Blog Tour Review: The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White

The Night the Lights Went Out
Author: Karen White
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Goodreads

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Flight Patterns comes a stunning new novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems….

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.

Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather’s world.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women….

MY REVIEW:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Every time I pick up a book by Karen White, I’m impressed. It’s like I forget what an amazing writer she is and how well she weaves a story. Those are just a couple of the reasons she is one of my all time favorite authors and on my auto-buy list.

The Night the Lights Went Out completely captivated me. In the beginning, it was the writing that did it. The southern setting of  Sweet Apple Georgia was beautifully described. I could hear the characters’ Southern accents as I read the book. Not too long after beginning, it was the plot that kept my attention. The four points of view that delivered it were very engaging.

First, there was Merliee. She was a recent divorcée trying to navigate her new world. She had recently moved into a rental house on Sugar Prescott’s land, and her children were attending a new private school. Merliee was trying to develop new friendships with other parents and Sugar. Trying to fit in was stressful for her. I found it very easy to relate to. Making friends in your adult years is really hard.

The second and third point of views were both Sugar’s. One was her current 90-something-year-old current day voice. Sugar was crotchety and stubborn, but a great person underneath her rough exterior. She saw people for who they really were. The old lady made me smile a lot. Sugar’s second perspective was told through stories of her past. Bit by bit, she unfolded the mystery of her life. I loved learning how Sugar become the strong, outspoken woman she was today from her history.

The fourth and final perspective was an anonymous blogger. The blogger claimed to have all the insight into what was happening in Sweet Apple. The blog gave insight into not just local business and construction happenings, but also social gossip. What showed up on the blog was scandalous.

All four perspectives wove into a couple of different fascinating mysteries. The first, I mentioned above about Sugar’s past. The second involves things that begin happening after Merilee makes some new friendships with parents from her children’s school. The mysteries weren’t too hard to figure out. I may have guessed some major plot twists early on, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying the book. It actually made the revelations all that more fun.

The Night the Lights Went Out was truly a great women’s fiction/mystery read. I enjoyed every minute I spent with it. I highly recommend reading it to anyone who enjoys great mysteries in a Southern setting.

excerpt:

A cluster of moms stood in the parking lot surrounded by high-end SUVs following first day drop-off at Windwood Academy.  The women appeared to be listening with rapt attention to the tall blond woman in the center of their semi-circle, her hair arranged perfectly beneath her white tennis visor, her long and lean limbs brown and glowy.  Merilee noticed this last part only because her ex-mother-in-law had given her a bottle of glowy lotion for her last birthday and Lily had told her it made her look sparkly like Katy Perry in one of her videos.  Merilee had thrown out the remainder of the bottle, realizing she wasn’t the type anymore to look glowy much less sparkly.

But the blonde definitely was.  Her whole body glowed.  Her face glowed.  Even the hair visible beneath the visor appeared to be lit from within.  The woman looked vaguely familiar, and Merilee realized she’d probably been one of the mothers she’d met at the open house the previous week.  She’d only been to the one let’s-get-acquainted event, her work schedule precluding any of the various parties that were held almost exclusively on weekdays when she worked.

Merilee was terrible with names, had been ever since she started dating Michael.  He was so good at it, always reminding her who everyone was when they were at a party, that she’d simply stopped trying.  She hoped she was only out of practice instead of permanently disabled.  Her children’s futures probably depended on it since Michael wouldn’t be there to make sure Merilee remembered the names of Lily’s friends who were or were not speaking to each other.  And which of Colin’s teachers appreciated his dreamy attitude and those who didn’t.  It had always been a game with them—her recalling every detail about a friend or teacher, details always overlooked by Michael—and then he’d fill in the missing part—the name.  But now she had to do it all on her own.

She smiled vaguely in the direction of the blond woman and her entourage and had almost made it to her van when she heard her name being called.

“Merilee?  Merilee Dunlap?”

Great.  The woman not only remembered her first name, but her last as well.  Forcing a warm smile on her face, Merilee turned.  “Oh, hello.  It’s good to see you again.”

The other women parted like the Red Sea as the tall blond walked toward Merilee and she remembered that the woman had been wearing a Lily Pulitzer sundress and two-carat diamond stud earrings when they’d met before.  But she didn’t remember her name.  “I thought that was you.  I looked for you in Mrs. Marshall’s homeroom.  I’m the room mother and wanted to welcome Lily myself.”

Merilee remembered the voice.  It was very Southern, heavily laced with dropped consonants and elongated vowels.  The most memorable part about it was that it sounded exactly like Merilee’s mother.

“We were running a bit late this morning.”  Feeling suddenly short and frumpy in her dark skirt and blazer, Merilee had the strong urge to explain.  “My son couldn’t find his new uniform shoes.  They somehow managed to find their way back into the box they came in and then got shoved so far under his bed that it took nearly twenty minutes to locate them.  And then Lily spilled her bowl of cereal and milk down the front of her skirt, and I had to quickly iron one of her other ones so she could wear it.”

The woman gave her a warm smile from behind dark Chanel sunglasses as if she knew exactly what it was like to be a frazzled single mother.  “Bless your heart.  And on the first day at a new school.  You’ll get used to the routine, I promise.  It took me a whole month to realize that I should have a skirt and blouse for every school day plus one, and have Patricia have them cleaned and ironed as soon as my girls dropped them on the floor.”

Not exactly sure how to reslake, Merilee picked out the first confusing part of the sentence.  “Patricia?”

“My house manager.  I couldn’t live without her.  You know how crazy busy it is with all of the kids’ schedules.”  She reached into her large handbag that was more briefcase than purse, with a designer’s logo sprouting over its surface like kudzu.  “I was going to stick this in the mail to you, but since you’re here I’ll give it to you now.  It’s a sign-up sheet for parties and field trips—it lists everything for the year.  Just let me know your availabilities and ask Lily to bring it in to school and give to Bailey as soon as you can.  Bailey is very responsible and will make sure it gets to me.”  The woman smiled, her teeth perfect.  “Only sign up for four—every mother wants to be at every single event, but then it just gets crowded—plus there won’t be room on the bus for the kids.”

“Only four…” Merilee took the list and looked at it, almost letting out an audible sigh when she saw the woman’s name at the top of the page, Heather Blackford, Class Mother, followed by three different phone numbers.  Now she remembered.  Heather had a daughter in Colin’s class, too, both girls’ names starting with ‘B’.

“Yes.  And if you could turn it back in tomorrow that would be terrific.  I’ll have Claire put it all in a spreadsheet and I’ll email it to all the mothers.  Please write neatly—Claire has a way of butchering your name if she can’t read it.”

“Claire?”

“My personal assistant.  She’s only part time but I would simply die of exhaustion without her.”

The ladies behind her all nodded in understanding.

“Yes, well, I’ll take a look at it and get it back to you tomorrow.”  Merilee was already wondering how she was going to approach her boss to ask him for more time off.  The divorce and move had already eaten up all of her vacation time, and although Max was kind and understanding, everyone had their limits.

“And don’t forget the ‘I survived my first week of fourth grade’ party at my lake house this Saturday.  I’ll be handing out disposable cameras to all the moms and dads to take pictures throughout the year at our various events—I like to do little photo albums for all the kids and the teachers at the end of the year.”  She beamed, like it was just a small thing.  “Oh, and I took the liberty of signing you up for a dessert because we’re overrun with vegetables and dip and pimiento cheese.  I figured you’d know how to make something sweet.”

“Oh…”  Merilee simply blinked her eyes for a moment, wondering if Heather had meant to be insulting.

“Because you’re from South Georgia.  You mentioned that when we met.  You said I had the same accent as your mother.”

Feeing oddly relieved, Merilee said, “Yes, of course.  Where did you say you were from?”

“Here and there—but mostly Georgia.  I can always tell a native Georgian.  Hard to hide it, isn’t it?  It’s almost like no matter how far you go in life, all you have to do is open your mouth and somebody knows exactly where you’re from.”

There was something in the way Heather said it that made Merilee pause.  “Yes, well, I’ll call my mother today and ask her what she might recommend.”

“Wonderful.”  Heather beamed.  She pointed a key fob toward a black Porsche SUV with vanity plates that read YERSERV, and the rear door slowly raised.  As the other mothers oohed and ahhed appropriately, Merilee stared into the trunk where fourteen metallic gift bags with blue or pink tissue paper expertly pleated at the tops were arranged in neat rows.

Heather moved toward the car.  “A little lagniappe—that’s Cajun for ‘a little extra’ to all of my Yankee friends—for the first day of school.  My treat.  I thought we could each give our children a bag at pickup today and then head over to Scoops for ice cream afterwards.  I’ve already reserved the party room at the back of the store.  Claire is picking up the helium balloons this morning and will have it all decorated in Windwood colors.”

“You are just too much,” one of the mothers said as the other women eagerly stepped toward the car and took a bag.

newly available in paperback:

Flight Patterns
by Karen White

FLIGHT PATTERNS tells the story of Georgia Chambers, a fine china expert who left her family years before and is forced to return home and repair the relationships she’s carefully avoided. To embrace her own life—mistakes and all—she will have to find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past and the secrets she was forced to keep.

about the author:

Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Tradd Street series, The Night the Lights Went OutFlight PatternsThe Sound of GlassA Long Time Gone, and The Time Between. She is the coauthor of The Forgotton Room with New York Times bestselling authors Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. She grew up in London but now lives with her husband and two children near Atlanta, Georgia.

 

 

Release Day Review: Girl in the Mirror by Elizabeth Reyes

Girl in the Mirror
Series: Looking Glass, #1

Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: March 10, 2017
Publisher: Elizabeth Reyes
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A girl without a past.

Margaret Hellman wakes in a hospital with no memory of the horrific accident that claimed the lives of her sister and their best friend.

After years of struggling to regain a fraction of her memories, Maggie is left with no choice but to accept her past is gone. Despite the tormenting void in her heart.

Then the triggers start.

Tiny indiscernible but profoundly emotional glimpses of her past. The day she meets him, at her sister’s graveside sets off the most explosive trigger to date. It’s so overwhelming Maggie’s convinced she’s supposed to remember—she needs to.

As the puzzling pieces of her past start to come together, it’s clear something’s amiss. But nothing can prepare her for the shocking reality of what really happened that fateful day seven years ago.

Girl in the Mirror is a psychological romantic suspense with a twist you’ll NEVER see coming!


I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Reyes’ writing since I stumbled across her Moreno Brothers series. I love her independent women, alpha males, and the little twists she adds to her romances. I’m not a big romantic suspense fan because they aren’t always as entertaining as I want them to be. I usually avoid them, but I knew if anyone could craft a good one it would be Elizabeth Reyes.

I have to admit I was thrown off a little by the writing style of Girl in the Mirror at first. It didn’t really have the same feel to it as Reyes’ prior novels. So much of the beginning of this book is told to the reader by Maggie, the first person narrator. There wasn’t a whole lot of character interaction. It made more sense to me as the story went on, it just threw me off a bit at first. Maggie’s story did pull my in from the beginning, though. I was caught up in the mystery of her situation.

As the book went on, I was enthralled with the story. There was more to Maggie’s past than the blurb hints at. I loved trying to figure out what was going on and who was involved. Some of the answers were easier to guess than the others. Plus, as the romance and drama began to appear, that Elizabeth Reyes feel that I was talking about finally makes an appearance.

Another thing that surprised me about The Girl in the Mirror was the way the book wrapped up. I wasn’t expecting to move so quickly into where Maggie was now. I would have loved to see the period that wasn’t included. I wanted more of the romance of the story!

Girl in the Mirror was a great romantic suspense novel. It had fun twists, amazing characters, and kept me guessing. I’m really hoping some of the characters that were introduced get a book of their own.

Review: The Feeling of Forever by Jamie Howard

The Feeling of Forever
Series: Unplugged Love, #2
Author: Jamie Howard
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Swerve
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Juliet St. Clair has spent her life under Hollywood’s spotlight. While being America’s favorite girl next door has had its perks, having to testify against her stalker to put him behind bars certainly wasn’t one of them. But when she thinks about walking away from it all, she can’t help remembering the enormous pile of medical bills her family is drowning under. Bills that just keep on coming.

Felix Donovan had it all–stunning good looks, gorgeous women, and a spot as the drummer to a band that’s sitting pretty at the top of the charts. Until one life-altering decision left him paralyzed from the waist down. He doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry when he wins this year’s Sexiest Man award, but the one thing he immediately does is send out a Non-disclosure agreement. Hiding his condition from the public is hard as hell, but he’s not ready to face the world while he’s still struggling to accept his new reality.

Except this year’s Sexiest Woman–Juliet St. Clair–never looks at him with pity, only desire. But falling for Juliet means a permanent spot in the tabloids, a decision Felix isn’t sure he’s ready to make. And when Juliet’s stalker re-emerges from her past, Felix’s secret isn’t the only thing at stake, it could cost Juliet her life.


I was super excited to be approved by NetGalley for The Feeling of Forever. I’ve never read a book by Jamie Howard before, but I’ve heard amazing things about her books and have wanted to read one. I’m so happy the opportunity came about with The Feeling of Forever. I absolutely loved this book!

Juliet and Felix’s relationship was adorable from the moment they met. I don’t think Jamie Howard could have come up with a better meet cute situation for a couple of celebrities. I adored everything about Juliet and Felix’s relationship from that very first moment they saw each other. Their thoughts about each other made me smile so much. As the story went on and their relationship strengthened, I fell in love with them even more. They were perfect for each other.

Juliet is one of my favorite female characters ever. She was such a good person. Her movie star status didn’t turn her into an entitled brat. Instead, she used her stardom for good. I loved the relationship she had with her family and how it made her see the world. I loved how it made her see Felix differently than other celebrity women might have. Even in her worst moments, Juliet put others first.

Felix could have been a frustrating character to read about, but Jamie Howard ensured that he wasn’t. His new path in life was tough and he hadn’t given up, but he wasn’t quite living to his full potential. Meeting Juliet changed his life in a good way. She gave him that little push he needed to get out of his own head.

All of the supporting characters in The Feeling of Forever were fun, too. I hadn’t read the first book in the series, but it didn’t really matter. The Feeling of Forever didn’t give away much from it. I was also still able to make connections with the characters that originated in that book. It was like reading a standalone novel, but it made me excited to go back and read All the Ways You Saved Me and any upcoming books in this series. I’m hoping there will be several more!

The only complaint I can see anyone making about this book was that it was a little predictable. That didn’t bother me. I had so much fun waiting for the story to unravel and reveal what I thought the outcome would be. There were still little surprises in store along the way.

New adult fans need to get their hands on this book when it comes out! I can’t rave enough about how much I enjoyed The Feeling of Forever. Jamie Howard has a new fan.

Review: Lila by Elizabeth Reyes

Lila
Series: Boyle Heights, #1
Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: January 26, 2017
Publisher: Elizabeth Reyes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

When two unlikely paths cross . . . compatibility seems improbable.

Adrift in a foul-mouthed world of ass kicking to survive life on the tough streets of Boyle Heights, Lila is anything but a refined girlie girl. Fighting tooth and nail for those she loves has left her with a chip on her shoulder as big as the gloves on her fists.

After years of being surrounded by glamorous glitzy women, Sonny didn’t even realize how much he’s yearned for someone of real substance. So, when he meets the unapologetic, sexy-as-hell Lila, her in-your-face candor awakens something in him he’s never felt before.

Despite Lila’s suspicions about Sonny’s intentions, the two begin a seemingly innocent, yet deliciously dangerous, online flirtation as his business keeps him away a lot.

The more their rapidly growing connection intensifies, the more Lila feels Sonny is too perfect to be true. But when she’s blindsided by the truth about who Sonny really is . . .

Compatibility suddenly feels impossible.

The first in my new series “Boyle Heights.” A spin-off of 5th Street. Will feature character crossings from other series’. Stay tuned to find out who Lila’s love interest will be. 😉


Elizabeth Reyes was one of the first new adult authors I fell in love with. Her stories are filled with a diverse group of characters who are all mentally tough and willing to fight for what they believe in. I always appreciate the little connections she weaves in between her series, and the incredibly alpha males she creates.

Lila is a sports romance with a little romantic suspense woven in. It’s told in dual points of view. Lila is a badass fighter just trying to get by. Sonny is the guy who sees past her tough exterior to the woman she really is. I have to warn readers, Lila and Sonny kind of have an insta-love thing going on. That didn’t bug me, though. Their relationship might appear a little rushed, but it felt natural. I can see a lot of relationships being formed the way Lila and Sonny’s was with technology being what it is these days.

Lila was one tough chick. I loved how fierce she was and how she stood up for those she cared about. Her determination was amazing. I also liked that she was the fighter in this one. What I loved even more about her was her ability to get a little soft when it came to Sonny. It made her seem like a real human with insecurities like the rest of us.

Sonny was a surprise. I won’t give away who he is or how he’s connected to Reyes’ other books, but fans of hers are going to freak when they figure out who he is! I did. It made me happy that Sonny finally got the girl. He was a lot sweeter than I remembered him, but maybe that’s because he found his perfect match in Lila.

Sonny isn’t the only character making an appearance from Reyes’ series. The entire cast of the 5th Street novels are involved in this story because Lila trains in their gym. It was fun to see some favorites again. I’m hoping more of her characters will continue to pop up in the Boyle Heights series.

The only thing that kept me from giving Lila 5 stars was the ending. Things got a little crazy, and it wasn’t what I was hoping for the story. I did like the character growth shown by Lila. I just didn’t like how she was able to prove herself. I also felt things were sped through at the end with Lila and Sonny. I didn’t feel their relationship got the focus it should have at the end. Instead, the time was spent on Lila’s sister Ali and setting up the next book — which I can tell is going to be suspenseful! I liked the little preview, but would have liked more Lila and Sonny time.

That being said, I still really enjoyed Lila. I loved that Elizabeth Reyes created a character like Lila, who was both physically and mentally tough, and also gave her a soft side. It showed off her talent as a writer. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s up next in the series.

Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

The Fifth Petal
Series: The Lace Reader, #2
Author: Brunonia Barry
Publication Date: January 24, 2016
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, investigates a 25-year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed one Halloween night. Aided by Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims who has returned to town, Rafferty begins to uncover a dark chapter in Salem’s past. Callie, who has always been gifted with premonitions, begins to struggle with visions she doesn’t quite understand and an attraction to a man who has unknown connections to her mother’s murder. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian and sometime-aunt to Callie, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?


Brunonia Barry is an author I fell in love with through a past book club. When I first picked up The Lace Reader, I wasn’t sure why a club member had chosen it. It didn’t seem like anything special, but it was. It was the first book I read with an unreliable narrator and it blew my mind. I went on to re-read it multiple times, and that’s not something I normally do. When I saw Barry was releasing a new book, I was excited. When I realized it was a second book in The Lace Reader world I was ecstatic. I was hoping to find the mystery of The Fifth Petal to be just as engrossing as the original novel.

The Fifth Petal wove past and present to create a brilliant mystery. Young Callie Cahill witnesses the brutal murders of her mother and her friends that is never solved. Years later, when a new death becomes linked to the past murders, she returns to Salem to help Police Chief John Rafferty search for the truth about the night her mother was killed.

I was drawn into The Fifth Petal during the Prologue. The mystery began immediately and I wanted to know the answers to all of the questions the characters had just as much as they did. I loved the way Brunonia Barry wove this tale and kept me guessing almost up until the end. She also did an amazing job creating imagery and describing the Salem area. I could picture the entire story vividly in my head.

Callie’s point of view was especially interesting to me. Her lack of memory from that original night and her special “powers” made for an unusual combination. The deeper the story got, the more Callie would remember. The more Callie remembered, the more exciting the story became. I loved the way she pieced everything together.

Rafferty’s police perspective on the mystery added a critical element to the story. It took the supernatural aspect of the story and gave it much-needed grounding in reality. I also loved watching him piece together the answers while wading through the past and present cases. I hate admitting this, but I wasn’t as keen on the way his past with Towner was used. I loved seeing them involved in the story, but at times it just felt like extra added stuff. That may be because it’s been a few years since I’ve read The Lace Reader, and my memory of their relationship isn’t as strong as when I first read it. I wasn’t as drawn to their relationship as I was to what Callie was going through.

While I truly enjoyed reading The Fifth Petal, I did find it to be a little bit long. I was invested in the story the entire time, but there were parts that felt dragged out. The story probably could have wrapped up a little quicker. I had already correctly guessed some of the answers to the mystery at about 75% in. I was just waiting for it all to be presented to me.

Overall, The Fifth Petal was a great mystery to unravel. It’s one fans of The Lace Reader will love and new readers will also enjoy.

Review: The Guests on South Battery by Karen White

30068929The Guests of South Battery
Series: Tradd Street, #5
Author: Karen White
Publication Date: January 10, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Mystery, Historical, Romance, Fiction
Note: I received an ARC from Berkley via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Karen White invites you to explore the brick-walked streets of Charleston, where historic mansions house the memories of years gone by, and restless spirits refuse to fade away…

With her extended maternity leave at its end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she’s awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for more than a year are about to invade her life once more.

But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell hers as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission.

Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can’t deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to show themselves to her again. One is shrouded from sight, but appears whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in Melanie’s backyard on Tradd Street.

Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried….


I was excited when I heard Karen White was going to be continuing her Tradd Street series. I was sure the fourth book, Return to Tradd Street, was going to be the end. That made me so sad because I loved every minute of this quirky series. Luckily, I was wrong!

The minute I began The Guests on South Battery, I was immediately sucked back into Melanie Middleton Trenholm’s world. It was fun to be back in her uptight mind, traversing around downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Despite getting married and having twins, Melanie hadn’t changed much. She still had her insecurities and anal-retentive compulsions. I enjoyed seeing how Jack, her husband, dealt with them. Their relationship was changing and progressing throughout the entire story and I loved that a lot.

I also loved how Karen White brought back all of my favorite characters from the entire series. She gave them each the perfect part in this story. There were also some great new characters introduced. They added some cool twists to the mystery of the story and brought a new depth to the recurring characters and their histories. I especially liked Jayne and her role in The Guests on South Battery.

My favorite thing about The Guests on South Battery, though; was the mystery of the story. I was fascinated by Jayne randomly inheriting the house on South Battery. I was dying to know why the previous owner chose her the entire time I was reading. I knew the ghosts inhabiting the house were somehow involved in the answer, but I never would have guessed why.

My only little issue with The Guests of South Battery was Melanie’s insecurity surrounding her post-baby life. She’s always been insecure, but there was denial she was going through that was a little odd. I didn’t like the way those around her acted about it. They were all controlling a part of her life and I didn’t really understand why. It was almost like I was missing a piece of their interactions or something. It didn’t make me dislike the book, but I just found it a bit…odd.

Once again, Karen White has written a beautifully crafted mystery. I truly loved reading The Ghosts on South Battery and being back in Charleston with the Middletons and the Trenholms. It was such a fun ghost story/romance/mystery. I especially loved the ending and how I felt that it left things open for the possibilities of more books in the series. I highly recommend the entire Tradd Street series to readers who like mysteries with a historical touch.

Review: Waking Olivia by Elizabeth O’Roark

29494152Waking Olivia
Author: Elizabeth O’Roark
Publication Date: March 12, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Note: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“That girl isn’t just trouble of the not-a-team-player, not-a-reliable-runner variety. She’s trouble of the devious, manipulative, too-f***ing-hot-for-her-own good variety. She’s the kind of girl who causes trouble merely by existing, and then makes sure to cause more.
And the last thing I need right now is more trouble.”

A failing farm.
His father’s debt.
And a struggling college track team.
Will Langstrom has too many responsibilities, and the last thing he needs is Olivia Finnegan, a beautiful but troubled new transfer student.

A smart mouth.
A strong right hook.
And a secret that could destroy her.
Olivia is her own worst enemy, with a past she can’t seem to escape, and the last person she wants help from is a cocky track coach she can never seem to please.
Refusing to be pushed away, Will is determined to save her.
And determined to resist an attraction that could destroy them both.


I was told by other bloggers that I would love this book. I knew it had to be a great new adult novel, but I had no idea what I was in store for. Waking Olivia was amazing! It left me  wondering why I haven’t heard of author Elizabeth O’Roark before?!?!

Elizabeth O’Roark’s writing was exceptional. The emotions in this book were so palpable and intense. I felt fear, loathing, anger, nervousness, sadness, happiness, love, hope. It was amazing and overwhelming at the same time. I felt like I was in the story! And the plot. It was so complex! Waking Olivia wasn’t just another romance. It had a darker, thriller side to it. It was so cool. I also have to throw in the fact that the running theme in this book actually worked. It’s very rare to find a book where running as part of the plot feels natural. It did here.

I loved the main characters in Waking Olivia. Neither of them was perfect, which made them feel all the more real. They were both so complex and compelling, especially Olivia. She was haunted by her past and could barely function in the present. She came across as a hard person, so getting to know what was deep inside her was rewarding. I had such hope for her. Will may not have initially been happy with his new trouble-making track star, but I loved the fire Olivia brought to his life. Being around her showed who he really was. He may have been the sexy track coach, but he was also a compassionate human being.

I’m not a big fan of student-teacher/coach relationship, so I was originally worried I wouldn’t enjoy the forbidden romance between Olivia and Will. I shouldn’t have worried, though. I loved Will and Olivia’s connection. The relationship between them and their situation didn’t have a truly forbidden feel. They were so close in age (even if Will seemed so much more mature) and it felt more like a workplace romance than a student-teacher one. I do have to admit that the secrecy of their relationship did set me on edge several times, but I loved Will and Olivia together. They completed each other in a very special way.

One of the things I loved most about Waking Olivia was the last few chapters. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the entire story. I was so addicted to it that if I could have forced myself to stay awake any longer, I would have read it in one sitting. But there was something so special about the ending. Where some authors would have ended the story, Elizabeth O’Roark continued it. She made it a true story of healing. I felt like I got a well thought out and possible conclusion for Olivia. I really loved that.

If you’re a new adult fan or just a romance fan in general, you really need to read Waking Olivia. It’s an awesome experience that you don’t want to miss. (You can find it as one of NetGalley’s Read Now books.)