May 30, 2014

Armchair BEA Day 5: Middle Grade/Young Adult

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

Welcome back my blogging friends!

As you all know, this is the last day of Armchair BEA. I really would have liked to do both topic today, but due to lack of time, I'm forced to stick with only one. And since Offbeat YA is - as the title itself states - a young adult book blog, I will delve into such topic of course :)

Shocking reveal: I'm an adult. As in, I was a teen a long time ago. Nowadays it's fashionable to read YA, for those who aren't teens anymore...but I don't suppose there are many people in their forties who do so (someone please prove me this statement is not accurate!). Anyway, back when I was first drawn to the world of international YA lit (around 1997, I think), the genre wasn't fashionable yet. And I thought I was a weird individual with a guilty fascination for books not intended for my peers. Only much later - when I discovered Goodreads and all the great blogs out there - was I to find out I wasn't alone.

So well, why YA? Because I need the weirdness, the magic (or even black magic), the freedom that the genre provides. Because its world seems to hold no boundaries. Because of the child inside. I've been on a YA roll these latest three years or so, and it doesn't mean I won't read any Adult anymore - actually, I've got some in my TBR list at the mo - but right now, I'm still feeling that old pull. And till I'll found a good YA book to read, I proudly will.

And now, some recommendations for you...

Remember Me by Christopher Pike
The book that got me into YA (and afterlife novels). One of my absolute favourites. And my very first review :).

Cold Awakening Trilogy by Robin Wasserman:
 My favourite trilogy. So underrated.

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
I love me a good contemporary if it's not romance-driven. This one, despite the title, is not.

As for middle grade, I haven't read it since I was a kid. And by saying this, I'm not debasing anyone who still takes pleasure in this kind of books, of course. How could I? Just think about the prejudices that any adult YA reader like me has to endure. It's just that I have found my natural home in YA, and I'm not drawn to middle grade at this stage. But there is a MG book that has stayed with me all these years (I mean physically), and that I still find myself reading from time to time...Momo by Michael Ende. It's timeless. It's ageless - in the sense that anyone, at any age, can feel its magic. And I recommend it to...anyone. Especially those who think they know everything about time, or lack thereof...because, really, they don't.

For more recommendations, I strongly encourage you to check out my Reading Rooms in the left column, or my Categories list (also by star number) in the same place. Happy reading!

May 29, 2014

Armchair BEA Day 4: Beyond the Borders

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

Welcome back my fellow Armchair BEA participants! On a side note, I am not enjoying the event like I would have liked to, because I've been having time issues these days. I really really wanted to visit all the blogs involved, to read all the guest posts, etc. - but I barely have the time to peek in. ABEA caught me at a bad moment :(. goes my post for today.
In a sense, my reading always transports me beyond the borders. As an international YA blogger, I read books that - beside being written in a different language than mine - explore realities or places I've never experimented/seen firsthand. Not to mention, realities or places that never were, and probably never will be. Also, I'm a straight female who likes to read GLBTQ+ books (see my post here)...and I'm glad they've got well past the stage of a casual, almost shy presence in the YA book market. Lately, though, I've been made aware of a problem with a lot of YA novels, something I'd never really noticed before...the vast majority of them feature white individuals, and very often the diverse shades of skin, reality and experience - so to speak - are represented by secondary characters...if at all. This trend is slightly changing right while I'm writing this, though. There's an increasing awareness of this issue on the readers' part, and an increasing demand of diverse reads. Maybe because of this very reason, more and more non-white writers are making a breakthrough. And we all are going to benefit from this change :).
I'll leave you with a few links to blogs or sites that can help you expand your bookish horizons...including a link to a site dedicated to disability in YA books (another taboo theme...). In strictly alphabetical order...

Happy diverse reading! :)

Footnote: I've been noticing an increasing number of blogs that only allow comments from Google+ users. I don't have a Google+ profile, so please keep in mind that I won't be able to comment back on your page in that case. Sorry!

May 26, 2014

Armchair BEA Day 1: Introducing Offbeat YA

This is Day 1 of Armchair BEA 2014, so

I'm an Armchair BEA newbie. Are you too? Or maybe you've been around before...Well, no, it's the same difference, really. Pleased to meet you :). *shakes hand* Let's grab a drink, will you?

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

First off, a huge thanks to all the wonderful people who created this virtual event and are working hard in order to keep it alive. This year, they gave us a couple of topics per day between which to choose...of course, we can decide to do both. Being a first timer, I thought it best not to overdo things. So, here's my 5-point


Greetimgs from Italy!

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from? 
I'm thinker, stubborn individual, strong colour lover, music addict, picky reader - and last but not least, an adult with a huge penchant for YA.
I've been blogging for 19 months now. One day I realised there were all those great books on my shelves that weren't getting the attention they deserved from other would-be readers - because they hadn't been marketed strongly enough I suppose. Well, whatever the reason, they had this huge potential but not many people seemed to know about them - at least judging from the number of reviews they got on blogs and/or on Goodreads. So I embarked on my first blogging adventure. In a relaxed way though. I don't believe in posting every single day...or even every other don't expect me to drive into a posting frenzy. Once a week is enough for me, unless I do have something to say...
I'm blogging from Italy, which seems to be quite unusual, as far the international blogging crew goes. Having been studying English since I was a teen, and being a fan of YA lit. (most of which is U.S. based, or originally written in English), it was only natural for me to become an international blogger...of course, this doesn't mean I can't incur the odd mistake here and there LOL.


May 19, 2014

On Hiatus from Memes...Behind on Reviews...But Prepping My Armchair BEA Introduction!

Looks like I'm popular, after all *scratches head*
(Image source)
So, I've finally realised I'm not cut out for memes.
Apart from the (long gone, and one of a kind) Book Blogger Confessions experience, I've never ventured into the meme world, with the notable exception of the Sunday Post (hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer). And even then, I opted for my own Monthly Edition, as opposed to the regular weekly feature. Well - it's been three months and I'm worn out already. The sad truth is, in the long run, schedules are not my thing. I can join a challenge or a time-limited event, but having to deal with an endless series of deadlines makes my skin itch. Also, I want to branch out, meet new bloggers, out of the meme scheme. That's why I feel more affinity with one-shot events like the upcoming Armchair BEA. Which reminds me...I still have to work on my posts, and time is running out! So, this is just a random piece with the aim of:
  1. letting you all know I'm still alive and kicking (on second thoughts...I've had better kicking days...);
  2. officially resigning from memes (at least for the time being);
  3. apologizing for my lack of reviews (but they'll be back next month!);
  4. ...and making a date with you for May 26 - the first day of Armchair BEA! *runs off to write her introduction post*

May 10, 2014

Think-Piece: What Happened to Comment Love?

Image source

I've been blogging for nineteen months by now. Not long, but enough to be able to spot an increasing trend in our community...the slow, but steady sinking into oblivion of the comment-back unwritten rule.
 When my blog was only a few months old, I joined my very first meme - Book Blogger Confessions (hosted by Karen @ For What It's Worth and Pam @ Midnyte Reader). I don't know, maybe I was just lucky and fell in with the right crowd, or maybe it's just that we were a relatively small bunch, or that it was a fortnightly meme...but I was regularly getting a fair amount of comments - and, lo and behold, follows - even before I was able to visit the other participants' blogs myself. Also, if I commented first, the person whose blog I visited always commented back. Finally, more often than not, the comments were meaningful. For those reasons (and more), I was sad to say goodbye to BBC when it got shut down last July.
Now, I'm not a big meme supporter. I only engage in one at a time, and stick with those that aren't overwhelmed by participants. And I only join blog-hopping activities if they really appeal to me. These things are time consuming...particularly so if one doesn't want to skim through posts, leave random comments and basically limit oneself to pimping one's blog. Also, I know it's not possible for every single person who takes part to visit all the blogs involved. I'm not capable to do that myself. On the other hand, I try and comment at least on those that provide me with more input, so to speak. And it's entirely possible that, when and if the owner of the blog in question comes to me in turn, they can't get the same input from my latest post. And they don't have the time or will to browse around in order to find something else to comment on. And even if they did, they wouldn't think I'd care for a comment on an old post. Because, alas, most bloggers treat their old posts like ancient history, and in case they get a comment, it goes unreplied - and maybe even unnoticed. Anyhow, it happens more and more often to me - I take part in a blog-hopping activity, leave a (hopefully meaningful, or at least heartfelt) comment...and get nothing in return. Or almost nothing, compared to the number of people involved.
Of course, my blog isn't popular. On the other hand, this doesn't necessarily mean I have an endless supply of time to devote to blog-hopping - because of, you know, real life issues. But when I get a comment, I both reply and visit back. Which isn't the easiest thing when using Blogger's native comment system - I have to click on the commenter' name, go to their profile, see if they have a blog or site listed...and more than often go out of my way and google them if they haven't. Also, I try not to limit myself to saying things like "great post!" or "happy reading!", which usually are the clearest sign that the commenter hasn't gone past the post title. I'm aware that well-established bloggers can't possibly reply and/or comment back on every single blog...but you know what? I've seen a few doing just that. Just like I've seen more than a few bloggers who aren't overwhelmed by comments not even bothering to acknowledge the ones they get - not to mention giving some comment love back.

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Sometimes people do comment, but it's only out of formality. Here's a little story for you - something that happened to me weeks ago. I commented on a blog I was following, and only a few minutes later, I saw I had a new comment from the blog's owner under my latest review, awaiting moderation. Wow, I thought, this is quick. What a fast reader. Now, since I'm not using real names, let's say the review in question was of a book by the fictitious author Mark Doe - and the rating there was one of my lowest. Well, the commenter said something like "I've been reading many posts about Mike Doe lately [note: another fictitious name for a real author]...maybe I need to try one of his books. Great review!". I was like, sorry? did you actually bother to read the darn review's title at least? Needless to say, I never approved that comment. And I unsubscribed from the commenter's blog right away...Because, really. You don't need to comment back every single time. I don't expect you do - I'm not that unreasonable (or greedy). But when you do comment, at least skim through the post in question, and have your names and facts (or ratings) right...

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Aside from the above incident...for a while now, I've been wondering if the number of comments you get is related to the quality of the contents you provide, or more to the number of friends you have. (Especially if you're very active on Twitter, since it looks like the place to be when you have a book related blog. And I chose not to). It seems that having friends is probably the key to getting comments. Unless you're a really popular blogger...and in that case, your followers would eagerly and steadily comment on your every post regardless of your giving comment love back. This is the way of the (blogging) world...or is it?
What do you think?

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May 04, 2014

The Sunday Post - Monthly Edition (#3)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on our blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. 

See rules here.

Note: Since it's rare for me to post more than once a week, I opted for my own Monthly Edition of this meme. Be sure of stopping by every first Sunday of the month for my blog recap, blog teaser and bookish news. Thanks!

On the Blog

Apr. 11: LGBT+ Month Think-Piece: What Does the Genre Need?
What I would like to see more or less in the genre.
Written for the LGBT+ Month hosted by Cayce (Fighting Dreamer) and Laura (Laura Plus Books).
Apr. 14: It's THAT Time of the Year Again...Get Ready for Armchair BEA!
Not being able to attend the real thing for obvious reasons (I'm in Italy, after all), I've decided to participate in this virtual event. And I expect to have fun!
Apr. 26 (yes, I've been lazy LOL. Then again, I don't believe in daily or semi-daily schedules...): Book Review: "An Unstill Life" by Kate Larkindale
I received this one from the author for review purposes. Thanks Kate!
Written for the LGBT+ Month hosted by Cayce (Fighting Dreamer) and Laura (Laura Plus Books).
Apr. 29: Book Review: "Trying Hard to Hear You" by Sandra Scoppettone
My favourite book about sexual diversity. An oldie but goldie!
Written for the LGBT+ Month hosted by Cayce (Fighting Dreamer) and Laura (Laura Plus Books).

Around the Web

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Oops, I did it again. No, not the Britney Spears song. It's just that I didn't bookmark my articles. I've been bad at keeping tracks lately. Mainly, I've been involved in the LGBT+ Month (see above) - and reading its inspirational posts. I recommend you go on Cayce's or Laura's blog and scroll down the list!

Latest Additions to TBR List

"Lies We Tell Ourselves" by Robin Talley (out Sep. 30)

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever. Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept "separate but equal." Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another. Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

"Falling into Place" by Amy Zhang (out Sep. 9)

"On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road."
Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force - Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect?

What's Next...

Some stuff that I've planned...but more might come up.

Book Review: "Die Softly" by Christopher Pike
One of his '90s books.
Think-Piece: What Happened to Comment Love?
Is it just me (and the less renowned bloggers), or the comment-back unwritten rule doesn't apply anymore? and if so, why? Is the number of comments on your blog related to the quality of the content you provide, or to the amount of friends you have?
Armchair BEA topics:
   Monday, May 26: Introductions (& Literature?)
   Thursday, May 29: Beyond the Borders
   Friday, May 30: (Topic of Choice? &) Middle Grade/Young Adult
I will only participate in the ones above (those between brackets are the ones I'm still not sure about), but the brilliant people @ Armchair BEA have two topics per day from Mon. 26 to Fri. 30. See complete list of topics here.

OK, that was it...what have you been/are you up to instead?