Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blog Tour: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco {Review + Giveaway}

Release date: August 5, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 267
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
The Ring meets The Exorcist in this haunting and lyrical reimagining of the Japanese fable.

Okiku has wandered the world for hundreds of years, setting free the spirits of murdered children. Wherever there’s a monster hurting a child, her spirit is there to deliver punishment. Such is her existence, until the day she discovers a troubled American teenager named Tark and the dangerous demon that writhes beneath his skin, trapped by a series of intricate tattoos. Tark needs to be freed, but there is one problem—if the demon dies, so does its host.

With the vigilante spirit Okiku as his guide, Tark is drawn deep into a dark world of sinister doll rituals and Shinto exorcisms that will take him far from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Japan. Can Okiku protect him from the demon within or will her presence bring more harm? The answer lies in the depths of a long-forgotten well.
The first synopsis I read for The Girl from the Well quoted my favorite poem, promised a high creep factor, and was accompanied by that awesome cover. How could I not be eager to read it? I'm admittedly a horror wimp when it comes to movies, but I have a lot more bravery when it comes to books; in fact, I count horror as one of my favorite subgenres in YA. Sure, The Ring scared the crap out of me, but a book based on the same story promised a great read. While The Girl from the Well features a writing style that's going to off-putting to a lot of people and requires a bit of acclimation, I found the story compulsively readable and fascinating.

As mentioned, the writing is interesting and full of quirks. Okiku is obsessed with counting, so often she'll describe scenes with quantities in parentheses. It's a rather jarring effect, but I thought it was also reminiscent of her thought processes--someone who compulsively counts isn't likely to have a smooth thought process, because she can't really concentrate on what's going on until she knows how many of things are in a room. There are also often points where the lines break up, again forming rather jarring stops and starts, and where the point of view seems to shift from first person to third person without warning. None of this caused me any problems once I got acclimated, but other readers aren't necessarily going to like it.

While I had some vague idea of her story, going into detail about Okiku's fate was heartbreaking and adds a lot of depth to her character and what she does. The retribution she enacts is dark, bloody, and violent (just the way I like it!), but you completely understand why she does it. (I will admit every time I got up from reading to do something I checked to see if Okiku was hanging from my ceiling.) Tark is purely a victim of his birth, a pawn suffering for the decisions of others. At first, he's hard to get a read off of, but he opens up and you see his humor and good nature, even while he's suffering at the hands of a powerful ghost trying to break free. You can't help but admire his bravery and his openness to Okiku.

Though I didn't find myself hiding under my covers at any point, The Girl from the Well is full of disturbing images and darkness. Even so, it's a story with an unflinching ray of hope.

About the author:

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

Now, as part of the blog tour, I get to offer up to one lucky reader a copy of The Girl from the Well! This giveaway is open to US/CAN entries, and will end 9/25. The prize will be shipped by the publisher. What are you waiting for? You know you want this on your shelf!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Love, Lucy by April Lindner {62}

Title: Love, Lucy
Author: April Lindner
Release date: January 27, 2015
While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too. 

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

Italy? Romance? I'm in! :D

So what are you guys waiting on this week? :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil {88}

Title: Get Even
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Release date: September 16, 2014
The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process. 

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

My teaser, from 22% in the egalley:
Kitty's cell phone buzzed. She waited for a stoplight, then checked her incoming text. "Margot says that Bree successfully downloaded his hard drive and deleted the video," she said. "I'd say, phase one accomplished."

Olivia sighed as Kitty rolled up in front of her apartment building, visibly relieved that her role was over. "I'll see you at school tomorrow?"

"Absolutely," Kitty nodded. "Don't get mad."

Olivia smiled. "Get even."
Happy release day to Get Even! I still have yet to read one of Gretchen McNeil's books, but I am quite determined I'll be reading this one. I hear such good things about her! :)

I'll be visiting around and visiting back, so leave me links to your teasers! :) Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini

Release date: September 2, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily's other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.
I'm wary of books about witches, because I think they can often come across as rather cheesy, so I'm selective of what I pick up when the W word is tossed around. Trial By Fire was intriguing because it not only promised witchcraft but also alternate universes and a bit of history thrown into the pile as well. While I had a rather tough start to Trial By Fire, it's an absolutely fascinating read that becomes more and more engrossing as you read.

Trial By Fire started off rocky for me because I didn't like a single character I met in the first couple of chapters, save Juliet, Lily's sister, who only briefly showed up. Lily was so obviously deluded by the attention Tristan was finally giving her that she'd be willing to take just about anything from him as an excuse, Tristan himself felt kind of skeezy, and even the secondary characters did crappy things. How does a book recover from that? Well, Trial By Fire had the perfect solution! Let's switch worlds, where everything is similar but also completely different. It's lucky this switch happened pretty quickly, or I don't know if I could have continued. From the moment Lily is taken into the alternate Salem, I was more interested in the story and characters with each turn of the page, leaving the characters I'd disliked so heartily in the back of my mind.

Quickly, I was overwhelmed by things I loved. The magic in this Salem is just fascinating, very elemental and science-based, which makes it feel very plausible and not magic-like. I loved each and every scene where Lily does magic, because I got a better and better sense of how it worked and was deeply intrigued by the mix of science and old world kinds of practices. Then add the ideas of the shaman and world-walking, the ability to transcend one's body and let your soul venture into other worlds, and there's just so much to take in! This isn't to mention the world's history, which we learn slowly and see how the witches were able to shape the course of history into something that can seem both behind and ahead of our world. Trial By Fire is seriously ripe with world-building and crazy interesting ideas.

While I didn't like how Lily was so bowled over by Tristan in her own world, she quickly redeemed herself once she got to the alternate Salem. She's never had many friends, aside from Tristan, so Lily is a little awkward, but she's got very strong convictions, and even her dire circumstances won't sway her from them. Over and over again she doesn't back down from challenging situations, and she feels the injustice of the world she's been taken into, and she wants to do something about it, not shy away because it technically isn't her problem. And the girl's got humor!

I don't often find my heart beating faster in romantic moments when I'm reading, but Trial By Fire did it. Rowan is one of those characters I instantly took to. Even though he's terribly mean to Lily at first, you can just tell he's got a strong sense of right and wrong, of what's just. He and Lily have a bumpy road to one another, but it's oh so satisfying.

Trial By Fire may have rang my witchy bells, leaving me alert for cheesiness, and started off rough, but it swept away any misgivings quickly and decidedly. The beginning to a new trilogy, I cannot wait to see what new heights this series goes to in the course of the next two books. A genre-bending novel with almost too many interesting ideas, great characters, a touch of surprising humor, and a romance that works so well but that doesn't take over, I wholeheartedly enjoyed Trial By Fire.

About the author:

JOSEPHINE ANGELINI is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in theater, with a focus on the classics. Originally from Massachusetts, she now lives in Los Angeles with her screenwriter husband and three shelter cats. Her debut series, Starcrossed, Dreamless, and Goddess, (Harper Teen) are all international bestsellers and have garnered the praise of various major publications, including the LA Times, and have twice won the Reader’s Choice Awards in Germany. Her next series, Trial by Fire, Book One of the WorldWalker Trilogy (Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan) will be out in the US on September 2nd.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stacking the Shelves {85}

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to share the books we've bought, been gifted, or received for review!

How was everybody's week? Mine's been good! I'm finally getting to work both of my jobs, so that's interesting. I'm doing lots of learning, which leaves me pretty lazy when I get home. I've been SO slow at reading this week! I kind of slogged through The Miniaturist, which wasn't awful, so I'm hoping getting into some fun YA (I still haven't gotten to Heir of Fire!!) will jump start me this week. :) We'll see!

For review:

Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
Blackbird by Anna Carey
Echoes of Us by Kat Zhang

Thank you, thank you to Greenwillow, Swoon Reads, HarperTeen, and Harper for these! :D

A recap of the week here on Paper Cuts:
Monday - Review: Star Cursed (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2) by Jessica Spotswood
Tuesday - Teaser Tuesday: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Thursday - Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Friday - I Went to Disney World!

Books I read this week:
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I'm currently reading:
Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini

So that's been my week! I'm pretty behind on comments, but I have plans to do that this afternoon, along with some general updating all over. I've just been completely uninterested in doing comments after getting home from work, but I had Saturday completely off from everything and got to go out to lunch with my best friend and watch football and Outlander all night so I'm quite relaxed. :D I'll do comments today! :) Have a lovely Sunday and a fabulous week!

Friday, September 12, 2014

I Went to Disney World!

Alright y'all, you asked for it, so now you're getting it! I asked in my Stacking the Shelves post this week if people would be interested in details on my trip to Disney World last week, and I was met with a resounding yes, so here we go! :D I'll admit I didn't take all that many pictures, but my mom did, so it's likely the majority of these are hers (and you will probably be able to tell! She's much better at taking pictures than I am!)

The whole reason we got to go was because my dad was going to a conference held at the Contemporary, so my mom and I simply tagged along. While he was in meetings, my mom and I did the parks. I'll tell y'all, I'm rather intense when it comes to Disney, so it was important that I got to all of the parks and did everything I wanted to do--but we only had three days to do it. My mom has already told me she will not be doing Disney my way again. Hehe. :) Anyways, Tuesday we spent travelling, and got in to Orlando early afternoon. I was excited, but nothing beat the view from our room.

Ignore my messy hair. It had been a long day already. It looked cute when I left home!
We didn't do much Tuesday, but Wednesday my mom and I got up early to be at Animal Kingdom for their Extra Magic Hours (yay for being a resort guest!) opening at 8 a.m. Once there, we immediately did the Kilimanjaro Safari, because we'd been told the animals were out early since it's not as hot--and they were right!

From there, we rode Expedition Everest (of course!) twice, did Festival of the Lion King, rode Kali River Rapids and the Primeval Whirl, and ate at my old work location, Restaurantosaurus. It was the best feeling going back to Resto! I wanted to hop back in the kitchen and make some food, but they've actually changed a lot of the menu, so I wouldn't know how. :)

Feel my excitement!!
After our morning at Animal Kingdom, we hopped on the bus and headed over to Epcot, since we had to pack two parks into one day in order to get everywhere done. Our first duty in Epcot was to get a Mickey Premium Bar. You can't do to Disney without getting one, and gosh, they're good.

Then we did Test Track, which I had heard not-so-great things about the changes they'd made, but I liked it! The track is the same, so the ride feels the same, but they've updated the surrounding to be more high tech, and they let you design a car in the queue, which you then get to see tested alongside their model car for performance. It let the ride be a bit more interactive and up-to-date.

Epcot is actually my least favorite park, so there's little I have to do while I'm there. The biggest thing is Maelstrom, the kitschy ride in Norway. I don't know what it is, but I love that ride. We rode that twice in a row--there's never much of a wait. In reality, there aren't a ton of ride in Epcot anyways, so much of what we did the rest of the day consisted of shopping--with a bit of drinking. My mom and I had wanted to drink around the world, but I had been feeling sick most of the morning (apparently I get motion sick--who knew?) so I didn't drink much aside from a hard cider at the Rose & Crown Pub (delicious! Also, the pub is home to some very cute British bartenders. Just an FYI.) and a sangria in Italy. My mom and I agree, though, that the best country in the World Showcase is France (England is a close second in my mind). They've got some great shops, two more upscale restaurants, an ice cream shop, and a quick-service restaurant--which is really delicious. The ice cream shop is new, actually, and I was not disappointed going in. THEY HAD A MACARON ICE CREAM SANDWICH. I ate it and it was marvelous.

About to ride Maelstrom, the greatest ride ever. According to me--and only me.
We had dinner reservations in Mexico, one pavilion I'd never spent much time in. Don't be like me, though. If you go inside the pyramid thing (I honestly don't know what it's called...), it looks like it's night, and you're in a market. There are little carts, a couple of shops, a little water ride, and a restaurant, the San Angel Inn Restaurante, where we ate.

Thursday was Magic Kingdom day. I had heard about the Magic Kingdom Opening Ceremony, but never gone. So, we went, and I cried. It's one of those lovely little things that makes me remember how much I love Disney, so if you go, make sure to be at Magic Kingdom about 15 minutes before park opening so you can see. :)

We then had breakfast reservations at the Crystal Palace, which is character dining with Winnie the Pooh and friends. I had never done this, but of course it was delightful. Character dining is so fun because you get to eat and just wait for the characters to come for you, which is so much less stressful than waiting in line.

We did everything important in Magic Kingdom (Haunted Mansion, It's a Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, Space Mountain, the Carousel of Progress, the People Mover, etc--some of my important things probably aren't everyone elses!), but the biggest and most important thing of all to me was Be Our Guest. Close behind that was going to Gaston's Tavern and having a LeFou's Brew (delicious!) and meeting Gaston himself (so conceited, but so delightful). Be Our Guest is one of those things that I'd built up in my head to be wonderful, so I was afraid. Nope, no reason to be. It's simply perfect. Disney's eye for detail is always impeccable, and this wasn't different. All of the dining rooms were beautiful, but we sat in the West Wing so I could see the Beast's portrait change and see the rose. We went at lunch, when it's a quick-service restaurant, and the food was delicious and fast! I didn't want to leave.

I honestly don't have a good picture with Gaston because I couldn't stop laughing. He was so perfect.

We'd seen Wishes (MK's fireworks show) from our room the past two nights, but I wanted to see it from the park--because obviously it's made to be seen from the park. I've also seen it countless times before, but that didn't mean I didn't cry.

Friday we did Hollywood Studios. This was a little different because my dad's conference ended at noon on Friday, so he joined us in the park around two. Again, we did all of the important things. (And let me stress, in the course of the morning, we did all the big things. The crowd levels in September are ridiculously low. The longest we waited for any single ride the whole trip was twenty minutes.) I got my requisite turkey leg--because nobody has turkey legs like Disney, or at least I haven't been able to find any. Hollywood Studios also has a lot of Frozen-themed stuff going on, like a show, a parade kind of thing for Anna and Elsa, and Wandering Oaken's Frozen Wonderland--which has ice skating! We didn't do much, aside from poke inside Oaken's Wonderland and eat an Olaf cookie, but it was all very cute.

We ate dinner at the Sci-Fi Drive-In Theater, which is one of my favorite places to eat in all of Disney World. It's made to be like you're outside, sitting in a car at a drive-in theater, and they play clips on a screen of all these movies and cartoons from the sixties. The food is also pretty darn good, and they have great milkshakes and Cherry Coke.

I also recommend you hang out on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards so you can see the Citizens of Hollywood. They come out and do a variety of entertainment all day, but it's always funny and usually very interactive.

From there, we actually went back to Epcot, because my dad hadn't been and we hadn't watched Illuminations, Epcot's fireworks show, yet. I'd actually forgotten how cool Illuminations is, but the combination of the images on the massive globe on the lagoon, the lights stationed all around the World Showcase, and the fireworks is a pretty great one.

Saturday was a travelling day again, but we didn't leave until around one, so we headed over to the Wilderness Lodge and had breakfast at the Whispering Canyon Cafe--another one of my favorite places on property to eat. They do things like bring you gallon jars of soda if you drink yours too quickly or yell out to the restaurant "We need ketchup!" if you ask for ketchup and have every bottle in the dining room brought to your table or put you in jail or simply throw your napkins and straws at you. It's just fun all the way through. Also, you can have milkshakes at breakfast. :)

We ate it.
If you honestly made it this far, I applaud you! I told y'all it'd be long, and it is! I don't mind if you just looked at the pictures. :) But that's pretty much my quick trip to Disney. I wish it had been longer, but we did everything we wanted to do and I was exhausted when I got home. (I also feel like I talked about food a lot. What can I say? Disney food is delicious!)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Release date: August 26, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter
Publisher: Ecco
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
"There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…"

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes' gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.
I completed The Miniaturist with wildly varying thoughts. The idea behind the story and the world of Amsterdam in the 1600s were marvelous, so I entered the book excited about the prospect of this mysterious miniaturist and was immediately entranced by the world surrounding Nella. There are plenty of twists and surprised, but several of these "surprises" come as no surprise at all while others were completely out of the blue. So, while I found certain aspects to be wholly satisfying, others were left wanting. The Miniaturist is a lovely idea and story in many places, yet, somehow, not one that will likely stick with me.

We follow Petronella Brandt, nee Oortman, as she moves into the home of her new husband, Johannes Brandt, who is largely a stranger to her, and as she begins to understand the workings of a prominent family of a large city, coming from a fallen family in the country. From the moment she steps foot into the home, Nella sees there are plenty of goings on she doesn't understand--and may never will. Nella is the perfect narrator for a story such as this one. Both Nella and the reader are wholly unfamiliar with the world she's entering, so we explore together, and her suppositions lead ours, making the surprising revelations all the more surprising. Being eighteen and living a sheltered life, Nella is naive to how her world will change and sometimes her childish reactions are frustrating--but in character. She undergoes a lot of changes throughout the story, and she demonstrates her strength of character--something it doesn't look like she has at the beginning--all through the last chapters, holding a crumbling family together through sheer will and determination. My only qualm with Nella is that her mindset, late in the book, is especially modern and easily come about with, which is hard to believe given the time period and the beliefs of the people at the time. Yes, there will always be exceptions, but Nella is eighteen years old and from a sheltered, poor family of good name in the country--not exactly somewhere that breeds modern thinking.

The Miniaturist promises surprises, and it gives them. I was constantly reforming what I thought based on new information Nella uncovers, and just about everything I thought was wrong. Even so, what should have been the largest (maybe second largest, I don't know) secret to be revealed was easily guessed, at least by me. I had supposed it at least two hundred pages before, so this final act reveal lost much of its potency. A shame, but also not something every reader will guess. Heck, others might guess the most shocking secret of all, but I didn't see it coming whatsoever. However, there are also lots of big questions left unanswered, which is disappointing. Biggest of all, the treatment of the miniaturist is just surprising--and not in a good way. What is such a draw and mystery for the whole book becomes rather mundane and even unappealing.

Needless to say, I'm rather split when it comes to this one. There are some very beautiful passages and ideas put forward, and Amsterdam at this time period is perfectly suited to the story, providing a hint of danger but also a touch of character from the city itself. Nella does go on a great journey, from a wide-eyed teenager with grand ideas about her future to a strong-willed woman who makes tough decisions over the course of just a few months, and she is able to demonstrate how a woman can rise to face her circumstances--something others find they cannot do in the novel. I only wish I could have felt more engaged, more affixed to the characters' fate. I was shocked at moments, but never on the verge of tears, never fully compelled by their stories, even as they dipped into tragedy.

About the author:

Jessie Burton studied at Oxford University and the Central School of Speech and Drama, where she appeared in productions of The House of Bernarda Alba, Othello, Play and Macbeth. In April 2013 her first novel, The Miniaturist, was sold at an 11-publisher auction at the London Book Fair, and went on to sell in 29 other countries around the world. It was published by Picador in the UK and Holland in July 2014, and the USA in August 2014, with other translations to follow. Radio 4 commissioned it as their Book at Bedtime in July 2014. She is currently writing her second novel.