Dead Silence

Caution!  You’ve GOT to read the first three books in Kimberly Derting’s creeptastic Body Finder series (The Body Finder, Desires of the Dead, and The Last Echo) before reading the fourth book, Dead Silence. Each book builds on the one before it, and all of them are pretty great. If you’re looking for a wonderful supernatural mystery series, you definitely want to give this one a try!

I’m not sure what’s going on, but lately I’ve been craving a good mystery. Maybe I’m just experiencing Sherlock withdrawals, but the past two books I’ve read have been mysteries, and I’m only craving more. Within the next week or so, I’m hoping to read Social Suicide, the sequel to Deadly Cool, and Game, the sequel to Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers–both mysteries. (Of course, I’m watching my share of mysteries on the telly as well:  Ripper Street, Criminal Minds, all the Law & Order reruns I can handle, etc. Good stuff.)

Anyway, my latest read, Dead Silence is the fourth book in The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting. This entire series is awesome, and this fourth book definitely went a long way in satisfying my longing for a good mystery. (I’d probably be even more satisfied if I knew there would be more books in this series!) Dead Silence is a real page-turner, and it lives up to the three books that preceded it, and I would definitely recommend the entire series to anyone who likes a bit of woo-woo, supernatural stuff with their mysteries.

Dead Silence continues to follow Violet, who can sense echoes of those who have been murdered. She can also sense the imprints of those echoes on the murderers. Her “gift” has gotten her into some dangerous situations. She’s even been a target of a serial killer herself. That experience left Violet with more than just horrible memories. She now carries an imprint herself, for she had to kill or be killed. It’s a lot for any teenager to handle, but Violet is not like most teenagers…

With the help of a therapist she can’t stand and a team of other “gifted” individuals (who she’s learning to tolerate), Violet is coming to terms with her abilities…even the imprint that disturbs her waking and sleeping hours. She still feels the pull of the echoes of the dead, but maybe–just maybe–she can control her desire to find the dead and those who killed them.

Then again…maybe not.

When Violet is led to a murdered family, it’s clear that she’s leaping before she looks yet again. Once more, she finds herself involved in an investigation that will lead her down some dangerous roads…roads that she may not be ready to travel. For this murder scene is not like most others. A strange symbol has been left in blood at the crime scene, a daughter is missing, and one of the bodies is missing an echo. Violet knows this person was murdered, but where is the echo? And if there’s no echo, is there no imprint on the killer?

Violet will find some of the answers she’s seeking in an unexpected place–her grandmother’s journals. Her grandmother shared the same gift Violet has, and she documented a lot of what she went through…including what a missing echo could mean. Grandma also wrote about a group of individuals gathered together, all of them with odd abilities. Violet will learn more about her gift, but she may also learn more than she expected about her own team…and who may have brought them together.

As Violet searches for answers about her own life and team, she’s also trying to figure out who could have possibly murdered an entire family…and possibly many others. Who is this madman, and how is he controlling those around him, convincing them to do his bidding? What hold could he have on them, and what led him to kill?

Violet will have to lie to everyone she cares about in order to solve this mystery…but is she really prepared for the consequences of so many lies? And when the truth is finally revealed, what could it mean for Violet and those closest to her? Can Violet keep her friends and family safe when chaos, pain, and death seem to follow her? Is there any way to balance her desire to use her gift for good with her need for a “normal” life? Is “normal” even possible? Unravel the mystery when you read Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting.

Once again, this post doesn’t come close to capturing how amazing I think this book is. I was captivated from start to finish, and I REALLY hope there are more books in this series. (Considering the way things ended, I’m hopeful, but I can’t find any mention on the interweb of more Body Finder books. Bummer.) As I was reading Dead Silence, I was also halfway watching a documentary about the Manson family. The similarities between that notorious group and the bad guy(s) in this book are very noticeable and thought-provoking, and it makes this book an even more engrossing read.

I don’t know if I would recommend this book to middle grade readers, simply because some of the imagery is kind of graphic. (Of course, they probably see worse when playing Call of Duty.) There’s also a couple of steamy scenes (nothing gratuitous) that younger readers may not be ready for. (Again, this is not true for all readers. Some young ones are probably have more experience with this than I’m comfortable admitting.) Like I’ve said before, know your readers and what they can handle. Recommend books accordingly.

If you’d like more information about Dead Silence, the rest of the Body Finder series, and other books by Kimberly Derting, visit http://kimberlyderting.com/index.php. You may also want to check out the Dead Silence book trailer below. It doesn’t give too much away, but it kind of makes Violet seem creepier than she is in the books. Just my opinion…

The Last Echo

Warning!  If you haven’t read The Body Finder or Desires of the Dead, please do so before continuing with this post about the third book in The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting, The Last Echo.  Spoilers ahead!

I don’t know what it says about me that I’m fascinated with books about serial killers.  (Maybe it just means that I’m incredibly interesting.  Probably not, though.)  I don’t mean that I like true crime books.  I don’t.  In fact, if it actually happened, I want very little to do with it.  (Unless we’re talking about Jack the Ripper.  Fictional books based on his crimes are kind of awesome, especially Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star.)  I enjoy fiction that gives me a glimpse of what it *might* be like if a serial killer were running rampant.  I also like it when teenagers are the ones responsible for stopping the killer.  That explains why I’m such a fan of Kimberly Derting’s The Body Finder series.  In each book, the main character, Violet, uses her extrasensory ability to locate the bodies of the dead and match the echo attached to the body with the imprint left on the killer.  (If you’ve read these books, this needs no explanation.  If you haven’t, read the first book, and all will become clear…sort of.)  This unique ability is both a gift and a curse.  Sometimes Violet’s ability helps the dead to find peace.  But sometimes it puts Violet in a killer’s sights…

In The Last Echo, Violet is coming to terms with people finally knowing about her ability.  She’s working with a team of kids with their own psychic connections to the dead.  When she finds the body of a young girl, she’s drawn into the case of a serial killer known only as “the collector.”  This madman kidnaps young women and keeps them as his girlfriends…until they do something that upsets him.  Violet and her team, including the enigmatic Rafe (who shares an unsettling connection with Violet), are using all of their considerable abilities to find this killer.  They might even use a few less-than-legal methods. 

When one of these adventures gets them into a bit of trouble, Violet unwittingly becomes the target of yet another psycho, a gang member who has so many imprints attached to him that Violet wonders just how many people he’s killed.  In addition to tracking “the collector,” Violet is now working to put someone else, someone who may be even more dangerous, behind bars.

Violet’s life is more complicated than ever before.  Her work with the team, while it makes her feel like less of a freak, may be putting her very life in danger.  (And even though she kind of likes working with this special team, she’s getting a little sick of all the secrets being kept from her.)  Her parents and her boyfriend Jay want her to quit, but Violet has this need to help the dead find peace.  The only way to do that is to use her special ability to find their killers and bring them to justice.  Violet may be in more danger, however, than she ever thought possible.  She’s in the sights of not one but two killers.  One wants her to die.  The other wants to make her his…forever.

How can one girl cope with being a target?  How can Violet use her ability to stop more deaths—including her own?  Solve the mystery when you read The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting.

I know this is not my best review/recap, which kind of sucks since I enjoyed this book–the whole series, really–so much.  I totally downplayed the complicated connection between Violet and Rafe and its impact on Violet’s relationship with her super-supportive boyfriend Jay.  (No, that’s not sarcasm.  Jay is almost too-good-to-be-true in his support of Violet and her decisions.)  While I think this is a very important part of the book, I honestly feel that the story—the search for “the collector” and the other psycho fixated on Violet—is more important.  The Last Echo was all about Violet and her issues with her ability, whether it helps her or puts her in the line of fire.  In the end, it was totally up to Violet to save herself.  (Also, I fully expect that the next book in this series will delve even deeper into the connection between Violet and Rafe.  At least, I hope so.)

Speaking of the next book, there’s no word yet on a title, cover, or synopsis, but it is expected to be released sometime in 2013, probably in the spring.

For more information on The Body Finder series, the author, and other books by Kimberly Derting, visit http://kimberlyderting.com/.  You can also follow the author on Twitter @kimberlyderting. 

Still not enough?  Well, check out this book trailer for The Last Echo from HarperTeen.  It’s pretty cool.  Enjoy!

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm  Comments (2)  
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Mad Love

Even though I think Valentine’s Day is a stupid non-holiday (yes, I’m single), I found myself reading a book with a big ol’ heart on it yesterday.  Purely coincidence, I assure you.  When I first started reading Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors, I was expecting standard chick-lit fare.  I was pleasantly surprised, though, by the depth of the main character, Alice, and how she approached issues that no teenager should have to deal with.  It also didn’t hurt that Mad Love threw in some mythology and supernatural goings-on.  That’s always fun.

Alice Amorous is the daughter of world-famous romance novelist Belinda Amorous. People probably think that being the Queen of Romance’s daughter is glamorous and full of flowers, hearts, and candy…but they couldn’t be more wrong. Alice is doing her best to hide the horrible truth from everyone. Her mother is battling a mental illness in a private psychiatric hospital, and she hasn’t written a word in three years. 

It’s up to Alice to make sure the bills get paid, books get autographed (or forged, as the case may be), and eager fans and publishers are kept at bay.  But it’s getting harder and harder to cope…especially when her mom’s publisher wants a completed manuscript or a return of the $100,000 advance for the next book, and the hospital needs payment for Belinda’s care and treatment.  Alice doesn’t have the money needed, and she doesn’t know how she’ll get it…until she gets the bright idea to write a romance novel herself…in her mother’s name, of course.  There are a few problems though:  1.  She’s not a writer.  2.  She’s never even been in love (and how can you write about romance if you’ve never experienced it?).  3.  The publisher needs the novel by the end of the summer, so she’s got about a month to come up with something.  What’s a girl to do?  Well, someone comes along who may just have the answer to all of Alice’s problems…

When Alice first meets Errol, she thinks he’s crazy.  Also, he reeks of clam juice.  After talking to him for a bit, she still thinks he’s crazy, but she’s willing to hear him out if it will ultimately help her mother.  See, Errol thinks he’s Eros, better known as Cupid, and he wants Alice to write the real story of Cupid and Psyche, the story that the gods wanted hushed up.  Alice has quite enough crazy in her life, but she agrees to help Errol–even though he’s wrecking her relationship with Tony, the new guy in town.  As Alice works on the book that she’s sure will fix everything, she learns a little about what a love story truly is and the power of love in all its forms.

Will Alice be able to tell Errol’s story before it’s too late?  Will it be enough to keep her mother’s illness a secret?  Is this guy really Cupid?  Will her mother ever get better?  And will Alice finally get her own love story with Tony?  Answer these questions and many more when you read Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors.

Mad Love is a quick, easy read that will definitely appeal to tween and teen girls.  (It will be a hard sell for most male readers.)  Despite the cover, this is an emotional read that highlights what children of depressed parents go through.  It also gives a new look at a story you might have encountered before.  Many mythology enthusiasts–like myself–know the story of Cupid and Psyche, but Mad Love presents it in a whole new way…without the “happy ending” that we’ve grown accustomed to.  Author Suzanne Selfors does a great job of showing readers how truly powerful love can be, whether it’s the love between parents and children, friends, romantic interests, or even total strangers.  Mad Love is a wonderful, heart-wrenching book that will leave you examining the love in your own life.  I know it did for me.

For more information about Suzanne Selfors and her books, visit http://www.suzanneselfors.com/index_flash.php.  (I’ve only read one of her other books, Saving Juliet, but it, too, was great, so I’ll probably check out a few more!)

Vesper

I really identified with the main character in my latest read, Vesper by Jeff Sampson.  Emily Webb is a sixteen-year-old geek who gets way too engrossed in books and movies, doesn’t have many friends, stays at home most of the time, and never tries anything new for fear of rocking the boat or looking like an idiot.  I feel like I’ve just written a short autobiography.  I’m just like Emily (except, you know, twice her age), and, like Emily, I often have the urge to jump out of my shell and go a little crazy.  (I never do.)  Well, Emily is about to do what I’ve never had the guts to do.  She’s becoming an adventurous party girl, but she’s not all that thrilled about it…

By day, Emily Webb is still the same geeky, unassuming, often forgotten, run-of-the mill teenager who is simply counting down the days until the next superhero movie.  (Wow.  The similarities never stop.)  By night, however, Emily morphs into a fearless, reckless thrill seeker who lets nothing stand in her way.  What caused this sudden change?  Why does Emily let go of her inhibitions only at night?  And why does this weird transformation begin on the night that a girl is mysteriously killed just blocks from Emily’s house?

Emily knows she should be worried about her sudden personality shifts, but, at the same time, she kind of likes Nighttime Emily.  She likes not worrying about what people think of her.  She likes dressing to impress instead of hiding her figure behind oversized hoodies.  She likes being the daring girl she’s always wanted to be.  But when her transformation takes an unexpected turn, Emily realizes that something is seriously wrong with her.  She doesn’t know why this is happening to her, but she knows that there are others out there like her.  She just has to find them.

After doing a little research, Emily soon figures out that her freaky new self is somehow connected to the death of the other girl, also named Emily, and the attempted murder of another classmate.  What is happening with the teenagers in her small Washington town?  Will Emily be able to reconcile her daytime and nighttime selves long enough to figure out what’s going on?  And can she do it before becoming a killer’s next target?  Read Vesper by Jeff Sampson to find out!

I’ve left a lot about Vesper out of this post, and that was completely intentional.  I don’t want to ruin this book for anyone because, quite honestly, it went places I wasn’t completely prepared for.  At first, I wasn’t thrilled about these unexpected turns, but, as the story progressed, I accepted them and grew to anticipate where the story was taking me.  I look forward to reading more of Emily’s story in the second book of this Deviants series.  That book is Havoc and is scheduled for release January of 2012.  In the meantime, I encourage you to visit the author’s website at http://jeffsampsonbooks.com/ for more information on this exciting new series!

Desires of the Dead

Caution:  Spoilers ahead!  If you haven’t read The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, proceed at your own risk.  Desires of the Dead picks up right where The Body Finder left off, and I don’t want to ruin things for you.  You’ve been warned!

If you’re still reading after the spoiler alert above, you’ve probably figured out that Desires of the Dead is the sequel to Kimberly Derting’s The Body Finder.  (At least, I hope you’ve figured that out.)  In this second installment, we continue to follow Violet as she deals with her mysterious “gift.”  To refresh your memory, she is led to bodies of those who have been murdered.  An echo is attached to each body–a sound, a smell, a taste–and Violet follows that echo until she locates the body.  An imprint of each echo is also attached to the killer, a fact Violet knows all too well after her abilities helped to identify and capture a serial killer.

In Desires of the Dead, Violet is still dealing with the aftereffects of coming face to face with the serial killer that was plaguing her town.  She knows her “gift” led her to him–and put people she loves in danger–so she’s hesitant to share her secrets with anyone, including those closest to her.  She’s also dealing with her changing relationship with Jay, her best-friend-turned-boyfriend.  They truly love each other, but Violet is still unsure about trusting Jay with everything that is happening in her life.

And there is a lot happening.  After locating the body of a missing boy, certain people begin to question just know Violet knew to find the body in an airtight, windowless, dark storage container.  These people, somehow connected with the FBI, know that Violet has some special abilities, and they want her to use them.  Violet is not convinced that she won’t become some creepy lab experiment, but she also wonders if she could really use her gift to help people.

On top of that, it seems that Violet has really ticked someone off.  After finding a dead cat next to her car, receiving a threatening poem, and enduring many calls from an unknown source, Violet knows that someone is stalking her, but she’s not sure why.  She thinks she knows who is threatening her, but, after Jay refuses to believe her suspicions, she begins to question herself, her abilities, her relationship, and her own mind.

Violet eventually begins to find some measure of peace, but it is soon shattered by her “gift” once again.  A body is calling to Violet, but whose is it?  And what is its connection to the threats being made against Violet?  Who can she turn to for help?  Will anyone even believe her?  Find out when you read Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting.

I really enjoyed this book, but I must admit that I liked The Body Finder more.  I think Desires of the Dead is a fairly typical second book in a series.  We kind of get to know the main characters more, there are some new players introduced, and some plot points drive the story along.  I look forward to seeing what happens in the third book in this series.  According to Goodreads, there will be at least two more books in this series.  I hope these books will be as good as or better than the first two installments.

For more information on The Body Finder series and other books by Kimberly Derting, visit http://www.kimberlyderting.com/.  Enjoy!

Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 8:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Body Finder

About five minutes ago, I finished reading The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting.  Holy crap on a cracker, is that an awesome book!  I was completely engrossed in the story, so much so that, earlier this evening, when I couldn’t get in touch with my parents, I was sure that something nefarious had happened to them.  (You may have noticed that I get a little too involved in the books I’m reading.)  Paranoia aside, The Body Finder is definitely a page-turner that you will not want to put down.

Violet Ambrose has a “gift.”  Well, some would consider her ability a gift.  She thinks of it as a curse.  When Violet was young, she discovered she had the power to find beings that had been murdered.  These beings, whether animal or human, left an echo behind.  It may be a sound, a smell, or even a taste, but these sensory perceptions could always lead Violet to whatever had been killed.  An imprint of this echo was also attached to the killer.  Many times these imprints were attached to animals, but sometimes Violet sensed imprints on people around her.  Did these people kill during war?  Did they hunt animals in the local woods?  Or did they do something more sinister?

When young girls begin disappearing in Violet’s small community, and Violet is led by her “gift” to one of the bodies, she knows that she can use her abilities to potentially stop a serial killer.  Yes, it will be dangerous.  Yes, she could end up a victim herself, but Violet is determined that she must do something to help stop this madman.

As if dealing with a possible serial killer isn’t enough, Violet is also facing some rather uncomfortable new feelings for her best friend, Jay.  He’s always been “just a friend,” but Violet wants more.  She just doesn’t know if Jay wants the same thing, and she doesn’t want to lose her best friend in the world.  Jay also knows about Violet’s abilities, and her determination to assist in the investigation puts yet another strain on their changing friendship.  What’s a girl to do?

Join Violet as she navigates the harsh world of first loves, mysterious abilities, and a killer on the loose when you read The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting.  Find out if it’s possible for a teenager to stop a killer before she becomes his next victim.

If you like Lisa McMann’s Wake series, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, or even Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, I think you may find another winner in The Body Finder.  While most of the book is from Violet’s point of view, there are some glimpses into the mind of a predator.  It’s not always easy to read (especially at night when you’re alone), but it definitely adds to the story.

For more information on author Kimberly Derting, The Body Finder, or the upcoming sequel, Desires of the Dead, visit http://www.kimberlyderting.com/.

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 8:57 pm  Comments (2)  
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North of Beautiful

What is true beauty?  That is something that Terra Rose Cooper would like to know.  Born with a port-wine stain on her cheek, Terra has always considered herself to be ugly.  The comments from her verbally abusive father don’t help matters.  She’s undergone many surgeries to “fix her face,” but none have worked.  She just wants a way out of the stifling path she seems to be on.

In the blink of an eye, Terra (almost literally) runs into someone who will change the course of her life.  Jacob is a Goth kid with his own issues, but he helps Terra to see that she is responsible for traveling her own path in the world, and, if she’ll only look, true beauty is all around her.  Through this eye-opening relationship, Terra begins to see the value in being unique and learning to really express herself, and her relationships with those around her begin to evolve in some surprising ways.

Initially, North of Beautiful was hard for me to get into.  As soon as Terra met Jacob, however, the story really picked up.  I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between these two characters.  I also liked seeing how the relationship between Terra and her mother changed throughout this book.  I think North of Beautiful is a great book for those who are tired of magazines and other media trying to tell us what beauty should be.  This book may help some readers to see that true beauty can be in everything and everyone around us.  We just have to take the time to really look.

Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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