Posted in Reviews, The Sisters Recommend, Traveling Sisters in a Coulee Reviews

The Sisters Recommend: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid #travelingsistersread

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Photo taken by Kristin

One of our first Traveling Sisters Group reads almost a year ago was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and it a favorite of ours.  Kristin and Christina just recently read it and along with us they highly recommend it.

Goodreads Summary

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

img_6430Kristin’s review

Brilliant! If I could recommend only one book for 2018, THIS would be it!

THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO not only surpassed my already-lofty expectations but knocked my proverbial socks off as it shot straight into the open arms of my favorites-shelf.

The spirit of this story mirrors its leading lady, Evelyn Hugo, in that it feelsgigantic and larger~than~life. I wanted to devour this whole, yet savor it in tiny pieces so I could linger with these characters whom I grew to admire for their extraordinary strengths and unabashed weaknesses.

The exceptionally beautiful, world-renowned Evelyn Hugo spent most of her life doing whatever it took to not only become Hollywood’s most iconic female movie star, but to remain planted in the fickle grip of fame and fortune.

Evelyn’s now up there in years and wants to tell her story. Not the story the public knows—her real story—the one that’s flooded with glamor, betrayal, secrets and deceit, and one hell of a complicated love story so intensely authentic it dares to bare it all, even the ugly. And I was so desperately in love with this love story.

This tale is delivered through the heart and eyes of a woman who’s desperate to be seen beyond her celebrity, and it takes an unflinching look at what it means to “make it”: The pride that follows success, and the trail of guilt that lingers for all those who were trampled and used on the way to the top.

But beneath the guise of fame, Evelyn’s story transcends, and its pieces resonate with all of us, as we can all see a bit of ourselves in her struggles and triumphs; love and loss; pains and pleasures.

Evelyn Hugo isn’t just a brilliant fictional character, she is a bold representation of life’s extravagant journey being stripped down to its most basic components—i.e., the only things that actually matter in life.

The mystery entwined in this one is taut and sophisticated as it carries the plot full circle, opening our eyes to all that is harsh and all that is sacred. I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed—and my heart was overflowing with love for all of it.

Taylor Jenkins Reid masters the art of storytelling and epitomizes the value of honesty, the significance of life, and the beauty in love of all forms. Her writing is polished and engrossing, sophisticated and sharp, witty, fluid, and I can go on…but most importantly, it has a voice that carries its messages straight into the heart of the reader.

This story stole my breath from its first pages right up until its final line, which was perhaps my favorite line of the novel. To say I couldn’t put this down would be an unjust understatement because I don’t think I’ll ever truly be able to put this one down.

Web_L151-2_blonde_blue-eyesFrom Christina’s review

Evelyn Hugo. She’s a magnetic, luscious, complicated and layered character beyond all reason. How Reid was able to fit such a huge personality into only 386 pages is honestly beyond me. I didn’t just want to read about Evelyn, I wanted to know her. I want to bask in her greatness, revel in her strengths and ponder her weaknesses and lessons with her.

EVELYN FREAKIN’ HUGO. Her story resonated with me and spoke lessons to me I didn’t even realize I needed. Evelyn simply wants what most of us doshe wants to be seen. It is an ache within in her that transcends the words on the page and nestles itself into the heart of the reader.

While this is told from Monique’s POV, Evelyn is the one weaving the tale. When Monique learns that Evelyn is ready to give a tell-all interview to her and her alone we see many parallels between these two women. Monique has her own lessons to learn, her own battles to fight and Evelyn unknowingly turns into a guiding light in Monique’s life.

Interspersed with the narrative are tabloid articles that describe what the public sees as the going-ons in Evelyns up and coming career back in her hay-day. I really enjoyed this as I think it highlighted societies obsession with celebrity. It’s easy to forget that despite the wealth and fortune – these are real people, with real struggles.

It was truly effortless to love Evelyn and this cast of characters. At its heart, this is a love story, a tale of redemption and a saga of loss and heartbreak. It tackles an insane amount of timely topics with a deft and delicate hand. Reid has truly outdone herself. 

This book left my heart breaking and mending at the same moment, my breath was unceasingly caught in my throat with the turn of each page. I am awestruck by Reid’s storytelling and her ability to craft such a layered, complex narrative while delivering stunning prose and lessons woven so seamlessly that you don’t even realize you’re learning about yourself until after it’s done.

This book. Who am I now? What do I do with my life in this new stage of After Evelyn. This is easily the newest member of my favorites shelf and my new go-to recommendation for other readers. This book isn’t hyped, it’s properly praised for the literary masterpiece it is. I’m now facing one of the worst book hangovers of my life because I’m not ready to say goodbye to Evelyn and her story. Reid crafted Evelyn’s character in a way that those around her could never get enough and she did so in such a spectacularly efficient way that readers won’t be able to either.

Evelyn always leaves you hoping you’ll get just a little bit more. And she always denies you


img_6384-1  From our Traveling Sisters Group Read Review

Taylor Jenkins Reid does a fantastic job creating and bringing together realistic, rich, diverse and well-developed characters to life that we all quickly loved and adored. Even some of the not well-loved characters brought some kind of lesson, insight, and wisdom into the story through all of the topics and situations that incurred throughout Evelyn’s life.

Taylor Jenkins Reid uniquely leads us through Evelyn’s life as she relays her life story to writer Monique which is told to us in husband sections. Through Evelyn’s telling we learn about Evelyn’s life that she shared with her seven husbands and we could see and feel her struggles, and how calculated yet graceful she was to keep herself in the limelight. We admired her determination and strength. Taylor Jenkins Reid does a great job weaving in so many different scenarios and topics within the storyline. We loved how we could see how vulnerable she was and how she refused to let that stop her to get what she wanted.

We all really enjoyed all the stories and each section of the husbands and their title and found them fitting to each husband. It was a very clever and unique way to introduce us to each husband.  We could really see how much Evelyn grows and learns something about herself through each of her husband’s and the relationship she had with them.

Taylor Jenkins Reid does a brilliant job of making Evelyn so real by deriving insight from her, giving her many words of wisdom. Throughout our discussion, we really enjoyed sharing her words of wisdom that we thought highlighted her story even more as we were reading.

The ending left a few of us teary-eyed and caught us all off guard as we never saw it coming. At times it felt a little over the top but it really worked for us and in the end, it left us wondering how many relationships, similar scenarios, and cover-ups really do happen in Hollywood.

Have you read this one?  Want to read this one? Drop us a comment!  We would love to hear from you!

Posted in The Sisters Recommend

The Sisters Recommend: Best Day Ever by @KairaRouda #travelingsistersread #BestDayEver #TheFavoriteDaughter #NetGalley

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I recently did a post for a meme Top Ten Tuesday with the topic books to pull you out of a reading slump and I used some recommendations from some of the Traveling Sisters.  Susanne recommend Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda.  Along my book travels I noticed that the paperback copy was released a few days ago so I quickly went to my local bookstore to take this photo for this post.

Norma read this a while back and loved it and recommended it to me to read but I was a little hesitant to read.  Paul Strom terrified me.  Than Susanne listened to it and tried to get Kaceey and I on board but I just kept pushing it aside. Really what was I thinking .  While finally Kaceey and I read it and were so glad we did.  We couldn’t believe we waited so long to read.  We loved it.  I highly recommend adding this one to your list to read right away.  Now it’s out in paperback with such a great cover really how can you resist.

Best Day Ever
Goodreads summary

I glance at my wife as she climbs into the passenger seat, and I am bursting with confidence. Today will be everything I’ve promised her…and more…

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life

Publication date: September 19, 2017

Paperback publication date: August 21, 2018

About the author

Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction exploring what goes on behind closed doors of seemingly perfect lives. Her next novel, BEST DAY EVER, is out September 19th.

She lives in Southern California with her family and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest: @KairaRouda; and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books.

If you’d like to host Kaira at your book club, in person or via Skype/Facetime, please reach out through her website

Norma’s review

BEST DAY EVER by KAIRA ROUDA is a dark, thrilling, and sinister tale of deception and betrayal that takes place over a 24-hr period and had me flipping those pages with anticipation and fascination finishing the book in less than 24-hrs.  I could not put this book down!

Okay, for the first part of this novel it takes a little while to get yourself into the book and into the mindset of the main character but as you read on you get the idea of what the author is trying to portray here.  It is definitely worth the read and it gets easier and better as the story progresses.

KAIRA ROUDA delivers a gripping and highly entertaining read here told from the first person point of view of our main character Paul Strom who is described as an unreliable narrator by the author.  He is narcissistic, arrogant, a womanizer, and a psychopath who is trying to have the Best Day Ever with his wife Mia.  The author does a wonderful job portraying the mindset of this character as he is so well-written you totally get into his head and you discover rather quickly that there is definitely something not quite right here.  Which will have you wondering why is this the best day ever and who is actually going to have the best day ever, Mia or Paul?

This character is not an easy one to read, I didn’t really like him very much as he has a horrible attitude and is really high on himself.  You might also get a little lost sometimes as he will just go off into an inner monologue with himself confusing you even more.  Once I figured out what was happening though then I found it rather easy to follow along with the storyline.

The ending was satisfying with all loose ends tied up neatly in a bow. This time around I really liked that the author chose to end the story that way as I needed clarification and closure.  I did find the book somewhat predictable at times but there were a few little twists along the way to keep me interested enough throughout and I was totally curious in how this was all going to play out.  Would recommend!

Taken from our Traveling Sisters Goodreads reviews.

From Susanne’s review

I listened to the audiobook of “Best Day Ever” and it captured my attention from the first sentence. It was completely gripping and was in fact the best audiobook I have listened to in 2017. Kudos to the narrator, Graham Halstead for bringing Paul Strom to life. This is a book that I highly recommend. It is extremely entertaining, full of lots of crazy twists and well, it was totally wicked, in the Best Way Ever.

From Kaceey’s review

Oh my gosh! Paul is the perfect leading character you will just love to hate! I can’t say anymore…you’ll just have to read it yourself! The book is delightfully different and so well done! Not your typical domestic thriller! I blazed through this one in two sittings!

If you’ve already read this one…wasn’t it great?!
If you haven’t, I recommend you put this one on your list!

From Marialyce’s review

Certainly unnerving, Paul is the ultimate villain. He has everything, manipulates everything, and as all psychopaths do, regrets nothing. Mia seems to be his pawn.

From Suzy’s review

Well, THAT was interesting! While reading the first 100 pages of this book, I was getting annoyed – mainly because I was expecting more than I was getting. Not a lot going on. Little did I realize it was all part of a slow build up to an explosion of a story! After I quickly understood Rouda’s intentions, I finished the remaining 242 pages in just a few hours. Suspense GALORE people! Kudos to Rouda for doing a fabulous job in creating Paul’s character. The most delusional, narcissistic psycho I have ever read. Man, this dude is a piece of work. You can’t help but be 100% repulsed by him from the get go.

From Carol’s review

It is brilliantly told and Paul is an excellent character. I was completely captivated by the novel and finished it fast.

Overall, I loved the novel and highly recommend it to readers of thrillers and contemporary fiction. I look forward to the author’s next book.

Kaira Rouda has another book coming out!!!  While browsing on NetGalley Norma and I found The Favorite Daughter and did a little dance in our coulee and quickly requested and were approved.  We are so intrigued by the summary and can’t wait to read this one

Expected publication: February 19, 2019 by Graydon House

Goodreads summary for The Favorite Daughter

From the author of the page-turning domestic suspense Best Day Ever, comes another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.

The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.

Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.

It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?

The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…

Have you read The Best Day Ever?  Want to read it?  Are you excited and intrigued by The Favorite Daughter.  Drop us a comment!  We would love to hear from you!

Posted in The Sisters Recommend

Best Series Read by Brenda in a Coulee

M.J. Arlidge’s Helen Grace Series is one of my favorite and best crime series I have read. It’s great for binge reading or reading a few here and there.

M.J. Arlidge is a master at psychological thrillers and really knows how to create some different types of killers who target their victims in usual and terrifying ways. Not only terrifying their victims but us as readers too.

Along with creating intriguing, entertaining and frightening plots,  Arlidge created a favorite character here for us with a strong, uniquely flawed and fascinating Detective Helen Grace. He also developed many strong, interesting female characters that we grew to love and maybe a few unlikable ones too. It’s hard not to feel for Helen, root for her and want to protect her from the way she chases the demons who haunt her at night.

With each book, we learn more about Helen and the dynamics of the characters as they change and we grew to love Helen even more with each book. It’s a series that cleverly keeps moving forward ensuring that Helen, her team, and her cases never become too predictable. A series not to be missed and I highly recommend!

For my Sunshine Rays author spotlight on M.J. Arlidge

For Goodreads descriptions and reviews:

Books in The Helen Grace series:

Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge

Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace, #1)

Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge

Pop Goes the Weasel (Helen Grace, #2)

The Doll's House (Helen Grace, #3)

The Doll’s House by M.J. Arlidge




Liar Liar (Helen Grace, #4)Liar Liar by M.J. Arlidge




Little Boy Blue (Helen Grace, #5)Little Boy Blue by M.J. Arlidge




Hide and Seek (Helen Grace, #6)Hide andSeek by M.J. Arlidge




Love Me Not (Helen Grace, #7)Love Me Not by M.J. Arlidge




Who do I recommend this series too

I recommend to thriller lovers who like a strong, flawed and intriguing female detective who hunts down disturbing, terrifying and unusual killers.

For Kaceey’s and Susanne’s reviews you can find them on Goodreads.

In my book travels around a coulee I came across some very exciting news.  There is an Eighth book to the series coming up.  You can find out more about that from:

The Book Review Cafe

Drop us a comment!  Let us know what you think!

Posted in Reviews, The Sisters Recommend

The Sisters Recommend & Book Giveaway: Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea @CharlieDonlea @KensingtonBooks #BookReview #travelingsistersread

Norma and I host a Goodreads reading group (The Traveling Sisters) and we thought it would be fun to start posting some weekly suggestions from some of our favourite reading experiences that we have had within our group.  Since these books were such a success within our reading group we thought we would share these novels with you and hopefully, you will consider these weekly suggestions with your book club or reading groups.

Our first reading group suggestion is Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea.  For our very first pick, we picked an unputdownable, fun and entertaining story with lots of twists and turns that kept us all guessing right up to the shocking and surprising ending.

Goodreads Summary

Don't Believe ItDon’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea

Category:  Crime Thriller

Why we chose this book

We read The Girl Who Was Taken with Lindsay and Kaceey and absolutely loved it and we thoroughly enjoy Charlie Donlea’s writing style.  We highly recommend this story as well.

Why we are recommending this book for book clubs or reading groups

We read Don’t Believe It with seven of our Traveling Sisters and we recommend this one because it is such an entertaining and enjoyable story that will lead to a very lively discussion as you share your suspicions and theories along with thoughts on those very clever twists and turns.  We think groups will love piecing this one together!

About Charlie Donlea from Goodreads

Charlie Donlea is the USA TODAY and International bestselling author of SUMMIT LAKE, THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN and DON’T BELIEVE IT. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two young children, where he is busy writing his next thriller.

Click here to see our reviews

Click here to enter Instagram Giveaway

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