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).