December 23, 2019

2019 Wrap-Up: In Which I Stumble, but Don't Fall (and Ultimately Conquer)

Hello my beauties!
Welcome to my last post of the year, where I will wrap my 2019 up. This was another year of scheduling, both my reads and my posts. I had set up a goal of one post a week, like last year (where I was ultimately able to hit 59), but my not-so-secret aspiration was to have a total of 60 posts - 5 per month. This didn't seem like much to achieve in fifty-two weeks - I know people who can drop the same amount of posts in TEN (hello Sam 😉). But for me, it was a huge goal. I decided not to overly stress about that number, but to do my best to reach it IF I could. On top of that, 2019 was the first year where I had to take a blog hiatus...well, two, if you count a couple of weeks in December (though I had both hiatuses covered with scheduled posts). And yet...I was able to go above and beyond! Read the whole story of how I stumbled, but didn't fall, and ultimately conquered my TBP (To Be Posted) list!

Pt. 1: This Year in Blogging

As of today, I've been blogging for 7 years and a couple of months 😃.

This is what happened on Offbeat YA during the year, broken down by number of posts, events I took part in, books I reviewed, authors I interacted with and discussion posts I wrote...plus a brand new off-blog, real-life section!

December 14, 2019

Parker Peevyhouse: "Strange Exit" (ARC Review)

Title: Strange Exit  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Parker Peevyhouse [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2020
Age: 14+
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Complex but believable VR setting, painted in mind-blowing details. Sometimes flawed, yet well-meaning and brave teens who will tug at your heart. Strong sibling theme. Twists and turns galore.
Cons: The ending feels a little rushed.
Will appeal to: Those who are fascinated by virtual reality and survival stories. Those who like books with a strong accent on family and a minimal amount of romance.

Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Lake spends her days searching a strange, post-apocalyptic landscape for people who have forgotten one very important thing: this isn’t reality. Everyone she meets is a passenger aboard a ship that’s been orbiting Earth since a nuclear event. The simulation that was supposed to prepare them all for life after the apocalypse has trapped their minds in a shared virtual reality and their bodies in stasis chambers. No one can get off the ship until all of the passengers are out of the sim, and no one can get out of the sim unless they believe it's a simulation. It's up to Lake to help them remember. When Lake reveals the truth to a fellow passenger, seventeen-year-old Taren, he joins her mission to find everyone, persuade them that they’ve forgotten reality, and wake them up. But time’s running out before the simulation completely deconstructs, and soon Taren’s deciding who’s worth saving and who must be sacrificed for the greater good. Now, Lake has no choice but to pit herself against Taren in a race to find the secret heart of the sim, where something waits that will either save them or destroy them all. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: this title was up for grabs on NetGalley (in the Read Now section). Thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge/Tor Teen for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.

THE GREAT ESCAPE

I know that many readers who prefer contemporary and/or fantasy are intimidated by sci-fi. But with Peevyhouse's books (she has three under her belt) it's not the case. You're not fed theories or technical explanations of how things work. In this particular book, you're swallowed into a futuristic setting and a sophisticated digital simulation you don't need to know the rules of, and you're in for an adventure - AND a love story in the widest sense. I don't know if the kind of virtual reality depicted in this book could ever get developed (which is a scary thought, if you ask me, because it feels so mesmerising and, well, real), but what I know is, I was able to suspend my disbelief and enjoy the ride, and I never once questioned the hows and ifs and whys. I think the most notable aspect of this virtual world is that it replicates the alleged post-apocalyptic reality of our planet (the result of a nuclear fallout), and still there are patches of beauty and safe spots the kids connected to it were able to create, and powerful illusions, and impossible escapes (the "strange exits" the book is named after) - but you can escape only for so long before reality catches up with you. (Also, in case you're wondering, the author came up with a logical - if cruel - reason for adults not to be around...). [...]

December 08, 2019

Dawn Vogel (Editor) et al.: "I Didn't Break the Lamp - Historical Accounts of Imaginary Acquaintances"

Title: I Didn't Break the Lamp: Historical Accounts of Imaginary Acquaintances [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Dawn Vogel (Editor) [Site | Goodreads] et al.
Genres: Supernatural
Year: 2019
Age: 18+ (there's a story with explicit sex on page)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Original, often unexpected, sometimes emotive spins on the imaginary friend trope.
Cons: A handful of the stories are a little harder than others to get into, or (in one instance) anticlimactic.
Will appeal to: Those who like to get surprised. Those who never really outgrew their imaginary friends and never will.

Blurb: Are they in our imagination, or are we in theirs? Mad Scientist Journal has brought together twenty-six tales of people with uncertain existence. These accounts range from cheerful to dark, stopping off at frequent points between. Imaginary friends share space with witches, monsters, nightmares, and maybe a few things that have not yet been dreamed. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I have known Troy H. Gardner (one of the authors of this anthology) for 5 years and a half now, and I have both reviewed his collaborative books with Erin Callahan (another friend of my blog) and beta-read for him. I swear, though, that I'm going to be as honest about this book as I usual strive to be in my reviews. Also, he's only one of the many, talented names featured in here, none of which I'm tied to in any way.
Note: when we think of imaginary friends, we automatically think about children, early teens at best. In this anthology, people of all ages deal with their imaginary friends, and if a couple of the youngsters end up outgrowing theirs, most have gotten old in their company, or haven't necessarily stop believing in them altogether. Also because it turns out that these imaginary friends are *big shock* as real as they come.

OUT OF THE BOX

While I was going through these stories and taking notes for each of them, the most recurring word was "original". There are a few unforeseen creatures among the imaginary friends in this book (like a female devil and a dead goddess...and even a couple of A.I.s/computer interfaces), and a few "hybrid" ones (like ghosts - or sort of - and faeries), not to mention that some of them don't engage with their human in the way you would expect - but the real treat was that most of these tales were able to take me by surprise (When I Helped for the win!). Another interesting facet of this collection is that it occasionally manages to double as ethical narrative (End User Agreement, Fortress of Ash and Bone), ecofiction (Jack in the Matchbox, The Voice), even humorous analysis of poly/gay dating (See Me, Seen), and on top of that, to include neurodivergent characters (The Tutor, End User Agreement again). But even when they have us pondering, these stories never fail to entertain and bring us to unexpected places, plus melt a little piece of our heart here and there. [...]

December 01, 2019

Tooting Your Trumpet #7


Some people toot their own trumpet. I mean to toot yours. On the first Sunday of every month, I'm sharing your posts, your sites, anything interesting I stumble upon during my internet vagrancies. This month on TYT...
  • I'M TIRED OF GOODREADS CHOICE AWARDS (a discussion on Shealea's blog Shut Up, Shealea)
  • HAVE YA PRICES GOTTEN OUT OF HAND? (a discussion on Veronika's and Ruzaika's blog Wordy and Whimsical)
  • YA VS. NA: WHY IS IT SO HARD TO CATEGORIZE? (a discussion on Emily's blog Paperback Princess)
  • ON CANADA'S IDOLIZATION OF AN OLD WHITE MAN AND HIS RACISM (a think piece/discussion on Emily's blog - see above)
Please note: all the graphics featured in these posts are property of the blogs'/sites' owners, and are only used in association with their blogs'/sites' links.