November 30, 2020

Amelinda Bérubé: "The Dark Beneath the Ice"

Title: The Dark Beneath the Ice [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Amelinda Bérubé [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2018
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5
Pros: Frantic, creepy ride, with a twist you won't see coming. Sensitive handling of the coming-into-one's-sexuality theme. Provides an all-too-real social commentary about girls/women. 
Cons: Most of the supernatural incidents give off a déjà-vu vibe. The family drama is a bit over the top. A character gets accidentally outed.
WARNING! Mental illness; drowning.
Will appeal to: Fans of classic spooks with an unexpected edge. Unlikely-friends/allies-to-lovers enthusiasts.

Blurb: Something is wrong with Marianne. It's not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn't been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital. She's losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic. But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing's rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has - everything it's convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it's owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side. (Amazon)

Review: I actually enjoyed this book a tad more when reading it for the second time, hence the added half star. I found that knowing what it was doing actually enhanced my reading experience. That's one of the reasons why I try to read my books at least twice until I write a full review...first impressions are important, but since I'm a strong advocate for rereading, I do my best in order to give a book a second chance at getting the best rating/review I can give it 🙂. 


The best thing about TDBTI is that, classic spooks notwithstanding, it ultimately goes in a completely unexpected direction when it comes to both the entity and the reason behind them, and it has something to say about what society (and even family) expects girls to be/act like - not to mention, the harm such expectations can cause. Marianne is trapped into a vicious circle, with an unhappy, mentally strained mother who - despite being unable to cope anymore with the role she's expected to play in her family - doesn't know how to let her daughter choose her own happiness. Add to that a workaholic father (who just left home for good) and a well-meaning but clueless aunt who both still see Marianne as a little girl, not a young woman, and her lack of a social life. So, one wonders, why should the nameless entity who's after her be convinced that Marianne stole something from it and has to give it back? A few answers are on the table, but one by one they get discarded, until the (articulated) reveal that ties in the paranormal and the mundane and doubles as a cautionary tale/social commentary. [...]

November 24, 2020

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Gratitude. What Books/Authors/Narrators/Bloggers Are You Most Thankful for This Year?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Heidi at Rainy Day Ramblings in order to discuss a wide range of topics from books to blogging (and some slightly more personal matters thrown in for good measure). While Heidi is on an extended hiatus, there are five of us who are hosting it and providing the questions. The current team is composed of Berls at Because Reading Is Better Than Real LifeJen at That's What I'm Talking AboutKaren at For What It's WorthLinda at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell and Roberta at Offbeat YA. This week's question is...


Of course, we don't do Thanksgiving in Italy, but I love this prompt, because we all don't say "thank you" nearly enough! I'll keep it short and sweet though...

  • I'm thankful for all the fellow bloggers who've been my friends in these 8+ years, and for the ones I only met/started interacting with in 2020! and for those who never failed to comment on my posts even when I was slack about reciprocating (you know who you are! and I swear I'll try to be better, because you deserve it 😘).
  • I'm thankful for all the authors who trusted me with their WIPs and valued my beta-reader abilities - this year my thanks go to Joshua Winning and Edward Aubry!
  • I'm thankful for Seanan McGuire, who never seems to rest, because she's writing multiple books a year and (as far as I can tell from the ones I've read) all amazing ones! Also, she's a champion of social justice, as you can see by looking at her Twitter (FYI - you'll also find cats and My Mini Ponies galore in it, in case you need something cute and uplifting. Don't we all?).
  • Speaking of authors, I'm also thankful for Ilsa J. Bick, who replies at once to our Goodreads questions and doesn't mind writing a whole essay when someone asks her about the real-life inspiration behind one of her books (that would be me). [And seriously, read her Dark Passages duology at least! 😉]

November 19, 2020

Jonathan Sims: "Thirteen Storeys" (ARC Review)

Title: Thirteen Storeys  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Jonathan Sims [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Thriller/Mystery, Afterlife, Supernatural, Horror
Year: 2020
Age: I shelved this one as Adult, but it can be read by a 16 y.o., and even by a mature, not overly impressionable 14 y.o.
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Engaging format. A few interesting/unexpected twists on classic haunting tropes.
Cons: Not all the characters are likeable (thought that's kind of the point). The ending, while vivid, is less impactful than the single stories and a bit too convenient.
WARNING! Haunting (ha!) imagery. Gore. Violence.
Will appeal to: Fans of supernatural/horror stories with a mystery edge and a social justice background.

Blurb: A dinner party is held in the penthouse of a multimillion-pound development. All the guests are strangers - even to their host, the billionaire owner of the building. None of them know why they were selected to receive his invitation. Whether privileged or deprived, they share only one thing in common - they've all experienced a shocking disturbance within the building's walls. By the end of the night, their host is dead, and none of the guests will say what happened. His death has remained one of the biggest unsolved mysteries - until now. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley. Thanks to Gollancz/Orion Publishing Group for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way. Also, in case you don't know, the author is the writer and narrator for the Magnus Archives podcast.


Thirteen Storeys is, for all purposes, a novel comprised of a series of short stories, each one focusing on one of the tenants of a reclusive billionaire's building, with only the last chapter bringing the whole cast together. I have to admit that short stories can be hit or miss for me, but when there's a connection of sorts between them and they ultimately form a bigger picture, I'm hooked. In this case, I'm also pleased to say that most of the stories, while building on familiar haunting tropes, either put a spin on them or bring something new to the table. Granted, not all the characters are what I would call memorable, and very few of them are genuinely likeable (though most aren't supposed to be); but the crescendo of tension and the clever (if sometimes little) twists in their stories (not to mention, the interplay of associations between them - though most you only manage to catch on a second read) largely make up for that. Also, while all the stories end with a hook to the last chapter, they're remarkably self-contained - especially since the basic reason behind the hauntings becomes apparent early on (but the final chapter will still hold a few surprises in that department). [...]

November 14, 2020

Seanan McGuire: "The Girl in the Green Silk Gown"

Title: The Girl in the Silk Green Gown [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Ghost Roads (2nd of ?? books)
Author: Seanan McGuire [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2018
Age: 14+ (but I shelved it as Adult because the lead, though technically 16, has been around for decades as a ghost)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Engaging character voice. Creative spin(s) on a few classic urban legends/classic mythology. Humour, depth and heart.
Cons: If dead characters who hate to be back in flesh (all the relative bodily functions included) and do everything in their power to revert to ghost aren't your jam, chances are you won't like this. (Please note though: attempted suicide is NOT involved).
Will appeal to: Urban legend fans. Readers with a penchant for dead characters who know how to come alive on the page.

Blurb: For Rose Marshall, death has long since become the only life she really knows. She’s been sweet sixteen for more than sixty years, hitchhiking her way along the highways and byways of America, sometimes seen as an avenging angel, sometimes seen as a killer in her own right. The man who killed her is still out there, thanks to a crossroads bargain that won’t let him die, and he’s looking for the one who got away. Rose has worked for decades to make a place for herself in the twilight. Can she defend it, when Bobby Cross comes to take her down? Can she find a way to navigate the worlds of the living and the dead, and make it home before her hitchhiker’s luck runs out? (Amazon excerpt)

Review: Afterlife + Seanan all know nothing can go wrong here, don't you? 😉 This is the second installment in the Ghost Roads series, but the first actual novel (the previous book was a short-story collection), and there's already a new one in the making, and from the sound of it the story should be over by then, and I never want it to end.


Rose Marshall's afterlife is a never-ending, more-deadly-than-deadly tug of war with Bobby Cross, the man who killed her but couldn't keep her. At first, Bobby only wanted to fabricate a new ghost to feed to his demonic car; but since Rose managed to escape, all he's ever thought about is revenge. Persephone's blessing (in tattoo form) should keep Rose safe...but something goes wrong, and now the Girl in the Green Silk Gown is alive again and doubly powerless - both as a supposed runaway teen in a world where no one can vouch for her and as a former ghost who doesn't have any protection from Bobby anymore. Except Rose is the girl who needs help but doesn't need saving (MY QUEEN), and leave it to her to find that help in the most unexpected place. This spans an adventure at the junction of the human world and the supernatural one, the kind of adventure that would be entertaining and exciting on its own merits, but that, thanks to the wit and wisdom and humour and heart McGuire infuses her characters with, becomes so much more[...]

November 09, 2020

Lauren Karcz: "The Gallery of Unfinished Girls"

Title: The Gallery of Unfinished Girls [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Lauren Karcz [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist
Year: 2017
Age: 14+
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Atmospheric, surprising, with a strong art commentary and a poignant coming-of-age message.
Cons: The side characters might use more depth. If you like spelled-out endings, you won't find one here.
Will appeal to: People who make art. People who don't, but want to peek into an artist's mind. People who like to read about a teen's family dynamics and personal growth. Most of all, people who crave for spellbinding books with a huge twist.

Blurb: Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile in the past year. Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is in a coma. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings. Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate. At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she hasn’t ever before. But Mercedes can’t take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality. (Amazon)

Review: This is a debut book, but you would never be able to tell. Also, this is a book with less than a thousand ratings on Goodreads, and that, my friends, is a crime. I hope that some of you will get inspired to pick it up and right a wrong after reading my review 😉.


Back when I started blogging, I didn't even know "what" magical realism was (which explains my "contemporary with a twist" label for certain books). Fast forward eight years, and it's become one of my favourite genres, second only to afterlife. What I'm trying to say is, though I wouldn't call myself a MR expert (whereas I claim the title for afterlife 😊), I've read a decent number of books in the category, and TGOUG is one of the most lyrical and exquisite I've ever encountered - plus one that pulled a huge twist on me (yep, this is a "contemporary with a twist" book after all, for more than one reason). I came for the magical mystery (which didn't disappoint - on the contrary, it was more exciting than I expected) and stayed for the art commentary and the teen experience with regard to family, love and life in general. [...]

November 03, 2020

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What Do You Do for Fun When You Aren't Blogging?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Heidi at Rainy Day Ramblings in order to discuss a wide range of topics from books to blogging (and some slightly more personal matters thrown in for good measure). While Heidi is on an extended hiatus, there are five of us who are hosting it and providing the questions. The current team is composed of Berls at Because Reading Is Better Than Real LifeJen at That's What I'm Talking AboutKaren at For What It's WorthLinda at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell and Roberta at Offbeat YA. This week's question is...


This is a question that I submitted, but only because I thought it would be a fun prompt, and because I was curious about your hobbies and/or interests outside of blogging. As for me, I, erm, don't have any 😳.

For one thing, I've always been the quiet kid/girl who spends her time reading, writing and listening to music (though lately I'm doing the latter less and less, because when you work as a radio host, it almost feels like bringing work home LOL). I've always hated physical activities. I've never harboured any desire to learn an instrument - I'm perfectly contented with hearing other people play. I can't stand "women's craft". I've never had any affinities with visual arts. (I know...I'm boring LOL).

Now, what I WOULD like to do is explore urban landscapes and castles/fortresses, but I have a complicated home situation that prevents me to do that, so...back to reading and blogging 🤷‍♀️.

November 01, 2020

Tooting Your Trumpet #16

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...
  • A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A DISABLED TEENAGER (a personal/ispirational post on Simone's blog The Wheelchair Teen)
  •  HELPFUL BLOGGING HINTS FOR THE NEW BLOGGER INTERFACE (a series of tips for Blogger users on Mary's blog Dark Thoughts)
  • THINGS BLOGGERS SHOULD WORRY MORE (AND LESS) ABOUT (an advice post on Jen's blog Jen Ryland Reviews)
  • OCD AWARENESS WEEK: MY PROBLEMS WITH THE WORD "OBSESSION" (a think piece on Emily's blog Paperback Princess)
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.