family secrets

Nov 19, 2017

Little Fires Everywhere is a spectacular title for Celeste Ng’s latest novel, as she carries that imagery throughout the story. Set mostly in Shaker Heights, Ohio, an affluent suburb of Cleveland during the mid-1990s, we meet the Richardson family (mother Elena and children Lexie, Trip, Moody, and Izzy) and the Warrens (Mia and her daughter Pearl). Artist Mia and Pearl have always lived a transient existence and have kept mostly to themselves. But when they settle in to Shaker Heights to stay, their lives intersect with the Richardsons' lives in unexpected and irreversible ways. I loved how

The Roanoke Girls

By Amy Engel
Rated by Helen H.
Jun 18, 2017

Lane is just fifteen when her mother commits suicide. She is sent from New York City to western Kansas to live with her grandparents. Even though she’s never met them, they claim to love and want her. As Lane adjusts to life away from the dysfunction of her mentally ill mother, her idealistic image of the farm blends with her mother’s version to form a reality she wants no part of.

But home and family are hard to root out, and when her cousin Allegra goes missing, Lane is dragged back into the dysfunction she thought she had escaped when she left Osage Flats ten years before.

There’s a

The Roanoke Girls

By Amy Engel
Rated by Diane H.
May 1, 2017

The Roanoke Girls is a disturbing, compelling read. While the “big, dark secret” is revealed early on, the story still draws the reader in. I had to find out what happened to the Roanoke girls, the sisters, aunts, cousins. They seemed to be such studies in contrast: darkness and fire, guilt and defiance, innocence and desire.

When Lane left Roanoke, the family home in rural Kansas, she never thought she would willingly return. Only one person could bring her back – her cousin Allegra, whose disappearance draws Lane back to a place she fled after learning her family’s dark secret.


The Thirteenth Tale

By Diane Setterfield
Rated by Emily D.
Feb 1, 2017

Wanna hear a ghost story? A fabulous tale about sisters, secrets, family, fire, death, and ghosts?

I'm not usually a fan of scary or horror stories, but The Thirteenth Tale is a mystery with many twists and turns that I find quite intriguing and just a little spooky. Follow biographer Margaret Lea as she discovers the true past of reclusive author Vida Winter. Piece together the hints and secrets as she reveals her extraordinary existence. Is Vida Winter who she says she is? Who set fire to the house? Is there really a ghost?

Notes: I listened to this book and the narration is very well

Eight Hundred Grapes

By Laura Dave
Rated by Rachel N.
Jul 22, 2016

Georgia Ford runs away from problems in her own life and goes straight to her place of comfort: home. Unfortunately for Georgia, with her parents heading in different directions, her brothers not on speaking terms, and the uncertain future of the family vineyard, life at home is not what she was expecting. Georgia finds that among all her family's issues, she is still unable to escape her own.

This novel is all about the complexity of life's interruptions and how they affect relationships. I was hooked by the end of the first chapter when I found out why people out for a drink were staring

The Book of Speculation

By Erika Swyler
Rated by Katie S.
Jul 20, 2016

What would you do if your house was falling into the ocean, you had just lost your job, and your long-lost sister appeared out of thin air from the circus? Well, if you are Simon, you would become entranced with an old, worn-out book that was mysteriously left on your doorstep. Convinced that his sister is doomed to die in a couple of weeks and that there is something off about his dead mother's relationship with his neighbor, he tries his hardest to follow the clues laid out in this book in order to save his family (past and present). But what lies in the book is an even more interesting

Black Rabbit Hall

By Eve Chase
Rated by Catherine G.
Apr 8, 2016

The mansion, Black Rabbit Hall, at times feels like the main character of this story. It's a second home for the Alton family in Cornwall, England in the 1960's. It's much loved but crumbling; an aging home with wings and turrets and windows that seem to watch you while you're outside. Set near the water with its own private cliffs and beaches, it also has a path that leads into the woods and seems purposely designed to get you lost.  

Two alternating stories reveal the secrets at Black Rabbit Hall. The first, Lorna and Jon, present day, are searching for a place to have their wedding

Black Rabbit Hall

By Eve Chase
Rated by Roxanne B.
Apr 2, 2016

Black Rabbit Hall is a debut novel by journalist Eve Chase. Londoners Lorna, a school teacher, and her fiancé, Jon, a carpenter, are in Cornwall looking at wedding venues. They arrive at Pencraw Hall (or Black Rabbit Hall as known to the locals). Although the manor house and grounds are in a state of disrepair, Lorna is entranced and seems to feel a kinship to it. The elderly owner, Mrs. Alton, is somewhat mysterious, and lends a gothic air to the story.  Lorna’s visit to Black Rabbit Hall turns into an extended visit on the pretense that she will help Mrs. Alton with promoting her estate as

Pretending to Dance

By Diane Chamberlain
Rated by Debbie F.
Jan 19, 2016

It turns out that Molly Arnett is a good liar. For years, Molly has told a lie that could destroy every bit of happiness she has with the man she adores. Pretending to Dance is a story told in two distinct time periods in Molly's life. The story starts in 2014, in San Diego, California, where Molly and her spouse, Aidan James, are meeting with their social worker in preparation for becoming adoptive parents. After losing their birth daughter, Molly had to have a hysterectomy, and that loss has led to an adoption process that for Molly is frightening. Molly herself had an adoptive mother and a

Jellicoe Road

By Melina Marchetta
Rated by Peggy H.
Apr 13, 2015

I know this is a somewhat older title with a copyright of 2006, but I missed it back then and every year since. Why? Why did I wait SO long to read it? And why can I only give it five stars? I want to give it ten on scale of one to five!

Taylor Markham lives at the Jellicoe boarding school in Australia. She was abandoned in a Seven Eleven on Jellicoe Road by her mother when she was 5. She never knew her father. Five minutes after her mother left, a woman named Hannah who lived by the Jellicoe school and sometimes took the students under her wing, came by and picked her up. Taylor and Hannah

We Were Liars

By e. lockhart
Rated by Peggy H.
Jul 16, 2014

I am generous with 4 star ratings, but I don't give out a lot of 5 stars; I reserve those for the most exceptional books. This was an exceptional book!
Cadence Sinclair is the oldest granddaughter in the wealthy Sinclair family. The grandfather owns a private island where the family gathers each summer. Four of the teenagers refer to themselves as The Liars and are especially close. Cadence is one of the Liars and the main character of this story. The summer Cadence turned 15, a tragedy occurred; she was found on the beach alone, in her underwear, nearly drowned with a head injury. She can't

Dec 29, 2011

As a child of the British Ambassador, the author of this book grew up in 1950s Prague. Today as an accomplished journalist, he returned to discover the truth about childhood memories that have haunted him all his life. In this non-fiction book, Laurence shares stories of his childhood in Prague and times long lost.

He wanted to discover the dark family secrets kept behind the Iron Curtain. What he really wanted to know was whether his father was truly a foreign diplomat, or a skillful spy.  His journalistic background and past connections helped him uncover stories about his parents and their