July 19, 2018

July Is the Cruellest Month - Sorry T.S. Eliot (But I Have a Goal, so I'm Trudging On)

Hello sweeties!

It's been a long while since I last wrote a personal post. It's just that my life is same old, same old most of the time (ALL the time?). But now I feel it's the right moment for an update, because there MIGHT be the tiniest possibility of something actually changing...or at least the tiniest hope for me to have a chance at something. So I need all my cheerleaders to do the lucky dance for me!


First off, let me tell you - the older I get, the more I hate the summer. I can't function properly. The heat drains me, my legs cramp and become stiff, and I feel tired and cranky. And I used to believe that even my mind needed a rest. After managing to post "regularly" all year long in 2013 (my first full year of blogging), I took a summer hiatus from posting in 2014 (only ONE post both in July and August - the sort where you basically say "sorry for not posting" 🙄😂). Then, in 2015, I made an effort to be more productive by signing up for the Summer Blogger Promo Tour (yes, Vera and Ruzi, that's where I meet the wonderful likes of you 😀😘), and I even added some personal content...which brought me to a total of FIVE posts in July and EIGHT (...EIGHT???)  in August 😮 (of course, the SBPT ones were guest posts, but I was reciprocating them on the other participants' blogs, so it totally counts!). In 2016 and 2017, I gritted my teeth and produced average - or a little less than average - amount of content for the same months (...well, average for ME, anyway). BUT regardless, when the summer comes, I'm always ready to threw the towel and hibernate in a cave (which is kind of counter-intuitive, but please...BEAR with me LOL). Even blogging-wise. BUT...

...this year I'm marching to the rhythm of my by-now infamous schedule, and I'm even managing to prep ahead for September and October! (Of course I started before the dreaded summer came, plus this year it wasn't even that hot here until the first days of July, but still). And lately, I've been even more motivated to have posts scheduled for later in the year, because I need to have a good amount of blog-free time if a certain opportunity presents itself. *drum roll...*

July 14, 2018

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #9 Kali Wallace, Karen Foxlee, A.S. King


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I never thought I'd do minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps 😊. Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long review - no such luck LOL. But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, or in case I want to draw attention to some old ones I've already reviewed, I might as well give you the short version ;). Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

July 07, 2018

Seanan McGuire: "Every Heart a Doorway"

Title: Every Heart a Doorway [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Wayward Children (1st of 5? books)
Author: Seanan McGuire [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural (technically it would be Portal Fantasy, but since I don't have a Fantasy Room on the blog, I decided to shelf this one as Supernatural - that's the closer I could get)
Year: 2016
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: An imaginative look-in-reverse at one of the most common fantasy tropes. A few diverse characters (especially when it comes to the sexuality spectrum).
Cons: You have to suspend your disbelief for things that largely transcend the premise...
WARNING! Gruesome murders/disposing of bodies.
Will appeal to: Everyone who's ever felt out of place, but doesn't necessary dream of a happierworld than the one they live in...

Blurb: Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere...else. Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced...they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: Before I start, a couple of things:
  • this is one of the rare mainstream series I read...the premise was too juicy to pass it up 😉.
  • I'm pretty much cover-blind, but HOW STUNNING IS THIS ONE? It even has the title crossing the door...it's so subtly done that I haven't noticed for a long time. And the sequels? All these covers are a work of art 😃. (Later edit: ...wait, WHAT?!? the Spanish version title doesn't do the door-crossing thing?!? ARE THESE PEOPLE FRIGGIN' JOKING?!?).

ALL THE DARK PLACES

There are lots and lots of portal fantasy stories around, whether in book or movie form. What sets McGuire's vision apart from all those is that, with this book (and series), she tries to answer two questions that (to the best of my knowledge) no one else ever did before: what happens to these kids when they come back from their adventures? and why the worlds they visited chose them in the first place? Now, the way these questions are answered is both satisfying and infuriating. It makes sense that those kids wouldn't be able to adjust back to the "real" world, especially since no one around them will ever believe their side of the story. But to some extent, all the worlds they visited are harsh and unforgiving, or even downright cruel. In Ch.3, Jack explains:
"For us, the places we went were home. We didn't care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn't have to pretend to be something we weren't. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world."
I get it, but I don't get it. The price for their freedom was still too high to me - the worlds that made them at home too dark, and more often than not, just a different kind of cage. Then again, I plaud McGuire for her inventive and - well - guts. Even if I have trouble suspending my disbelief, I can see how the way she imagines these portals is far more nuanced and interesting than if they were mere playgrounds where to have a grand adventure and maybe live happily ever after. [...]

July 01, 2018

Christopher Kerns: "Crash Alive"

Title: Crash Alive [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Haylie Black (1st of 2 books)
Author: Christopher Kerns [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Thriller
Year: 2016
Age: 14+
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Fast, often funny, with a smart and determined lead. Unusual scenario for a teen novel.
Cons: Alternation of teen and adult POV/adventuring and scheming makes the pace and tone a bit uneven. Requires some suspension of disbelief. Contains techno-stuff only a few can actually wrap their head around. (Then again, you don't really need to).
Will appeal to: Fans of technology and mystery with a big side of adventure and a huge saving-the-world angle.

Blurb: The only comfort teenager Haylie Black knows is in the world of technology - coding late into the night, building cool gadgets, and occasionally breaking into places where she doesn’t belong. But Haylie’s world is turned upside down when she learns shocking news: her brother has vanished attempting to solve an Internet puzzle known as “Raven 2309.” To find him, Haylie must enter an unknown world, circling the globe and uncovering the dangerous group behind Raven’s design, to outsmart a puzzle that has never been solved. (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I specifically requested a copy from the author in exchange for a honest review.

NOT YOUR HAYLIE GIRL*

For some reason, when I requested this book I thought it had a sci-fi angle - so what I got was a bit different from my assumptions, and maybe less up my alley, but I don't regret reading this one. It's smart, adrenalinic, funny, with a determined and sassy (though socially clumsy) lead on the backdrop of a sinister, over-the-top, but still (sigh) not completely far-fetched plan. While the book is mainly from Haylie's POV, there are a few other (adult) characters who tell their side of the story, and they feel more fueled by their own agenda than actually fleshed out - but I enjoyed being in Haylie's head, even when I did understand maybe a fifth of what she was saying/doing 😅. I especially liked her banter with the Sterling brothers (the ones who recruit her to solve the Raven puzzle), the young and golden start-up creators whose only talent seems to be spending money to have people build things they don't even understand. And I loved how there wasn't the usual romance set for Haylie, though there's definitely potential for it to bloom lately. A fresh approach to the world-saving heroine 😉.

* "HAYLIE" definition in Urban Dictionary: "the type of girl who you would think is sweet and innocent but really very cheeky and mischievous [...] gorgeous/pretty and loud [...] will not mind embarrassing themselves in front of others to make them laugh...". [...]

June 26, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What Is Worse: Cliffhanger, Abrupt Ending or Open Ending?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

WHAT IS WORSE: CLIFFHANGER, ABRUPT ENDING OR OPEN ENDING?

Abrupt endings for sure (though the only book with an abrupt ending I can recall reading is Remember Me 2: The Return by Christopher Pike). As I said in last week's TMST, I do believe that cliffhangers are poor storytelling, but it's not like they annoy me that much. Open endings I love, though I understand that they're not for everyone. Of course, they have to be done well...I feel strangely satisfied when an author doesn't wrap their story in your classic nice package. Maybe it's because I don't read romance, and this kind of ending is much more suitable for my favourite kind of books, like sci-fi or afterlife. Of course, not every book I read needs to have an open ending to be amazing LOL. Most of the times, I still get a sense of what's ahead, but at least it's not spelled out in big block letters...

Sorry for the nth Tennant/Who gif, but this one was too perfect to pass up LOL.

June 19, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Cliffhangers: Do They Compel You to Read More or Steer You Away?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

CLIFFHANGERS: DO THEY COMPEL YOU TO READ MORE OR STEER YOU AWAY?

I've been trying to recall if any of the series installments I've read so far ended in a cliffhanger...and my mind drew a blank. Can I be so lucky? Because let's face it...regardless of how annoying or exciting you may find them, in this day and age, cliffhangers are an example of poor storytelling. I understand the need for an author to leave some loose threads to be picked up in the next installment of a series, but cliffhangers? seriously?

June 12, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Midyear Update: Favourite Reads, Goal Progress, Etc.

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

MIDYEAR UPDATE: FAVOURITE READS, GOAL PROGRESS, ETC.

I've been doing yearly wrap-up posts since 2014 (when I was two years and three months into blogging), but I've never done a midyear update. I probably wouldn't bother if it weren't for TMST, but just because it never occurred to me before LOL. Now, this will be a simplified version of the yearly wrap-up I'm going to do on December. Let's cheer one another halfway through the race! 👏😉

Hey, I changed Doctor 😮. Welcome Eleven! 😉

June 06, 2018

The Craft of Reviewing: Or How I Amended My Evil Ways Over the Years 😀

Hello sweeties!

This post was inspired by an email conversation with a lovely soul who told me my reviews are art. I replied that I don't know if they are art, but they surely are craft. I usually sweat over them - even the ones that flow more easily are (almost) always the product of a couple of days' work, at least (only one day at the beginning, but then I became more self-conscious...or my reviews more complicated, which is the point I'm making with this post). And since I started blogging, the way I review has changed, if slightly. Of course, the voice is the same - but I've been adding or detracting things as I went on. Not that my way of reviewing was actually evil to begin with, of course 😀. That was just a clever (um?) and attractive (um?) title for a blog post. But I've made a lot of slight adjustments over these five years and a half, and today I want to share my journey with you. I hope you'll do the same 🙂.

Oops, I did it again. Enjoy your David 😁

May 29, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Debut Authors/New to Me Authors. What Books Have You Read Lately by New Authors That You Want to Read More From?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

DEBUT AUTHORS/NEW TO ME AUTHORS. WHAT BOOKS HAVE YOU READ LATELY BY NEW AUTHORS THAT YOU WANT TO READ MORE FROM?

Confession: I'm very much a "book reader" as opposed to an "author reader". Apart from a few classic thriller writers (Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson/Carr Dickson and Rex Stout) my only modern go-to-author used to be Christopher Pike (here is the blog page I set up for him), because I love his crazy plots 😂. Except for the authors I have an ongoing blogger/writer relationship with, I wasn't going steady with any, and I rarely did read more than one book by the same author (series aside, of course). But lately (does "during the latest three years" qualifies as "lately"? 😄), I've read a handful of books that put their authors on my radar. In strictly alphabetical order...

A Tennant gif? How...Ood 😂 (...yes, non-Whovians, Ood are a thing LOL. Or better, an alien people)

May 22, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Are You More Inclined/Less Inclined to Read Books That Are Compared to Other Popular Books or Authors?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

ARE YOU MORE INCLINED/LESS INCLINED TO READ BOOKS THAT ARE COMPARED TO OTHER POPULAR BOOKS OR AUTHORS?

Premise: I rarely read popular books/authors as it is. It's not out of snobbery - it's just that I usually want something out of a book that most of them don't provide. I very rarely read straight-up fantasy - unless there's a specific premise. I'm not particularly keen on vampires, werewolves, elves or whatever. Me and retellings are mortal enemies 😳😂. I only read contemporary that have little to no romance - and we all know how rare that is.

May 17, 2018

Tyrolin Puxty: "Down to Oath"

Title: Down to Oath [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
[*Friendly advice: beware of the Down to Oath page on Amazon, and the duplicate page on Goodreads (not the one I linked to). Their blurb hints at the twist in its very first line]
Series: None
Author: Tyrolin Puxty [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: SPOILER - revealing the genre(s) would partially ruin your reading experience...If you want to go into the book without knowing anything vital about it, I recommend you not read the Labels at the end of my review either. No need to worry though - the review itself will be spoiler-free...
Year: 2018
Age: 10+ (I was told this one falls into the MG category, but I think children under 10 years of age will struggle a little with its concept. Then again, this book is likely to appeal to anyone regardless of age - adults will definitely take something away from it)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Light and deep at the same time. Weaves reflection with adventure and surprises. Tackles a theme we rarely get to see in MG/YA.
Cons: For the story to work, the parallel town system needs to be inherently flawed in a couple of instances.
Will appeal to: Kids and adults looking for a quick, simple-yet-profound, offbeat story.

Blurb: Codi lives in the exceptionally drab town of Oath; a settlement without colour, children or personality. When a child manifests in the library and introduces Codi to parallel towns that contain aggressive, manic versions of herself, she must decide between saving Oath...and saving herself. After all, how much can you truly trust yourself? (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased. And all the books I received from them were generously sent with no strings attached.

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

You all know I've never reviewed a MG book on the blog - when I requested this one, I thought it was YA (I had read the first chapter on Amazon to get a taste of it). The fact is, when we first meet the protagonist (whose age we aren't privy to), she comes across as a young woman, and the writing style is accessible but not simplistic - so I just assumed those things settled the matter once and for all. Then the publisher told me it was, in fact, MG. After reading it, I can see that the label is appropriate, but even if you're an adult who doesn't usually read in that age range, don't let that discourage you from trying this one. Down to Oath is a deceptively simple book, with as many layers as you can peel away. You can even be at odds with a certain theory the book puts forth, but that very likely won't detract from your reading experience - as it didn't from mine 🙂. [...]

May 14, 2018

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #8 Neal Shusterman, Karen Healey, Nova Ren Suma


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I never thought I'd do minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps 😊. Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long review - no such luck LOL. But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, or in case I want to draw attention to some old ones I've already reviewed, I might as well give you the short version ;). Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

May 07, 2018

Matthew S. Cox: "A Beginner's Guide to Fangs"

Title: A Beginner's Guide to Fangs [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Vampire Innocent (2nd of ?? books)
Author: Matthew S. Cox [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2017
Age: 16+ [NA]
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Never a dull moment. Funny and quirky, but at the same time, deeper and more introspective than Book 1.
Cons: Fragmented in a series of vignettes that, more often than not, are only held together by the main character.
WARNING! Some explicit sex.
Will appeal to: Those who like a sassy but family-focused heroine caught between two worlds. Those who like vampires with a dose of fun.

Blurb: Two weeks after waking up as a vampire, Sarah’s doing okay, if you don’t count wicked mood swings, crushing guilt, and a pervasive sense of existential dread. On the upside, her family is adjusting to the new normal of supernatural in stride and she’s even testing the waters with a new guy. However, something’s changed with her best friend Ashley, who’s not acting at all like herself. To make matters worse, someone’s stalking Sarah. Formal entry into vampire society sends her down a dangerous path, right into the middle of a war between elders - that her sire started. All Sarah wants is some semblance of a normal unlife, but she finds herself stuck between two groups of angry vampires itching to spill blood…And they don’t care if it’s from her innocent family. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I was offered a review copy by the author, having previously reviewed other books by him and a couple of collections where two of his short stories were featured. This didn't affect my opinion about this novel.
 
TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY

As a whole, I did like this second installment of Sarah's story better than the first. On the one hand, this one is funnier (and much less gory), with a good dose of humour and witty remarks. On the other, what I thought A Nighttime of Forever lacked, ABGTF makes up for. Amidst the funny (and sometimes salacious) exchanges and situations, there's a lot more space for introspection and relationships, whether they involve family, friends/acquaintances or romantic interests. While Sarah's parents are still partly in denial (though they do their best to adjust), she muses on her situation - especially with regards to them and her siblings - and experiments a series of mood swings that apparently are the result of her new unlife coupled with the inherently messy phase of adolescence. Also, Sarah tries to navigate the vampire scene and the dating one, plus strikes an unlikely, but heartwarming friendship with the vampire equivalent of an outcast. And finally, she fights like a champ (though it's probably a bit of a stretch that, only two weeks into her undeath AND despite being an Innocent, she can hold her own so fiercely against much older and more experienced vampires). [...]

JUMP!

While Book 1 mainly dealt with Sarah's first reaction to waking up a vampire, her family and friends coming to terms with it, and her attempt to find closure (so to speak) with the incident that put her in that spot, this second installment is multifaceted and multiflavoured, which is both its strength and its weakness. We follow Sarah in a series of disjointed situations involving her family, her boyfriend, her friends, her enemies, her sire, her peers - you name it. While this add to variety and keeps boredom at large, sometimes it makes you feel like you're reading a series of short stories with the same lead, instead of a novel. Some characters are dropped for a whole lot of pages, then take center stage until they're kind of swept under the rug again. While Sarah is going on dates, her friends apparently don't even talk to her on the phone - while she's with them, we lose track of her love interest completely. And so on. Not one of the most jarring thing you can experience in a novel, but it was able to pull me out of the story at times.

YOU SEXY THING

Now, this is a "me" thing, and it won't probably mean much to most readers - especially since this is a NA series. When I accepted the first installment for review, I knew it didn't involve romance, if not (let's say) obliquely. And for romance, I ALSO mean sex. Or - in this case - I MAINLY mean sex. Because in this sequel, not only there's a lot of talk on the subject (things like getting aroused, etc.), but also a very explicit scene that, me being me, I was a bit uncomfortable with. It's a personal preference (or lack of), and as I say, it won't probably be an issue for anyone who decides to take a chance on this series knowing it's aimed at a more mature audience - but it detracted from my personal enjoyment (though I AM, definitely, mature audience enough...). I'm NOT saying that explicit sex in books is necessarily inappropriate - only that it's a bit awkward FOR ME to read it. I only mentioned it because there are other people like me out there, and (mainly) because it partly explains my rating. Then again, if you like vampires but feel a little jaded with their scene, this is a fresh take on them that I wholeheartedly recommend.

(P.S.: did you notice? my headings were all song titles this time 😊).

For my "A Nighttime of Forever" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For my review of Matthew S. Cox's book "Nine Candles of Deepest Black" (YA) click here.
For more Afterlife books click here.

May 01, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What Are Things That Annoy You Right Now in the Book Market?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

WHAT ARE THINGS THAT ANNOY YOU RIGHT NOW IN THE BOOK MARKET?

🤔 Every one of them? 😂
LOL, OK, maybe that was a little extreme. But what can I say - I'm a rebel at heart (I named my blog Offbeat YA for a reason...), plus, frankly, there are a bunch of book-selling strategies that I don't get AT ALL. They probably still work, because otherwise, the trends will show signs of deterioration and ultimately vanish into thin air - but for how much longer? Also, the book market is becoming more and more lazy in ways that are not let's-go-the-same-route-that-has-been-working-for-ages related. Here goes my rant...

April 28, 2018

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #7 Seanan McGuire, Karen Healey, Barbara Stewart


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I never thought I'd do minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps 😊. Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long review - no such luck LOL. But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, or in case I want to draw attention to some old ones I've already reviewed, I might as well give you the short version ;). Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

April 24, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Do You Still Accept Review Requests? Why or Why Not?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

DO YOU STILL ACCEPT REVIEW REQUESTS? WHY OR WHY NOT?

Short answer: I do, but with caution.
As of now, I've been blogging for five years and a half. Back when I started, the only thing I wanted was to give an outlet to books that I deemed worthy, but weren't as popular as they deserved IMO. They were all bought books, of course. I didn't even have a review policy at the time - as a newbie blogger, it didn't cross my mind that someone would go out of their way in order to offer me free (e)books. But, go figure - someone actually did.

April 17, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Do You Prefer Series or Standalone?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

DO YOU PREFER SERIES OR STANDALONE?

The short answer is, I honestly don't have a preference. As long as the story needs a certain space to unfold, I'm on board with either of them. Of course, there are authors (sometimes at their publisher's gunpoint, so to speak) who capitalise on writing a number of books where the story could probably have been cut shorter. Then again, I sometimes read reviews for standalone books where the reader complains about them being 100 pages too long or something, so I suppose it can go either way 😉.

Whichever gif I'm looking for, I always seem to end up with a Who one. BUT no Tennant this time! Such restraint on my part 😅.

April 12, 2018

Joshua Winning: "Vicious Rumer" (ARC Review - Blog Tour Review)

Blog tour calendar - follow the Twitter handles!
(BTW, I love how vibrant the cover is, even if it clashes with my equally vibrant blog colours 😅).

Title: Vicious Rumer [on Amazon: coming soon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Joshua Winning [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Thriller
Year: 2018
Age: 15+, or at least mature 14+ (this is NA - the protagonist is 19)
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Never a dull moment. A damaged lead you can root for.
Cons: The short-sentence style probably fits the book, but may not work for everyone. The main villain is a bit over-the-top.
WARNING! Violence and gore.
Will appeal to: Readers who like action and unhinged but resourceful heroines.

Blurb: Scraping by working for a dingy London detective agency, Rumer lives in the shadow of her mother, a violent criminal dubbed the ‘Witch Assassin’. Raised by foster families who never understood her and terrified she could one day turn into her mother, Rumer has become detached and self-reliant. But when she’s targeted by a vicious mobster who believes she’s hiding an occult relic, she’s drawn into the very world she’s been fighting to avoid. Hunted by assassins and haunted by her mother’s dark legacy, Rumer must also confront a terrible truth: that she’s cursed, because no matter what she does, everybody she’s ever grown close to has died screaming. (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I was offered a review copy by the author. This didn't influence my review.

ON THE EDGE

I don't read a lot of modern thrillers - old-time mysteries are more my thing (think Agatha Christie and her tribe). But this story appealed to me because 1) it promised a damaged but kickass heroine, and 2) there might, or might there? be a supernatural angle to it. Now, I believe that my rating reflects more my personal genre tastes than the actual quality of this work, plus some things went definitely in a different direction than I expected (I can't be more specific here because SPOILERS). Then again, I don't regret reading this one, and to be honest, I found myself on the edge of my seat a few times following Rumer's (mis)adventures, though of course she had to make it somehow - at least till the end of the book 😉. But then again, at what cost? The story doesn't spare her danger and pain, and we get to see how resourceful she is in spite of that, but we have no idea how much more damaged, or alone, she may become in the end... [...]

April 06, 2018

Erin Callahan: "The Art of Escaping" (ARC Review)

Title: The Art of Escaping [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Erin Callahan [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary
Year: 2018
Age: 14+
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Packed with secrets, danger, fun, friendship, unusual sidekicks and witty remarks. A heart-warming journey toward a place where one belongs.
Cons: Will's stream of consciousness sounds a bit too sophisticated/deliberate for his age.
WARNING! There's talk of sex (a first time), but nothing graphic. High-stakes danger. Mild swearing.
Will appeal to: Everyone who loves a deep, funny, clever contemporary about friendship and finding one's calling.

Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Mattie is hiding her obsession with Harry Houdini and Dorothy Dietrich from everyone, including her best friend Stella. When Stella takes off to boarding school for the summer, all of Mattie’s anxieties bubble to the surface, leaving her feeling adrift. To distract herself, she seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist whose life and career were snuffed out by a tragic plane crash. With Miyu’s help, Mattie secretly transforms herself into a burgeoning escapologist and performance artist. When Will, a popular varsity athlete from her high school, discovers her act at an underground venue, she fears that her double life is about to be exposed. But instead of outing her, Will tells Mattie something he’s never told anyone before and the two of them find out that not all secrets can remain secret forever. (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I have known Erin Callahan for 4 years now, and as guarded as I am about striking friendships with authors, our relationship has deepened through all this time and via a series of online contacts/collaborations (if I dare call them so) that I detailed in this post. The very book I'm about to review, I got from the hands of Erin herself (the story is recounted here). And yes, that's me in the acknowledgment section 😉. I swear, though, that I'm going to be as honest about this book as I usual strive to be in my reviews. I wouldn't be of any service neither to the author nor to you would-be readers (?) if I didn't. Here goes...

TAKING CHANCES

You know that feeling when you love something so much, it might end up forcing your hand at becoming visible even if you're scared to death by it? And you have to choose between following your passion - no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel, or how risky it is - and never coming out of your cave? Well, that's Mattie. And at some point of our life, probably all of us. And that other feeling when you don't fit the mold and you don't want to pretend [anymore] that you do, and you need to live your life in the open, but again, you're scared to death by it? And you have to choose between coming clean - no matter how hard it is - and never being true to yourself? Well, that's Will. And again, at some point of our life, probably all of us. There are two main stories and a unifying theme in TAOE - the need to get up and claim a place for yourself, and the recognition of how terrifying (but exhilarating) it is. This isn't true for the main characters only, but also for the ones who rotate around them, though to different degrees. And appropriately, it's not like everything gets wrapped up in a neat little bow in the end. Change doesn't happen overnight. Victories are not forever. As Will says, "If I come out in high school, I still have to come out in college, and then at work. It’s like I’m facing an endless line of people assuming I’m something I’m not." [...]

March 27, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Do You Feel about the Whole Mean Girl/Boy Theme?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WHOLE MEAN GIRL/BOY THEME?

Man. Bad, that's how I feel. LOL.


Let me elaborate just a little...

March 22, 2018

In Which an ARC from the States Finds Its Way to Italy (And Why It Hardly Ever Happens)

Hello sweeties!

So...as you might already know if you follow me on Twitter, I'm the proud owner of a physical ARC coming from the United States 💗. My VERY FIRST physical ARC. Every one of you who, like me, doesn't live in America, knows how hard it is to get one. As I have witnessed firsthand (because I've seen the receipt - I'll explain in a moment), sending stuff from the U.S. to Europe is a rip-off. This is why we never get anything, unless some generous author sends the package our way at their own cost. This is the story of how I got mine (but more than anything, an excuse to steer your attention towards this precious little bundle of words so that you get psyched into adding it to your TBR pile, preferably at the top 😉😂). Complete with the ugliest pics anyone ever took of an ARC...or anything else 😳😂.
(Please note: the cover of the ARC is not the final cover. Actually, it changed a bit, with regard to the lettering. You can see the final cover on Goodreads).

The sweater is a little more on the blue than on the green side, but it don't have one that matches all the way...Also, shadows 😱

March 18, 2018

Matthew S. Cox: "A Nighttime of Forever"

Title: A Nighttime of Forever [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Vampire Innocent (1st of ?? books)
Author: Matthew S. Cox [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2017
Age: 16+ [NA]
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Imbues the classic vampire trope with humour and family values - plus a new spin.
Cons: Some reactions to the lead's being vamped are a bit sketchy/smoothed. Death doesn't seem like a big deal.
WARNING! Gore (of course), violence, and talk of (sometimes painful) sex.
Will appeal to: Those who like a sassy but family-focused heroine caught between two worlds.

Blurb: Sarah Wright woke up a few times after parties in strange places - but the morgue’s a first. At eighteen, she’s eager for a taste of independence, moving out of state to attend college. However, soon after escaping the body cooler, she makes two startling realizations: vampires are real, and she is one. A disinterested sire, distraught friends, nosy Men in Black, and awestruck younger siblings complicate her adjustment to the new normal of being an immortal still subject to her parents’ rules. Without a copy of Fangs for Dummies, Sarah’s left scrambling for answers when one such new enemy attacks her siblings and friends. If she can’t figure out how to vampire, her attempt to spare her family the grief of losing her may wind up killing them. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I was offered a review copy by the author, having previously reviewed another one of his books and a couple of collections where two of his short stories were featured. This didn't affect my opinion about this novel.
 
HOMELY VAMP

Typically, vampires are not my thing. But I do enjoy a good vampire story from time to time, if there's more to it than mating, fighting, biting necks and stalking in the night. Also, I was curious about this story where an 18 y.o. girl with a normal, loving family and a life just about to start has to adjust to being undead and to give up on college and independence. It's not every day that you have the chance to meet a family vamp, who actually gets along with her parents, dotes on her siblings, and refuses to let go of her friends. Cox puts a new spin on vampires, in that there are a few types of them, and Sarah is an Innocent - one of those rare immortals who still cling to their humanity. Make no mistakes - she's quite powerful, and doesn't hold back when it's time to fight, though she still hasn't figured out what she can do and how. Watching her walk the fine line between growing into her new abilities (which come at a few costs) and adjusting to her new normal (with her family and friends in tow) is great fun. [...]

March 10, 2018

Five Things I've Never Said in My Reviews (And Probably Never Will)

Hello sweeties! and thank you Goodreads for giving me a discussion post idea (...wait, am I really writing my SECOND discussion post of the year? what's gotten into me? 😲).

Your daily David Tennant gif (you're so lucky I don't actually post daily 😝)

So, after five years of blogging and reading other people's reviews, I finally realised that there are things they mention from time to time (or even often), but never seem to occur to me when I speak my mind about a book. Please note: I'm NOT saying that those things shouldn't have a place in a review. I'm NOT saying that those kinds of reviews are wrong. This is meant to be a humorous post, and more than that, a chance of discussing the different approaches we have when reviewing a book. With that in mind, enjoy the Five Things I've Never Said in My Reviews (But Other People Say from Time to Time)! 😉

February 24, 2018

Screen Time #7: 3+7 All-Time Favourite TV Series (Pt.2)


Welcome to Screen Time, my own feature where I ramble about spotlight some iconic and/or favourite TV series from the '80s, '90s and 2000s!
I'm a child of the '60s *big shock*. This accounts for me fondly remembering some oldies I grew up with, or having some of them in my all-time favourite list. But don't worry, I'm not stuck in the '80s ;). There are plenty of series I've liked and followed in the most recent years...and some current favourites too. So tune in with me, and don't forget your popcorn...

February 20, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Do You Find Time to Read?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO READ?

I usually read in the evening - like I suspect many of you do. Unfortunately, the same time slot is the one when I do most of my blogging, schedule posts, tweet, bath, write my grocery list, do the darn ironing. As you may notice, there's a bit of a competition going on at my house after dinner.

February 15, 2018

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #6 Parker Peevyhouse, Nova Ren Suma, A.S. King


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I never thought I'd do minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps 😊. Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long review - no such luck LOL. But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, or in case I want to draw attention to some old ones I've already reviewed, I might as well give you the short version ;). Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

February 06, 2018

From Comment-Ça-Va to No-Comment: When Does a Post Make You Talk?

Hello sweeties!

After ten whole months (and a half! let's not forget the half!), I've finally come up with a discussion post idea 😅. Nothing fancy, and probably nothing new - but I suppose it's not easy to create fresh content when it comes to blog features/discussions. (Oh, BTW...it was even harder to come up with a "clever" title than with the actual post 😂). Anyway, a few weeks ago, I started wondering why certain blogs, though far more successful than mine in terms of followers - and often able to offer ARC reviews for books far more hyped than the ones I feature - get even less comments than mine, especially in proportion (again, see: massive number of followers, that is, potential commenters). And lately, I have been musing on my own attitude when it comes to commenting on other people's posts. Quite by magic (ooooh!), these two trails of thought met and produced a discussion post idea. I should probably think more often 😂.


So, in short, I've been asking myself - what prompts us to comment on a blog? and what, instead, prevents us from doing it?

Here is a short list of both my turn-ons and turn-offs when it comes to leaving a comment on a blog post. And of course, I'm dying to know yours! (Side note: you don't have to write down a whole list yourselves, really...unless you want to 😉).

January 27, 2018

Screen Time #6: 3+7 All-Time Favourite TV Series (Pt.1)


Welcome to Screen Time, my own feature where I ramble about spotlight some iconic and/or favourite TV series from the '80s, '90s and 2000s!
I'm a child of the '60s *big shock*. This accounts for me fondly remembering some oldies I grew up with, or having some of them in my all-time favourite list. But don't worry, I'm not stuck in the '80s ;). There are plenty of series I've liked and followed in the most recent years...and some current favourites too. So tune in with me, and don't forget your popcorn...

January 21, 2018

It's That Time of the Year Again...A.K.A. The Big Annual Book Haul 2017-18

Hello sweeties! (*channeling River Song*)


Today I'm doing that thing I usually do in January...except for last year, when, apparently, it slipped my mind. I know because I went back and searched for a previous book-haul-post template, and the most recent I could find was my 2016 one. (Yes, I'm lazy 😛).

Anyway, some of you might remember that my birthday is close to Christmas - just 11 days before it. So, as per my usual birthday/Christmas tradition, every year I order a bunch of books from this Italian site that sports a wide selection of books in English as well. And I post the list on here for the world to admire...and wonder why I'm so late on all these books LOL (well, 9 out of 10...one of them came out in the last 12 months, hooray! 😳). Here goes said list, broken down by genres/Reading Rooms...

January 14, 2018

Edward Aubry: "Caprice"

Title: Caprice [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Edward Aubry [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Thriller/Mystery, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Year: 2012
Age: It's aimed at adults, but can be read by mature teens
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Fun twist on a classic trope. Great guessing game. Slightly tongue-in-cheek homage to the complexity of women.
Cons: Requires huge suspension of disbelief. Depicts a fierce case of instalove...but again, with a massive twist.
WARNING! Moderate gore.
Will appeal to: Those who are in for a fun ride. Those who enjoy having the rug constantly pulled from under their feet. 

Blurb: What if your office crush almost killed you with a kiss? Danny Marx has an innocent infatuation with the cute, quirky new girl, Caprice. When she meets him in the stairwell one day and surprises him with an unprovoked, yet passionate kiss, he thinks his fantasies have finally come true. That is until moments later when he becomes violently ill and collapses. He awakens in a hospital where Caprice tells him that the kiss contained an exotic virus designed to intentionally make him sick. She breaks him out of the hospital claiming that both of their lives are in extreme danger. Fleeing with Caprice, Danny embarks on an adventure in which nothing is what it seems. Exactly who or what is Caprice? Why are their lives in danger and who is chasing them? Can Danny trust the girl of his dreams…or has she just tossed him into a nightmare? (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I have reviewed four more books by the author so far, and I specifically requested a review copy of this one. Also, Mr. Aubry and I have exchanged a few emails, and we follow each other on Twitter. But as usual, I'm rating this book accordingly to the level of enjoyment it provided.
 
I'M EVERY WOMAN

Let's get it out of the way: the main female character is, indeed, what you would call a manic pixie dream girl. Except she's not. I can't explain you why, because if you enter this book without too much knowledge, you'll have a lot of fun, especially trying to figure out what's really happening. Plus, of course, watching the author play with the above trope and give it a totally new meaning. What I can say is - Caprice is a long, slightly humorous but heartfelt love letter to women, their infinite complexity and the many faces they come with. Maybe they still need a man to make their life complete in this case (though, well, not in the usual sense at all), but in a way, the male character is sort of a rescued would-be princess, which reverses the trope and makes it fresh and fun. [...]

WHERE WERE WE

For such a short book (just a little longer than your usual novella, with its 50,000+ words), Caprice packs a punch about adventures, mysteries and twists. Here's what the author himself told me about it in an interview:
"My second novel, Caprice, actually started as a writing exercise to see how long I could sustain a story where the genre changes every chapter. Not very long, it turned out."
To be honest, I wouldn't call it a change of genre, but it's a change for sure - I can't say more because I would royally spoil the fun for anyone interested. (Anyway, you only need to take a look at the chapter titles to find evidence of that). And mind you, when you think you're finally on solid ground...think again 😉. Or maybe you were on it before and you didn't realise?

RIDING ON A FANTASY

As far as love stories go, Caprice is fairly simplistic in a way, highly improbable in another. But as a fable (though not of the rainbows-and-unicorns variety) it works. It's even infused with a nice culture twist at the end. Not every aspect is thoroughly accounted for (there's a character who remains, for the most part, a mystery, and a phone call that doesn't get a definitive explanation), but it's highly entertaining and makes you rack your brain, which sits well with me 😁. Also, it's well written (except for the overuse of the verb "lurch" - I counted 10 instances of it 😉. It must be the beta-reader in me LOL) AND well edited. If you're looking for a crazy and adventurous blend of romance, comedy, drama and suspense where nothing is what it seems, look no further.

For my "Prelude to Mayhem" review (first installment in the Mayhem Wave series by the same author) click here.
For my review of Edward Aubry's book "Unhappenings" click here.
For my interview with Edward Aubry click here.
For more Adult books click here.


Alternate cover (paperback)