Musing: BEA book haul squeeness


Yeah, I know BEA was in May. And I got too busy to post a recap. (If you really want one, mine is pretty similar to Christina's except for where I stood in line for two hours to see Cary Elwes and he shook my hand and I died.)  But if you're curious what I came back with, check the pics.  Google+ also made a gif of me and Sarah J. Maas.  Still dying over that.  

I'm also still planning on doing a giveaway or two, so some of these lovely books might be yours!  

A post-BEA surprise in the mail from a wonderful publicist! 
(I still like the UK title better: Vivian Versus the Apocalypse) 

Stacked by release month. Because I'm anal retentive. September is gonna be BUSY. 

Nemo enjoyed one of my many free tote bags.  

What I want to know from you: 

Any of these you especially want to read / see a review for?  
Any you've read already?  What did you think?
What other new books are you psyched about?  


Giveaway Winner: Freedom to Read Giveaway hop

we have a winner! 

normally i post these on facebook, but i figured i'd remind you all that i'm still alive 

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway!  I appreciate each and every one of my readers and I hope that some of you will stick around and enjoy these awesome books with me. 

Didn't win?  Look no further than the Giveaway Page or Calendar for more chances to win great prizes! 

congratulations to
steph from a dream within a dream! you won a young adult book of your choosing!

( the winner has 48 hours to respond to the winning e-mail, otherwise a new winner will be chosen ) 

look out for the next giveaways and more reviews coming soon!  


Cover Love: Silvern by Christina L. Farley

cover love 

click the cover to learn more

I actually wasn't a huge fan of the Gilded cover.  It was pretty enough, but a little, I dunno, childish maybe?  It didn't grab my eye.  But Silvern got me immediately.  The smoking tiger is sparkly and almost palpably glowing, and the highlights in his fur bring out the glitter in the title text perfectly.  I think the muted, more homogeneous color scheme here just works better than the strong contrast in Gilded.  Plus, look at those sparkles!  It just screams "magical!"  I could maybe do without the border, but I'm torn. But get rid of the border and title text and I'd put this poster on my wall.  

x . x . x

with every book cover comes a music cover 

Today's cover is brought to you by my friend Matt, although it's also one of my favorites.  Guns N' Roses gives the Stones' classic an update with Axel's eerie bayou screams.  Maybe I think bayou because this song happens to be the ending soundtrack for Interview with a Vampire, the fantastic movie adaptation of Anne Rice's classic.  God, how I still adore Lestat.  Even played by Tom Cruise.  


Book Blurb Breakdown: Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

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.  

today's blurb
Status:  Unread

the blurb: as is 
from Goodreads

There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.

the blurb:  shredded 

There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic (Wait, is this a medical clinic or a slaughterhouse?  Or is the clinic in a slaughterhouse?  I'm confused but intrigued.)—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most.  (Okay, that's a new one.  Definitely grabs my attention.) When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, (This feels too exposition-y.  We don't need to know that the laborers have a name.  It'd be more succint to say "one of the cheap hired laborers.") humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.  (Now I'm really intrigued.  So far there's just enough detail to intrigue me but enough vagueness to make me wonder more.) 

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor (Laborers), including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. (Yeah, okay, so there's a romance. Sigh.) At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.  (Supernatural love triangle?  Please, god no.  I'm starting to grow "meh.")  

As deadly accidents (Where are these coming from?  Are they unexpected, unexplained?  Supernatural?) fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined.  (Holy run-on, Batman!  Cut this in two!  But the protection part is kind of cool.  Adds some hint of where the 'accidents" are coming from.) She must decide whom she can trust, (Why?  Is there a reason to think Malik is shady?) because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.  (This ending is a little blah.  I mean, why is this factory so important?  Can't she just hightail it out of there?  I'm not getting a clear sense of the stakes.)  

the verdict 
4/5 stars

would i read it?:  yes 

The first paragraph packs a punch, immediately hooking me with a clear mystery and sense of danger.  Wish-granting ghosts are rare in these parts, so it's something new that doesn't scream "overdone."  Plus the fact that Wen accidentally causes something "brutal" to happen to someone sets up the opportunity for great character growth.  I'm a little less enthusiastic as it goes on.  There are huge love triangle red flags strewn in paragraph two.  Which is irritating.  Because I'm already annoyed that every young adult book has to have a romance.  Gawd.  But it could be some good West Side Story-esque drama, so I'll set my preconceived notions aside.  Where it gets sloppy is the last paragraph.  I don't feel the tension as much.  I'm not sure why the accidents are important.  I don't get the whole "trust" thing.  I need to know more.  What are these tensions at the factory?  What's the vague "explosion"?  Is there a threat of worker revolt?  Of mutiny and murder?  Vagueness worked to fuel interest at the start, but I need more information about the stakes to really understand Wen's dilemma.  Still, overall, it's a unique premise and a nonwhite cover model, so I'm definitely hooked.  

your thoughts

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

previous breakdowns 

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Dangerous by Shannon Hale
She's Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick


ARC Review: The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco


title:  The Girl from the Well

author:  Rin Chupeco

pages: 208

format: Paperback

isbn/asin: 978-1402292194

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads  B&N

rating: 2/5 [in the genre] or 4/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  People who enjoyed Asylum by Madeline Roux.  Fans of The Ring, The Grudge, and other Asian horror films.    

will i read this author again?:  Maybe.  Probably not without a good recommendation from a friend. 
will i continue the series?:  N/A 

My Ratings Explained

I am where dead children go.

Okiku is a lonely soul. She has wandered the world for centuries, freeing the spirits of the murdered-dead. Once a victim herself, she now takes the lives of killers with the vengeance they're due. But releasing innocent ghosts from their ethereal tethers does not bring Okiku peace. Still she drifts on.

Such is her existence, until she meets Tark. Evil writhes beneath the moody teen's skin, trapped by a series of intricate tattoos. While his neighbors fear him, Okiku knows the boy is not a monster. Tark needs to be freed from the malevolence that clings to him. There's just one problem: if the demon dies, so does its host.

take home message
An eerie take on the ghost that inspired The Ring.  This book offers some pretty narrative and supernatural intrigue, but ultimately feels disjointed and so different from the book promised by the cover blurb. 

the basics
I don't have strong feelings about this book.  Overall, I enjoyed it.  The view into Japanese traditional culture was my favorite part.  I think it spawned a dozen Wikipedia tabs.  Imagine reading The Ring from Samara's point of view.  Eerie, poignant, full of creepy dolls.  However, it's a disjointed book.  It feels like Chupeco thought, "Well, wouldn't it be cool to have this ancient Japanese ghost befriend a teenage boy?  Who happens to be possessed by an ancient demon linked to his mother's former life?"  And then wasn't really sure how to fit it all together.  The result is a little flimsy.  Is this a story about Okiku's revenge?  Yes, to begin with.  And then that's sort of forgotten.  Is it a story about Tark's demon?  Yes, but that doesn't become prominent until later.  Why are these characters connected, other than Okiku is strangely "drawn" to Tark?  Too many of the answers felt waved away.  And the most interesting character for me, Okiku, was left feeling more sidekick than force of her own.  What promised to be a thrilling book with horror-movie roots felt deflated.  Chupeco's solid writing just didn't have a structure to cling to.    

plot . 2/5
The beginning feels cut off from the end.  The Smiling Man plot, while cool for Okiku (the ghost girl who avenges murdered children), comes out of the blue for Tark.  Like Chupeco needed something bad to happen to Tark and cousin Callie to keep the plot moving.  The real problem, Tark's demon, doesn't hit full force until halfway through when we switch to Japan.  And where Okiku's revenge took precedence in part one, Tark's demon fills up part two.  I wondered the whole time--why do we need both of these plots?  Why is Okiku intrinsically linked to Tark?  Is there really just a boy possessed by a demon who also happens to be the object of fascination for a ghost, with no seeming reason?  The whole thing felt a little thin.  Most disappointing, the danger promised in the blurb is relatively absent.  That Tark might die if the demon is killed--it's a huge deal in the blurb and maybe a few sentences of dialogue in the book.  The result is a languid read without the promised horror-movie tension.  The writing is interesting and eerie, but ultimately not enough to bolster the flagging plot.  

concept . 3/5
I loved the idea of this book, which is probably why I was so disappointed to find it mediocre.  The inclusion of Japanese traditional culture, dolls and demons and spirits, is fascinating.  If you've watched any Japanese horror, imagine that kind of atmosphere--only with more focus on the traditional underpinnings.  The coolest part?  Okiku and her well are part of a real Japanese folk tale.  So it bothered me that Okiku's story is so secondary to Tark's.  She's  real figure with a rich history, but gets used as a prop for Tark's story, a sidekick, an add-on.  Tark and the demon possessing him are interesting, but then why add Okiku?  Why not just have any old ghost decide to help this boy exorcise himself?  I wanted more depth out of the story.  A stronger connection, a real reason why Okiku bound herself to Tark.  You get hints of it--she finds him and his cousin intriguing, human--but it's never played out.  

characters . 4/5
The characters are fairly well done.  Like I said, Okiku is my favorite.  She's the perfect mix of dark vengeance and otherworldly compassion.  Her fits of near-psychotic rage are fascinating.  What lacks are her motivations.  I sound like a broken record, but seriously--why is Tark so interesting to her?  Why this boy?  Why this spirit?  As for Tark, he's a little thin.  I found him...okay.  Average.  The archetypal boy with a crazy mother and a bad attitude.  He's balanced out by Callie, his cousin, a ray of sunshine with a motherly streak and a clever mind.  However, Tark's parents are pretty much shafted.  Yoko, his mother, is a hugely important figure, given that she is intricately involved in the demon plot.  However, we never really get to know her as more than the crazy mom with the dolls.  Tark's dad is barely-there and somehow totally fine with leaving his near-death son in the company of cousin and strangers in a rural mountain town.  The shrine maidens feel pretty interchangeable.  It was difficult to mourn their tragedies.  

style . 3/5
I actually liked the writing style.  With a more solid plot, I really could have liked this book.  Chupeco has a flair for atmosphere.  The descriptions are eerie and chilling, beautifully creepy.  Okiku's voice is the strongest.  Chupeco gives her an authentic old-sounding voice with a little world-weariness thrown in.  Plus, her meltdowns, appearing in the middle of calm, calculated passages, are severely creepy.  The most difficult bit was that Okiku often switches between third person (how her victims see her) and first (how she sees them).  It can be difficult to figure out what's going on.  Tark and Callie are a little shakier in the dialogue.  There were parts that felt very forced.   

mechanics . 3/5
Plot holes.   I could repeat the same questions, but you've seen them already.  I just never really connected the pieces together.  It feels like a story with bits taken out, so you're never quite sure where certain pieces are coming from.  Things feel random instead of purposeful and thought-out.  Then, you have the issue of pacing.  The blurb makes it seem like the fact that Tark will die if the demon does is a huge issues.  A major moral dilemma for Okiku, even.  Instead, it's more like: The shrine-maidens mention that the exorcism may not go well.  Almost three quarters of the way through the book.  It's hardly an issue at all, so much as a missed opportunity.  

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.


Musing: Happy Fourth of July! Be free to read!


To the American readers out there, Happy Independence Day!  I'm starting off my day with a very American game of futbol of Germany vs France.  I'm leaning Germany, so we'll see!  Enjoy the barbecues and go read something just because you can.  I'll see you with reviews and posts next week! 

Like the book flag?  I even tried to add stars.  ;P 

And don't forget to enter the Freedom to Read Giveaway for your choice of a young adult title! 



Giveaway: Freedom to Read (INT)

welcome to the freedom to read giveaway!

Hosted by I Am a Reader Not a Writer!  Enter to win any young adult book of your choice. This is all about the freedom to read what you want! 

Need ideas?  Check out these recently-reviewed books.  (Click the covers!) 

And while you're here, please consider checking out some of the other reviews and features on Sarcasm & Lemons.  Cheers! 

Note:  GFC followers also count for "Be a follower". Sorry for the typo! 

This giveaway will run until July 9th. 

This giveaway is open to anyone whom Book Depository ships to.  

The winner of the giveaway must respond to my winner e-mail within 48 hours to claim the prize. 

Thanks for stopping by!  
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