Book Blurb Breakdown: The Reader by Traci Chee

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.  

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

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible. 

the blurb:  shredded 

Sefia knows what it means to survive. (Sort of generic first line. Meh.) After her father is brutally murdered, (Okay, brutally murdered. We like brutally murdered.) she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. (What was she before, that she didn't know these things? I kind of want a sense of how much she's lost.) But when Nin is kidnapped, (Damn, this girl has bad luck.) leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. (This sentence is just oddly worded.  Too long, maybe?  I'd also like to get a sense earlier that the murder and kidnapping are connected.) The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize (Comes to realize?  Does a dictionary hit her in the head?) is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise (You don't need otherwise.) illiterate society. (Despite the clumsy beginning, this part really grabs me.  A world without books! OMG THE HORROR. I can't wait to see what Chee does with it.) With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own (Where the hell did he come from? Also, obvious romance. Sigh.), Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.  (Okay, this last sentence is definitely too long.  And lacking oomph.  Rescue.  Find out.  What happened.  Punish.  It's just lackluster.)   

the verdict 

2/5 stars
would i read it?:  yes 

This is a case where the content sold me more than the blurb.  If there wasn't that one detail--a book being a mysterious object in an illiterate society--I'd have passed right away.  Without the book thing, it's just another story about a girl who ends up on her own, trying to find her family and obviously falling in love with a mysterious stranger.  The book element makes it fresh and intrigues me enough that I'll read.  But the blurb itself is vague and a little clumsy.  Some of the sentences are too long.  There isn't enough unique detail.  You could slap most of this blurb onto several dozen other books and still be accurate.  There's also no distinctive voice.  Plus, the last line is just a bit draggy, where it should be clinching the reader's interest.  I just hope that the pages inside are a lot prettier and more exciting than the copy.    

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?  



ARC Review: The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

review         book

I'll Meet You Theretitle: The Crown's Game
author: Evelyn Skye
pages: 399
format: Kindle ARC
isbn/asin: 978-0062422583
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 Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas, Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie, and The Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce.  
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

in depth

  • If you've been anywhere near the internet, you know that The Crown's Game has exploded in the YA world.  In fact, it hit the NYT bestseller list at #3 today!  For good reason.  Skye's debut is a fast-paced battle royale with backstabbing, trickery, a touch of whimsy, and scads of magic.  

  • Vika and Nikolai are Enchanters, the only ones of their kind.  Every Enchanter must serve the Tsar--but the well of magic is limited and, in true Highlander fashion, there can only be one.  Hence, the game.  The victor pledges their powers to the glory of Russia.  The loser dies, surrendering their hold on magic.  

  • While I had a few issues with the premise at first--really, they can't just both be Enchanters?--I began to understand the fear of these people.  With magic being a limited resource, power would be split between two people who could do weaker spells than one person using all the magic at once.  Thin, maybe, but governments have devised crazier contests under more asinine assumptions.  It's the biggest flaw.  Accept it, and the adventure is well worth the effort.  

  • There is an immediate feeling of old world high magic and fairy stories, of Ella Enchanted and Diana Wynne Jones.  Vika races through the forest, freezing ponds and fending off felled trees with firebombs.  Nikolai scrapes at the feet of his oppressive benefactor.  Prince Pasha sneaks around the docks at night, pretending at the freedom of the commoners.  There's even a bakery shaped like a pumpkin.  Skye writes with a clear, graceful style that brings each scene to dreamlike life.  

  • If that's not enough, Skye's command of Russian history and culture is so exact that you feel transported.  

  • Against this enchanting backdrop is the deceptive prettiness of the game.  Vika and Nikolai paint the capitol in magical colors, create spectacular living puppet displays, change the very land, but death waits for them at the end--or the middle.  What I loved is that even though they don't want to hurt each other, they still want to save their own skin.  Between magical feats, they devise ever cleverer and deadlier schemes to murder each other, and they truly mean it.  It's no sportsmanlike romp.  

  • Their cutthroatedness makes them realistic, and their other qualities make them admirable.  Vika is as fiery as her hair, wild, full of energy and grand ideas and mischief.  Nikolai lives in his head, inventing and tinkering; he's soft spoken, genteel, and compassionate to a fault.  Between them is Pasha, dashing and charmingly childlike.  There is no clear winner.  No best outcome.  

  • Skye entrances you at first with the delight of the competition, with balls and flirtations, and then wrenches out the light piece by piece.  People die.  There are betrayals.  There are dangerous, otherwordly threats and enemies abroad that force Vika and Nikolai to think beyond the game, to the good of all Russia.  And there's a final showdown, an ending that will pierce you right through the heart and leave you weeping for the sequel.  

  • And for the record, I miss the little Vika from the cover.  What gives!? 

in a sentence

The Crown's Game blends folklore and ferocity into a fantastical game of cat and mouse that enchants and cuts deeply.  


will i read this author again?  Yes, I already own a couple of hers 
will i continue the series?  N/A 

Note: I received this copy in exchange for a review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books on which my opinion changed drastically in the time after I finished them

top ten tuesday                changes

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!   

There'd be more except most of the time it's OMG THIS WAS GREAT and then I forget it ever existed.  

c.j.'s selections                         ten ten ten

Unhinged - A.G. Howard

This one actually changed after a re-read.  I liked it the first time, but I loved it the second.  I think having just re-read Splintered and being in a magical mood, I appreciated the finer details more the second time around--all the ways magic was still prevalent even though most of the story took place on Earth.  

Some Quiet Place - Kelsey Sutton 

I liked this one quite a lot, but now it's one of those books that I never remember unless I'm scrolling through my Goodreads (like, um, now).  The initial love of MC chick and Fear (or Anger?) died down enough that I'm not sure I'll ever read the sequel.  

Graceling - Kristen Cashore 

I didn't love this book. *hides* It was...meh.  Kind of boring and plot-holey.  But then I read Fire and I thought it was super nifty.  So I guess my opinion really changed about the series/world, enough that I'll read Bitterblue.  Maybe someday I'll give Graceling another go.  Maybe.  

My Heart and Other Black Holes - Jasmine Warga 

I thought this book was pretty good.  Not great, but enjoyable.  After a while of simmering, I've come to appreciate it more.  It's the only book I can think of with a Turkish MC and the writing really is lovely.  I think I'd like it more if I read it again.  

Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling 

I didn't not like this book.  Obviously.  (HP fanatic speaking.)  It was just my least favorite of the books (maybe. I haven't reread 7 so final ranking is TBD).  Then I re-read-aka-listened-on-audiobook and realized how truly funny and exciting it is.  I'll never think of it as the meh-est of the books again.  

The Orphan Queen - Jodi Meadows 

I really liked this book at first, but found bits of it a little less polished, perhaps more juvenile than the Newsouls.  But somewhere between finishing OQ and reading TMK, my love for this book ignited like that bottle rocket you light and you think it's a dud but then a minute later it explodes in your face.  Only there was no hospital involved.  
After the Red Rain - Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, Robert DeFranco 

Just kidding.  Nothing will ever make me hate this book less.  

Shut up I have feelings. 
Legacy of Kings - Eleanor Herman 

This was another good but not great read.  It was a little draggy, too many POVs.  But when I contemplated getting the sequel this year at BEA, I realized that there were a lot of really strong pieces of it.  The history.  The atmosphere.  The intricate plots.  I look back more fondly on it now that I'm in the midst of Empire of Dust.  
Queen of Shadows - Sarah J. Maas

Despite crazyloving ToG, CoM, and HoF, I thougth QoS was...meh.  I'm not one of those OMGYOUSUNKMYSHIPDIEDIEDIE people.  I just found the ships sort of thrown together, the plot too draggy, and the Aedion/Rowan being manly men scenes too frequent.  Over time, I think I've stopped tricking myself into liking this book more than I really did.  Do.  Which is...a 3ish.  Maybe 2.8.  EoS better kick ass.  

Every Exquisite Thing - Matthew Quick 

My opinion on this book changes with my socks (so not quite daily, but close enough to avoid social disapproval).  I really liked it when I read it but there was a sort of 'eh' feeling about the MC being all judgmental of other girls.  Then I realized that I was that MC in high school and felt like a dumbass.  Then I couldn't decide how much that mattered.  It's a solid "good" but the variance around the mean is high.