December 17, 2013

Review: Waking Up Dead (Callie Taylor, #1)

Waking Up Dead by Margo Bond Collins
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Buy Links:

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Book Description:

When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex.

Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison.

And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?

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"Waking Up Dead" follows the journey of Callie Taylor, who is newly dead and finds herself as a ghost in Alabama. Seeing as she was from and died in Texas, this turn of events is a mystery, but it's not the only one she has to deal with. Callie fills her days with going back and forth between the residents of the small town she is stuck haunting and watching television with them, even though they can't see her.

Her newest problem (after the whole being murdered and waking up dead in a strange state thing) arises when she witnesses the overly gruesome murder of one of the residents of the house she likes to frequent. The police arrest the woman’s husband for the murder, but Callie knows that he didn't do it (but being a ghost eye witness isn't going to do much good for the case).

In order to get help in finding the real murderer, Callie goes to the local Wal-Mart to try to find someone who can see her. This is where she meets Ashara, who at first, is less than thrilled that "a white ghost lady" keeps bothering her. It isn't until Callie follows Ashara to her grandmother's house (who Ashara calls "Maw-Maw"), that she gets the help she needs. Maw-Maw can also see Callie and tells Ashara that God has given her a gift, and she should use it to help Callie find the answer to this mystery.

I loved the relationship between these three women. Callie might be a ghost, and Ashara might be a grown woman, but when Maw-Maw says something – everyone listens. Their dynamic was great and I enjoyed seeing how it developed as the story progressed. While they might have started out as reluctant allies, the three definitely developed a strong bond and grew to like and respect each other.

Another aspect that I liked about this book was the approach to the mystery. We know who the killer is pretty early on, but the work lies in how to build up enough evidence (‘The ghost saw him do it!’ won't stand up on a court of law), to put him away, and also to find out motive. The motive is what escapes our three leading ladies for the majority of the book, and it's fun trying to work out theories alongside them.

While uncovering the finer details of the crime, Callie, Ashara, and Maw-Maw also stumble upon a crime that happened decades ago. Collins wound everything together in a way that made sense and was still able to keep the reader guessing until the end.

Something that usually irks me about ghost stories is how the ghosts have control over all of their new undead powers right away. Did they die and a ghostly instruction manual was immediately downloaded into their brain so they could haunt with ease? That's not the case in "Waking Up Dead.” Callie might be trying her hand as an undead detective, but she doesn't know any more about the afterlife than we do. She's figuring out everything as she goes along, and it makes everything seem more real to me.

So if you're interested in a mystery novel mixed in with a ghost story, I would recommend "Waking Up Dead" for you. It's a quick and fun read, and will keep you guessing until the end.

♥ ♥ ♥

Author Bio:

Margo Bond Collins is the author of Legally Undead, first in an urban fantasy series coming in 2014 from World Weaver Press ( and Waking Up Dead, a paranormal mystery forthcoming from Solstice Publishing ( She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college English online. She loves paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters.


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