Wrap Up: September 2020

  • This Is Shakespeare by Emma Smith (★★☆☆☆)
  • Luster by Raven Leilani (★★★☆☆)
  • A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (★★★★☆)
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid (★★☆☆☆)
  • Blood+ Volume 1 by Asuka Katsura (★★★★☆)
  • Blood+ Volume 2 by Asuka Katsura (★★★★☆)
  • Blood+ Volume 3 by Asuka Katsura (★★★★☆)
  • Blood+ Volume 4 by Asuka Katsura (★★★☆☆)
  • Blood+ Volume 5 by Asuka Katsura (★★★★☆)
  • Before and After the Book Deal by Courtney Maum (★★★★☆)
  • The Lost Village by Camilla Sten (★★★☆☆)
  • The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang (★★☆☆☆)
  • The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman (★★★☆☆)
  • A Concise Guide to the Quran by Ayman S. Ibrahim (★★★★☆)


September was a very uneven reading month. I didn’t read as much as I expected to, and nothing that I read particularly wowed me. Even the books I enjoyed I didn’t grow particularly attached to in any way, so I felt kind of apathetic, and that led to me being kind of apathetic about reading in general. Alas.

I’m hoping that I break that streak. I have high hopes, since I’m currently reading some good stuff:

Okay, so I’ve been reading Harrow the Ninth for almost two months now, but it’s not because I’m disliking it. In fact, I’m liking it more than Gideon, and I honestly think that is because I’ve employed the strategy of reading any and all spoilers that I can find. Even with spoilers, I have a ton of questions, but the book is not nearly as incomprehensible as it could have been. Since I’m not bogged down by confusion, I can let myself get absorbed into the world and the writing style. Which, speaking of, I don’t remember if the writing was this good in Gideon, but here’s it’s just so damn excellent, so sharp, so clever, so delightful.

I’ve been meaning to read Clean for a while, but especially now, since I’ve been getting more and more into skincare. I’ve always been curious about skin and dermatology, but I feel like there is so much contradictory information on the internet that I would really like to read something by a doctor who espouses minimalism when it comes to skincare. And of course, A Deadly Education, which came out yesterday, is one of my most anticipated releases of the whole year. I’m only about five pages in but I already love the humor; I have a feeling I’m going to adore this book.

Television Update

I’ve watched so little TV this month. I feel like my TV consumption in general keeps decreasing steadily, which is…odd and kind of disappointing. I love TV! Maybe I’m just going through a phase. Anyway, I did watch a few things.

Lucifer (Season 5, Pt. 1)

Netflix finally released the new season of Lucifer, and it was freaking delightful. There’s little I can say about it without spoiling some great twists, but I’ll just say that I’m continually impressed by how the narrative manages to integrate all of the side characters into the A-plot by creating various B-plots. I binged all eight episodes in two days and I felt so much joy.

Avatar the Last Airbender (Season 3, Episodes 1-6)

So…I’m still doing my ATLA rewatch. Not sure why I’ve slowed down so much, especially as season 3 is arguably the best. Zuko’s arc hits its apex, Suki joings the gang, we get bloodbending, there’s tons of Zutara content, and the stakes are super duper high. Hopefully I will finish this soon because I really want to rewatch Korra, which is now on Netflix!

Blood+ (Episodes 1-27)

So, after reading the manga adaptation and finding it kind of unsatisfying in terms of pacing and character depth, I decided I wanted to rewatch the anime. I think the last time I watched this was…back in 2012, maybe? Or perhaps even earlier. It’s always been one of my all-time favorite anime; it’s gorgeously illustrated and fast-paced and features somewhat less of the dramatics that tend to annoy me in anime. At the same time it’s your classic Japanese Schoolgirls Fights With Katana. And it has one of my favorite ships, Haji and Saya, who actually inspired the main pairing in one of my novels!

I’m over halfway through, as the episodes are super short, but I may put this on pause for a bit, as I usually dedicate October to horror/spooky films and television.

Film Update

  • Little Evil (★★★☆☆): This is horror-comedy that is just as silly and dumb as the film poster makes it look, but it’s an interesting spin on the Anti-Christ trope. It was enjoyable enough, and I love Adam Scott. Also Sally Field is in this??? Bizarre.
  • Malevolent (★★★★☆): This has really bad reviews but I don’t understand why? It’s not the best horror film I’ve ever seen but it does what it needs to do. I also thought it was kind of cool how it sets you up for one horror subgenre and then another one follows it up. Plus Florence Pugh is a treasure, as always.

Other Reading

How to Make an Apple Pie: Ecologies and Economies in SFF by Jenn Lyons: I love articles about worldbuilding, and here Lyons speaks about the minutiae of it all, and whether or not you choose to ignore minutiae. It’s a really interesting exploration that talks about the connectivity of all things as well as the butterfly effect. I really like the overall point being made, which is that so long as your choices are internally consistent, then you can do whatever the hell you want.

The Flawed Fantasy of the Chosen One by Margaret Owen: Discourse about the Chosen One trope is a dime a dozen, but I really like the main point of this particular article, which is whether the Chosen One is enough to actually enforce structural change:

“Instead of interrogating the systems and structures that allowed a great evil to come to power, we are simply content that it is gone, and that a benevolent ruler has replaced it. This is reductive, certainly, but so is the metanarrative it reinforces: that a flawed system can be repaired by simply trading out or removing a few bad pieces.”

This is a particularly fascinating and timely article given everything happening around us right now, specifically the global tide of fascism that seems to be creeping along. The Chosen One narrative is, above all, a fantasy, which is fitting; it’s the fantasy of a silver bullet, a quick solution, but also the fantasy of one person being able to affect change on a major scale easily and quickly. It’s wishful thinking.

R.F. Kuang Wrangles Gods and Monsters by Sona Charaipotra: I’ve been obsessed with R.F. Kuang this past month; I’ve watched like five of her Instagram liveshows and have been seeking out so many of her interviews. I really love this particular one because it’s a great introduction to who Kuang is as a person and writer. She talks about The Poppy War trilogy as a whole and the themes she was hoping to interrogate.

The United States is a Progressive Nation with a Democracy Problem by David M. Perry: I listened to a podcast a while back about the merits of voting for the Democratic party, and one of the participants said something that I agreed with wholeheartedly, which is that, as much as leftists and progressives want socialism, the broad majority of the American public does not, as they are mostly still centrists. This article argues the opposite, that most Americans support progressive policies (as evidenced by Gallup polls) and that the reason those progressive policies are not enacted is due to voter suppression and the inherent undemocratic nature of institutions like the electoral college and the Senate.

I agree with this article to a certain extent, but then it also said this: “Lots of people who want change continue to vote for the status quo embodied by the GOP, whether due to racism, single-issue voting on abortion or guns, or concerns that other people will benefit while they get left behind (usually another form of racism).” So then…if people are so mired in their racism and ignorance and single-issue voting that they will continue to vote for the GOP despite wanting supposedly wanting progressive policies, according to Gallup, then do those Gallup polls actually mean anything at all, practically speaking? If people want progressive policies in the abstract but will not actually shift their voting practices to attain those policies, then their wants and desires are functionally meaningless.


I visited Kingston in upstate NY, which was really fun! We didn’t spend too much time there or really do much, because social distancing and all that, but we sort of drove around the town and got to see what it looked like. We spent some time along the Hudson River and it was an all around great day. It was nice to get out of the city for the first time since last year! Plus we’re considering moving somewhere upstate so we want to get a feel for what the towns up there are like.

In other news…nothing much has happened. Well, I did rename one of my WIPs from the absolutely horrendous Courting Season Murder Timez to THE SEVENTH MADNESS, which is just…so much cooler and more thematically appropriate. This is not that momentous, but like…literally nothing else happened in September, so it’ll have to do.

But it’s officially SPOOKY SEASON! Happy October y’all! Are you doing anything special for Halloween? Planning on watching any films or series? I’m excited for Hulu’s Monsterland and Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor. I also wanted to give The Haunting of Hill House another shot – I only got through half the first episode because I thought it was…kind of badly written, to be honest, but it gets so much praise that I feel like I have to give it another shot at some point.

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