Review: The Taking by Kimberly Derting

The TakingTitle: The Taking

Author: Kimberly Derting

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: April 29th, 2014

Interest: Author / Science Fiction

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day. 

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men. 

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

The Taking by Kimberly Derting hooked me right away, just like her The Body Finder series did. It’s full of action, suspense, romance, and features a strong female protagonist.

If you’ve read The Body Finder series then you might agree that it’s a supernatural story. The Taking, however, I consider to be more science fiction. Just yesterday I was at lunch with a group of girlfriends and we were discussing what we like about fantasy and science fiction, so I brought up this book (besides the fact that I had just finished it and wanted to discuss it). My friend Beth said that she likes her fantasy to be grounded in reality since she’s a realistic fiction reader. That aspect is something that I love about Kimberly Derting’s writing; it feels like realistic fiction even though there’s a supernatural/sci-fi element involved. The Taking is sci-fi light and would be great for readers who are new to science fiction or unsure about it. There’s talk of alien abduction and other elements that reminded me of the X-Files, but it’s balanced with romance and regular teen issues.

Something I’ve brought up in past reviews is insta-love. Sometimes it works for me and sometimes I can’t stand it. Kyra’s instant and unexplainable attraction to Tyler worked for me. When Kyra is returned, she’s understandably confused and overwhelmed. When she meets Tyler again, only five years older now, she’s shocked. He looks quite a bit like Austin, but he’s different and he accepts her. Tyler grounds Kyra and I think it’s what really connects them. Considering Kyra’s circumstances, this insta-love made sense in the story and was fun to read.

Reading The Taking was fun because there’s so much action and suspense. There are some really surprising “I can’t believe that just happened” moments. Those moments kept me reading so I could piece everything together. I didn’t encounter any lulls in the story, so I’m planning on handing this to my readers who need a lot of action to keep their interest piqued. It’s hard to go into too much detail about some of the more suspenseful and surprising moments without spoiling the story.

Overall The Taking is an exciting first installment in a new series by Kimberly Derting. Just as I expected, I finished this book and wanted the sequel right away. I hope you’ll add it to your TBR list this spring/summer!

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books of 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Normally I write out reasons why I’m including each book on this list, but I’ve reviewed these books and mentioned them on so many lists that I feel like it’s not really necessary at this point. But believe me, creating this list was HARD. At the end of every year I feel like I haven’t read enough books, nor enough books that really wowed me. Do any of you feel that way at this time of year? I guess I’m not reading to be wowed, but I certainly like discovering new favorites. The books on this list are here because they’ve stayed with me this year (characters, plot, writing style, twists, etc.). I’d love to know which books are you favorites this year!

My favorite books of 2013 in no particular order…

1. Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (My review)

2. Winger by Andrew Smith (My review)

3. Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (My review)

4. Golden by Jessi Kirby (My review)

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (My review)

6. Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler (My review)

7. I’m With Stupid by Geoff Herbach (My review)

8. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (My review)

9. The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine (My review)

10. Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting (My review)

My favorite backlist titles read in 2013 (I couldn’t help but cheat)…

1. One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (My review)

2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (My review)

3. Recovery Road by Blake Nelson

4. Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My Favorite Books of 2013 (So Far)

toptentuesday-New

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

For today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, we’re supposed to compose a list of our favorite books of 2013 (so far).  This was a harder list to create than I thought it would be; it would probably be easier to create at the end of the summer after I’ve been able to catch up on my reading.  Some of these titles will remain on the list at the end of the year, but I know many will be replaced by even better titles.  It will be fun to find discover those books!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Goodreads) (My mini review)–This will remain a favorite at the end of the year.  I hope many of my students will read this in the future.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (Goodreads) (My review)–Not only will this definitely be a favorite at the end of the year, Rainbow Rowell is a new favorite author.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseEleanor & Park

I’m With Stupid by Geoff Herbach (Goodreads) (My review)–What a way to end a truly wonderful trilogy.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Goodreads) (Review posts on Friday)–I just finished reading this and can’t stop thinking about Carley and the Murphys.  Plus, I’m still sniffling.

I'm With Stupid new coverOne for the Murphys

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (Goodreads) (My review)–I love the characters in this 2013 debut, but I think the writing is what really won me over.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Goodreads)–So I’m definitely cheating here because I haven’t finished this yet, but I’m loving the audio and the story way too much not to include it on this list.  It’s fabulous.

Wild AwakeThe Help

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Goodreads) (My review)–I liked this more than Between Shades of Gray.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (Goodreads)–This is another fantastic audiobook that I thoroughly enjoyed.  It’s middle grade, historical fiction, and full of well-developed characters.  Listening to the audio meant I missed out on seeing the different birds from Audobon’s Birds of America, however.

Out of the EasyOkay for Now

Game by Barry Lyga (Goodreads) (My review)–This was even better than I Hunt Killers and it has a crazy cliffhanger!

Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting (Goodreads) (My review)–This is one of my absolute favorite series, and even though I haven’t heard of a fifth book in the series, I’m still holding out hope that this isn’t the last book!

GameDead Silence

Book Trailer Thursday (106)–Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting

I’m glad I decided to peruse the HarperTeen YouTube channel because I didn’t know about this book trailer before I did.  Has HarperTeen made a book trailer for Desires of the Dead and The Last Echo?  I know one was made for The Body Finder, but I haven’t seen one for the other two books.  Regardless, I’m happy to see a book trailer for Dead Silence.

Dead SilenceSummary (From Goodreads): Violet thought she’d made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers…that is 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 Violet works for have no intention of letting her go.

When someone close to Violet becomes a suspect in a horrific murder, she finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a 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.

Review: Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting

Dead SilenceTitle: Dead Silence

Author: Kimberly Derting

Publisher: HarperCollins

Release Date: April 16th, 2013

Interest: Series

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): Violet thought she’d made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers…that is 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 Violet works for have no intention of letting her go.

When someone close to Violet becomes a suspect in a horrific murder, she finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a 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 think I’ve said this in all of my reviews of The Body Finder series, but I really love it.  They’re fun, suspenseful, and romantic.

I’m not sure if Dead Silence is concluding Kimberly Derting’s series because there isn’t a fifth book listed on Goodreads.  I liked the ending, but it didn’t feel like a series closer.  Maybe there will be a spin-off?  Regardless, I’ve really enjoyed reading about Violet and “watching” her grow as a character.  She really comes into her own in this book.  I feel like she really has a sense of who she is, what her ability/gift can do, and who her true friends are.

One of the reasons I like The Body Finder series so much is because Violet is so independent.  Sure, she leans on her boyfriend Jay quite a bit, but I never get the sense that she needs him.  Violet makes her own decisions and does what she thinks is right.  Many YA heroines look to their male counterpart/love interest for guidance and help, and that simply isn’t the case with Violet.

Kimberly Derting finally gives us more background information about Violet’s ability and the group she’s working with.  I’m not going to say much about this because I don’t want to spoil anything, but the new layer to the story is really interesting and answers so many questions.

Like the other books, we get to read from a killer’s point of view.  And like the other books, it adds an exciting sense of creepiness and suspense.  I didn’t have as many questions about who was behind everything in Dead Silence as I did in previous books, but I still enjoyed it.

If you haven’t picked up this series, I highly recommend that you do.  It’s very popular in my classroom and really enjoyable.

Lovey Couples That Would Last In Real Life

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

The Broke and The Bookish is celebrating love on behalf of Jamie’s wedding this week, so we’re focusing on couples that we believe would make it in real life.  This prompt has made me realize that I need to read more contemporary YA romance because most of the romances I kept thinking of are from paranormal fantasy and fantasy novels.  I just don’t think those relationships would work in a realistic world.  I don’t have a list of ten today, but I’m still satisfied with my list, especially since I love these couples 🙂

1. Jay & Violet from The Body Finder series (Goodreads)–Is there a better book boyfriend out there?!  Sigh.  I love this couple.  I realize that this series is supernatural because of Violet’s ability to see echoes, but it reads more like realistic fiction than anything else.

2. Adam & Mia from If I Stay (Goodreads) / Where She Went (Goodreads)–I have to believe if you’ve read these two books then you understand completely why they’re on this list.  Adam’s point of view in Where She Went is explanation enough.  They could totally make this work beyond the pages.

3.  Lola & Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door (Goodreads)–I love this couple!  Are they quirky  Absolutely!  But they balance each other out and work really well together.  I can definitely picture them being super cute together in real life California.

4. Anna & Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss (Goodreads)–I feel silly including two couples from the same author, but Stephanie Perkins does a fantastic job writing realistic characters!  Anna and Etienne go through so many ups and downs that I think their relationship is believable and something that could continue to grow in real life.  I still think I like Lola and Cricket more, but Anna and Etienne are really cute together.

5. Rusty & Honor from In Honor (Goodreads)–This relationship might be a long shot since these two really only get to know each other during a road trip, but for some reason I think they can make it work.  There’s something about their chemistry that makes me feel like real life love would be a possibility.

6. Travis & Harper from Something Like Normal (Goodreads)–Harper will need to remember to be patient with Travis, and Travis needs to remember not to take Harper for granted, but this flawed couple has what it takes to make it.  I love these two characters so I can’t help but cheer for them as a couple.

I hate to end this list at six (I like a nice round number), but that’s all I can think of.  Which couples made your list?  As you can see, I need some recommendations for realistic contemporary YA romance!

Review: The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting

The Last Echo coverTitle: The Last Echo, 358 pages

Author: Kimberly Derting

Publisher: Harper (HarperCollins)

Release Date: April 17th, 2012

Interest: Favorite Series

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): In the end, all that’s left is an echo…

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….

First of all, if you haven’t read this series yet then you shouldn’t read this review, but you SHOULD read The Body Finder pronto!

For those of you who are up to speed with Kimberly Derting’s fabulous series, I positively loved The Last Echo!  It has all of the normal goodies from The Body Finder and Desires of the Dead (mystery, suspense, romance, Jay, etc.), but The Last Echo also feels more mature which fits with where Violet is in her life.  She’s joined Sara Priest and others to help the police find murderers which is a very adult job to take on as a teenager.  This means Violet’s working more closely with Rafe and consequently there’s more tension between those two and also between Jay and Violet.

I like where Kimberly Derting is taking the story and how she’s developing Violet’s character.  Watching Violet trying to navigate through her life as a teen, but also as a teen with a supernatural ability and adult job is really intriguing and has kept me reading the story.  One of the reason I enjoy The Body Finder series so much is because while it has a supernatural element, I feel like I’m still reading something realistic.  Jay isn’t the typical paranormal guy love interest who acts like he’s 30 even though he’s a teenager.  He still rings true for me as a regular teen guy who’s really in love, and just a bit jealous as well.  Violet’s life isn’t exactly normal, but she she still has common worries like other teens her age.  Keeping these characters grounded in the story makes it more believable and entertaining.  I feel like I’m watching Violet grow up and I can’t wait to see where the story takes her in book four.

Of course, while I love the reality, I was completely engrossed in the mystery!  Like always, I had so many predictions and only some were close to accurate.  This “girlfriend collector” is creepy!  As in the past books we get to read sections from his point of view, and when I read those sections I kept making sure my door was locked.  He seems so unsuspecting, but not someone I would want to cross paths with.  The Body Finder had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, but not as much in Desires of the Dead.  I’m happy to report that The Last Echo is very similar to The Body Finder (and then some) in regards to mystery and suspense!

Violet and Jay’s relationship in these books is swoon-worthy.  It didn’t feel quite as steamy in The Last Echo, but it’s becoming more of a relationship of understanding and acceptance while still maintaining a strong sense of romance.  Jay is still always by Violet’s side and supporting her, but the tension with Rafe in the picture and Violet’s new job adds new levels of stress.  Both Jay and Violet are working on trusting each other and working together to be more supportive and understanding.  Jay is still one of my all-time favorite Y.A. crushes.  I won’t say too much more about the relationship because there’s so much left to ponder at the end of Desires of the Dead.

Overall, I am incredibly thankful that HarperCollins sent me this ARC because The Body Finder series is one of my favorites and continues to be.  This book rocked and left me excited for the fourth book!

Book Trailer Thursday (60)–The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting

I am so excited that I found this book trailer because I LOVE this series!  Of all the series out there, The Body Finder series is one of my favorites.  I love the mystery and suspense and of course the romance.  Thankfully HaperCollins sent me an ARC of The Last Echo (releases on April 17th!!) which I read right away and am currently finishing my (very positive) review.  If you haven’t read the series yet, I don’t think this trailer will give anything away, but just in case I’m including the trailer for The Body Finder below The Last Echo trailer.

The Body Finder series:
The Body Finder
Desires of the Dead
The Last Echo
Book #4 untitled

The Last Echo coverSummary of The Last Echo (From Goodreads):

In the end, all that’s left is an echo…

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…

 

 

 

The Body Finder coverSummary of The Body Finder (From Goodreads): 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.

 

In My Mailbox (23)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme sponsored by The Story Siren.  It’s a way for bloggers to share what books they’ve received for review, borrowed from the library, or bought from the store.

The past two weeks I’ve been focusing more on reading the books I already have and resisting the urge to buy/order more.  Even though it’s been hard, I’ve definitely made a dent in my TBR pile 🙂

Received:

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (Goodreads): I was very excited when Simon & Schuster sent me this because I love The Body Finder series.  I’m about half way through The Pledge, and it’s a little slow at parts, but I’m hoping it picks up the pace.

Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler (Goodreads) and Popular by Alissa Grosso (Goodreads): A huge THANK YOU to Shanyn of Chick Loves Lit for these two books 😀  She needed some contemps, so I traded books with her.  I’m excited to read Sass & Serendipity because even though I haven’t read Sense & Sensibility, I love the movie.  I asked for Popular because my students interviewed Alissa for my Students Want to Know feature and I haven’t been able to find a copy of her book anywhere!

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