Posted in Reviews

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell @SimonSchusterCA @lisajewelluk

The Family Upstairs is now available. Lisa Jewell the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People)  has done it again and had this reader chilled to the bone after reading this exciting and enthralling domestic family saga/ thriller. I flew those this one turning the pages as fast as I could.

Brenda’s review

After seeing some mixed thoughts for The Family Upstairs, I was a little worried one of my favorite authors has turned to the dark side in more ways than one. I am so glad I decided to give this a try for myself because I had nothing to worry about. Lisa Jewell continues to do no wrong with this devoted reader.

Lisa Jewell is moving a little towards the darker side from what this “Lisa Jewell reader” has come to expect. However, I have moved a little ok a lot to the darker side myself, so I think she and I still make a great match. She still has all those significant elements that make for her signature suspenseful style with those well-layered unpredictable plots and reveals and twists that come just at the right time to figure some things out but still keep you guessing right to the end.

The Family Upstairs is a compelling family saga with devilishly, deliciously chilling narrative along with disturbing dark characters. I enjoyed the three POVs along with the different timelines that had me questioning the reliability of some characters. The last few pages are so chilling and I loved every one of them. I was left feeling delightfully chilled to the bone with how it all came together. I highly recommend.

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley



Posted in Reviews

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams @LyssaKayAdams @BerkleyPub

Well the first rule of book club might be don’t talk about book club but I want to talk about The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams. It is available tomorrow November 4, 2019. If you like a well delivered, fun romance then this is one not to be missed. Hmm, I think I might make that a rule with our book clubs. Hehee!!!

Brenda’s review

I didn’t want this one to end! Did I just say that?

Super hot diggity dang! That was a Grand Slam for me and left me cheering and dancing after reading this one. I am always a bit nervous starting romance/women fiction books because I have a heart of stone and my eyes can get a little workout with the rolling when I read some. They can be a hit or miss for me. Lyssa Kay Adams knocked it out of the park here for me. Maybe that heart of mine is softening up.

Lyssa Kay Adams creates an unique, sweet, funny story full of heart with some heat to keep you warm and feeling a little fuzzy while reading it. I loved our main characters here, Gavin and Thea. Gavin is so sweet and helpless in his confused romance ways. I thought the Bromance Book Club played so well in that. I think he is book crush material here. Thea was a bit annoying at times for me however her broken and flawed side to her warmed me up to her along with her relationship with her sister Liv.

I loved the bromance with the witty, fun dynamics between the bros. There was a scene that involved a hot beverage that had me rolling on the floor with laughter. I wanted to tell my son about it. I am still laughing. I loved how Adams weaved the book club read so well and I enjoyed how that all together right up to the end.

Of course, I have to mention the adorable twin daughters in the story that made this one just too cute. I am looking forward to the second book. I highly recommend.

Thank you to Elisha at Berkley pub for my copy!!


Posted in Reviews, Traveling Sisters Reads

The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox @HesterBFox @HarlequinBooks @HarperCollinsCa

The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox is now available and it’s a great one to curl up with your favorite beverage this Halloween

Last year around this time I read The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox with a few of my Traveling Sisters and it was a hit for us and we thought it was a great one for this time of year. I read The Widow of Pale Harbor with a couple of my TS and it was also a hit for us. I did enjoy The Widow of Pale Harbor a bit more. I highly recommend both.

Brenda’s reivew

Things did start off a little rocky for me here with the strange unsettling things going on in this town and I was reading with one eye closed hiding behind my pillow. Soon things started to come together and I start to see how that is cleverly weaved into the story.

The Widow of Pale Harbor has all the elements to make this a creepy good Gothic atmospheric read. It has an entertaining and engaging mystery that had us all following the clues with a little help from Debra who set us on the right track with there. The romance in this one was perfectly done and I was enjoying the dynamics with that. I was swept away to this historic Maine 1846 setting and the castle and town came alive for me with that creepy, foreboding feeling.

Near the end, the drama and action pick up and I was a little worried my drama patience was going to go over the edge, however, the story kept me on the edge of the cliff and brought me safely to a satisfying ending.

Traveling sister friend read. You can find our discussion here. Spoilers are used. Did you love this one too or? Join us and let us know your thoughts.

Thank you to Eden at HarperCollins for my copy!

Posted in Reviews

Olive Kitteridge and Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Brenda’s review

These are the books I love to read and I feel like I learned a little bit more about myself and the world we live in. It’s the reason I read books like this. Elizabeth Strout knows how to get me thinking and I couldn’t help myself to look deep into Olive’s character and exam the layers to her well-developed character. I loved every word and was really glad I got to read both books together and really see Olive grow as a person. I loved how real Olive is and the more I got to know the more I loved her. I highly recommend!

Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge, #1)

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

I was an emotional wreck in the best of way reading this one. I cried all the way through this one as themes of loneliness, acceptance, wounded with flawed souls, quilt and hope are explored.

Elizabeth Strout has written a beautiful remarkable gut-wrenching story with real substance layered in the depth of each page and word. There is so much wisdom beyond the words in this story. Everything Olive does and says is so complexed. Her character and how she interacts with other characters can be examined, and you will find understanding and insight into the depth of people’s actions. Reading this one is like learning something about what makes us human and the compassion needed in this world we live in.

I loved Olive and how complex she is. She is not kind but compassionate. I cried for her moodiness and her misunderstood meanest, combined with her honest empathy and compassion that came from her heart. I cried over the judgement shown to her by others and Olive’s acceptance of her truth and how she recognized the truth in herself. I cried for her hope to do better. I cried for the kindness shown to Olive by the people who accepted Olive for who she is and it broke my heart the ones who didn’t.

Then I watched the mini-series and cried some more.

Olive, Again (Olive Kitteridge, #2)

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Olive again is who she is and still not afraid to say it like it is, however she mellower, a little less difficult and ornery here in this story. I cried less in this one and loved her even more as we can see her grow and come to terms with ageing and her truths.

Elizabeth Strout doesn’t miss a beat here and picks up after Olive Kitteridge and she explores loneliness through ageing and regrets. She takes that hope of doing better from Olive I felt in the first book and we see Olive reflecting on her life and coming to terms with her relationships.

Elizabeth Strout explores ageing with compassion and humor. I loved seeing Olive’s frustration and insecurities about ageing yet not taking it so seriously but gracefully. I hope to do the same.

Olive in both books represents our worst fears for ourselves and gave me hope we can come to terms with our vulnerability as we age and grow as a person. Even though Olive can be infuriating in both books, her acceptance, reflections of her truth, along with her willingness to see them and do better is admirable. It’s refreshing to see in a world where we put our truths on others instead of accepting them as our own.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Posted in Reviews, Traveling Sisters Reads

Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston @StMartinsPress

Secrets of the Chocolate House (Found Things #2) by Paula Brackston is now available

Brenda’s review

I enjoyed The Little Shop of Found Things and loved the dynamics between Xanthe and Flora and the time-travelling element to the story. Well those elements are even better here in Secrets of the Chocolate House and I highly recommend reading both together if you can.

This time around a copper chocolate pot sings to Xanthe and she is swept away to another dangerous adventure. The time-traveling element is explored more here and along with Xanthe, we discover her true destiny and her role as a spinner. I can get lost in storylines like this but with this one, I found it intriguing and simple.

Paula Brackson does a great job here with both settings and I enjoyed the charm and magic both brought to the story. She adds some lurking danger to both settings through conflicts with the characters. The threat in the past adds tension to the story and is brilliantly weaved with the present.

I enjoyed my escape in time with these characters and I look forward to more with Xanthe.

Lindsay’s review

A spellbinding journey back into my favourite time-travel story!

I will start by saying, generally, I am not one to enjoy time-travel stories as I have a hard time accepting storylines that aren’t realistic. This book is a huge exception for me – I LOVE the time-travel aspect. It is presented in a delicate, subtle manner that was easy for me to embrace. I enjoyed this book even more than Book #1!

I fell in love with the main character, Xanthe, in the first book in this series. She is a young woman who owns an antique shop with her aging mother. She finds herself drawn to certain antique items that “sing” to her, connecting her with their past. As soon as I started this book, I was immediately drawn deep into Xanthe’s newest adventure.

The writing is eloquent and engrossing. The atmosphere is thick and palpable. The storyline is intriguing, warm and suspenseful. The characters are unique and endearing – I was fully invested in their lives.

If you enjoy time-travel stories or feel like trying a beautifully written step outside your usual genre, I highly recommend this series!

Thank you to Jordan from St Martins Press for our copies

Posted in Reviews, The Sisters Recommend, Traveling Sisters Reads

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris @StMartinsPress

Love a strong character, this one is for you and one not to be missed!!!

“She was the bravest person I ever met.” —Lale Sokolov on Cilka Klein, The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Brenda’s review

Cilka’s Journey is a fictionalized story that is inspired by what Heather Morris discovered about real-life Cilka who is a character in The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Cilka survived Auschwitz and then was sent to a labour camp for collaborating and sleeping with the enemy. Heather Morris captures what it could have been like for Cilka and the other prisoners in the camp.

Cilka’s bravery and strength shine through here as we see her care for prisoners and her friends. It is an inspiring, hopeful story of an ordinary young woman who becomes an extraordinary woman under unimaginable circumstances. Cilka’s actions throughout the story show us the goodness in people at times of horror and the strength needed to survive. I highly recommend it.

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley

Lindsay’s review

An engrossing, shocking and unsettling extension of this series. I read and loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz last year and was eagerly anticipating getting my hands on a copy of Cilka’s Journey. Although a very difficult novel to read due to the atrocities detailed within these pages, I found this book to be even more intriguing and informative than the first one. The writing is honest, brutal at times, but so important to read so we can honour those that lived through these devastating wartimes. Their voices cannot be forgotten.

Cilka is only sixteen-years-old when she is sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1942. She is singled out by the commandant to be given separate living arrangements where she will be available for his pleasure. After living this way for three years, the camp is liberated, although Cilka is not freed. She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy. She is sentenced to fifteen years at a Siberian prison camp where living conditions are not much different than they were at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

I had not known about these Siberian prison camps prior to reading this novel. I was devastated to learn that these dreadful prison camps continued existing after the liberation of Auschwitz. The charges that Cilka faced were so extremely unjust. Had Cilka denied the commandant what he requested, she would have been killed. What other option did she have? My mind was spinning with this situation throughout the entire novel. What options did these prisoners have other than to accept what was demanded of them?

I loved Cilka’s character. She was extremely strong and inspiring in the face of so much pain. She gave strength and hope to many.

On a side note, I believe a large part of what made me truly connect to and love this book so much was that I had been advised by Brenda (who read this novel before I did) that not everything that happens to Cilka is based on fact. As with any historical fiction book, fact and fiction are weaved together to paint a broad picture of the time period/situation being examined. Although Cilka was a real person who could of endured much of what happens in this novel, not every circumstance is her personal story. I think knowing that ahead of time really enhanced my connection to the story as it stopped me from looking too deep into the reality of each scenario. As the Heather Morris mentions in the Note at the end of the novel, “There is a mix of characters inspired by real-life figures, in some instances representing more than one individual, and characters completely imagined.” I urge you to keep this in mind when reading this harrowing and unforgettable book. Heather Morris does a phenomenal job incorporating much detail into this gripping and emotional storyline.

I will leave you with one of the most powerful quotes from this book. “Everyone affected by war, captivity, or oppression reacts differently — and away from it, people might try to guess how they would act, or react, in the circumstances. But they do not really know.”

Thank you to my lovely local library for the loan of this exceptional novel!