Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

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

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

May 24, 2021


Lindsay’s review

“Mothers and fathers are supposed to stay.”

A slow burning, beautifully written, haunting and highly atmospheric mystery.

Anna is a detective who specializes in missing persons. She lives and breathes for her job and has an indescribable connection to the victims she is searching for. Anna is drawn to her childhood hometown where she finds herself aiding the local police force in the case of a young teen who has disappeared.

This book was phenomenal! Unique, messy and mysterious characters. Thick, palpable, remote small town atmosphere. Intriguing, slow building and addictive mystery.

I loved Anna! She was so strong and determined, yet vulnerable facing her personal inner struggles. I truly enjoyed following her journey and really hope to spend more time with her (crossing my fingers this may become a series)!

The writing was exquisite! I was completely consumed by the beautiful prose and heart wrenching storyline. There are some heavy topics covered within the pages of this story. Several times, I stopped to fully absorb the sentences I was reading. Very powerful and thought provoking topics surrounding adoption and a child’s sense of belonging and personal identity.

I loved this book and highly recommend it. A definite favourite for 2021. 

Brenda’s Audio review

I love seeing so many authors moving forward with their stories, breaking the mold on those tired and old tropes, and creating fresh and interesting takes on them. It is even more impressive to see an author whose genre doesn’t usually use those tropes break the mold.

Well, Hot diggity dang!!! I am shocked to see how well-known historical fiction writer Paula McLain took the trope of the missing child and has done something different and exciting with it!

Click play to hear my review

Norma has been collaborating with some fantastic authors as they pair up their books with homemade book sleeves made by our mom and sold in their Etsy store. Today, Norma features a book sleeve with the fabric picked by Robyn Harding to match her upcoming new release The Perfect Family. The Perfect Family expected publication is August 10th 2021. I can’t wait to read it.

 Click here for their Etsy shop Use SISTERS20 at the checkout for 20% off.

About the book

The bestselling author of the The Swappraised by Samantha M. Bailey, author of Woman on the Edge, as“wickedly delicious, addictive, utterly compelling”—explores what happens when a seemingly perfect family is pushed to the edge…and beyond.

Thomas and Viv Adler are the envy of their neighbors: attractive, successful, with well-mannered children and a beautifully restored home.

Until one morning, when they wake up to find their porch has been pelted with eggs. It’s a prank, Thomas insists; the work of a few out-of-control kids. But when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and their car’s tires are punctured, the family begins to worry. Surveillance cameras show nothing but grainy images of shadowy figures in hoodies. And the police dismiss the attacks, insisting they’re just the work of bored teenagers. Unable to identify the perpetrators, the Adlers are helpless as the assaults escalate into violence, and worse. And each new violation brings with it a growing fear. Because everyone in the Adler family is keeping a secret—not just from the outside world, but from each other. And secrets can be very dangerous….

This twisty, addictively page-turning suspense novel about a perfect family’s perfect façade will keep you turning pages until its explosive ending. 

Brenda’s review

There has been some buzz for Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller after it was longlisted and now shortlisted for the 2021 Women’s prize. The story’s premise sounded interesting and unique, and curiosity got to me, and I had to read it!

Unsettled Ground explores codependency, hardship and survival with an unusual family. 51-year-old twins Jeanie and Julius and their mother, Dot live pretty much off the grid, in isolation, poverty, and are dependent on each other to survive. After Dot dies, secrets and lies start too unravel along with life as Jeanie and Julius know it.

I found the premise intriguing, and I loved the themes of codependency and isolation. There is enough suspense to story that should have added elements of an engaging mystery; however, it loses steam with the story’s pacing. Interesting and intriguing harsh truths and then brutal realities engulf the twins setting a dark, claustrophobic tone to the story with a constant feeling of doom. There were plenty of questions I needed the answers to that kept me clicking the pages looking for answers. The pace is slow as the secrets and lies are revealed, and when they are, I became frustrated with the characters’ lack of action to them. I wanted the story to move forward instead of staying in that cloud of doom for so long. I liked the secrets and lies, and how they all came together and that made the story for me. The story took a dark turn near the end, and I felt cheated out of some light to the story and growth to the characters, and I didn’t get the ending I was hoping for.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Lindsay’s review

Pulse-pounding from start to finish!

A small town neighbourhood. One woman goes missing leaving her newborn baby and husband behind. Weeks later another local woman and her young daughter don’t come home. The town is shocked and devastated. Could there be a link between these families?

This story gripped me from start to finish — I was hanging on every word feeling a strong sense of unease and tension. The mystery is intense, fast-paced, anxiety-filled and something that I felt extremely invested in throughout. The writing was outstanding! I cared for each of the characters and the situations they found themselves in. My mind was whirling with trying to piece the parts of this engrossing story together.

Warning that there are some deeply disturbing scenes involving children, especially at the start. Though the scenario is extremely upsetting and creepy, it was written in such a way that I simply couldn’t put it down. I was completely consumed by this book.

The theme of motherhood is woven deep within this story. I thought the author did a phenomenal job portraying the struggles and successes of the women within this story. Very well developed characters overall!

My one critique would be the ending felt like it didn’t fit with the “amazing-ness” of the rest of the book. The ending seemed unrealistic, yet I was able to roll with it because the writing was so addictive and well done. Overall, an extremely entertaining and suspenseful novel that I highly recommend!

Brenda’s review

Local Woman Missing starts with a good hook that creates tension and suspense and increases with each chapter. I was fully invested in the story and had many questions I needed the answers to. I flew through it quite fast.

Mary Kubica takes the “woman and child gone missing” trope and weaves in a fresh and exciting take on it. I had no idea where the story was going, and that at first added some excitement to the story trying to figure out where it was going. However I did start to lose a bit of patience with that and wished the story was better layered to pick up some clues. There are plenty of “shocking twists” that are not convincing. Often when I find some twists hard to buy into it doesn’t bother me; however, when I can’t buy into the characters’ motivations, the story misses the mark for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy into the motivation here with a character. While I thought this was an intriguing and unique read, that final reveal was too absurd or layered enough to be convincing or entertaining.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Park Row for our copies!

Lindsay’s review

Gripping from start to finish!

Maddy and Ian have faced many challenges in their relationship. Ian served in the British army for years where he witnessed horrific events that he can’t shake from his mind. Now an owner of a security company, Ian travels internationally protecting wealthy clients in war torn countries. Maddy worries that Ian’s PTSD and endless anxiety will cause him a breakdown. She also worries for their young son, Charlie, who craves his fathers love and attention when he is gone on several month missions. She begins to see a writing therapist who encourages her to journal her thoughts and worries away.

I had an immediate connection to this book. It was very different than I expected. There were some very heavy topics explored. The mental strain and aftermath of working in war torn countries was expressed so vividly.

Told through Past and Present timelines with multiple narrators, this story kept me engaged, curious and anxious to find out how everything would come together. The characters were terrific – each one having secrets that slowly revealed more to the story.

The author did a fabulous job with the execution of this story – she kept me guessing and glued to the pages. This was a NetGalley backlist title that I’m so happy I made time for. I highly recommend!

Thank you to Park Row and NetGalley for my review copy! Thank you to my lovely local library for the physical loan!

Brenda’s review

Genre Blending done right!!!

To save her career and impress a man, down on her luck, journalist Jillian decides to follow the rumours and infiltrate a secret club for some tastemaker women of New York. Laura Hankin takes real-life ideas and adds the right amount of satire to create an interesting, outrageous, fun story that addresses powerful women, feminism/white feminism, women supporting, uplifting and empowering women. She adds a bit of fun romance to have us rooting for whose team we are on with Jillian and two characters. There is a surprising twist and a turn to the story (be careful what reviews you read as not to spoil that twist and turn). Unfortunately, I read one and knew what turn the story was going to take. Bummer for me!!!

I love the story’s premise, and Laura Hankin plays on some tropes, giving them a refreshing and fun take, but mostly stays away from them being oblivious. The story starts off intriguing with the opening scene. It did slow down a bit for me, but when that twist and turn comes, the pace picks up, and I couldn’t put the book down. It does feel a bit “far-fetched,” but thats in the fun and the irony/satire is what drives the story forward. The ending could be a bit much to buy into, but it plays into the tone of the story. I liked how it all wrapped up, and it felt nice to get lost in the ending. I highly recommend it!!

It has a cinematic feel to it, and it is being developed into a TV series.

I received a copy from the publisher through NG.

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