January 23, 2015

A Reader's Quirks #4: You, Irresistible Afterlife Novel

I'm back with a new installment of my random feature about the who, what, where, when and why of reading, where I talk about my own relationship with books/genres/authors, and ask my visitors to do the same if they feel so inclined. This could have been easily turned into a meme, but there's a reason why it didn't...I still don't see myself as an established enough blogger to host yet another meme. Even those with an impressive number of followers aren't necessarily overwhelmed with participation, so I'm not going there just yet. This doesn't mean "A Reader's Quirks" won't be promoted to meme status one day, should it be the case. It's all up to you, really :).

ARQ logo by digital artist Lissa

A quick reminder...everyone can comment on my blog, spam or not spam. It matters to me that anyone can join the conversation. As for CAPTCHA...everyone hates it...so you won't find it here. Relax and breathe ;).
This time I'm going to talk about...


(Warning: lengthy post coming...)

[Note: this article was originally posted on Offbeat YA a year ago. I decided to revamp and update it after operating some changes in my TBR list. Also, more afterlife books have been added!]

I think you all know by now that I'm obsessed with afterlife books. I read quite a number of novels with dead MCs. Call me morbid ;P. Seriously, I guess what appeals to me the most is the paradox, the oxymoron of it all - being dead, but still alive on a plane of existence. Getting to see and hear other people, but not being able to be perceived by them. Not to mention, recalling one's death, or (more often) not having a clue and investigating it. Talk about thinking six impossible things before breakfast*...

* Lewis Carroll, "Through the Looking Glass" 

And oh, the unfinished business. Because there's always one, isn't it? Life is a series of goals and expectations, and when it's cut short, if you were able to look back at it, you would likely feel restless and outraged because you were supposed to do something. Or have something. Or go somewhere. Whether you're 10 or 100 years old, in such respect, it's always unfair. So we often get characters who still try to fit in the alive world somehow, or to influence it...or - most of the times - to right a specific wrong that death caused to them. (Death is a wrong in itself, the top of all wrongs, of course. But you know what I mean).
Also, how do we imagine the afterlife? Heaven, hell, limbo - we (or better - and more often - authors) make up a million versions of what comes after. Because no one of us, even those who don't believe in landing somewhere after their death, is willing to think it all over. For someone it may be comforting, while someone else just has fun picturing a place and its rules, or reading about it, as an extension of our mortal life. So, you see, afterlife novels have something in them for everyone.
There's no shortage of such stories, both in the adult and YA market. [On a side note - the YA ones usually deal with dead girls. And I love them, of course...to death. But please, oh please, dear authors, write a dead-boy novel once in a while. Just for difference's sake, you know. End of rant**]. I love the YA ones the most, since Remember Me by Christopher Pike introduced me to the genre and threw me into the vast, exciting sea of teen literature. I love them because you're not supposed to die when you're young - you don't even contemplate the possibility. Because it's more unfair than ever then, and of course you (the character) rebel the only way you can think of - trying to still make a difference, whether as a friendly poltergeist or a possessing spirit. Because usually there's a wrong to right, and more than once it's tied to your very death. And, like I said, because of the paradox. Which is the reason why I love time-travel stories too, by the way.
Here is a recap of all the afterlife novels I've read so far (or you can visit my Afterlife Room for them) and the ones I plan on reading...Also, there's a small list of those I decided not to read for whatever reasons, but that you may like instead. Please feel free to add your own title/review/link to an afterlife novel or more along with your comments. Thanks!
[Note: I shelved as Afterlife novels those where the main lead is dead...or undead - or those where there's a conspicuous afterlife setting...all the books that don't fit the bill go into the Supernatural box, so to speak. Consequentially, I encourage you to visit my Supernatural Room for them. Again, thanks!].

** Later note: I finally found a Dead-Boy Novel! Yep, there's actually one at least...Haunt by Curtis Joblin.

January 13, 2015

Guest Post by JL Morin (Plus Book Excerpt) Science Fiction Grew a Conscience: "We Have Been Fighting the Wrong War"


A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to read and review an ARC of Nature's Confession, the debut YA novel by Library Journal Reviewer, HuffPost blogger and adjunct faculty at Boston University JL Morin. Nature's Confession - the first installment in a new, promising cli-fi trilogy - finally came out less than a week ago, on Jan. 8. In case you don't know, this is how Wikipedia defines cli-fi:

"an abbreviation for climate fiction, which describes fictional work [...] about climate change and global warming issues. Climate change themes are also found in some science fiction and other speculative fiction."

Though cli-fi isn't necessarily a subgenre of science fiction, I see it as sci-fi finally growing a conscience and tackling problems like overpopulation, pollution and resource exploitation on/of our planet. Hence half the title of this post. The quote that makes the second half of it will be self-explanatory, once you've read the guest post that follows.

This is the first guest post I've ever hosted on Offbeat YA. You know me...I only do these things when I have a real reason for them, and when they are a good fit for my blog. So, around Nature's Confession release date, author JL Morin and me talked about doing something to celebrate the launching...agreed on a guest post...and here it is :). Morin discusses cli-fi (or eco-fiction) and its role in modern society, pointing out that it can be - and indeed is - "political fiction"...all the same (I'll add) not failing to provide entertainment, irony and humour and to take us on a wild adventure. I'm especially proud to have Morin here today as my first guest post contributor. So please welcome JL Morin and hear what she has to say...

Guest Post by JL Morin

Nature's Confession, LitPick 5-Star Review Award Winner; the #1 Top Marinovich Fiction Read this year; best of a New Genre, included in “12 Works of Climate Fiction Everyone Should Read”; and Eco-Fiction Story Contest Honorable Mention.

January 03, 2015

Oh, Wait...it's 2015! Where Have I Been?

Image source

...Because it's 2015 already. I need to process this O_O. Maybe a little recap of the latest days can help? And a little glimpse of the immediate future...


I'm feeling a little lazy :). My third Screen Time post was scheduled for Jan. 11, but I'm afraid it will have to slide forward a bit. As for next reviews, I still don't have a specific date in mind. I guess all this has something to do with me being ill with the flu since Dec. 21...I've spent the last part of the year feeling like the crossbreed of a sloth and a zombie.

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BUT! around mid-month I'll be granted the privilege to host my very first guest post! *(drum roll)* Are you a sci-fi addict? Ever heard of a still rather new ramification of the genre called cli-fi? Please have a seat and listen to Library Journal Reviewer, HuffPost blogger, adjunct faculty at Boston University, author of award-winning novel Nature's Confession JL Morin talking about cli-fi and its relevance to her first YA book, out on Jan. 8 (read my ARC review of Nature's Confession here).


Last January, in an installment of the Book Blogger New Year's Challenge (Day 11), I was asked to count the books on my TBR list. They were 111 - nice number :) - of which 64 were real TBR books and 47 NS (Not-Sure) ones. A year has passed...and it's funny how the number almost hasn't changed. At present, there are 107 books on my list...also, said list is now made of 75 TBR books and 32 NS ones. Actually, book total aside, a lot has changed and shifted over these twelve months. I added new titles to my list. I was offered a couple of unexpected ones. I moved some NS books to my TBR list. I erased items from my TBR list that I used to be sure I wanted to read. So I'm back to where I started - more or less ;). One thing I've learnt though - it's no use for me to post titles of books I'm waiting for, because they're most likely to change before I even get close to buying them. (It's the old problem of having to buy all my books...).

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TV Series

Thanks to reruns, I'm watching Haven all over again, from the very first episode. It's kind of a brush-up while waiting for Season 5 to air here in Italy (I'm afraid it won't happen till summer, as with the previous ones). Some things make more sense when you go back to where they started...or sometimes you didn't even notice them that much when they were first introduced...
These latest weeks, me and hubby finally got round to watching the first season of Supernatural (we only started to follow the show when stumbling on its third season - in reruns - a couple of years ago!), and are now about to watch Season 2...after which, we're going to revisit the whole series. Also, I'm pretty excited about Season 8 and 9 finally going to get aired here (yes, we're almost three years behind!!!). S. 8 starts on Jan. 8, and they say S. 9 will follow immediately. Gosh, I miss Castiel. Not amnesiac Castiel or lunatic Castiel of course - because really, one could barely tolerate watching him in such a state - but his original version, and any future version of him that isn't going to include amnesia or lunacy *grunts*. I love the two hunks brothers like any other, but Cas brought so much to the show, and I've been missing him in S. 7. (Also, the Leviathan story arc wasn't the best IMO...).
Me and hubby have also been watching Heroes reruns lately - a show that I had only had the chance to see the occasional episode of when it first aired. And I've become an ardent fan. Love love love it. Time travel, mysteries, surprises, action, cool powers, and even cooler characters! The show will be brought back in a few months, with a new cast of course (but with Jack Coleman/Noah Bennet in it, and probably featuring some more of the old characters one way or another), in a miniseries (13 episodes) called Heroes Reborn. I so hope they don't flunk it.

"What?!? She misses CASTIEL more than us?!? This is super-unnatural!"
(Thanks to Giphy!)

So, that's what I've been (or NOT been) up to lately. Blog-related things are probably going to be a bit slow in the near future - but then again, from Day 1, I've always taken the panoramic route... :)

What have you been planning in order to kickstart 2015?