Review: The Broken Girls (Simone St. James)

The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman

Publication Date: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Audio

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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… 


Last year, I read The Sun Down Motel. I enjoyed that book so much that I knew I wanted to read some of Simone St. James’s back list. I decided to start with the audiobook of The Broken Girls. I was intrigued by the blurb and loved the cover. By the time I finally got it from my library, I had completely forgotten what it was about. That made this listen very interesting because I had no idea where the story was going or how the two timelines were connected at first.

The Broken Girls didn’t quite captivate me the way The Sun Down Motel did. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy The Broken Girls. I did. Rebecca Lowman brought the story to life in a great way. I love her voice and narration. I enjoyed Fiona’s POV and the mysteries she was trying to solve. Her POV was especially interesting considering her thoughts and opinions were skewed by the untimely murder of her sister. I loved the ghost aspect of the story and was curious as to why Mary was haunting the halls of Idlewild. Plus, there were some great twists.

All of these good things being said, there were still a couple things that prevented this book from wowing me. First, the two timelines didn’t mesh as well as I wanted them to. I think part of the issue was the past timeline. It was in four different POVs and it took me a while to keep the girls and their stories straight. It was too distracting. I get why the four were used, but I also think it might have been better to just have it be Katie’s POV. Second, I loved the ghost aspect, but it also ended up feeling a little anticlimactic at the end. I wanted there to be a better tie in or timeline all of its own.

Despite those two things, I did end up enjoying listening to this book. It moved at a good pace and kept my curiosity going. It was a good mystery.

Review: The Good Lie (A.R. Torre)

The Good Lie
Author: A.R. Torre
Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

Six teens murdered. A suspect behind bars. A desperate father. In a case this shadowy, the truth is easy to hide.

Six teenagers dead. Finally, the killer behind bars. But are the games just beginning?

Psychiatrist Dr. Gwen Moore is an expert on killers. She’s spent a decade treating California’s most depraved predators and unlocking their motives—predators much like the notorious Bloody Heart serial killer, whose latest teenage victim escaped and then identified local high school teacher Randall Thompson as his captor. The case against Thompson as the Bloody Heart Killer is damning—and closed, as far as Gwen and the media are concerned. If not for one new development…

Defense attorney Robert Kavin is a still-traumatized father whose own son fell prey to the BH Killer. Convinced of Thompson’s innocence, he steps in to represent him. Now Robert wants Gwen to interview the accused, create a psych profile of the killer and his victims, and help clear his client’s name.

As Gwen and Robert grow closer and she dives deeper into the investigation, grave questions arise. So does Gwen’s suspicion that Robert is hiding something—and that he might not be the only one with a secret.


My review for The Good Lie is going to be different. There are a lot of different characters and multiple points of view going on in this book. Rather than lay it all out for you and possible spoil something, I’m going to give you my impressions while reading this book.

First impression: I’m kind of confused to what’s going on. All of these people are messed up. I can’t tell if I’m going to like this book or not.

Impression half way through: All of these people are REALLY messed up. I can trust no one. Why are they all so sketchy? Except Nina. She’s the real sleuth.

As things start being revealed: I saw that coming, but why didn’t I expect that?

Final impression: The Good Lie was a fast paced thriller with expected and unexpected twists and turns. It took me a bit to get into, but once I was hooked I couldn’t put it down. All the characters were flawed and messy and I loved that. I enjoyed the ride this book and its multiple POV took me on. I loved how everything tied up at the end.

Review: Every Last Secret (A.R. Torre)

Every Last Secret
Author: A.R. Torre

Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Welcome to the neighborhood. Watch your husband, watch your friends, and watch your back.

Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home; social standing; and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a friendly new couple moves into the estate next door. While cautious, a good neighbor like Cat greets them with open arms and warm hospitality.

Neena Ryder isn’t a fellow lady of leisure. A life coach with off-the-rack dresses, personal issues, and a husband who hasn’t delivered, she’s anxious to move up in the world. This beautiful new town is a step in the right direction. It’s also making Neena aware of what she doesn’t have. Namely, William. When Neena’s infatuation escalates into obsession, it’s just a matter of eliminating a few obstacles to get the life she wants. The life next door.

As Neena’s secret fixation grows, so does her friendship with Cat. But beneath their cordial interactions is a wealth of temptations, secrets, and toxic jealousy. For both women, the desire for a perfect life can turn perfectly dangerous. 


Every Last Secret had my undivided attention from the very first page. I knew I would enjoy it going in because I am a fan of Alessandra (A.R.) Torre’s writing (no matter what genre), but I didn’t expect to want to read it in one day. I was so hooked! There was something about the vibe of it that reminded me of Tarryn Fisher’s Bad Mommy, and that was a good thing. I just really loved how the story was set up and how everything played out. Not everything was a surprise to me. Some revelations I could see coming, but that didn’t matter. I was engrossed in Cat and Neena’s lives and actions that each little twist made the story that much better. I loved everything about this fast-paced domestic thriller.

Review: Heartbreak Bay (Rachel Caine)

Heartbreak Bay
Series: Stillhouse Lake, #5
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: March 9, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

They’re hunting a killer so silent, so invisible, that his unspeakable crimes are the only proof he exists.

A car submerged in a remote pond. The bodies of two girls strapped into their seats. The mystery of their mother, vanished without a trace, leads Gwen Proctor and Kezia Claremont into dangerous territory.

On the surface, Gwen’s life is good—two children approaching adulthood, a committed partner, and a harrowing past dead and gone. But that past is attracting the attention of someone invisible…and unstoppable. Trouble’s just beginning. So is the body count in this backwoods Tennessee town.

As threats mount and Gwen’s hunted by an enemy who pulls all the strings, Kezia has her back. But working to solve these vicious and unreasonable crimes will expose them both to a killer they can’t for the life of them see coming.


Not going to lie. My heart is breaking a little as I write this one last review for Rachel Caine and the Stillhouse Lake series. Knowing Caine is no longer with us and will no longer be writing hit me hard as I finished Heartbreak Bay. While this book was a fitting end for Gwen Proctor, family, and friends, I would have loved for this series to gone on longer. It takes a lot for me to stay confined to my seat with a thriller, and Rachel Caine has always managed to do that with this series. Heartbreak Bay was no different. I was taken on a stressful but addictive journey to find another killer taunting Gwen and it was everything I hoped it would be. Rachel Caine finished up this series on a high and I will forever be grateful to her for writing a thriller series that kept me always coming back for more. Fans of this series won’t want to miss out on this spectacular ending.

Series Review: In the Company of Killers (J.A. Redmerski)

I have mini reviews for the In the Company of Killers series for you today. This series isn’t for everyone. It’s dark, violent, angsty, and suspenseful. I would say it’s rated R. I would caution potential readers that it is truly dark with many, many trigger warnings. It’s about a woman who breaks free from a Mexican drug and sex trafficking ring with help of an assassin, if that explains a bit. Every character in messed up in a deeply disturbing way.

Killing Sarai
Series: In the Company of Killers, #1
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: June 8, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

I’ve had Killing Sarai on my Kindle for years because friends raved about it. I’ve put off reading it for two reasons: 1. The series is SEVEN books long and 2. It’s super dark. Sarai escapes a Mexican drug lord who has abused her for years and ends up in the hands of professional killer Victor. This isn’t a love story between Sarai and Victor (as much as I might have wanted it to be), but a thrilling ride of violence and death to those who deserve it most. Killing Sarai was intense and addictive. I didn’t want to put it down, but was also scared to find out what came next. I wouldn’t say I loved reading it because it was torture in some ways. I guess all I can say is that I’m committed to reading at least the second book. (Let’s be real — I’ll end up reading the entire series.)

Reviving Izabel
Series: In the Company of Killers, #2
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: December 4, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Not going to lie. I thought I might take a break in between Killing Sarai and this book, but I couldn’t. I HAD to know what was going to happen to Sarai and Victor after the ending of the first book. Reviving Izabel surprised me in ways only the Nine Minute Trilogy by Beth Flynn has. Twists and turns came out of nowhere. When Victor warned Sarai not to trust anyone, I think he was really speaking to the reader. Man! This book was intense and blew my mind. I’m scared to find out what comes next in the third book, which is bound to be even darker since it is about their friend(?) Fredrik.

The Swan & the Jackal
Series: In the Company of Killers, #3
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: March 3, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Once again, MIND BLOWN. I was warned The Swan & the Jackal was darker than the first two books, but I don’t know that I was prepared for Fredrik. I don’t think anyone could actually be prepared for him or what he was willing to do to find Seraphina. Dude was disturbed. Knowing the reasons behind his actions… Well, that was just heartbreaking with a side of nauseating. Fredrik is one of those characters I knew I shouldn’t love, but can’t help it because he’s more vulnerable than I expected. So, yeah. Shock and awe with this third installment. How will J.A. Redmerski ever be able to keep the surprises coming?

Seeds of Inequity
Series: In the Company of Killers, #4
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: September 25, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

Seeds of Inequity is probably my favorite book in the series so far. It wasn’t quite as shocking as some of the other books — even if my mind was blown on more than one occasion while reading it. What I loved so much about it was the levity it brought to the series. Even while it was being dark and twisted, it managed to be humorous at times. The addition of Nora’s character was so smart. She really got in everyone’s heads and put the team through some stuff. I loved how that changed some dynamics. It’s going to be very interesting to find out where things go after this book. It was a game changer.

The Black Wolf
Series: In the Company of Killers, #5
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: June 29, 2015
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

I took a break in between books 4 and 5 because I had to read an ARC, but I couldn’t wait to get back to this book. Unfortunately, it didn’t immediately pull me in. It wasn’t until about half way through when the story ramped up and I became more interested. Even then, I wondered what the point of everything was…right up until the very end. That ah-ha moment had me rethinking everything that happened in this installment of In the Company of Killers. In the end, my biggest complaints were I needed more Victor and Izabel time and more Fredrik.

Behind the Hands that Kill
Series: In the Company of Killers, #6
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: May 7, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

After the end of the last book, I was a little nervous regarding Victor’s intentions and idea of taking Izabel on a vacation. I had no idea where things would go with that — and what happened wasn’t on my radar. This book was all about revealing some of Victor’s secrets. It was an education on the man in a stressful way. I’m not happy with where things left off between Victor and Izabel, but it sure is making for some interesting reading. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Spiders in the Grove
Series: In the Company of Killers, #7
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

If I were to share my train of thought while reading Spiders in the Grove, it would go something like this:

Niklas is what?
Fredrik is what?
Victor is what?
Please tell me that’s a lie…
What is this? I don’t even…
IZABEL!
Ah, crap! Deal with the devil coming right up.
Ahhhh!!!!
That’s who…?
Woohoo!
I FREAKING KNEW IT!
I didn’t expect that.
I HATE IT!
That’s where it ends??? I need more now! Where is the next book?

Spiders in the Grove was non-stop revelations and crazy, crazy happenings. I was blindsided by so much! I wanted to say I loved every minute of it, but the subject matter would make that disgusting. The writing, though. It was pure genius and those twists and turns were perfection. I loved that we got real time POVs for all the characters. Also, the title is one of my favorites ever now. It matches the book so well.

I’m both happy and angry to be caught up with the series. I need that eighth book like NOW.

Overall thoughts on this series so far:

 This is one of the best dark romance/thriller series I’ve ever read. It is right up there with Beth Flynn’s Nine Minutes Trilogy for me. The twists and turns kept coming and I couldn’t stop reading.  I am on pins and needles waiting for the rest of the books.

Review: The Cousins (Karen M. McManus)

The Cousins
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying comes your next obsession. You’ll never feel the same about family again.

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious–and dark–their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over–and this summer, the cousins will learn everything. 


Karen M. McManus is one of those authors who as soon as I’m finished reading her most recent release I’m already awaiting the next one. I feel like I have been waiting FOREVER to read The Cousins. The wait was worth every minute.

McManus instantly pulled me in with her writing. I was curious without barely knowing anything about what was to come. The story was addictive and flowed at fast pace — which is how I like my thrillers. I didn’t always like all of the characters, but I loved them. Their story was messy and highly entertaining.

I never quite knew where the story was going until I was almost upon what was happening. There were lots of great surprises. The only place where the surprises left me a little letdown was toward the end. The biggest reveal was too easy, if that makes sense. I would have preferred something a little more complex, but that didn’t ruin my reading experience. Overall, The Cousins was a great book that was fun to read and fulfilled my need for a Karen M. McManus book. Now, I’m waiting for next release…

Review: The Rules of Burken (Traci Finlay)

The Rules of Burken
Author: Traci Finlay
Publication Date: April 11, 2019
Genre: Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Twenty-four-year-old Charlotte Stahl would do anything for her older brother, Ian. After all, he’d done everything for her growing up.

He played Burken with her—a hide-and-seek game they made up as kids.

He comforted her when their mom deserted them.

He raised her when their dad went to prison for murder.

To Charlotte, Ian is the only reason she’s still alive—he’s her rock. So when Ian asks her to play Burken in the isolated woods of Cadillac, Michigan, Charlotte feels she could use the nostalgia and agrees. Besides, they haven’t played this game since childhood. Burken—it’s the one thing that never changes …

…until Ian threatens to kill her in the middle of the game.

More than the rules have changed as Brother turns to Predator, Sister turns to Prey, and she’s navigating the forests of Northern Michigan on foot with nothing but the clothes—and a target—on her back.

If Charlotte wants to stay alive, she knows she has to untangle the web of her haunting past to find out where things went wrong, and at what point she lost sight of reality. With no other choice but to reopen old wounds—and with Ian hot on her trail—Charlotte learns that sometimes evil has to manifest in order for good to succeed. Which makes her wonder…

Is Ian really a monster? Or her savior?


I came across The Rules of Burken when author Tarryn Fisher promoted it on her Instagram at release time. I was intrigued by it then and wanted to read it, so I downloaded it. I don’t have a good reason for taking so long to get to it. It sat on my Kindle for over a year before I picked it up, which I’m not proud of.

This psychological thriller was addictive from the start. I was constantly tense trying to figure things out. The game Charlotte and her brother Ian played was brutal. Their sibling bond fascinated me. I was desperate to understand it, so I could make guesses as to what was happening. There these great flashbacks throughout the story heightened my curiosity even more. Everything moved at such fast pace, I didn’t want to miss anything. I didn’t want to put the book down.

Honestly, I was impressed this was Traci Finlay’s debut novel. The writing was great, the plot moved quickly, and the end left me wanting more. Not only do I want to read another book by this author, but I would read a sequel. It wasn’t the most complex psychological thriller, but it was a good one and I would recommend it.

Review: The Sun Down Motel

The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…


The Sun Down Motel isn’t a book I would normally reach for. I like a good thriller, but a ghost story isn’t my thing at all. I ended up with The Sun Down Motel after accidentally forgetting to cancel my Book of the Month subscription. It sat around for a couple of months until I was in the mood to challenge myself. I’m really happy I ended up with a copy of it because it was a fantastic read — ghosts and all.

The mystery of the dead and missing girls was fascinating to me. I loved how it was woven between Viv and Carly’s point of views. Their stories were similar and yet completely different. I enjoyed adding up all the revelations  and being surprised at some of the twists and turns.

The ghost aspect of this story creeped me out. I have to admit that I could only read it during the day. I am a wimp when it comes to that stuff, so take this comment with a grain of salt. Once I got used to the ghosts and what was happening, I didn’t get as freaked out. I loved how the Sun Down Hotel became a character of its own through the ghosts who inhabited it.

I don’t want to give anything away about this book, so I’m just going to leave everything else unsaid. The Sun Down Motel was a well written thriller infused with just the right amount of horror. I was immediately drawn into it and felt its pull the entire time I was reading it. I highly recommend reading it.

Review: Little Secrets (Jennifer Hillier)

Little Secrets
Author: Jennifer Hillier
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From the author of Jar of Hearts, a mother driven to the edge by the disappearance of her son learns her husband is having an affair with the woman who might have kidnapped him.
Four hundred and eighty seconds. That’s how long it took for someone to steal Marin Machado’s four-year-old son.

Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They’re admired in their community and are a loving family. Up until the day Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. The only thing keeping her going is the unlikely chance that one day Sebastian reappears. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding him, she discovers that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman.

Kenzie Li is an artist and grad student—Instagram famous—and up to her eyeballs in debt. She knows Derek is married. She also knows he’s rich, and dating him comes with perks: help with bills, trips away, expensive gifts. He isn’t her first rich boyfriend, but she finds herself hoping he’ll be the last. She’s falling for him—and that was never part of the plan.

Discovery of the affair sparks Marin back to life. She’s lost her son; she’s not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. But as she sets a plan in motion, another revelation surfaces. Derek’s lover might know what happened to their son. And so might Derek.


Normally, I shy away from thriller involving missing children. It’s just too hard to read as a parent — one of my biggest nightmares. That being said, I couldn’t pass up Little Secrets. I loved Jennifer Hillier’s last book, Jar of Hearts, so I was reading this book no matter what. I’m so, so glad I did!

Little Secrets is a book about a mother’s despair after the abduction of her only child, Sebastian, and the depths she will go to find out the truth. This book unravels slowly, building up to the truth. Not that it’s slow paced. It’s not at all. It’s a page turner that gives divulges those little secrets at the perfect time and pace. You’ll be so wrapped up in the story, you won’t realize the end is near until it’s on you. At least, that’s the way it was for me and I loved every second of it.

Review: The Wives (Tarryn Fisher)

The Wives
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: December 30, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Imagine that your husband has two other wives.

You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.

But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.

You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then, Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.

Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?

And who is his mysterious third wife?


What. The. Heck. No, seriously. What the heck?

I’m exhausted from reading The Wives. It is a great example of why I love Tarryn Fisher’s writing. She’s so crafty in her delivery. It may start out in a sleepy thriller sort of way, but when things start to go down THEY GO DOWN. I was on edge for the entire second half of the book. Surprises were lurking behind every corner, people! Just when I thought I had finally figured freaking Thursday and the story out, BAM! I was proven wrong again… and again… and again. I want to say I loved every minute of this thriller, but I can’t — only because my stress level was way up there. My nerves are frayed in the best way.