Posted in Reviews, Traveling Sisters Read Reviews

Falling Behind Friday: You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart @NicoleLynnBaart @AtriaBooks #BookBloggers #travelingsisterreads #askthetravelingsistersaboutourreads #askusaboutourbook

A while back I started Falling Behind Friday and then I started falling behind on that. So I decided to give it another try but try to catch up on some of those reviews I have been fallen behind on writing. Today I am bringing you our reviews for You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart . We read this one with a few members of the Traveling Sisters aways back.

Brenda’s review

A father’s tragic accident, A mother’s world shattered and her quest to find answers and put her world back together.

I have to start off by saying that I love this title. It’s such a powerful title for a story like this one and says so much for it. Every time I look at the title it sends such heartfelt shivers up my spine. You Were Always Mine is an emotional, compelling heartwarming story that explores adoption and the bonds of motherhood glued together by love.

This one is a little slow paced as it has a lot of emotional depth to it. Nicole Baart does such a great job capturing the strength, determination and love of a mother here with Jess Chamberlain. We see how secrets, grief and loss effects the family here including the children. It was refreshing to see the children being included in the storyline as well. There is a mystery here as well that ties into the story and we see Jess’s determination to find answers. The story is well-layered along with the clues and the reveal comes together well.

This one is a good choice for group reads as there is a lot to discuss here with this story. We shared some insight from personal experience in the discussion that really added to the story. There is also a good set of thought-provoking discussion question that really had me thinking more about the story. I highly recommend.

Norma’s review

Compelling, haunting & thought-provoking!

YOU WERE ALWAYS MINE by NICOLE BAART is an excellent, riveting, moving, and passionate story centered around adoption that I was immediately drawn into and had me interested right to the very end. 

Even though the intensity level of this tale slowly builds as the story progresses there is this brilliant obscure element to the storyline that immediately grabbed my attention and had me totally intrigued in what I was reading and what it all meant. This definitely brought in an extra layer of suspense to the story for me. It was quite puzzling and fit perfectly into the dynamics of this story. 

NICOLE BAART delivers an intriguing, engaging, complex and well-written multi-layered story here with absolutely wonderful character development, a suspenseful mystery, and a thoughtful and emotional storyline. 

I absolutely loved our main character here, Jessica and thought that she was an extremely well-written, realistic, believable and compassionate character. I was seeking the truth and wanting answers right along beside her.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Eye-catching, beautiful, appealing, meaningful and a significant representation to storyline that I absolutely love.
Title: The title is definitely intriguing and is a fitting, clever and excellent representation to storyline. 
Writing/Prose: Well-written, eloquent, expressive, beautiful and engaging.
Plot: Engrossing, perplexing, thought-provoking, insightful, fascinating, heartfelt, perfectly-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: Surprising, satisfying, and extremely pleasing. 
Overall: This was such a touching suspenseful family drama story about adoption, a mother’s love, family secrets, betrayal, and grief. And with the mystery to solve and Jessica’s perseverance to search for the truth turns this Women’s Fiction novel into quite the thrilling domestic thriller. All these themes made this extremely hard to put down! Would highly recommend!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Atria Books, Nicole Baart for our copies 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

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths #BookBloggers #travelingsisterreads #askthetravelingsistersaboutourreads #askusaboutourbook

Brenda’s review

Elly Griffiths is well known for her Ruth Galloway series. The Stranger Diaries  is a stand alone and my first book by Elly Griffiths. I read it in our Traveling Sisters reading group.

A gothic murder mystery with a modern twist, a whodunnit, and a ghost story.

The Stranger Diaries has a unique and interesting format to the story that we all loved. The story is told from different overlapping POVs, and timelines, passages from a book, a story within the story method and diary entries from one of the main characters.

We all were intrigued right from the start with this entertaining and fun story that takes place on the grounds of a school where a famous author R.M. Holland once lived. We loved the gothic tone and setting to the story and were drawn in the murder mystery and ghost story right from the start. There were some things here in this story that just didn’t work for me and a few of us just didn’t buy into. This lead to some discussion within the group and it was interesting to see how everyone reacted to these things.

The ending also left us with a few things to discuss.  Some of us were shocked by whodunnit and of course even though I was questioning a few things I didn’t figure out who it was.  You would think after so many thrillers my detective skills would be better. But no! The ending wrapped up quite quickly and a bit neat and we were questioning a few things about that. Leaving a few of us not buying into it and the rest not really bothered by it because of the well down gothic elements to the story. I highly recommend this one for group reads. There is plenty to talk about!

Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for my copy to read and review.

From DeAnn’s review

This tale gets all the points for originality and atmosphere. It has a very gothic air and feels very British to this American reader. Set in modern times, but ample references to the past with Oxford, literature, diaries, and mysterious writers. Throw in an abandoned factory, a haunted school, magic, and several murders and you’ve got a classic mystery.

All throughout the book we are teased with snippets from a classic ghost story written by R.M. Holland. Clare just happens to be an expert on this writer and is writing a book about him. When life starts to mimic the story, things take a deadly turn and Kaur frantically tries to solve the case before another murder happens.

From Mary Beth’s review

I was so surprised who the killer was and I never suspected the killer. I didn’t think the killer has a strong motive. It just wasn’t good enough. I thought the plot was great and loved everything else about this book.

I just loved the characters. I loved Clare and her teenage daughter and I loved the dog Herbert and thought he was adorable. My favorite character was Byrony Hughes. I thought her character was done so well.

From Marilyn’s review

There is an eerie feel to the book, as more and more things happen that allude to Holland and his writings, which is fun in a modern day novel. I enjoyed reading from the POV of all three characters, the snobbish, beautiful Clare, the too mature for her age, Georgia, and the hard nosed, sarcastic and witty DS Kaur. Reading the events of the story from three different perspectives often changed the who and how of the story for me and even though I briefly picked the right person for the murderer, I was led astray by new events and seeing the events from a different view point. . And then there was the short story within this novel that added to the mysterious and gothic feel of the book. 

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 Friends Reads Reviews

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald @Christinamac79 @about_thethrill #BookBloggers #askthetravelingsistersaboutourreads #askusaboutourbook

We had the absolute pleasure of Christina McDonald joining in on our Traveling Friends Goodreads discussion as well as our Instagram discussion for her outstanding, emotional, thought-provoking domestic suspense novel The Night Olivia Fell. Christina so gracious with her time, spend two hours chatting with us and answering our questions.  She shared some insight into the story and her writing. It was the most incredible reading experience we have had in our groups. After our discussion with Christina there might of been some dancing around the house!

The Night Olivia Fell:Suspenseful and twisty that kept us guessing, so heart-wrenching it left us in tears, a mother’s love and the lengths she will go to protect her child shone through and left us reflecting on our own need to protect our children. Family secrets and the search for the truth left us discussing what we prefer truth or happiness.  A mother’s grieve left us hugging our own children.

Norma’s Review

Affecting, highly irresistible & intensely entertaining!

THE NIGHT OLIVIA FELL by CHRISTINA MCDONALD was an absolutely fabulous novel that I completely devoured and was totally invested in. It was such a moving, suspenseful, enjoyable, and heartfelt tale that immediately evoked emotion and totally grabbed my attention. It opens up with a nightmarish scene that definitely pulled at my heartstrings and had me sitting on the edge of my seat in anguish and despair for Abi and her love for Olivia as we are pretty much privy to Olivia’s fate right from the very beginning.

CHRISTINA MCDONALD delivers an impressive debut that was character-driven, gripping, fast-paced, intriguing and well-written that was told in two timelines between Abi’s perspective after Olivia’s fall and Olivia’s before the accident.

I absolutely love it when a book produces so much emotion from me and has me pondering and guessing the outcome with all the different possible scenarios. This book for me had it all! An emotionally charged & fascinating storyline, realistic & believable character dynamics, and a well-crafted & intense mystery.

Lindsay’s review

One of my worst nightmares. Being woken in the night by a phone call that my child has been in an accident and is in the hospital. This is what happens to Abi Knight. After mysteriously falling off a bridge, her teenage daughter, Olivia, is on life-support with brain damage and no chance of recovery. Upon absorbing the shock of this devastating news, Abi discovers that Olivia is pregnant and must stay on life-support to keep the baby alive.

This story pulled me in right away. I had countless urgent questions from the first few pages. What happened to Olivia? Who is the baby’s father? What was she doing out at night on that bridge? The author, Christina McDonald, does a fantastic job keeping the suspense thick and strong throughout the novel. The characters were extremely well developed, leaving a lasting and impactful impression. The dual timelines and transition between narrators were smooth and powerful, leaving me yearning for just “one more chapter”. The last few chapters had me sobbing and emotionally drained. The Epilogue was so very powerful and perfect.

A look into our Traveling Friends Goodreads discussion

I have to say wow! I love how everything all came together. At one point I suspected everyone throughout reading it.  I love how they were so many red herring and believable read flags throughout the story. I loved both perspectives and really thought Christina captured both of them so well. I was really blown away by Olivia’s voice. So realistic and not annoying.  Lol I am not sure what I expected going into this one. I think I was thinking it was going to be more like a twisty fast-paced thriller but this was an emotionally fast-paced story that explored a family’s love and secrets.  It surprised me how much insight and emotion depth there was to it. Brenda

Well I am adding another “Wowza” comment! This was an amazing book for me and I was a babbling mess in the end. I just loved this book and thought it was pretty much perfect in every way.  Norma

I thought the characters were very well developed, the suspense had me intrigued all the way through, the switching perspectives between Olivia and Abi were great. My suspicions were all over the place. Lindsay

Wow! Read this one in two sittings And, it did bring a tear to my eye in the end.  I found it to be suspenseful from start to finish, Jayme

Wow – that was an emotional read for me!  I shed a few tears. Such a good story! Heidi

I am right there with all of the “WOW” comments! 🙂 This one had it all–suspense, great plot, well-developed characters, and an emotional and satisfying ending. I was not expecting to get all teary at the end, wow.. that was heartbreaking Nikki

I really enjoyed the book too. I think the way it was written starting with Olivia on life support and then delving back into the past to find out how she got there was what made it so suspenseful. Carolyn

I enjoyed how Christina wrote it in both POV. I thought it was easy to follow but also kept you on the end of your seat trying to figure out what really happened. Of course, I kept thinking I figured it out and in the end ALL of my theories were wrong! The writing was captivating, thought-provoking, suspenseful and emotionally charged. I think she did a fantastic job and I cannot wait to read more from her! Chessi

I enjoyed this book right from the first page I liked the chapters being split between the two main characters as you got a little more insight of the storylines about each of them and how different they were from what they each believed. Jess

From our Friends’ review

Nikki
The Night Olivia Fell immediately drew me in and never let me go. Christina McDonald delivers a novel that blends a little bit of mystery, a little bit of suspense, and a whole lot of emotion into a heart wrenching and thrilling tale

Alternating between past and present, the story unfolds as we hear from Abi and Olivia. The alternating perspectives and timelines truly enhance the story, giving life to these characters and building the momentum of the novel. McDonald does an excellent job capturing both the mom and daughter side, with her teenage-voice for Olivia being especially well executed.

While there are mysteries to be solved and secrets to uncover, there are no super, major shocks or blindsiding twists… and that’s ok! Because the family dynamic, the level of heartbreak, the exploration of hard choices, and the overall emotional feel of the story is what makes this book. The mystery part is just extra icing on the cake.

Kim

Towards the ending this story morphed into an emotional roller coaster for me. There is a part where the fine details that the author includes literally had me feeling like I was in the room with them. I often come away from a book feeling euphoric when I really love the book. This book touched on something that I can’t even put into the words. I felt emotionally overwhelmed for several hours after finishing. I felt a sense of personal loss, which I never feel like this when reading a book. I had to keep reminding myself that it is a BOOK and it is a work of fiction. I think this speaks volumes as to the immense talent this author has that she managed to get me so emotionally worked up. I obviously can’t express how much I loved this book and I highly recommend it to everyone. This book is going to stay in my thoughts for a long time to come. For Kim’s full review

Debra
This book is told through both Abi and Olivia’s point of view. Abi after being told about her daughter’s fall and Olivia’s told from months leading up to and the day of the fall. The reader gets to learn more about each of these women, their thoughts and emotions. Family dynamics, mother-daughter relationships, dating, falling in love, friendship, truth, the search for one’s identity, etc. it’s all here in this book.

I found this book to be absorbing and felt for both Abi and Olivia. This book will pull on your heartstrings and had me reaching for my tissues. Watching Abi grieve and fight to learn what happened to her daughter, I couldn’t help but wonder what if? Unimaginable. The reactions and emotions in this book felt believable and raw.

Jess

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald has the most heartbreaking and heartfelt ending I’ve read in along time.
It’s a book where you need time to sit and finish in one day, the chapters are short and easy whilst spilt between the two main characters.One telling the story from the present and the other telling the story on the run up to devastating conclusion.
It’s fast, it’s easy, it also keeps you guessing and plotting what you think is going to happen to then twist and make you realise you never really knew at all and it just breaks your heart (and yes I cried that doesn’t happen very often when reading a book only on rare occasions😢) I really highly recommend this book,
The ending to this story is going to stay with me for a long time.

Thank you so much to Christina McDonald for joining in our discussion and for sending me a finished copy of your book. I will be hugging it for awhile!

Have you read this one? Are you running to the store or your computer to buy this one? Drop us a comment! We would love to hear from you!

Posted in Reviews

Fall Back Down When I Die by Joe Wilkins @HBGCanada @littlebrown #BookBloggers #askthetravelingsistersaboutourreads #askusaboutourbook

Fall Back Down When I Die by Joe Wilkins is now available!

Brenda’s Review

A Rugged western, a ranch hand and a traumatized boy connected by an unexpected bond, a grieving assistant principal and her daughter and the violence that connects them all

Fall Back Down When I Die by Joe Wilkins is a western like story that captures the rugged and beautiful setting in Bull Mountains in eastern Montana and the conflicts that tie the people of the town together.

The story starts off slow as we get to know our main characters here through their different POV. Each with their own conflicts that connect them together and to the land around them. I was quickly drawn into the bond between the characters that won my heart right from the start. The story slowly unfolds until chaos erupts and violence threatens to tear them apart. The pace picks up and felt a bit rushed for me and I would of like to have seen more time spend on this part of the story. Despite this, in the end, it all came together well for me allowing me to feel those emotions I love to feel from an emotionally layered story. I highly recommend!

Thank you to Little, Brown and Company and Hachette Canada for my 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

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton @BerkleyPub #BookBloggers #askthetravelingsistersaboutourreads #askusaboutourbook

American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt by Stephanie Marie Thornton is now available!

The President’s Daughter, America’s Princess, An adventurous, attention Seeker

Stephanie Marie Thornton research shows through here as she brings Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s colourful, witty, and unconventional personality alive for us as she weaves the events of Alice’s life with a slightly fictional take.

I enjoyed seeing the many sides to Alice throughout the story as she dealt with secrets, betrayal, scandal, tragedy and heart-ached. It was a bit longer than it needed to be for me with a little to much drama that weighted down the story at times for me. I loved that Alice’s strength shines through and I wondered at times how someone could get through so much heart-ache. In the end Thornton showed me how someone does.

Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing for sending me a 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 Traveling Sisters Read Reviews

The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets @BerkleyPub #BookBloggers #travelingsistersread #askthetravelingsistersaboutourreads #askusaboutourbook

The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets is now available!

Brenda’s review

An adventure, a wildlife study, rescue dogs, a harsh environment and a hunt for a serial killer.

The Last Woman In The Forest takes us on an adventure through an atmospheric setting with some harsh conditions that send some chills up my back in more ways than one.   

Diane Les Becquets weaves an interesting and unique story as she takes us on an adventure with our main character Marian as she joins a wildlife research group using rescue dogs.  I really loved the addition of the dogs who track endangered wildlife. They became characters themselves. Marian meets daring yet charismatic and smart Tate and she starts to see some inconsistency in their life.  The tension and suspense increases as Marian searches for answers and we learn more about a serial killer in the area.

The story jumps around a lot between different timelines and settings and I found myself confused at times.  This took away a bit from the beautifully descriptive writing of the setting for me. I got confused at times with the different areas the timelines were in and in the end, I needed Norma to clear some things up for me.  

Diane Les Becquets does a great job creating some interesting characters and I could see them coming alive in their environment.  I could feel the connection they had to the study, their dogs and the land around them.

I enjoyed the way the story came together in the end and I pieced a few things together but was still surprised with some of the twists to this story making this one a satisfying read for me.

Norma’s review

Slow burning, descriptive & eerily entertaining!

THE LAST WOMAN IN THE FOREST  by DIANE LES BECQUETS is an interesting, enjoyable, and chilling tale that immediately grabbed my attention and held steadily throughout.  Being from Alberta, Canada & visiting Montana often I absolutely loved the outdoor & wilderness backdrop to this story.

DIANE LES BECQUETS delivers a character-driven, atmospheric, slow-moving, intriguing and well-written read here that I wouldn’t necessarily say was all that suspenseful or gripping but the vividly descriptive details, the remote setting and the animals within this story made for quite the exciting, fascinating and intriguing read.  

So we are pretty much privy to what was happening and who we should be suspicious of quite early on but the execution and the unfolding are what intrigues and grip the reader.  It definitely didn’t interfere with my reading experience or hinder my enjoyment for the story at all.

The story is told through multiple timelines and perspectives from our main character’s Marian, and a retired forensic profiler Nick.  I really enjoyed the character of Nick and felt like we were actually put right into the investigation along with himself and Marian. His insight into the motivations and behaviour of a psychopath was extremely interesting and fascinating to read.

Norma’s Stats:

Cover: Beautiful, intriguing, eye-catching, haunting, appealing, isolating and an extremely fitting representation to storyline. I absolutely love the look and feel of this novel! 
Title: Intriguing, haunting and an extremely fitting representation to storyline. Love this title! 
Writing/Prose: Engaging, beautifully and descriptively written. 
Plot: Slow-building, steadily paced, fascinating, thought-provoking and powerful. 
Ending: A predictable outcome that left me feeling totally satisfied and pleased. 
Overall: I didn’t necessarily find this a thrilling read but I did rather enjoy the mystery, atmosphere and setting making this a great reading experience and escape! Would recommend!

Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing for our copies to read and review.

From DeAnn’s review

The thriller part of the novel has a really interesting character –- Nick, a retired profiler who worked on a series of missing women cases. I enjoyed reading some of the profiles created and got a different look at crime solving from that angle. Nick definitely knows the minds of psychopaths and murderers and would like to solve these cases. This one has a great suspenseful ending that I really enjoyed (once it was over and I could breathe again!) and was a fitting conclusion.

From Heidi’s review

As soon as I started reading, the author’s love for her chosen setting became obvious as I was instantly teleported into a wintry forest landscape where bears, moose and caribou roamed and humans were at the mercy of the elements. I loved the way Les Becquets brings this setting to life – this really was armchair travel of the best kind! I wasn’t surprised to learn that the author is an avid outdoors enthusiast because her descriptions were vivid and beautiful – and at times terrifying! I also loved her knowledge on how to train rescue dogs, who were involved in Marian’s research projects. Any dog lover will appreciate the little snippets of observations on dog behaviour and training that run throughout the entire storyline.

Whilst the setting immediately drew me in, the mystery part of the story did not work so well for me. I am putting this down mainly to the structure of the story, which rolls out in two separate timelines told in Marian’s POV as well as short chapters introducing each of the female murder victims and the circumstances surrounding their disappearance. Then there are the chapters from the POV of retired forensic profiler Nick, who is helping Marian with her investigations into Tate’s life. For Heidi’s full review

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