On the outskirts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks sits the Paradise, an apartment complex where renters never stay long enough to call the place “home”—and neighbors are seldom neighborly. It’s ideal for Sara Lennox, who moved there to escape a complicated past—and even her name—and rebuild a new life for herself under the radar. But Sara cannot help but notice the family next door, especially twelve-year-old Cassie and five-year-old Boon. She hears rumors and whispers of a recent tragedy slowly tearing them apart.

When a raging storm threatens then slams the coastal community, Sara makes a quick, bold decision: Rescue Cassie and Boon from the storm and their broken home—without telling a soul. But this seemingly noble act is not without consequences. Some lethal.

My Thoughts: The characters we meet in The Liar’s Child seemingly have no connection to one another, beginning with Hank, the retired cop who is a watcher. He fancies himself a protector, having suffered unimaginable losses.

Cassie, a preteen girl living in a dreary apartment, protects herself with defiance, dark clothes, and heavy makeup. She acts as if her little brother Boon is an annoyance, but she is his fierce guardian. The two of them know early on that they can’t really trust people.

Whit, father to the kids, has a dark secret. But he is trying to hold everything together for his kids.

Then there is Sara…or whoever she really is. She is in a witness program, but she is marking the days until she can escape the FBI scrutiny. We learn through her internal monologues that lying is a big part of her persona, and she is good at it. But it’s a lonely life.

So…when the hurricane strikes and she puts her own destiny at risk to rescue Cassie and Boon, she learns that sometimes even liars can find their inner nurturer.

I loved watching them all struggle: Sara, Cassie, Boon, Whit, and even Hank. At the end, the story jumped ahead in time, and we caught a glimpse of a promising future. 5 stars.




When Caroline and Francis receive an offer to house swap–from their city apartment to a house in a leafy, upscale London suburb–they jump at the chance for a week away from home, their son, and the tensions that have pushed their marriage to the brink.

As the couple settles in, the old problems that permeate their marriage–his unhealthy behaviors, her indiscretions–start bubbling to the surface. But while they attempt to mend their relationship, their neighbor, an intense young woman, is showing a little too much interest in their activities.

Meanwhile, Caroline slowly begins to uncover some signs of life in the stark house–signs of her life. The flowers in the bathroom or the music might seem innocent to anyone else–but to her they are clues. It seems the person they have swapped with is someone who knows her, someone who knows the secrets she’s desperate to forget. . . .


My Thoughts: From the very beginning of The House Swap, the reader knows that nothing good can come of this strange exchange of houses.

Who owns the house in which Caroline and Francis are staying? What motivated the swap, and why does Caroline not immediately suspect that something strange and obsessive is happening?

A weird and intrusive girl next door adds to the creepiness.

The book is mostly narrated by Caroline, and flashes back to the past and forward to the present. We learn about the issues in the marriage…and I had to ask myself over and over why the two are even trying.

But as Caroline starts receiving messages that suggest a mysterious presence in her home, our senses are heightened. But then the messages Caroline is receiving start to make sense, and a dark secret from the past is revealed.

The story unfolded slowly, and sometimes the pace was frustrating. But the story was worth hanging in for its shocking conclusion. 4.5 stars.





The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines, when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

My Thoughts: In Merit’s first person narrative, we follow the story in Without Merit. It is easy to empathize with her pain, as she is up front about how she feels in her family. Excluded, ignored, and blamed for everything that goes wrong.

When she meets Sagan in an antique store, he kisses her, mistaking her for her identical twin Honor; after he realizes his error and backs away, her feelings of self-worth plummet. Over the next couple of weeks, she shuts herself off from everyone while she clings to some mistaken thoughts and feelings about the relationship between Sagan and Honor.

Seeing events from Merit’s point of view, it was easy to hate on Honor, her brother Utah, and even the newest house guest, Luck, who turned out to be stepmother Victoria’s half-brother. Just when I thought I couldn’t hate the rest of her family more, a near tragic event forced a turnaround, and they all began to share their feelings with one another. After a lot of in-fighting and anger in the process, big secrets came out, including what none of them knew about their agoraphobic mother who has been living in the basement.

Can a family as dysfunctional as the Voss tribe discover new ways to relate to one another? Can Merit realize that the family will not be better off without her?

The story held its share of melodrama, but since the characters were mostly teenagers, their reactions to events were probably on target. I loved the story in the beginning, and then I started to find all the characters annoying. The positive feelings took a dive when the family did an abrupt about face, which seemed a bit unrealistic. I do like stories with hopeful endings, however, so this one earned 4 stars.



From the author of the award-winning and word-of-mouth sensation Our Endless Numbered Days comes an exhilarating literary mystery that will keep readers guessing until the final page.

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.  

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage. 

My Thoughts: The alternating narratives in Swimming Lessons truly captivated me. One narrator was Ingrid, wife and mother, who has written a plethora of letters to her husband Gil, whom she addresses as “you” in these missives. She is finally having a conversation with him, one which he cannot ignore or dismiss. She is venting about their troubled marriage and the ways in which her life was a disappointment. There are, however, some brighter moments in her letters…mostly about their lives before she had to give up her dreams. Her dreams of an education and her own writing career. The education which she was unable to complete because of the university’s rules regarding married/pregnant students.

Ingrid’s letters were written in 1992, just before she seemingly drowned (or disappeared). She speaks mostly of their lives in the 1970s…but also touches on the later years.

Third person narrators included Gil and Flora. We see Nan from Flora’s perspective, and I didn’t like her very much, probably because she tends to dismiss Flora’s thoughts and ideas, and treats her like a young child. Nan apparently took on the mother’s role after she was gone. Later on, we see a kinder version of her.

Gil seemed like a very selfish man, but since his present day situation shows him troubled and ill, I did feel some sympathy for him.

I loved the descriptions of the book lined rooms and hallways. Stacks of books, sometimes two or three deep, surrounded them all. The fact that Ingrid’s letters were placed in the books in a somewhat planned fashion added to the intrigue of the story.

Would Gil find the letters? Would he finally understand what his wife had been trying to say all those years? Would there be answers to their questions? What stunning events happened to bring the story to a riveting conclusion? And who is the mysterious woman who keeps showing up in Hadleigh? A 5 star read.







Jeanie Randall believed she had finally found her happily-ever-after with Matthew King. Handsome, wealthy, and with a big, albeit creepy fairytale house, he might actually be her white knight.

The downside? He had teenage twins, Scarlett and Luke. Jeanie had her own teenager, Frank, but he was already away at school, only occasionally spending time with the newly created family.

Hoping to blend the families successfully, Jeanie does everything in her power to make everyone happy, but things start going awry almost immediately. Some secrets from her past, which she had been planning to share with her new husband, are spilled in the worst possible way. Who could have sent the damning e-mails to all the key individuals, from Matthew to her new employers?

Now I had my eye on pretty little Scarlett, the daddy’s girl, but Kaye was also an unlikeable ex-wife who could create furor wherever she went. Lots of screaming phone calls from her to Matthew frequently tore him away, leaving Jeanie alone…again. She could have had plenty of motive. And Scarlett spent much of the time scowling and barking at her new stepmother.

The Stepmother was not just a remake of the fairytales we all love, since it had lots of additional twists and turns that made me wonder who was behind the evil pranks that seemed geared toward driving Jeanie mad.

The novel was also a tale of sisters: Jeanie, the eldest, with little sis Marlena, the one who always leaned on big sister, but who now has her own life mapped out as a journalist. Their stories are alternately narrated, and we learn a lot about their own dysfunctional family. So the two of them are adept at families that are full of scars and old wounds, as well as secrets and lies.

I loved how we finally learn what has happened to Jeanie in the big old King house…and how she finally discovers a way to create her own happiness. 5 stars.






Kate Battista, at age 29, is definitely in a rut. How did she end up keeping house for her mad scientist of a father, Louis, and watching over her 15-year-old spoiled brat of a sister, Bunny? Her professional life is not much better, as she finds herself teaching preschoolers, and constantly offending their parents because of how she speaks straight from the hip.

She loves her gardening, however, and there is a certain amount of control in handling the household, since her father is inept. Except he does have strange rules of order for how food is served and which items belong on a grocery list.

His lab assistant, Pyotr, has a special problem, however, and just when Kate is wondering why her father is suddenly thrusting this young man in her face, mentioning how wonderful he is, over and over, she realizes finally what it’s all about. This thing he wants her to do for him. His assistant is vital to his research, and he is about to be deported. Could Kate do this tiny little favor for them? Marry him?

Vinegar Girl was aptly titled, with our Kate being one who doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She says what she thinks, never mind what anyone else expects from her. Like many eldest daughters in Anne Tyler’s novels, Kate is the one her father expects to do his bidding. To set aside her needs for his own selfish pursuits, which to him seem necessary. He believes he should come first in her eyes.

I could feel my emotions rising as the tale continued, as Kate tried to make a decision. In some ways, her actions were surprising, but then again, she was a practical character, so perhaps things happened exactly the way they should.

In the end, some obstacles almost derailed everything, and we see an angry side to the previously calm and polite Pyotr. I was almost afraid of where it would go next. But then, the sweet ending felt strangely right. As a supposed retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, Tyler’s unique spin on the characters and the story felt spot on. A five star read!




Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday event, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

Every week, we search out upcoming book releases…and then gather around the blogosphere, sharing our thoughts and blurbs. Today’s spotlight is shining on a book by an author I enjoy:  Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett, to be released on September 13, 2016.







Synopsis:  The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives.

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.


Does this book capture your attention?  Does it strike a chord?  I know that I am very eager to read it.






Set in Manhattan, sometime after the disastrous economic plunge, the adult Plumb children gather together for a lunch to try to sort through the losses of their trust, aptly called “The Nest.” And their agenda includes trying to find a way to persuade Leo to make things right.

Months ago, in another of his many reckless moves, Leo drunkenly crashed the car, seriously injuring his passenger, with whom he’d been having sex…and the repercussions were expensive. Unbeknownst to the others at the time, their mother Francie nearly drained the trust to pay off the family of the injured girl…and to cover Leo’s rehab.

They are all still stunned at what they see as their mother’s betrayal. After all, even though she is the executor of the trust, how could she so blatantly favor their older brother at their expense?

They were all waiting for the trust to pay out, some of them more desperate than others.

The Nest takes us through the historic events of their lives. Leo, as the oldest, is one of those charismatic characters who seems to gather people around him who are eager to help him, join him, and even look up to him. But his numerous bad choices over the years, and his apparent narcissistic focus, make him an unlikeable character and a sibling to abhor.

Bea, a writer whose early works are now a distant memory, is struggling to create something more…and works as an editor in the meantime, for a company called Paper Fibres. She still mourns the loss of her married lover Tucker…and that time in her life when everything seemed possible.

Jack and his partner Walker have a good life, but Walker is unaware of how Jack has borrowed against their vacation home, based on the expectation that the fund will pay out soon.

Melody, with twin daughters nearing college age, is also struggling, hoping for the money she had expected to come by her birthday, as per the terms of the trust. Her husband is trying to stifle her spending and talks about selling their home.

The twins, Louisa and Nora, are going through their own coming-of-age struggles, and I enjoyed seeing how their discoveries about themselves and life seemed so relevant against the backdrop of what was happening with the adults.

Then there is Stephanie, whose life is interconnected with the Plumbs in various ways. What will ultimately bring her life into sharp focus in unexpected ways, and despite the absence of Leo, be the final thread that joins her with the Plumbs?

The story weaves the past and the present together in such a way that I felt as though the characters were people I might meet. Even the supporting characters were fleshed out, enriching the tapestry that made each of their lives real. Moments of sadness, joy, and hope, in the past and in the future…moments that might escape them all unless Leo does the right thing, brought me into the midst of their dilemma, wanting to see how it would all unfold. Then the conclusion came, and although it was not what I thought it would be, it was truly satisfying. 5 stars.



After several sunny days, I woke up to rain today.  Just a bit, but enough to justify a Rainy Day Reading post.

Before I started writing here, though, I was visiting blogs and seeing books that are coming soon…and recalling that I didn’t do a Waiting on Wednesday post last night.  An oversight.  But I was engrossed in Netflix, watching movies and a show called Lie to Me.

On March 22, a book I’ve been curious about is going to be released.  The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, is a warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.





Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs’ joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the futures they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This one sounds like a hot mess of a family…the kind I can relate to!


I started reading The Shadow Year, by Hannah Richell, and even though it was engaging me, I needed something more…so I am also engrossed in Losing Me, by Sue Margolis….and I am now going back and forth, never bored!


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I must admit that Losing Me is ahead by a bit.  Something about the MC’s narrative voice that grabbed me.  Probably because she is an older character, faced with some of the issues we all face as we come to the end of our primary careers…and are struggling to decide what to do next.

I, personally, did not have that problem, as I already knew what I wanted to do in my next phase of life.  I had already started writing my first novel, Miles to Go, which I then placed on the back burner to write and publish An Accidental Life.









It wasn’t long until I discovered the world of blogging (in 2008)….and what happened next is an old story.  The first year, I didn’t do much, and then I discovered the blogging community. 

Even though I have six books out there now, all on Amazon, I am even more obsessed with the blogging world.  For a time, I had twenty sites, then eleven for quite a, I have SIX.  Much better.

My website:  Laurel-Rain Snow Creations, takes you into my books, my blogs, and what’s happening next.

Here is my Amazon Author’s Page.


So….as the rain falls, and as I curl up to read, I’ll be thinking of my blogging world, and how to connect next.    Below, check out my March calendar, open to all the possibilities.  It is my Ireland calendar, which I always have in my bedroom, along with photos from Ireland, snapped by my photographer son Craig.


My Ireland calendar


What do you love to do on a rainy day?  Come on by and share….






Paula Vauss is a tough Atlanta divorce lawyer, associated with big name attorneys of the blue blood variety.

She lives in a spacious loft with an amazing view, yet she enjoys getting down with the gritty people when she takes on pro bono clients.

She comes from a very different kind of life from the one she now lives. Daughter of Kai, a gypsy-like woman who told mystical stories and moved from boyfriend to boyfriend, as geographically mobile as any gypsy. Paula was born Kali, and some of the stories are about her.

But with those choices Kai made came some serious consequences. The kind that landed her in prison more than once, with the last incarceration resulting in Paula’s placement in foster care. There she learned how to be tough.

Paula and Kai were estranged after a betrayal, but Paula had been sending checks every month. Until one came back, “return to sender,” with a note, hinting that Kai is on her last journey. What will Paula learn about some of her mother’s best-kept secrets? How will some of these secrets come home to roost and change everything about the life she has created?

I loved The Opposite of Everyone, eagerly reading at every opportunity. My favorite characters included Birdwine, her investigator and sometime boyfriend. I also enjoyed the flashbacks to her foster care experiences. My own tenure as a social worker made the foster care stories resonate with me. Knowing the importance of family and biological connections was at the heart of our case practice, so I was intrigued with how Paula’s story ended. However, it was not an ending, per se, but a new beginning. 4.5 stars.