Dennis Reviews 10/11/17

Book Title: Don’t Close Your Eyes
Author: Holly Seddon
Series: None
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Pub Date: 07/04/17

Twin sisters Robin and Sarah haven’t spoken in years.

Robin can’t leave her house. A complete shut-in, she spends her days spying on her neighbors, subtly meddling in their lives. But she can’t keep her demons out forever. Someone from her past has returned, and is desperate to get inside.

Sarah can’t go home. Her husband has kicked her out, forcibly denying her access to their toddler. Sarah will do anything to get her daughter back, but she’s unraveling under the mounting pressure of concealing the dark secrets of her past. And her lies are catching up to her.

Don’t Close Your Eyes is a story about sisterhood, about love and acceptance, and about the struggles of family dynamics. Robin and Sarah Marshall are twin sisters who haven’t seen each other in years. Robin suffers from agoraphobia, keeping herself locked away, people watching, and somewhat instigating drama in her neighbors lives. Sarah on the other hand, is dealing with relationship problems with her family. She has been kicked out and excommunicated from both her husband and her daughter, Violet. Sarah is desperately trying to find her sister, but cannot seem to get in contact with her. Sarah’s secrets and lies are catching up to her, and Robin is the only person in her life that can help her. As the story unfolds, both women begin to unravel, showing their vulnerabilities and the damage that the past has done to them. What are they hiding that is affecting both of them so much, and why?

Don’t Close Your Eyes is one of those books that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The story predominately features twin sisters, Sarah and Robin Marshall, but also beautifully characterizes the supporting characters as well. The story is written with two POVs, each being one of the sisters. It is an extremely slow burn so it can get be of mundane in the beginning, but as the pages kept turning, small pockets of new information regarding the story kept unfolding and pulling me back in. Honestly, both sisters really pissed me off and weren’t really likable, which is fine because (in my opinion) if you love/like to hate a character, it still locks you into the story. I really enjoyed the secondary characters more than Robin and Sarah, so I got really hooked when we started learning more about them. The story is not really a thriller but a mystery that provides snippets of new information while continuing to move the story along. I wish that it was a little more fast-paced because it really didn’t thoroughly engage me until 75% of the story was over. Don’t Close Your Eyes jumps between the present and the early ’90s while they were growing up, and honestly their past was more enjoyable and binge-worthy than the present. If you’re looking for a book to enjoy during your lunch break, or while having a coffee, look no further because this is your book!


Book Title: The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Series: None
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Gothic
Pub Date: 03/20/18

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. . . .

What a marvelous and unexpected on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of read! Simon St. James’s The Broken Girls is set in Barrons, Vermont, during two different time periods and ultimately merging into one storyline.

1950- In a generation of people affected by the aftermath of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, there is a boarding school in rural Vermont called Idlewild Hall. This all girls boarding school is home to many of society’s “degenerates”, trouble-makers, family secrets, and broken girls. A group of outcasts, Katie, CeCe, Sonia, and Roberta are the best of friends, forging their time at Idlewild with their own sisterhood, showing each other that they can handle anything life throws at them, as long as they have each other.

2014- After decades of Idlewild Hall being shutdown, a mysterious buyer decides to reopen the boarding school under suspicious circumstances. Journalist Fiona Sheridan decides to pick up the story because it is near and dear to her heart. Idlewild’s operations ceased after her sister was tragically murdered by the facility owner’s son. Why is Idlewild being restored? Why now, after all this time? And… who or what is looming over the property? As time progresses, secrets start unraveling at the seams. Not everything in Barrons is what it seems.

The Broken Girls really kept me engaged from the moment the storyline was established. It was my first read by Simone St. James and I will definitely be interested in seeing what else she has in her pocket in the future. Usually I don’t like stories that follow two or more different timelines, as I feel like it becomes an over-zealous attempt at creating an in depth story, but St. James really has a good handle on weaving in the past to the present here. Slowly, each puzzle piece locks in for an epic conclusion.

*Thank you Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


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