Lately, I seem to be interested in stories of the messiness, and complex lives of the characters, and this one does that and does it well. Messy is what our troubled 23-year-old main character Edie is. After losing her job, she moves in with her white older lover, his wife and their adopted black daughter. I won’t get into the messiness of all that and leave that for the story.

Raven Leilani boldly and bravely creates a distinct POV with Edie, a black woman who is trying to find herself while searching for human connections. Edie is realistic, flawed, and we see her vulnerable side. She makes some ugly mistakes and sometimes walks the line morally. At times I wanted to yell at her, and other times I wanted to hug her.

Things get a little uncomfortable here with the dynamics between the characters and, at times, maybe a bit too messy for me. There are some turns to the story that turns a little ugly but Raven Leilani handles it well by showing us through Edie’s thoughts without over dramatizing it or makes a point towards anything. However, for someone who loves depth beyond the word written at times, it was a bit deep, complicated for me, and I found myself losing focus with the story, and I did struggle with really connecting to Edie.

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley!

Son of a Trickster is a 2020 Canada reads finalist that battled in Canada’s battle of the books for “The one book to bring focus to Canada.” It is the third book I have read of the five finalists chosen this year. The debate is over and the winner has been picked. Son of a Trickster came down to the final two and then was voted out. Out of the five finalists it was not the one book I thought would bring focus to Canada because of some elements to the story that might not appeal to everyone. However, it’s good storytelling that gives a voice to Indigenous Canadians and their stories.

Brenda’s review

Eden Robinson weaves a coming of age story, dark comedy, with magic realism and a whole lot of family drama. She captures the messy, complex family dynamics through the POV of high school Jared living in kitimat, BC. The magic realism adds a layer of culture and intrigue to the bleak story, but I got lost in it all and didn’t know what was part of the culture, real or storytelling.

Things were off to a great start for me, and I loved the snarky dialogue centered around Jared’s messy life. However, that humor turned bleak and got tiring real fast for this older reader. Eden Robinson does a good job capturing a realistic voice of a teenager sarcasm and with the dialogue between him and the other characters in the story. Like in real life, I became annoyed by it.

Jared is a likable character, he is compassionate and empathetic. He often plays the role of the adult and provides for and manages the adults in his life while struggling with his own conflicts. He drinks, uses drugs and his claim to fame is his pot cookies. A good part of the story digs into Jared’s daily life, and it felt repetitive at times and slowed down the story for me.

Overall I enjoyed it but it felt more like storytelling to me than showing me depth to the story and the characters.

My reviews for more finalist

We Have Always Been Here A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib

From The Ashes by Jesse Thistle

Welcome to our stop on the blog tour for Someone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass. We are excited to share our reviews with you all today!

Book Summary:

You’re not alone. Someone’s waiting. Someone’s watching…Someone’s listening.

In SOMEONE’S LISTENING (Graydon House Books; July 28; $16.99) Dr. Faith Finley has everything she’s ever wanted: she’s a renowned psychologist, a radio personality—host of the wildly popular “Someone’s Listening with Dr. Faith Finley”—and a soon-to-be bestselling author. She’s young, beautiful, and married to the perfect man, Liam.

Of course Liam was at Faith’s book launch with her. But after her car crashes on the way home and she’s pulled from the wreckage, nobody can confirm that Liam was with her at the party. The police claim she was alone in car, and they don’t believe her when she says otherwise. Perhaps that’s understandable, given the horrible thing Faith was accused of doing a few weeks ago.

And then the notes start arriving—the ones literally ripped from the pages of Faith’s own self-help book on leaving an abusive relationship. Ones like “Secure your new home. Consider new window and door locks, an alarm system, and steel doors…”

Where is Liam? Is his disappearance connected to the scandal that ruined Faith’s life? Who is sending the notes? Faith’s very life will depend on finding the answers.

Lindsay’s Review

Well-written, snarky and suspenseful!

Dr. Faith Finley is a loving wife, a psychologist, host of a popular radio show and author of a bestselling self-help novel. Her life is thrown upside down when one of her teenage patients publicly accuses her of having a sexual relationship with him. Faith’s husband, Liam, supports Faith throughout her public demise until he goes missing from the scene of a car crash where Faith was driving.

If you enjoy snarky, sarcastic inner thoughts and dialogue, you will LOVE Dr. Faith Finley! I adored her character and found her inner snark so extremely entertaining and hilarious. I was giggling to myself at several points throughout this story. The entire novel unfolds through her perspective so connecting with her is a must in order to enjoy this book.

The writing was excellent! The pace was perfect and the plot flowed seamlessly between a Now and Then timeline in the first portion of the novel. I felt for Faith but also had my suspicions about her and didn’t know who to trust. I had my suspicions about who the culprit was but that was only because I suspected pretty much every character at one point or another. My curiosity was piqued from the first to last page and I enjoyed every twist this story held. A fantastic page-turner that I highly recommend!

Brenda’s Review

I have been having a tough time with thrillers lately and have lost my groove with them. Well, Seraphina Nova Glass had me grooving to the pace here with this entertaining story.

The mystery here is suspenseful and interesting with well-developed characters. The story is layered with well done red herrings, twists and turns that that kept me on my toes going back and forth with who I shouldn’t be trusting. I had my eye on a few characters here and suspected most of them.

I had mixed feelings here with our main character Faith, and at times I found her entertaining with her snarky inner voice, and at other times, I found her a bit annoying. I liked her, and I disliked her, and at times, I questioned her actions. I like her vulnerable side, but not so much her flaws. Her pill-popping and drinking weighed on me at times, and I wish we would have been shown more there rather than told every time she popped one.

Some things I saw coming and some things took me by surprise. What I didn’t see coming were well layered and paced. Things get tense, and that final climax had me gripping my kindle and clicking the pages as fast as I could. I like how everything wrapped up, and I was left satisfied after finishing this one! I recommend it!

Author Bio: 

Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Texas-Arlington, where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and has optioned multiple screenplays to Hallmark and Lifetime. Someone’s Listening is her first novel.

Social Links: Author Website Twitter: @SeraphinaNova Instagram: @SeraphinaNovaGlass Facebook: @SeraphinaNovaGlass Goodreads

Buy Links: Harlequin  Barnes & Noble Amazon Books-A-Million Powell’s

Thank you to Justine from Harpercollins for inviting us and for our copies to read and review.

YaHoo!! Get it today!! Charlie Donlea has a new book out!! It’s no secret in our book world how much we love his books. The Girl Who Was Taken was one of our first Traveling Sisters Reads and we have been reading his books in our groups since then. If you haven’t given one of his books a whirl what are you waiting for.

Every time Charlie Donlea has a new book out The Traveling Sisters are cheering and we are excited to drive right into it. We were very excited to see beloved characters Rory and Lane from Some Choose Darkness return in The Suicide House 

Brenda’s Review

Hot Diggity Dang! Charlie Donlea nails it here with this chilling and thrilling setting that sets a dark eerie mood to the story!

With a title like The Suicide House, I have to say I was a bit nervous about reading it but it’s Charlie Donlea so how could I go wrong. Well, I am happy to say Charlie delivers another original and exciting twisty thrill of a read!

I loved the settings here that connected the characters and added nail-biting tension to the story. The Elite school and boarding house in the woods sets an eerier feel to the story with its horrifying secrets. A year ago two students were murder and the case is now the focus of the podcast The Suicide House. Rory is back to find out those horrifying secrets the night the students were slaughter. The danger is still lurking and haunting the students who were there that night.

For me, the strength of the story is our interesting, brilliant well developed diverse character Rory who exhibits mannerism that puts her on the autism spectrum. The dynamics between her and Lane are heartwarming and entertaining. We don’t see much of both of them together as I would of like however I loved what we did get.

There is a large cast of characters here with multiple intertwining storylines that keep things interesting. At times I did become a bit confused with keeping everyone and everything straight. The tension and suspense rises with each chapter right up to those exciting final twists and reveals.

I highly recommend starting with Some Choose Darkness before this one to get to know Rory and Lane however I do think The Suicide House works as a standalone as well

Lindsay’s review

A thrilling continuation of the series!

Rory Moore is a forensic reconstructionalist who suffers from extreme social anxiety. She has a proven track record of cracking unsolved police case files and finds herself entangled in helping her psychologist partner, Lane Phillips, on a chilling and mysterious prep school double murder. The two travel to the prestigious Westmont Preparatory High School to investigate and immerse themselves in the year old murder case of two students.

I’ve read and loved every single book Charlie Donlea has created and this was no exception. I jumped right back into these characters lives and felt myself grow even more attached to them. The thick, foreboding atmosphere of the elite boarding school grounds had me engrossed from start to finish. There is something about boarding school settings that always appeals to me. This was a fast paced thrilling mystery that had my mind flip flopping over who was guilty. The chillingly gruesome murders kept me on edge and curiously intrigued throughout. With the timelines being only one year apart, I found myself confused a few times at the start but as I worked deeper into the storyline, the flow became much easier to follow.

If you haven’t read a Charlie Donlea book, you need to drop everything and pick one up! I suggesting picking up book 1 in this series before reading this as it will give you a better understanding of the characters’ backstories and personalities. All of his other novels are standalones, however, he brilliantly incorporates his well-loved characters within more than one book which I love.

We received copies from the publisher on NetGalley

Brenda’s review

I wasn’t planning on reading His & Hers by Alice Feeney but couldn’t resist downloading the audiobook, and I am so glad I did. I enjoyed listening to Richard Armitage & Stephanie Racine narrate the story, and they drew me into the story right from the start. I usually only listen while I am doing chores around the house, or I find myself too tired to read however, I found myself wanting to sit down and just listen to the story.

The story is cleverly told through divorce couple Anna and Jack’s POV in his and her alternating chapters as the story unfolds. The story is easy to listen to with the different sides to it, and if my focus wandered to something else, it was easy to get back into the flow of the story. The her chapters start with the time of the day, and that kept things on track for me. I thought both narrators fit the characters, were convincing and worked well together. Well, I didn’t find the story all that suspenseful they added some tension to the story with their voices.

The story starts off lighter with a murder, and I started to get comfortable with the pace and then as secrets are revealed things turned darker than I expected. After reading Alice Feeney’s last book, I am not sure why I didn’t except a darker turn to the story. I think listening makes it sound a bit more disturbing for me than reading it. And then some animal scenes came up, and I wished I wasn’t paying attention then, however, I did practice some selected hearing there.

The story is a twisty and entertaining one to listen to and I am not sure if I would have enjoyed reading it as much as listening to it. It did keep me guessing, and I went back and forth with my suspicious until I thought again I had things figured out just to find out I didn’t. I enjoyed that final reveal that I did not see coming and everything wrapped up well for me. I highly recommend the audiobook.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for my copy!

We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir is a 2020 Canada reads contender battling in Canada’s battle of the books for the title of the one book the country should read. Celebrities defend their chosen book debate style. The winner is chosen and my lips are sealed and I am focusing on my thoughts.

I have to admit I live in a Canadian bubble and my own tiny seduced bubble. I had the impression that things are okay here in Canada, but after the events that took place recently, I have come to realize it’s time for me to step out of that bubble and challenge my thoughts and assumptions. So I decided to start with what I do by reading and diversify my reading, which lead me to this one, and Canada reads.

Samra Habib starts by sharing her earlier years growing up as an Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan. She was taught to keep her identity a secret to protect herself from danger. Hiding became a familiar way of survival for her, and she continued hiding after reaching Canada as refugees and following the rules of her parents. She began to realize she needed to find her authentic self, who she identified as and with who.

Samra’s journey brings light to hiding and the importance of why finding who you identify as is. Her story speaks to anyone who has ever felt out of place. I picked up something valuable here from her and her journey, and she challenged my thoughts on a few things towards racism, identity and to privileges of feeling safe. As a white Canadian, I have some universal feelings of anxiety and safety but I don’t feel unsafe taking the bus because of the colour of my skin or who I identify as. We all should have that privilege.

Samra’s voice is quiet yet powerful, compassionate, kind and understanding towards the reader, and it’s clear she is opening up a safe place for everyone wanting to find who they identify as and for people who want to confront their assumptions and seek understanding for each other. She took me out of my shoes and into the shoes of people identifying as queer or queer Muslim. She challenged me to think about my advantages and see how different they are from hers when she first came to Canada and living here.

I do want to mention Samra addresses her faith as well and at times it felt heavy with everything else that caught my attention from her story. I feel I missed some things there and can’t speak to that part of her story. I highly recommend this memoir.

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