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Tag: "mystery"

Review: Weirdo by Cathi Unsworth

[ 3 ] November 25, 2014

weirdo book coverReviewed by Melanie Kline

Weirdo was a completely appropriate title for this book. The weirdo was supposed to be the main character, Corinne Woodrow, but I found the real weirdo to be the author of the book who thought the story made any sense at all and who made it at least 200 pages too long.

Corinne was convicted of the ritualistic murder of one of her classmates. Many years later, Sean Ward – former detective with the Metropolitan Police – reopens the case. He does not believe that Corinne acted alone. DNA testing showed that there was at least one other person at the scene and he is intent on proving her innocence. Corinne refuses to talk about the case and who may or may not have been there with her.

Weirdo jumps around different times and events so as to completely confuse you as to whether things are happening in real time or in the past. There are so many characters involved that it is almost impossible to keep track of who is currently fighting with who, what they are fighting about and the whole storyline altogether. Teenagers come with a lot of drama, but I honestly could not keep up with the antics in this story.

Typical of this sort of book, Sean Ward receives conflicting information from the police, classmates and everyone he talks to and he knows that they are holding information back from him, but can do nothing but try to find the truth between the cracks. Weirdo reads exactly like every TV crime series you can tune into without the “personalization” of the characters. Weirdo was half chaos and half a completely transparent storyline.

I would not recommend Weirdo to anyone who is not stuck somewhere with absolutely nothing to do except read this book. The climax of what really happened came so far into the book that it was almost the ending and it was the absolute most ridiculous event I’ve ever read. This book was nowhere near ready for publication and over half of it should have been cut completely out.

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Claire McKinneyPR, LLC. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal

[ 1 ] November 7, 2014

my last kiss book coverReviewed by Sarah Lelonek

Some books I really enjoy up until the end. Others are a giant let down and I chastise myself for speeding through the book to get to an ending that only disappoints. My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal falls into the latter category. The story starts off on a path that I have seen in many different books. A girl wakes up as a ghost and has no idea how she died. The girl must then “haunt” her friends and family in order to find out the truth so she can pass on. What was different in this book is that the main character, Cassidy, can actually communicate with one of the live characters. I was hoping that this book would end in a different manner than books like A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb or Between by Jessica Warman; instead, My Last Kiss ended just how I thought it would and offered no originality to the ghost genre.

Cassidy, a high school student, wakes up dead the day after her birthday party. While she can see her “other body,” Cassidy cannot touch it nor can she read the note that’s in her other body’s hand. Cassidy is left with no real memories of the past few weeks and no idea why she is dead. Soon after waking up as a ghost, Cassidy starts remembering a boy from her past who caused her to lie to her long-time boyfriend, Ethan. The story follows Cassidy as she learns about the web of lies she spun around herself, her friends, and Ethan.

I’m not going to lie. I did enjoy this book. I like young adult drama in the sense that I can look at it and realize the fickleness of it all. The characters were pretty well developed, however, there were entirely too many characters. Also, Cassidy’s family was downplayed significantly as the novel progressed, which I thought was odd. The premise of the book, what if your last kiss was with the wrong boy, had little to do with the actual plot. I thought there would be some element hanging on this elusive last kiss, but alas, it was just a gimmick to get people to read the book.

Like I said before, My Last Kiss is an enjoyable read up until the end. I felt like I was reading a less involved version of better young adult novels about ghosts. I also found the twist that Cassidy could be seen by one person close to her a letdown. Nothing interesting came from this ghost-human relationship. I think the novel was too concerned with petty lies, such as the popular Pretty Little Liars series, and forgot to show some originality. If you’re looking for a throwback read, this might be good for you. If you’re looking for substance within an after-life centered stand alone novel, I would suggest the books I mentioned earlier.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is currently enrolled at Tiffin University in their Master’s of Education program. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd

[ 2 ] November 7, 2014

unwilling accomplice book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

An Unwilling Accomplice is the sixth Bess Crawford book and she just keeps getting better and better at sleuthing! This time around Bess is asked to accompany a wounded soldier to receive his medal from the king for a brave act that almost got him killed. The man seemed to be pleasant enough but even though he claimed Bess was one of the nurses who helped save him, she couldn’t place his face or his wound in her memory.

She does her duty, escorts the man and is with him in the presence of the king before bringing him back to the hotel. After settling him in and promising not to bother him much while his friends stop by and visit, she has a nice evening meal with Simon in the hotel restaurant. Against her better judgement she only checks on him twice before bed; she is under the impression that the soldier is still close to an invalid and is safe enough with minimal checks.

Her nice turn comes back to bite her. In the morning she discovers her patient must have left in the night and hasn’t returned. She hopes his friends just got him a little too toasted and are late getting him back. It soon becomes apparent that he’s not coming back at all, nor has he been checked into any of the area hospitals. This leaves Bess in hot water. She lost a patient who a couple days later is wanted in connection to a murder, making Bess’ situation even worse.

Bess and Simon eventually team up and drive all over the English countryside looking for clues to her missing patient. A few clues lead them to a small village. There are some strange happenings and a couple strange men that have recently shown up and the community is tight lipped about them, muddying the waters for our duo.

In this book Bess really plunges into the role of detective and almost gets herself into some serious trouble. Bess and Simon are very persistent in their search and they slowly find more and more clues, some of which solve mysteries they weren’t even  looking for. One man was already murdered–can they find out what’s going on and stop a second murder? It’s a race against the clock!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: How to Fall by Jane Casey

[ 2 ] November 6, 2014

how to fall book coverReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

I’d guess it would be a little eerie for a teenaged girl who is basically the doppelganger of her dead cousin to visit the town where said cousin lived…for both the girl and the town’s locals. This is just the situation Jess Tennant finds herself in, however, when she and her recently divorced mother decide to spend the summer away from London. They are going to stay in Port Sentinel, where Jess’ mom, aunt, and cousins are from–including her cousin Freya, who passed away in the last year.

While everyone has come to the general consensus that Freya’s death was either a suicide or an accident, Jess has the gut feeling that nearly everyone in Port Sentinel is hiding something–and she’s right. But those who know the truth surrounding Freya’s death aren’t taking too kindly to this lookalike girl probing. But Jess is determined to find out the truth, even if it comes at great cost to her.

Jess is fifteen years old, and an only child. But for some reason, she’s never learned the story behind why her mother wouldn’t go back to her hometown, even though she left her twin sister behind. I found this to be way beyond odd; if I knew my mother had siblings but I couldn’t see them or my cousins, I most certainly would demand to know why. The book does finally give up the reason, although it is not something big enough to justify the mom staying away for so long.

As a main character, Jess is an interesting mix between feisty, naive, and annoying. She does have trouble keeping her thoughts to herself, even when they are somewhat inappropriate. This lack of judgment is at times irritating, because you can see Jess is making things awkward; at other times I respect her for it because saying what she feels means she is standing up for herself. She’s certainly not fake.

The mystery element wasn’t really there for me, although the author did seem set on making it happen. There are several people Jess suspects during her investigation and the author throws in a lot of red herrings for good measure. There are people who act creepy but are not involved, and those who seem sweet but are in fact behind everything. The plot is bogged down by all of this in the middle, and there are a lot of unnecessary scenes. All seems to be revealed in the last couple of chapters of the book.

This book wasn’t heavy on romance, and that was alright with me. I don’t think that just because there is a girl in a novel, she has to be given a male counterpart immediately. Jess is just fine with being friends with the guys in Port Sentinel, though who knows how long that will last.

Although I’m not sure why, this book is actually the first in a series. I’m not sure I’ll be continuing it, because overall How to Fall was just an okay read for me.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Red Book of Primrose House by Marty Wingate

[ 4 ] November 6, 2014

primrose house book coverPlease join Marty Wingate, author of The Red Book of Primrose House, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Enter to win a gift card to the eBook Retailer of the winner’s choice plus 1 copy of THE GARDEN PLOT by Marty Wingate below

Reviewed by Charity Lyman

I am a sucker for a good mystery. I look for the story that has me guessing who the bad guy is and why he did it all the way through to the end. I think I found an excellent one in The Red Book of Primrose House by Marty Wingate. This appears to be the second novel in the Potting Shed Mystery Series and while I have not read the first one, it is now on my to-read list.

The book opens with someone being murdered. They knew too much and got in the way–to put it plainly. The story then cuts to the main characters. The heroine is Pru Parke. She is an older woman and has just gotten the much coveted job of head gardener at, you guessed it, the Primrose House. She has a boyfriend, Christopher Pierce, who happens to be a Detective Chief Inspector. They met in the first book while on a case and things are going along great for them. Pru is doing her job of landscaping and designing but when the murder happens, will Pru become a victim as she searches for the answers?

My favorite aspect of this book is Pru herself. She is an older woman – not often heard of in mystery books – and I love her spunky attitude! She is feisty and wants to do things on her own but isn’t afraid to call in help from Christopher when she needs it. Of course, she often needs him for things not related to the case! I think her boyfriend (feels funny calling him a boyfriend when he is in his 50’s?) does an excellent job of protecting without being overbearing. I think the secondary characters play out perfectly as well. And Robbie was probably my favorite.

The mystery is well guarded in here! I kept swinging back and forth on who I thought the murderer was and why they had done what they did. There are little tidbits tossed to the reader to keep them guessing but to never be quite sure of their guesses. Great job at that Marty Wingate!! Just a word of caution that there are some scenes that are a bit intimate. Nothing in detail but it definitely heads in that direction. Overall, a great book that kept me turning pages to the end.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Charity lives in Illinois and is the oldest of 6 children. The family also has 3 dogs and a cat. Reading is a hobby when not cooking, baking, sewing or enjoying music. She reads many different genres but Christian fiction is a favorite. Charity can be found often at her blog, Giveaway Lady

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Random House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

[ 4 ] October 17, 2014

the children act by ian mcewan book coverReviewed by Jax Kepple

Ian McEwan’s The Children Act is, like all his other books, beautifully written. At a brief 240 pages, the story packs a lot of detailed legal cases as plot points for Fiona Maye, High Court Judge, as she navigates both marital strife at home and a case that comes a little too close for comfort. Ultimately, there was not enough there for it to be a truly impeccable novel.

Fiona and her husband Jack live a quiet, childless life in the Gray’s Inn section of London, where she is a judge in the Family Circuit and he is a geology lecturer at a university. At the start, Fiona is fuming due to a request posed by Jack, one that she finds unacceptable. She is interrupted by a late night phone call from her clerk, indicating that a new case would come to the bench tomorrow involving a boy, Adam, who has leukemia. Adam’s parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses and therefore are against any sort of blood transfusion. He is also three month’s shy of his eighteenth birthday, when he would be able to make the decision for himself.

As Fiona is reeling from Jack’s behavior, she is faced with this difficult case in court. She decides to go visit Adam to see how his mindset is. While in the hospital, they form a connection through music and poetry. Fiona makes her decision, and, without giving it away, afterwards is continuously confronted with it for months to come.

McEwan is able to easily explain the legal terminology without it being a huge burden to the reader. The Maye’s apartment, Fiona’s chambers, Adam’s hospital room, a weekend circuit trip to Newcastle all explode to life on the page, which add to the somewhat privileged life that Fiona leads. Her problems compared are trivial compared to the life and death decision in Adam’s life, but they are presented in the same manner.

The end twist (if you can call it that) was a little rushed. I felt that almost too much time was spent setting up the Christmas concert that Fiona was playing in, which itself was presented as a “do or die” situation for her since she was playing in front of all her colleagues. However, it really didn’t matter and I felt that a few more pages could have helped to tie up the ending in a more flawless way.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Jax is in an accountant at a hedge fund. She resides in NYC with her husband.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Random House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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