Posted in Reviews, Reviews by Lindsay, Traveling Sisters Reads

The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman @joannagoodman @HarperCollinsCa #travelingsistersread #BookBloggers

The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman

Web_L353-3_blonde_blue eyesLindsay’s review

Gripping.  Shocking. Haunting.  Suspenseful.

I read Joanna Goodman’s latest novel, The Home For Unwanted Girls, in August and absolutely adored it.   When I was presented with the opportunity to go to a reading by Canadian author  Joanna Goodman (tomorrow evening – can’t wait!!!), I decided to pick up her previous book to get in ‘full fan mode’.   

This story follows Kersti Kuusk, a published Canadian author who spent her high school years on scholarship at the prestigious and wealthy Lycee Internationale school in Switzerland.  Kersti’s last year of school at the Lycee ended with her best friend, Cressida, falling from a fourth-story balcony causing complete devastation among staff and students. Cressida’s fall is determined to be an accident and the investigation is quickly closed.   Twenty years after leaving the Lycee, Kersti is invited back to be a guest speaker at the school’s 100th anniversary.  Thoughts of returning to the school spark new cause for Kersti to reexamine exactly what happened to Cressida.   Was it a suicide attempt? Was it an accident? Was she pushed? Kersti cannot let her mind rest until she finds some answers.

This novel turned out to be nothing like I expected.  This story has so many layers, some of them delving into dark and disturbing territory.  The intricate plot unfolds through two timelines, Kersti’s high school years at the Lycee and present day.   I enjoyed the way the story evolved – each chapter added a new detail or twist, interweaving characters and providing hidden links from past to present.  

There were a few aspects of the present day storyline that I thought were unnecessary.  At times it felt as if there was a bit too much going on and less might have been more. However, everything came together seamlessly in the end, leaving me satisfied and looking forward to more from this author.

Web_L365-3_brunette_green-eyesBrenda’s review

The Finishing School is a compelling, fast-paced story filled with suspense that explores friendship, love, desire, betrayal and dangerous secrets that had me flying through the pages. The story starts off simple and the suspense increased as I turned those pages. It takes a bit of an odd turn with one storyline that left me feeling a bit uneasy and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Talking it over with Lindsay we agreed it was odd however it certainly added some conversation to our discussion. It is interesting when an author can add something to the story that really gets you talking about it and Joanna Goodman does a great job here with that.

I loved the setting here with the Lycee Internationale Suisse finishing school and found it compelling as we get a look into the elite, and privilege and the length taken to keep that status untouched. The walls hold a decade mystery and the secrets, lies, and deceit are perfectly paced and revealed right up to that unexpected ending. The ending was darker than we expected and that left us with more to discuss.

Now even though I read this one with just Lindsay due to timing, it would make for a good group discussion.  We highly recommend for group reads.

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Posted in Reviews, Reviews by Lindsay

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse * Review by Lindsay * #BookReview #BookBloggers

Girl in the Blue Coat

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

Web_L353-1_blonde_blue eyesReview by Lindsay

This powerful novel caught my eye when I took my son to a preschool library class – it was calling to me from the library display shelf.   I began reading it while my son was playing in the group and even though I am drowning in ARC’s that need to be read and reviewed, I couldn’t leave the library without this book in my hands.  I was engrossed in this unforgettable tale from start to finish!

This captivating story revolves around Hanneke, a teenage Dutch girl who, in 1943, spends her days on ‘secret’ missions helping neighbours and friends buy food and other sought after items otherwise not accessible during the Nazi occupation.   Hanneke keeps her missions hidden from her unsuspecting parents and feels pride in doing what she can to help her neighbours in need.  One day, one of her ‘customers’ requests that Hanneke find something most unexpected – a young Jewish girl that she had been hiding in her house who disappeared without a trace.

The author, Monica Hesse, does an outstanding job creating such real and deeply affecting characters.  I adored each and every one of the main characters who were involved in Hanneke’s story.   The intensity of the tension throughout this book had my heart racing in the hopes of how things would work out.  The atmosphere was gripping, vivid and mesmerizing.  I felt deeply immersed within the turmoil and chaos of wartime madness.   I will be thinking of this book for a long time.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys WWII historical fiction.  A remarkable story with unforgettable characters!

Thank you to my amazing local library for making this available to me!

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Posted in Reviews, Reviews by Lindsay

The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt: Review by Lindsay @katehewitt1 @bookouture

Web_L365-4_brunetteOut today! Happy publication day!

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The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

Web_L149-3_blonde_blue-eyesLindsay’s review

This was a highly intriguing character-driven story about family, love, loss and the intensity of female friendship.

I was immediately drawn into this compelling tale.   I loved the characters from page one and felt highly intrigued to find out where the novel would take me.    We meet Tessa and Rebecca, two mothers from opposite ends of society who end up as summer neighbours in cottage country.   They develop an instant friendship which grows into a deep dependency on each other. I truly enjoyed the journey of watching their friendship grow.

There is a lot that happens over the course of one summer.  Some situations involving their children, husbands, parents and each other.   I was fully invested in their lives and rooting for them to overcome their personal struggles and challenges.   My one critique is that the story felt a bit too dramatic near the end. I still really enjoyed the novel and felt satisfied upon finishing, however, I would have preferred a little less happening at the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed Kate Hewitt’s writing.  It flowed beautifully, was perfectly paced and the characters truly came to life for me.  I look forward to reading more from Kate Hewitt!

A big thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture and Kate Hewitt for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Date of Publication:  September 6, 2018.
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Posted in Reviews, Reviews by Lindsay, Traveling Sisters in a Coulee Reviews

The Unforgotten by Laura Powell: Review by Lindsay

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Lindsay’s review

Mysterious, dark and haunting stars!

This story revolves around fifteen-year-old Betty Broadhurst. It is 1956 and she and her highly unstable mother manage Hotel Eden which is filled with reporters who have traveled to the small seaside Cornish town to investigate a recent string of murders. Most days Betty handles the hotel responsibilities to cover for her erratic and undependable mother, all the while coddling and excusing her mothers’ lack of responsibility. Betty’s love and adoration of her mother are palpable – her unrelenting forgiveness and care for her mother is heart-wrenching. John Gallagher is one of the reporters staying at the hotel. He takes an interest in young Betty as she is able to provide him insight into the locals. They develop a relationship that neither of them understands or can explain.

The characters are hauntingly real. The author, Laura Powell, does a fantastic job creating unforgettable and deeply affecting characters. I’m amazed that this is a debut novel – I was completely drawn into these characters lives.

This book was very different than what I had expected – it had a very chilling tone and was deeply disturbing at times. Regardless, I found myself glued to the pages especially in the second half, hanging on every word. The pace flowed perfectly, seamlessly shifting from each timeline, the pieces of the puzzle fitting together along the way leaving me in shock and surprise. The mystery was highly intriguing and solving it unfolded in a flawless manner.

A big thank you to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Canada and Laura Powell for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!!

The Unforgotten is available now!

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