Posted in Reviews, Traveling Friends Reads Reviews

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier #travelingfriendsread

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

I read Jar of Hearts with four of my Traveling Friends and we all frantically raced through this one.   I quietly snuck away with my favorite beverage and locked myself in my room to finish this one.

Norma read this one a while back before it was released with our Traveling Sisters and I have included her review here in this post.

Web_L365-1_brunette_blue-eyesBrenda’s review

Jar of Hearts is a chilling, intense and compelling story with a horrific and violent crime. The descriptions are disturbing at times and are not for the fainthearted. For us twisted readers who like the darker side of the coulee we couldn’t stop reading.

Jar of Hearts is skillfully paced and well plotted with flashbacks to a violent crime that our main character Geo was involved in and with a crime in the present that seems connected.  The tension rises as the story progresses and the brilliant secrets are revealed at just the right time.  And that ending just so perfectly revealed leaving us feeling so happy with this story.  We highly recommend.

Thank you to my son for purchasing this book for me for my birthday!!

Web_L077-2_brunette_brown-eyesNorma’s review

Gripping & Unputdownable Stars to JAR OF HEARTS!

JAR OF HEARTS by JENNIFER HILLIER is an intense, chilling, dark and twisted psychological thriller novel that grabbed my attention very quickly and had me totally invested throughout this whole story.

JENNIFER HILLIER delivers a unique, well-written and very descriptive read here with characters that were not all that likeable but they were definitely compelling to read about though. I found the storyline and some scenes quite disturbing and unsettling but nonetheless, it was a thrilling, entertaining and exciting book for me to read.

I thought that the reveals were perfectly timed and the way that the story developed and was presented to us was quite the impressive storytelling and very appealing to this reader. I think that is one of the reasons why I enjoyed this story so much!

img_6645From Christina’s review

This had me at the edge of my seat the entire time. I wasn’t there because there were frivolous twists or red-herrings thrown in and I was honestly surprised by how engrossed I was despite it missing things that are fairly traditional for these types of novels. The development into the story and it’s writing is was got me. I didn’t want to know the outcome, I needed to and I didn’t want to miss a single detail along the way. For Christina’s full review

L473-2_brunette_brown-eyesFrom Kim’s review

This book was quite the page turner for me. I had heard the hype and I am here to say, yes it is all that a bag of chips! I was absolutely shocked at the ending. My mind did not even go there. Hillier spun such a wicked, twisted story and I loved it. This woman knows how to write a book!  This is a must read in my opinion. I have had a lot of favorites reads this year but this is either #1 or #2 on my list. It is just that darn good. For Kim’s full review

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Have you read this one?  Adding it to your to be read list? Drop us a comment!  We would love to hear from you!

Posted in Reviews, Traveling Friends Reads Reviews

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox @HesterBFox #travelingsistersread #BookBloggers @HarlequinBooks

The Traveling Sisters agree don’t look any further!  This is the perfect read for this time of year!!!  We are all cheering with excitement over this one!!!

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Web_L461-2_purple_brown-eyesNorma’s review

Spooky, suspenseful & a little bit witchy!

This book reminded me so much of the gothic romantic suspense novels that I used to love reading growing up. They were my absolute favourite stories and this tale just made me feel all nostalgic and reminded me of my fondness for these types of stories.

THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL by HESTER FOX is a dark, haunting, romantic and an excellent debut novel that had me totally absorbed, entertained, and interested throughout this entire book.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that this story was all that gripping or suspenseful for me though but it definitely had an ominous feel to it that I found quite appealing.

HESTER FOX delivers an atmospheric, intriguing and beautifully written gothic romantic tale of suspense and mystery here with wonderful character development, a captivating setting and an extremely spellbinding storyline. I really enjoyed the creepy dark vibe and the supernatural aspect to this novel even if it was a little subtle the real magic here was in Lydia’s character.

It was one of those books that definitely cast its spell on me and I wanted to savour every single page.

 

Web_L463-2_purple_green-eyesBrenda’s review

Norma, Lindsay and I read The Witch Of Willow Hall with six of our Traveling Sisters and we all agreed that this was the perfect book for this time of year.  

The Witch of Willow Hall is just what we were craving.  It has all the elements for a great spooky, atmospheric, entertaining and chilling read with just a little bit of creep to add a little shock to the story.  There is just the right amount of tragedy and romance with a sprinkle of witchcraft and a dash of the supernatural, making this the perfect gothic historical fiction for us. 

We loved the gothic feel here with Willow Hall and were intrigued by the mystery it holds from the past and now the mystery of a scandal that a family is fleeing from.  The suspense to the story grabbed us right from the start and increased as tragedy hits and secrets are slowly revealed.

The sisters here in this story are compelling, complicated and one very messy one that we grew to love to hate.  They are very different from each with some mystery to their characters making each very intriguing. We loved the dynamics between them.

We highly recommend this fun and entertaining gothic historical fiction to anyone who loves an easy paced story.

Web_L463-1_purple_green-eyesLindsay’s review

Gothic. Mysterious. Haunting. Secretive.

This was a spine-tingling, highly atmospheric story.   Willow Hall, the countryside mansion that this novel revolves around, has such an alluring and dominating presence.  The house itself, the grounds the house lays on, the woods and the hidden pond. They all held a vital piece of this story and added an extra layer of suspense and intrigue.   I loved that!

The characters were so very well done!  The author, Hester Fox, does an outstanding job developing each and every character whether they were central to the story or held background roles.   There is a supernatural element to this novel which is handled very gently and subtly. I tend to shy away from novels involving strong supernatural aspects.  My hesitation is always that the story will feel unrealistic, however, that definitely wasn’t the case with this novel. I truly felt interested and invested in this story throughout.

For me, the intrigue and suspense in the first half of this novel outweighed the second half.   While I was still interested and engrossed in the main storyline, I felt that some parts of the second half dragged.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable read that was perfect for the month of October!

Thank you from us all to NetGalley, HARLEQUIN – Graydon House Books and Hester Fox for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!!

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Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Beautiful, alluring, eye-catching, intriguing and a fitting representation to storyline.
Title: Appealing, suspenseful, intriguing and a fitting representation to storyline. My interest is always piqued when the word witch is in a title and I’m usually all over it!
Writing/Prose: Well-written, engaging, captivating, and fluid.
Plot: Foreboding, menacing, engrossing, leisurely-paced, enjoyable and extremely entertaining. I adored this storyline!
Ending: A lovely ending that I was extremely satisfied with and left me feeling hopeful.
Overall: A fascinating read that had me totally engrossed within this gothic romance tale from start to finish! I absolutely loved the creepy and menacing feel that subtly emanated throughout this wonderful atmospheric tale! Would highly recommend!

Have you read this one?  Agree with the sisters or disagree?  Want to add this one to your list to read?  Drop us a comment!  We would love to hear from you!

Posted in Reviews, Traveling Friends Reads Reviews

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens #travelingfriendsread #BookBloggers

Where the Crawdads Sing was one of my most anticipated group reads and this story exceeded any expectations I had for it.  I loved this story and it made for a fantastic discussion. Fifteen Traveling Friends joined in on this discussion and quite a few of us have added this one to our favorites list.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a compelling, insightful and original well-layered coming of age story that also digs deep into the environment surrounding this story.  It is so stunning and vividly written not only in the descriptive atmosphere but also with the insightful way it is written. 

We meet our main character Kya at a young age and learn how she becomes isolated from the people and world around her.   This part of the story brought on a bit of discussion for us and some of us struggled a bit here with suspending some disbelief here. However, this is also where the magic of the story and the marsh comes alive.

In our discussion, we talked about how the marsh became so many different things to Kya allowing us to see some comparisons and symbolization between nature and human behavior.   We became totally immersed in the vivid setting of the marsh and it was like the story was being told and shown to us by it. We felt like we were drawn into the mind of a character. We could feel how hauntingly isolating yet peaceful it was to Kya. We could see just how dangerous that was for Kya when the outside world becomes apart of Kya’s marsh.  The writing here is so vivid and made this such a stunning story for some us, however, there were a couple sisters who found it dense and at times myself included became a bit weary of it.

We highly recommend this truly amazing story with such an unforgettable character.

Web_L339-3_brunette_brown eyesNorma’s Review

Stunning, enchanting & emotive!

So before I start off with my review there is something that I must confess to. While reading this novel there was always this niggling annoyance in the forefront of my mind telling me that I wasn’t connecting with the third person narrative here. I am not exactly sure what it was for me but that really bothered me that I wasn’t able to give this story my whole heart. Regardless of not connecting with the third person narrative, I thought this story and the words written were absolutely beautiful though. And in the end after long discussions with my dear friend, Kris she helped me work out my feelings towards this book and come to a few realizations that were pivotal. I am so happy to say that I was able to get that warm fuzzy feeling that I was so desperately seeking from this book.

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by DELIA OWENS was an engrossing, moving, heartbreaking and charming coming of age, love story and murder mystery novel all wrapped up into one incredible and delightful story. I was immediately drawn into this quiet and powerful story that revolves around the survival and resilience of an unforgettable young girl named Kya, abandoned at the age of 10 and growing up alone in the marsh. Kya’s story consumed my thoughts and my heart totally while I was reading this novel. She had me laughing, smiling, crying, worried and rooting for her every step of the way.

DELIA OWENS delivers an intriguing, atmospheric, suspenseful and beautifully written read here that is so vividly descriptive and absolutely mesmerizing. The descriptions of the marsh and everything that it entails pertains so meaningfully to this story. Unlike Kya, I just wish that it didn’t take me as long to come to that realization of how meaningful the marsh was to her whole being and story.

This was an awesome group read with an absolutely wonderful discussion and with the help from Brenda and our Traveling Friends I was able to fully enjoy this novel! Thank you friends!

Web_L443-2_blonde_blue-eyesLindsay’s review

Heartbreakingly unforgettable. Deeply symbolic. Hauntingly atmospheric.

This is the story of Kya, a ‘marsh girl’ who grows up isolated from society. Abandoned by her mother at the tender age of six, Kya is left vulnerable and constantly awaiting her return.  At the age of ten, Kya is deserted by the rest of her family, leaving her completely alone to fend for herself in the wild and unruly marsh. There are a few characters that enter Kya’s life, each having a direct impact on her development and views of the world. Each of the characters is memorable and very well developed.

Kya’s story is one that will stick with you – it is emotional, disturbing, shocking and touching. While I enjoyed this story,  I did not love and adore this book as much
as most others have. The biggest thing that didn’t quite work for me was the pace of the novel – it dragged throughout. The marsh descriptions, though vivid and atmospheric, felt too much at times and I was lost in these descriptions rather than the story itself. With that being said, I feel it was fully intentional to have such overpowering descriptions and that is what many readers truly loved and connected with – it just didn’t work for me.

We received an advanced copy of this book from G.P. Putnam’s Sons through Edelweiss.

 

Web_L109-6So many amazing reviews from our Traveling Sisters and Friends and I want to add them all and their full reviews, but that would make for a very long post for you all to read.  So I have stuck with adding a bit from their reviews and recommend checking out their reviews on Goodreads.  So on to our Traveling Sister’s reviews.

Web_L423-2_blonde_brown-eyesKristin’s review

Kya’s journey spans years, the reader present from her childhood into maturity. I love this story’s ode to wilderness and Mother Earth with all her glorious wonder; her instinctual need to nurture and protect. I love each character’s flawed nature as well as those redeemed. I love the heart and soul that saturates every inch of this story, and more than anything, I LOVE that spectacularly bold ending!

To the reader who appreciates nature’s effortless beauty honored in fiction; to those who seek a love story every bit true as it is tender; to the one who needs a tantalizing murder/mystery to spice things up, and for those who tend to root for the underdog in hopes she’ll someday sparkle like the gem she is—this one’s for you.

Web_L301-3_brunette_green eyesFrom Debra’s review

This book had a little bit of everything that I love: a likable main character who pulls at your heartstrings, murder mystery, atmosphere, drama, coming of age, and romance. There are several characters who give and show kindness including, Tate, the cashier who gives back too much change and the couple who make sure Kya has what she needs. What is the saying? Those that have the least to give, give the most! There is a police investigation and courtroom drama and some twists and turns I did not see coming.

This book is beautifully written and contains poetry and vivid descriptions of the Marsh. I highly recommend this book! It’s thoughtful, evokes emotion, and transports the reader back in time to the Marsh. I loved every page.

img_6644From Christina’s review

This, at its heart, is a deeply sad but moving story about a misunderstood girl, about abandonment and loss. However, there are uplifting moments and characters that come into Kya’s life that shed light into her dreary and lonely world – through friendships with a shop owner named Jumpin’ and his wife Mabel, through a boy named Tate who teaches Kya not just how to read but about acceptance and friendship and joy. These two timelines slowly begin to converge upon one another and as it does the true gem of this story becomes apparent: nature and all it’s wonders.

Web_LF05-5_blonde_blue-eyesFrom Rose’s review

While the stories are engrossing enough at face value, Owens was hinting at something much larger than a poor girl living in a swamp. This is a book about nature as the equalizer. People can hide behind their material possessions, but true character is revealed when all of that is stripped away.

In a way, nature is also the narrator of this novel. We get such detailed glimpses into the most intimate moments of Kya’s life – whether joyous or heartbreaking – to which no human was privy because she was always alone. The only entity that would’ve known Kya so well was the marsh. The cranes, the lagoons, and the mosquitoes carried her from childhood, through adolescence, and into adulthood. They raised her, they knew her, and they told her story.

FC-2 VerityFrom Marialyce’s review

It was masterful, exceptional, an outstanding tribute to the environment of North Carolina’s coastline, of small-town Southern living, of a people who lived, loved, and were products of their time.

In this novel, we meet so many characters that resonant with the songs of their upbringing, who fall to the lure of money, power, and the ways of what their insular world has decided. They harbor prejudice, animosity, and enmity for those who they consider below them.

Delia Owens, our author in her inaugural novel, makes you one with the story. She assembles a group of characters ranging from the Marsh Girl, Kya Clark, a girl of mystery, forced to live on her own when her siblings, mother and eventually her cruel and callous father leave her, to the wonderful Tate who becomes her friend, her mentor, and the man she will someday love. Alas, though Tate also leaves her as she becomes a dupe for the unscrupulous Chase. There are the loving characters of Jumpin and Mabel, who look out for Kya with a quiet heart, with their loving manner propelling the story forward and portraying the beauty of caring for others. Conversely, Ms Owens, presents with a troop of hardhearted and callous folks who populate the town and feel that Kya is dirty, contaminated, and squalid.

Web_L117-5Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Eye-catching, beautiful, and an extremely fitting representation to the storyline.
Title: Fits the story so well and love how it plays so meaningfully into the story. I also really enjoyed the few lines in the book that referred to the title.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, lovely, eloquent, and engaging.
Plot: Entertaining, thought-provoking, captivating, steady-paced, held my attention and extremely enjoyable. Even though I had some reservations with the third person narrative it did not take away my enjoyment for the story.
Ending: Bittersweet, powerful, rewarding, and very satisfying.
Overall: An outstanding, emotional, memorable, and heartfelt read! Would highly recommend!

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Have you read this one? Adding it to your TBR list? Drop us a comment!  We would love to hear from you!

Posted in Reviews, Traveling Friends Reads Reviews

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce #travelingfriendsread #BookBloggers @SimonSchusterCA


Dear Mrs. Bird
by A.J. Pearce

img_6531Norma’s review

DEAR MRS. BIRD by A.J. PEARCE was an absolutely wonderful, charming, fun, and for the most part an all around light-hearted read that immediately grabbed my attention and had me totally engaged right to the very end. Although there were definitely some very emotional, moving and heartbreaking scenes though that pulled at my heartstrings.

A.J. PEARCE delivers an intriguing and well-written tale here with very interesting, real, and loveable characters. The story was told from the perspective of Emmeline (Emmy) Lake and the setting takes you back to the streets of London during World War II. Emmy Lake was such a delightful and fun-loving character and I thoroughly enjoyed how optimistic, caring, kind and positive she was during such a heartbreaking time.

The storyline was extremely amusing at times and I thoroughly enjoyed the advice column aspects to it and everything that it entailed from the “inappropriate topics” to Mrs. Birds intense and no-nonsense character.

After reading the Author’s Note in the end and learning how the idea of this story began and that many of the letters in DEAR MRS. BIRD were inspired by actual letters and articles from wartime magazines always brings in another added layer to the story for me. So thought-provoking and touching!

Web_L117-2_brunette_green-eyesBrenda’s review

Norma, Lindsay and I read Dear Mrs. Bird with our Traveling Friends and we all were immediately drawn into this charming, heart-breaking and heart-warming story. Things start off chirpy when we first meet ambitious, chipper, and optimistic Emmy and we were drawn into the hilarious misunderstandings, witty dialog, meddling characters and refreshing lighter tone to the story.  

A.J. Pearce does a great job giving a voice to the women at the home front though letters to an advice columnist.  We see how women put on their smiley face and tried to find a new normal during the London Blitz. We admired Emmy’s compassion to reach out to help these women find that new normal. Soon reality catches up and things start to turn darker as they start to see death and destruction around them.  The story takes on a darker tone and we didn’t except it take that turn so quickly and would of liked the pacing a bit better for that.  

The ending wraps up well and in even with the darker parts to the story it still remains an uplifting and charming story that really highlights the strength of these women!! We recommend!!

Web_L109-3_blonde_blue-eyesLindsay’s review

This was a light hearted romp in 1940’s London that centered around Emmeline (Emmy) Lake, a strong and determined young woman doing her part to help the war effort. Emmy finds herself employed as the typist for an eccentric and outrageous advice columnist, Mrs. Bird. While the job isn’t exactly what Emmy had hoped it would be, she puts forth her best effort and tries to help improve the columns dying fan base.

The novel gives interesting insight into a women’s side of the war effort. Women’s determination to stay strong and continue living their lives, all the while the horrendous wartime atrocities lingering in their minds. Their men gone to fight the brutal war with no end in sight, yet they continue on helping where they could while longing for their men to return home safely.

This was an entertaining story with likeable characters and witty humour. While I enjoyed the characters and their relationships, I didn’t feel completely invested in them or fully engrossed in their lives. It was more of a light, surface glimpse into their story without a true connection. The novel had a lot of sarcastic humour which had me chucking a few times, but for the most part, felt overdone. I enjoyed the advice column letters scattered throughout the novel and wished the story had a stronger focus on the column itself.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Somewhat intriguing, love the bright colors, the typeset and display of the title with the typewriter keys – very fitting!
Title: Fits the story well and love how it also plays obscurely into the story.
Writing/Prose: amusing, light, and empathically written.
Plot: Engaging, steady-paced, held my attention and extremely enjoyable.
Ending: Warming, touching, memorable and completely satisfying.
Overall: An excellent, uplifting, delightful, and heartwarming read! Would recommend!

Thank you so much from all of us to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Canada and A.J. Pearce for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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

Posted in Reviews, Traveling Friends Reads Reviews

My Real Name Is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih #travelingsistersread #BookReview

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My Real Name Is Hanna
by Tara Lynn Masih

Web_L117-3_brunette_green-eyesBrenda’s review

The story begins with us meeting Hanna as she tells her granddaughter “I will say my real name to you for the very first time” and from that very first sentence I was intrigued to learn Hanna’s story.  She tells us the story of how her family came to their underground sanctuary, how they stayed alive, how their spirits were tested while the world above carried out their crimes.

My Real Name is Hanna focuses on an Ukrainian Jewish family and their story of survival and sacrifice and is inspired by actual events.   I have read so many stories of survival in camps and have often wondered about the people who hide and their stories of their survival.  Hanna and her family consumed my thoughts and my heart while I read their story.

We are taken back to the past where we meet young Hanna a strong and inspiring character who makes this book an excellent choice for a YA read.  I was moved by the bravery of Hanna and her family and heartbroken with the things they had to experience while hiding in the forest and then eventually being pushed further away to live in underground caves. We could feel and imagine the darkness around them that increased our worry for the hunger, sickness and danger they faced.

My Real Name is Hanna is written with compassion, empathy and hope.  We could see from the detailed descriptions the research and consideration Tara Lynn Masih, put into this story. The characters came alive for us and I kept imagining the real family Tara Lynn Masih, based this story on.

I highly recommend this one as a must read for any Historical Fiction lover and for readers looking for an inspiring story of survival and sacrifice.  

Web_L149-2_blonde_blue-eyesLindsay’s review

A haunting and devastating Holocaust story of one Jewish family’s struggle to survive. Hanna is thirteen years old and living in Soviet-occupied Ukraine when the Gestapo arrive in her small town to ‘eliminate all Jews’. She and her family, along with a neighbouring Jewish family, flee to the forest to hide out and avoid capture. From there, they must flee further, taking them into underground caves where they must battle starvation, isolation, complete darkness, constant dampness and disease. Her family’s
strength and determination to remain together and survive was very touching and inspiring. What they endured, living in their extreme conditions and always in fear of being found, is unimaginable.

The story is told from Hanna’s perspective which I really enjoyed. The author, Tara Lynn Masih, did a wonderful job putting the reader into Hanna’s mindset, creating a vivid and loveable teenage girl. Hanna’s family was a beautiful cast of characters who worked their way into my heart. Though I have read many Holocaust stories, I have not read anything about Jews hiding in underground caves which I found very interesting and unforgettable.

Thank you form both us to NetGalley, Mandel Vilar Press and Tara Lynn Masih for a copy to read and review.

Web_L151-2_blonde_blue-eyesFrom Rose’s Review and please check out her link to her blog for an outstanding posts with recipes.

I enjoyed this book for so many reasons, including the unflappable hope that the exiled group retains throughout their three death-defying years together. Summoning the stories of their ancestors and religious beliefs, they are able to push through month after month of darkness, starvation, and fear.

What this book lacks in length, it makes up for with colorfully layered and descriptive prose. While Masih doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of the Holocaust, she does point out even the smallest points of beauty, which is likely how those in hiding had to think.

In addition to the descriptions of nature, there’s also a major focus on food. For starters, the Jewish culture is rich with flavorful, hearty family meals. Secondly, Hanna and the families she hides with are unable to eat anything for long stretches of time, much less their traditional dishes. I’d suggest this for lovers of language who are looking for a quick but educational read.

This book inspired me to try out some yummy recipes for Rosh Hashanah. Check out my full review and my attempt to cook cholent on my blog.

Web_LF05-4_blonde_blue-eyesFrom Debra’s review

This book is a well written account of what it was like to live/survive during the Holocaust. Where neighbors either helped neighbors or turned on them. Where hatred and racism tore away people’s morals and values. A time when fear and hatred ruled the day. But in the darkness of the caves, humanity existed. People helped people, lives were lived, hope remained, and the true meaning of what makes a home is learned.

This is a timely book as there are so very few Holocaust survivors left in the world. My Ma passed away in 2017. Books such as this one keeps their stories and memories alive. No one truly knows what he/she is capable of until they are placed to the test. Readers may ask “could I survive this?” I hope none of us ever have to find out.

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

Posted in Reviews, Traveling Friends Reads Reviews

The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman #travelingfriendsread #BookReview #BookBloggers @joannagoodman @HarperCollinsCa

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The Home for Unwanted Girls
by Joanna Goodman

Web_L117-3_brunette_green-eyesBrenda’s review

When I saw that beautiful, intriguing and haunting cover I knew I had to read this one.  Just looking at the cover brought on some emotion.  Not really knowing what the story was about it did take me a while to finally read it, but I have to say that it worked out well because when I did read this one the timing was perfect.  We read this one in our Traveling Friends Goodreads Reading group.  This one made for a really great and interesting discussion amongst us.  So much to talk about with this story and we really appreciated being able to discuss this one together.

The Home for Unwanted Girls is a compelling and heartbreaking family saga that focuses on historical events and a scandal in a Canadian province of Quebec.  It’s not something that I think is well known and Joanna Goodman who was inspired by her Mother digs into some history here with some hostilities between French and English speaking Canadians.

Along with the hostilities that divided French and English speaking Canadians,  Joanna Goodman brings to light a dark time in Quebec’s past and one of the darkest scandals involving money and religion.  Through one of our main characters here with Elodie, we are shown the cruelty, abuse and conditions orphans lived in while under the care of nuns.  Goodman gives a voice to the victims of this scandal through Elodie, allowing us to feel so many emotions for them while reading this story.  It also allowed us to learn something we haven’t heard of before.

We were immediately drawn into the complex and intriguing side of the family saga with Maggie and her family’s story and decisions that were forced on her by her family, leaving us with so much to discuss.  We question their decisions and reasons and tried to understand the different sides we were shown.  At the final discussion, we used the questions provided by the publisher and that really gave us so much to think about and discuss really enhancing our discussion.

We highly recommend this story to everyone who loves historical fiction based on real events.  We also highly recommend to reading groups as there is just so much to discuss with this one.   We do want to offer a caution here because of the abuse and there are some upsetting conditions to this story.

Web_L141-2_brunette_brown-eyesNorma’s Review

THE HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS by JOANNA GOODMAN was such a moving, heart-wrenching, and riveting historical fiction novel that had quite the emotionally gripping story. This book literally crushed me and made me feel so many different emotions while reading it.

Some of the subject matter and historical facts that were focused on here in this novel was absolutely unconscionable and had me so angry. Being from Canada there were some events that I was aware of but some that I wasn’t and it was definitely an eye-opening experience for me reading this novel. I really enjoyed reading and learning a part of our history that I wasn’t aware of.

JOANNA GOODMAN delivers an intriguing, beautifully written and suspenseful read here with complex and well-developed characters. The story is told from alternating points of view between that of Maggie who was forced to give up her child at the age of 15 and Elodie her daughter who grew up in an orphanage. I was thoroughly taken by both of these emotional perspectives equally and was so hoping that mother and daughter would once again be reunited.

Learning that this book was based on the author’s mother just made this story even more thought-provoking, touching and heartbreaking. This was definitely an emotionally tough book for me to read but regardless an excellent one.

Web_L149-2_blonde_blue-eyesLindsay’s  review

This story ripped my heart out. It made me angry, hopeful, frustrated. It had me rooting for these characters, holding my breath and crossing my fingers for a positive outcome. It exhausted me emotionally (in the best way possible). Simply stated – I adored this book!

This novel revolves around Maggie Hughes who, at fifteen, becomes pregnant and is forced by her parents to give her baby daughter, Elodie, up. We follow Maggie through years of separation from and longing for Elodie, where each and every day is haunted by thoughts as to where Elodie is and what kind of life she could be living.

I loved Maggie! Her character touched my heart in so many ways. The author, Joanna Goodman, does an impeccable job creating such vivid, real and relatable characters. I was drawn into their lives and situations, questioning my own thoughts and feelings several times along the journey. The book unravels through two perspectives, Maggie and Elodie, each adding a beautiful layer of emotion and intrigue. I loved them both and thought the novel flowed seamlessly and at the perfect pace.

To find out that this story was based on the author’s mother made it even more powerful for me. I look forward to reading more from this author!

Web_LF05-2_brunette_brown-eyesFrom Jonetta’s review

The story also exposed the ethnic divide between the English speaking citizens and the French. It was particularly awful to witness Maggie’s father’s hypocrisy against the French given his own wife’s and children’s heritage. Also, it was a political decision that forced the orphanages to become psychiatric hospitals without any real consideration of the fates of those children who were then declared mentally ill. These are true events in Canadian history that I found educational.

I really enjoyed this story for the fictional aspects as well as the historical context, beginning in the 1950s. Maggie’s quest to find her daughter was frustrating and heartbreaking and Elodie’s never-ending hope that she would find her family was what almost brought me to tears. Both women’s triumph in the midst of adversity was so admirable. Saskia Maarleveld was extraordinary in her narration, handling accents with perfection (as least to my ear) and making the characters come to life. I highly recommend the audio version and this story. It wasn’t always light but it was always honest. 4.5 stars For Jonetta’s full review

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Eye-catching, appealing, and immediately had me intrigued. An extremely fitting representation to the storyline.
Title: Intriguing, sad, fits the story so well and love how it plays so meaningfully into the story.
Writing/Prose: beautiful, engaging, and empathically written.
Plot: Provocative, captivating, steady-paced, held my attention and extremely enjoyable.
Ending: Hopeful, touching, and satisfying.
Overall: A fantastic, emotional, important, memorable, and heartfelt read! Would highly recommend!

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