May 03, 2024

Offbeat Offline: April 2024 (Back in Session)

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? The hubs finally got his pension; I had a blood check-up done (other exams are on the way) and was too tired to make much progress on the review front. The house is still a dumpster fire, BTW. I had to run more errands than usual, and when I got home I didn't have any spare time and/or energy to write reviews...let alone clean. Everything's been slipping from my grasp ever since my husband became bedridden - one year and eight months ago now. And his progress on the walking front is laughable (so to speak, because there's nothing amusing about it). Every time I go on hiatus I hope to fix part of this at least, and every time I fail. I mean...I know it's not on me, because I'm in the middle of an ongoing mess, and there's nothing I can do to make it better. Then again, whatever the reasons, it's disheartening. With this off my chest, here goes my recap of April's most notable moments...

๐Ÿ“š (YET ANOTHER) EPIC FAIL. Look at me, first reading only 3 books in March, then doing even worse in April with the grand total of 2 books and a half. As I said in last month's recap - it's not like I don't want to write my reviews, and heaven knows I'm NEVER not in the mood for reading (also, I can tear through a book in two days), but April was another rotten month. I devour a book, then I'm too tired/don't have time to write a proper review, or I can't seem to articulate my thoughts because I want to say so many things, but the book is tricky to talk about without spoilers (Tidal Creatures, I'm looking at you) - and just like that, two weeks have passed...Pitiful. Also...while I had 0 approvals in March, around the end of April I was granted access to 6 books (!!!), 4 of which I had requested a month before, and while I'm super grateful of course, there's no way I can keep up with all their pub dates now - one of them is an April book I only got access to 5 days prior to its release, one is YET ANOTHER June book and I already have 2 of them to review (which I haven't read yet) ๐Ÿ˜ฑ. Anyhow, here's my monthly bookish recap...

Approvals (6):
Mal Caldera—former rockstar, retired wild-child and excommunicated black sheep of her Catholic family—is dead. Not that she cares. She only feels bad that her younger sister, Cris, has been left alone with their religious zealot of a mother, picking up the pieces Mal has left behind. While her fellow ghosts party their afterlives away at an abandoned mansion they call the Haunt, Mal is determined to make contact with Cris from beyond the grave.
She manages to enlist the help of reluctant local medium Ren, and together, they concoct a plan to pass on a message to Cris. But the more time they spend together, the more both begin to wonder what might have been if they'd met before Mal died.
Mal knows it's wrong to hold on so tightly to her old life. Bad things happen to ghosts who interfere with the living, and Mal can't help wondering if she's hurting the people she loves by hanging around, haunting their lives. But Mal has always been selfish, and letting go might just be the hardest thing she's ever had to do…
Vicken has a plan: throw himself into the Saint Lawrence River in Montreal and end it all for good, believing it to be the only way out for him after a lifetime of depression and pain. But, stepping off the subway, he finds himself in an endless, looping station.
Determined to find a way out again, he starts to explore the rooms and corridors ahead of him. But no matter how many claustrophobic hallways or vast cathedral-esque rooms he passes through, the exit is nowhere in sight.
The more he explores his strange new prison, the more he becomes convinced that he hasn’t been trapped there accidentally, and amongst the shadows and concrete, he comes to realise that he almost certainly is not alone.
The black water has been waiting. Watching. Hungry for the souls it needs to survive.
When small-town athlete Avery’s morning run leads her to a strange pond in the middle of the forest, she awakens a horror the townspeople of Crook’s Falls have long forgotten.
Avery can smell the water, see it flooding everywhere; she thinks she’s losing her mind. And as the black water haunts Avery—taking a new form each time—people in town begin to go missing.
Though Avery had heard whispers of monsters from her Kanyen’kehรก:ka (Mohawk) relatives, she’s never really connected to her Indigenous culture or understood the stories. But the Elders she has distanced herself from now may have the answers she needs.
When Key, her best friend and longtime crush, is the next to disappear, Avery is faced with a choice: listen to the Kanyen’kehรก:ka and save the town but lose her friend forever…or listen to her heart and risk everything to get Key back.

  • The Lilies by Quinn Diacon-Furtado (YA, supernatural/mystery/time travel)
Archwell Academy is shaping the next generation of exceptional young women, and everyone knows that membership to the Lilies Society is the best way to secure your ticket to a successful future. But like every secret society, there is something dark at the Lilies’ heart—sometimes Lilies disappear.
When four Archwell students find themselves trapped in a mysterious time loop on the day after the most recent disappearance, they discover that every one of them holds a clue that will unlock the truth of the Lilies. But they're each harboring a secret of their own. Something they would do anything to hide.
The Finch sisters once spent long, hot summers exploring the dozens of abandoned properties littering their dying town―until they found an impossible home with an endless hall of doors…and three keys left waiting for them. Curious, fearless, they stepped inside their chosen rooms, and experienced horrors they never dared speak of again.
Now, years later, youngest sister Claire has been discovered dead in that old, desiccated house. Haunted by their sister's suicide and the memories of a past they've struggled to forget, Meg and Esther find themselves at bitter odds.
As they navigate the tensions of their brittle relationship, they draw unsettling lines between Claire's death, their own haunted memories, and a long-ago loss no one in their family has ever been able to face.
With the house once again pulling them ever closer, Meg and Esther must find the connection between their sister's death and the shadow that has chased them across the years…before the darkness claims them, too.
  • Wink by Henry Herz et al. (YA, fantasy/sci fi - anthology) <- [I requested this one because it features a Seanan McGuire story...]
Fifteen young adult contemporary fantasy and science fiction tales that wink at classic works of children's literature. Featuring stories by: James Aquilone, Kendare Blake, Leah Cypess, Stacia Deutsch, David Gerrold, Tara Gilboy, Henry Herz, Nancy Holder, Alethea Kontis, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, Wulf Moon, Henry Neff, Alex Shvartsman, Maggie Stiefvater.

Reads (3):
  • Tidal Creatures (Alchemical Journeys #3) by Seanan McGuire (Adult, supernatural)
After the sheer brilliance of Book 1, Book 2 was a bit of a letdown, but this one was fantastic!
  • Lockjaw by Matteo L. Cerilli (YA, genres not disclosed because it would be spoilery as hell)
It started slow for me, but when the twist came, I was enraptured. Plus it has a lot to say about trans youth and people who turn their back to the sufferings of children...
  • The Lilies by Quinn Diacon-Furtado (see above)
To be precise, I started it at the end of April and finished it two day ago - there were things I liked about it and other things I was less keen on. I'm going to write a mini review for it.

Reviews (2):
  • Tidal Creatures (Alchemical Journeys #3) by Seanan McGuire (see above)
Review coming later in the month.
  • Lockjaw by Matteo L. Cerilli (see above)
Again, review coming in a few days.

Here are my scheduled reviews for this month:
  • The Book of Love by Kelly Link (on Wed. 8th);
  • Tidal Creatures (Alchemical Journeys #3) by Seanan McGuire (on Mon. 13th);
  • Lockjaw by Matteo L. Cerilli (on Sat. 18th);
  • whether a mini-review round or a full review, depending on my progress with/enjoyment of my current and future reads (on Thu. 23rd).

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 Summer? (June-August)). For the nth time: I'm so behind on ARCs that I must concentrate on reading and reviewing them, so I'll mostly skip the meme again (sorry!). In the meantime, here's the TMST prompt list for the months of May and June, in case you want to join in:.

  • May 7th: Share some POC author/character recommendations you've recently enjoyed
  • May 14th: Do you like to garden? Share some photos!
  • May 21th: Worst character jobs: what are they and who has them?
  • May 28th: Which books are you looking forward to reading this Summer? (June-August)
  • June 4th: What outdoor activities do you like to do in the spring/summer?
  • June 11th: Have your reading interests changed over time?
  • June 18th: Share some LGBTQ-character books you've recently enjoyed
  • June 25th: Mid-year check-in: what books have you loved so far in 2024?

๐Ÿฉธ(STILL) SICK AND TIRED. I'm in the middle of my usual CLL check-ups, plus other health-related situations. After a temporary decrease in the leukocyte and lymphocyte count, they spiked again - that's normal for this type of illness, but still not good of course. I have a routine ultrasound and a visit with my hematologist scheduled for the 6th - if the ultrasound doesn't show internal organs alterations, I guess she'll just have me schedule another bloodwork in three months for now, as usual. Also, I've been suffering from a tightness at the front of my neck (I got an ecodoppler and the circulation is OK - we'll see what the ultrasound says), and a pain in my left ankle that I need to look into...In the meantime, my husband is still having a hard time trying leave the bed, and he scheduled x-rays for his remaining foot (because it hurts when he tries to walk) and relative hip (the one that got smashed in a car accident almost thirty years ago). Based on the results, he might need to book some physical therapy sessions, and I say "book" as in "pay for", because our NHS is a disgrace...

๐Ÿ’ถ IT'S SETTLED. My husband's pension finally arrived (you might remember that his assistance allowance and severance pay had already been liquidated). It would be a nice amount, if we didn't have the damned house mortgage to repay more years of this crap.

๐Ÿฅถ WINTER IN SPRING. The weather has been unseasonably warm in the first half of April, only to totally backflip in the second. I even had to turn on the heating for five days, for goodness' sake. Icy winds, strong rains, hailstorms, sometimes intermittent rainfall and sunshine bouts in the space of an hour or two...I'm not a fan of summer (understatement of the century), but this has been brutal, especially coming from the high of those prematurely warm days...

Since I was on hiatus (and exhausted...what's new?), I haven't blog-hopped at all in April, so I've got nothing ๐Ÿ™. But I've already started to reprise my normal routine, so this section will be operative in my next monthly recap!

That's it for now. My next post will be up on May 8th, and it will be the review for The Book of Love I mentioned above.

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


  1. I hope you are feeling better or provided with some explanations soon. Good luck with all the medical stuff. You are too hard on yourself with your reading. You have a lot on your plate, but you are STILL reading which is great.

    1. Thank you! About reading, though, the problem is that I want to read everything I signed up for and then some, and I want to do it in due time - which I WOULD do if I didn't agonise over those pesky reviews LOL.

  2. GOOD MORNINGGGGGG ROBERTAAAAAA (feels like it's been years since I've actually done this, lol)

    I'm sorry everything is a dumpster fire — seems like 2024 is testing all of us when we thought 2023 was testing us, truly. :c But you're trying your best, and you're still reading, even if it's just a little bit (I know it's a bummer either way though.) I hope you'll get some answers soon so you can get some of your energy back!

    1. LOL, it's been AGESSSSS ๐Ÿ˜‚. I was thinking about you a few days ago. (At least you're still updating Goodreads ๐Ÿ˜‰). How are you doing?

      2024, 2023, 2022...I mean...when was the last time we took a breath? or a break? But yeah, the last couple of years have been especially hard (I know they were for you, too - from your rare blog updates). One can only trudge on for so long. Thank you for your well-wishes, and I hope the same for you!

    2. Aww I missed you too. Way too long if you ask me. And yeah, they've been definitely been rough in the past few years, and I don't think the universe is done with me just yet. ๐Ÿ˜ญ

    3. ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›

  3. At least you read two books, me, I just keep reading samples.

    Do you really have to review those books at certain time? I don't know much about getting books for reviews because I read for myself and don't even have to write reviews if I don't want to. I don't read a lot of complicated books I can't even understand your review writing problems.

    The weather is going wacko everywhere. It's suppose to be summer where I am but it's summer one day and the next day is spring. But at least the weather forecast is pretty decent.

    I hope things will be okay with all the medical stuff. I barely understood what the issues are but it sounds kind of painful and annoying.

    Have a lovely day.

    1. "Do you really have to review those books at certain time?"
      Well, let's say that no one will beat me with a stick if I don't ๐Ÿ˜‰- but it's the polite thing to do...though it's not like books have an expiration date tied to their publication one, and reviews are always beneficial...Also, if you request more books from the same publishers and you haven't reviewed the older ones yet, it's not a good look.

      Thanks! And I hope the weather finally made up its mind in your corner of the woods - it seems like it's doing that here, finally.

  4. Oh Roberta - I'm thankful that you continue to check in once and a while, especially since I left Twitter and don't have that place to chat any longer. I hope that your health improves and your husband get get some relief so he can walk again.

    I don't recall what I did in April since I can't even remember what I did this morning. But I do know the highlight of my month was seeing the total solar eclipse with my husband and daughter, which coincided with her 18th birthday.

    1. You left for good? I guess you're not using BS that much either, because I'm not seeing your posts lately. No worries about me checking can't get rid of me so easily ๐Ÿ˜‚. And thank you!

      "I don't recall what I did in April since I can't even remember what I did this morning."
      ๐Ÿ˜‚ It's neat that you got to watch the eclipse with your daughter for her 18th birthday (OOOOOH. Happy belated!).

    2. I just downloaded a new app for Bluesky, which hopefully will make it easier for me to use. Maybe we can see one another there!

  5. My book reading comes and goes. I will read 9 books in 5 days and then won't read for a month straight. I have about 20 books reviewed and ready to post. Good thing I blog ahead a little.

    Sorry you're feeling poorly. I hope things start to look up.

    1. Talk about moody reading LOL. At least now you have a nice (more like spectacular!) number of posts ready to go! I've never had more than 5 or 6, I think...

      Thank you!

  6. I'm so glad the pension is finally settled! I know that's been a huge burden on you, so there's at least one taken care of. We had a wonderful vacation to Washington DC followed by an arrival home to see massive storm damage to our house. Roof is damaged, siding is warped, and the gutters ripped from the house by wind. It will be a long and costly process.

    1. Yes, at least the money isn't a (big) issue anymore, though the house mortgage will eat a good chunk of it...

      And speaking of houses! That was quite the "welcome home" you got, especially coming back from a nice vacation...On the other hand, it would probably have been worse if the storm had hit when you were INSIDE the house. Either way, I'm sorry you'll have to fork out a lot of money to repair the damage...

  7. Wacky weather. We just went from a frost warning to 32 Celsius.

    Yay for the for all the other stuff.

    I was doing pretty good with blogging then fell back off the wagon lol But I did read TWO books!

    1. "We just went from a frost warning to 32 Celsius."

      Schedules are bad for you, we know that ๐Ÿ˜‰. But until you feel like blogging - and reading - at whatever pace, you win! and we too, because we love to have you around ๐Ÿค—.

    2. Like the Terminator - I'll be back lol

  8. I count reading as a win, even if you didn't write as many reviews as you wanted to, based on everything you're going through! I need to go request Coup de Grace, and I have a copy of Through the Midnight Door I will be reading. Looking forward to your review of Tidal Creatures๐Ÿ˜

    1. I got greedy with ARCs, and bit more than I could chew. What's new? ๐Ÿ˜…

      Tidal Creatures was such a win for me. I still have to start the other two of course, since they only come out later in the year. CDG is a short book, which is a nice change of pace sometimes...I hope you'll get it too!

  9. Glad about the pension, sorry about everything else. When all your energy goes toward surviving (and making sure someone else survives, in your case), things like cleaning just pile up, and then it gets even harder to do, and it's a horrible cycle.

    1. I'm just overwhelmed - it's so much to take care of, and I realised a long time ago that I could never do it alone, so since thing started to go bad with my husband's health, I've just let go. I'm great at ignoring the problem, but at the same time it's too disheartening to live in a house that's going to hell...

  10. *hugs*

    Go easy on yourself, take everything a tiny step at a time, and remember that entropy is one of the cosmic forces of the universe, meaning that often all we can do is limit disorder - stasis is progress.

    When things are getting on top of me, I also find it useful to hold back said entropy with a 'stop the rot' policy. Pick one thing that will stop things from getting worse - preferrably a small thing that's easy and you don't have to think about too hard - and do it every day. I clean/tidy one small thing in my room every day - and it can be as small and insignificant as picking up something that's fallen out of the laundry basket - and it means that if and when I have the energy/time to do more, it hasn't gotten as bad as it could have.

    ...I hope that made sense, and no worries if it's not for you.

    *more hugs*

    1. It does make sense...I used to do something similar - tackle a room at a time and clean it in parts until it was done, so that the task was less intimidating. But I've never been so tired, angry and overwhelmed as I am now, what with having a bedridden husband and needing to run all errands alone, plus tending to him. At the end of the day, I just want to check out, you now? Lose myself in reading and blogging and playing online games. It's been almost 2 years and there's no end in sight...I do appreciate your encouragement though, and your hugs of course ๐Ÿ’š.

  11. Glad your husband's pension came through- that's good news!


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