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The Whole Golden World (2013)

TJ Hill has just been promoted to teaching a calculus class at his school. His wife Rain, a yoga instructor, is on a mission to get pregnant but after two years of trying she is getting despondent. TJ is lost on how to bring back the woman she used to be. Morgan is tired of her mum Dinah and dad Joe depending on her to help her twin brothers who have a learning disability because of their premature birth. She certainly feels a lot older than her 17 years and is constantly helping out everyone else, leaving little time for herself. At school she is known as the assistant principal's daughter. Morgan starts staying after school in Mr Hill's calculus class to study and to collect her thoughts about how she is not happy with the school and dreams of leaving to Boston University where she has been accepted - a fact she hasn't told her parents yet. One day she and the teacher cross the line and start a torrid affair. But it seems it won't stay a secret for long ... This is another great read from Kristina Riggle, who has an uncanny way of making you really believe the story she is telling. (CG)

Keepsake (2012)

Sisters Trish and Mary have both been affected by their mother's hoarding but in drastically different ways. Trish is raising two boys by herself since her husband left when the items in their house started closing in around them. Mary, on the other hand, keeps her house in meticulous order, so much so that she anything out of place causes her major anxiety. When Trish's younger son, Jack, injures himself in the house and Child Protective Services arrives to investigate, she realises she needs to do something about the situation before she loses her children. Reluctantly, she agrees to get help from Mary, their judgmental father and her ex-husband in an attempt to preserve her family. In the process of getting to the bottom of the piles of stuff, the sisters uncover startling information about their mother and finally begin to understand that there is always more to something that what we allow the world to see. While Keepsake is a fascinating look into the issue of hoarding, it is more an example of things on the surface being far from what they appear. Touching yet somewhat predictable in spots, the story takes a closer look at the relationships between family members and how we learn to cope with the tragedies of life until we are effectively ready to deal with them. (LEK)

Second Opinion

Things We Didn't Say (2011)

Twenty-six-year-old Casey never thought she would be in a relationship with a man with a ready-made family. But she's living with her 35-year-old fiance Michael and his three children, Angel, Dylan and Jewel. Casey thought she could handle the complications that came with being the new woman in their lives. But there's animosity with Angel, particularly after she stumbles across Casey's diary. Then there's the crazy ex-wife Mallory, who had a drinking problem which ultimately led to the divorce. With so many secrets involving everyone, Casey has to make the decision when Dylan runs away, whether she should run away herself or stay and try to explain to Michael that the person he thought he loved was actually someone she created to escape her past mistakes. With a realistic view into life in a blended family, Riggle has a great way of showing how hard divorce is for everyone involved whether they were there from the beginning or just seeing the truth for the first time. (CG)

The Life You've Imagined (2010)

Anna Geneva, a successful Chicago attorney, ends up losing her mentor August in a freak accident. She returns to Haven to stay with her mother Maeve and regroup. Amid rumours that a colleague is about to steal her spot as partner, will Anna return to Chicago to get what is rightly hers or once she sees how badly her mum needs her will she stay with her? Maeve believes she is about to lose her Nee Nance convenience store and home because she can't pay the rent. She also starts receiving letters from her husband who left her 20 years ago without explanation. She knows that Anna would be furious if she knew she was writing her father but with everything going on can she resist to see if he can save her from this life he left her with. Anna's high school friend, Cami, has also returned to Haven due to a gambling addiction. Her boyfriend has kicked her out and she has to return to her father's home which is abusive to say the least. She returns to her job as a clerk at the Nee Nance Store. And then there is Amy who is about to get married to Peter, the man that is trying to take the store and redevelop it into an up-market store with loft apartments. With a really realistic storyline about four women facing a fork in the road, this is an enjoyable tale about love, loss and friendship. (CG)

Real Life & Liars (2009)

Mira and her husband, Max, are approaching their 35th wedding anniversary. Ten days before the party Mira is shocked to find out she has breast cancer but resolves not to enter treatment even though the doctor has told her she has options. Now she must tell her three adult children about her disease and her decision. Her three kids arrive on the scene with issues of their own - her oldest, Katya, thinks her husband is having an affair and struggles with trying to keep everything perfect. Her son, Ivan, is pursuing a music career and keeps falling in love with the wrong women. The youngest, Irina, has grown up battling everyone, thinking she was a mistake for her parents. When Irina finds out she is pregnant, she struggles with what options she has with her new husband who she has only just met and married. A great tale of the behind-the-scenes dynamics of families and how they react in stressful situations. (CG)

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