Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder
Kimberly Derting
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: March 16, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 336
Source: Library
Series: Book One of Body Finder

*Debut Author Challenge
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 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 dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope 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.
Of all the books debuting this year, The Body Finder was the one I most anticipated. I loved the premise, and as the reviews came flooding through my reader I knew this was my kind of book. What I didn't know beforehand was that this was yet another dual narrative, which seems to be a theme around here lately. Seeing things through Violet's eyes was obviously what pulled me in: she's such a relatable character. But getting a glimpse at the workings of a serial killer's mind? That's what didn't let me go.

Despite Violet's talent, this was a fairly contemporary story, which made it all the more gripping. Its realness was chilling. To watch Violet go from searching out the killer to becoming his next target was just the kind of suspense that should occur more often in YA. In a genre of too few true mysteries, The Body Finder delivered just what I'd been missing.

Of course Violet has more than dead bodies and serial killers to worry about. There's her best friend Jay who has suddenly become the school hottie. Violet's struggle with her feelings was painfully cute, and I say painfully because it hurts to think about being that inept at that age (which I was). Jay was also a very likeable character, okay... so I kind of loved him, but it was his relationship with Violet that really made me swoon. I raise my shield to Team Edward when I say, THIS is an acceptable kind of protectiveness. It was sweet, enviable, and completely appropriate. It also created a nice balance with the whole serial killer creepiness.

If I hadn't known this was Kimberly Derting's first novel, I would have never guessed it. She told a gripping story that demands a sequel, and lucky for us, it's hitting shelves this March. Typically I only buy hardbacks of books I've read and loved. I took a chance on buying a copy of The Body Finder, and I am so glad that I did. It was a fantastic debut that earned a very special place on my bookshelf. Lucky for you, Cavalier House Books has copies available for your own shelf.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In My Bag (23)

In My Bag is my version of the weekly meme, In My Mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren, and it explores the contents of my mailbox or shopping bag on a weekly basis.

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd
edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
with stories from M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare,
David Levithan, Barry Lyga, Scott Westerfeld, and Sara Zarr

Thanks Jessica for hosting such a great contest! I was ecstatic to win a SIGNED copy of Geektastic on her blog. Jessica actually has two blogs - Forever Young and Jessica Love Writes. Check out both for more contests and all around awesome.

What'd you guys get this week?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It features upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's pick is...

Like Mandarin
Coming March 8, 2011 - Preorder it below

From Goodreads:
It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin. 

When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their badlands town. 

Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.

My thoughts:

Have you heard about The Contemps? They're this super cool group of authors (including some of my favorites like Courtney Summers, Sarah Ockler, and Lisa Schroeder) who have contemporary YA novels coming out between August 2010 and August 2011. Newbie Kirsten Hubbard is one of them, and to be including in such great company speaks volumes to me. I love supporting debut authors, and Kirsten's Like Mandarin sounds like a real gem. I have a soft spot for small town girls with big dreams, and Grace sounds like a girl after my own heart.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff

The Absolute Value of -1
Steve Brezenoff
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Released: September 1, 2010
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 296
Source: 1 ARC Tours
*Debut Author Challenge
The absolute value of any number, positive or negative, is its distance from zero: |-1| = 1

Noah, Lily, and Simon have been a trio forever. But as they enter high school, their relationships shift and their world starts to fall apart. Privately, each is dealing with a family crisis—divorce, abuse, and a parent's illness. Yet as they try to escape the pain and reach out for the connections they once counted on, they slip—like soap in a shower. Noah’s got it bad for Lily, but he knows too well Lily sees only Simon. Simon is indifferent, suddenly inscrutable to his friends. All stand alone in their heartache and grief.

In his luminous YA novel, Steve Brezenoff explores the changing value of relationships as the characters realize that the distances between them are far greater than they knew.
The Absolute Value of -1 is, well, a bit different. And I must say, I like different. The story follows Noah, Lily, and Simon and is mostly told from their three perspectives. Noah loves Lily who only has eyes for Simon who really doesn't give a crap. As they enter high school, it's as if time is moving too fast, too many things are happening simultaneously, and the once tight trio is being pulled apart at the seams. I felt like this is the same story of so many of our own lives, the ever-changing world around us and the way we deal - or don't deal - with it.

Thanks to 1 ARC Tours, I was able to read this copy before its release. Ideally I would have posted this review closer to that date, but this was a novel I had to digest slowly. When I finished it I sort of felt a bit shell-shocked and actually waited several days before starting anything new, which is most unlike me. The more I thought, and the more I continue to think about it, the more I appreciate its freshness. Steve Brezenoff's debut is raw and gritty and you can't read it without feeling a little dirty by the end. That said, it was painfully realistic and one of the best contemporary YA novels I've read this year. Who doesn't like a little dirt sometimes?

I was just talking the other day about my love for dual narratives, and this is another perfect example. It's technically not a dual narrative because there are actually four perspectives throughout the book, but you get the idea. The story begins with Lily, then we hear from Noah, and finally we end with Simon. These three voices are sandwiched by brief thoughts from Suzanne, Simon's older sister. As the story moves from voice to voice, things that were fuzzy become clear and each character becomes more human in the eyes of the reader. I must admit that during Lily's narrative, I was not a big fan. But as the story moved on to Noah and Simon, I really started to love her through their eyes. I almost wish the story would have circled back to her, but don't worry - it's kind of perfect the way it is.

With the recent fantasy craze (I'm a fan, too!), The Absolute Value of -1 is an excellent example of the greatness that can be found in contemporary YA. So the next time you need a break from faeries and dragons or if contempt is normally more your thing, consider picking up a copy of Steve Brezenoff's debut. In fact, it's available at Cavalier House Books. Stop by, say hi, and tell them I sent you ;)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

In My Bag (22)

In My Bag is my version of the weekly meme, In My Mailbox. IMM is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren, and it explores the contents of my mailbox or shopping bag on a weekly basis.

For review:
Grace by Elizabeth Scott
*copy provided by We Love YA Tours*

The next three books I received from John and Michelle at Cavalier House Books. I visited them this week to discuss our new partnership, and these awesome bookies had more gifts for me!

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
I was shocked when Michelle handed this to me! I mean, I had JUST blogged about it that morning. She read my post, thought she happened to have a copy, and sure enough she did.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
The first time I met John and Michelle, they gave me a stack of ARCs which included this book. Upon further digging, they realized they had another copy and thought I might like to give it away. Bonus: it's signed! Keep your eyes out if you want a chance to win it.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
While talking all things books, Michelle said I HAD to read this. It's been on my list for a long time, but now that she's given me a copy, I'll have to move it up.

It was another great week for me as far as books go. What'd you guys get this week?!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

Chasing Brooklyn
Lisa Schroeder
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Released: January 5, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 432
Source: 1 ARC Tours
Restless souls and empty hearts.

Brooklyn can’t sleep. Her boyfriend, Lucca died a year ago, and now their friend Gabe has died of an overdose. Every time she closes her eyes, Gabe's ghost is there, waiting for her. She has no idea what he wants or why it isn't Lucca chasing her through her dreams.

Nico can’t stop. He’s always running, trying so hard not to feel the pain of missing Lucca. But when he begins receiving messages from his dead brother, telling him to help Brooklyn, emotions come crashing to the surface.

As the nightmares escalate and the messages become relentless, Nico reaches out to Brooklyn. But neither of them can admit that they're being haunted. Until they learn to let each other in, not one soul will be able to rest.

I am ashamed to say that I knew nothing of Lisa Schroeder before hearing about Chasing Brooklyn through 1 ARC Tours. However, when she told me she enjoyed my review of If I Stay via Twitter, I was more than flattered, and incredibly humbled, by her compliment. I was already excited just from reading the synopsis, but when I saw what an amazing job Lisa does talking to readers and bloggers, I couldn't wait to read one of her works. When I finally received Brooklyn for review I was blown away. This may be my only experience with her so far, but Lisa could start writing for Kellogg's boxes and I'll read them.

First I must tell you that this book is written in verse. But do not let that deter you because this book is just so, so beautiful. I did not want it to end, which I feel is one of the best compliments I can give an author and her book. The connections made in a novel with such few words is simply chilling. If I try to think of other novels that have gotten such an emotional reaction from me, few come to mind. In fact, this was one of my favorite reads this year that I've been recommending to people left and right. The fact that it is written in verse only makes its impact on me more impressive.

Chasing Brooklyn is told from both Brooklyn and Nico's points of view. I happen to love dual narratives; however, I know some don't and I can see why. Not every writer is able to create two or more distinct voices that readers will relate to. Lisa does an amazing job of developing both perspectives, and the parallels that occur between the two voices is genius. I loved both Brooklyn and Nico, and I felt all of the pain, anger, loss, confusion, and love they felt as I was reading their story.

Lisa's latest novel is, in a word, stunning. I simply cannot stop thinking about it or recommending it to anyone who will listen.

To experience the beauty of Chasing Brooklyn for yourself, copies are available at Cavalier House Books. If you'd like to support your own local booksellers, search IndieBound for a store near you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Emergency Alert (Don't freak out, it's not really an emergency. Well...)


This cannot wait until next Wednesday.

I just
found out
that Megan
is coming out
with a new book
in April.

I don't even know what it's about yet, but I had to stop everything else I was doing to tell you guys about it. Even if you already know. And, by the way, that wasn't an attempt at a haiku. I just wanted you to hear me telling you about it instead of just reading it.

Thank you, and please return to your regularly scheduled broadcasts.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It features upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's pick is...

Between Shades of Gray
Coming March 22, 2011 - Preorder it below

From Goodreads:
Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.

In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.

Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.

It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

My thoughts:

I love historical fiction. I love historical fiction set during WWII. This is really all that was needed to put this novel on my to-read list. Being a 2011 Debut and having a beautiful cover are bonuses.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Hey guys, there's been a lack of reviews lately because I'm in a writing funk. It's always been important to me to write my own synopsis for the books I'm reviewing. Why this matters so much to me, I have no idea. Maybe I thought it made my reviews more authentic or something? Who knows. The point is it really delays things because I often find myself stuck on the synopsis. Because of this I have over two dozen drafts I can.not.finish.

Adele of Persnickety Snark wrote a post a while back about how she writes reviews and brought something very important to light: people get paid to do that. Part of the marketing process is coming up with an appealing cover and an official blurb to catch readers' attention. Last I checked, I hadn't received payment for any of the summaries I've construed. So, I will from now on be including the official blurb for each of the books I review. The thought irks me still, but I will hopefully become a more efficient reviewer.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Boy Meets Boy
David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books
Released: September 9, 2003
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 192
Source: Library
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it.

The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy, meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy, wonderful world.

I love David Levithan. He is, to me, one of the most important figures in young adult literature. Not only is he the author of a dozen YA novels, but he is also the editorial director at Scholastic and the founding editor of the PUSH imprint. Rather than gush over his amazingness, which would literally take days, I encourage you to visit his website so you can see for yourself. Or, you can just pick up a copy of Boy Meets Boy.

In what was originally a Valentine's Day gift for friends, Levithan has accomplished in his first novel what most authors spend their entire careers working toward - creating an alternate universe readers wish they could live in. I think a fellow blogger friend of mine, Jessica of Forever YA Lit, said it best, "I wish Paul's world existed. But since it doesn't, I'm glad this book exists."

Boy Meets Boy is the sweetest of love stories, and Paul is the sweetest of characters. While his world can only be described as a fantasy by most real life gay teens, Paul's problems with life and love are very conventional. Readers of any sexual orientation can relate. Maybe that's what is so special about David Levithan. His stories are so realistic and emotionally uplifting, readers can't help but be inspired by his words. If you're a stranger to Levithan or haven't picked this one up yet, I will advise you buy your own copy because this is a story you will want to own. I bet you can find one for your shelf at Cavalier House Books, and you should check out the rest of David's books while you're there.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In My Bag (21) Special Edition

In My Bag is my version of the weekly meme, In My Mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren, and it explores the contents of my mailbox or shopping bag on a weekly basis.

There is a story behind this week's post: Several months ago I finally managed to stop by a new independent book store near my home. I had heard of its opening, and while it's technically located in another city, I was thrilled to have a local indie seller I could support. From the local artwork placed throughout the store to the beautiful murals in the children's section, Cavalier House Books had me from the ding of the door chimes. John and Michelle's store is a book lover's dream; it's really no wonder people tell Michelle she reminds them of Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail.

Since my first visit, I've followed CHB on Facebook and Twitter, and I have been looking forward to several of their upcoming events. One such event was a Banned Book Swap in honor of Banned Books Week. I was already thinking of attending when John emailed me regarding my blog. You see, there's this new thing out there where independent bookstores are partnering with local book bloggers to promote their common interest and reach out to new audiences. Can I tell you I was STOKED when John and Michelle ran this by me?

I officially met them at the Banned Books Swap, which was fantastic. There was a good turnout with books including Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan being discussed. I came home with a few of my own swapped books, but what really made my night was the amazing gift John and Michelle had waiting. While attending the SIBA Trade Show, they picked up a few review copies for me including... wait for it... Where She Went by Gayle Forman. SQUEE! To tell you I screamed in the car on the way home is not an exaggeration.

For review:
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Matched by Allie Condie
+ a Vlad Tod tote bag

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

So that was my exciting news! What'd you guys get this week?
Related Posts with Thumbnails