June 29, 2021

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Halfway Through: A Midyear Recap (2021 Edition)


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...

MIDYEAR UPDATE: WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO?

[which I renamed HALFWAY THROUGH: A MIDYEAR RECAP (2021 EDITION) in order to be consistent with my previous midyear posts]

I've fallen into the habit of doing a midyear recap/check since 2018, so here's my 2021 one (under the TMST umbrella this time). What's happened in my life and on the blog so far this year? Health scares and wages guarantee fund, posting consistency and lots of adult (mainly sci-fi) book reviews, and a blinds+front door replacement nightmare...

June 22, 2021

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What’s Your Favourite Form of Media (Apart from Literature, That Is)?

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...

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE FORM OF MEDIA (APART FROM LITERATURE, THAT IS)?

I used to be such a music junkie until a few years ago. I think working in radio finally ruined it for me - or maybe it's because I devote all my free time to reading and blogging now...but I'm not sure. I have TONS of LPs/CDs (yeah, I'm old - I like my music physical ๐Ÿ˜‰), but I rarely listen to them anymore. It might also be a case of "some of my idols took a fall from grace"...though my most fervently loved artists are dead (think Queen) or retired (think Billy Joel, who's very much active on the concert front - or was until Covid happened - and consequently on the live album one, but stopped producing new music twenty-eight years ago...and mind you, I admire an artist who knows when to admit that the river ran dry). Anyhow, in my heart, I still love music - I just don't consume it as I used to anymore ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ.

What I do consume these days are TV series, but only those who feel relevant to me - I don't watch TV (or, well, series) just to pass the time. I barely have time for my blog (and yours) sometimes. My little heart is already aching because in winter we'll finally get the last season of Supernatural in Italy, and I don't know if I'm ever going to find a new series capable to fill that void ๐Ÿ˜ข.

June 14, 2021

Michael James: "The Hotel at the End of Time"

Title: The Hotel at the End of Time [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: The Hotel (1st of 3 books)
Author: Michael James [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural
Year: 2021
Age: 16+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Entertaining twist on the portal fantasy/multiverse genre and the accidental heroes + found family tropes. Humorous and adrenalinic.
Cons: The purpose of the Hotel is unclear. The characters could use more growth/development. One of them comes into their powers unbelievably fast.
WARNING! Gore and violence.
Will appeal to: Those who like a crazy story that never lets up about a bunch of improbable heroes.

Blurb: Vain is the only person to ever escape from the Hotel at the end of time. On her way out, she took their prized possession: a Padlock that grants immortality. They will do anything to get it back. The forces of the Hotel are aligned against her: mundane items turned into weapons; a group of multi-dimensional felons collectively named The Wyatts; and their leader, Trick, a mild-to-medium psychopath with a fondness for impractical jokes. Everything changes when Vain meets Emma, a timid grad student with impossible and terrifying powers. Together, they are propelled into an adventure that will see them battle the Wyatts, blow up several objects of significant value, and quite by accident, discover a way to stop the Hotel. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: this title was up for grabs on NetGalley (in the Read Now section). Thanks to the author for providing an ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.

BLOODY FUNNY

First thing first: this book was great fun. Please remember that while you make your way through my list of nitpickings ๐Ÿ˜‰. Fun is a valid reason to read a book, even when you think it's a little unpolished (but still remarkable for an indie. I've read traditionally published books far more in need of a good editor. Like, there was an instance of "it's" for "its" in here, but as I said, non-indie books have their share of issues...).
Secondly: the blurb is a little misleading. Vain isn't "the only person to ever escape from the Hotel at the end of time". And she and Emma aren't the only main characters in the story - Vain fled the Hotel with Roman, a male friend who's bonded to her in a peculiar way (nothing that you've seen before, to the best of my knowledge).
I don't have a problem with quiet books, but I must admit I'm a sucker for a fast-paced story, especially if it involves multiple universes (at least as a premise) and people with powers clashing with other people with powers, or trying to get away from them. The Hotel is a place with access to a number of different versions of our reality, where people with special abilities have their memories wiped and then get bonded together in order to pour energy into a bottomless well. Two years prior to the book's start, Vain and Roman were able to escape (with a little help, that is) bringing a magical artifact with them, and they've been on the run ever since. Enter Emma, a quiet student who's on the Hotel's radar, and things get ever more hectic...except Vain and Roman have a chance against the Hotel now that Emma is in the picture. What ensues (but also precedes their encounter) is a series of crazy and funny - yet often deliciously bloody - incidents, involving a series of identical Hotel minions who aren't clones, a Hotel second-in-command named Trick for a good reason, temperament clashes, old frenemies, and new, terrifying powers. Did I tell you this book was great fun? [...]

June 07, 2021

Ryan Leslie: "The Between" (ARC Review)

Title: The Between  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: The Between (1st of ?? books)
Author: Ryan Leslie [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 closer I could get), Multiverse, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2021
Age: 16+
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Wild, engaging and entertaining, lives up to its exciting premise. Includes a physically disabled Indian female deuteragonist.
Cons: Some character glitches. A few confusing flashbacks/visions (though they'll probably get explained in the rest of the series). Cliffhanger ending/unanswered (yet) questions (if you hate those).
WARNING! Horror and gore. A short S&M sex scene.
Will appeal to: Everyone who loves game-like structures and larger-than-life scenarios/adventures in their books.

Blurb: While landscaping his backyard, ever-conscientious Paul Prentice discovers an iron door buried in the soil. His childhood friend and perpetual source of mischief, Jay Lightsey, pushes them to explore what's beneath. When the door slams shut above them, Paul and Jay are trapped in a between-worlds place of Escher-like rooms and horror story monsters, all with a mysterious connection to a command-line, dungeon explorer computer game from the early '80s called The Between. Paul and Jay find themselves filling roles in a story that seems to play out over and over again. But in this world, where their roles warp their minds, the biggest threat to survival may not be the Koลmaro, risen from the Between's depths to hunt them; the biggest danger may be each other. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this book from Parliament House in exchange for an honest review. To be more precise, I specifically requested a review copy. That didn't affect my opinion and rating in any way.

YOU SHOULD BE A-MAZED

What can I say - I'm a sucker for wild, trippy stories where I can't find my footing ๐Ÿ˜…. And in that respect, I can happily report that The Between delivered what its blurb promised, and even more. Starting with a mysterious underground library and proceeding through a maze of identical sitting rooms, only to plunge its characters (and readers) into a world full of riddles, layers and horrors, this book kept me entertained and wanting more all the way through. Mind you, there are a lot of questions and only a few answers, which can be disorienting at times, and a few flashback/vision scenes that keep hinting at a larger picture but make little sense at this stage - though I trust them to find their proper place once the sequel (sequels?) comes (come?) along. I can't be more specific because spoilers are just around the corner, but I can tell you two things:
  • This isn't a Jumanji/Ready Player One scenario. The Between is BOTH a videogame AND a real (if twisted, and more like surreal) place. At this stage, I only have a theory about the way those are related, but they're NOT the same thing.
  • If you're a horror aficionado, you'll probably have read darker (or at least gorier) books - except for a certain scene. Nonetheless, when it comes to the creepy factor, the story doesn't disappoint. [...]