Traveling Sister in a Coulee Reading Tin Man by Sarah Winman

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Tin Man
by Sarah Winman

Read in a coulee with Brenda

Review by Jan

This is a slim volume but it packs a lot of heart in achingly beautiful, simple prose. The book opens with the pregnant Dora’s first act of defiance in choosing a copy of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” as her raffle prize over the whiskey her husband wanted. It transformed her drab existence….”this was the life she wanted: Freedom, Possibility. Beauty.’

Fast forward decades and this section of the book begins with Dora’s son, Ellis, who lost his wife and best friend 5 years ago. He is still in the depths of despair, and his grief and loneliness are heavy. We travel back and forth in time as Ellis gives us background into his childhood, his friendship with Michael, and his wife Annie.

Regarding the title: several references were made in the book about how Ellis needed to be better – better at showing emotion, making human connections. Is he the Tin Man? A reference not just to his job in an auto body shop, but to his heart?

The last half of the book is told in first person narrative by Ellis’s friend Michael, who fills in the large gaps in time and fits the pieces of the puzzle together for the reader.

This is in many ways a story of contrasts. Drab loneliness and color and beauty found in nature and art. It’s a story of bonding and friendship, but also love and loss, loneliness and simple human kindnesses. It’s about acceptance and finding our place in the world. And people are complicated…there are often stark contrasts within a person: Ellis wonders “how flowers and care can reside equally in a man of such rage”.

And love, it’s about love in all its forms: among friends, romantic love, the love between parent and child, and unrequited love. And the love and kindness showed to others. It’s about the beauty and hope that can be found in a simple piece of art. It’s the belief that “men and boys are capable of beautiful things.” Overshadowing it all is the tragic AIDS epidemic.

A few favorite quotes:
“I haven’t cried. But sometimes I feel as if my veins are leaking, as if my body is overwhelmed, as if I’m drowning from the inside.”

“But it was my humanness that led me to seek, that’s all. Led us all to seek. A simple need to belong somewhere.”

“I see how decisions are made, in moments like that, that change the trajectory of ones life.” How those decisions can change how one defines oneself.

“Autumn knocks on the window. I pull back the sliding doors and let it in. Lights from the meat market flicker and car light streak the gloom. Overhead the pulse of aeroplane wings replaces the stars. The flat is quiet. This is loneliness.”

“I wonder what the sound of a heartbreaking might be. And I think it might be quiet, unperceptively so, and not dramatic at all. Like the sound of an exhausted swallow falling gently to earth.”

As haunting and sad as this book was, it ends on a hopeful note. I really liked the message about belonging, acceptance and love and human kindness. This story and the characters are ones that will stay with me for a long time to come.

* I received my copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to EW, the publisher, and the author.

 

Traveling Sisters in a Coulee Reading Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst

Before I Let You InBefore I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst

Kaceey’s review and rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read with Brenda

Three best friends, Karen, Bea and Eleanor. They are always there for each other. In a heartbeat, they’d drop whatever they’re doing to help. I mean, that’s what best friends do…right?

Karen is busy creating a successful psychiatrist practice, and another new client just walked through the door. Only this new client seems to want more than a therapy session from Karen. It’s not long before she realizes this patient will rock the foundation of the tight bonds between these 3 women.

Told from points of view of all three friends. The storyline weaves back and forth between the women as they desperately struggle to hold on to their friendship and their families. Lies will be revealed, leaving all three wondering how well they ever really knew one another. If indeed they ever did.

This was my first read by this author and I just loved how she effortlessly spun the storyline together between these friends. I was joyfully hooked from the first chapter and enjoyed it right to the very end. Highly recommend!

Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Jenny Blackhurst for an ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

 

Traveling Sisters in a Coulee Reading Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Sometimes I LieSometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read in a coulee with Brenda and Traveling Sisters Reading Group

Kaceey’s Review

Wow! Now that my friend, is a thriller!!
Amber wakes up in the hospital, able to hear everyone around her. Only she can’t move a muscle, can’t speak a single word. She is trapped in her own body and has no way to communicate. How did she get here? What happened?

What a finely-crafted whodunit!! It will have you questioning absolutely everything! What’s real, what isn’t! What’s the truth, and what’s a lie!
As the story unfolded and I tried wrapping my brain around the mind-blowing twists, my head actually started to throb! But that’s a good thing with a thriller…right?
Every guess made as to what was truly going on – every theory I conjured up how this would play out…all wrong! Love that.

Alice Feeney has delivered a diabolically twisted thriller that will leave you speechless. Did I mention this is a debut from this author! Seriously! I cannot wait for — follow up! I’m already standing in line.
Highly recommend!

Jennifer’s Review

5 clever blockbuster stars to Sometimes I Lie

Here’s all you really need to know:

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

The very start of the book says it best! From the beginning, you don’t know who to trust or even what is real! I was so excited to read this book with my Traveling Sisters that I couldn’t wait for its release in the US. I had to order it from the UK to get my fix! It was…worth it!

Amber is the most unreliable narrator I’ve ever encountered. This book will have you questioning everything you thought you knew all along the way. I found the premise completely original.

The only fault I found was that, while the diary chapters were necessary to propel the plot forward and connect the loose threads of the intricate web, they were a bit too lengthy.

If you like endings that are tied up neatly, or even endings with simple closure, this book may drive you mad! 🙃 There is quite a bit left to interpretation, and I liked that because it fit with the whole questioning tone of the book. That’s about all I can say. I don’t want to give even the tiniest bit away and spoil the fun for you. Curl up with this blockbuster early in the day, and you’ll be wondering where the time went! 😴

Published March 13, 2018

Traveling Sister in a Coulee Reading Missing Molly by Natalie Barelli

Missing MollyMissing Molly by Natalie Barelli

Kaceey’s Rating  4.5 of 5 stars

Review by Kaceey and read in a coulee with Brenda

Rachel Holloway’s community paper is in big trouble. If they can’t cook up some marketing magic to draw in sponsors, the paper will fold. (Pardon the pun.)
When one staff member recommends a podcast, everyone is quickly on-board. They decide to focus their premiere podcast on finding Molly Forster, a girl whose entire family was murdered fifteen years ago. Poor Molly, having vanished, was never seen or heard from again.
And now with the staffs’ podcast choice made, Rachel is suddenly griped with fear. She can’t let this happen! After all, Molly Forster is hiding in plain sight.

“Have you seen Molly Forster?”

There were so many moments that I was lulled into the story, predicting with great confidence where it was going, only to ‘gasp’ as I was launched in another direction. (Touché!) The author has a gift for dispersing pleasant surprises throughout. This one’s going to keep you guessing right to the last page!

The second book I’ve read by Natalie Barelli with one more sitting on my shelf waiting for me. Can’t wait to get to it! Highly recommend!

Thank you to NetGalley, The Last Bureau and Natalie Barelli for an ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

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