Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” ― Henry David Thoreau

Brenda’s review

I always know I will have a great read whenever I start a book by Linwood Barclay, and his books never disappoint. He knows how to get his reader’s attention with an intriguing hook that creates suspense right off the bat. Then, each chapter creates more uncertainty and tension that has you wanting to read just one more chapter before you have to get back to life.

Linwood Barclay creates an enjoyable, fun, unique, complex story with some likeable, unlikable, some stereotyped characters and characters that defy stereotypes. There are a few characters here, and at times I struggled with keeping up with them all, and that did stall the story for me. The pace is fast with all the page-turning action that had me at the edge of my seat. It is a bit over the top and does require suspending some disbelief, but entertaining and fun right up to the last page. I highly recommend it.

I received a copy form the publisher through EW.

Lindsay’s review

A slow-moving, quiet, but oh-so-powerful story.

This book won’t be for everyone as it’s a very gradual build that quietly speaks to the reader. It takes time and patience but the pay off is well worth it. It is a character driven novel that will sneak up on you and capture your heart.

The characters are phenomenal, remarkable, complicated and truly unforgettable! Never have I EVER read a book where I simply cannot choose a favourite character (or two). And this book included a large cast of main characters – Ma, Pa, Nonna, Jimmy, Agnes, Zaida, Jon just to name a few. I honestly loved them ALL equally, but for very different reasons. There were so many layers to these deeply developed characters, their bonds with one another and the story itself that they haven’t left my mind since finishing the book a couple days ago.

This story is centred around a foster family working hard to make ends meet. This book taught me many things. I felt for these characters and their personal situations – each and every one of them affected differently by the vulnerable foster children that come and leave the home. My heart broke repeatedly but was also filled with hope and affection for the love and loyalty that grew within the walls of this foster home.

The writing is excellent. Powerful in its subtle and quiet manner. The words within these pages are heartwarming and heartbreaking. This book requires the reader to take their time to slowly savour the writing, the powerful story and the beautiful relationships.

Thank you to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for the review copy!

Harrowing story that follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia. Yellow Wife is inspired by real lives of Mary and Robert Lumpkin and The Lumpkin Jail located in Richmond, Virginia from 1830 through The Civil War.

Lindsay’s review

A powerful, well-written, intriguing and harrowing story that sheds light on one of the worst times in our history – slavery. Slaves are at the centre of this story set in the 1850’s – on a plantation and in a prison setting. The way the slaves are treated is horrific, devastating and sickening. This book provides some insight on what it took for the slaves to survive both physically and mentally.

I was fascinated to see the way in which the slaves created a sense of family and belonging within their own community. As horrid and awful as their situations were, they found ways to be happy and thankful within their own circle of family. A true testament to the strength of the human spirit.

While I really liked the main character, Pheby, I felt as though she was kept an arms length away, preventing me from an emotional connection. I felt for her, but not deeply. This book was not as heavy as I had anticipated and it took me a third of the way to feel an investment in the story. I had hoped for a much more intense emotional connection which made this slightly disappointing even though I did enjoy the entire book and appreciated learning about this time in our history. The authors note at the end makes this book more impactful as it explains how the author was inspired by true events.

A beautifully written historical fiction novel that I recommend.

For Brenda’s review please click to listen to it below

Brenda’s Review

“I would always have something to prove, Nothing but blazing brilliance would be enough to prove it.”

I can’t think of better words to describe Transcendent Kingdom, but “blazing brilliance.” It is a remarkable story that is dazzling written from the first page to the very last page. It’s the kind of story that brings out the thoughts and feelings I love most about reading, and I have a lot of thoughts and feeling about stories.

Transcendent Kingdom is a raw, insightful, intimate look into the thoughts of neuroscientist grad student Gifty while she tries to make sense of addiction and depression that has gutted her family. It is a quiet, eloquent written story that explores a complex web of themes of family, grief, race, belonging, addiction, depression through Gifty’s shame, weaving them together to a quiet redemption.

The themes are deeply layered with faith and science as Gifty struggles with faith, no longer giving her comfort and the answers she seeks. She turns to science to understand and make sense of her brother’s addiction to opioids. She uses her thesis experiment to study reward-seeking behavior in mice and discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her.

“I used to see the world through a God lens, and when that lens clouded, I turned to science,” she writes. “Both became, for me, valuable ways of seeing, but ultimately, both have failed to fully satisfy in their aim: to make clear, to make meaning.”

“Could it get a brother to set down a needle? Could it get a mother out of bed?”

The story’s strength is the dynamics between Gifty and her thoughts towards her mother and their dynamics. The tension between their dynamics drives the story forward. Gifty is a challenging character to relate to as she is distant, guarded, and restrained as she observes and makes sense of the world around her. Her structured thoughts and feelings are brilliantly insightful and thought-provoking but can come across as more matter-of-fact rather than emotional. However, under her guarded wall and the quiet layers to the story, she is a character screaming to be heard and one that is rewarding to listen to!!

“The truth is we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t even know the questions we need to ask in order to find out, but when we learn one tiny little thing, a dim light comes on in a dark hallway, and suddenly a new question appears.”

I received a copy through the publisher on NetGalley. I also bought a print copy to love, smell hug and carry around in one beautiful handmade book sleeve.

The book sleeves are made by my Mom and the bookmark by Norma. Check out their Etsy shop for more book sleeves and bookmarks. Click here for their Etsy shop Use SISTERS20 at the checkout for 20% off.

Howdy Bookworms, Book geeks, and Book Nerds!! Today I am switching it up a bit and geeking out about geeking out about books. This is what I do when I am supposed to be writing reviews. So here I am instead of writing a review for my most recent read, I am off in a different direction, talking about Bookworms, Book geeks, and Book Nerds!

Just for fun, I thought about what each one is, and then I did a little internet search, took a few quizzes, and then made this list. I have come to the conclusion I am all of them!!! Book nerd, geek, or bookworm, I am geeking out with my thoughts on why I think I am a book nerd, geek, or worm, and I found it fun to do!!

I am a Bookworm

  • I have tons of books to read and feel I have nothing to read yet I am always reading
  • I have piles of books beside my bed and even sleep with some
  • I pack twice as many books for a trip just because I like looking at them
  • I love to smell books
  • I collect bookmarks and book sleeves (Norma makes the bookmarks and my Mom the sleeves) and I match bookmarks to the themes or mood of the book and book sleeves to the color of the covers
  • When I am not reading I looking for my next read and constantly making new lists
  • I get excited about anything that is book related
  • It’s a good day when I see a new book written by a favourite author

I am a Book Geek

  • It drives me nuts when I see someone reading and I can’t see what they are reading
  • I have to control myself when I am in a book store not to suggest books to everyone
  • I read more Ebooks than prints even though I have stacks of prints
  • I roll my eyes every time I hear someone say they don’t have time to read because reading is like breathing to me
  • I fall asleep reading every night otherwise my mind doesn’t quiet down enough to fall asleep
  • I want to read every book I read with someone so I can talk about it and see what they have to say about the book
  • I am introvert but won’t say I am socially awkward
  • I love series but often forget what happened in the previous books by the time I read the next one
  • People often look at me with blank looks on their faces when I start talking about books
  • All my friends are fictional and I relate to them more than I do real people.
  • I can tune out everything and everyone when I am reading or thinking about books and I constantly need to snap back to reality
  • I wrote this post and found it fun.

I am a Book Nerd

  • I find with any conversation I have, I have the opportunity to say, I read a book about that.
  • I can relate almost everyone to a character I have read and it helps me understand people more. I want to give advice to people based on a character I read.
  • I learn things through the books I read and use them to relate to the world around me
  • I spend too much time dealing with the emotions of the characters
  • I want to know everything there is about the structure of a book and not because I want to write one.
  • I am in reading groups
  • When I finish reading a book I want to geek out about the structure, elements and themes of the story.
  • I spent hours looking up thing I want to know about books, gathering information and then struggle with narrowing it done to one topic.
  • I feel the need to know why the author wrote the characters the way they did
  • I have posts planed to geek out on topics related to books
  • I have trouble narrowing down what I want to write in my reviews and posts because I want to dissect the book.
  • I worry I might of missed something in a book so I read reviews on the internet for books after I read them
  • I hold back how much I really over think a book so I am too nerdy

The book sleeves are made by my Mom and the bookmarks by Norma. Check out their Etsy shop for more book sleeves and bookmarks. Click here for their Etsy shop Use SISTERS20 at the checkout for 20% off.

What are you a Book nerd, geek, worm or all of them?

Brenda’s review

Hot Diggity Dang, this is one I am excited to talk about!!! Warning: It is no beach read! Don’t read this one while lounging around any water!!!

Why have I waited so long to read a book by this author? I now have a few other books waiting for Lindsay and me to dive into right away.

The Drowning Kind has all the elements I love in a thriller and more with the supernatural elements to the story. It’s haunting, thrilling, suspenseful, atmospheric, devilishly horrifying, and full of tension. It has one of the best protagonist I have seen in a story, but not one I want to get up close with. Not only is it the protagonist, but it’s also the setting, and it one vivid, creepy, and chilling in more ways than one.

After a tragic loss, Jax returns to her Grandma’s estate, where she and her sister Lexie spent summers swimming in the pool, and Lexie lived. The pool is fed by a natural spring, but that not all that feeds it. It’s filled with frigid, pitch-black water that appears to be bottomless. Doesn’t sound so inviting does it? The pool has a history of giving and taking something from its visitors. It has secrets it’s not quickly going to give up. It’s perfectly paced and layered with the pool giving up its horrifying and haunting secrets, twists, turns, and reveals just at the right time to send those delightful chills up my spine. It has a great beginning and ending, and the tension builds with each page right up to that chilling ending that left me reeling after finishing. I highly recommend it.

Lindsay’s review

Suspenseful. Mysterious. Engrossing. Gothic. Atmospheric.

Jax returns to the home her sister, Lexie, inherited when their grandmother passed away. Lexie tragically drowned in the pool and Jax needs to clean up the house and determine what will happen with the property that has been in the family for generations. The house, pool and property have a very complicated and heavy history with her family. Many claim that the spring water filled pool has healing powers. Locals fear that the pool gives and can provide miracles, but it also takes away and causes irreversible loss.

I was intrigued and entranced by this story from the first to last page. The characters, the plot, the pace and flow, the atmosphere, the mystery — they were all so well developed and engrossing that I was completely consumed by every page. The novel unfolds through Past and Present timelines which I loved. Both timelines were enthralling and tension-filled. I was fully invested in both storylines. There are family secrets and mysteries that kept me guessing how everything would come together.

The writing was exquisite. This was my first book by this author and I quickly reserved her backlist from my library after finishing this one. Looking forward to diving into those!

Generally, I am not one for supernatural stories. This book does have that element but I didn’t doubt it for a minute. I was hanging on every word. As I was reading, I felt creeped out and worried, but couldn’t possibly put the book down. I highly recommend!

We received copies from the publisher on NetGalley!

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