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!

Posted in Reviews

The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan @HarperCollinsCa #BookReview #travelingsistersread

Slow-burn, upsetting, & deceptively appealing!

I fell in love with Gilly Macmillan and her books after reading WHAT SHE KNEW and since have subsequently read or have snatched myself up all of her other books so I have them on hand.  I have a habit of “collecting” author’s books after loving one. I did have every intention of reading them but some of my ARC’s have gotten in the way of reading authors that I favour and enjoy.  So I was beyond ecstatic when I received a physical ARC of THE NANNY.   

THE NANNY by GILLY MACMILLAN is a haunting, dark, eerie, mysterious, and suspenseful psychological thriller that is packed full of buried family secrets, lies, deceit, obsession, regrets, distrust, and dysfunctional familial dynamics.  Unfortunately, this book didn’t immediately grab my attention because I didn’t immediately connect with the writing style and found the story to be painstakingly slow in the beginning. So I put the novel aside for a day and then jumped right back into it, then I was able to fully immerse myself in this tale and I ended up quite enjoying it. 

GILLY MACMILLAN delivers a slow-going, atmospheric, intriguing, and unsettling tale here that subtly shifts in tone from perplexing to comprehension about 20% in for me.  Even though I did get a little bit annoyed and impatient in the beginning because of my disconnect here once I did comprehend and “get” what I was reading the remainder of the book went quite smoothly for me.

The story is told in multiple alternating perspectives between a detective, Jo (our protagonist), her mother Virginia, and my absolute favourite an unknown narrator which adds intrigue and this evil sense of foreboding to the narrative.  I thoroughly enjoyed Jo’s daughter Ruby and found myself more drawn to her character than to our main character here. Jo’s character was really maddening and totally frustrated me. I might have yelled at her and shook my head multiple times at her while I was reading this book.  Why couldn’t she just see what was happening? She definitely had blinders on!

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: An eye-catching, creepy, sinister, intriguing, suspenseful, and extremely fitting representation to storyline. This cover definitely caught my attention and I love the creepiness and gothic vibe to it! 
Title: A straightforward and fitting representation to storyline. 
Writing/Prose: Well-written, vivid, suspenseful, engaging, captivating, and readable. I didn’t immediately connect to the writing style like I have with other books by this author but once I did, it was smooth sailing from there.
Plot: Slow-moving, complex, slightly convoluted, sinister, suspenseful, unsettling, wicked, steadily-paced, enjoyable and entertaining. 
Ending: I was thoroughly satisfied. 
Overall: 3.5 Stars! This isn’t a fast-paced or edge-of-your-seat thriller by no means it is one that delves deep into the characters lives and leaves you with these puzzling subtle clues along the way to piece together piece by piece. Would recommend!

Thank you so much to HarperCollins Canada for gifting me a physical ARC.

Posted in Reviews, Sister Reads, The Sisters Recommend

The Speed of Falling Objects by Nancy Richardson Fischer @nfischerauthor @InkyardPress @HarperCollins

Oct 1 is pub date for THE SPEED OF FALLING OBJECTS by NANCY RICHARDSON FISCHER and it’s a not to be missed YA adventure story of survival!

Norma’s Review

Strength, endurance, & love!

*One Word – Truth*

THE SPEED OF FALLING OBJECTS by NANCY RICHARDSON FISCHER is an entertaining, action-packed, suspenseful, thrilling, and edge-of-your-seat YA survivalist story that immediately hooked and captivated me. The backdrop of the Amazon rainforest and the premise of this novel totally intrigued and enthralled me, I was totally taken with this adventurous tale and loved Danny’s story. The action was so fierce that I literally could not put this book down.

NANCY RICHARDSON FISCHER delivers an atmospheric, vividly descriptive, fascinating, adventurous, engaging, and well-written coming-of-age story here that is packed full of adventure, explores a complex father-daughter relationship, and a touch of romance to lighten the mood.

Danger “Danny” Danielle Warren and her TV celebrity survivalist dad were interesting characters to say the least. Even though the father wasn’t the greatest dad out there he definitely had his purpose in this story and I loved how Danny ended up coming to terms with so many different aspects to her character. She definitely grew as a character and the underlying message and love emanating from the words written were extremely palpable and packed quite the punch. Danny was definitely the shining star in this novel!

Brenda’s review

I took a step out of my normal here with reading The Speed of Falling Objects, and I am so glad I did.  What a great surprise this one was. I loved the self-discovery adventure here I took with our main character Danger “Danny” Danielle Warren.

The Speed of Falling Objects has all the elements here to make this a thrilling edge of your seat emotional YA adventure for me.  It’s an action-packed story of survival, a coming of age story with a touch of romance.  

Nancy Richardson Fischer does such a great job here creating exciting characters.  I am not a big fan of young voices at times, and it took me a bit to get into the head of Danny.  Once I was, I was hooked and loved the personal and emotional conflicts Danny experiences and the adventure she took me on.  I enjoyed seeing her grow and develop with each page. Now her Dad Cougar is a very unlikable character here, making his character a hard one to enjoy but he creates some interesting dynamics here to the story of survival for both the jungle and Danny. 

The rainforest is brought alive and I was fascinated and terrified at the same time with the dangerous bugs and reptiles in the story.  There is a lot of danger here and there is no shying away from details. It did feel at times a bit much with one thing after another; however I enjoy the thrilling fight of survival.  I highly recommend it. 

Thank you to Nancy Richardson Fischer for thinking of us and giving us the opportunity to read something different than we usually do.  

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: A beautiful, eye-catching, appealing, intriguing and fitting representation to storyline. I love the fall colours to the cover design.
Title: Intriguing, interesting, metaphorical and a meaningful and significant representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Beautifully written, expressive, passionate, vividly descriptive, engaging, and compulsively readable. I immediately connected with the author’s prose.
Plot: Detailed, atmospheric, suspenseful, interesting, authentic, action-packed, fast-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: A deeply touching, satisfying and great ending that made me ugly cry.
Overall: I absolutely loved the adventurous and emotional journey this book took me on! Would highly recommend!