30.9.15

Book Blurb Breakdown: If You Wrong Us by Dawn Klehr

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


"An intricate psychological page-turner that explores the darker side of vengeance and reads like Gone Girl through a teen lens." - Kirkus Reviews

Becca and Johnny become entangled after a car crash steals the lives of two people they love. Officially, the crash is an accident. But Becca and Johnny are convinced: someone did this.

As they plot revenge against the person responsible, a bond—intense, unyielding, and manic—takes hold of them. And in an unexpected turn of events, they fall for each other.

Or so they think.

In an upside-down world where decay is beautiful and love and hate become one, Becca and Johnny find themselves grappling with reality. Nothing is exactly what it seems, including what they've come to believe about the crash. Question is: will they learn the truth before it's too late?

No. The question is: when they learn the truth, will they care?


the blurb:  shredded 



"An intricate psychological page-turner that explores the darker side of vengeance and reads like Gone Girl through a teen lens." - Kirkus Reviews (Okay, someone besides the publisher has said this. I am now intrigued. I freaking loved Gone Girl.) 

Becca and Johnny become entangled (Great word. There's so much conflict to it.) after a car crash steals the lives of two people they love. Officially, the crash is an accident. (Mwuahaha, mystery!) But Becca and Johnny are convinced: someone did this.  (Cooool.  I know it's a common trope, but I'm a sucker for it.)  

As they plot revenge against the person responsible, (This is what caught me--they skip "bring the person to justice" and head straight for "revenge." It says a lot about them and makes my evil side cackle gleefully.) a bond—intense, unyielding, and manic (I love this!  It's like Sid-and-Nancy crazy-psycho-love; it doesn't pretend to be sweet and forever)—takes hold of them. And in an unexpected turn of events, they fall for each other.

Or so they think.  (OMG I LOVE THIS.  Romance turned on its head!  People in love for the wrong reasons!)  

In an upside-down world where decay is beautiful (A little abstract here. Where are we, Arkham?) and love and hate become one, (This is btter.) Becca and Johnny find themselves grappling with reality. (Descent into madness? :D) Nothing is exactly what it seems, including what they've come to believe about the crash. (I love people questioning reality!  I love the darkness of all this.) Question is: will they learn the truth before it's too late?  (Dun dun dun.  I hate the "before it's too late" thing because I think it's unspecific, but it gets the job done.)  

No. The question is: when they learn the truth, will they care?  (Okay, so I love the idea behind this, but "will they care?" sounds so whatever-teen-apathy, not holy-crap-life-devastating-consequences.  It kind of ends on a "meh" note.)  


the verdict 

4.5/5 stars
 would i read it?:  yes 


For the most part, this blurb is everything I want in a blurb.  First of all, it helps that the concept of the book is interesting.  Two people out for revenge.  Issues with reality.  Toxic, obsessive romance.  YES, PLEASE.  Second, it's punchy.  There isn't a lot of detail here but you still know (a) what's going on and (b) what the stakes are.  It also gives you a tone with the kind of words it uses: unyielding, manic.  I'm picturing a pretty fast-paced, psychological kind of anti-love story.  Maybe we could get a little more info about what they think happened in the crash, but you don't really need that to have a good sense that there's a mystery here--or at least, they think there is.  I wish the ending were a little more concrete and OMG, and the stakes could be made more clear.  Like, is it just their sanity?  Are there LIVES in the mix?  However, I still finish reading with the feeling that I want to know more about these crazy people.  

I've also read Cutting Room Floor by this author, another creepy, stalkerish romance.  She has a niche, I guess.  I wasn't enamored with that one, but I hope to see that she's grown in this second novel. 


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?  

 



29.9.15

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books to love while you're waiting to relive (or forget) Queen of Shadows

top ten tuesday                tbr



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!   

Because there is more fantasy out there! 



c.j.'s selections                         ten ten ten


one Court of Fives - Kate Elliott 

Seriously, this book is not getting enough press.  Do you love badass chicks like Celaena?  Meet Jessamy.  Do you like swoony princes ala Dorian?  Then say hello to Kal.  Do you like super cool contests?  Welcome to the Fives!  
two
Alanna: The First Adventure - Tamora Pierce 

Say hello to the original badass warrior chick.  Alanna is fierceness embodied.  She can swordfight, throw around some magic, and still have time to pet her gorgeous horse Darkmoon.  


three Truthwitch - Susan Dennard 

I mean, obviously.  

I guess if you need more: badass witch friends and sexy princes.  You're welcome.  
four The Assassin's Curse - Cassandra Rose Clarke 

I will die promoting this book.  It's a fantastical, funny-as-hell adventure with one broody assassin, one snarky pirate, and a lot of magic and sexual tension.  
five
Wild Magic - Tamora Pierce 


I'm adding more Tamora, because obviously.  All you Fleetfoot fans, meet Daine and her animal-magic.  And don't forget sexy wizards.  
six Lichgates - S.M. Boyce 

If you feel like supporting the indies, check out this swashbuckling high fantasy.  It's main character has a lot of spunk, and the magical world is wildly clever.  
seven The Hero and the Crown - Robin McKinley 

If you really want to get into Sarah's head, try reading some of her favorites.  In addition to Tamora Pierce, Robin Hobb got Sarah into fantasy and inspired her epic world.  

eight The Thief - Megan Whalen Turner 

Another Sarah favorite, this older fantasy is not to be missed.  Gen is a master thief pulled from the king's prison for a special task--that turns into an adventure she never anticipated.  Sound familiar?  
nine In the Forests of Serre - Patricia McKillip 

I stole this from Sarah's current reads, because I'm running out of lesser-known titles.  It also sounds like a badass fairy tale mashup with some fae hotness and lots of magic.  Which is a plus.  

ten Poison - Bridget Zinn 

Looking for something light and fluffy to wash away the QoS feels?  This book is an uber-whimsical, light fantasy adventure published just after the author's death from a long battle with cancer.  



28.9.15

ARC Review: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

review         book



I'll Meet You Theretitle: The Accident Season
author: Moira Fowley-Doyle
pages: 280
format: Paperback
isbn/asin: 978-0399171611
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 5/5 (from hated to loved) or 10/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of We Were Liars by E.L. Lockhart, If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, and other darkly beautiful stories with a little bit of magic.
It's the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara's life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?


in short


This book went from BEA afterthought to one of my absolute favorite books of the year.  And possibly forever.  If the premise of The Accident Season sounds a little fantastical . . . well, that's because it is.  It's magical realism at its finest, toeing the line between fantasy and contemporary and nagging you with that otherness of a dream.  It's a book of "maybes."  Maybe there's a ghost.  Maybe Cara's family is cursed.  Maybe there are supernatural forces at play.  Maybe it's all just an elaborate set of coincidences.  This mystical backdrop and Fowley-Doyle's poetic writing sets the stage for a story of friendship, family, and wounds that run deeper than the cuts and scrapes of an ill-fated October.  It's about the secrets that linger in an old house on a moonlit night.  And it's simply beautiful.  

in depth


I admit, I was skeptical.  I was expecting something much more hokey paranormal when I read the description.  So The Accident Season was a surprising punch to the gut.  At its heart are the characters, my beloved.  Cara is our narrator.  She's sarcastic and clever, a little shy, not quite as lightbulb-bright as she wants to be, and skeptical of the family superstitions.  Alice is her biological sister, older and a little more cynical, with a deep wiseness and sadness--and a hot older boyfriend.  Sam is their stepbrother--not their brother--and he's ridiculously, schoolgirl-crushingly charming.  He's a grin with an undercurrent of rage and loss, because his father left them all one day years before and never came back.  Their mother is a nervous wreck who makes them all wear three layers during Accident Season.  Cara's best friend, Bea, is a redheaded self-proclaimed witch who shines with her own sun.  

Then there's the mystery.  For years, Octobers have meant disaster for Cara's family.  It's when her father died.  It's when she nearly drowned.  It's when Sam's father left them.  It's a month of those big disasters, but also smaller disasters:  cuts and bruises, broken arms, car accidents, near misses.  Cara doesn't quite believe in magic, but she can't shake the haunted cast that infuses every October.  And this October seems especially fraught.  There's a chill to the air, a series of near-fatal accidents, a missing girl whom no one seems to remember, and a web of secrets that Cara is only beginning to unravel.  All she wants to do is prove the Accident Season a fiction, but her certainty is shaken by the strange coincidences in her path.  

Is it real?  Are they just coincidences, the disappearing shops, the ghost girls, the puppets in the trees?  Cara doesn't know, and neither do you, as the reader.  Fowley-Doyle masterfully weaves in just enough doubt that you're never quite sure what to believe.  It's an uncertain, tense feeling that I loved, and it propelled me through the book.  The word "atmospheric" has never applied so well.  The Accident Season has an eerieness to it.  Reading it, I felt electrified by a mix of unease and anticipation, an otherness, a nostalgia I couldn't quite identify.  The surreal, dreamlike feel is coaxed into existence by Fowley-Doyle's lyrical writing.  And though I feel "lyrical" has become a code-word for "writing that's actually good", I'd like to reclaim the word for this book, because her writing is truly lyrical.  It's poetic, song-like quality seems to come from a story long forgotten, while still feeling grounded in Cara's reality as an awkward teenage girl.  

The mystery is only half the fun of this book.  It's true, there's a feeling of impending disaster that makes you hypervigilant for clues.  Why did Christopher leave?  Where are the accidents coming from?  What are these ghostly presences that seem to follow Cara's family?  There are secrets living and breathing through the Accident Season's magic, and discovering them may be more terrifying than not knowing.  But the other half is simple humanity.  Fowley-Doyle cultivates relationships between her characters that are rich, multifaceted, and achingly felt.  The unspoken words.  The friendship that glues the foursome together.  The secret touches, shy smiles, and resisted magnetism of uncertain first loves.  It's about what makes a family, what divides them, and what ultimately keeps them together.  

It's about the power secrets have to break--and to unite.  

On a last note, I want to comment on the relationship between Cara and Sam.  Early on, it's clear that they have romantic feelings for each other.  I realize that this is squicky for some people.  Because they're stepsiblings.  And I found myself feeling that way too, at first.  But their relationship is so pure and beautiful, founded in mutual understanding and deep respect and love, that I was shipping them hardcore before I knew it.  Because love is love.  And they were ten when they met.  And in the end, they're not actually blood related.  And I think it ties, too, into Fowley-Doyle's conception of family.  Bea is as much a sister to Alice and Cara as Sam is a brother.  Family is made up of people you choose, love is something unchosen.  This all may push your comfort zone a little, but...why not?  

One more drink for the watery road.  


in a sentence


The Accident Season is a dreamlike vision of four friends contending with a seemingly supernatural mystery and the devastating reality of their own secrets.  It leaves you feeling just a little more magical.          



rating         


will i read this author again?  Yes, yes, I want more!  
will i continue the series?  N/A, I'm pretty sure. I think it's perfect as a standalone.  




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



24.9.15

Book Blurb Breakdown: Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith

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


A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.


the blurb:  shredded 



A high-concept, fantastical espionage (Fantastical espionage? I am intrigued.) novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.  (Oooh, like Inception?  I'm surprised they didn't make the comparison.) 

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin.  (This.  Sounds.  So.  Cool.) She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, (Whoa, Brandt just came out of nowhere and he's already distant?  I'm getting whiplash.) and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing (Oh, Goodreads.  Spellcheck much?) kingdom, he offers Livia the option of (Get rid of "the option of." Too clunky.) a life she had never dared to imagine. (Um, what? What does he offer??? Confuuuuused.) Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare.  (What's the Nightmare?  Where the hell did that come from?) So only she (Oh, so she survived the Nightmare.) understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.  (Okay, so I'm liking the concept, but I feel like there are lots of moving pieces that aren't put together very well.) 

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, (Now I'm back with you.) at its heart, Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.  (A little lackluster as an end, but not bad.) 


the verdict 

3/5 stars
would i read it?:  yes 


So, I'm not enamored with this blurb.  It's obviously trying to set up a very complicated story and world.  However, it doesn't make enough connections between the pieces to really give the reader a sense of the whole.  We have Livia, suddenly she has a partner who is distant (but we didn't know she had a partner), suddenly she's being given a new life (but we aren't told what that life is), suddenly someone survived the Nightmare (but we don't know what that is and, oh, look, she's the one who survived it).  The crucial piece is the Nightmare.  Without knowing what that is, we don't really understand the stakes--even if Livia does.  However, I'm willing to shoot this one a bone because I love dream books and I'm hoping that the book is more coherent than the blurb, which could have been written by some publishing intern for all I know.    


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?  

 



23.9.15

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

review         book



I'll Meet You Theretitle: The Wrath and the Dawn
author: Renee Ahdieh
pages: 388
format: Hardcover
isbn/asin: 978-0399171611
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 5/5 (from hated to loved) or 10/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkowski, and tragically beautiful fairy tales.
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.


in short


Rarely does a book so thoroughly mesmerize me.  Usually books I like have good plots, maybe some particularly nice writing, maybe well-developed characters.  But to have all these things and also have presence is really remarkable.  What is this presence?  It's an unseen quality, determined by the book's tone, it's whole package, the way it worms into your soul.  It's most easy felt as an absence after that last page.  And when I finished The Wrath and the Dawn, it took me several dazed trips past my shelf before I could even begin to consider my next read.  "Book hangover" only begins to describe it.  

in depth


Wrath is a product of the recent trend in fairy tale reimaginings, but like Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell or A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, it builds its own world on the source material's scaffold.  So, loosely, we have our Khalid, the mad emperor sentencing his brides to die each dawn.  There is Shazi, the friend of one of those brides, determined to be next in line--and to stop the executions forever, even if the Caliph's head is the price.  Shazi's first night, she tells a story so spellbinding that Khalid stays her execution.  It's 1001 Nights in a nutshell.  

And it's only the beginning.  Shazi struggles to reconcile the kind, clever Khalid, beloved by his courtiers and friends, with the murderous Caliph who executed her friend.  In her search, she discovers the cataclysmic secrets surrounding the executions.  What she decides to do with the information will determine more than her fate.  Khalid himself struggles with duty to his people and a wild, fiery girl he never expected.  On the outside, Shazi's father and childhood sweetheart ally themselves with dangerous forces, both magical and human, to bring down Khalid and recover their realm.  The tension becomes suffocating as plans tangle, intertwine, and unravel in disastrous ways.  

The story is exciting, part rebellion and part romance, but it rests on the shoulders of a magnificent cast  We're given multiple POVs including Shazi, Khalid, Shazi's sweetheart, and Shazi's father.  I often gripe about too many POVs, but in this case I think Ahdieh does a marvelous job of layering the perspectives carefully, so that they enrich rather than repeat each other.  The dramatic irony and foreshadowing throughout is electric.  I swear I gasped while reading.  And between the tense, climactic scenes, there are softer, truly human moments.  Acidic banter between Shazi and Khalid, or currents of understanding between them.  The quiet shame of Shazi's father.  Shazi's spirited dealings with her maid-become-confidante and the military higher-up, Khalid's best friend.  

Each character, however small their role, has their own complex motivations and secrets.  They each have a story and endearing quality that gets you invested.  They also each have real, damaging flaws--not the kind authors throw in to "round out" a character, but real faults that create devastating consequences.  And even for a cynic like me, the romance, despite its quick progression, was heart-stopping.  Shazi and Khalid see their equals in each other and treat each other as such.  Ahdieh doesn't confuse possessiveness and attraction for deep, true understanding.  

If this were all not enough, Wrath is written so beautifully that I could believe Ahdieh descended from the very author who penned Arabian Nights.  Her command of Middle Eastern culture and careful weaving of it into her own magical world is impressive.  I hope the food she describes exists somewhere, because damn will you want to eat every page.  You can hear her characters speaking.  Even the dreaded sappy lines feel pulled from the lips of some lover somewhere.  And her descriptions are as lush and vibrant as a sultan's treasure room, without being overly flowery.  

I felt magical after finishing this book.  My soul demands more.  


in a sentence


The Wrath and the Dawn is an artwork of a novel, intricately woven with authenticity and pathos, with characters who will become your mind's new friends.          



rating         


will i read this author again?  Yes, a thousand and one times yes!  
will i continue the series?  Considering I fell into deep despondency as soon as I finished it . . . yes.  




Note: I purchased this copy . The price of the book and its origin in no way affected by stated opinions.



22.9.15

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books I'm going to absorb into my soul (aka read) this fall

top ten tuesday                tbr



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!   

These covers aren't just pretty. They're ART.  



c.j.'s selections                         ten ten ten


one
Illuminae - Kristen Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 

I know like everyone has already read it, but I've been trying to read my ARCs in order.  However, I'm already 1000% sure I'm going to love it and its super crazy format.  
two
White Rose - Amy Ewing 

I don't think The Jewel got nearly enough good press.  It's a fantastical reimagining of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and I'm super excited to see what Violet comes up with next.   


three A Curious Tale of the In-Between - Lauren DeStefano 

I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read any of Lauren's books yet--but I'm damn excited for this one.  Ghostly middle grade?  Sounds adorably wicked.  
four Dumplin' - Julie Murphy 

Okay, so I started this one and then got a copy of Truthwitch by Susan Dennard and stopped everything I was doing.  But I love Willowdean's spunky, sassy voice, and I'm excited to get back to it.  
five
Sorcerer to the Crown - Zen Cho 


Okay, so I'm going to mention this book at least one more time.  Did you love A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab?  Because this sounds similar but totally badass in its own way.   
six These Shallow Graves - Jennifer Donnelly 

I'm not sure if you know this about me, but I have a flair for the morbid.  My apartment is covered in skulls, voodoo dolls, and black.  I keep Pinterest boards of Victorian postmortem photography.  So Donnelly had me hooked with this dark thriller romance between a morgue student and a murdered man's daughter.    
seven The Rest of Us Just Live Here - Patrick Ness 

Chaos Walking is life.  Patrick Ness is dryly, acidly funny, and I'm so excited for this new book about what happens when you're not the chosen one.  

eight Newt's Emerald - Garth Nix 

There's something whimsical about this story that speaks to my Diana Wynne Jones - loving heart.  A stolen lucky emerald, a disguised girl on the run, a magical truthteller--it's the light fantasy that never gets enough credit.  
nine The Devil and Winnie Flynn - Micol Ostow 

Dark comedy meets soul-searching coming-of-age in a novel about a girl who goes to New Jersey looking for work, and finds an unbelievable supernatural mystery instead.  

ten The Girl with the Wrong Name - Barnabas Miller  

Theo has a fear, a scar, and no memory of what happened to her one fateful night.  Normally I'm not down with amnesiac stories (done much?), but I love the idea of Theo having this crazy obsession with a guy who calls himself "The Lost Boy," who may bring her closer to the truth than she realizes.