December 24, 2020

2020 Wrap-Up: In Which I Outdo Myself

Hello my beauties!
Welcome to my last post of the year, where I will wrap my 2020 up. This was, of course, another year of scheduling, both my reads and my posts. I set up my usual goal of one post a week, though I secretly hoped to replicate my 2019 record of 64 posts. Lo and behold, due to a series of circumstances (and to my stubbornness), I was able to surpass my own record and to reach numbers I could only dream of before. That's very unlikely to happen again, and I don't want to push myself further and risk blogging burnout, but heck, it was nice to get there for once. And the best thing is, I'm proud of all the posts I've brought forth. No filler or lukewarm stuff in sight. So hear the story of my most productive blogging year ever (...and no, I'm not bragging, especially since there are bloggers who write the same amount of posts I did this year in three months...I'm just happy).

Pt. 1: This Year in Blogging

As of today, I've been blogging for 8 years and a couple of months 😃.

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...plus an off-blog, real-life section!

a) Numbers


So...this is my 72nd post this year! ðŸ˜® That's EIGHT posts more than in 2019. Did aliens take over my blog? Also...

...28 of my 2020 posts were reviews 😅 (they were only 16 last year), 7 of which were ARC ones (thanks, NetGalley!). One of my goals for 2020 was to knock a few backlist books down my to-be-reviewed list, and that's why I was able to post all those reviews - because of pure perseveration. I also wrote 4 mini-review posts (that is, I posted 12 of my Goodreads pre-reviews on my blog, 3 at a time). I did 6 of them last year, but this time I didn't have enough new-to-me books to review in order to produce more. Anyhow, the books involved are detailed (and linked) in the "Reviews" section below.

b) Events and memes


I'm not very much inclined to take part in memes and such when they require my weekly attention or are particularly time-consuming, but I do like short events and small memes. In October 2017 I started participating in Tell Me Something Tuesday, a feature of Heidi's blog Rainy Day Ramblings , and I've been doing it ever since (though not every week). As its name suggests, TMST is a weekly meme covering a wide range of themes. Most important, it's a laid-back meme with zero pressure. The prompt list had been filled in until September, but earlier this year, Heidi went on an indefinitedly long blog hiatus, so a few of us who were participating in TMST took over (at least until Heidi comes back, if she does). I would have been sorry to see TMST go (also because it's helped a lot with my blog content), but I didn't have it in me to host it alone, since I wouldn't be able to post it weekly. Now, with five of us keeping it going, the meme is as alive and thriving as ever 👍.

I'm also continuing with my own monthly series, Tooting Your Trumpet, where I spotlight posts or sites or stuff I find interesting. I skipped a couple of months or three for...reasons, but I'm doing my best to stick with it, since it's my way to give something back to this wonderful community and to shout about posts and the likes that deserve more love 💚.

(Speaking of memes, last year I said I meant to revamp my old A Reader's Quirks series, but for now it's been put on the back burner, because TMST keeps me busy enough. Anyway, I still mean to bring it back. I just need to understand how to differentiate it from TMST...and to brainstorm ideas/find the time...HELP 😱. To be honest, I DO have an ARQ post idea that I hope to bring to life sometime in the new year. We'll see how it goes from there...).

c) Reviews


These are the books I reviewed this year, broken down by genres/Reading Rooms:

Christopher Pike (1): Thirst N°5 (urban fantasy, horror)
Afterlife (2): The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James (ARC review) | The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Supernatural (7): Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire | A Song Below Water by B.C. Morrow (ARC review) | Middlegame by Seanan McGuire | In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire | Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks by 'Nathan Burgoine | Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire | Juice Like Wounds by Seanan McGuire (short story)
Contemporary (1): The Vinyl Underground by Rob Rufus (ARC review) --- Contemporary with a Twist (5): Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King | Life on Repeat by Amy Larson Marble | 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma | Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman | The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz
Thriller (1): Throwaway Girls by Andrea Contos (ARC review)
Sci-Fi (1): Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse
Unwalled (3): A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma | Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick | The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé
Adult (7 😮): The Infernal Machine by C.W. Snyder (ARC review - supernatural, fantasy) | Planting Wolves by Neda Disney (contemporary with a twist) | Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green (contemporary with a twist) | Order of Dust by Nicholas J. Evans (ARC review - supernatural, urban fantasy) | Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire (afterlife, urban fantasy) | The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire (afterlife, urban fantasy) | Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims (ARC review - thriller/mystery, afterlife, supernatural, horror)

Also, I posted 4 Review Morsels installments: the first featuring 3 Seanan McGuire books; the second featuring Sean Ferrell, Natalie Lund and Andrea Contos; the third featuring Kali Wallace, A.S. King and Fox Benwell; and the fourth featuring Danielle Stinson, Kate A. Boorman and Seanan McGuire (please note: Seanan McGuire recurs, but of course with different books reviewed).

d) Author interactions

Joshua Winning and Edward Aubry

REVIEW-WISE

The authors I usually have the privilege to review ARCs from were in writing/subbing/pitching mode this year, so no books for review from them.

BETA-READING

In February, Joshua Winning
(author of the Sentinel series and Vicious Rumer) asked me to beta-read his new project, called The Shadow Glass. Joshua's been super-secretive about it on Twitter, so I'll keep my mouth zipped about it as well, but what I can say is...it's different from everything I've ever read before (and you too have, I bet), and it's been pitched as LABYRINTH x READY PLAYER ONE.

In July, Edward Aubry asked me if I wanted to have a look at the last installment of his Mayhem Wave series, called Mayhem's Reign. All the previous books in the series have been published by Curiosity Quills, but alas, they shut up shop before MR could be released - the very year it was supposed to. This threw a wrench into Edward's works, of course - but then he started self-publishing his old books (including the brilliant sci-fi novel Unhappenings) and drafting MR with renovated energy. He doesn't have a deadline anymore, so I have no idea when the book will be ready to go, but it's an awesome conclusion to a quirky sci-fantasy series (emphasis on "fantasy"), and if I say so, you'll have to believe me...since I'm not a huge fantasy fan to begin with...

e) Discussion posts


Last year, I barely posted 4 think pieces/personal posts. This year...uh, none (see the memes section above). Maybe I've been lazy. Maybe I've been focused on other things (like my backlist reviews). And I've been saving my best ideas for TMST - but who knows, maybe next year I'll surprise you 😉 (see the meme section above...again).

f) Real life


😷 This section will be taken over by my Covid-year recap, because how could it not?

  • For those who haven't had the chance to read my posts when the first wave hit: I rarely go out as it is, if not for work, grocery shopping and hair jobs - but the blasted thing impacted all three departments of course. We were in a lockdown for more than three months. I was put on wages guarantee fund from April to June.
  • Things were going fairly well in Italy after the lockdown, with the case numbers dropping by the day, and then...we were given our freedom back, which apparently included the right not to wear our masks properly or at all where we could get away with it, and in October our numbers had doubled up when compared to March - so our government put us in a mini-lockdown for two weeks (essentially: short time for restaurants and the likes; theaters, cinemas, pools and gyms closed; distance learning). Then they added a 10 pm curfew (except for work or necessity reasons of course) and extended the lockdown by another month, with increasingly stricter measures tailored to the regions where the pandemic was more severe and extremely so. At first I got lucky, because mine was one of those where only the basic measures had to be put in place, but after ten days, we were moved to the second level, and after five more days, to the third. It was basically a repetition of the March-to-May lockdown...except that hairdressers were allowed to stay open this time.
  • In December, I was put on wages guarantee fund again - which amounted to working two days a week...again. You all know I need the money badly, right? But I have to admit it's been nice to have some more time to myself...again, because I was so tired (except there's no amount of free time that can cure that 😓). What did I do? I blogged, of course - trying to get a head-start on the new year. In the meantime, my region scaled back to medium risk area, but restaurants and the likes remained closed (except for takeout), so I couldn't even eat out for my birthday 😞.
  • Then, our government reinforced the lockdown from Dec. 24th to 27th + Dec. 31st, and from Jan. 1st to 3rd + Jan. 5th and 6th (the 6th is a holiday here). It was a very confusing decree, with rules and caveats that were hard to decypher, so to be on the safe side the hubs and I went to see his mom yesterday (she lives in a different municipality, and it wasn't clear if we could go there for Christmas or not!). Anyhow...if only people stopped being assholes and wore their masks properly - or, you know, at all. In China things have gone back to normal months ago, for goodness' sake. You can't complain for not being able to celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve when you've done NOTHING to make it happen 😡.

👓 In other news, in January I'll finally start studying for a public examination that "should" take place in 2022. Heaven knows I don't want to do this (I've been procrastinating for three months now), and I don't know if I stand a chance anyway, and if I won my life would become even more complicated than it is now...and this will mean spending my WE afternoons studying instead of blogging or reading and I already HATE it, and I hate the subjects on top of that, but...I'm 54 and still earning less than 500 euros per month (around 576 dollars), and heck, I have to try to make my life better AT LEAST in the money department (not to mention, I've come to hate my current job).

😱 The Blogger update this summer brought me within a hair's breadth of losing half my posts (and ALL my reviews). I accidentally discovered that all the posts where I was using frames looked truncated in the new interface. The Blogger staff told me to go back to Legacy, enter Edit -> HTML mode, reenter Compose mode and resave all the posts involved (which worked, but I had to bust a gut over it for days to fix the mess). After that, I went back and made a Notepad ++ copy of ALL my posts and Reading Rooms (more gut-busting), and I've been keeping at it ever since. Can you tell I don't trust Blogger backup in the slightest? It's maddening hard work to stay on top of everything, but I won't risk losing my posts anymore. This reminds me of when Photobucket started charging and I had to take all my blog pics down and upload them on Google (I liked to keep them organised, but I had to let go of it at that point). I also started saving them on pen-drives back then, and keeping a spreadsheet with all my posts and the related images. You can see why my blogging life is exhausting 😅.

📚 Also - I finally caved in and joined Edelweiss (most confusing and user-unfriendly site ever 🙄). To date, out of 19 requested books, I only got approved for 2 haha (while 5 are still pending - 2 of them I got from NetGalley though...). But one of them was marked as "Wish for it!" on NG, and we all know that international readers never get those...so I was flabbergasted to get approved for it on EW, plus it's from Berkley - a Penguin imprint! 😮. I guess I moved them with my impassioned request where I stated that I was a fan of the author (which I am), and I bought her three previous books (which I did), and I was eagerly awaiting to buy her new one as well (which I am), but I also wished to be able to hype it before pub date (which I do)...As for NG, I got approved for 4 books on there between October and December (they will only come out in a few months, so my full reviews will be up much later, but look out for my next mini-review rounds in January and March). And 2 of my 2020 NG books even came with no strings attached - they were mine to keep! ðŸ˜ƒ

Pt. 2: Goals for 2020


Last year, I closed my wrap-up with this statement:
"In the new year, I just vouch to be here and to do my best and to talk to you all, again. I might need a little more "me" time, but I'm not going anywhere, and I'll try to be a better friend, and should I be short of a post, so be it. It's thanks to you, and authors, and books of course, that I have an outlet that makes me feel alive and connected in a life that too often gives me lemons. So...where would I go? 😊"
As a matter of fact, the very opposite happened. More posts, not enough comments. And to think that some of you have even commented on my reviews of books you will never read because they're far from your preferred genres. I need to do better in that department. I was thinking of reserving a day a week (or better, a night, since from Monday to Friday I work in the afternoons and do my blog-related things after dinner) to blog-hopping, but I'm not sure if it's ideal. As it is, I have the horrible habit of bookmarking your posts (because I'm almost always stumbling upon them when I'm in a hurry) and coming back to them later...MUCH later...so I sometimes end up with 10 or 15 of them to comment on, and it feels like a chore at that point. But since I rarely seem to be able to fit my commenting activity into random moments during the day (I have very little time in the morning, no time in the afternoon, and the reading/blogging stuff takes over my nights, plus now I'm going to spend my weekends studying for the darned 2022 examination), blog-hopping once a week is probably my best option. We'll see if I manage to stay on top of my comments as your posts come, and if/when I can't, I'll resort to the blog-hopping-day strategy. But whatever I do, I have to be the better friend whom each and every one of you deserves 💚.

As for the blog, I have already made peace with the thought that I'll be less productive next year - what with my studies and wanting to avoid burnout. This year I've pushed myself to my limits, and though one of the reasons why I was able to produce so many posts were my four months of wages guarantee fund (when I used to work 2 days a week instead of 5), in the last months of the year I worked extra hard to meet my self-imposed deadlines (c'mon...EIGHT posts in October?!?). It was rewarding, but now I'm exhausted (not to mention, since I'm going to start studying on the weekends for the infamous examination, there's no way I'll be able to read and post as much as I did this year). So, for 2021 I'm falling back to my usual goal: 52 posts, one per week. I know it's sustainable - and if I manage to do more, great, but I'm not holding my breath.

Pt. 3: Holidays Hiatus


I'm looking forward to relax a bit over the holidays (except that I'll probably be drafting MORE posts because I don't have a life, but shhh). I'll be back on January 1st with my usual birthday/Christmas book-haul post! As you might know by now, since my birthday and Christmas are close to each other, every year in December I treat myself with a bunch of physical books from this Italian webseller that also sports a rather wide selection of books in English (plus I found another one that accepts cash-on-delivery). I'll let you know what I ordered!

In the end...

(This comes from an old Doctor Who ad and I find it hilarious. Plus, you know...David 😍)

...Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ðŸ˜ƒ
(or Happy Holidays if you don't celebrate)!
See you next year! Take care 😘.

26 comments:

  1. I am excited for you and will be cheering you on as you study. It's fantastic that you are doing something to open up more opportunities for yourself. I have no idea how many posts I wrote this year, but I love memes, so there's a bunch of those. I totally zoned that TMST was Heidi's meme. I hope she does come back to blogging.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Maybe you enough of my friends are excited and cheer me on enough, I'll start to find the idea of studying less dreadful LOL. Thank you!

      Yep, you participated in a lot of memes, but most of them were about showcasing books you loved...so they're up there with reviews!

      Delete
    2. (Maybe IF...etc. 😱).

      Delete
  2. Happy New Year, Roberta! Good luck with your studies. I wish you all the best. Honestly you are such a supportive blogger, don't be too hard on yourself in terms of blog-hopping. Take care this winter break!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Omg Edelweiss sucks so hard, I am so confused and never dare to go there. You brave one!

    Ugh lockdown, people suck, we had the same here. In my municipality it exploded in October. Then people got it, then a month later it got better so everyone felt safe, and boom, now, explode again

    And you did better with more book reviews, yay

    And happy blogging next year

    ReplyDelete
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    1. LOL, Edelweiss can be a pain in the ass.

      I hope you're having a safe and cozy Christmas break, Covidiots notwithstanding...

      Thank you! You too!

      Delete
  4. Merry Christmas. Have a wonderful day.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yay! Congratulations on totally crushing all your blogging goals! You posted so many reviews. What a successful year! 😊

    "You can't complain for not being able to celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve when you've done NOTHING to make it happen 😡"
    Well said. If only.

    Best of luck with your studies in the coming year! I hope you find a way to make it at least tolerable. Looking forward to your annual book haul post! 💛

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! also for being a great friend and never letting a post go unnoticed 😘.

      Delete
  6. Well done for surpassing last year's record. You're a blogging amazon-wizard :) Thank you for being a great friend and good luck with everything in 2021!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "You're a blogging amazon-wizard".
      😂 That's new! I like it!

      Thank you for...pretty much the same 😉. Good luck to you! and don't forget your fans are waiting for a certain story's finale...😁

      Delete
  7. That's awesome that you reached your goal and that you're proud of every post! Does sound like it's been quite a year for you, between Covid and Blogger. Don't feel bad about Edelweiss, I've been rejected plenty over there too lol. But approved by Berkley! That's impressive lol. If it makes you feel any better about your goal, you've been a good friend to me! And I've done a terrible job of blog hopping and commenting. We're just doing our best :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "If it makes you feel any better about your goal, you've been a good friend to me! And I've done a terrible job of blog hopping and commenting. We're just doing our best :-)"
      Thank you - I hope so! And I don't care how many posts you're commenting on - I know you have your reasons. We sure are doing your best...but I know I can - and should - do more!

      Delete
  8. Merry Christmas! Good luck with the course, the reading and the blogging throughout the next year.
    I think Covid is going to keep giving us trouble for the first half of next year but fingers crossed we're at the beginning of the end now vaccines are being approved for use.

    Edelweiss is a menace! Definitely not user friendly and there seems to be no logic on how they manage approvals. I keep trying though! lol

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you, and Merry Christmas/Happy new Year to you as well! Let's hope for the best about the brand-new vaccine. I'm a little nervous, though mostly hopeful.

      "Edelweiss is a menace!"
      LOL! Do keep trying! sometimes they manage to surprise you 😉.

      Delete
  9. wow! What a year. I'm new to your blog, but I've enjoyed my time so far. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. :-)

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    1. We all have had quite a year, though it's been a bit different for everyone 🙂. I hope the next one will bring some relief!

      Thank you, and right back at you! 🎄

      Delete
  10. Wow- congrats on 8 years! That's awesome. I like how you broke down your year- I'm way too lazy to do that lol but I like seeing your breakdown.

    Covid has been such a rollercoaster ride- and not a good one, right? I'm sorry it has been so tumultuous for you. It was same here- as soon as they loosen things up people go crazy and forget masks exist, etc. Well, not everyone lol but enough.

    Good luck on your public exam- I have confidence you'll do well. We'll be pulling for you! And Blogger- ugh. I won't even start on how frustrating they have been since this "update". Every post is torture now. And as far as commenting goes- don't sweat it. I think we all feel pressure to do that, but honestly? Life is stress and we understand. Even if you only comment once in a while it's okay. It's always nice when you show up and I'll keep popping in over here. Taking care of yourself is the important thing.

    Anyway- hope you have a happy New Year!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Greg - for everything. I'm glad we finally got to know each other this year, and you've always been a huge supporter of mine, so I just...want to do the same with you, and everyone! But of course life gets in the way, and yep, one shouldn't feel guilty, except...one does? At least that's how I feel LOL.

      Happy new year to you and your family!

      Delete
  11. 8 years of blogging - that's a good record. I've never managed to stay on one blog too long so often, I envy those who can.

    It's almost exhausting reading your wrap-post. I don't have the patience to write a wrap-up post but if I do, I would like it to be as organized as yours.

    I see you use emojis and symbols on this post. I've never gotten into the habit of using them. They certainly add a lot of emotions to your words. I have to admit I don't always know what they mean but your words help.

    I'm curious what's it like to be a beta reader, maybe you can do a post on that though there probably won't be much to say, right? You read, you give your thoughts, that's almost the same as reviewing a book, I supposed.

    52 posts, one post per week - sounds almost too much to me but you can do it because you are good at spreadsheets and planning and organizing and pre-scheduling. I don't recall ever setting a goal to post a certain number of posts before which I suppose makes me a too casual blogger. I think if I would to set a blogging goal for the year, it would be 12 posts, one post per month - honestly, that's really the only goal I can say with a definite yes, that I can do.

    Happy holidays and a happy new year!

    P.S. Blogger won't let me preview this comment so if I say anything unclear, well, it's their fault and maybe mine for not re-checking enough.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "It's almost exhausting reading your wrap-post."
      Haha, sorry! though I know you mean it in a good way. Then again, I know these posts are always too long, but...I suck at synthesis 😉.

      You gave me an idea - I could do a post about beta-reading (which is a fairly more detailed affair than simply reviewing a book before it comes out).

      I set goals for my blog because my self-imposed mission is to spread the word about books, plus a few of them I request from the publishers via NetGalley or Edelweiss (or, well, I request more than a few, but that's the quantity I get), so I have to be serious (and reliable) about reviewing. But especially when you only blog for your own pleasure, you don't need to set goals. 12 posts is as good as 120!

      Happy new year to you!

      Delete
  12. What a monumental post! I loved reading about your year. You haven't had the easiest one life wise and I am sorry there have been so many struggles. I am glad you didn't lose all of your blog posts and such after the transition! And congratulations on blogging for so long, putting out such amazing reviews and interacting with so many bloggers and authors. I hope you will have an amazing 2021.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "What a monumental post!
      Haha, that's the word! 😂 I'm glad its length didn't intimidate you.

      Thank you Liv! I'll visit again soon, and I "hope" WP will let me comment from now on!

      Delete
  13. I loved reading about your year. :) Congrats on breaking your record with 72 posts! I'm really impressed with how many books you reviewed. As you know, I'm not the best with reviews - and I have little interest in writing them for the most part - so I didn't write a lot last year. Edelweiss is a horrible site! I remember when they updated it to what it is now and I was *so excited* because I thought they'd make the site better... honestly, I think they might have made it worse. It makes me so annoyed whenever I go there, so I'm not going to lie, it did probably pay a part in me not wanting ARCs, haha. I hope your 2021 will be fantastic, Roberta!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you - it means a lot to me that someone didn't get asleep while reading my monster post 😂.

      Yeah, I know how you feel about reviews...but as long as we showcase books, everything's good! And TBH, I'm getting ALL the books on NG (except when they're "Wish for it!"), but EW is a tough beast.

      I hope the rest of my year won't resemble its start LOL. Thank you, and best of luck with your studies and your future! Plus all the rest of course 😘.

      Delete

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