September 2020 Wrap-Up || I can’t stop gushing about character development

Hi, all—happy October, and happy spooky season!

I’ll admit, that while I’m a Christmas girl through and through, there is a special place in my heart for Halloween. I’ve been binging haunting movies (if we can call Hocus Pocus and Haunted Mansion that), I’ve been listening to true crime stories that make me far too paranoid, and I’m yearning for a trip to the cider mill in which I can live out all of my cozy autumnal dreams. We’re here; we’re ready for the spooky season. Red by Taylor Swift is spinning on my record player, and a fall-scented candle is burning in my near proximity.

But, with each passing month, 2020 manages to bring us another tumultuous storm with no sign of the sun coming out anytime soon. If you are a citizen of the United States and over 18 years of age, please please please make absolutely sure that you are registered to vote (there is still time in some states!). Educate yourself before filling in your ballot. Consider the issues that are at stake with this election. This is our chance to, in our so-called democracy, make our voices heard about the things we care about. And, if you’re unsure of where your political compass points, I urge you to visit the website, which is a quick quiz that will point you in the right direction. Vote with not only your mind, but your heart. Vote with compassion. Vote for the now, and vote for the generations after us.

Like I mentioned in my last recap, I’ve been struggling to pull myself out of a reading slump. With that, I’ve been revisiting some old stories near and dear to my heart; but, I also managed to read some new books that were pretty fantastic too. Not to mention, I FINALLY finished a long-awaited movie series, and I’m feeling all of the feels.

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken – ★★★★★. On a whim, and thanks to a stubborn reading slump, I figured there would be nothing better than to pick up the final book of my favorite series. Since I have read the story before and have though about the characters just about every day since, it would be less painful, right? Wrong. In the Afterlight still stung like hand sanitizer in a paper cut. I thought I was ready; I thought I was prepared. Alas, I was nowhere near either. All jokes aside though, this conclusion is simply stunning. The story itself wraps up in the best way possible, and not without a few twists along the way. Characters grow and transform, letting their words speak for them. And the plot moves forward so naturally and easily that, before you know it, you’ve been reading for hours straight even though it only felt like minutes. Ruby’s overall transformation will never seize to amaze me, and I will never tire reading of her adventures.

The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken – ★★★★★.  After picking up an old favorite, I was more than ready to read a brand new book, meet new characters, right? Wrong again. Rereading just one book wasn’t enough to shake my persistent slump, so I should just press on with the continuation of my favorite series, yeah? The biggest worry I have when an author decides to tack a title onto a beloved series is that the story feels forced, the new characters feel like an afterthought. The Darkest Legacy is anything but; I would even argue that this book is very much a part of the original series—it feels as if you can’t have one without the other. As far as those newly added characters? They felt like they’d been there the whole time. This book floods me with emotions every time I think about it.

*I recently wrote about why I love The Darkest Minds series as much as I do, if you’re interested in giving it a read. And, if you’re specifically interested in The Darkest Legacy, I wrote a review a little while back!

Anxious People by Fredrick Backman – ★★★☆☆. This book started out so well for me! A bank robbery gone wrong? A bank robber who has no idea what they’re doing and accidentally takes hostages? Said hostages all acting as the stereotypes they were assigned? And it all being told in a sarcastic banter? That’s right up my alley. Overall, the book was really enjoyable, but the ending was a little lack luster, which is why I ended up rating it three stars. The three stars isn’t a bad thing though; I’m definitely happy to have read it!

Loveless by Alice Oseman – ★★★★★. It’s been weeks since finishing this book, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Each day that’s passed, I’ve promised myself that I’d finally be getting around to writing that review, but for the life of me, I can’t find the right words to convey how this book made me feel. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book in which a platonic friendship is painted as just as, or even more, important than a romantic one. It was refreshing and beautiful and emotional, and altogether lovely. That full review I mentioned is hopefully coming soon, but I also want to place this disclaimer here: I have seen some readers mention that this is a fantastic representation of asexuality and aromanticism, and I have seen other readers feel not at all represented, condemning what this book did; my personal opinion on this story and the characters is not at all the end-all-be-all opinion. I fully respect all of the differing opinions and simply wanted to mention them.

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan – ★★★★☆. I’ve officially finished the Heroes of Olympus series! Even though I only started the PJO series this past summer, this feels like a long time coming, and the story concluded so, so well. Percy still has no idea what he’s doing. Jason maybe knows what he’s doing. Annabeth is telling everyone that what they’re doing is wrong. Nico is lurking in the shadows. Hazel is trying to control the shadows. Piper is trying to control her voice. Frank is trying to find his. Reyna is trying to come up with a new one. And, somehow, it all comes together in the end. The series was definitely an enjoyable one, and I’m happy to now understand all of the PJO and HoO memes.

Currently reading: Keeping with the theme of rereading books, I’m currently in the middle of The Institute by Stephen King. Even though this is my second time through, the magic of the story is still there. I was immediately captivated by characters I’ve already met, and I want to know how their stories end (even though I already know that painful, painful ending). Plus, it wouldn’t be a proper spooky season with at least one Stephen King book, right?

How to Train Your Dragon 2 & 3. Please consider this post the official proclamation of my love for Hiccup, Toothless, Astrid, Valka, Stoick, Tuffnut, Ruffnet, Snotlout, Fishlegs, Gobber…my love for the movies as a whole, truthfully. I recently watched the first movie for the first time ever (which, I’m still disappointed it took me this long), and fell in love with it instantiously; I knew the sequels would be no different. The only thing I didn’t expect is developing an all-encompassing love for these animated characters. Seeing a scrawny, cautious Hiccup turn into the confident, battle-ready chief by the end of the third movie is the kind of character development that I’m more than here for. I think that’s one of the main reasons I fell in love with this story as much as I did—the transformation that just about every character goes through. Take Hiccup and Toothless for example. Hiccup was raised to fear dragons, and Toothless has spent his life fighting humans. But, by happenstance, both realize that it’s really all a bunch of miscommunication. They learn from each other, lean on each other, and together they change the minds of everyone they interact with. I could cry thinking about it.

Enola Holmes. I feel as if I should disclose that I would watch just about anything with Sam Claflin in it. And we’re adding Henry Cavill to the mix? Then, to top it off, this is a movie about Sherlock Holmes’ curious, adventurous, and inquisitive little sister? Sign me right up, please and thank you. While Enola Holmes didn’t make my favorites list like others (cough cough), the movie itself was definitely enjoyable. Following Enola on her adventure as she attempts to track down her mom was more addicting than I thought it would be—probably because it turned into an adventure in which she was doing just about everything other than finding her mom. She jumped off trains with strangers, bought lavish gowns to disguise herself, and flipped a man onto his back on a cobblestone street. The girl fought for her life countless times, most times in said lavish gowns, and I was entranced the whole time. If you’re intrigued by mystery and wild goose chases, I couldn’t recommend it enough!

I’m getting emotional just looking at this gif.

Margaret over at Weird Zeal graced us with her pure genius-ness when she shared some of the playlists she has created based on books. No word of lie, I had her Raven Cycle playlist on repeat for a probably unhealthy amount of time. Not only are these songs wonderful, but they so perfectly encapsulate the themes of the books and the feelings I had.

Chana from Paper Procrastinators penned an incredible PSA to people who keep recommending books by only white authors, and wow. Each point brought up was well-articulated and well-said, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this post is a must-read.

Sofii at A Book. A Thought. shared her five favorite books with morally gray characters, and I’m beyond myself excited to meet these characters? Morally gray characters are right up there for me with flawed characters—they’re so wonderfully corrupt, and they almost never do the right thing; it’s fantastic to read about. And, seeing as I haven’t read any of the books Sofii mentioned, I’m even more excited to get my hands on them now.

Lais from The Bookish Skies shared an incredible post in which she discusses expectations about own-voices books and opens up about colonization and white-washed references. To put it lightly, this post blew my mind. Lais is an incredible and supportive blogger, and I love hearing about her experience any chance I get; and any words I come up with to summarize her points simply won’t do the post any favors. Please give it a read!

Bri from Marshmallow Harmonies recommended books based on musicals, and it’s really all I’ve ever wanted. The musicals she mentioned themselves are out-of-the-water fantastic, and I don’t think I could be more excited to finally read some of these books—especially after them being connected to some pretty wonderful musicals.

Emme at A Literary Latte discussed her experience as a book blogger that doesn’t write reviews. Considering I’ve yet to write an official book review for 2020 (yikes), I found myself relating to this post all too well.

Kat from Novels & Waffles recommended 20 different books for each Camp Half-Blood Cabin, and I couldn’t have loved this post more even if I tried. Each book seemed to fit so well within that cabin; I for one, as a proud Cabin 7 camper, am over the moon (the sun?) excited to get my hand’s on The Poet X.

As Anne Shirley said, I’m so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers; aren’t you?

So, what do you think? Have you recently watched a new favorite movie? Have you reread any old favorites? Are you excited for the Halloween season? Let’s chat!

14 thoughts on “September 2020 Wrap-Up || I can’t stop gushing about character development

  1. I definitely should pick The darkest minds someday. Also, you made me remember I haven’t watched the third movie from HTTYD yet so I must do that now. Glad you had a good reading month!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t believe I haven’t read The Darkest Legacy yet, last year I reread the entire main trilogy to read that one and I never did 😂, needs yo happen, though. 👏🏻
    OMG it’s an honor for me that you liked my post, thank you SO much for including it in your list ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t read any Fredrick Backman yet so Anxious People Will now be on my list! I just borrowed Beartown from the library too. 😁

    Ahhh yes How to Train Your Dragon has captured my heart! It’s so endearing and who can resist the cuteness of the dragons!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “It’s frickin bats. I love Halloween” is my mood for this entire month.

    Ahhh I’m so so so happy you loved Loveless!! I can completely relate to not having the words to talk about it. We stan a book that celebrates platonic friendships!! And hooray, I’m so excited for you finishing the Heroes of Olympus books! (At this rate, you’re probably going to catch up with Rick Riordan’s books before I do.)

    How to Train Your Dragon also brings me endless happiness, and I’m so glad it could for you too. I would give anything for Toothless to be a real dragon that I could become best friends with.

    Thank you so much for sharing my post, and YES I’m delighted that you listened to my TRC playlist so much! Hope you have a lovely October, Lauren ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As it should be, Margaret; as it should be. 🦇

      Loveless was just so good?? I’m not quite sure why I’m surprised, seeing as I fell in love with Radio Silence in a very similar way, but Loveless just felt really special. And oh man, I wouldn’t bet on that. I still need to start the Trials of Apollo series, seeing that the last one just came out!

      Right?! There is a lot of unfairness in the world, but it’s very very unfair that we all can’t have pet dragons.

      Of course! Your playlist just always hit the right spot. Happy October, Margaret!


  5. Seeing Rick Riordan here just reminded me that I totally need to read the Percy Jackson books!! I was meant to this summer but I just completely forgot about it. They do seem like good autumnal reads though (I’ve been in the mood for fantasy/non-contemporary books lately) so I think October will be the month to start! I read The Lightning Thief ages ago and loved it so I’m excited to see how it all pans out.
    Hope you have a great October <3.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. October/Fall definitely feels like it’d be the most perfect time to read the rest of the PJO series! I’m really glad that you fell in love with TLT, and I only hope that you love the rest of the series as well!

      It’s so weird to say, because it’s such a well-loved series, but wow wow wow, it was wonderful.

      Happy October, Emme!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. lauren, you changed your header! the new one looks so cuteeeee, i love the font you chose.

    i also absolutely LOVE your mini review for blood of olympus! the way you put it, you can see really clearly how much all the perspectives are intertwined and how the characters’ goals kinda mirror each other. i know not a lot of people love blood of olympus, but it’s personally my favorite installment in the series. it’s not as satisfying as last olympian by any means, but one thing i loved is how in the last olympian we see the demigods fighting because they’re being neglected by their olympian parents and then in blood of olympus, we see them fighting alongside their olympian parents. it just made me so!!!!!! hahah.

    i really loved enola holmes – it’s definitely a movie i can see myself re-watching many times in the future. i like the fact there’s a mystery and it’s exciting, but it doesn’t leave me overly anxious, lol. i have not finished the how to train your dragon series yet because i’m TERRIBLE, and i need to get on it already!!!!! i miss these characters, it’s been forever since i last rewatched any of them.

    thank you so much for the shoutout, lauren! and thanks for the kind words about the post as well, i was pretty hesitant in posting it! hope you’re having an amazing october & sorry it took me so long to get to this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AH! Thank you so much, Lais – you are so kind! I’m also a big fan of the font, so I’m SUPER happy to hear you love it as well!

      Yes, exactly! Blood of Olympus was such a satisfying end, and the characters so beautifully reflected each other, while still growing into themselves. I really felt like I had grown up with them, despite being an adult and reading them LOL. I definitely will agree that Last Olympian was more satisfying, but Blood of Olympus certainly wrapped up so nicely. And we love seeing the Olympian parents actually helping and not being jerks!!

      Yes! Even watching it for the first time, Enola Holmes felt like it could very easily, and very quickly, become a comfort movie for me. And OMG, you’ve GOT to watch the finished the HTTYD series!! I have a feeling it’s really going to steal your heart.

      And oh my word, of course Lais. Your post was incredible, and I’m so happy you beat that hesitance and posted it. I loved reading every single word of it. I hope your October is turning up gold!

      Liked by 1 person

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