Off to Alaska with a Pile of Books – My September 2021 Wrap Up!

Posted October 4, 2021 by Amber in Checking In / 2 Comments

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Bonjour mes chers.

September went by awfully quickly, didn’t it? Why is it that autumn months always fly by, but the summer and winter ones drag on forever? Regardless, I’ve been grateful for the beautiful weather here in New England and for the slowly changing scenery.  I love autumn so much and October is my favorite of all months (and, no, not just because of my birthday) so I’m absolutely thrilled to be rolling into the heart of autumn.

September was a busy/good month personally and I am excited to share a little bit about it with you! I feel like a lot of my wrap-ups are sort of bleh so it’s exciting to have exciting things to say.  Really, it’s just all… exciting.

I kid.  It was a pretty normal month, but I’m in a good mood so here we are. 🙂

All the things I’ve been reading

I took September a bit more lightly than usual because of all I read in August and I know I’ll be busting through some books on the Alaska cruise at the end of the month.  I gave myself a bit of a break to blog and play Stardew Valley (yes, I’m still obsessed).  The change of pace has been nice.  I don’t feel that I’m in a slump because when I sit does to read, I read.  But the summer was big on reading and at present I’m just enjoying life.

lot more non-fiction in September than usual, and I think that requires an explanation.  You’ll notice several of the books listed below don’t have reviews on the blog and that’s by design. I love to continue learning and for the last several years, I’ve been listening to The Great Courses in the evening as a wind-down.  Audible – part of Jeff Bezos’ evil empire, unfortunately – was having a $10 sale on the Great Courses. Normally, these audiobooks go for $50.  I was taken in.  And I feel a bit guilty because I feel like buying things from a Bezos company is a bit like punching an Amazon worker in the face… so it’s definitely pure privilege I was able to do this.  Audiobook listeners know that to get the best deals on Amazon, you have to sign up for their subscription service.  I signed up for exactly one month, bought a LOT of Great Courses books, and decided to take advantage of the Audible-exclusive Great Courses until my subscription tried u on September 25th. So yeah. I’ve been listening to a lot of brief lecture series and I’ve been loving it.

On the bright side, I should never be tempted by Audible for the Great Courses again after this because I think I have enough now to last me the next several years.  Huzzah!

13 books found
A History of Video Games

★★★★

Ayseha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

★★★★½

Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories: What We Should and Shouldn't Believe - and Why

★★★

Generals and Geniuses - A History of the Manhattan Project

★★★★

In Love & Pajamas by Catana Chetwynd

★★★★★

Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann

★★★★★

Medieval Myths and Mysteries by Dorsey Armstrong

★★★★★

★★★★★

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

★★★½

The Hidden History of the Holidays

★★★

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

★★★★½

The World According to Cats by Susie Yi

★★★½

What's Up Beanie by Alina Tysoe

★★★★½

 

This month, I leaned toward adventurous books, as usual.  That said, I disagree with some of the books that were labelled as adventurous? Some of the historical non-fiction I listened to was labelled “adventurous” and just… no? My secondary genres were lighthearted and informative, which feel more accurate to my reading in September. I favored medium-paced books and read books of all lengths this month. In a very rare phenomenon, I read more non-fiction in September than fiction.  My most read genre was history and then there was a four-way tie of three books each between lgbtqiap+young adultromance, and contemporary.  My average rating was 4.25 stars, a good month, especially considering how far off my normal reading I was.

Readathons & Reading Challenges

I got stuck in American Gods, if I’m being really honest.

It’s a long book, my copy is a mass market paperback (a format I don’t like on a good day, let alone for behemoths like American Gods) and it’s honestly not my favorite Neil Gaiman. When I pulled it from my TBR Jar, I kinda knew I wasn’t going to like it, but you know, it had been 15 years since I last read it and maybe 31-year-old me would enjoy it more than 16-year-old me. … … She did not. So that book – in both length and general unenjoyment – got me behind.

3 books found

★★★★★

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

★★★½

What's Up Beanie by Alina Tysoe

★★★★½

So we ended up with three logged hardcopy books for the month of September and even then, it only sorta worked out because I decided to pause American Gods and hold on to it for Alaska and I picked up What’s Up Beanie? instead. Reminder – support your favorite comic artists!

Magic and Mischief on the Blog

Actually, I am working on a few different update-esque things around the blog. WordPress emailed me recently regarding extending their support for classic editor and I went, “Oh CRAP that’s right, that’s going to go away eventually!” … … I’ll be honest, I tried block editor on WordPress for like… ten seconds and went NOPE.

That email was a wake up call reminder me I needed to Figure Stuff Out. So I’ve started working around black editor, creating reusable blocks, and so forth. I’m trying to actually write new posts in block editor now, but the only one I can’t perfectly figure out is my Wrap Up / Readathon posts. I use Book Database’s Book Grid module for things like my TBR and GBC, and in order to get the proper books to populate, I list individual book IDs. That’s not a feature available in the block editor version, so I’ve got to figure it out. I may end up emailing the developer – she’s been really cool about helping me with stuff like that before.

So point and fact… you may see some slightly different formatting on my posts, especially the reviews, going forward. Oh, and I added a soft grey background color, switched to a sans serif font, and widened the body of the site. Small aesthetic changes.

What’s New on the Problematic Authors page?

Once again, we’re looking at some disappointing new additions to the Problematic Authors page in September.

Under Code Red, we have Marion Zimmer Bradley and Mercedes Lackey. These were both recommended to me by an individual on Twitter. While I normally don’t take recommendations (not because I disagree, just because that page could easily come my full-time job), I knew my own reading wouldn’t take me across these two organically. And yikes are these decidedly not good.

Neil Gaiman, author of the dreaded American Gods I was talking about earlier, meets us in Code Orange. A more complicated figure and certainly more problematic historically than at present, at least according to my findings. John Green has also been added to Code Orange.

Only one addition to Code Yellow – Melissa De La Cruz, whose general works are fine but she edited a book that contains questionable content in some of the essays so I didn’t just want to ignore that.

By recommendation from the same individual that sent me Zimmer Bradley and Lackey, I’ve also added a notation to some of the authors on these pages. Some authors are now listed as “Historical”. … I agree with the suggester that this is an important designation – I struggle with historical authors because within their contexts and ability to learn, their level-of-problematicness differs on a scale. For example, Shakespeare would have seemed incredibly progressive during his time and especially given the information accessible to him in that era… but he doesn’t hold up under a modern lens. It’s tricky, so I hope adding that designation clarifies the context a little.

All the Posts You May Have Missed…

Book Talk: Overused Topics in the Blogosphere

Knossos & Heraklion, Crete (Greek Islands Cruise 2021)     Seven Debuts That Were Absolutely Awesome

Filerimos Monastery and the Medieval City of Rhodes

How My Major in History Has Informed My Writing      The Sacred Island of Delos

From Page to Screen: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Olympia and the Temple of Zeus  Book Talk: Banned Books Why Censorship Hurts Us All

What Have I been Scribbling?

My beta reader has gotten Fate back to me.

And it’s tricky because she’s also my coworker and when she handed it back, all I wanted to do is stop working ALL DAY and talk to her about it.

She had some amazing advice, including cutting down the number of POVs and giving greater motivation in some areas. She talked me out of cutting a certain character as well, and told me to lean in on some chemistry between a couple others. I haven’t looked through all her advice yet but, I’m slowly perusing and preparing new plans.

I actually started rewriting. Or, rather, started writing the first chapter. For such a long time, the beginning of the book has started with Jessica in the courtroom, but I also know that I need to back up a little to give a moment to establish the family’s relationships and provide a smidge of context to justify the next scene. I got a whole paragraph in before I got pulled away (by work, *sigh*) but the point is, I started!

I’m much more motivated to work on Fate and The Sin Series than I am to work on anything else. Fate needs a lot of work and I have some major changes in mind on top of the ones my lovely beta reader suggested, so I have a lot of work ahead of me… and I’m looking forward to it.

Adventures in the real world!

September as a whole was a quiet month. We spoke all summer about going to King Richard’s Faire in September or August – it’s been a few years since we’ve gone and it’s fun! Also, I have an excellent pirate’s hat that I literally have NO other occasion to wear, so there’s that. Somehow, it never came together in September and it looks like October will probably be too busy as well.  Next year?

Of course, there is the whole “we went to Alaska” thing. I’m going to be cryptic about that just like I was back in July with Greece. I believe the last Greece post is dropping on Friday (Santorini!) and I’ll be introducing the Norwegian Encore next week before taking you to Alaska. I’m not sure I mentioned this (I probably did) but I’ve got travel posts to take us all the way into next year. Making up for lost time!

Here’s a single picture, though, as a teaser…

Glacier Bay National Park

What’s Coming Next?

October is the month of spooky posts! This year isn’t too heavy on them compared to normal, but I did try to nod to ghost stories and horror a shabby stab things a little in October. Travel-related, there is some sense of irony that we’re going to Halloween Horror Nights, but won’t get back in time to post about them during October (those posts are actually going to drop in December. Nightmare Before Christmas, anyone?).

I’m hoping with the October wrap up I’ll have figured out the block editor for these posts and I can bring you something more organized. In the last month or so, Nicole over at Thoughts Stained With Ink (one of my favorite blogs – go say hello!) started using jump links in her posts similar to what I remember AMA essays looking like in college (it’s been a minute, I may have this completely wrong). While I’m not looking to  mimic that entirely, I’d love to start using anchors and jump links in my wrap ups because these ones get long. Fun to write, interesting to go back and read, but they are lengthy. So we’ll see how the learning goes!

In the interim, I hope you all have the best October. Have a wonderful Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Day of the Dead, Halloween, Samhain, National Coming Out Day, or whatever else you are celebrating in this, the best of all months. 🙂 See you soon!

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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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2 responses to “Off to Alaska with a Pile of Books – My September 2021 Wrap Up!

    • Amber

      Please, please live vicariously through my travel posts! I actually toyed around with whether or not I was going to post them back when I had all of Greece’s stuff, because I am super well aware of both my privilege and my recklessness in traveling. I ended up doing them because I enjoy writing them, and I’m glad you enjoy reading them!