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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Two Little LiesFrom Goodreads: Lies can be very dangerous and deadly little things.

Almost four years after Laney Matthews survived a brush with death at the hands of Robbie Jameson, she has finally picked up the pieces of her life and started over. She’s made new friends, began dating again, attended countless therapy sessions, and is about to graduate in the spring from Blackburn University. Ever since that fateful night, Laney has tried to surround herself with positivity, and so far it’s been successful … but that’s all about to come crashing down.

When Laney receives news of Robbie’s release from prison, her bubble of security bursts and she begins to withdraw from everyday life. Her friends come to the rescue with a fun winter break getaway in order to clear their heads and shake off the end of semester finals. It’s here that Laney comes face to face again with Brent Lyles, the one true love that got away, and she begins to realize maybe he’s the exact thing that’s been missing in her crazy life.

Something’s amiss at the sprawling rental property though, and when things take a deadly turn, Laney and her friends are forced to fight for their lives. Has Robbie returned to finish what he started years ago? And is Laney prepared to stand up to her past demons once and for all?

The key to her survival this time though will be trust—a feeling she hasn’t embraced in quite some time.

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Two Little Lies is a heartpounding psychological thriller by the ever talented T.A. Kunz; one you seriously don’t want to miss. This novel pulled me in from the very first page and left me breathless at the end. Juxtaposing lighthearted banter with deadly intent, this mystery novel will leave you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the shoe to drop as Laney and her friends seclude themselves on a rental property in the dead of winter. Not all are going to survive the weekend…

I really enjoyed this novel! Kunz’s characterization was spot on, and I found myself seeing a bit of myself in Laney. Although I’ve never experienced anything to the extent that she has, the connection was there as I read of her insecurities and fear that the past might come back to haunt her. A survivor by nature, Laney is a strong-willed character that is forced to face her demons head on in a game of cat and mouse as the weekend unfolds, and as she learns through the many harrowing trials and tribulations, not everyone is who they profess to be.

I loved the characters, and the climax of the story really did have me on the edge of my seat, fretting about the characters and what would happen next. Kunz has created an extremely realistic and, therefore, scary world where evil pursues good, and I loved not knowing who to trust and waiting on pins and needles for the climax and the revelation that I never saw coming. This is a must read for sure. Five stars.

5 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon.

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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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Real MurderFrom Goodreads: When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. “She’s senile,” Cameron is warned. “It’s not a real murder.”

Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady’s “girl” was a call girl, who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide.

Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The deputy had disappeared almost twenty years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute.

It doesn’t take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe is worth killing to keep undercover.
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Expertly crafted characters and a seamless plotline grace the pages of Lauren Carr’s latest mystery novel, Real Murder, a whodunit featuring Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates from the riveting Lovers in Crime series; lovers of all things mystery will not want to miss this gem.

Carr does a phenomenal job keeping readers on their toes in this fast-paced novel, especially as Joshua and Cameron begin to uncover the truth behind an 18-year-old cold-case. While at times I was certain Carr was making the truth much to obvious for readers, time and time again she threw me for a loop with the revelation of new evidence and motives, causing me to continually point the finger in multiple directions. And once again, though I tried very hard, Carr remained one step ahead of me and floored me with her final reveal of the killer’s identity.

Of course, I love how strong-willed Cameron is, and the fact that she’s just as smart and capable as her husband, Joshua, makes them a great team. And Irving? The fat cat that looks like a skunk? Priceless. Carr always adds amazing, fun animal companions to her novels, and it might just be true that Irving and his antics make him one of my favorites of the novel—and series—as it were.

Complete with many layers, including a little romance, familial grudges, humor, and of course, sleuthing, Carr has created a great read that will leave readers satisfied in all aspects. If you love mysteries, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of Real Murder by Lauren Carr. Though part of a series, each novel stands alone, and if you’ve never picked up one of Carr’s novels, then this is definitely one with which to start. Four stars.

4 stars

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

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The Darkest JoyFrom Goodreads: A sexy and poignant new adult novel from New York Times bestseller Marata Eros, about two lost souls who find each other in the wake of tragedy, only to learn that love may not be enough to heal the wounds of a dark and tortured past…

Twenty year-old Brooke Starr has escaped the aftermath of a brutal tragedy by abandoning her music studies and moving north to take a summer position as a part-time deck hand on a deep-sea fishing boat. When her survivor’s guilt becomes unbearable, Brooke realizes there’s only one thing she can do to finally erase the pain.

Deep sea fisherman, Chance Taylor, has just wrapped his guitar set at the local saloon when he sees the silhouette of a young woman in repose, the full moon highlighting her shadow as she plummets from a pier too high for diving… into water too cold to survive. Without thinking, he plunges in after her, saving Brooke from drowning.

As Chance works to save her from her own emotional fragility, Brooke finally begins to learn how to save herself. But when their chemistry begins to consume them, Brooke withdraws. She’s determined to be the master of her own destiny… until the past catches up with her in a cataclysmic plan so dark, so final… it threatens their love and their very lives.

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This is another spectacular novel by the ever talented Marata Eros (aka. Tamara Rose Blodgett), and a must read for fans of the NA genre. Complete with a budding romance, murder, mystery, and mayhem, this novel will glue readers to the page from the very beginning, enticing them onward as the plot unfolds, secrets are divulged, and healing begins, only to be met with the sinister actions of an obsessive and erratic murderer…

I am in awe of the talent Eros possesses. Her previous novels, A Terrible Love and A Brutal Tenderness are already a testament to her amazing skill as an author, but The Darkest Joy may be perhaps my favorite of her novels to date. The perfect love story, surrounded by believable characters, freighting possibilities, and steamy romance, it’s a superb read.

Eros paints a vivid picture of life in Alaska as her story unfolds, setting her characters against a beautiful backdrop, one readers so rarely hear about. It presents a wonderful change, setting itself in the wild, and though not interested in fishing myself, I absolutely adored learning about Chance’s business and watching Brooke and Chance interact, both on and off the ship.

Of course, Eros utilizes my favorite point of view–first person–allowing me to connect with the characters on a deeper level than that of third person, and I love the alternating points of view offset by chapter headings. Many authors use this style, giving readers inside glimpses into their main characters, and when done correctly, as Eros does, it speaks volumes.

Intertwining a talented musician with tragedy and escape was also a beautiful touch, and I loved how music was presented as a healing entity on top of that of love–the age old remedy in helping one heal. It’s a beautiful story, one you must read; you just must. Five stars.

5 stars

I received an ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.  This novel releases on February 18, 2014.

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12551396From Goodreads: Madison is an ex-con artist who has now lived by the rules for eight years following the tragic death of her fiancé. She has made a new life for herself in Chicago despite the challenges of honest work. Her world flips upside-down once again when she runs into her best friend that she left behind in a desperate attempt to escape the dangerous lifestyle they were leading, only to find out he is in deeper than she could have ever imagined. They are forced to team up with the hope to shield one another while still dealing with the abrupt separation that left them both secretly heartbroken. When not only her way of life, but also the life of her dearest friend is threatened by an old associate, will it be enough for her to continue as a law abiding citizen, or will she be forced back into the line of work that claimed the love of her life?

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Madison is now straight-lace, using a pseudonym to work security for a private treasury after the death of her fiancé, Morgan, and her long stint in jail.  She’s content in life, contemplating dating again—Bradley, a single father has caught her eye, and vice versa.  But, the planet has something different in store for Madison, and she soon finds herself face-to-face with her estranged friend, Skyler, a man she used to call her best friend.  Of course, things take a turn for the worse, and Madison finds herself once again living on the other side of the law, aiding Skyler as she learns the truth about the accident that claimed her fiancé so long ago.

Told in both the present and past, Madison and Skyler’s relationship is fleshed out in such a way that it’s impossible not to fall in love with them.  They’re great characters, and they truly love one another, though it takes them far too long to realize it. Caught up in a web of deceit, both must find a way to break free from the underbelly of crime and the lord that dictates their every move, and the tale is fast-paced and highly interesting, if not completely plausible.  I really enjoyed this story, but some aspects left me scratching my head—one such is the amount of time it takes for a car to sink in a large body of water.  It’s far faster than one would think, and so there is a scene that left me a little unbelieving, but that’s few and far between in terms of the integrity of the story. It’s one of love, and I truly enjoyed it.

However, there are a number of glaring editing errors in the Kindle version I read, enough to make the read a little haggard and less enjoyable had it flowed seamlessly together.  But to be fair, this novel was queried for review nearly two years ago, so it is possible a newer edition with a more thorough editing is already available.  I do hope so—and if not, it’s an easy enough fix should Smith choose to do so.  That being said, the version I read contained a very compelling story, but the typos did take away from some of my personal the enjoyment overall.  Three stars.

3 stars

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



13576713From Goodreads: “Be careful what you wish for.” That’s a warning Dylan Johnson should have listened to. When his mobile tech company is bought out by Mantric Technology, a red-hot firm about to go public, it seems like a dream come true for the young entrepreneur and his partners. But the closer they get to payout, the more uncertain Dylan becomes. Something doesn’t feel right. When his colleague is found dead on what should have been their night of triumph, Dylan is determined to find out what happened. But asking questions plunges him into a digital web of deceit and betrayal that will shake everything he thought he knew…

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If you’re into corporate espionage, murder mysteries, and mayhem, then this novel is for you. What was supposed to be the merger of a lifetime for Dylan Johnson, complete with a huge payout, ends in murder, deceit, and lie after lie, leaving Mantric Technology in the hot-seat and losing money faster than it ever gained.  Filled with many intricate characters, Waite rolls out his story focusing on the upside of mergers and buyouts, eventually turning the coin and showing the downside, as we’ve all seen in recent years as large robust companies crumble from the inside out.  Though I’m not really a technology guru, I was able to mostly follow the high tech world in which our characters reside, and I enjoyed much of the story, however, certain points were a bit unbelievable for me, such as the lack of police presence and investigation into the murder of Dylan’s friend and colleague.  I also have to wonder exactly how much one duo would be able to uncover on their own in a huge company like Mantric, but then again, I’m not in a huge corporate business and, having never worked with a corporation like Mantric, I’m also not worthy of making a call concerning validity.  In my personal world, it seemed a bit strange, but certainly not too farfetched, and I enjoyed the story overall, but think those with more knowledge of the inner workings of corporations, buyouts, and technology would enjoy this more than I.  Three stars.

3 stars

Marlborough Press has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.



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