Posted in Reviews, The Sisters Recommend, Traveling Sisters Reads

Get It Today Tuesday: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain @D_Chamberlain @StMartinsPress

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain was a highly anticipated read for The Traveling Sisters and we loved it!! I recommend running to your nearest bookstore or device and getting it today!! It’s one not to be missed!!

Brenda’s review

Well, that is some mighty fine, creative writing here by one of my favourite authors. I loved this one!!

Big Lies is a Small Town did start off a little slow for me and I was feeling a bit worried that I wasn’t quite getting where the story was going here by almost halfway. I was intrigued but at first, felt like I was being strung along a bit. Then I reminded myself that I have nothing to worry about because this is Diane Chamberlain. Well, well my patience was rewarded and around the middle of the book, the pace took off me and things started falling into place. I started piecing together this well-layered story and flew through the second half.

After reading so many books, things can get a little boring at times and I seem to lose my groove a lot and it is getting harder to find that one that is creative and a bit different from the rest. Diane Chamberlain creates a very unique and compelling story here. She brilliantly weaves the two timelines here with our main character Morgan and Anna. I was so pleased with the way everything wrapped up in the end so perfectly for me. After reading this one, I was marching around the house cheering with excitement for finding another one that kept me in my groove. I highly recommend it.

Lindsay’s review

A suspenseful and captivating mystery set in a small town.

Told in the dual narratives of 1940 and 2018, the two main characters, Anna and Morgan are young artists looking to find their way. Before finishing a mural project for the small town of Edenton, Anna goes missing in 1940. Almost 80 years later, Morgan is asked to restore the unfinished mural project so it can be hung in a local art exhibit. Little does Morgan know the hidden secrets she will find while researching and restoring the mysterious mural.

I adore small town settings and this one was no exception. The atmosphere engrossed and intrigued me from start to finish. I felt as though I was right there in Edenton with the characters. I loved the dual narrative, although I felt a deeper connection to and investment in Anna’s life in 1940. The plot unfolded smoothly while moving back and forth between the timelines, leaving a large sense of mystery at the end of each chapter which made me want to keep reading. Please be warned that there are some heavy topics covered within these pages: racism, physical abuse, rape, harassment.

One issue I had was that Morgan’s romance felt cliche and unnecessary, however, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. There were parts of the ending that I found predictable, yet I still felt connected to and invested in the storyline and it left me with a good sense of closure and contentment.

If you are a fan of Diane Chamberlain, like I am, you will not be disappointed. This book showcases her usual captivating writing, unique storyline and unforgettable characters which has left me hungry for what she comes out with next.

Thank you to St Martin’s Press for our copies!

Posted in Reviews, Traveling Sisters Reads

Thoroughly Worthwhile Thursday: Long Bright River by Liz Moore @LizMooreBooks @riverheadbooks

Lindsay and I decided to download and read Long Bright River at the last minute, and we are so glad we did not miss this one. It is a thoroughly worthwhile reading experience that will stay with us for a while.

Brenda’s review

Long Bright River is a love story between two very different sisters who are bonded together by their toxic childhood. The story centers around the opioid crisis in a Philadelphia neighbourhood. Their childhood shapes them differently, with Kacey now lost in the streets and Mickey, a police officer on the streets searching for Kacey.

Long Bright River is profoundly moving and an affecting quietly written story with no drama that captures the raw reality of addiction not only on a loved one but a neighbourhood devastated by an epidemic with real, honest, strong characters. Liz Moore skillfully weaves a murder mystery here while exploring the bond between Mickey and Kacey through now and then chapters. I loved Mickey, and she is not without flaws making her a very relatable character. While we follow Mickey’s journey to find Kacey and the mystery unfolds, Liz Moore creates a profound picture of how their lives parallel what is happening in the neighbourhood. She creates tension and suspense her with the mystery element to the story with some great twists that tie so well into the story. I highly recommend not missing this reading experience.

Lindsay’s review

An extremely well-written, gut-wrenching, powerful story about addiction and the bond of sisters.

Raised by their less than interested grandmother, Mickey and Kacey grew up looking after one another. They were as close as sisters could be. As a teenager, Kacey mixes with the wrong crowd and becomes a drug addict leading to a life on the streets. The sisters become strangers to one another. Mickey joins the local police force but can’t ignore the constant tension of worry that one day she will find Kacey in a bad state on one of her work calls. Will Kacey ever get the help and support she needs? Will the sisters ever be as close as they once were?

I was invested in this story from page one. The story is told through Mickey’s perspective and it is intense. Mickey is a strong yet vulnerable character who I loved. What she endured while keeping her loyalty to her sister was heart wrenching. The bond of sisterhood is a strong one. The pace and flow of the book was excellent – it kept me fully engaged from start to finish. The writing was smooth and engrossing. I had a constant sense of tension and dread in my stomach in wonder of what Kacey’s outcome would be. I truly felt for Mickey and all that she had to endured

We received our copies from Edelweiss .

Posted in Reviews, The Sisters Recommend, Traveling Sisters Reads

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy @CeladonBooks

I am kicking off the new year here with our first review of the year for You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy, one of the most eye-opening, powerful and important books I have read in 2019. It’s an easy, fast read with a lot packed into it. This was a Traveling Sister group read and one of the most valuable discussions we have had. Pub date is January 7, 2020 and I can’t recommend this one enough!!

Brenda’s review

The World is just too noisy for me with everyone talking and no one listening so I jumped at the chance to read and discuss this one with some members of our group. We highlighted paragraph after paragraph and wanted to share how powerful each was for us. I now want to highlight all of them, but then you would be reading most of the book. lol We opened our minds to what we are missing and to the skills needed to be a good listener. We shared our own truths about listening and, in turn, learned something about ourselves and each other. We started to become more aware of our own listening skills and started practicing listening and we could see how satisfying it is to listen.

Kate Murphy starts with the core here as to why it matters we are listening with addressing that people get lonely from lack of listening. Not only from the distractions of our devices and social media influence but also with feeling lonely even with people because we are not practicing the skill of listening. She offers up some powerful, eye-opening and valuable information here and follows through with some suggestions that will make a difference. She offers up reasons we are not listening that I wasn’t aware of and the importance of freeing up our minds from distractions that are going on around us and in our minds. She shows us that listening is also gathering more from others than just the words said. In a positive way, she provokes some questions “Are we really connecting and contributing to others or just waiting for our turn to talk? “Does what others say matter to you and is it important that you see what they are saying?”

Kate Murphy also addresses when to make the call to stop listening when the world becomes too noisy and you just don’t have the capacity to listen to the noise or negativity. Life is just hard enough as it is.

I highly recommend reading this one! Let’s listen up, Friends and make a difference! It matters to the mental health crisis!

Lindsay’s review

Informative. Eye-opening. Thought-provoking.

This was a well researched, enlightening read that made me sit and ponder many points. I love books that make me think! The author presents her research in an easy, well organized manner with chapters breaking down her theories. I liked how the information was presented.

I found the beginning chapters more interesting than the latter chapters which felt a bit drawn out. However, there were countless ideas and theories presented throughout the book that I will keep with me long after I write this review.

I will end with a couple quotes that stood out for me (these are quotes from an Advanced Readers Copy which may change prior to publication):

“Hearing is passive. Listening is active.”

“Understanding is the goal of listening, and it takes effort.”

“To listen does not mean, or even imply, that you agree with someone. It simply means you accept the legitimacy of the other person’s point of view and that you might have something to learn from it.”

Debra’s review

This is an easily readable, enjoyable and thought-provoking book. I know some may look at the name and think “What? A book about listening or not listening. How can that be interesting?” Well, it is. Working in a field that is all about listening, I found that this book reinforced, most of what I already knew and had been taught in graduate school, but it was also an eye-opener for me in that I did not always utilize the skills I had been taught in my professional life in my personal life. People not only want to be heard but they need to be heard! Who doesn’t want a captive audience? That is why people may tell bartenders more about themselves than they tell those closest to them in their lives – because they have an active listener. Work, distractions, social media, technology, etc. all can get in the way of listening and lead to loneliness. Then there is silence – what a powerful tool that is. I enjoyed the sections about other cultures and how they view silence both professionally and personally.

There is a lot of food for thought in this book and lots to discuss. Hopefully, we will all come away as better listeners or at least become more aware of how we are listening to others. I enjoyed how this book was written. It does not come off as academic as some nonfiction books do. This is an easy book to read and I dare you not to pick up your highlighter while reading this book. There is a lot of passage that stood out for me and I found myself making note of them.

From Paige’s review

This is one of the most impactful books I have read all year. The message of true listening in You’re Not Listening serves to emphatically renovate the way we interact with each other. Kate Murphy’s words can revolutionize your conversations and relationships in a meaningful and powerful way. But, only if you listen.

There was so much that resonated with me, and I highlighted quite a lot. My favorite chapters were “Addicted to Distractions” about the endless distractions that interfere with meaningful social interactions, “Supporting, Not Shifting the Conversation” about how we often direct the attention away from the person talking and direct it towards ourselves, and “Improvisational Listening” about collaborating with others.

Thank you to Celadon Books for providing the Traveling Sisters in this group copies to read together!!


Posted in Traveling Sisters Reads

Our upcoming Traveling Sister Group reads we are excited about @CeladonBooks

I have been in a bit of blogging rut and buried in a coulee with Norma and Lindsay. We climbing out of our rut and creating some excitement for some titles we just received are looking forward to reading and reviewing.

Celadon Books has published some great books that we have read in our groups and keep talking about, The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides and The Whisper Man by Alex North. They are now Goodreads choice award nominees.

We are excited to add Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin to our upcoming Traveling Sister group reads.

From Goodreads: Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men―employees at the resort―are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth―not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

The Traveling Sisters are switching it up and reading a Non Fiction book in the group.You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters
by Kate Murphy

It’s no secret in our groups the world is just too noisy for me so I jump at the chance to read and discuss one.

From Goodreads

When was the last time you listened to someone, or someone really listened to you?

This life-changing book will transform your conversations forever

As a society, we’ve forgotten how to listen. Modern life is noisy and frenetic, and technology provides constant distraction. So we tune things out or listen selectively – even to those we love most. We’ve become scared of other people’s points of view, and of silence.

Now more than ever, we need to listen to those around us. New York Times contributor Kate Murphy draws on countless conversations she has had with everyone from priests to CIA interrogators, focus group moderators to bartenders, her great-great aunt to her friend’s toddler, to show how only by listening well can we truly connect with others.

Listening is about curiosity and patience – about asking the right questions in the right way. Improvisational comedians and con men are much better at it than most of us. And the cleverest people can be the worst at it. Listening has the potential to transform our relationships and our working lives, improve our self-knowledge, and increase our creativity and happiness. While it may take some effort, it’s a skill that can be learnt and perfected.

When all we crave is to understand and be understood, You’re Not Listening shows us how.

Thank you to Celadon books for our copies for our group reads.


Posted in Reviews, The Sisters Recommend, Traveling Sisters Reads

Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens @aeskens @HBGCanada

Amazing!!! Lindsay and I read and discussed Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens together and we loved it!! As I was discussing this one with Lindsay I started to see more into the depth of the story and I recommend this one for group reads. I then decided to explore Allen Eskens’s website and found some discussion questions. I highly recommend checking them out. I held a discussion in my own head as I answered them on paper and pen. Is that odd or do other people do that? I will be suggesting this one in our Traveling Friends Goodreads Group. I feel this one would make a great in-person group discussion as there is a lot to talk about. It also makes for a thought-provoking discussion with yourself. lol

Brenda’s review

The title here draws from the quote, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Allen Eskens draws on that ignorance and explores prejudice and racism as a way to explore his “own failing regarding notions of prejudice and racism” Taken from his author notes.

Nothing More Dangerous is a prequel to Allen Eskens other books. Boady Sanden is a law professor in The Life We Bury, and we see more of his character in The Heavens May Fall. In Nothing More Dangerous Boady is 15 years old and we follow his coming of age story.

Ellen Eskens creates a thought-provoking part coming of age story here with interesting characters, each with a journey of their own. He weaves a mystery here in the story while layering racial thoughts and feelings along with the racial themes that had me thinking deep into the story. I loved the dynamics here between the characters and their relationships. A few different relationships are explored here so well and each had me feeling different emotions. Eskens has some moves here with those well-layered themes and character dynamics and like a DJ he rolls them right into the next one and we see how dangerous ignorance can be. Ok, I took that phrase with the DJ from Eskens here in this story. He weaves some cliches/phrases in the story that had me laughing and cringing at the same time. I love cliches/phrases and I have been known to use them myself.

The ending was so beautiful and so perfect right out to that amazing line Was Blind and now I see. I really do see so much more after reading this one. I highly recommend.

Lindsay’s review

2019 Favourites List!

Boady (love that name!) is a fifteen-year-old boy who lives with his widowed mother on a remote dirt road in their small town. Hoke, an older man, lives next door and spends many hours with Boady having front porch chats and teaching life lessons. Boady finds himself caught up in a local missing woman’s case where he stumbles upon evidence that no child should be witness to.

Boady stole my heart! I loved everything about him and was fully invested in his journey from start to finish. I adored his relationship with Hoke – it was one of my favourite parts of this novel. I loved watching the dynamics of each of Boady’s relationships change and develop – with his mother, Hoke, his friends and himself.

I enjoyed everything about this book! The gritty, back-roads storyline. The enticing and endearing characters. The engrossing, suspenseful mystery. The writing drew me in from the first word and didn’t let go of my mind until the very last. The way this had my emotions flying around – love, anger, hope, frustration, disgust, comfort – I felt it all.

This is my third Allen Eskens book. I continue to be amazed by his writing – the words seem to easily make their way off of the page and into my heart. I have a strong connection to his writing style and look forward to picking up his other novels.

Thank you to Hachette Canada for sending us our copies to read and review

Posted in The Sisters Recommend, Traveling Friends Reads, Traveling Sisters Reads

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger @WmKentKrueger @SimonSchusterCA @AtriaBooks

This Tender Land was our monthly group read for October in our Traveling Friends Goodreads group. This mesmerizing and absorbing read makes for such a great group read. There is so much to think about and talk about. We all lost our hearts to these characters and loved this well thought out story!

This Tender Land swept me away on a thought-provoking adventure along the river with the children here in the story and I lost my heart to them as they searched for their place in the world. I was captivated by the children and their personal journey and adventures. They encounter challenges, threats and kindness from strangers along the way. I loved how with each turn or twist of the river, they learned something about themselves, each other, people and the world around them. In turn, I learned something about myself or saw something different in the world around me.

William Kent Krueger offers up his heart here is this remarkable affecting beautiful story full of hope and possibilities not only for these endearing characters but for us as well.

“In asking you to read This Tender Land, I am, in a way, offering you my heart.”

There is some tension here with the danger lurking in every turn. I found myself rooting, fearing for the children and yes, shouting at them at times. I wanted to protect them and was silently teaching them about the ways of the world in my mind but it was them that taught me something. I highly recommend reading this one and as Odie said “Open yourself to every possibility for there is nothing your heart can imagine that is not so”

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley.