REVIEW: The Suffering by Rin Chupeco

The Suffering

The Girl from the Well #2

author : rin chupeco

pages : [paperback] 272

memorable quote Someone nobler than me might have given Okiku the final peace she deserves.

favorite character : okiku

summary :

Over the last year I’ve gone against faceless women, disfigured spirits, and grotesque revenants. Some people keep dangerous hobbies; skydiving and driving at monster truck rallies and glacier surfing. Me? I cast my soul into the churning waters of potential damnation and wait for a bite.

It’s been two years since Tark Halloway’s nightmare ended. Free from the evil spirit that haunted him all his life, he now aids the ghostly Okiku and avenges the souls of innocent children by hunting down their murderers. But when Okiku becomes responsible for a death at his high school, Tark begins to wonder if they’re no better than the killers they seek out.

When an old friend disappears in Aokigahara, Japan’s infamous ‘suicide forest’, both must resolve their differences and return to that country of secrets to find her.

Because there is a strange village inside Aokigahara, a village people claim does not exist. A village where strange things lie waiting.

A village with old ghosts and an ancient evil – one that may be stronger than even Okiku…

review :

 Okay, I’m not usually one for horror books, but this YA novel and its companion have me hooked. I seriously hope that the author writes more. I don’t think that you necessarily need to read the first book, The Girl from the Well, to enjoy The Suffering, but trust me, you’ll want to read both. Book one gives backstory for Okiku and Tark, how they meet, and sets the precedent for their beautiful little relationship. Book two picks up about a year or two after the first book ends. There are new bad guys to exorcise, ancient evils to fight, and some drama between Okiku and Tark as well.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but the horror movies that often scare me the most are the ones with ghosts like Okiku. Just the idea of them is . . . well, there’s a reason why people make so much money scaring the pants off of viewers with ghosts like that. But Okiku is on, like, a whole other level. I love her so much more than I’ve loved any other character in a while. Much more than Tark (okay, he’s cool too, but OKIKU). I could read a whole series just about how her mind works. And I think it’s so awesome how a character who’d be the antagonist in practically any other horror novel is actually the ghost kicking bad guy booty in The Suffering. Okiku experienced terrible things before she was killed; now it’s her life’s goal to avenge other victims and rid the world of murderers. Tark joins her in this, which is why he is also awesome.

Sorry. Enough fangirling. The Suffering has a creepy setting that I feel like a lot of people have heard about lately, either through social media, movies coming out about it, or just articles online. Aokigahara is a place I might enter if I had Okiku by my side, but . . . see above for what my worst fears in horror movies are and imagine an enter forest filled with them. In this book, it’s speculated as to whether the forest draws in lost or lonely souls and that’s what leads so many to commit suicide there. It’s terribly devastating that a place like this exists in real life. In the book, a ghost hunting crew from a TV show thinks it would be a great idea to head into the forest to film Aokigahara and an ancient village inside that may or may not have ever existed. I can totally picture this happening in real life. And of course, the ‘ghost hunters’ are NOT prepared to meet any real ghosts. But that’s their own fault.

I don’t want to give any of the plot away but it’s incredibly detailed and creepy and sad. Most of the ghosts that are around in these books never deserved to die and were nothing in life like they are as spirits. Tark needs to figure out how to pacify the spirits, save everyone lost in Aokigarhara, and make it out alive. You won’t want to put this book down because there are so many twists and turns, you’ll never see this ending coming.

I loved this book so much and want everyone to give it a chance! I feel like even people who don’t often like horror might like to give this book a chance. It’s a real twist on everything you might expect to get out of a book like this.

5/5 stars

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle

Rebel Belle #1

Pages : [hardcover] 345

memorable quote I picked up the nearest weapon I could lay my hands on: a stapler. I lifted it, going for “menacing.” I admit it lacked a certain elegance, but hey. It was worth a shot.

favorite character : harper

summary :

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

review :

I have to admit that this book completely surprised me and blew me away. Ten pages in, I was ready to give up. Fifteen in and I just couldn’t put it down! Rebel Belle is like Legally Blonde meets Star Wars meets Greek mythology. If that can’t convince you to try this then I don’t know what would!

Rachel Hawkins is an author I’ve been meaning to try out for a while and after reading this I think I’ve fallen in love with her writing style. How an author writes is a huge point in how much I’m going to enjoy their books and I have a feeling I’m going to gobble up everything she’s written up to this point, immediately.

This book contains some of the best characters I’ve read about in a while. I didn’t care for Harper and David’s hate relationship at the beginning (seems to be based on . . nothing?) but they were interesting as individuals. Originally, I disliked Harper. She wasn’t my kind of girl. But then she kind of turned badass. She’s extremely loyal to her friends, wants to do well by her parents, and basically tries to be nice to everyone even when she knows that they’re being rude to her face. I was misjudging her, the same way most of the people in the book seem to get the wrong idea about her. David was an eccentric nerd, as I’d expected, but (surprise!) he had depth to him and that was awesome.

And the plot. Surprisingly unpredictable, even when it . . . is. Hear me out: The characters themselves recognize where the big showdown/finale is going to happen. Harper and the other rich, frivolously Southern girls in school are preparing for Cotillion both before and after Harper gets her Paladin powers. And everyone recognizes that the bad guys are big fans of obnoxious gestures of power so they know they’re going to save their worst until Cotillion night. It’s the kind of build-up you can always see coming in books and these characters actually acknowledged it themselves and appropriately prepared for the moment and still managed to make it exciting and action-packed.

I would recommend this book to anyone. If you start reading it and don’t think it’s for you, don’t worry–just keep on reading and soon you won’t be able to put it down until you’re finished! And then you’ll immediately reach for book two, like I did.

5/5 stars

World-Building: 85%
Writing: 97%
Action: 100%
Characters: 95%
Plot: 97%
Overall: 94.8%

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Challenger Deep 

author : neal shusterman

pages : [hardcover] 320

favorite character : caden

summary :

Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence, to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today’s most admired writers for teens.

review :

Neal Shusterman’s Challenger Deep is everything I wanted in a book and more. To be honest, when I requested it I didn’t know much about the premise. That’s how deeply I trust Shusterman as an author: I know that whatever he writes, whatever the genre, his writing will be so wonderful that I’ll be sure to enjoy it. This latest novel is no exception and is as emotionally packed–and draining–as his other books I’ve read.

Challenger Deep is more grounded in reality than other books I’ve enjoyed by him, like the Skinjacker trilogy and Unwind dystology. And yet, because Caden can no longer tell the difference between what is real and what is only in his head, this book ended up feeling more surreal than actual fantasy books. I think that Shusterman did a fantastic job in writing about mental illness. Though I’ve never experienced something like this myself, I was touched even more when I found out that he’d based his characters around the real-life experiences people close to him have had. WhileI didn’t think he’d approach such a topic lightly, it was another blow to think that a situation like this isn’t just a great story to some people. Instead it’s a depiction of the daily struggle they go through.

To me, mental illness can seem more terrifying than any sea monster or treacherous ship captain. It’s something most people prefer not to speak of and there are so many stigmas attached to labels of illness. Shusterman wrote about that, too. There were so many major issues that he managed to thread into this novel without throwing his messages in the reader’s face, which I think is yet another thing that made this novel so beautiful.

It’s one that I’m definitely going to reread and I need to buy a physical copy of it to add to my collection. I think anyone could learn something from Challenger Deep–and enjoy reading it while they’re at it. Even though it can get dark, there’s Caden’s humor to light the way, and you’ll find yourself rooting for him through every step.

5/5 stars

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You’ve Been Gone

author : morgan matson

pages : [hardcover] 449

memorable quote I somehow knew that the particulars didn’t matter. She was my heart, she was half of me, and nothing, certainly not a few measly hundred miles, was ever going to change that.

favorite character : frank

summary :

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.

But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend.

Apple Picking at Night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a Stranger? Um…

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Wait … what?

review :

I was really looking forward to this novel not only because I’ve heard great things about it but also because I had the privilege to meet Morgan Matson at BookCon last May! She was so sweet and inviting that I knew I had to give her work a try. While I really did enjoy reading this novel and will definitely pick up more of her work, to me this was more of a feel-good read than an all=time favorite.

Since You’ve Been Gone is filled with many convenient coincidences which make the novel quirky and interesting. Honestly, if I only had one friend and she abandoned me spontaneously, not only would I be too depressed by that but I know I’d end up spending that summer alone because people who’ve known me my entire life but never paid any attention to me wouldn’t spontaneously become my best friends. And I know that’s because I’m a shy person and don’t go outside of my element. But Emily’s whole characterization is based around her shyness and unwillingness to go outside of herself more than she absolutely has to, or unless there’s an extrovert like Sloane around to draw her out of her shell. Honestly, most of the time Emily didn’t seem shy to me at all, just a little awkward and very afraid of horses.

The romance was sweet. At first I didn’t think I was going to like it at all but in the end it really grew on me. I think it was well-done, and wasn’t pushed to the forefront of the story which was really refreshing to see in a YA contemporary novel. The bulk of the story was about Sloan and Emily, like it should have been, and it was great to read about their friendship–even though if someone pulled a Sloan and up and left on me I’m not sure I’d take it as well as Emily did.

If you like YA books that are summer-y, full of fun adventures, and are a quick read, this is definitely a book for you. It’s a good story with some heart thrown into it and this will definitely keep your interest while you read it. While it might not be the best book you’ve read, it’s a good book to reach for when you’re feeling low, are on vacation, or need a break between emotionally draining novels.

3/5 stars

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight

Throne of Glass #2

Book 1: Throne of Glass

author : sarah j. maas

pages : [hardcover] 420

memorable quote I worry because I care. Gods help me, I know I shouldn’t, but I do. So I will always tell you to be careful, because I will always care what happens.

favorite character : chaol

summary :

“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie…and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

review :

While I wasn’t in love with Throne of Glass, I was excited to read the sequel–and I think that I liked this second book more than the first! Crown of Midnight focuses more on the action and adventure than the romance between characters, which was all that I wanted. Even though I’m sure that there’s much more to come, and I have my predictions made about what will happen next, there were some surprises in this book that I just didn’t see coming.

On the other hand, unfortunately, I think one of the big reveals in this book was something I’d seen coming since the middle of book one. I’m not sure if readers were supposed to pick up on the subtle hints about it or not so for me, the ending kind of fell short of amazing. I’d really like to hear about what other people thought about the conclusion and if they were surprised by what was revealed there!

While there wasn’t so much focus on the love triangle, I was disappointed because we still didn’t learn much more about Chaol or Dorian outside of their undoubtedly undying affections for Celeana. They never really seem to fixate on anything but her which, I guess, is understandable, but also annoying when they have so much more potential! It’s the captain of the guard and the crown prince–how much more potential could you have? They both have backstories that could be learned, or other duties that they could  be performing. Their lives shouldn’t revolve around Celeana, should they? It wouldn’t be safe for the kingdom.

I’m definitely going to read book three in hopes that this series only keeps going upward for me. I still think that there’s so much that can be fleshed out and told so I’m excited to see what Maas decides to do with her characters and story. I’m still uneasy about what may come and at the moment it isn’t a favorite series of mine, even though it’s fun to read. It’s something that I’ll recommend to friends–if only to show them how much of a fun, badass main character Celeana is!

4/5 stars

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

*** Do NOT read this review if you haven’t started the Heroes of Olympus series! It won’t spoil The Blood of Olympus, but the summary may spoil the previous books in the series! Go read them and then come back to tell me what you think!***

The Blood of Olympus

The Heroes of Olympus #5

Book 1: The Lost Hero
Book 2: The Son of Neptune
Book 3: The Mark of Athena
Book 4: The House of Hades

author : rick riordan

pages : [hardcover] 516

memorable quote :
“Like your zodiac sign?” Percy asked. “I’m a Leo.”
“No, stupid,” Leo said. “I’m a Leo. You’re a Percy.”

favorite characters : percy & annabeth

summary :

Though the Greek and Roman crew members of theArgo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it “might” be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

review :

I am so incredibly sad knowing that this is the final book in The Heroes of Olympus series. Not because of how it was executed (I’ve heard that some people are very disappointed, but I loved how it came out) but because it means I need to say goodbye to Percy and the gang. I’m not quite ready for that yet, after reading this and the previous Percy Jackson series, for years, so I’m going to keep living in denial.

The Blood of Olympus is our big finale, though it made me so mad that the demigod who started it all, Percy, doesn’t get even one chapter from his point of view. Sure, there’s plenty of his sass and bad jokes shown from other people’s perspectives, but I miss hearing Percy speak for himself. This was one of my only pet peeves with this book.

The other is that it seemed rushed. I don’t know if more should have been put into other books to make this one go more smoothly or if there should have been a sixth book just so major events could be given more time in the novel. I felt like gigantic things we’ve been waiting forever to see and hear about were just casually mentioned and didn’t hold as much significance as they should have in the book.

But onto the good things! I loved seeing how much the characters have developed, especially ones like Percy, Annabeth, and Nico, because we can compare them to when they were even younger and more inexperienced. This is the book that really made me like Nico a lot; before I don’t think I really understood why everyone was so fascinated by him. When he got to have his own quest off with Reyna and had plenty of chapters to speak for himself, I started to respect and like him a lot more.

And the new characters–I loved them, too. Honestly, most of them are on the same level for me (apart from Leo. I could hear from Leo all day!) but I liked all of them for different reasons. Most of all, I loved seeing some of them grow more confident, some of them be humbled, and others come into powers they’d never even known they could have. They were just so interesting to read about!

I’m going to hold this series in my heart for a very long time and I think I’ll be recommending it forever. It’s a set of books that any age could enjoy–there’s adventure, romance, suspense, action, danger, and death. Basically, anything you could want (or love to hate) about a series, wrapped into one. With plenty of sarcastic commentary along the way.

5/5 stars


The Jewel by Amy Ewing


The Jewel

author : amy ewing

pages : [hardcover] 358

favorite character : raven

memorable quote : “Hope is a precious thing, isn’t it,” she says. “And yet, we don’t really appreciate it until it’s gone.”

summary :

he Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

review :

I really enjoyed the first half of this novel and was entertained but disappointed with the second half. Amy Ewing creates an interesting environment in The Jewel, where it appears that the entire world is a city  surrounded by the sea and separated into different layers that denote a person’s class. At the heart of the city is the Jewel, where all of the rich people live and where Violet is trapped as a surrogate years after they discover she has the magical abilities that are necessary for surrogates to have. She was put up for auction, stripped of her name, and told to forget about her past.

I did enjoy reading about Violet, for the most part. She struggled to remember her family and wants nothing more than to return to them. She hates the system, obviously, but isn’t trying to take it down so much as she’s hoping she can slip through it and return to the life which was stolen from her. I liked her little rebellions, even when they weren’t the smartest choices. It showed that Violet was still in there, even though potential escape seemed hopeless.

As soon as the love interest was introduced (surprisingly late into the book), she turned into someone I didn’t like. While I understand that both she and the interest have had limited, restrictive lives, so perhaps that’s why there was so much immediate attraction . . . He becomes all that Violet can think about. She’s no longer worrying about her family or herself; she’s only dreaming about his eyes and risking everything in silly ways. She could have still had the romance without being so ridiculous about it, which was frustrating to me and ended up making me severely dislike the latter half of the book.

Some of the twists were very predictable but I’m still interested in seeing what happens with this series next. While I won’t be purchasing the next book, I will be reading it and hoping that these books will redeem themselves. Even though plots of this type have become overdone, I can see the areas where Ewing has the chance to prove herself as an author and really hope that she’ll be able to pull it off.

3.5/5 stars