Saturday, December 8

Top 4 Underrated Series Roberta @ Offbeat YA Will Never Stop Shoving at People

This post is part of A Winter's Tale, an event running through December for which we invited eight of our favorite bloggers to talk about their favorite books, authors etc. or share an interesting discussion. They have gone all out and gave us even better, more professional content than we expected, which is to say something. If you're here, don't forget to enter our month-long international giveaway here.

Today, we are happy to welcome: 

Roberta from Offbeat YA!

We've been huge fans of Roberta and her blog for a long, long time now, so it was a no-brainer that we wanted her to be a part of this event- especially since this isn't Christmas-themed because - for those of you who don't know this already-  she isn't the biggest fan of Christmas ;) Anyhoo, we're happy to have Roberta here with us today and we love what she's come up with for us- hope you do too! 


Hi Regal Readers! Roberta from Offbeat YA here. Vera was so kind as to ask me to participate in TRC's December event, and I jumped at the chance of spamming... I mean... creating content for this awesome blog. Since I'm passionate about indie/small pub/all along underappreciated gems in the YA field (hence my blog's name), I decided to talk about some of my favourite underrated series today. 

Please bear in mind that the only reason why a couple of them only have a handful of reviews on Goodreads is that small publishers don't have the resources to market their books - therefore, the authors ultimately decided to take matters into their own hands and give the series the ending they deserve, no matter what. (Plus, not everybody leaves reviews on Goodreads. Shocking, I know). So, when I say "in progress", it does mean the story will get wrapped up eventually! Soon or soon-ish. OK, end of rant. Here goes...

DEADGIRL by B.C. Johnson 
(in progress - total books planned: 4 + 1 novella)

afterlife, urban fantasy

THE GIST: Lucy Day gets murdered at 15 on her first date. That's the epitome of bad luck for you. Except the next day she wakes up... seemingly alive and whole. If it sounds too good to be true, it's because it actually is. Lucy is neither a zombie, nor a ghost in the classic sense - she’s just the girl who refused to die. That comes with a catch though... or maybe a bunch of them. Her grim reaper is more than mildly upset, she takes it upon herself to battle a rapist cult while starring (so to speak) in a school play, other entities are on their tail, her love life goes awry, and her friends get into some deep shit because of her (but they stay loyal, because really, it's not Lucy's fault - plus they're a bunch of awesome fellows). Oh, and... she must find a way to stay solid. All peppered with wisecracks, girl power, pain, fun and heart(break).

WHAT'S TO LOVE: Unique, mind-blowing premise. Fleshed-out characters (even the unsubstantial ones). Spunky heroine, but with human flaws and weaknesses. Focus on friendship. High stakes. Engaging prose.

IN SHORT: A fabulous read about being young, passionate and hungry – literally – for life.

COLD AWAKENING by Robin Wasserman 
(3 books)

Main tags:
sci-fi, dystopian

THE GIST: Lia is - let's get it out of the way - your average spoiled brat. Then, after a terrible accident, her brain is downloaded into a mechanical (albeit apparently human) body. She's not the only "mech" around, but this doesn't mean her new life is easy. Even her family ultimately proves unable to deal with what she's become... as does Lia herself. She soon realises that she has to embrace what she is instead of faking being human, and join her new "mech family" - all the while trying to recreate what human experiences she can in her synthetic body. The funny thing is, mech Lia is still a flawed character... nonetheless, she comes across as more "human" now that she's technically not "human" anymore. Throw in a bioterroristic attack that the authorities try to pin on her, a cult trying to reduce mechs to thing status, heartbreak and betrayal (of the mech kind, but no less real for that), a virus that can wipe mechs out forever, and you have a heck of a series that I can't for the life of me understand never becoming what you'd call "popular".

WHAT'S TO LOVE: Not overly original premise brought to excellence. Strong, imaginative world-building. Well crafted, emotion-conveying prose [I QUOTED ALL THE QUOTES OK]. And most of all, great blend of speculation ("what makes us human?") and action.

IN SHORT: A thought-provoking, in-depth look at what defines our humanity - or our lack of it.

DARK PASSAGES by Ilsa J. Bick 
(2 books)

Main tags: 
multiverse, metafiction, horror

THE GIST: A bunch of teens and a kid find themselves stranded in dangerous, twisted places and times, and realise not all of them might be real, but just a figment of someone else's imagination. Or maybe none of them are real...or maybe all of them are, but have been picked from different universes/times, or actually a version of them exists in more than one...But one thing is sure: while making friends and battling enemies, surviving unimaginable horrors and trying to understand their predicament, each and every one of them puts on a brave face and never doubts they're flesh and blood.

WHAT'S TO LOVE: Breathless, mind-blowing story about how stories/characters are born and bleed into our lives - or our lives bleed into them. Twist and turns that in no way you can see coming. Powerful, creepy imagery. Resilient 3D characters that can't seem to buy they're just ink on paper.
IN SHORT: Metafiction and multiverse galore with top-notch horror and very much real kids.

MAD WORLD by Erin Callahan & Troy H. Gardner
(in progress - total books planned: 6)

Main tags: 
paranormal, contemporary

THE GIST: Orphaned, "troubled" 17 y.o. Astrid gets sent to a facility for damaged teens. Here she befriends Max (on the ground, but not only, of their both being parent-less), and starts to realise that most of her fellow inmates are, as a matter of fact, "just" kids with paranormal abilities, whom a secret group is experimenting on. Told in alternate chapters by Astrid and Max, the series follows them and some of their newfound friends while they ultimately break out of the facility and try to find a safe haven, plus (of course) to tear down the evil masterminds behind it all - and, last but not least, to uncover the truth about themselves.

WHAT'S TO LOVE: Refreshing detour from tropes. Non-stereotypical characters. Focus on genuine male\female friendship. Strong blend of contemporary and paranormal elements. Quirky, cool magic.

IN SHORT: "Special" and "normal" (???) kids band together against their powers' exploitation and try to find answers while forging strong friendship bonds.

OK, so...that's it. Thanks for your patience, you awesome Regal Readers. I hope you'll consider adding the series above to your ever-growing TBR list. Please let me know in the comments if some of them struck your fancy! Thanks again Vera and Clare (and Ruzi, from her hiatus cave) for asking me to be a part of this event. Bless you all and Happy Holidays!


  1. Hello, your personal Grinch here 😂. Thank you for having me! I had a blast writing this post. I hope your Regal Readers will enjoy it!

  2. Great post, Roberta! I am glad that you participated despite your distaste for Christmas. (My post isn't related to Christmas either even though Christmas is the best time of the year in my humble opinion).

    Anyway, I knew that Erin Callahan and Deadgirl were both going to be on your list (I am a very attentive reader of your blog and you are such a good advocate for these series!). But, I hadn't heard of White Space before (or at least I don't remember it). I fixed that though and added it to my TBR. It seems like the perfect mind-bending book to keep me awake at night thinking about the universe. Metafiction always messed with my brain, but I love how it makes me think!

    Thanks for the great post! I am loving A Winter's Tale SO MUCH!

    Tessa @ Crazy for YA

    1. Thanks hon! I hope you get to read White Space (and The Dickens Mirror) eventually. The second one is steampunk, too, and I know that's right up your alley 😉.

      Looking forward to your post too!

  3. I like the cover for "Wakefield"--that series does sound quirky and interesting!

    1. It is! Book 2 and 3 are in the process of being edited and reissued (you'll see the old covers around for now).

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  5. I had a feeling I would not be familiar with these, since they were billed as underrated, but that last series sounds interesting. I love when trope-busting happens.

    1. I've always been passionate about indie/small pub novels, and I've found quite a few gems in there. Even if you don't go for darker fiction, I think that Mad World, with its strong contemporary bone, might appeal to you.

  6. Thank you for reminding me about Dark Passages! I was interested in them originally, but they slipped my mind.

    1. I hope you read the series someday - also because I'm dying to discuss it with someone LOL.

  7. Great choices, Roberta! You know I love the Deadgirl series as well. It's gotten so much more intense and dark as it's gone on that I had anticipated. I didn't realize there would be (or already is?) a novella as well? I love how the covers connect on that second one! And it sounds interesting, despite maybe not being the most unique premise.

  8. The Deadgirl novella (which is about Daphne, so it's called after her) will be released on Dec 12th, but it's already out for preorder (on Kindle):

    I'll have my review up and going later today!

    And yes, the series has gone to some dark places, and caused us some heartbreak - but as I'm fond of saying, for all the good reasons 🙂.

  9. *waves hi to Roberta* (my fellow Grinch lol)

    I have several of these on my Kindle already, because of you, but haven't read them yet. SHAME on me. But 2019 is a new year!

    I don't think I knew about the Wasserman or maybe they had different covers when on your blog??

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. Hi fellow Grinch! You see girls? I'm not alone! 😂

      The Wasserman series had different covers and different book titles - then it was re-released, but I used the original covers for my posts (though I did put the cover combo at the bottom of them)...but it was a long time ago LOL.

  10. The Deadgirl series sounds super interesting; and you're right, these all seem like they should be way more popular, but... that's where marketing comes in, right? it does make a difference if you can afford to send out ARCs to bloggers and such things.

    1. It drives me mad that books that deserve ALL THE HYPE don't get any for lack of a structure able to generate it, and then pretty much die - or struggle to keep afloat anyway. There's only so much that word of mouth can do. I hope this post helped, if a little!


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