When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, an adoring husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous, wealthy, and cherished by those who knew her—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, and maybe even themselves.

A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question Who killed Nancy?

They met at university, and for years, as their lives intersected, they were more closely entwined than siblings. Imperfect Women could have been an apt description of who they were and who they became, as their bonds seemed to unravel over the years, until finally, one of them would permanently alter the course of their lives.

Their stories alternated, but not in the usual way. Three sections were devoted separately to each of the women: Eleanor, Nancy, and Mary, in turn, would offer varying perspectives until we finally have the answers to the quandary of who murdered Nancy.

A dark story that reminds us that we “do have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and to feel precious despite our failings. Because that’s how you learn there is no such thing as perfect.” A thoughtful journey that earned 4.5 stars.




Molly and Liza have always been enviably close. Even after Molly married Daniel, the couple considered Liza an honorary family member. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit―in the friendship and the marriage.

When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat after the kids are in bed. But then Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child.

What Liza sees next will change everything.

Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side―but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw.

Or is there?

In disbelief that their friendship could really be over, Liza is unaware she’s about to have a near miss of her own.

And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either.

But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.

My Thoughts: The twists and turns of Forget You Know Me kept me fully engaged throughout, although it would take a while to sort out events. To figure out what, if anything, was left of the relationships between friends and between husband and wife.

Alternating narratives take us through the story, and I couldn’t help but be more drawn to Liza and her situation. Her friend Molly, who had done something truly confusing on the strange night of the video chat, seemed flaky and a little unreliable. What was really going on with her, and would she confess to her old friend, or even her husband, about what was happening?

Many events felt a little too unbelievable, but I did keep reading, because I was curious and wanted to know the meaning of it all. There were explanations by the characters at the end, leaving me with some hope for them all. 4 stars.

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



I want to rewind the clock, take back the night when the world shattered. I want to erase everything that went wrong.

Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers—trusting and depending on each other through some of the darkest periods of their young lives. And while Amber has always felt that their relationship is strictly platonic, Tyler has long harbored the secret desire that they might one day become more than friends.

Returning home for the summer after her college graduation, Amber begins spending more time with Tyler than she has in years. Despite the fact that Amber is engaged to her college sweetheart, a flirtation begins to grow between them. One night, fueled by alcohol and concerns about whether she’s getting married too young, Amber kisses Tyler.

What happens next will change them forever.

My Thoughts: It Happens All the Time, narrated alternately by Amber and Tyler, leads us to the pivotal moments that will change everything.

The story begins with Tyler and Amber in a car, with Amber in control. She has a mission. One that she hopes will erase the effects of that disastrous night.

Then we move back in time, and from then on, we see their lives and their friendship unfold. From each perspective, we come to understand how each of them feels, and what their differences are, despite the deep friendship.

Amber’s history, with anorexia and anxiety disorders, offers a peek into how she sees the world. She views the friendship with Tyler as an important one. He is like the big brother she never had.

Tyler, whose father is emotionally and verbally abusive, suffers from anxieties that interfere with his daily life, including his work. To him, Amber looks like the one person who can make him whole again.

When Amber and Tyler develop a special closeness that summer after college, they each are flirting with each other, but with different goals in mind.

The drunken night changed everything. Amber felt betrayed by Tyler’s actions, but Tyler felt as if he was finally getting the closeness with Amber that he had always desired.

How will they resolve their differences? Will they heal? A story that kept me turning pages and in a quandary about their dilemma. 5 stars.

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






Emma Shay Compton was blindsided by her husband’s fraudulent Ponzi scheme, his crooked ways that had upended their wealthy, upscale Manhattan lives.

Emma cooperated with the authorities, maintaining her ignorance of her husband’s actions, but the agents did not quite believe her. In the end, she refused any kind of settlement from the government once they had concluded their investigation. Then when Richard killed himself in their apartment, just before he was due for imprisonment, Emma knew that it would never be over.

Left with nothing but the few thousand dollars she brought into the marriage, Emma headed back to Sonoma County, where she grew up, and where her best friend Lyle and his partner Ethan ran a floral shop.

But going home also will resurrect old pain. The losses of her teenage years, like her father’s death; the loss of her best friend Riley, who hooked up with her boyfriend Jock, while she was away at college; and the final piece of sadness: Riley had gotten pregnant with Jock, too. Now, years later, she has a teenage daughter, Maddie.

The Life She Wants pulled me in from the very beginning, and I loved the characters, several of whom alternately narrated the story. Will Riley and Emma patch up their friendship? What will happen with Adam, Riley’s brother, who has carried the torch for Emma all these years? And will Emma find a home at last?

I loved watching the characters and rooted for them to find their way to healing. A feel-good story that brought tears of joy in the end.







Two couples now living in Portland, Maine, plan a trip together, destination Siracusa, in Sicily, but the odd history between them all foreshadows catastrophe ahead.

Lizzie, a journalist who grew up in Berkeley, has chosen the destination in honor of her now deceased father. She has memories of stories he told about the charming town, which others see as decrepit and decomposing.

Her husband Michael, a Pulitzer prize-winner struggling with a novel, is hoping to find what he needs to finish the book. He has a larger-than-life personality, and basks in the glow of others as he tells his tales. He is a “serial fabricator.”

Taylor and her husband Finn seem completely unsuited for each other. Finn still lusts for Lizzie, with whom he once had an affair, and Taylor is wrapped up in a very strange symbiotic relationship with her ten-year-old daughter Snow, who accompanies them on the trip.

Snow…what a strange child, and somehow, she ends up as the centerpiece for the darkness ahead. Her mother believes she is just shy, but brilliant. Others see her as charming, but Lizzie intuits the darkness in her. What unfortunate events will have them pondering the hidden depths of this child? Why is she so drawn to Michael, and will the “crush” she has on him lead to tragedy?

Meanwhile, an interloper arrives in the form of Michael’s latest conquest. What will her presence add and subtract from the vacation?

Siracusa was a tale of unraveling relationships, darkness, and the lies we tell to keep others interested. I enjoyed the multiple narrators that fleshed out the characters and the story, although I rooted for none of them, except possibly Lizzie. Flawed and somewhat jaded, they remind me of people I’ve known, so I couldn’t stop reading this book which earned:

cropped again 5





The three of them had met at the Philadelphia Friends School years before, and their friendship bonds had cemented during the summers spent at the Avalon Beach house. They were very different from one another, yet their connections came from a common bond developed in the school: Katherine (Kate) Harrington, whose twin brother Colin often joined them; Vanessa Dale, whose hippie parents were a constant reminder of how different her life was from her friends’ lives; and Dani Lowenstein, whose father owned the house on Avalon Beach and provided the backdrop to the fabulous summers.

Now, years later, they come together for one more summer, hoping to heal from the secrets of the past and a tragic event that left them all reeling, and the problems in their present. Kate’s fiancé Peter has just broken up with her only weeks before their wedding; Vanessa is still reeling from her husband Drew’s betrayal with another woman; and Dani is suffering from her own guilt and unable to maintain any kind of life out in San Francisco.

Will their secrets break them apart, or will they find enough strength in their friendship to help them heal? All the Summer Girls: A Novel (P.S.) is alternately narrated by the three friends, and the reader can jog along with them as they agonize over the past and try to carve out a future.

An enjoyable and somewhat predictable read, it was also very satisfying and the perfect ending to a summer. 4.0 stars.





Like a final curtain call, the women whose lives revolved around the renovation of the old villa at Ten Beach Road have gathered once again for a final event: Christmas at the Beach (Novella) (Ten Beach Road Novella). The house has sold, and they have been granted one final celebration at Bella Flora.

Narrated in Kyra’s voice, we watch from her perspective as the group assembles: Nicole, Maddie, Avery, and Deirdre. And, as always, the paparrazi are flocking them, spotlighting their final goodbye, even as they each recall all that went into the renovation.

But some surprises are awaiting them. Kyra is stunned to learn who the anonymous buyer is…and something else shocks her. Something that changes her life as she knew it.

They are all poised to learn where they will next appear for another renovation for their reality show, Do Over. And that journey will be revealed in the new book coming in the spring: The House on Mermaid Point.


Welcome to our last Sunday Salon in November.

As we start our count-down to Christmas, we are also very much aware of the end of the year.  For bookish types, that means a number of things:  final books read count; challenges completed; thinking ahead to new challenges and new goals.

What are some of your Year End Activities and thoughts?

I’ve been noticing some bloggers who are hosting challenges for 2013, and while every year I promise not to sign up for too many, I couldn’t seem to curb the impulse to sign up for a couple already that sound good to me.

First, Cruisin’ Through the Cozies, hosted by Socrates Book Review Blogs.

Then I seemed compelled to add the Women’s Murder Club Challenge.  Hosted by Darlene’s Book Nook.

I have read a couple of those books already, but I’d like to read more.

On the Blogs:






And here’s a snapshot from my SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST.

Reading:  (Click Titles/Covers for Reviews)

1.  Firefly Summer, by Maeve Binchy (A 645 pager from my TBR Mountain)

2.  Amazing Grace, by Danielle Steel (Also from Mt. TBR)

3.  Slightly Cracked (e-book), by Susan Whitfield

And I’m currently reading For Keeps (e-book), by Aaron Paul Lazar.  There is a murder, a magical green marble, and secrets….

What are your Sunday plans?  Later I’m having a reunion lunch with colleagues I haven’t seen in awhile, in town for the holidays.  What a foodie week this has been!


Sweeping across the decades, from 1941 to 1964, this saga of friendship, family, war, and social issues takes the reader along for the life-changing events that mark this period of time in history.

Told through the voices of three women whose lives were impacted, the reader comes to understand and know Babe, Millie, and Grace, as well as the men they marry. Some chapters revealed the home front with the women working and waiting for letters. Following the returns of some of the soldiers, and the non-returns of others, the visible absence of those who died becomes a monument to the ravages of war. While with others, the impact is visible most in what the war has wrought on the psyche.

Through the march of time, Babe and Millie’s lives change, while Grace seems frozen in time. The friendship between the three women does not lend itself to sharing thoughts and feelings. It is exemplified mostly by the facades that stay seemingly locked in place and the routines that characterize their social activities. Though as time passes and conventions yield to societal changes, a few cracks show up in the armor they wear.

Reading Next to Love: A Novel felt like a panorama of my own life and the experiences I lived, although from a different vantage point. These characters were adults during WWII, while I was an infant.

Near the end, this passage shows a conversation between Babe and her husband Claude, as they look at two of the grown children:

” `Were we ever that young?’ she asks.

” `Before the war.’

“The soreness in his voice takes her back.

After the war, they wrote and promised and prayed.  After the war we’ll do this or that or another thing. After the war we’ll be together. After the war we’ll be happy. After the war we’ll be safe. In all their dreaming of after the war, they never dreamed there is no after to war.”

These passages sum up the general feeling in this moving portrait of a world forever changed by wars. Five stars.


From the very first pages of this book, I recognized and applauded the connections that were forming.

College marks the pivotal moments in a young woman’s life. The friendships developed there can inform all future connections. Yet sometimes the future holds no friendships that can match up in any significant way.

So reading about Celia, Bree, Sally, and April was fun, emotional, and memorable.

In alternating chapters, we read about each woman’s perspective, from the university days to young adulthood. The defining moments of their lives are shared with each other, while at other times, small conflicts separate them. But despite life’s dramatic events, the connections that formed during their university years will sustain them.

To me, the characters felt real and true to the experiences of their lives. Each young woman was clearly drawn. I could almost hear their individual voices.

In the end, an unexpected revelation felt underwhelming. I would have liked to see more of the consequences of this particular event, especially considering the slow build-up that suggested another kind of outcome.

Therefore, four stars for a novel:Commencement by Courtney Sullivan(hardcover)(2009).