April 26, 2022

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Do You Still Own Any Books/Comics/Toys/Memorabilia From When You Were a Kid?

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). After Heidi stopped blogging (apparently for good), five of us took over as hosts while providing new 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...


First off...I meant to be back for the meme on April 19th, but you might have noticed that it didn't happen. And here it was one of my own questions haha.
OK, onto the new one...
Last year I told you the story of my first writing attempt at age 7, and that "book" is the only thing I made during my childhood that I still own, in all its messily-cut-and-glued-together-pages glory 😂. But as for stuff that I was gifted in my pre-teen years, the only things that survive are, unsurprisingly, two real books. One is a novel by a local author recounting the adventures of a vegetarian cat, with some chapters set in my very town; the other is Momo by Michael Ende.

Everybody would buy me books when I was a kid (because I was an avid reader even then), so I used to have a bunch, but for some reason, if you don't count the one "starring" my town, Momo is the only book that has followed me into adulthood. I think it's because it speaks to grown-up me even more than it did to my child counterpart - plus, in time, magical realism has carved a place in my heart where this novel nests beautifully. Everyone knows about The NeverEnding Story by the same author (mainly because of the movie, I suspect), but Momo is an underrated gem - imaginative, poetical and still relevant after almost 50 years. Read the plot on Wikipedia if you don't mind getting spoiled. But in case you want the gist - an orphan must save her friends (and the whole world) from an organisation of grey men, who tricked humans into giving away their time and trapped them into stressful, meaningless lives. While this novel is mostly seen as a criticism of consumerism, to me it's the reminder of how time is the most precious thing we have, and how we should never forget to spend it on the things that really count and give us joy, regardless of our age. Also, a tortoise who communicates through writing on her shell and can see 30 minutes in the future? Best character ever 😀. 

This is the version I have (a hardcover, which helped with preservation).
The Italian title translates "Momo and the Time Thieves".
8-13 is the intended age range. Vallecchi is the publisher.

April 18, 2022

Adrienne Celt: "End of the World House" (ARC Review)

Title: End of the World House [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Adrienne Celt [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: SPOILER - click on the Spoiler button below if you want to know, since revealing the genre(s) would ruin your reading experience...If you want to go into the book without knowing anything vital about it, I recommend not reading the Labels at the end of my review either. No need to worry though - the review itself will be spoiler-free...
Year: 2022
Age: 14+ (I shelved it as Adult because of the characters' age, and it's definitely got more of an adult appeal, but it can be read by teens)
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Unique, surprising, gorgeously written.
Cons: A few occurrences remain unexplained. Mainly, for a story about female friendship, it ultimately plays into men's hands too much...
Will appeal to: Those who like a Groundhog-Day-meets-Sliding-Doors scenario with a soft-apocalypse background.

Blurb: Bertie and Kate have been best friends since high school. Kate has recently decided to move from San Francisco to Los Angeles. When Bertie’s attempts to make Kate stay fail, she suggests the next-best thing: a trip to Paris that will hopefully distract the duo from their upcoming separation. One night in Paris, they meet a strange man in a bar who offers them a private tour of the Louvre. The women find themselves alone in the museum, where nothing is quite as it seems. Caught up in a day that keeps repeating itself, Bertie and Kate are eventually separated, and Bertie is faced with a mystery that threatens to derail everything. In order to make her way back to Kate, Bertie has to figure out how much control she has over her future - and her past - and how to survive an apocalypse when the world keeps refusing to end. (Amazon excerpt)

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


End of the World House is a very difficult book to review without giving away too much (you might think that "Groundhog Day meets Sliding Doors" is a huge enough cue, except it doesn't even begin to cover what happens in the story, and how/why for that matter). For that reason, this is going to be a less structured review than my usual ones. The best thing I can do with a book like this is make a bullet list of what I loved about it (or loved less) and why:

  • It's a unique concept (or a unique blend of different concepts with a twist).
  • It's a fascinating mystery, or the first section is (then again, you don't get all the answers until the end, especially the ones about Bertie's friend Kate, so it never really stops being fascinating). You keep trying to crack it, and at the same time you find yourself being swept away and enjoying the ride.
  • It's a story about a messy female friendship - mind you, not your usual catty one - where at least one of the parts involved is a bit too dependent on the other for her own good (which hit close to home for me). Then again, at one point Celt implies that Bertie's feelings for Kate may be a little more complicated than (partly unrequited) friendship...and I got that vibe myself.
  • It's a story steeped in art, where on the one hand the Louvre is not only a (magical and atmospheric) setting, but almost a character in itself, while on the other Bertie's graphic-novel-in-the-making is given the same amount of attention (and respect) than the famous paintings in the most iconic museum in the world are. Her drawings sort of come alive on the page, too.
  • There's a completely believable "soft apocalypse" in the background, one where the elite keeps maintaining a degree of privilege, but which still creates an undercurrent of uneasiness and melancholy. You find yourself buying into the idea that the world is more likely to end with a whimper than with a bang.
  • The writing is gorgeous and very quotable. [...]

April 10, 2022

Tim Pratt: "Prison of Sleep" (ARC Review)

Title: Prison of Sleep [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Journals of Zaxony Delatree (2nd of 2 books)
Author: Tim Pratt [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Multiverse, Sci-Fi
Year: 2022
Age: 14+ (I shelved it as Adult because of the characters' age range, but it's suitable for teens)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Inventive (and adventurous) take on the multiverse genre. Interesting, resourceful side characters.
Cons: Partly due to the very nature of the book, there's more telling (or recounting) than showing.
Will appeal to: Doctor Who aficionados willing to trade space and time for multiple (often highly imaginative, if only touched upon at times) universes.

Blurb: Every time Zaxony Delatree falls asleep he wakes up on a new world. At least he and Minna, the one companion who has found a way of travelling with him, are no longer pursued by the psychotic and vengeful Lector. But now Zax has been joined once again by Ana, a companion he thought left behind long ago. Ana tells Zax that he is unknowingly host to a parasitic alien that exists partly in his blood and partly between dimensions. The chemical that the alien secretes is what allows Zax to travel. Every time he does, however, the parasite grows, damaging the fabric of the Universes. But there are others who are using the parasite, such as the cult who serve the Prisoner – an entity trapped in the dimension between universes. Every world is like a bar in its prison. The cult want to collapse all the bars of the worlds and free their god. Can Zax, Minna, Ana and the other Sleepers band together and stop them? (Amazon excerpt)

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


The second and last book in the Journals of Zaxony Delatree is richer in adventures and characters than its predecessor, and provides a satisfactory (if wild) explanation for Zax's ability to travel the multiverse every time he falls asleep/unconscious. Told in diary form from two alternating points of view - Zax's and his long-lost girlfriend Ana's, with whom he got reunited at the end of Book 1, only to lose her again - it's an ambitious tour de force weaving together events past and recent (since for a good part of the book Ana recounts her adventures who took place in the same timeline as the first installment's, while Zax records what happened next) that not always succeeds in keeping the confusion at bay, but most certainly entertains. [...]

April 04, 2022

Offbeat Offline: March 2022

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!

What happened last month to yours truly? More medical drama, and, um, that's it? I'm slowly/not so slowly inching toward the end of my 20-plus-years stunt as a radio personality (ha! "personality" makes it sound like I'm famous, which is SO not the case) and I'm still incapable to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. And oh, of course I've been reading. Pretty average...