May 19, 2019

What I Did Last Month: Silent Hiatus Recap & Back to Blogging

Hello sweeties! 💚

I'm here. I'm live. Well...as live as one can be when writing a post in advance LOL. But I mean, this is a new post, not one I scheduled a month or two ago. When I planned my hiatus, on my return I hoped to be able to post the review that started it all - the one that I couldn't seem to write, and that made me realise I needed some blogging-free space. But I finally decided to let it sit for a while longer, so I'm writing this post instead. I hold a grudge to that review LOL. It's not a good idea to force myself to write it now. But while I still have a couple of pre-hiatus posts waiting to go live (May 24th -> Rehabilitating YA: 20 Trope-Free Standalones/Series to Read if You've Given Up on It (Pt.4); May 28th -> TMST: Who Are Some of Your Favourite Authors?), I wanted to do a small recap of what I did last month and give you some heads-up about my future...

May 14, 2019

TMST: Do You Prefer Action-Driven Books or Quiet Books?

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:

DO YOU PREFER ACTION-DRIVEN BOOKS OR QUIET BOOKS?

I'm a little ambivalent about this. If I often find myself gravitating toward books where things happen (I mean, lots of things, and pretty fast), I love it when the action is balanced out by introspection/inner monologue. I'm going to post three lists - the first is comprised of some of my favourite books/series where a lot happens (though they still meet the introspection requirement), the second sports books that are part action-y, part quiet, while in the third you'll find equally engaging books where not much happens. (Note: these were all 5 or 4.5 star reads I wrote a full review for).

May 07, 2019

TMST: Why Do You Like to Read Book Reviews?

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:

WHY DO YOU LIKE TO READ BOOK REVIEWS?

...Because you do, don't you? 😉
I mean, I know of bloggers who review books but hardly read any reviews (which strikes me as odd at best LOL). While others usually read reviews only if they come from trusted buddies (which makes much more sense to me. What with unmarked spoilers coming out from nowhere, biased opinions and other incidents).

May 01, 2019

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #12 Lauren Karcz, Rin Chupeco, Amelinda Bérubé


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 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 27, 2019

Making the Cover: "Tunnelville" 2.0 by Erin Callahan & Troy H. Gardner

Hello lovelies!

I'm treating you to something different today. Or better...something that I already did once, but you don't often see around. Not quite your classic cover reveal, but the illustrated story of how a concept is made into a cover. Which is probably interesting if you dabble in art yourself, but maybe even more if you don't have the faintest idea of how these things work (when the authors themselves are in charge of the process, that is).


Before we start, a short recap is due. In 2013, I received a review copy of Wakefield from the very hands of authors Erin Callahan and Troy H. Gardner. To cut a long story short, since then we have developed a great author/blogger relationship. I reviewed the three collaborative books they have put forth so far (after Wakefield, the sequels Tunnelville and Perfection), beta-read for both of them, and cheerleaded like a champion at every step of their writing journey. The books Erin and Troy co-authored are the first half of the Mad World double trilogy, originally published by a small press. After Book 3 came out - that is, in June 2013 - the two of them have been working at refining their craft, while also tending to their individual projects. Now, since the rights for the first three installments were reverted to them, Erin and Troy have decided to go indie, and to kick off Wakefield, Tunnelville and Perfection again, before they start publishing the second half of the series. This involved a whole rebrand, of course, starting with the covers. Troy is the one in charge of them, and today on the blog he kindly shares his creative process in a Tunnelville making-the-cover post. (Note: Tunnelville 2.0 is scheduled for the early summer, hopefully June, July at worst...the Dynamic Duo is presently giving the final touches to the revised version...so keep your eyes peeled! Though of course I'll keep you posted...literally 😉). Here goes...

April 20, 2019

Rehabilitating YA: 20 Trope-Free Standalones/Series to Read if You've Given Up on It (Pt.3)

Hello sweeties!

I've been wanting to write a post like this for a while. Every now and then, I hear someone say they've given up on YA (or are reading much less of it lately) because they got fed up with the tropes that come with the "genre". Now, while of course it's not mandatory to read YA at any age, and while I'm not denying the existence of such tropes (though really, any literary genre/age range has got its share of them...), I made it my reader's life mission to discover YA books that stand out for any reason and employ as little of those overused plot devices as it's humanly possible (hence, of course, my blog's name). So I thought I'd put together a list of YA novels blissfully devoid of tropes (or employing them in minimal doses), hoping to prove those reluctant/jaded readers that there's so much more to YA than meets the eye. And I ultimately decided to make this post into a series, because my list was too long for a single one. Here goes Part 3 (broken down by genres/my blog's Reading Rooms)...
(Note: these are not necessarily my favourite books - though some of them are. I only choose them for their lack/minimal amount of tropes. Also, there are a few mature YA/NA/adult friendly books in this list).

April 15, 2019

The Invisible Hiatus (And How I Learned to Let Go)

Hello sweeties,

on this very day, this space was meant to host a review. I had a precise book in mind, and I even reread it in order to be able to make it justice - to say the right things in the right way. I had this review appointed for weeks. I tried to make it happen for a couple ones at least (that was around mid-March). I went as far as to write the Pros and Cons sections...but then, I finally realised something - I wasn't feeling it. At first I didn't worry, because it's something that happens to me from time to time - even with 5 or 4 star books. Sometimes I have to give myself a kick in the butt in order to get moving...and then, lo and behold! the words flow and the review is done in a few hours and it's even kind of awesome. But this time, the more I kept procrastinating and moving said review further and further down my schedule, the more I hated the thought of having to write it. As I said, it wasn't the book - it was me. It got to the point where it was messing with my whole schedule - other posts that I couldn't or didn't want to cancel/move for any given reason. I had all the time in the world for writing that review, and suddenly, I had none left. Unless I wanted to force it out of my brain (damaging the book), and work around the clock, and postpone reading my new books because of it. That's when I finally drew the line.

April 10, 2019

Janet Tashjian: "For What It's Worth"

Title: For What It's Worth [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Janet Tashjian [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist
Year: 2012
Age: 12+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Nice coming-of-age story with authentic teenage voice and a classic rock soundtrack.
Cons: While middle-graders/younger teens are the best audience for this one, they're likely not to be familiar with most of the music featured, unless their parents (or grandparents?) exposed them to it.
Will appeal to: Youngsters dealing with first loves, complicated family dynamics and making sense of the world. Youngsters who can relate to loving music on a deep level. Adults who grew up with classic rock and are willing to read a well-crafted slice of teenage life set in the era.

Blurb: The year is 1971 and the place is Laurel Canyon, California. Quinn, a fourteen-year-old music "encyclopedia," writes a music column called "For What It's Worth" for his school paper. But Quinn's world is about to change when he is faced with helping a war dodger and must make some tough decisions. When he starts receiving cryptic Ouija board messages from Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix (all members of the 27 Club), he knows he is in over his head. Fortunately for Quinn, his new girlfriend Caroline helps him get a grip and channel his inner self. (Amazon)

Review: This one is a bit of an odd fish, since it crosses the boundary between MG and YA, and yet it would be better appreciated by an adult with a basic knowledge of the music involved. I think it was what influenced my rating the most, because FWIW has a lot going for it. Also, please note: this particular review has been split in two parts only (instead of the usual three) because it would have been redundant to do otherwise. FWIW is a coming-of-age story as much as it's a story fueled by music, and those are the two aspects my review will focus on.

KEEPING IT REAL

I love how authentic Quinn's voice is. He's fourteen, never been kissed, passionate about music in a way that - alas - only a kid who grew up before the digital age can be. And self-absorbed (or lacking social awareness) in a way that rings completely true for a teen his age. He has an older female sibling with whom he entertains your classic love-hate relationship, but still leaning on the love side (though he probably would never admit it if not under torture). He's oblivious to what boils under his unbalanced family dynamic. And he's equally oblivious to the changes occurring around him, what with the Vietnam War seeping more and more into his idyllic suburban life. During the course of a few months though, all these things are about to change, for better or worse. As a coming-of-age story, Quinn's is well-executed and relatable, and the best thing is, it doesn't change the core of what he is (which would be an improbable feat, but it doesn't mean that a less skilled writer wouldn't have gone there). He makes mistakes and learns from them and becomes a better person, and this is the realest thing you can ask from a character. [...]

April 02, 2019

TMST: How Do You Feel about Authors Throwing Big, Obscure Words into Their Books?

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 DO YOU FEEL ABOUT AUTHORS THROWING BIG, OBSCURE WORDS INTO THEIR BOOKS?

I suppose I'm in the minority here, but I actually like them! I don't mean fancy talk, the kind you would find in an old book, or flowery language. But I get excited when a book I'm reading provides the random unusual word I have to look into a dictionary to unlock. Maybe it's because English is an acquired language for me, so I love to learn new words - even if I rarely remember them when I set to write a post or a tweet 😅. Or maybe it's more because I revel in the endless possibilities that English language [and my own as well, of course] offers, and I love it when writing gets spiced up and leans a bit towards the unconventional side. There are so many wonderful, neglected words out there - why don't use them for a change?

March 27, 2019

It's a Tough Job: Tales about Your Dream Career and More

Hello sweeties!

A few weeks ago, a Twitter meme about your 5-year-old-self dream career and my own musings about jobs gave me the idea for this post. This is going to be a conversation prompt about the kind of job you wanted to do when you grew up, the one you got (instead?) and/or the one you would like to do one day. I'll go first...

March 22, 2019

Rehabilitating YA: 20 Trope-Free Standalones/Series to Read if You've Given Up on It (Pt.2)

Hello sweeties!

I've been wanting to write a post like this for a while. Every now and then, I hear someone say they've given up on YA (or are reading much less of it lately) because they got fed up with the tropes that come with the "genre". Now, while of course it's not mandatory to read YA at any age, and while I'm not denying the existence of such tropes (though really, any literary genre/age range has got its share of them...), I made it my reader's life mission to discover YA books that stand out for any reason and employ as little of those overused plot devices as it's humanly possible (hence, of course, my blog's name). So I thought I'd put together a list of YA novels blissfully devoid of tropes (or employing them in minimal doses), hoping to prove those reluctant/jaded readers that there's so much more to YA than meets the eye. And I ultimately decided to make this post into a series, because my list was too long for a single one. Here goes Part 2 (broken down by genres/my blog's Reading Rooms)...
(Note: these are not necessarily my favourite books - though some of them are. I only choose them for their lack/minimal amount of tropes. Also, there are a few mature YA/NA/adult friendly books in this list).

March 19, 2019

TMST: What Personality Traits Do You Love/Hate in a Character?

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 PERSONALITY TRAITS DO YOU LOVE/HATE IN A CHARACTER?

First off...I proposed this question to Heidi, and she gladly accepted to incorporate it into her list. Thank you!

Overall, I'm not awfully picky with my characters - I have been known to like a few unlikeable ones (at least based on the general consensus, or lack of it...but heck, even "I" could see those characters were a little - or a lot - off the track, so to speak), as long as they were interesting to read about, or the story they featured in was interesting as a whole. But the key word, to me, are "depth" and "growth". Even characters with a questionable history can provide both. Also, let's face it, not a single one of us is a saint - why shouldn't we be equally lenient with book characters? Maybe we would never be best friend with them IRL, but that doesn't mean they can't provide an interesting perspective book-wise.

March 12, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: To Tour or Not to Tour?

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:

TO TOUR OR NOT TO OUR? DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN BOOK TOURS? WHY OR WHY NOT?

I very rarely participate in book tours. I only do if:
  • they're about a book by a favourite author
  • I can select the review option for that particular book (and I'm fairly convinced that I'll like it)
  • I'm positively sure I'll end up buying the book when it comes out (in case the tour only allows options like blurb/cover reveal).
From what I hear, book tours aren't a big hit with blog readers, unless there's a lot of buzz surrounding the book already; but even if they were (or are they? more experienced bloggers than me are better equipped to reply to this question), I would only feature books I'm interested in, whether they're big or small. (And given the nature of my blog, I don't think I'll ever get the chance to spotlight a BIG release LOL).

March 04, 2019

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #11 Nova Ren Suma, Seanan McGuire, Parker Peevyhouse


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 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...

February 26, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Have You Learned to Keep Your TBR Pile in Check, or How Would You Like to Control Your Pile?

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 YOU LEARNED TO KEEP YOUR TBR PILE IN CHECK, OR HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO CONTROL YOUR PILE?

First off - compared to most TBR piles I see around (judging from Goodreads at least), mine is relatively small...and always seems to dance around the same number - a little more or a little less than 100 books. At present, I have 79 in my Want to Read shelf and 19 in my Not Sure one. And since 57 of them are either out of print or impossible to locate through my usual webseller (the only one I know that accepts cash on delivery), less than half my TBR list is made of books that I can ACTUALLY buy at this very moment. Unless I decide to use a credit card (debit card, in my case) and buy from Amazon, The Book Depository and the likes - which would allow me to request used copies or ebooks where new/physical ones are not available. But...I'm so wary of that.

February 20, 2019

Rehabilitating YA: 20 Trope-Free Standalones/Series to Read if You've Given Up on It (Pt.1)

Hello sweeties!

I've been wanting to write a post like this for a while. Every now and then, I hear someone say they've given up on YA (or are reading much less of it lately) because they got fed up with the tropes that come with the "genre". Now, while of course it's not mandatory to read YA at any age, and while I'm not denying the existence of such tropes (though really, any literary genre/age range has got its share of them...), I made it my reader's life mission to discover YA books that stand out for any reason and employ as little of those overused plot devices as it's humanly possible (hence, of course, my blog's name). So I thought I'd put together a list of YA novels blissfully devoid of tropes (or employing them in minimal doses), hoping to prove those reluctant/jaded readers that there's so much more to YA than meets the eye. And I ultimately decided to make this post into a series, because my list was too long for a single one. Here goes Part 1 (broken down by genres/my blog's Reading Rooms)...
(Note: these are not necessarily my favourite books - though some of them are. I only choose them for their lack/minimal amount of tropes. Also, there are a few mature YA/NA/adult friendly books in this list).

February 13, 2019

Lyssa Chiavari: "Fourth World"

Title: Fourth World [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Iamos Trilogy (1st of 3 books, but there's also a novella that is book 1.5 in the series)
Author: Lyssa Chiavari [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2015
Age: 14+
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Interesting premise. Varied (and diverse) cast of characters who (mostly) feel like real teens.
Cons: While interesting, the premise is not overly original. While nice, the characters don't exactly grab you. Some telling-vs.-showing.
Will appeal to: Those who like time travel, mandatory but slightly out-of-the-box romances, and accidental heroes.

Blurb: Life on Mars isn't all it's cracked up to be when you're Isaak Contreras. Ever since his dad disappeared two years ago, Isaak's been struggling to keep up in school, and he never seems to be able to live up to his mom's high expectations. But everything changes when he finds an ancient coin among his missing father's possessions. The coin makes him a target of both the Martian colonial government and a crazed scientist with a vendetta - and it leads him to a girl from another time named Nadin, who believes that Isaak might just hold the key to saving both their worlds. That is, if they can survive long enough to use it...(Amazon)

Review: First off...SORT-OF DISCLAIMER: I won a digital copy of Fourth World in a giveaway a while ago. Of course, this didn't influence my opinions.

(MODERATELY) HAPPY MEAL

Fourth World technically had all the ingredients for my kind of story. And I did like it...but less than I expected. The premise is interesting enough - Mars became an Earth colony, though I'm not sure how it could be accomplished; a teen guy (Isaak) searching for the answer to his father's disappearance finds more than he bargained for, and gets whisked to a past where the planet is on the verge of dying, with all its original inhabitants. Here he befriends a privileged, but questioning girl (Nadin), and they set on a journey to save Mars' native people (and possibly, to send Isaak home). Also, there are conspiracies going on in both timelines, and a bunch of diverse characters both in the sexuality spectrum (lesbian, demi, ace) and the ethnicity one. So...interesting. Maybe not exactly fresh, you know, but as a combination of different themes, it works. On the other hand...I'm not sure if it was because I recognised a few tropes that I was left wanting more. Maybe it had more to do with the execution than with the ingredients. I liked the taste, but the whole dish didn't ultimately amount to more than the sum of its parts. That's not to say that this book (or series) hasn't a few things going for it though, especially in the rep department. [...]

February 05, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What Are Some Big Misconceptions You Had about Blogging When You Started?

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 BIG MISCONCEPTIONS YOU HAD ABOUT BLOGGING WHEN YOU STARTED?

Well...in my case, I wouldn't use the word "misconceptions"...it was more a case of "I didn't know what I was getting myself into". I didn't have any particular expectations, like becoming famous or getting ARCs (I didn't even know ARCs were a thing back then...). Then again, there were so many aspects of blogging I wasn't aware of before I actually started, and I bet most of them are the same for everyone (unless they're friends with another, more seasoned blogger, that is). Here goes my list...

Sorry, Ten. It's addictive...😉

January 29, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What Things Turn You Off in a Book Blurb?

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 THINGS TURN YOU OFF IN A BOOK BLURB?

Hey, I'm so proud because I actually suggested today's question 😊. That's why EVERYBODY should answer it, or I will be seriously pissed and get back at you with a vengeance 😡. LOL.

January 21, 2019

Christopher Pike: "Thirst No.3: The Eternal Dawn"

Title: Thirst No.3: The Eternal Dawn [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Thirst (previously: The Last Vampire) (3rd of ?? books)
Author: Christopher Pike [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Year: 2010
Age: 14+ (please note: for years it's been considered YA lit, but the human age of the protagonist would place it in the NA category nowadays, and the series get more mature - and darker - by the book)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Original take on vampires. Plenty of kickass action and funny (if often bloody) moments. Blends urban fantasy with thriller, history (though not in this specific installment), and more than anything, Eastern spirituality. More sophisticated than the previous books in the series (also because 14 years have passed), Thirst No.3 has lots of action, conspiracies and high stakes, plus an old friend returning.
Cons: A few problematic assessments about women, in jest but still bad-tastey. The deus-ex-machina device is freely used. But the worst thing is, this particular installment sees Sita sidelined in its second half, when a male hero steps in.
WARNING! Abundance of blood, gore and violence.
Will appeal to: Those looking for a fresh approach to vampires, in what was probably the very first YA/NA series about them.

Blurb: Alisa has spent the past five thousand years as a vampire, living alone and fighting for survival. In her loneliness, Alisa cannot resist bringing Teri - a descendant of her human family - into her life. But Alisa is surrounded by death and destruction, and just by knowing Alisa, Teri’s life is at risk. Alisa’s guilt grows when she becomes involved in a dangerous conspiracy. A top-secret group knows Alisa’s secret and will stop at nothing to use her powers for their cause. As Alisa desperately tries to protect herself and Teri from the unknown enemy, she discovers a force more powerful and more lethal than anything she has ever seen. Alisa doesn’t know who to trust, who to challenge, or who she will become…(Goodreads)
[Please note: "Alisa" is the main character's alias when she's undercover for some reason...or when it suits her, but her real name is Sita. I SO wish these blurbs called her by her birth name 😒]

Review: This series is not perfect. And I won't shun its faults in my review. But for some reason, I can't bear myself to rate it less than 5 stars (well, 4 this time). It's not author bias - there are a bunch of Pike books I rated 3 stars and even less. But if TLV/Thirst stills works its magic on me almost 20 years after I first read Book 1, and if I'm still peeling its layers after all this time, that should count for something...

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW

I'm not sure why Pike decided to reprise this series after 14 years - it's kind of unprecedented - but I can speculate that 1) he never got over Sita, and was still haunted by all her unwritten stories, and 2) since vampires were in their heyday back in 2010, Simon & Schuster strongly encouraged him to write more. Now, don't get me wrong - I would very much like to read Sita stories until me or the author leave our earthly abode, and even beyond. But in doing that, Pike also tweaked canon a lot. In Thirst No.3, the very ending of the original series is dismissed, and a supposedly dead character is brought back. I mean...not literally - Pike came up with a clever way to do both things, and it didn't involve necromancy or resurrection 😉 - but he couldn't help creating plot holes/virtual impossibilities in the original books in the process. Even those MIGHT be explained away (and he does try to smooth a few creases, so to speak), but the most notable fact is, he rewrote the whole supposedly dead character's experience. I'm not really complaining, because I loved this particular return, but what I'm saying is, I probably wouldn't have put up with such a trick if I didn't love the concept of this series (and its characters) so much.
Speaking of friends, in this book Sita makes a few new ones too, which is an interesting new angle. She's become a social animal to an extent, and it's a pity that her interactions with Teri (her human descendant) don't get more screen time. Now, don't get fooled - she's still powerful and deadly, even more so. But it's nice to see her more human side for a change...though I'm not thrilled by her flirting with Teri's boyfriend Matt. I mean, there's a reason why the two of them feel a connection, and Sita swears she would never hurt Teri...but still, flirt she does. And Matt too 😒. [...]

January 16, 2019

Giving It Our (He)art and Soul: Why Each and Every Blogger Is an Artist in Their Own Way

Hello sweeties!

Today I want to celebrate all of us bloggers as artists. Because even if I stand by my opinion that reviews are first and foremost craft, I realised that blogging, as a whole, is a form of art. And while we're celebrating books, TV shows, movies or anything we're passionate about - those works of art - we're creating our own version of art ourselves.

January 10, 2019

Jeri Smith-Ready: "This Side of Salvation"

Title: This Side of Salvation [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Jeri Smith-Ready [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2014
Age: 14+
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Fascinating premise. Believable, full-fleshed characters. Open-minded story that doesn't take sides.
Cons: Both Bible quotes and baseball talk are sprinkled rather freely, so you might get tired of them (they're integral to the plot though).
WARNING! Some teen sex, though not explicit or graphic.
Will appeal to: Both believers and agnostics (and even atheists, I swear) looking for a family/friendship/love story with funny touches and lots of depth.

Blurb: When his older brother was killed, David got angry. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he knows for sure: the closer he gets to new girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels. Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in preparation for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. He likes living in the moment, and isn’t sure about giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey - especially Bailey - in hope of salvation. But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined…(Amazon excerpt)

Review: I'm not a religious person, but I loved this book, also BUT not only because it tells both sides of the story (or maybe even three). I usually stay clear from romance, but the one here was done well AND was integral to the plot. Also, Smith-Ready knows how to write. Is this recommendation enough?

WHATEVER YOU BELIEVE

Writing a book where religion plays a main theme without turning it into a pamphlet for a specific belief (or lack thereof) is not an easy feat. Writing a book that's respectful of any stance on religion, where the author lets the characters tell the story without making any one of them a spokesperson, is an impressive accomplishment. The characters in TSOS cover all the spectrum from die-hard believers, to questioning Christians, to atheists, and even the ones who believe come in different packages (for example, David's friend Kane is gay, but his church doesn't consider it a sin). Each and every one of them - the main ones at least - also comes with their set of flaws and their chance at redemption (I'm using the word in a secular way here), except those who exploit faith for their own profit of course. At its core though, TSOS is not so much a story about believing, as a story about love and loss and the attempt of finding the meaning of life - or one of its possible meanings. And a coming-of-age tale where teens are not the only ones who have to grow into a better, more mature version of themselves. (Oh...and a story about baseball. Baseball is pivotal in the plot, but it's more like a way of life and a moral compass than a mere sport...). [...]

January 05, 2019

It's That Time of the Year Again...A.K.A. The Big Annual Book Haul 2018-19

 Hello sweeties! and Happy New Year again!


Today I'm doing that thing I usually do in January...that is, showcasing my big annual book haul.
Some of you might remember that my birthday is close to Christmas - just 11 days before it. So, as per my usual birthday/Christmas tradition, every year I order a bunch of books from this Italian site that sports a wide selection of books in English as well. And I post the list on here for the world to admire...and wonder why I'm so late on all these books LOL. Well, but NOT so late as I used to be this year. There are SEVEN EIGHT 2018 BOOKS in here, folks!!! SEVEN EIGHT OUT OF FIFTEEN!!! And one has been reissued in the same year. And it's actually eight instead of the original seven, because I won a Twitter giveaway generously offered by Sam @ We Live and Breathe Books, so I included that book in my list as well! Here goes said list, broken down by genres/Reading Rooms...(P.S.: all the books are YA unless otherwise stated).