Roberta Writes – Book reviews: The Haunting of Chatham Hollow, Mountain Laurel Christmas, I’ll be Right Back, and Crossroads Diner #205 #readingcommunity #bookreviews

I took a three week break from blogging over the Christmas period and then my husband became ill and I haven’t been able to blog as much as usual. As a result, I am behind with my book review posts so I’m hitting you with four at once. They are all great reads and three of the four are short stories.

My husband is being discharged from hospital later this morning and is coming home. I’ll check comments as and when I can.

The Haunting of Chatham Hollow by Mae Clair and Staci Troilo

What Amazon says

One founding father.
One deathbed curse.
A town haunted for generations.

Ward Chatham, founder of Chatham Hollow, is infamous for two things—hidden treasure and a curse upon anyone bold enough to seek it. Since his passing in 1793, no one has discovered his riches, though his legend has only grown stronger.

In 1888, charlatan Benedict Fletcher holds a séance to determine the location of Chatham’s fortune. It’s all a hoax so he can search for the gold, but he doesn’t count on two things—Victor Rowe, a true spiritualist who sees through his ruse, and Chatham’s ghost wreaking havoc on the town.

More than a century later, the citizens of the Hollow gather for the annual Founder’s Day celebration. A paranormal research team intends to film a special at Chatham Manor, where the original séance will be reenacted. Reporter and skeptic Aiden Hale resents being assigned the story, but even he can’t deny the sudden outbreak of strange happenings. When he sets out to discover who or what is threatening the Hollow—supernatural or not—his investigation uncovers decades-old conflicts, bitter rivalries, and ruthless murders.

This time, solving the mystery isn’t about meeting his deadline. It’s about not ending up dead.

My review

This is a well written and exciting novel written on two timelines, 1888 and the present, and united by the vindictive ghost of Ward Chatham the founding father of Chatham Hollow.

Chatham Hollow is a low-profile American town with a small presence in the greater world due to the legend of the séance, conducted in 1888 by fraudulent spiritualist, Benedict Fletcher, to summon the spirit of Ward Chatham. The summoning is believed by many townspeople and outsiders to have gone horribly wrong and ended with Ward Chatham cursing the town and all of its people. The deaths of two men directly after the séance fueled the fire of belief and superstition which has been passed down from generation to generation.

Now, Chatham Hollow has an opportunity to become famous country-wide for its evil spirit through the filming of a re-enactment of the séance for airing on a well-known television show called Supernatural. The re-enactment is planned to involve various town residents and decedents of the original participants, including Aiden Hale, a descendent of the second genuine spiritualist, Victor Rowe, who attended the original event, and his grandmother. The town council, including the editor of the local newspaper, Greer Faraday, is delighted by the idea as it will result in a lot more visitors and bring prosperity to the town.

Aiden, who is a skeptic and does not believe that either he or his grandmother have any talents as spiritualists, is anti the whole idea as he does not want his town to become busier and be spoiled by tourists. He is pushed into taking part and being the lead reporting in respect of the whole event by his employer, Greer. As Aiden slowly starts to unravel the mysteries of the past, he uncovers a lot more scandal than expected. He also comes across a plot to destroy Greer, and possibly the whole town, in the present.

I enjoyed the character of Aiden who is portrayed as a determined young man with lots of grit. He is caring and respectful towards his grandmother and tries to accommodate her, even when he doesn’t agree with her and she is difficult and a bit dictatorial. I really enjoyed this appreciation of family ties and respect for elders which has become less common in literature recently. The scenes between Aiden and his grandmother were very appealing with the banter and arguments over wholesome, home-cooked meals. It felt very genuine and relatable for me.

The altercations between characters, and the darker scenes of murder, physical abuse, and ghostly apparitions were well drawn and believable. The entire novel and a fabulous atmosphere of authenticity which made this an excellent read.

Purchase links

Amazon US

Mae Clair Amazon Author Page

Staci Troilo Amazon Author Page

Mountain Laurel Christmas

What Amazon says

Country superstar, Cole Knight, has it all—fame, fortune, fast cars, and willing women. Yet, he’s dying inside, drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.

It’s easier to lose himself in a whiskey bottle than face the hard truth—he hasn’t delivered on a sacred promise made to his father. And it rips out pieces of his heart and soul each time the memory surfaces.

It’s almost Christmas, and the sting of that failure drives him back to the tiny cabin in the Cumberland Mountains where he lost his entire family.

But has he waited too late to put the shattered pieces back together?

My review

Cole Knight, previously Albert Anderson, is famous and has achieved success beyond his wildest dreams as a singer under the tutorage of superstar, Corinna Smith. Now, Corinna is dead, killed in a car accident, and Cole is alone. Estranged from his sister and brother, the questions of a persistent journalist force his thoughts return to his childhood, the death of his father that precipitated the destruction of his family, and his eventual flight to Nashville and a career in singing.

This line of thought leads Cole back to his abandoned family home in an effort to track down what has become of his younger brother. Can Cole find happiness with his siblings, or is it to late?

I really loved this book. It is such a lovely feel-good story about the importance of family, just perfect for the Christmas season. I enjoyed the slow evolution of Cole from a heavy-drinking and lonely young man into a caring and sensitive person called Bert.

Purchase links

Amazon US

Jan Sikes Amazon Author Page

I’ll Be Right Back by Maura Beth Brennan

What Amazon says

Warren’s young wife, Iris, walked into a blizzard and didn’t come back. His journey to find her took him halfway across the country, to truths he hadn’t been able to face. Because sometimes there is no way to find what you’re looking for. Sometimes all you can find is yourself. 

My review

Warren, an older bachelor, and a misfit in his prominent family headed by his dominant mother, kicks over the traces by marrying a much younger woman. Iris is a dancer and beautiful in a brassy way which Warren’s mother does not approve of. His marriage makes him more of an outcast then ever in his family, but Warren is happy with his wife and dog, Petal.

The story starts with Iris going out to walk the dog during the early stages of a storm against her husband’s advice and wishes. She does not return and Warren later finds Petal tied up in the garage. Warren gradually realised that Iris has left him and gone to Las Vegas to dance in the clubs. She has left with another man with whom she was having an affair.

Warren decides to take Petal and go after Iris. He hopes to persuade her to return home with him.

This is an interesting story which explores the concept of marrying for money, unfulfilled dreams, and unrequited love.

Purchase links

Amazon US

Maura Beth Brennan Amazon Author Page

Cross Roads Diner #205

What Amazon says

Janie is a sweet, hard-working gal stuck in a dead-end job at a diner. Everyone relies on her; heck, everyone seems to love her. If only they knew about her past. They’d know that hiding out at the Crossroads Diner is the best thing for Janie at this point. No one seems to stay at Crossroads Diner #205 for long; so why is Janie stuck there? Surrounded by people who need her and strangers constantly coming and going, Janie is desperately alone and overworked.

Just as Janie is starting to lose hope, in walks the mysterious Cowboy. With the uncanny ability to look past Janie’s scars and into her soul, Cowboy seems too good to be true. Can he be trusted? Janie has to figure that out, for in the midst of the worst blizzard in years, no one can really prepare for what will walk in the door next.

My review

The feature of any book that I rank the highest when reading and reviewing, is the uniqueness of the storyline. Crossroads Diner #205 is oodles of different and a most interesting and thought provoking read.

Jaunita has worked at the diner for a long time. She is a veteran and has learned to comfort the new diners that arrive. They are all on their way somewhere else but some of them make a very short stop, so short that the staff of the diner can barely keep up, and others make a longer stop. It is impossible to know when they arrive, how long each visitors stay will be. Jaunita is hoping that eventually she will work her way out of the diner and move on to something better, but she has no idea how long it will take. Her stay has already been unusually long as her history is complicated.

One evening when a particularly bad blizzard has resulted in even more visitors to the diner than usual, in walks a curious man she calls The Cowboy. It is soon evident that this strange man will be staying for a while and Jaunita feels hope for the future for the first time in a long while.

A well written and entertaining short read.

Purchase links

Amazon US

Pamela Schloesser Canepa Amazon Author Page

69 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – Book reviews: The Haunting of Chatham Hollow, Mountain Laurel Christmas, I’ll be Right Back, and Crossroads Diner #205 #readingcommunity #bookreviews

  1. Congratulations to all the authors. Those are some wonderful reviews. Sorry to learn your husband has been ill. WordPress seems to have pulled a fast-one on me and I haven’t seen your posts lately. I remedied that this morning.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m so happy Terence is coming home and doing better, Robbie. I’ve been keeping you all in my thoughts. You’ve had a lot to deal with. Thanks for sharing these great reviews, and congratulations to Mae, Staci, Jan, Maura Beth, and Pamela. Have a wonderful weekend. Hugs 💕🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am thrilled to see a review of Mountain Laurel Christmas here, Robbie! Thank you SO much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts on it. I will add my recommendation to The Haunting of Chatham Hollow. Great story! I’ve also read I’ll Be Right Back and can add a recommendation for that one, too. Oh, the great lengths someone will go to for what they think is love! I have not read Pamela’s book, but you’ve piqued my interest. So glad Terence is coming home and home his recovery continues! Sending prayers up for you and your family, Robbie.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robbie, thank you so much for including The Haunting of Chatham Hollow with these other wonderful reviews. I’m so happy you liked it.
    I’ve read Jan’s book and others by Maura Beth and Pamela’s sons excellent. Congratulations to all of the authors.
    And I am so thrilled to hear your husband is coming home. I have been keeping him, you, and your boys in my prayers. I’m sending many wishes for continued healing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great reviews, Robbie 🙂 I have read three of the four and agree all good reads. I added the fourth to my list. I hope your husband recovers quickly. Sending healing hugs xo

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You’ve been finding some reading time, Robbie. I’m so glad you enjoyed all these books. I’ve read The Haunting of Chatham Hollow and Mountain Laurel Christmas and enjoyed both. Now you’ve got me very interested in the others, especially Crossroads Diner #205 with your description: “oodles of different and a most interesting and thought provoking read.” Thanks for the recommendations!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Robbie, I am so happy your husband is being discharged, that is really good news. He can recover more at home.

    Thank you for the reviews. You are still so productive even when life throws you curve balls.
    I think I like the sound of Mountain Laurel Christmas.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Robbie, Yes curve balls. I think slowly things are getting better, but I am holding off on fully commenting, we have to see.

        My blogging break is going well, I have been updating my blog look and feel, doing some house keeping, updated my newsletter – I sent a survey out around the 9th Jan 2023 asking a few questions. Doing a few online courses, and just taking it slow, meditating more, trying to find a good balance that will carry me forward, and that I can sustain when life gives me curve balls. Because life is going to give me curve balls whether i want them. I dont want to go into life thinking oh another curve ball, i want to if I can free myself of them in away, and enhance my response to them. I am trying loads of things, and one day those learnings will be shared on the blog, or newsletter or somewhere.

        Happy Sunday
        Much love to you all Bella

        Liked by 2 people

  8. These all sound like good reads, Robbie and I have already downloaded The Haunting of Chatham Hollow. I am sorry to hear that your husband has been ill. I am reading this a few weeks after it was posted, so I hope he is well on his way to recovery. It is so hard when a loved one is ill. Not the best start to 2023 for you, so I hope it has picked up.

    Liked by 1 person

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