April 26, 2021

Colleen Nelson: "The Life and Deaths of Frankie D." (ARC Review)

Title: The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Colleen Nelson [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist, Supernatural, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2021
Age: 14+
Stars: 2.5/5
Pros: Goes in a different direction than one would expect. Balances the magical adventure at its core with themes of self-acceptation, (found) family and friendship.
Cons: Tries to do too many things at once and doesn't dwell on any of them enough. A few incidents are too convenient to ring true.
WARNING! Sexual assault (off page). Almost-death by fire.
Will appeal to: Fans of circus narratives/sideshow acts and goth girls.

Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Frankie doesn’t trust easily. Not others and not even herself. Found in an alley when she was a child, she has no memory of who she is or why she was left there. Recurring dreams about a hundred-year-old carnival side show, a performer known as Alligator Girl, and a man named Monsieur Duval have an eerie familiarity to them. Frankie gets drawn deeper into Alligator Girl’s world and the secrets that keep the performers bound together. But a startling encounter with Monsieur Duval when she’s awake makes Frankie wonder what’s real and what’s in her head. As Frankie’s and Alligator Girl’s stories unfold, Frankie’s life takes a sharp turn. Are the dreams her way of working through her trauma or is there a more sinister plan at work? And if there is, does she have the strength to fight it? (Amazon)

Review:  First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley. Thanks to Dundurn Press for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


TLADOFD is a story told in double point of view - the one of the eponymous main character, and another one that I won't spoil for you, but that has everything to do with an old sideshow whose performers used to be regarded as "freaks". While I've never read a book (partially) set in a circus - or, well, a carnival venue - before, I'm aware of the tropes attached to this kind of narrative, and none of them were employed when it comes to the final denouement, because the truth about Frankie and her connection to the sideshow turned out to be different from anything I would have expected. On the other hand, the general atmosphere of the circus setting and its characters (with their magical turnabout) weren't particularly imaginative/fleshed out, and though the story was not about them, it would have been nice to spend a little more time with the troupe members and get the chance to see past their uncomplicated façades. There was virtually a lot to unpack, but alas, not enough time to do it. I have to admit I was taken by surprise by a certain character and their agenda, though I should probably have seen it coming; then again, since I wasn't able to foresee the connection between Frankie and the carnival in the first place, it makes sense that I didn't - so kudos to the author for being able to cover her tracks. [...]

April 20, 2021

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Have You Ever Dreamed of Becoming an Author?

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...


My would-be writing career started off very precociously...at 7, I wrote a really short novel about a blue cat with an impossibly long striped tail called Briscolone, and his fictional family - fictional, as in, I created every single one of its members, because that character only appeared in a show's opening theme and had no family whatsoever LOL. For some reason (well...his extendable striped tail that moved on its own accord, mostly 😂) he fascinated me...I even had my mom buy me his plush toy (I remember it fondly - it was big, too! but alas, the tail came in a short version). So, I wrote that story about him, and I even glued the pages together (very messily)! I still have that "book" and sometimes I reread it...and I laugh out loud. In case you're curious, here's how Briscolone looked like (I couldn't find the video of that opening theme, so I had to settle for the record cover):

April 12, 2021

Angela Mi Young Hur: "Folklorn" (ARC Review)

Title: Folklorn  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Angela Mi Young Hur [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist
Year: 2021
Age: 18+
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Imaginative yet honest depiction of immigrant trauma and a woman's place/struggles in Korean culture. Rich and well-written.
Cons: Mostly gloomy. The lead remains at a distance if you haven't shared her same experiences.
WARNING! Domestic abuse. A character suffers from schizophrenia.
Will appeal to: Those who love a family saga (albeit dark) and East-Asian folklore. Those who have experienced  immigration and displacement firsthand.

Blurb: Elsa Park is a particle physicist at the top of her game, stationed at a neutrino observatory in the Antarctic, confident she's put enough distance between her ambitions and the family ghosts she's run from all her life. But it isn't long before her childhood imaginary friend comes to claim her at last. Years ago, Elsa's now-catatonic mother had warned her that the women of their line were doomed to repeat the narrative lives of their ancestors from Korean myth and legend. But beyond these ghosts, Elsa also faces a more earthly fate: the mental illness and generational trauma that run in her immigrant family. When her mother breaks her decade-long silence and tragedy strikes, Elsa must return to her childhood home in California. There, among family wrestling with their own demons, she unravels the secrets hidden in the handwritten pages of her mother’s dark stories. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley and Edelweiss, and got approved for it on both sites. Thanks to Erewhon Books for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


I have to be honest: I expected something different when I requested this book - something where the magical realism angle was more prominent, or just incorporated in a different manner. Then again (and this is still me being honest), upon rereading the blurb after turning the last page, I realised that I hadn't been lied to or led astray, except by my own wishful thinking, since I love stories where magical realism permeates the whole narrative. I did appreciate Folklorn nevertheless, but keep in mind that I might not be the best audience for this kind of book.
Folklorn is, basically, the story of a woman (Elsa) growing up into a toxic family and experiencing different shades of racism in modern-day America, trying to establish her identity by distancing herself both from her family and her roots, and ultimately realising that the only way to become whole is to confront them both. Told in an alternation of present tense and flashbacks, peppered with mythical tales about women's sacrifice, dominated by a mother figure torn between thinking her line is doomed to repeat the tragedies of the past and hoping her daughter can break the curse, with a thread of magical realism and a dash of romance (not precisely instalove, but quite close), Folklorn is many things: a family epic with a broken center, populated by siblings who are part real, part imagined and part (maybe) lost; a bildungsroman; an immigrant saga; a testament to all the women who have been abused by their own culture; and even a physics textbook that doubles as a real-life paradigm. [...]

April 04, 2021

The Usual Mess

 Hi sweeties,

and in case you celebrate...Happy Easter! 🐰

I was DYING to have an excuse to post this gif LOL

This is one of those posts. You know, those where I rant and vent out and basically acknowledge that my life is shit and I can't do a damned thing about it. I wish I could say that I'll try to keep it short, if not sweet, but what are the odds? LOL.

(BTW, I was supposed to post a new installment in my Tooting Your Trumpet series today, except all the posts I had lined up seem to have made the rounds on everyone else's blogs already, so why bother? 🤷‍♀️ All but Lissa's excellent ones about digital art - or traditional and digital art combo - completed with tips, which, if you're interested in the topic, can be found here and here).

So, brace yourselves for the rant/vent...