Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica RossiUnder the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Published by HarperTeen on January 3, 2012
Pages: 374
Format: Hardcover
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Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered.

This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland--known as The Death Shop--are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild--a savage--and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile--everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky

I went into this book (and series) with very high expectations. So many people had given it rave reviews and so many of my blogger friends had told me I NEEDED to read it – that it was a must-read and I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Well, I was a little disappointed.

I’m not saying it was bad.. It was still a really interesting book. The plot felt unique and it really held my attention – The science/genetics and technology were really fascinating. The Realms sound very cool! The Aether storms are creepy and feel as though they could happen in a not-so-distant future. The writing was gorgeous, too. Rossi can definitely write! And for me, really great writing can make or break a story. I could despise the story, but if it’s well written and captivating, I’m sold. That’s not to say I’ll jump all over it and recommend it to people left and right – But it makes a slow plot or iffy characters more tolerable.

Things went down-hill, for me, with the characters, mostly. I’m very character driven – if you’ve read a lot of my reviews, you can tell that I focus a lot of my review on discussing the characters. And the characters in Under the Never Sky were.. okay.

Aria was a complicated character for me.. I really liked her but I have no idea why. There was nothing really remarkable about her that made her stand-out. If you asked me, “Why do you like Aria?” I’d shrug and say, “No idea! I just do.” Now.. I really did like her. But.. If I liked her that much, shouldn’t I have AT LEAST one solid reason why? Shouldn’t I be able to say something about her? I mean.. She held her own, but she also didn’t really do anything to help or assist. She was kind of just .. there. But I didn’t dislike her. And she never really had a moment where I was like, “Ugh, she’s getting annoying!” – Nope, that didn’t really happen. Or if it did, it was so insignificant that it didn’t faze me. So.. Yeah. I’m torn on how I feel about her.

Perry.. Guys, don’t hate me, please. While I didn’t dislike Perry, I certainly didn’t like him. The sections of the book that were told in his POV were kind of boring and I just couldn’t connect with him. I did love him with Aria and I can absolutely see them as a couple. I just wasn’t his biggest fan. I’m definitely not swooning over him. Sorry, Team Perry! But maybe he’ll be better in Through the Ever Night?? *Hopeful smile*

One of my absolute favorite characters was Roar. I loved him so much, from the minute we were introduced to him. I love his playful personality, his slightly cocky attitude (which, he’s mostly cocky in a cute and funny way). I’m SO RELIEVED he’s not a part of a love triangle with Aria and Perry, but I love the friendship he has with Aria. Also, as a side-note? I’m relieved that Aria and Perry weren’t all insta-love-ish. There relationship definitely had a slow build-up.

Overall, the story was very slow-moving – and, at times, borderline boring. It came in waves – a huge chunk of the book was slow and boring, then a huge chunk was interesting, etc. Most of the story was just build-up and back-story meant to get us from book one into book two. Which was weird, because usually it’s the second book in the series that does all that, in an attempt to build up to an “epic” conclusion in book three (if it’s a trilogy). It’s called Second Book Syndrome. Yet.. book one had that this time. So.. Kinda weird. I would still recommend this book and I’m definitely pushing ahead with book two (which I’m currently reading) because I’ve heard it’s amazing and way better than book one. And supposedly Into the Still Blue (book 3) really IS an epic conclusion.


Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin ConstantineThe Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
Published by HarperTeen on December 31, 2013
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: the author
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Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

The Promise of Amazing was a fun, cute read that will leave you wanting more! For those of you who know me, I’m not big on YA contemporary. It’s just too.. rainbows and kittens for my taste. But The Promise of Amazing surprised me in such a good way!

Wren was a great character. I found her to be real, down-to-earth and relatable. There’s a big thing in the beginning where Wren talks about being quiet – how being quiet is not a conscious protest, nor a character flaw that can be fixed. As someone who was really shy and quiet in high school, I know exactly what Wren was dealing with. People thought I was a snob because I didn’t speak to them – one friend told me I was being called something much worse, even. But I was just painfully shy. I didn’t like to speak up in class. I didn’t like to raise my hand and draw attention to myself. So, right off the bat, Wren felt like someone I wanted to be friends with because I could relate to her situation. Wren grows a lot throughout the story, though. She starts out very quiet and timid and becomes very outspoken, refusing to be remembered as the one who didn’t speak up.

The story also hit close to home because of things Wren’s family was dealing with financially. My family and I had a similar situation and it was really tough. I even had the same thoughts Wren had regarding her future and what she wanted to do with her life after high school/college. It was kind of hard to read those parts, but it made me connect more with the book.

Grayson was great, though a little bit cliche in the beginning – the golden boy who could do no wrong until he was de-throned for doing bad things. But he was so hot, cocky (in a playful way) and hysterical, I was able to overlook that. He also grows a lot as a person throughout the book and I love how much he matures by the end. Also? The creative swear words he and his friends came up with had me cracking up! At one point, Grayson even calls himself a male slut! Bahahahaha!

I’m not a huge fan of insta-love, but it works for Wren and Grayson and it feels so realistic. Their relationship has its ups and downs – I mean, Grayson nearly died, so that was a bit of a downer. I love the little bit of a role reversal in the beginning, too. Without being spoilery, something that usually happens to the female character ended up happening to the male character and it was really refreshing!

I enjoyed seeing all the family dynamics, with both Wren’s family and Grayson’s family. I loved Wren’s friends, Jazz and Maddie, but disliked Grayson’s friends, who were constantly trying to bring Grayson back into a life he was trying to leave behind. I especially despised Luke.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I couldn’t put it down! From start to finish, it was a fun, realistic read that had me rooting for a happy ending. Robin Constantine is definitely a debut author worth watching out for! I can’t wait to read more of her amazing (see what I did there?) stories!


Review: Seven Minutes in Heaven by Sara Shepard

Review: Seven Minutes in Heaven by Sara ShepardSeven Minutes in Heaven by Sara Shepard
Series: The Lying Game #6
Published by HarperTeen on July 30, 2013
Pages: 371
Format: Hardcover
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My sister wants the truth.

But sometimes the truth hurts.

For months, my long-lost twin, Emma, has been living my life and trying to solve my murder. She's unearthed dark secrets about my friends, my family, and my tangled past. But when it comes to finding my killer, she keeps running into dead ends.

Until my body shows up in Sabino Canyon. Suddenly everyone knows there are two girls who look like Sutton Mercer—and that one of them is dead. At first the police assume the body is Emma's. But as questions and accusations start flying, it's harder than ever for Emma to keep playing me. The truth is bound to come out eventually. And when it does, Emma will be suspect number one in my murder investigation. If she can't find my killer before time runs out, she'll end up behind bars . . . or worse.

Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars books, finally reveals the shocking truth about Sutton's murder in this riveting novel about secrets, lies, and killer consequences.

Warning: This review contains some spoilers – nothing huge or major, but some (potentially) minor spoilers.

I’m normally very character-driven in my reviews; however, since the murderer is revealed in this book, it’s hard to go into detail about what I liked/disliked about the characters without accidentally revealing who did it. So please be patient with me while I try to dance around that!

I started out reading Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series. I enjoyed them, but they weren’t amazing – and the series has been dragged out for way too long. So I was skeptical when it came to picking up The Lying Game. It took a long time for me buy the first two books. When I finally bought them, though, I read them back-to-back and I was so impressed!

Though the books are a little bit repetitive, and the series likely could have ended sooner than book 6, I still really enjoyed reading them. I loved the little bit of a supernatural element they had – though I wish we had gotten more of an explanation for it and how it was possible, etc – and I loved the twists and turns the series took. Some were cliche and predictable, others were shocking, unexpected and heart-breaking.

As far as final books go, Seven Minutes in Heaven kept me guessing until the very end. Throughout the series, multiple suspects and motives were brought to light. It was really hard to know who to trust, even after Emma and Ethan had deemed someone to be innocent. I kept coming up with new theories as to who did it, both throughout the series and throughout this final book. I didn’t like or trust Garrett, but I didn’t believe he did it, though all the evidence led to him. Every other chapter, I changed my mind on who I thought the murderer was. Sometimes I went back and forth, taking someone off the suspect list, only to put them back on a few chapters later. I kept crossing my fingers, hoping it wasn’t characters I had come to really like, like Laurel, Thayer or one of Sutton’s friends. I tried to brace myself, just in case, though.

I even came up with some truly wild theories, like maybe it was just an accident or maybe it was… self-inflicted. I even wondered if Sutton was still alive somewhere, in a coma or kidnapped or something crazy like that.

One thing that frustrated me, though, was something I notice a lot in YA novels… Why are the cops always dirty or crooked? Or made to look that way, at least. They always seem suspicious, like the MC shouldn’t trust them. And they never, ever believe the MC. No matter how believable he or she is, the cop always thinks the MC is lying. Really frustrating! I get why it has to be that way – if the cops trusted the MC, then they would follow up on the leads the MC provides and the crime or crimes would get solved faster and there would be no story. But there’s got to be a better way to deal with that!

I felt so bad for Emma throughout the whole book. It was so heartbreaking to see the way she was treated and the things she had to go through. I didn’t want the killer to be who it was… I didn’t believe it until the very last possible second and then I realized it was true. Yet, even then, I still didn’t want it to be true!! I was so sad when this information was revealed!! But honestly… It kind of makes me want to re-read the entire series now, to see if I can pick up on little things I missed the first time around.

The end made me cry … Several times, actually. But it was perfect and amazing and desperately needed. By the end, pretty much all the unanswered questions have answers. There are a few lose ends, which makes me wonder if it was left open for a potential sequel or spin-off down the road. But all in all, I really enjoyed it!


Review: Find Me by Romily Bernard

Review: Find Me by Romily BernardFind Me by Romily Bernard
Series: Find Me #1
Published by HarperTeen on September 24, 2013
Pages: 307
Format: Hardcover
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“Find Me.”

These are the words written on Tessa Waye’s diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa’s just been found . . . dead.

Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target.

Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick. Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick’s deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?

Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.

But she’s going to find this killer no matter what.

Because it just got personal.

Find Me was such an amazing book. I went into it thinking it was just about hacking, but it’s about so much more than that and it was so, so good!!

Wick is a fascinating character with a unique voice. She’s skeptical of everything and everyone and completely untrusting. She has her reasons, too. She’s protective of her younger sister, Lily – and it’s a good thing because, unlike Wick, Lily is trusting and open. That’s not necessarily a bad way to live, but it leaves Lily vulnerable.

I loved Lauren so much. She was an amazing friend and I loved that Wick could confide in her and trust her. There were enough untrustworthy characters in this book and in Wick’s life. It was nice knowing she had someone she could count on. On the flipside, I completely hated Carson throughout the majority of the book. He was creepy and untrustworthy. And then the end of the book just blew my mind. Like.. Whoa. No words. And I’d spoil it, too, if I said anymore.

Then there was Griff. Wow. Um. I seriously don’t even know where to start with Griff. He was kind, friendly, sweet, mean, aloof, flirty… I could go on and on and on. He goes through a myriad of emotions, feelings and personalities from beginning to end. And some of the revelations… Wow. Like.. At one point, I thought I knew where his character arc was going, and then I wasn’t sure, and then I was like… Mind Blown!!

I actually got to a certain point in the book where my reactions were basically like this:

So… yeah. I don’t even know what else I can say without spoiling everything. I’m STILL reeling from the ending!! I heard there is supposed to be a second book and I WANT IT!!!!!!!! NOW!!!!!!!

Bernard is such a great writer. She gives Wick a unique voice, there’s no pesky love triangle, and the red herrings and twists and turns will leave your head spinning!! I literally had a book hangover after reading Find Me and it took me forever to start a new book after finishing it!

If you come away with from this review with just one thing, let it be this: You MUST read this book!!! NOW!


Review: The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten WhiteThe Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
Published by HarperTeen on September 10, 2013
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up.

Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.

Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.

When I first heard about this book, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I love Greek Mythology, but while I find Egyptian Mythology interesting, I wasn’t sure if it was completely my kind of thing.

But then I read it. And it really exceeded expectations. Also? The cover is really gorgeous!

The first half of the book was a little slow, and I had some trouble getting into it. Isadora was a fascinating MC in the beginning, though a little immature. At times, she rebelled against her parents, while at other times, she just acted like a brat towards them. Her character really matures throughout the book, though, and she experiences one of the greatest transitions/character arcs I’ve seen in YA in a long time.

I really enjoyed Isadora’s interior design skills. That aspect of her character made for fascinating reading. Instead of DESCRIBING a room, which gets boring since every book does it, Isadora told us how she would CHANGE the room, what she would remove and what she would bring in. It made it much more interesting to read!

The Egyptian Mythology in this book was so fascinating! Like I said, I’m more into Greek Mythology, but learning about the various Egyptian Gods and Goddesses was so awesome. It made me realize I love Egyptian Mythology just as much as Greek Mythology. Although there were a lot of Gods and Goddesses mentioned, and sometimes it was really hard to keep track of who was who. I kind of wish there had been a character guide in the back of the book to help me keep track.

I loved Ry. He was such a great love interest, for so many reasons. I REALLY WISH I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil anything. But he was pretty much the PERFECT love interest.

Other characters I loved: Sirus and Tyler were great. I loved their personalities, who they were in Isadora’s life and how they helped her throughout the story.

The second half of the book, as well as the ending, absolutely blew my mind and I just fell in love with the book. I was shocked, I was thrown for a loop and I did NOT expect certain things AT ALL. It was great! Sometimes, I can predict certain things in a book, and it was awesome to be surprised for once!

Overall, a great read. Slow in the beginning and you need to give Isadora a chance to grow on you (and she does!), but it really picks up halfway through and becomes an amazing, awesome read! I would DEFINITELY recommend it.


Review: Another Little Piece By Kate Karyus Quinn

Review: Another Little Piece By Kate Karyus QuinnAnother Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
Published by HarperTeen on June 11, 2013
Pages: 432

The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King meets an eerie mystery worthy of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series in Kate Karyus Quinn’s haunting debut.

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese’s fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

As I sat down to write this, I kind of felt like I had a brick sitting in my stomach. I dreaded writing this review. But what it came down to was: this book fell way below my expectations. Maybe because I had heard so many wonderful things about it, or maybe because everyone was giving it 4 and 5 stars – or maybe both. I thought to myself, “What’s wrong with me? Why I don’t I like this book, when everyone else seems to?”

The book is described as “spine-tingling horror” and an “eerie mystery.” I didn’t think it was either of those. If anything, it was choppy and confusing. The poems were annoying. I’ve never been good at interpreting poetry, so they just felt like a distraction and like I was missing something by not understanding them. The memories, too, were confusing; they came out of nowhere, sometimes with no warning, and it was hard to distinguish present-day vs. past life memory. I wish these sections had been better distinguished from the present-day parts of the story.

The memories also felt so scattered. They happen often, yet are too vague to piece together. I feel like the memories are the places where we should learn a lot and, maybe collectively, we do. But taking each individual memory, they’re just confusing interruptions into the story.

Dex was my favorite part, and I actually did really enjoy his role in the story. His relationship with Anna is grim and twisted, yet oddly perfect. For some reason, I feel the urge to compare Dex and Anna to Romeo and Juliet. I don’t know if that fits, but it is what comes to mind for me. However, as much as I love Dex, his part in the story was not enough to make up for the confusing story as a whole.

The ending was so confusing (Notice a pattern?). I have way too many questions – Even if there was going to be a sequel (which, I have no clue…), and the ending was purposely left open-ended for said sequel, I still feel it’s just too scattered and has too many loose ends.

Overall, I was really disappointed. I went into this book, excited to read it and excited to see what so many people were gushing about. Maybe my expectations were too high, and that’s why I feel so let down? Either way, I struggled to get through this book, almost from page one. I didn’t enjoy it and I don’t agree with the description. There were so many other little things that bugged me, but I feel bad enough that I had to write such a negative review. So I’ll just leave it at that.


Review: Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting

Review: Dead Silence by Kimberly DertingDead Silence by Kimberly Derting
Series: The Body Finder #4
Published by HarperTeen on April 16, 2013
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
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Sometimes the Dead Can't Be Silenced.

Violet thought she had made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers . . . until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team she works for have no intention of letting her go.

Violet will do whatever it takes to keep her loved ones safe—even if it means lying to her boyfriend, Jay. But when an echo calls to her, she stumbles upon a murder scene unlike anything she's ever witnessed. The murders are frenzied and twisted, and the killer left a disturbing calling card for all to see—a brimstone cross sketched in blood on the wall. And Violet finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a vicious madman with an army of devoted followers.

Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself.

I don’t even know where to start with this one. Dead Silence had its moments where I loved it and I was like, “This is absolutely my favorite book!” But then there were moments where I hated it, and had trouble getting through it. Unfortunately, the bad moments really dragged the book down and overshadowed the good moments.

The prologue was intense. It foretold of something terrible happening – something that would have really ruined the books for me, to be honest. So I wasn’t sure how to feel about reading on. I was more than a little apprehensive.

There were a lot of major character-related revelations that shocked me. I can’t say who or what or I’ll spoil it, but I was – for the most part – pleased with the things we learn in Dead Silence. Derting shows us a different side to many of the characters and we also get to learn more about characters that might not have been front and center in previous books.

Violet learns a lot about her ability in Dead Silence, and we get to know more about Violet’s grandmother, who also had the ability to sense echoes. This was a nice glimpse into the past, and we learn some fascinating – yet creepy – things about the ability.

The “killer” in Dead Silence was a little more complex than in some of the other books. I guess the best way to describe the killer is by comparing the killer to the one in The Last Echo, as far as their motives, inner thoughts, and family life. I felt sad for this killer, sympathetic. And then, as with the killer in The Last Echo, I felt dirty and slimy for sympathizing with a killer. I definitely feel Derting does an incredible job with these little sections of the books. Getting a glimpse inside the killer’s head really makes you think.

I’ve been up and down with how I feel about Jay throughout this entire series. And I feel really bad about this, but I just don’t like him. He was better in The Last Echo, kinder and less possessive. And he gave Violet the chance to explain and tell her side of the story. But in Dead Silence, he was back to being this angry, jealous, over-protective… butt-head. And as if Jay’s attitude wasn’t bad enough, Violet takes the things he says as gospel – like she was completely in the wrong and needs to beg for forgiveness. It almost felt like an abusive relationship. Personally, I’m still Team Rafe.

The ending was… interesting. Honestly, this is the part where I feel the most conflicted. On the one hand, the ending felt incomplete, like there were a lot of loose ends to tie up. And on the other hand, everything really was wrapped up nicely. Kimberly Derting actually did a blog post explaining why the book ended the way it did. FAIR WARNING: That post contains MASSIVE spoilers, so don’t read it unless you’ve read the entire series.

After reading the post, I honestly felt more confused. I finished the book, and right away I thought, “Man, that ending was NOT satisfying and it left a lot of loose ends.” And then I read the blog post and was like, “Oh… Well, when Kimberly Derting puts it that way, everything really WAS tied up nicely.”

So, in closing, all I can say is I honestly did enjoy Dead Silence. I’d rank it as my second favorite in the series. But I also feel like there should be one more book; I don’t feel like I was satisfied by this ending. I feel like some of the revelations in this book only lead to more questions, and I want those questions answered.


Review: The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting

Review: The Last Echo by Kimberly DertingThe Last Echo by Kimberly Derting
Series: The Body Finder #3
Published by HarperTeen on April 17, 2012
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
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Violet kept her morbid ability to sense dead bodies a secret from everyone except her family and her childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay Heaton. That is until forensic psychologist Sara Priest discovered Violet's talent and invited her to use her gift to track down murderers. Now, as she works with an eclectic group of individuals--including mysterious and dangerously attractive Rafe--it's Violet's job to help those who have been murdered by bringing their killers to justice.

When Violet discovers the body of a college girl killed by "the girlfriend collector" she is determined to solve the case. But now the serial killer is on the lookout for a new "relationship" and Violet may have caught his eye....

*Review may contain spoilers.*

The Last Echo was, by far, the best book in The Body Finder series. It had a little bit of a darker feel to it. I could tell almost right away that it had a more ominous tone, and I knew something terrible was going to happen. Also, I *may* have read the jacket for Dead Silence, and accidentally read the part about Violet being kidnapped. Oops!

Another thing I noticed almost immediately was the writing. Derting’s writing has definitely improved from the first two books. I’m not saying the writing in the first two books was bad – absolutely not saying that! Her writing has always been good, but it felt like it flowed better in The Last Echo.

On to the book itself, the opening scene kind of gave me chills. I was honestly a little creeped out (like I said, this book definitely had a darker, more ominous tone to it). I loved seeing Violet interacting with “The Team.” It was a far cry from the first two books, where she had to hide her abilities. It was especially in contrast to The Body Finder (book one), where her Uncle Stephen did everything in his power to keep her name off all the police reports.

The sections told in the killer’s POV were amazingly haunting. I felt like I was balancing on a tight rope; sometimes, I leaned towards hating and despising this cruel, twisted human being. And then sometimes I felt bad for this person. You could feel this person’s loneliness, their desire to be loved – and then you felt sick to your stomach for feeling bad for a serial killer. The writing in these sections was incredible, and Derting really did a great job of putting the reader into the mind of the killer.

Okay… So… This part is hard for me to write, because I feel so bad. But it needs to be said:

I am Team Rafe.

Jay was so much better in this book. I really didn’t like his character in The Body Finder or Desires of the Dead. I found him to be overbearing, overprotective (borderline possessive), and just down right mean. But he really changed from Desires of the Dead to The Last Echo. He calmed down a lot. His over-protectiveness didn’t feel overwhelming this time; it felt like he honestly just cared for Violet and wanted her to be safe. He also backed down from his insane jealousy over Rafe. But the thing is… Even though I liked Jay way, way more this time around, I still just can’t picture him as more than Violet’s best friend. I just can’t, no matter how hard I try. I absolutely love Rafe, and I want Violet to end up with Rafe. Sorry, Jay!

On the topic of Rafe: whoa to the mind-blowing revelations and backstory. I loved it so much! I really enjoyed getting to know Rafe better and it made me like him even more.

The consequences Violet faced due to the work she was doing with The Team were heartbreaking, yet inevitable. I actually cried at the end. And the epilogue.. Don’t even get me started. I wanted to kick someone… I can’t say any more, or I’ll get into spoiler territory, and I’m trying to keep the spoilers minimal.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Last Echo. It was a creepy, fun read with some amazing writing. There are several things that happened that have me wondering what Violet will do next, and how she will deal with the consequences of those things.


Review: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

Review: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly DertingDesires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
Series: The Body Finder #2
Published by HarperTeen on February 15, 2011
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
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The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.

Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Her best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay, is the only one outside of her family who knows of her morbid ability. But when Violet discovers the body of a missing boy, she draws the attention of the FBI.

As Violet dodges their questions, she is pulled into an investigation that will endanger more than just her secret. For without even meaning to, Violet has stumbled upon a dark truth—and a desperate killer.

The description, as with the first book, intrigued me. The premise of Desires of the Dead is simple: Violet has drawn unwanted attention from the FBI, and now she must play a game of cat and mouse to keep her “morbid secret ability” a secret.

Unfortunately, Desires of the Dead suffered “Second Book Syndrome.” It happens sometimes, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the book is bad – it’s just a little bit of a let down after a great first book. I find this happens a lot in television shows, as well – season one is great, and then season two is kind of boring. Usually, book/TV season three picks up nicely, and all worries or doubts are cast aside.

The sections in the book told from the “killer’s” POV were bland compared to The Body Finder. I wasn’t scared at all. I also found the identity of the “killer” to be a lot more predictable than in the first book.  This was a little bit inevitable, unfortunately, because of who the “killer” was and who that person had to interact with; however, I don’t think Derting could have done these sections any other way. It’s disappointing and it took some of the fun out of the guessing game, but I understand why it had to be done.

One of my favorite characters this time around was Chelsea. I was indifferent to her in The Body Finder, and even found her a little bit annoying. She was much more likable in Desires of the Dead. Her character felt one sided in the first book, and she just rubbed me the wrong way. But in Desires of the Dead, she came alive (sorry for the pun!) She had moments where you really felt for her. You wanted Mike to notice her, to like her back. She was also more attuned to the feelings of others, especially Violet, this time. She knew when she had to be serious and stop joking around.

Another character favorite was Sara Priest. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I find her to be raw and authentic, like she genuinely cares about Violet, yet not totally trustworthy. And then there’s Rafe. Broody, moody, man-of-few-words Rafe. I’m not his biggest fan… yet, at least.

My least favorite part of Desires of the Dead, unfortunately, was Jay (again). He’s known Violet since he was seven-years-old. They’ve been through so much together and yet he didn’t believe her when she confided in him. She trusted him, needed his help, and he brushed her off. Worse, he brushed off her ability to sense echoes. That ability is a part of who Violet is and not believing in her ability is akin to not believing in Violet herself. And again, his temper didn’t win him any points.

I got a little annoyed with Violet this time around, too. In The Body Finder, she was a strong character who could take care of herself, but still relied on help from others when she needed it. She knew when something was too much for her to handle alone. In Desires of the Dead, she kept a lot of things to herself, refusing to open up to anyone. She relied heavily on her parents and uncle in the first book, but kept them pretty much in the dark in book two. There were several scenes where I just wanted to smack her for being so darn stubborn and for going it alone, when she should have asked for help. The one concession I can make for all this is that she’s a teenager, and teenagers do tend to be – stereotypically – stubborn. They make mistakes and, hopefully, they learn from them.

The ending felt a little bit anticlimactic. Maybe because it was more predictable than the ending to The Body Finder. Also, it had a little less action in it than The Body Finder did. Jay redeemed himself again, but he’s still on probation as far as I’m concerned.

Overall, despite my many issues with it (Sorry, Kimberly!), I did still enjoy Desires of the Dead and I still think it is worthy of 4 stars. It was a little harder to get through, but it pushed the series forward. I’m hoping everything that happened in Desires of the Dead was done to set up for an epic book three. I will say I’m about 100 pages into The Last Echo, and enjoying it a lot more, so that definitely gives me hope.


Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly DertingThe Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Series: The Body Finder #1
Published by HarperTeen on March 16, 2010
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
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A gripping tale of a girl with a morbid ability that could lead her to a killer . . . and the boy who would never let anything happen to her.

Sixteen-year-old Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her unusual so-called gift. While her confusing feelings for her best friend are new, she has been able to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered—and the imprints that attach to their killers since she was a little girl. Violet has never considered her ability useful, but now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Fiercely protective of her, Jay agrees to help Violet search for the murderer. But even as she's falling in love, Violet is getting closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

This book really caught my eye when I first picked it up in the bookstore. The words “morbid secret ability” intrigued me. I’m used to reading about vampires, witches, werewolves, and ghosts. So right away, I knew this was going to be different than anything I’d ever read (thus far).

Violet is an interesting character. She’s a typical teenage girl. She loves her best guy friend but doesn’t want to tell him, she goes to school and has a small but tight group of friends, and she can feel the echoes of the dead.

I haven’t read many books with serial killers in them yet, but the ones I have (and the ones I’d like to get around to) all seem to have supernatural themes in them. Kate Brian’s Shadowlands,  Daniel Marks’ Velventeen, and Brenna Yavanoff’s Paper Valentine all seem to deal with the theme through the use of ghosts. I’ve only read Hereafter, so I won’t profess to know, for sure, what Marks and Yavanoff do or don’t write about. However, It was nice to see a slightly different take on this theme with The Body Finder (no ghosts in this one, so far, and the main character holds the ability to locate the victims of the serial killer).

It was a little cliche to have Violet’s uncle as the local chief of police. But Derting made it work, and she did a fabulous job of making it not seem cliche. Honestly, I don’t think the story would have worked any other way. Without her uncle shielding her from the authorities, I don’t think Violet could have done all the good she did without her name appearing in multiple case files, making her look suspicious and guilty.

The sections in the book told from the killer’s POV are wonderfully creepy. They add an element of fear to The Body Finder, really putting the reader in the mind of the killer.

My least favorite part of The Body Finder, unfortunately, was Jay. He just… I wanted to root for him and Vi, so bad. And he definitely had his moments where I loved him. But at times, he was too overbearing, too protective. I know, deep down, he cared for Violet and he just wanted to keep her safe. But sometimes, that protectiveness came off more as possessiveness. I kept waiting for it to be revealed that he was somehow involved in everything. His temper didn’t win him points, either.

The ending had a pretty significant twist – two, really. And I didn’t expect either one, though one was more shocking than the other. Violet was brave and strong, despite the circumstances. She’s definitely not the type to sit around on her butt, waiting to be rescued. She takes matters into her own hands, sometimes stubbornly so. She knows what she has to do, though, and she does it. Jay stepped it up in the end, as well. There were a few moments where we didn’t know his fate, and my heart was in my throat – so there’s still hope for Team Jay!

Overall, I really did enjoy this book and I’m really interested in seeing what happens next for Violet and Jay. I want to like Jay, I really do. Let’s hope he can redeem himself in Desires of the Dead!