Monday, April 3, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Adventures in Funeral Crashing

Book by Milda Harris
Review by Bruce Carroll

Adventures in Funeral Crashing is an exciting read with all the intensity of a thriller and all the passion of a teen romance. Kait is both a well-developed and memorable character, and the fact she cannot see that popular boy Ethan is as crazy about her as she is about him is simultaneously fun and frustrating.

Kait lost her mother to cancer at a young age, and ever since the funeral, she has been crashing other funerals in her town. Wear black and avoid conversations: that’s how she has managed not to get caught as a funeral crasher. Until the day the hottest guy in school makes his way through a crowd of mourners to ask how Kait knew his sister. Oops!

Kait and Ethan begin to suspect his sister has been murdered. Though Funeral Crashing is billed as a cozy mystery, I disagree. It does borrow from the cozy genre in that the murders all happen offstage. But it also borrows heavily from thrillers. The murderer injects the victims with a lethal dose of heroin in an attempt to make it look like an overdose. The motive is not one of the classic motives for murder. There is even some gunplay at the climax of the story. In addition, there is also talk of forensic tests being done which might not provide conclusive evidence in real life.

None of that mattered to me as I read it. It has all the thrill of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, and I could not decide if I was more anxious to discover who the murderer was (before Kait herself became the next victim) or to see Kait finally realize Ethan has feelings for her.

If you enjoy cozies, you'll enjoy this high school mystery/thriller with a romantic touch.

 Adventures in Funeral Crashing is a winner of the 2017 Author’s Choice Award (YA Thriller).



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Sunday, March 5, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Silver Cascade Secrets

Book by Rachelle J. Christensen

Review by Bruce Carroll

Silver Cascade Secrets promises to be a “romantic suspense novella” and it delivers in all three categories. Christensen kept me turning pages (well, digital pages), and I can’t say if I was more determined to see Jillian and Travis finally connect or to discover who killed Travis’ brother-in-law and why. The murder was never solved, and as Jillian gets closer to decoding the mysterious letters Craig left behind, the she could be endangering herself. Travis seems like the ideal man for Jillian, but what if he was involved in Craig’s death somehow? And even if he is the man for Jillian, Caleb, her ex, comes crawling back begging for just one more chance.

Christensen has delivered a book which offers genuine romance while still remaining “clean.” You won’t find any graphic sex depicted. And the suspense involves murder and cover-up, yet borrows heavily from the “cozy” genre. I would be perfectly comfortable with my 13-year-old reading Silver Cascade Secrets.

Mystery and suspense mixed with romance in an easy, short read – what’s not to like? I look forward to reading more from Rachelle J. Christensen.

Silver Cascade Secrets is a 2017 winner of the Author’s Choice Award (Novella).



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Sunday, February 19, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Secrets Above

This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. If you enjoy visions of a dystopian future such as Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day or the British sci-fi television programme Blake’s 7, you will love Secrets Above.

It is the story of Amelia – Lia to her friends, although it is illegal to call any citizen of Terra Convex by anything other than their legal name. She lives in an underground society, the last of the human race, the survivors of a deadly man-made virus which began killing every living organism above ground.

I’d go on, but if you are reading my synopsis, you really need to stop and read the book. There are only a few things I should warn you about:

  1. There is some disturbing violence in the book. Most of it happens “offstage,” but we are forced to deal with its consequences much as Lia is. While reading two chapters (thankfully not back-to-back), I had to pause after each paragraph and do something else, just so I wouldn’t gag. I don’t normally like these kinds of books, but it was (mostly) necessary to tell the story.
  2. There is one kissing scene that got a bit racy. Honestly, I thought for a moment it was going to become erotic fiction at that point, but it didn’t.
  3. Both of the above are more disturbing (at least to me) because the book was written by a mother/daughter team. I would have difficulty being this graphic either with one of my parents or my child. Kudos to Ward and Cayenne for being able to pull it off.
  4. This is the first book in a series, and I can hardly wait to read the second!

Secrets Above is an important book for our times. Read it!

Secrets Above is a winner of the 2017 Author’s Choice award for science fiction. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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