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text 2019-08-04 05:40
Bingo Pre-party 2019: Prompt 3
The Haunted Grange Of Goresthorpe - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Canterville Ghost - Oscar Wilde,Inga Moore
The Haunting of Maddy Clare - Simone St. James
An Inquiry Into Love and Death - Simone St. James
Silence for the Dead - Simone St. James
The Broken Girls - Simone St. James


8/3/2019: Favorite Ghostly Tales


I love ghost stories, but they have to be just ghost stories - no veering into psychological horror, or slasher type stories.  My imagination is too impressionable and I value my sleep and the ability to stay home alone without sedation.  For this reason, my ghost story collection is small.


The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde has made several lists already.  I used to faithfully watch the US adaptation (b/c it was the only one aired in my area), and when I finally read the book I was bowled over by the hilarity; the tv adaptation focused on the ghost's redemption, and in doing so, short-changed the viewers.  As almost always, the book is better.


The Haunted Grange Of Goresthorpe by Arthur Conan Doyle is one of the first stories he ever wrote, and Holmes 'aficionados' consider it an amateur effort.  Horsefeathers.  It's delightfully spooky and creepy, especially given its short length.


The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James, and all the other books I've listed by her, are the only ghost stories I've read by a current author.  I love her writing; she writes a tale that is spooky and a little hair-raising in the best old-fashioned sense.  For me, her books are just scary enough to make me wonder if I'll sleep that night, but not so scary that I actually can't.  There's an element of romance to most of them, but I don't care, because the ghosts get center stage.


Now I must check St. James' website... surely it must be time for a new book?

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review 2019-07-21 08:36
Quick Thoughts: Silence for the Dead
Silence For the Dead - Simone St. James

Silence for the Dead

by Simone St. James



In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War.  Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams.  But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms.  It’s known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go?  And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?

Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman… or maybe both.  But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces.  And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.

Silence for the Dead is one of those books that has a great premise and a gorgeous cover, and so you end up with some high expectations, especially knowing how well our author, Simone St. James, can write.  And it has all of this, but in the end, I felt like the book never reached it's full potential.  As much as I'm a weeny when it comes to ghost stories, I was really looking forward to this particular book because of the haunted hospital aspect.

But the book never truly got appropriately spooky, with maybe one or two scenes that came close, but didn't quite do it.  I had read this during the night and expected to fully be scared out of my wits, but even with the lights off, it didn't really do that much.

I will give the book props for touching upon the lack of medical and psychological treatment and care for the war heroes of WWI, the men who had come home with shell shock, and whom society were all unable to accept.  In fact, the story line involving the patients at Portis House seemed to be the stronger of the story tangents.  The way that these men were treated was the more horrifying of everything presented in this book, and even as you knew (and still know) how veterans of war were treated upon returning home with PTSD, it's still a shock to realize the extent of how terrible it all was.

Story-wise, it was a bit unfortunate that everything starts falling apart towards the end of the book.  The romance was also lacking some chemistry, and the men of Portis House ended up just fading into the ending.  Kitty's family issues were never truly resolved either, and her misgivings about men seemed dealt with too readily with the standard "love cures all" treatment.  The same could be said about Jake Yate's PTSD, wherein his fatalistic and suicidal desires were dissolved just because he met Kitty.

Still, I DID get hooked into the book, and the writing is still beautifully done.  The atmosphere created was a great attempt, and the book was still entertaining.  I DID still like Kitty and her gumption, though I found her lack of sense, thinking she could imitate a nurse without repercussions a bit irresponsible, though I appreciated her awareness that her actions could have gotten someone killed in the long run.

Another enjoyable book by Simone St. James, though not necessarily my favorite, and probably more disappointing just because of my own high expectations.



Booklikes-opoly 2019

Roll #13b:
Square: When? (34) | Read a book that is time travel or historical fiction, or a book with the word "when" in the title.

How it fits:  This book is historical fiction.
Count Page:  386
Cash:  $3



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/07/quick-thoughts-silence-for-dead.html
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review 2018-03-29 03:31
Great ghost story, but dragged out ending
Silence for the Dead - Simone St. James

Anything to do with a horror ghost theme and an asylum has to be good right? Well, yes and no. The book was somewhat enjoyable to read but it had its’ moments.


The plot itself was good. It  had the elements of a good gothic theme - not scary enough to make people read it in daytime (seriously?) but it had some good decent creep factor in it. It’s enough to set the mood and theme of the book but nothing to make the skin crawl. The element of mystery was also there and the ghost story aspect was good - nothing to blind side you - except perhaps for a little twist in the end (with where the ghost was and who was it manipulating etc etc). It’s pretty much a stable plot with all the main points closed (or is it? *queue creepy organ music*) so I’d have to say the gothic ghost story was what was in it for me.


Character wise. Kitty is likable. She’s resourceful, and a survivor from horrible abuse. Big applause for her for being strong and able to stand up and survive through various ordeals. Captain Mabry stood out for me because I enjoyed reading about his character. He seemed to be the strong stable silent type in the asylum where you have various patients with various issues (most were casualties of World War One) and there was a certain calmness about him that made him likable.


It’s pretty much obvious Kitty and Jack were to be together. The romance aspect in the book was all right. Necessary? I’m not sure perhaps. It’s not really for me. When their romance was more cemented was where the book was starting to take a slight turn downhill.


So near the ending when everything was revealed, all plot holes start to close. Sometimes, depending on the writing, you can stretch it out and make it interesting. Or you can make it drag. This one, unfortunately drags. We’re done with the ghosts, everything was answered, and the last 30 pages or so I just wanted the book to end. The romance of Kitty and Jack intensify and this is where intense eye rolling is also induced. Dear Lord, am I reading this just to see if there’s a scary twist at the end? Or am I wasting my time? Well sadly, I wasted my time. It was good to see what happened to characters like Mabry, and even Matron, but it just dragged way too much. Yeah okay we get it Kitty and Jack forever. Why do we need so many pages of this, am I suddenly reading a romance now?


Other than the ghost story in this book, the romance nearly killed it for me and a dragged out ending. Perhaps a nice twist in the ending would be nice. Or maybe skim the 30 pages and be done. I would say take it or leave it with this book. It was moderately enjoyable for me.

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review 2016-09-10 16:45
Silence for the Dead ★★★☆☆
Silence for the Dead - Simone St. James,Mary Jane Wells

This could have been an excellent little ghost story. The buildup of tension and mystery was very well done and the characters were intriguing, but I was disappointed in the final third of the story. Perhaps I should have expected the romance, but it felt forced and implausible, and it was incredibly inappropriate for the two main characters to be playing striptease and grab-ass when patients that the “heroine” was responsible for were dying, unattended, of influenza in another part of the building, and another patient that she was responsible for was missing and known to be dangerous. Yes, I know she was not a real nurse, but she had assumed the role and the responsibility. I was dissatisfied with the trite happily-ever-after marriage ending, where the heroine is suddenly over all her childhood trauma because of the hero’s magic lovemaking. And the attitude of “BTW, four patients died, but that’s a pretty good death rate, so that’s cool” really chapped my sensibilities.


This book touched on the real tragedy of WW I soldiers who dealt with “shell shock”, the absolute lack of medical and psychological care available to them at the time, the stigma of cowardice, weakness, and unmanliness attached to its victims, and the awful state of psychiatric care at the time. But it used it too lightly for my taste, using it as a mere backdrop, and really dropped the ball in wrapping the story up with the characters who suffered from it. The “good” characters were able to miraculously just reintegrate to their homes and families (happily ever after!) and the “bad” and anonymous others were just shipped off to another psych hospital (out of sight, out of mind).


Audiobook version, borrowed from my public library. Mary Jane Wells provided an excellent performance. I will look for her again as an audio narrator.


I read this book for the 2016 Halloween Bingo, Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses square

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text 2016-09-06 14:55
Silence for the Dead - progress: 7%.
Silence for the Dead - Simone St. James,Mary Jane Wells

Just getting started with this, but it has sucked me in right away. The author is giving up the background of the setting and the protagonist in tiny sips, weaving them into the fabric of the story - I love it. 


I've chosen this for the Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses square for 2016 Halloween Bingo, as it is set in a mental hospital that is housed in an isolated (haunted?) mansion. It's also a historical fiction set just after WWI. It would have been a good choice for Gothic, as well.


EDIT: also, I think Mary Jane Wells is doing a fantastic job with the narration. I don't think I've heard any of her work before, but I'm definitely going to seek it out. 




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