When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.

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When the man she believed to be her father dies, Eleanor is devastated. Especially after learning the identity of her biological dad. Sister Dear takes the reader into Eleanor’s new world order as she tries to learn about her “real” dad, and then begins to deal with the rejection. Devastation clings to her, but she has chosen to learn everything she can about her bio sister, who has her place in that family, and before she realizes it, she has created a whole new identity and family in her mind.

What will happen once she has completely immersed herself in this recreated family? Will she finally fit in? Or will she always have to be the one outside looking in? A captivating tale that earned 5 stars.



The Delaney family love one another dearly—it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .


If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?

The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.

One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.

Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.

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Apples Never Fall tells the story of a family with secrets and hidden conflicts; the Delaneys keep their story to themselves. They have a façade to protect as a company of tennis stars.

It is hard to say who is in charge of this family, as both Stan and Joy have their roles to play, and they seem to maintain those parts well.


The tale sweeps back and forth in time, focusing on the disappearance of Joy, the mother, as police try to find out what happened to her, while directing their gaze upon Stan.

The young woman who had showed up on their doorstep one night, claiming abuse, seemingly takes over the household until family members begin to question her stories and her goals.

Just when I thought I knew where the story was going, it would take a new turn. By the end, I had a much clearer picture of them all and what kept them together in spite of their conflicts. A 5 star read.




Mary has everything. Beautiful and rich, she lives on an exclusive street in the heart of the city, in a house with gorgeous views and an immaculately maintained garden. Her life looks perfect.

But behind closed doors the truth is very different. Her husband Andrew barely speaks to her, spending his days down in the basement alone. Her teenage nephew is full of rage, lashing out with no warning. Her carefully constructed life is beginning to fall apart.

And then someone starts sending Mary anonymous notes, threatening her and her family…

Everyone has secrets. But is someone at number 13 hiding something that could put the whole family in danger?


My Thoughts: Connor is one of the first characters we meet in The Family at No. 13. He is a therapist trying to live and work in a building that has many issues, so when he is offered a bungalow in a nice neighborhood, he thinks everything will be great.

But nothing is as it seems in the new neighborhood, beginning with the fact that a patient he just discharged lives right down the street, and the people next door have a horrific teenage boy living with them. A rage-filled boy who relishes bouncing loudly up and down on a trampoline and torturing animals.

Alternating narrators tell the stories of the neighborhood. Mary’s voice is a first-person look into her life and her experiences. We later learn the story of the boy, Finbarr, which does offer a more compassionate perspective, but does not make him any more likable.

What are the secrets that are dictating the lives of the neighbors, and how will Connor deal with the new life he has chosen? What convoluted events will turn the neighborhood upside down and change the lives of the residents? 4.5




One of the most celebrated, beloved, and enduring actors of our time, Sally Field has an infectious charm that has captivated the nation for more than five decades, beginning with her first TV role at the age of seventeen. From Gidget’s sweet-faced “girl next door” to the dazzling complexity of Sybil to the Academy Award-worthy ferocity and depth of Norma Rae and Mary Todd Lincoln, Field has stunned audiences time and time again with her artistic range and emotional acuity. Yet there is one character who always remained hidden: the shy and anxious little girl within.

With raw honesty and the fresh, pitch-perfect prose of a natural-born writer, and with all the humility and authenticity her fans have come to expect, Field brings readers behind-the-scenes for not only the highs and lows of her star-studded early career in Hollywood, but deep into the truth of her lifelong relationships—including her complicated love for her own mother. Powerful and unforgettable, In Pieces is an inspiring and important account of life as a woman in the second half of the twentieth century.


My Thoughts: A fan of Sally Field since her early days on TV, I felt immediately drawn to her first person narrative, beginning with her family history of matriarchal women whose lives were an example of love, connections, flaws and strength.

Her struggles as a child, dealing with the twisted relationship with her stepfather, resonated with me, having read about some of these experiences in part, but which I learned in depth In Pieces.

Her beginnings as an actor were not easy, and she had to persist to finally discover her niche. And when she did find her place as an actor, a woman, and she revealed how she finally connected to her seemingly elusive mother, I could relax and enjoy learning about her life and her work, and how memorable it would all be in the end. 5 stars.




Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

My Thoughts: Our first person narrator throughout Best Day Ever is Paul Strom, husband, father, and a man intent on controlling everything about the day…and their lives.

In the beginning, his narrative seemed almost sweet, like someone wanting to have that perfect getaway. But the more we followed his monologue, the darker things seemed. It didn’t take long for me to feel the angst of a day and a life that would surely unravel.

As Mia reacts, and then as Paul reads her reactions, the intensity increases. Soon I am beginning to feel the fear and suspense of someone watching lives crash and burn.

The neighbor Buck adds to the intensity, as he shows up constantly, interrupting the two of them, but soon it begins to feel pre-planned. What is going on, and what will happen next?

A story of power and control, and breaking free of that control and regaining one’s power, kept me turning pages in this brilliant study of dysfunctional family dynamics. 5 stars.




“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

It was not difficult to figure out the darkness hiding behind the walls of the beautiful estate called Roanoke. The charismatic grandfather/father, Yates Roanoke, had a way about him, a way that drew the girls to him. They were all wounded in one way or another, and his kind of love felt better than no love at all. Their mothers had died or run away, and they were left behind, not believing they were worthy of love. And Yates was there, promising them love and protection from the outside world.

Allegra was probably the most wounded, as her mother left when she was only a couple of months old. She knew she was not destined for a normal life, but she still loved having control over her lover Tommy, luxuriating in the belief that she could have him any time she wanted.

Lane’s mother, Camilla, had left when she was pregnant with her. They were together for sixteen years, but Lane never felt loved. She sensed that there was something dark about Roanoke that her mother would not talk about. It would be years later before she learned why her mother couldn’t seem to love her.

Narrated in the first person voice of Lane, The Roanoke Girls weaves back and forth in time, sometimes in a repetitive way, inserting brief snippets about the previous generation: Sophia, Penelope, Eleanor, Camilla, and little Emmeline. We learn about the summer Lane came to Roanoke for the first time, at age sixteen, and why she fled after that brief period, holding her own secrets close to her heart.

Coming back to search for Allegra will resurrect all the pain of the past. Will she find closure? Or will she simply experience, once again, the powerful pull of darkness that has kept all the girls fragile and in a suspended childhood world?

What happened to Allegra? Did she, too, run away, or did something nefarious happen to her? Why did Tommy’s jealous wife Sarah come to see Allegra only hours before she disappeared? Will the police find the answers, or will another secret be locked away behind the walls of Roanoke? 4.5 stars.





What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?
Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.
In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighboring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered…
My Thoughts: We begin The Good Daughter with a mother and child, endlessly driving from one place to another, crossing state lines, from Texas, to New Mexico, and to California, occasionally stopping for a while. As the child grows, she begins to realize that her life is not like the lives of other people. Her mother is secretive, fearful, and has strange habits, like collecting crickets in jars. Her mother calls her “Pet,” but then at some point tells her she is named Dahlia, and that she is Memphis Waller.

They settle again in Aurora, Texas. But always there is a major hurdle to a normal life: what Dahlia calls “paperwork issues.” There are no birth certificates or social security numbers, so all jobs are worked off the books.

After high school, Dahlia leaves Texas and is gone for fifteen years. Upon her return, she connects with an old friend, Bobby, who is now a cop. She continues to work off the books, used to it by now, while still feeling some resentment at how she and her mother have lived their lives.

Shortly after returning “home,” Dahlia is out jogging and stumbles upon a girl, badly beaten and unconscious. The mystery of who she is and what happened to her will hover over the story until the end.

Alternating narratives from the past show moments in the lives of Quinn, Tain, and an old woman named Aella. Their stories somehow mesh with the lives of Memphis and Dahlia, but we will not connect the dots until finally, near the end, Memphis starts sharing the tale in bits and pieces.

I kept reading because I wanted the answers, and I was definitely curious about what was behind all the secrets Memphis was keeping. So much of what had happened to her was horrific, so I could empathize. But I was also very glad for the story to end. It was repetitive in parts, as each character told bits of her story. I felt closure at the end, so in that sense, it was satisfactory. But for me, it earned 3.5 stars.






Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.

Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.

My Thoughts: In The Trophy Child, the Bloom family enjoyed a privileged life, with private schools, social connections, and a lovely home in the Lake District. Despite the world of privilege, Karen seemed driven. She was a character almost impossible to like. She wasn’t just questing for excellence for her children and her family. She lashed out on a regular basis, arousing fear, loathing, and anger in those she targeted. Sooner or later, someone would surely strike back.One could almost describe Karen as delusional, as she so firmly believed that her daughter Bronte was gifted, despite evidence to the contrary, and insisted on scheduling every imaginable activity, to her detriment. The child reacted with fatigue and displayed symptoms of stress.

Who would crack first under Karen’s tyrannical regime? What might bring about the toppling of the little kingdom of superiority she has envisioned? How will the family members express their resentments of the roles they are expected to play? Verity, the teenage stepdaughter, is literally overlooked to the point that she has to prepare her own meals and eats separately, while Karen is gallivanting around with Bronte to her activities. Karen’s son, a young adult, lives over the garage and does drugs and lays about with an equally troubled friend.

I was totally engaged in the author’s depiction of the characters, each of them realistic and three-dimensional, with all the emotions one would expect in a family as dysfunctional as this one. I especially enjoyed the character of DS Joanne Aspinall, on hand to help the family with their tragedies. She is diligent, down-to-earth…and she will get the perpetrator, even if she must put her own life in jeopardy. Discovering motives, connections, and the gradual unfolding of secrets led to a very satisfactory culmination. 5 stars.

***My e-ARC came to me from the publisher via NetGalley.

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The story begins at a christening in an LA suburb. It especially zeroes in on a person who has crashed the party. Bert Cousins, from the DA’s office, seems oddly out of place in this party mostly populated by cops and their wives and children.

He doesn’t even bring a gift for the baby (Frances, the daughter of Fix and Beverly Keating). Just a large bottle of gin.

This man will go on to turn all their lives upside down. Yes, he had help from some of the other characters, but without actions he has taken, all of their lives would have been different.

Commonwealth is a fascinating story of dysfunctional families that carries the reader from the 1960s to the present. We don’t follow the characters in a linear style, but move back and forth. Sometimes we are swept backward by a character’s memory that takes us there. And sometimes we are catapulted back by events.

I was especially drawn to Fix Keating and his daughters, Caroline and Franny. But as we move along this circuitous pathway to follow each of their journeys, we see how the non-linear style works for the story. More information is yielded with each backward turn. And suddenly we are seeing some of the characters reconnect in unexpected ways as the story comes to its ending. And we are offered another glimpse into the Cousins family, a peek that we did not see before.

How does Franny’s young adult relationship with an author named Leon Posen change the trajectory of their lives…again? How has Caroline controlled the narrative of tragic events that brought sadness and loss to the families? Why does Albie, Bert’s youngest, seemingly drive the story in a new direction? In one Christmas that Franny spends with her mother Beverly and another of her husbands, with his grown children, she ponders the various connections by marriage. She maps out all the ways the future would unravel without the moorings of the past. The “what ifs” in their lives keep her mind spinning.

From LA to Virginia, with side journeys to Chicago and Manhattan, we see families with all their tarnished history, struggling to maintain broken bonds, even as time marches on, forcing them to face their mortality. Can they stay true to what connects them, even when they are in disarray? Will their core truths bring them peace? I loved this book, and the more I thought about it, and as I wandered along the strange pathways with the characters, I knew that I would be thinking of it for a long time. 5 stars.

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Does the tale of the unwanted third child, Muriel Sullivant, begin on a cozy Sunday in her New York studio apartment, as she prepares to luxuriate in her favorite day of the week? She is grown by then, and enjoying the independence of the life she has chosen.

Or does it begin many years before, when her two parents, Owen and Lidia, met in Pawtucket, Rhode Island? That beginning would set the stage for a family of secrets and lies.

Muriel had always known that she was the unwanted child. Pia, her gorgeous sister, was the oldest and eight years her senior. Next came Logan, the son for her father. One child for Owen and one for Lidia. Then there was chubby Muriel, the outsider, who doesn’t fit in. She can sense her mother’s disapproval of her in every facial expression; her sister’s feelings show when she treats her like a nuisance.

Two Sisters: A Novel is a sad and emotional tale of all the things that go wrong in a family when the two parents feel trapped and disappointed with the lives they’re living. How does the third child survive the emotional abandonment?

I enjoyed the depth of the characters. Muriel’s sense of humor came from a place of pain, but revealed the strength of the survivor. Pia’s superficiality was altered as she came to Muriel with a big secret: a tragic event that would change all of their lives. And finally, in New Mexico, we meet Logan again, as the last of the secrets and lies are revealed.

In the opening scenes of the story, the flashbacks and fast forwards sometimes came too quickly, jolting me a bit. But then I began to settle into the flow of it.

There was a sweet feeling of new beginnings at the end. Not in an unrealistic way, but in the manner of baby steps and slow progress. There was a glimpse of hope. Recommended for those who relish family stories that are replete with secrets, especially when they are revealed slowly. Four stars.