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on July 2, 2013
I purchased this book in the Kindle version - then as a print edition. This book has been nominated for the Truman Book Award by the Association of School Librarians in Missouri. The award is presented a book (written by a still-living author) that is deemed the best by the students in Missouri in grades 7 - 9. This title is a good contender for the 2013-14 award. The story focuses on a 16-year old girl who finds she is a descendant of Morgan Le Fey of the King Arthur legend. The book is written in the form of a "letter-essay" to her English teacher - in which she explains why she didn't complete her required class project and in which she "proves" that she understands the elements of good writing discussed in the course. However, except for the first-person point-of- view, it is easy to forget the "school assignment" part of the format, as the she tells the amazing story of her very unusual town. (Each home in the town has a name assigned to it - and no street addresses, for example.) The young protagonist learns that she has inherited the power to see the upcoming deaths of certain individuals and along with that knowledge she has the responsibility to intervene on the behalf of the target person. She teams with her really bizarre grandmother (I LOVE the grandmother - who also has the "gift") to save the lives of two of her best friends and even of the grandmother herself. I think my students will love it as much as I did.
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on September 15, 2011
On Halloween of her freshman year of high school, Lizzy learns she's
a Death Catcher, meaning she is aware of when those close to her are
wrongly scheduled to die (including her crush!) and must prevent their
deaths from an untimely occurrence. She creatively tells her story
through a letter to her English teacher, which is part of an assignment to
prevent her from failing the class. As each chapter in her letter
discusses a different literary technique or trick, more and more
details unfold about Lizzy's mysterious hometown of Crabapple and
about the centuries-old legend that is forever changing her life.

The Death Catchers is a great read, for both young adults and old
adults alike. Lizzy's spunky best friend Jodi and her witty and eccentric
grandmother Bizzy add the perfect amount of humor to the book. I
loved the encounters between Lizzy and Drake, the dreamy water polo
captain, as she learns more about him in order to save his life. The
author keeps you captivated until the very end and will make you long
to read more about the adventures of Lizzy, Jodi, and Bizzy!
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VINE VOICEon August 17, 2011
I loved the Arthurian legend that was weaved into this supernatural tale. Lizzy has the power to know if those close to her are in danger of dying and while she might want to shy away from the duties that come with that knowledge, she never actually walks away. Instead she enlists the help of her best friend, even if she isn't totally honest about what the help is for. Even though the main character is deceiving her friend, family, and those in danger, it never comes off as a bad thing. She's quietly playing the hero in a tale that is bigger than even she realizes in the beginning.

All of the characters are lovely, especially Lizzy's grandmother, Bizzy, who is kind of crazy eccentric, but it absolutely works for her. Lizzy's mom is obsessed with books and I loved hearing about the different reads she was recommending to characters in the story, it definitely made me want to reread Fever Pitch and Pride and Prejudice and check out some of the other mentioned books that I hadn't read yet. Even the bookstore/musicstore owner had his recommendations (and if you haven't read The Once and Future King, try it).

While one part of the story was completed by the end of the book, it is left open for another book to continue on the tale. I hope to read more about Lizzy, her friends, her grandmother and just when this doomsday idea is going to come into play.

Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
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on August 17, 2011
A unique take on the Arthurian legend, The Death Catchers moves along at a brisk pace. A coming of age story about Lizzy,a high school freshman and descendant of Morgan le Fey, it weaves a story every young teen can relate to. With its mysterious village, modern U.S. high school, and complex family relationships, The Death Catchers 'catches' the reader up in a mystery that you can't wait to solve. I can't wait to read the next Lizzy adventure!

P.S. It also subtlely teaches writing techniques!
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VINE VOICEon January 25, 2012
Lizzy Mortimer's life is about to be turned upside down. She sees news about her best friends death...in the future. Before she has time to panic though, her grandmother sweeps in to impart some wisdom. She informs Lizzy that they are descendants of Morgan le Faye and see death specters that help them stop people they love from going with death too soon. Weirder thing keep happening though and the stress of all that is placed into Lizzy's lap may be too much. There's an evil sorceress trying to kill the last descendant of Arthur Pendragon, and with his death she'll destroy the world. Lizzy has to do some speed courses in Death Catching, but hopefully she is enough for the task.

Brush up on your King Arthur legends before you delve into this one. I'm just kidding, they tell you all you need to know about the legend as you read, and it's quite fascinating how they spin it. This book is told as a letter to Lizzy's english teacher Mrs. Tweedy. It's a letter/essay for Lizzy's final project. This story is her life as it unfolds extraordinarily while Lizzy is supposed to be working on her real final assignment. At time this read a little younger than the YA I am typically used to, so younger readers may want to check this out too. Each chapter was titled with a different literary device that Lizzy discusses and goes on to use. It's an interesting touch, and may help readers learn about these in a more relaxed and interesting way. The characters were all quirky and fun. I loved Lizzy's mom, the librarian. Always trying to find the perfect book for people, even strangers. She carries around a pile of them and hands them out like candy. This was a fun read with a great ending. It left a lingering sense of a sequel, but one is not entirely necessary. If you are a fan of legends with a sprinkle of paranormal and a dash of adventure, make sure you pluck this one up.

First Line:
"Dear Mrs. Tweedy,
I know that a letter may not be what you had in mind when you said I could save myself from flunking your class by writing a defensive paper on the topic Why I Should Still Pass English Even Though I Did Not Turn in My Final Project."

Favorite Line:
"'When we finally do make Drake fall madly in love with you, you have to swear you won't turn into a whiny, lovesick girl and completely ditch me. I don't want to have to got to the trouble of finding a new best friend.'"

Disclaimer: I was sent this item to review. This does not influence my opinion.
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VINE VOICEon November 8, 2011
Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth (Lizzy) Mortimer sees a disturbing article in the paper describing the death of her best friend. But thankfully, it hasn't happened yet. Lizzy's grandmother explains that she is next in a long line of Death Catchers, descended from Morgan le Fay. Lizzy and her grandmother receive death-specters when someone they care about is about to die of unnatural circumstances. Lizzy soon finds herself in the middle of an age-old feud between her ancestor and Morgan's bitter and evil sister, Vivienne le Mort. Vivienne hopes to bring about the end of the world by making sure that King Arthur's last descendant dies. And Lizzy is the only one who can stop her.

The story is told in a fun and unique way, as if Lizzy has written this as a school writing project. Lizzy is a loyal girl with a crush on a neighborhood boy who seems a little too good to be true. Lizzy's grandmother is an eccentric, loveable character who's overly active despite her frailties. And as she explains, Death Catchers (as Lizzy dubs themselves) can see deaths that can be preventable. But the twist is that they can't alert the doomed friend without hastening their demise. Lizzy and her grandmother must come up with creative ways of stopping the deaths by learning all they can from the death-specter.

A completely different twist on the Arthurian legend, The Death Catchers, is a fantastic fantasy for readers of all ages. With plenty of mystery, danger, suspense, and magic - the story is fast-paced and completely engaging. There are several twists and some fairly predictable surprises along the way to a climactic ending that had me on the edge of my seat.
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VINE VOICEon August 20, 2011
in a sentence or so: after Lizzie has an omen of her best friend's death, her grandma (better known as Bizzie) tells her she's part of the Hands of Fate. which means that for the rest of her life, Lizzie will have death-specters and her goal is to try and stop Vivienne le Mort from ending any lives before their time.

Lizzie and her best friend Jodi know their little town of Crabapple isn't usual. they realize that the guardian of the cemetery is a little off her rocker. they're even well aware that they shouldn't be snooping in her window in the middle of the afternoon...but that doesn't stop them from peeping in on the little old lady and finding a very tall, dark, and scary Vivienne le Mort inside of her cottage. you know, Vivienne from Arthurian legend fame? yeah, that crazy lady.

Lizzie's hopes that seeing Vivienne was just a bizarre dream flies out the window when she has her first death-specter. her grandma Bizzie fills her in on the family trait and points her in the direction she must go to fulfill her duty. and that direction just might be towards the gorgeous, artsy, incredibly sensitive boy-next door Drake Westfall.

i love Arthurian legend. a whole lot. while this book definitely loves up The Once and Future King Arthur Pendgragon as much as i do, i didn't mind reading the background of the legend, learning about the Hands of Fate or the feud between Vivienne and Morgan, or reading about a lesser known theory regarding the relationship between Guinevere and Arthur. BUT if i hadn't read a single word about Arthurian legend before, i wouldn't have been overwhelmed by the explanations or felt like it bogged down the plot. the author integrates the Arthurian goodness within a plot fueled by friendship, crushes, family discoveries and personal responsibilities with bursts of nail-biting action scenes.

Lizzie is funny, sweet, courageous and silly. Bizzie, her grandma, is all of those things times fifty. i want to be besties with an old woman who is sassy from here to Sunday and rides a red scooter named Dixie. i did not know this about myself until i read this book, but the fact is totally undeniable.

the romance is a slow, sweet crush that doesn't dominate the plot - but rather weaves it's way naturally into the story. i love how this book balanced the contemporary with the supernatural elements and kept the Real Issues of family, best friends, and boys as such crucial pieces of the teenage experience. plus, it's written in the form of a letter to her English teacher so it makes all sorts of literary references which i found nerdariffic and totally charming.

for a funny, contemporary book with a genuine dose of Arthurian legend and undercurrents of mystery and suspense, check out The Death Catchers. you'll fall in love with Bizzie, cheer on Lizzie, and crush on Drake all while enjoying this solid read.

fave quote: "Normally, if Jodi accused me of having a crush on someone, I would probably go out of my way to prove I didn't by ignoring that person. Now, I couldn't ignore Drake. In fact, if I wanted to save his life, I'd have to do just the opposite. You'd probably call this whole situation ironic, Mrs. Tweedy. If you did, I think you'd be right." (126)

fix er up: reallllly hoping there is more to follow in the story of Lizzie, Bizzie, Jodi and Drake.
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on October 12, 2011
My thoughts...The Death Catchers was an unexpected surprise for me for several reasons. First, I did not read the summary prior to reading, so I did not know this was a tale based on an old story. Secondly, I really enjoyed the characters. Lizzy, the heroine finds herself in a few precarious situations and her emotions felt very real. I understood what she was feeling and sympathized with her often. Bizzy, her grandmother, had great character and added a hint of humor the the story. This memorable character was written so vividly, I could imagine meeting her.

The Death Catchers was a fast-paced story. It was not overrun with subplots, dialogue, or endless rambling. I enjoyed Kogler's writing style. She used vivid language and kept me engaged. I enjoyed the romance that brewed between Lizzy and Drake. It was written in an innocent way that built-up, allowing the reader to be part of the relationship. Another aspect of the story worth mentioning is the method of storytelling. The format is done letter form (Lizzy addressing her teacher, Mrs. Tweedy). Overall, the whole story was very well done. I will be looking for more from this author!
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on January 21, 2012
Reading this book was so enjoyable. My favorite aspect is that it interweaves bits of "real" life into the story. The characters are well-developed and I got really into the story. And, while I'm in my mid-20s, I can see my teenage self/anybody of any age enjoying this book. Well done, Miss Kogler!
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on August 26, 2013
I loved this book! The way Jennifer Anne Kogler spun Arthurian legend was cool. I would definitely recommend this. I would especially recommend it if you already have an interest in Arthurian legend.
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