Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











Mary The SummoningFrom Goodreads: There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them–Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna–must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY.” A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though–at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary’s wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary–and Jess–before it’s too late?

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I don’t believe in ghosts, and certainly not in Bloody Mary, but that doesn’t mean you’ll catch me chanting her name to the bathroom mirror. Why tempt the powers that be? Yet even so, Monahan succeeded in scaring me quite often throughout this novel, as Mary’s powers grew and she haunted the girls. And I do enjoy a good scare. I suggest reading this one late at night in a room with mirrors. It really adds to the storyline.

This is a series, so there is going to be more, but even knowing that going in, I have to admit that I am dissatisfied with the ending. While Shauna may be doing better at the moment, nothing is truly resolved in this first installment, and I want to know more. Many questions arose as I read, and many of them seemed to suddenly crop up near the end, so I feel like I have more questions than answers at this point, which I never a good feeling at the end of a book, whether part of a series or not.

I enjoyed this novel overall, though I didn’t care for any of the characters. Yes, Mary was scary and I didn’t want bad things to happen to the innocent characters, but when they did, I never really felt any emotions. I think more detailing of the characters, more fleshing out, would have helped me connect with them more. Jess is a piece of work, and I really didn’t like her or her hold over the other girls–I wish they’d have grown a backbone and actually said no a time or two instead of thinking about it, complaining about it, but then ultimately going along with Jess.

I did enjoy the ghost aspect of this story; as I said, I liked the scare—but I really need to know the WHY behind Mary. Three and a half stars.

3.5 stars

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

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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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Magic HighFrom Goodreads: Welcome to Andrew High, a school for mages…

That is, until its doors are opened to the non-magical, or “normie,” population. That means no more magic allowed on school property. For Tabetha Long, whose powers are directly related to emotions, hiding her magic is difficult. When her mother is hired as the new gym teacher, and her father comes back to town with is reality television show, difficult becomes impossible.

Now her every move is being caught on video and everyone else at school wants in too. All Tabetha wants is to become invisible.

But then the mysterious and cute new guy, Eric wouldn’t be able to see her either…

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High school is never easy, but imagine going to an all magic school and suddenly finding out that “normies,” non magic folk, will be populating the school soon due to an unforeseen shut down of their own facility? Imagine being forced to hide who you are after not having to do so for years? Now wrap that up into your worst year of high school, and you’ve got Magic High.

With a little bit of romance, some botched up spells, and lots of humorous situations, Magic High is a cute and enjoyable read complete with magic and ghosts.  I absolutely loved Tabetha’s voice and the way she carries herself throughout the entire novel. She’s just a little bit quirky and snarky, and the perfect narrator for this fun read, especially when it comes to the drama of high school.

I really enjoyed this, especially the ghost aspect. I had an inkling from the get-go, but until it was 100% revealed, I wasn’t sure. Gaudet does a great job foreshadowing by not overdoing it, leaving enough mystery and anticipation there for readers to enjoy while creating an intriguing read that will bring a smile to your face long after it’s done.  I really enjoyed this novel and highly suggest both MG and YA readers scoop it up.  Four stars.

4 stars

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Liv ForeverFrom Goodreads: When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, it’s her ticket out of the foster system. Liv isn’t sure what to make of the school’s weird traditions and rituals, but she couldn’t be happier—especially when Malcolm Astor, fellow artist and scion of one of the school’s original families, starts falling for her. Fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols warns her not to get involved with a “Wicky,” but things are finally going Liv’s way, and all she wants to do is enjoy it.
 
But Liv’s bliss is cut short when she is viciously murdered. In death, she discovers that she’s the latest victim of a dark conspiracy that spans 150 years and many, many lives. Gabe, cursed with the ability to see their ghosts, turns out to be Liv’s only link to the world of the living.
 
Liv must rely on Gabe’s help to prove to Malcolm that she’s still present… lingering with the other spirits. Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham before more lives are lost.

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This a very well written story that, unfortunately, starts out just like all the other boarding school novels I’ve read lately. A scholarship student goes to a boarding school, isn’t liked by many, falls in love with the school hottie, and… is killed… finds out there is some bad mojo with the secret society within the school… realizes there are ghosts around… and basically fits the mold for the “boarding school” YA novel. It reminds me a little of a mash up of Poor Little Dead Girls, And We Stay, and Deceived.  Now don’t get me wrong, those are all good books, but I really wanted something different with this one, and even though these books are all different, there’s enough similarities that it just didn’t pique my interest all that much in the beginning.

Now, Liv, Forever focuses on Liv’s death, whereas the other novels I’ve read focus more so on attempted murders, so that was a nice change, especially as Liv’s ghost comes back to haunt Gabe as they try to figure out what happened.  And, while the first half of the novel fits the mold for this type of novel nicely, the last half of the book is where is begins to branch out and become a different story, which in turn caught my interest.  If you’ve never read a novel that takes place in a boarding school before, then I’d definitely recommend this as a good starting point.  I enjoyed the aspects of the ghosts, and I liked Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm as characters.  I also especially enjoyed the stories of each ghost’s death, told in first person, as if readers are drawn into the story to put the pieces together.  However, I felt the beginning dragged on a bit and it just seemed too much like déjà vu for me as a reader, especially with the similarities to novels that have come before it, so even though I enjoyed some aspects, it doesn’t stand out in my mind, personally, all that much.  Three stars.

3 starsSoho Teen has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Edelweiss, prior to its release on March 11, 2014, in exchange for an honest review.

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EricGarrisonTourBadge_450X300

Author: Eric Garrison

Featured Book Release: Sinking Down

Book Two of the Road Ghosts Trilogy

February 24 to March 2, 2014

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Write Like a Roleplayer: How Gaming Shaped My Storytelling
by Eric Garrison

I’ve always been both a writer and a gamer. As a Dungeon Master, I did some very literal worldbuilding, with intricate maps with writeups of the places depicted. But true life wasn’t breathed into those colored-pencil-on-hexpaper realms until stories happened in them, laid out one adventure at a time by player characters. Same with online games like MUSHes, designing a character description was fine, but to truly know that character, they had to interact with other characters.

I see writing the same way. I’ve said elsewhere that I’m a seat-of-the-pants (pantser) writer who has come to do some planning over time. But I feel that those plans are just a framework, like a Gamemaster designs a roleplaying adventure. A favorite quote, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder said, “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” Many Gamemasters will tell you that no adventure they’ve written survives contact with the players. Coming from this background, I can say my writing works similarly: No matter how detailed my plans ahead of time, the characters tend to do things that are in character and thwart those plans, forcing me to replan on the fly.

But that’s okay. I’m used to players doing that to my adventures, so I am accustomed to adjusting plans to fit the story as it unfolds. One major difference between writing and gaming is that I have the option of making the characters do as I please. Maybe so, but often the result rings false to me, I can almost hear the characters whining that they wouldn’t have done it that way. Sometimes they go on strike, it seems, and dialogue becomes stilted and flat until I let the characters do what they want to again.

Another luxury a writer has is the ability to change earlier parts of the book. Does the main character need a knife in Chapter 22? I have the option of rewinding to Chapter 5 and having her think to slip a folding knife in her purse, “just in case”. Does killing off the villain’s henchman in the first act mess up the ending? Well, a few tweaks of the wording and he’s merely wounded and is dragged off to heal up for a surprise appearance in the big fight scene (and this time, it’s personal). I can’t tell you I’ve never done that, because it’s as handy as a trash can with Wyld Stallyns graffiti on it to be able to do that when necessary.

My roleplaying roots make me resist going back and changing the plot. In gaming, that’s a story-destroying taboo we call “retconning”. Sure, you may just have realized that Wolfraven should have had 2 additional hit points regenerated, and that he should have been conscious to keep Eldrad the Merciless from throwing all the characters in his Gaol of Despair half an hour ago. That would change everything. We’ve moved on since then, and going back just feels wrong, and undoes all the brave deeds that have been done since then. In writing, I try to always write forwards until the first draft is done. Second drafts are for revisions and tweaks. I still resist major retconning in revisions.

So while you won’t hear dice rolling when you read my stories, you may notice a certain organic flow to them. That’s my gaming heritage shaping how I see storytelling. It’s not for everyone, but I think my writing is better for it.

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SinkingDownCover_1200X800Book Synopsis Sinking Down: Poor Little Ghoul

Paranormal investigators Brett and Liz find themselves back in over their heads when a forest hunt for a roadkill-eating creature offers up a little surprise. Back home with their ghoulish house guest, it becomes clear there’s more to this investigation than either of them thought. Worse than that, Brett’s own fate is linked to the little ghoul’s.

So it’s back out on the road, with plenty of time for pit stops with a greedy ex, a convention of ghost hunters, partying with fake vampires, and even drinking and fighting alongside good ole Uncle Gonzo. But as the investigation goes deeper, and unseen connections come to light, Brett finds there’s much more at stake than getting through a rough patch with Liz.

A rescue mission. A race for a cure. New friends and old adversaries. Unbreakable bonds and supernatural danger. It’s going to be a wild ride. Can the friends save the nearly undead tween? Can she and Brett stop themselves from …Sinking Down?

Sinking Down is the 2nd Book in the Road Ghosts Trilogy!

Amazon Links for Sinking Down

Print Version | Kindle Version

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EricGarrison_authorpicAbout the Author: Eric Garrison is active in the writing community in Indianapolis, Indiana. He lives in the Circle City with his wife, step-daughter and four cats. He also enjoys gaming and homebrewing beer.

Seventh Star Press published the first of his Road Ghosts trilogy, Four ’til Late, in July of 2013. Sinking Down was released in December of 2013, with the final title to appear in 2014.

Eric’s novel, Reality Check, is a science fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. This book reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon’s Kindle store during a promotion in July 2013.

Eric’s short story, “Drag Show” appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of Strange, Weird and Wonderful Magazine and Volume 2 of that magazine’s anthology series. His flash piece, “Dark Reflection”, appeared in the Indiana Horror 2011 anthology. He’s competed twice in the Iron Writer Challenge with two 500-word flash pieces, “Killer Cure” and “Moby Me.”

Author Links:

Website: http://sillyhatbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EricGarrisonAuthor

Twitter: @erichris

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE!!!

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Tour Schedule and Activities

2/24 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post

2/24 Laurie’s Thoughts and Paranormal Reviews Promo/Spotlight

2/24 Deal Sharing Aunt Tour Wide Contest

2/24 Lost Inside the Covers Review

2/24 John F. Allen Writer Promo Spotlight

2/24 Beagle Book Space Promo/Spotlight

2/24 Seers, Seraphs, and More Promo/Spotlight

2/25 Vampires, Witches, and Me, Oh My! Character Post

2/26 Bee’s Knees Reviews Guest Post

2/27 Sapphyria’s Book Reviews Promo/Spotlight

2/27 fuonlyknew ~ Laura’s Ramblins and Reviews Review

2/27 I Smell Sheep Guest Post

2/27 Jess Resides Here Character Interview

2/28 A Book Vacation Guest Post

2/28 Armand Rosamilia, Author Guest Post

3/1 Sheila Deeth The Art of Sinking Down

3/2 Come Selahway With Me Guest Post

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http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/eric-garrison-sinking-down-virtual-tour/

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