Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood #travelingsistersread #travelingfriendsread #BookReview


Norma, Lindsay and I read Rust & Stardust with five of our Traveling Friends and this one left us feeling like we haven’t felt before after reading it. We felt so sad, upset and heartbroken, yet left so satisfied with the way T. Greenwood wrote this heartbreaking and beautiful story.

T. Greenwood captures the story of real life Sally Horner and pulls us into her tortured world after she is kidnapped and abused by Frank LaSalle. Greenwood highlights so much here with such great insight into Sally’s story and her family in telling this story but leaves out descriptive details for us to figure out on our own. If you are like me, you just don’t want your mind to go there. We felt so many emotions while reading this one and were so grateful to have our friends to be able to talk over our feelings with. We could feel Sally’s vulnerability and she crawled into our hearts and she consumed us. Greenwood gives some hope here that she has some happiness through the eccentric characters that care about Sally.

Greenwood not only shows us Sally’s story we come to see how this tragedy affected other people in Sally’s life. We all loved Al’s perseverance to bring Sally home and her sisters hope that she would. Both never giving up on Sally.

Some of us googled Sally and did a little research and knew how the story ended and some of us went into the story blind not knowing anything about her. It was interesting to see who preferred to know and who didn’t and to see everyone’s reaction to the ending. I would suggest if you like a little heads up maybe do some searching as a few sisters would have preferred that while a few others didn’t want any and were glad they didn’t till the end.

Even though we thought the horror of what Sally endured was handled well and a lot was left for us to figure out on our own we still want to mention that there could be some triggers here for some people so we recommend with caution.

This story made for a treasured reading group experience. Here is a look into our discussion.

I loved that we’re given so many different POVs. Sometimes that can get a bit choppy but it didn’t suffer that fate here at all. Every point of view was vital to the development of this story and I don’t think there was a single wasted page, sentence or even word here.

I finished this at like 2AM (which I’m normally not that type of reader) and just sat next to my sleeping husband quietly crying. Greenwood brought real beauty to a terrible story and I think that Sally’s memory was very much honored here. Christina

She wrote a beautiful story, sensitively told. Jan

She didn’t force anything upon us that we couldn’t have gathered with our own imaginations. She gave us so much but also just enough. The story speaks for itself, so she never had to dive into the realm of “blatant shock factor.” Rose

But as for Greenwood’s story–it was written beautifully. Wow. The stunning prose blew me away and turned every single sentence into something worthy of quoting. Kristin

I also appreciate the way this book shows how this tragedy leaves its mark on all involved. How it’s somehow everyone’s fault, and no one’s all at the same time. Kristin


Norma’s Review

How do you even write a review for a book that was so harrowing to read but yet so beautiful at the same time?

This book literally shattered me and had me feeling so distressed and left me feeling completely numb in the end. Sally Horner will be forever in my heart and never forgotten!

I am so glad though that I had the pleasure of reading Sally Horner’s horrific story even though it was absolutely heartbreaking, T. Greenwood handles the tough subject matter with such grace and care. She is an absolutely brilliant and phenomenal writer!

RUST & STARDUST by T. GREENWOOD is an extremely emotional, chilling, and heart-wrenching story that is fictional based on the real-life kidnapping of 11-year-old Sally Horner.

GREENWOOD delivers an engaging, suspenseful, and extremely well-written read here that was definitely difficult to read but I was totally invested in Sally and her family and couldn’t put it down. I did have to distance myself a few times though because I knew this story was going to be gut-wrenching and get under my skin.

The story is told in multiple perspectives between Sally and her family as well as people that Sally came into contact with in those two horrific years of captivity. With so much despair there was still a really nice balance of love and hope that was given to us to hold close to our hearts hoping for a positive outcome for Sally.

I really love T. Greenwood’s writing style and can so relate to the way she writes and I think that makes for a very special and extremely talented author. Would highly recommend!

*Traveling Friends Read*

I absolutely fell in love with T. Greenwood’s novels after reading Where I Lost Her which is one of my all-time favourite books!

Norma’s Stats:

  • Cover: Eye-catching, extremely fitting and an obscure representation to storyline.
  • Title: Drew me in instantly & subtly ties into plot.
  • Writing/Prose: Beautiful, meaningful, gentle
  • Ending: Bittersweet, emotional
  • Overall: An outstanding read! Would highly recommend to anyone but be prepared for an intense emotional journey.


Lindsay’s Review

Heart-wrenching and unforgettable.   

This novel is based on the real-life story of eleven-year-old Sally Horner who, in 1948, was kidnapped and held captive for two years, physically and mentally assaulted by known convict Frank LaSalle.  

This is not an easy story to read.   I found myself holding my breathe several times as I read through the harrowing and traumatic situations young Sally endured.   She was a bright and vibrant child who fell into the hands of a predator who stripped her of her innocence. While many scenes were extremely difficult to accept, they were presented with sensitivity and care in a sincerely respectful manner, leaving out unnecessary detail that would have made this unbearable for me to read.  

Sally’s character was innocent, naïve and loveable.   I felt for her from the very first sentence. Her sister (Susan), brother-in-law (Al), Ruth and Sister Mary Katherine were stand out characters.   The author, T. Greenwood, brilliantly captured their emotions, their struggles, their longing for answers, their hope. I was rooting for a reunion for this family.    The writing was excellent. The story flowed effortlessly through multiple characters perspectives, each adding a new layer of emotion and intensity to the novel.

This was a Traveling Friends read.   Due to the seriousness and heart-wrenching topic, it was wonderful to be able to experience this novel along with the Traveling Friends who held excellent discussion and provided support along the way.


Kristin’s Review

It ain’t easy being queasy…

Despite (and maybe because of) the fact that I spent the entirety of this harrowing journey staggering on the brink of both vomit and tears, only to be pulled under into an abysmal sea of sadness, I cannot give this book anything less than the five shiny stars it deserves.

RUST & STARDUST is a fictional rendering of the real-life abduction of Sally Horner—an eleven year old child from New Jersey who was kidnapped by a manipulative monster of a man and held captive for two gruesome years.

Although the basic structure of this story is largely factual, this is not a biography and is widely embellished with friendships and daily occurrences. But the very real Sally lurks behind these pages, the truth of her story awoken and stretching gently around these words.

As one would expect, the content is beyond difficult to read and overflowing with potential emotional triggers, namely physical and mental abuse, so some readers should take caution.

However, this author shows the utmost respect for the tragedy endured by sparing readers any graphic detail and using a delicate hand to highlight even the darkest corners of this plot. It was a saving grace–one I normally don’t require, but in the case of a child I do not need, nor can I stomach, explicit details. The restraint was merciful and appreciated, and I don’t at all feel it weakened or underplayed the depths of what Sally went through.

This isn’t a story meant to be enjoyed, but one that has to be told and begs to be heard.

And what I heard most was this :

“We should do something…”

“We gotta do something…”

“God, somebody’s got to do something…”

“We need to do something about this…”

“Somebody’s gotta do something…”

“God, please do something…”

DO SOMETHING—words spoken repeatedly, and scattered throughout these pages by Sally’s family members, acquaintances, teachers, and even strangers, yet (with the exception of some) too many seemed to do nothing when it came down to it.

For me, this was an eyeopening example of how, despite our good intentions, many of us will turn a blind eye and continue on with our lives because it is not “our” tragedy, it’s theirs.

We separate ourselves from the pain of others so it doesn’t touch us, and then we tell ourselves it’s ok, but it is not. Especially when a child is involved.

But the flip side was also conveyed: people who go above and beyond to help. Quiet heroes who have no clue how their single selfless act will continue to inspire goodness in small but steady ripples.

We hear from various characters, each touched directly or indirectly by Sally’s tragedy, and we see how they’re also scarred with its permanent marks.

Sally’s pain effected me on a level I willed it not to reach and I didn’t want to let this story in. I wanted to remain detached, but I couldn’t.

Admittedly, there were moments I wanted to throw in the towel from the overwhelming sadness and from being so painfully disturbed, but the line between fiction and reality began to blur, and closing the book began to feel a lot like turning my back on a little girl who had already been through enough of that.

Despite her torment, Sally remained a warrior, and the least I could do was read her story. And as much as my heart broke, I’m so very glad I did.

Greenwood’s prose is graceful and eloquent, and just so achingly beautiful I could have cried from her unique arrangement of words alone. She masters the art of storytelling to an unfathomable degree, and here’s some solid proof:

“The world was a terrifying and dangerous place, a world that could convince you to offer up your own child to the devil without even thinking twice.”

“How sad it is that grief has a shelf life … It’s only fresh and raw for so long before it begins to spoil. And soon enough, it will be replaced by a newer, brighter heartache—the old one discarded and eventually forgotten.”

“She curled herself into a ball and imagined she was made not of bones but of sticks. Twigs. Gnarled and brittle limbs broken off from their roots. She and the tumbleweeds were no different, both at the whim of a terrible wind.”

“Poor Sally, this moonfaced girl with dull hair and pale eyes; so plump and earnest. So eager to please. What would become of this girl?”

Before this read, I had never heard of Sally Horner. And now I will never forget her.

Book Stats:

  • ▪  Genre/Category: Fiction
  • ▪  Characters: Pained and unbearably broken
  • ▪  Plot: A young girl abducted and abused struggles to find a way back home. Various trigger warnings
  • ▪ Writing: Delicate, sparing readers of graphic detail. Beautiful prose
  • ▪ POV: 3rd Person Perspective: multiple characters
  • ▪  Cliffhanger: None. Standalone


Kaceey’s Review

Where do I even begin to review a book as emotionally wrenching as this. I was left numb, speechless and just downright heavy-hearted when I reached the end. A true tragedy, and…innocence lost.

Sally is a young girl growing up with her mother Ella in Camden, New Jersey. All she wants is a good friend. More precisely, to be one of a group of girls she admired and watched become “Blood Sisters.”

At this point most readers, myself included, would probably fore-see something quite terrible heading Sally’s way. Oh yes! And the cruel joke of an initiation from the “Blood Sisters” sets off an avalanche of events that leaves poor Sally taken away from everyone she knows and loves and thrust into a world of unimaginable terror.

This book is based on the true case of Sally Horner. As the author states in her acknowledgment at the end of the book, this is not a biography or a true crime novel. It is fiction-based on true events.

I devoured this in one day. It’s so hard to put down as you are completely absorbed into this emotional journey with Sally. Be prepared for the onslaught of emotions. Anger, sadness, love and heartbreak. You cannot read this book and come away untouched by its powerful realism.

There are a number of vivid events in this book that may be difficult for some readers, but the author handled it extremely well without going into any unnecessary details.

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for something to touch you and remind you of life’s true value.

Thank you so much from all of us to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and T. Greenwood for an ARC to read in exchange for a review.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Pull You Out of a Reading Slump #travelingsistersread #travelingfriendsread


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is Books to Pull You Out of a Reading Slump. I thought it would be fun to get some recommendations from some of the Traveling Sisters for this topic.

When I have been in a slump or feel like I need a push I have grabbed a Harlan Coben and that has always worked for me.  I have read most of his stand-alone but I do have a couple from his Myron Bolitar series that I haven’t read.  One of my favorite stand-alone I have read was with Norma, Lindsay, and Kaceey.

Don't Let GoDon’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

From Kaceey’s review

Absolutely outstanding! Loved everything about this book from start to finish! As good as his Myron Bolitar series, this one does not disappoint! There is even a cameo appearance! Yeah! Would highly recommend to all Harlan Coben fans!

From Lindsay’s review

Harlan Coben delivers an intensely suspenseful, captivating, fast-paced thriller that kept me guessing from start to finish. I have read one other book by Coben (The Innocent) which was good but didn’t “wow” me. With encouragement from my fantastic “sisters”  I jumped on board this Traveling Sister Read and tried out Coben’s latest book and it definitely lived up to the hype!

Another one I would like to recommend is from the Myron Bolitar series.  I read this one with Kaceey and it was one we could not put down.  I think it would make a great choice to get you out of a reading slump.  I think it works as a stand-alone and I think after reading this one you will be looking for more in this series.  Soon that slump will be far into the past.

Home (Myron Bolitar, #11)Home by Harlan Coben

From Kaceey’s review

The witty banter is nonstop throughout this book. I read from beginning to end with a permanent smile on my face. Harlan Coben makes it seem so easy. The words just flow and the storyline is seamless.

I was concerned that the intensity of this book wouldn’t hold till the end – hoping that I wouldn’t be let down in the end. I needn’t worry! The ending meshed perfectly to the book as a whole. I was left with a big ole’ grin on my face and tears running down my cheeks.

Well done, Mr. Coben!

This book earned a place on my shelf of all-time favorites

From Susanne’s review

Harlan Coben out did himself with this one. This is without a doubt his best novel to date and is his best Myron Bolitar/Windsor Horne Lockwood III, novel. It had heart and soul and was a great mystery to boot. I laughed, and cried, more than once. I absolutely loved it and loved that Myron and Win had to get the team back together in order to figure this one out. Big Cyndi was prominently featured and was a hoot as always. What was obvious from the first chapter was that these characters are the heart and soul of Harlan Coben and they have never left him, and neither will we.

Brenda’s review

Norma’s Recommendation 

Lisa Gardner has always been one of Norma’s go to authors when in a reading slump.  She finds her books are always adrenaline-inducing thriller rides that are extremely hard to put done.  Since Lisa Gardner writes series she is recommending the first book to her favorite series, Quincy & Rainie.

The Perfect Husband (Quincy & Rainie, #1)The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner





I've Got Your NumberI’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

When Norma is in thriller overload she likes to switch to a fun, lighthearted and easy read with laugh out loud moments.  She recommends.


Susanne recommends

She thinks that creepy character Paul Storm will pull you out of a reading slump for sure.

Best Day EverBest Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

From Susanne’s review

Paul Strom is quite special – lets just say he’s one heck of a guy and not in a good way. The author, Kaira Rouda did a phenomenal job of making him utterly despicable.

I listened to the audiobook of “Best Day Ever” and it captured my attention from the first sentence. It was completely gripping and was in fact the best audiobook I have listened to in 2017. Kudos to the narrator, Graham Halstead for bringing Paul Strom to life. This is a book that I highly recommend. It is extremely entertaining, full of lots of crazy twists and well, it was totally wicked, in the Best Way Ever.

From Kaceey’s review

“Oh my gosh! Paul is the perfect leading character you will just love to hate! I can’t say anymore…you’ll just have to read it yourself! The book is delightfully different and so well done! Not your typical domestic thriller! I blazed through this one in two sittings!”

Norma’s review

Another recommendation from Susanne is one her and I read together and really enjoyed.

She Rides ShotgunShe Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper

From Susanne’s review

“She Rides Shotgun” is a book that makes you feel things you shouldn’t as it goes against the grain and makes your heart beat wildly against your chest. I fell in love with eleven year-old Polly McClusky in the first few seconds of this novel and I have a feeling you will too.

Lindsay’s recommendation

Jodi Picoult is always a winner for pulling Lindsay out of a slump and Norma and I agree.  I seem to save the ones I haven’t read for when I need a push. Norma and Lindsay both read Small Great Things but I haven’t read it yet.  I am definitely taking this recommendation.

Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult

From Norma’s review

Jodi Picoult is by far my most favourite author! She has done it again! The subject matter at times was hard to read as the story being told was very heartbreaking and disturbing but it was executed perfectly. This author always makes me think and I have always learned something new from reading one of her novels.


Kristin’s recommendation

The Husband's SecretThe Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

What Kristin had to say about this one 

This domestic thriller revived my love for reading and has everything from comical snarky narratives to secrets hidden so deep the characters themselves know less than the reader.

From Kristin’s review

The writing … I’m in love! Gripping, polished, and so, so witty. This author not only knows how to breathe life into her characters, but she masters the art of sarcasm and irony. It was all thinly veiled, nothing excessive, and it worked wonderfully. When a character appeared shallow, it was clearly intentional…almost as though the author and reader were in on some joke at the character’s expense.


Christina’s recommendation  

Christina likes to read something outside her normal genre and recommends.

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch

What Kristin has to say about this one

This story makes you think about possibilities: Multiverses, parallel worlds, life everlasting—but builds an easily-digested story around such ideas that is both consuming and imaginative. This is a real page-turner, written in an eloquent, breathtaking prose, and the perfect read for both fans and non-fans of Scifi. 
Would recommend to readers interested in dipping their toes something Scifi-ish, but wary of becoming immersed its technical elements. And also to those who enjoy an adrenaline-fueled ride! 

From Christina’s review

What I’ll say is that my heart was literally and actually pounding the entire time I read this. This is a wholly original, unique and truly phenomenal story. Quite possibly the most spectacularly singular story I have ever read. This 10000% lives up to the hype and EVERYONE should read this.

From Bern review

Don’t we all have moments where we wonder about the road not taken? I think that’s simply part of human nature to wonder – what if…. Crouch did a hell of a job exploiting (& exploring) that in this book and expanding the reader’s mind and heart along the journey. Imagine if you could go back to one specific moment in time and choose a different path. Would you?

Kristin’s review

Norma’s Review of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Brenda’s review


Jan’s recommendation

Jan also recommends trying something outside your genre.  She recommends this title for its short chapters that are easy to read a little bit at a time.

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her LifeDear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

From Jan’s review

I loved this book! Each chapter is either a love letter or a break-up note to specific books and/or genres. It’s the perfect book to have on your nightstand (or in my case, on my Hoopla app) to dip into for a chapter or two at a time.

From Diane’s review

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who sometimes gets so into a book that I find myself talking to the characters. “No, don’t do that, not a good idea at all, or oh no don’t open that door, etc,”. Well, how could I not love a book, written by a librarian who does in a way just that?

The rules for Top Ten Meme

  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
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What do you think of our recommendations?  Have you read any?  Do you have any you would like to recommend to us?  Drop us a comment!  We would love to hear from you.