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review 2017-10-14 19:55
The Haunting of Maddy Clare ★★★★☆
The Haunting of Maddy Clare - Simone St. James,Pamela Garelick

This could have been a much better book with a 75% reduction in Romance. And I do mean Romance with a capital R. Including the tortured Hero and shy, plain, Heroine who doesn’t realize that she’s actually pretty and despairs over having a great big jiggly bosom when 1920’s fashion is cut for boobless figures. Because what man would find big boobs attractive?!?


Still, the ghost story and murder mystery stuff were good enough to overcome all that. If I gave half-stars on ratings this would be 3 ½ so I rounded up to 4 stars.


Audiobook via Audible, with performance by Pamela Garelick, who did a great job on pacing and voicing the characters. Not sure how she did on the sex scenes, I FFed through those.


Thanks to Murder by Death for the book/author rec. This is the second Simone St. James book I’ve read, since you rec’d this book to me, and I have a third (An Inquiry Into Love and Death) on my TBR.

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text 2017-09-19 02:39
An Inquiry Into Love and Death
An Inquiry Into Love and Death - Simone St. James

Another re-read, this one for the Terrifying Women square - because I think this woman writes the scariest books on my shelves, and her new one isn't out yet.  


In my original review I went the whole 5-star hog, but my re-read would probably be 4.5 stars.  But only because I found the start of the book a tiny bit tedious this time around; I knew what was coming and I was in a rush to get to it.  Once it started though, it was just as good as I remember and still had the ability to scare the bejeezus out of me. 


This is a good old fashioned ghost and haunted house story; nothing psychological or gory, just spooky as hell.  To keep the story rounded there's also a romance, a murder, unexpected emotional journeys, and a cat.  Because there's almost always a cat.


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review 2017-01-23 12:38
Wych Elm House...
Lost Among the Living - Simone St. James,Justine Eyre,Inc. Blackstone Audio

Another great story by St. James! I would say this is my second favorite book of hers; the first being The Haunting of Maddy Clare. I listened to the audio of this and it was wonderful. She really knows how to evoke an eerie atmosphere. Her descriptions of Franny and Princer's 'appearances' were just chilling. I was starting to think they were real myself. : )

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text 2017-01-01 08:48
2016: The (fiction) books I liked best
An Inquiry Into Love and Death - Simone St. James
The Madwoman Upstairs - Catherine Lowell
Old Herbaceous: A Novel of the Garden - Reginald Arkell
The Improbability of Love - Hannah Rothschild
As Death Draws Near - Anna Lee Huber
Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope - Berkeley Breathed
Magic Binds - Ilona Andrews

My favourite fiction reads of 2016 were probably as varied as they've been been.  While once I was a tried and true mystery-or-bust sort of gal, my favourites this year only include 2 mysteries, both historical.  2 were popular fiction, something I almost never read; 1 an almost forgotten classic re-released, 1 Urban Fantasy and 1 collection of comics from my personal comic hero, Berkeley Breathed.


I had a lot fewer 5 star, books-I-want-to-hug in fiction but I had a lot more 4.5 star fiction reads this year.  It's been a great year for me reading-wise: while admittedly generous with my ratings, I rarely rate much 4.5 or 5 stars; I usually top out at 4 (something I'd re-read but not gush about).


My 4.5 star reads this year were:

Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop

Lady Cop Makes Trouble

Girl Waits with Gun

Undeniably Yours

Stiff Competition

The Circular Staircase

The Locked-room Mysteries

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children


The Single Undead Moms Club

Dear Committee Members

A Bed of Scorpions

Design for Dying

The Curse of Tenth Grave

The Semester of Our Discontent

The Canterville Ghost

The Folio Book of Comic Short Stories

The Other Side of Midnight

Something Rotten

The House at the End of Hope Street

Marked In Flesh

Fire Touched

Faux Paw

Daisies For Innocence


My first love, mysteries, make a very strong showing in the 4.5 star list.  Lots of cozies, of course, and historicals, and lots of UF, but a couple of classics and some great literature are on this list too as well as some YA and a sneaky contemporary fiction.


Overall, I'd incredibly pleased with my reading this year; I broke my personal record for most books read, yes, but I'm even more thrilled with how much broader my reading has become.  I even read a Science Fiction book this year!  *gasp*.  (I still don't like SF.)  This is 100% because of this community.  I've said it before, but it bears repeating:  I owe my TBR mountain range entirely to this community.  Without all of you I'd still be reading all cozies, all the time.  So thank you, and keep 'em coming!

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review 2016-10-31 13:00
Rambling Thoughts: The Haunting of Maddy Clare
The Haunting of Maddy Clare - Simone St. James

The Haunting of Maddy Clare

by Simone St. James



Sarah Piper's lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter.  Alistair Gellis--rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts--has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide.  Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah's task to confront her in death.  Soon Sarah is caught up in a desperate struggle.  For Maddy's ghost is real, she's angry, and she has powers that defy all reason.  Can Sarah and Alistair's assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, where she came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance-before she destroys them all?

The Haunting of Maddy Clare is really a type of book I find a little hard to form an opinion on, if only because it was such a fast-paced as well as short-length read.  While enjoyable at the time, I found myself looking back and having no recollection of anything that really stood out outside of the setting, some vague character biographies, and the mystery of Maddy's tragic tale.

In a way, I suppose that's actually a pretty good amount of recollection.  And have no doubt, I truly DID enjoy this book a lot!

The setting of Maddy Clare stands out because it is set in 1920s London--a time period that, whether in America, Europe, or even Asian countries, is one that I rarely visit in my literary (or other media) enjoyments.  It's an era that I'm not very familiar with, save for the tragic war-torn times of Chinese culture (thanks to several Chinese television series and movies I've watched growing up).  If Historical fiction is a genre I don't typically pick up, 1920s Historical is definitely a time period I don't usually even glance at.

What I'm trying to say is that, despite my new foray into Historical fiction, this book is definitely outside of my comfort zone, again, because I'm not familiar with that time period.  I have read a few books that were set during this time, but I can't say that I ever actually enjoyed them.  This is nothing against the time period itself; it's mainly a time period I rarely read about due to my own preferences.

Anyway, back to the book...

Maddy Clare was definitely a page-turner, with great atmosphere and serviceable characters.  I'm not entirely sure I was enamored of any of our main characters--Sarah, Matthew, or even Alistair.  In fact, I found that the characters I liked the most were some of the side characters, mainly Mrs. Clare and Mrs. MacCready, the ghostly Maddy Clare's keepers.  And, honestly, I also kind of had a soft spot for Maddy Clare herself, especially after realizing the tragedy that struck her and caused her to become a vengeful, angry spirit.

I was really sucked in by the mystery surrounding Maddy Clare's death, and despite it being rather predictable as soon as the investigation started, it was intense and hard not to develop some strong feelings about.  It was most definitely a sad, sad tragedy for Maddy Clare, and even in death as an angry spirit, I still feel for her.

The romance was one that I did not truly care for.  It was equal parts frustrating and unsettling considering the circumstances in which the first sex scene takes place, because CREEPY-STALKER much?  Okay, maybe it wasn't entirely a creepy-stalker scenario, because Matthew was never really a creepy stalker type... but the scene felt creepy-stalker-ish.  It really did, to me.  No matter how much Sarah was already lusting after him.

The sexual tension and chemistry was quite steamy though.  I'm not sure if that helps.


The Haunting of Maddy Clare is enjoyable.  But as I'd already noted, not entirely memorable.  And honestly, I didn't even realize that it was rather unmemorable until I tried to tell my best friend about it, trying to introduce a new book and author to her.

The conversation might have gone a little liked this:

Me:  "So I've got a new book for you!"  **all excited**
BFF:  "What book?"  **also all excited**
Me:  "It's called The Haunting of Maddy Clare."
BFF:  **anticipation**
Me:  "It's about... um... a haunting... by the ghost of a dead girl named Maddy Clare..."
BFF:  **anticipation**
Me:  "She's an angry spirit because... stuff happened to her..."
BFF:  **anticipation**
Me:  "It takes place in the 1920s... in London.  It's Gothic-Romance-Paranormal-Mystery..."
BFF:  "That does sound interesting...  1920s, you say?"
Me:  "Right.  The mystery secret reveal is pretty sad.  And then there are people who are supposed to find out what Maddy wants... or get rid of her... or help her move on...  You know..."

**awkward silence**

(This conversation has been edited for blogging entertainment's sake, because I have the memory of a goldfish.)

Anyway, even thinking back on what I had said to my best friend, even though she DID genuinely sound interested, my half-assed summation probably describes every ghost story/haunting story ever written...  -_-

I admit: I obviously did this book no justice with that conversation...

And to be honest, I think BFF was more interested in the 1920s setting than the actually book description about a haunted barn itself, anyway.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
2016 Halloween Bingo




Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/10/rambling-thoughts-haunting-of-maddy.html
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