THE BROKEN GIRLS by Simone St. James {Review}


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears…

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced…


THE BROKEN GIRLS was an amazing book, combining many elements I love: mystery, ghost story, historical fiction, dual time periods, and crime drama. I loved it – yes, it was dark and unsettling, but I was glued to the pages.

The story alternates between the early 1950s and 2014 in a tiny Vermont town. In the past, four teenage girls attend a local boarding school for troubled girls called Idlewild Hall when one goes missing; in the present, a journalist named Fiona investigates the death of her sister whose body was found on Idlewild’s abandoned property two decades earlier. Fiona agrees to write an article on the restoration of Idlewild when it’s purchased by a mysterious buyer. During renovations, a shocking discovery pulls Fiona into the unsolved case of the missing girl. Will it also lead her to answers about her own sister’s death?

This was an atmospheric and creepy read, with some definite chilling moments. Like many Gothic novels, the house, Idlewild, was a haunted, complex character itself, and the tale of its resident ghost was heartbreaking. The mystery was complicated, and I enjoyed how the well-researched historical elements were woven into it. I love Simone St. James’ storytelling, and I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes a spooky story full of emotion and depth.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

DEATH OVERDUE by Allison Brook

Death Overdue (A Haunted Library Mystery, #1)
DEATH OVERDUE by Allison Brook
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A haunted library and Halloween? DEATH OVERDUE pulled me in with some of my favorite elements. Main character Carrie Singleton is the new head of programs and events at Clover Ridge’s local library. Unfortunately it’s not exactly smooth sailing at first. Carrie discovers the ghost of a former librarian haunting the stacks, learns that not everyone at the library is thrilled with her getting the job, and hosts her first event where the keynote speaker is murdered. Carrie is convinced his death is tied to the unsolved murder of another library employee 15 years earlier, so she does some investigating on her own.

This new series has potential, especially for fans of paranormal cozies and library settings. The two interwoven murder mysteries were intriguing, though it took a while for me to get into the story. I felt like there were too many details of daily happenings that slowed down the flow at times. I also wanted the library ghost to be more integral to the plot, and for Carrie’s reaction to the ghost be more – realistic? She wasn’t freaked out in the least bit. I think Carrie’s character overall needs to be spiced up a bit as the series continues.

The Halloween elements in DEATH OVERDUE were a lot of fun. Will see where the author goes with the next book.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A GHOSTLY LIGHT by Juliet Blackwell


Series: Haunted Home Renovation, #7
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


In the latest mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Give Up the Ghost, it will take a beacon of ghostly intervention to guide contractor Mel Turner to the truth.

Dangerous tides ahead…

When her friend Alicia hires Turner Construction to renovate a historic lighthouse in the San Francisco Bay, Mel Turner can’t wait to get her hands dirty. Alicia plans to transform the island property into a welcoming inn, and while Mel has never attempted a project so ambitious—or so tall—before, she’s definitely up for the challenge.

But trouble soon arises when Alicia’s abusive ex-husband shows up to threaten both her and Mel, and later turns up dead at the base of the lighthouse stairs. With no other suspects in sight, things start looking choppy for Alicia. Now, if Mel wants to clear her friend’s name, she’ll need the help of the lighthouse’s resident ghosts to shine a light on the real culprit…


This is the seventh book in the Haunted Home Renovation series, starring Mel Turner, renovator extraordinaire. Her unique specialties are restoring historic places around the San Francisco area, communicating with ghosts, and solving murder mysteries that frequently pop up on her construction sites.

I greatly enjoyed Mel’s latest project, the restoration of a lighthouse and its keeper’s house in San Francisco Bay. The rich history and romance of lighthouses are fascinating, though tragedy and grief are parts of their past too, as Mel quickly discovers.

There are really two mysteries in this book to solve. The first involves the death of Mel’s friend Alicia’s ex-husband, an abusive jerk who shows up on the island unexpectedly and takes a fatal tumble down the lighthouse stairs. The second (and my favorite mystery) is about the mournful ghost who haunts the tower. Hers is a heart-wrenching story, and I easily got into the research Mel had to do to get all the pieces to fit.

A GHOSTLY LIGHT is an enjoyable cozy with likable characters, and the paranormal element makes it even more intriguing. I’ve read one previous book in this series, so I knew some of the backstory, but I think you’d be fine jumping in here.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.