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. 

Posted in Reviews

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry @C_Henry_Author @BerkleyPub #thegirlinred

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry is now available!

Brenda’s review

Well ok, that was something different from what I have been reading lately and I have been reading something different quite a bit.

The Girl in Red is an entertaining yet a little horrifying and creative, post-apocalyptic take on Little Red Riding Hood.  Christina Henry is known for her retelling of fairy tales and this is a first for me. I am now curious about some of her other retellings.

I do secretly like post-apocalyptic stories and I have read a couple of them in the past but nothing like this one.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.

The Little Red Riding Hood here in this tale is far from helpless and the wolf is terrifying. Our main character Red is clever, brave, resilient with a strong personality and not afraid to show everyone just how strong she is. She is unique and entertaining with her sharp tongue and references to post-apocalyptic movies and books.  We see a few different sides to Red here in this tale making her an interesting character.

The tale is told is dual timelines with before and after timelines creating tension and suspense to the story that had me turning the pages to find out how all this was going to wrap up.  The ending came together well for me however stretched things a little over the top for me and I had to remind myself it’s a retelling of a fairy tale. Things don’t really wrap up here as a lot was left unanswered and I do think it all works here since fairy tales don’t really need answers.  I highly recommend!

Thank you to Elisha from Berkley Publishing for the opportunity to read something I won’t normally pick by providing me with a complimentary copy of this tale.


Norma’s Review

Gripping, action-packed & frightening!

THE GIRL IN RED by CHRISTINA HENRY is a creative retelling with a kickass heroine and non-stop action that immediately captured my attention. I do believe that this is my very first retelling and what a way to start it all off with this book. I see more retellings in my future!

CHRISTINA HENRY delivers an interesting, terrifyingly dark, gruesome, and heart-pounding nightmarish tale here that was quite the entertaining, fast-paced, and well-written read. Red was such a refreshing and fabulous heroine! I loved everything about her character.

The tale is told from Red’s point of view in a before the apocalypse and after the apocalypse timelines which definitely created lots of tension and added to the suspense. 

* Traveling Friends Read * 

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Intriguing, eye-catching, suspenseful, foreboding, freaky, frightening and a fitting representation to storyline. 
Title: Intriguing, classic, and fitting representation to storyline. 
Writing/Prose: Well-written, engaging and readable. 
Plot: Fairy tale retelling, fast-paced, intense, exciting, danger, compelling, suspenseful, action-packed, fabulous heroine, and gripping. 
Ending: An action-packed, thrilling, bittersweet and an unresolved or open ending that came together really well for me and left me feeling quite satisfied. Of course I was left with a few unanswered questions though which I do believe works extremely well for a retelling of a fairy tale. 
Overall: I was thoroughly entertained with this post-apocalyptic take on the classic fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood”. Would recommend!

Thank you so much to Elisha from Berkley Publishing for providing me with a complimentary copy of this tale.

Posted in Reviews

The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley @marissastapley @SimonSchusterCA #thelastresort

The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley is now available!

Brenda’s review

The Harmony Resort in the Mayan Riviera sounds like such a luxurious resort and Doctor Miles and Grace Markell appear to be the perfect hosts and couple to the guests.  The guests are not here to read on the beach and soak up the sun. They are there is repair their broken marriages through couples therapy.

Marissa Stapley creates some interesting couples here all with their own personal conflicts and secrets they are keeping.  The tension and emotions rise as a hurricane descends on them and the secrets start to come out. I enjoyed the dynamics between the characters and I was drawn into their conflicts and secrets and I found myself rooting for the couples.  

There is a mystery here and the suspense increases with the search to find what happened and everyone is a suspect.  I was left guessing right up to the end and thought it all came together well.

I received a complimentary copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Norma’s Thoughts

Entertaining, brisk, & compelling!

THE LAST RESORT by MARISSA STAPLEY was an interesting premise with a fabulous setting that held my interest right from the very start. I was immediately hooked and intrigued but felt like I was reading something very similar to some previous books that I have recently read though. 

Although I thought some of the reveals were a little predictable I was thoroughly entertained and found this to be a very good, enjoyable, quick and easy read. I thought the whole story came together really well for an exciting and satisfying end.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Canada and Marissa Stapley for the complimentary copy.

Posted in Reviews, Traveling Sisters Reads

The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister @GillianMAuthor @PutnamBooks

The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister is now available!

Brenda’s review

This was my first book by Gillian McAllister and I really wasn’t sure what to expect here with the premise to the story. I was pleasantly surprised with just how real, raw, brave, insightful and compelling this story was. Gillian McAllister is definitely an author I will be looking at to read more from. 

The Good Sister is a gripping, riveting story that digs deep into the dynamics of two very different sisters, their relationships with their husbands and their conflicts with motherhood as the courtroom drama plays out after one sister is accused of murdering her niece. 

Gillian McAllister does a great job here weaving a suspenseful courtroom drama with some very interesting family dynamics here in this story. I am not a big fan of courtroom drama and at times I found it a bit repetitive however it is very effectively done here as we see the different perspectives of the events in real life for the characters and then in the courtroom. It’s incredibly tense and tough to read at times as we find out what happens to eight week old Layla. 

I loved just how real the characters are with their emotions and the dynamics here with the characters. I felt it was a unique take for a thriller as there were so many different thriller ways this could of went or added drama that could have been added that wasn’t. The unique insight to this one kept it compelling and I was turning the pages as fast as I could to get to find out if Becky really was the Good Sister. 

The ending came together so well making this one such a gripping and riveting story with so much to think about and discuss making this one a great one for a group discussion. I highly recommend. 

I received a copy from Edelweiss

From DeAnn’s review

I was so anxious reading this book, I wanted to find out what had really happened and part of me did not want to know! The pacing was excellent, the characters really came to life and were realistically flawed. The really interesting part was the parents of the sisters. How do you sit in the courtroom while one daughter is on trial and one is mourning the loss of her child? Can you support both of them? Somehow the family seemed to stay strong.

I found the writing to be very well done and the story flowed for me while I worried about these characters. How can anyone deal with this situation? Grief and anger mingled together and family ties were definitely strained.

From Stephanie’s review

The story told is very powerful and addictive. You really won’t be able to put this one down as the chapters switch back and forth between Martha and Becky, along with chapters told through POVs of various witnesses right before they testify in court, which makes for an intriguing read since that upped the emotional intensity of the book.

More than just being about how Layla died, the novel is about the relationship between these two sisters and how they must deal with this tragic death, the accusation, the trial, it’s aftermath and the impact it’s made on them as sisters and as individuals. It’s also about a family torn apart, mother, father, brother, sister, husband, and how they must overcome such horrific tragedy even when their family is divided. From Stephanie’s Novel Fiction

Traveling Sisters Read
Posted in Reviews, Traveling Sisters Reads

Those People by Louise Candlish @louise_candlish @BerkleyPub #ThosePeople

Can you relate to that loud neighbor living beside you? Do you ever wonder “Could you hate your neighbor enough to plot to kill them?” Well Those People by Louise Candlish is now available and we highly recommend picking up this one and see what Those People have to hide.

Norma and I read Those People with a few members of the Traveling Sisters Goodreads Group and it lead to quite the entertaining discussion and we talked about these people and shared stories about our neighborhoods from different parts of the world and I think we all can relate to Those People in some way.

Norma’s review

Menacing, topsy-turvy, & brassy!

THOSE PEOPLE by LOUISE CANDLISH is an outlandish, eccentric, and wacky tale that definitely amused and entertained this reader. The fun here is deciphering who “Those People” are and seeing what lengths they will go to in order to protect their cushy neighborhood from those not so likable new neighbors. Hmmm or maybe it’s the not so new residents?

LOUISE CANDLISH delivers a vivid, entertaining, and steady-paced read here with lots of unlikeable characters to either be entertained by or maybe a little disgusted with. I chose to be entertained by them and couldn’t get enough of their idiosyncrasies.

The mystery unfolds slowly from alternating perspectives as we meet the neighbors.  There is quite a huge cast of characters to keep track of which I did find a little bit confusing in keeping them all straight and who belonged to whom.

I didn’t really think there were any real surprises here but I did really enjoy the way this story was formatted.  Which definitely set a menacing and sinister tone here for a fun and entertaining read.

Brenda’s review

What a great premise for a twisty, domestic thriller that explores the darker side of human social interaction in such an entertaining way. Things start off a bit slow here as we get to know both sides of “those people” and soon tempers are flaring and hostilities escalate and the characters are driven to their breaking points. At times my head was spinning with those twisty turns the story took and how I felt about the characters shifted as we started to see them conflicted and reacting to each other’s behaviour.

The end came together so well in such a satisfying way for me. I highly recommend for a fun and entertaining read.

Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing for our complimentary copies.

From Stephanie’s review

I love the title as it’s a play on the words “those people” because really, who does that mean—the Booths or the more “civilized” characters? Candlish is also shrewd with her insights into human behavior, and I enjoyed how she portrayed the effects the Booths had on not just a neighborhood but the individuals since flaws were revealed.

Just like with Our House, These People had an ending that was quite a twist! Just when you think everything is all figured out, Candlish throws in an ending that leaves you astonished. I’m still thinking about it. Definitely a captivating, slow-burning read! I can’t wait to read more by Candlish! For Stephanie’s full review

From Heidi’s review

What drives respectable people to take the plunge into the world of crime and corruption? Murder, even? If you have ever wondered this, then you are in for a treat. The slow and steady unravelling of a whole neighbourhood because of two unlikeable misfits is like watching a forest-fire take hold – you know it is not going to end well. I loved the way Candlish exposes the deepest darkest corners of our characters’ minds, right down to the unexpected finale.

Those People is a book for readers who enjoy slow burning, character driven books that slowly and deliciously unravel – sit by with a glass of wine in hand and watch it all go to sh**. If you are a reader who wants action, then you may find this one a bit slow to take off. However, Candlish draws her characters well and with great skill, which made this a joy to read for me. I soon found myself utterly consumed by the situation, and I couldn’t wait to find out how it would all play out. Another original and entertaining read from the author – what a great movie this one would make! I really look forward to see what she comes up with next.

Traveling Sisters read