April 24, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Do You Still Accept Review Requests? Why or Why Not?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

DO YOU STILL ACCEPT REVIEW REQUESTS? WHY OR WHY NOT?

Short answer: I do, but with caution.
As of now, I've been blogging for five years and a half. Back when I started, the only thing I wanted was to give an outlet to books that I deemed worthy, but weren't as popular as they deserved IMO. They were all bought books, of course. I didn't even have a review policy at the time - as a newbie blogger, it didn't cross my mind that someone would go out of their way in order to offer me free (e)books. But, go figure - someone actually did.

April 17, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Do You Prefer Series or Standalone?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

DO YOU PREFER SERIES OR STANDALONE?

The short answer is, I honestly don't have a preference. As long as the story needs a certain space to unfold, I'm on board with either of them. Of course, there are authors (sometimes at their publisher's gunpoint, so to speak) who capitalise on writing a number of books where the story could probably have been cut shorter. Then again, I sometimes read reviews for standalone books where the reader complains about them being 100 pages too long or something, so I suppose it can go either way 😉.

Whichever gif I'm looking for, I always seem to end up with a Who one. BUT no Tennant this time! Such restraint on my part 😅.

April 12, 2018

Joshua Winning: "Vicious Rumer" (ARC Review - Blog Tour Review)

Blog tour calendar - follow the Twitter handles!
(BTW, I love how vibrant the cover is, even if it clashes with my equally vibrant blog colours 😅).

Title: Vicious Rumer [on Amazon: coming soon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Joshua Winning [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Thriller
Year: 2018
Age: 15+, or at least mature 14+ (this is NA - the protagonist is 19)
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Never a dull moment. A damaged lead you can root for.
Cons: The short-sentence style probably fits the book, but may not work for everyone. The main villain is a bit over-the-top.
WARNING! Violence and gore.
Will appeal to: Readers who like action and unhinged but resourceful heroines.

Blurb: Scraping by working for a dingy London detective agency, Rumer lives in the shadow of her mother, a violent criminal dubbed the ‘Witch Assassin’. Raised by foster families who never understood her and terrified she could one day turn into her mother, Rumer has become detached and self-reliant. But when she’s targeted by a vicious mobster who believes she’s hiding an occult relic, she’s drawn into the very world she’s been fighting to avoid. Hunted by assassins and haunted by her mother’s dark legacy, Rumer must also confront a terrible truth: that she’s cursed, because no matter what she does, everybody she’s ever grown close to has died screaming. (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I was offered a review copy by the author. This didn't influence my review.

ON THE EDGE

I don't read a lot of modern thrillers - old-time mysteries are more my thing (think Agatha Christie and her tribe). But this story appealed to me because 1) it promised a damaged but kickass heroine, and 2) there might, or might there? be a supernatural angle to it. Now, I believe that my rating reflects more my personal genre tastes than the actual quality of this work, plus some things went definitely in a different direction than I expected (I can't be more specific here because SPOILERS). Then again, I don't regret reading this one, and to be honest, I found myself on the edge of my seat a few times following Rumer's (mis)adventures, though of course she had to make it somehow - at least till the end of the book 😉. But then again, at what cost? The story doesn't spare her danger and pain, and we get to see how resourceful she is in spite of that, but we have no idea how much more damaged, or alone, she may become in the end... [...]

April 06, 2018

Erin Callahan: "The Art of Escaping" (ARC Review)

Title: The Art of Escaping [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Erin Callahan [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary
Year: 2018
Age: 14+
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Packed with secrets, danger, fun, friendship, unusual sidekicks and witty remarks. A heart-warming journey toward a place where one belongs.
Cons: Will's stream of consciousness sounds a bit too sophisticated/deliberate for his age.
WARNING! There's talk of sex (a first time), but nothing graphic. High-stakes danger. Mild swearing.
Will appeal to: Everyone who loves a deep, funny, clever contemporary about friendship and finding one's calling.

Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Mattie is hiding her obsession with Harry Houdini and Dorothy Dietrich from everyone, including her best friend Stella. When Stella takes off to boarding school for the summer, all of Mattie’s anxieties bubble to the surface, leaving her feeling adrift. To distract herself, she seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist whose life and career were snuffed out by a tragic plane crash. With Miyu’s help, Mattie secretly transforms herself into a burgeoning escapologist and performance artist. When Will, a popular varsity athlete from her high school, discovers her act at an underground venue, she fears that her double life is about to be exposed. But instead of outing her, Will tells Mattie something he’s never told anyone before and the two of them find out that not all secrets can remain secret forever. (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I have known Erin Callahan for 4 years now, and as guarded as I am about striking friendships with authors, our relationship has deepened through all this time and via a series of online contacts/collaborations (if I dare call them so) that I detailed in this post. The very book I'm about to review, I got from the hands of Erin herself (the story is recounted here). And yes, that's me in the acknowledgment section 😉. I swear, though, that I'm going to be as honest about this book as I usual strive to be in my reviews. I wouldn't be of any service neither to the author nor to you would-be readers (?) if I didn't. Here goes...

TAKING CHANCES

You know that feeling when you love something so much, it might end up forcing your hand at becoming visible even if you're scared to death by it? And you have to choose between following your passion - no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel, or how risky it is - and never coming out of your cave? Well, that's Mattie. And at some point of our life, probably all of us. And that other feeling when you don't fit the mold and you don't want to pretend [anymore] that you do, and you need to live your life in the open, but again, you're scared to death by it? And you have to choose between coming clean - no matter how hard it is - and never being true to yourself? Well, that's Will. And again, at some point of our life, probably all of us. There are two main stories and a unifying theme in TAOE - the need to get up and claim a place for yourself, and the recognition of how terrifying (but exhilarating) it is. This isn't true for the main characters only, but also for the ones who rotate around them, though to different degrees. And appropriately, it's not like everything gets wrapped up in a neat little bow in the end. Change doesn't happen overnight. Victories are not forever. As Will says, "If I come out in high school, I still have to come out in college, and then at work. It’s like I’m facing an endless line of people assuming I’m something I’m not." [...]

March 27, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Do You Feel about the Whole Mean Girl/Boy Theme?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WHOLE MEAN GIRL/BOY THEME?

Man. Bad, that's how I feel. LOL.


Let me elaborate just a little...

March 22, 2018

In Which an ARC from the States Finds Its Way to Italy (And Why It Hardly Ever Happens)

Hello sweeties!

So...as you might already know if you follow me on Twitter, I'm the proud owner of a physical ARC coming from the United States 💗. My VERY FIRST physical ARC. Every one of you who, like me, doesn't live in America, knows how hard it is to get one. As I have witnessed firsthand (because I've seen the receipt - I'll explain in a moment), sending stuff from the U.S. to Europe is a rip-off. This is why we never get anything, unless some generous author sends the package our way at their own cost. This is the story of how I got mine (but more than anything, an excuse to steer your attention towards this precious little bundle of words so that you get psyched into adding it to your TBR pile, preferably at the top 😉😂). Complete with the ugliest pics anyone ever took of an ARC...or anything else 😳😂.
(Please note: the cover of the ARC is not the final cover. Actually, it changed a bit, with regard to the lettering. You can see the final cover on Goodreads).

The sweater is a little more on the blue than on the green side, but it don't have one that matches all the way...Also, shadows 😱

March 18, 2018

Matthew S. Cox: "A Nighttime of Forever"

Title: A Nighttime of Forever [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Vampire Innocent (1st of ?? books)
Author: Matthew S. Cox [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2017
Age: 16+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Imbues the classic vampire trope with humour and family values - plus a new spin.
Cons: Some reactions to the lead's being vamped are a bit sketchy/smoothed. Death doesn't seem like a big deal.
WARNING! Gore (of course), violence, and talk of (sometimes painful) sex.
Will appeal to: Those who like a sassy but family-focused heroine caught between two worlds.

Blurb: Sarah Wright woke up a few times after parties in strange places - but the morgue’s a first. At eighteen, she’s eager for a taste of independence, moving out of state to attend college. However, soon after escaping the body cooler, she makes two startling realizations: vampires are real, and she is one. A disinterested sire, distraught friends, nosy Men in Black, and awestruck younger siblings complicate her adjustment to the new normal of being an immortal still subject to her parents’ rules. Without a copy of Fangs for Dummies, Sarah’s left scrambling for answers when one such new enemy attacks her siblings and friends. If she can’t figure out how to vampire, her attempt to spare her family the grief of losing her may wind up killing them. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I was offered a review copy by the author, having previously reviewed another one of his books and a couple of collections where two of his short stories were featured. This didn't affect my opinion about this novel.
 
HOMELY VAMP

Typically, vampires are not my thing. But I do enjoy a good vampire story from time to time, if there's more to it than mating, fighting, biting necks and stalking in the night. Also, I was curious about this story where an 18 y.o. girl with a normal, loving family and a life just about to start has to adjust to being undead and to give up on college and independence. It's not every day that you have the chance to meet a family vamp, who actually gets along with her parents, dotes on her siblings, and refuses to let go of her friends. Cox puts a new spin on vampires, in that there are a few types of them, and Sarah is an Innocent - one of those rare immortals who still cling to their humanity. Make no mistakes - she's quite powerful, and doesn't hold back when it's time to fight, though she still hasn't figured out what she can do and how. Watching her walk the fine line between growing into her new abilities (which come at a few costs) and adjusting to her new normal (with her family and friends in tow) is great fun. [...]

March 10, 2018

Five Things I've Never Said in My Reviews (And Probably Never Will)

Hello sweeties! and thank you Goodreads for giving me a discussion post idea (...wait, am I really writing my SECOND discussion post of the year? what's gotten into me? 😲).

Your daily David Tennant gif (you're so lucky I don't actually post daily 😝)

So, after five years of blogging and reading other people's reviews, I finally realised that there are things they mention from time to time (or even often), but never seem to occur to me when I speak my mind about a book. Please note: I'm NOT saying that those things shouldn't have a place in a review. I'm NOT saying that those kinds of reviews are wrong. This is meant to be a humorous post, and more than that, a chance of discussing the different approaches we have when reviewing a book. With that in mind, enjoy the Five Things I've Never Said in My Reviews (But Other People Say from Time to Time)! 😉

February 24, 2018

Screen Time #7: 3+7 All-Time Favourite TV Series (Pt.2)


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...

February 20, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Do You Find Time to Read?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO READ?

I usually read in the evening - like I suspect many of you do. Unfortunately, the same time slot is the one when I do most of my blogging, schedule posts, tweet, bath, write my grocery list, do the darn ironing. As you may notice, there's a bit of a competition going on at my house after dinner.

February 15, 2018

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #6 Parker Peevyhouse, Nova Ren Suma, A.S. King


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 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...

February 06, 2018

From Comment-Ça-Va to No-Comment: When Does a Post Make You Talk?

Hello sweeties!

After ten whole months (and a half! let's not forget the half!), I've finally come up with a discussion post idea 😅. Nothing fancy, and probably nothing new - but I suppose it's not easy to create fresh content when it comes to blog features/discussions. (Oh, BTW...it was even harder to come up with a "clever" title than with the actual post 😂). Anyway, a few weeks ago, I started wondering why certain blogs, though far more successful than mine in terms of followers - and often able to offer ARC reviews for books far more hyped than the ones I feature - get even less comments than mine, especially in proportion (again, see: massive number of followers, that is, potential commenters). And lately, I have been musing on my own attitude when it comes to commenting on other people's posts. Quite by magic (ooooh!), these two trails of thought met and produced a discussion post idea. I should probably think more often 😂.


So, in short, I've been asking myself - what prompts us to comment on a blog? and what, instead, prevents us from doing it?

Here is a short list of both my turn-ons and turn-offs when it comes to leaving a comment on a blog post. And of course, I'm dying to know yours! (Side note: you don't have to write down a whole list yourselves, really...unless you want to 😉).

January 27, 2018

Screen Time #6: 3+7 All-Time Favourite TV Series (Pt.1)


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 21, 2018

It's That Time of the Year Again...A.K.A. The Big Annual Book Haul 2017-18

Hello sweeties! (*channelling River Song*)


Today I'm doing that thing I usually do in January...except for last year, when, apparently, it slipped my mind. I know because I went back and searched for a previous book-haul-post template, and the most recent I could find was my 2016 one. (Yes, I'm lazy 😛).

Anyway, some of you might remember that my birthday is close to Christmas - just 11 days before it. So, as per my usual birthday/Christmas tradition, every year I order a bunch of books from this Italian site that sports a wide selection of books in English as well. And I post the list on here for the world to admire...and wonder why I'm so late on all these books LOL (well, 9 out of 10...one of them came out in the last 12 months, hooray! 😳). Here goes said list, broken down by genres/Reading Rooms...

January 14, 2018

Edward Aubry: "Caprice"

Title: Caprice [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Edward Aubry [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Thriller/Mystery, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Year: 2012
Age: It's aimed at adults, but can be read by mature teens
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Fun twist on a classic trope. Great guessing game. Slightly tongue-in-cheek homage to the complexity of women.
Cons: Requires huge suspension of disbelief. Depicts a fierce case of instalove...but again, with a massive twist.
WARNING! Moderate gore.
Will appeal to: Those who are in for a fun ride. Those who enjoy having the rug constantly pulled from under their feet. 

Blurb: What if your office crush almost killed you with a kiss? Danny Marx has an innocent infatuation with the cute, quirky new girl, Caprice. When she meets him in the stairwell one day and surprises him with an unprovoked, yet passionate kiss, he thinks his fantasies have finally come true. That is until moments later when he becomes violently ill and collapses. He awakens in a hospital where Caprice tells him that the kiss contained an exotic virus designed to intentionally make him sick. She breaks him out of the hospital claiming that both of their lives are in extreme danger. Fleeing with Caprice, Danny embarks on an adventure in which nothing is what it seems. Exactly who or what is Caprice? Why are their lives in danger and who is chasing them? Can Danny trust the girl of his dreams…or has she just tossed him into a nightmare? (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I have reviewed four more books by the author so far, and I specifically requested a review copy of this one. Also, Mr. Aubry and I have exchanged a few emails, and we follow each other on Twitter. But as usual, I'm rating this book accordingly to the level of enjoyment it provided.
 
I'M EVERY WOMAN

Let's get it out of the way: the main female character is, indeed, what you would call a manic pixie dream girl. Except she's not. I can't explain you why, because if you enter this book without too much knowledge, you'll have a lot of fun, especially trying to figure out what's really happening. Plus, of course, watching the author play with the above trope and give it a totally new meaning. What I can say is - Caprice is a long, slightly humorous but heartfelt love letter to women, their infinite complexity and the many faces they come with. Maybe they still need a man to make their life complete in this case (though, well, not in the usual sense at all), but in a way, the male character is sort of a rescued would-be princess, which reverses the trope and makes it fresh and fun. [...]

WHERE WERE WE

For such a short book (just a little longer than your usual novella, with its 50,000+ words), Caprice packs a punch about adventures, mysteries and twists. Here's what the author himself told me about it in an interview:
"My second novel, Caprice, actually started as a writing exercise to see how long I could sustain a story where the genre changes every chapter. Not very long, it turned out."
To be honest, I wouldn't call it a change of genre, but it's a change for sure - I can't say more because I would royally spoil the fun for anyone interested. (Anyway, you only need to take a look at the chapter titles to find evidence of that). And mind you, when you think you're finally on solid ground...think again 😉. Or maybe you were on it before and you didn't realise?

RIDING ON A FANTASY

As far as love stories go, Caprice is fairly simplistic in a way, highly improbable in another. But as a fable (though not of the rainbows-and-unicorns variety) it works. It's even infused with a nice culture twist at the end. Not every aspect is thoroughly accounted for (there's a character who remains, for the most part, a mystery, and a phone call that doesn't get a definitive explanation), but it's highly entertaining and makes you rack your brain, which sits well with me 😁. Also, it's well written (except for the overuse of the verb "lurch" - I counted 10 instances of it 😉. It must be the beta-reader in me LOL) AND well edited. If you're looking for a crazy and adventurous blend of romance, comedy, drama and suspence where nothing is what it seems, look no further.

For my "Prelude to Mayhem" review (first installment in the Mayhem Wave series by the same author) click here.
For my review of Edward Aubry's book "Unhappenings" click here.
For my interview with Edward Aubry click here.
For more Adult books click here.


Alternate cover (paperback)

January 09, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Goals for 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

GOALS FOR 2018

I suppose the title for this week's discussion post has been left vague for a reason...one can choose to talk about life goals, or blog goals, or both. I'll stick to blog goals, because it's the only thing I have a little control over right now, and besides, you don't want to hear me complaining about my sad little life, do you? There are reasons why I can't do much to make it better, and I'm not the type of person who starts the new year with a list of resolutions anyway. But please go ahead and talk about anything you feel like in the comment section. I'd love to hear about your life goals if you want to share!