January 01, 2022

Offbeat Offline: December 2021

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? A birthday, a week off work, a book haul, a Covid scare, vaccine booster, money hemorrhage and lots of Gmail spam. I was thinking...remember when I used to say I didn't have enough stuff going on in my life to justify writing a monthly wrap-up? Yeah…fun times…
Anyhow, HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!!! 🎉And let's see how I fared in the last month of the blasted 2021...

📚 NOT QUITE THRILLED. In December I read an ARC of Deep Dive by Ron Walters (adult sci-fi with a strong thriller accent) and a bunch of vintage mysteries by John Dickson Carr (sometimes writing as Carter Dickson), plus one by Ellery Queen. Deep Dive was quite good, the other ones not so much. Usually, I love Carr's mysteries, but like every author, he had his ups and downs (in one case, for the pivotal scene he even recycled the same trick he used in an older book!!! though I didn't realise at first) - not to mention, the downside of becoming woke is that you don't enjoy the stuff that you used to as much, especially if there's no nostalgia effect involved because the books are old but new to you. To be fair, though, it might also be due to my reading Carr in English for the first time, because I didn't like the writing style...especially since, apparently, he was fond of making the lower class talk with a mix of dialect, contraptions and phonetic transcriptions of sorts ("I reckernize 'e-e. Did 'ee think I wouldn't?" or "I'll shown'ee'oo's boss!") that kept interrupting my reading flow and was...a bit annoying? As for the Ellery Queen book...gah. It was the very last from the writing duo behind such pen name, and it was really bad and lazy - while most of their earlier novels used to be excellent, or good at least...

I also read (or tried to) the Ashes trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick, which I expected to love, since I adored her other books I've read...but nope 😢. I ended up throwing the towel 3/4 into Book 2. Mini review coming later (though I've posted it already on Goodreads).

Regardless, this is what I have in store for January: I'm going to review the aforementioned Deep Dive by Ron Walters (which comes out on Tue. 11th) and post a mini-review round for four novellas by Seanan McGuire writing as Mira Grant (Rolling in the Deep, Final Girls, Kingdom of Needle and Bone and In the Shadow of Spindrift House). Sorry, I happen to fancy her books very much, and she writes a ton, so...reviews it is 😉.

Reviews aside, I'll participate in two Tell Me Something Tuesday rounds: on the 18th (question: What Have Been Your Most Fulfilling Blogger/Author Interactions So Far?) and on the 25th (question: What Do You Do When That Pesky Review Makes You Work for It?). Both are prompts that I submitted, so make sure to participate haha.

🎈 OLD SCHOOL. On Tuesday 14th, I turned 55 (GASP!). I took the whole week off work, went shopping (though I only managed to buy a hot pink sweater) and ate out with the hubs for my birthday (though the first course I decided to try was a total bummer) at a place where they properly scanned our vaccine certifications and the tables were well spaced-out. My parents gave me money...most of which will get turned into books (SURPRISE!). I also ordered new door handles, though mind you, they'll only arrive in a couple of months...

💶 MONEY'S TOO TIGHT TO MENTION. Speaking of money. You know how in December they give you a year-end bonus? and you're so excited until you realise that you'll have to spend it on necessary and adult stuff like condo fees and bills? Well, at least that's what happened to me (then again, it seems to happen every year...). I briefly debated if saving a bit of my birthday money instead of spending it on books, but then I thought, what the actual heck, that's not bill money, it's treat money. Let's worry about the lack of it next year (and alas, I know I will...).

🎁 HAIL TO THE HAUL. Which brings me to my next point...As per my birthday/Christmas tradition, I gifted myself with a number of books in English from a couple of Italian sites that accept cash on delivery (or, I ordered them, and now I'm waiting for my parcels). Most of them are books I was lucky enough to read digitally last year and I wanted a physical copy of, but a few are new to me. I also bought Queen drummer Roger Taylor's new solo album Outsider. Here are the books:

Seanan McGuire: Angel of the Overpass (Ghost Roads #3 - adult) | Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children #7 - YA) | Indexing & Reflections (Indexing duology - adult)
Mira Grant (SMcG in disguise 😉): Alien: Echo (YA)
A. Deborah Baker (same): Along the Saltwise Sea (The Up-and-Under #2 - MG)
Kali Wallace: Dead Space (adult)
Rebecca Mahoney: The Valley and the Flood (YA)
Krystal Sutherland: House of Hollow (YA)

These are my new-new books...

💉 TAKE CARE. Medical update (with a nice dose of the usual drama...):
  • I was able to get my vaccine booster on Dec. 30th (only a week after I started to be eligible). My husband (already boosted as a hospital staff member) tried the booking site for me A LOT of times to no avail - then I decided to give it a try myself a few days after, and ta-da! I got it right the first time. I'm astonished LOL.
  • Speaking of which...before I got the booster, my boss' daughter was diagnosed with Covid, and I pretty much freaked. But 1) I hadn't seen her for almost a month, and 2) he took a rapid test and turned out negative. Also, I wouldn't qualify for a swab, because you aren't supposed to take the test if you haven't been around the sick individual AND you don't have any symptoms. After the precautionary quarantine, my boss and his wife took the molecular test, which turned out positive. But again, see above - plus they're likely to have developed the virus while staying at home with their daughter. Or so I hope...because rapid tests aren't famous for their accuracy, so the former negative result wasn't set in stone. Anyhow, as I said, you can't require a swab on such basis...so I went to get my booster, and now I'm praying the darned stuff didn't get to me 😓 (I have no symptoms to this day, so I guess I'm safe?).
  • I properly adulted and made a number of appointments for my health problems: bloodwork on Jan. 13th, gastroscopy on Jan. 18th, tailbone x-ray on Feb. 16th (yep, February - you read it right. It's madness here. I was shocked I got the gastroscopy appointment so quickly).
  • I don't like how my trigger finger is healing - the surgery site feels hard/irritated and looks red, and its rigidity gets in the way of my thumb bending properly (I can do that, but I have to force it a little). Anyhow, the general consensus seems to be that it's normal at this stage. Of course though, because my luck is what it is, the fact is that I didn't develop a normal scar, but a keloid one, and apparently, there's nothing you can do about that. I only hope it doesn't end up reducing my finger's mobility AGAIN...

📺 SHOW AND TELL(Y). A few TV-related pieces of news...
  • I was anxiously awaiting for the Around the World in 80 Days mini series (with my man David Tennant) to air in Italy...which should have happened tomorrow...but it's been postponed to JUNE!!! I don't understand. It's a co-production of Italy and a few other European countries, which have all aired it during the holidays (or in December anyway), probably because it's kind of a family show...but of course, WE have to be the black sheep 😡.
  • You know how I love Law & Order (the original series) with my whole soul? So I was quite shocked to hear that Chris Noth got accused of sexual assault by two women, and later by a few more (there are five of them so far). I don't think I'll ever be able to look at the first five seasons on L&O the same way (Noth wasn't one of my top favourite actors or played one of my top favourite characters, but I did like him...anyhow, the point is, he was a huge part of the show for five years).
  • In the meantime, the same Law & Order is getting a reboot. Sam Waterston is coming back (yay!!!), along with Anthony Anderson (whose character I didn't love, but, OK). The other actors are new to me, except for Camryn Manheim. Please don't ruin this thing, oh you writers and producers.

📬YOU'VE GOT SPAM. Is anybody getting more junk mail than usual via Gmail? I've had 9 blissfully spam-free years, but in the last few weeks I've been battling it constantly. The good thing is, Gmail automatically puts it in the appropriate folder, and you can delete it all with a single click, but still - it feels like a violation, you know? I've tried reporting the emails to the Google team as phishing attempts, but I'm almost sure it's only good for wasting my time...

  • The book I beta-read last year - Josh Winning's brilliant fantasy The Shadow Glass - is available for request on Netgalley and Edelweiss! Pitched as "A thrilling race against the clock to save the world from fantasy creatures from a cult 80s film. Perfect for fans of Henson Company puppet classics like Labyrinth, Dark Crystal and The Never-Ending Story.", it's an adult book with strong YA appeal, plenty of action and a lot of heart. Plus both murderous and friendly puppet galore, that is 😉.



That's it for now! My next post will be up on Sun. 9th - I'm reviewing Deep Dive by Ron Walters (see above).

So, what were your highs/lows in the past month?


  1. I was thinking the other day how books written in certain times, especially those written before 2021, that they show their age. It's a bit difficult to enjoy older books as everyone tries to be politically correct or some such thing. It's kind of sad that we are now too sensitive to enjoy reading, at least, in regards to older books. And I really hate when authors writes how the character sounds phonetically, it's annoying to me.

    Happy belated birthday. I, too would spend money on books although I may also get a sweater though in a more subdue hue. New door handles? I hope you'll get them without problems.

    I'm still trying to be an adult and failing, honestly, it's very tempting to spend money on what you want instead of what you need. I like to think I'm being responsible but clearly, being an adult meant giving up the fun a lot of times which really sucks.

    I hope everything work out for you with your health. It's hard to be sick any time.

    I actually would like to see that new adaption of around the world in 80 days as I really like the book and the various movies I saw. Is it a holiday movie? Funny, it didn't seem like a holiday movie to me.

    I used to watch law & order but somehow I grew out of it. I sometimes wonder if it might be better if we didn't know so about an actor or creator, so we can be ignorant and enjoy whatever media we consume but those days seems to be over.

    I didn't get any spam in my email but the comments on my blog keeps getting marked as spam when it's not. And I don't seem to get notification when a comment is posted for older blogs, I don't know what's going on with Blogger but they are not winning me over.

    As for highs and lows in the past month? I seem to have no memory of December or the rest of the months. I don't want to say 2021 sucked but it did but at least, I got to enjoy some books and all the blogs.

    Have a lovely new year.

    1. "It's kind of sad that we are now too sensitive to enjoy reading, at least, in regards to older books."
      It is, in a way, but on the other hand, at least the world is changing and some issues get addressed - if not always corrected.

      "Is it a holiday movie? Funny, it didn't seem like a holiday movie to me."
      Maybe not, but it is my understanding that it's a movie (or series, in this case) that you can watch with family, children included. I hope you get to see it too, so we can compare our thoughts.

      "I don't want to say 2021 sucked but it did but at least, I got to enjoy some books and all the blogs."
      LOL, same here!

      I hope the new year will bring bright, beautiful things (to quote my friend Carrie's blog - see below) for us both! Thank you for all the well-wishes and your always thoughtful comments.

  2. I am shocked by the failure of your last batch of books to delight you. *sob* I hope all your new purchases are winners for you. Good luck with all the health stuff. I hate doctors. They can never help me with my ills. Yeah, Covid scares are the daily deal, huh? We got exposed at our family Christmas (everyone was vaxxed). I hope things are better for us this year.

    1. I did have a bad book streak, and to think that they were all books that I was sure I'd love/like. Well, it happens!

      Yeah, I read about your own Covid situation. At least you were spared this time! I hope your loved ones are OK.

      We both need a break, if for different reasons. Let's hope 2022 will have mercy on us!

  3. Happy New Year!!!!!

    "the downside of becoming woke is that you don't enjoy the stuff that you used to as much" This is so true. I've experienced this same thing with some of the older vintage SF and whatnot that I read, and pulps (obviously). Sometimes it's just... nope. But it can be tough for sure. I am not fond either of dialects being "simulated" or whatever to call it- it often takes me out of the story even if the author is honestly trying to make it sound authentic. I'm just not a fan...

    Curious to see what you thought of Rolling in the Deep?

    Dead Space!! ):)):):):))

    So... new year. Hope yours is starting out well and here's to a year of blogging and good developments!

    1. "I've experienced this same thing with some of the older vintage SF and whatnot that I read, and pulps (obviously)."
      I can imagine. Vintage books are full of issues, and while I don't really read "pulp", I guess they're more likely to have those than mysteries are, because of the tropes they employ. *sighs*

      I liked RITD, but the novel is SO MUCH BETTER.

      Have yourself a wonderful new year full of health, peace of mind and...great books!

    2. I actually don't read a lot of pulp either, but I do like finding the old covers. :) And the pulp I do try usually involves old S&S stuff (sword and sorcery). But yeah...

      The novel freaked me OUT

    3. I read "S&S stuff" and for a moment my brain processed it like "S&M stuff"...I was like, what's Greg reading?!? 🤣

  4. Oh no! DNFed a Bick book. 😱 As always, looking forward to your McGuire/Grant reviews! Your book haul list looks fun! Naturally, I have the same of hers on my TBR if you're looking to buddy read anything.

    A hot pink sweater sounds like an awesome birthday present! Very cheerful for heading into the new year. I hope you had an awesome birthday, and wishing you a happy, healthy new year with lots of good reads! 💛

    1. "Oh no! DNFed a Bick book. 😱"
      Right? I was super-shocked. In a way, it's got (some of) the same ingredients that the Dark Passages duology has, only in different doses and with a different result.

      I'll talk to you about those buddy reads soon!

      Have yourself a happy and healthy 2022, and I hope the joy of reading and blogging never leaves you again!


  5. Ugh, I hate when creators turn out to be awful people. It makes it harder to enjoy their work. I've had something similar happen too with a creator, while I am not a huge fan of Harry Potter (I prefer Fantastic Beasts), the fact that the creator behind it using her power to hurt people is really upsetting to me. So it makes it harder to enjoy the new movie (even though I do want to see it, but in a way that wouldn't give her money).

    And spam is so annoying.

    I hope you have a happy 2022!:D

    1. Ah, I know about the issues with HP/FB's "mom". My heart goes out to everyone who's loved the saga for so long, only to wake up one day and have it tainted by what she keeps saying (out loud). Some people call it "cancel culture" like it were a bad thing, but I don't have any patience when it comes to toxic creators.

      I hope the new year will be good to you, and you'll manage to finish (and maybe publish) one of your novels!

  6. Sounds like a mostly good month! Congrats on getting boosted, it's a good feeling for sure. I'm impatiently waiting for my NetGalley request of The Shadow Glass to be approved. I've read another of Winning's books and really enjoyed it. Happy New Year, Roberta!

    1. I found your review of Vicious Rumer on Goodreads (also sent you a friend request!). TSG is very different from VR, but it's equally fast-paced, plus full of puppets come alive and with a heart-warming found family at its core! I'm waiting for NG/EW to approve me too...I know Josh changed a few things in the definitive version. Finger crossed for your approval! and happy 2022!

  7. YAY I Googled and figured out my commenting issue! I was blocking cookies and Blogger did not approve.
    Happy 2022!

    1. Blogger sure has some strong opinions 😂.

      Happy new year!

  8. I don't have regular tv, all I have is Netflix so I hope the Law & Order reboot will be on there since I loved that show.

    1. If it's on NF I won't get to see it LOL. Only one of us wins! 😉

  9. Hey there! Happy belated birthday! What a crazy month. I was also bombarded with spam on my personal email, and while most goes into the spam folder, about 2-3 per day still end up in my inbox. And then there is the bombardment of holiday deals and sale emails. YUCK! It's never-ending.

    Anyhow, I hope you had a lovely end of 2021 and here's to a prosperous 2022!

    1. Thank you! It sucks that the spam doesn't end up where it belongs at least LOL.

      Have a great new year yourself!

  10. I had a similar covid scare with a coworker the other day, however the difference was that she tried to keep her family member's positive test a secret from us and wasn't too concerned about getting tested. I saw her yesterday for a bit before she was sent home, and I'll monitor myself for a few days. Luckily I'm also boosted so I'm confident that we're protected. Take care of yourself, Roberta!

    1. Talk about being irresponsible. I hope the darned thing didn't get to you...cases are ramping up in my corner of the world...

  11. Sorry for the money issues and the COVID scare. I'm glad you still got to enjoy your birthday money!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Thank you! That I'll cling to for dear life LOL.

  12. Happy late birthday! I hope it was a good one. I read Ashes by Ilsa as well, I loved the first one. Finished the second on a meh and I just couldn't get into the third at all. Sounds like some good books you got!

    Ash @ Essentially Ash

    1. Thank you! Pleased to meet you 🙂.

      I was shocked when I DNF the Ashes series, but it looks like there are a number of us who felt the same way about it...liked or loved Book 1, had issues with Book 2, didn't even get to Book 3. Still sad though...

  13. Oh?! I need to check if 80 airs here! I missed that

    ALso McGuire reviews are Always welcome :D

    Happy Birthday!!!!!! And yay for booster, I am not eligible yet

    1. "I need to check if 80 airs here!"
      I don't think so (at least for now). I hope it will!

      Hehe, I know you love SMcG.

      Thank you, and I hope your turn to get the booster will come soon! I've been feeling much safer since I got mine.

  14. I'm older than you!! *cries* lol

    I thought L&O was still going? Maybe it's just the spin offs.

    I hope you love ALL your birthday books!

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    1. Oh, well, after you turn fifty, the random year doesn't mean anything anymore LOL 🤷‍♀️😭.

      How DARE you mistake L&O: Special Victims Unit for the original L&O?!?! 😠 😉

      Thank you!

    2. Ha! No, I know that one is a different show but I did think the original was still on too in some form.

      Or maybe I'm confusing it with all the CSI shows lol

  15. Wishing you a happy new year (and belated birthday), Roberta! I've also noticed that I seem to be receiving more email spam (and spam phone calls??) recently but I don't know why.

    I'm glad to hear that you were able to get the booster! I'm a student and my school in the US is requiring them for our next semester, so I'm hoping to be able to get mine soon. Re: health, it's so important that we are taking care of ourselves -- I had my fair share of appointments in 2021 and unfortunately sprained my ankle about a month ago and am still waiting on it to heal.

    Also, so fantastic that you beta read a book that's now on Netgalley! I keep meaning to learn more about beta reading because I've seen the term spring up a few times around the blogging community.

    claire @ clairefy

    1. "Wishing you a happy new year (and belated birthday), Roberta!"
      Thank you!

      "I had my fair share of appointments in 2021 and unfortunately sprained my ankle about a month ago and am still waiting on it to heal."
      That's a long time! I hope your ankle will heal soon!

      "I keep meaning to learn more about beta reading".
      Beta-reading is SO rewarding, because when it happens, it's because an author has decided they trust you and your judgement, and thinks you can be helpful in some way. And when they do manage to sell the book (which is not a given of course, because we're talking about indie/small pub authors in my case), it's like magic. I hope it will happen to you as well!

  16. Happy belated birthday! Books was the right thing to buy. Also I have never had a end of year bonus!!!

    I hadn't read three of those Mira Grant novellas which seems like a problem.

    I also wanted to schedule some appointments this week but omicron is delaying it for me. Sigh.

    1. "I have never had a end of year bonus!!!"
      You haven't? That's a shame!

      I hope you'll get to schedule your appointments soon, and they'll bring good news!

      Thank you for your well-wishes.

  17. OMG thank you so much for linking to my Micropoetry post - you rock! <3

    Belated Happy Birthday! <3 <3 <3

    Hope money doesn't stay tight, and that your finger heals better <3

    I had a temp. job once where our 'bonus' was a voucher for Marks & Spencers (it's not a department store, but it's not *not* a department store,) and I was like 'shoe money!!!!' which was good, because I'd wrecked my shoes on the paving outside the Senedd (Welsh parliament) (lol, check me out all cultured getting my stilettos stuck in a rain run-off channel outside the seat of government!)

    1. Anytime! And thank you.

      Haha! Stilettos aren't exactly running shoes...or rain shoes...or run-off channel shoes LOL. Anyhow, so you made a sensible purchase in the end, because you did need new ones! 😉

    2. I no way did I buy high-heeled boots *shifty glances*

  18. Those Mira Grant books in all have such nice covers! Yay for new books, and happy birthday :-)

    Yikes about the Covid scare. But if you were maybe exposed before Dec 30th and still no symptoms, I feel like you're probably ok?

    Sorry about the healing not going as planned. I know there are some remedies out there for keloids, though idk how well they work.

    Thanks for sharing my review, and good luck with the upcoming appointments <3

    1. I guess I'm OK, since I haven't experienced any symptoms, while in the meantime my boss has recovered and come back to work. He must have gotten the virus while staying at home with his daughter after they got quarantined. Still...stress LOL.

      I just saw the doctor who did my surgery. He suggested a couple of things to help my finger go back to functioning properly, and said that 7 weeks after surgery is still too soon to worry. I can move my finger - it only hurts a bit when I bend it all the way.

      Thank you for all your well-wishes!


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