Penny For Our Thoughts

Traveling Sisters Book Reviews. Join us on our adventures through the books we read

Brenda’s review

I have some conflicting thoughts here with Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens. I enjoyed it as much as I didn’t. I was drawn to the story because the fictional Cold Creek Highway is influenced by an actual highway stitching 724 km in BC where many women (mostly Indigenous) have disappeared or been found murdered called The Highway of tears.

Chevy Stevens has written her own story here while creating a fictional highway, town, mountainous terrain, and campground by the lake similar to ones in BC, Canada. She does a fantastic job of bringing that all to life, and I enjoyed the story of survival created here.

The story is broken into three parts, starting with Hailey, who calls Cold Creek home and has grown up with warnings and reminders to fear the Cold Creek Highway and never travel it alone. I loved the sense of dread, fear, and tension captured here with the isolated, rugged wilderness that becomes a prime hunting ground for a predator, the highway killer.

Part Two focuses on Beth, who comes to Cold Creek searching for answers to what happened to her sister one night on Cold Creek Highway. Hailey and Beth are connected by their loyalties to the people they care about, and I enjoyed the dynamics there.

In part three, Hailey and Beth’s stories begin to merge as the tension and suspense increase and the action and danger pick up to the final showdown with the characters. While this was exciting and entertaining, it didn’t go in the direction I was hoping for, and I didn’t find it as convincing as I would of liked.

This is where I am conflicted I thought Chevy Stevens created a complex, thrilling and entertaining thriller, but with using the backdrop as ambitious as The Highway of Tears I couldn’t help wondering about the real-life lost souls of women, their stories, and the secrets the highway holds. I was left feeling disappointed and thought she could have done a better job creating a more emotional realistic story that centred around the lost women. However she does mentioned out of respect she wanted to created her own story.

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley.

Brenda’s review

I met some dysfunctional families in the many books I read, and none are quite like the Lighthouses. They are by far not your typical, twisted family; they take twisted to a new level. They are morbidly eccentric, obsessed with true crime, and now find themselves in the middle of a true-crime themselves.

I loved the original premise here and found their obsession with true crime entertaining and creepy, and it complements the crime they find themselves in the middle of. Things become even more intriguing as secrets they keep from each other start to come out in those turns to the story. The plot is well crafted with layered clues, some good red herring that threw me off and kept me guessing. The twists to the story are exciting but not shocking. However, near the end, instead of the exciting ending I was hoping for it teeter on falling off the rails, and just too hard to buy into. I held in there, but it was just too much to buy into and I did plenty of eye rolling as I finished the book.

Sometimes I feel I am a little hard on thrillers/suspense, and maybe I expect too much. That just might have been the case here.

I received a copy from the publisher on Edelweiss

Brenda’s review

The Perfect Family is being targeted, pushed to the edge, and are unraveling at the seams. They all have secrets not just from the outside world but from each other, and that makes for some twisted, dysfunctional family dynamics.

The story is told through each member of this not-so-perfect family while they reveal their secrets and thoughts to us. They have a lot of thoughts to share with us that felt a little too much at times and I might of done a little eye rolling. They share their guilt and shame as well as their fears. They all think they are being targeted because of their secrets, which creates some tension and suspense that drives the story forward.

The Perfect Family is a readable, well-paced, and briskly plotted story that I flew through quite quickly. I won’t say this one has Robyn Harding’s signature unlikeable characters I love so much, but she does spin a unique twist to that perfect family with secrets trope. On their own, each character has an intriguing secret, which keeps the plot briskly moving, making it a readable story. Each secret is touched on rather than fully fleshed out in that way Robyn does so well. It works here because the suspense and tension build up as the family feels the pressure each fear they are targeted because of the secrets they are hiding.

While not my favorite from Robyn Harding as it felt a little too much with all the secrets going on here. I liked Tarryn’s unique secret and would of liked to see more focus on her character and the outcome for her. However it is still a great read and I enjoyed how it all wrapped up and highly recommend this one for an entertaining and fun read!!!

Lindsay’s review

Easy, entertaining, suspenseful and twisty!

Everyone in this family has a HUGE secret!

This novel follows one well-to-do family through a tangled web of secrets, lies and deceit. From the outside they seem to have it all, but underneath they all have something to hide.

There is something so smooth and addictive about Robyn Harding’s writing. Her books grab me from the start and keep me flipping the pages while following the lives of crazy characters I love to hate.

This book has a lot going on! But not in a way that makes it complicated or hard to follow. There is a major crisis within each family members life that they are struggling through. There are several heavy topics addressed yet none are truly explored which prevented me from maintaining a strong connection and investment in the storyline. There were some eye rolling moments, but they were fun and entertaining.

Overall, an enjoyable, easy and entertaining, suspenseful and mindless read that you don’t have to think too hard about. While this isn’t my favourite from this author, I continue to be a fan of her writing and look forward to what she comes out with next!

We received a copies from the publisher on NetGalley

The photo is provided by Norma and the book sleeve can be found in her Etsy shop 

Brenda’s review

Her Deadly Touch picks up where Hush Little Girl left off, and Josie is grieving after a significant trauma in her personal life. Josie comes across a body that leads to a group of grieving parents who lost their children in a devastating bus crash. Another body is found dead, and it’s looking like someone connected to the bus crash is out for revenge. Josie starts to investigate the parents of the crash, and secrets begin to come out about what happened on the day of the bus crash.

Lisa Regan throws a lot at Josie, and we see so many different sides to Josie because of that. That can get a little tiring and old after a while, but with Josie, she grows more with everything thrown at her, keeping her character from feeling tired as another side of her is fleshed out. But Josie doesn’t do it alone; she continues to be surrounded by people who love and support her, and that is the heart of the series for me.

I loved how Lisa Regan weaves in Josie’s, the parent’s, and her personal grief and creates a heart-wrenching realistic exploration of grief while creating a mystery with plenty of twists and turns that kept me on my toes.

I read this one with my reading buddies Debra and DeAnn and after 12 books, this series is still going strong for all of us!! I am amazed with each one, I love Josie even more!!

Hi, Y’all! You have probably seen a few reviews for this exciting popular book by one of our favorite authors Samantha Downing buzzing around, so you all know Teddy is the teacher of the year!! He knows what’s best for his students and is tough on them for their own good!!! We had so much fun reading For Your Own Good Norma, and I are creating a bookish kit to pair with it for our September bookish kit with some discussion questions added in. We have some fun stuff we are including in it and think it one not to miss and will make for a fun discussion here on our blog.  Keep an eye out in Norma’s  Etsy shop for the kit and join in on our fun.

Brenda’s review

For Your Own Good is a playful, witty, clever, comical academic thriller with tremendous sinister characters, and it’s all about entertainment. Samantha Downing creates something wickedly fun and unique here that had me thinking about how she came up with it all. I wonder if there is a little satire added to make that outrageous fun. She takes a fresh spin on those entitled, privileged themes and creates some twisted dynamics between a teacher and his entitled students. 

Have you ever wondered how a teacher not from the same privilege might feel about teaching those entitled and privileged students who attend a prestigious prep school? Well, Samantha has you covered, and Teddy is not holding back on how he feels about his students. He lets us in on his devilish acts towards his students, and he is not going to let anything stop him from letting them get away with benefiting from their privilege. He has made some enemies, and some great tension and suspense is created with who will set a trap for him and how.

“He’s not the enemy. Never was. His goal for her, for all his students, is to transform them from selfish brats into something better.” ~ Teddy

It all comes together not how I expected, with a delicious twist that felt fitting and added to that outrageous fun to the story. I highly recommend it!  

Norma’s review

Disturbing, darkly humorous, and a zippy read!

Let me tell you!! FOR YOUR OWN GOOD by SAMANTHA DOWNING is quite the twisty and wicked thriller.

I immediately knew that this was going to be a fun and entertaining book for me but what I didn’t know was how weird this book was going to make me feel. At times I was having so much fun with it and at other times I just wanted to walk away. Now here’s the thing: it was such a chaotic and diabolical wacky book that I just couldn’t ignore and walk away from. It’s like I was hooked one minute and not the next. It was like a guilty pleasure. You don’t want to like it but you can’t help yourself because well those characters are so cunning and devious that you can’t help but be entertained by them. You just need to stay tuned to see what kind of shenanigans they are going to get themselves into and yup who’s going to be murdered next.

I was laughing out loud, creeped out (milk is NOT my thing), and entertained. I quite enjoyed how this one kept me guessing and how it all wrapped up. This was a cleverly layered story with a great storyline that I won’t soon forget.

Lindsay’s review

Wild, shocking and twisty!

If you’re looking for a fun, creepy, bonkers book to get lost in, this is it! It’s compulsively readable and highly entertaining in the most addictive, silly, crazy and ridiculous way!

This novel revolves around a prep school with devious and conniving staff and students. Every character had a sneaky, deceitful, evil side that kept me shocked and curious to see how they would fit into the twisted tale. I simply cannot pick who was the worst!

I loved the short, tension-filled chapters that were easy to breeze through. This book is one where you can simply sit back and be entertained without having to think too much. The story unfolds through third person narrative which I had trouble connecting with as I felt it kept me at a distance from the storyline. I also have issues with implausible scenarios and this novel had many which kept me from feeling fully invested. However, the characters are so extremely crazy and unlikeable that I just HAD to know what would happen next. Though this wasn’t a huge winner for me, it is well-loved by many early reviewers and I can completely understand why. Give it a try and see what you think – I promise you’ll have fun with it!

We received copies from the publisher!

Discussion Post for People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

August 9, 2021


Welcome Friends! Norma and I put together a bookish kit for People We Meet on Vacation and add some thought-provoking questions inspired by an interview with the author along with some fun questions I have added. If you haven’t read this one yet we highly recommend packing your bags with some bookish fun, travel with Poppy and Alex to the places they vacation on, then travel on back here and see what we have to say or join on in the discussion. If you like to join the discussion please add your answers to the comments. We love to see what you think!!!

Please Note: We will try to keep the spoiler free for any major spoilers, however if you haven’t read the book it is best to read before reading any further in this post. some things might tip you off on something and spoil some things for you.

We have been closed off from traveling for quite some time now!!  Do you have any plans or hope to travel ?

Brenda

I would love to do some traveling again and have been thinking of some places I would like to go but no plans. 

Norma

No, we don’t have any plans except for camping.  We do hope once the border opens to go for a road trip to Montana that is one of our favourite things to do.

Do you have a friend you would like to take a vacation with?  No family members please!

Brenda

I can’t pick Norma because she is my sister, Lindsay is my reading sister and I would love to take a vacation with her.

Norma

Haha I guess I can’t pick Brenda either.  The introvert in me finds it really hard to travel with others outside my family.  Even though I’d love to travel with friends it isn’t really the most comfortable thing for me to do.

The story starts with well-used tropes; opposites attract, and when Poppy and Alex meet, she hopes she doesn’t see him again. Poppy then starts to see Alex differently as she gets to know him, and they begin to grow as friends. She refers to him as “naked Alex.” Do you think by the end of the story, after all the layers are pulled back, they are so different from each other and what they wanted out of life?

Brenda

I think Poppy thought she wanted that dream life, but once she did, she started to like the simpler, deeper things like “Naked Alex” did. I believe Alex opened her eyes to what she was running from and what she wanted from life. So I think Poppy grew as a person and found out what she wanted in life, and it was a simpler life, and what they wanted was each other.

Norma

I don’t think Poppy and Alex were all that different from each other.  I think Poppy was hiding from what she truly wanted and through Alex she was able to see that her carefree/traveling life wasn’t really what she wanted.  It was actually a stable and lifelong relationship with Alex that she yearned for.

Who did you most relate to, Poppy or Alex? 

Brenda 

I think I related to both of them.  Each had something relatable to them and then in the end it felt like those things came together as one person that I relate too. 

Norma

Alex for sure!  I am definitely more reserved than outgoing.

At first, we know they are experiencing a “friendship breakup,” and there is some suspense about what caused the rift between them. Do you think that was enough to drive the story forward? Would you say the friendship breakup and trying to repair that friendship was the heart of the story or something else?  Please no spoilers as to what the rift was.

Brenda

I am interested in seeing what others think about this question. I don’t think this was the strongest part of the story, and I didn’t feel the suspense I wanted to feel, and it felt predictable. I was looking for something more as to what caused the “friendship breakup.” Because they only saw each other once a year on vacation, I questioned how well they knew each other, and I was hoping that tied into what caused the rift. I didn’t feel like they were repairing their friendship but more like they were reconnecting again. Their chemistry as friends and the connection between them was the heart of the story for me. Wanting to see how their friendship evolved was what drove the story forward for me.

Norma

I agree with Brenda on this one.  The only thing I’d like to add is that I didn’t really like the two year quiet period between these two and didn’t think the rift was enough to warrant total silence. 

Have you been to any of the places Poppy and Alex vacationed?  What of their vacations did you like best?  Would you like to go to any? 

Brenda

Canada “speaks to me” (I live there) LOL. I have been to Victoria and Tofino, and that was my favorite vacation they went on. I thought it shaped and started that great banter and dynamics I enjoyed between them. I did think the people they met there were a bit stereotypical, though. I loved that they spent some time in Chapters bookstore. I have also been to San Francisco. I have made a few wine tasting trips to wine country and loved it.

Norma

I have also been to Victoria and Tofino (not with Brenda though LOL) and the familiarity definitely made it my favourite vacation of theirs.  Like Brenda said the mention of Chapters was a highlight!  Loved that!

Alex and Poppy find the things they enjoyed the most on their Vacation are the things they didn’t plan or the things that went wrong, sending them on a new path and connecting with people they met. As we see their history and friendship evolve across the vacations they shared, do you think the paths they found themselves on helped Poppy see she wanted something different for herself, and that brought them closer together as a couple in the end?

Brenda

That was my favorite thing about their vacations. I think it helped Poppy see that the “dream life” was not the things she enjoyed, and she liked the simpler, quieter things. I think it helped Poppy see all she wanted was to do something with Alex, and the best part was being together.

Norma

Most definitely! I think Alex was the main attraction in all of their vacations together and vice versa. It was something to look forward to yearly and that path was always open until it wasn’t anymore with the two year break. I think they both got scared too and didn’t realize that they were both falling for one another. I think her eyes really opened up and realized that something was missing from her life. And that was Alex but her mind and heart had to feel it simultaneously in order to accept and really allow herself to have the life she really wanted even though it wasn’t necessarily the one she had chosen for herself. I think we always go home!

Do you like meeting people on vacation or prefer to spend time with who you are traveling with or alone reading?

Brenda

I think meeting people would be a fun thing to do and make a vacation more interesting, however, I am introverted and do prefer to keep to who I am traveling with and, of course, spend some time alone reading. I often think about just laughing around the beach and pool by myself reading, but I do like to have someone with me.

Norma

I’d prefer to spend time with who I’m vacationing with rather than meeting new people. I always bring books with me but sometimes I don’t get much reading time in. It’s more family time…..or people watching. LOL

Are you a planner or go with the flow vacationer?

Brenda

I am a planner right to timing. I have what we are doing, where we are eating, and downtime planned. I would like to take a relaxing unplanned trip with what we are doing, but I have to plan where we eat. Being busy all the time, as Alex said “ Won’t leave a lot of time for reading.”

Norma

The only thing I plan is the date, hotel, and destination. The rest I’m going with the flow.

We start to see a personal growth dimension to the story here with Poppy untangling her identity, her high school past, wanting to escape and never return home and finding career meaning, purpose, and how that factors into what she wants out of life.  Emily Henry gives Poppy her “dream life,” but about halfway, Poppy starts questioning if she wants the same things as she once wanted. Do you think from the personal growth dimension, their friendship evolved by seeing and learning what they went through as individuals, and they will make it, or do you think they “were meant to be?”  

Brenda

I didn’t see much of a personal growth dimension with Alex. It was mainly with Poppy, but I think Alex helped Poppy grow, and they evolved together as a couple as Poppy started to see what she wanted out of life. Poppy’s dislike for her hometown was one of the biggest roadblocks, and I think she began to see things differently through Alex. I am not sure if what Poppy was going through helped Alex to evolve as a person. He seemed to have reached what he wanted out of life well before Poppy. I have my doubts if they will make it because I wasn’t all that convinced that Alex evolved enough with the things Poppy wanted or made any changes for Poppy. Maybe in a small way, I think they are meant to be, and because of that, they will make it. I am interested to see what you all think about Alex’s growth dimension.

Norma

I think that Alex pretty much knew what he wanted from life so we didn’t necessarily see a personal growth dimension from him.  His growth dimension we knew what it was right from the very start and I’d say that was Poppy and that they were meant to be.  I think Poppy had to grow into Alex and Alex was already there. 

One of the hardest things to keep fresh in a rom-com is the banter and dialogue between the characters, which can often get tiring. In the interview I read with Emily Henry, Poppy and Alex’s love was described as a “quiet yet strong love.” What do you think that meant, and would you describe it like that or a different way and why?  

Brenda

I think that is a perfect way to describe their love. The dynamics between them felt natural and not like they were trying to be funny. They just were! LOL, We could see how their love grew over the time they enjoyed together, and nothing felt like it was forced on us.

Norma

Poppy and Alex had so much fun together!  Poppy was always teasing him.  I loved their banter.  Poppy brought out the fun in Alex and they had that fun together.

A few standard tropes are used in rom-coms, opposites attract, best friends to lovers, secretly in love with each other. Emily Henry adds a more modern one: friendship breakups. Do you think she kept those tropes fresh and exciting and why?  

Brenda

Yes I thought she did. Just by their friendship growing over the vacations they took together added something fresh to them.

Norma

Yes, this was a most refreshing rom-com!  Even though we know that there is going to be a happily ever after in the end it was so much fun getting there.  I liked that the grand gesture was Poppy.  In my eyes she’s the one that really needed to see that Alex is the life that she wanted.

Rom-coms have traditional, standard elements, usually ending with the grand gesture and confession of love. One of them is the golden age standard “chasing you at the airport scene,” and Emily Henry takes that and adds something different here with that? Did you find that made Poppy and Alex more relatable? What did you think of Poppy’s grand gesture in the end? 

Brenda

Yes, I loved seeing something different here. Poppy’s grand gesture was not what I was expecting at all and it felt genuine over the golden age standard. I thought that made them more relatable.

Norma

Loved it!

The title in the UK is You and Me on Vacation. Which title do you think fits the book best and why?  Were there any people they met that stood out for you?  From the two titles what takeaway did you get from it? 

Brenda

I like the title You and Me on Vacation because I thought the main takeaway from their vacations was the best part is being together.

Norma

I like the title You and Me on Vacation a little bit more because I see it more as that than the people they met on vacation.  I think it was more about them.  

What was the biggest takeaway from the story for you? 

Brenda

The biggest takeaway for me is that what we think we want in life is not what we want, and it’s ok to question and challenge that. To challenge what we show the outside world is what we really want, and maybe what we want has always been right in front of us.

Norma

I think the biggest takeaway for me was that sometimes life shows us what we really need and want and to realize that it has been with us all along.  

You can find the list to the interview with Emily Henry here

Thank you so much for joining us and reading our answers to the question. Please join in and answer any questions you like in the comment section. We love to see them!!

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