Monday, November 29, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Freya Sampson, Simone St. James)


The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson

Summary from Goodreads:

"June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way."

My Thoughts:

I picked this book up because I needed a change of pace from my normal selection of mysteries and thrillers.  I was in the mood for a "lighter" sort of read and the idea of reading a book set in the library was just too much for me to resist.  I'm sure that long time readers of this blog are perfectly aware that the library is one of my very favorite places in the entire world.  If not, now you know.  I adore the library, was in the mood for a bit of a romance, and decided that this book was exactly what I was in the mood for.  Happily enough, this book fit the bill although I wouldn't say that it is a romance - just to be clear there.  Instead, this book focuses on June Jones who is a painfully shy librarian living her life in books.  As the reader we really get to know June throughout the pages of this book.  I wasn't sure how I felt about her first because she just didn't seem to have any spine at all.  I understand social anxiety, but I couldn't quite relate to her inability to stand up or have a voice for herself whatsoever no matter the situation.  But regardless, I came to understand her more and really appreciated how much she grew throughout the pages.  There is something to be said about a book where you just feel safe while reading it no matter what happens.  I grew to care about all of the characters and wasn't ready to say goodbye to them at the end.  And I was just so darn proud of June by the end of this book!

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and these characters.  I think it leans more towards women's fiction rather than romance if that matters to you as a reader.  This book is both a love letter to libraries and to books themselves.  Readers who enjoy quieter books, those who enjoy character focused reads, and those who enjoy just a good read should pick this book up.  It's one that has stayed with me and left me eager to read more by this author.  Recommended!

Bottom Line: A book that fit my reading mood perfectly and with characters whom I couldn't help but grow to care about.

Disclosure:  I won a copy of this book thanks to a Goodread's giveaway.  Honest thoughts are my own.

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Summary from 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."

My Thoughts:

Simone St. James has shot to my favorite authors list after reading and loving two of her books.  I picked up The Broken Girls from my shelves because I felt sort of slumpy.  I was looking for a five star read - it felt like I had been enjoying the books that I had been reading but had been too long since the last time one truly wow-ed me.  Happily, this book was exactly what I was looking for.  I loved how this book was told in two different timelines similar to The Sun Down Motel.  In the past, we got to see the lives of four young girls who lived at the boarding school for unwanted girls.  In the present, we were brought into Fiona Sheridan's life and the struggles she was still facing to get over her sister's death.  Both storylines were compelling and completely sucked me in.  I was so intrigued and just had such a hard time setting this book down.  And I cannot help but appreciate the way that this author looks at violence against women in different ways.  In this book, she made a point of really looking at how little society cares about when certain types of women/girls go missing.  It's a refreshing change from just reading about the constant violence against women that you see in other mysteries and thrillers.  I also really enjoyed the ghostly aspects that were present in this story.  It's funny because they weren't the focus but they gave the book a spooky edge that I really enjoyed.  

Books like this are exactly why I read and love it so much!  At this point, I plan on reading everything/anything that this author writes.  The best part as that I have a decent amount of her backlist to look forward to plus she has a new book releasing in 2022 that I am highly anticipating!  Readers who enjoy suspenseful mysteries with just a slight edge of horror (she reminds me a bit of Jennifer McMahon who is another favorite author of mine), those who enjoy thrilling reads, and those readers who just want a page turning read that they cannot put down should pick this book up and give this author a try.  She really is one of my best finds from last year and I'm so glad that I didn't let this book continue to linger on my shelves.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  My second five star read by this author - that should tell you everything that you need to know.

Disclosure:  I purchased the copy of this book that I read but I did receive a copy of this book originally from NetGalley and the publisher that I never got to.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Monday, November 22, 2021

What I've been Reading (Ragnar Jónasson, Gytha Lodge)


The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jónasson

Summary from Goodreads:

"Teacher Wanted At the Edge of the World"

My Thoughts:

One of the things that I've learned about myself as a reader this year is how much I enjoy a slow burning, suspenseful read like this one.  I mean I knew that mostly but books like this has really reinforced that fact for me.  I love to lose myself in atmospheric reads and enjoy the ride that the author is taking me on.  I knew that this was a book that I wanted to read as soon as I read that one line from the above synopsis.  What did the author mean by the edge of the world?  I was instantly intrigued and just needed to know more.  The idea of living in such an isolated town felt inherently creepy especially when there was the hint of ghostly presences.  I truly feel like this book was meant for me - it had everything that I enjoy most in books.  I love a good isolated setting, hints of creepiness and the supernatural, and the question of who the main character can actually all combined just so perfectly.  Even the fact that I wasn't sure exactly how I felt about the main character Una didn't matter because of everything else.  It wasn't that I didn't like her - it's just that I'm a bit over main characters that aren't considered reliable because they drink too much.  It didn't bother me too much as I was too curious on what was actually going on.  I just couldn't stop reading.  And then there is a turning point in the book that I totally didn't see coming.  At that point, I wasn't going to stop reading as I just had to see how this book would end.  

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this book.  The ending left me a bit wanting but the isolated, creepy feeling of suspense present throughout the book more than made up for it.  Jónasson is a talented author and this book reminded me that I need to work on catching up with his backlist.  Readers who enjoy suspenseful reads, those who enjoy books with an edge of creepiness and the supernatural, and fans of Nordic noir should definitely pick this book up.  This is an easy book for me to recommend but more to those readers who enjoy slow burns that build up to the climax.  

Bottom Line: The hints of the supernatural and isolated setting combined together into one very strong read!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Lie Beside Me by Gytha Lodge

Summary from Goodreads:

"You wake up.
You can't remember what happened.
The man lying next to you is not your husband. 
And he's not breathing . . ."

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in what has become one of my very favorite mystery series.  One of the things that makes this series standout so much for me is that each book has been different from the others.  This book almost felt like a domestic suspense from the way that it was written.  In it, one of the main characters Louise is writing to her husband and explaining certain things as one storyline.  Sorry to be vague here but I don't want to spoil anything because the setup is pretty brilliant.  In the other storyline, we see the events of Louise waking up next to a stranger and the subsequent investigation by Jonah Sheen's team.  The second thing that really stands out to me and that is present throughout each book in this series is the care that is taken with the characters and especially the victims.  The author always takes the time to allow the reader to really feel like they are getting to know these characters in a way that isn't always present in other mysteries or thrillers.  I loved how the author kept me guessing throughout this book.  I wasn't sure who to trust and/or who was to blame.  The only thing that I really knew is that Jonah and his team would figure it out in the end.  

Overall, I found this book to be another strong addition to one of my favorite mystery series out there.  I NEED other readers to find and love this series as much as I do!  You don't necessarily have to read these books in order but I would recommend it if possible.  There are these small threads that play out from each book that you would miss out on otherwise.  I think that you should pick this book up if you enjoy domestic suspense but want something a bit different, if you enjoy police procedurals, or just want a truly page turning read.  I definitely couldn't turn the pages fast enough while reading this one!  Now begins the long wait for the next book in the series...I will be jumping on that one as soon as it gets released!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful addition to a standout series!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley. I ended up reading a copy thanks to my local library.  Honest thoughts are my own.