Review: The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker by Kerry Wilkinson

I seem to be on a roll with these kinds of stories lately. Stories so far outside of the norm that it’s hard to wrap your brain around them. But so good that you can’t pull yourself away…

When seventeen-year-old Eleanor wakes up in the river, she’s not quite sure what happened. A strong sense of choking, water filling her lungs, being held down, all these things soon add up to the realization that she was drowned. And that she died. But, inexplicably, she’s not completely dead. Sure, there are some annoying things she can no longer do. Like eat. Or sleep. Or feel anything. Oh and she’s always cold, even though it’s the middle of the summer. Still, she’s determined to find out what happened to her that night in the river. All the while knowing that not everyone wants her to discover the truth.

I loved this story. It’s much easier to follow than it may seem. It’s very intriguing and twisty, one I couldn’t put down!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker

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Review: Providence by Caroline Kepnes

If you loved other books by Caroline Kepnes, you must read this one. And if you’ve never read any of her work, this one’s a great place to start.

Jon and Chloe are very different, but they share an unbreakable bond. Best friends during childhood, that bond is almost broken when Jon is abducted. Chloe is devastated at first but is eventually able to move on and form some sort of a normal life. But then Jon returns. Although four long years have passed, that bond is still there. Jon’s different, though. Not only in appearance, but in something deeper. He now possesses a terrifying power, the power to hurt people with just a look. And it’s not something he can fully control. So he runs as far away as he can, hoping to keep Chloe and his family safe.

While he’s on the run, he’s also looking for answers. What happened during those four lost years? Because he doesn’t remember anything, only being taken and then waking up years later. The secret to this power he doesn’t want lies with his abductor, if he can find him.

This book is very much like the author’s previous books while at the same time being very different. It has that same element of suspense, that thread of obsession running through it. But it veers off that familiar course into sci fi territory although not so far off the path that the main story is lost. A great one for summer!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Providence

Review: The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

I’m so excited about this new series from Paula Brackston. I mean, the cover alone is enough to make you want to visit…

Xanthe (don’t you just love that name?!?) and her mother are looking for a fresh start. Both of them are trying to move on, and the charming little town of Marlborough seems like just the place to do that. They’re ready to make their dream of owning an antique shop a reality.

It’s while they’re looking for merchandise that Xanthe comes across an ancient chatelaine (I had to look this one up) that she just has to have. You see, it speaks to her. Xanthe has an intense connection to certain antiques. And this chatelaine speaks to her loudly. In the form of a ghost. She finds herself transported back to the seventeenth century. There’s a mystery to be solved, and that ghost won’t let her have any peace until it’s done.

This is such a promising start to a new series. It’s historical and mysterious and suspenseful and magical all at the same time. The author has a true gift for these kinds of stories. I can’t wait for the next one!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Little Shop of Found Things

Review: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Have you ever just really, really disliked a character in a book? Admit it, even though they’re fictional, sometimes these “people” are just so very unlikable. That was the case for me with this one. I just didn’t like her. But then she redeemed herself. Not gonna tell you how because that would be too spoilerish.

When Cass makes a seemingly minor choice on her way home late one rainy night, things will never be the same. Her decision to NOT stop and help a stranded motorist begins to haunt her as soon as she finds out that the motorist, a woman traveling alone, was murdered that same night. She torments herself with thoughts of what if…

And then she begins to forget things, to misplace things, to question her sanity. It doesn’t help matters any that her mom suffered from dementia. So Cass is certain that she’s going down that same path.

This is one of those stories that’s hard to review without giving too much away. The story drags a bit in places, and as I mentioned earlier I really didn’t like Cass for much of the story. But because I’ve loved the author’s other books, I stuck with it. And I’m glad I did. You kind of see what’s coming near the end but that last twist is something else.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Breakdown

Review: Imposter’s Lure by Carla Neggers

I’ve adored FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan since I began this series. Later I came to appreciate the whole Sharpe clan with their art expertise, and all of those Donovan brothers showing up at just the right time. And while Oliver York was thought to be a criminal art thief for several books, he’s now helping the Sharpes and lovely Henrietta solve crimes.

That’s the backstory of Neggers’ well-developed characters and the intricate relationships among them.

Enter Imposter’s Lure. Same characters – plus some – but a bunch of contrived details that seemed like they were backfilled into a pre-written ending. This book needs paring down and re-writing just so I can understand all the complexities. After whittling away some of the convoluted family and friend relationships that don’t move the plot forward, then maybe I could enjoy the New England chahhhm, the English countryside, and the Irish lowlands as a backdrop to a sinister plot to make money off of art forgeries … and destroy the evidence.

-calliope

Buy IMPOSTER’S LURE

Read the review for Book 4 in the Sharpe and Donovan series – one of my faves!

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

I’ve enjoyed other stories by Courtney Summers so it’s a logical assumption that her newest one would be a winner for me as well. And that assumption would be correct.

Sadie is on a mission. Some might call it a death wish. She prefers to look at it as a revenge mission, finding and killing the person responsible for her younger sister’s death.

Unlucky enough to have a neglectful mother, but lucky enough to have each other, Maddie was everything she lived for. Her purpose in life was to protect Maddie, to give her as normal of an upbringing as possible. Tragically, in the end she couldn’t save her. But she can punish her sister’s killer.

There are two stories going on at once here. We hear Sadie’s tale as she travels across the country hunting down a murderer. But we also hear West McCray’s voice as he narrates his podcast after Sadie disappears. He takes us back in time as Sadie takes us forward until they meet in the middle.

A good story, although I wasn’t especially crazy about Sadie for some reason. It took me a bit to get into the flow of things, reading excerpts from West’s interviews. The ending was a bit predictable but there were a few surprises along the way.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Sadie

Review: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Sometimes you start a book and, within the first couple of pages, know it’s going to be one of those books that you can’t put down. And then other times, the start of the story doesn’t really grab you. But you stick with it because you just have a feeling…

When Flora rushes home to be by the side of her injured father, she knows there will be unpleasant memories to face. The disappearance/presumed death of her mother has haunted the family for years. And it doesn’t help matters that her dad believes he’s seen her around town recently. Can Flora finally discover the truth about what happened? And what other secrets will be uncovered in the process?

This is one of those stories that got better and better with each page. Suspenseful, yes. But not in the manner you’d expect. The story unfolds bit by bit, alternating between past and present and largely in the form of letters left behind by Flora’s mother. And the ending is good, still leaving some questions unanswered as many great stories do.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Swimming Lessons