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Necessary Lies (2013)

This novel begins in 2011 in a bedroom where two names have been carved into the wall inside a wardrobe. There are no clues about who these names belong to and why we are in this setting but it all becomes clear over the course of the novel. We are then transported to a 1960s North Carolina tobacco farm where we meet Ivy, Mary Ella, their grandmother and Mary Ella's young son William. They are a poor family and only have a roof over their heads because they all work on the tobacco farm. Meanwhile Jane is a recently married woman who wants to have a career before settling down to have children with her husband. But he is against the idea of her working because he thinks she should be at home doing the housework and being a wife. However, Jane ignores his views and trains to become a social worker. One of Jane's families turns out to be that of Ivy's. She befriends the young teenage girl and tries to help their family through their days of poverty but soon Jane is thrown into a moral dilemma. Should she do what she's told by her boss or should she do what she feels is right? Should she keep a secret or will it come back to haunt her? These characters are incredibly strong and the descriptions of the tobacco farm were extremely tangible. Chamberlain always writes with such passion and it is clear that this book is no different. (LL)

Keeper of the Light (2011)

This is the first book in the Kiss River trilogy. While Olivia is working in ER, a gunshot victim comes in who unfortunately Olivia cannot save. The victim is called Annie and she is the woman her husband, Paul, has been having an affair with. With Paul unable to get over losing Annie, he and Olivia separate. Throughout the novel, Olivia finds herself stepping into the shoes of the wonderful Annie who everybody loved, even to the point of befriending Annie's bereaved husband and daughter. Olivia sets out to get her own husband back but along the way finds secrets from the past that could tear lives apart. The thought-provoking book is extremely well written and the reader empathises with Olivia. There are twists and turns throughout and while the book is not immediately gripping, it becomes so the more you read. (SG)

The Midwife's Confession (2011)

This is the story of Noelle who commits suicide and leaves behind a confession. When sorting through her things, her best friends, Tara and Emerson, find an unfinished letter. It reads "I don't know how to tell you what I did...". Noelle has helped a lot of women in birth but she is more than a midwife to a lot of people. She helped people nurse their baby and provided friendship and help. Tara and Emerson are both married and each have a daughter. They begin searching for answers to Noelle's suicide note. The more they search, the more it becomes apparent that their families are not what they seem. The book is very well written and keeps you guessing until the end. The reader will feel a lot of empathy for all the characters. I guessed the ending quite early on in the book but there were still shocks to come. (SG)

The Lies We Told (2010)

Sisters Maya and Rebecca Ward may seem alike but underneath it all they couldn't be more different. Witnesses to their parents' murders when they were teenagers, Maya has taken to leading a simple life with her husband, Adam, while Rebecca lives for the thrill and works with Doctors International Aid. When a catastrophic hurricane hits and Maya's helicopter crashes miles from civilisation - with no apparent survivors - Rebecca and Adam console each other on the loss of their beloved sister and wife. However, unbeknownst to them, Maya has survived and has been rescued by a couple of hillbillies who are strange (rather creepy actually) but nice enough to rescue her from certain death. Suspenseful and very well written, this is a novel that will keep readers on the edge of their seat right until the end. (AS)

Secrets She Left Behind (2009)

In this sequel to Before the Storm, Andy's sister Maggie has returned to the village. Each chapter of this book is either narrated by single mother Sara, her son Keith, Maggie or Andy therefore there are several different stories running throughout the book although all four characters are drawn together in one way or another. It is quite a lengthy read (around 500 pages) but hard to put down. There are many twists and turns and the gripping story leaves the reader eager for answers. (SG)

Before the Storm (2008)

Andy is a 15-year-old boy who suffers from Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. His mother, Laurel, has already lost enough time with her son when she neglected him at an early age, so she is spending the rest of her life making up for this and can be deemed as an over-protective parent. Eventually Andy manages to persuade Laurel to let him attend a sleepover at the local church. The church catches fire and Andy manages to save the lives of many children. But suspicions are cast as to whether Andy is a hero or arsonist. Laurel must battle the authorities who are accusing her son and also question herself as to how well she actually knows her son. The book is told from different perspectives. The author delivers a huge twist at the end of the novel. (SG)

Brass Ring (1994)

Brass Ring is about a woman's struggle to uncover horrid memories of her childhood and focuses on the story of two estranged sisters. Claire is married to her childhood sweetheart John, who is wheelchair bound. One day when travelling home from a friend's house, in a snow storm, they see a woman about to throw herself off a bridge. Claire makes John stop the car and goes over to the woman and tries to talk her out of committing suicide. But the woman jumps. For days Claire cannot get her out of her mind. She finds the woman's brother, Randy, and a friendship develops between them. The more time that Claire spends with Randy she finds herself having flashbacks of objects from what Claire thinks is from her childhood. Claire tells Randy about how her sister, Vanessa, was taken by her father when they were younger and she has not seen her in a long time. She tries to uncover the memories with Randy, which does not go down well with John. Meanwhile Claire writes to Vanessa but her sister refuses to read the letters. Will she help her sister uncover her past? Overall I found this book very enjoyable. What actually happened to Claire was easy to predict from early on in the book. It would have been nice to read more about John and Claire's life together but all in all the author delivers a good book. I would recommend this to any fans of Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah. (SG)

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