October 26, 2021

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What's Your Real-Life Superpower?


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...

WHAT'S YOUR REAL-LIFE SUPERPOWER?

I used to be good at multitasking, but now I'm lucky if I manage to get one thing done at a time. My old bones tire easily, and so does my brain 😫. But - unsurprisingly, if you know me - I'm an excellent planner/scheduler! (with an actual worksheet at hand, of course 😉). Not a very useful skill, because completing one task today beats planning a dozen to be performed sometime during the next month LOL. But at least I always know where I stand and which chores/activities (blogging included) I'll be able to tend to/complete/fit around my work commitments every day - even if it's just something along the lines of "oh, yeah, it's Tuesday, which means I have to cook the meat sauce"...

October 21, 2021

Dan Hanks: "Swashbucklers" (ARC Review)

Title: Swashbucklers [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Dan Hanks [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Multiverse
Year: 2021
Age: 14+ (I shelved it as Adult because of the characters' age, but it can be read by teens)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Funny and fresh take on the "band of accidental heroes saves the world" trope. Strong focus on friendship and lost childhood.
Cons: Amidst the action, there are patches of telling-not-showing. Not all the characters are equally developed. The open ending might not sit well with everyone.
Will appeal to: Those who are in for a fantasy quest steeped in '80s nostalgia, featuring a bunch of unlikely saviours...and a talking fox.

Blurb: When Cisco Collins returns to his home town thirty years after saving it from being swallowed by a hell mouth opened by an ancient pirate ghost, he realises that being a childhood hero isn't like it was in the movies. Especially when nobody remembers the heroic bits – even the friends who once fought alongside him. Struggling with single parenting and treated as bit of a joke, Cisco isn't really in the Christmas spirit like everyone else. A fact that's made worse by the tendrils of the pirate's powers creeping back into our world and people beginning to die in bizarre ways. With the help of a talking fox, an enchanted forest, a long-lost friend haunting his dreams, and some 80s video game consoles turned into weapons, Cisco must now convince his friends to once again help him save the day. Yet they quickly discover that being a ghostbusting hero is so much easier when you don't have schools runs, parent evenings, and nativity plays to attend. And even in the middle of a supernatural battle, you always need to bring snacks and wipes... (Amazon)

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

RUSTED HEROES

Swashbucklers does for adult fiction what the Wayward Children series does for YA: it looks at the aftermath of a "typical" kid/teen character experience (in this case, saving our world - and possibly other ones - from monsters). Except, in Hanks' standalone, thirty years have gone by since our Goonies-meet-Ghostbusters gang defeated evil, and these former child heroes (all but one) have forgotten everything about it...or better, have managed to convince themselves that their saving the world wasn't real to begin with (it doesn't help that the rest of their hometown has resolutely fallen into we-just-hallucinated-because-of-a-gas-leak camp ever since). Until shit hits the fan again, and as adults on the wrong side of forty, they find themselves unfit to fulfill their old saviour roles, yet they can't seem to have a choice (or, in Cisco's case, they ultimately welcome the new adventure with open, if a bit shaking, arms). It's a brilliant, subversive concept, and to the best of my knowledge, a totally original one. It lends itself to nostalgia and humour, and provides an insight into the changes (or lack thereof) that childhood friendships undergo in a few decades - all juicy ingredients for a story. [...]

October 16, 2021

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #26 Malcolm Devlin, Jennifer Brozek et al., Elliot Arthur Cross & Joshua Winning


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.

October 11, 2021

Natalie D. Richards: "Seven Dirty Secrets" (ARC Review)

Title: Seven Dirty Secrets  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Natalie D. Richards [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2021
Age: 14+
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Tight, evenly-paced story where the tension never lets up. Explores an abusive teen relationship. Features racial diversity among half-siblings.
Cons: Not terribly original if you've read a number of both teen and adult thrillers. Some characters feel a bit underdeveloped.
WARNING! Physical abuse. Drowning. Guilt feelings.
Will appeal to: Those who like a fast-paced, puzzle-ridden cat-and-mouse chase with a role reversal.

Blurb: On her eighteenth birthday, Cleo receives a mysterious invitation to a scavenger hunt. She's sure her best friend Hope or her brother Connor is behind it, but no one confesses. And as Cleo and Hope embark on the hunt, the seemingly random locations and clues begin to feel familiar. In fact, all of the clues seem to be about Cleo's dead boyfriend, Declan, who drowned on a group rafting trip exactly a year ago. And then the phone calls start, Declan's voice taunting Cleo with a cryptic question: You ready? As the clock on the scavenger hunt ticks down, it becomes clear that someone knows what really happened to Declan. And that person will stop at nothing to make sure Cleo and her friends pay. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley. Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way. Also, fun fact: as of today, the Goodreads synopsis identifies Cleo's boyfriend as "Cyrus" instead of "Declan". I assume that it was his name in a previous draft.

SAVORY STAPLES

In theory, I love mysteries, but I rarely request or buy one (whether YA or adult), because having been raised on a diet of Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen and the likes (not to mention, being a Christopher Pike fan) it's difficult for me to read a blurb and get the feeling that the book in question might tell me something new - or be a fresh take on an old trope. And even when I cave in and request/buy the book, it's difficult for me to be impressed. So, take my review with a grain of salt, because I'm a seasoned reader of classic and semi-classic mysteries, and I might be looking for a thrill that is difficult to replicate.
Seven Dirty Secrets isn't a bad book by any means, though I wish it had been MORE. There's a scavenger hunt (who doesn't love those?) with high stakes involved; a (racially diverse) sibling relationship that's central to the plot; and a protagonist with an interest in forensics and a history of abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, still scarred (in more than a way) by her past, and now forced by an unknown stalker to confront it once and for all. The pacing is all right, steady without being too frantic, with lots of tense scenes, the right amount of flashbacks and a nice side of clues or supposed ones. I must admit that until the end I wasn't sure about the culprit, though some of the clues sounded too much like false flags, and some of the characters, despite the author's setting them up as suspects, didn't really have a motive that I could fathom. [...]

October 03, 2021

Offbeat Offline: August-September 2021


Welcome to Offbeat Offline, where I bring you up-to-date with what went on in my life during the month just gone, give you a sneak peek of my next shenanigans, and share my favourite posts of late!

For this first installment, I'm going to recap both my September and my August, because STUFF HAPPENED (mind you, when STUFF HAPPENS to me, is generally BAD/ANNOYING STUFF™). Sorry in advance for the long post...especially the hair part. Unfortunately, it couldn't be explained in less words (I'm writing this premise after completing my post). I promise it's a one-timer...