, my mind flip flopping between possibilities of scenarios of what actually happened. This book kept me on my toes, my suspicions thrown all over the place, flipping those pages as fast as possible. I am a big fan of the author, Sally Hepworth’s, writing. I’ve read and enjoyed several of her books and look forward to what she has in the future. 

From Kim’s review

Wow, I loved it! Please add me to the huge list of fans for Sally Hepworth.

The age old mother- in- law vs  daughter- in- law dilemma. Except this time the mother in law Diana ends up dead! Certainly even though Lucy and Diana have had their differences in the past, it surely would not have come to this?! As we search for the answer to this question we are privy to both Lucy and Diana’s point of view. Which allowed us to see how each really felt about the other as we got a look into each of their thoughts.

This book started out with a bang and did not let up. I literally flew through this book in less than 24 hours because I could not put it down! I loved the writers style which kept me gripped to the pages until the very end. I know that many will think Diana is unlikable, but dare I say I loved her. Yes I did! For Kim’s full review

Traveling Sisters Read

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Posted in Reviews

Lindsay’s Grimsby Author Series Night with Shelley Wood @ShelleyWood2 @HarperCollinsCa @GrimsbyLibrary #grimsbyauthorseries

Earlier this week, I had the exciting pleasure of attending an author reading and talk with Shelley Wood.   Shelley Wood wrote the recently released historical fiction title “The Quintland Sisters”, which just so happens to be my favourite read of 2019 so far.   Upon finishing this novel earlier this month, I was eager to attend the event to hear about Shelley Wood’s writing process and how this stunning novel was created.  

Prior to reading this book, I had not heard of the Dionne quintuplets who were born in 1934 in a rural town in Northern Ontario, Canada.  I found it fascinating to learn about this time in our history.   I learned that the inspiration behind writing this story was a photograph that the author found while flipping through a book that outlined Canada’s most influential photographs.  This photograph introduced her to the Dionne “Quints” and sparked the idea to write this novel.  Shelley did much research, reading every article and book about the quintuplets that she could get her hands on.  She included real newspaper articles within her narrative which I thought was a brilliant addition to the novel.  The newspaper clippings helped weave fact and fiction together, truly blending the reality of what happened with the unforgettable fictional characters she created.

One of my favourite parts of the novel was the endearing protagonist, Emma.   It is through Emma’s eyes that we experience the birth and toddler years of the quintuplets.   Shelley explained that she wanted to create a character who truly loved the quintuplets for the unique five girls that they were and not the “quintuplet unit” that the world saw them as.   For me, Shelley attained this goal, as I felt a deep connection to Emma and could feel her love for the Dionne girls flowing off every single page of the novel.  

Shelley Wood was an excellent speaker and had the audience hanging on her every word while she read a passage from her book.    She inspired me to look deeper into the fame and government decisions surrounding the birth and development of the quintuplets.  

It was very exciting to meet Shelley Wood – a definite highlight of my 2019 reading year!   I look forward to her next book!

Lindsay’s review

Heartwarming and heartbreaking emotion. Brilliant and beautiful narration. Shocking and unforgettable detail.

This story is a stunning look into the lives of the world’s first quintuplets born in Callander, Ontario, Canada in 1934. Yvonne, Annette, Cecile, Marie and Emilie Dionne shock their parents and the attending doctor and midwives on the day of their birth – five babies instead of one!?!? So tiny and frail, they are not expected to survive the night of their birth.

Emma Trimpany is seventeen-years-old when she accepts the request to accompany and assist the local midwife in attending a birth at the rundown Dionne farmhouse. This single decision changes her life forever, leaving her heart with a permanent longing and attachment to these five babies.

Days after their birth, in the confines of the rickety old farmhouse, the Dionnes’ learn that the government has decided to remove the quintuplets from their poverty-stricken parents, making them wards of the British king. Guardians are appointed and the babies are moved to a custom-built, sterile hospital to keep them safe and properly cared for by full time doctors and nurses. The quintuplets attain instant worldwide fame becoming a destination for six-thousand visitors per day in their custom-made playground observatory at the hospital. Through many ups and downs, Emma spends the next several years of her life dedicated to these five little girls who each uniquely own a piece of her heart. 

This novel is skillfully narrated through journal entries, letter correspondence and newspaper articles. Readers get to experience the childhood of the “Quints” through the eyes of Emma, an endearing, vulnerable and truly unforgettable character who I absolutely loved and was hopeful for. I was completely drawn into this story from the first few pages and my astonishment didn’t falter even after I finished the last sentence. The author, Shelley Wood, does an outstanding job weaving fact and fiction, keeping the reader dedicated and emotionally connected to the characters and the outcome. 

The Epilogue was exquisite, although not at all what I had expected. It left some things unanswered which was brilliant as it enticed me to do some research of my own. I am eager to investigate further into the story of the Dionne quintuplets and how the government stepped in to control their precious lives. This reading experience has left me baffled and curious in the best of ways – this is a true testament to phenomenal writing and storytelling. A truly remarkable novel!

I loved every single chapter, page, paragraph, sentence and word of this endearing story. This easily takes top spot of my 2019 Favourites List! Needless to say, I HIGHLY recommend!

Thank you to HarperCollins for gifting me a physical copy to read and review!

Have you read this one? Want to read this one? Drop us a comment! We would love to hear from you!

Posted in Reviews, Traveling Sisters Read Reviews

Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf @HarperCollinsCa @hgudenkauf

Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf is now available and she is at her best and at the top of her game here!

Brenda’s review

Three Girls, an urban legend, a dark obsession and a chilling crime .

Before She Was Found is a chilling, unsettlingly realistic, thought-provoking story that explores some teenage drama here with bullying, popularity, fitting in and approval. It goes a little deeper than just mean girls. It also explores friendship, betrayal and the power of social media and the impact it all can have on family dynamics.

Before She Was Found starts off with an unsettling, disturbing and grisly scene and I was turning those pages as fast as I go to unravel what happened.  We learn of an urban legend and I was intrigued by it and enjoyed how that played into the story. The suspense and tension in the story increases with each page until that unsettling realistic ending that left me quite upset.  I have not had a reaction to a story like I did to this one before. I really dislike the ending and how it all came together but I loved this one and the themes and messages the Heather Gudenkauf explored in this story.

I read this one in the Traveling Sister group and it left us with different feeling with that ending. The ending worked for some of us but not for all of us. It really made for an interesting discussion. I highly recommend for book clubs as there is plenty to talk about and explore here.

Norma’s Review

Gripping, chilling, & mind-blowing stuff here!

I definitely have to start my review off with a little message to you HEATHER GUDENKAUF, you are by far one of my must-read and absolute favourite thriller writers ever and this book was freakin’ fantastic!!!!

BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND by HEATHER GUDENKAUF is an unsettling, dark, realistic, captivating, thought-provoking and fabulous thriller that pretty much had every aspect that I absolutely love in my thrillers. A haunting and chilling crime, a mysterious urban legend, fantastic storytelling that is absolutely dazzling, and interesting and complex characters to make this an all out absorbing and devouring read. 

HEATHER GUDENKAUF delivers quite the clever, intriguing, suspenseful, engaging, and well-written story here that starts off with quite the bang and never lets up to make this quite the tense and edge-of-your-seat read. I absolutely loved the way that this story unfolded in multiple character perspectives and formats including journal entries in Cora’s perspective. I find that this technique is always quite effective, appealing and very suspenseful with slow-burning reads. 

There is lots going on behind the scenes in this story that is quite thought-provoking and an important message for us to ponder. In the end I was totally taken by surprise and would have never of guessed the outcome. 

Lindsay’s review

A haunting crime in a small town community. 

Twelve-year-old classmates, Cora, Violet and Jordyn sneak out one night to visit the abandoned train yard at the edge of town. A night of sneaky mischief ends with Cora hospitalized with several stab wounds and Violent and Jordyn in shock and confusion as to what happened. Small town secrets are uncovered as the police question everyone connected to the three girls. Were all three girls victims of this brutal attack? Could one of the girls be behind the violent assault?

I was pulled into this chilling story right away. There were some gruesome scenes at the start that were hard to stomach, but the writing kept me intrigued and curious to find out what happened. It was an addictive, quick read that had me making excused to find time for ‘just one more chapter’.

The novel unfolds through multiple characters perspectives. I did find myself slightly confused near the beginning trying to keep track of who was who, but as the story progressed, it became much clearer and easier to follow. I found Cora’s journal entries distracting which took away from my enjoyment. The “mean girl” scenes were a bit much. I think I would have enjoyed the novel more had those scenes been toned down.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Although I totally find this cover to be quite appealing and an effective representation to storyline it isn’t the sole reason for wanting or picking up this book. HEATHER GUDENKAUF is a must-read author for me regardless if I find the cover to be attractive or not. Whatever she writes, I will read!
Title: Clever, intriguing, fitting, impactful and a fabulous representation to storyline where the meaning is revealed to us as the story progresses. Love these meaningful titles!
Writing/Prose: Well-written, fluid, mesmerizing, beautiful and engaging.
Plot: Engrossing, clever, suspenseful, thought-provoking, believable, interesting, heartfelt, fast-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: An ending that left me speechless and totally took me by surprise! Loved that I didn’t figure out the outcome until it was revealed to us. 
Overall: The story was so darn thrilling, entertaining and absolutely un-put-down-able!!!! Would highly recommend!

Have you read this one? Want to read it? Drop us a comment! We would love to hear from you.

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Posted in Reviews, Traveling Friends Reads

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke @HarperCollinsCa

It’s pub day for The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

We are so excited to bring you our reviews.

Norma’s review

Elaborate, suspenseful, and twisty!

THE BETTER SISTER by ALAFAIR BURKE is an exciting, intriguing, engrossing, disturbing, and fantastic domestic mystery/thriller that had me totally absorbed in this emotionally complex storyline. I was fully immersed and totally interested in the mystery and the interaction between these two sisters, Chloe and Nicky as it was quite dynamic.

ALAFAIR BURKE is such a fabulous storyteller and has this way of hooking you in right away with her extremely fast-paced narrative and her subtly sneaky delivery.  Which immediately had me questioning and wanting answers, even re-reading certain parts because I was certain I had to have missed something and dang if I did. She’s sneaky! lol

ALAFAIR BURKE delivers a compelling and well-written story here that is full of intrigue, suspense, courtroom drama, and familial dynamics. The topical storyline is timely and well-plotted, flowed seamlessly and had interesting and great characters.

This was another one of those books for me where the fantastic storytelling guided and entertained me right to the very end.  The courtroom drama was extremely interesting and smartly written without overwhelming you with complicated details. I could definitely tell that ALAFAIR BURKE knows her stuff.

Brenda’s review

Two estranged sisters, a murdered husband and father, some courtroom drama and a whole lot of messy family drama. 

The Better Sister is a simple yet intriguing whodunit domestic thriller with some interesting simple courtroom drama and a lot of family drama that didn’t feel too overly complicated to me. 

Now I am not sure I would describe this one as fast-paced or really entertaining. I felt the strength in this one was in the drama. Now that is something I never thought I would say, not being much of a fan of drama. There is a lot of messy family drama going on here with these very different sisters that unfolded slowly throughout the story instead of coming at you all at once. One sister who craves and needs routine and the other who lives in constant drama. I was hooked right from the start and I was turning the pages as fast as I could as the twists and turns came. I started to question who was the better sister as we learn more about some of their family secrets.

The ending came as a surprise and I didn’t see it coming. Maybe a bit weak with the big reveal and one you might find unsatisfying with a few holes. For me, it all came together well and I thought the pacing was well done as the drama slowly unfolded

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Absolutely love that dramatic, striking, breathtaking and extremely fitting cover. 
Title: Simple, impactful and a fabulous representation to storyline. 
Writing/Prose: Well-written, skilled, elaborate, suspenseful and engaging.
Plot: Engrossing, suspenseful, dramatic, realistic, interesting, fast-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: The ending made me pause and reflect but in the end I was completely satisfied with the outcome. 
Overall: The storyline is full of twists and turns and so subtly interspersed that I didn’t think this was predictable at all. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was all that surprising though when everything all played out but it was completely satisfying to me. ALAFAIR BURKE does it again and has another winner here with THE BETTER SISTER!! Would highly recommend!

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for our complimentary copy to read and review.

Have you read this one? Want to read this one? Drop us a comment! We would love to hear from you!

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Posted in Reviews

Alice’s Island by Daniel Sánchez Arévalo @SimonSchusterCA

Alice’s Island by Spanish author Daniel Sánchez Arévalo is his first novel to be translated to English. Pub date is tomorrow April 16, 2019!

Brenda’s review

Perfect happy marriage, a shuttering perfect lie and a wife’s search for answers

Alice’s Island is part mystery, part family drama with some drama within a community and part psychological thriller. When we first meet Alice her world is shattered when tragedy hits and she learns of a lie. She takes great lengths to find answers. Her search for answers start to leave her and me with more questions than answers and I started to question the way she was investigating and her tackles started to become questionable to me.

The story is not so much a page turner but more of a slow burn interesting one. At times a bit confusing to keep track of all the characters and suspects. I needed to use my detective skills more there to keep them straight. The characters each had their own conflicts and I enjoyed the dynamics between them but won’t say the characters were well drawn out.

I wasn’t really sure where the story was going and was intrigued throughout and as the story started to wrap up I wished I had paid more attention to the characters than trying to figure out the mystery to the story. I thought the story wrapped up well and I was left feeling satisfied after reading this one. I recommend to reader who like a slower paced story that focuses more on the dynamics of the characters.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for my complimentary copy to read and review.

Have you read this one? Want to read this one! Drop us a comment we would love to hear from you!

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Posted in Reviews, Traveling Sisters Read Reviews

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton @ChanelCleeton @BerkleyPub

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton is now available. Happy Pub Day!!! We are so excited to bring you our reviews for this exciting historical fiction novel that is not to be missed.

Brenda’s review

Rich in historical detail, a little romance, forbidden affair, a bit of a spy thriller, with a tad of family drama.

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton is a stand alone follow up to  Next Year in Havana . The story centres around Beatriz Perez who is introduced in Next Year in Havana . I am so glad Chanel Cleeton gave her a voice with her own story here.

When We Left Cuba is a beautifully written story that explores vengeance, betrayal and sacrifices. Beatriz Perez is driven by revenge and her love for her country and caught between Cuban American politics, her family and a powerful man. I love her, passion strength and bravery and we see how fearless she is and willing to do what it takes to get her revenge.

I enjoyed so much in this story and found it had all that it needed to make for an interesting read but not heavy on the the details. It’s a fast paced read that was entertaining yet heartbreaking and heartwarming at times. While the characters are fictional they are along with some events inspired from real like people. It read a bit like a spy thriller and I was excited to turn those pages as fast as I could.  The tension and excitement rises right up to the satisfying ending. I highly recommend!

Norma’s Review

Intriguing, suspenseful, glamorous & magnetic!

WHEN WE LEFT CUBA by CHANEL CLEETON is an engaging, fascinating, entertaining, beautifully crafted and rich historical fiction novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was immediately drawn into our main characters life, Beatriz Perez and loved the romantic & adventurous journey that this book took me on.  The author’s passion and knowledge definitely shines through tenfold and where some of the content was missed by me I totally appreciated learning about this part of Cuban and American history.

I didn’t have the pleasure of reading and visiting the Perez family in the NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA before reading this novel WHEN WE LEFT CUBA.  And normally I tend to shy away from reading follow-up books out of sequence order because it somehow makes me feel like I’m missing out or cheating the “system”.  So with that being said I am definitely going to revisit the Perez family again but in the meantime I am so glad that I put all of my feelings aside and dove right into this fabulously written romantic & dashing tale of espionage, revenge, love, & family drama.  

Even though this is a follow-up and some of the characters are revisited here this is Beatriz’s story and definitely works and reads well as a standalone.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Strikingly beautiful, glamorous, gorgeous, appealing and a fitting representation to storyline. Love the cover art!
Title: Intriguing, fascinating, powerful and a wonderful representation to storyline. 
Writing/Prose: Beautifully written, passionate, knowledgeable, fluid, engaging and entertaining. Absolutely loved the writing style!
Plot: Intriguing, informative, fascinating, thought-provoking, fast-paced, atmospheric and entertaining.
Ending: A pat and happy ending that was very satisfying and pleasing. I have a fondness for Epilogues! 
Overall: A fun, tense and exciting read with fabulous characters filled with rich historical content. Would highly recommend! 

Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing and Chanel Cleeton for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book in exchange for a review.

Have you read this one or Next Year in Havana? Want to read them! Drop us a comment! We would love to hear from you!

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