Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

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

Lindsay’s review

Extremely enjoyable from start to finish!

Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley is returning to her job after taking leave to recover from a brutal attack that landed the Jigsaw Killer, Peter Olivier, in prison. On her first day back to work she is partnered with trainee Salim Ramouter and they are assigned to a murder scene that is the beginning of what appears to be a copycat of the Jigsaw Killer.

I LOVED Henley! She was an outstanding main character – so strong yet vulnerable. I loved the relationship dynamic between her and Ramouter which was definitely a stand out aspect of the plot for me. I also loved the unsettling relationship between Henley and Olivier and everything that brought to the storyline. Henley’s backstory kept me highly intrigued as it was slowly revealed as the story progressed.

Beware there are some gruesome scenes and plot points. The pace and flow were perfect. This wasn’t a super intense or gripping serial killer story, but I enjoyed every single page. It was more of a character driven police procedural that had me hanging on every word. The unique and fascinating character relationships were what drove the plot forward for me.

The writing was excellent! I loved the short chapters and how some chapters switched perspectives. Brilliant execution of this debut novel! I highly recommend!

Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for my physical review copy! I can’t wait for Book #2 in this series! 

Brenda’s review

Dang, it!! I should have loved this one, but I couldn’t get into the tried and drawn-out storyline involving The Jigsaw Man Peter Olivier and a copycat killer. I didn’t find them compelling killers, but there is something different here from those tired and overused character types with black female Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley. She shines a light on marginalized groups, mental health, gender, sexism, and racism. I loved Henley’s strength and vulnerability that take on a convincing, human side to her with her struggles to control the anxiety attacks she experiences due to the trauma caused to her by Peter Olivier.

The crimes and killers here are disturbing and twisted with graphic scenes; however, it felt like that was the focus instead of the tension need to create an exciting climax to the story. Then things started to happen so fast that it lacked the danger and action needed to make the showdown between the characters exciting and thrilling.

I loved the strong, well-developed characters but it missed the mark with the elements to make it a compelling Police procedural for me. Even though it missed that mark, I think it is one of the better books from an author moving forward with our times. I recommend it.

I received a copy from the publisher on EW.

Howdy Friends!!! Yahoo!! Since we are getting closer to life on the go again, I know you want to protect those fantastic books, kindles and kobos. Right? Well, I have some new book sleeves my Mom has made for me and their Etsy shop to share with you all!!

What a find this fabric is!!! We just about missed this one and were happy when our clever sales person showed us the fabric after hearing we were looking for fabric for book sleeves. We snatched up what little they had left. So hurry and check one out before they are gone! Click here to purchase from their Etsy

Coffee, tea and books are always a great combination and this is such a fun book sleeve to take your book on a date to a coffee shop. click here to purchase

I could not pass on this one!! I love the diversity to the pattern and reminds me I need to catch up on my diversity challenge and pick the perfect book for this sleeve. For now I picked The Other Black Girl to go with it. It has some mixed reviews so I am not sure it’s one to fit my challenge. The book sleeve also has such a wonderful summer vibe to it and I just want to pull out my beach towel and find a spot to read and pretend I am by a pool somewhere fabulous. Find it here

Kittens!! Adorable!! Enough said!! Click here

I thought this was a fun one to carry my book I am currently reading while out and about. I just love sitting on a bench and sneaking in a chapter. click here

One of my favorite new additions to my book sleeve collection!!! How pretty is this one!!! click here to purchase

My Mom also makes Kindle and Kobo Sleeve. Drop Norma a message in her shop if you want either in the fabrics and don’t forget to check out her bookmarks. She will be adding some new ones soon. To see all their wonderful bookish things Click here for their Etsy store. Use SISTERS20 at the checkout for 20% off.

Lindsay’s review

Mina is a flight attendant living separated from her police officer husband, Adam. They both have secrets but they have a strong enough relationship that they can amicably share custody of their young daughter in the family home. Mina is part of the flight crew working on a record breaking 20 hour non-stop flight which is the first time for any airline. Soon after the flight takes off, Mina receives an anonymous note from a passenger and it becomes evident there is a scheme on board the flight that Mina is caught in the middle of.

This was an intense storyline that would be a worst nightmare for most – a plane hijacking. The novel unfolds through Mina’s perspective on the plane and Adam’s perspective at home with their daughter. The plane chapters with Mina had an intense, anxiety-filled, gripping feel that kept me engrossed and worried. Adam’s perspective, while equally important to the storyline, didn’t hold as much intrigue or spark.

I am a huge fan of this author, as I’ve read most of her backlist. I love her writing and this was no exception. My one issue is that I felt the last quarter of the book lost some of its intensity. The claustrophobic, suspenseful feel wasn’t as captivating for me in the end. I remained invested and curious, but it wasn’t pulling me as strongly as the start.

Overall, this was another unique, entertaining, thought-provoking read by this author and I am already looking forward to what she comes out with next!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy!

Brenda’s review

Big sigh!!! Just another abduction, imprisonment, control over women story marketed as a “claustrophobic thriller.” Wait, hmm, Lenn has my attention with his claustrophobic, disturbing, controlling way over Jane, but did that created the tension, sense of dread, and fear needed to create a thrilling, chilling and exciting thriller?

Will Dean offers us something different here with this “domestic thriller,” and it was claustrophobic, but it didn’t deliver on that slow-building tension, sense of dread, or fear. As disturbing as Jane’s environment was, I never really got that sense of fear I wanted to feel from Jane. Maybe it had something to do with the author being male writing the POV of a woman fearing a man that distracting me from that. It was all about the strong theme of men controlling women, and I could feel that coming from Lenn. There is something a little different here with the way Lenn controls Jane, which was the driving force of the story for me.

Jane is not her real name but the name Lenn has given her. Her real name is Thanh Dao, she came to the UK with her sister and the promise of a good job but instead is sold to Lenn. A claustrophobic feeling is created here with the isolated wooded farm Jane is imprisoned in. Lenn is creepy, disturbing, and unsettling with the way he uses psychological coercion in a haunting way and physical abuse to control Thanh Dao. Lenn uses threats against her sister and the possessions that keep her connected to who she is. When Thanh displeases Lenn or breaks the rules, he burns one of her possessions. She loses a piece of who she is and struggles with being replaced as Jane, his wife, and the image of his mother.

Jane is a strong character, and I love the strength she finds to hold on to who she is while trying to survive, however her conflicts and actions felt a bit predictable. It was Lenn who stoled the show for me with his unsettling calm way of thinking the forced daily repetitive routine Jane must do just the way his mother did is a perfectly normal life with Jane that intrigued me from start to finish. A couple of turns to the story left me pleasantly surprised, and I didn’t expect or see the twist coming in the end. The ending blurs the lines of fiction and reality a bit too far, but I did like the way it all wrapped up.

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley.

Lindsay’s review

This is an extremely well-written, harrowing and emotional story that will stay with me a long time.

Kelly Rimmer knows how to create the most endearing, realistic, root-worthy characters. I have read much of her backlist and have always found myself completely wrapped up within her characters lives and situations. This novel was no different.

This book tells the story of two families fighting to survive in Warsaw during WWII. The dual narrative is executed brilliantly and immediately drew me in. My heart ached for the characters within the first few pages of chapter 1 – that’s how strong this authors writing is. There are several gut wrenching scenes that will forever be embedded in my mind and as hard as they were to read, they were essential in telling these characters stories and showing the true devastation of the times.

My one tiny critique is that I found there were small sections of the book that felt drawn out. My intense connection wasn’t consistently held throughout and my attention did slightly waver.

This novel is an important and eye-opening look into this devastating time in our history. I hope this author continues to write these unforgettable historical fiction novels. If you haven’t read, The Things We Cannot Say, by this author, I strongly suggest you do – it’s my favourite historical fiction book by her.

Brenda’s review

The Warsaw Orphan by kelly Rimmer is inspired by the real-life heroine who smuggled thousands of Jewish children to safety.

Young Elzbieta stumbles upon her neighbour Sara’s resistance activities, smuggling children out of the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland and placing them in Catholic foster families. She wants to help, but she is young, inexperienced, and naive. She convinces Sarah to let her become involved in the activities. She meets a young Jewish boy, Roman, who lives in the Ghetto with his family and needs their help. I loved that the story centers around the young characters who brought a strong, courageous perspective from a younger point of view with their curiosity and creative minds

The pace is slow, with some hard-hitting dark scenes that crushed my heart, and I can’t stop thinking about it. At times the slower pace stalled the story for me and broke that tension and emotional pull I wanted to keep me turning the pages. A lot is going on here that felt a bit much for this exhausted reader, and I would have liked to have seen the story tightened up a bit. However, it’s an extraordinarily emotional story that explores the human spirit with these memorable characters, and I highly recommend it!

We received copies from the publisher through Edelweiss!

Howdy Friends! I am back after a little break from writing reviews and blogging. I took some time to find and read information about Canada’s history to date with residential school under the Indian Act. I have been thinking a lot about the heartbreaking treatment of Indigenous children and reading and researching as much as I can about it. Today I am sharing my thoughts on Five Little Indians by Michelle Good and what I learned about residential school that gave a strong voice to the characters for me.

Why I wanted to read this book

I had Five Little Indians on my list to read after the Black Lives Matter protests. I decided to look at racism a little closer to home and support Indigenous writers in Canada as well. I started this one but due to a lack of awareness I didn’t have much knowledge on residential schools to understand the importance or where this story was going so I decided to put it aside. After the news of finding the remains of 215 children in a mass grave at a residential school in Kamloops BC, I wanted to understand more about Canada’s history with the schools. I knew little about the schools, The Indian Act, and the extend of the mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples. So I searched for information on it and read 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality, where I found some of the information I have learned about residential schools. 751 unmarked graves, not mass graves, were also found in a cemetery run by the Roman Catholic church at a former Saskatchewan residential school.  It is unknown how many of the remains are children or adults who may have attended the church and lived in local surrounding towns.

“The most aggressive and destructive part of the Indian Act policies. When the federal government assigned the 11 numbered treaties starting in 1871, it assumed responsibility for the education of Indians in Manitoba, Sask, Alberta, and parts of Ontario, BC, and Northwest Territories. They agreed, wanting their children to have an education, unaware of what lays ahead for their children” ~ 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality.  

About the Book

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good won 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and long listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in Canada. 

What the Book is about

The story follows five former Mission, BC residential school students, Lucy, Kenny, Maisie, Clara, and Howie. It explores the damage done as they struggle to overcome, forget and live with the trauma they endured in school. We see what life might have been like for students after leaving the school and into their adult life from each character’s POVs.

My thoughts on Five Little Indians

Michelle Good creates an important story by giving voices to residential survivors through her memorable characters trying to survive in a world after their Indigenous heritage is ripped from them. She sets them on a path with experiences that highlight some dark reality for residential survivors. We see how the legacy of the residential schools impacts Indigenous peoples today by showing us the impact intergenerational trauma has on families while answering that common question through the characters’ actions “why can’t they just get over it.”  

Michelle Good creates her characters with compassion and a non-judgmental tone, making this a strong, readable story. The five characters are very likable, which gives a realistic feel; however, I found them too likable for a story, and the characters themselves lack some depth. They make some bad choices but primarily good choices, but their choices are affected by residential school traumas. It lacks turns to the story, and it was easy to see the direction the characters are going, which took away the tension needed to move the story forward for me. It is clear the horrors the characters suffered during their years in the school, but it is not dwelled into. The story does start darker than I expected and turns lighter than I expected, throwing off the story’s pace for me.

The story’s strength is how the treatment, abuse, loss of their language and isolation from their culture, community and family are explored through the characters’ actions.  

The dialogue is not the strongest part of the story and sometimes felt a bit cringy, but that didn’t impact the importance of the story and just something maybe to keep in mind going into if that kind of thing might bother you.

The story’s heart is the support the characters and community have for each other, which gives the story a heartwarming feeling. Michelle Good shines a good light on that support but feels a little too good to be true for a story at times.  This does add a hopeful, heartwarming and a lighter feel to the story if you are used to more darker stories.

I recommend for the importance of the story and to bring awareness to the trauma experienced by Indigenous peoples.

More about the characters. I do not use spoilers, but if you prefer not to know much about the characters and story, skip this part and return once you read it.

From Michelle Good experience with residential school survives, she took a look at the kinds of abuses that students experienced while they were in the schools and created outcomes and how their lives would unfold after that. ~ I found this from an interview with Michelle Good.

Many of the children died from diseases like tuberculosis, and Lily from the story bleeds to death and is left to die alone. She is a real ife person from Michelle Good mother’s real-life experience in the school.

We follow

Modest and quiet Maisie who has a dark, dangerous secret as a result of an abusive priest.

Kind and rebellious Kenny represents the children who escaped the school. He escapes home to his mother, and we see the part of her that is a mother is gone due to her child being taken away. He is restless with the need to wander and escapes when he stays in one place too long.

Lucy tries to find love and family while raising her daughter. She is accepting, supportive, and understanding of her friends with shared experiences. She needs to keep things clean and organized to gain control.

Lucy and Kenny’s daughter Kendra is an example of intergenerational trauma.

Lost Clara feels cut off from her culture and struggles with her traditions and the Church’s teaching. This lead her on a dangerous path, where she unexpectedly finds her way to healing.

Anger Howie deals with that anger created from the trauma he experienced at the hands of an abusive priest.

About the author

Michelle Good Cree writer and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Her family, including her mother, attended a residential school. She did not have to because her mother lost her Indian status when she married, a indigenous man her father. After working for Indigenous organizations for twenty-five years she obtained a law degree and advocated for residential school survivors for over fourteen years. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia while still practising law and managing her own law firm. Her poems, short stories, and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies across Canada, and her poetry was included on two lists of the best Canadian poetry in 2016 and 2017. Five Little Indians, her first novel, won the HarperCollins/UBC Best New Fiction Prize. Michelle Good now lives and writes in the southern interior British Columbia.

What I have learned about Residential Schools that I felt gave me a better understanding of the story

Residential Schools were created under The Indian Act in 1886 with the goal to “kill the Indian in the child” and assimilate them faster into Canadian society, but it was some of the children who died. Children died from diseases, malnourishment, and neglect and suffered physical and sexual abuse. 

They were church run with 70% by The Catholic Church government-funded industrial schools. The children suffered psyical and sexual abuse by members of the church. 

The schools were off-reserve, dormitory-style and overcrowded separating them from their families, community, culture, and traditions.  The children were stripped of their language and culture

In 1920 it became mandatory for all Indian status children to attend the schools. If parents did not agree to send their children, they were taken from them. Attendace were compulsory till 1969, and the last school to close was in 1996.  

For more information on the Indian Act, I highly recommend 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality

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