Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Interview with Kimberly Derting

Kimberly Derting is one of my new favorite authors (one day, I'll make a list), and she was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us here at YALR. I'm sure I could've found several more questions, but with her fabulous book, The Body Finder, out now and her the sequel, Desires of the Dead, in the works, we couldn't take up too much of her time.


What's the best part of having a book published (so far)?

For me, the absolute best part has been hearing from all the readers! I’ve gotten some wonderful letters (hand written even!) and emails from readers who loved THE BODY FINDER. How freaking cool is that?!?! That is by far my favorite part of getting published!

Not only is this a paranormal YA, but it's also a very good mystery novel. Did you draw on any other books for inspiration as you were writing this?

I’ve always loved a good mystery, although my original inspiration is probably more along the lines of true horror. As a teen, I pretty much read everything Stephen King had written.

Was it difficult to write Violet and Jay's relationship?

I wouldn’t say it was difficult, although when I first started writing The Body Finder, their relationship wasn’t going to play such a big role in the story. Of course, the more I got to know Jay, I simply couldn’t keep him away from Violet! :)

Why did you choose to have Jay in on the secret of Violet's ability?

Violet definitely needed someone she could confide in. And when she shared her secret with Jay (at such a young age) I think it showed just how deep their friendship went. That bond between them was important, especially when they started to explore their true feelings for each other.

There are parts in The Body Finder that are definitely on the darker side of YA. Do you ever have trouble processing those parts, emotionally? Why did you feel it was important to include the killer's perspective?

Call me creepy, but these were actually my favorite parts to write! I loved letting readers see glimpses of what was going on inside the killer’s head. The first version of The Body Finder had fewer chapters from the killer’s POV, but thankfully, my editor wanted more which made my incredibly happy! (Okay, that even sounded creepy to me!)

What do you hope readers will take away from The Body Finder?

I really hope the readers feel a connection to the characters, and I guess it wouldn’t hurt if they were a little scared here and there!

Oh, and don’t talk to strangers!

Can you tell us anything about the sequel, Desires of the Dead?

I may get in trouble for telling you this but… someone will definitely die!

Seriously, though, here’s the short synopsis: When Violet Ambrose's morbid ability to sense the echoes of those who've been murdered leads her to the body of a young boy, she draws the attention of the FBI. She is reluctantly pulled into an investigation that will endanger more than just her secret... but her relationship and possibly her life as well.

If you could put your name on any book ever written, claiming it as your own, what book would you choose and why?

Despite everything I’d tried for many, many years, my oldest daughter was simply a non-reader… until she read Twilight. Now, she’s a huge reader. So yeah, I would love to have written the book that finally hooked her! Plus, if I wrote Twilight, I’m pretty sure I could introduce my youngest daughter (9-years-old) to Robert Pattinson, which would score me some huge mommy points because she’s totally Team Edward!!


A huge thanks to Kim Derting! If you haven't already, check out yesterday's review of The Body Finder, here on the blog. And if you'd like to get your own signed copy of the book, here's how:

  • Tweet, Facebook, or blog about this contest.
  • Follow us on the blog and/or on Twitter.
  • Leave a comment on this post with your name, age, and a link to your tweet/FB/blog, along with the reason you'd like to read The Body Finder.

Deadline to enter is September 29, 2010. Along with the autographed book, you'll receive a Body Finder tote bag and bracelet. Good luck!

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teen Fiction Tuesday: The Body Finder

The Body Finder, by Kimberly Derting

Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 327
Reading Level: 14 and Up
Enjoyment Level: High

I actually didn’t plan on reading this book. However, the author showed up at an event held in Houston, and I ended up being intrigued by her answers during the Q&A part of the event. Her book was so new that she had the shortest line when the authors were signing, and I hurried down to purchase a copy of the book. After talking to her, and hearing that she’d be more than willing to do an interview for the blog, I decided to get another copy as a giveaway. So it’s time now for the review portion, and stay tuned tomorrow for the interview and the contest.

From Amazon:

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

I’m so happy that I decided to take the plunge that night and buy this book for myself. I really enjoyed seeing the story and characters play out along with the mystery of the serial killer. I was sucked in, blissfully, and sufficiently creeped out by the bits from the serial killer’s point of view.

I loved the interesting paranormal aspect of The Body Finder. Although the idea might not be unique, it is to me. I haven’t read another book that didn’t deal with necromancy where the protagonist could locate dead bodies. It hooked me, and kept me interested throughout the whole novel. There were enough twists and turns to keep me guessing and second guessing, and the author even gave clues that made me suspect characters that didn’t deserve my suspicion. It was so great.

The characters made me care about them. Violet is at once vulnerable and strong-willed, and I enjoyed seeing her develop and make mistakes. Her friendship with Jay sustains a decent chemistry, though I actually felt that it was lukewarm compared to some other YA novel romances I’ve read. Jay is a great character, though, and his relationship to Violet did deepen the story for me.

If you haven’t picked this one up, you absolutely should. Watch for my interview with Kimberly Derting on the blog tomorrow. Our giveaway will be announced tomorrow, as well.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Smart Chicks Tour - Houston Event

I just got back from the fabulous Smart Chicks event at The Refuge in Houston (hosted by Blue Willow Bookshop). It was awesome! I got some photos and some swag for a giveaway. So exciting!

Since it's late, and I don't feel like editing a bunch of photos, the only one I've got is the one of all the swag. One person who entered our three giveaways will win a bunch of swag, including bookmarks, a necklace signed by Kami Garcia and Margie Stohl, an excerpt from Holly Black's new book, Red Glove, and an excerpt from the new anthology, Zombies vs Unicorns.

Now what everyone's been waiting for: the winners of our giveaways!

First up, the winner of White Cat, by Holly Black. The winner is Meaghan. Congratulations Meaghan! Please email us at to claim your prize.

Next, our winner of Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare. Sara! Thanks for entering. Please email us to claim your prize.

And for Radiance, by Alyson Noel, the winner is April! Email us to claim your prize.

Our last winner gets all the swag from the Smart Chicks event. That's everything you see in the picture above, and the winner is Launa Sorenson. Email us to claim your prize.

Congratulations to everyone! Thank you so much for your support. Stay tuned for more great giveaways on the blog, and watch the podcast ( for our interview with the Smart Chicks.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another Smart Chicks Tour Post

Wednesdays are sort of anything-goes days here at the blog, so today I'm going to get into a couple of things. ^_^

First of all, thanks to our wonderful Aly, for passing on the One Lovely Blog award. I'll have a more detailed post up about it next week, but wanted to make sure I mentioned it now.

The rest of this post will be all about the Smart Chicks Kick It tour, which is coming around to Houston September 14th and 15th. On the 14th, they'll be at the Barnes and Noble in the Woodlands. Then they'll be hosted by Blue Willow Bookshop at The Refuge at 7pm on the 15th. That's the one I'll be attending, and I'm so excited.

Not only will I get to take part in this fabulous event, but I'll also be recording a group interview with all of the authors before the show! Yes, that's Kelley Armstrong, Holly Black, Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, and Margaret Stohl all in one podcast interview!

In honor of the tour and the interview, we've got a couple of fabulous giveaways. Please read carefully for the rules.

First up on the giveaways, I have Holly Black's newest book (signed, of course), White Cat. I also have a signed copy of Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare up for grabs as well as a signed copy of Radiance, by Alyson Noel. That's a total of three separate giveaways. We will have three different winners - one person cannot win all three books. Please remember that when you enter.

For the giveaways:

1. You must be a subscriber of the blog OR a twitter follower (
2. You must comment on this post stating which book or books you're entering to win.
3. You must tweet, facebook, or blog about this contest, linking back to this blog entry.

The deadline for the giveaway books is September 18th. If you have any questions, please email me at Thanks, and good luck!

~ Vilate

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Three Viewpoint Thursday: BEFORE I FALL

Here at the Young Adult Literature Review, three of us get together every few weeks to chat about a book that we have all read. Our recent selection is BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver. This is Oliver’s debut novel. Since this is a chat, the transcript below does contain many spoilers. If you have read the book, we would love you to help continue the discussion by commenting in the comment section.

********** SPOILERS ************************

Aly: So basically what did everyone think? Did it live up to the hype? Did you like it? Hate it?

Vi: Okay. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I had bouts where I was sucked in and had to keep reading, and then the protagonist would annoy me and I'd want to leave the book forever. It was kind of a weird feeling. I'm not sure about the hype, but there's a lot in here that struck me as bordering on 'literary' fiction. The protagonist would have some deep thoughts that were very interesting, and then she'd go and do something seriously childish, so it was definitely different for me.

Renee: I loved this book, which was surprising because I was kind of skeptical going into it because I wasn't thrilled by THE LOVELY BONES, and I thought it would be the same thing. But it wasn't. I liked how strong the characters were and how different each day was that she kept reliving. It didn't feel as repetitive as I thought it would. And I agree that it had a literary fiction feel to it, which might also be why I loved it so much...

Aly: I realized about 20 pages in that I really dislike chick-lit and high school drama and mean girls and was having a "what was I thinking suggesting this book?" but probably the last 150-200 pages I couldn't put it down. I have trouble with stories where I don't connect with the main characters. Lindsey, Elody, Ally, and Sam were not girls I would ever like in a million years. But the fact that Sam seemed to learn from her experience and evolve and change helped me feel better towards the end. I know a lot of people really loved this book so I was curious to read it. Still mixed feelings but guess I am glad that I did. So, what about the length of the book and the fact that there are 7 days?

Vi: I liked that each day wasn't completely repetitious, and that they took Sam into different aspects of the day and the lives of the people around her. It helped me like her more as she came to realize that she couldn't really hide, but everyone else tried to hide things, too, if that makes sense. Despite the fact that the book is so long, it didn't feel like anything dragged. It was nice to see the various cast of players and how it all eventually worked out on the seventh day.

Renee: I agree. Since each day revealed different people's stories it didn't feel repetitive at all. And it did help me to like Sam, because as she would see the "truth" behind people, beyond her catty mean-popular girl type-casting, I felt like I kept looking forward to how things would be different the next day. And it definitely didn't drag, for me.

Aly: At first I was afraid that the days would be really similar and I liked that a chapter represented a day as the book progressed (well sort of). I did like seeing the back stories as they were revealed and the motivations. And also the "truth" but I was a little confused at the end. Is Sam the only one who dies? Did she get to change it for everyone else?

Vi: As far as I understood it, she's the only one who died. She shoved Juliet out of the way, and heard Juliet's voice as she was dying. But, if someone else has a better explanation...

Renee: I think Sam is the only one who died, as far as I know. I think that was her "mission" or something, to be like a martyr I think.

Aly: That was the part that was confusing at first it seemed that all of them died (well the 4) and then as she tweaked things it was almost as if she was trying to save everyone, knowing that she couldn't really save herself. And that was what seemed really sad. Anyway, was there something that really stood out for you with this story? A character? The writing?

Renee: I loved the writing style, but I really loved the character development. My two favorite characters were Kent and Lindsey, for completely different reasons. I loved Kent because he seemed like such a sincere guy and not the usual bad-boy-turned-good romantic male you see in YA a lot. He was just very loveable.

Renee: I liked Lindsey, because even though I didn't like her as a "person," I liked her as a character. She was very interesting and obnoxious and cruel, but she was obviously making up for her own vulnerabilities and insecurities and I thought she was very sad and complex. I liked that even though she was obviously flawed, she was a good friend to Sam and their gang and in her own way cared. I feel like so many books have girls who defeat the mean popular girls, but very few try to humanize those mean girls, so that was a nice change.

Vi: Very true about the mean girls, Renee. I felt like the author really did an amazing job at portraying all of the characters as having flaws, but good points as well. That's probably what stood out the most for me. And, of course, I had to love Kent. He's such a great character!

Aly: I think that was part of what I thought Oliver did really well. I think she portrayed the whole mean girls/high school drama very well. Not over glamorizing anything or under playing things. I was very pleased when Sam began to see Rob as a jerk. I liked that Juliet had a chance. And I adored Kent. I loved that he was more than what appeared on the surface in some ways and that Sam had a chance to see this.

Aly: So would you recommend this? Would you read more from Oliver? I know her next book seems to be getting some hype already?

Renee: I would definitely read more from Oliver, because I liked her writing style. And I would recommend this, but probably only to 16/17 yr olds or older, because the book does give a very frank (and therefore, not particularly wholesome) picture of the lives of some teens. And like Vi said, it did feel kind of literary fiction adult-ish, like Curtis Sittenfield.

Vi: I actually have someone in mind that might like this. I do think that, because of the literary feel to it, not everyone will take to it. I'm still sort of border-line, myself. I'd also definitely call this "new adult" and would not really recommend it to anyone younger than about 15, although mostly it's because there's a certain maturity in the writing that anyone younger might have trouble with, not that it's overly explicit about anything.

Aly: I think there are actually "younger" teens like Freshmen who will like it because it is chick-lit and because they read at a higher level. I wouldn't put it in a middle grade library because if you tried to limit it to 8th grade then everyone wants to read it. I think some teen readers might find it "literary" but I think it actually moves kind of quickly from the middle to the end. So if they had the attention to hang in...but I probably wouldn't be recommending it to all teens. I would more likely be selective. As for "new adult"...I'm not sure that I agree. I think DUST OF 100 DOGS is very much either new adult or adult with a crossover interest for upper teens because the character doesn't seem particularly YA...but in this case the characters are strictly in the high school age group participating in high school stuff...if you know what I mean.

Vi: I say new adult mostly because the content reminds me of that in BALLADS OF SUBURBIA. I got a more mature vibe. I wouldn't even really say it's a "crossover" novel, because it deals with more high school dramas, but the thoughts and ideas and development of the main character push it into an older category for me. Some more mature younger readers could "get" it, but I think the difference would come when some readers get the entertainment value and some get the real issues it's dealing with. It kind of makes me think of Nirvana's music - it was popular because some teens decided it was catchy, but the ones who really "got" the music were few and far between.

Aly: Any other thoughts on the book? I am kind of feeling like I am missing something but I think we covered most things?

Vi: I think we covered it pretty well.

Renee: Agreed. I think we got most of it, although I was curious about why Sam's reliving her life 7 times was never really explained. Did it have to be exactly 7 days, or if she completed her final mission/martyrdom on day 4 would that have been it? I didn't need the answer to that question to enjoy the book, but I guess I was kind of curious about it...

Aly: I thought it was kind of hinted at by Sam at one point when she mentioned some movie? Or am I making this up?

Vi: I'm not sure. Maybe? Maybe the significance was just that it was a week? She referenced GROUNDHOG DAY day at one point, but there weren't just seven days in that.

Renee: Like I said, I enjoyed it without getting an answer, and I didn't see GROUNDHOG DAY, so I didn't know if I was missing something.

Aly: I would have to check but it didn't necessarily bother me. Also didn't see GROUNDHOG DAY so it wasn't exactly as if I was checking.


Thanks Vi & Renee for participating in the chat. I know that I love discussing books with other book people and in discovering new books. As usual, this was fun. Now, if you have read BEFORE I FALL, how would you respond to the questions?

* Aly