The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White – plus a US Giveaway of Flight Patterns

  • Title:  The Night the Lights Went Out
  • Author:  Karen White
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  April 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  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….  (publisher)

My take:  The Night the Lights Went Out is the story of two women: Merilee, a divorced mother of two young children, and Sugar, the ninety-three year old woman who rents a cottage on her land to Merilee.

Merilee is recently divorced and has moved to a different area of town so her children are enrolled in a new school – where she is quickly taken under the wing of the queen bee mom. Her new friend will do anything for her in the name of friendship – something Merilee isn’t used to but is grateful. Her life has been in a complete state of upheaval so she’s glad to have a friend.

Sugar comes off as aloof and cranky to most people but Merilee can see through that facade and doesn’t back down when Sugar gives her attitude. The two women form a friendship in spite of themselves. I enjoyed their relationship as it evolved as they discovered how much they had in common. And when things got tough they found they could rely on each other.

The Night the Lights Went Out is a story about love, revenge, and friendship. It’s about realizing who your real friends are and what that means. It made me think about my closest friends and how we would step up for each other – no questions asked. And everyone should be so fortunate to have a Sugar in their life.

Recommended to fans of Karen White and contemporary fiction.


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.


Note:  Flight Patterns, Karen White’s 2016 novel is now available in paperback (with a new cover). I linked the title to my review. 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.

The publisher has made available one copy of FLIGHT PATTERNS to a US reader.

US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Giveaway ends on May 3rd, 2017

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I See You by Clare Mackintosh

  • i-see-youTitle:  I See You
  • Author:  Clare Mackintosh
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  February 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…
 
It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her, a grainy photo along with a phone number and listing for a website called findtheone.com. 
 
Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including rape and murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…a discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. For now Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target. 
 
And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…  (publisher)

My take:  The description will tell you all you need to know before reading I See You. What I will say is that author Clare Mackintosh lulled me into a feeling of “is this going anywhere?” for a good part of the book. That’s not to say I was bored or uninterested. I enjoyed the unfolding of the story. I think she paced it slowly for a reason and then opened up a can of Whoa! in the last quarter of the book.

I agree with the Advance Praise below. It’s creepy and sinister. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t correctly guess who was behind the crime. I would love to read more about the investigation team in future books. Each detective seems to have a story that I’d be interested in knowing. Recommended to fans of the genre and Clare Mackintosh.



Advance praise for I SEE YOU:

A deliciously creepy tale of urban paranoia.”—Ruth Ware, author of The Woman in Cabin 10

Wonderfully sinister. Had me looking over my shoulder.”—Fiona Barton, author of The Widow

 “Mackintosh scripts a hair-raising ride all the scarier because its premise—that our predictable routines make us easy targets—is sadly so plausible.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[T]he steadily thickening paranoia will leave readers questioning their comfortable routines…a well-crafted blend of calculated malevolence, cunning plot twists, and redemption that will appeal to fans of Sophie Hannah, Ruth Rendell, and Ruth Ware.”Booklist, starred review

 Packed with suspense, twists, and turns[Mackintosh’s] meticulous detail to investigative accuracy and talent in weaving a thrilling tale set her work apart from others in the field.”Kirkus


 

The Echo of Twilight by Judith Kinghorn

  • the-echo-of-twilightTitle:  The Echo of Twilight
  • Author:  Judith Kinghorn
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  January 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description: From the acclaimed author of The Last Summer, a captivating and moving story of the unlikely relationship between a lady and her maid on the eve of World War I.
 
As I watched him—his long legs striding the narrow path through the heather, his golden hair catching the sun—I had a hideous feeling in the pit of my stomach. For it seemed as though he was already marching away from me.
 
In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences—and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer. 
 
But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress—a secret that will bind them together forever…  (publisher)

My take:  The Echo of Twilight is the story of two women whose lives are forever changed by circumstances beyond their control – most notably World War I. Pearl, a young woman, accepts the position of Ottoline’s lady’s maid. Raised by her spinster great-aunt, Pearl never knew her parents. When her great-aunt died she had no family left and went into service. When she was hired by Lady Ottoline she found a family of sorts – with a few of the staff and the Campbell family.

The Campbells are an interesting family. The two sons are nineteen and twenty-one and ready to fight for their King and Country. When war is declared they leave the family home and go off to fight. Uncertainty and heartache will loom for those left at home in the years to follow. Ottoline, the boys’ mother, proved to be a complex woman whose character was revealed in layers throughout the novel.

The novel is divided into three parts: Before, during, and after the war. Kinghorn’s story was so addicting that I had a hard time setting it down. I’m a fan of historical fiction, especially set in the early 20th century. The Echo of Twilight is an emotional novel that I recommend to fans of the author and the genre. It was the perfect choice for my First Book of the year.


About the author:

Judith Kinghorn is the author of four novels: The Echo of Twilight, The Snow Globe, The Memory of Lost Senses, and The Last Summer. She was born in Northumberland, educated in the Lake District, and is a graduate in English and History of Art. She lives in Hampshire, England, with her husband and two children.


 

First Book of 2017

first-book-of-the-year

Happy New Year! I think this is the third year I’ve joined in with Sheila’s First Book of the Year meme. My first book of 2017 is The Echo of Twilight by Judith Kinghorn.

 

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In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences—and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer. 
 
But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress—a secret that will bind them together forever…

the-echo-of-twilight

Watch for a US Giveaway in a few days. 

I’ll post a review in a couple of weeks.

Love, Alice by Barbara Davis

  • love-alice-126Title:  Love, Alice
  • Author:  Barbara Davis
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  December 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  A year ago, Dovie Larkin’s life was shattered when her fiancé committed suicide just weeks before their wedding. Now, plagued by guilt, she has become a fixture at the cemetery where William is buried, visiting his grave daily, waiting for answers she knows will never come. 
 
Then one day, she sees an old woman whose grief mirrors her own. Fascinated, she watches the woman leave a letter on a nearby grave. Dovie ignores her conscience and reads the letter—a mother’s plea for forgiveness to her dead daughter—and immediately needs to know the rest of the story. 
 
As she delves deeper, a collection of letters from the cemetery’s lost and found  begins to unravel a decades-old mystery involving one of Charleston’s wealthiest families. But even as Dovie seeks to answer questions about another woman’s past—questions filled with deception, betrayal, and heartbreaking loss—she starts to discover the keys to love, forgiveness, and finally embracing the future…  (publisher)

My take:  Love, Alice is a story of acceptance, forgiveness, and moving forward. Barbara Davis’s story involves two women: Dovie, whose fiancé committed suicide not long before their wedding date and Alice, an unwed girl forced to give up her infant after giving birth. Both grappled with questions of why as they tried to move on with their lives. Although they would never meet their stories would become entwined.

I was completely absorbed by this book. The loss experienced by Alice is heartbreaking. Her story involves the Magdalene Laundries (click link for info). Hard to believe places like that were still in operation in the 1990s. Alice was young and, although still feeling the aftereffects of tuberculosis, had some strength of mind and body to carry on when she left the asylum. Her motivation was clear – she would find her baby.

Dovie would realize she had to face the truth about William – the things she’d chosen to ignore in the past – in order to move forward.

As bleak as it may sound I found the novel uplifting. I credit Davis’s gift of storytelling.  Love, Alice is a wonderful book. Recommended to fans of the author and women’s fiction. It would be a great book club selection. Included are a readers guide and recipes.

Days Like These by Sue Margolis

  • days-like-theseTitle:  Days Like These
  • Author:  Sue Margolis
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  December 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Recently widowed, Judy Schofield jumps at the chance to look after her two grandchildren for six weeks, while their parents are out of the country. After all, she’s already raised one set of children—and quite successfully, if she may say so herself. But all it takes is a few days of private school functions, helicopter parents, video games, and never-ending Frozen sing-a-longs for Judy to feel she’s in over her head.
 
As weeks become months, Judy feels more and more like an outsider among all the young mothers with their parenting theories du jour, especially when she gets on the wrong side of the school’s snooty alpha mom. But finding a friend in another grandmother—and a man who takes her mind off all the stress—almost make it worthwhile. She just needs to take it one food allergy, one incomprehensible homework assignment, and one major meltdown at a time…  (publisher)

My take:  When Judy’s daughter and son-in-law, both MDs, volunteer their services to a country recently hit by an earthquake they ask Judy to care for their two young (school age) children for six weeks. Of course she agrees hoping that, along with helping her family, it might help her start to climb out of the grief she’s experienced since the death of her husband a year earlier.

Judy jumps into the children’s schedules and is soon overwhelmed with all of their activities. When the kids start to exhibit negative behaviors she realizes she needs to make some decisions. When the six weeks turns into a lengthier stint for the doctors Judy finds the challenges of grand-parenting increase as well.

I appreciated Judy’s predicament of being in the sandwich generation. Her mother added comic relief to the story as well as charm and warmth. Even though themes of bullying, grief, second chances at love, and parenting in the 21st century are addressed I found Days Like These to be a rather light and amusing novel. I liked it and would definitely read more from Sue Margolis.

Blog Tour: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray

  • a-most-extraordinary-pursuit-104Title:  A Most Extraordinary Pursuit
  • Author:  Juliana Gray
  • Genre:  Historical Mystery
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  October 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  In February, 1906 as the personal secretary of the recently departed Duke of Olympia—and a woman of scrupulous character—Miss Emmeline Rose Truelove never expected her duties to involve steaming through the Mediterranean on a private yacht, under the prodigal eye of one Lord Silverton, the most charmingly corrupt bachelor in London. But here they are, improperly bound on a quest to find the duke’s enigmatic heir, current whereabouts unknown.

An expert on anachronisms, Maximilian Haywood was last seen at an archaeological dig on the island of Crete. And from the moment Truelove and Silverton disembark, they are met with incidents of a suspicious nature: a ransacked flat, a murdered government employee, an assassination attempt. As they travel from port to port on Max’s trail, piecing together the strange events of the days before his disappearance, Truelove will discover the folly of her misconceptions—about the whims of the heart, the motives of men, and the nature of time itself. (publisher)

image001

My take: Having read a few books by Beatriz Williams I was surprised to learn she also writes under the name Juliana Gray. A Most Extraordinary Pursuit is the first book in a new series. I agreed to join the blog tour for this book mostly because I love reading about the era of the early 20th century. A few pages in I was surprised by some strange occurrences. No spoilers but what I will say is the reader should be prepared for a bit of time-travel and the occasional dip into the paranormal.

I think my favorite character was Lord Silverton. At first he seems a ne’er-do-well aristocrat but later reveals himself to be a sort of James Bond of his day. He made me laugh a lot with the things he said to Miss Truelove and her reactions were usually equally funny. I liked the (mostly) Greece setting and mythology theme.

Although it took me a bit to get caught up in the story I ended up enjoying the novel and would take a look at the next book in this unusual series due out late next year. Recommended to readers looking for something a bit different in a historical mystery.


Praise for A Most Extraordinary Pursuit:

“Packed with unforgettable characters, exotic settings, and unexpected twists, A Most Extraordinary Pursuit is a delicious adventure from the first word to the last. This book has everything a reader could want: lyrical prose, swashbuckling action, and a heroine worth rooting for. Three cheers for Truelove!” —New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn

 

“If Elizabeth Peters’s Ameila Peabody and Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia had an intrepid younger sister, it would, without doubt, be the heroine of Juliana Gray’s new series, Miss Emmeline Truelove.” —New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig