The Other Side of Forestlands Lake, by Carolyn Elizabeth

00leah00's review against another edition

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“The Other Side of Forestlands Lake” is a paranormal mystery with a dash of romance. There was also a bit of humor thrown in that helped balance some of the spooky.
Willa Dunn and Lee Chandler are childhood best friends that spend their summers together at a lake house community. The community happens to be across the lake from a summer camp where a girl has gone missing. A year later, when they’re 15, their relationship is just starting to move into a romantic one when a tragedy occurs and they are forced to go their separate ways.
25 years later, Willa, a YA author of paranormal books, is looking for a writer’s retreat with her angsty teenage sister, Nicole. She heads back to the lake house thinking it would be a good place to bond with her sister and to finish her fifth novel.
Lee now lives on the campgrounds year-round with her 17-year-old daughter, Maggie. She’s never forgotten Willa, or the tragedy that forced them to never see each other again.
However, almost as soon as Willa and Nicole arrive in town weird things start happening. This is when the paranormal/mystery part of the book starts happening. There is a ghost on the lake that’s been around for 25 years. And while Willa writes about paranormal activity, she’s not prepared to see and deal with it on her own. Willa and Lee are reunited and along with Nicole and Maggie they must figure out what is happening with the ghost. Willa and Lee are also dealing with their feelings from long ago that have never gone away.
I am a bona fide scaredy cat and as someone who is not into paranormal stories, I have to say this was well done. It was just spooky enough that I kept the lights on while reading but not scary enough that I couldn’t get through it or had to stop. I was on the edge of my seat and couldn’t put my kindle down while reading. The mystery kept me guessing until the very end.
I really enjoyed the entire cast of characters Elizabeth uses. There is a whole town of colorful individuals and everyone has an important part to the story.
This is my first book by Carolyn Elizabeth but it definitely won’t be my last. This is also the second book I’ve read that has a paranormal twist to it. I’m usually more into the contemporary romance but this in no way disappointed me. There was enough of the romance that I was satisfied as a romance reader.
I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of well written paranormal mysteries.

mopherad's review against another edition

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This started out really strong. The set up was fantastic. But then it gets going and it feels like it starts to lose the spooky paranormal stuff a bit. Some character stuff seems to happen to fast and then bam it just hits the third act and everything is solved. So much that was set up never really mattered and everything just got so happy. Your kidding me with the “was it paranormal or not” bit too. Was 4 stars till near the end a then really dropped down.

Writing wise, real smooth, easy to just keep going. Story wise was a bit trope-y but I think that’s fine for this genre. I would say most books I give 3 stars I would want them to trim down, this one I think needed to expand, let it get spooky more. Take some time with it.

qraveline's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


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shirtypantser's review against another edition

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mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


This book is fine. The writing is fine, the plot is fine, the characters are fine. It started out well, but the plot twists are more like gentle meanders and the characters are pretty dull and not incredibly well developed. This reads like a decent fairly clean story from Literotica got stretched way out into a novel. I'm certain I will not rember this story in a month. It's not bad, but it's not good and it's certainly not memorible. If you want an easy summer read there are better options but this will get the job done.

judeinthestars's review against another edition

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It took only one book by Carolyn Elizabeth for me to decide that she was a must-read author. This is her third (I also read a very short story) and it proves true again.

Twenty-six years ago, stuff happened and a child disappeared. Twenty-five years ago, more stuff happened, Willa and Lee had their first kiss and a child died. When Willa comes back for the first time in twenty-five years, a pretty successful YA paranormal writer, with her half-sister Nicole, a sullen seventeen-year-old, all that stuff and more still hovers over Forestlands Lake and its community. I’m aware this sounds vague but there are so many layers that going deeper would get spoilery really fast.

Willa and Lee have huge chemistry at fifteen, when they don’t really yet know what to do with it. It only gets huger when they meet again as adults, and the way the author wrote them as teenagers makes their reunion feel organic. They don’t know who the other has become but what they had as teens was so deep that it’s the perfect foundation for their relationship to build on.

This book made me feel so many things… One of them was sad, not only because of all the untimely deaths, but for lost opportunities, lost time, all Willa and Lee were robbed of, and Nicole too in a different way. And you know, I don’t do regrets. Regrets hold you back. They don’t help with anything. I’m a carpe diem and look ahead kind of person. Yet halfway through this book, my heart was full of regrets and unshed tears. Huge and cold. Ugh. I blame Elizabeth for how lovable she writes her characters. Lee’s longing and regret seeped into me. I felt Nicole’s anger and sorrow too, a lot.

None of what I just wrote is bad. It’s painful but it’s not bad. That’s what I read books for, why I read books. To feel. To root for characters. To want them to be happy or, at least, safe. To believe things get better. Because, you know, they do.

So yeah, I love the stories Elizabeth comes up with, but it’s the characters who make me look forward to each new book. So how lucky am I that this one counts four MCs? Or rather, two main and two almost main. And a whole slew of secondary characters, all substantial. And even more layers. Nothing stays only on the surface. Like for example, there’s not one but two mysteries in this novel. Well-thought, complex and thrilling mysteries. Everything came as a surprise yet still made complete sense (in a paranormal way). The atmosphere is wonderful too, both spooky and real, dark and warm.

And though there are elements of sadness or melancholy, The Other Side of Forestlands Lake is not the kind of book that will bring you down, however. The stories it tells are of closure on one side and of a brighter future on the other. What remains after reading isn’t the sensation of lost time. Watching relatable characters open themselves to love and forgiveness, take responsibility while shedding unfounded guilt, allow themselves to have a life, any life, after tragedy or a bad start, is energizing, it’s powerful and it brings hope and the possibility of growth.

With each new story, Carolyn Elizabeth shows that she could write any genre and I’d want to read it.

I received a copy from the publisher and I am voluntarily leaving a review.

anna_lee's review against another edition

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Okay maybe I’m a bit biased because I had the pleasure of tattooing the author! This book was fantastic though I absolutely loved it!
It has so many themes that all come together beautifully; friendship, romance, family dynamics and lots of spooky parts.
There’s also one character in particular that I love to hate, every town has that one pretentious snob that you cannot stand and that was so well captured in this story!
The romance also had such a solid friendship to back it up that really made you root for them to be together. And that ending...of course I won’t write any spoilers but dang that was a great way to leave it off!
Amazing work Carolyn you killed it!

mgncpr's review against another edition

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This was a refreshing light paranormal (that's not a bad thing) that had just enough of a ghost story to keep a reader hooked whether they are a fan of paranormal or not. The story revolves around Willa and Lee - former childhood sweethearts who are separated by a tragedy and reconnect when Willa returns to the lake community with her troubled (trouble-making?) half sister. Twenty odd years before, the deaths of two little girls cast a pall over the community and with Willa's return, things begin to happen. Willa and Lee's meeting leads to a second chance romance - but is probably the most angst free reunion I've read which was nice. There's so much else going on in the book that handwringing and recriminations would have bogged things down and it was nice to see the two likable characters fit back together.

The manifestations of the ghosts was well done - with ghostly sound of someone walking through the water's edge on the camp side and only being heard by some people and the subtle possession of Nicole on the other side. It was nice to see that the ghosts weren't evil or malicious - just lost little girls. I particularly appreciated how it wasn't obvious what was happening with Nicole at first, but thinking back you can see where it was happening.

From a mystery standpoint - there may have too many red herrings going on that distracted from the ghost and romance portion. I did want to know what happened to the two girls - but I don't know that the mystery portion was tight enough and I think I would have liked to have spent more time with the ghosts themselves (who doesn't like ghost stories at camp).

There was a lot going on in the book and I think this would have benefitted from being a longer book to give the paranormal, mystery and romance elements even more attention and depth. Overall, this was a good read and if you're looking for a book to read while lounging by the lake this summer, this would keep you entertained - and maybe make you listen for anything that may go bump in the night.

shereadstales's review against another edition

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Thanks to Netgalley and the wonderful folx over at Bella Books for the digital galley of this one.

Happy pub day to this spooky, little book. Look at me. Getting a review up on time. It can be done, at least once, in the year of our pandemic 2020.

Willa Dunn and Lee Chandler spent every summer as kids together at Forestlands Lake. Just as the two begin exploring what more there may be between them, Willa’s sister dies mysteriously on the lake, and her family packs up and heads out. Lee hasn’t heard from Willa in twenty-five years, but she’s back at the lake, the famous horror writer she always wanted to be and with her troubled, half-sister in two. Willa hopes this summer will give her a little bit of closure and the chance to mend fences with Nicole who has turned into quite the bitter, cynical teen in Willa’s recent absence. Willa dare not hope she’d be able to rekindle anything with Lee, but Lee’s daughter, Maggie, is obsessed with Willa’s books, and when rumors of a ghost circulate through the community, Willa and Lee will have to team up to save Nicole and whatever spark there once was between them.

This book was the perfect read for this month. A little spooky and creepy, a little romantic, and an intriguing story. Though I am lothe to admit it, the weather here has complimented my reading as well. North Carolina can’t quite decide to be fall, so the spooky vibes are good for October, and the weather was good for the setting.

I enjoyed Willa and Lee’s relationship, their learning each other again, and the added complication of sisters and daughters. Nicole got on my nerves a little, but let’s be honest, most teenagers do. That’s what they are for, and Maggie’s curiosity, kindness, and enthusiasm served as a perfect compliment to Nicole’s grumpy and cynical nature.

There’s a sex scene or two, it is a lesbian romance after all, but if you’re looking for a straight up erotica with little plot and even fewer characters, keep on looking. There’s a lot going on here that takes twenty-five years to figure out, so hope you’re looking for an interesting story.

If you’re looking for something atmospheric to sneak in before Halloween without the horror and gore, check this one out!

phoebesrandoms's review against another edition

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Put The Other Side of Forestlands Lake written by Carolyn Elizabeth on your Halloween reading list! Let’s put the spooky stuff aside for a minute and talk about the tea here...holy sugar I never knew so much tea happens at the Lake! There is an awesome popcorn moment or two that Elizabeth throws is sooooo good.

Plus there is a second chance romance, a possible romance, and some eyebrow raising hanky panky going on... this is where the tea comes in rainbows. Elizabeth writes a diverse story here and it is welcome - to this reader anyway. You have to read the story, people!!!

Now let’s get down to the paranormal feature and Elizabeth nails it with a mix of logic and the supernatural. We have old town gossip and of course what really happened. This story is so good.

This book has two running storylines for the adult audience and for the teen fans. The gore is not too bad as this is more of a psychological spookfest versus a slashfest. There is some action in here too. Some screams. Oh...some do come from sex (laugh).

Like I said earlier, add this to your Halloween reading list. You will not regret it.

I received an ARC of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.

malini's review

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emotional hopeful lighthearted sad medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes