The Broken Girls

The Broken GirlsThe Broken Girls by Simone St. James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Shh,” he said, his voice lowered. “Please don’t say it. I think she listens.”

Mary Hand. Sonia. Fiona. Three girls tragically connected almost a century apart. Their tales interwoven throughout the cracks of Idlewild Hall, a remote boarding school for the lost and forgotten. Time will not silence their stories. Mary Hand will not let it. Simone St. James is the QUEEN of haunted stories. Part historical mystery, and part ghost story, this creepy gothic tale will leave you wondering what those noises are in the dead of night. And NEVER read this during a nor’easter when you are home alone and lose power. (Although actually that was kind of fun.) Five ghostly stars.

These Silent Woods

These Silent WoodsThese Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The thing about grace is that you don’t deserve it. You can’t earn it. You can only accept it. Or not.”

My dark horse novel of the year. I have developed a love of “woodsy” thrillers and mysteries these last few years. Probably due to my love of small towns, unwinding in secluded cabins, and hidden spaces. This slow burn drama details a father’s unconditional love for his daughter and his reckless struggle to keep them together. High suspense and well-developed, flawed characters kept me turning those pages. And the ending just rocked me to the core. Sigh.

The Last House on the Street

The Last House on the StreetThe Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always loved Diane Chamberlain novels. I’ve read several. She has a unique way of mixing civil rights issues with incredible storytelling. The Last House on the Street is no exception.

Told in parallel timelines, we follow Ellie Hockings in 1965 and 2010. Back in the 60s, she joins a program called SCOPE where she canvasses black neighborhoods in the south in an effort to get people registered to vote as part of the The Voting Rights Act, a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. There are also many story arcs within the novel which I found engaging, primarily a murder mystery and love story.

The narration was extremely well done. From the very beginning, I could feel myself slipping into the south in the 1960s. Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction, family dramas, and civil rights.

Project Hail Mary

Project Hail MaryProject Hail Mary by Andy Weir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy guacamole. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to ever read science fiction again, let alone LOVE this story as much as I did. It is so much FUN.

Ryland Grace wakes up alone in space not remembering a thing. Slowly, he gets his memory back, and from there the adventure begins. The narration flashes back in time to the events leading up to the present situation. The dual storytelling is very well done.

Remarkably, this book stirs all the emotions. It’s extremely funny, heartwarming, happy, and sad all at the same time. There were also a couple of twists that I did not see coming. Lots of science and technical jargon may not appeal to some people, but this is one of the most CREATIVE stories ever written. I highly recommend people stepping out of their comfort zones and give this book a try.

This audiobook version of this was excellent. One of the best I’ve ever listened to. Five stars

The Book of Cold Cases

The Book of Cold CasesThe Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Simone St. James. I’ve read everything she’s written. She is the undisputed QUEEN of ghostly thrillers, my favorite being The Sundown Motel.

This story follows Shea Collins, a true crime blogger obsessed with The Lady Killer case from her small town of Claire Lake, Oregon. Was Beth Greer, who was acquitted of the crimes in the 70s, actually the killer or not?

The story was fun to read, but it wasn’t the paranormal elements, or even the mystery that kept me hooked. It was ice queen Beth Greer and her bizarre relationships with other characters in the novel. She plays a fascinating game of cat and mouse with Beth that keeps you turning the pages. I still don’t quite understand it. Her relationship with Lily also stumped me. Was there ever any love there or not? And what was going on with Detective Blake? I think St. James cleverly leaves that up to our imaginations.

I wasn’t feeling the ghostly atmosphere of the Greer mansion that I was hoping for. I think St. James has done better in her other novels. Also I was hoping that the Girl A story arc would tie in to the main story. A couple other things were not wrapped as well. Regardless, definitely a fun novel!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.