January 25, 2024

Announcement: Having to Discontinue My Blog Newsletter

Hello sweeties,

just a quick post to inform you (or remind you, since I've already mentioned it in a recent monthly recap) of a change that will affect my email followers: starting next month, I'll be forced to stop sending you email updates when a new post goes live ☹️.

Since the Blogger "Follow by  Email" gadget was retired in 2021, I've relied on MailerLite in order to send blog updates to my (few) email followers. The company advised its users to purchase an email domain, but allowed free ones, so I was able to use Gmail to send my campaigns. But in October I got an email from MailerLite saying that Google and Yahoo had announced new rules "to combat spam and enhance inbox safety", which means that...
Bulk email senders are now required to adhere to authentication protocols by authenticating their email domain (the domain address used for sending). [...]  So with these new rules, you won’t be able to use a free email domain as your sender address. You will instead need to purchase your own domain.
So, in brief: since I have a free email domain and sure as heck I'm not going to purchase one, I won't be able to send newsletters anymore (the new rule will be implemented next month). It's not a MailerLite issue: it's a Google issue, which means it's a Blogger issue, which means...we Blogger users are left to fend for ourselves once more 😤. Anyhow, I don't have the means to fix this situation, so you will have to find a different way to get alerted of my new posts. I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, and I hope you'll be able to follow me regardless. Thank you for your understanding and support!

January 18, 2024

Krystal Sutherland: "The Invocations" (ARC Review)

Title: The Invocations [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Krystal Sutherland [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural
Year: 2024
Age: 14+ (please note: this is dark YA - you may want to take a look at the WARNING! section)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Modern, fascinating, empowering and (briefly) trans-inclusive take on witchcraft and women's oppression.
Cons: Needs a good dose of suspension of disbelief.
WARNING! Body horror/mutilations, multiple kinds of violence (no rape/sexual harassment though), death/killing, near-death, fire, blood and gore, bodily fluids. Misogyny, stalking, familial abuse (again, not of the sexual kind).
Will appeal to: Those who enjoy an all-female story with found-family vibes and a touch of F/F romance. Those who like a dark-magic-fueled plot imbued with social commentary.

Blurb: Zara Jones believes in magic because the alternative is too painful to bear - that her sister was murdered by a serial killer and there is precisely nothing she can do to change it. Jude Wolf might be the daughter of a billionaire, but she is also undeniably cursed. After a deal with a demon went horribly wrong, her soul is now slowly turning necrotic. Enter Emer Bryne: the solution to both Zara and Jude's predicaments. The daughter of a witch, Emer sells spells to women in desperate situations willing to sacrifice a part of their soul in exchange for a bit of power. But Emer has a dark past all her own - and as her former clients are murdered one-by-one, she knows it’s followed her all the way to London. As Zara and Jude enter Emer's orbit, they'll have to team up to stop the killer - before they each end up next on his list. (Goodreads excerpt)

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


After the excellent House of Hollow, Sutherland delivers another pull-no-punches, yet at times lyrical supernatural horror with a trio of strong female protagonists and a coming-of-age (or more like...coming-into-one's-powers) angle. Yet, despite these common traits, The Invocations brings a great deal of novelty to the table, and if personally I was more enthralled by its predecessor both due to the story and the often luscious prose, there's a lot to love in this ode to magic and accidental sisterhood.
First thing first, The Invocations is one step ahead of House of Hollow when it comes to its explicit (and inclusive) stance on feminism and womanhood, and its commentary on patriarchy and toxic masculinity. Sutherland provides a fresh take on witches and demon-binding, while giving a reason why only women can become cursewriters and including trans women in the deal. She puts together three characters from totally different walks of life - reckless billionaire daughter Jude, orphaned geek/grieving sister Zara and magically-gifted outcast Emer - who start off as allies by necessity (and with disparate agendas), but end up forging a strong bond and kicking patriarchy and misogyny in the teeth together, if at a price. As usual with Sutherland, the horror and supernatural angles are top-notch - but the real horror here is the men's sense of entitlement and the violence they inflict on women in order to perpetuate their privilege, not to mention, the way women play into their hands sometimes (for instance, despite her rebel attitude, Jude craves her father's love and approval so much as to perform dangerous magic on herself in order to get them, and isn't above suggesting that Zara use her feminine charms to speed their investigations). [...]

January 11, 2024

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovic: "You're Breaking My Heart" (ARC Review)

Title: You're Breaking My Heart [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovic [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist, Urban Fantasy/Portal Fantasy, Multiverse
Year: 2024
Age: 12+
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Wild, imaginative, at times poetical journey into a teen's grief and sense of guilt. Ode to family and friendship.
Cons: A little confusing at times. Might pose some problems to readers who need all the answers.
WARNING! Death by gun/school shooting (off-page). Near-drowning.
Will appeal to: Those who like a snarky, yet vulnerable lead. Those who enjoy coming-of-age stories with grief as a catalyst set on a fantastic backdrop.

Blurb: Harriet Adu knows that her brother's death is her fault. I mean, it's not actually her fault, but it still kinda is, isn't it? She would do anything to live in a world where she could take back what she said that morning. Then a strange girl shows up at Harriet's high school – a girl who loves the same weird books Harriet does, who doesn't vibe with anyone at school the same way Harriet does – and that different world suddenly seems possible. The girl speaks of a place underneath the subways of New York, where people like them can go and find a home. A place away from the world of high school, grief, cool people, and depression. A place where one may be able to bend the lines of reality and get a second chance at being a better person. Will Harriet open the door? (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on Edelweiss. Thanks to Levine Querido (Chronicle Books) for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


First off - I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. Not only it successfully merges different genres (coming of age, magical realism, portal fantasy, multiverse) by way of regular narrative and experimental devices (see the late chapter that reads like a sitcom, not to mention the switch from 3rd person to 1st person in Ch.11), but it manages to tell a heartfelt, insightful story about grief and regret and facing your demons.
Harriet is a self-deprecating, acerbic Black teen living in New York, who's gradually distanced herself from her older brother Tunde, their cousin Nikka and their friend Luke, until Tunde dies in a school shooting on the very day she ended one of their arguments with "I wish you were dead". Nine months after, now enrolled in the same school Nikka attends and suffering from serious Tragic New Girl syndrome, almost-15 Harriet still blames herself for her brother's death, and would do anything to take those words back. Rhuday-Perkovic looks compassionately (yet humorously) at family and school conflicts, as well as internal ones, only to move the latter on the backdrop of a fever-dream scenario (think Alice in Wonderland, but with a deeper, more cohesive and more straightforward meaning) that promises confort if you're willing to pay a price, and that ultimately forces Harriet to make a choice. [...]

January 06, 2024

Seanan McGuire: "Mislaid in Parts Half-Known" (ARC Review)

Title: Mislaid in Parts Half-Known [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Wayward Children (9th of ?? books)
Author: Seanan McGuire [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 closest I could get)
Year: 2024
Age: 14+
Stars: 5/5
Pros: An imaginative look-in-reverse at one of the most common fantasy tropes. Both funny and emotional. Gives us better insight into the portal universes and the doors' workings. Provides closure for a few characters.
Cons: More fragmented than most of its predecessors.
WARNING! Bullying/manipulation. Characters confronting past trauma.
Will appeal to: Readers who like a mix of adventure, humour and heart (with a side of heartbreak) and the found-family trope. Everyone who's ever felt out of place, but doesn't necessary dream of a happier world than the one they live in...

Blurb: Antsy is the latest student to pass through the doors at Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children. When the school’s (literally irresistible) mean girl realizes that Antsy's talent for finding absolutely anything may extend to doors, Antsy is forced to flee in the company of a small group of friends, looking for a way back to the Shop Where the Lost Things Go to be sure that Vineta and Hudson are keeping their promise. Along the way, they will travel from a world which hides painful memories that cut as sharply as its beauty, to a land that time wasn’t yet old enough to forget - and more than one student's life will change forever. (Amazon excerpt)

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

A while ago, I decided I wouldn't write full reviews anymore for certain types of books, including novellas. But since I've been reviewing this series in full from the start, I'm making an exception here, and I intend to go on doing so for all its future installments. So, I'll keep writing a mini review after my first read, and a full one after my second.


If I have a bias when it comes to the Wayward Children universe, it's towards stories with an ensemble cast, especially if going on a quest (OK, so maybe I didn't love-love Book 1, but that one was peculiar, and the series still had to find its footing somehow). They merge two of my favourite tropes - found family and alternate worlds - and they usually feature at least a couple of characters that I love fiercely, so I tend to write more enthusiastic reviews when all these things are involved. This is precisely what happens with MIPHK, where old fan favourites Cora, Sumi, Kade and Christopher and later additions to the group Antsy and Emily are forced to flee the school and reckon with the past of some of them, all while touching base with a familiar face and righting some wrongs in the process. For a book so short (160 pages), the 9th installment in the Wayward Children saga delivers with a vengeance, and despite the rather large cast, you never feel like one of the kids doesn't get enough attention, though the main focus is on Antsy and her peculiar relationship with the doors (established in the previous installment, but explored in more detail here). The found-family dynamic is spot-on, and so what if "family" is a broad term here, that may or may not include talking birds and ancient predators 😉. [...]    

January 01, 2024

Offbeat Offline: December 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!

Hello sweeties! and Happy New Year! 🎉

What happened last month to yours truly? Appalling house loan news, a shitty birthday (don't ask), Christmas laryngitis (because of course 😬), but also new money incomes and a whole lot of David Tennant 😍. I also tried to knock some review books off my list, and to actually WRITE some reviews...with meager results. In the meantime, my hair has reverted to shitty. Oh, and I saw my cousin again after...15 years? And of course I got tired a lot...