February 27, 2024

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...(I got a few of these in eARC form though! See below). 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)...and yikes, March is PACKED with awesome-sounding books...             

February 20, 2024

B.C. Johnson: "Deadgirl: Daybreak" (ARC Review)

Title: Deadgirl: Daybreak [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Deadgirl (4th of 5 books, but there's also a novella about a side character that is chronologically book 2.5 in the series - though best read after book 3 if you want to avoid a spoiler about its ending)
Author: B.C. Johnson [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary
Year: 2024
Age: 14+
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Imaginative plot. Unique, mind-blowing afterlife concept/visuals. Flawed yet lovable characters who manage to feel realistic in the middle of mayhem.
Cons: Very dark in places (though tempered with funny dialogue/inner monologue). More of a slow-burn than the previous installments. Features some questionable characters' choices.
WARNING! Horror, gore and heartbreak (both for the characters and the readers). Underage drinking. A couple of nudity/underage sex scenes (though not graphic/detailed, mostly happening offscreen). An instance of infidelity. An animal sacrifice. Lots of language.
Will appeal to: Those who love afterlife scenarios. Those who enjoy a mix of laughter and tears, action and strong feelings. Those who like brave, resourceful teens who don't pose as heroes.

Blurb: The final year of high school approaches, and Lucy is ready to break. Too many of her friends have died. Too many monsters have taken their bite. And now Lucy must face her greatest challenge of all: the end of everything she knows. With high school disappearing and the world before her, Lucy must make her choice on what's to come. But with the rise of an old enemy who's been stalking her for three years - and a rapidly dwindling supply of allies - can Lucy even make it to graduation? And more importantly, does she want to? (Amazon excerpt)

Review:  First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. And the author being B.C. Johnson, you all know I've been campaigning for his first Deadgirl book with all my might since 2012, when the original version came out. Also, B.C. Johnson and me have stayed in touch, if sporadically, for the whole time. I'm not what you would call a friend of his though, only a fan of his work. And an unbiased one. As usual, this review is the love child of my penchant for quirky, uniquely worded books and B.C. Johnson's ability to deliver them.

THE LONG GAME

Seven years have passed since the last Deadgirl installment (or six, if you count the Daphne novella in 2018...not like one year makes a huge difference), but B.C. Johnson hasn't lost his touch. It's funny, because Daybreak is a bit of a slow burn compared to the other books in the series, especially since the first 100 pages include lots of domestic scenes (if a funeral can be considered "domestic", but you know what I mean) and the main plot seems to revolve around the protagonists' alliance with a certain faction, which isn't my favourite thing to read about. But all this turns out to be a necessary premise to the most exciting (and heartbreaking...and heartwarming - usually, with Johnson, the two go hand in hand) part of the story. Which is why, upon turning the last page, I went back and reread the whole thing, and enjoyed the hell out of it. It doesn't hurt that the afterlife where Lucy has been spending lots of her time since becoming a (still very human) phantom is everything I - the afterlife junk - crave for in a story and more. The Grey is imaginative, visually stunning, almost videogame-like at times, teeming with danger yet interspersed with pockets of love (literally) and beauty. Plus, hands down home to the best scenes in the book - and the most poignant. [...]

February 14, 2024

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #48 Seanan McGuire, Aliya Whiteley, Paul De Filippo


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.

February 08, 2024

Scott Alexander Howard: "The Other Valley" (ARC Review)

Title: The Other Valley [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Scott Alexander Howard [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist (with a prominent time-travel angle, but not of the Sci-Fi kind)
Year: 2024
Age: 18+ (there are two versions of the protagonist, teen and adult, and on the whole I would categorise the book as "adult" - also because we spend more time with the lead's adult version - but it's accessible to younger readers)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Imaginative, heartfelt, thought-provoking twist on the time-travel trope.
Cons: Quiet, sometimes sad, sometimes harsh and gloomy. Also, please note: for unknown reasons (though according to someone on Goodreads, it may be due to a new trend???!!!) the ARC lacks any quotation marks or indications of direct speech (no idea about the finished copy). I was able to follow the characters' exchanges without any problem, but if that's something that bothers you, you've been warned. Not that I liked it, but it didn't impact my judgement or enjoyment of the story.
WARNING! Drowning, bullying, sexism, misogyny, abuse, corporal punishments.
Will appeal to: Those who enjoy narratives that play with time and what-ifs. Those who like to speculate about the relationship between cause and effect.

Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Odile is an awkward, quiet girl vying for a coveted seat on the Conseil. If she earns the position, she’ll decide who may cross her town’s heavily guarded borders. On the other side, it’s the same valley, the same town. Except to the east, the town is twenty years ahead in time. To the west, it’s twenty years behind. When Odile recognizes two visitors she wasn’t supposed to see, she realizes that the parents of her friend Edme have been escorted across the border from the future, on a mourning tour, to view their son while he’s still alive in Odile’s present. Sworn to secrecy in order to preserve the timeline, Odile now becomes the Conseil’s top candidate. Yet she finds herself drawing closer to the doomed boy, imperiling her entire future. (Amazon excerpt)

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

A DIFFERENT DRUMMER

In the modern publishing landscape, The Other Valley is one of a kind. You might call it a time-travel book, except there's no actual time travel involved, nor it is a sci-fi novel: as a matter of fact, it would be more accurate to call it a speculative book with a multi-temporal perspective, since the actual interaction of characters from different time planes is kept to a minimum (by the way, if you're wondering about the consequences, the worldbuilding in that regard allows for a clever and inventive solution). Also, Howard created a world that feels dated, yet he made sure not to suggest a particular time frame for the events he depicted (nor he hinted at a specific - if fictional - setting, though some of the characters' names and the title of "gendarme" would fit with the French-speaking areas of Canada, the author's country). Last but not least, there's no explanation whatsoever of the three-valley setup, and no reference to its connection - or lack thereof - with the world outside, and it's just as well. The events unfold inside of a closed system, a (not-so-magical) bubble that helps you suspend your disbelief and adds a sense of doom, caused not only by the lengths the valleys' authorities go in order to prevent the residents' future selves from changing their past, but also by the stagnant, melancholic feeling that pervades the valleys themselves, where there hardly seems to be a chance for the status quo to get altered even in the present. [...]

February 01, 2024

Offbeat Offline: January 2024


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? Confirmation of the house loan disaster, but also good news on the blood count front. My mother in law fell again, but this time with minimal consequences, phew. I saw the second half of Around the World in 80 Days with David Tennant, and received great bookish news with regard to a favourite series. But my month was unproductive as heck on all counts...