Traveling Sister in a Coulee: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara #travelingfriendsread

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
by Michelle McNamara

Review by Christina

Read in The Traveling Friends Goodreads Reading Group

🎶Everyday I’m feeling fine,
Drinking wine,
Forever reading true crime🎶

This starts with an introduction by juggernaut thriller author Gillian Flynn and ends with a heartbreaking and beautiful epilogue by McNamara’s husband and esteemed actor Patton Oswalt. What happens in-between was pure, unadulterated journalistic *magic*.

“Writing this now, I’m struck by two incompatible truths that pain me. No one would have taken more joy from this book than my mother. And I probably wouldn’t have felt the freedom to write it until she was gone.”

While on its surface, this is a story about an elusive burglar, rapist, and murderer dubbed the Golden State Killer – at its heart, it’s really a look inside the life and mind of its author: Michelle McNamara. We’re given intimate details about the crimes committed by GSK (whom we now know is Joseph DeAngelo) and are walked chronologically through the escalation and the atrocities he reaped upon the Sacramento area over a decade-long crime-spree.

Spliced in between these horrendous retellings we’re given insight into McNamara. Who she is as a person, where her obsessive nature comes from, how it was ultimately refined to true-crime. Her passion for the work she does is evident throughout the entirety of this read and it’s impossible not to be swept up into the sheer magnitude of research and dedication she put into this masterpiece.

“The victims recede from view. Their rhythm is off, their confidence drained. They’re laden with phobias and made tentative by memory. Divorce and drugs beset them. Statutes of limitations expire. Evidence kits are tossed for lack of room. What happened to them is buried, bright and unmoving, a coin at the bottom of a pool. They do their best to carry on.”

What really struck me here was the accessibility of McNamara’s voice. When you’re dealing in such raw, gruesome and heart-rending facts it’s easy to get lost in the sensationalism of it all. So much of true-crime is this in-your-face, all about ratings, how many jaws can we get to drop type of business that the humanity of those affected is lost. McNamara did not falter in this regard even once. She dealt in pure facts and maintained a clear and deep respect for the victims, the police officers, and the communities this criminal terrorized.

“I don’t care if I’m the one who captures him. I just want bracelets on his wrists and a cell door slamming behind him.”

It is certainly very interesting having read this book after DeAngelo has now been caught and knowing how easy it would’ve been for him to just slip through the cracks and live the rest of his life a free man. I think it shows who McNamara was as a person that despite her deep obsession with this case she simply wanted him caught. She didn’t need fame or fortune or to be involved -in the end, she just wanted justice. It leaves a sad aura around me knowing that she will not get to see the praise and reception she has received and that we’ve lost such a truly talented voice in investigative journalism.

I completed this as a Traveling Friends read and it is incredible how many people have their own stories of seemingly normal people we later find out have committed heinous crimes. This makes a fantastic group read as there are endless opportunities to discuss. However, if I can give future readers one piece of advice: don’t read this alone, at night or you’ll be gone in the dark too.

Cheers to Michelle McNamara and a true work of art.

Have you read this title? Drop us a comment!

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang #travelingfriendsread #travelingsistersread #BookReview

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Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

  • Traveling Friends Read

Review by Norma

This was a Traveling Friends read that I almost missed participating in as I didn’t have myself a copy of this book but after popping into the first goal thread I knew that I had to rectify that immediately. The words magic, whimsical, and mysterious are definitely elements that I am attracted to so on my way to Amazon I went.

BEASTS OF EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCE by RUTH EMMIE LANG is an engaging, charming, heartwarming, and a mesmerizing tale that gave me such a warm and serene feeling while I was reading this book. I was totally entranced in this tale right from the very beginning which is about a young boy named Weylyn who was raised by wolves.

RUTH EMMIE LANG delivers an absolutely beautifully written, appealing, and magical read here with a storyline that will bewitch you and enchanting characters that you won’t soon forget. Weylyn by far was such a special, endearing, and the most wonderful character that I have ever come across in a book. His innocence and sweet demeanour was so adorable and truly extraordinary.

The way that we got to know Weylyn through the stories of everyone that he encountered throughout his life was such a clever and heartfelt way to truly and wholeheartedly embrace this character.

The magical realism of this novel wasn’t really explained to us in too much depth and I would have liked that to have been explored a little bit more. But, with that being said I do absolutely believe that leaving us with a little bit of mystery and wonderment to the circumstances surrounding Weylyn’s extraordinary life was quite the clever and brilliant way to end this story.

I was truly entertained & thoroughly enjoyed escaping into Weylyn’s extraordinary life every time I held this book in my hands! Would highly recommend!

* Traveling Friends Read and a special thank you to my dear friend Kris for helping me figure out what made this book so mysteriously extraordinary!

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Kristin’s Review

Beautifully written with tons of magic and heart!

This story was a warm hug and made me want to step out into nature and embrace all its magic and natural wonders.

From the second we meet Weylyn we can tell he’s different, but his distinct peculiarities are what make him special. He can somehow summon the power to alter weather conditions and has the unique ability to communicate with animals. Having lost his parents at a young age, Weylyn ended up being raised by wolves and has a potent connection with nature.

As one would expect, this sort of lifestyle leaves Weylyn highly undomesticated, but in the most endearing way imaginable. There’s not a chance your heart won’t warm to his genuine innocence.

His unique character is humble and kind, and he doesn’t put on a show even though he’s quite capable of one.

This book is written in a good old-fashioned storytelling kind of style; a true “Once Upon A Time” tale that will make you abandon all suspicion and grab hold of your belief in magic and endless possibility—something that comes so easily in our youth.

The plot is delivered in first person narratives and just about every major character gets a turn at their own perspective. We get inside everyone’s mind and learn how each of them views the curious case of Weylyn.

With all of these incredible ideas at play, I felt that some more depth would have helped to back them up, and I sometimes wished the story dug a bit deeper into the mystery behind the magic.

However, even that didn’t cause the story to feel like it was “lacking”—but as though a bit more could have been added. And, as my good friend Norma pointed out, not every mystery is meant to be solved.

This was a gentle read, and certainly a fantastic one, with expert prose and breathtaking imagery, and I’d highly recommend to fans of magical realism and great storytelling!

Book Stats:
▪ Genre/Category: Magical Realism/ Fantasy
▪ Characters: Solid, well-constructed cast of lovable characters.
▪ Plot: Spans decades, following a young orphaned boy with certain magical “powers” into adulthood, spanning decades.
▪ Writing: Vivid and imaginative. Beautiful descriptions.
▪ POV: 1st Person Perspective: Various narrators.
▪ Cliffhanger: None. Standalone

Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper #travelingsistersread #BookReview

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Our Homesick Songs
by Emma Hooper

Brenda’s review

Lindsay and I read Our Homesick Songs with three of our Traveling Sisters and we all ended up in the same coulee with this one except for Lindsay who was left feeling this was not the right choice for her.

I instantly connected to the setting in this story as I am Canadian and familiar with both settings in this story. I love the feeling I got while reading this story and it reminded me of that haunting and mysterious the sea can be and I often wonder what secrets it holds. In this story, one of the secrets the sea holds is the mystery to the fish that disappear leaving a small town devastated and desperate as they are left with no industry.

There are some connections to some Canadian history here. In 1992 there was a collapse in the cod fishing industry and Canada declared a moratorium, ending the region’s 500-year run with the Northern Cod due to overfishing. This left the fishing industry and communities devastated.

There is something mystical and charming to this story that had us loving how the music, atmosphere, and environment came to life and became like characters for us.

This is a slow paced story that might not be for every reader. The story is told in a such a lyrical way and there is no quotation. For Lindsay, she struggled with connecting to the characters and this story.

I recommend to readers looking for something different here in a story where the focus is on connecting with the characters through the setting and the elements to the story

Thank you to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster and Emma Hooper for a copy to read and review.

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Christina’s review

This is the story of a family: Aiden, Martha and their children Cora and Finn and the dying fishing town of Big Running. As the town and fishing situation grows more desperate Aiden and Martha are forced to work inland and away from their children in alternating months. Their love for their town and their family never wavers, but the distance grows difficult for everyone.

Finn, the youngest child, feels desperate for his home and for his family. As houses are abandoned, neighbors move away and life as he knows it crumbles beneath him this desperation only grows. Finn seeks solace in his accordion teacher Mrs.Callaghan’s stories, songs and tales.

This novel is steeped in magical realism, lyrical writing and quiet contemplation. Vivid detail and attention is given to the environment of Big Running. At first, I struggled to connect to this story and these characters but as I read on I realized I’d gotten the entire thing wrong. Aiden, Martha, Cora and Finn weren’t the characters we were supposed to be connecting to. Hooper was much too clever for that – the environment, the town, hope and desperation were the characters driving this story.

Music plays an incredible role here and that is evident not only in writing style but in the content of the story. There are songs that date back centuries for this village that are discussed and contemplated over. These are melancholy songs, happy songs, sad songs, songs for lost loved ones, lost hopes and found dreams – they are homesick songs.

Because everyone did. Everyone believed, everyone knew, that mermaids were the sea-dead, singing their love back to you. If it wasn’t too loud with rain or waves, you could hear them in the wind, most nights.

This switches between two time periods – the “present” (what we are given as to be happening now, but is actually 1993) and the past showing us the backstory of Martha and Aiden. I found their love story to be effortlessly charming and heartwarming. I really enjoyed being a part of their struggles and triumphs and that proposal! *swooning*

In the end, this loses 1.5 stars for me because the stylistic choices Hooper made were not my personal favorite. The conversations were a bit choppy for me and there was not a lot of distinguishing between conversation and story progression. It was a very simplistic style format that didn’t speak to me personally, but I think could appeal to someone who maybe has a bit more literary prowess than I do!

While there were some things that weren’t my personal cup of tea and family sagas are not normally what I’m drawn to I think anyone with an appreciation for language would enjoy this.

Finn lifted his accordion and stepped into the water, feet cold on wet stone. He walked out through the low waves and the others followed until they were all up to their knees. OK, said Finn,

and he took a deep breath

and Aiden took a deep breath

and Martha held out the phone

and Sophie lifted her beater

and Richard put his mouth to his horn

and Mrs.Callaghan pulled open her bellows

and Cora lifted her bow

and the stars shone down

and the green lights shone up

and the flags pulled and pulled in the wind

and all around them in the water,

the water,

the water

was dark and empty and waiting.

ready.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this ARC.

Have you read Our Homesick Songs?  Have we convinced you to add it to your list?  We would love to hear from you!  Drop us a comment!

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia #travelingsistersread #BookReview #NetGalley


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Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

Norma’s Review

My initial impression when I first started reading LEAVE NO TRACE by MINDY MEJIA was that it was an extremely compelling tale and I was totally intrigued in discovering all the multiple layered mysteries that this book had to offer. I found the storyline to be quite interesting and unique but I struggled a little bit with some of the main characters, Maya’s choices that she made and her motivations. Which later did hinder with my feelings and initial impression of this book.

I thought this book was very good and definitely had some interesting aspects to it which had me flying through those pages but it didn’t really have me totally engaged while I was reading it though. I was interested in finding out all the details of the mysteries and appreciated all the twists and turns this book had to offer, although I wouldn’t necessarily say that anything really surprised me though. I will say though that there was one reveal that totally took me by surprise!

MINDY MEJIA delivers a suspenseful, well-written and atmospheric read here with a great setting and captivating characters. I was totally captivated by Lucas’s character and a few of the other secondary characters as well as the wilderness setting of the Boundary Waters.

Even though I had some reservations with some of the choices that Maya made, I couldn’t really fault her for some of those decisions without actually experiencing or being in the same situation as her, so the unbelievable or unrealistic aspect to the story didn’t and usually doesn’t bother me.

I really like Mindy Mejia’s writing style and I really think she is a talented author. The haunting cover I found to be quite appealing and a good representation to this enjoyable read! Would recommend!

Publishing Date: September 4, 2018

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Atria/Emily Bestler Books and Mindy Mejia for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the book in exchange for a review!

 

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil

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The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After
by Clemantine Wamariya

Review by Brenda

I don’t normally read biographies and seems to shy away from them but with all the high rating and reviews from my Traveling Sisters and Friends I finally along with Susanne dived into this one. I am really glad I did.

I went into this one not knowing much about the Rwandan genocide and Clemantine Wamariya really opened my eyes up to the reality of these horrific events and what it was like escaping those events. The story goes back and forth in time and at times I found it confusing and I struggled a bit with following the story. A good part of the story is Clementine and her sister’s journey, struggles and how they adapted from one environment to other. I could feel their struggles to stay alive, fight to stay clean and healthy and never giving up on that even when she was so tired of it all.

I really appreciated how open and honest the story was written and I could feel Clementine’s anger and bitterness as she tried to escape her past never looking for sympathy but just wanting to find her place and feel and be treated like a human after witnessing such inhuman cruelty and conditions.

I highly recommend this very emotionally and honest story of two sisters struggling to find their way through such horrible conditions from refugee camp to another and finally come to be reunited with their parents.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for a copy to read and review

 

Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou #travelingsistersread #BookReview @lauriepetrou @crookedlanebks

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Sister of Mine
by Laurie Petrou

Brenda’s Review

I do have to start off by commenting on the title like Norma did. I love the title and every time I think of the title I think of Norma calling me That Sister of Mine. Which she did quite regularly. So when I saw this title I knew we had to read it.

Well, let me just say that’s where any similarity to this story ended. These sisters and their dynamics and complicated relationship is nothing like my boring relationship with Norma. Thank goodness!

When we first meet the sisters Penny and Hattie we were drawn into their bond to protect each other and soon the tensions rises as we start to see just how complicated their relationship is. We start to see a secret that binds them and soon a competition between them sets in and things start to spiral for them.

Laurie Petrou does a fantastic job here creating the dynamics between Penny and Hattie and we were fascinated by their dynamics and couldn’t turn those pages fast enough to see how things turned out for them.

There is some good storytelling here that focuses on family ties, secrets and things that complicate and threaten relationships to move this story forward and not with any shocking twists and turns. Laurie Petrou’s writing and storytelling reminded me of the days when thrillers were more driven by suspense and you could rely on the storytelling over shock value.

We highly recommend Sister of Mine to anyone who likes a character-driven suspense domestic thriller that is light on the drama but high on complicated relationships.

Just some fun facts that Norma and I found interesting Sister of Mine was first published in Canada by HarperCollins and then sold in the US to Crooked Lane Books. The US version is slightly different due to some editing. Norma and I received physical copies from Crooked Lane Books.

Thank you so much to Sarah at Crooked Lane Books for sending me and that sister of mine a physical copy of this book.

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Norma’s Review

I absolutely love the title of this book and found it to be extremely fitting for this story and it reminded me of all the times that I have said “That sister of mine!” whether it be when I am a little annoyed with her or loving her at that time!  Also, what made this book extra special to read for me was reading it with my sister, Brenda!

SISTER OF MINE by LAURIE PETROU is an engaging, tense, and haunting domestic suspense novel about the bond and secrets shared by two sisters, Penny and Hattie.  Once I started reading this one I couldn’t put it down as I was totally committed and consumed in this story. I was intrigued in learning their secrets and was totally entertained with their love/hate relationship.  The underlying suspense that arises from this novel here is more for us readers to see if they can actually keep their secrets between the two of them. I really enjoyed this approach because it definitely kept me captivated right to the very end.

What really shined the most for me here was the creative way that Petrou delivered this story as she really made it an extremely interesting portrayal with the dynamics between Penny and Hattie.

I absolutely loved LAURIE PETROU’S unique style of voice here and her writing style which made this an extremely quick, enjoyable and entertaining read.  Would recommend!

Thank you so much to Sarah at Crooked Lane Books for sending me a physical copy of this book.

Have you had a chance to read Sister of Mine?  If not do you want to now?  Drop us a comment and let us know!

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen #travelingsistersread #BookReview #NetGalley

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Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Norma’s Review

4.5 stars rounded up! Oh my! I was totally lost in the beautiful imagery of this fabulously and magically written novel!

HARRY’S TREES by JON COHEN is an engaging, fascinating, and an emotionally moving tale that definitely tugged at my heartstrings but in an uplifting and heartwarming way. Even though there was some sadness to this story it was the love, kindness, and hope that magically flowed through from the pages of this book to my very being that absolutely touched my heart.

JON COHEN delivers an endearing, thought-provoking and beautifully written novel here with a fairy tale interwoven into the storyline to make this a charming and an all around magical tale. I absolutely loved how a fairy tale was written into this story and all the underlying messages that this book had to offer.

I was immediately drawn into the fabulous setting and found the characters to be so intriguing and compelling and I was especially enchanted by young Oriana and how she played a major role in this story. Also, the descriptions of the library and the books from the librarian was such a welcoming part of this story for me.

The only time I would say that I wavered from this story was some of the references towards the trees. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was bored maybe just a little bit uninterested so that is where the book lost a half a star from me.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the symbolism that the trees had to Harry’s healing and how the fairy tale was incorporated into this story which was intertwined by a strong dose of reality. Would highly recommend!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Harlequin and Jon Cohen for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review!

Our House by Louise Candlish #travelingsistersread #BookReview

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Our House
by Louise Candlish

Brenda’s Traveling Sisters Review

I read Our House with seven of my Traveling Sisters and we varied with how we all felt about this one.

We all started off drawn into this story and were intrigued right away when we met Fiona who comes home to find strangers have moved into her house and that it has been sold. The tension and suspense rise as we start to see betrayals and secrets spiral.

Louise Candlish does a great job here creating a different angle to a domestic suspense with a plot that revolves around a house. At times the house becomes the center of the story and we start to see just how connected our main character Fiona is to her home. The house itself starts to become a character I started to connect with

Louise Candlish adds just the right amount of drama to leave us questioning Fiona’s actions and creating a little ourselves for her in our discussion. We appreciated that she kept the drama down while still creating enough tension and suspense to keep the story moving forward for some of us. At times we did feel the story slowed down and got a little bogged down and things started to go sideways for me and a few sisters and we started to make our way out of a Coulee. Soon some of us were pulled back down on to a twisty path with twists and turns that kept us turning the pages as fast as we could right to the end.

You need a little patience with this story and the twists are not shocking but twisty leaving some of us quite satisfied in a coulee and for some of us they couldn’t wait to jump on out.

I recommend this Domestic Suspense Thriller to readers who are looking for a safer yet different angle to a thriller with a touch of drama.

Thank you to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing Group and Louise Candlish for a copy to read and review.

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Lindsay’s review

A suspenseful, unique and twisty story!

This novel follows Fiona Lawson who has recently split with her husband Bram and has a “bird’s nest” custody arrangement forher two sons.   The custody arrangement allows Fiona and Bram to stay in the marital home separately with their sons a few nights each week.   One day, Fiona arrives at the house earlier than expected to find a young couple moving their belongings in.   Bram, her children and personal belongings are nowhere to be found.   The situation is shocking for all parties involved.   What transpires afterward is a turn of events that will keep you guessing.

This book started out strong – I was intrigued by the premise and immediately liked Fiona’s character.   Louise Candlish, drew me right into this wild and shocking situation, piquing my interest from the first sentence.  As the plot unfolds, the narrative switches between Fiona and Bram.

Unfortunately, the story lost its spark by the halfway point and began to drag and feel repetitious. The back and forth narratives became too detailed and many paragraphs and pages felt like unnecessary detail which took away from the suspenseful intensity.  Bram’s character was extremely selfish and irritating and I found his sections grew to become frustrating to read.  Overall, this was a good thriller with a unique and interesting premise.  It just didn’t work out as great as I had hoped for me.

Published August 7, 2018

A big thank you to Edelweiss, Berkley and Louise Candlish for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Read this one? Who do you agree with?  Have we encouraged you to read this one?  Drop us a comment and let us know!

Traveling Friends Read: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman #travelingsistersread #BookReview

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Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Norma’s Review

3.5 Stars rounded up because I definitely found this book to be entertaining and had me totally glued to those pages!

SOMETHING IN THE WATER by CATHERINE STEADMAN is an engaging, refreshing, and a steady paced thriller that immediately drew me in with its opening scene and had me totally intrigued in finding out what was in the water.

So here’s the thing about my experience with this book. I have never been so unsure about my feelings about a book after finishing as I was with this one. There were so many parts that I enjoyed and was totally entertained by, but then after finishing it, I was a little underwhelmed and disappointed by the whole story in general. I thought this story had so much potential to be a great one. Although, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed CATHERINE STEADMAN’S descriptive writing style though which kept me totally invested in this story. Here is a quote from the book that I absolutely loved.

“But now that I can see her, I understand that those silences, which sounded empty over the phone, were actually very full. I just couldn’t see before what they were full of.”

CATHERINE STEADMAN delivers an insightful and well-written novel here that I would consider to be more of a slow-burner than a heart pounding and gripping thriller. The novel has an interesting enough premise with a touch of unease to the storyline and characters that well – I will let you experience for yourself. I will say though that I actually quite enjoyed the main character and didn’t experience some of the same issues that other readers did. I felt like she was true to herself and telling us a totally unedited version of her story and events.

Overall, even though I had some reservations about this story, I still found it to be a compulsive read with a few good twists. I was very engaged and interested in how this story was going to all play out. Would recommend!

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