The House on Tradd Street

by Karen White

Melanie Middleton, Real Estate extraordinaire to Charleston, South Carolina, has her life turned upside down when she inherits an old, historical home from one of her clients. She also inherits a family of ghosts, a dog and housekeeper and, in a way, a writer by the name of Jack Trenholm. As Melanie reluctantly works to restore the old home to its former glory, the ghost work to tear her life apart resulting in a total upheaval of everything Melanie holds dear and forcing her to confront a few ghosts of her own. 

This book was recommended to me three times before I finally picked it up. I had been looking for a good ghost story with a good history behind why the ghosts haunted. I definitely got that and more in this book. My first Karen White story ever, I was surprised not to have crossed paths with this story earlier on in my hunt for good paranormal literature. This book felt more like three books in one as Ms. White intricately weaves a trifecta of romance, paranormal and mystery all into one story that doesn’t get boring. 

First, the ghost story truly is magnificent. I thought I had most of it figured out however, Ms. White managed to surprise me at the end. The history behind it was well-thought out and really well written. There’s even a bit of a treasure hunt. I felt the cold in the air whenever the ghosts were around and a chill went down my spine also every time Melanie’s phone rang. The ghost’s voices were chilling and creepy and on more than one occasion, I wanted to cry out, “TURN THE LIGHT ON!” Melanie’s ability to communicate with them was really cool although I felt her hesitation and her desire to wish them away slightly annoying. I mean, it’s not like she was new to hearing them. The paranormal part of this book was super fun for me to read and yes, I slept with the lights on as I was reading it. 

Themes of abandonment and addiction plague the heroine of the story. Melanie is a sugar-obsessed work-a-holic who dives into donuts and overly sweet lattes like her father dives into whiskey. I found it odd that she so easily shrugs off her own addiction as being part of her DNA while her father pays the price of her continual disappointment in him, despite his efforts to sober up. Honestly, by the end of the story, Melanie was so whiny, hyper-sensitive and so selfish that I found myself more interested in whether or not her dad was getting better than I was in Melanie’s forgiveness of him. I failed to see strength in her which I thought odd for all she endured. Honestly, Jack and the ghost of Louisa were really the ones who seemed to save the day.

Jack Trenholm comes onto the scene with an agenda of his own and again, I’m not too sure why Melanie has so much animosity towards him. I get that she has trust issues but they seem to be inconsistent, especially considering Jack’s laid-back character. Yet, he adds a bit of fun and puts Melanie in her place on more than one occasion. Melanie’s friend Sophie is the same way. What a sunshiny-type girl! I love this character! Sophie is smart, witty and comfortable in her own skin – a pole opposite of Melanie in every way. She also adds a layer of fun and intelligence to the story.

My only disappointment was that it took me a few times to get past the serious amount of detail in this book. If you don’t know anything about victorian style decor, some of the language will be lost on you. I found myself wanting to “kick the horse” as it were to get to the good stuff. Of course, as the main character was renovating an old house, I could see the reason for all the detail. Truly, some serious research went into this book. But it did make it a slow-starter for me. 

Recommendation – If you like romance, ghost stories and mystery all in one package, I would recommend this book to you. Just remember to be patient at the beginning. 🙂 

Rating – ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The Cottage By The Sea

by Debbie Macomber

Annie Marlow wakes up to a whole new world finding her old one swept away (literally) overnight by an unexpected tragedy. Her grief leads her to return to Oceanside, where she and her family used to vacation when she was younger. The pacific northwest town gives her more than just healing; it’s filled with colorful characters needing her as much as she needs them. In the end, she faces a decision to remain locked in memories of the past or to go and find the strength to create a new future. 

This is my first introduction to anything by Debbie Macomber. After reading this book, I researched her and discovered more than just books but Hallmark movies based upon her books. I had no idea. I picked up this book to read after marathon-reading Wendy Webb’s ghost stories and needing something a little lighter and less frightening. This book didn’t disappoint. 

Death and resurrection are in this book. Not only does the book open with unexpected tragedy, it closes with a resurrection of sorts. As someone who lost her mom three years ago to tragedy, I easily related to all Annie was going through in the aftermath of her own situation. The grief was very real but the torment of what could have and should have been said and done but wasn’t was acute. Like Annie, I also faced people in my life who needed me to just “move on”. Not nearly as easy as it seems and Ms. Macomber highlights this theme beautifully. I felt every hurt, every regret, every ache. 

Having recently moved away from my mom’s hometown of many years, I also experienced the coming alive again that a new home and a new town brings. That was really special to read especially since many authors gloss over the aftermath of a loss a little too quickly. 

The theme of grief is very real in this book yet, I didn’t find it to be heavy. Each character had something to grieve and leave behind them and while Annie wasn’t necessarily their savior, she seemed to be a catalyst for all of them moving forward in their lives. 

I had a hard time with Annie’s friends from her hometown. The constant badgering and telling her to get back to her life was super annoying. No one needs unsupportive friends like that. 

I would recommend this book. It’s an easy read. I really loved Keaton. I loved the emergence of Mellie. It was beautifully and heartbreakingly written. I almost liked her more than I liked Annie. 

Read this book. You’ll find yourself wanting your own seaside cottage.

My Rating – ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Welcome to All In Good Books!

Welcome to All In Good Books!

Like many in the publishing world, I have a love of books and reading. Unlike many in the publishing world, it wasn’t my childhood dream to write books.

However, I have been a storyteller all my life.

From spinning yarns about my home life to the nuns at school ( a few earning a call to my parents and even one resulting in a parent/teacher conference ) to living alternate lives inside my head to tuning into the lives of others immersing myself in their personal history, I’ve loved to tell stories. Since then, story-telling has morphed into story-reading which is currently morphing into story-writing.

I review books to share my love of stories. I am mostly attracted to paranormal stories with a good historical background. I’ve also recently started to get into women’s literature as well as contemporary fiction. And while I’m a good 50-something aged woman, I love a good young adult book as well.

Thank you so much for being here. Enjoy and feel free to drop me an email or leave a comment.