July 31, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What Are Some Popular Series You Haven't Tried or Liked?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

WHAT ARE SOME POPULAR SERIES YOU HAVEN'T TRIED OR HAVE AND STOPPED BECAUSE THEY JUST DON'T APPEAL TO YOU?

OK, so...now I'll sound like a total snob, but I promise, I have reasons. Because I should probably answer...ALL OF THEM?!?!
Before you start throwing virtual rubbish my way (which you totally aren't doing, because you are all sweet cupcakes, and well-behaved ones at that 😀), as I said - I HAVE REASONS.
And I have actually read a handful of popular series since I started blogging: the Jenna Fox Chronicles trilogy by Mary E. Pearson, the Anna duology by Kendare Blake, and the ongoing Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. Wow, that's like...THREE? Add the old, but still popular Remember Me trilogy and the equally old, but ongoing Thirst series (previously called The Last Vampire) by Christopher Pike, and you have a grand total of five. FIVE. I'm dying here.
...What? Oh, right. You were waiting for my reasons...

July 24, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Have Your Reading Habits Changed Since You Started Blogging?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

HOW HAVE YOUR READING HABITS CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED BLOGGING?

First off: they HAVE changed. But in a way, they have not.
I know you are massively confused now.
OK, first off - I started blogging when I got into YA (well, a few years after I did), and I was kind of old for the blogging game already. BUT I so earnestly wanted some really good, not talked about enough YA novels to have a spotlight. (And, well, I also badly needed a place where to vent out my feelings, I guess). Back then, I had very few books to talk about, though. In time, I've been collecting more, mainly thanks to the wonderful indie authors and/or small (but no less awesome) publishers who decided to take a chance on my tiny, tiny blog. So I started to plan my reading a bit, and to make sure I wasn't blogging about (and therefore, reading) the same kind of books all in a row, in order to have more variety in my posts. Also - and this is a later development, less than one year old - I started scheduling both my posts AND my reading (as in, making a spreadsheet with all my daily goals). This doesn't mean I'm following some harsh, self-imposed rules though. I still do what it takes in order to please myself. And I CAN - and WILL - be flexible if I want to. Only, with an eye to my blog.

July 19, 2018

July Is the Cruellest Month - Sorry T.S. Eliot (But I Have a Goal, so I'm Trudging On)

Hello sweeties!

It's been a long while since I last wrote a personal post. It's just that my life is same old, same old most of the time (ALL the time?). But now I feel it's the right moment for an update, because there MIGHT be the tiniest possibility of something actually changing...or at least the tiniest hope for me to have a chance at something. So I need all my cheerleaders to do the lucky dance for me!


First off, let me tell you - the older I get, the more I hate the summer. I can't function properly. The heat drains me, my legs cramp and become stiff, and I feel tired and cranky. And I used to believe that even my mind needed a rest. After managing to post "regularly" all year long in 2013 (my first full year of blogging), I took a summer hiatus from posting in 2014 (only ONE post both in July and August - the sort where you basically say "sorry for not posting" 🙄😂). Then, in 2015, I made an effort to be more productive by signing up for the Summer Blogger Promo Tour (yes, Vera and Ruzi, that's where I meet the wonderful likes of you 😀😘), and I even added some personal content...which brought me to a total of FIVE posts in July and EIGHT (...EIGHT???)  in August 😮 (of course, the SBPT ones were guest posts, but I was reciprocating them on the other participants' blogs, so it totally counts!). In 2016 and 2017, I gritted my teeth and produced average - or a little less than average - amount of content for the same months (...well, average for ME, anyway). BUT regardless, when the summer comes, I'm always ready to threw the towel and hibernate in a cave (which is kind of counter-intuitive, but please...BEAR with me LOL). Even blogging-wise. BUT...

...this year I'm marching to the rhythm of my by-now infamous schedule, and I'm even managing to prep ahead for September and October! (Of course I started before the dreaded summer came, plus this year it wasn't even that hot here until the first days of July, but still). And lately, I've been even more motivated to have posts scheduled for later in the year, because I need to have a good amount of blog-free time if a certain opportunity presents itself. *drum roll...*

July 14, 2018

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #9 Kali Wallace, Karen Foxlee, A.S. King


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I never thought I'd do minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted 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 reviews - 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...

July 07, 2018

Seanan McGuire: "Every Heart a Doorway"

Title: Every Heart a Doorway [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Wayward Children (1st of 8? books)
Author: Seanan McGuire [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural (technically it would be Portal Fantasy, but since I don't have a Fantasy Room on the blog, I decided to shelf this one as Supernatural - that's the closer I could get), Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2016
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: An imaginative look-in-reverse at one of the most common fantasy tropes. A few diverse characters (especially when it comes to the sexuality spectrum).
Cons: You have to suspend your disbelief for things that largely transcend the premise...
WARNING! Gruesome murders/disposing of bodies.
Will appeal to: Everyone who's ever felt out of place, but doesn't necessary dream of a happierworld than the one they live in...

Blurb: Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere...else. Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced...they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: Before I start, a couple of things:
  • this is one of the rare mainstream series I read...the premise was too juicy to pass it up 😉.
  • I'm pretty much cover-blind, but HOW STUNNING IS THIS ONE? It even has the title crossing the door...it's so subtly done that I haven't noticed for a long time. And the sequels? All these covers are a work of art 😃. (Later edit: ...wait, WHAT?!? the Spanish version title doesn't do the door-crossing thing?!? ARE THESE PEOPLE FRIGGIN' JOKING?!?).

ALL THE DARK PLACES

There are lots and lots of portal fantasy stories around, whether in book or movie form. What sets McGuire's vision apart from all those is that, with this book (and series), she tries to answer two questions that (to the best of my knowledge) no one else ever did before: what happens to these kids when they come back from their adventures? and why the worlds they visited chose them in the first place? Now, the way these questions are answered is both satisfying and infuriating. It makes sense that those kids wouldn't be able to adjust back to the "real" world, especially since no one around them will ever believe their side of the story. But to some extent, all the worlds they visited are harsh and unforgiving, or even downright cruel. In Ch.3, Jack explains:
"For us, the places we went were home. We didn't care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn't have to pretend to be something we weren't. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world."
I get it, but I don't get it. The price for their freedom was still too high to me - the worlds that made them at home too dark, and more often than not, just a different kind of cage. Then again, I plaud McGuire for her inventive and - well - guts. Even if I have trouble suspending my disbelief, I can see how the way she imagines these portals is far more nuanced and interesting than if they were mere playgrounds where to have a grand adventure and maybe live happily ever after. [...]

July 01, 2018

Christopher Kerns: "Crash Alive"

Title: Crash Alive [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Haylie Black (1st of 2 books)
Author: Christopher Kerns [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2016
Age: 14+
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Fast, often funny, with a smart and determined lead. Unusual scenario for a teen novel.
Cons: Alternation of teen and adult POV/adventuring and scheming makes the pace and tone a bit uneven. Requires some suspension of disbelief. Contains techno-stuff only a few can actually wrap their head around. (Then again, you don't really need to).
Will appeal to: Fans of technology and mystery with a big side of adventure and a huge saving-the-world angle.

Blurb: The only comfort teenager Haylie Black knows is in the world of technology - coding late into the night, building cool gadgets, and occasionally breaking into places where she doesn’t belong. But Haylie’s world is turned upside down when she learns shocking news: her brother has vanished attempting to solve an Internet puzzle known as “Raven 2309.” To find him, Haylie must enter an unknown world, circling the globe and uncovering the dangerous group behind Raven’s design, to outsmart a puzzle that has never been solved. (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I specifically requested a copy from the author in exchange for a honest review.

NOT YOUR HAYLIE GIRL*

For some reason, when I requested this book I thought it had a sci-fi angle - so what I got was a bit different from my assumptions, and maybe less up my alley, but I don't regret reading this one. It's smart, adrenalinic, funny, with a determined and sassy (though socially clumsy) lead on the backdrop of a sinister, over-the-top, but still (sigh) not completely far-fetched plan. While the book is mainly from Haylie's POV, there are a few other (adult) characters who tell their side of the story, and they feel more fueled by their own agenda than actually fleshed out - but I enjoyed being in Haylie's head, even when I did understand maybe a fifth of what she was saying/doing 😅. I especially liked her banter with the Sterling brothers (the ones who recruit her to solve the Raven puzzle), the young and golden start-up creators whose only talent seems to be spending money to have people build things they don't even understand. And I loved how there wasn't the usual romance set for Haylie, though there's definitely potential for it to bloom lately. A fresh approach to the world-saving heroine 😉.

* "HAYLIE" definition in Urban Dictionary: "the type of girl who you would think is sweet and innocent but really very cheeky and mischievous [...] gorgeous/pretty and loud [...] will not mind embarrassing themselves in front of others to make them laugh...". [...]