Heart of Thorns book cover

The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy Cox

The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy CoxThe Dead Girls Detective Agency (The Dead Girls Detective Agency #1) by Suzy Cox
Published by HarperTeen on September 18th 2012
Pages: 384

Pop quiz: What would you do if you had to solve your own murder to get anywhere in death?

Maybe if I hadn't slept through my alarm, slammed into Kristin (my high school's reigning mean girl) or stepped in a puddle, destroying my mom's new suede DVF boots (which I borrowed without asking), I wouldn't have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I wouldn't have been pushed in front of that arriving train. But I did, and I was.

When I came to, I was informed by a group of girls that I'm dead. And that because I died under mysterious circumstances, I can't pass straight over to the Other Side. But at least I'm not alone. Meet the Dead Girls Detective Agency: Nancy, Lorna, and Tess--not to mention Edison, the really cute if slightly hostile dead boy. Apparently, the only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed me, or I'll have to spend eternity playing Nancy Drew. Considering I was fairly invisible in life, who could hate me enough to want me dead? And what if my murderer is someone I never would have suspected?

Who knew trying to crack the case of a murdered teen could be so enjoyable? Pleasantly shocking, The Dead Girls Detective Agency was chock-full of laughs and morbid fun. Besides a lack of romantic steam (I’ll get to that later) this book was amazing. Truly one of a kind. The mystery of “who dun’ it” was well thought out and planned which lead to a super suspenseful and exciting read. I had trouble putting this one down!

Dead Girls starts out on a seriously sullen note due to the untimely death of our main character, Charlotte. One minute she’s standing on the train platform getting ready to board, and the next, splat. All Charlotte remembers is a slight shove followed by blinding hot pain. FADE OUT. When Charlotte finally awakens she finds herself in an unfamiliar hotel lobby surrounded by three strange girls: Lorna, Nancy and Tess, the official heads of The Dead Girls Detective Agency. For one reason or another, these three have remained in a sort of limbo, using their afterlife as service to solving teenage murders. It’s explained that all New York City murdered teens wind up in Hotel Attesa, a pit-stop on the way to heaven, or at least whatever “hereafter” that exists. When you reach this point you have two choices. One: stick around as your half-barely-there-self, able to oversee those you left, but never really being able to be with them, or Two: works towards getting your murder case solved and receive the key that lets you move on. Charlotte, opting for the ladder, begins working towards solving her murder with the help of bookworm Nancy, fashionista Lorna, shrew-like Tess and mysterious, Edison.

I really liked this book. With a storyline weighed down by macabre, Cox does a great job of keeping things light and fun. A great deal of the dialogue is humorous and had me laughing out loud. Even though the main characters were murdered, the majority of the story was upbeat. When Charlotte’s mystery murderer was revealed I was pleasantly surprised. It definitely was a “didn’t see that one coming” sort of deal. Cox does a great job of writing a true murder mystery that keeps you guessing by leading you down multiple false paths.
Here’s where I talk about the not-so-great parts of Dead Girls. I like my YAs balanced with all the essentials: including decent steam AND or OR romance. I felt like Dead Girls seriously lacked in this department. Granted, Charlotte had a lot on her plate but still I felt like there were some missed opportunities. In the beginning Charlotte was still reeling from the loss of her living boyfriend, David. Although heartbroken, David seemed to move on pretty quickly… Then there was Edison. We’re led to believe that he has a special connection with Charlotte by way of his slightly less-snarky attitude towards her. It felt like Cox was trying to build something between the two but I never really saw anything emerging. He was very hot and cold with an emphasis on cold. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely liked Edison. He was the more-favorable male character in this book for sure. Basically I just didn’t “feel it” when it came to him or any potential anything with Charlotte.

Regardless! I really liked this book. Fans of lighthearted paranormal reads such as Helen Keeble’s Fang Girl will definitely enjoy this one!

Heart of Thorns book cover

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer GrahamThe Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars, #1) by Rob Thomas, Jennifer Graham
Published by Vintage Books on March 25th 2014
Pages: 324

From Rob Thomas, the creator of groundbreaking television series and movie Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling new mystery series.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She's traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it's spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is not a simple missing person's case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica's past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

SPOILER ALERT: If you aren’t up-to-date with all the Veronica Mars TV episodes or more importantly, haven’t seen the Veronica Mars movie, you might not want to read this review.

My first question after finishing Thousand-Dollar Tan Line: When can we expect the next Veronica Mars book?!! Minus the briefly mentioned Dick Casablancas spin-off web series, and the fact that a movie sequel, which hasn’t been confirmed, would take 1+ years, the book(s) are what’s going to keep the Veronica Mars flame alive and current.

Thousand-Dollar Tan Line was great, bafflingly so. I tend to avoid books that spring from TV shows, say, Buffy, because they aren’t exactly cannon. Although I can appreciate a good fanfic, I have a hard time believing in or loving anything that doesn’t come straight from the creators or writers of the show. Which, Thousand-Dollar Tan Line luckily doesn’t suffer from, because it was plotted by Veronica Mars creator, Rob Thomas.

Taking place about 2 months after the Veronica Mars movie, Veronica is working small and boring cases in the absence of her recovering father. Mac, the brainy and always witty sidekick, is now a sort of joint receptionist-hacker for Mars Investigations. Thousand-Dollar Tan Line sees Veronica jumping on the case of a missing girl who happened to have gone MIA during Neptune’s busiest season: Spring Break. Thousands of students flock to Neptune this time of year, which makes the search for the missing girl, even harder. I won’t get into the details, but trust me, this book was just as good as any episode of the Veronica Mars TV show. The author Jennifer Graham, got the character’s mannerisms and dialogue down perfectly. Reading this book was like sitting down to an episode of Veronica Mars. The case(s) were original and intricate with twisty leads and shocking reveals.

Unfortunately some of our (read: mine) favorites didn’t get much line-time like Weevil and Logan, but at least in the case of the latter, if you’ve seen the Veronica Mars movie you’d understand why. Although I loved the movie, it was apparent that Rob Thomas tried to cram in as many show-favorites as possible, unlike Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, which treated the story like a regular episode of the original show, where only the essentials or characters that made sense, appeared.

Overall I was very pleased with this book. I hope it’s the first of many more to come, just as long as they remain nail-biting and true to the show. If you’re an old Marshmallow or semi-new Marshmallow like myself, you’re going to speed right through this book.