Posted on October 2, 2017 in Checking In, Memes / 38 Comments

Well that month went by fast.

Hi everyone, and welcome to my September Wrap Up… conveniently located in October!  As I was trying to schedule out my month, I realized a bit too late that September was filled… oops!  I ended up rearranging a lot of my scheduling but good news?  I have a calendar for the rest of the year now!  And that’s super important, because I’ve got reviews scheduled all the way out into November… oops?

Warning:  This post features NO GIFs.  My computer is being super laggy and dumb and it kept crashing while I was trying to write so… not this month….

Lets get right into the haul!  That’s the best part, right?

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So I ended up with another HUGE stack of books this month!?  Totally unintentional, but most of them were free.  I discovered (actually at the end of August?) that there was another lovely book blogger that lives just on the other side of town, and she gifted me with a bunch of old ARCs that she wanted to get off her hands.  I’ll be working through those in the coming months as well as the Autumn TBR I promised y’all earlier this month.  In the meanwhile I’ve already read and reviewed The Game of Love and Death and I thought it was great!

       

       

        

       

   

There’s six books on here I got for free from the book bin at my grocery store.  My grocery store facilitates this massive book trade and other than the fact that 95% of these books are romance paperbacks (NOT my genre), I think it’s pretty cool.  If I ever see something I might be VAGUELY interested in, I grab it.  The Clique and Payton Place may go back into the bin unread, but I grabbed Persepholis a couple weeks ago and OMG so excited.

Also – remember how last month I was all bummed out because NetGalley kept denying me and y’all told me to keep my chin up?  YOU WERE RIGHT.  8 of these books are from NetGalley.  Five of them were approved on the same day, in the same hour.  Now all I want to do is read Landscape with Invisible Hand because I LOVE LOVE LOVE Feed, but I have four books ahead because… publication dates….

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So remember how I was talking about being WAY ahead with my book reviews based on my posting schedule?  These are the books I’ve read this month… but review times vary between “already” and November….  I’m not really sure at this point how I’m going to resolve this without overloading reviews?  Right now I’m leaning towards making April a Review Only Month, since I’ll be overseas without blog access half the month anyway?  We’ll see.

For now the cover will link to the review on the blog (if already posted) or to Goodreads.

       

       

 

I’d have to say that my top three books this month have been The MartianMonstrous Beauty, and Seraphina… but with The Big Lie as a close runner up.  Which is pretty good, since that was an ARC!

This month saw me finishing Rejected Princesses after nearly a year of taking the stories one at a time!  I’ve also got some historical fiction, a contemporary, and a graphic novel!  I’m really pleased with my genre diversity this month.

I also completed my reading challenge of 52 books on Goodreads – HUZZAH!

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Not much to report, to be honest?

I’m into Olive’s chapter of The Land of Dark and Broken Things and it’s going alright, only I just… don’t have time?  I feel like Olive’s coming out a little too silly, which I’m not loving.  Besides all that, though, I’m halfway done with the chapter at about 5000 words.  My brain has been fried all month, which I’ll go into a little more in a bit… I just… have no creative juices right now and it’s supremely disconcerting.  SOON THOUGH.  I hope.

One thing I really appreciate that keeps me writing every week are my 15 Minute Ficlets?  I know not a lot of people view these posts every Sunday (although I encourage y’all to join in because it’s fun, gosh darn it), but I insist on doing them because it means I’m writing something every week.  I used to do these daily, way back when it was a LiveJournal feature, and I … I dunno.  I really like them?  Some of the stories are pretty mediocre, but it’s fun jumping into the stories I have and have not written and writing a quick scene.

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You may have noticed that my graphics have been all over the place this month.  That’s because they have.  I’ve had a hard time finding something I’m happy with, that’s unique but not TOO different and that shouts me.

I’m liking this latest set of graphics a lot.  The header looks a lot better on mobile than the last one did, and it actually incorporates a phoenix?  WHICH MAKES SENSE. One of the things that drives me crazy has been an inability to include the phoenix into my header in a way that looks nice.  I really like this one.

The featured images are also different, again, and at this point I’m really just hurting myself.  I had featured images corrected all the way back to January and now I have to redo them all… again.  I kept the 15 Minute Ficlet and Make-Your-Own Book Box headers, and I’m changing up all the rest.  There’s a few running themes (the cloud, the wood backdrop) and the reviews really stand out.  The heart of the issue with the featured images was that my previous “default” was pretty difficult to read.  I wasn’t a fan.

The new featured images allow me to remove header text and the synopsis on the main page as well, so I feel it really flows better.

The bright colors really speak to me, and I’m really happy with them.  Purple is my favorite color, and orange compliments it really well.  I know a lot of blogs go rainbow, or in soft watercolors, but that’s not me.  I am bright and obnoxious!  And proud.

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I was off Twitter for two weeks, so I feel like I missed a bunch of great stuff!  Obviously we all know about V. E. Schwab’s amazing book deal at the end of August… but here’s the little bit I’ve got in the week I’ve been back in the Twitterverse:

  • Leigh Bardugo previewed her new duology.  This features fan favorite character Nikolai and has everyone in an excited mess of joy and happiness.  Huzzah!  Read more here.
  • Kiersten White writes a book in two weeks. Okay, if you’ve been following Kiersten White for a while, you won’t be surprised by this.  WHAT’S VERY COOL is that she walked her followers through the entirely processes day by day (sometimes hour by hour).  This was so cool of her and really gives perspective into a full-time writer’s process.  Check out the thread here.
  • Stephanie Garber revealed the Legendary cover.  Fans of Caraval – rejoice!  The sequel to this year’s much beloved book officially has a cover and it’s just as awesome as the first book!  Take a look here.

I know I must have missed a bunch – someone fill me in!

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We definitely had some great posts across the Blogosphere this month… these ones have been my favorites.

  • Analee @ Book Snacks teaches readers to make a blogger’s day. Suggestions strongly include baking cookies for all your favorite book bloggers and shipping them in packages of love.  Or maybe that’s just me?  I like good old-fashioned chocolate chip.  Check out Analee’s suggestions here!
  • Ilsa @ A Whisper of Ink encourages writers to love their work.  If you are a writer, then you know this is easier said than done… we are our own worst critiques!  Fortunately, Ilsa’s got some top advice for stepping away from your work and appreciating yourself.  It includes compliments, and who doesn’t like those?  Check out all her good advice here!
  • Shar @ Virtually Read gives advice on good book reviews.  This is something I know I found useful, because my reviews flail between “I don’t know what to say!” to “LET ME FLAIL IN YOUR FACE FOR 2000 WORDS!” … From summaries to spoilers, she’s got some great suggestions.  Take a look at her original post here!
  • Nerd Narration confronts plagiarism in the book community.  She shares her experience about how one of her reviews got stolen and encourages other wonderful bookish folk to come together and share their experiences.  Also can I just say how horrible it is that this happens?  Check out her full post here.
  • Mia @ Beautiful, Creative, Inspiring… Life discusses an effective About page.  This post is AWESOME.  I always struggle writing an About Me page but it’s the first thing I read on anyone else’s blog.  I actually redid my About Me page with her advice!  If you struggle too, definitely check this one out: you can find it here.
  • Destiny @ Howling Libraries asks us about different criteria for different genres.  For example, would you judge a contemporary book by different standards than a fantasy one?  Join her discussion here.
  • Tabby @ Orange Owl Diaries encourages people to keep a reading journal. And, yes, she encourages it even if you use Goodreads.  She’s got a list of ten good reasons to ponder, check it out here.
  • Naty @ Naty’s Bookshelf is collecting stereotypical characters.  Do you feel like you’ve read the same characters a few times?  So does she!  Naty’s keeping a whole catalogue of character cliches, check it out here.

What were your favorite posts this month?

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Oh boys guys, September has NOT been fun.

I don’t like to complain, but my head has been in twenty thousand different places this month.

Work has been bad.  There’s some drama going on with the higher ups and I just can’t stand office politics.  My co-team lead was on vacation for two weeks, so I spent that time balancing the extra work and questions along with the impending volcano and it has not been good for my mental health.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this is going to let up until the holidays.  We’re expecting a flood of incoming workflow which has led the department to open up to unlimited overtime (as in… as long as you see work in the queue, you can do it).  This means I’m going to be picking up probably an extra ten hours each week, a couple of which are twelve hour days.  I’m trying not to be cranky about it, because the OT money will be good when the cruise comes up in April.

IN THE MEANWHILE.  I’ve been clever and parsed out my remaining PTO days to assure that between now and the end of January, I don’t work more than one five day week in a row.  This is really going to help my mental health and it was all approved a month ago, thank goodness.  If I’m not reading or writing, or I seem a bit high-strung?  That’s the work stress talking!

Last night I took advantage of the Paint Night offered by work, though, and I made a tree and stuff.

It’s London.  It was supposed to be Boston, but I decided… nope.  Also the leaves on the top go way too far across.  Pfft, whatever.  It was so relaxing to be able to zone out and paint.  And honestly? I have canvases and acrylics at home and I really don’t know why I never do it here.  This only took an hour and a half.

I left that at work since I’m off today (Friday) and hopefully someone walked into the office and went OMG BRIGHT COLORS and it made them smile. I’ve got to find another home for it next week, though.

This next week is going to be CRAZY BUSY. Not just because of work, but because my best friend is getting married this weekend!  They’ve been engaged for such a long time, but it feels like this really snuck up on us.  My husband and I are off to help them with final details tomorrow and then on Friday there’s the rehearsal in the afternoon.  I have to get my nails done on Saturday, and they get married on Sunday!  Maybe I’ll post a group picture or something next month.  It should be fun.

For their sakes, though, I’m really glad they’re reached their day.  The last couple months have been really stressful as they’ve been struggling to make it the way they want (as always, groom and bride have different visions) and as they’ve changed aspects of their venue and other minor details.  And family?  Their family has given them such a hard time about invitations and seating arrangements and everything… I know she’s so stressed and he’s feeling anxious and unhappy because that stress permeates everything.  I remember the weeks leading up to my own wedding feeling the same.

But they are almost married and everything will be perfect on Sunday!!!

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Well my lovelies, let me just pull up my calendar because THE ENTIRE MONTH OF OCTOBER IS BLOCKED OUT!  I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far ahead of myself, especially with the perpetual redesign going on and all the craziness that has been September.

Some little teasers for the next month include:

  • A gumbo recipe (TOMORROW ACTUALLY).
  • A discussion about Dracula and it’s origins and WHY ARE ALL THE MOVIES WRONG?!
  • Two unboxings.
  • My miscarriage story // I know this is completely off my usual topics and I’m telling you now it’s happening 10/23 so you can avoid it if you want.
  • A list of awesome (un)dead characters.
  • So.  Many.  Book reviews.

Of course my regular features (15 Minute Ficlets and Make-Your-Own Book Box) will appear on the weekends.  I’m going to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to VOTE in the MYOBB poll in the right sidebar – the poll you see today will be the 10/14 box!  The book options change weekly and focus on books that never had the opportunity to be in a subscription box (as far as I know).

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Wow that was a long post!  Thanks for reading through!

What were your September highlights?

Are you going to any autumn weddings?

Have you ever tried Paint Night?
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Linking up to Mailbox Monday, It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?, Stacking the Shelves, and The Sunday Post.

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38 responses to “September Wrap-Up

  1. Ooh I love the painting you did of London! I requested a lot of ARCs on Netgalley yesterday night, and I can spot some of the ARCs I requested featured on your post! And same, Netgalley kept denying me, but suddenly they approved a few of my requests and I was so happy! Lol!
    Have a nice October, Amber! Looking forward to reading your post about Dracula 🙂

    Chloe @ Blushing Bibliophile recently posted: Blade's Edge by Virginia McClain // warriors, magic and badassery
    • Amber

      Yay, thanks! It was fun to do. I totally recommend Paint Night, if you ever come across one!

      Oh, nice! Which ARCs of mine did you request? I’ve switched to requesting a few from Candlewick Press, which has worked out well. I tend to like their books and they almost always approve me. I’m reading Echo After Echo right now and it’s AMAZING.

      • I requested for Busted, Coiled, Race to the Bottom of the Sea, Echo After Echo and the Infinite Now! Hmm, to be honest, I haven’t really paid attention to how often I get approved by a publisher. Every time I receive an email saying my request got approved, I just do a happy dance, send the book to my Kindle and delete the email. 😀
        I really enjoyed The Hate U Give and Something In Between, I hope you’ll love them as much as I did!

        Chloe @ Blushing Bibliophile recently posted: Blade's Edge by Virginia McClain // warriors, magic and badassery
        • Amber

          Busted was pretty good. The Race to the Bottom of the Sea was loads of fun (PIRATES!). I didn’t like The Infinite Now as much, but for me I think it was really a stylistic thing? Love the cover though. And Echo After Echo is, as mentioned, AMAZING.

          I really like Melissa de la Cruz’s other books, so I have high hopes for Something In Between, although it’s different from what I’ve read of hers before. 😀

    • Amber

      That’s good to hear! I know I’ve seen the title before and it clicked, so I grabbed it. It’s a little out of my regular genres, but sometimes that’s a good thing! Did you find you connected with the characters? That always seals the deal for me.

  2. Fabulous post! I love that you found a book blogger nearby to trade with. Your graphics look amazing. I’ve been playing with Canva on and off for ages but I can’t seem to do anything right… I’m glad you enjoyed The Big Lie. I’ve been seeing everywhere. I think I’ll have to check it out!

    • Amber

      The Big Lie is a re-publication, but I found the perspectives she used really interesting. We’re used to our strong, loud, brave heroines, and Jessika is different. I really enjoyed it. 🙂

      Aw, thanks for the compliments on the graphics! I’ve been using Photoshop since I was little for my father’s graphic design business. I don’t do anything professionally, but I’m lucky to have access to it – it’s got some amazing tools I haven’t found in web based software! I know a lot of the bloggers were using PicMonkey and that site just recently stopped letting people download images for free? People we making simple & gorgeous designs on there!

    • Amber

      Thanks! I’m really looking forward to them… although there’s so many, it’s a little overwhelming!

    • Amber

      It was dumb luck on Twitter, but she’s great! I’m really excited to be able to go through all these books!

      Thank you!

  3. Kathy Martin

    I’d like to find another book blogger in town since I recently moved. It must be nice to share ARCs. It is also nice to be approved for some ARCs on NetGalley. I’m sorry work is being so dramatic. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

    • Amber

      She found me, and the odds of it were so small, neither of us could really believe it! She was lovely though and it was amazing to meet her in person. 🙂 Definitely recommend it!

    • Amber

      Work is work. We all get our ups and downs! 🙂 It’ll get better at some point, or my attitude will get better. 😉

    • Amber

      My review of that should actually pop up Wednesday. I agree, mixed feelings? I do think I really would have dug it as a kid, though, so I tried to angle my review on that perspective!

  4. Ohh – I like your painting. I have artists in my family – but not me. What a lot of “bloggy” news. I do like the feathers and ribbon banners.
    You have a good handful of books in your September Haul that I would like to read. I just got Coiled last week.
    So glad that the NetGalley titles finally got to you. I can’t always make the release dates but I try to get the feedback before archive date. (I don’t always succeed on that either.)
    Your September posting reminds me I meant to do mine today. *Sigh*
    Hope you have a good week of Happy Reading!

    • Amber

      My grandmother did watercolors and oil paintings! Much better than me – I like acrylic… I really like the weight of the paint, but it’s not good for intricacies like expression on a face, for example. 🙂

      I got coil Saturday night! I actually had to come back and edit the post, lol. It’s hard to get to all of them before release dates… The one I’m reading now is out next Wednesday, I think? I try to meet the deadlines when I can, but if I’m approved after the release date, it gets queued after the upcoming released. *shrug* I do what I can, but I’m going to prioritize the ones I know I can get to before the release date rather than letting EVERYTHING be late.

      Maybe tomorrow for the September post! It’s never too late. 🙂 Happy Tuesday!

    • Amber

      Aw, thanks, you’re sweet. 🙂 I love to paint. I wouldn’t say I’m good at it, but I find it soooo relaxing and therapeutic.

      Eeeeii, well, the miscarriage post is coming 10.23, like I said, but I should warn you, it’s INSANELY long. I tried to make it interesting? But it’s still a pretty big downer. I decided I wanted to put it out there because when I was going through the heart of it, the thing that helped me most were stories from other women. For my specific situation, I couldn’t find something exactly the same – I miscarried at 18 weeks and delivered the baby. There are a lot of stillborn stories and early miscarriages – which are HORRIBLY SAD – but not what happened to me. So there’s got to be other women out there who had second trimester miscarriages and I hope that someone in need finds my story and knows they are not alone. <3

      • Danielle

        Aww that’s a good way to think about it. It’s not just your story; it may be someone else’s. I think we go through that kind of pain so we can share it with other people, especially women, so we know we’re not alone. 😊❤️

  5. Well daaaaang that’s quite the book haul!! I’m jealous! Isn’t it great when you strike book gold?! I love it.

    And thanks for the great blog recommendations! I’ll have to check them out when I get some free time. Writing an About page is THE WORST, so I’m really excited about that one! Honestly, I’m pretty boring, so what do I even put in there?? Hahaha

    • Amber

      Oh my gosh, I feel the same way! I hate writing those, and also catching up with people I haven’t seen in a while? I feel like everyone has all these awesome adventures and I get to say, “Erm… I worked?” Haha.

      September’s haul was intense! CRAZY as it may sound, I’m really happy it’s going to lighten up in October? I have 2 pre-orders, and 2 ARCs (1 eArc and 1 print) but other than that I’m not expecting any new books in my life, which is good because I need to catch up with all the ones I just got! XD

  6. Painting actually stresses me out more, so I don’t typically do it 😅 But I’m glad it works for you! And I love how your painting changed from Boston to London. So good!
    I’m sorry things have been crazy at work for you. I hate it when there’s work drama. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
    But dang, you crushed it with your reading! Nailed it. Knocked it out of the park. Put my September reading list to shame 😂

    Lindsey @ Word Me Write recently posted: Ten Books Recently Added to my TBR
    • Amber

      Ugh, so right! It’s like you get your own little soap opera and just… no!

      Oh no, I’m sorry to hear painting stresses you out! What do you do to relax?

      Thanks, I’m so proud of my September reading stack… when I look back and compare to months like March (2 books?) I feel really good about my progress. 🙂

      Happy reading this month! <3

        • Amber

          Binge watching Netflix! I think that’s probably the Great Relaxer of Them All. I discovered she of my favorite (albeit off the air by the time I found them) shows that way. 😀

  7. Wow, lots going on last month! Your painting is nice and cheerful, but if I tried it I would get a something resembling an abstract. Stress relief for me is walking the nature trails or working in the garden, it’s like therapy for me.

    • Amber

      Thank you! Abstract is fine, too! There was one lady at the event who made it look like an oil painting and it was absolutely astounding. 🙂 So you could do whatever you wanted. 😉

      I’m never been good at outside-stuff, whether that’s gardening or hiking or swimming. MY mind is so busy, I end up in a deep mental abyss if I don’t keep it occupied by pleasant things. My parents are very much outside people though, and there’s few things my father enjoys more than a long, relaxing walk!

      • I made that nature thing sound way too simple. I’m a bird watcher and a photographer… so my walks are always filled with finding, identifying, and photographing birds. It does take my mind off whatever is annoying me at the moment, so in that respect it’s therapeutic. And when gardening I’m always listening to an audiobook.

        Leslie recently posted: Wordless Wednesday: Red-tailed Hawk
        • Amber

          Fair enough! I don’t have the patience for identification, so kudos to you! Although I often wish I knew how to identify edible plants, just in case I ever needed to live off the land and whatnot.

  8. Can I just say I am LOVING the autumn halloween feel to your blog? IT IS SO PERFECT AND I AM IN LOVE <3 <3 THANKS SO MUCH FOR LINKING TO MY POST <3 I;m sorry this month wasn't too good but yay for all the books! And leigh bardugo! I so need to read Caraval, like maybe yesterday

    • Amber

      Thanks! I’m an autumn soul, so the layout’s pretty much gonna stay like this all year round. XD

      I loved your post, OF COURSE I linked to it!!!

      CARAVAL wasn’t really my thing BUT BUT BUT so many people looooooooooved it. You probably will too! And the cover of LEGENDARY is great either way. 😛

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