Checking in October 2021

Election Nerves, Reading Slowly, & Pretty Leaves – My October Wrap Up!

Posted November 2, 2020 by Amber in Checking In / 0 Comments


And just like that, my favorite month of the year is over.  We’re dipping into winter up here in New England – what’s left of the beautiful leaves have faded to brown, but most the trees are skeleton bare.  The air is chilly and just a few days ago, we had our first snow frosting. And so, here we are.  To quote Game of Thrones… winter is coming.

Overall, it was a good month.  I had a lot more interactivity than I’m used to, particular for this year.  We had the opportunity at the beginning of the month to connect with a pair of friends, which was… so… nice?  We’re getting ready to tuck in for the winter, so it’ll be the last social activity we expect to have.  As if we’d have many this year anyway.

And, of course, tomorrow is Election Day in the United States.  I sent in my ballot weeks ago and it has already been received and counted – Massachusetts has fabulous ballot tracking and I’m very grateful for how easy and safe voting was made by my state.  Perfect honesty?  I’m terrified for the course of the next week. I know that we won’t have full results tomorrow – some states have already announced that they’ll be allowing postmarked mail-in ballots, so I imagine it will be a week. But let’s be real – it won’t be that easy.  I feel like the last few months have been a slow burn before the inevitable explosion.  I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know it is going to be bad.  No matter what.

Sorry, sorry.  We’re here to talk about books.  It’s just… so impossible for me to detangle the threads.  We are all waiting with bated breath at the edge of a crevasse… and I am so sorry for the chaos and pain my country has caused so many – citizens and not.

The Monthly Haul

Every few months, I do a crawl on ThriftBooks to see if any of the books on my “To Buy” list are available in a decent condition for a low price.  October tends to be one of those times, partially because I get a credit for my birthday, so yay, free book.  My “To Buy” list is made up of books I’ve borrowed as audiobooks and really liked and want to own.  It’s not a promise of a forever space on my shelf (some books are brought to life by their narrators, and I don’t like them as much in hardcopy) but it’s fun to get these big hauls sometimes.

I was also super lucky this month to be gifted a couple anticipated ARCs!  Both Everything That Burns and Namesake have been on my TBR since before I finished the first book in each duology.  I’m also going to be on the blog tour for Everything That Burns come January, so that’s fun!  I have some ARCs I’ve gotta get reading!

All the things I’ve been reading

I feel like I’ve had a really mediocre reading month?

I mean, there were plenty of “alright” books.  But none of them really left me breathless the way I wanted them to.  Not every month can be a winner, so that’s okay!  I’m already heading into a better November with Lair of Dreams currently lent out from Libby, so I have high hopes.  High apply pie in the sky hopes.

11 books found
Caroline by Sarah Miller
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor




Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee




Solutions And Other Problems by Allie Brosh


swamp thing twin branches graphic novel cover


Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce




Foreshadow / ★★★★★ In an interview, Emily said (paraphrasing) that one of the reasons Foreshadow is named thus is because they believe these are going to be some of the big names in YA in coming years.  And I believe it!  While I read this ARC a few months ago, it’s just out in October, and it’s my personal favorite short story collection to date.

Solutions and Other Problems / ★★★★ 1/2 This book wasn’t perfect, but I did so enjoy it.  Allie Brosh’s second book was indefinitely delayed a while back, so the announcement of this book was a light in the darkness of 2020.  It made me laugh like a fool, and I have no regrets.  But I do caution that it will not be a book for everyone.

So You Want to Be a Wizard / ★★★★ – This series about an ordinary pair of children teaching themselves magic is underrated in the blogosphere, and it’s so delightful.  It’s been a while since I read So You Want to Be a Wizard and I’d forgotten how much I loved it.  Looking forward to moving on to the rest of the series, and I recommend it for middle grade and YA readers who are looking for lovable characters and magical adventures!

Readathons & Reading Challenges

#StartOnYourShelfathon Draco Constellation 10/2020

I didn’t read a lot in hardcopy this month.  I’ll be honest – How To Be An Antiracist was a slow crawl.  As I mentioned in my review, it’s not because I didn’t enjoy this book.  It’s just because it’s non-fiction and it’s heavy and it’s not the type of thing that you sit and read in a weekend, you know?  So that slowed me down for most the month.

And now, I’m finding myself struggling to read my hardcopy books.  I pulled Court of Lions off my TBR pile a few days ago, and I’m struggling to pick it up.  And that has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with me.

3 books found
Solutions And Other Problems by Allie Brosh




This month, I only read three books, falling short of my monthly goal of four books per month.  I finished Amelia Unabridged, which will have its review drop in January.  I know, such a long time!  But ARCs take up time I use to read hardcopy, and like I mentioned above, one book kept me in a slow steady stasis.  And now… I’m just sorta… bleh.

While Solutions and Other Problems made me laugh to tears and I’ll read it again when I need a good smile, I don’t think I’ll personally pick up Ghost Wood Song or How To Be An Antiracist again.  For different reasons – I loved Ghost Wood Song initially, but felt it didn’t live up to its potential and I was disappointed in the end.  And as far as How To Be An Antiracist goes, I thought it was an incredible read, I really did!  It was so educational and I spent a lot of time thinking about its content.  But.  I very rarely reread non-fiction, and if I do, it’s for research purposes.  The odds of me rereading this are very low, however wonderful it was.

In fact!  When it comes to culturally important books like How To Be An Antiracist I feel it’s more important to pass it forward.  Which is what I’ve done – this one didn’t get donated, instead it was handed off to a friend.  I hope they learn as much as I did!

Magic and Mischief on the Blog

So.  Fun thing I’ve been working on for my Great Bookcase Crusade page!

As I hinted in my September Wrap Up, I had to have my laptop repaired, so I was filling my time a little differently.  In lieu of my laptop, I found myself doodling a lot on my iPad and I started making bookshelves… for my previous reads.  I liked the design, and so I’m working on refreshing my Great Bookcase Crusade page with these illustrations:

Screenshot of the new Great Bookcase Crusade design

The pages on my blog are kind of a mess and have been for a long time.  I’m slowly working on fixing them up… my About Me and Problematic Authors pages also need aesthetic facelifts, so know that those are on the long-term docket as well. 🙂  I’m hoping that this design will help consolidate that page a little – it’s quite long and cluttered!

   book talk halloween horror books vs. horror movies

From Page to Screen: The Shining   book tags: the quick fire fantasy book tag

book talk: how villains keep stealing our hearts

My WIPs: Meet My Story: The Secret of Treacher's Creek   From Page To Screen: The Girl With All The Gifts

What Have I been Scribbling?

The last few months I’ve been talking about how I’ve been editing one of my friends’ manuscripts.  WELL.  I finished it and got it back to her!  It took me entirely too long, I should have had it back to her months ago.  It was certainly a learning experience for me – editing a full novel takes a lot more out of me than chapter here and there!

Well, I have learned.  It was a great experience, and I’m really excited for her.  As a whole, I really enjoyed her story and I think she’s got a great foundation and am looking forward to critiquing future drafts!  For now, though, I have some time for my writing.

With the grey skies and spooky vibes, I’ve started digging into Rhapsody In Blue again, which was what I planned on doing.  At this point, I’ve been restructuring it in my head and starting to dig into references and making more of a plot plan.  Like most of my writing, I believe that the story needs to be started over.  I’m also going to drag it back a year – I don’t feel equipped to write a ghost story set in 2020.  This year has been too politically charged, and I am definitely not qualified to talk about Black Lives Matter… but I couldn’t just leave it out because that wouldn’t be right either.  Since the story talks about multiple friends, too, COVID quarantine just wouldn’t work.

So I’m setting the story backward in 2019, and I actually hand-wrote my ghost’s story a la Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.  I feel I have a sturdier foundation than I did in April when I wrote it for Camp NaNoWriMo.  I’m going to take it slow and get to know the characters and do research and write to right.  And not set pen to paper until I have an outline.

Adventures in the real world!

The beginning of October was busy!  Like – strangely busy for us in times of COVID… to the point of almost feeling normal.  We were lucky enough to take a socially distanced train ride through the White Mountains with some friends at the beginning of the year.  We don’t see them a lot (we’re not very social in normal times) so I hadn’t seen them for over a year and they’re just those people that you instantly reconnect with and it was so nice.  Exhausting, but nice.  I will drop a post soon about the excursion, but in the meanwhile, here’s a photo to tide you over.  We missed peak season in northern New Hampshire (a lot of the leaves had already faded to brown) but it was still stunning.

train going around a corner

I also turned, blech, thirty-one in October.  So we celebrated by going to a farm-to-table restaurant one of my friends has been trying to get me to try for six years.  It was a little bit of a drive, but it was otherwise really nice.  Again, one of those places that was doing temperature checks and distancing really well.

Small nice things, but we pulled back in after the beginning of the month.  Fortunately, I was able to quarantine for two weeks after these things before my next in-house work shift, so the timing worked out really well as well.

What’s Coming Next?

Up in November, I’ve got a conversation about star ratings, as well as a Book vs. Movie that are almost so hilariously different, I half-wonder why they bothered with the “based on the book” at all!  I think that the reviews are going to be about the same – light at the beginning of the month and heavier near the end.  I hope I’m able to find my groove again soon on hardcopy books!

There are a few books on my upcoming TBR I’m really looking forward to – I have a few in a row I was able to pull from my TBR jar, but also some exciting preorders.  In particular, I’m really looking forward to Skyhunter!  What books is everyone else looking forward to?  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to read all these books by the end of the year, but in order for that to happen, I’ll have to pick up my reading – plus I want to clear out all my ARCs by January as well.  We’ll see!


What did everyone do this month?  Did you get a lot of reading done?  Did you start on a new WIP?  Did you go on any grand (or small!) adventures?  I want to hear all about your experiences – let me know in the comments!

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