Posted in Blog Tours, Reviews

Blog Tour – The Last Affair by Margot Hunt #blogtour @HarlequinBooks @HuntAuthor

The Last Affair by Margot Hunt Blog Tour

Hello everyone and thank you so much for stopping by! Today is our stop on the Harlequin Trade Publishing Mystery/Thriller Blog Tour for The Last Affair by Margot Hunt. We are so excited and it is our absolute pleasure to share our individual reviews with you. Thank you so much to Justine for the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour.

Today we are sharing Brenda, Norma’s and Lindsay’s reviews with you!

The Traveling Sisters ~ Brenda, Norma & Lindsay! xxoo

Margot Hunt – About the author

Margot Hunt is a critically acclaimed author of psychological suspense. Her work has been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews.

Follow Margot

SOCIAL:
TWITTER: @HuntAuthor
FB: @AuthorMargotHunt
Insta: @margot_hunt
Goodreads

About the book

Gwen Landon—poster woman for perfect wife, mother, and suburban bliss—is found brutally bludgeoned to death behind her Floridian McMansion. Beautiful and beloved by her community, Gwen makes an unlikely victim. But just a scratch below the surface of her perfectly curated world reveals one far more sinister. When looking back over the six months leading up to her death, the question of, “who would do this?” quickly shifts to, “who wouldn’t?”

Commercially successful food blogger and mother of three, Nora Holliday never imagined she would have the nerve, let alone time, to get involved an affair. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, she does whatever it takes to keep it all together. But when Nora runs into Gwen Landon’s husband at a hotel in Orlando, his easy kindness and warmth proves too tempting to resist. As their affair spirals dangerously out of control, it seems things can’t get more complicated—until Gwen turns up dead.

Brenda’s review

The Last Affair starts off with quite the bang with that opening line and scene. I knew I was going to be entertained by Margot Hunt’s writing and I was from beginning to end.

Margot Hunt takes your typical affair and turns into a fun story here by adding some sass and spunk to the writing and the unlikeable characters you love to hate.

The pace is easy and quick, with just the right amount of drama to the story to move it forward for me. The dynamics between the characters are engaging, and I found myself drawn into the drama by silently yelling at the characters. The ending came together well for me as I started to piece together who left “the woman’s blood-covered body splayed facedown in the grass”, in this “typical upscale Floridian backyard.”

Norma’s review

Mindless fun, juicy unlikeable characters, & wickedly entertaining!

THE LAST AFFAIR by MARGOT HUNT is an interesting, easy to read, easy-going, thrilling and fast-paced story that immediately piqued my interest and thoroughly entertained me.

THE LAST AFFAIR has an awesome opening scene! I have quite the fondness and love for when an author opens up her story to a revealing, horrific and ghastly murder scene, allowing us to be pretty much privy to who the victim is right at the very beginning. This technique definitely keeps me intrigued, my curiosity piqued, and turning those pages as fast as I possibly can right to the very end. I love being right dab in the centre of all the action as I’m trying to piece all those clues together of who those shocking and juicy suspects might be.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that there was anything new on the table here though but the character dynamics and antics had quite the unique spin to it that definitely gripped and thrilled me. I might have done some gasping and shaking my head numerous times at these characters.

Lindsay’s review

A fast-paced, easy and thrilling read!

This is one of those books that you can fly through without having put much effort in. The pages and chapters quickly coast by as the storyline keeps you guessing. It was exactly what I was in the mood for. It kept me intrigued and entertained from start to finish. There were a few dramatic scenes, but nothing that overshadowed my enjoyment. The characters and their relationship dynamics were unique and interesting and the suspense kept me curious until the very end. This was my first book by this author and I look forward to reading more from her.

Thank you so much Harlequin for our copies!

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: An effective and fitting representation to storyline that depicts the storyline extremely well and really allows us to experience this story as if we were sneakily peeking in just like the cover suggests.
Title: I wasn’t all that drawn to the title of this book as it just appeared to be another one of those “affair” stories. Boy was I wrong!
Writing/Prose: Easy to follow, well-written, entertaining, immersive, and gripping.
Plot: Engrossing, interesting, suspenseful, soapy, gripping, scandalous, fast-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: I wasn’t completely in the dark but let me tell you that ending was totally awesome and I loved how it all played out. I might have found it a little off-putting though – the extreme end but regardless the author did a great job wrapping this one up.
Overall: Would absolutely recommend if you are looking for an easy-going, relaxed, and mild domestic thriller to spend some time with. This was the perfect read and escape for me while I was resting at home. Thank you so much to Margot Hunt for making the time pass by so much easier!

Harlequin Books were kind enough to allow us to share an excerpt of this fabulous book with all of you…..

Prologue

Other than the woman’s blood-covered body splayed facedown in the grass, it could have been any typical upscale Floridian backyard.

There was the ubiquitous pool with a water fountain feature, a patio furnished with both a dining set and outdoor sectional couch, and an enormous gas grill capable of cooking hamburgers by the dozen. A large pergola with a tropical vine trained over it covered part of the patio. The dining area was shaded by a black-and-white-striped awning. It was the very picture of suburban domestic bliss. It could have been the set for a commercial advertising anything from laundry detergent to allergy medicine.

Again, except for the dead body.

The area had already been taped off. The first officers on the scene appeared with an ambulance in response to a frantic 911 call placed by the woman’s daughter. The paramedics had assessed the situation, and quickly determined that the woman was dead. The fact that the back of her head had been bashed in with what looked like a paving stone, conveniently dropped next to her prone body, made it immediately clear that it had not been a natural death. The responding officers called the sheriff, who responded by sending in a full investigative team. The medical examiner was now doing a preliminary examination of the body, while police officers combed the area for additional evidence. Two detectives, Mike Monroe and Gavin Reddick—separated by twenty years and sixty pounds—were overseeing the operation, standing at the edge of the patio under the shade of the pergola. It was the third week in April, but this was South Florida and the temperature had already climbed into the low nineties.

“The paving stone came from the stack out in the front yard. They were delivered last week by the company who’s installing the driveway,” Detective Reddick said. He was the younger of the two men and had a wiry frame and angular face.

“Weapon of convenience. Suggests it wasn’t premeditated,” Detective Monroe said. He had a ruddy complexion and a full head of thick dark hair, swept back off his face. A strand never moved out of place, even in a strong wind.

“Plus he dropped the weapon, rather than taking it with him. Probably panicked.”

“Could be a she,” Monroe said mildly.

Reddick shrugged. “Blunt force trauma to the back of the head? You know the stats. Overwhelming likelihood that it’s a man, and probably someone the victim was intimately involved with. Husband, maybe a boyfriend.”

“The husband was with the daughter when she called it in.”

“Doesn’t mean he didn’t do it, and then had her place the call.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

The family had been sequestered indoors, both to keep them out of the way, and so that the officers waiting in the house with them could observe anything they did or said. Other than the husband, there was a daughter in her early twenties and a teenage son. The daughter was reportedly distraught, while the husband and son had both been eerily quiet. It was possible they were in shock.

“Do we have an ID on the victim?” Reddick asked.

“It’s her house,” Monroe grunted.

“Yeah, but I like doing things the official way, you know? I’s dotted, t’s crossed, all of that. Building a case, basic detective work.”

Despite the chilling scene in front of them—the woman’s body still sprawled on the grass, the back of her head a pulpy, bloody mess—the corner of Monroe’s mouth quirked up in a half smile. “Sure, kid, tell me all about basic detective work. I’ve only been doing this for, what…thirty-two years now? The husband ID’d her. Victim is Gwen Landon, age forty-nine. Married, mother of two. Husband said she hasn’t had any recent conflict with anyone.”

“Other than the person who caved in the back of her head with a paving stone,” Reddick pointed out.

“Wouldn’t be the first time a husband didn’t know his wife as well as he thought he did.”

“Possible. But there’s another possibility, too.”

“What’s that?”

Reddick turned to look at his partner. His eyes were small and dark, and he had a habit of squinting when he concentrated intently on something.

“The husband is a liar,” Reddick said.

THE LAST AFFAIR
Author: Margot Hunt
ISBN: 9780778309222
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Publisher: MIRA BOOKS

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you would like to read a copy of this book for yourself, it is available to order from the following retailers:

Posted in Reviews, Sister Reads

After the End by Clare Mackintosh @claremackint0sh @PutnamBooks

Brenda’s review

It took me a while to find the courage to read After The End. When I did, I read it when the house was quiet and it was mostly just me at home so I could be left alone with my thoughts for this one. Once I started, I read it in less than 24 hours and it was all I thought about for a while. Then, it took me a while to find the courage to write this review and then longer to find the words to write.

After The End is a heartbreaking, painful issue-driven story that explores an unthinkable, impossible and unimaginable decision with no right answers, our main characters here parents Pip and Max are left to make after their son Dylan is diagnosed with a brain tumour.

There is nothing more painful than seeing your child not well, nothing more terrifying then the fear of losing them and knowing you have to comes to terms with you might lose them or the unimaginable losing them. You can lose who you are in all that pain. Clare Mackintosh compassionately explores all of this in this unforgettable, emotionally powered story that deeply moved me.

In the first half of the story, Clare Mackintosh explores the raw, honest, heart-wrenching emotions through parents Pip and Max. The second half then explores two different outcomes after the end from their POV. I struggled a bit with the credibility of Max’s after the end POV, but it did not take away from the power of this story at all. The story comes together well and I loved the way it wrapped up. Clare Mackintosh gave me hope and some closure to my own regrets, decisions, judgments made towards me and my mistakes as a parent leaving me with some peace with it all.

“Everyone has an opinion, yet the truth is that no one can really know what is right. No one can predict the future, and so all we can do is make a decision based on the facts we have, and—sometimes on what our heart tells us.”

The most beautiful thing here is this story is the hope and strength I could feel throughout the book right to the very end. Not only hope after a loss but the hope that the choices we make are the right ones and that we can find peace through our bravery, compassion, hope, dignity, and the power of our hearts and we can find who we are again.

Lindsay’s review

Heart-wrenching. Thought-provoking. Emotion-stirring. This has earned a spot on my Favourites List.

One of the most emotional, hard hitting and gut wrenching books I’ve ever read. Pip and Max face a decision that is every parents worst nightmare. Whether to continue treatment for their brain damaged, critically ill two-year-old son or take him off life support to end his suffering. How can one choose? What happens when the parents don’t agree on the decision?

I am emotionally exhausted after finishing this gripping, thought-provoking novel. Never have I ever used so many Kleenex to wipe away tears while reading a book. The author, Clare Mackintosh, does an outstanding job pulling the reader into this unimaginable, heart breaking situation. I felt as if I were there in the hospital room with these characters.

The story is narrated through both Pip and Max’s perspectives, along with their sons’ doctors’ perspective, which were all brilliantly executed. I put myself in each perspective and felt torn and gutted for what they were facing as parents and the doctor. At times, the story had me sobbing uncontrollably to the point that I had to put the book down and take an emotional rest. To say I was invested in this families’ journey is putting it lightly. I was full-out emotionally connected, hanging on every word, hold my breathe and clench my teeth in anticipation of what was to come, choke back sobs in sadness. I felt EVERYTHING alongside these characters.

This is a major change of pace novel for this author who writes thrillers. What a feat for her to successfully transition into such a serious and emotional genre. I’m in awe of her talent and look forward to what she comes out with next!

Thank you to Edelweiss and our local library for our copies of this unforgettable book! 

Posted in Traveling Sisters Reads

Our upcoming Traveling Sister Group reads we are excited about @CeladonBooks

I have been in a bit of blogging rut and buried in a coulee with Norma and Lindsay. We climbing out of our rut and creating some excitement for some titles we just received are looking forward to reading and reviewing.

Celadon Books has published some great books that we have read in our groups and keep talking about, The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides and The Whisper Man by Alex North. They are now Goodreads choice award nominees.

We are excited to add Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin to our upcoming Traveling Sister group reads.

From Goodreads: Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men―employees at the resort―are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth―not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

The Traveling Sisters are switching it up and reading a Non Fiction book in the group.You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters
by Kate Murphy

It’s no secret in our groups the world is just too noisy for me so I jump at the chance to read and discuss one.

From Goodreads

When was the last time you listened to someone, or someone really listened to you?

This life-changing book will transform your conversations forever

As a society, we’ve forgotten how to listen. Modern life is noisy and frenetic, and technology provides constant distraction. So we tune things out or listen selectively – even to those we love most. We’ve become scared of other people’s points of view, and of silence.

Now more than ever, we need to listen to those around us. New York Times contributor Kate Murphy draws on countless conversations she has had with everyone from priests to CIA interrogators, focus group moderators to bartenders, her great-great aunt to her friend’s toddler, to show how only by listening well can we truly connect with others.

Listening is about curiosity and patience – about asking the right questions in the right way. Improvisational comedians and con men are much better at it than most of us. And the cleverest people can be the worst at it. Listening has the potential to transform our relationships and our working lives, improve our self-knowledge, and increase our creativity and happiness. While it may take some effort, it’s a skill that can be learnt and perfected.

When all we crave is to understand and be understood, You’re Not Listening shows us how.

Thank you to Celadon books for our copies for our group reads.


Posted in Reviews, The Sisters Recommend, Traveling Sisters Reads

Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens @aeskens @HBGCanada

Amazing!!! Lindsay and I read and discussed Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens together and we loved it!! As I was discussing this one with Lindsay I started to see more into the depth of the story and I recommend this one for group reads. I then decided to explore Allen Eskens’s website and found some discussion questions. I highly recommend checking them out. I held a discussion in my own head as I answered them on paper and pen. Is that odd or do other people do that? I will be suggesting this one in our Traveling Friends Goodreads Group. I feel this one would make a great in-person group discussion as there is a lot to talk about. It also makes for a thought-provoking discussion with yourself. lol

Brenda’s review

The title here draws from the quote, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Allen Eskens draws on that ignorance and explores prejudice and racism as a way to explore his “own failing regarding notions of prejudice and racism” Taken from his author notes.

Nothing More Dangerous is a prequel to Allen Eskens other books. Boady Sanden is a law professor in The Life We Bury, and we see more of his character in The Heavens May Fall. In Nothing More Dangerous Boady is 15 years old and we follow his coming of age story.

Ellen Eskens creates a thought-provoking part coming of age story here with interesting characters, each with a journey of their own. He weaves a mystery here in the story while layering racial thoughts and feelings along with the racial themes that had me thinking deep into the story. I loved the dynamics here between the characters and their relationships. A few different relationships are explored here so well and each had me feeling different emotions. Eskens has some moves here with those well-layered themes and character dynamics and like a DJ he rolls them right into the next one and we see how dangerous ignorance can be. Ok, I took that phrase with the DJ from Eskens here in this story. He weaves some cliches/phrases in the story that had me laughing and cringing at the same time. I love cliches/phrases and I have been known to use them myself.

The ending was so beautiful and so perfect right out to that amazing line Was Blind and now I see. I really do see so much more after reading this one. I highly recommend.

Lindsay’s review

2019 Favourites List!

Boady (love that name!) is a fifteen-year-old boy who lives with his widowed mother on a remote dirt road in their small town. Hoke, an older man, lives next door and spends many hours with Boady having front porch chats and teaching life lessons. Boady finds himself caught up in a local missing woman’s case where he stumbles upon evidence that no child should be witness to.

Boady stole my heart! I loved everything about him and was fully invested in his journey from start to finish. I adored his relationship with Hoke – it was one of my favourite parts of this novel. I loved watching the dynamics of each of Boady’s relationships change and develop – with his mother, Hoke, his friends and himself.

I enjoyed everything about this book! The gritty, back-roads storyline. The enticing and endearing characters. The engrossing, suspenseful mystery. The writing drew me in from the first word and didn’t let go of my mind until the very last. The way this had my emotions flying around – love, anger, hope, frustration, disgust, comfort – I felt it all.

This is my third Allen Eskens book. I continue to be amazed by his writing – the words seem to easily make their way off of the page and into my heart. I have a strong connection to his writing style and look forward to picking up his other novels.

Thank you to Hachette Canada for sending us our copies to read and review

Posted in Behind the Pages, Reviews, The Sisters Recommend, Traveling Friends Reads

Behind the Pages with Angie Kim author of Miracle Creek @AngieKimWriter

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim has been nominated for two Goodreads choice awards in best mystery/thriller and best debut categories. Of course, I am doing my famous happy dance over this news. I loved Miracle Creek and I love Angie Kim!! She has joined us twice for a Q & A. Once when we read Miracle Creek in our Traveling Friends Goodreads group and then again in our Behind the Pages Goodreads group. I have been slacking a bit with my posts due to life and haven’t posted till now. Now I am glad I have because I think this is a perfect time for this post.

Angie shared some insight into Miracle Creek, herself, her writing process and some of the most highlighted quotes provided by Goodreads. Today I am sharing some of the Q & A with you. You can find the full Q & A here

Brenda Let’s start with how all the success of Miracle Creek had felt for?

Angie Thank you so much, Brenda! It’s been more than a little surreal, quite honestly. I think all writers dream that their books will find an audience, and I of course did as well. But it’s one thing to have silly fantasies, and another to actually have so many of them come true. Because I’m new to the writing/book publishing world, I didn’t even know about many of the things that have happened to me, including Book of the Month, Indie Next, Amazon Best of Month, Library Reads, and all the magazines that feature most-anticipated and best-of lists. (SO MANY lists!!!!) It’s been really amazing and now that we’re gearing up for paperback publication next April, I’m finding out even more things, which are so exciting and fun. But the most fun and gratifying have been doing things like this and book clubs, where I get to interact directly with readers. So thank you!!

Brenda You wrote about themes you know from your life experiences. Can you share a bit of them that inspired you to write this story or shaped the characters for you?

Angie The three main threads of my life that I mined for Miracle Creek are my own experience being a Korean immigrant as a preteen, my first career as a trial lawyer, and my experience as a mother to three kids who all had medical issues as babies/toddlers. (All are fine now, thankfully!)

The immigrant thread – I moved from Seoul to the Baltimore area when I was 11 (much like Mary in Miracle Creek), and I went through a really rough period of being bullied in middle school, not speaking English at all and feeling lost as a result, and being separated from my parents (who ran a grocery store in a dangerous part of Baltimore). One of the things I loved most about writing Miracle Creek was that I got to explore this experience from my parents’ experience as well as my own. (The mom, the dad and the daughter of the immigrant family all have their own POV chapters.)

The courtroom scenes were amazingly fun to write for me, almost like going back to the courtroom, except that I got to control what the witnesses said! Being in the courtroom and questioning hostile witnesses was my favorite part of being a lawyer, so I loved revisiting that.

Finally, the parenting experience provided the foundation for Miracle Creek. I actually did HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) in a group chamber just like “Miracle Submarine” in the novel with one of my kids. I wrote about it in an essay for Vogue, which you can read here: tinyurl.com/vogueangiekim

Brenda You have a few different and very interesting characters each with their own heartache dealing with being a parent? What came first for you the plot/story or the characters?

Angie I would say the situation and setting came first – the HBOT world and the fact that there would be a disaster that occurs in that group chamber during an active session. Then, the characters–both the Yoo family (the owners of the HBOT chamber) and the patients and their families who are affected by the tragedy. The plot, the trial, what happened that led up to that moment of the fire, etc. – all that came as I was writing.

Brenda What character or characters did you identify more with?

Angie I probably identify the most with Mary Yoo, because she is me (as a preteen/teenager). The Yoos are the characters who are most directly based on people from my own life (me + my parents). As an adult, I also identify with Elizabeth, the mother who’s on trial, mostly because I, like her, felt guilty at times about having a child who had the least severe medical issues in the group HBOT setting and felt a lot of angst about that.

Brenda What does your writing day look like to you? Do you have a routine?

Angie I used to have a routine, which I hope to get back into once travel and events slow down a bit. After the kids are all off to school, I start with reading my previous day’s writing over coffee, and I just force myself to sit in my writing nook for as may hours as I possibly can. I don’t have any word count goals or time goals because it depends so greatly on what I’m working on. If I’m working on the beginning of a scene or chapter, it might take me days to find the right sentence. If I’m working on continuing a scene, I’m usually in the flow and can crank out the last 1/3 of a scene in one sitting.

Brenda On Goodreads you shared some insight into some for the most popular highlighted Kindle passages. Can you give us here some insight into them?

Highlight My Husband Asked me to Lie

Angie The first version of the beginning of the novel started with “The pounding. It’s the pounding I remember most,” and then went directly into the scene with TJ’s head-banging (in the middle of page 7). This original opening line was a rhythmic homage to Russell Banks’ THE SWEET HEREAFTER, which opens with “A dog—it was a dog I saw for certain. Or thought I saw.” I love the structure of that novel—the exploration of a tragedy, the causation and the aftermath, through four people’s POVs—and I wanted to do something similar with my novel.

But one day, the line “My husband asked me to lie” came to me, and I knew that had to be the beginning of the novel. It seemed so perfect for the themes of the novel, as well as the character arc for Young Yoo, who struggles to find her own voice and to stand up to her husband for much of the novel.

Brenda This is one of my favorite quotes from your book that I really could relate too. I love to see more insight into the quote “But life doesn’t work like that. Tragedies don’t inoculate you against further tragedies, and misfortune doesn’t get sprinkled out in fair proportions; bad things get hurled at you in clumps and batches, unmanageable and messy.”

Angie This is one of my favorites, too! As I commented earlier, I have three boys who all had medical issues. My first child was born deaf in one ear due to a neurological condition, which involved a lot of hospital visits, tests, and therapy when he was a baby/toddler. By the time he was four, when everything seemed resolved with that (and other associated neuropathies ruled out), we found out that he had two OTHER unrelated medical issues—celiac disease and ulcerative colitis—and my other child turned out to have severe anaphylactic allergies. Shortly thereafter, we had two medical scares with our third child for conditions completely unrelated to any of those. (Thankfully, all three kids are fine now.) I was a Philosophy major in college, and this set of events definitely made me think hard about how foolish I’d been to expect that going through one misfortune would mean nothing more would happen to my life, at least for a while.

Highlight “Having a special-needs child didn’t just change you; it transmuted you, transported you to a parallel world with an altered gravitational axis.”

Angie I did HBOT in real life with one of my kids who had ulcerative colitis. The standard treatments weren’t working, and he was in pain, throwing up every day, losing weight, and we became desperate and decided to try this experimental treatment. It was a group HBOT chamber like Miracle Submarine, with kids with chronic illnesses and special needs, including autism and cerebral palsy. It was an intense and intimate environment, with a confessional feel, and we parents talked about our lives and families. No matter what the condition or the severity, the one thing we all agreed on is that when your kids have a chronic condition, it’s not just your actions that change, but the whole world, your outlook, your relationship to society, EVERYTHING changes. One of my favorite things about having written this book is reading reviews and emails from readers who have children with special needs or chronic illnesses—hearing that they appreciate reading sentiments like this because they’ve thought it themselves, and it makes them feel less alone.

Highlight “That was the thing about lies: they demanded commitment. Once you lied, you had to stick to your story”

Angie I think lying is very difficult, precisely because of this. You have to stick to the story you tell, and you have to stick to all the ramifications of that story. My favorite part of being a lawyer (by far!) was being in the courtroom or taking a deposition, questioning a hostile witness and ferreting out and trying to find a weakness in their story. One of the best ways to do that, I found, was to ask them about a logical extension of their main story, something that must be true if they’re telling the truth, and then confronting them with a document or previous statement that contradicts that. The funny thing was, people would often continue to stick to their lie even when faced with incontrovertible evidence that it was a lie. It made them look ridiculous and destroyed their credibility, and yet, they’d persist. I found it fascinating, this commitment to their lies. It often led to a situation in which someone would lie about something little, insignificant, but rather than admit that they lied, shame would take over and they’d end up saying more and more outlandish things in support of that initial little lie, until the lie grew to something big and important. Shame is at the root of so many lies and secrets. I think it may be the most powerful emotion we have, certainly the most long-lasting

Brenda I really connected with the characters in their grief for their children and I loved that you added some of the inner thoughts that in grief we have, the ones that we are too afraid to say for being judged, unliked or feeling bad for thinking them. The thoughts that make us human. “So if a tiny part of us has these thoughts a tiny part of the time, thoughts we shut out as soon as they creep in, is that so bad? Isn’t that just human?”

Angie Thank you so much for highlighting this, which is what Elizabeth says to Teresa in response to what Teresa confesses to her, about her once having a fleeting thought (that she’s extremely ashamed by) of wondering if her life would be better if her daughter had died. This is a passage that Ari Shapiro read on NPR’s All Things Considered and discussed with me. I love that so much because it’s such a pivotal moment that’s at the heart of this novel for me. I think that there’s a Myth of the Good Mother, which is that mothers are and should be saintly. Elle Magazine said that Miracle Creek “tears the ‘Good Mother’ myth apart,” and I hope that that’s true. I think all humans have fleeting, shameful thoughts, but I think mothers who admit openly to having such thoughts are demonized. Being a mother is hard. It’s hard with any child, special needs and chronic illnesses or not. We should be able to be open and honest with each other about it, and not have it be so taboo. I’m not saying that it’s all hard and bad—not at all! There’s intense love and so much joy, but it can be awful sometimes, and we should be able to talk about that and process it with each other, together.

Brenda Can you tell us what your are working on?

Angie I’m working on my next novel (or trying to, anyway!). It’s about a 10-yr old boy who’s nonverbal (with autism) who goes on a walk at the beginning of the novel with his father, who’s his primary caregiver. But only the boy returns home. And because he’s nonverbal, he can’t tell us what happened to the father. His older siblings (17-18 yr old fraternal twins, one boy, one girl) become obsessed with working with him with assistive communication technologies and therapies to get him to communicate

What Angie had to say about us “I know this is an active group filled with passionate readers, and I loved getting a chance to think through and answer such thoughtful, insightful questions. Thank you so much for reading Miracle Creek and for inviting me to take part in this amazing discussion group!”

For more highlights on Goodreads can be found here

Posted in The Sisters Recommend, Traveling Friends Reads, Traveling Sisters Reads

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger @WmKentKrueger @SimonSchusterCA @AtriaBooks

This Tender Land was our monthly group read for October in our Traveling Friends Goodreads group. This mesmerizing and absorbing read makes for such a great group read. There is so much to think about and talk about. We all lost our hearts to these characters and loved this well thought out story!

This Tender Land swept me away on a thought-provoking adventure along the river with the children here in the story and I lost my heart to them as they searched for their place in the world. I was captivated by the children and their personal journey and adventures. They encounter challenges, threats and kindness from strangers along the way. I loved how with each turn or twist of the river, they learned something about themselves, each other, people and the world around them. In turn, I learned something about myself or saw something different in the world around me.

William Kent Krueger offers up his heart here is this remarkable affecting beautiful story full of hope and possibilities not only for these endearing characters but for us as well.

“In asking you to read This Tender Land, I am, in a way, offering you my heart.”

There is some tension here with the danger lurking in every turn. I found myself rooting, fearing for the children and yes, shouting at them at times. I wanted to protect them and was silently teaching them about the ways of the world in my mind but it was them that taught me something. I highly recommend reading this one and as Odie said “Open yourself to every possibility for there is nothing your heart can imagine that is not so”

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley.