The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers
by Vanessa Diffenbaugh has been on our list to read for quite some time now just waiting for that perfect time to read it. Well, that time came and I finally read this one with my sister-in-laws. They are pretty picky and my SIL gave us Picky Sisters as our name. Finding a book that meets what they, as readers like, is a little bit of a challenge for this dark and twisted reader. They like to read books that spark emotions but is lighter with little darkness and the most important for them hopeful stories. Well, this one fitted the bill and I am happy to say we all enjoyed this one.

After I read this one, I shared with Lindsay that we read it and she quickly grabbed her copy and read it too. So today, I am sharing our reviews with you all.

Brenda’s review

The Language of Flowers is a mesmerizing, unforgettable hopeful story that beautifully weaves the past and present while exploring abandonment, love and finding what triggers a person to open up to others. In the past we see Victoria’s self-destructive ways as she grows up in foster homes. Now through her connections to flowers, she starts to open up by speaking the language of flowers to help people find some joy through flowers. Flowers start to connect Victoria to others as she tries to learn to trust herself.

The characters are like a beautiful bouquet of flowers and Vanessa Diffenbaugh weaves a moving story her with the bonds between damage Victoria and the characters. Each brought some emotional conflict to Victoria while bringing something heartwarming to the story. Victoria stole our hearts and, left us heartbroken with her self-destructive ways. Victoria’s foster mother, Elizabeth, warmed our hearts with her love, how she always saw the beauty in Victoria and her commitment to her. We rooted for each bond between the characters to bloom and fear the storms that threatened them.

The ending wrapped up so well and left us all with the most satisfying feels. Just what we all needed right now. We highly recommend it.

Lindsay’s review

This book was even better than I had hoped for (and I had high hopes!)!

I have had this book on my shelf for years and have read countless raving reviews. To be honest, I was worried this might end up being one of the many over-hyped books I’ve been reading lately. It is not! It fully lived up to the hype (and more)!

Exquisitely beautiful writing. Heart wrenching storyline. Endearing and unforgettable characters. This was done to perfection.

Victoria is a young woman who grew up in foster care system. Emotionally damaged by the back and forth between numerous foster homes and group homes, she is unable to maintain healthy relationships. She constantly chooses self-destructing behaviour and pushes herself away from those who care. Her one true connection is to the language of flowers which is how she makes her mark in the world. Each plant and flower holds a true meaning and when placed skillfully and precisely in an arrangement, conveys deep meaning.

I adored Victoria! She is flawed and insecure, yet strong and set in her ways. I had a deep connection with her from the first chapter and whole-heartedly enjoyed following her emotional and heart-wrenching journey. There is a strong theme of motherhood among these pages, specifically mother-daughter relationships, that will stay with me a long time. The relationships within this novel are complex and emotional. I was completely immersed within each of Victoria’s relationship, finding myself analyzing each scenario and situation the characters found themselves in. Though I did not agree with many of Victoria’s personal choices, I was committed to rooting for her to find true happiness and contentment.

This is a beautiful book that has earned a spot on my Favourites List. It is one to be savoured and not rushed through. I highly recommend and look forward to reading more from this very talented author.

The German Heiress by Anika Scott @HarperCollinsCa

The German Heiress by Anika Scott is now available!

I had some mixed feelings here with The German Heiress by Anika Scott. The story started off slow for me and I felt like I was missing something here with Clara’s characters. I struggled with finding her convincing and the overall plot of the story. Once I stop trying to find her convincing or compelling and just go with the story, I started to enjoy the story. I found it to be more of a thriller than historical fiction.

The story takes place post-WWII and the perspective is unique here. During World War II, Clara took on the role of operating her family’s ironworks empire. Now she is on the run from a British officer who’s is determined to make her answer for war crimes committed while she ran the company. This is where things became a bit foggy for me. I didn’t pick up on any connection emotionally to Clara that I thought I should of, instead I just found it all entertaining. I enjoyed the chase and the twists that came along the way and the dynamics between Clara and Jakob, who she meets while trying to find her best friend and her son. I found myself rooting for Clara but feeling I should be wanting justice instead. For me it lacked any depth for me to get the feeling for her motivation or any themes I felt I should have picked up on. Or maybe I just missed the boat here with this one.

Things wrap up a little too easy, however it all work for me. I enjoyed the lighter, more entertaining feel to the story and right now I appreciated that. I highly recommend for readers who enjoy historical fiction but are looking for something a little more entertaining then substantial right now.

I received a copy on EW.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

Ok Friends!! I have a great one for right now! It might seem a little out there but that’s the heart of the story here. It’s thought provoking, light yet very meaningful, fun and entertaining!

Brenda’s review

Great flaming balls of fire!! Kids that catch on fire! No, nothing to see here!

You can’t get anymore original than this quirky, sweet, mesmerizing funny and touching story that uniquely explores what is normal and the power of compassion. It left me thinking we can normalize almost anything if we have compassion for each other.

I loved our main character here, Lillian, whose’s job is to keep fireballs Bessie and Roland calm while keeping her own cool. These adorable twins who I wanted to give a big hug to take temper tantrums to a whole new level and they don’t just have meltdowns they start on fire. Kevin Wilson brilliantly weaves that into the story as a form of self-protection and defence.

Lillian, with her own conflicts and an oddball herself, is not afraid of these little fireballs. Her plan is to “hypnotize them with my own weirdness.” She accepts them, protects them and loves them just the way they are. My heart melted and felt like it would burst in flames itself.

This is one odd, entertaining story with one of the weirdness storylines ever; however, by the end of the story, it all felt normal. Now that’s some talent. I highly recommend it.

Stay safe friends!

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel @aengelwrites @DuttonBooks

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel is now available. We read it in our Traveling Sister reading group and we all loved it and highly recommend it!

Brenda’s review

Hot Diggity Dang! This is one exciting emotionally taut page-turner not to be missed.

Amy Engel takes us to the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks and creates a dark, harrowing, harsh and gritty atmospheric setting. We are pulled from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and the most dangerous place for our main character Eve her mother’s trailer.

Eve determined to raise her daughter differently than she was and keep the evil that surrounds her mother and her hard ways from her daughter is now forced to go back to her roots in her quest for vengeance after her daughter is murder.

Amy Engel brilliantly delves into the darkness inside our characters while exploring grief, loss, family bonds and roots, loyalty and survival. The characters are strong, interesting and exciting and their relationships are unquie and powerful.

It’s all about the characters here and the mystery here adds to the dynamics between the characters. There are some heartstopping twists to the story and that final reveal is one dark emotional twist.

Norma’s review

Darkly disturbing, gritty, & gripping stuff here with a Holy Shooty Balls ending!

THE FAMILIAR DARK by AMY ENGEL is a suspenseful, raw, absorbing, and a highly compulsive read here that was quite the emotional and intense psychological thriller. The novel starts off with quite the gut-wrenching and emotional scene that immediately hooks the reader and has you frantically flipping those pages right to the very end to uncover the truth. It was such a brisk-paced read and absolutely un-put-down-able because just like Eve I needed to find out who the despicable killer was.

AMY ENGEL delivers quite the atmospheric, palpable, entertaining, compelling, and unsettling read here that is high on intrigue and suspense that had me totally invested in this story. Eve’s voice here (our main character) is extremely well portrayed and got right under my skin. Her grief and search for retribution was extremely raw and felt so real. It was definitely a little hard to read at times because ENGEL pulls no punches here when it comes to Eve and her grief. This book definitely got my adrenaline pumping and had me feeling pretty queasy a lot of the time.

AMY ENGEL excels at connecting you to her characters and has you totally believing in them which allowed me to be totally gobsmacked in the end giving this my Holy Shooty Balls stamp of approval for a wowzers ending! I was totally shocked and stunned!!

Lindsay’s review

Gritty. Emotional. Gripping. Addictive.

The novel starts with emotional intensity when Eve Taggart discovers her twelve-year-old daughter has been murdered at the local playground. Eve and her bother Cal, who is a local police officer, go on a hunt to track down the killer while uncovering small town secrets and scandal.

I loved Eve! I connected with her from the first chapter when she reacts to the discovery of her daughters death. My heart broke for her and I became extremely invested in her finding answers. Eve was a strong woman with a long hidden wild side. Eve’s childhood was enveloped within the backwoods, off-the-grid, redneck trailer park nestled in the deep, poorest parts of the Missouri Ozark mountains. She grew up with an abusive mother, having to fend for herself. After having her daughter at seventeen-years-old, Eve changes her way of life, escaping the filth and desperation of her childhood. Although she barely makes enough to get by, with help from Cal, she created a cleaner, healthier life for her and her daughter. However, those long hidden, backroads, fend-for-yourself ways reignite in Eve to help her find answers to her daughters brutal murder.

Each and every character was done to perfection, adding a new layer of intrigue and suspense to the story. My suspicions crawled all over this small town setting. The novel was highly atmospheric and drew me right in – especially the backroads, gritty trailer park scenes which had me feeling chills creep up my spine.

The mystery within these pages is pulse-pounding and stomach-churning. The writing was brilliant and kept me hanging on every word. I adored the author’s previous novel, The Roanoke Girls, and am excited to say this was just as exceptional.

We received copies from Edelweiss

All the Best Lies (Ellery Hathaway #3) by Joanna Schaffhausen @slipperywhisper@MinotaurBooks

In this third book to the series Ellery and Agent Reed are on a more personal investigation. Reed was just a baby when his biological mother was murdered. Now Reed and Ellery are in Las Vegas looking for answers to who killed her. Family secrets start to come out and we see more into Reed’s family as Ellery supports him.

The heart of the series here for me is Ellery and Reed and their growing relationship. I love the strong bond they have between them both as partners working together to solve a crime and their friendship and with their growing feelings for each other. Joanna Schaffhausen sensitively explores Ellery’s traumatic past and how that affects her relationship with Reed. Now Ellery needs no hero as she is her own but Reed fits the title with his caring ways. There is some exciting tension here and their chemistry is sweet with some heat. They go together like sweet chocolate and chilli peppers.

I didn’t find the mystery here in the story all that compelling but that final twist was so dang good!! The ending wrapped up so well!! I highly recommend this series.

From my review for the first book to the series The Vanishing Season

Joanna Schaffhausen does a good job creating a strong and interesting yet flawed character here with Ellery and I liked her right from the start. I was intrigued by her tragic past and how her past tied to her present life.

The suspense builds as clues and hidden secrets are revealed and the tension rises between Ellery and Reed leaving us questioning who to trust and not to trust. Joanna Schaffhausen weaved the past with the present well for a satisfying ending.

From my review for the second book No Mercy 

I loved the dynamics even more here between Ellery and Reed. I can’t believe I am going to say this but the romantic tension between them had me turning those pages as fast as I could to see more of that dynamics. They grow closer here in this one and become a little reckless in their own investigation that created even more tension and I couldn’t help but cheer them on.

I received copies from the publisher

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid is a must for reading groups, we joined in on this book club gem and read it with a group of friends. It lead to an exciting and fun discussion. The story provokes a few questions and it was interesting to see everyone’s thoughts and insight into the story.

This just might be the perfect one right now to find some friends and connect online to discuss this one. I know a group you could read it in!!! lol

For us here we had some different thoughts here that affected our overall enjoyment to the story. We could really see the different types of readers come out while reading this one and in our reviews. So on to our reviews.

Brenda’s review

The story starts with an exchange caught on video between our main character Emira and a security guard in a grocery store. This could have of went in a familiar way to exploring racism and the number of viral incidents, however, things that a fresh, more interesting direction than I expected.

Kiley Reid takes a simpler, enjoyable, entertaining yet still thought-provoking approach here and explores the other side, not everyone wants to be seen. Emira doesn’t want the video on social media, and what she as her own person not as a black woman wants out of life is explored in the story.

The dynamics between the characters are insightful and also refreshing as Kiley Reid explores the ownership the characters feel over Emira as a black woman. She skillfully weaves this in while exploring privilege, race, employee/employer dynamics, motherhood, and friendship. I enjoyed the dynamics between Emira and Briar, who she babysits but felt something was missing there. I wanted to feel that Emira’s role with Briar was more important than I did.

The biggest question I had and we had a few different answers in our discussion was, “What age was such a fun age?” and What is the title referring to?

Norma’s review

Thought-provoking, powerful, and absorbing!

SUCH A FUN AGE by KILEY REID was a book that I was extremely excited to receive and I am happy to say that I was just as excited about it after finishing the book. This was such a surprisingly great debut that starts off with quite the opening scene and then mellows out a little bit where the mood switches to being a light, easy-breezy story but to be totally honest it was nothing but. It was such a complex and layered story that was packed full of heart.

KILEY REID delivers a clever, captivating, and intriguing story here that is told in an empathetic and sincere voice that really makes the reader think. The narrative was fun and satirical and never once did I feel like it was intended to be any other way. I didn’t feel that the author was making us feel a certain way she was allowing us to feel it all on our own and come to our own interpretations of how we would react if we were put in the same scenarios as they were. I was definitely putting myself in these characters shoes and examining my own feelings. This book definitely made me think!

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I really connected or liked any of these characters, except for maybe little Briar. She definitely stole the show. It was the story in a whole that definitely made this such a great read for me!

Lindsay’s review

 An easy read that lacked the emotional connection and powerful punch that I had expected.

This book is all the buzz lately. I couldn’t wait to dig in and see what all the hype was about. I’m not sure if the overhyping is what made me feel like I was missing something or this simply wasn’t a powerful book for me. Yes, there are some very heavy topics covered within these pages, but the way they are presented didn’t impact or resonate with me.

From start to finish the narrative made me feel distanced from the characters and storyline. I never felt completely immersed in their lives. It was like I was being told this story without being given the opportunity to truly experience it. Often times the dialogue felt awkward and somewhat forced which further distanced me from the characters. I didn’t like the way the changing perspectives overlapped – it often felt choppy and lacked flow.

Overall, it was an easy, quick read, but not one that lived up to my expectations.