March 08, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (One Shot): "The Art of Escaping" by Erin Callahan (Plus the Story of How I Was Involved in It)

Lookie! Roberta is doing a WoW post (*ooooohhhhh*).
Haha, really, don't get used to it - this is a special occasion, and since today is Wednesday, and I wanted this book to get special attention, I told myself - why not?
So, my dearest darlings...
...remember the post in which I explained why I try not to cross the boundary between fan and friend when talking to authors? because I need to be able to promote their work without sounding biased?
That is still relevant to this day. I'm still trying. And I've been blessed with meeting a few intelligent writers who can take criticism if needed, so I'm not afraid to speak my little mind if they ask my opinion on their books (as in, beta-reading) or even if they don't (as in, reviewing).


This been said, I'll admit that this lady called Erin Callahan is the closest thing I have to a friend in the author department. I (virtually) met her in 2013, when she asked me if I was interested in reviewing the first two books in the Mad World series, that she had (and still has) in progress along with her writing partner Troy H. Gardner. Erin had actually taken the time to peruse my blog and to pay attention to my reading preferences, which is SO rare. So, I reviewed her and Troy's first two collaborative novels (and later the third). I thought they showed promise, though I had some reservations about said books that both Erin and Troy received very graciously. The two of them were still rather new at the writing game, so they were eager to learn from any criticism their readers might throw at them. I don't know if they learned anything from me (I don't know if anyone can learn anything from me, period), but what I mean is, it was a pleasure to work with them.
I have stayed in contact with both Erin and Troy - if sporadically - since...especially with Erin, because she was (I think) in charge of what you would call the book marketing. Like I said, I reviewed the third installment of their series. I interviewed them. I befriended them on Twitter.

February 28, 2017

J.R. Rain et al.: "Darkscapes"

Title: Darkscapes [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: J.R. Rain et al. [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2017
Age: 14+ (the anthology is geared to adults, but a mature teen can enjoy most of it. At least two of the stories feature teens/kids)
Stars: 3.5
Pros: A bunch of often imaginative, at times surprising stories, covering a wide range of genres and eras.
Cons: On the other hand, maybe the collection is a tad too eclectic and lacks focus. Also, the quality spectrum varies from high to less impressive.
Will appeal to: Those who enjoy a wide selection of tales, some bolder than the others.

Blurb: Curiosity Quills Press explores yearning, regret, and fear with the Darkscapes Anthology - a spellbinding collection of dark fantasy, sci-fi, cyberpunk, horror, and detective fiction. Delve into worlds of terrible family secrets, unexpected doppelgängers, a home invasion on an alien planet, androids and assassins, places and people who aren’t as stable as they seem, frustrated musicians going to desperate lengths - and more. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this anthology from Curiosity Quills in exchange for an honest review. To be more precise, I specifically requested a review copy. That didn't affect my opinion and rating in any way. Here goes... 

ON THE FENCE

Confession/disclaimer: when it comes to spinning a tale, short stories are not my favourite medium. Anthologies can be hit or miss for me. I requested this one because 1) I had previously read and loved another Curiosity Quills collection called Windows into Hell, and 2) I saw that Darkscapes featured a couple of authors whose novels I appreciate(d). All in all, I had a good time reading most of these stories (and the authors I mentioned above didn't disappoint), but honestly, I wasn't able to connect with all of them. I suppose this says more about me than about their quality though, in most cases. Anyway, there are a bunch of stories in here that mean more to me than the others, and a few of them actually went in unexpected directions. Here is what worked for me and what left me wanting more... [...]

February 19, 2017

Screen Time #5: In Which I'm Hitchhiking for the TARDIS


Welcome to Screen Time, my own feature where I ramble about spotlight some iconic and/or favourite TV series from the '80s, '90s and 2000s!
I'm a child of the '60s *big shock*. This accounts for me fondly remembering some oldies I grew up with, or having some of them in my all-time favourite list. But don't worry, I'm not stuck in the '80s ;). There are plenty of series I've liked and followed in the most recent years...and some current favourites too. So tune in with me, and don't forget your popcorn...

January 29, 2017

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #4 Janet McNally, Seanan McGuire, Janet Tashjian


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I had never though I'd done minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted with 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 review - no such luck LOL. But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, or in case I want to draw attention to some old ones I've already reviewed, I might as well give you the short version ;). Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

January 16, 2017

E.S. Wesley: The Outs (ARC Review)

Title: The Outs  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: E.S. Wesley [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2017
Age: 14+
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Fresh premise. Strong blend of sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal. Imaginative, hectic story without a dull moment. Tridimensional (and diverse) characters. Focus on friendship and loyalty.
Cons: Might seem a bit frenzied and confusing to some. Concise writing with short sentences might not appeal to everyone.
WARNING! Gory and scary in parts, with gruesome deaths and suicide.
Will appeal to: Those who are looking for a breathtaking story with a strong accent on friendship and an unusual heroine.

Blurb: Caleb’s been changing ever since the memory-stealing blackouts - the Outs - started. He used to be a good, dependable, honor-student, but now his parents have vanished, and something inside tells him their disappearance is his fault. That something has a voice - a voice that's pushed him to kidnap a little girl. Caleb believes he did it to protect her, but now he’s starting to wonder if he’s the one she needs protection from. Then there’s his friend, Kitzi. Kitzi knows a secret she can’t share, locked in her head behind layers of brain damage. Kitzi wants to help Caleb, but she suspects a connection between this little girl and the Outs. If she can survive Caleb’s mistakes and the strange girl’s reality-bending fits long enough to put the pieces together, her secret might save them. Or it could mean the end of everything. (Goodreads)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased. To date, a couple of their books have been under the 4 star mark for me. But seriously, CQP has some of the best sci-fi/fantasy titles around. It's not my fault 😉.

THE SKY'S THE LIMIT

As a reader of all things weird, I sometimes muse about the rise and fall of certain genres. Maybe good old dystopian is riding a failing curve, I don't know. What I know is, sci-fantasy is on a roll, at least judging from the books I've been reading in the latest twelve months or so (which are not many, I'll admit, but still). Mind you, some of them do have dystopian elements, or ARE indeed shamelessly dystopian more than anything else...but the thing they all have in common is the happy marriage of sci-fi with fantasy. This allows authors more freedom, helps them break the boundaries and come up with fresher and bolder ideas. In The Outs, a sci-fi premise blends with a paranormal scenario, and throws in a comic/superhero theme for good measure. I'll admit that, in the hands of a less skilled writer, this might be a recipe for disaster. But E.S. Wesley rides this monster magnificently, and without a flinch. Add in a couple of damaged, flesh-and-blood teens, a disability turned into a diverse superpower, and a creepy, powerful, but still vulnerable little girl, and you'll get one of the most entertaining-slash-moving stories you'll ever read. [...]

January 02, 2017

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #3 Patrick Ness, Robin Wasserman, E.S.Wesley


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I had never though I'd done minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted with 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 review - no such luck LOL. But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, or in case I want to draw attention to some old ones I've already reviewed, I might as well give you the short version ;). Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

December 22, 2016

2016 Wrap-Up: I Did Little with My Blog, Except I Didn't

Hello my beauties!
Welcome to my last post of the year, where I will wrap my 2016 up (though it would be better to pretend it never happened to begin with LOL). I failed at a lot of things this year, but a selected few did manage to put a smile on my face notwithstanding...

Pt. 1: This Year in Blogging

As of today, I've been blogging for 4 years and a couple of months. With various grades of success LOL.

This is what happened on Offbeat YA during the year, broken down by number of posts, events I took part in, books I reviewed, authors I interacted with and discussion posts I wrote...

December 14, 2016

Fifty Shades of Life

My dear friends, my occasional readers,

there's no way to break the news gently, so I'll just drop the bomb and run: I'm turning 50 today.


Okay...most of you were already aware of my age, with more or less accuracy. The thing is, every time the first number of said age changes, it feels like a big deal - even when the second was a 9 already. Also, 50 is, well, kind of imponent. I'm not saying "scary" on purpose, because well...I'm not scared, to tell you the truth. I don't even look 50 - except maybe when I'm really tired (regardless of having my make up on). I'm beginning to have eyesight trouble when reading small print, and I have a few minor health problems, AND I tire easily - but all that comes with the package. I'm just...well, sad that I've come so far and still I have accomplished nothing in life (maybe one day I'll explain to you how and why, but for now rest assured I'm not whining...just telling it like it is). BUT I made this blog...and as small as it is, I'm proud of it. And I met a few great people through it, both authors and blogging friends. Some of them are 30 years younger than me, but they get me on so many counts - or gladly put up with me at least 😉. Not to mention, they keep me young...they're like my hyaluronic acid, at least for the inside 😜. Yes, YOU. I mean YOU.


So, I had plans for celebrating my big fifty on the blog with some cute and/or funny event, except I failed at it...like I failed at everything this year, blog-wise. Now, with "everything" I mean writing an acceptable number of posts and engaging more with the blog community - I have been talking with the same old friends, which is great, don't get me wrong, but I meant to broaden my horizons a little, and instead...gosh. Time. Issues that kept gnawing at it. And fatigue. This is only my 35th post this year, and how many of them were reviews? I'm afraid to look. So...I don't know. I want to keep blogging. I want to blog more and better. I just need to find a way to do that. I hope my life will revert to normality next year (and "normality" still was stressing enough), but even if it doesn't...I'm not quitting. I just need to find a balance. For now...please put up with me, you wonderful people 😘.