|A card reader isn't going to be any different. Professional recovery services might be able to recover the photos.|
You have just learned a valuable lesson. Always have backup copies. Flash drives and SD memory cards are not meant for storage of data. They were designed to transport data to a more permanent media.
ALL storage media is subject to failure. Backups are your best line of defense.
Look at the link below. I don't think even that software will work if the drive isn't showing. You could email them and ask.