December 01, 2023

Offbeat Offline: November 2023 (Plus Announcing a Short Hiatus)

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 major health setback and the worst hair incident ever (now resolved though), plus I did nothing productive...nor did I read. I was constantly angry or tired or both, and I don't know where the time went...I felt like I was always busy without getting anything done, or too sapped (and, did I mention angry?) to accomplish anything even after doing the bare minimum (and to be honest, I ended up embracing the couldn't-care-less attitude as a defense mechanism, and spent most of my time vegetating in front of my computer...). Even blogging and blog-hopping were a strain, which is why I'm planning a short hiatus (I HATE the idea of going on a hiatus in December, so I'll grit my teeth and produce my usual end-of-the-year recap at the end of the month...). So...November sucked. BUT! at least I saw my man David Tennant in the first Doctor Who special for the show's 60th birthday (!!!!!), and that brought me SO MUCH JOY. Bless you David, I love you too much for words ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿงก.

(On a side note, I got my flu and Covid vaccines. How come the flu one is always painless while the Covid one always makes my arm hurt? Not terribly, but still. Is it the same with you?).

November 28, 2023

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Which Books Are You Looking Forward to Reading This Winter? (December-February)

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Heidi at Rainy Day Ramblings in order to discuss a wide range of topics from books to blogging (and some slightly more personal matters throw in for good measure). After Heidi stopped blogging (apparently for good), five of us took over as hosts while providing new questions. The current team is composed of Berls at Because Reading Is Better Than Real LifeJen at That's What I'm Talking AboutKaren at For What It's WorthLinda at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell and Roberta at Offbeat YA. This week's question is...


I don't know if I'll ever get around to buying all these books or when, since 1) early reviews and excerpts might cause me to change my mind in the future, and 2) given my current situation (see: unemployment status), book money is scarce...(I got a few of these in eARC form though! See below). Anyhow, I wanted to give a bit of exposure to all the winter books that caught my eye, so here's my list (complete with pub dates)...

November 22, 2023

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #47 Seanan McGuire: "InCryptid" Series #9-12


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I never thought I'd do minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps ๐Ÿ˜Š. Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long reviews - no such luck LOL (though for anthologies, shorter books or books that I didn't enjoy/I don't have enough to say about, I decided to stick to minis). But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, I might as well give you the short version ๐Ÿ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

November 16, 2023

Kiersten White: "Mister Magic"

Title: Mister Magic [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Kiersten White [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2023
Age: 14+ (I shelved it as Adult because of the characters' age in the present, but it can be read by mature teens. There are far more graphic YA books out there)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Original and enthralling, with an easy-to-love cast. Makes an impassioned argument for children's rights to creativity and freedom (and everyone's right to be themselves). 
Cons: You have to suspend disbelief about the main character's passively buying into her father's narrative (or lack thereof). Also, the ending might hurt you a little...
WARNING! Child abuse, mind control/indoctrination, sexism, homophobia, gaslighting, parent death (off page). A minor instance of body horror.
Will appeal to: Those who love a dark - yet emotive and hopeful - childhood-friends reunion on the backdrop of a supernatural mystery.

Blurb: Thirty years after a tragic accident shut down production of the classic children’s program Mister Magic, the five surviving cast members have done their best to move on. But just as generations of cultishly devoted fans still cling to the lessons they learned from the show, the cast, known as the Circle of Friends, have spent their lives searching for the happiness they felt while they were on it. But with no surviving video of the show, no evidence of who directed or produced it, and no records of who - or what - the beloved host actually was, memories are all the former Circle of Friends has. Then a twist of fate brings the castmates back together at the remote desert filming compound that feels like it’s been waiting for them all this time. They’re the only ones who hold the secret of that circle, and, maybe, the answers to what really happened on that deadly last day. But as the Circle of Friends reclaim parts of their past, they begin to wonder: Are they here by choice, or have they been lured into a trap? (Amazon excerpt)

Review: I was aware of the hidden layer of meaning behind this story before I read it (by the way, White opens out about it in the Acknowledgment section), but I don't think it made a difference for me. In my opinion, you can go in blind or not, get the allegory while reading or have it explained by the author afterwards, but it shouldn't detract from/add to your enjoyment either way (unless you come from a similar environment as White's). Then again, I know of at least one reader that had a different experience (read Tammy's review here).


I think I've discovered a new bias of mine lately: give me a story in the supernatural or magical realism genres with a cast that met as children and reunite as adult, and I will enjoy it despite its flaws, if there are any - as long as those characters allow me to love them enough. So, I won't say that Mister Magic is a perfect book (which, duh, hardly any book is perfect, but you get my meaning), while I will admit that the aforementioned characters could have been fleshed out more or given better dialogue in some instances...but they were able to win my affection (especially Val), plus the story was intriguing and had its heart in the right place, so to speak - hence the five star rating.
At the core of Mister Magic are a diverse group of friends in their late 30s/early 40s who were together on the titular show 30 years earlier, and have little to no memories of it - but what memories they have are fond...until they get the chance to scratch past that surface, and realise that something insidious and unsettling was at play (just in case you're thinking sexual abuse, no, nothing of the sort). It doesn't help that the show only survives in the (fuzzy) memories of those who participated in it and those who used to watch it, because there's no clip or info to be found ANYWHERE (and yeah, there's a valid explanation for that, I swear). Getting to know the why and the how and the WHAT - in the wake of the show's reboot - was fun...yet heartbreaking...yet exhilarating; but it didn't steal the scene from the characters (more as an ensemble than as individuals, I will admit, except for Val), especially in the later chapters, and especially when we finally get a glimpse of their younger selves on the very show's set, and discover what happened to the missing sixth cast member... [...]