The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Thank you to Edelweiss for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

When I first began reading this book, I had no idea it had any ghostly underpinnings. Naturally, that just made me more excited to read it! I have been in a bit of a book slump for the past few weeks so I’ve been desperately searching for that story that will propel me back into reading – and this one was it! Here is my review:

35533431Summary (Goodreads): 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. . .

Review:Β Let me start right away by saying this book gets 5/5 stars from me. I loved it that much. I’m struggling so much to find the right words to describe my emotions … but I’m going to try anyways.

I really liked that this story alternated between 2 different points in time. Some chapters were from 1950 and others were from 2014. The chapters from the 1950s were my favourite because every time the story switched to this time point, it was one of the 4 roommates who got to speak. This allowed the reader to connect with all of the girls and understand them – and their secrets. I thought the author did a fantastic job at this. I felt empathy for every single girl and could really feel their bond towards each other. I was also able to appreciate them as unique entities and could feel the pain of bearing the burden of their secrets. The chapters from 2014 were exclusively from Fiona’s perspective, as she searches for the truth. I will be honest, in the beginning, I wasn’t very drawn to Fiona. But as the story progressed and the different time points began to intersect, everything made sense and I grew to love every chapter, regardless of who was speaking.

I also really loved the mystery behind it all. I’m not going to say too much on it because I don’t want to ruin anything but there are 2 “main mysteries” that are the focus in this novel. Both of them made sense and were resolved beautifully, with no holes in reasoning. I loved the way the pieces fell together, and the emotions that were brought to the surface as Fiona tried to make sense of it all. Through the investigations, the novel raises difficult subject matter and does it in a very respectful way. I know I usually tell you what these are but for the sake of keeping this review spoiler-free, I’m going to stay silent.

The most surprising part of the novel was the ghostly element. I really wasn’t expecting it from this book but it was absolutely fantastic. It gave a very Gothic and haunting atmosphere to the story! I almost never get scared or feel shivers when reading a book with ghosts in it… but this book did it for me. My heart would race and I would turn on all the lights in my room because the mood was captured so perfectly. And in the case of this book, the ghost story aspect really enhanced the mystery! It added something more to the story, that set it apart and also gave it more …. substance. It reinforced the main message of the story: not all secrets stay in the past.

I have to say that this book was literally perfect for me. It had great characters, great writing, dual storylines that converged beautifully, and tons of mystery to it. The supernatural elements to the tale were just the cherry on top. I am so glad I got to read this book and I cannot wait to read more by this author!

Happy reading ~


The Book of Bera by Suzie Wilde

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have always been intrigued by the Vikings and I was super excited when I heard that this book would be a Viking fantasy novel. I had no idea what that meant but I was eager to try it and see what it would be like!

When Bera journeys to protect her village from disease, an ensuing battle kills her childhood friend, Bjorn. The shame of her defeat causes her fatehr to wed her to the chieftain of a rival clan. But Bera soon realizes that her new husband’s second-in-command is responsible for her friend’s death. Though she must now take on the role of wife and stepmother, Bera vows to take revenge and begins her journey to power by honing her skills in the rough clan into which she has been sold. As her gifts continue to grow, she receives visions of looming disaster that will finally lead to the ultimate choice: revenge or safety for all?

This novel was a mess from beginning to end. And the entire blame falls on the main character, Bera. She is by far the most hated protagonist I have ever read about. Bera is an impulsive character that is very inconsistent in her behaviour and thought processes. For instance, before Bjorn died, she acted like she couldn’t stand him. But as soon as he died, he was suddenly the most kind person and she adored him. It made no sense, and this trend continues throughout the book. She vacillates between childishness and acting like a grown woman and it makes it hard to get a sense of who she is.Β Bera is also an extremely immature and annoying character. Perhaps her vicious behavior was supposed to emphasize her “Viking-ness” but all it did was make me not want to read this book. She literally has no redeeming qualities and it was a mission to get through this book. Suffice to say, I hated her every second.

The other problem with this book was that there wasn’t a proper buildup for certain events. Bjorn’s death, for example, was a bit out of the blue and it wasn’t presented in a way that felt complete. This was how I felt for most of the novel. There were also loads of things that just defied logic and made no sense whatsoever… but I won’t say what since I don’t like spoiling things.

In all, this was a very disappointing Viking-based story and I would probably not recommend this to anyone.

Happy reading ~

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I haven’t read a nonfiction novel in a long time and I don’t think I have ever blogged about it. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to broaden my reading range. I’m so glad that I chose to read this book because it was such a fantastic experience. Here is my review:

As World War I took its tool, hundreds of young women were employed at radium-dial factories to paint clock faces with a new miracle substance: radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was completely safe, the women used the “lip-painting” technique to do their job, happily surprised to find themselves glowing from head to toe by the dust that collected after a day’s work. With such a coveted job, these girls were considered to be the luckiest of all – until they all began to fall ill. As the radium poisoned their bodies, they found themselves battling not just their physical ailments but the working industry themselves in one of America’s biggest scandals.

I never expected a nonfiction novel to be so moving and gripping. I could not read this novel in one sitting; I had to take multiple pauses because it was just so emotional. I didn’t know much about this topic before I began reading. I had just thought that this was an interesting event that involved radium, a substance I’m familiar with through my course work. I got so much more than that through this book. The author creates a vivid story that looks at the lives of all of these women, full of their hopes and dreams and despairs. It shows all of the different people involved that either hindered or aided in justice being meted out. There was so much courage and strength portrayed here and the author made the reader care about every single woman mentioned in the story; they weren’t just names but real people that I could connect with. While the novel was definitely more in favor of the women than the radium companies (which totally makes sense!), I was happy to see that the author did take into account the reasons why the companies did what they did; it didn’t make me sympathetic to them on any account but it did make an attempt to give a more well-rounded picture of the scandal. This was a gripping story where I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how the women would get past each obstacle thrown in their way. The best thing about this story was the message of perseverance and hope and bravery that these women showed in every facet of their lives; they may have been dying but they wouldn’t give up on living and fighting. It made me feel so proud to see all that they accomplished even after facing such adversity. I can honestly say that I have never felt this emotionally invested in a novel before. What an amazing story and the author did such a brilliant job of making it relevant and appealing to the masses. This is definitely a nonfiction book you don’t want to miss out on!

Happy reading ~

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale

So far, I’ve only had one experience with true crime through NetGalley. It piqued my interest enough for me to explore other novels that fit into this genre. I thought this one was quite unique because not only is it true crime, it is from an incident that took place in the Victorian era in London. History was always one of my favorite subjects so I was excited to read this novel and see how the author would portray this iconic crime.

Early morning on Monday 8 July 1895, 13-year-old Robert Coombes and his 12-year-old brother Nattie left their house in East London to attend a cricket match at Lord’s. Upon questioning, they told their neighbours that their father was away on a sea voyage and their mother was visiting her family in Liverpool. Over the course of 10 days, these 2 brothers spend money extravagantly and begin to pawn valuables to fund their excursions. But eventually, people began to get suspicious of this scenario. When the police were finally called to investigate, the discovery something that sends the city – and the press – into a mad frenzy, sweeping Robert and Nattie along into a criminal trial for a crime that seems straight out of the ‘penny dreadful’ novels that Robert loved to read.

The premise pretty much tells you everything about the story. On that note, I should probably warn you that this story isn’t going to be suspenseful; everything is pretty much told by the synopsis and becomes obvious as you continue to read the facts presented (and you could always Google it). The author has clearly done her research when it came to this story. She had a lot of transcripts from the court and included detailed accounts of witnesses to create a cohesive story. There were times when I felt as if the author was giving me too much detail; there were some facts that I really could not care about, but because there were so many instances of this, I felt like I was plodding through this novel. The case itself was interesting and the author did an excellent job of portraying the sensation through all of the different lenses; there was no bias or partiality that I could detect, which was so good to see because it allowed me to form my own assumptions. I was also happy to see that the author ventured beyond the case and described the aftermath and the changes this crime presented to the lives of the boys. The book is dry, I’ll admit. It reads like a textbook full of inane details, hiding those little nuggets of gold that actually hold your interest. Unfortunately, that’s not my style of book so it made it feel a bit like a chore to get through. Overall, I think the author chose a fascinating case to explore and she did a great job in covering all of the bases and portraying a cohesive story that looks at every angle. However, the overwhelming amount of (sometimes useless) detail combined with the factual writing style made it a slow read to get through.

Happy reading ~

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry – The Lace Reader #2

I have always been slightly obsessed with the Salem witch trials and the mass hysteria associated with that time. In fact, one of my thesis papers in my undergrad talked about this event and the way that mental illness was viewed during that time period. I’m always on the lookout for good books on this topic. When I heard about this one, I knew I had to get my hands on it ASAP!

Living in Salem means you are surrounded by witchcraft; everywhere you go, there are people claiming they are seers, witches, or descendants of someone from the Salem with trials. John Rafferty, chief of police, has gotten used to it by now, especially since he himself is married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney. But things take a turn for the unusual when he has to investigate a 25-year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders”, where 3 women who were all descended from accused Salem witches were killed on Halloween. With the help of Callie Cahill, daughter of one of the victims – and a survivor of this event, Rafferty begins to uncover a dark period in Salem’s past. Callie finds herself struggling with visions that she can’t quite understand, as her gift with premonitions kicks into overdrive. Neither Rafferty nor Callie believe that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But exonerating Rose comes at a price, one that could put everyone in danger. Who – or what – killed those women? And if they can’t discover the answer to that, will evil rise again?

This novel is by far one of my favorite novels on the Salem witch trials! What a masterfully told story!

From the very beginning, this story was compelling in the way it set the scene. The graphic nature of it all shook me and kept me reading further. This book takes place 25 years after the incident, and it shows how the townspeople and those directly involved in the case have been affected by it. The author went into great detail about the mythological and historical aspects of witchcraft, and it was really fascinating to read about. All of the facts were incorporated beautifully to create this deep and layered novel. The characters were amazing in that they were each unique and fully developed. There were certain interactions and connections between characters that seemed lacking, and I think that may have been because there was a prequel (which I neither knew about nor had read). The plot was intriguing and I liked how the author entertained the possibility of supernatural causes as well as the more human-related cause. Overall, this novel had me spellbound with its intrigue, prose, and its references to witchcraft and the Salem witch trials. A must-read for anyone interested in those topics!

I received this novel from Blogging for Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading ~

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs – Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #3

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I spent a wonderful evening with a group of family and friends for New Years Eve and today, I’m having a quiet evening to myself, making plans on how I’m going to stick to all of my new years resolutions … and trust me, I’ve got a lot of them! I can’t believe that a year has already gone by but it’s been a crazy one, with lots of ups and downs – and a lot of reading! I hope to read even more books in the coming year and write even more reviews! And with this review, I would like to announce that I have won my competition in finishing off this series! While I enjoyed the competition aspect, this truly was an amazing trilogy! I watched the movie that Tim Burton released, and now that I’ve read the REAL conclusion, I’ve got to say that the movie does the series no justice. For those of you who only watched the movie, please take the time to read this trilogy because it is so much more fascinating!

Jacob Portman has just discovered that he has a unique and powerful ability, one that could shift the odds in favor of the peculiars. But time is not on his side, and he must go to the heart of the wights holdout in order to save those he loves. With only Emma and Addison along for the ride, they dive through history to rescue their peculiar friends from a heavily guarded – and extremely dangerous – fortress. As they travel from modern-day London to the labryinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England, the fate of every peculiar on Earth will be decided once and for all.

I definitely liked this concluding novel a lot more than the second book! All of the adventure and fantasy aspects that I had been looking for were here, and the story’s conclusion was very satisfying. This novel had all of the quirkiness that made me love the series in the first place! Β Emma and Jacob really grew up in this story. The reader was able to see chinks in Emma’s veneer and Jacob really stepped up to the plate and cultivated his own inner strength. I liked the pacing of this novel very much; it gave you the opportunity to experience the surroundings while also not being bogged down by dreary details. It had just enough of a quick pace to keep you excited, but it wasn’t overwhelming and didn’t have crazy events being thrown at you. I liked the different themes that were explored in this story – but I’m not going to speak too much on that since I want you to experience it yourself! And the pictures were definitely on point! Overall, this novel was a satisfying conclusion to a YA series that was as peculiar as its host of characters!

Happy reading ~

An Unsuitable Job For A Woman by P.D. James

I feel terrible for not having written in so long. There has been so much going on that I’ve barely had the time to think about reading let alone pick up a book. If I’m to be honest, this novel itself is one that was assigned to me in a course. But I truly loved it and I want to read more by this author so I thought it would be wise to write about it here!

When private detective Cordelia Gray arrives to work, she doesn’t expect to find her mentor and business partner, Bernie Pryde, dead in his office. Although he has bequeathed her his business, Cordelia knows that she must hurry to find a means to support herself. When Cambridge dropout Mark Callender is found dead by hanging, the police are quick to dismiss it as a suicide. But Mark’s wealthy father isn’t satisfied with this verdict and calls upon Cordelia to investigate into Mark’s death. What she soon discovers is a world of secrets and lies – with the potential for murder.

I loved that the main detective in this novel was a young female woman. Cordelia is close to my own age, making it easy to relate to her ideas and behaviour. The storyline itself was intriguing and full of depth; I enjoyed reading it immensely. P.D.James is definitely a force to be reckoned with and has published many novels, which I cannot wait to read. If you are looking for a good mystery novel to start, I definitely recommend this one! I also recently discovered that there is a TV show based on this book and I’m looking forward to finding it and watching it. If anyone has read this book or watched the show, do comment below and let me know what you thought of it!

Happy reading ~

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Cline

I’ve been waiting so eagerly to read this book. The storyline just seemed so intriguing and I’ve been wanting to read a historical fiction book for a while now. Most of the ones I’ve read in this genre were on topics I was familiar with like WWII. This was my first step away from that into a topic that I really didn’t know much about.

Vivian Daly was a young Irish immigrant who had moved to New York City with her family. A tragic fire led to Vivian becoming an orphan overnight. Now, she is being sent on a train with many other orphaned children across the country in the hopes of getting adopted by a family.

Back to the present, Molly Ayer is a troubled teen with yet another foster family. After getting caught for stealing, she is given the task of completing 50 community service hours. Mercifully, she gets a chance to volunteer at an old woman’s house cleaning up the attic.

The two stories merge into one as Molly begins to sift through the memories and secrets found in the attic of none other than Vivian Daly…

I really liked this book. It was a very nice story with just the right amount of heartache. It has a wonderful happy ending and I liked the joining of the past with the present. Did I absolutely adore and love this novel? No. I have read better books. But this was an interesting topic and the novel itself was written quite well. Anyone looking for an interesting read in this genre should definitely check this book out!

Happy reading ~

Half a Crown by Jo Walton

This is the final book in the trilogy and I must admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey of “the world that could have been”.

Carmichael is now the head of the Watch, an elite organization meant to ensure that the Prime Minister’s bidding is done. However, Carmichael has plans of his own. Unbeknownst to others, the Watch has been secretly rescuing Jews in England from the concentration camps.

When news of a global peace conference between Britain, Germany, and Japan is announced, Carmichael finds himself busier than ever as the Watch is given the task of ensuring proper security precautions are taken. But when opposition to the conference arises and Carmichael’s niece gets involved, he will have to risk everything to stop the government from destroying everything he loves.

Okay, so this may not be my best review. But it is really hard to write one up without giving away what has transpired in the previous novels in the series. This novel made me emotional at the end and I couldn’t put it down because it was so fast-paced. One thing I will recommend for this series is that you should read them all in quick succession. Because it is about a world that could have been, when you take long breaks between the books, you forget what had happened and can be confused with real events. Either way, this is a book I would recommend to anyone who loves historical fiction!

Happy reading ~

Outlander by Diane Gabaldon

So at first I saw the trailers for the TV show and really wanted to watch it. When I found out it was based on a book series, then I knew I had to read it! After being on the wait list for a couple of months, I’ve finally managed to get myself a copy and have read it. Here is my review:

Claire and her husband are finally spending time together. The year is 1945 and the war is over, giving them the opportunity they need to really grow together. While visiting Inverness, they hear of some rituals practiced by the local women near a Stonehenge-like stone circle. But when Claire touches the stones, she is transported back in time to 1743. The first person she meets is a Jack Randall who bears an uncanny physical resemblance to her husband and is in fact Frank’s six-times-great-grandfather. However, he turns out to be quite twisted and perverted. When Claire tries to escape from him, she is caught by a group of Highland Scots who have their own reason to avoid Jack Randall and his English men.  One of these Scots happens to be Jamie Fraser, a handsome and kind man who has some secrets of his own. As Claire tries to navigate in this new (or rather, old) world, she finds herself having to make important decision. Should she help the Scots in their fight with the English? Should she go back to Frank, her devoted husband, or should she let herself fall for the sweet and charming Jamie Fraser?

I have mixed feelings on this book. It has something for everyone and I loved the intrigue and the historical parts and the fighting scenes. I even liked the philosophical and religious aspects. What I did not enjoy so much was the sexual part. To some degree, I know it is necessary. And I’ve read a lot more explicit books in the past. But it felt overly dramatic and at times unnecessary. Sometimes it read almost like one of those tabloids about sex scandals. And the emotional sex parts seemed very very immature and unbelievable. However, the story line was worth it and I pushed through. I don’t know if I plan on reading any more books in the series. I am tempted to but I also don’t know if it is worth it. If someone does end up reading this book and continuing on with the next one, do let me know what you thought about the second one!

Happy reading ~