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Book Review: Body Language by Marylee MacDonald

“Body Language” by Marylee MacDonald is a collection of twelve short stories. I enjoyed all of them. With each story, the author skillfully created a unique, perfect world. In many cases, I wished I had been reading the first pages of a full-length novel instead of a short story. Ms. MacDonald is able to draw the reader in to each new set of characters and circumstances very quickly, and often I wanted to read more about them.

My favorite stories were:

“All I Have”, a seven-page vignette about one incident in a woman’s life. I was amazed at how such a complete portrait and so much insight could be packed into so few pages.

“Body Language”, a story about family relationships, both mother/daughter and brother/sister. It also addressed the very personal need for closure in a way that was simultaneously beautiful, sad, and insightful.

“The Blue Caboose”, which addressed a difficult father/daughter relationship, and provided a different perspective on closure.

I highly recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys quality writing. Regardless of who or where you are in life, you’re bound to find something in this volume that truly speaks to you.

Five out of five chunks of provolone!


Book Review: My Skull Possession by Lisa M. Miller

“My Skull Possession” by Lisa M. Miller is the perfect blend of cozy mystery and paranormal thrills! Geared to middle-grade readers, it is creepy, but never too scary.

Main character Brighton is a typical teenager, dealing with school, friends, and parental requirements. On top of this, she finds herself in the middle of a mystery involving a scary book and a series of deaths. Watching Brighton and her friend Kate investigate is delightful, as they come across as realistic teenagers in their thought processes and actions. I especially loved the way the girls worked around the fact that neither was old enough to drive. Both characters were realistic and likeable, and I especially enjoyed learning more about Kate’s backstory.

The plot itself was excellent, as it kept me guessing until very near the end. As I followed Brighton’s investigation, I had two working theories, one natural and one supernatural. Neither turned out to be correct, and the actual solution was both logical and made sense given the clues the girls uncovered along the way.

All in all, I recommend this story to mystery fans, especially those looking for a lower level of horror and danger. I look forward to seeing what sort of mystery the girls tackle next!

Book Review: Always Look Twice by Elizabeth Goddard

I truly enjoyed reading “Always Look Twice”, and can’t imagine how I didn’t discover this series when book 1 (“Never Let Go”) came out in February! First off, you absolutely CAN read this and follow everything without having read the first book in the series. I did, and didn’t feel like I was missing anything…the author did an AMAZING job of making sure I had all the information I needed in terms of background.

I connected with main character Harper immediately. She comes across as a real person, with unique talents and abilities, as well as unique challenges that stem from her past experiences. Harper is a woman who is aware of her issues, and is actively working to overcome them.

The book is set in Wyoming, an area that the author obviously knows well. Her descriptions of the wilderness made me want to visit and see the natural beauty for myself. Harper is a photographer, so we get to see a lot through her eyes and (and the eye of her camera). The author even includes (through the characters’ experiences) some helpful tips on staying safe in terms of terrain and wildlife.

The romance between Harper and part-time deputy (and full time tourist ranch manager) Heath McKade adds an integral level to the story. When Harper sees something she wasn’t intended to, she is in danger, and it’s up to Heath to protect her and help solve the mystery. What makes the romance unique is that the two were childhood friends, and very close ones. They helped each other through some difficult times when they were too young to be thinking about romance. They’ve been apart ever since, and now have the opportunity to reconnect as adults, with no “former enemy” or “failed relationship” dynamic between them to pull them down into trope territory.

The mystery itself is also very well written. What Harper initially witnesses provides very few clues. Regardless, she is determined to solve the case. As she and Heath keep pushing to figure out what actually happened, the danger to Harper escalates. What started out as a single, fairly straightforward crime quickly expands to include other acts of violence. Long-hidden secrets from the past are also linked to current events, providing a nice, unifying element to the story.

When all is revealed in the end, everything makes perfect sense. The reader was provided with enough clues along the way to feel a part of solving the mystery, but not enough to make the answer obvious. To avoid spoilers, I won’t say more, beyond the fact that the ending is satisfying in multiple ways.

Five of five slices of American cheese!