Book Talk: Recommendations

Since you’re reading this blog, I’m assuming you’re like me and are always on the lookout for good books. When it comes to book recommendations, it can get interesting. My book tastes are vastly different from the people around me. When I love a book, they might not. When they love a book, I might not. Recommendations can be a tricky thing.

This is not to say that I don’t recommend books. Obviously I do. If I love  book, I want people to read it. But I also know that sometimes I have to recommend books I don’t like. I think it’s important to be able to look at a book somewhat objectively and be able to see when it works for a person and when it doesn’t.

I am a huge historical fiction fan. I love me some history, no matter the form, and when I find a good historical fiction novel, I wish I could get the world to read it. However, I know that not everyone loves the genre as much as I do. I would never recommend a historical fiction novel to, let’s say, my sister. I just wouldn’t. She wouldn’t love it and she’d probably think I was crazy for telling her to read it in the first place.

Then there are the books I don’t love. That doesn’t mean someone else can’t love them. If I read a book, even if I can barely make it through the book, I look for the good things. I know there is a book out there for everyone, but in order to see that, you have to be able to take a little bit of the emotion out when telling someone to read a book. If I’m telling someone to read a book I didn’t love, I make sure to tell them that I didn’t enjoy it, but because of reasons A, B, and C, they might have different feelings on it.

Book recommendations are a tricky thing. I want everyone to love the books I do, but I know that’s not possible. So when someone asks me what to read, I try to look objectively at my reading list before sharing my ideas. What about you? How do you go about giving book recommendations to your family and friends?

Review: Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting

Title: Dead Silence
Author: Kimberly Derting
Series: The Body Finder series
Rating: ★★★★

The end of The Last Echo was the perfect set-up for Dead Silence. The little bit of a cliffhanger had me so anxious to read what came next that I picked up the book and didn’t put it down until I had finished, only a few hours later. Everything from the previous books had been building until it finally came to a head in Dead Silence.

Violet is being blackmailed into staying with the group run by Sara. She’s having trouble balancing her normal life with her paranormal life. Things between Violet and Jay are getting messy because she doesn’t understand where to turn when she needs help. The secrets she’s held her entire life are starting to weigh her down and she’s not sure where she can turn. Things in her life are getting messy and she can’t figure out how to clean them up.

The relationship between Violet and Jay is one of the most realistic portrayals of a healthy relationship I’ve read in a while. They love each other, but still have so much to work around before they can be a true couple. Violet may trust Jay with her secret, but she finds it hard to trust him with information related to what she does. She wants to protect him, but she does so by keeping him out of the loop, something Jay doesn’t want to put up with. There really isn’t any outside threat to their relationship, but everything comes from within their relationship. They have issues they need to work through before their relationship can mature and it was refreshing to read something that real.

Something I liked more than I thought I would was the incorporation of Violet’s “normal” friends with her paranormal ones. I knew that she could keep them separate for so long before they would collide, but I wasn’t sure how the collision would be handled. Derting was able to mix the two worlds without giving one or the other extra emphasis, making sure they stayed on level ground as Violet tried to figure out how to mix the two in her personal life.

The killer in this novel was something else. I got chills from the killer in The Last Echo, but this was something else entirely. There was something about how sane his little pieces seemed to be, even as I could tell he was losing touch with reality, that made him all the more evil. I also liked that he wasn’t after Violet specifically; he was just evil because he could be. He thought he was being the good guy, though, and that’s what made him especially villainous.

Dead Silence closes the door on a fantastic series while still leaving a window open for more. Things are wrapped up and taken care of, but it’s easy to picture life going on for Violet, Jay, Rafe, and everyone else. You know the story doesn’t end here, yet there was closure. The Body Finder series has been one of the most interesting and well-written paranormal stories I’ve read, striking the perfect balance between all its elements. This is definitely a must read series.

If Dead Silence sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Last Echo
Author: Kimberly Derting
Series: The Body Finder series
Rating: ★★★★

Derting has an amazing ability to make each story unique and yet tie together perfectly. The Body Finder, Desires of the Dead and The Last Echo are all individual books that bleed together to create an amazingly suspenseful story that kept me turning page after page.

Violet has discovered a group of people with unique abilities and she doesn’t feel so strange when she’s around them. Soon, that side of her starts to take over and her old friendships and life begin to suffer. She’s struggling to find the balance between her paranormal abilities and being a regular teen. Derting doesn’t gloss over this struggle, but uses Violet’s friendships as a way to highlight the two halves of Violet. The one tie between everything is still Jay, the best friend turned boyfriend who keeps her centered in reality.

The Last Echo goes back to the serial killer idea, but there’s something especially creepy about this novel. The glimpses into the mind of the killer are chilling and disturbing and I couldn’t get enough of them. Violet doesn’t mean to enter the killer’s radar, but once she does, you know it can’t end well. Each novel has been building on the deaths of the previous novels, with Violet learning more about herself and her ability each time. She’s tired of relying on others to save her, so when she’s faced with evil and she’s the only one who can fight; she must step up and take control. I’m glad Derting waited until this novel to have Violet find herself. It felt real and I could tell the slow build is exactly what Violet needed to find her strength.

I’m extremely interested to see how Derting handles the relationships going into the final novel. Violet’s friendships with her “normal” friends are starting to suffer and the relationships she’s formed with the teens like her take a hit as well. There’s a not-really-a-love triangle that Violet needs to deal with along with her relationship with Jay. She has to deal with a shift in the family dynamic as her parents start to take more control over her life, creating conflict between what Violet feels is right and what her parents feel is safe.

The Last Echo had me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading. The mind of the killer is just insane enough to be chilling and knowing that Violet will somehow end up tangled with him had me frantically reading. The build-up from the previous two novels is starting to peak and the set-up for the final novel gave me chills. Derting is proving to be an amazing paranormal series author, finding just the right balance between the normal and the paranormal. The Last Echo makes the Body Finder series a must read and I can’t wait to see how this series is wrapped up. If this book is any indication, it’s going to be a fantastic ride.

If The Last Echo sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Book Talk: Hurts So Good

Sometimes I need to talk to other book lovers in order to be understood. It’s hard to convey what you mean when you say a book hurt you to your soul and yet you love it. Some people just don’t understand that those are the good books; those are the books that leave a lasting impression.

Like I’ve said before, some people watch movies in order to get that out of body experience. They need the visual to be transported away to another world where their heart is free to be messed up and put back together again. Sometimes these people get it and sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes you read a book that you know is going to crush you. You just know the book is going to rip your heart out, do an Irish jig upon it, and then boil it into a stew. Weird visuals, but you’ll know what I mean. Those are the books that leave you choking and crying and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

One such book for me was How to Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie DeBartolo. I knew going into the book that it was going to completely screw with my emotions. Everything was set up for a volatile, emotional roller coaster.  Yet I continued reading because I knew it would be worth it. I knew every tear that welled up was going to serve a purpose.

The books that hurt so good are some of the best. It’s hard to shake that lasting impression that the sweet pain leaves long after you read the last word. What are some of your “hurts so good” novels?

Review: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

Title: Desires of the Dead
Author: Kimberly Derting
Series: The Body Finder series
Rating: ★★★★

I’m finding myself really loving Derting’s way of writing. It’s not over packed with information, the pacing is wonderful, and she writes characters and situations I can’t help but be drawn into. Desires of the Dead is no different. After being introduced to Violet in The Body Finder, Desires takes the story a step further.

Desires of the Dead doesn’t have the serial killer storyline of the first book, but there is just as much searching for Violet. She’s trying to figure out how to deal with her abilities and keep the people she cares about safe. She doesn’t know how much to share about herself with her family and with Jay. Things have changed now, and she sees how easily her ability can harm those she loves. On top of that, she’s been contacted by someone connected to the FBI about her possible special abilities.

The relationship between Violet and Jay is interesting and real. It’s so easy to see that they are friends who became more, but aren’t quite sure how to handle this new part of their relationship. They don’t want things to change in their friendship, but they want things to change in their romantic relationship. Part of the “normal” conflict in this book is Violet and Jay trying to figure them out and I enjoyed that. Derting didn’t just write the perfect couple and pass it off as coming from their friendship. She’s added in teen challenges that make the book feel like it could have been written about anyone in my own high school.

Not only are the “normal” parts of this book well written, the paranormal parts are, too. That can be a little difficult to find, sometimes. Either the normal aspects take over and the paranormal suffers, or the paranormal is fantastic while the relationships suffer. Derting has found a perfect balance between the two. The paranormal bleeds into the normal, but doesn’t take control. Every once in a while, Derting throws in something that shakes up the normal and reminds you that there is a mystery behind every word. There isn’t the serial killer, like in the first novel, but there is death and echoes. Violet has to figure out different deaths that put her in harms way.

Desires of the Dead is a fantastic follow-up to The Body Finder and sets things up for a wonderful series. It has a little bit of everything I love in a book and leaves me wanting more. I know there’s much more to Violet’s story and after finishing Desires of the Dead I can’t wait to keep reading.

If Desires of the Dead sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: Wait for You by J. Lynn

Title: Wait for You
Author: J. Lynn
Rating: ★★★★

Wait for You is a book about confronting the past and moving on. It’s a little bit cheesy, but mostly sweet.

Avery Morgansten is trying to move away from her past and start fresh in a place where no one knows hers story. She soon finds herself a couple of good friends as well as the attention of the guy with the ladies-man reputation, Cam. Avery knows she can’t do normal, her past has made sure of that, but Cm is determined to break those walls down.

This is where the cheese comes in. I’m not sure why there has to be a “reformed man-whore” in so many New Adult and Young Adult novels, because it is wholly unnecessary to me. I do not understand why this is a common thread uniting so many of the genres’ books, but in most situations, the novel would not lose a bit of impact if that detail was done away with.

Other than that, the characters and story are well-written and enjoyable. Brittany and Jacob are great friends the push Avery just enough. They know when they need to keep pushing and when to back away. They are exactly what Avery needs to make her fresh start.

Cam, ignoring his reputation, is a great love interest. He starts as her friend, even though he wants more, because he knows that’s what Avery needs. He pushes, but waits until Avery is ready before going to the next step. I honestly believe that he would have been a perfect character had he not had a ladies-man reputation. It was completely unnecessary and only made me feel annoyed with the novel.

Wait for You is a good New Adult novel that could have been great. It didn’t need the man-whore ploy and for me, that character point really takes away from the novel. That being said, it is still a good book that is a nice summer read.

If Wait for You sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Can’t Wait for Mondays: Champion by Marie Lu

The Legend series is one that kind of came out of nowhere and hit me in the face. I really hadn’t meant to read Legend, but a friend gave me the book and told me I should read it. I trust her judgment, so I picked the book up and read. Thank god I did. Legend hooked me right away, pulled me into the world of June and Day, and made me care. Then Prodigy came out and I had to have it right away. I needed to see what was going to happen next. And then I finished it and thought I would have to wait a year until getting my hands on the final book.

So imagine my surprise and joy when Lu told the world the final chapter in the Legend series would be released in November. I think the smile stayed on my face for a couple days and I had to explain that it was over a book being released earlier than I thought. Only true book lovers understood why that would etch a smile onto my face that wouldn’t leave.

Copied from the Champion book page:

He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has. With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

Let’s be real, with a description like that, the sooner it can be released, the better. There’s only so much my heart can handle and I am certain Lu is going to push, bend, and break it in all the right ways before hopefully putting it together again. There are so many possibilities within this book that just thinking about what might be coming gets overwhelming.

Champion will be published on November 5th, 2013 by Putnam publishers. Let me know if you’ll be joining me as a midnight reader!

Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Title: Pivot Point
Author: Kasie West
Series: Pivot Point series
Rating: ★★★★

I was a little worried about reading Pivot Point because I thought it had such promise, but it also could end up horribly confusing. Dealing with two futures in one book, alternating back and forth could either be fantastic or horrible. West is a new author and when I read something I’m a little nervous about, I usually like to choose from authors I already know, trust, and a love. Given all that, I decided to pick this book up and finally start reading.

All of my worries were for nothing. As if the feel of the stories being different wasn’t enough, at the beginning of each chapter, West makes it so clear that any possible confusion flies out the window. But like I said, the two futures felt so different that it was easy to tell which future they were in. The story set in the Compound has a tense feel, one that made me feel as though something just wasn’t quite right. Things looked to be too wonderful to be real. With the future outside the compound, things felt a little more relaxed and real. I wasn’t worried about whether or not what I saw through Addie’s eyes was real…even though it was a Search, it was real.

The two boys fit the two teen book stereotypes of boy next door and bad boy well, but just enough is different about each of their roles to make it feel unique. Duke is the bad boy, the cocky guy who gets what he wants and doesn’t really have to work for it. His moral compass is just a little bit off, but he’s also sweet in his own way. There are moments when his cockiness doesn’t get in the way of his character, when it makes him a teenaged boy. Trevor is the boy next door. He used to be the football quarterback, but a shoulder injury has changed his future and he’s not sure where his future will go now. He stands back, lets the relationship with Addie build from nothing before making a move.

Addie is a character I really felt like I could relate to. She’s trying to make her way through high school without drawing too much attention to herself. When she starts her search, it was interesting to see how her personality changes in each future. In one, it was easy to see her lose touch with who she is as she deals with her new life. In the other future, she brightened, becoming a better person because of the people around her.

Pivot Point is one of those books that I wish I had read sooner and yet wish I could have waited. The idea of waiting until the sequel is published to find out what happens next frustrates me. Pivot Point was so much better than I thought it would be that I just want the next book now. Instead, I’ll sit back and wait impatiently with West’s contemporary novel to help me pass the time.

If Pivot Point sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon

Title: The One I Left Behind
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Rating: ★★★★

I love a good thriller. Something that makes my skin crawl, my thoughts get muddled, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I love it when a book leaves me confused and worried and tense. The One I Left Behind is one of those books.

Reggie was only 13 when Neptune, the serial killer haunting her town, took her mother. He removes the right hand of his victims on day one, and leaves their bodies on day five. But when Reggie’s mother is taken, her hand is found, but her body never surfaces. Just as this happens, Reggie’s friendships are being put to the test, and she needs someone to be there to help her through it all.

25 years later, Reggie has found a way to live beyond her past, becoming a renowned architect. The past still plagues her though. She doesn’t trust people enough to form solid relationships; she keeps people at a distance. When her mother is brought to a hospital, diagnosed with cancer, Reggie must head home to face the past she wishes would just stay away.

The story is told in the present and 25 years ago, through the eyes of 13-year-old Reggie. As an adult, she is starting to see that everything she thought her childhood was maybe wasn’t exactly as she remembered it. She’s having to face things she never thought would come up again and she learns truths she had never questioned as a child. Her mother is dying and still faces the demons of her past, now a shadow of the woman she used to be.

As a 13 year old, Reggie didn’t see the truth of her mother; she saw what her mother told her. Her aunt was trying to protect her, but all Reggie saw was an aunt who despised her mother. Reggie knew her mother was flighty, but she didn’t see the seedier side of her life. When the murders begin, she isn’t prepared for the toll they will take on her relationships, both with her family and friends. She’s trying to grow up, confused as to how to do so, and no one is there to help her.

In the present, all those old insecurities and problems arise once her mother is brought home. She must face the past and confront it head on in order to find a way to move forward with her life.

I must say, this book had me guessing the entire way through. I had a hunch, and while my hunch was correct, I was wholly unprepared for the reveal. I tried to figure everything out, look at all the little clues, but I didn’t see how they fit together until the very end. I was wrapped up in the mystery, trying to figure out Neptune’s reasons for what he did, wondering if understanding his head would help me see who he was. I felt a little like a detective as I read and I really appreciate a book that can make me feel that.

The One I Left Behind is about more than a serial killer. It’s about growing up, confronting the past, and learning that what you see isn’t always the truth. It gave me shivers and had me guessing on the identity of Neptune until the very end. If you’re looking for a good thriller, this is your book.

If The One I Left Behind sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Can’t Wait for Mondays: Deception by C.J. Redwine

I was given Defiance to read last year and since finishing it, I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Deception. Redwine has created an extremely interesting world that got my heart pumping. The long wait is almost over, but it’s still so far away.

As taken from the Back Cover:

Baalboden has been ravaged. The brutal Commander’s whereabouts are unknown. And Rachel, grief stricken over her father’s death, needs Logan more than ever. With their ragged group of survivors struggling to forge a future, it’s up to Logan to become the leader they need—with Rachel by his side. Under constant threat from rival Carrington’s army, which is after the device that controls the Cursed One, the group decides to abandon the ruins of their home and take their chances in the Wasteland.

But soon their problems intensify tenfold: someone—possibly inside their ranks—is sabotaging the survivors, slowly killing them off. The chaos and uncertainty of each day puts unbearable strain on Rachel and Logan, and it isn’t long before they feel their love splintering. Even worse, as it becomes clear that the Commander will stop at nothing to destroy them, the survivors begin to question whether the price of freedom may be too great—and whether, hunted by their enemies and the murderous traitor in their midst, they can make it out of the Wasteland alive.

In this daring sequel to Defiance, with the world they once loved forever destroyed, Rachel and Logan must decide between a life on the run and standing their ground to fight.

I mean, come on. With a description like that, these last final weeks are going to feel so stretched out, time moving through molasses, until the 27th of August finally gets here. Then my plan is to read it and not stop until I’m done, maybe get a little food, and then give it another read.