October 31, 2015

A Shocking Revelation + Christopher Pike on Wattpad!

Ha! I got your attention with that title, didn't I?

What am I about to reveal on this fine day?


Just that I'm going senile. Because on Oct. 14th, while I was writing this post, Offbeat YA was turning 3 and I didn't even notice O_O.

It's funny, because I did celebrate my first blogoversary, and no one was around to throw confetti or, well, post a comment. And I also celebrated my second (which went a little better, because by that time, I had a few friends or acquaintances in the blogging world), going as far as to do a survey of my first two years...Then, this year, I drew a blank. Maybe a psychoanalyst might explain it to me...
It's even more funny if you think that, in the meantime, I was already compiling my end-of-the-year survey!

Anyway. I have a piece of news for you. Less than three weeks ago, Christopher Pike joined Wattpad. Now, you all know I don't like Facebook, so I was happy to find out that one of my favourite authors had an online presence on a site where I could actually talk to him. So, a few days ago - when I discovered that he was on there - I posted a long comment on Mr. Pike's profile...this one:

Hello Mr. Pike,
I'm really excited to meet you here...since you are on Facebook and I'm not, I thought I'd never had the chance to tell you how much I love your books (though I have to be honest – a small number of them I'm not crazy about, but those that I do like, that is the vast majority, I love with a fierce passion). I am a 49 y.o. Italian woman, and I'm not ashamed to say I blog about YA books, because let's face it - YA has something in it for everyone, even old girls like me :). To be precise, your book Remember Me is to blame for my foray into YA fiction, and consequently, the YA blogging world...I read it in Italian around 20 years ago, because the blurb drew me like a magnet. And I fell in love. More recently, I've begun to purchase all your available books in English (RM included), though there are not as many around as I would like. I hope Simon & Schuster is going to repackage all you catalogue and publish them again, because I do want to read everything you've written.
Like I said, I set up a blog (in English) where I review YA novels old and new, but whose aim is mainly to spotlight the most original and less talked about YA gems out there – hence the name Offbeat YA. Of course, I couldn’t help devoting a whole section of my blog to your catalogue :). And of course, the very first book that I reviewed was Remember Me :). The Thirst series and The Season of Passage are other huge favourites of mine, but Remember Me will be in my heart forever. You were a pioneer, fleshing out your Sita and Shari back when no one was writing about vampires, and especially about dead girls :). I also love the insights into your books that you provide on Facebook (thanks to the admins for having made the page public), and I hope you'll go on posting them. Thank you and Simon & Schuster for giving us the chance to connect!
Best of luck with you new book!
Roberta (Italy)

October 24, 2015

Author Interview: GL Tomas ("The Sterling Wayfairer Series")

Hello my lovelies!
Today I'm sitting (so to speak) with two long-time blogger friends who have recently made a break into the writing world. Meet Guinevere and Libertad Tomas - or, more concisely, GL Tomas - proud owners of the Twinja Book Reviews and Rebellious Cupid Book Reviews blogs, and even more proud champions of all kinds of diversity in books (which imbues both their blogs anyway!).
GL Tomas have just self-published their first novel The Mark of Noba, which is also book 1 in The Sterling Wayfairer Series. With them, I'll get to talk about not only the aforementioned saga, but also the whole writing process, the path to self-publishing, and diversity of course!

Before we get to know GL Tomas a little better, here's a spotlight on their ongoing debut series...

Title: The Sterling Wayfairer Series (4 books)
Authors: GL Tomas
Genres: Portal Fantasy (though fans refer to it as Sci-Fi too), Time Travel
Year: 2015+
Age: 14+
Available on: Paperback and Kindle
The Mark of Noba (book 1 in The Sterling Wayfairer Series) on Amazon | on Goodreads
The City of Fallen Stars (book 2 in The Sterling Wayfairer Series) on Goodreads [out in Spring 2016]

Blurb for The Mark of Noba: Sterling Wayfairer has one goal for his senior year: make his mark. He’s been slipping into the background his whole high school career - distracted by his mother’s mental health, unsettled by the vivid dreams that haunt him at night, and overshadowed by the athletic accomplishments of his popular best friends. But this year is going to be different. He’s going to break a few rules, have some fun, and maybe even work up the nerve to ask his crush out on a date.
But things don’t go exactly as planned. Students are disappearing, Sterling starts losing time, and it all seems to center around Tetra, a girl no one else seems to notice but him. When he finally tracks her down for answers, they aren’t what he expects: he and Tetra hail from a world called Noba, and they’re being hunted by a Naga, a malevolent shapeshifter that’s marked them for destruction.
Tetra and Sterling have distinct abilities that can help them fight back, but their power depends heavily on the strength of their bond, a connection that transcends friendship, transcends romance. Years apart have left their bond weak. Jumpstarting it will require Sterling to open his heart and his mind and put his full trust in the mysterious Tetra.
If he doesn’t, neither of them will survive. (Amazon excerpt)

Interview: The Sterling Wayfairer Series is your first foray into fiction - but is The Mark of Noba the very first book you conceived? How long did it take to write? And what made you decide to split the saga in a total of four books?

It’s funny! The Mark of Noba is quite a new idea compared to other projects. We always had it in our head, that the first book or work we’d publish was a Adult High Fantasy (that we’re actually still working on! lol) but years of going through things have changed a bunch of the plot around.

The Mark of Noba only came a few years ago, in comparison to most our WIPs which we’ve had since teenagers. It did take a 2.5 years to write, but only because we greatly disagreed how the plot should go, how much back story we should include, which characters to focus on most, and many other dirty factors readers have no idea about!

A lot of your upbringing teaches you to think a certain way, and when we’d finished a 1st draft of The Mark of Noba, many of the characters were a little sexist. We couldn’t believe reading it back to ourselves, considering how much we try to combat sexism in our writing! So it was great that we sat on it for as long as we did.

The decision to split it into four books is based on how Tetra and Sterling’s story arc weakens or strengthens. What we have in store for them will make them see the world in new ways, and while we considered making it a trilogy, we would’ve crammed one of the most important parts about their past in Book 3, and it would feel very info-dump, lol.

October 18, 2015

Allison Rose: "Tick"

Title: Tick [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Tick (1st of 3 books)
Author: Allison Rose [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-fi, Dystopian
Year: 2015
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Not your usual dystopian. Never a boring moment. Romance plays a very small part in the story (which I think should be the case with a sci-fi book).
Cons: Main character is not easy to empathise with. Near-future L.A. and lead's relationships would have benefited from a little backstory.
WARNING! Very graphic violence and gore.
Will appeal to: Those who like action, conspiracies, stories about redemption, and tough girls who can cry nevertheless.

Blurb: Jo Bristol has a tick...she has visions of killing people. Los Angeles is under attack from cyber terrorists, and in an effort to stop them, the city uses spy drones to seek out civilians with brain abnormalities and adjusts their brains to remove any criminal tendencies. Jo has spent her life evading the drones and having her brain manipulated by keeping her tick a secret, until a week before her seventeenth birthday her visions threaten to become reality. Having always wanted to be a painter, Jo knows any adjustment to her brain could alter her artistic sense and she could lose all that makes her who she is. She must do everything she can to hide the darkness in her mind or lose her muse completely. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I won this book in a giveaway. And I did befriend the author on Twitter after that. She even commented on one of my posts. This didn't affect my review in any way.
I was sold on this book after I read the blurb. I so wanted to read the story of a girl who fights in order to stay who she is and preserve the very thing she values above anything else. Also, the art theme, in all its forms, is very dear to me. I ended up reading a book that soon took a different route than I expected, but it was gripping and entertaining in its own way. The only thing that prevented me from giving it a higher rating (apart from not getting the story I thought I'd read, but it's not like I meant to punish the book for that ;)) was the fact that I found Jo a bit hard to empathise with...but I suppose it couldn't be avoided, given what happens to her and the predicament she finds herself in. I reckon the author didn't give birth to Jo with the intent of creating a character you could connect with in the usual way - by putting yourself in her shoes. (That's just my opinion though). But since I tend to need to do that with my characters, it had an impact on my rating, if small. On the other hand, I highly appreciated the work and thought that went into crafting this story, and the fact that it didn't shun going to very dark places - and I'm sure most people would be more than willing to rate it four stars and more :).
Don't get me wrong, Jo is not your average love-to-hate character. Not the petty queen bee who takes pleasure in bullying schoolmates, or whose main interest is painting her nails à la mode, but who is forced to become a better person as the story proceeds. She's not perfect by any means, but just wants to be able to paint, and fights in order to preserve her vision. Too bad that there are other kinds of vision that plague her, and soon swallow her whole life, spitting out a nightmare. Things get very rough for Jo, but those around her pay a high price for that. One begins to question what tells her apart from your usual killers who claim they don't take pleasure in offing people, but simply can't help doing it again and again...until...Jo starts a path of redemption, and we get a final revelation (though still very mysterious) that makes us understand there's a lot more to her "killer instinct". [...]

October 14, 2015

...In Which I'm #SorryNotSorry, Because I'm #HumanSoHuman

Here I go again.
Making excuses.
Only...not really.
Since this blog thing started, I've always refused to cave in to the popular belief that one has to post once a day...or once every two days...or on given week days...or whatever. I didn't even know such popular beliefs existed back when I started, but - in typical Roberta's fashion - I've always refused to adhere to those rules since when I became aware of them. Heck, I've spent my whole life avoiding trends, questioning things, doing my best in order to be my own person - you can't expect me to bend to someone else's rules when I'm doing something for my own pleasure. Because it doesn't matter how much you love books and the community and you mean to do a service to them - a blog is, first and foremost, your personal space, shaped around yourself. You may only hope you'll meet equal-minded people along the way, but this doesn't mean you have to purposefully market yourself.