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review 2020-09-13 09:08
The Sun Down Motel
The Sun Down Motel - Simone St. James

I am not a fan of horror, but I'm a big fan of old-fashioned ghost stories, when read in broad daylight.  I've been a big fan of Simone St. James' ghost stories since I first found The Haunting of Maddy Claire, the first of ... five?... historical ghost stories.  She branched off in a new direction with The Broken Girls, going with a dual time-line plot, which I read hesitantly, but enjoyed thoroughly.  The Sun Down Motel is another such book: a dual time-line mystery firmly rooted around a haunted place, this time a hotel that was pretty much doomed before it ever opened its doors.


I'm still a fan of St. James - I think this was a riveting read, and I devoured it in 2 sittings (daylight hours, all of them), but it wasn't as good as some of her others for two reasons, both purely subjective.  The first was the heavy handedness of the message: that women have always been, and sadly will always be, to some extent, vulnerable and expendable.  This is as unavoidable a fact as it is an inexcusable one, but more subtle writing would have had more powerful an impact.  Instead, there were times - just a few - that I felt like I was the choir and I was being preached at.  This wasn't a massive issue; it was just enough to pull me out of my head and the story a time or two.


The second reason is almost silly:  the ghosts.  They were almost exactly my right level of scary, but, and it took me some time to figure this out, they didn't have quite the effect on me as the ghosts in her previous books, because they never really focused on the main characters.  These hauntings were almost the remnant-kind: they were there acting in an endless loop, whether anyone witnessed or not, although there was a trigger.  The main ghost communicated with the historical time-line mc, but only once without being pushed into it by Viv.  The other ghosts communicated with the present day mc, Carly, but benignly.  They were spooky, absolutely, but at a remove, so that they fell just short of spine-tingling.


And I guess, as I write this I was left unsatisfied by Nick's story; it felt like it should be going somewhere and it didn't.  I'm also disappointed that there was never an explanation for the present-day entry in the guest book of one James March who registered the day Carly and Nick had their first real experience with the Sun Down Motel.  That was a BIG little thing to leave hanging with no follow up.


But overall, it was a good story; I liked that both Viv and Carly had solid friendships in their timelines; I liked that Nick was her support from pretty much page 1, and I liked the investigatory process of the mystery plot, even if I thought Viv was a reckless idiot.  The story sucked me in, and I remain a solid fan of St. James' books.


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review 2020-05-04 20:46
The Broken Girls
The Broken Girls - Simone St. James

I'm so bored.
It reads like YA.
Also, I've lost which story line I am supposed to be interested in.
Bugger this.
I'm out.


DNF @ 57%

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text 2020-05-04 19:55
Reading progress update: I've read 47%.
The Broken Girls - Simone St. James

This book is my first St. James and it started off really well, even if the setting and premise are not something I would usually go for. 


Unfortunately, this has turned to a very slow-paced story now, and I am bored. 


I hope this picks up again soon.

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review 2020-01-17 22:43
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
The Broken Girls - Simone St. James

An excellent murder mystery/ghost story centered around the ruins of a former school for unwanted girls known as Idlewild Hall. The mystery is engaging, moving between the 1950s and the present, and the ghost story has a marvelously creepy urban legend vibe.

Highly recommended.

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review 2020-01-09 17:50
The Other Side of Midnight
The Other Side of Midnight - Simone St. James

I was really in the mood for a gothic story with ghosts in it and my mind immediately went to Simone St. James as an author. I have read her most recent book “The Broken Girls” and I really enjoyed the mystery and the gothic feeling of this book. And there was a ghost in it.


Unfortunately, “The Other Side of Midnight” hasn´t exactly met my expectations. Actually, there are ghosts within the story, but this is due to the profession of the female main character, who is a psychic and who sees dead people. But this book doesn´t feel particularly gothic and the ghost aspect is a very surface-level one.


A big part of my disappointment is due to the fact that I expected this book being in a certain genre, gothic historical fiction, while it in reality is a romantic suspense novel. And it suffers from a few things that I don´t particularly like in this specific genre.


The biggest gripe I have with this book is the romance. Once again, the weak female, Ellie, has to be protected by the strong, manly man, James, a man, whose personality is solely defined by his muscles and who was dull as ditchwater.

The author really felt the need to tell my over and over again, how incredibly muscled and packed the male main character is. She even takes it to the next level and the physique of every other man within the story is compared to James´ muscles.

I really didn´t like James, I found him incredibly dull and I didn´t buy into the love story, which, to top it off, started off with the most ridiculous case of instalove (James gives Elli a smoldering look across the room and she is up and about to throw her knickers at him in a heartbeat).


The mystery aspect of this novel didn´t blow my socks of, either. With this book it felt like the author focused more on the romance than the actual mystery. Which isn´t my favorite thing to read about, especially if the romance between two characters makes me feel nothing.


This book was fast read and it was entertaining, but it wasn´t what I wanted it to be.

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