Posted in Reviews, The Sisters Recommend, Traveling Friends Reads

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim @AngieKimWriter @goodreads

YAHOO!!! Our June Traveling Friends Goodreads Group pick Miracle Creek by Angie Kim is wrapping up and it was one fantastic group read! Angie Kim nailed it here with her stand out, stunning, unique and twisty debut!!

Brenda’s review

From the very first page, Angie Kim writes an insightful, masterfully plotted and well-layered story here. One like no other I have read before. For me, it’s stories like this that I seek out and I need as a reader. It had me digging deep into the depth of the story and my mind raced with all kinds of thoughts that were provoked from the insight to the themes and elements in the story.

Miracle Creek explores a few themes here and it is so well developed and paced. There is a mystery here with a whodunit and the drama starts to unfold in the courtroom.  The mystery is so well weaved into the storyline it becomes just one of the elements that make up this story. The story turns into a fascinating study as we see the characters version of the truth and just how the truth can be altered or influenced.  The character’s moral compass is examined and a well played out dominion effect takes hold and wraps up this ending. It’s mind-blowing and absolutely fascinating how it all plays out. 

Angie Kim had me connected to each character in one way or another with the moving and insightful look into parenting. Each character conflicted and desperate in their struggles and feelings of being alone with their inner thoughts. I felt so many emotions as we see their thoughts and the judgement from others. The ending wraps up so well and after discussing this one in the group I was left with such a clear picture as to how one thing lead to another creating a brilliant well plotted story from start to finish.

Miracle Creek made for a stand out group read for us and one that will be a favourite of mine. There is so much to talk about here and in the discussion I could see all the different things we each picked up in the story that really enhanced the reading experience for this one.  I could talk about this one forever.

Norma’s review

Riveting, affecting, & vivid!

Wowza! I absolutely LOVED this and think all the buzz surrounding this book is so well deserved and warranted.

MIRACLE CREEK by ANGIE KIM is a poignant, moving, gripping, powerful, captivating and absolutely stunning debut novel that captured my attention and heart right from the very first page. I was immediately drawn into this murder mystery and found it so irresistibly unputdownable.

ANGIE KIM delivers a fascinating, suspenseful, interesting, engaging and beautifully written courtroom drama story here that was absolutely perfect in every way. The characters and storyline definitely got under my skin and I was intensely impressed with how masterfully done this story was.

This was such a powerful and thought-provoking read that I was totally invested and immersed in. I especially loved the emotive courtroom drama scenes which definitely created lots of intrigue and edge of your seat suspense. 

Traveling Friends Read

Some thoughts from our friends reviews from Goodreads.

This book introduces us to various characters who at first come across as likable but as the book progresses and as more information is divulged, their likability dwindles and suspicions shift. Most have secrets, hidden agendas, and secret thoughts. As their chapters progressed, the characters are fleshed out as are their inner thoughts and what they were really thinking and doing leading up to the explosion -Debra

The writing is expressive, the interactions between the characters feel natural and it is easy to feel empathy for most of them. Individual voices are clearly distinguished in chapters told by various characters as they relate the events leading up to the accident that changed their lives forever. All the characters have their own minor human flaws and failings, which contribute to the accident in one way or another. Intelligent and thoughtful, this is a novel that will appeal to a wide audience. – Carolyn

Told from many POV’s, Kim does an amazing job presenting this story from individual perspectives. The characters are so well written and so well developed, hearing each of their voices and their side of the situation gives life and understanding to the entire story. It is a reflection on how quickly and easily words/actions/situations can be judged, misconstrued, and misunderstood. Their stories are heartbreaking and fascinating, all in one. – Nikki

If you’re a parent, MIRACLE CREEK will hit you like a freight train right where it hurts most, because when it comes down to it, parents and children form the center of this brilliant novel. We all want the best for our children, right? Only who decides what is best? How will our choices affect our and their lives? And what if your child is sick, and in pain, and you’re just trying to stay afloat here and do the best you can? – Heidi

#miraclecreek #goodreadssummerreadingchallange #travelingfriendsread 


Posted in Reviews, Traveling Sisters Reads

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly @StMartinsPress #travelingsistersread

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly is now available!

Brenda’s Review

Bethlehem is a carefully written, touching and moving family saga that takes a different approach here to those buried family secrets. The story explores temptation, regret, cost of carrying those secrets and how it changes the people who do.

Things start off slow here or better described as quietly as we see the relationships between the characters develop and get a strong sense of how they care for each other.  It takes some patience here and comes at risk here for reviewers as we are often rushed to get to the long list of titles we have. However, my Traveling Sisters warned me and I waited to start this one when I could give it the focus it needs.  

What seems as a simple story develops into a complex story and there is a lot of depth to this one.  Once the layers are placed the pace starts to pick up and the story becomes quite interesting. There are two timelines and stories going on here with our main characters and I found one to be much stronger than the other and at times the weaker one added some weight to the story.  However, I really enjoyed how it all came together and thought it was brilliantly done. There is a lot to think about and discuss with this one and it really lead to a great discussion among the Traveling Sisters who read this one. I highly recommend for group reads especially when they are read over a longer period of time and some focus can be given to it.

Thank you to NetGalley and St Martin Press for my copy to read and review.


Posted in Reviews

The Need by Helen Phillips @helencphillips @SimonSchusterCA #theneed #travelingsistersread

The Need by Helen Phillips is now available!

Brenda’s Review

The Need is a unique, complex, brilliantly written story that is one of the strangest books I have ever read. Now, this is a good one to go in blind however if you are like me and want to know what direction a story is going I think it’s good to read a little bit about this one before going in. It’s a hard one to review because I feel saying anything about this story might be a spoiler as it really is very original and a very different reading experience here. However, it’s very complex and fast-paced and at times I felt I was missing things I really needed to pick up on. I feel the whole experience here is picking up on your own anxiety, fears, vulnerabilities, needs as a mother and facing your parenting self.

The Need is a thriller, horror with some sci-fi that explores the fears and needs that make a mother vulnerable. The story starts off like a fast-paced thriller with a little horror there and then things take a little sci-fi. There is some horror throughout the story but not like you might think. The chapters are short and quick but pack a lot in them with all the complex layers to the story.  Each chapter ended with me wanting to read one more chapter to find out what is coming next. 

Helen Phillips does a fantastic job here with the characters of the children and the dynamics with them.  The daughter Viv is witty, sharp and entertaining. A bit annoying at times but I really enjoyed her character.  She is realistic with all the traits of a toddler that had me laughing and cringing with her behavior.   

This one took some focus to really pick up on all the complexities of the story and I am really glad I gave this odd story a try. I think it one not to be missed for anyone who loves to delve into all the complexities of being a Mother. I highly recommend for group reads.

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

Posted in Reviews, Traveling Sisters Reads

Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin @HarperCollinsCa @WmMorrowBooks #neverlookback #travelingsistersread @about_thethrill

Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin is now available!

Brenda’s Review

I loved If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin and was really excited when I got my hands on this one!  There might have been some dancing going on. After reading Never Look Back there was definitely some dancing going on with my Traveling Sister Kim who read this one with me. We both really enjoyed this one. 

Never Look Back is a fast-paced, fun twisty and action-packed story that had me on the edge of my seat trying to piece together how everyone was connected to our teenage couple serial killers here in this story. 

Alison Gaylin delivers quite the fun entertaining read here with each twist to the story as she delves into each character’s psyche. The story does have a predictable feel to it right from the start however Alison Gaylin has a way with those well-plotted twists that kept it feeling exciting. Each twist kept me guessing and doubting everything right up to the very end. I highly recommend for a tension-filled, entertaining read with some unsettling dark to it to keep you on edge. I highly recommend.

Thank you to William Morrow Books and HarperCollins Canada for my copy!

From Kim’s review

Wow! Just flipping wow! This book captivated me from the very first page and never let up. Sometimes a book starts out with a bang and you think that surely the author will not be able to keep up that type of  intensity all the way through the book, well this one does. This book was not on my radar and yet it is one of the best I have read so far this year! For Kim’s full review


Posted in Reviews, The Sisters Recommend, Traveling Sisters Reads

Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera @DebSpera @parkrowbooks @HarlequinBooks @HarperCollinsCa #travelingsistersread

Lindsay’s review

This book has earned top spot on my 2019 Favourites List – I loved every single thing about it!

Gertrude, Retta and Annie are three women from very different backgrounds. Their lives’ intertwine and connect throughout this mesmerizing story set on a plantation in South Carolina in 1924. Each woman has a background filled with family tradition, expectations and secrets. Told in alternating perspectives, the novel shifts seamlessly between each character adding layers of detail and intrigue. Racism, poverty, hunger, sexual assault are just a few of the heavy topics covered within this unforgettable tale. It packs a heavy punch and is executed with the force of exceptional, spellbinding writing.

The characters were so well developed and undeniably endearing that I actually miss them now that I have finished the novel. They stole my heart. They were charming, determined, vulnerable, strong and flawed females who each faced their own struggles and challenges. During a time when women were not respected as worthy or independent, these three face their challenges head on.

As I read this story, I continually felt a sense of astonishment that this is a debut novel. The writing is stunning and exquisite. The words flowed off the page effortlessly and landed snuggly inside my heart. The author, Deb Spera, has set the bar high for a spectacular debut novel.

I feel I should give warning that there are some highly disturbing topics covered throughout this book that deal with child abuse. Though these scenes are uncomfortable to read, they are handled in a very mature and respectful manner without getting into extreme detail which I appreciated.

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for sending me a physical ARC to read and review! 

Brenda’s Review

I almost missed reading Call Your Daughter Home in my book chaos and if it wasn’t for Lindsay I just might have. Set in 1924 South Carolina after infamous boll weevil infestation that devastated the land and the economy Debra Spera brings us an unforgettable story that is not to be missed by historical fiction lovers. I sure am glad I didn’t.

Call Your Daughter Home is an impressive, compelling and engaging story that explores the lives of three equally unforgettable, strong southern women who come together through place in desperate times.   The story is told through each of their distinctive voices and we see each of their own conflicts surrounding their relationships with their daughters and husbands.   

Deb Spera does such an amazing job here creating such well-developed characters that caught my heart and I was immediately drawn into their lives by the emotional depth to each.  I was captivated by the sense of place and could feel the danger lurking for each woman like I could feel the danger from the creatures of the swamp. I loved how Deb Spera weaved the lives of these women together and formed a bond between them allowing each woman to become stronger as they faced their own conflicts and in the end came together to stand up for justice.  I highly recommend!

I received a complimentary copy from Edelweiss.


Posted in Goodreads Summer Challenge, Reviews, Traveling Friends Reads

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple @goodreads #travelingfriendsread #goodreadssummerreadingchallange

Lindsay and I read Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple  for the Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge that we are participating in our Traveling Friends Goodreads Group.  Lindsay used this one for the “The book is better: Read a book being adapted for TV or film this year.” and I used it for a “Good as gold:  Read a book that won a Goodreads Choice Award”.

Brenda’s review

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a unique, fun and entertaining story that explores the creative side to our quirky, eccentric and endearing main character Bernadette through different documents used in the story.  At first, it took me a bit to get into the flow of the format with the emails, letters, etc. so I decided to listen to parts of this one and I really enjoyed the narrator. I thought it really enhanced the story to hear the different formats used in the story and the narrator was very expressive as she read the story.  I am so curious about the movie and looking forward to watching it when it comes out.

There is a lot of depth here with the different documents and how they are relevant to the disappearance of Bernadette and through them, we can see just how people view Bernadette leaving us questioning Bernadette’s state of mind.  I was also questioning a few other characters as well. We also see the creative side to Bernadette’s husband computer engineer Eligie who creates for Microsoft.  I enjoyed the dynamics here with both of their creative sides and just how different they were from each other as well as how people reacted to them.  

Some things felt a bit over the top here with just how eccentric Bernadette and this story is and towards the end, Maria Semple does push that a bit into an unrealistic way however for me, it felt heartwarming as to how it all came together.

“People like you must create.  If you don’t you become a menace to society. ”

In the end, I was left with so much to think about and so much I wanted to talk about.  I delved into the creative side of people and began to understand the creative people in my life a bit more after reading this one.  I highly recommend for group reads.

Lindsay’s review

Quirky and unforgettable characters with a unique and captivating storyline. 

This novel was a refreshing change of pace from what I have been reading lately. A silly, unpredictable story with eccentric and entertaining characters that had me laughing out loud. I really liked the way the story unfolded through letters, emails, reports and the narrative of Bee, the daughter of the family. Some of the plot overlapped between these points of narration giving a layered look into what was happening which I thought was done very well. 

For me, the first half of the book was more intriguing and enjoyable than the second half. My interest was piqued from the start and my curiosity had me flipping the pages as quickly as possible. The second half of the book began to drag in parts and my connection to the storyline lessened. The plot took an unrealistic route (for me) and lost its spark and intrigue. While I still loved the characters and their quirkiness, I wasn’t invested in what was happening to them.