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September is a lovely month, but one that hangs on to the past as time drags it forward. Autumn is creeping in, teasing the world outside my window with dark, brisk mornings, long-sleeved arms, and dry brown leaves that skitter across the sidewalks. Yes, the trees are still full and green. The sky is still sunny and blue. The laughter of children is still in the air, at least in the evenings. The temperature still climbs to the 90 mark here and there. But Mother Nature knows, as well all do, that the bright beauty of her summer is fading into the mature and spicy tones of fall, and so September is her time of preparation. She uses this month to ease into the transition, dipping her toes into the cooling waters and slowly shaking off the lush emerald coat draped over the landscape.

September has been my month of preparation, as well. I’ve been extremely busy on the writing front with short story submissions, blog post transitions, and book query reconsiderations, yet I’ve managed to sneak in time for some personal media pleasures, as well. Here are the books, movies, and audio that helped me transition through from summer to fall.

Books & Stories: Luna Station Quarterly released Issue 039 at the beginning of September, so you bet I’ve been all over it!  Some of my favorites from this issue are “The sharmaPet Owner’s Guide to Reptilian Hauntings” by Jerica Taylor, which is fun and highly relatable, and “The Fire Wife” by Erin McNelis. McNelis manages to capture the overtones of a post-war dystopian in a fantasy setting. The cover artwork by artist Corinne Reid is gorgeous, as usual. At the mid-month mark, I picked Pavi Sharma’s Guide to Going Home by Bridget Farr from my ever-growing to-be-read pile. This is one of the three freebie ARCs (advanced reader copies) I nabbed from our local indie bookstore, Curious Iguana. I loved this book! The main character, Pavi, is spunky and energetic and is willing to do what it takes to help out her fellow foster kids. It’s made me seriously consider if fostering is something my family can do in the future.

Movies & Shows: September was about one thing for me: The Good Place. It’s not the only thing I watched, but it’s the most important thing! Of course, I’m now sad I have to ready or notwait an entire year for Netflix to carry the final season, unless a Jeremy Bearimy time loop occurs. One can hope! Netflix also kicked off another short “season” of the Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, which we gobbled up weekly. At the beginning of the month, we took the 16-year-old to see Ready or Not. Normally, slasher movies are not my thing, but this murder-game bloodbath of a movie was an absolute riot. I laughed out loud several times during the movie. The plot is clever, and the actors—especially Samara Weaving as the fox to the family’s hounds—were so much fun to watch. Mid-month, we rented Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart from Redbox, and I can see why it’s received such great buzz. One of my favorite aspects of the movie is that none of the kids are bullied, teased, or shunned by their classmates for their appearances. Wilde kept the laughs free of cheap shots, which may make it unrealistic but overall a relief to watch when it comes to “juvenile humor” movies. We also tuned in to Amazon Prime to watch comedian Alice Wetterlund’s My Mama is a Human and So Am I. I’d never heard of her before Amazon bombarded me with the promos, but I’m glad I checked it out.

Music & Audio: I didn’t listen to much music this past month, which is surprising given I embarked on a weeklong solo road trip to Texas and back. I instead filled the long dreamerdriving hours with two audio books: Caraval by Stephanie Garber and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I started with Caraval, which left me with mixed feelings. I like the way Garber tied up the ending and the premise is compelling, but I found myself often mocking (yes, out loud) the main character, Scarlett, for her conveniently stupid choices and constant caginess about propriety. I also found the “feelings as colors” references annoying. I get that Garber was trying to give Scarlett a certain “quirkiness” but it quickly became distracting. I was much happier with Strange the Dreamer, which took me the two full days between Texas and Maryland to finish and made the trip…well, not easier, but more bearable. Taylor is one of my favorite writers—her prose is gorgeous. The last half of the book took too much of a scenic route through romance territory for my tastes, but I’m intrigued enough with the story to look for the sequel, Muse of Nightmares. Narrator Steve West’s velvet voice made it all the more enjoyable.

That wraps up September. Catch me back here on the last Monday in October to get more of my Monthly Mental Munchies. They’re sure to be a SCREAM!