Summit Lake Review & Don’t Believe It Wrap-up by @CharlieDonlea #travelingsistersread #BookReview @KensingtonBooks


Traveling Friends Review by Norma and Brenda

It’s no secret that Brenda and I really enjoy Donlea’s novels and have highly recommended his books in the past on our blog and to our Traveling Sisters and Friends, especially the novel DON’T BELIEVE IT.  After we finished up our monthly group read on our Traveling Friends group for DON’T BELIEVE IT we were all left with wanting more Donlea so we quickly dove into reading Donlea’s debut novel, SUMMIT LAKE. He is such a natural and talented author – he definitely knows how to write a darn good suspenseful thriller!

SUMMIT LAKE by CHARLIE DONLEA is a gripping, edgy, dark, and suspenseful murder mystery novel that opens up with quite the shocking scene, ends with a surprising and shocking twist but left us with some unanswered questions.    

As mentioned above, the opening scene was a bit shocking and a little darker than some of us were expecting, but after we absorbed that shock we were drawn into this story right away and couldn’t put it down until we were dealt with another shock which left some of us wanting to run and hide from this story.  But, we all soon gathered together to discuss that surprising twist, which we didn’t see coming as we shared some theories amongst ourselves.

CHARLIE DONLEA delivers a well-written, fast-paced and captivating read here that is told in a past and present timeline in alternating points of view between Becca (her story before her death) and Kelsey Castle’s (an investigative reporter looking into her death). For most of us we found both of these perspectives equally interesting and captivating.

We all absolutely loved the setting here with the small lake town which really added an extra layer to the story for us and that left us with a bit to discuss.  We also loved the characters from the town but left us questioning some of their actions. We have to mention that name too, Kelsey Castle – what an awesome main character’s name!

Charlie Donlea had us guessing and sharing a few theories and some of us pieced a few different things together. We have some very clever friends and some of us picked up on some of those clues that Donlea left for us.  However, he has this way of leading us down a path to where we second guess ourselves. Even if we thought we knew where the ending was headed and had our suspicions we were all still left shocked thinking WOW I can’t believe it that he’s done it again.  We really like that feeling which has us second guessing ourselves because we are not sure what we are supposed to pick up on and what we are not supposed to. Donlea does that so well and in the end with that second shocker just shows us how well Donlea can pull everything together.  

We do recommend this one with caution as there is some scenes we were not prepared for and found that they could be triggers for some readers.  So please check out some more reviews on Goodreads if you feel you might need a heads up or just drop us a message in our contact section of our blog or message on Goodreads and we will be more than happy to help with any concerns that you might have.


Lindsay’s Review

4.5 stars!   Charlie Donlea is three for three!

I’ve now read all three of Charlie Donlea’s books and LOVED each and every one of them!  This novel was Donlea’s debut and I’m thrilled to say he found his groove from the start!

This story revolves around the murder of first-year law student, Becca Eckersley, who comes from a prominent and powerful family.  Investigative reporter, Kelsey Castle, is sent to the little town where Becca was murdered to explore, examine and report the details surrounding the brutal and devastating crime.

The plot unfolds brilliantly through a Now and Then timeline through multiple, yet equally captivating perspectives.  The story is gripping, the suspense is addictive, the pace is perfect.

I connected with the characters right away – I loved them!   My suspicions had me guessing and scratching my head throughout the novel.   I felt a few things were left unexplained at the conclusion, however, I was able to accept them and still feel fully satisfied.

This was another wonderful and fun Traveling Friends read.   We had some interesting theories and discussions along the way.  

Summit Lake is available now!   Get your hands on a copy!!


Don’t Believe It Traveling Friends Group Read Wrap-up

Brenda and I read Don’t Believe It with our Traveling Sisters and we all loved it so much that it became a monthly recommendation by us for reading groups.  Soon after we started our second group on Goodreads the Traveling Friends and it became our first monthly pic. Many of our Traveling Friends had read it already but there were a few that haven’t so they jumped in right away to read this one.  

It was a well liked monthly pic and we all really enjoyed discussing it amongst ourselves. Again, Don’t Believe It made for a great discussion and we enjoyed seeing our friends toss around their suspicions and theories.  Overall, everyone loved that ending and it left our friends thinking just how much they love Charlie Donlea’s writing. Charlie Donlea now has a few fans among the Traveling Friends.  We all look forward to seeing what’s next for him.

Our Reviews

Sunshine Rays on Jess Kidd in a Coulee #BookReview #travelingsistersread

The sun was shining down on Jess Kidd in a Coulee as Norma and I were reading Himself and Mr Flood’s Last Resort with some of our Traveling Sisters.  We started off lost in a coulee with two of our TS reading Himself first and then we followed it with Mr Flood’s Last Resort with two more of our TS joining us in a coulee. We found ourselves in a very different coulee with these two books as both stories were very different from what we have read before.  It’s like Jess Kidd has created a unique genre on her own here by blending a mystery, suspense with supernatural and magical realism to her stories. Jess Kidd writes clever and imaginatively with her stories and does a fantastic job blending darkness with light.

In the end, after reading both stories by Jess Kidd we were split as to which one we felt was the strongest story of the two. We highly recommend both of these magical stories.  


Mr. Flood’s Last Resort
by Jess Kidd

Brenda’s Traveling Sisters Review and rating: 4 of 5 stars

Norma and I were lost in the heavy dense wooded coulee reading Mr. Flood’s Last Resort with four of our Traveling Sisters and we were swept up in the mystery and magic of this story that explores grief and loss. Jess Kidd does a good job bringing out some emotions here for us with the emotional depth that touches on grief and loss.

Jess Kidd does a fantastic job creating well-developed enduring characters here with our main characters Cathal and Maud. We really loved the dynamics between these two very different characters that really added some contrast to the story. We loved the dynamics that the other colorful and eccentric characters brought to the story as well.

What really stood out for us was Jess Kidd’s ability to blend a murder mystery set in a gothic mansion full of secrets and chaos with some black humor that adds some comic relief to the story.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Atria Books and Jess Kidd for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


Norma’s Review

4.5 stars! This novel had the perfect mix of genres that I absolutely love to read!

MR FLOOD’S LAST RESORT by JESS KIDD is a magical, clever, imaginative, and an absolutely wonderful novel that had me totally engaged, entertained and interested throughout this entire book.

JESS KIDD delivers a well-written and creative story here with an absolutely wonderful gothic mansion setting, quirky characters and an extremely mesmerizing storyline. I really enjoyed the magical realism and the Irish folktales that were seamlessly blended into the storyline.

To sum it all up it was an interesting, charming, dark, comical, and an enjoyable read with a satisfying ending. Would recommend!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Atria Books, Simon & Schuster Canada and Jess Kidd for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


Himself by Jess Kidd

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Norma and I were lost in the magical lush coulee with two of our Traveling Sisters reading Himself.  At times we were hidden in the bushes looking over our shoulders for the supernatural who were wanting to find us and tell us their secrets.

Himself starts off dark and violent and left us wanting to stay hidden in those magical bushes to hide from the dark but soon humor is introduced into the story to lighten the darkness of this story. Jess Kidd does a good job balancing the dark with some light here with magic and humor.

She adds some supernatural elements here with our main character Mahony who sees the dead that holds the secrets and lies in a small Irish town.  At times we were left confused with some of the supernatural and magical parts of the story and we were grateful to have a discussion to help us figure out some aspects of this story.   It lead to a very interesting discussion amongst us and in the end about reading and discussing this story we were left very satisfied to come out of the bushes to recommend this story.


Sunshine Rays on Kierney Scott in a Coulee @Kierney_S @bookouture #BookReview #travelingsistersread


The sun was shining down on Kierney Scott in the coulee as my Traveling Sisters and I were reading the first two books in the Detective Jess Bishop series.  I was lost in a coulee with Lindsay reading the first one Forget Me Not and we both loved Jess Bishop right away and were quickly drawn into her secrets and the demons that haunt her. When we saw the second installment Cross Your Heart on NetGalley and were very excited to read it. We pulled Kaceey and Susanne into the coulee with us to read it, however they had to catch up on the first one.  I have added their reviews for Forget me Not to this post and Lindsay and mine can be found here on the blog.

Forget Me Not (Detective Jess Bishop, #1)Forget Me Not by Kierney Scott

Susanne’s Review

FBI Agent Jess Bishop arrives at the Louisiana Swamp to find the dismembered body of Lydia Steiner. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first body the team has found. For Jess Bishop, there is something about the markings on Steiner’s body that look familiar.. something that reminds her of things long forgotten. Complicating matters is Jamison – Jess’ former partner and best friend who returns to the team making her face things she would do anything to avoid.

While investigating the case, more bodies pile up and Jess works feverishly to find links between the victims and while doing so, she finds links to her past as well. This case is going to take things from Jess she never imagined possible and trying to find the serial killer? Well, it might just tear her apart.

“Forget Me Not” by Kierney Scott was a fast-paced, suspense novel that kept me on my toes. It also tugged at the heart and had characters that I liked, a lot. This novel is the first in the Jess Bishop series and I am eagerly looking forward to the next.


Kaceey’s Review

A new voice in the crime thriller genre! Well done Kierney Scott! 

 Jess Bishop is a special agent with the FBI.  As most of these leading lady special agents, she is typically tough as nails and deeply flawed.  But I have to admit she does stand apart from the other leading characters in this genre.  The balance works really well showing both her personal and professional life.

 As Jess and her team investigate the disturbing work of a serial killer.  It’s a race against time to take down a killer before he strikes again…or strikes closer to home!  Her team includes her former partner Jamison who had left on an undercover assignment.  Is there too much water under the bridge? Can they rekindle the chemistry of the past?

 Personally, Jess is not doing well.  She is determined to keep her past hidden. But uses unhealthy outlets to keep her demons at bay.  Can she just move on? Maybe with a new man in her life? Enter

 This book can be graphic at times and let me (a hardened thriller lover) squeamish at times! 

The ending was shocking and had me quickly moving onto book two Cross Your Heart. 


 Cross Your Heart (Detective Jess Bishop, #2)Cross Your Heart by Kierney Scott

Brenda’s rating and review: 4 of 5 stars

I was lost in the dark, unearthly craggy coulee with Lindsay, Kaceey and Susanne reading Cross Your Heart and we really enjoyed reading this one together. Kierney Scott takes us down another jagged rocky path here with Detective Jess Bishop.

Cross Your Heart is a chilling and disturbing story that pulled us deep into the coulee not wanting to leave till we finish this gripping story. The story picks up after the devastating events that left Jess with an injury. We follow her as she deals with the events that caused her injury. She thinks she is ready and is determined to get back to work. When a young girl is taken and Jess is cleared and back to work she sees some connections to cold cases of three missing girls, she is determined to solve the case.

Kierney Scott does a good job developing these likable, flawed, damaged and interesting team of characters. We all really loved the dynamics between them and we grew to love and care for them even more.

With the same sense of tension as the first one, we enjoyed the twists and turns right to the satisfying ending We highly recommend reading Forget Me Not first and then quickly follow it with Cross Your Heart!


Lindsay’s Review

4.5 stars!

My love for FBI Special Agent Jess Bishop has grown even more after finishing this gripping and suspenseful Book #2 in this fantastic series!

Jess is working a case to find a serial killer who abducts and murders young, vulnerable girls. Jess discovers a link that connects several cold murder cases, bringing the FBI hot on the trail of an aggressive serial killer. Jess and her team have such an entertaining camaraderie – their personalities are very different, yet compliment each other so well.

I flew through this book! I found it highly suspenseful, perfectly paced and grippingly addictive! I can’t wait to see what happens with Jess in the next book in the series!


Susanne’s Review

FBI Agent Jess Bishop is damaged. In more ways than one. If you ask her, of course she’ll deny it. Yet all you have to do is look at her mangled hand which bears evidence of her last case, to see it. While recuperating she investigated cases on her own and she found something. Young girls who have gone missing in the area – all of whom were found with blue cotton candy under their fingernails.

Ava is a terminally ill girl. She is taken from the hospital, a bag of blue cotton candy left on her bed. This is it. Ava is the link and soon the entire team investigates, including Jess’ partner Agent Chan and Jess’ former partner, Jamison, who returns after being injured. Yet things are not the same between her and Jamison. They will never be the same. Not after what went down.

Enmeshed in the investigation, things go awry. Jess takes risks she knows she shouldn’t and yet, for her, there is no other way. She cannot outrun her demons. All she can do is hide in her work and do her best to track a killer before it’s too late.

“Cross Your Heart” by Kierney Scott is one heck of a mystery/suspense. I was all in. Jess Bishop, Agent Chan, Jamison and Lindsay are characters you can’t help but absolutely love. They are damaged, soulful and are as real as you and I. This is the second book in the Jess Bishop series and I highly recommend that you read book 1 first as it gives you background into the characters.


Kaceey’s Review

Jess is back to the grindstone and working hard! Maybe just a tad sooner than she should be. But when she gets wind of a potential serial killer hunting young school-age girls…well you know, there’s no stopping that girl!

Jess is a special agent with the FBI fighting the personal demons from her past while simultaneously tracking down the living demons walking free. 

 The team around her are all strong, colorful characters who support and keep a close eye on her. Yes, even Jamison!  Good colleagues… good friends.

 This is a shorter book under 300 pages and reads super-fast, but there’s a lot of action jam-packed into this speedy book. And of course, there’s also the all-important emphasis on Jess’s personal life too! Come on Jess! Tear down those walls and let someone in!!

Enjoyed this book more than book one, and am looking forward to continuing with this series.

Thank you from all of us to NetGalley, Bookouture and Kierney Scott for an ARC  to read and review. 



Sunshine Rays on Kristin Hannah in a Coulee #BookReview #travelingsistersread

The sun was shining down on Kristin Hannah in the coulee as I was reading The Great Alone and Winter Garden with my Traveling Sisters.  I spent a little bit of time lost in very different coulees with these two different stories. One thing that both books definitely have going for them is Kristin Hannah’s ability to write such powerful thought-provoking stories of strong, brave females fighting incredible odds and finding their way.

Both were such great books to read and discuss in a group as both discussions brought out such good insight into our reading experience.  Thank you to my TS for getting lost in the most amazing coulees with these two fantastic books.

Home Front is up soon for the Traveling Sisters and I am really looking forward to the discussion for that one.  

The Great AloneThe Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started off lost in the dark and cold, heart and soul desolate coulee surrounded by frozen sheets of ice with two of my Traveling Sisters reading The Great Alone. Not wanting to get out as Norma and two more of our TS joined in reading and discussing this one with me. This lead to a very interesting and insightful discussion as we shared our thoughts on this story. As the discussion progressed I started to see things differently and had more of an understanding of the depth of this story. I really love when that happens and one of the reasons I love getting lost in a coulee with my TS.

The Great Alone is an insightful, inspiring and emotional family saga, part coming of age story with a little romance to it that brought out many emotions for us. Our heart raced with anxiety at times and the temperature soared in the coulee as we worried for our young, strong, brave and determined main character, Leni.

Kristin Hannah does such a wonderful job creating a character here with her vivid description of Alaska and the community with these rich, quirky and interesting characters. We could feel their generosity, support, and kindness. Hannah brings insight, magic, and life to Alaska and we could feel the danger of living in such an unforgiving place.

At times we wanted Kristin Hannah to have gone in a different direction here with Ernt’s character and didn’t like the way his PTSD was portrayed, however after our discussion we came to realize that’s not the story she was telling. We felt the story she was telling was of a teenage girl Leni trapped in her parent’s toxic relationship and their obsession with each other. “The twisted love that bound her parents together.”

We all loved the ending but at times thought it was a bit too overdramatic and maybe forced some emotions but we reminded ourselves it is a family saga. We all still ended up in the dark cold coulee feeling warm and rewarded with this story full of emotional depth. We highly recommend.

Thank you, NetGalley, St Martin’s Press and Kristin Hannah for a copy to read and review.

Winter GardenWinter Garden by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started off lost in the sculpted brushes and the apple trees of the deep-rooted, lush coulee with one of my Traveling Sisters reading Winter Garden. We spent some time bundled up in blankets as two more of our TS joined in reading and discussing this one with us.

Winter Garden is a well layered, intriguing and powerful family saga that explores the complicated relationships between a Mother and her daughters and the two sisters. The story is told from the past through a fairy tale told by distant, cold and interesting Anya who is layered with mystery and the present as we see how the fairy tale begins to bond these women together.

Kristin Hannah cleverly and skillfully weaves an emotional fairy tale into the storyline that becomes the core of this story and we begin to see how it shaped the relationship between Anya and her daughters. We were drawn into the story through the fairy tale and it became a favorite part of the story for some of us. The imagery in the tale came to life for us and became very real. We felt many emotions as our hearts broke for the characters. Through the fairy tale, we come to know who the characters are. Brilliant!

We all really loved the discussion we had for this one and we really dug deep into the emotional depth of this story and how it made us feel. We used some discussion questions that really enhanced our discussion. It’s stories and discussions like this that really bring out the best reading experiences for me.

The ending pushed this non-crier to choke up and fighting back the tears. I will leave you all with this quote from the story and we all highly recommend reading Kristin Hannah at her best with this one.

“Joy and sadness were part of the package, the trick, perhaps was to not let yourself feel all of it but to hold on to the joy just a little more tightly because you never knew when a strong heart could just give out.”

Reviews by Brenda

Sunshine Rays on Meg Gardiner in the Coulee @MegGardiner1 #BookReview #travelingsistersread

The sun was shining down on Meg Gardiner in the coulee while I read her UNSUB series with Susanne and Kaceey.   I read the first one UNSUB with Susanne and read In The Black Nowhere with both Susanne and Kaceey. UNSUB introduces us to a strong, compelling and empathetic character here with Narcotics Detective Caitlin Hendrix who is promoted to homicide.  I suggest starting with UNSUB first to really get to know Caitlin’s character and it really is just so good you don’t want to miss it.  Susanne and I can’t believe it took us so long to read it.  Kaceey read it awhile back and loved it too.  We highly recommend both books and in each, we see different killers, crimes and into different sides of Caitlin’s career.  In UNSUB she is green, young homicide detective learning the ropes quickly when she is drawn into the murders and in Into the Dark Nowhere she is an FBI Profiler in training.  We loved the profiling side to the story and getting into the mind of a killer as interesting as this one.   We are so excited to see what is in store for Caitlin with the next one in this series and will be looking out for it.

UNSUB (UNSUB, #1)UNSUB by Meg Gardiner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lost in the sunny, jagged craggy coulee feeling a little chilly with Susanne as we read UNSUB. We settled in with a hot cup of coffee that soon turned as cold as we felt as we started reading this chilling and compelling story.

UNSUB is an intelligent, engaging, and gruesome fast-paced read that took us and Caitlin on a race against time for a killer that destroyed her father’s career and health and now the killer has his eyes set on Caitlin. Meg Gardiner does a great job balancing a crime and the personal life here with fascinating and ambitious Caitlin. She is haunted by her father’s failure to capture the killer 20 years ago and searches to stop him and to redeem herself and her father. We connected and were engaged in Caitlin personal relationships with her father and her boyfriend Sean and loved the dynamics between them.

We raced against time along with Caitlin turning those pages as fast as we could. We were taken to the top of the coulee looking for an escape from the brutal acts of this terrifying killer as the tension rises and we pulled back into the coulee and this story only stopping when life demanded our attention. As soon as we closed this one and Susanne and Kaceey could get their hands on Into The Dark Nowhere we were lost in the coulee again reading it.

Published June 27, 2017

Into the Black Nowhere (UNSUB, #2)Into the Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lost in the sunny, jagged craggy coulee with Susanne and Kaceey reading Into The Black Nowhere feeling very excited to start reading this one. Once we settled in and opened up this book we were lost in the coulee and couldn’t be found till we were done.

Caitlin now an FBI profiler in training is on the case for a killer that turns into a cat and mouse game. The dynamics here between Caitlin and the killer is tense, interesting and engaging. Caitlin in more vulnerable and pushes herself as she goes up against this arrogant and cunning killer.

Meg Gardiner does a fantastic job creating an interesting team here with Caitlin and her colleagues who all work together to bring down this killer and we really loved the dynamics between them as we were cheering them all on in this fascinating cat and mouse game.

Meg Gardiner takes us thundering down a fast-paced road soaring along with Beyonce’s “freedom” blaring through the coulee. We could feel that black-blood sensation creeping into our veins under that violet sunset. We soared through this book in mostly one day only stopping to reach for a much-needed coffee till we got to the ending that left us all saying WOW. We highly recommend.

Published January 30, 2018

Thank you, NetGalley, Penguin Group and Meg Gardiner for a copy to read and review.

Reviews by Brenda


Sunshine Rays on M. J. Arlidge in the Coulee @mjarlidge #BookReview #travelingsistersread

The sun was shining down on M. J. Arlidge in the coulee while I binge read the first three books in the Helen Grace series and I am now featuring them together in this one post.  I read the first one in the series Eeny Meeny from a recommendation from one of my Traveling Sisters, Susanne who read this one and the second one Pop Goes The Weasel.  I read the first two with Kaceey and after reading them Susanne joined us for the third one Dollhouse.  We instantly loved how strong of a character Detective Inspector Helen Grace is and she became our friend and then she became our sister.  Helen is one of the most flawed and damaged female Detective characters we have ever come across and she really stood out for us. We felt a connection right away to her and a few of the characters. DC Charlie Brooks is a very strong one as well.  M. J. Arlidge does such a great job creating these interesting and so likable characters.  

Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace, #1)Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lost in the dark cloudy disturbing craggy coulee with Kaceey reading Eeeny Meeny. We started off pretty comfy in the sunshine however soon after starting this one the dark clouds covered up the sunshine and Kaceey and I fight a little squeamish and were looking for cover from the shower of intense dread that overtook us and some characters to the twisted game inflicted by the killer.

Eeny Meeny is an action-packed, dark and twisted story with a game so disturbing and more twisted than our main character, flawed and strong Detective Helen Grace and that we have ever seen before. We raced against time along with Helen as she searched for the killer behind these games. We ignored life around us and turned the pages as fast as we could right to the end. Not stopping with this story we quickly grabbed the second book Pop Goes the Weasel and dived into as fast as we could. We highly recommend.

Pop Goes the Weasel (Helen Grace, #2)Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Barely putting down the first book to the Helen Grace Series, Eeny Meeny, Kaceey and I started reading this one and were soon lost in the overgrown grassy and murky Coulee. There is plenty of action to this cat and mouse game that Helen and her colleagues were on with this sadistic killer in this game.

Pop goes the Weasel is a gripping, and disturbing entertaining story that soon became the favorite for the two for us. Even though this one was more gruesome and disturbing than the first in the series things just got better here for us with Helen and her colleagues. We loved how much more fascinating Helen became but still so much of her held back and we quickly became so engaged with these characters. We were very excited to see another of our favorite characters DC Charlie Brooks back in for this story. We loved the relationship that started building between Helen and Charlie and felt ourselves wanting to leap out of the coulee cheering them on right to the end. We highly recommend.

The Doll's House (Helen Grace, #3)The Doll’s House by M.J. Arlidge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kaceey and I were lost in the dark, cold and damp musty coulee along with Susanne joining us in reading The Dolls House.

The Dolls House is a disturbing, terrifying and chilling story that takes us into the mind of an abducted woman as she struggles with what she had to endure while being held captive. We found ourselves at the edge of the coulee cheering Helen on as she follows the trail to understanding the killer’s motivation here in this story.

Somethings have shifted here within the team we love and we don’t see as much from Helen in this one. There is a bit of difference in the dynamics here with the team and our guard went up when we start to see Helen butting heads with DI Harwood. We do see a new side to Helen that had us loving Helen even more as she struggles to find the balance between her job and her personal life. We also grew to love another character even more in this story.

Not the favorite of the three, however, we still raced through this one as fast as we could. We highly recommend.