Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel @stephwrobel @SimonSchusterCA

Yahoo!! It’s pub date for Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel This is a great one to self isolate with because once you start you might not want to stop reading this one.

Darling Rose Gold is pure gold here and is one exciting read. This was a highly anticipated Traveling Sisters group read. Once we started reading this story, we could not put it down until we finished. Those twisty turns kept us guessing and those reveals are something to talk about.

Brenda’s review

Darling Rose Gold’s subject matter is disturbing; however, Stephanie Wrobel explores the dynamics between mother Patty and daughter Rose after the abuse takes place. Patty returns home after spending time in jail for abusing Rose. Rose is no longer Patty’s weak little daring, and she might be out for some sweet revenge. It’s all about these fascinating unreliable, so unlikable and compelling characters and the dynamics between them. What made this fascinating for me was that we now see how Rose feels about her mother’s abuse and how it all affected her. An exciting game develops between them that left me guessing who would come out the winner in this twisty story. The tension and suspense rise with each page, making this one quite the page-turner.

Now things do get disturbing here in the clever, layered twists and focusing on picking up one those clues makes this one an entertaining read. Things wrapped up well for me with the layered, convincing revelations. I highly recommend!!

Norma’s review

Compulsively readable, disturbingly fascinating, & an absolutely unputdownable psychological thriller!

DARLING ROSE GOLD by STEPHANIE WROBEL is one disturbing, dark, twisted, and original thriller that was quite the gripping book to read. I was immediately sucked into the narrative and could not put this book down.

STEPHANIE WROBEL delivers an interesting, fascinating, and well-written read here that offers quite the original and suspenseful plot with complex and dysfunctional characters. The story is told in alternating points of view between Rose Gold and her mother Patty. We get a firsthand look into both of their disturbing thought processes and what motivates each of them.

I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed or liked either one of our main characters here but they were definitely quite the entertaining pair though. I didn’t know which one of them to trust and who was playing who. I did have my suspicions though and I did puzzle together some of the stories plot points with the help of the author’s subtle clues. But it didn’t disrupt the flow of the novel for me or how compelling this book was to read. I was getting a little bit fed up and disappointed with one of the character’s actions which did affect my total enjoyment for this novel. 

Lindsay’s review

Oh my!! What a deliciously dark and twisty tale!

Rose Gold’s mother, Patty, was sentenced to 5 years in prison for abusing Rose Gold for eighteen years by poisoning her and making her appear critically ill. When Patty is released, Rose Gold is there to pick her up from prison along with her two month old son. Rose Gold knows her mother has no one to turn to and feels she has paid her dues for her crime. But, has Patty moved on from her controlling and deceitful ways? Will Rose Gold’s son be her next victim?

I inhaled this book barely coming up for air. This is an outstanding debut! The writing grabbed me from page one and kept me gripped and fully invested until the very last sentence. The suspense is thick, each chapter left me on edge and anxious.

The story unfolds in a dual narrative through Rose Gold and Patty’s perspectives. These characters were done to perfection! I was fascinated by their thoughts and decisions, trying to figure out what their ultimate goals were.

This book is not an easy read. There are plenty of disturbing and unsettling scenes, but the writing is so addictive and engrossing that it is impossible to put down.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Suffocating, striking, suspenseful, eye-catching and a great representation to storyline. I’m absolutely in love with this beautiful cover!!
Title: A simple, intriguing, effective, and fitting representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, easy to follow, entertaining, engaging and readable.
Plot: Complex, dark, twisted, disturbing, fascinating, interesting, creepy, fast-paced, twisty, and entertaining.
Ending: An ending that didn’t really take me by surprise but regardless that I was expecting it I thought it was a thrilling resolution that I was totally satisfied with.
Overall: 4.5 Stars! I wouldn’t necessarily say that I had fun with this one but the characters and the storyline definitely made for an entertaining and compelling read. Would highly recommend!

Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing and Simon and Schuster Canada for kindly sending us a copy of this book!

Not To Be Missed Monday: Death in the Family (Shana Merchant, #1) by Tessa Wegert @tessawegert @BerkleyPub

Hot Golden Diggity Dang! Death in the Family (Shana Merchant, #1)
by Tessa Wegert is one well written, exciting modern-day take to a locked room /impossible crime mystery. If you are looking for something a little different from those dark and twisted thrillers that is well-plotted and draws you into an interesting puzzle to solve, this is one not to be missed.

Norma’s review

Atmospheric, compelling, & characteristic!

DEATH IN THE FAMILY (Shana Merchant #1) by TESSA WEGERT is a gripping, thrilling, dark, twisty, and entertaining whodunit locked-room mystery that was an absolute pleasure to read. Right from the get go I knew that I was going to thoroughly enjoy this one. It has this classic whodunit vibe going on here that I find so appealing and absolutely love.

The mystery takes us to a remote private island and has this absolutely perfect story setting. I loved the dark, dreary, and rainy atmosphere.

TESSA WEGERT delivers a slow burn, classic, well-crafted, and well-written read here that builds suspense and intrigue slowly as the story progresses. It was quite an effective way to envelop me fully into this mystery and I absolutely loved the unsettling feeling that this produced. Even though the story has a large cast of characters I didn’t find myself confused once at keeping them all straight. Our main character here, detective Shana Merchant is a strong flawed female lead, and she has her own story to tell here. This leaves us with unanswered questions but definitely entices us and leads us into the forthcoming books in this series.

Brenda’s review

This was another pleasant surprise for us from the stack of not our normal books Elisha from Berkely sends our way. When that happens, I am like this excited kid running around with a big bag of candy, wanting to share it with everyone who will come and chat about all the different flavours in the bag with me.

The story has the elements of an impossible crime mystery here and is not your typical twisty read. There are no shocking reveals or turns that will come out of nowhere to surprise you. It follows the classic detective fiction with a locked room crime. Author masterfully presents us with a puzzle and clues to solve a mystery before the dramatic solution is revealed in the end by our Senior Investigator Shana Merchant.

You can’t spell family without lies and secrets and Shana needs to level up to figure out who is hiding what dirty and messy secrets in what laundry basket that are hidden away in the closets of these eccentric characters. The members of this family are not the only monsters here that are trapped in this moody, stormy private island. Shana has an inner monster from her past that adds some tension and suspense to the story.

I missed some clues along the way and didn’t solve all the pieces to this puzzle and need Shana to pull it all together for me in the end. I thought the mystery came together so fun and exciting but what I loved the most is how I am left wanting to know so much more about Shana and her past. I can’t wait for the next one in this series.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: An intriguing, eye-catching, bleak, claustrophobic, revelant, and fitting representation to storyline.
Title: Intriguing, foreboding, worrisome, straightforward, and a fitting representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, gripping, engaging, readable, and suspenseful. I absolutely loved the writing style!
Plot: Intriguing, mysterious, suspenseful, slow burn, unsettling, atmospheric, entertaining, captivating, intense, dark, and steadily-paced.
Ending: A surprising, exciting, pleasing, and satisfying conclusion.
Overall: I pretty much found myself suspicious of almost every character and honestly when we got to the reveal I was totally taken by surprise. Well played! I highly recommend it!

Not To Be Missed Monday: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James @BerkleyPub

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James is available tomorrow February 18, 2020 and it’s one not to be missed. Read this one, eat, drink and be scared!! We highly recommend!

Brenda’s review

Boo Hah! Hot spooktacular Diggity dang that was one fa-boo-lous scary good read that had me shaking my boo-ty to the creepy good vibe to this story. (I know how many puns can I get in one sentence) Hehee! It is one not to be missed!

The Sun Down Motel is an exciting, gripping, entertaining supernatural thriller, with one of the best characters here with the setting that I have read. The rundown motel takes on a life of its own and had me wanting to pull the covers over my eyes while reading it.

This is some excellent storytelling by Simone St. James that doesn’t tell a story but draws you into the story and makes you feel you are living in it. It had my heart pounding right from the start with the suspense and tension that rises with each page. It has a cinematic feel to it that makes it exciting and entertaining.

The mystery and secrets hidden in the walls of this eerie and haunting setting are brilliantly woven together. The characters are interesting, quirky and are so fun and entertaining. I loved everything about this story!!

Norma’s review

Spooky, spine-tingling suspense, and creepy!

THE SUN DOWN MOTEL by SIMONE ST. JAMES is an engrossing, dark, gripping, chilling, and fabulous gothic mystery/thriller that I was immediately drawn into. I was totally immersed in this tale and completely devoured the supernatural aspects in this story. The story was so darn entertaining with that creepy and eerie haunted motel setting that I found this to be absolutely irresistible and un-put-down-able!!!!

SIMONE ST. JAMES delivers quite the atmospheric, captivating, engaging, mysterious, suspenseful and well-written story here told in dual timelines and perspectives between the past and the present. I sometimes enjoy one timeline and perspective over another but this one I am happy to say that they both equally intrigued and fascinated me.

Lindsay’s review

A dark, engrossing, chilling, gothic, suspenseful, atmospheric, mysterious thriller! Loved it!!!

After her mother’s death, Carly moves to the small town of Fell, to investigate the disappearance of her mothers sister, Vivian. Decades earlier, Carly’s aunt Vivian took a job as the night clerk at the remote Sun Down Motel. Unexplained strange things happen at this motel including the disappearance of Vivian from her shift one night. Police investigation provides no answers as to what happened to Vivian. Haunted by the tragedy that happened before she was born, Carly begins her search at the Sun Down Motel, only to be offered a job as the night clerk. Carly finds herself in the same role that her aunt Vivian had before she vanished. Will Carly be able to uncover the long buried secrets and get the answers she hopes for?

I loved this book! The atmosphere was thick! I felt every spine-tingling scare that Carly felt. I was with her there in that run down motel, holding my breath in anticipation of what would happen next. The author, Simone St. James, created a storyline that completely engrossed me within the suspense and mystery. I felt like I truly knew the characters, the small town and the motel. The story is brilliantly narrated in two timelines/perspectives – through Carly in 2017 and her aunt Vivian in 1982. Loved the pace and flow – it kept me curious and hungry to read “just one more chapter.” My one tiny critique is that I felt a couple things near the end were a stretch for me to accept.

I will warn you that this novel is quite ghost-y. I am not one who generally attracts to ghost-y type novels, however, this story simply felt so real and kept me fully immersed and invested that I never doubted the supernatural element.

I read and loved Simone St. James’ previous novel, The Broken Girls. This book was just as good! I’m a huge fan and look forward to what this author comes out with next! I must make note of how much I LOVE THIS COVER!!

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: That cover is absolutely perfect for a creepy and haunting story!! I think it is such a striking & welcoming design that immediately caught my eye and definitely enticed me into needing to read this book.
Title: A simply perfect, chilling, impactful and fabulous representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, fluid, suspenseful, and engaging.
Plot: Engrossing, creepy, captivating, haunting, interesting, riveting, fast-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: Whoa! Absolutely loved it!
Overall: 4.5 Stars! This was an all around fabulous book for me and the perfect ghost story! Would highly recommend!

Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing for gifting us a copy!

Get It Today Tuesday: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain @D_Chamberlain @StMartinsPress

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain was a highly anticipated read for The Traveling Sisters and we loved it!! I recommend running to your nearest bookstore or device and getting it today!! It’s one not to be missed!!

Brenda’s review

Well, that is some mighty fine, creative writing here by one of my favourite authors. I loved this one!!

Big Lies is a Small Town did start off a little slow for me and I was feeling a bit worried that I wasn’t quite getting where the story was going here by almost halfway. I was intrigued but at first, felt like I was being strung along a bit. Then I reminded myself that I have nothing to worry about because this is Diane Chamberlain. Well, well my patience was rewarded and around the middle of the book, the pace took off me and things started falling into place. I started piecing together this well-layered story and flew through the second half.

After reading so many books, things can get a little boring at times and I seem to lose my groove a lot and it is getting harder to find that one that is creative and a bit different from the rest. Diane Chamberlain creates a very unique and compelling story here. She brilliantly weaves the two timelines here with our main character Morgan and Anna. I was so pleased with the way everything wrapped up in the end so perfectly for me. After reading this one, I was marching around the house cheering with excitement for finding another one that kept me in my groove. I highly recommend it.

Lindsay’s review

A suspenseful and captivating mystery set in a small town.

Told in the dual narratives of 1940 and 2018, the two main characters, Anna and Morgan are young artists looking to find their way. Before finishing a mural project for the small town of Edenton, Anna goes missing in 1940. Almost 80 years later, Morgan is asked to restore the unfinished mural project so it can be hung in a local art exhibit. Little does Morgan know the hidden secrets she will find while researching and restoring the mysterious mural.

I adore small town settings and this one was no exception. The atmosphere engrossed and intrigued me from start to finish. I felt as though I was right there in Edenton with the characters. I loved the dual narrative, although I felt a deeper connection to and investment in Anna’s life in 1940. The plot unfolded smoothly while moving back and forth between the timelines, leaving a large sense of mystery at the end of each chapter which made me want to keep reading. Please be warned that there are some heavy topics covered within these pages: racism, physical abuse, rape, harassment.

One issue I had was that Morgan’s romance felt cliche and unnecessary, however, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. There were parts of the ending that I found predictable, yet I still felt connected to and invested in the storyline and it left me with a good sense of closure and contentment.

If you are a fan of Diane Chamberlain, like I am, you will not be disappointed. This book showcases her usual captivating writing, unique storyline and unforgettable characters which has left me hungry for what she comes out with next.

Thank you to St Martin’s Press for our copies!

Not to be Missed Monday: The Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin, Tullan Holmqvist @teresasorkin @tullanh

The Woman in the Park was one of the best and most exciting books we read in 2019 and it’s one I suggest you not miss! Sarah is one of the most compelling and convincing characters I have read in a thriller!

We are so delighted to have Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist join us in our Behind the Pages Goodreads group for an author Q & A on January 9, 2020. I have set up some questions for them about this intense, complex and cleverly written story and their writing process.

Join in sharing the love with us. To join before or view the Q & A after Jan 9 you can find the thread here

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/20944425-q-a-spoiler-free-teresa-sorkin-tullan-holmqvist-authors-of-the-woma

About the book from Goodreads

When Manhattanite Sarah Rock meets a mysterious and handsome stranger in the park, she is drawn to him. Sarah wants to get away from her daily routine, her cheating husband and his crazy mistress, her frequent sessions with her heartless therapist, and her moody children.

But nothing is as it seems. Her life begins to unravel when a woman from the park goes missing and Sarah becomes the prime suspect in the woman’s disappearance. Her lover is nowhere to be found, her husband is suspicious of her, and her therapist is talking to the police.

With no one to trust, Sarah must face her inner demons and uncover the truth to prove her innocence. A thriller that questions what is real-with its shocking twists, secrets, and lies―The Woman in the Park will leave readers breathless.

From our Hot Diggity Dang and Holy Shooty ball’s review

“That was no walk in the park but a sprint right to that final reveal that had left me cheering for just how brilliantly written The Woman in the Park is.”
“Such an awesome and unexpected treasure of a book that was so darn entertaining and thrilling to read. I was immediately hooked and obsessed with what I was reading and couldn’t put this book down. It really consumed my thoughts and I loved how this book tapped into all of my emotions—which even got a little under my skin.”

Thank you Teresa Sorkin & Tullan Holmqvist for our signed copies. It’s going on our favorites shelve!!

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy @CeladonBooks

I am kicking off the new year here with our first review of the year for You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy, one of the most eye-opening, powerful and important books I have read in 2019. It’s an easy, fast read with a lot packed into it. This was a Traveling Sister group read and one of the most valuable discussions we have had. Pub date is January 7, 2020 and I can’t recommend this one enough!!

Brenda’s review

The World is just too noisy for me with everyone talking and no one listening so I jumped at the chance to read and discuss this one with some members of our group. We highlighted paragraph after paragraph and wanted to share how powerful each was for us. I now want to highlight all of them, but then you would be reading most of the book. lol We opened our minds to what we are missing and to the skills needed to be a good listener. We shared our own truths about listening and, in turn, learned something about ourselves and each other. We started to become more aware of our own listening skills and started practicing listening and we could see how satisfying it is to listen.

Kate Murphy starts with the core here as to why it matters we are listening with addressing that people get lonely from lack of listening. Not only from the distractions of our devices and social media influence but also with feeling lonely even with people because we are not practicing the skill of listening. She offers up some powerful, eye-opening and valuable information here and follows through with some suggestions that will make a difference. She offers up reasons we are not listening that I wasn’t aware of and the importance of freeing up our minds from distractions that are going on around us and in our minds. She shows us that listening is also gathering more from others than just the words said. In a positive way, she provokes some questions “Are we really connecting and contributing to others or just waiting for our turn to talk? “Does what others say matter to you and is it important that you see what they are saying?”

Kate Murphy also addresses when to make the call to stop listening when the world becomes too noisy and you just don’t have the capacity to listen to the noise or negativity. Life is just hard enough as it is.

I highly recommend reading this one! Let’s listen up, Friends and make a difference! It matters to the mental health crisis!

Lindsay’s review

Informative. Eye-opening. Thought-provoking.

This was a well researched, enlightening read that made me sit and ponder many points. I love books that make me think! The author presents her research in an easy, well organized manner with chapters breaking down her theories. I liked how the information was presented.

I found the beginning chapters more interesting than the latter chapters which felt a bit drawn out. However, there were countless ideas and theories presented throughout the book that I will keep with me long after I write this review.

I will end with a couple quotes that stood out for me (these are quotes from an Advanced Readers Copy which may change prior to publication):

“Hearing is passive. Listening is active.”

“Understanding is the goal of listening, and it takes effort.”

“To listen does not mean, or even imply, that you agree with someone. It simply means you accept the legitimacy of the other person’s point of view and that you might have something to learn from it.”

Debra’s review

This is an easily readable, enjoyable and thought-provoking book. I know some may look at the name and think “What? A book about listening or not listening. How can that be interesting?” Well, it is. Working in a field that is all about listening, I found that this book reinforced, most of what I already knew and had been taught in graduate school, but it was also an eye-opener for me in that I did not always utilize the skills I had been taught in my professional life in my personal life. People not only want to be heard but they need to be heard! Who doesn’t want a captive audience? That is why people may tell bartenders more about themselves than they tell those closest to them in their lives – because they have an active listener. Work, distractions, social media, technology, etc. all can get in the way of listening and lead to loneliness. Then there is silence – what a powerful tool that is. I enjoyed the sections about other cultures and how they view silence both professionally and personally.

There is a lot of food for thought in this book and lots to discuss. Hopefully, we will all come away as better listeners or at least become more aware of how we are listening to others. I enjoyed how this book was written. It does not come off as academic as some nonfiction books do. This is an easy book to read and I dare you not to pick up your highlighter while reading this book. There is a lot of passage that stood out for me and I found myself making note of them.

From Paige’s review

This is one of the most impactful books I have read all year. The message of true listening in You’re Not Listening serves to emphatically renovate the way we interact with each other. Kate Murphy’s words can revolutionize your conversations and relationships in a meaningful and powerful way. But, only if you listen.

There was so much that resonated with me, and I highlighted quite a lot. My favorite chapters were “Addicted to Distractions” about the endless distractions that interfere with meaningful social interactions, “Supporting, Not Shifting the Conversation” about how we often direct the attention away from the person talking and direct it towards ourselves, and “Improvisational Listening” about collaborating with others.

Thank you to Celadon Books for providing the Traveling Sisters in this group copies to read together!!