Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stacking The Shelves - August 2014


Stacking The Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Friday, August 29, 2014

OMG! Have You Seen This Cover?!

Lots of incredible covers this week.  I picked two that I loved, but for very different reasons.

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige

In this dark, high-octane sequel to the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz.

To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die....

But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past—and that Kansas, the home she couldn't wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked?

I missed out on Dorothy Must Die back when it was first published.  I have seen lots of mentions of it since then but, seeing this cover for the sequel has made me finally grab a copy and start reading it.  I love the silhouette here and the storm clouds in the cutout.  I don't know what it is about lime green and evil but the color works perfectly here.  

 Awful Auntie by David Walliams

A page-turning, rollicking romp of a read, sparkling with Walliams' most eccentric characters yet and full of the humour and heart that all his readers love, Awful Auntie is simply unmissable!

From larger than life, tiddlywinks obsessed Awful Aunt Alberta to her pet owl, Wagner – this is an adventure with a difference. Aunt Alberta is on a mission to cheat the young Lady Stella Saxby out of her inheritance – Saxby Hall. But with mischievous and irrepressible Soot, the cockney ghost of a chimney sweep, alongside her Stella is determined to fight back... And sometimes a special friend, however different, is all you need to win through.

 This cover gives me such a sense of nostalgia.  It reminds me of the Roald Dahl covers from my childhood.  Growing up in a very small town with a very small library and before the days of interent shopping - the Roald Dahl books were read over and over again, so seeing covers like these will always make me smile. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Oblivion by Sasha Dawn

Title: Oblivion
Author: Sasha Dawn
Egmont USA
Release Date:
May 27, 2014

Cover Impressions: I'm not usually a fan of full face covers, but I like this one.  The eyes are very detailed and the writing keeps your eye moving across the cover.  I am not, however, a big fan of the title font.
The blurb sounds really interesting and I am excited to read about someone who suffers from graphomania.  I have heard of this condition before and I really hope the author gets her facts right.  I do wish they had left the whole "new guy at school" part off, I don't see any reason for this story to be wrapped up in a romance.

The Gist:
  Calliope Knowles suffers from Graphomania - a compulsion to write.  Words pop into her head and torment her until she is able to get them out.  The disorder started the night her father, a local minister, disappeared with a young girl from the parish.  Callie was found in her old apartment, scrawling I KILLED HIM across the bathroom walls.  Since that day, she has no memory of what happened, but as she refuses to take her medication and slips deeper and deeper into the grip of the words that haunt her, they begin to form a pattern.  These clues lead her on a search that uncovers more family secrets than she ever thought possible.


I skipped over this book when I was in the middle of a reading slump and decided to wait to review it until I was more likely to enjoy ANYTHING that I was reading.  I'm very glad I did because Oblivion got off to a pretty slow start and and needed some patience.  There was something about the writing style that didn't quite grab me.  There was a distinct lack of transition between Callie's narrative and her Graphomania episodes and hallucinations/memories.  There was a great deal of description every time one of these hit (which was A LOT) and it really started to slow down the plot.  Callie spent a ridiculous amount of time searching for a pen, which drove me insane.  Every time her graphomania hi, she went frantic looking for a pen and notebook and I kept questioning why someone who suffers from this disorder doesn't have a pen in every pocket.  The plot was also slowed by the whole romance element.  Callie has a boyfriend, but naturally starts to fall for another guy who, unfortunatly, is the current interest of her foster sister - which leaves him off limits.  This led to a lot of pages dedicated to teen angst when all I was interested in was what actually happened to Callie and if she killed her father.  Eventually, I started to skim until I got to the halfway mark and things got interesting.

The mystery was less of a whodunit, and more of a whatexactlydidtheydo.  There were some decent surprises along the way.  I did feel like this book could have been more effective as a mystery if they cut some of the boyfriend drama and gotten rid of some of the repetition and made the book shorter.  By the time the main mystery had been resolved, it felt like the story was done, but there was a great deal of time spent wrapping up some of the loose ends, which left me a little bored. 

Callie was a decent main character, though she had more a tendency to follow along with other people's plans rather than to take charge of her own life.  When she did make her own decisions, they usually left her squatting in an unoccupied apartment with no real plan for the future.  The most interesting part about her was the graphomania.  I would love to know how accurate a portrayal this was and if Callie is representative of what people living with this issue actually go through.  I would also like to know how someone who has experienced this felt about John referring to it as a gift.  None of the other characters were particularly compelling, except Callie's mother, who is barely featured.

Oblivion didn't work for me right away, but the last 1/4 or so picked up and I enjoyed the mystery plot. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Sex: Sex between teens
Violence: Physical Child Abuse, Sexual Child Abuse, Knifeplay, 
Inappropriate Language: Piss, Bitch, Fuck, Whore, Shit, Slut
Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Marijuana Use

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter which is due to be released on Sept 2nd

 In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…

Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.

Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…

I fell in love with the almost etched quality of this cover, and the plum color.  I don't know anything about the author, but the premise is interesting enough for me to give this one a shot

Monday, August 25, 2014

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Title: Of Monsters and Madness
Author: Jessica Verday
Release Date:
Sept 9, 2014

Cover Impressions: I like the cover, the image is sufficiently creepy, the colors work well and I like the scrollwork on the bottom (man, I am a sucker for scroll).  But, I don't feel like this is anything too special, I've seen this kind of backlight figure on a hundred scary novels before.
The real reason that I picked this book is because I LOVE Edgar Allen Poe.  I will pretty much read anything that is inspired by his work - even though I am almost always disappointed (I'm looking at you Nevermore and Mrs.Poe)

The Gist:
Annabelle Lee has just lost the only parent she has ever known.  Summoned to her father's house in 1820's Philadelphia, she finds a world if intrigue and murder.  Her father is not at all what she expected, gruff and unwelcoming, he spends most of his time in his laboratory with one of his two assistants: one fair and kind, the other dark and brooding.  As news of gruesome murders creeps closer and closer to their home, Annabelle begins to suspect that the monsters may be nearer than she ever imagined.    


I didn't have the highest of hopes for this book when I requested it, but I will read just about anything that is inspired by Poe.  This predilection of mine has, unfortunately, led to some pretty awful books, but I keep trying because there has got to be one Poe connected book out there to make it all worthwhile.  This, however, is not that book.

Immediately upon starting Of Monsters and Madness I couldn't help feeling like the writing was a little juvenile and eye-roll worthy.  It felt almost like it hadn't been edited carefully.  The first half spent entirely too much time comparing Annabelle's new life to the one in Siam.  If the author didn't feel it was important enough to start the book while she was still living there, why pound us over the head with it every chance she got?  It began to feel like she was saying "look at all this fancy research that I did, I will show you ever fact I learned!"  This interrupted the flow of the writing and annoyed me.

I got the feeling very early on in this novel that Annabelle was going to play the damsel in distress, and I was right.  As a character she was rather bland, despite the author's desperate attempt to make her seem oh-so-special.  From the very beginning, she was a mess of cliches.  We are told that she prefers to wear trousers (though we never actually see this in the rest of the novel), she clearly treats the servants as her equal (like every other heroine in lame historical fiction) and she even meditates.  It really bothers me when authors try to take on a historical setting but give their characters modern sensibilities that are completely out of place in the time frame.  What results, at least in this case, is a character who seems all too perfect.  Other than being completely oblivious to what is right in front of her face, Annabelle doesn't appear to have any character flaws and spends the entire novel desperately trying to please other people.  She is simply too good to be true.  

None of the other characters are even remotely compelling and Poe is set up as the love interest.  There was some chemistry between the two but he was far too pushy for my taste.  On a couple of occasions he insists on being alone with Annabelle despite the social norms of the time that would dictate that there must be a chaperone.  This is one of those triggers for me.  It is not romantic, it simply shows that the character has no concern for his love interest's reputation or her future.  The servants and her grandfather are at least kind, but they don't have anything interesting about them and the father is interesting, but is featured so little that it barely registers.

The biggest issue that I had with this novel came in the very reason that I chose it.  I was looking for a story inspired by Poe, but that was done very poorly.  There were bits and pieces of Poe's work scattered throughout the narrative but their inclusion seemed clunky and awkward.  They appeared completely out of place with the writing style of the author and the scenes that featured them seemed contrived merely for their sake.  To make matters worse, the story was actually a mish-mash of classic horror novels.  It was as if the author a) could not decide whom to emulate and decided to throw them all into one book and let them hash it out or b) could not come up with a unique idea on her own and decided to steal them from the greats instead.  The plot was almost completely predictable and there was no real sense of danger or excitement. 

There was also a strange epilogue that appeared to be tacked on in some odd way of setting this book up for a sequel but I, for one, will not be signing on for that.   

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Murder (not described), Arson, Animal Experimentation
Inappropriate Language: Bastard
Substance Use/Abuse: None

Unanswered Questions:
Does she really not take the scarf off, ever?  Not even to wash it?  Man that thing must reek!

Friday, August 22, 2014

OMG! Have You Seen This Cover?! Magic and Kitties.

Lots of incredible covers this week.  I picked two that I loved, but for very different reasons.

The Gifted Dead by Jenna Black
Release Date: September 23rd, 2014

Politics and magic make dangerous bedfellows.

Deep within the Order, the seeds of corruption have taken root. While younger generations of the Gifted have embraced modern democratic values, a secret society of old-guard zealots seek a return to the past, when only European men of distinguished bloodlines held power.

Now, three venerable European families and a maverick American each plot to seize control of the Order and shape it to their will. A cutthroat game of political intrigue will decide the winner; and the stakes couldn't be higher, for ruling the Order carries with it the power to grant—or deny—an afterlife.

What begins as a battle of wills could turn into an all-out war. And magic could prove deadlier than any missile.

I love the cloth look of this cover and I can't help staring at the edges.  Is that dirt? Mold?  Has it been buried, or uncovered in a mysterious way?  The ouroboros (infinity snake) image is equally mysterious and I like how it looks to be printed on the cloth.  If the physical cover has some texture to it, I may just swoon in the bookstore. 

The Girl and the Clockwork Cat
Release Date: September 2nd, 2014

Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.

Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.

What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.

 Whereas the first cover was beautiful in its simplicity, this one has so many gorgeous details that it keeps your eye roving across the image.  The glowing city in the background is lovely, as is the girl's coat and even the texture on her tights.  But the real star of the show (as they should always be) is the cat.  I think my favorite part is the determined look on the cat's face.  Clockwork kitty doesn't need your pity, clockwork kitty is getting shit done.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Delacorte Press
Release Date:
May 13, 2014
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions: Nothing that I would ever pick off a shelf.  The colors are muted and a little bland.  I really dislike when covers use all lower case font, but that is my own personal issue. 

The Gist:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.



We Were Liars is far more unique than I ever anticipated.  Lockhart certainly has a writing style that is all her own, but one that I feel is dividing readers.  I loved it.  But, I can see where it would annoy others.  It opens with short, choppy sentences that are more statements of fact than storytelling, but it is incredibly effective.  The story is told from Cady's point of view who suffers from memory loss, migraines and is forced to use pain killers to cope.  These facts left me wondering about her reliability as a narrator and questioning everything that she tells the reader.  It also features variations on the the three princesses fairy tale which add charm and depth to the story.

I will admit, there was a point about halfway through where this felt like just another rich girl, whining about her problems.  It certainly took patience to begin to piece the clues together and see that there was a really important story to be told.  There are a lot of characters to get straight and a lot of home names to put into place.  There are actually three group of players on the island: the Liars (the older children), the Aunts and Grandfather, and the Littles.  The Liars are the main characters, teens who have run of the island each summer.  The Aunts constantly fight each other for the Grandfather's attention and bicker over belongings and homes.  The Littles do not play a major role, but, when the book was over, I found myself thinking back to some of their actions in light of the new information which added some great depth and enjoyment.  In fact, by the end, the reader realizes that there were clues from the very first page, we were just unable to see them in context without more information.

To be honest, this review is really difficult to write without giving away too much of the story, so I will probably stop there.  We Were Liars is a beautiful, melancholy mystery that is beautiful in it's style and storytelling.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

13 and up
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Death by Fire
Inappropriate Language: Bastard, Bullshit, Fuck
Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is: Maplecroft by Cherie Priest which is due to be released on Sept 2nd

 Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one....

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.

This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

I don't really know anything about the whole Lizzie Borden story but I find it intriguing.  I was really hoping to snag a review copy of this one, but no luck.  Can't wait for it to come out!

Monday, August 18, 2014

How to Fall by Jane Casey

Title: How to Fall
Author: Jane Casey
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Rating: 1/5

Cover Impressions: 
Pretty but predictable.  I love the colors and the stormy sea.

The Gist:
Jess Tennant has been dragged to her mother's hometown while she recovers from her recent divorce.  Jess quickly realizes that she bears a remarkable resemblance to her cousin Freya, who died a year ago of an apparent suicide.  Something about Freya's death doesn't seem right and Jess throws herself into the investigation.  Everyone is a suspect and Jess begins to learn that Port Sentinel is not the sleepy little town that she had expected. 


Wow, I was really disappointed in this book.  I'm actually pretty surprised.  I was excited by the premise, I was in the mood for a good, grabbing mystery, it had pretty decent ratings on Goodreads... I just didn't like it.

First of all, the main character annoyed the heck out of me.  She had a particularly bland personality with some boring facts (like a bad breakup and being the child of divorce) thrown in in a futile attempt to give her some depth.  She was meant to be determined and committed, but she came off as stubborn and irritating.  Her only investigative tool was to ask incessant questions until the person she was interrogating got angry.  Eventually she came up with a dumbass, dangerous plan that would never have worked in real life and would and resulted in her getting killed.

To be honest, there weren't really any characters in this novel that I enjoyed.  The mother basically disappears, only emerging in order to look have some angsty scene with a married man that leaves her looking desperate, idiotic and pathetic.  The police officer/mom's love interest seriously skeeved me out and neither of the main character's love interests were particularly appealing.   

The mystery isn't so much of a mystery and there wasn't nearly as much action as I was hoping.  I think I would have been more invested in the story if we had been given an opportunity to get to know Freya as she seems like a much more interesting character than Jess.  The ending was particularly drawn out and boring.  Once the main mystery was uncovered, there were pages and pages of angsty crap while we sorted out things that were very obviously going to happen.  I was even more disappointed to see a sneak peak at the end of this book, meaning that the author seems to have found a way to toss another mystery in Jess' path and more time to devote to her incessant questioning.  I, for one, will not be signing on for that story.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

13 and up
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Falling from a cliff
Inappropriate Language: Slut, Bitch, Bastard
Substance Use/Abuse: Smoking

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Audio Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Rating: 3/5


I thought I would do a quick review for Cress as a) most people who are interested have probably read it already and b) it took me SO LONG to get through this audio book that I have completely forgotten most of the details.

First of all: I don't really blame this book for my taking months to finish it.  I think it was more about my personal life: while I was listening to this I found out that I am pregnant with my second child and that threw my reading life into a complete tailspin.  

I did have some trouble connecting with Cress the way that I did with Cinder and Scarlet in the two previous books but I did enjoy Cress and Thorne together.  I am hoping that Meyer will throw a wrench into the oh-so-predictable pairings by making sure that Jason is not a love interest for Snow.  I also didn't find the plot of this novel as compelling as the previous ones.  I realize that a lot of actions had to happen to pull these characters together, but I would have preferred some more forward momentum in the whole overthrow-the-evil-queen plot. 

I'm fairly certain I will be back in for Winter but, at the same time, I am hoping that the series isn't planned to go on much longer than that. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

ARC Book Review: I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

Title: I Kill the Mockingbird
Author: Paul Acampora
Publisher: Macmillin
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Rating: 3/5

Cover Impressions: 
Super cute and I love the colors.


To Kill A Mockingbird is a staple on any summer reading list.  Despite this, it is rarely read or enjoyed by Lucy, Elena and Michael's peers.  They set out to change that by hiding copies of the book in every bookstore that they can.  They also set up a website: and leave their flyers in every place that they strike.  They begin to see an uptake in interest in the book and, very quickly, their little scheme takes on a mind of its own when others get involved and the movement starts to spread across the country.

The characters in I Kill the Mockingbird are extremely cute.  I wish I had friends like this when I was a kid.  They are quirky and well read, but have a tendency to come off as a little overly precocious.  I teach kids they age that these characters are supposed to be and can't imagine any of my students quoting classic novels in everyday conversation!  There is also a "romantic" element between two of the characters that feels forced and unnecessary.  I would much rather have spent more plot time on the post-cancer family dynamic.

The plot point that really worked for me was the relationship between Lucy and her parents in the wake of her mother's cancer treatment.  I could relate to Lucy doing whatever she could to try and alleviate the pressure on her parents. She also tried to take on a more mothering role, which naturally caused a great deal of stress for her and her mother.  These sections of the book were where I could really settle in and enjoy the characters.  Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the whole ikillthemockingbird plot.  There was no real sense of conflict as the kids aren't technically doing anything illegal and, despite some pretty clear clues that they were behind the endeavor, no one really tries to stop them.  The ending and wrap up is rather anti-climactic.  Overall, the book has a cute premise and is well written, but it didn't really blow me away. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

10 and up
Sex: One Kiss
Violence: None
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Use/Abuse:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Welcome the the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Title: Welcome to the Dark House
Author: Laure Faria Stolarz
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Rating: 2/5

Cover Impressions: 
The title and background image don't seem to go together and I hate that font.  It doesn't have the creep factor that I would expect from this type of book.

The Gist:
A group of teens is brought together by a mysterious contest.  Write an essay about your greatest nightmare and win an all expenses paid trip of a lifetime to meet a directing legend.  As they reach The Dark House, each person starts to realize that a weekend reliving their greatest fears may be more than they bargained for and the danger may be more than they realized. 


Welcome to the Dark House feels like a super campy, straight to video, horror movie.  With villains torn from a fictional series of movies who spout the cheesiest lines and terrible rhymes who often felt more like comic relief than a real source of danger.  It features a plethora of characters who are rather static and a bit boring.  I cared more for some characters (why wasn't Natalie the main character?) than others.  For example, I did not care one bit for Garth and, frankly, didn't give a damn what happened to him.  It also seemed very strange that we never even got to meet one of the contest winners and were expected to actually care when she disappeared.  I have a sneaking suspicion her scenes got the chop when Stolarz's editor felt the book was too long. 

The narrative switches perspectives between these characters and there were simply too many to keep track of.  There was very little change in the voice of the narrators which made following the switches difficult and I had to keep going back and reminding myself of who was speaking (until I stopped caring and gave up).  The plot is fairly fast paced and doesn't feature too much lag in between creepy happenings but gave way to quite a bit of explanation of the fictional films and their characters - of which there were MANY.  I almost wish (and I'm fairly certain this would infringe on copyright and therefore wouldn't be possible) that it could have been based on a real franchise like Halloween or Scream. 

Some of the scenes were pretty disturbing (I kept cringing at the whole eels in a tank scene) and I really enjoyed watching each character encounter their own fears (though it might have been more effective if there had been a little bit of mystery around what each one was afraid of).  However, I had some trouble as I kept questioning whether or not this was supposed to include some element of the supernatural or if it was some elaborate scheme set up by a real murderer.  I kept being distracted by nagging questions like how was this guy in so many places at once?  How did he set up an amusment park filled with cameras in the middle of the woods with no one taking notice?  Whose name was on the electric bill?  Why were there no work orders or witnesses to the construction?  What about purchase info for some of those pretty much priceless guitars and manuscripts in the house? 
In the end, I was sincerely hoping for a twist that would make this all worthwhile (this was all a shared psychosis or was set up by their therapists as a form of extreme therapy or it actually was set up by the murderer or Ivy's parents and he had somehow had a hand in each child's trauma)  But, I was disappointed.  It seemed to leave some room for a sequel, but I don't think I will bother if that is the case. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Violent murders by various means (buried alive, choking, stabbing)
Inappropriate Language: Piss, Shit
Substance Use/Abuse: None

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Girl From The Well by Rin Chupeco

Title: The Girl From The Well
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions: 
It was the description of this one that really drew me in.  I am hoping for a re-vamp of the cover as this one just doesn't do the creepy nature of this novel justice.  I wanted to see Okiku featured on the cover.

The Gist:
A vengeful spirit is stalking those who murder children and teens.  She seeks revenge on the one who scorned and killed her hundreds of years ago and moves from city to city seeking out her prey.  On one of these hunts, she encounters Tark, a strange tattooed boy with a dark and sinister force surrounding him.  Through the ghost's eyes, the reader is drawn into Japanese folklore and rituals as Tark and his family try to exorcise the evil that is threatening to escape.


I read this book, cover to cover, in just a few hours.  With an almost three year old and pregnant with my second - it takes a special kind of book to get me that involved.  In fact, it has single-handedly ended by several month long reading slump.  My only regret is that this novel was not scheduled for release in October so that I could have read it on a cool crisp night as autumn began to set in. 

The Girl From The Well had me from the very first page.  The writing is just stunning and the way that she talks about death is incredible.

"I am where dead children go.  With other kinds of dead it is different.  Often their souls drift quietly away, like a leaf caught in the throes of a hidden whirlpool; slipping down without sound, away from sight.  They roll and ebb gently with the tides until they sink beneath the waves and I no longer see where they go - like sputtering candlelight, like little embers that burn briefly and brightly for several drawn moments before all their light goes out."

Okiku is not like these gentle spirits.  She is vengeful and cruel to her victims.  She enjoys torturing those who would hurt children and is very inventive in their manner of punishment.  The opening scene of this novel features just such a death.  It is creepy, suspenseful and very well written.  It was like watching the first moments of a truly terrific horror movie.  One of the aspects that I loved was the idea that the victims of these men were tethered to their murderer.  Forced to follow him as he stalked the next child until Okiku ends his reign of terror and sets them free.  Much like Anna Dressed in Blood (which I LOVED) it was very easy to root for the slightly psychotic ghost who murders people in the most brutal of fashions, which is a pretty fun twist on the conventional ghost story. 

The narrative style is very unique.  We watch through Okiku's eyes and most of the other characters spend most or all of their time being referred to by names like The Stained Man or The Smiling Man.  We only begin to see names for them as they become more important to the plot.  We do not even learn Okiku's name until we are quite a ways into the narrative.  These adds and extra sense of mystery to the novel as we are not only waiting to learn what exactly is plaguing Tark, but also the sad story behind Okiku's fate.  While the narrative style make take some getting used to, the plot features great pacing with lots of scary moments and horrifying interludes.  Even as we travel from the states to Japan, there are both small, creepy, moments that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and those big, intense, scenes that can leaving you reaching to turn on yet another light.

I will fully admit that I know next to nothing about Japanese culture and mythology so, please, correct me if I am wrong but the background here seems very solid and well researched.  I found it very refreshing to read about the folklore of a culture that is so far removed from my own and not just another take on the same old ghost story that I have been reading since childhood.  The one thing I did find a little off-putting is that,once they arrived in Japan, there were a number of Japanese terms that were explained once and then brought up again later.  I could not, for the life of me, remember what those words had meant and I found the plot slowed for me as I tried to remember or sometimes, flip back to locate the meaning.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  I am definitely recommending this one, especially as a Halloween read, and signing on for Chupeco's next book.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Sex: None
Violence: Kidnapping, A number of very violent death scenes.
Inappropriate Language: Fag, Bastard, Bitch, Jesus Christ, Prick, Fuck
Substance Use/Abuse: None