February 27, 2015

B.C. Johnson: "The Bad Rescue of Devon Streeter" (ARC Review) [new title 2016: "Riven"]

Title: The Bad Rescue of Devon Streeter [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Riven (1st of 3? books)
Author: B.C. Johnson [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Supernatural
Year: 2015
Age: 12+ (though the author states it's for age 11+, but I see it as more mature YA. On the other hand, as always, it depends on the reader...)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Engulfing, epic story, full of action and feelings. Main characters you get to really care about. Great mythology.
Cons: Might get confusing because the event at the core of the story is not clearly addressed (see review). Also, the mix of genres (see labels) might not appeal to some readers.
WARNING! Gore. Underage sex (without protection...but heck, it's the end of the world) is alluded to, though not described.
Will appeal to: Those who love quirky stories with a strong vocabulary. Those who pine after friendship more than romance. Those who want to meet new kinds of monsters.

Blurb: Devon's a teenage medic. Bloom's a wannabe gunslinger. Just two best friends hanging at the end of the world. When Earth and another world smashed together, everything went sideways. Some people survived, some inhumans too, and they all made for bad neighbors. Fighting for scraps on the face of a changed world, Devon and Bloom have to face alien magic, inhuman monsters, and the inescapable fact that the Merge is going to change them. Deviate them into...something else. But when circumstance flings Devon and Bloom apart, can they find each other across the wild wastelands? Will they recognize each other when they do? (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. And the author being B.C. Johnson, you all know I've been campaigning for his book Deadgirl with all my might since 2012, when the first version came out, till a few weeks ago, when it hit the market for the second time. Why, actually, I still am. Also, B.C. Johnson and me have stayed in touch, if sporadically, for the whole time. I'm not what you would call a friend of his though, only a fan of his work. And an unbiased one :). This review is the love child of my penchant for quirky, uniquely worded books and B.C. Johnson's ability to deliver them. Here goes...
I'm going to get straight to the point: this is an indie book. Indie books are not evil. This book is not evil. 
Many prejudices surround those novels that don't take the traditional publishing route. Bad editing, amateurish writing, uninteresting stories. Of course, they don't need to be true every time. (Not to mention, the reverse may be true sometimes). To date, this is the first review Devon gets, but I suppose in a few days someone else will wrote theirs, and maybe point their fingers at editing issues. And issues there are indeed, but I've been assured they'll get fixed in time for publication (the book will be out on Mar. 31). As for content, the fact that Devon is being self-published only tells the sad tale of industry being often short-sighted and unwilling to give a chance to things that don't fit in a box. Anyway, if this is of any reassurance for you, B.C. Johnson is a traditionally published author (see Deadgirl) taking a different route with a book that apparently didn't fit the publishers' agenda...
Devon is many things. It has a sci-fi premise (though the original first chapter has been moved to the appendix, so I have to admit the reader may get confused about what really happened and how till much later in the book) and a strong magic twist. It's a post-apocalyptic fable that asperses the gore with a poetic flavour and peppers it with humour. It's a love story in the widest, purest sense between two friends of different sexes, neither of which is gay. It's a tale of powerful individuals and ordinary heroes. [...]

February 19, 2015

On Reading Exciting New Books, Meeting Friendly Authors and Joining Twitter

Hi darlings!
I've been conspicuously absent these latest two weeks - but I had a good reason. Well, a couple of good reasons. I was talking to authors and receiving/reading awesome new books, plus contemplating the audacious move of finally joining Twitter. Everyone of my old followers knows I've always been extremely wary of social networks. On the other hand, more and more publishers - even the smaller ones - seem to hold it as a requirement when it comes to requesting ARCs, which I've begun to do. Also, I've been blogging for two year and a half now, and I feel the need of expanding this little blog I have here. So yeah, I caved in. You can find me happily chirping @offbeatya. And I might even end up having fun, once I get a grip on all the # and @ ;). Speaking of which, if anyone feels like sharing tips and advices about using Twitter the proper way and surviving on there, they're welcome! (Huge thanks to Karen at For What It's Worth for now!).

[Original image source]

February 07, 2015

A Reader's Quirks #5: Why I'm Not Reading Your "Sexy" YA Book

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...


Geez. The trend is subtly (or not so subtly) insinuating into YA lit. More often than not, new releases are labeled/marketed as "sexy". And I go feral.

[Image source] (the caption is mine!)

February 02, 2015

Diana Wynne Jones: "The Time of the Ghost"

Title: The Time of the Ghost [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Diana Wynne Jones [Fansite | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural
Year: 1981
Age: 12+ (but it can be enjoyed by younger readers as well)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Rich, nuanced story. A well-woven blend of supernatural and ordinary (well, so to speak) peppered with humour and mystery, and sporting an unusual ghost.
Cons: A bit slow and old-fashioned. Requires more than a read to create a strong connection with the reader.
Will appeal to: Those who can delve into a book with patience.

Blurb: The ghost turns up one summer day, alone in a world she once knew, among people who were once her family. She knows she is one of four sisters, but which one? She can be sure of only one thing - that there's been an accident. As she struggles to find her identity, she becomes aware of a malevolent force stirring around her. Something terrible is about to happen. One of the sisters will die - unless the ghost can use the future to reshape the past. But how can she warn them, when they don't even know she exists? (Amazon excerpt)

Review: This book taught me a lesson. I pretty much bought it on a whim, because the title put my two favourite themes together...dead-but-not-quite-dead characters and time travel. While some reviews mentioned it to be a bit slow, I decided the thing wasn't likely to bother me. Later, upon reading it for the first time, I thought I should have paid those reviews more heed - I liked the book fine enough, but it was more of a three-star item for me. Except that I've re-read it twice since then...and every time I found myself appreciating it more - hence the four stars. I've always had a feeling that books need a couple of reads for their ratings to be accurate. Now I have proof that at least some of them do.
In The Time of the Ghost, the main characters are four sisters, whose age is not clearly stated - though they must all be in their teens or around, except for Fenella (there's a later paragraph in the book from which we gather that she's ten when the story begins). They live next to a school for young males, run by their neglectful-bordering-on-abusive parents (when I say "abusive", I specifically mean their father). On the other hand, this is not a Virgin Suicides type of story, not at all. Most of the time, the four sisters are simply left fending for themselves in regard to their basic necessities (more often than not with amusing results, despite the potentially tragic situation), and carrying on with their lives without any adult supervision (which is one of the reasons why the story ultimately takes a dark turn). When the book opens, they've actually envisioned a plan in order to shake the usual torpor out of their parents, a plan whose main point involves the "disappearance" of one of the sisters. And, grotesque as it may seem, the plan is not even working. [Note: most of the incidents told in TTOTG, despite sounding highly peculiar, are based on the true life of DWJ - see this autobiographic page]. This is precisely when the ghost of one of them - oblivious of her own identity - comes back from an unknown time and place in order to prevent a horrible "accident". [...]