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: The Last Wish of Sasha Cade by Cheyanne Young

We should all be so lucky to have a Sasha in our lives. Best friends since elementary school, she and Raquel are inseparable. Even when Sasha is dealing with a cancer diagnosis, Raquel is by her side through it all. She thinks she’s prepared for anything, but really she’s not. When Sasha eventually dies, Raquel is lost. Until the letter arrives.

It seems that, while Sasha was preparing herself for her eventual death, she was also preparing Raquel for life without her. And not just Raquel, but also her brother who she hasn’t seen since they were adopted by different families as very young children. Through a series of letters, Sasha helps them come to terms with her death.

This was such a heartbreaking story while at the same time being so full of hope and optimism. Raquel’s sadness at losing Sasha, her happiness at discovering Sasha’s letters and clues…my emotions were all over the place with this one!

~Thalia

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Review: Charlatans by Robin Cook

Medical mysteries are a dime a dozen these days. Great ones, however, are a different story. Robin Cook is one of the best, a master of the genre.

Boston Memorial Hospital. Noah’s finally achieved his dream of working at this state of the art medical institution. And everything is going his way. He’s busy and has almost no social life to speak of, sure. But he’s rapidly moving up the ranks and earning quite a reputation as a surgeon. And then several unexpected deaths occur. Not under his hand, but when he’s called upon to help investigate these deaths he finds himself right in the thick of it.

Enter Dr. Ava London. The highly regarded anesthesiologist is under suspicion of negligence and must prove her innocence. When Noah becomes involved with Ava, matters definitely become more complicated. As their relationship intensifies, Noah’s suspicions about Ava begin to grow. He starts to question himself. Is he just being paranoid or is she really hiding something?

This story reads like vintage Robin Cook. Medical jargon, secrets, murder, suspense…it’s all there. I did feel like the ending was rushed and left too many unanswered questions. Still, a good one!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Charlatans

Murder Over Mochas by Caroline Fardig

Solid, cute, cozy mystery with a dead guy, an amateur sleuth, an ex-fiancé, an ex-boyfriend, a potential boyfriend, and a couple of cops. Oh – and a coffee shop! I’m going to admit, I often choose books based on their covers, and I chose this one for the coffee. #yesidid

The protagonist Juliet is likable and genuine. I liked that I could envision her expressions and feel her exasperation. The police officers and a few other secondary characters were a little bit one dimensional to me, but I didn’t mind, as I was busy trying to solve the mystery before they did. I liked Juliet’s best friend Pete, also. He’s a sturdy, reliable dude – and every cozy mystery needs a Pete.

Fardig did a nice job weaving a creative, fresh mystery with just enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. I was onto the perp before Juliet was, but it still took me a good while to do it, and I had fun from beginning to end.

-calliope

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Review: March of Crime by Jess Lourey

I really really love this series of mystery novels set in small town Minnesota. I’ve waited patiently (and by patiently I mean stalking NetGalley and Amazon and the author’s website) for each new release. And I’ve enjoyed every delicious moment of librarian sleuthing, senior citizen joking, boyfriend avoiding, festival attending, and the good guys overall trying to keep out of trouble while helping find the bad guys. 

But this one failed me. Lourey wrote this installment just a little too much on the other side of lewd and bawdy. I’ve gotten to know the main character over the years, and she wouldn’t forget underwear, much less deliberately go without it. I didn’t like the contrived sensuousness at all. 

The mystery was a little macabre for me as well. I just want to go back to the earlier books and enjoy a decent cozy mystery without wincing and scrinching my nose. 

Maybe my tastes are tame compared to yours. Maybe you like when things get a little crazy and you were disappointed with earlier books, waiting for more crazy to happen. If so, read March of Crime, and you’ve got your wish. 

-calliope

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Review: The Lives of Desperate Girls by MacKenzie Common

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Two girls.  About the same age.  Both missing.  And then one is found dead.

Nobody seems to pay that much attention to Helen’s death, except those people hoping it may somehow be related to Chloe’s disappearance.  Because, after all, Chloe’s the important one.  Helen’s just a poor girl from the reservation.  Chloe’s rich, white, and popular.  So of course people are going to be more concerned about her.  At least that’s the way Jenny sees it.  And it bothers her.

It bothers her so much that she begins to dig deeper, hoping to uncover the truth about what happened to Helen.  At the same time, she has to face the truth about what happened to Chloe and the part she played in it.

This was a good, solid story for me.  The suspense is there, but it also has a very humanistic approach.  The author delves deeply into societal divides, across races and classes and even high school cliques.  A good read!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Lives of Desperate Girls

Review: This is Not the End by Chandler Baker

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What if, instead of dead actually being forever, there was a possibility of bringing your loved ones back to life?  Instead of losing those closest to you forever, you had the power to undo their death?  That’s exactly the premise in this chillingly semi-futuristic story.

In one instant, Lake’s world is shattered.  A tragic car accident takes the lives of both her best friend and her boyfriend.  Miraculously she survives.  But she’s left with an unimaginable dilemma.  You see,  technology has given people the ability to be resurrected.  Not just randomly and at will, mind you.  Instead, every person receives one resurrection on their eighteenth birthday to be used on whoever they choose.  That’s one resurrection, though.  And Lake can’t imagine making that choice.

To make matters even more difficult, her resurrection choice has already been promised to her older brother who was tragically paralyzed years earlier.  She’s not even close to her brother anymore, so she surely can’t imagine wasting this precious gift on him. Especially when the love of her life and her best friend have died.

Things aren’t always what they seem, of course.  As Lake struggles to come to terms with the accident, while also recovering from her own injuries, she discoveries that nobody is who they seem to be.  And then, of course, there’s a new guy to complicate matters.

This story is a lot of things.  It’s science fiction, for now at least.  It’s a romance.  It’s a teen drama.  And it’s a mystery with one heck of a twist at the end that I sure didn’t see coming.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  This is Not the End