November 01, 2023

Offbeat Offline: October 2023

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? We got unseasonable heat; I joined Bluesky and had issues with MailerLite; I applied for an internship that wasn't exactly what I (and everybody else who did the same) expected...All the rest has been pretty stationary, including my husband's situation. I didn't even read much, because at the beginning of the month I was still wrestling with a review that I had started at the end of September (and that I had included in last month's recap though it was still incomplete), and it took me AGES to finish it - I don't know why (in case you're curious, the book was House of Hollow - see below). A nightmare experience that I hope not to have a second time...

📚 UNFORTUNATE CHOICES. I read 2 books in October, both ARCs, and I DNF 2. Speaking of ARCs, I got approved for 1 (which, alas became one of the books I abandoned early on) - but I also got another 1 directly from the author (the sequel to one of my September reads). Here's a rundown of my bookish activity for the month...

Approvals (1+1):
  • The Prophet's Debt (Valcara Incorporated #2) by Michael Karolewski (Adult, afterlife/urban fantasy)
The sequel to The Soul Sector, provided by the author. I found it more confusing and less compelling than Book 1, but I still liked it!
I spotted it by chance on NG, liked the sound of the blurb ("...a queer Black teen [...] discovers the sinister history of his boarding school and the corrupt powers behind it all") and decided to request it. Alas, I had hoped it could be the new The Honeys for me, but I was underwhelmed and DNF it early on. Maybe it will work better for its target audience in terms of age, but the supposed mystery totally lacks build-up...

Reads (2+2 DNF):
  • The Prophet's Debt (Valcara Incorporated #2) by Michael Karolewski (see above)
Review to come in a few days.
  • The Forest Demands Its Due by Kosoko Jackson (see above)
Mini DNF review to come later in the month.
  • Three Eight One by Aliya Whiteley (Adult, sci-fi/magical realism/metafiction)
Another ARC that didn't work for me. Mini DNF review to come closer to pub date (the book is due in January).
I was so giddy to get an ARC! Not as spectacular as House of Hollow, but I liked it. Review to come closer to pub date (it's another January release).

Reviews (3):
  • The Prophet's Debt (Valcara Incorporated #2) by Michael Karolewski (see above)
Scheduled for Sat. 4th.
  • The Forest Demands Its Due by Kosoko Jackson (see above)
In a mini-review round on Wed. 8th (I put it on GR for now).
  • Three Eight One by Aliya Whiteley (see above)
Mini DNF review in drafts for now - as I said, I'll post it closer to pub date.

Here are my scheduled reviews for this month:

Reviews aside, I'll participate in the Tell Me Something Tuesday meme on the 28th (question: Which Books Are You Looking Forward to Reading This Winter? (December-February)). Again...sorry to be so scarce, but as you can see, I've been focusing on getting a few reviews off my chest lately...I'll read your posts and comment on them though! 

😐 LIVING IN LIMBO. Remember how my husband applied for attendance allowance and early retirement on the grounds of his health issues? Well, while we're still waiting for the first one to be granted, he's been summoned for a visit in December that should confirm he's eligible for the second (...more waiting...). In the meantime...we're facing a 50% cut of his stipend starting this month 😩. His leg situation is pretty much stagnant as well, but he's just had his bi-monthly check-up, and the doctor said it happens at times....this type of wound can take years to close properly...

😬 THANKS FOR NOTHING. There was a Recruitment Day at my local job center a couple of weeks ago, so I signed up for an interview regarding a part-time administrative employee internship. I thought it would probably come to nothing, or the timetable wouldn't be feasible due to my situation at home, but heck...trying wouldn't hurt either. Except it turned out that, after the internship, one was supposed to register for our version of EIN or VAT, and work freelance for the woman who offered the "job"...🙄 In case you're wondering, yes, it's legal. That's job market for you these days...

😠 FORBIDDEN ERROR. I got an email from MailerLite (which I use to send newsletters with my blog updates) saying that they were closing inactive accounts, plus terminating the classic version of ML, so one had to sign up for the new ML and eventually export the content of their legacy account onto the new one. It took me forever to sort things out (with the help of a ML employee), because my password had expired and the migration system was giving me headaches, but eventually I was settled with a new account and everything was in good order...except for the chance of sending RSS campaigns automatically not being an option anymore for free accounts - but I could live with that. Then I got an email from ML saying that Google and Yahoo had announced new rules "to combat spam and enhance inbox safety", which means that...
Bulk email senders are now required to adhere to authentication protocols by authenticating their email domain (the domain address used for sending). [...]  So with these new rules, you won’t be able to use a free email domain as your sender address. You will instead need to purchase your own domain.
So, in brief: since I have a free email domain and sure as heck I'm not going to purchase one, starting in February I won't be able to send newsletters anymore 😤. Of course, the spam excuse is risible - I get daily trash (as does everybody else) that isn't going to be stopped by own-domain bullshit anytime soon. The truth is, we're forced more and more often to SPEND for any single thing...I'm waiting for the day when even having a free blog will be impossible, and in that case, I'll HAVE to find the money somehow, because I'm not going to let go of the only good thing I have in my life. But for goodness' sake...spare me (us)...😢

🌞 SUNNY LANDSCAPE. Just a couple of small things to end this section...The month has been unseasonably warm (and cloudless) - summerish even. And speaking of summer and good weather...I've joined Bluesky! The place is still pretty bare, but in case you're on there, look for - and if you're not, but you'd like to join, keep your eyes peeled, because every time I get an invite code, I'll spread the word on Twitter! As a matter of fact, I do have an invite right now that no one has claimed yet, so if anyone needs it, just let me know!




  • Shannon celebrates 10 years of blogging.
  • Cee Arr just reached her 9th year of blogging instead.
  • Lissa shares her creative Inktober art (Week 1 & 2 | Week 3 | Week 4).
  • Last but not least: remember how one of my favourite 2023 books was Myriad by Joshua David Bellin? Well, he wrote a prequel short story that is currently available - and free - on Bookfunnel! All you need to do is enter your email address and claim the story - then the author will add you to his monthly e-newsletter, but don't worry: you'll be able to unsubscribe at any time. Here's the (killer) cover and the blurb...(please note: you don't need to have read Myriad to read Ghost Life, but I hope it will work the other way around...maybe the prequel short story will entice you to read the novel! 😉).

When you travel in time, everyone's a ghost.

Miriam Randle is a new field agent at LifeTime, a private law enforcement agency that conducts short-term time travel into the past. Her job: to reverse crimes that have already been committed. If she succeeds, lives will be saved. If she fails, her own life is in peril.

On her first major assignment to stop a convenience store slaying, Miriam discovers that there’s more to the case than meets the eye. What is LifeTime not telling her about the mysterious assailant? Why is her partner acting so strangely? And why does the case remind her of the tragic secret buried in her own past?

An action-packed sci-fi murder mystery with a killer twist, Ghost Life is a prequel short story to Joshua David Bellin's novel Myriad.

That's it for now. My next post will be up on November 4th, and it will be the review for The Prophet's Debt I mentioned above.

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


  1. I mean... I guess stagnant is better than awful! Doesn't surprise me about that job application. I too have had my fair share of times when I apply for a job and find the actual work set up to be less than feasible.

    1. Well, the fact is, it's been a year and two months, and I need the situation to get a move on...😭

      The job thing is a shame everywhere, it seems. I think after COVID hit, everything changed for the worse.

  2. Just to be a glass half full kind of gal - I guess stagnant is...good? Ok? Kabocha? lol

    I'm sorry about the job situation. It seems so tough for everyone right now. Kevin's company has done drastic cuts because someone made an epic accounting error and they don't have the money they thought they had. There's all these strikes. You get better wages/more jobs but then they find a way to screw you over anyway.
    Aren't I a Debbie Downer (after being 1/2 full) lol

    Looking forward to all your reviews. Especially for Mister Magic. I've heard mixed things and she's a hit or miss author for me.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    1. Please keep throwing obscure vegetables at me - maybe one of them will stick! 🤣

      I hope Kevin's job isn't in danger? It sounds like his company hired a super-lousy accountant 😬 - but how is it that they couldn't tell something was amiss?

      "Looking forward to all your reviews."
      Aw, thanks! I really liked Mister Magic, even if it's not your average masterpiece...but it did something for me. I loved the premise and the overall message - and the ending.

    2. No, his job is safe. It's more the office type and IT jobs. But they are brutally cutting anything and everything like Christmas parties, any meals they used to get for meetings. But, of course, the hired more upper management.

    3. The most logical solution...🙄

  3. I am so sorry about your newsletter problems. I belong to a FB group and people were discussing other newsletter options so I will take a look and see if there is anything good that's free.

    1. That's nice of you...but I'm afraid there are no options. It's not so much a ML problem (though they've always encouraged their users to get a domain address), but a Google (and Yahoo) problem...I don't think there's a free email address that lets you send bulk email nowadays 😬.

  4. Well, heck, this was not a great month. I mean, even the reading wasn't great. I do hope things get better for you. ((HUGS)) I don't do a newsletter, so I have no insight for you.

    1. Well, the real tragedy in terms of reading was that I read so little this month...As for the rest, yeah, not a great month. Hugs received! 💚

  5. Wow what a month. I hope November is better all around. I'm looking forward to your reviews!

    1. Thank you! I gave a shout-out to your Mister Magic review at the end of mine. BTW 🙂.

  6. The day I have to pay for my blog is the day I will quit and just use goodreads to post my reviews.

    Sorry the job inquiry didn't work out.

    I probably should have dnf'd a few of the books I read last month but I didn't. lol

    1. Well, yeah...I'm all for not paying, but...having a blog is different than posting on GR or chatting on Twitter. I couldn't live without mine...

      Thank you!

      Haha, it took me a while to learn to let go of books that weren't grabbing me, so I understand your struggle!

  7. That job situation happens here in the US, too. My neighbor's son (20 YO), had to create his own "company" to be able to continue working in a job he loves. Then they don't have to pay benefits!

    I hope the weather cools off for you and you have a lovely fall. It was summer-like for about 3 days last week, and now it's cold (lows below 0C at night).

    1. "My neighbor's son (20 YO), had to create his own "company" to be able to continue working in a job he loves."
      It's a one wants the responsibility (and the costs) of carrying on a company anymore...and of actually having employees. And the law lets them. It's everyone for themselves...

  8. With everything going on, I think it is okay to give yourself some grace on reading and reviewing! The job situation is incredibly frustrating. It feels like companies aren't even sure what they are looking for anymore. I'm really looking forward to your take on Mister Magic. I thought it was much improved from Hide.

    1. The fact is, I have so many review books and I feel restless because of that LOL.

      Thanks! I haven't read Hide, but I've read a number of reviews (yours included) that were on the fence about some of its aspects...

  9. I'm looking forward to the Tchaicovsky review! Amd I hear you on the blog thing. What's next? Sadly, I'd pay too cause I'd miss it, but yes they make everything hard. PAssword authentications because hackers are everywhere... can't even get some medicine because of opioid misuse...

    Bluesky! I need to sign up. I've been meaning to...

    1. "can't even get some medicine because of opioid misuse..."
      For real? 😲

      I still have that invite! If you want to join BS, message me on Twitter.

  10. I'm glad I didn't sign up for MailerLite because I think I would have just quit instead of going through the trouble to get things back the way it was. I no longer have patience for companies that keeps changing their policies and features especially those offering free services.

    If Blogger/Google remove their free blogs, I would actually pay to get a blog as well. Blogging is still one good thing I still like on the internet.

    At least the weather where you are is warm while it's freezing here. I don't have any highlights for October but at least, I had enjoyed drawing.

    Have a lovely November.

    1. Alas, things in the internet world keep changing...this time isn't even ML's fault - it's just that Google won't let us send bulk emails anymore.

      Glad I'm not alone in clinging to my little blog LOL. I would miss you if you left!

      And we enjoyed seeing your drawings! 🙂

  11. Ah, so you're having blog frustrations too. And darn, you didn't have a very good reading month in October with the DNFs. I'm trying to decide if I should DNF my current book. That internship situation sounds really weird :-/ Well, umm, there's always November? Maybe it will at least start to cool down where you are.

    1. It seems like having a blog is an endless string of frustrations LOL. Well, at least I can always cut on the email updates - it's not like I have a ton of followers (spoiler: they are barely above the two digits x 2)...your spike usage problem sounds more serious.

      It's still unseasonably warm here...

  12. Thanks so much for sharing my posts, and also for sharing that short story, as I also loved Myriad (and quite enjoy the author, so I have no problems signing up!) I am so sorry about MailerLite. I had a problem too, for the same reasons- I had *finally* gotten everything set up and then they decide that I can't send auto RSS campaigns. Which for me is a HUGE PITA because time, but I too could live with it. See- I have a domain, but no email capability? So Idk what that means for me, but for now I am still using it. Idk WHAT I will do if I can't use my free email, because like, I have no option to get one on my paid domain? Why is everything so HARD.

    Also, sorry about that job- I had a very similar thing happen, showed up to the first "team meeting", only to find out that it was unpaid. Um, no? I can write for myself unpaid, thanks.

    Very sad about 381 since I have it for review, and the Kosoko one just because I have liked his stuff in general. Also I feel the same as you in regards to BlueSky- it is nice enough I guess, but no DMs and also like you said, it's pretty dead. We also had some ridiculous heat- it either gets stupidly hot or stupidly cold, no seasonal weather here!

    1. "Idk WHAT I will do if I can't use my free email, because like, I have no option to get one on my paid domain? Why is everything so HARD."
      Ugh, I hope you find a solution...since I'm sure you have far more email followers than me (I, too, follow you that way - but I never noticed you were using a Gmail account until today). As for me, I think I'll have to stop sending email updates, since I don't think there's a free email address you can use anymore, and I'm not keen on getting yet another one anyway...

      "I had a very similar thing happen, showed up to the first "team meeting", only to find out that it was unpaid. Um, no? I can write for myself unpaid, thanks."
      😂 Shame! They should have been clear about that at least...

      Maybe Three Eight One will work better for you...I tried, but my patience isn't what it used to be anymore. I hadn't read anything by Jackson before, so I didn't know what to expect, but I suppose The Forest Demands Its Due is one of those books that will work better for the intended age range...


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