June 18, 2017

How to Be an Absolutely Unreliable Blogger: Lesson No.1

Oh, dear me, where did MY time go. I SO need a TARDIS.


My latest adventure in blogging is dated May 26th. Let me do the math...um...ah...it's been MORE THAN 3 FRIGGIN' WEEKS *cowers*.

May 26, 2017

B.C. Johnson: "Deadgirl: Goneward" (ARC Review)

Title: Deadgirl: Goneward [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Deadgirl (3rd of 4 books)
Author: B.C. Johnson [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary
Year: 2017
Age: 14+
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Imaginative plot. Strong mix of adventure and paranormal occurrences with focus on friendship. Characters manage to feel realistic in the middle of mayhem, and will warm your heart.
Cons: Very dark in places (though temperated with funny dialogue/inner monologue). Some chapters (especially the first ones) might sound confusing due to time and perspective shift.
WARNING! Horror and heartbreak around the corner. Some language.
Will appeal to: Those who enjoy a mix of laughters and tears, action and strong feelings. Those who like brave teens who don't pose as heroes.

Blurb: Lucy Day and her friends (mostly) survived last year's encounter with serial killers, a teenage sorcerer, new romance, and drama class. But - as usual for Team Deadgirl - the horror never ends, there's more monsters to slay, and magic is the worst. A roadtrip for answers leads to new questions, strange allies, and the wrath of an ancient undead girl named Imogen Dane. What strange locales will they discover? Will they all make it back home? (Amazon excerpt)

Review:  First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. And the author being B.C. Johnson, you all know I've been campaigning for his first Deadgirl book with all my might since 2012, when the original version came out. Also, B.C. Johnson and me have stayed in touch, if sporadically, for the whole time. I'm not what you would call a friend of his though, only a fan of his work. And an unbiased one. As usual, this review is the love child of my penchant for quirky, uniquely worded books and B.C. Johnson's ability to deliver them. Also, please note: my reviews are usually rather straightforward, though I always do my best to refrain from spoilers. But this one will probably be my vaguest review ever, because there's so much I can't discuss without uncovering relevant plot points. Here goes...

SURPRISE FEAST

This series always manages to surprise me. Building strongly on the mythology established since Book 1, every installment will bring you to a different place nevertheless, where the only common denominator are strong emotions and an ever tighter ensemble cast. Lucy may be the star of this story, but her friends are given more and more screentime, not to mention weight. Deadgirl: Goneward is the first book in the series to feature a double POV (which I found thoroughly enjoyable, though sometimes a little confusing), and the first one where the relationship between Lucy and her closest friend is explored to its fullest. B.C. Johnson has proven himself more than once, when it comes to capturing the shades of his female characters and creating a solid palette. This book is no exception, and still makes you see Lucy and Morgan in a new, enhanced light. In the meantime, tension never lets up, and unexpected events (of the dangerous kind) heap on one another, while Team Deadgirl's quest for answers about Lucy's nature leads the readers in places they didn't anticipate. And with a few unexpected allies... [...]

May 20, 2017

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #5 B.C. Johnson, A.S. King, Dawn Kurtagich


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I had never though I'd done minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted with some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps :). Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long review - no such luck LOL. But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, or in case I want to draw attention to some old ones I've already reviewed, I might as well give you the short version ;). Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

April 23, 2017

I Wish I Were More Productive, but Beta-Reading Is Hard Work

Hi, you by-default wonderful people!
("By default" because anyone who stops by my blog and takes the time to read has to be nothing short of wonderful, of course ๐Ÿ˜‰).
Life is busy as usual at the mo, but I've just added a couple of lovely chores to my list...I've been asked to beta read-again for Erin Callahan (her first solo work The Art of Escaping, which I'm proud to have perused in one of its early stages, is hitting the shelves next year!) and her buddy author Troy H. Gardner (the two of them penned the Mad World series, which hopefully will return with the last 3 installments soon!).

This is not Erin. Or Troy. They are actually very patient. But above all, I'm not a bearded guy

April 16, 2017

Michelle E. Reed: "Life After Dez" / "Missing in Atman" (Joint Review)

Title: Life After Dez [on Amazon | on Goodreads] / Missing in Atman [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Atman City (1st & 2nd of 3 books)
Author: Michelle E. Reed [Twitter | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife
Year: 2013-2014
Age: 12+
Stars: 2.5/5
Pros: Fresh spin on the afterlife trope. Teen POC adopted by white parents and in an interracial relationship. A side character gets an imaginative, interesting story.
Cons: The lead has a pattern of repeating the same mistakes and is cut a lot of slack regardless. Also, in Book 2, love triangle rears its head...
Will appeal to: Those who love stubborn heroines, romance and adventures in an afterlife context.

Blurb for Life After Dez: Bleeding to death on the side of a rural highway turns out to be the easiest part of Dez Donnelly’s unexpected Saturday. Swept away to Atman Station, the crossroads of the afterlife, Dez discovers her unprepared soul is trapped between worlds in a limbo existence where she’s given two choices: join the program or face the consequences. Her new reality is conduct manuals, propaganda, and unrelenting staff orchestrating a complex program designed to help transitional souls accept death and move on. To make matters worse, the beautiful and enticing Atman City - a stunning but dangerous metropolis that borders the outer boundaries of the station - is strictly off-limits to underage souls. Dez has to choose: go along to get along, or fight for the future she believed in. (Amazon excerpt)

Blurb for Missing in Atman: Dez is finally hitting her afterlife stride. She hasn’t missed a meeting or session in forty-two days, and she’s put the adventures and danger of her first days at Atman behind her. Life after death is becoming tolerable, yet nothing is quite what she’d hoped. In a missed encounter with Crosby, her prying gaze lands upon a single entry in the datebook on his unoccupied desk. These few, hastily scribbled words reveal an enormous secret he’s keeping from her. Possessed by a painful sense of betrayal, she once again sneaks off to Atman City, determined to find answers to an unresolved piece of her life. It begins as all their adventures do, but a stop in an unfamiliar neighborhood sets forth a chaotic series of events. Dez will have to fight for her very existence, and will face painful, irreparable loss in an afterlife teeming with demons wielding ancient powers. (Amazon excerpt) 

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received these books from the author after approaching her on Twitter with a couple of questions about Book 3 and the series re-release (Reed put forth the new edition of Book 1 & 2 by herself, and is working on the final installment in the trilogy). She volunteered to send me Life After Dez and Missing in Atman in exchange for an honest review. That didn't affect my opinion and rating in any way. Please note: as a rule, I review all books in a series separately - except in particular instances. Since I got these two together, and most of what I had to say applied to both, I made an exception here. I hope it doesn't inconvenience you in any way.

April 12, 2017

Cover Reveal (+ Blurb): "Deadgirl: Goneward" by B.C. Johnson

Welcome to a very special cover + blurb reveal...

Big tease, I know ;)

You know, as a rule, I don't do reveals. Well, I don't do mass reveals, or reveals for books that I'm not interested in. But this is one of my favourite series ever, so it gets the spotlight, and for free too. Heck, I would even pay for doing it myself. Or maybe not really...but you get the idea ๐Ÿ˜‰.
I believe you heard me raving about Deadgirl and Deadgirl: Ghostlight once or twice. (Oh, but in case you are from another planet or simply new to my blog, don't worry...I'll recap ๐Ÿ˜€). The one below is the third installment in the Deadgirl four-book series, titled Deadgirl: Goneward. It involves four friends, a road trip and a lot of paranormal mischief. Because you know, main character = dead girl. PHANTOM girl - which is different from ghost girl, in case you're wondering. Lucy Day is something you have never seen in YA. You'd better take my word - I'm the expert in dead-undead characters, as this page testifies ๐Ÿ˜‚.
So, here goes...

March 23, 2017

Tell Me Again How a Hyped Book Is Born

My precious dears,
please allow this seasoned (and middle-aged) blogger to be naive for a while. It won't be a difficult task for me, because after blogging for 4 years and a half, I still have basic questions I can't find the answers to.

Yes, I managed to stumble on a Who-Tennant gif for this, too ๐Ÿ˜‚
In these 53 months, I've reviewed an almost equal share of traditionally published and indie/small press books. Not all the books in the first category were good (you can argue that it's a matter of taste, but that aside, what about books that predate on old, stale ideas/tropes? or reinforce equally old stereotypes? or simply are not that well-written? and so on), while I found a few hidden gems in the second. So I tried to tell the world that said hidden gems needed to be dug and polished and admired and LOVED. And more often than not, I found myself shouting into a void.


March 08, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (One Shot): "The Art of Escaping" by Erin Callahan (Plus the Story of How I Was Involved in It)

Lookie! Roberta is doing a WoW post (*ooooohhhhh*).
Haha, really, don't get used to it - this is a special occasion, and since today is Wednesday, and I wanted this book to get special attention, I told myself - why not?
So, my dearest darlings...
...remember the post in which I explained why I try not to cross the boundary between fan and friend when talking to authors? because I need to be able to promote their work without sounding biased?
That is still relevant to this day. I'm still trying. And I've been blessed with meeting a few intelligent writers who can take criticism if needed, so I'm not afraid to speak my little mind if they ask my opinion on their books (as in, beta-reading) or even if they don't (as in, reviewing).


This been said, I'll admit that this lady called Erin Callahan is the closest thing I have to a friend in the author department. I (virtually) met her in 2013, when she asked me if I was interested in reviewing the first two books in the Mad World series, that she had (and still has) in progress along with her writing partner Troy H. Gardner. Erin had actually taken the time to peruse my blog and to pay attention to my reading preferences, which is SO rare. So, I reviewed her and Troy's first two collaborative novels (and later the third). I thought they showed promise, though I had some reservations about said books that both Erin and Troy received very graciously. The two of them were still rather new at the writing game, so they were eager to learn from any criticism their readers might throw at them. I don't know if they learned anything from me (I don't know if anyone can learn anything from me, period), but what I mean is, it was a pleasure to work with them.
I have stayed in contact with both Erin and Troy - if sporadically - since...especially with Erin, because she was (I think) in charge of what you would call the book marketing. Like I said, I reviewed the third installment of their series. I interviewed them. I befriended them on Twitter.

February 28, 2017

J.R. Rain et al.: "Darkscapes"

Title: Darkscapes [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: J.R. Rain et al. [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2017
Age: 14+ (the anthology is geared to adults, but a mature teen can enjoy most of it. At least two of the stories feature teens/kids)
Stars: 3.5
Pros: A bunch of often imaginative, at times surprising stories, covering a wide range of genres and eras.
Cons: On the other hand, maybe the collection is a tad too eclectic and lacks focus. Also, the quality spectrum varies from high to less impressive.
Will appeal to: Those who enjoy a wide selection of tales, some bolder than the others.

Blurb: Curiosity Quills Press explores yearning, regret, and fear with the Darkscapes Anthology - a spellbinding collection of dark fantasy, sci-fi, cyberpunk, horror, and detective fiction. Delve into worlds of terrible family secrets, unexpected doppelgรคngers, a home invasion on an alien planet, androids and assassins, places and people who aren’t as stable as they seem, frustrated musicians going to desperate lengths - and more. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this anthology from Curiosity Quills in exchange for an honest review. To be more precise, I specifically requested a review copy. That didn't affect my opinion and rating in any way. Here goes... 

ON THE FENCE

Confession/disclaimer: when it comes to spinning a tale, short stories are not my favourite medium. Anthologies can be hit or miss for me. I requested this one because 1) I had previously read and loved another Curiosity Quills collection called Windows into Hell, and 2) I saw that Darkscapes featured a couple of authors whose novels I appreciate(d). All in all, I had a good time reading most of these stories (and the authors I mentioned above didn't disappoint), but honestly, I wasn't able to connect with all of them. I suppose this says more about me than about their quality though, in most cases. Anyway, there are a bunch of stories in here that mean more to me than the others, and a few of them actually went in unexpected directions. Here is what worked for me and what left me wanting more... [...]

February 19, 2017

Screen Time #5: In Which I'm Hitchhiking for the TARDIS


Welcome to Screen Time, my own feature where I ramble about spotlight some iconic and/or favourite TV series from the '80s, '90s and 2000s!
I'm a child of the '60s *big shock*. This accounts for me fondly remembering some oldies I grew up with, or having some of them in my all-time favourite list. But don't worry, I'm not stuck in the '80s ;). There are plenty of series I've liked and followed in the most recent years...and some current favourites too. So tune in with me, and don't forget your popcorn...

January 29, 2017

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #4 Janet McNally, Seanan McGuire, Janet Tashjian


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I had never though I'd done minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted with some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps :). Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long review - no such luck LOL. But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, or in case I want to draw attention to some old ones I've already reviewed, I might as well give you the short version ;). Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

January 16, 2017

E.S. Wesley: The Outs (ARC Review)

Title: The Outs  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: E.S. Wesley [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2017
Age: 14+
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Fresh premise. Strong blend of sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal. Imaginative, hectic story without a dull moment. Tridimensional (and diverse) characters. Focus on friendship and loyalty.
Cons: Might seem a bit frenzied and confusing to some. Concise writing with short sentences might not appeal to everyone.
WARNING! Gory and scary in parts, with gruesome deaths and suicide.
Will appeal to: Those who are looking for a breathtaking story with a strong accent on friendship and an unusual heroine.

Blurb: Caleb’s been changing ever since the memory-stealing blackouts - the Outs - started. He used to be a good, dependable, honor-student, but now his parents have vanished, and something inside tells him their disappearance is his fault. That something has a voice - a voice that's pushed him to kidnap a little girl. Caleb believes he did it to protect her, but now he’s starting to wonder if he’s the one she needs protection from. Then there’s his friend, Kitzi. Kitzi knows a secret she can’t share, locked in her head behind layers of brain damage. Kitzi wants to help Caleb, but she suspects a connection between this little girl and the Outs. If she can survive Caleb’s mistakes and the strange girl’s reality-bending fits long enough to put the pieces together, her secret might save them. Or it could mean the end of everything. (Goodreads)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased. To date, a couple of their books have been under the 4 star mark for me. But seriously, CQP has some of the best sci-fi/fantasy titles around. It's not my fault ๐Ÿ˜‰.

THE SKY'S THE LIMIT

As a reader of all things weird, I sometimes muse about the rise and fall of certain genres. Maybe good old dystopian is riding a failing curve, I don't know. What I know is, sci-fantasy is on a roll, at least judging from the books I've been reading in the latest twelve months or so (which are not many, I'll admit, but still). Mind you, some of them do have dystopian elements, or ARE indeed shamelessly dystopian more than anything else...but the thing they all have in common is the happy marriage of sci-fi with fantasy. This allows authors more freedom, helps them break the boundaries and come up with fresher and bolder ideas. In The Outs, a sci-fi premise blends with a paranormal scenario, and throws in a comic/superhero theme for good measure. I'll admit that, in the hands of a less skilled writer, this might be a recipe for disaster. But E.S. Wesley rides this monster magnificently, and without a flinch. Add in a couple of damaged, flesh-and-blood teens, a disability turned into a diverse superpower, and a creepy, powerful, but still vulnerable little girl, and you'll get one of the most entertaining-slash-moving stories you'll ever read. [...]

January 02, 2017

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #3 Patrick Ness, Robin Wasserman, E.S.Wesley


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I had never though I'd done minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted with some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps :). Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long review - no such luck LOL. But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, or in case I want to draw attention to some old ones I've already reviewed, I might as well give you the short version ;). Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...