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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NightcrawlersFrom Goodreads: 200 years ago, the village of Clavitt Fields was burned to the ground. It was hoped that what lived there had perished in the fire. But they did not perish. They went underground…

For generations, they lived and bred in darkness, adapting themselves to a subterranean existence. Now they are rising to the surface, and what they’ve become is a horror beyond belief, a crawling nightmare of evil and bloodthirsty violence bent on destruction.

The night is alive…and it belongs to them.
NIGHTCRAWLERS, the horrifying new novel from master of suspense Tim Curran.

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What started out as a freaky horror novel complete with the creep factor ended a little anticlimactic for me. I was expecting some big reveal, something awesome that would explain it all, but what I got instead was a revelation that just didn’t… sit well with me. I wanted curses, or ghosts, or even zombies, but that’s not it. What it is just struck me as odd, and for me, the revelation and the ending took a lot of the steam right out of the novel, which is unfortunate.

The blood, and guts, and the creepy pale bloated bodies… I loved it. It’s not too graphic, just enough to send chills down your spine, and I loved how it opened up with the police digging up the bodies in the abandoned field. There were a ton of events that made me really curious, and were just a tad bit scary as well, especially when the police go off looking for the shapes they see coming out of the fog… and it really kept me on my toes, to a point. However, there was absolutely no character connection for me. I think the focus was so much on the chill factor and the heart-pounding events that the characters remained static. And perhaps that’s a good things, since they basically all die, but even so, no connection with characters leaves me feeling a little desolate; as is, I don’t really have much feeling about them, or their story, one way or another. Had a tighter ending been put on this, I think it could have been a real gem, but as is, it fell just a little flat for me. Three stars.

3 stars

DarkFuse has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on March 4, 2014, in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Kindle



12257984From Goodreads: Economic ruin and partisan rancor have pushed America to the brink of a new civil war. Esther is caught in the middle, serving as a page in the United States House of Representatives when rogue politicians and military leaders stage a modern day coup d’etat. When the coup turns violent, she abandons Washington, D.C. for home. She must learn to survive on her own as transportation and financial networks fail, as the war disrupts food and water supplies. The result is a cautionary tale about political extremism and the true cost of war.

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The fact that we live in the United States makes many of us feel rather safe.  We hear about the civil wars breaking out in other countries, and we read about what’s happening in Syria, we protest wars that many of us don’t fully understand… but what would we do if a civil war broke out in the United States?  We act like it won’t, can’t, shouldn’t, but the truth is, we never really know.  There are a lot of things that could go wrong in our country, and Payne’s novel looks at just what could happen if war were to break out on our soil once more.

This is a scary novel, not in the horror type of way, but in the fact that it’s eerily possibly.  Following the life of Esther as she becomes a page in D.C., we watch the world unfold and cave in on itself as a civil war breaks out, GPS, landlines, and internet capacities are turned off, and war strikes and kills many. Stuck in D.C., Esther must try to get home to the Orcas Islands, but that’s clear across the country, and her trip is not one of ease.  This is the kind of novel that rears up and kicks you in the chest as you read, dropping the unexpected on you and making you reel in horror for the characters.  There were multiple occasions as I read that I freaked out because Payne doesn’t hold back.  He doesn’t sugar coat the war, and bad things happen to good people, terrible, terrible things that I didn’t expect and then BAM, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  And I admire Payne for this.  His writing is great, the story is extremely interesting (not too political, thank god, because I don’t know politics at all), and it just sucked me in and kept me turning the pages as Esther comes across carnage after carnage in her trek home.  You’ve got to read this one.  Five stars.

5 stars

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



9396154From Goodreads: Jade loves the house she’s just moved into with her family. She doesn’t even mind being the new girl at the high school: It’s a fresh start, and there’s that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade’s little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade’s jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn’t.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who’s seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade’s school — until her untimely death last year. It’s up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

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So, I have this quirk of mine where I like to cozy up in my bed late at night, turn out the lights, and listen to scary books on my Kindle (while the computerized voice isn’t all that scary, the fact that I am listening to potentially deadly situations unfold in the pitch dark always heightens the fear factor for me as opposed to reading in the daylight).  I ended up listening to all of Harrington’s The Dead and Buried this way, and let me tell you, there were definitely some instances in which my blood ran cold.

While the beginning of the novel reads like any other YA story in which a teen moves to a new school and is struggling to make friends, the twist is the fact that Jade and her family moved into Kayla Sloane’s house, the resident mean girl who died in the very house Jade now calls home.  The fact that it remains unclear whether or not Kayla was murdered makes it all the more chilling, and as Jade begins to uncover the truth about Kayla’s life, loves, friends, and death, a creepy ambiance surrounds the novel.

I loved Jade’s determination to save her family from the wrath of Kayla, and her sleuthing abilities were fun all follow along with, and so was the little romance Harrington added to the mix.  However, I will say that I was able to figure out the truth surrounding Kayla’s death fairly early on due to some foreshadowing and “in passing” comments from other characters in the text.  This isn’t a bad thing, by any means, but I definitely would have liked it to be more of a surprise.  But, what was lacking in the surprise department was definitely made up for when it came to scaring me stiff.

In regards to Kayla, I hold absolutely no love for her, especially as she threatens Jade’s family and the truth about her thoughts and feelings unfold.  She was a terrible person in life, and a terrifying entity in death, and even finding out the truth about her death didn’t make me feel sorry for her, but rather filled with anger.  Once you read it, you’ll see why, but I can’t say anything else about that without giving away clues, so I’ll move onto the aspects of the novel that scared me to death.  While Kayla is new to haunting people, she has no qualms about threatening the life of a five-year-old, and her new-found ability to possess Jade’s younger brother chilled me to the bone.  As I laid in my bed listening to the story unfold, there were multiple instances that Kayla did something that made my hair stand on end and my entire body tingle—similar to the feeling you get when a part of your body begins to fall asleep.  What was really creepy about this is that the feeling of intense evil would come over me and go from head to toe in a matter of seconds, which in turn chilled my blood and had me turning on the light to make sure I was alone and that no ghost was haunting me in my room.  I don’t know that I would have been as afraid had I read this novel during the day, but I’m telling you, if you really want to be unnerved and a little bit frightened, definitely read this novel with minimal light when you’re home all alone.  The plot will seriously mess with your feelings of security.  Four stars.

4 stars
Scholastic Inc. has been extremely gracious in allowing me tno read this novel via Netgalley.


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