September 29, 2020

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #19 Kali Wallace, A.S. King, Fox Benwell


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, I might as well give you the short version 😉. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

September 24, 2020

Seanan McGuire: "Come Tumbling Down"

Title: Come Tumbling Down [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Wayward Children (5th of ?? 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 closest I could get)
Year: 2020
Age: 14+
Stars: 4/5
Pros: An imaginative look-in-reverse at one of the most common fantasy tropes. Puts a neurodivergent queer character front and center. The POV switch is masterfully done.
Cons: Quite dark. Some characters get less screen time than  others.
WARNING! A pretty graphic corpse depiction.
Will appeal to: Everyone who's ever felt out of place, but doesn't necessary dream of a happier world than the one they live in...

Blurb: When Jack left Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister - whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice - back to their home on the Moors. But death in their adopted world isn't always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: Each installment of his series never fails to take a different turn, not even when we visit one of the same worlds as before. This time, Jack and Jill are joined by their former schoolmates (which makes for a change of style, since every one of them gets a POV), and we get to explore the Moors' mythology even further. Never a dull moment 😉.


You know how, usually, the first thing that strikes you about a book is either the plot or the characters or the world-building, or well, the writing, but from a purely aesthetic angle? If I have to pick the aspect of CTD that stands out the most for me, it's the constant, apparently effortless POV change. For the second time (since Beneath the Sugar Sky) a group of Wayward Children are on a quest in the world where one...well, technically, two of them belong, except that this time every one of them takes a turn in telling the story. And it's not a matter of chapters - it happens seamlessly every few paragraphs/lines. Though not all the kids get the same amount of screen time (it only makes sense that Jack is given the lion's share, but Sumi is a close second, probably because her apparently air-headed attitude and chipper demeanor help balancing out the dark narrative), we get a rotating glimpse of everyone's thoughts and feelings, and it never feels forced or scattered. Seriously, if you have ever read a book in third person where you felt disconnected from a single character in whose head you were the whole time, you know how rare and precious it is. [...]

September 19, 2020

Neal Shusterman: "Challenger Deep"

Title: Challenger Deep  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Neal Shusterman [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist
Year: 2015 (originally from HarperTeen, but it's been reissued on Aug. 6th 2020 by Walker Books)
Age: 14+
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Perfect blend of raw and poetical, honest and hopeful. Comprises two smartly connected narratives.
Cons: Not so much a "plot" story as a "situation" one (though at least one of the narratives is punctuated by some colourful events).
WARNING! Lots of talk about mental illnesses of course. An attempted suicide (off-screen).
Will appeal to: Those who can appreciate a quiet, yet powerful novel from the double perspective of a single character.

Blurb: Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.
Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.
Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images.
Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.
Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.
Caden Bosch is torn. (Amazon)

Review: I can't vouch for the accuracy of the schizophrenic rep in this book, but I guess the next best thing to having a person diagnosed with a mental disorder narrate his own story is reading his author father's take on it (and mind you, he got his son's input). Then again, art is about creating order out of chaos, and maybe making us understand it better...


Caden is a high-schooler with friends, hobbies, talents, and a family who loves him (including a younger sister he sounds very fond of). We meet him when he starts to spiral into a condition that isn't explicitly labeled (though it's obviously some form of schizophrenia - but then again, the book makes a point about labels not being necessarily accurate or helpful, because it's different for everyone, as the medical cocktails given to each patient are), and follow him all through his hospitalisation in a mental health facility; but at the same time Caden tells his story as a member of a mysterious crew on a ship sailing to the infamous Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the oceans - and that's where we get some action, if of the weird kind. Personally, I was captivated by the second narrative even before the connections with Caden's "ordinary" reality started to become apparent, but when they did (often in unexpected, but always smart and significant ways), I was in awe. This literary technique made me really understand Caden's plights and witness his struggle, and yet the story managed to stay entertaining (for all the right reasons). [...]

September 13, 2020

Nicholas J. Evans: "Order of Dust" (ARC Review)

Title: Order of Dust  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: For Humans, for Demons (1st of 3 books)
Author: Nicholas J. Evans [Twitter | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2020
Age: 16+
Stars: 2/5
Pros: Fresh spin on a supernatural trope. Tentative found family of humans and creatures.
Cons: Despite the action and the high stakes, it's nowhere near as exciting as one would expect (probably due to the lack of engaging prose). The characters aren't easy to connect with.
Will appeal to: Fans of classic revenge stories with a supernatural twist.

Blurb: Jackson Crowe is dead. Or, at least he was. After his death, he awoke in the North-Lane and found himself at the crossroads of life and the beyond. The higher beings gave him a choice: move on, through the North-Lane and into the universe for your next chapter. Or, return to earth and claim revenge. Now, Jackson is known as the Order of Dust, with the task of hunting the ones who take possession over human bodies and return them to the higher beings. Jackson, both grizzled and pained, looks to find who took his life, and the life of his love. To do this he will need his two pistols; one for humans, and one for demons. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title from the publisher. Thanks to Parliament House for providing an ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


For a book blogger, the only thing worse than not (thoroughly) enjoying a novel is not doing it when the novel in question has been provided by the publisher - even if in ecopy format, that is, with no expenses involved. For this reader, judging from the blurb, Order of Dust had at least two things going for it: the afterlife scenario and the Supernatural vibe. Of course, it's not like I expected it to be a rip-off of the TV show, and I would have been so pissed if it were - I'm talking about the general atmosphere here. (There are indeed certain elements in common - like the death of a loved one and the magic pistol - but they don't seem to be derivative, and even if they were, they would be more like starting points for Evans to create his own mythology). Anyhow, I can't even blame the blurb for making promises it didn't keep, because it was accurate...only, the execution didn't click with me. Mind you, the author created a word that, while building on some classic tropes and characters, is its own thing entirely. The equivalent of Heaven and Hell are working together (sort of), there are a female god and fierce female angels, and the main cast (if small) is quirky and potentially interesting. These are the things that Order of Dust has to its credit - though alas, they ended up not being enough for me. [...]

September 06, 2020

Tooting Your Trumpet #14

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...
  • LET’S TALK ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE AS AN INTERNATIONAL REVIEWER (a think-piece/discussion post on Fadwa's blog Word Wonders)
  • BOOK BLOGGING VS. BOOKTOKING AKA "WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?" (a discussion post + interview on Emily's blog Paperback Princess)
  • HOW TO CREATE DISABLED REPRESENTATION IN SCI-FI AND FANTASY (a tips list/ownvoice think-piece on Simone's blog The Wheelchair Teen)
Please note: all the graphics featured in these posts are property of the blog/site owners, and are only used in association with their blog/site links.

    September 01, 2020

    Tell Me Something Tuesday: What's the Biggest Mistake You Made as a Newbie Blogger?

    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:


    Back when I started this blog (in 2012), I more or less had an idea of where I wanted to go with it that hasn't changed much, if any. (OK, I was clueless about the need for my text to be peppered with a few nice pics/gifs at the time, to the extent that my first two posts didn't contain any 😱, but apart from that...). However, blogging is a learning curve, even when you're an old lady and you think you know what you're I've mastered a trick or two through the years. But If I could go back to those early days, I'd advise myself to socialise more from the very start. For a long time I have blogged into a void, because I didn't know back then what I know now: your audience (or most of it) is comprised by your blogging pals. And it's not just a follow-for-follow, comment-for-comment situation. You forge relationships, discuss stuff, find your niche. Anyway, the truth is, without your blogging pals, you're nobody 🤷‍♀️.