2.12.16

Book Blurb Breakdown: Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

book blurb breakdown


Book Blurb Breakdown is a Sarcasm & Lemons feature where your anal English degree-holding author (gently) rips apart jacket blurbs to pin down what makes her want to pick up the book instantly--and what makes her want to throw it at the wall.  See the original post for more detail.  It's also just an excuse to talk about books I'm excited for in a fun way. 

If you'd like to do a breakdown, here's a snazzy little button!  Post your link in the comments. 







today's blurb




Status:  Unread



the blurb: as is 

from Goodreads


For fans of Pretty Little Liars, Little Monsters is a new psychological thriller, from the author of The Darkest Corners, about appearances versus reality and the power of manipulation amongst teenage girls.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone. 


the blurb:  shredded 



For fans of Pretty Little Liars (Done.), Little Monsters is a new psychological thriller (Yeees. Gimme more thrillers!), from the author of The Darkest Corners (Which was great, by the way), about appearances versus reality (I will never not love this theme.) and the power of manipulation amongst (Very fancy, isn't it?) teenage girls.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. (Okay, new girl. Just me, but I don't always love this trope.) When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister. (Why is that strange? Is it weird to have a younger sister love you?)

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming (Okay, so maybe it's a contrast thing. I like the Pleasantville vibes I'm getting.) compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother (This sentence is a little clunky but it does a good job of setting up the atmosphere and situation). And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. (Okay, major Stepford vibes. I'm hearing chanting. One of us...one of us...) Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them. (I want a little more before the "turn."  Just because the next part seems abrupt. Inviting someone to do everything is a bit different than enmeshed toxic friendship, which is my guess.) 

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident. (Again, maybe the language here is too gentle.  "It doesn't feel like an accident" is a far cry from "it feels like a slap in the face.") 

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. (WHaaaaaaa) Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers. (Why? Is she implicated? I need to know what the stakes are!) 

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.  (Is that really the lesson we're going for here?  Become a hermit?) 


the verdict 

3.5/5 stars
would i read it?:  yes 


This blurb could be punchier.  Given that I'm familiar with Kara's writing, I know how suspenseful and twisty her books can be, so this blurb should reflect that.  The language is a bit too lackadaisical for an intense, nail-biting thriller.  "Hm, like, I dunno, maybe it was an accident."  I want you to tell me more about this Bailey and Jade triangle.  Suck me in.  Is she suddenly spending every minute with them, liking everything they like, sharing all her deepest darkest secrets?  Is that why the slight is such a blow?  

And I also want to know why people are questioning her about Bailey's disappearance/death/whatever, because right now I'm thinking, well, yeah, when someone bites it, the police tend to ask their friends questions.  Is someone framing Kacey?  Is there a conspiracy?  

While I'd like some stronger language and a little more pizzazz, I also have a good enough sense of the plot to be drawn in.  It's got the workings of a young adult domestic thriller: perfect town, perfect family, perfect life, then suddenly BAM someone's bleeding all over the chaise.  Having read The Darkest Corners, I'm looking forward to the same frustrating, tense small-town mystery with that extra level of OMG EVERYONE IS TRYING TO MURDER YOU RUN.  


your thoughts

Does this blurb grab you?  
Do you agree with my thoughts?  If not, how so?  
Have you read it?  Does the blurb match the pages? 
Do you have any recommendations for blurbs I should shred?  

 



1.12.16

ARC Review: Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley

review         book



I'll Meet You Theretitle: Fate of Flames
author: Sarah Raughley
pages: 368
format: Paperback
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 4.5/5 (from hated to loved) or 7.5/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Sailor Moon, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, and other fun, action-packed light science-fiction.
Years ago, everything changed. Phantoms, massive beasts of nightmare, began terrorizing the world. At the same time four girls, the Effigies, appeared, each with the unique power to control a classical element. Since then, they have protected the world from the Phantoms. At the death of one Effigy, another is chosen, pulled from her normal life into the never-ending battle.

When Maia unexpectedly becomes the next Fire Effigy, she resists her new calling. A quiet girl with few friends and almost no family, she was much happier to admire the Effigies from afar. Never did she imagine having to master her ability to control fire, to protect innocent citizens from the Phantoms, or to try bringing together the other three Effigies.

But with the arrival of the mysterious Saul—a man who seems to be able to control the Phantoms using the same cosmic power previously only granted to four girls at a time—Maia and the other Effigies must learn to work together in a world where their celebrity is more important than their heroism.

But the secrets Saul has, and the power he possesses, might be more than even they can handle…

in depth


  • I can't believe more people aren't raving about Fate of Flames.  It's like the most exciting video game you've ever played, in book form, centered around four badass ladies.  The cast is ethnically diverse, the writing is punchy and clear, and there are giant shadowy sky monsters.  The alternate Earth setting adds a clever twist to the urban fantasy environment.  Maia's Earth is our Earth, but our Earth if it had suddenly been invaded by deadly sky monsters in the 1800s.  So there are chat rooms and forums and video games, but there are also Anti Phantom Devices.  Seattle was the site of a Phantom massacre.  WWII was Phantom centered.  Raughley cheekily plays around with history and media to suit her alternate timeline.  If that doesn't scream "fun," then I'm not sure what more you need.  Dancing monkeys?* (*there are no dancing monkeys) 


  • Part of what makes Fate of Flames thrilling is the clever play on the old chosen ones trope.  The Effigies are chosen by fate, imbued with elemental powers and super-healing abilities, but that's where destiny ends and humanity begins.  They're called to the fight when the last Effigy dies and their dangerous job makes for short lives, resulting in newly minted Effigies as young as 11 who are suddenly world-famous superstars under the thumb of an international organization, sent into battle after bloody battle.  There is even a fansite dedicated to the Effigies.  Yes, people tweet and fangirl over their favorite Effigies, and Maia herself was a dedicated Belle fan before becoming an Effigy herself.  

  • The plot is fairly breakneck, almost too fast at times, with Maia being thrust right away into a series of missions, battles, and encounters with a deliciously eerie baddie.  He's called Saul, he can control the Phantoms, and his past is full of secrets that connected in surprising ways to Maia's dead predecessor.  Though there were clunky parts of the plot, scenes and plot points that seemed contrived or extraneous, the fast pace and imaginative worldbuilding kept me interested.  The battle scenes could have been ripped from a summer blockbuster; Raughley's language made them pop from the page, so you could feel the clash of metal on bone, the zap of electric weapons, the earthquake of blasted pavement.  There was a lovely visceral quality about her action scenes. 

  • The characters were a little flatter than I'd hoped, in the way of video game characters.  You get backstory and action, but I didn't always have a clear sense of them as rich, complex humans.  Maia was the best developed.  Her voice was so authentically teenaged, her motivations clear and complicated.  I wanted to flick her nose a few times for being judgmental, but I also rooted for her good nature and curiosity from the start.  The other three Effigies and agent Rhys are a little more skeletal.  They feel like people, but ones I haven't fully come to know yet.  I hope to get a better sense of them in the sequels.  I was actually reminded greatly of the flair and characters of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, which I loved, so the thinness wasn't a huge detriment. 

  • While it's a fun and punchy book, there's also a striking depth to the themes.  Raughley spends a fair amount of ink exploring the problems that come with being chosen and famous when it wasn't your choice, and her story is richer for it.   Maia learns that being an Effigy isn't glamorous, and the girls she judged for their tabloid antics are real people thrust into a real, desperate situation out of their control.  The aspect of celebrity, its pitfalls and its false glamour, plays a major role in Maia's character development, from starstruck chipper heroine to truly self-chosen warrior who sees the darkness beyond the glamour, the people beyond the prophecy.  


  •  Overall, it's not the strongest book I've ever read.  There were substantial areas of the plot that were contrived or confusing, and some of the characters felt thin.  That said, sometimes atmosphere trumps mechanics, and Raughley's book has a feel to it that draws you in.  It's a vivid, action-packed, stupendously fun novel that came to me just as I was needing an escape.  I think the Sailor Moon and Pacific Rim comparisons are spot on.  I hope to see Raughley grow in her command of her plot and world in the sequels, because I think there are some truly unique elements in her world that demand to be showcased.  I really enjoyed the thrill ride of this novel, and I'm eager for Maia's next adventure. 


        in a sentence

        Fate of Flames is an action-packed, video game-esque thrill ride with a diverse cast and vibrant world.  


        rating         




        will i read this author again?  Yes!  
        will i continue the series?  I'd read the sequel yesterday if I could get my hands on it.  




        Note: I received this copy from a friend to read. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.



        29.11.16

        Top Ten Tuesday: Ten young adult books to buy the person who has read everything

        top ten tuesday                gifting



        Hosted by The Broke and Bookish.  


        Want to help support your broke blogger so she can host more giveaways and give swankier prizes?  Click the book covers.  If you like the book and choose to purchase it from Amazon, a little bit of the proceeds goes to Sarcasm & Lemons!   

        When they've read everything else...      



        c.j.'s selections                         ten ten ten


        one
        If they've read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, buy them 

        Serpentine by Cindy Pon 

        It's also a lush fantasy world with a kickass heroine, a dark destiny, and a double life, plus it's rich with details from Chinese mythology. 
        two
            

        If they've read Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, buy them 

        The Assassin's Blade by Cassandra Rose Clarke 

        It's full of assassins, magic, pirates, and a badass heroine, in a Middle Eastern inspired country.  It'll feed their craving while they wait for Windwitch! 
        three
               
        If they've read The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, buy them 

        Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova 

        Celtic magic, meet Bruja magic. Both books feature worlds overlapping our own, legend and lore, and endearingly prickly girls who don't take adventure sitting down. 
        four
               

        If they've read The Diviners by Libba Bray, buy them 

        Iron Cast by Destiny Soria 

        It's another 1920s glitzy magical adventure but a little more bitesized, with a diverse cast, atmospheric magic, and murder mystery thrown in. 

        five
               
        If they've read Cinder by Marissa Meyer, buy them 

        Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

        Sci-fi Cinderella, meet steampunk Cinderella. A beautiful retelling with an Ella Enchanted flair and a surprising happy ending. 

        six
             
        If they've read Red Rising by Pierce Brown, buy them 

        The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid 

        It's also vicious Romanesque far-future science fiction with plenty of mayhem and political intrigue, but with a badass female lead and a standalone plot.  
        seven
             
        If they've read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, buy them 

        The Memory Book by Lara Avery 

        It's similarly poignant and tragic, with the focus on a young girl who takes her memory-stealing illness as a chance to live the life she's always dreamt. 
        eight
             
        If they've read City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, buy them 

        Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley 

        It's also an urban fantasy with geek vibes and a kickass monster-fighting team, but the baddies in this one are shadowy mega-monsters rather than demons and vamps. 
        nine
             
        If they've read Paper Towns by John Green, buy them 

        You Were Here by Cori McCarthy 

        It also deals with love, loss, friendship, and mayhem, but it's told in multiple formats (graphic novel, word art poetry, and prose) and perspectives. 
        ten
             
        If they've read A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, buy them 

        Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho 

        It's got the same British alternate universe vibes and dagger wit, but with an ethnically diverse cast, fairy magic, and endearingly grouchy sorcerers. 




        Your turn!  What books are on your gift list?