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Friday Favorite: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

October 29, 2010 1 comment

I’ve decided to start a new meme, so here it is: “Friday Favorite.”  Every week, I will tell you about a favorite from my list.  Maybe sometimes I will tell you about my favorite characters, favorite authors, or even my favorite episode of Modern Family. (Love that show!)

Today, it’s simple: one of my favorite recent-reads.

It’s The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting.  I love this book so much that I’ve added it to my All-Time Favorites list.

Here’s the blurb from Kimberly Derting’s web site:

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world… and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer… and becoming his prey herself.

Here’s what I really loved about this book:  Violet has a really whack-jack kind of ability, but she’s actually pretty normal.  She has a normal high school life, that is actually totally relatable.

(It really bugs me when I read a story and the high school scenes seem far-fetched, too serious, or just unrealistic.)

The high school interaction felt just like my own high school experience.  Not like I had some creepy, weird ability or anything, but just like… it totally could have taken place in my high school.

Anyway, I love Violet and I love her best friend, Jay.  My best friend in high school was a boy, too, so I really love that element.  Their relationship is very natural and easy, despite Violet’s morbid finds.

Another thing I really liked about this book was that the identity of the killer wasn’t totally obvious to me.  I actually had no idea until the very end.

Five stars for this book because I couldn’t stop thinking about it for DAYS afterward.  One more thing to love: a sequel, Desires of the Dead, is scheduled for release in March 2011!

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

August 31, 2010 1 comment

This is definitely one of those paranormal/modern fantasy/young adult/romance books that I mentioned in my last review.  I don’t remember how I heard about it, probably just came up on a list like, “If you like Twilight, you might like this” sort of thing.

Anyway, however I found it, I’m really glad I did.  I loved this book!  It had a great premise, a lot of mystery and just enough romance with (of course) a hot boy, to keep the pages turning faster and faster.

Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Sophie is a great YA character.  She’s got the right amount of teenage angst without being whiny (like, say, Ever Bloom!), she cares about her friends and she’s got a lot of courage.  She’s pretty sarcastic and funny, too.  You can’t help but like her (and want to be her friend).

A friend of mine says she likes YA books best when the guy in the them is “hot and rich.”  If that’s you too, then check out Hex Hall, you won’t be disappointed.  Archer Cross (cool name, huh?) is the unavailable (at first) crush of Sophie’s who is always on her side when the kids and teachers give her a hard time.

If you’re a fan of this genre, you’ll be a fan of this book.  I can’t wait for the next book in the series, Demonglass, which comes out in March 2011.

Four and a half stars for being awesome, but not quite a favorite.  I’m going to have to wait for the rest of the series before I decided that one. 😉

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

August 24, 2010 1 comment

Linger is the second book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series.  The first book, Shiver was released last year.  I heard about it from my good friend, Jenni Elyse.  This another one of those paranormal/urban fantasy/young adult/romance (PUFYAR, for short I decided) books that are so HUGE right now.

Here’s the blurb from Maggie’s website:

In Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love—the light and the dark, the warm and the cold—in a way you will never forget.

I don’t want to say too much about this book in case you haven’t read Shiver yet (and I haven’t figured out how to do that cool spoilers thing where you make the text blend in with the background).

The one thing I really want to say about the book is this:  In Shiver, Grace’s parents are totally absentee, couldn’t care less about their daughter, basically adult roommates.  They let her do whatever she wants, expect her to fend for herself, and are rarely home at the same time as her.  Now, in Linger, they’re suddenly in-her-face, high strung, overprotective, and totally forbidding of anything she wants to do– especially be with Sam, the one stable thing in her life? 

I just don’t buy it.  I don’t buy the sudden about-face of her parents.  They lived for sixteen years as one type of parents and then radically change their ways when Grace gets a boyfriend.  I really just can’t believe it.  I had such a hard time believing it that it almost made me angry.

But maybe that’s the point.  Grace doesn’t believe it either, and it makes her mad too.

So maybe Maggie Stiefvater is a genius and got me thinking exactly how she wanted me to.

Who’s to say?

But I really liked Linger.  I thought it was a well-written, well-thought-Shiverout sequel.   was, in itself, a complete story with a definite conclusion, but Linger really explored the ramifications and possible aftermath of the events that took place in Shiver.

That sounds kind of confusing, so I hope you get the gist of what I mean.

Shiver = really good.
Linger = also really good.

So.

If you enjoy a good PUFYAR, this series is for you.  Also, this is one of only two series I’ve read strictly about werewolves.  No vampire, faeries, mermaids, princesses or anything.  The other series is The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, which is also awesome.

Overall, I give Linger four stars for being really good, but not super-amazing-fantastic-bangarang.  (My husband is trying to bring that word back; let me know what you think about it.)

More reviews are hopefully coming soon, but I’m on vacation right now (which is why I missed Fab Five Friday), so…

No promises. 😀

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

July 18, 2010 2 comments

Okay, so there is the website called Gnod.  It’s a site for read-alikes, sort-of.  You put in your favorite author (or band or movie), and it will give you a cloud of authors similar to the one you put in.

That’s how I found Melissa Marr.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

Here’s the blurb from Melissa Marr’s site:

Rule #3: Don’t stare at invisible faeries.

Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don’t speak to invisible faeries.

Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don’t ever attract their attention.

But it’s too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

Faerie intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr’s stunning 21st century faery tale.

Okay, so this is a faerie book.  I’ve read a few of those recently– Wings by Aprilynne Pike, the Modern Faerie Tales trilogy by Holly Black (the first book is called Tithe), Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston.  All of which I liked.

I liked this one second best.  I really liked this one– It was unique and interesting with a great cast of believable characters.

Hooray for a heroine who stands up for what she wants!  Aislinn is very real– she isn’t sure how she’s going to make things happen, but she isn’t willing to back down or give up.

(Also, her boyfriend calls her Ash for short, so you know I like that.) 🙂

Speaking of boyfriends, if the bad boy is more your style than the preppy Edward type, look no further than Seth.  He’s devoted, attentive and protective, but he’s also got jet black hair and a LOT of piercings.  Not to mention that he regularly hangs out in a tattoo shop.

So, there’s that.

The bonus about this book is that it was published in 2006, so there are three more books in the series already published, with a fifth one in the works.  So you don’t have to wait to find out what happens next!  The next two are already waiting for me at the library.

Four stars for being the second best faerie YA novel I’ve ever read.  But I’m happy to have another series to sate me for a while.

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

July 15, 2010 3 comments

I heard about this book from my friend, Jenni Elyse, who read this book last year. (You can read her review here.)

I love the cover– it’s beautiful and it gives a hint of ethereality that goes well with the story.

Here’s the blurb from Bree Despain’s site:

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel’s dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

Bree Despain has an incredible hook, right from the beginning.  Within the first few pages, you’re dying to know what happened between Jude and Daniel and why Grace’s attraction to Jude is so… forbidden.  (That sounds so ominously bad, but it’s the only word I could come up with.)

Anyway, Bree Despain is both a gifted storyteller and a skilled writer, so the book is easy to enjoy.   I was enthralled from the beginning and this is one of those books that I stayed up until 2 a.m. just to finish.

I have no self-control when it comes to books.

Grace is a wonderfully believable character.  She’s strong, and although she has her doubts about things, she doesn’t come off and whiny or annoying (like some other YA heroines can be).  She’s a realistic character torn between loyalty to her brother and her nearly uncontrollable curiosity to find out the truth about Daniel.

This is definitely one of the better YA paranormal fantasy romances I’ve read recently, and we all know that I’ve read a lot. 😉  It’s a teen book, but it doesn’t come off as incredibly angst-y.

Four and a half stars for being the best paranormal romance I’ve read recently.  I’m looking  forward to the sequel, The Lost Saint, which comes out later this year.

Dark Flame by Alyson Noël

July 12, 2010 1 comment

This is the fourth book in Alyson Noël’s series, The Immortals.  I’ve read the whole series so far.  I really loved the first book, Evermore. The paranormal teen romance genre is explosive right now thanks to Twilight, and I thought Evermore was a cute book.

But the last two books, I’ve really felt like… “C’mon already, they still have the same problem they had at the beginning?”

Before I go on, here’s the blurb from Alyson Noël’s website:

In this eagerly awaited continuation of the bestselling Immortals series, Ever struggles to help her best friend Haven transition into life as an immortal—trying to keep her from doing anything that puts them at risk, while attempting to gain control over her enemy Roman, so she can finally obtain the antidote that will allow her and Damen to be together. But when the spell she casts backfires, resulting in a strange, foreign pulse that binds her to Roman instead, Ever turns to Jude and dark magick, desperately attempting to break free of the curse, and ultimately risking everything she knows and loves—including her beloved Damen.

Here’s the thing– Ever (the main character) can be kinda annoying.  If you thought Bella was annoying, you’ll totally hate Ever.  She doesn’t trust any of the right people, and she is determined to do everything herself (even though she has no idea what she’s doing). She doesn’t believe that her boyfriend could possibly love her as much as he says he does because she’s always screwing up and pushing him away and blah blah blah teen angst teen angst teen angst.

Now.

I normally eat all that angst up with a spoon because I love teen books so much.  But this was even too much for me to handle.  I wanted to reach right into those pages and shake Ever by the shoulders (or maybe slap her in the face) and say, “Get a grip!”

Ugh.

Now that that’s off my chest, I have to say that Ever’s boyfriend, Damen, is (of course) perfect.  (Think Edward, but less sparkly and with dark hair.)  If you luurve Edward, you will go nuts for Damen.  He’s romantic and cute, and he’s got a sweet car.

So there’s that, too.

But if you’ve had your fill of perfect boyfriends, look in another book for someone flawed (but still nice).

If you are into the whole paranormal teen romance thing that’s so huge right now, you will probably like this series.   So if that’s you, I totally recommend it.

But you will probably lose patience with Ever somewhere around page 10 of this book.

Three stars because I really do like the series, and I feel compelled to read the next book, Bright Star (due out this winter).