The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

First, what a great author name.  Second, she was introduced to me by a fellow Mystery Writer of America member (and instructor at the Cape Cod Writer’s Conference) Dale Phillips.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up her first book, “The Haunting of Maddy Clare”, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

Not one for ghost stories, her books take the ghosts and gothic feeling of early England (and now America) and weave it into stories that follow a more tradition mystery.  I was hooked!

So how lucky was I when I got a copy of her newest/next book (out March 2018) from Berkley/Net Galley.


The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

I couldn’t put this one down.  In fact, I stayed up way past my bedtime two nights in a row to finish it off!  Set in 1950 and 2014 Vermont, the story centers on a “school” for wayward young women (including troublemakers and illegitimate children of rich people) called Idlewild Hall.  In 1950, it follows four roommates and their experiences with the ghost of Mary Hand.

In 2014, Fiona Sheridan is looking for answers in her sister’s murder years before.  While someone was arrested, she can’t get the circumstances out of her mind.  It doesn’t help that she’s dating the former police chief’s son as well.  When Idlewild Hall is purchased and considered for restoration, she falls into investigating the mysterious murder of a young woman found on the property, much like her sister was.

Mary Hand’s ghost is ever present, and draws the two time periods together.  The climax at the end was twisty enough that I didn’t really see it coming.  The book also touches on a young refugee child who was at Ravensbrück Concetration Camp.  I admit, I didn’t know much about the history, and the book does a good job in showing the history as part of the story, but also educating the reader at the same time.

These types of “ghost” stories I love.  Tinged with mystery, and while the ghosts are ever present, there is usually a more mundane reason for the murder.  And it’s almost always at a living breathing person’s hand.

I can’t wait to continue reading more of Simone St. James work!

Books! (or, things I’ve read recently)

I’ve been remising in blogging for a while now, and I don’t even have a good excuse.  I’ve gotten a ton more books….even though my TBR pile is ever growing.  I’ve been using the library to get newer books and also Kindle Books as well (shout out to Overdrive and the Abington Public Library), so I’m never without a book in my hand.  I don’t have the energy to review them all, but I do want to mention a few that I’ve recently read.



The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Now, you’d be forgiven if you think this book is about a dead Mrs. Parrish and who killed her….but you’d be surprised by the twists and turns in this book.  It’s told from the perspective of two women.  The first part follows Amber and her climb to the top (both professionally and personally) even at the expense of others.  The main other is the second part of the book.  Daphne seemingly has everything, but we finally start to see what really happens behind closed doors during the second half of the book.  And the ending.  *Phew*.  So good.  It felt like the ending “Gone Girl” should’ve had….I definitely didn’t throw this book to the ground after reading it.  I stood up and cheered!



Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

I probably should’ve led with this one.  Talk about a heartbreaker.  I’m a HUGE Hazel Gaynor fan (I’ve written about some of her books before) and I LOVE WWI & WWII historical fiction.  So this was right in my wheelhouse.  Told through letters, it’s a love story, a war story, and a family story.  Starting out as friends, Evie and Tom develop a relationship through their letters and shared grief.  After one magically night when Tom is on leave, their relationship only deepens.  Even through misunderstandings, they find their way to each other.  I rarely cry when reading books, but this one hit me right in the feels.  For some reason letters make the story seem more personal than just a narrative.  I plan on loaning this one out as much as I can because I loved it so much!

And finally,


Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

I recently read “Jane Eyre”.  I had felt like a bad student of English that I hadn’t read it before now.  I hated it.  I liked Jane, but *spoiler alert* after Rochester does all sorts of crazy things (Including, locking is crazy wife in the attic and telling no one about it) she just meekly decides to stay.  “Reader, I married him.”

This book, attempts to provide a backstory to Edward Rochester’s life and try to show how he ended up with a crazy wife in the attic of this majestic mansion.  I always found “Jane Eyre” (and “Wuthering Heights”) a little too gothic and dramatic for me.  This book takes that brooding man and shows the neglect of his father, his transient youth, and yes, his marriage to the aforementioned crazy lady.  Even in this book there are some parts of Rochester that I just can’t stand.  BUT, I do have a bit more understanding for him.  So, I’m going to take this as canon and make Edward Rochester a bit more sympathetic in my eyes.  Now I can understand why Jane stayed.

And of course I read many more books….just ask if you’re looking for a recommendation!  (Also, I would like to thank and for furthering my habit by having such good black Friday sales!  Easily added 30 more books to my pile).