January 01, 2021

It's That Time of the Year Again...A.K.A. The Big Annual Book Haul 2020-21

 Hello sweeties!

Today I'm doing that thing I usually do in January...that is, showcasing my big (um, actually, a little smaller than usual this year...for reasons I will state below) annual book haul. But since this post was scheduled a few days ago, a small live (and life) update first...

I spent the last hour of 2020 and the first one of 2021 in the E.R. Apparently, suffering is all I deserve.

Anyhow, the fact is, I suddenly developed a sharper and sharper pain roughly under my right shoulder blade, so nasty I was struggling to draw a breath. An anti-inflammatory medicine made it bearable for a while, but then it was back with a vengeance, so I had no choice but to go to the E.R. To cut a long story short, it turned out my heart is OK, but I'll have to take a chest CAT scan to investigate the roots of my issue - and in the meantime, I'm on painkillers (I'm better now, if "better" means being able to breathe - not TOO deeply, mind you - without feeling like someone planted a blade in your back). Thank goodness I'm not having one of my nasty coughs (yep...grateful for small favours and all that. And well...it could have been EVEN worse. Like, happening-on-my-birthday worse). So...yeah, welcome, 2021.

And now, back to my new books...

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 (or, from two sites now, because I discovered a second one last year). And I post the list on here for the world to admire. Except, this year, some of the books I was looking forward to weren't available anymore - or yet. I suspect that, for the former (or a few of them at least), the pandemic is to blame - there's been less money around, so probably some books have been issued in smaller numbers. It looks like some are being repackaged as paperbacks though, which means I'll have to keep my eyes on them - and on the ones that weren't out yet when I placed my order - and request them later in the year...(Anyhow, as I'm writing this, my first lot has arrived, with Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant and Fatal Descent by John Rhode and Carter Dickson). For now, here goes my list, broken down by genres/Reading Rooms...(P.S.: all the books are YA unless otherwise stated).

Supernatural Room: Over the Woodward Wall (2020) by A. Deborah Baker | Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

Over the Woodward Wall
Avery is an exceptional child. Everything he does is precise, from the way he washes his face in the morning, to the way he completes his homework – without complaint, without fuss, without prompt.
Zib is also an exceptional child, because all children are, in their own way. But where everything Avery does and is can be measured, nothing Zib does can possibly be predicted, except for the fact that she can always be relied upon to be unpredictable.
They live on the same street.
They live in different worlds.
On an unplanned detour from home to school one morning, Avery and Zib find themselves climbing over a stone wall into the Up and Under – an impossible land filled with mystery, adventure and the strangest creatures.
And they must find themselves and each other if they are to also find their way out and back to their own lives.

Across the Green Grass Fields
"Welcome to the Hooflands. We're happy to have you, even if you being here means something's coming."
Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late. 
When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to "Be Sure" before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines - a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes. 
But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem....

Note N°1: Seanan McGuire, writing under a different pen name. Over the Woodward Wall is MG and the start of a new series (a companion one to her adult series Middlegame).
Note N°2: actually, I haven't ordered this one yet, but I hope it will become available while they're still trying to locate my other books (it comes out on Jan. 12nd) so I can add it to my haul!


Sci-Fi Room: And All the Stars (2012) by Andrea K. HΓΆst | Strange Exit (2020) by Parker Peevyhouse

And All the Stars
Come for the apocalypse.
Stay for cupcakes.
Die for love.
Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings.
None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind.
Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.

Strange Exit
Seventeen-year-old Lake spends her days searching a strange, post-apocalyptic landscape for people who have forgotten one very important thing: this isn’t reality. Everyone she meets is a passenger aboard a ship that’s been orbiting Earth since a nuclear event. The simulation that was supposed to prepare them all for life after the apocalypse has trapped their minds in a shared virtual reality and their bodies in stasis chambers.
No one can get off the ship until all of the passengers are out of the sim, and no one can get out of the sim unless they believe it's a simulation. It's up to Lake to help them remember.
When Lake reveals the truth to a fellow passenger, seventeen-year-old Taren, he joins her mission to find everyone, persuade them that they’ve forgotten reality, and wake them up. But time’s running out before the simulation completely deconstructs, and soon Taren’s deciding who’s worth saving and who must be sacrificed for the greater good. Now, Lake has no choice but to pit herself against Taren in a race to find the secret heart of the sim, where something waits that will either save them or destroy them all.

Note N°1: I've been trying to locate a copy for AGES. (The book is available...oh wait, it disappeared from the database before I could place my order πŸ™„...oh wait, it vanished from EVERYWHERE πŸ˜­). Finger crossed it's not a dream this time!
Note N°2: I read and reviewed this one already thanks to NetGalley, but I want a copy for my collection (and for future rereads!).


Contemporary Room (Contemporary with a Twist section): Burn Our Bodies Down (2020) by Rory Power | Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Burn Our Bodies Down
Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.
But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.
Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?
The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.

Tigers, Not Daughters
The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them.
In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach.
 But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message - and what exactly she’s trying to say.


Adult Room: Dead in Time (2011) by Anna Reith | Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (2017) | Fatal Descent (originally 1939) by John Rhode and Carter Dickson

Dead in Time
Glam rock star Damon Brent was riding high when he died: fame, fortune... like, the works, baby. But, despite what the papers said, his death was no accident. Thirty years on, Damon's back, and he was murdered - or so he says.
Ellis Ross, daughter of Damon's biggest fan, is busy trying to finish her dissertation. She doesn't need to find a dead pop star in lurex pants chain-smoking in her window seat.
Of course, it's funny what life'll throw at you.
Damon wants Ellis to find out exactly who killed him and, as she quickly discovers, when you're being haunted by a man wearing more eyeliner than you are, it's hard to say no.
As the unlikely sleuth delves into years of secrets, grudges, and broken dreams, Ellis finds almost everyone from Damon’s past has something to hide... and he's not exactly being honest with her, either. But, when they start to close in on the truth, Ellis realises she may be risking much more than just her sanity.

Into the Drowning Deep
Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.
Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.
Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

Fatal Descent
The humming noise of the automatic elevator stopped and the hall porter glanced idly toward the bronze doors.
Twenty minutes later, when no one had emerged, the porter became uneasy and forced the doors open. Inside he found Sir Ernest Tallant, dead! Shot through the heart in a hermetically sealed elevator! It looked like the perfect crime - until Dr. Horatio Glass, in his blundering way, set Inspector Hornbeam on the track of the one crucial clue.
Two famous detective story writers combine their masterly talents in this baffling and suspenseful mystery novel.

Note N°1: again, I've been trying to locate a copy for AGES. Again, finger crossed it's not a dream this time!
 Note N°2: again, Seanan McGuire writing under a different pen name. Into the Drowning Deep is self-contained, but was supposed to expand into a series that is on hold at the moment.
Note N°3: this one is a recent copy (and an Italian translation - I linked to an English edition for you) of an old mystery from one of my favourite authors in the genre: John Dickson Carr, here writing as Carter Dickson and teaming up with John Rhode. I'm only missing a few of his books, but this stuff has gotten extremely hard to find...


Have you read any of these books? or do you plan to? Are you already familiar with any of these authors? or are you going to read any of their books in the future?


  1. Oh no, I'm sorry about your pain and ER trip! I hope you're able to figure it out and feel better soon. At least you have some new books to get you through? I love the cover for the first one!

    1. Thank you...even for a 2020 NY's Eve, it was a pretty grim affair (not to mention I started "2021" this way. Now, if I were superstitious...).

      Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant and Fatal Descent by John Rhode and Carter Dickson have already arrived, and I read the second in 2 days LOL. It felt great not to be under any review obligation (though I want to review my vintage mysteries too one day...). Plus I have a new NG book for review, Folklorn by Angela Mi Young Hur!

      Yep, that's a vibrant and fresh cover!

  2. I really hope they can find the source of your pain. So sorry you are not feeling the best. This is a nice haul though. There are some wild looking covers up there. I hope they are all hits for you.

    1. Thank you - I'm still wondering how I dared to feel so unwell while I had so many nice friends wishing me a happy new year...πŸ€”

      Ha! Most of those covers are, indeed, wild - you know I don't particularly care for them while looking for a new book to read, but pretty is pretty πŸ˜‰. And thanks!

  3. Sorry to hear you weren't well. I hope you feel better soon. And Happy belated birthday.

    'Over the woodward wall' sounds like something I might read though I heard it's a series, maybe, I'm not sure. Honesty, these days every book seems to be a series.

    I also buy paper copies of books I like to re-read just because it's better than digital form. I don't recall but do you read a lot of digital ebooks?

    Some of these sounds, so not depressing, but they sure lean on the dark side except for the last few. I hope you'll them all even the re-read.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you!

      OTWW is, indeed, a series, but usually, McGuire (here writing under a pen name) is good at writing books that are self-contained.

      I only read ebooks if an author or a publisher sends me a "disembodied" copy, because you can only buy ebooks via credit card, and I don't like to risk it. Now if I could afford a second one where to keep the bare minimum money for book purchases...Anyhow, physical books take up space (and resources), but I'm very much likely to reread paper books, because I can take them anywhere (I don't have a Kindle because of the above credit card problem...you can't buy a Kindle in a shop). I know you like your ereader though πŸ˜‰.

      Ha! I seem to read a lot of dark books, aren't I?

      Thank you, and back at you! May it be filled with joy, safety, art...and books 😁.

  4. Yikes, what a somber way to start the new year! I'm sorry you had to experience that, Roberta, but glad you're pain has been relieved. Stay safe, ok? :)

    1. Somber indeed. And I'm only feeling slightly better now, but at least i can breathe...more or less LOL. Thank you! And you too!

  5. So happy you bought Into the Drowning Deep! I loved that book and I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it. I especially loved that the characters were all humanized and interesting, even the ones I didn't like. Have fun reading your new books! :)

    1. First off, thank you again for the DM! Yep, McGuire/Grant excels at writing characters, so I can see how they would. I hope to be able to talk about ITTD with you soon!

  6. Oh no- I'm sorry to hear about the ER! I hope you're feeling better and that they can pinpoint the problem quickly... and that it's not serious.

    I love the sound of Green Grass Fields. Maybe it's the centaurs, you don't see a lot of stories about those...

    Strange Exit definitely sounds promising too, I can see that one being hopefully good!

    Into Drowning Deep was a TRIP.

    1. Thank you - I hope to be able to take that scan quickly, and I'm praying for the pain to recede soon because it's still a beast.

      True! To be honest, personally I'm prepared to like another installment in the Wayward Children series no matter the creatures, but this one is self contained, so if it sounds like your alley, don't be afraid to commit to it πŸ˜‰.

      I loved the ARC of Strange Exit enough to buy a physical copy, so...Another book you might like, since you're a sci-fi aficionado.

      Haha, was it? My friend Carrie says it's one of the best horror books of all time...and she reads A LOT of horror.

  7. Sorry to hear you have to have a CAT scan now. But hopefully they will figure out what is causing the pain and fix it.

    1. I only hope it's soon! Thank you πŸ™‚.

  8. I really hope that they figure out what's wrong soon and can get it completely under control. And I hope you enjoy all your new reads!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  9. So sorry to hear you're having health issues! What a terrible way to start off the year. I hope you're feeling better soon and it's nothing too serious. πŸ’›

    I'm super excited about the two McGuire titles too! OTWW is probably first on my list after I get through my NG pile. (Almost there.)

    Very excited you got a copy of Burn Our Bodies Down and ITDD, of course! I'm nervous, but I can't wait to see what you think. Since it's McGuire, I'm almost sure you couldn't hate it... πŸ˜…

    1. Ah, it gets worse. I had a high fever yesternight (nothing today), and my doc said to wait it out, because normally Covid fever lingers, and as I said, right now I'm in the normal. I swear, with all your lovely people's well-wishes, I should have started 2021 rejuvenated - and here I am instead. The other thing seems to be receding though, so that, at least, is a relief...

      I would love to read OTWW with you, but right now I have a bunch of review books to get through first (and poor health, sigh). But since you have your NG pile to take care as well, there's hope!

      Technically, I don't have a copy of BYBD yet - it's in the order that SHOULD come at the end of the month, because they're still trying to locate some of the books. As for ITDD, again, I'm waiting for my review books pile to be over with before I start it, but I'm sure it will be...interesting LOL. A couple of other friends have read it and are raving about it as well!

  10. Breathing is indeed progress lol But seriously, I hope you can figure out what is going on and get better.

    Burn Our Bodies Down and Tigers, Not Daughters really grab my attention. I'm going to check out if Libby or Hoopla has them.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. I blame a lot of things on getting older, but...this is too much too soon πŸ˜₯. Thank you! And I hope you get to read those and like them!

  11. Just what you needed, one more thing. πŸ˜” No worries, lovely. I have some review books to get through too. I'm still hoping we can read Camp Carnage together sometime this year. Fingers crossed all your books get to you this time!

    1. Thank you! I hope we can read it (and maybe OTWW) together soon!


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