September 02, 2023

Offbeat Offline: August 2023 (...and a New, Month-Long Hiatus)


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? New heatwave, new eye visit, and I watched Good Omens 2 ๐Ÿคฉ. Nothing actually bad occurred (OK, nothing actually good either, but I'll still call it a win?), except for almost getting baked on the asphalt/having a heat-induced nervous breakdown at home multiple times...but thank goodness the season's worst is over now (I hope...). Also, I've been busy scheduling my October posts because I'm taking a blogging break on September...

August 29, 2023

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Which Books Are You Looking Forward to Reading This Fall? (September-November)


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...

WHICH BOOKS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO READING THIS FALL? (SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER)

I don't know if I'll ever get around to buying all these books or when, since 1) early reviews and excerpts might cause me to change my mind in the future, and 2) given my current situation (see: unemployment status), book money is scarce...Anyhow, I wanted to give a bit of exposure to all the fall books that caught my eye (a really small number, especially compared to the summer ones), so here's my list (complete with pub dates)...

August 21, 2023

R.A. Sinn: "A Second Chance for Yesterday" (ARC Review)

Title: A Second Chance for Yesterday [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: R.A. Sinn [Twitter | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2023
Age: 18+
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Intriguing, inventive sci-fi twist on the Merlin Sickness trope. Relatable lead.
Cons: Requires some suspension of disbelief. The temporal disruption and its consequences can get confusing. The family issue resolution feels unearned. The ending doesn't give straight answers (if that's something that bothers you).
WARNING! A few scenes involve vulgar/inappropriate male nudity.
Will appeal to: Those who enjoy narratives that play with time. Those who love redemption arcs and star-crossed romances.

Blurb: Nev Bourne is a hotshot programmer for the latest and greatest tech invention out there: SavePoint, the brain implant that rewinds the seconds of all our most embarrassing moments. She’s been working non-stop on the next rollout, even blowing off her boyfriend, her best friend and her family to make SavePoint 2.0. But when she hits go on the test-run, she wakes up the next day only to discover it's yesterday. She's falling backwards in time, one day at a time. As things spiral out of control, a long-lost friend from college reappears in her life claiming they know how to save her. Airin is charming and mysterious, and somehow knows Nev intimately well. Desperate and intrigued, Nev takes a leap of faith. A friendship born of fear slowly becomes a bond of deepest trust, and possibly love. With time running out, and the whole world of SavePoint users at stake, Nev must learn what it will take to set things right, and what it will cost. (Amazon)

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

SERIOUS FUN

Here's the thing: I love narratives that play with time because they're great fun (even the tragic ones, if you get my meaning). But I also love them because, at the same time (no pun intended), they're perfect to vehiculate philosophical concepts, or simply, to make you think. This one, while I'm not thrilled about the direction it went with regard to the family angle (more about that below - I'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum), had a lot to say about ethics, redemption, and becoming, if not the best, at least a better version of yourself - and mind you, it managed to stay entertaining and to throw a few surprises at the reader in the process (though I should probably have seen at least one of them coming - but even if I didn't because I was engrossed with the story, and not because the twist was difficult to figure out, that's still a good thing!). [...]

August 14, 2023

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #44 A. Deborah Baker, Kate Alice Marshall, Kelsey Sutton


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 ๐Ÿ˜Š. 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

August 06, 2023

Ann Christy: "The Never-Ending End of the World" (ARC Review)

Title: The Never-Ending End of the World [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Ann Christy [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2023
Age: 14+ (technically an adult book, but it can be read by mature and even younger teens)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Original take on the apocalypse. Engrossing and soulful.
Cons: The premise is a bit far-fetched in terms of scope (but hey, it's called "sci-fi" for a reason...).
WARNING! Some violence and blood (a mother taking a swipe at her child, too), though most of it is off-page.
Will appeal to:
Those who crave an apocalypse book off the beaten path. Those who like stories that play with time (though not in a time-travel sense). Those who need for their sci-fi to have a lot of heart.

Blurb: Coco Wells hasn’t seen another living person since she was a teenager. All of Manhattan is reliving the same few seconds, minutes, or hours on a loop...and they have been for years. Coco scavenges for food, reads, and - most importantly - avoids loopers. She’s learned the painful lesson that a broken loop can mean death. After eight years of solitude, learning to survive and precisely timing the loops that weave around the city, Coco wonders what lies beyond New York and what has become of the rest of the world. As she leaves home for the first time, one question haunts her above all: “Am I the only one left?” (Amazon excerpt)

Review:  First off...DISCLAIMER: this book was up for grabs on NetGalley (in the Read Now section) and Edelweiss (where it was free to download as well). Thanks to Campfire Publishing for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.

CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE

For once, I'm going to be that person and start my review with a "target audience" caveat: I don't usually gravitate towards post-apocalyptic stories (though I've enjoyed some in the past), because while I love a book that makes me think, I'd rather not read a book that has the potential to make me suffer. With all the doom and gloom going on in my life (and, well, the world), what I need most - and look for in a story - is the chance to escape. But the (clever) title of this book caught my eye, and its (exciting) premise called to me, so I downloaded it before my mind made the leap to "post apocalypse"...and I'm so glad that I did, because it blew my socks off. The survival aspect turned out to be inextricably intertwined with the exciting premise I mentioned above, in ways I couldn't even have started to imagine; so, for all purposes, TNEEOTW is far from your average story about struggling to survive in a world gone to pieces - which is why you needn't worry about not being a post-apocalypse kind of reader, as long as broken-time-centered speculative fiction, moral dilemmas and ragtag bands of heroes are your jam. [...]

August 01, 2023

Offbeat Offline: July 2023 (Trudging On, but With Books)


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? A new eye scare, more hair woes and a never-ending heatwave that felt more like a deathwave. I'm aware that all I do in these monthly recaps is complain about whatever, but this is my life, y'all. And this blog is the only outlet I have where to get stuff off my chest, so please bear with me...Every time I try to make it short (if not sweet), but HAHA NOPE WHAT DOES "SHORT" MEAN ๐Ÿ˜ญ.

July 28, 2023

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #43 Britney S. Lewis, Marie Hoy-Kenny, Seanan McGuire


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 ๐Ÿ˜Š. 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

July 22, 2023

Rebekah Bergman: "The Museum of Human History" (ARC Review)

Title: The Museum of Human History [on Amazonon Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Rebekah Bergman [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Contemporary
Year: 2023
Age: 18+ (but it can be read by mature teens)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Original, poetical, compassionate.
Cons: As with most books with a large cast, it's hard to get attached to all its characters.
WARNING! Drowning (off-page). Death by cancer (off-page).
Will appeal to: Those who like a deep, yet accessible meditation on the meaning of time and memory.

Blurb: After nearly drowning, eight-year-old Maeve Wilhelm falls into a strange comatose state. As years pass, it becomes clear that Maeve is not physically aging. A wide cast of characters finds themselves pulled toward Maeve, each believing that her mysterious “sleep” holds the answers to their life’s most pressing questions. As Maeve remains asleep, the characters grapple with a mysterious new technology and medical advances that promise to ease anxiety and end pain, but instead cause devastating side effects. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on Edelweiss. Thanks to W.W. Norton/Tin House Books for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.

ORGANIC PALETTE

I have to be honest: given the premise (the comatose little girl who doesn't age), I expected this book to be more on the magical-realism side, which...it really isn't. Anyhow, there's an element of fabulism in Bergman's storytelling that almost makes me vary of using the sci-fi label for this novel, though it incorporates futuristic technology and ultimately revolves around a certain scientific breakthrough (which, conversely, will end up causing devastating outcomes). I think the best way to describe TMOHH is speculative fiction, yet rendered with a poetical tone, and at the same time set against the realistic backdrop of very human feelings like pain, regret and fear - of losing our memories and the version of ourselves that we've gotten most attached to, and of departing this world without leaving a mark on it, or at least having someone who'll remember us when we're gone. [...]

July 15, 2023

Sara Flannery Murphy: "The Wonder State" (ARC Review)

Title: The Wonder State [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Sara Flannery Murphy [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2023
Age: 14+ (I shelved it as Adult because of the characters' age in the present, but it can be read by teens; also, the protagonists are teens in the flashbacks)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Engrossing, unique twist on the "estranged-friends-with-a-dark-secret-are-back-in-town-to-face-their-past" trope. Mostly fleshed-out characters with complex relationships.
Cons: Not much diversity. The one Black (and gay) character feels less developed than the others.
WARNING! Blood, gore, violence and some disturbing imagery. Adult abuse on kids (not of the sexual kind).
Will appeal to: Those who love a dark, yet poetical story steeped in magic. Those who enjoy adult-vs.-teen timelines.

Blurb: Five friends arrive back in Eternal Springs, the small town they all fled after high-school graduation. Each of them is drawn home by a cryptic, scrawled two-word letter: You promised. It has been fifteen years since that life-changing summer, and they're anxious to find out why Brandi called them back, especially when they vowed never to return. But Brandi is missing. She'd been acting erratically for months, in and out of rehab, railing at whoever might listen about magic all around them. About a power they can't see. And strange houses that appear only when you need them... (Amazon)

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

WONDERFUL RAINBOW

When I first read the synopsis of this book, it called to me...but after I placed my NG request, I realised that it was unclear if Brandi's mental health was damaged and she was hallucinating the houses, so by the time my acceptance email came, I was praying that TWS wasn't one of THOSE novels - you know, the ones where mental health issues are treated like plot devices. I'm pleased to say this wasn't the case, and actually, this book delivered even more than I expected it to. Also, if you've read Stephen King's It or Dan Hanks' Swashbucklers (which I enjoyed and reviewed last year), and you're wondering how much novelty a story about a group of estranged friends reuniting in the wake of a tragedy can hold, the answer is: a great deal. TWS is part mystery, part adult drama, part coming-of-age story (thanks to the dual timeline), flirting with portal fantasy by way of magical realism and a touch of horror. I know it sounds a bit too much, but the way Murphy weaves it all together, it works like a charm.

July 09, 2023

Sam Beckbessinger & Dale Halvorsen: "Girls of Little Hope" (ARC Review)

Title: Girls of Little Hope [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Sam Beckbessinger & Dale Halvorsen [Sam's site | Sam on Goodreads | Dale's site | Dale on Goodreads]
Genres: Thriller/Mystery, Sci-Fi, Contemporary, Horror
Year: 2023
Age: 14+ (please note: this is dark YA - you may want to take a look at the WARNING! section)
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Realistic teen characters/relationships. Bold twist on a classic horror trope.
Cons: Requires suspension of disbelief both about the twist and the way a pivotal problem gets fixed.
WARNING! Death (animal death too...sort of). Blood, gore and violence. Body horror. Bug horror. Burns. Self-harm. Domestic abuse. Trans-generational trauma. Underage sex. Pregnancy scare.
Will appeal to: Those who like Nova Ren Suma's brand of female teen protagonists, Stephen King's brand of horror and Christopher Pike's brand of weirdness.

Blurb: Being fifteen is tough, tougher when you live in a boring-ass small town like Little Hope, California (population 8,302) in 1996. Donna, Rae and Kat keep each other sane with the fervour of teen girl friendships, zine-making and some amateur sleuthing into the town’s most enduring mysteries: a lost gold mine, and why little Ronnie Gaskins burned his parents alive a decade ago. Their hunt will lead them to a hidden cave from which only two of them return alive. Donna the troublemaker can’t remember anything. Rae seems to be trying to escape her memories of what happened, while her close-minded religious family presses her for answers. And Kat? Sweet, wannabe writer Kat who rebelled against her mom’s beauty pageant dreams by getting fat? She’s missing. Dead. Or terribly traumatised, out there in the woods, alone. As the police circle and Kat’s frantic mother Marybeth starts doing some investigating of her own, Rae and Donna will have to return to the cave where they discover a secret so shattering that no-one who encounters it will ever be the same. (Amazon)

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

PUSHING THE LIMITS

Here's a fact for you: teen horror is on a roll, and has been for a while now. I think the main reason is that YA horror authors have taken to use the genre (and in this particular case, its tropes) to frame and enhance coming-of-age stories with tridimensional and compelling protagonists - an art that (most) YA thriller writers haven't mastered yet, at least in my experience. Girls of Little Hope is an excellent example of this genre-blending attitude: it starts off like a mystery, then adds a strong layer of teen characterisation, and ultimately punches you in the face with a familiar, but nonetheless unsettling horror trope, only to twist it into something that ties in with the characters' arc (call it a rite of passage if you will, though of a brutal and decidedly peculiar sort). [...]

July 03, 2023

Offbeat Offline: June 2023 (Back, but Nowhere Near OK)


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? Nothing major, but the heat kicked in and I'm even more tired and achey than ever. A month-and-a-half hiatus didn't do much for me, also because I ended up reading and scheduling reviews for two ARCs, so yeah...return of the review woes LOL. But one of the books was a June release that I got approved for at the last minute, and the other was the second-to-last of my August books (I have a handful) and its sitting there unread so close to pub date was making me stabby. Anyhow, I decided to come back for a couple of months, fulfill all my review obligations, touch base with everybody (what did I miss?), and hopefully go on a REAL hiatus in September, because if I have one to look forward to, I function better...

June 03, 2023

Offbeat Offline: May 2023 (+ Announcing a One-Month-Long Hiatus)


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? A piping disaster, more eye trouble, return of the perm woes, usual amount of running around and caregiving. I had planned to take a month off blogging (this one), but as you know, I ended up starting my hiatus earlier than I anticipated, because I was spent. It didn't make a difference for the blog, because I had the whole May content scheduled already, but it caused me to pretty much disappear on you (brief Twitter stints excluded), and for that I'm sorry...but I can't seem to find the time and energy to stay up-to-date with your posts - not to mention, I want to be able to put my heart and soul into my interactions, and that just isn't feasible at the moment. So, after this post, I'll retire into my cave again for the whole month, and I hope to be able to make a proper comeback in July. Bless you for not giving up on me and for showing me support even when I'm M.I.A. ๐Ÿ˜ญ ๐Ÿงก.  

May 30, 2023

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Which Books Are You Looking Forward to Reading This Summer? (June-August)


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...

WHICH BOOKS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO READING THIS SUMMER? (JUNE-AUGUST)

I don't know if I'll ever get around to buying all these books or when, since 1) early reviews and excerpts might cause me to change my mind in the future, and 2) given my current situation (see: unemployment status), book money is scarce...(BUT! this is a lucky season for me, since I got access to 7 out of 10 of these books! I was approved for The Infinite Miles by Hannah Fergesen, The Wonder State by Sara Flannery Murphy, The Museum of Human History by Rebekah Bergman, The Dark Place by Britney S. Lewis, The Girls from Hush Cabin by Marie Hoy Kenny, and A Second Chance for Yesterday by R.A. Sinn, while The Never-Ending End of the World by Ann Christy was free to download both on NG and EW). Anyhow, I wanted to give a bit of exposure to all the summer books that caught my eye, so here's my list (complete with pub dates)...

May 24, 2023

Hannah Fergesen: "The Infinite Miles" (ARC Review)

Title: The Infinite Miles [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Hannah Fergesen [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2023
Age: 16+ (technically an adult book, but it can be read by mature and even younger teens)
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Inventive, heartfelt twist on the time-travel trope. Ode to the power of friendship and hope.
Cons: You have to buy into a specific branch of time travel in order to suspend your disbelief (click on the link at your own risk - it will spoil part of the fun...).
WARNING! Contains some violence and a dose of dark imagery (face scars, black blood, stabbing).
Will appeal to: Fans of Doctor Who (especially the Matt Smith era). People who know how to love ardently (and fight for what they love).

Blurb: Three years after her best friend Peggy went missing, Harper Starling is lost. All she has are regrets and reruns of her favorite science fiction show, Infinite Odyssey. Then Peggy returns and demands to be taken to the Argonaut, the fictional main character of Infinite Odyssey. But the Argonaut is just that...fictional. Until the TV hero himself appears and spirits Harper away from her former best friend. Traveling through time, he explains that Peggy used to travel with him but is now under the thrall of an alien enemy known as the Incarnate. Then he leaves Harper in 1971. Stranded in the past, Harper must find a way to end the Incarnate’s thrall...without the help of the Argonaut. And if Harper can’t find it in herself to believe - in the Argonaut, in Peggy, and most of all, in herself - she’ll be the Incarnate’s next casualty, along with the rest of the universe. (Amazon excerpt)

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

A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE

Let's address the elephant in the room first: if the synopsis gives you strong Doctor Who vibes, it's intentional. Ferguson does pay homage to the iconic British show and its titular character in the form of the Argonaut, a time traveler who trades the Doctor's space vessel masquerading as a blue police box for his own spaceship disguised as a black muscle car (and occasionally a lime-green VW bus). However, despite taking its cue from the long-lived TV series, The Infinite Miles isn't anything like fan fiction made novel. The disillusioned and bitter Argonaut couldn't be more different from whatever incarnation of the Doctor (even troubled time-war-survivor Nine and grumpy post-regeneration Twelve) if he tried. And for all their parallels and (often clever and oblique) similarities, the novel puts a number of spins on its source material and creates its own independent mythology, while ultimately conveying the same message of hope and love (self-love, too) being the biggest weapons. Let's put it this way: if you're a Doctor Who aficionado, you'll gobble this book up. If you've never seen the show, but you like time-travel stories that span both the Earth and the stars, and sci-fi with a heart, you'll love The Infinite Miles nevertheless - and maybe pick up Doctor Who because of it. [...]

May 15, 2023

Joshua David Bellin: "Myriad" (ARC Review)

Title: Myriad [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Joshua David Bellin [Twitter | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Year: 2023
Age: 18+ (but it can be read by mature teens)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Mind-blowing variation on the time-travel trope, full of twists and turns - but also heart. Well-crafted, compelling main character.
Cons: At least one of the protagonist's actions is based on a leap of logic. At least one of the rules of time travel is unclear.
WARNING! Blood and other bodily fluids. Gun violence. Abuse (off page). Parent with Alzheimer syndrome. Suicide.
Will appeal to: Those who love the intricacies of a complex time-travel mystery. Those who crave a deeply human angle to it.

Blurb: Agent Miriam Randle works for LifeTime, a private law enforcement agency that undertakes short-term time travel to erase crimes before they occur. Haunted by the memory of her twin brother’s unsolved murder at the age of six, Miriam thinks of herself as Myriad - an incarnation of the many lives she’s lived in her journeys to rearrange the past. When a routine assignment goes wrong and Miriam commits a murder she was meant to avert, she is thrown into the midst of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of LifeTime. Along with her partner Vax, Miriam flees into the past in an attempt to unravel the truth before LifeTime agents catch up with her. But then her brother’s killer reappears, twenty years to the day since he first struck. And he’s not through with the twin who survived, not by a long shot. (Amazon)

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

SUCH A GREAT TIME

As a fan of all things wibbly wobbly timey wimey, I expected to get a kick out of Myriad, with its promise of changed timelines and temporal displacements - not to mention the dead sibling angle, whether the protagonist was supposed to try and save her brother in the past, or to fail to do that and continue to deal with her loss in the present/future. But after deceptively portraying time travel in a way that felt familiar for a while, Myriad ramped up the madness and let the unexpected take the wheel, with a series of wild twists and turns, up to the last, jaw-drop-inducing reveal...and beyond. I'll be honest - I picked up one of the clues early on, so there was at least one thing that I more or less expected...but you could say that the surprises in this book are as many as the timestreams Miriam enters, and I was floored by every single one of them after that first one (despite my being a seasoned reader and watcher of everything time travel). [...]

May 12, 2023

Still Life with Scheduled Posts (A.K.A. Announcing a Longer Hiatus Than I Anticipated)

Hello sweeties,

remember how, in my latest post, I told you I was going to take June off? Well, things have come up (basically, pipe problems in my condo - more of that in my next Offbeat Offline installment, if you haven't seen my tweets about them) and my stress level has reached new highs...but regardless of the unfortunate news, I can't cope anymore. I need to start on my hiatus RIGHT NOW. I can't even seem to keep up with your posts, and I have a ton of books for review whose deadlines (or, well, pub dates) are approaching - books that I should have read weeks ago, except I couldn't find the time or clear-headedness to...but most of all, I have a ton of things I need to tend to, never enough time and zero energy. So, basically, I need a break.


As I wrote in my latest Offbeat Offline installment, I have the whole month of May covered, blog-wise, so you'll still see my posts - and I plan on doing the rounds on Twitter once a day, so I hope to keep up to date with (some of) you that way. Then I'll post a May recap at the beginning of June...and sit the month out (though I promised B.C. Johnson I would review the last installment in his Deadgirl series upon release, so if it comes out during my hiatus, I'll make an exception). Thank you for your understanding and your constant support...I hope to come back stronger and refreshed in July!

May 06, 2023

Offbeat Offline: April 2023


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? Nothing, if you don't count my yearly laryngitis. April was pretty much as uneventful as March, or even more so, especially in the bookish department. How come the days feel so slow (because nothing really happens, I guess), and yet the months seem to pass so quickly? I've been out of work for a year, for goodness' sake. Where did the time go?

May 02, 2023

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Have You Looked at Twitter Alternatives After It Changed Hands? Are You Using Any?


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...

HAVE YOU LOOKED AT TWITTER ALTERNATIVES AFTER IT CHANGED HANDS? ARE YOU USING ANY?

First off, please bear with me while I use a few "mutated" characters in this post - I don't want to attract a ton of spam by mentioning certain things if I can...

OK, so, in the wake of El0n Mu$k's takeover, I would like to leave Twitter behind. Especially when I see him pulling stunts like switching the bird icon for the D0gec0in one for a few days and managing to make more money thanks to that move ๐Ÿ‘ฟ. (It's ironic that, before his era, I lost my old account courtesy of a hacker who used it to promote bitc0ins using Mu$k's very face...). The fact is, while on paper there are a number of alternatives, from what I've heard they don't work as smoothly as one would like - or not enough Twitter users have migrated to them so far. Also, Twitter is traditionally the place to be in order to connect with authors and publishers, and a Twitter account is still required when you request a book on NetGalley, Edelweiss and the like. Last but not least, I don't have the time or patience for investigating yet another social media right now. So, basically, I'm open to change, but I'll admit that I'm lost and I don't feel like doing the legwork (so to speak), at least until my home situation doesn't improve. Are you in the same boat as me about wanting to leave but not knowing where to go?

April 29, 2023

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #42 Jen Wilde, Laura Ruby, T. Kingfisher


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 ๐Ÿ˜Š. 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

April 25, 2023

Tell Me Something Tuesday: If You Could Go Back and Change One Thing About Your Life, What Would It Be?


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...

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

It's no secret that I've made a number of bad choices in my life...or more like, non-choices - letting myself be lulled by the waves and waiting to see if they would transport me to a better place, because I didn't know how (and where) to swim. One of the worst (rare) decisions I've ever made was knock on the local radio stations' doors (two of them - the first one shut up shop after a few months, the second left me unemployed after 20 years). Once I entered those doors, my life freeze-framed. When I realised that there wasn't enough money and recognition to be had, ever (I said recognition, not fame - like from my boss, for instance ๐Ÿ˜ฌ), I was already too old, too tired and too unskilled in everything else to look for a different job. So I didn't leave the place...until the place left me.
But as bitter as I am about my radio stunt, my very first/biggest mistake predated it - even, for all purposes, was responsible for my trading a hobby for a (dead-end) job - and that's the one thing I really, really wish I could go back and undo (where are you Doctor? ๐Ÿ˜ญ): my choice of schools.

April 18, 2023

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What Were Your Expectations When You Started Blogging?


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...

WHAT WERE YOUR EXPECTATIONS WHEN YOU STARTED BLOGGING?

I started blogging in October 2012, with the mission of giving exposure to all those books (mainly YA) that fell under the radar - the ones that got less recognition because they weren't backed by bigwig publishers and didn't get a strong marketing boost. While I DID hope I would be able to steer the right type of reader towards some of them (and get followers in the process), it's not like I had great expectations, blogging-wise. The very nature of the books I was recommending made it unlikely that I would become a very popular blogger...not to mention that I've never believed in posting like a madwoman - and I've never had the time and energy anyway. So, basically, I hoped to leave a small mark on the bloggiverse, but I had no illusions about getting successful...and this has spared me a lot of heartache and inferiority complexes ๐Ÿ˜‚. On the other hand, blogging has fulfilled a lot of dreams I didn't know I had - working with authors as a beta-reader, getting to read a number of new books for free, and first and foremost, finding my happy place inside a lovely community of other readers. So, by not expecting anything, I gained everything ๐Ÿ’š.

April 10, 2023

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #41 Seanan McGuire: "InCryptid" Series #5-8


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 ๐Ÿ˜Š. 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

April 04, 2023

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What Are Some of Your Favourite Indie/Small Pub Authors/Books?


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...

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE INDIE/SMALL PUB AUTHORS/BOOKS?

When I suggested this week's topic, I knew in advance that it would be scheduled for April (Indie Month), but what I didn't know was that I'd get the chance to use it to promote a series that I love just a few weeks prior to its last installment's release. What timing, uh? ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
So...I think you all know by now that I have a thing for Dead Girl Books. And back when I started blogging (almost 10 years and a half ago now ๐Ÿ‘€), I stumbled upon a book titled, go figure, Deadgirl, by debut author B.C. (Bobby) Johnson. And it was fresh and different and engaging, and I loved it, and I messaged the author on Goodreads, and he replied...and we're still mutuals 10+ years and 3 books later. (Please note: we follow each other and we occasionally talk and I've proof/beta-read for Bobby in the past and I still get ARCs from him, but I'm not implying that we are friends in the strict sense of the word. I try to maintain a reader/author relationship with the writers I happen to work with or to talk to more often, even if it's obviously a lot friendlier than the one I have with most).
Now, Deadgirl (original cover below) was initially printed by a small publisher that shut up shop shortly after its release.

April 01, 2023

Offbeat Offline: March 2023


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? Same old, same old. March was pretty uneventful, which isn’t as good a thing as it sounds, because neither my husband’s leg nor my eye is making progress. I'm bored and tired. I got a few ARCs, but I'm struggling with reviews. I'm perpetually behind with comments. The house is a dumpster fire and I can't muster the energy to care. (Sorry for the negativity).

March 28, 2023

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What Is Your Ideal Book/Audiobook Length?


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...

WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL BOOK/AUDIOBOOK LENGTH?

First off, I'm going to talk about books here, not audiobooks, since I only read on paper/screen, for a number of reasons (which of course don't include the old and tired "audiobooks aren't real books" argument ๐Ÿ™„).
So...I don't have a real preference. I'm not intimidated by big books, and if I have yet to read a really thick one (ร  la Stephen King), it's totally by accident. I would never rule out reading a book on a page-number basis. I'd say that, generally speaking, I prefer full-fledged novels to shorter ones/novellas, because I like to be able to live in a fictional world and know its character for a longer time; but on the other hand, there are so many novellas that rocked my socks off. Anyhow, as long as there isn't filler content, I'll happily welcome tomes ๐Ÿ˜‰.
(Also, shall we talk about FONTS? Because sometimes apparently average-length books have REALLY TINY ones, in order to save paper, and how are we supposed to know how long they are for real?).

March 23, 2023

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #40 Chelsea Sedoti, Vincent Tirado, 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 ๐Ÿ˜Š. 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Oh, just so you know...this is a DNF bunch. Or to be more precise, a bunch of ARCs I DNF ๐Ÿ˜ฑ. Unprecedented for me, I know...

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

March 14, 2023

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Do You Measure Blogging Success? Followers, Page Views, Interactions, Etc.


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...

HOW DO YOU MEASURE BLOGGING SUCCESS? FOLLOWERS, PAGE VIEWS, INTERACTIONS, ETC.

In a word (or, well, two)? Engagement level - as in, a mixture of many ACTIVE followers (we all know that sometimes people hop on follow-for-follow trains, or follow a blog because it offers giveaways on a regular basis, which doesn't mean its subscribers do read the posts) and authors/publishers willing to work with the blogger (that is, actually offering them review copies and involving them in the road to publication, not just giving them the random, if very appreciated, approval on NetGalley or Edelweiss). And to be precise...active followers who aren't necessarily your friends, though I'm personally beyond grateful for their support ๐Ÿ’š. Ideally, as a successful blogger, you would have perfect strangers (AND friends) telling you that they picked up a book because you sold them on it, but let's face it, it rarely happens - also because we usually need a tad more than a single review to be sure we want to read a book ๐Ÿ˜‰.

March 09, 2023

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #39 Naomi Salman, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Courtney Gould


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 ๐Ÿ˜Š. 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

March 03, 2023

Offbeat Offline: February 2023


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? A little back-and-forth for my husband's health, fresh medical drama for me and a scare about my dad's, and a couple of new ARC approvals. Also, two of my international friends offered to buy a copy of That Ain't Witchcraft for me (see my January recap), and it arrived three days ago...Thank you! ๐Ÿ’š (I only buy cash-on-delivery because I'm afraid to lose what little money I have on my debit card, and my usual sites didn't have the book - a while ago I was planning to get a second card and put a small amount of money on it for book purchases from sites like The Book Depository, but then I got laid off, so I suppose it's not a good idea to have to pay for two cards now...๐Ÿ˜ญ).

February 28, 2023

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Which Books Are You Looking Forward to Reading This Spring? (March-May)


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...

WHICH BOOKS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO READING THIS SPRING? (MARCH-MAY)

I don't know if I'll ever get around to buying all these books or when, since 1) early reviews and excerpts might cause me to change my mind in the future, and 2) given my current situation (see: unemployment status), book money is scarce...also, my NG/EW requests for some of these have already been declined ๐Ÿ˜ข, except for And Put Away Childish Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky (and the PDF is mine to keep!), This Is the Way the World Ends by Jen Wilde (funny how I got rejected for it right away on EW, but immediately approved on NG when the book was moved from the "Wish for it!" category to the "Request" one...) and Myriad by Joshua David Bellin. Anyhow, I wanted to give a bit of exposure to all the spring books that caught my eye, so here's my list (complete with pub dates)...