THE WIDOW’S HOUSE by Carol Goodman


Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★★


This chilling novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of The Lake of Dead Languages blends the gothic allure of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca and the crazed undertones of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper with the twisty, contemporary edge of A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife—a harrowing tale of psychological suspense set in New York’s Hudson Valley.

When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess’s writing career.

They take a caretaker’s job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It’s been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare’s hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.

But their new life isn’t all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…


I enjoyed this Modern Gothic from Carol Goodman. It’s creepy and twisty, and it keeps you guessing as to what’s really going on.

The main characters are Jess and Clare Martin, who met in an “invitation only” writing class in college. Jess had one novel published in his early twenties, but that was years ago, and now they’re broke. The couple ends up back in their small college town as caretakers of their old writing professor’s crumbling estate. It seems like the perfect place to rekindle Jess’ writing career – possibly Clare’s too – but the house has a dark history, and its ghosts don’t want to keep quiet.

I liked the eerie atmosphere and uneasy feeling the story conveyed, and the mystery of the house’s tragic past was intriguing. Loved how it all wrapped up in the end! I was quite surprised at the outcome. I’m glad I spotted this one at the library and will definitely add Carol Goodman’s other books to my wishlist.

THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT by Karen White


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


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…


In THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT, Karen White intertwines the lives of two strong Southern women while telling a story of secrets, survival, starting over, and friendship. The star of this book is most definitely Miss Sugar Prescott. She’s a lifelong resident of Sweet Apple, Georgia, a place that may seem perfect on the surface, but what lies beneath is a different story.

Now in her mid-90s, Sugar is still tough, headstrong, and sharp as a tack. Sugar rents a cottage on her property to Merilee Dunlap, a recently divorced mom with two children in tow. Merilee’s life in Sweet Apple won’t be what she expected, but luckily she’s got Sugar on her side.

This book alternates between Sugar in the past (early 1930s) and Merilee’s ordeal in present day Sweet Apple. All around I just enjoyed Sugar’s story and character the best. Other parts I found a bit predictable and hard to believe, but overall it was an enjoyable read – nice blend of mystery, historical fiction, Southern drama, and a dash of romance. The ending was very exciting!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

GONE WITHOUT A TRACE by Mary Torjussen


Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★


A jaw-dropping novel of psychological suspense that asks, If the love of your life disappeared without a trace, how far would you go to find out why?

Hannah Monroe’s boyfriend, Matt, is gone. His belongings have disappeared from their house. Every call she ever made to him, every text she ever sent, every photo of him and any sign of him on social media have vanished. It’s as though their last four years together never happened.

As Hannah struggles to get through the next few days, with humiliation and recriminations whirring through her head, she knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to find him again and get answers. But as soon as her search starts, she realizes she is being led into a maze of madness and obsession. Step by suspenseful step, Hannah discovers her only way out is to come face to face with the shocking truth…


Hannah’s live-in boyfriend, Matt, has suddenly vanished without a trace. Not just his person, but all physical and digital proof of him and their four-year relationship have disappeared. How is that possible? It’s enough to drive anyone mad.

I was so intrigued by the premise of this book. How could someone erase his existence like that? I was hooked right away, and the author did a great job pulling the reader into Hannah’s crazy obsession over finding Matt. There came a point, though, that I’d had enough with the minute details of her search and wanted something big to happen.

At about the three-quarters mark, things get pretty exciting and plot twists are revealed. One I expected, but the others were surprising, including something that’s not addressed very often. I guess I’m left with mixed feelings about the outcome. It’s hard to talk about without revealing spoilers, so I’ll just say that I was all around frustrated with Hannah. I enjoyed the big twists, though the last quarter of the book felt a bit disjointed from the rest. OMG, the last sentence! I guess there’s a lesson there.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.