Giveaway + Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

28 Jul

The Girl from the Well

release date : August 5

author : rin chupeco

about the author Rin Chupeco: Despite uncanny resemblances to Japanese revenants, Rin Chupeco has always maintained her sense of humor. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. She’s been a technical writer and travel blogger, but now makes things up for a living. The Girl from the Well is her debut novel. Connect with Rin at www.rinchupeco.com.

pages : [hardcover] 272

favorite character : okiku

summary :

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.

review :

I have a love/hate relationship with scary stories. I’m absolutely captivated by them during the day, when I’m reading them. Then at night I’m haunted by what I’ve read and the creatures that I can conjure up in my mind. That’s part of what made The Girl from the Well so terrifying for me; every portion of this horror story is so well-told that I could perfectly picture the spirits as well as the gruesome acts that occur within these pages. This book is not for the faint of heart; it isn’t like a horror movie where you can look away when things escalate. No, you won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the page once the truly creepy events of the book start.

From the very beginning I wasn’t sure of what to think of Okiku. We’ve all been taught by books and horror movies that terrifying-looking ghosts are out to get you, but what if there was one that was only out to avenge those who, like her, had been murdered? I’ve never read a story where the ghost is portrayed as a kind of murderous heroine. I loved reading on to find out more about the ghost’s past, especially because as a reader we witness firsthand her vengeance. Even knowing that it is a child killer being hunted doesn’t make the entire experience less shocking.

What I also found interesting was that a select few people in the world had the ability to see beings like Okiku. Depending on how old they are or where they originated, these people have different reactions to her. Through these encounters we also get to learn more about our narrator. Although she speaks in first person, she doesn’t willingly say much about herself and has been dead for so long that it’s obvious she’s lost a lot of what had made her human. She hardly understands people anymore and it’s worse because her appearance frightens those who can see her, even if she is not hunting them.

Even if this book did scare me and maybe kept me up for a few nights, I’ll forgive it because it had such an interesting storytelling structure, great characters, and I absolutely loved the ending. Sometimes when it comes to horror stories I feel like the end can only go one of two ways and The Girl from the Well chose neither option. The ending really surprised me but left me satisfied. That’s something that I tend to worry about when it comes to horror but my worries didn’t come true!

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a frightening story to keep them up at night.

4/5 stars

This book was amazing, so don’t you want a copy of your own? Enter to win a finished copy of The Girl from the Well! Click the Rafflecopter link below.

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Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear Shecter

27 Jul

 

Curses and Smoke

author : vicky alvear shecter

pages : [hardcover] 336

favorite character : castor

summary :

When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?

TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master’s injured gladiators. But his warrior’s heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.

LUCIA is the daughter of Tag’s owner, doomed by her father’s greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she’s been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air. . . .

When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them — to Lucia’s father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?

review :

This book was amazing!

First of all, I’ve always been fascinated by Pompeii, and I think that it all started when I read a Magic Tree House book about the subject (actually, I think that series taught me a whole lot more than I realized. I’ve really wanted to read more historical fiction and usually the books I tend to reach for are centered around WWII. This is such a huge and lovely difference because I don’t think I’ve ever seen another YA book quite like this. To be honest, I came into Curses and Smoke with a specific set of expectations, thinking that I’d be let down. The last few books I’d read weren’t so wonderful and some YA books seem to follow a set pattern that leaves me disappointed.

But Curses and Smoke truly took every thought that I’d had about the characters and plot and turned it upside-down. Not immediately in the beginning of the novel but gradually, leaving me clamoring for more.

Lucia is one of the two narrators of the novel and I definitely felt sorry for her. Some part of me is always pained whenever I read about past societies in which females had no choice in their lives and weren’t treated as equals. Lucia was also because she was a bookworm and scholar, creating her own theories about nature even though men would think her silly. Even better? She was so much smarter than the men mocking her! For a pampered rich woman, she was also extremely strong.

Tag was so easy to love. I empathized with him from the start. I also love how his opening scenes paint a picture of what his character might do for the rest of the novel. Yet there are several twists that affect his life, that I didn’t see coming, that change what you’ve been led to believe will happen with him. But his relationship with Castor (or maybe just the little boy himself) was my favorite. That was where a lot of the heart I felt in this book originated.

Something I loved about the novel but that also made me very emotional was the fact that I’ve read about Pompeii and know a little about some of the victims that were found as well what has been hypothesized about some of the deceased. Throughout the novel I would find a character who reminded me of stories I’ve heard about Pompeii and then I went through the whole book, anxious to see if the fate matched what I thought would happen.

I never expected to get so much out of this novel because everyone already knows how it will end. There’s a countdown throughout the entirety of the book. But there’s a twist to that in itself because you’re hurrying through the book to read about the volcano and then you’re forced to slow down and take in the total destruction and chaos. I think it was wonderfully down and well-written; I’m going to read more by this author as soon as possible.

5/5 stars

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

26 Jul

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

author : jesse andrews

pages : [hardcover] 295

memorable quote : If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I do not blame you.

favorite character : greg

summary :

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

review :

If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I do not blame you.

I’ve heard really good things about this book so when I saw it for a bargain price I couldn’t resist grabbing it! Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is not your typical YA novel that deals with cancer. It’s a very realistic snapshot of Greg’s life; it doesn’t revolve around any one specific thing in the novel. Instead it’s complex and the reader is taken through what he feels is important to document. You get out of it what you want.

What’s really unique about this book is that it’s told by Greg, who’s consciously writing a book. In fact, several times throughout he complains about the writing process or how terrible he believes the novel will turn out. For example, the quote above appears in the thick of the book. While Greg’s sense of humor is definitely not for everyone, I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t laughing out loud throughout the whole book but there were a few moments that really got to me. I was amused for most of the novel, however, and think that this is something I can reread and still laugh over.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about the book was how it took my expectations, that typically come when I read books in the YA genre. Being reminded of what wasn’t going to happen, by Greg, was a little distracting and pulled away from my enjoyment because I began to wonder if Jesse Andrews had made some decisions in this novel to purposefully distinguish it from other books about cancer, not because he was artistically inclined to do so. Obviously this didn’t affect me enough to make me dislike the book completely; it was still a solid novel.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a quick, unique read. At two hundred-something pages, you can fly through this book. There’s another unique attribute that helps with that: Some of the pages are written in the form of a film script, as Greg is an aspiring director. Not only is it told humorously in this format, I thought it was a great addition to the novel because it showed another facet of Greg’s personality.

I look forward to reading more by this author.

4/5 stars

Favorite Book Friday: Vanessa from A City Girl’s Guide to Life

25 Jul

favorite book friday

Hello everyone! Today I’m delighted to have Vanessa on the blog! She’s going to share a great book that you can pick up when you have free time to read this summer.

~  ~  ~

Hello lovely readers of Caught Between The Pages!

I’m Vanessa & I blog over at A City Girl’s Guide To Life. My blog is a collection of tips & lessons I’ve curated from my adventures living, playing & working in the city (along with some other lovely people, places & things I fall in love with along the way). I’d like to thank Kayla for having me guest post today and to share with you my new favorite book.

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Summer (book) lovin’, happened so fast… (Photo credit.)

Keep reading for one of the most warm, thought-provoking & relatable books you’ll read all summer.

I’ve yet to meet a person who didn’t like P.S. I Love You. I have yet to read the book, but after hearing that the author of one of my most favorite motion pictures of all time was a whimsical, heartwarming international bestseller, I couldn’t resist picking up The Time of My Life by Cecilia Ahern.

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The Time of My Life (Photo credit.)

The book is a “sweet moral tale” that is both magical and natural. I found myself laughing on the train, touched (while serving jury duty) & motivated at coffee shops all from this little book. Set in modern-day Ireland, we meet our main character (and new best friend,) Lucy Silchester who is seriously neglecting her Life. We meet this Life in a similar fashion that Lucy does; abruptly, inconveniently and somewhat obnoxiously, even though he is just trying to help. (Oh, I’m sorry, did you expect your life to be a “she”?!” Please allow me to warn you that is not the only wonderful surprise you’ll come across.)

In the beginning, Lucy  is more like me than I would like. At the end, she and I have mutual agreement that our lives our pretty fantastic, even when they’re not perfect…and we know that we need to be accepting and accountable for the decisions we make. (That’s what being a real grown-up is, after all.)

What started out as a library book became a birthday wish list item and thanks to my lovely sister, I now have a copy of my very own to highlight, dog-ear & love until the pages start to separate from the binding.

Summary:

Lucy Silchester has an appointment with her life – and she’s going to have to keep it.

Lying on Lucy Silchester’s carpet one day when she returns from work is a gold envelope. Inside is an invitation – to a meeting with Life. Her life. It turns out she’s been ignoring it and it needs to meet with her face to face.

It sounds peculiar, but Lucy’s read about this in a magazine. Anyway, she can’t make the date: she’s much too busy despising her job, skipping out on her friends and avoiding her family.

Escape (responsibly) with this summer read you won’t be able to put it down whether you’re at the beach, in the mountains or at your desk. Sorry I’m not sorry that you’ll probably consider neglecting some parts of your life when you get your hands on this book but take my advice and enjoy your life. This book with be ready and waiting for you with open arms when you get back. (And maybe there will be a movie soon?!)

vanessa3

What I learned: Get lost but learn how to find yourself. (Photo credit.)

For more on my fitness tips, summer beauty fixes & “Friday Favorites”, check me out on Foursquare, Instagram & Pinterest!

xo, Vanessa

P.S. I love YOU for reading! I’m up for Best Fashion Blogger in Boston. Care to help me by voting?

~  ~  ~

Thanks so much Vanessa! I absolutely love P.S. I Love You but haven’t read the book yet! It’s awesome to hear that she’s written something else that is amazing. Maybe this will be the first of hers that I’ll pick up!

Can’t get enough? Check out past FBFs:

~Tiffany from Commoner Couture

~Alaska from Alaska Renee

~Leah from Leah of the Pack

Want to join in the fun? Email me at caughtbetweenthepagesblog at gmail dot com so that we can schedule your own favorite book post!

Wicked Wildfire Read-a-thon: Conclusion!

25 Jul

And finally I can breathe (or read?) a little easier now that the read-a-thon has reached its wonderful conclusion! This was so much fun. I typically only do a read-a-thon during winter break and find out about others throughout the year too late to join. Even though I was unfortunately busy during both twitter chats (of course, the only two days this week I had plans!!) this was fun. Really. Anyone who’s been sitting on the sidelines, imagining that forcing yourself to read will only be a chore, should heavily consider joining this or another read-a-thon. Not only will you get through a few books on your TBR, you might find a new favorite read or connect with a few new bookish friends also powering through their books.

From July 14-24 I read:

I think that six books is pretty great! It was so much fun to see what I’d be tempted to read next and obviously there’s a diverse amount of books here. A retelling of the Nutcracker, two historical fiction novels from VERY different time periods, two contemporary novels that deal with death in VERY different ways, and one unexpected horror book.

I can’t wait to join this read-a-thon again and would like to thank My Shelf Confessions for hosting! It was wonderful. :)

What have you read lately?

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

21 Jul

Saving June

author : hannah harrington

pages : [paperback] 336

memorable quote He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that’s what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you.

summary :

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one — so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going — California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down — again.

review :

This book has some heavy material in it, though it’s dealt with through the more light-hearted feel of a roadtrip. June commits suicide before the book begins; Harper decides that the best way for her to honor her sister’s memory would be taking a roadtrip to California so that she could scatter June’s ashes. Otherwise the remains will end up split between her divorced parents, a decision which obviously disagrees with Harper.

What I really liked about this book was how it didn’t make any excuses for June and we never get a full understanding of why she decided to take her own life. Survivors often find it hard to comprehend the mindset that brings people to commit suicide and from the outside, June’s life appeared to be normal and fine. In fact, Harper continuously speaks about how much better her sister’s life was than her own. She finds it hard to understand, then, why she is the one who is “better at living”, as it’s phrased in the book.

While I wouldn’t say that this book is perfect, I will say it’s a good read that takes a terrible act and allows the characters left behind to deal with the aftermath. At times it felt like there were too many characters in the novel, leaving many of them not as fully fleshed out as they could have been. I would have really loved to have seen more flashbacks of June or stories of her told from the perspective of different characters.

Of course, there is a love interest in this YA novel. At times it felt very wrong. Why would Harper concern herself with romance when she’s busy trying to grieve and scatter her sister’s ashes? At other points it made complete sense, as I could see how Harper was running from all of her problems and trying to escape the truth of June’s death. I wish that this had been more consistent throughout the book. Another problem that I had with this: The summary set me up for some terrible secret to be revealed by Jake, though it really wasn’t as bad as I’d assumed it was. It was a little bit of a letdown.

If you’re looking for a quick read that has sad elements, quirky scenes, and a touching message behind it all, this is the book for you. It wasn’t perfect but I enjoyed reading Saving June.

3.5/5 stars

Wicked Wildfire Read-a-Thon Update #1

20 Jul

Hello everyone!

The Wicked Wildfire Read-a-Thon is going strong! Only four days left. I’ve managed to finish three books thus far:

   

Only one is a book that I thought I’d end up reading; the others were also from my TBR pile!

These are the ratings I think I’ll give these books:

Winterspell – 3.5/5 stars

Saving June – 3/5 stars

Me and Earl and the Dying girl – 4/5 stars

I just started reading:

It’s been on my TBR FOREVER and I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet. I haven’t heard much about it but it’s a short book so I think I’ll be able to get through it quickly!

What are you reading now?

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