Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











The Girl From the WellFrom Goodreads: You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

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This novel is intense—from the very beginning—and scary to boot! If you’ve seen The Ring, then you’re familiar with the insanely creepy girl that crawls out of the well, out of the TV, and into the life of strangers—to kill them. Well, that very frightening girl is indeed our narrator! Talk about scary! Now, while the narrator, Okiku, is the same ghost-like figure from the movie, this is not that story. Instead, Chupeco focused heavily on the Japanese folklore surrounding Okiku’s murder and her ghostly decision to murder child killers and protect the pure of heart.

Opening with Okiku standing on the ceiling observing a vile man who has murdered a young child, the introduction quickly escalates as Okuku removes all the lights and taunts the man as she appears in his mirror, crawls out of his bathtub, and ultimately sends him screaming to his watery death. INTENSE. I began this novel on a sunny afternoon, and I had chills as I descended into this amazing story. And it only gets better from there.

As the story progresses, we see other characters through Okiku’s eye and also learn more about her and why she is haunting the world—including the circumstances surrounding her death. As the living main character, Tark comes on the scene, the ghost’s interest is piqued, and we learn much about ancient Japanese beliefs, the spirit world, and exorcisms. Of course, I saved the novel for the nighttime because I do enjoy a good scare, and that’s exactly what I got…

The writing is unique, and our ghost, Okiku, is fascinated with numbers, hence, her constant counting throughout the novel. While generally a silent entity throughout, observing those around her but rarely speaking with them, we still learn so much about her and, as Tark’s darkness becomes ever more present, the things that go bump in the night will leave narrators completely and utterly petrified. I loved the characterization, and while not all the events seemed plausible to me in terms of how Tark’s father treated him, etc., the eerie nature of the novel has be almost believing in ghosts myself…

This novel is great–from the scare factor to the characterization, I was in love from the very beginning. Read it. You don’t want to miss this fantastic story. Five stars.

5 starsI received this novel from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review prior to its release tomorrow, August 5, 2014.

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sdlgjkhsdlcjhasodifvhsd io jFrom Goodreads: Julia’s sworn enemies are safely sequestered in a prison of the fey and her forever mate has been chosen. Not by blood, but by a circumstance shaped from coincidence. However, it’s not enough to save Julia and the others who came from Alaska their fate by the hand of the Alaska den, whose reacquisition has come alarmingly full-circle to capture them. Tharell of the fey aligns with the Singers, Were and remaining vampire to take back the one Queen who could stop the interspecies wars and establish a truce of genetics that would free all the groups from extinction and conflict. Can they rescue Julia and her allies before it’s too late? Will the Red Were’s lineage prove to be the catalyst of victory against a corrupt pack that’s grown too debauched by greed and power to be overcome?

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An even darker, bloodier tale that its predecessors, book four in Blodgett’s Blood Series, Blood Reign, packs a powerful punch as it unfolds. Captive in the clutches of the Reds, a controlling Were group set on world dominance, The Rare One, Julia, and her band of friends, both Singers and Weres alike, must outthink and overcome their captors in a game of cat and mouse as the Reds’ plans of genocide begin to take hold.

As the story jumps back and forth between the characters simultaneous adventures, readers become enamored with the story. Blodgett is a master at setting up mini cliffhangers within her writing, and these are perfectly executed as she jumps from character to character as they unwittingly make their way towards one another, all leading up to the final battle that will have heads rolling (literally) with the final climax.

Expertly crafter, Blodgett has created intense, well-rounded characters, including those we hate. From their sarcasm, humor, anger, and fear, the emotions of these characters are palpable; spanning from Julia’s good-heartedness to the evil Tony’s misogynistic ways, Blodgett leaves readers feeling like the character could indeed step right off the page, which is both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Reader beware, Tony is indeed an awful, awful character, and you will hate him to his core… but he will finally get his comeuppance—and it is indeed satisfying.

In the third installment of the blood series, Blodgett wowed me with her inclusion of the Fey. Not to be outdone, she does it again in Blood Reign, this time including new revelations and a mythical group that I didn’t think would make it into her books at all! At this point, Blodgett has brought together almost all the popular mythical beings out there, and I love how she seamlessly weaves them into her tale, aiding and abetting the characters as the series unfolds. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the series, and if you haven’t started it yet, I highly suggest you pick up book one, because this series is to die for. Five stars.

5 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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By BloodFrom Goodreads: For 17-year-old Emma Wong, spending a summer in England should be a dream come true. Gorgeous scenery? Check. Lots of hot guys with accents? Yes, please.

Throw in an estranged mom, annoying new stepdad, and drooling baby half-brother, and it’s a disaster even her favorite cherry red leather jacket can’t fix. Even worse, there’s (hot) live-in research assistant Josh to contend with. The only thing more embarrassing than drunk-kissing him hours after they meet? Knowing he’ll be witness to her family’s dysfunction all. summer. long.

But when Emma meets a mysterious girl who happens to be a Druid, her vacation suddenly promises to be far more intriguing than she anticipated. Powerful rituals, new friends, an intoxicating sense of freedom…and Simon, the sexy foreign stranger she was hoping for. It’s all a perfect distraction from dirty diapers and awkward family dinners.

Trouble is, intriguing doesn’t often mean simple. And Emma is about to discover just how not simple her life really is.

By Blood is a novel about the ways that blood can bind us to others – or tear us apart.

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I went into this novel with high expectations, and while there were some aspects of it that I enjoyed, there were a lot more aspects of it that I didn’t care for.  For one, I found the pacing to be off kilter for me as a reader—it was a bit slow in places, and too fast in others.  In the beginning, Banghart takes her time developing the story, and I tend to like that as it allows me to really get to know the characters, but in this instance, I felt like too little was happening in the beginning, and the intro itself was too drawn out.  Perhaps had I found Emma more endearing, this wouldn’t have been an issue for me, but as it stands, Emma grated on my nerves throughout much of the novel.  At times I felt like I was wading through a story about teenage angst, focusing on Emma’s extreme dislike of her family and her yearning to be a part of something different. And then, while her instant attraction to the males in the novel, both Josh and Simon, was realistic in nature, their “romance” wasn’t. Suddenly there is a spark, and my interest was definitely piqued, but Banghart sort of glosses over the romantic aspect, making it more of an insta-attraction and keeping it so, as opposed to really fleshing it out and making it believable.  With the addition of the Druids and the mystery behind them and their actions, I had high hopes for the romance and story to take off, but again, I feel like this was glossed over, focusing once more on all Emma’s angst at home.  Granted, she does learn some pretty heavy things about her family as the novel progresses, but her antics just didn’t impress me.  I just felt like Emma was extremely immature.

As the novel progressed, I was definitely interested in the Druids, and I had an ever present bad feeling plaguing me as I read, but the ending was, unfortunately, less than believable for me. Emma continuously ignores her inner self as it tries to warn her, and by the time the story was finished, I just really didn’t care for her one way or another, and I was kind of upset that she behaved so badly and still got the guy in the end. But even so, I did like learning about the Druids, and though a cult, I liked that aspect of the story, believable or not. Had this novel been a little more fleshed out, with more action and less teenage angst, I think I would have really liked it; as is, it just wasn’t really for me.  Two stars.

2 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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