Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco


The Girl from the Well
by Rin Chupeco

Synopsis:
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.


(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: The Girl from the Well #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date:  August 5th 2014
Source/Format: Bought/eBook
Purchase links: Amazon Barnes&Noble


My Thoughts:

The titular “The Girl from the Well” is Okiku. Her character is loosely based on Banchō Sarayashiki , a popular Japanese ghost story. She is also the narrator of the story. Having Okiku as the storyteller is the key to the book’s allure. She does not tell us what her name is until later. I guess when you are a three-hundred year old ghost girl, having a name is just a trivial thing. Her centuries of existence (or non-existence?) is apparent in her seemingly formal and metaphorical narration. She has her quirks. She gurgles. She is obsessed with counting but particularly dislikes the number nine. She alters talking in first person point of view and to referring to herself in third person. And like the incorporeal being that she is, she shifts seamlessly from one mood to another: from a sense of serene state to an outburst of rage.
"Fireflies.
Fire
flies.
Fire, fly."
The story’s focus is the relationship between Okiku and Tark, a fifteen-year old boy with strange tattoos. Tark’s character has his own charms as well. He is aloof and mostly keeps to himself but those are just his defense mechanisms. The real Tark is caring and a smartass goofball. Let me be clear, there is no unnecessary romance here between human and ghost. We just get invested into these charming characters and dive into the pages wanting to know more about things. Why is Okiku drawn to Tark? What’s up with those strange tattoos? And on the sides, there are these delicious merciless murders courtesy of our resident vengeful spirit.



“The Girl from the Well” is haunting but has a heart-warming ending. I swear, haunting AS IN even after days of reading the book, an image of Okiku or the ghosts of the dead children or the black lady will pop in my head and give me the goosies. But ultimately, it’s a story about sacrifices and selflessness. According to Goodreads, this is a first book of a duology but you can totally read it on its own. The plot is pretty tied up in the ending.


Diversity Watch:
Tark is biracial. His dad is American and his mom is Japanese. He is described as having blue eyes and straight black hair.

There are Japanese shrine maidens: Kagura, Machika, Saya, Amaya. And some other fodder for murder Japanese side characters.

Diverse race of ghosts: “There are faces of redheads and blondes and brunettes, of Japanese and American and French, African and Indian and Greek.”


My Rating:


Stacking the Shelves (STS#9)

Image: Kaboompics

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's all about sharing the books added to our shelves, may it be physical or virtual.


I might have went overboard with book buying because that's what we do, right? In all fairness with me, most of these are e-book deals. Below are my most recent purchases. Clicking the cover images will lead to Goodreads.

Bought:


interim goddess 01

interim goddess 02

interim goddess 03


breakup anniv

hometown hazard

cocoy became kikay


keep the faith

love that split

prob with forever


illuminae

air awakens

alchemists of loom


neverwhere

liars inc

From Netgalley:


So that's my latest bookhaul. I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to read all of these. If you have any of the books above that you want to buddy read with me, I'm game. Just holler at the comments below and I'll get in touch with you. You may also link your latest book haul as well so I may take a peek. Happy reading! :)

Wandering Thoughts: This Is Me Talking Myself Out of Writing Mean Reviews

Image: Kaboompics

Wandering Thoughts is where I let my mind stray, think and talk about non-routine things. This is an avenue for bookish personal stories, fun posts, musings and discussions.


It’s the end of a long day. You are really looking forward to some nice and quiet reading. You get yourself some snacks and drinks then settle on your favorite reading nook. You pick up a book that you’ve been wanting to check out and expects to have a good time. Plot twist: you did not have a good time. The book is bad, in ways you couldn’t have imagined possible. The plot is slow and the characters are dry. Halfway through, your brain is screaming for you to stop and just drop the book. But you  trudged on thinking that it can get better. Of course the universe is cruel because the book didn’t get better. Upon finishing the whole thing and turning the last page, your initial reaction is mild irritation. And then you remembered how excited you were looking forward to reading it and then it turned out to be garbage. You felt betrayed. You want to cry. And then you realized you lost something you will never get back: precious reading time. Plus the book cost you money. You wanna pull out your hair in frustration. Your blood vessels are bulging and your heart is pounding fast to keep up with the build up of negative emotions inside. Whatever happened to bibliotherapy, right?


This is your fault. Out of all the books in your TBR pile, why did you choose this one in the first place? Then when there is nothing happening on the pages, your brain told you to DNF it but you did not listen. Maybe you are just plain stupid. NO YOU’RE NOT! THAT’S HORRIBLE! How could you say that to yourself? How could you have ever known beforehand that you will not like this book? You love reading this genre. You saw positive reviews of this book in Goodreads. You are not in the wrong from expecting that this book is the bomb. I get it now, yes! Maybe the good reviews you saw are all lies. And the truth is that this thing you are holding is misery incarnated in the form of a book. It ruins every thing. You should burn it and blame its author for the damaged it caused you. This book made you hate reading. You will not recover from this trauma. For sure you will spend all your remaining days in a reading slump.


Someone should take responsibility for this. What’s the best way to take revenge? Ah perfect, you should write the meanest of mean reviews. A mean review that will make them feel your pain and aggravation. Oh good, make it intense and in shouty caps. Tell the author all the hurtful words like “IMBECILE”, “IGNORANT”, and “YOU KNOW NOTHING!” Don’t forget to sprinkle expletives to get your point across. Lash out like your life depended on it. Type all your dissatisfaction away and be the keyboard warrior you are always destined to be.


Congratulations, self! You have launched a personal vendetta on the book and it’s author who cause you pain. Don’t forget to look down on the readers who liked the book because they are tasteless and have no right to their own reading preferences. Go extra and attack the publisher for allowing such a despicable book on the shelves. Maybe you should rally the reading community to boycott the book. Go on social media and propagate hate. Really classy, Regina George of book blogging! Is this what you really want? Why don’t you back up a little bit before hitting that publish button? Would you really feel happy doing all these things in anger? Is the world a better place after you’ve spewed all those mean things in the open? Is there no other way of doing this without being a bully? You know you are better than that. Let your boiling anger simmer. Allow yourself to rein in your emotions. It’s true that this book hurt you but you are in-charge of how you will react. Take deep breaths and just straight-up say what’s wrong with the book then backspace on all the unnecessary sass and snark. Even if your review is negative, you may still say it kindly. Choose to review through constructive criticisms instead of derogatory remarks. Repeat after me: honest but kind. Make this your book reviewing mantra. And from now on, just as how you proofread your reviews for grammar, typo errors and spelling mistakes, make it a point to also weed out the rude words. Remember: HONEST BUT KIND.

Review: A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck



A Short History of the Girl Next Door
by Jared Reck

Synopsis:
The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him. 

Humorous and heart-wrenching, A Short History of the Girl Next Door is perfect for readers who fell in love with All the Bright Places' Finch or Stargirl’s Leo.


(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Expected Publication date:  September 26th 2017
Source/Format: eARC via Netgalley
Pre-order links: Amazon Barnes&Noble | Indiebound


My Thoughts:

Matt Wainwright wants two things more than ever in his life: 1) for Tabby to see her as more than a friend and 2) to play varsity basketball next year. He is a quiet type but beneath the surface is a mind with a lot of things going on. What he can’t express verbally, he makes into small movies in his head. Like instead of telling her life-long and next-door bestfriend, Tabby, that he has a crush on her, Matt simply slips into romantic-movie mode and fantasizes that she is harboring the same feelings for him. Meanwhile in Reality Land, Tabby starts dating Liam: senior, popular, varsity player, all around nice guy. Matt still says nothing about his feelings but adjusts his script and role in his movie as the best friend in an unrequited love. Stupid Matt. At least he thinks he still has his other dream going for him. He trains passionately hard for it: shooting daily hoops in their driveway, practicing with his other bestfriend Trip and diligently attending JV training. All these hard work, with bits of imaginations in his mind on how good he must look sweating, like the athletes in power drink commercials.

The Goodreads blurb does not lie when it says “A Short History of the Girl Next Door” is both humorous and heart-wrenching. Humorous because obviously of how Matt’s mind works: he vaguely gives a vibe of a more tame and pure Greg Gaines from “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”.  Matt has even his own Earl in the form of his other bestfriend, Trip. As for the heart-wrenching bit, I will not tell anything about it to avoid spoiling the book. Just trust me that indeed it is and there were unexpected tears involved on my part.

The book is basically Matt’s coming of age story and that I think is young adult genre in its purest form. I like it when the book depicts Matt in awkward fifteen year old situations because he is definitely not a child anymore but not an adult neither. Like when he can’t drive on his own yet so he has to take the school bus. Or when he was forced to go trick or treating by his mom in full bald eagle mama costume to match his younger brother baby bald eagle chick costume. Matt’s conflict is not really focused on him winning Tabby over (he is too passive for that) but on the general feeling of helplessness when things don’t go as scripted that it doesn’t make sense. The ultimate message of the book warms my heart: Life may seem pointless but the people we love and care about, having met them, being with them or spending time with them, is worth all the life’s meaning we are looking for.

I have one complaint though: the book has misogynistic tendencies which were left with little to no correction. I think the book is aware of the problem and made Matt felt vaguely uncomfortable that Tabby is the subject of a “boys’ locker room talk”. Matt himself was caught by Tabby with a chauvinistic ranking of all the girls in their grade, they fought about it and did not speak to each other for a while. Tabby also apprehended Matt when he made a yo mama banter with a bully but it was not clear if Matt understood why Tabby told her not to do that again. I know that it adds a realistic touch what with it narrated in first person PoV of a fifteen year old boy, but it would have been better if the book also took the opportunity to drive home an unequivocal message that misogyny is wrong and unacceptable.


Diversity Watch:
Tabby is a redhead.
All the other characters are racially indeterminate.


My Rating:


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