September 26, 2021

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #25 Anna Reith, Jonathan Friesen, M.R. Carey


Intro


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 (though for anthologies, shorter books or books that I didn't enjoy/I don't have enough to say about, I decided to stick to minis). 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 20, 2021

Walter Goodwater: "The Liar of Red Valley" (ARC Review)

Title: The Liar of Red Valley  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Walter Goodwater [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural, Fantasy, Contemporary with a Twist, Horror
Year: 2021
Age: 14+ (I shelved it as Adult because of the main character's age, but it can be read by teens)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Original blend of classic fantasy and magical realism, with a small dose of social commentary. Plenty of action, twists and turns (often shocking ones). Brave, resourceful lead.
Cons: While being nice/relatable, the characters (and their relationships) could have used more depth.
WARNING! Blood, gore and monsters. An instance of police brutality.
Will appeal to: Those who are looking for a supernatural story with a classic feel, yet off the beaten path.

Blurb: In Red Valley, California, you follow the rules if you want to stay alive. But they won’t be enough to protect Sadie now that she’s become the Liar, the keeper of the town’s many secrets. Friendships are hard-won here, and it isn’t safe to make enemies. And though the Liar has power - power to remake the world, with just a little blood - what Sadie really needs is answers: Why is the town’s sheriff after her? What does the King want from her? And what is the real purpose of the Liar of Red Valley? (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley. Thanks to Solaris/Rebellion Publishing for providing an ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.

HER-STORY IN THE MAKING

The first thing I look for in my books is, go figure, an "offbeat" element - so I supposed that, with a story where the heroine can "remake the world, with just a little blood", I couldn't go wrong. But TLORV turned out to be even more peculiar - and decidedly more surprising - than I anticipated. I was ready for a healthy dose of reality warping, with outrageous but entertaining results...wow, I had no idea.
After her mother's sudden death, Sadie takes over her role as the Liar...too bad she doesn't have a clue how her power is supposed to work. Now, you might wonder why, if Sadie was destined to succeed her mother, she's been kept in the dark about the tricks of her trade - except there's an excellent reason, which also makes for the last and most stunning twist in a book that's got plenty of them. Tension escalates while Sadie uncovers to what extent her mother has been manipulating reality (there's actually a brilliant crescendo about her lies and the way they impact Sadie's present situation) and learns to use her power, plus tries to stay one step ahead of the monsters and humans who are after something her mother left her. That's where most of this book's strength lies for me - in the way the pace increases and the stakes get higher and higher, but even more in the way the twists/reveals gradually redesign our (and Sadie's) perception of what's real, until they pull the rug from under our feet[...]

September 14, 2021

Tell Me Something Tuesday: When Does It Become Too Late to Comment on a Blog Post?


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 throw 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...

WHEN DOES IT BECOME TOO LATE TO COMMENT ON A BLOG POST?

My approach to commenting, in case I stumble upon an old post that interests me or elicits my response, has nothing to do with the post's age, and everything to do with the way the blogger in question deals with their comments. If they interact (or have interacted) with each and every comment they receive, I add my own; if they don't (or haven't replied to their comments past a certain date), I pass. I understand that some people haven't got the time to reply to (all the) comments, and ordinarily, I would still comment on their blogs (especially if we're mutuals already); but with older posts, I don't have any way to know if the silent blogger does read their comments or gets alerted about them anymore, so I might be talking to the wall and be none the wiser.

"WHO knows?"
Tom Baker a.k.a. the 4th Doctor in a very tongue-in-cheek scene
with Matt Smith a.k.a. the 11th Doctor

September 10, 2021

Michael James: "The Well at the Bottom of Everything"

Title: The Well at the Bottom of Everything [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: The Hotel (2nd of 3 books)
Author: Michael James [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural
Year: 2021
Age: 16+
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Entertaining twist on the portal fantasy/multiverse genre and the accidental heroes + found family tropes. Humorous and adrenalinic. The Hotel setting steps up the game (and the fun) with respect to Book 1.
Cons: There's some woman vs. woman hostility about a man and a sort of love triangle (they aren't the same thing though). The humour might not be everyone's cup of tea.
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 thought destroying the Portal to the Hotel at the End of Time would mean freedom for her and Roman, but her happy ever after is coming to an end. A horrible mistake and a stray bullet force her to infiltrate the Hotel and contend with a new and terrible power: The Well at the Bottom of Everything. Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. The Hotel will have its revenge. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I specifically requested an ecopy from the author. This didn't influence my review in any way.
Also...gotta love a cover that fits my blog 😂. Seriously though, this is an indie series and the covers are STUNNING. Not to mention, these books are so well edited. So much for prejudice.

SPECIAL GETAWAY

I went into this book expecting a riot, and I wasn't disappointed. If anything, The Well at the Bottom of Everything is even more entertaining and adrenalinic than its predecessor (no second book syndrome here!). After destroying the Portal to the Hotel, the gang has been trying to adjust to a "normal" life, with varying degrees of success (unsurprisingly, being "normal" isn't Vain's strong suit 😂), until a matter of life or death forces them to do the very last thing they would want: find a way back to the Hotel in order to kidnap a healer. Seriously, no sweat. What ensues is an action, humour and surprise-packed romp (though not without some brutal and dramatic incidents) that reads like a videogame on acid and at the same time addresses (if often ironically) the pain of human relationships, both of the friendly and the romantic kind.
The thing I loved most, though, was the Hotel itself, ever-shifting and slowly deteriorating after the Portal destruction, nothing short of a character in its own right. Also, the purpose of the Well (where the Hotel's "guests" are forced to endlessly pour energy) is finally revealed, and it's an unexpected game-changer that forces us to sympathise with the villain (to an extent) and exponentially ups the stakes. The book ends with a cliffhanger (or two), and while I'm usually a bit critical of those, in this case it's the perfect hook to the next installment, which will focus on the infamous Elevator to Everywhere while still addressing (arguably, since I believe it will be the last book in the series) the can...or Well...of worms that's been opened at the Hotel itself. [...]

September 06, 2021

Growing Pains: It's Been Nine Years, And I Need a New Blogging Plan

Hello sweeties!

As some of you already heard via Twitter, I finally decided to make some small adjustments to my blog. You will probably have noticed by now that I'm a creature of order, a perfectionist, and my real superpower is to resist change. Which is fine until it makes you feel good and empowered and whatnot - but when you start to resent your own routine, it's time for you to try a different approach. Even if you have to fight yourself because darn, are you stubborn.


Back when this blog was born (it will be 9 years on October 14th!), I planned to only review my own (usually backlist) books. My typical procedure was to reread each and every one of those books (no matter how familiar I was with them) for review purposes. Reading with a review in mind is a different approach for me than reading for pleasure only (though with time I may have gotten better at doing the two things together). This method had worked well for me for years, until I joined NetGalley in 2019 (and Edelweiss in 2020) and started to get a small, but still significant (for me) number of ARCs from there. I slowly realised that I wouldn't always be able to read all those books TWICE prior to reviewing them - not if I wanted to deliver those reviews in time (even when the publisher doesn't request it, I make it my mission to post my ARC reviews before or around pub date) AND not to fall behind with my backlist books in the process. (Not to mention NG/EW ARCs have an expiration date, except for a few downloadable copies now and then). So I found myself reading some of those ARCs only once, being careful to keep a review mindset - and even so? I felt GUILTY, because to me, each and every book would have deserved the same treatment, not to mention, sometimes I like my books more the second time around. (Since then, I've gotten better at leaving that guilt feeling behind, but it was a bit rough at first, and I kept telling myself that my reading ARCs only once would be temporary. Ha!). Anyhow, for a year and a half, that was the only crack in my reviewer's armour.