I was lucky enough to win a big box of books from Presenting Lenore, courtesy of Penguin, and my NINE YA books showed up as a late Christmas present. So much fun! I've just started reading them, and I have a review and giveaway for the first (with a bonus!).
Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber: This is the first Aphra Connelly mystery. I picked it up when I received Death by Latte (the second) from Penguin. The third, Death by Denim, comes out in May. I've always loved mysteries, but I was racking my brain to remember YA mysteries I read back in the Dark Ages when I was a teen. I can remember graduating to the edgier Nancy Drew Case Files, but I was drawing a blank on anything else. I'm not sure they even HAD YA mystery back then, because junior high is about when I started reading my mom's Dick Francis and Sue Grafton books. Those were great, but I would have enjoyed a series like this, mysteries featuring a teenaged sleuth. Aphra is a strong, smart character who makes typical mistakes for a teenager. She's different from your usual teenaged protagonist in that she's not all about boys and the mall. In fact, since she lives at the island resort run by her father, there are neither boys nor malls to be had. So when dreamy Seth and his family visit the resort, Aphra is delighted. But why is her father so intent that she stay away from Seth? And who is the mysterious guy who checks in after Seth's family? After a rock star guest's girlfriend turns up on the beach, strangled with her own bikini, Aphra doesn't know who to trust. The action was fast-paced, with lots of suspense and scary moments (although sometimes a bit on the implausible side), and Aphra is funny and smart. A side plot about her mother (who left when Aphra was 12) adds some emotional depth. A fun mystery just for teens.
Death by Latte by Linda Gerber: Aphra goes to Seattle in search of her mother and finds herself embroiled in another mystery when she witnesses the poisoning of her mother's associate. Seth turns up to demand Aphra return the ring he'd given her, she has a hunky new neighbor, and her mother doesn't seem that happy to see her. Aphra needs to untangle these strange events and get out of Seattle alive. A good follow-up to Death by Bikini. After I finished Bikini, I wondered if the island resort was going to be another Cabot Cove, so I was glad Gerber moved Aphra out of there to give a new dimension to the series. Who to trust is a continuing problem for Aphra, but not in a predictable way. Aphra's relationship with her mother is complex and evolving. If the action isn't always remotely plausible, it's okay because the characters make up for it!
Want to win this pair of books? Leave a comment here telling why you'd like to win them. Three bonus entries for linking to this contest on your blog. The contest ends Wednesday, January 28 at noon EST. Good luck!