September 17, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Do You Handle Writing Reviews for Books that You Didn’t Love?

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 HANDLE WRITING REVIEWS FOR BOOKS THAT YOU DIDN'T LOVE?

Eh...the shortest answer would be: with care. And respect. Unless we're talking about a problematic book (I mean, a really, INFURIATINGLY problematic book, not one with a questionable thing of two), in which case I'd probably be...not lenient. Thank goodness though, I've managed to dodge such books so far - probably because I'm on a tight book budget, and when I can afford a book haul (always a hundred months later than pub date) I've read so many reviews that all the problematic books of the moment (or of the year LOL) have been exposed πŸ˜‚.

September 10, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Are There Authors/Books that Everyone Seems to Love but You Don’t?

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 THERE AUTHORS/BOOKS THAT EVERYONE SEEMS TO LOVE BUT YOU DON'T?

As anticipated in my previous TMST post, I tweaked the original question a little...well...a lot πŸ˜…. Because it seems like I never tried a popular author or read a popular book only to find myself disappointed with them. Of course, I'm the champion of books no one has ever heard about LOL - so it makes sense. Also, more often than not, hype has the counterproductive effect to turn me away from things designed to be popular. So, I decided to tweak today's question like this:

ARE THERE POPULAR GENRES/AUTHORS/BOOKS THAT EVERYBODY SEEMS TO READ BUT DON'T APPEAL TO YOU IN THE SLIGHTEST?

September 04, 2019

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #14 Rin Chupeco, Charles Yu, 'Nathan Burgoine


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 reviews - 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 πŸ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

September 01, 2019

Tooting Your Trumpet #4


Some people toot their own trumpet. I mean to toot yours. On the first Sunday of every month, I'm sharing your posts, your sites, anything interesting I stumble upon during my internet vagrancies. This month on TYT...
  • HOW TO USE TRELLO TO ORGANIZE YOUR BLOG (a post on Kelly's blog Another Book in the Wall)
  • TEEN INFLUENCERS BOOK BLOG DIRECTORY (a database on Kelly's blog - see above)
  • IS THAT A COMPLIMENT? (a discussion post on Sam's blog We Live and Breath Books, where she discusses tagging authors in positive reviews)
  • BLOGGING MISTAKES NOT TO REPEAT (a TMST discussion post on Heid's blog Rainy Day Ramblings)

August 27, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Why Do You Read Blog Posts?

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:

WHY DO YOU READ BLOG POSTS?

Well...I was prepared to go above and beyond as usual, but I realised I don't need a ton of words to explain how I feel, so I'll keep it short and sweet this time.
I know you don't believe me 😜.

August 20, 2019

Christopher Pike: "Thirst No.4: The Shadow of Death"

Title: Thirst No.4: The Shadow of Death [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Thirst (previously: The Last Vampire) (4th of ?? books)
Author: Christopher Pike [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Year: 2011
Age: 14+ (please note: for years it's been considered YA lit, but the human age of the protagonist would place it in the NA category nowadays, and the series gets more mature - and darker - by the book)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Original take on vampires. Plenty of kickass action and entertaining (if often bloody) moments. Blends urban fantasy with thriller, history (though just slightly in this specific installment), and more than anything, Eastern spirituality. This particular installment is top-notch horror, with a strong supernatural bone.
Cons: If you're not into a mix of supernatural/spiritual/sci-fi, this one might not work for you (though it's done well). The open ending might not sit well with some.
WARNING! Child death (they're evil and dangerous children though). Gore, violence and really creepy villains.
Will appeal to: Those looking for a fresh approach to vampires, in what was probably the very first YA/NA series about them.

Blurb: Alisa is a five-thousand-year-old vampire, stronger and more cunning than her adversaries. But now she's trapped in the body of a newborn vampire and at the mercy of a terrible thirst. Worst of all, she's facing enemies whose fierce desire for domination grows ever stronger. The immortal race the Telar is threatening to release a virus to decimate humanity. But Alisa and her friends can't take down the Telar on their own, and they must turn to the mysterious organization the IIC for help. But the IIC has secrets of its own and may have ulterior motives. With two rivals and no one to trust, Alisa must rely on her dark side to defeat them. But it could cost her life, or her soul...(Goodreads)
[Please note: "Alisa" is the main character's alias when she's undercover for some reason...or when it suits her, but her real name is Sita. I SO wish these blurbs called her by her birth name πŸ˜’]

Review: This series is not perfect. And I won't shun its faults in this review. But for some reason, I can't bear myself to rate it less than 5 stars (except for Thirst No.3). It's not author bias - there are a bunch of Pike books I rated 3 stars and even less. But if TLV/Thirst stills works its magic on me almost 20 years after I first read Book 1, and if I'm still peeling its layers after all this time, that should count for something...

REACH HIGH

Thirst No.4 takes off exactly where the previous installment in the series stopped - and yes, that one ended with a cliffhanger. In Pike's defense though, he rarely (if ever) does that - but you can't have a single book that's almost 980 pages long 😲 πŸ˜‚. (Or maybe Stephen King could get away with it, but I'm not sure. Or maybe he actually has already?). Anyhow, while I had a few pet-peeves against Thirst No.3, this one is my favourite installment in the series so far, if by a notch (I rated every one of them 5 stars except for No.3, and I couldn't have borne to give them a lower rating, but I would have rated this one half a star higher if possible. Yes, I'm complicated πŸ˜…). The whole series is spiritual/philosophical and full of (bloody) action at the same time, plus a successful blend of supernatural and sci-fi (not an easy feat)...but Thirst No.4 has the highest stakes, the creepiest villains (whether human or not), the steepest ethical dilemmas, the most unexpected twists, the scariest (and most creative) horror scenes - plus a whole afterlife section that probably would have made me biased toward it regardless πŸ˜‚. (Except I don't really think I'm biased - again, see my review for No.3). If the blurb makes it sound like half the conspiracy books out there (only with vampires - well, one of them, to be precise), it's just because you can't fit a quarter of of what happens here into a blurb...especially if you don't want to spoil things. [...]

August 11, 2019

Karen Healey: "While We Run"

Title: While We Run [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: When We Wake (2nd of 2 books)
Author: Karen Healey [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2014
Age: 14+
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Strong, mostly diverse characters with distinctive voices, often dealing with moral dilemmas and hard decisions to make. Never a dull moment, even when the pace gets slower.
Cons: A few familiar tropes/premises.
WARNING! Offscreen torture (but we also get a few glimpses of it) and rape. Some gruesome deaths.
Will appeal to: Readers who care about the state our world is in. Readers who like a thrilling yet romantic adventure.

Blurb: Abdi Taalib thought he was moving to Australia for a music scholarship. But after meeting the beautiful and brazen Tegan Oglietti, his world was turned upside down. Tegan's no ordinary girl - she died in 2027, only to be frozen and brought back to life in Abdi's time, 100 years later. Now, all they want is for things to return to normal (or as normal as they can be), but the government has other ideas. Especially since the two just spilled the secrets behind Australia's cryonics project to the world. On the run, Abdi and Tegan have no idea who they can trust - and, when they uncover startling new details about the program, they realize that thousands of lives may be in their hands. (Amazon)

Review: I'm ordinarily all for books without tropes, or employing as little of them as it's humanly possible - but sometimes an author can breath new life into an old concept, or make up for a familiar scenario with a great execution. Both things happen in While We Run - hence my rating. (Also, for your information, this one is set in Australia, which is a nice change from your usual all-American scenario).

A DIFFERENT ANGLE

For books with such a meaty sci-fi premise, both While We Run and its predecessor When We Wake are, at their core, good old dystopians, but with an unusually strong SJW vein, dealing with ethical, environmental, and even political issues. And the latter is especially true about WWR, since its main character Abdi (who was Tegan's sidekick in When We Wake) is a Djibouti immigrate, whose politician mother has indoctrinated him since a very young age with the tricks of her trade. This duology may be built on a few tropes, but it's entirely its own thing, and one we rarely see in YA. Especially WWR, with its diverse lead and his peculiar outlook. Abdi is a thinker, an observer, even a manipulator if need be (but he questions himself and realises it's not ethical to act like that around friends). He's also an atheist, unlike Tegan and Bethari (and most of his family, not to mention country), and while believers might find him harsh, he's a fascinating, complex character with a conscience, if not a creed. And he does struggle with doing the right thing, or choosing the lesser of two evils, which makes him stand out among your usual holier-than-thou or (most often) one-track-mind characters. [...]

August 04, 2019

Tooting Your Trumpet #3


Some people toot their own trumpet. I mean to toot yours. On the first Sunday of every month, I'm sharing your posts, your sites, anything interesting I stumble upon during my internet vagrancies. This month on TYT...
  • TUNNELVILLE (a YA novel, the second installment in the Mad World series by Erin Callahan & Troy H. Gardner, that recently got a makeover)
  • LIBRARY MISCONCEPTIONS (a funny post on Shayna's blog Clockwork Bibliotheca - and the first one in her "library series" - where she discloses all the weird things librarians get told on a daily basis/people assume about them)
  • FEEDBOOKS (a site where you can find copyright-free books to download!)
  •  DIVERSE BOOKS (a list on Kristen's blog Metaphors and Moonlight)

July 30, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Let’s Make New Friends: Share Some of Your Favourite Blogs

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:

LET'S MAKE NEW FRIENDS: SHARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE BLOGS

Most of the blogs I'm listing here will probably be familiar to you. The book blogging community is quite a tight one, and I love that about it. But even if this list should end up being a shout-out to all my closest blogging friends and nothing else, hey, it would be time well spent 😘. Here goes (in strictly alphabetical order by blog name)...

July 23, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Fun Post: Share Interesting Things about Yourself

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:

FUN POST: SHARE INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF

Actually, I already wrote a post along these lines 3 years ago. But I'll try and entertain you with more of my dirty secrets, besides my curly hair fascination, refusal to own a cell phone, fear of driving and swimming, addiction to make-up, and other fascinating trivia (explained) that you can find in the post linked above...

July 17, 2019

More Madness: Memoirs of an Italian Poll Clerk Pt.2


Hello sweeties,

As you might remember from this post, I've been a poll clerk for a few year now, so I thought I'd entertain you with a recount of my experience πŸ˜‰. My previous post covered the hows and whens and whats of your average poll clerk activity, but it left out all the funny incidents that happen while you're on duty. So I decided to write a second post covering them as well. Enjoy!

July 12, 2019

Karen Healey: "When We Wake"

Title: When We Wake [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: When We Wake (1st of 2 books)
Author: Karen Healey [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Afterlife
Year: 2013
Age: 14+
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Strong characters with distinctive voices. Lots of (intersectional) diversity. On-point social/environmental commentary perfectly integrated into the story. Fast pace.
Cons: A few familiar tropes/premises.
WARNING! One brutal death. Mass murder of children.
Will appeal to: Readers who care about the state our world is in. Readers who like a thrilling yet romantic adventure. Beatles fans.

Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027 - she's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world. But on what should have been the best day of Tegan's life, she dies - and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility. Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived. But the future isn't all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future? (Amazon excerpt)

Review: I'm ordinarily all for books without tropes, or employing as little of them as it's humanly possible - but sometimes an author can breath new life into an old concept, or make up for a familiar scenario with a great execution. Both things happen in When We Wake - hence my rating. (Also, for your information, this one is set in Australia, which is a nice change from your usual all-American scenario).

THE GOOD FIGHT

I was originally drawn to WWW because of its premise - a girl dying (well, almost), getting frozen and waking up a century later. Though I'm sure it's not a new concept, I've never seen it used in YA, and I was curious how it would pan out. But this book has a lot more to offer than a sci-fi/afterlife (or relife) crossover story. I was prepared for the huge SJW vibe, but got pleasantly surprised by the amount of diversity. The highest point of it is Bethari, a bisexual, hijabi teen hacker/aspiring journalist who befriends the main character Tegan. Oddly, while in 2128 Australia both Muslim and queer people seem to be perfectly integrated (and the government has gone to great lengths to minimise environmental problems, though a bit late), there's a cruel no-immigrant policy in place that struck too close to home, what with the current situation in Europe and the U.S. I loved how Tegan is not perfect - in her first life, she wasn't a true activist, but more like a follower of her friend Alex and her crush Dalmar - but she's inquisitive, and her heart is in the right place. She begins to question the real reason why she's been revived and its impact on society, while refusing to think of herself as an abomination, the way a certain religious cult does. She mourns her past life (that, for her, is only a day away), but embraces the perils that her new one hides under its facade if she doesn't stay down, and bravely fights for the right cause. [...]

July 07, 2019

Tooting Your Trumpet #2


Some people toot their own trumpet. I mean to toot yours. On the first Sunday of every month, I'm sharing your posts, your sites, anything interesting I stumble upon during my internet vagrancies. This month on TYT...
  • DEATH'S DAUGHTER (a short story by my writer friend Fanni that got recently published)
  • FLIPPED  by Wendelin Van Draanen (a book review for that rare thing called a MG/YA crossover on Shayna's blog Clockwork Bibliotheca)
  • GENRE SNOBBERY IS A BITCH (a witty and articulated discussion post on The Orangutan Librarian's blog)
  •  HOW DO YOU KEEP GOING WHEN BLOGGING FEELS LIKE TOO MUCH? (a TMST discussion post on Karen's blog For What It's Worth)

July 02, 2019

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #13 Seanan McGuire, Matthew Green, T.E. Carter


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 reviews - 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 πŸ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

June 28, 2019

Halfway Through: A Midyear Recap and a Few Shenanigans (2019 Edition)

Hello sweeties,

half a year has already gone by while we weren't looking. Well, when I wasn't, at least - but I bet you're a little shocked too 😲. Now, you know I've been doing a 12-months recap in December for a while now, but my first midyear one was in 2018, thanks to the Tell Me Something Tuesday meme. And while it was nowhere as accurate as my yearly ones, I enjoyed having the change of stopping to look back for a moment, regrouping, and starting my journey again. So, even without a TMST prompt, I decided to do it again this year, and maybe make it a regular feature of my blog. Here goes...

June 25, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Do You Keep Going When Sometimes Blogging Feels Like Too Much?

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 KEEP GOING WHEN SOMETIMES BLOGGING FEELS LIKE TOO MUCH?

Blogging is hard work, we all know that - even when we try not to let it go that route. Every one of us has goals, ambitious or not. Every one of us is afraid to let go and be forgotten. Even when we can't post often, we do our best to be consistent - to avoid long gaps between a post and the other, or longer gaps than usual. At the very least, blogging is an outlet, and we want it to be the best representation of ourselves and the things we like. That in itself requires a huge amount of time and energy, so that, when real life gets in the way...even a thing that we do out of love can become a burden.

June 18, 2019

Welcome to the Madness: Memoirs of an Italian Poll Clerk Pt.1

Hello sweeties,

I have a different kind of post for you today. As you may know if you read my post-hiatus article (or my tweets), I got summoned to poll duty for the European/municipal election combo on May 26th - which, incidentally, didn't go well 😬. I guess you know by know that the right wing (a particularly aggressive brand these days) raised its ugly head, even in my hometown 😭. Regardless, I thought I'd write a post about my poll-clerk experiences, in the hope that you might find it interesting - if mildly (?). I, for one, am curious how poll duty works in the other countries - so, if any of you knows about it firsthand, feel free to let me know in the comments!

June 11, 2019

A.S. King: "I Crawl Through It"

Title: I Crawl Through It [on Amazonon Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: A.S. King [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist
Year: 2015
Age: 14+
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Bold and unique. Despite the experimental, surrealistic style, provides a compassionate - and deep down, passionate - look at the lives of its characters.
Cons: Not particularly accessible if you're looking for a straight-up story. The symbolism is not always clear.
WARNING! There's talk about rape, though it happened off-screen. Hints at mature themes like bondage and pedophilia.
Will appeal to: Those who enjoy experimental narrative with a heart.

Blurb: Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening. So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away...but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: There's no denying that A.S. King is one of the most daring authors in the YA scene nowadays. You may not agree with everything she says, but she never fails to make a mark. Fair warning...her books are becoming more and more surrealistic. I'll admit not completely understanding this one, but that didn't prevent me from loving it. Here goes...

IN A HARSH LIGHT

ICTI is, first and foremost, a story about being teens in a world that at best doesn't care, turns its head the other way, or isn't equipped to help them (parents and teachers included), and at worst hurts them (sometimes unwittingly), damages them, or predates their feelings - and their bodies. OK...let's address the elephant in the room: this is not your average contemporary book - nor even your average magical-realistic book. But to me, the surrealism filter actually enhances the punch that these kids' stories pack, the same way as the short sentences this book is written in not only suit the narrative, but in this case, end up being more poignant and raw that any lyrical prose. (The book also includes several poems by the girl who swallowed herself, China, that fit the same bill). Of course, this is a love-it or hate-it style. However, you can't deny that ICTI is surrealistic in a way that's still able to root its characters and make them real. You can argue that you end up loving them more with your head than with your heart, so to speak (at least that's how I feel...more or less - though China almost made me cry the first time I read the book), but it doesn't mean that they don't leave a mark, and you can still feel the author's genuine compassion for them and share it. And if you're an adult who still retains some decency, maybe hung your head in shame, because you ARE a big part of the problem just by pretending not to see.

June 02, 2019

Tooting Your Trumpet #1

Hello sweeties! and welcome to my new post series, in which, once a month, I intend to share a few articles/sites that piqued my interest. I know that most of you are doing it already in The Sunday Post, but since I don't participate in the meme, I thought I'd create my very own. So here goes the first installment of...


Some people toot their own trumpet. I mean to toot yours. On the first Sunday of every month, I'm sharing your posts, your sites, anything interesting I stumble upon during my internet vagrancies. This month on TYT...
  • PROJECT CANVAS (a collaborative book that my blogging friend Hannah wrote a piece for)
  • WORDY AND WHIMSICAL (new blog!)
  • THE MEMORY OF RAIN (a blog you might not be familiar with yet...)
  • DOES READING YA MAKE YOU A BETTER/MORE EMPATHETIC PARENT? (a discussion post on Karen's blog For What It's Worth)

May 28, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Who Are Some of Your Favourite 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:

WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHORS?

I have been known for reading any mystery Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson and Rex Stout ever wrote. Or, I'm still missing a few of them, but it's a goal of mine. (I do have the whole Christie collection though - I only need her Mary Westmacott books to make it complete). If we're talking about living and breathing authors though, I have three favourites - two of which I have discovered since I started blogging.

May 24, 2019

Rehabilitating YA: 20 Trope-Free Standalones/Series to Read if You've Given Up on It (Pt.4)

Hello sweeties!

I've been wanting to write a post like this for a while. Every now and then, I hear someone say they've given up on YA (or are reading much less of it lately) because they got fed up with the tropes that come with the "genre". Now, while of course it's not mandatory to read YA at any age, and while I'm not denying the existence of such tropes (though really, any literary genre/age range has got its share of them...), I made it my reader's life mission to discover YA books that stand out for any reason and employ as little of those overused plot devices as it's humanly possible (hence, of course, my blog's name). So I thought I'd put together a list of YA novels blissfully devoid of tropes (or employing them in minimal doses), hoping to prove those reluctant/jaded readers that there's so much more to YA than meets the eye. And I ultimately decided to make this post into a series, because my list was too long for a single one. Here goes Part 4 (broken down by genres/my blog's Reading Rooms)...
(Note: these are not necessarily my favourite books - though some of them are. I only choose them for their lack/minimal amount of tropes. Also, there are a few mature YA/NA/adult friendly books in this list).

May 19, 2019

What I Did Last Month: Silent Hiatus Recap & Back to Blogging

Hello sweeties! πŸ’š

I'm here. I'm live. Well...as live as one can be when writing a post in advance LOL. But I mean, this is a new post, not one I scheduled a month or two ago. When I planned my hiatus, on my return I hoped to be able to post the review that started it all - the one that I couldn't seem to write, and that made me realise I needed some blogging-free space. But I finally decided to let it sit for a while longer, so I'm writing this post instead. I hold a grudge to that review LOL. It's not a good idea to force myself to write it now. But while I still have a couple of pre-hiatus posts waiting to go live (May 24th -> Rehabilitating YA: 20 Trope-Free Standalones/Series to Read if You've Given Up on It (Pt.4); May 28th -> TMST: Who Are Some of Your Favourite Authors?), I wanted to do a small recap of what I did last month and give you some heads-up about my future...

May 14, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Do You Prefer Action-Driven Books or Quiet Books?

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 ACTION-DRIVEN BOOKS OR QUIET BOOKS?

I'm a little ambivalent about this. If I often find myself gravitating toward books where things happen (I mean, lots of things, and pretty fast), I love it when the action is balanced out by introspection/inner monologue. I'm going to post three lists - the first is comprised of some of my favourite books/series where a lot happens (though they still meet the introspection requirement), the second sports books that are part action-y, part quiet, while in the third you'll find equally engaging books where not much happens. (Note: these were all 5 or 4.5 star reads I wrote a full review for).

May 07, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Why Do You Like to Read Book Reviews?

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:

WHY DO YOU LIKE TO READ BOOK REVIEWS?

...Because you do, don't you? πŸ˜‰
I mean, I know of bloggers who review books but hardly read any reviews (which strikes me as odd at best LOL). While others usually read reviews only if they come from trusted buddies (which makes much more sense to me. What with unmarked spoilers coming out from nowhere, biased opinions and other incidents).

May 01, 2019

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #12 Lauren Karcz, Rin Chupeco, Amelinda BΓ©rubΓ©


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 reviews - 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 πŸ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

April 27, 2019

Making the Cover: "Tunnelville" 2.0 by Erin Callahan & Troy H. Gardner

Hello lovelies!

I'm treating you to something different today. Or better...something that I already did once, but you don't often see around. Not quite your classic cover reveal, but the illustrated story of how a concept is made into a cover. Which is probably interesting if you dabble in art yourself, but maybe even more if you don't have the faintest idea of how these things work (when the authors themselves are in charge of the process, that is).


Before we start, a short recap is due. In 2013, I received a review copy of Wakefield from the very hands of authors Erin Callahan and Troy H. Gardner. To cut a long story short, since then we have developed a great author/blogger relationship. I reviewed the three collaborative books they have put forth so far (after Wakefield, the sequels Tunnelville and Perfection), beta-read for both of them, and cheerleaded like a champion at every step of their writing journey. The books Erin and Troy co-authored are the first half of the Mad World double trilogy, originally published by a small press. After Book 3 came out - that is, in June 2013 - the two of them have been working at refining their craft, while also tending to their individual projects. Now, since the rights for the first three installments were reverted to them, Erin and Troy have decided to go indie, and to kick off Wakefield, Tunnelville and Perfection again, before they start publishing the second half of the series. This involved a whole rebrand, of course, starting with the covers. Troy is the one in charge of them, and today on the blog he kindly shares his creative process in a Tunnelville making-the-cover post. (Note: Tunnelville 2.0 is scheduled for the early summer, hopefully June, July at worst...the Dynamic Duo is presently giving the final touches to the revised version...so keep your eyes peeled! Though of course I'll keep you posted...literally πŸ˜‰). Here goes...

April 20, 2019

Rehabilitating YA: 20 Trope-Free Standalones/Series to Read if You've Given Up on It (Pt.3)

Hello sweeties!

I've been wanting to write a post like this for a while. Every now and then, I hear someone say they've given up on YA (or are reading much less of it lately) because they got fed up with the tropes that come with the "genre". Now, while of course it's not mandatory to read YA at any age, and while I'm not denying the existence of such tropes (though really, any literary genre/age range has got its share of them...), I made it my reader's life mission to discover YA books that stand out for any reason and employ as little of those overused plot devices as it's humanly possible (hence, of course, my blog's name). So I thought I'd put together a list of YA novels blissfully devoid of tropes (or employing them in minimal doses), hoping to prove those reluctant/jaded readers that there's so much more to YA than meets the eye. And I ultimately decided to make this post into a series, because my list was too long for a single one. Here goes Part 3 (broken down by genres/my blog's Reading Rooms)...
(Note: these are not necessarily my favourite books - though some of them are. I only choose them for their lack/minimal amount of tropes. Also, there are a few mature YA/NA/adult friendly books in this list).

April 15, 2019

The Invisible Hiatus (And How I Learned to Let Go)

Hello sweeties,

on this very day, this space was meant to host a review. I had a precise book in mind, and I even reread it in order to be able to make it justice - to say the right things in the right way. I had this review appointed for weeks. I tried to make it happen for a couple ones at least (that was around mid-March). I went as far as to write the Pros and Cons sections...but then, I finally realised something - I wasn't feeling it. At first I didn't worry, because it's something that happens to me from time to time - even with 5 or 4 star books. Sometimes I have to give myself a kick in the butt in order to get moving...and then, lo and behold! the words flow and the review is done in a few hours and it's even kind of awesome. But this time, the more I kept procrastinating and moving said review further and further down my schedule, the more I hated the thought of having to write it. As I said, it wasn't the book - it was me. It got to the point where it was messing with my whole schedule - other posts that I couldn't or didn't want to cancel/move for any given reason. I had all the time in the world for writing that review, and suddenly, I had none left. Unless I wanted to force it out of my brain (damaging the book), and work around the clock, and postpone reading my new books because of it. That's when I finally drew the line.

April 10, 2019

Janet Tashjian: "For What It's Worth"

Title: For What It's Worth [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Janet Tashjian [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist
Year: 2012
Age: 12+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Nice coming-of-age story with authentic teenage voice and a classic rock soundtrack.
Cons: While middle-graders/younger teens are the best audience for this one, they're likely not to be familiar with most of the music featured, unless their parents (or grandparents?) exposed them to it.
Will appeal to: Youngsters dealing with first loves, complicated family dynamics and making sense of the world. Youngsters who can relate to loving music on a deep level. Adults who grew up with classic rock and are willing to read a well-crafted slice of teenage life set in the era.

Blurb: The year is 1971 and the place is Laurel Canyon, California. Quinn, a fourteen-year-old music "encyclopedia," writes a music column called "For What It's Worth" for his school paper. But Quinn's world is about to change when he is faced with helping a war dodger and must make some tough decisions. When he starts receiving cryptic Ouija board messages from Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix (all members of the 27 Club), he knows he is in over his head. Fortunately for Quinn, his new girlfriend Caroline helps him get a grip and channel his inner self. (Amazon)

Review: This one is a bit of an odd fish, since it crosses the boundary between MG and YA, and yet it would be better appreciated by an adult with a basic knowledge of the music involved. I think it was what influenced my rating the most, because FWIW has a lot going for it. Also, please note: this particular review has been split in two parts only (instead of the usual three) because it would have been redundant to do otherwise. FWIW is a coming-of-age story as much as it's a story fueled by music, and those are the two aspects my review will focus on.

KEEPING IT REAL

I love how authentic Quinn's voice is. He's fourteen, never been kissed, passionate about music in a way that - alas - only a kid who grew up before the digital age can be. And self-absorbed (or lacking social awareness) in a way that rings completely true for a teen his age. He has an older female sibling with whom he entertains your classic love-hate relationship, but still leaning on the love side (though he probably would never admit it if not under torture). He's oblivious to what boils under his unbalanced family dynamic. And he's equally oblivious to the changes occurring around him, what with the Vietnam War seeping more and more into his idyllic suburban life. During the course of a few months though, all these things are about to change, for better or worse. As a coming-of-age story, Quinn's is well-executed and relatable, and the best thing is, it doesn't change the core of what he is (which would be an improbable feat, but it doesn't mean that a less skilled writer wouldn't have gone there). He makes mistakes and learns from them and becomes a better person, and this is the realest thing you can ask from a character. [...]

April 02, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Do You Feel about Authors Throwing Big, Obscure Words into Their Books?

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 AUTHORS THROWING BIG, OBSCURE WORDS INTO THEIR BOOKS?

I suppose I'm in the minority here, but I actually like them! I don't mean fancy talk, the kind you would find in an old book, or flowery language. But I get excited when a book I'm reading provides the random unusual word I have to look into a dictionary to unlock. Maybe it's because English is an acquired language for me, so I love to learn new words - even if I rarely remember them when I set to write a post or a tweet πŸ˜…. Or maybe it's more because I revel in the endless possibilities that English language [and my own as well, of course] offers, and I love it when writing gets spiced up and leans a bit towards the unconventional side. There are so many wonderful, neglected words out there - why don't use them for a change?

March 27, 2019

It's a Tough Job: Tales about Your Dream Career and More

Hello sweeties!

A few weeks ago, a Twitter meme about your 5-year-old-self dream career and my own musings about jobs gave me the idea for this post. This is going to be a conversation prompt about the kind of job you wanted to do when you grew up, the one you got (instead?) and/or the one you would like to do one day. I'll go first...

March 22, 2019

Rehabilitating YA: 20 Trope-Free Standalones/Series to Read if You've Given Up on It (Pt.2)

Hello sweeties!

I've been wanting to write a post like this for a while. Every now and then, I hear someone say they've given up on YA (or are reading much less of it lately) because they got fed up with the tropes that come with the "genre". Now, while of course it's not mandatory to read YA at any age, and while I'm not denying the existence of such tropes (though really, any literary genre/age range has got its share of them...), I made it my reader's life mission to discover YA books that stand out for any reason and employ as little of those overused plot devices as it's humanly possible (hence, of course, my blog's name). So I thought I'd put together a list of YA novels blissfully devoid of tropes (or employing them in minimal doses), hoping to prove those reluctant/jaded readers that there's so much more to YA than meets the eye. And I ultimately decided to make this post into a series, because my list was too long for a single one. Here goes Part 2 (broken down by genres/my blog's Reading Rooms)...
(Note: these are not necessarily my favourite books - though some of them are. I only choose them for their lack/minimal amount of tropes. Also, there are a few mature YA/NA/adult friendly books in this list).

March 19, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What Personality Traits Do You Love/Hate in a Character?

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 PERSONALITY TRAITS DO YOU LOVE/HATE IN A CHARACTER?

First off...I proposed this question to Heidi, and she gladly accepted to incorporate it into her list. Thank you!

Overall, I'm not awfully picky with my characters - I have been known to like a few unlikeable ones (at least based on the general consensus, or lack of it...but heck, even "I" could see those characters were a little - or a lot - off the track, so to speak), as long as they were interesting to read about, or the story they featured in was interesting as a whole. But the key word, to me, are "depth" and "growth". Even characters with a questionable history can provide both. Also, let's face it, not a single one of us is a saint - why shouldn't we be equally lenient with book characters? Maybe we would never be best friend with them IRL, but that doesn't mean they can't provide an interesting perspective book-wise.

March 12, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: To Tour or Not to Tour?

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:

TO TOUR OR NOT TO OUR? DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN BOOK TOURS? WHY OR WHY NOT?

I very rarely participate in book tours. I only do if:
  • they're about a book by a favourite author
  • I can select the review option for that particular book (and I'm fairly convinced that I'll like it)
  • I'm positively sure I'll end up buying the book when it comes out (in case the tour only allows options like blurb/cover reveal).
From what I hear, book tours aren't a big hit with blog readers, unless there's a lot of buzz surrounding the book already; but even if they were (or are they? more experienced bloggers than me are better equipped to reply to this question), I would only feature books I'm interested in, whether they're big or small. (And given the nature of my blog, I don't think I'll ever get the chance to spotlight a BIG release LOL).

March 04, 2019

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #11 Nova Ren Suma, Seanan McGuire, Parker Peevyhouse


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 reviews - 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 πŸ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

February 26, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Have You Learned to Keep Your TBR Pile in Check, or How Would You Like to Control Your Pile?

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 HAVE YOU LEARNED TO KEEP YOUR TBR PILE IN CHECK, OR HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO CONTROL YOUR PILE?

First off - compared to most TBR piles I see around (judging from Goodreads at least), mine is relatively small...and always seems to dance around the same number - a little more or a little less than 100 books. At present, I have 79 in my Want to Read shelf and 19 in my Not Sure one. And since 57 of them are either out of print or impossible to locate through my usual webseller (the only one I know that accepts cash on delivery), less than half my TBR list is made of books that I can ACTUALLY buy at this very moment. Unless I decide to use a credit card (debit card, in my case) and buy from Amazon, The Book Depository and the likes - which would allow me to request used copies or ebooks where new/physical ones are not available. But...I'm so wary of that.