Top Five Wednesday: Book Wish List (#T5W)

I think we’ve established that I have more than enough books on my Kindle, on my bedside table, and on my TBR shelf. I probably have enough to keep me reading for years without ever buying another book. Yet somehow that does not seem to stop me from buying more, or putting more on my wish list.

This week’s “Top 5 Wednesday” topic, inspired by the holiday season, is asking about the top five books on your wish list. Narrowing my list down to just five was challenging. Luckily, a lot of the books on my list don’t release until 2019. So, I excluded those (for now…they’ll probably show up in a future T5W post…). Since the spirit of this list is about gift giving, and giving print books is usually more fun than giving/receiving ebooks, I decided to keep my top five focused on the books I wouldn’t mind having in print.

Given that, right now the top five books on my wish list this year are (in no particular order):

  1. Skyward by Brandon Sanderson — I’m super curious about this book. It sounds like something I would love. But I’m skeptical. No offense to an author who is clearly a beloved fantasy writer, but I’ve been a little unsure about white male writers writing young female main characters of late. I’ve been burned before. So, I’m hesitant to spend money on this when I might not like it. Also, I don’t love the cover, which is kind of a maker or break it print buy thing for me. My solution to this is that I’m waiting for it to come out in paperback, be available at the library, or for someone to get it for me.
  2. The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi — I loved the first book in this series and am really excited to find out what happens next, just not $13.99 on Kindle worth of excited. Especially not when I have a pile of other great stuff to read. So, like Skyward, I’m waiting for it to be available in paperback, or at my library, or to go on sale, or for someone to get it for me.
  3. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle — Somehow I never read this book. I was reading a blog post recently on Tor’s website talking about how it’s the 50 year anniversary of this book and how well it’s held up. The article really made me want to read this book. Unfortunately, because it’s an older book, it appears you can only get it in print. No digital options are available. So, I added this to my wish list.
  4. Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The rise and reign of the unruly woman by Anne Helen Petersen — I recently listened to a Smart Bitches podcast interview with the author of this book and immediately added it to my wish list. Non-fiction is an automatic print read for me, unless I can get it on audiobook from the library. Reading non-fiction in a digital format annoys me. I think it’s because I’m a very visual reader who can flip back to find a passage in print a book super fast because I remember where it was physically on the page and in the text. I can’t do that as well in digital, and its something that I find useful when reading (or referencing) non-fiction.
  5. The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll — I’m a bullet journal nerd and this book looks great. I’m always looking for inspiration and ideas for how to organize and track things better. This would make an excellent present for any paper-planner person in your life. I put it on the wish list I sent to my “The Broke and The Bookish” secret Santa. But, if I don’t get it from them, I may just have to buy myself a copy.

If you happen to be someone I exchange gifts with, and you don’t know what to buy me, you can always check what books are on my “want to read” list over on Goodreads. Those are the books I don’t own yet, but that I’ve marked as ones I want to read. Some more than others. Conversely, if you’re looking to rule out something I may already own, just have a look at my tbr-Kindle or tbr-paper shelves. If it’s on one of those, then I already own it.

What books are on your wish list? Definitely let me know, especially if we exchange presents. Also, let me know if you’ve added Eve of the Fae or Vivian’s Promise to your wish list this year, or if you’re planning to give a copy as a gift, because that would be awesome, and I would love to know about it! 🙂

November reading summary and NaNoWriMo recap

Well, it’s taken me all weekend to (mostly) recover from NaNoWriMo. I made achieved the 50k words in 30 days goal, but the first draft of book two isn’t done yet. Right now it’s looking like I’ll need to write a total of around 70-75k words to get to “the end” in this first draft. But still… Winner!!! 🙂

NaNoWriMo is always a challenge for me. The “writing with abandon” mantra is not always a good fit with how I write. That’s partly why I enjoy participating. It pushes me a bit because it favors the pantser, and I like that it brings an infusion of serendipity and whimsy into my writing, because I’m a planner. I write really lean and organized first drafts. I don’t like writing words I’m just going to have to cut later. And I don’t write super fast, because I tend to edit as I go. Even though I tried not to edit during NaNoWriMo, it was pretty much impossible. So, I just wrote the way I write and took extra time to make sure I got to 50k words before the end of the month. It worked, but it took a lot out of me, as it does every year.

Based on the past few months of writing, I think a target of about 25k (new) words per month is probably about right for me in a non-NaNo month. I like to write every day, when I can, but I don’t like to feel like I have to write 1700 words every day. That’s about three hours of writing for me, when you factor in breaks. And I have other things I need to do in a day, even if I’m not “working” at a “real job.”

The other thing I figured out this month is that every single time I got stuck it was because I didn’t do a good enough job planning where I was going next or because I forgot to research something or figure out how I wanted it to work ahead of time. For example, I did a great job thinking through character names in October, because I know that always slows me down. But, I forgot to spend time working out the details around the magic system, and I didn’t do nearly enough prep around the capabilities and characteristics of my antagonist and her crew. So, some of those scenes were much slower to write then they needed to be. I may spend some time working out those details this week, now that the big push for words is over.

Since NaNoWriMo kept me busy in November, I didn’t have much time for reading. This is so unusual for me, but I only finished one book in November. I did get about halfway through Muse of Nightmares during Tome Topple, but the writing came first. So, as much as I’m loving that book, I didn’t allow myself much time to keep reading and finish it.

Seafire by Natalie Parker was the one book I finished in November, and it was pretty great. My only gripe was that it ended on a cliff-hanger. I wasn’t expecting that. For some reason, I hadn’t grasped that this was supposed to be a series. Even if I had, I still don’t think I would have anticipated that the book would end where it does. So, if cliff-hangers bug you, maybe wait until the next book is out to read this one. But, definitely add it to your TBR. I love the female pirate crew in this book. The characters are great, the friendships are so well done, the world-building for lives primarily lived on the sea or near the sea is thoughtful and logical. It’s listed as “fantasy,” but I’m not sure I would classify this as fantasy. It could be fantasy if you assume that the setting is meant to be secondary-world, but that world operates under laws of science like our own, so that’s why I think of it as more futuristic, possibly even post-apocalyptic, sci-fi. So, if you like your speculative fiction more on the plausibly realistic side, and if you like found family and female friendships, you definitely need to check this book out.

The first few weeks of December are going to continue to be busy as I finish this first draft, edit a novella, and prep different novella for release later this month. My goal is to have everything wrapped up by launch day (12/18), and then spend the rest of the year reading, hanging out with family, and having a little reflection and goal setting time in my bullet journal. But, don’t worry, I’ll definitely be posting for “Top Five Wednesday” and other fun stuff throughout the month.

Until then…Happy last month of the year! Happy reading! And happy holidays!

New Modern Fae book coming soon!

I’ve been so busy with NaNoWriMo and writing book two in the Modern Fae series that I *almost* forgot to tell you about the Modern Fae prequel novella that’s coming out in three weeks! Yikes!

Here are the top five reasons you want to go pre-order this book right now:

  1. Vivian’s Promise can be read as stand-alone novella. That’s right, you don’t have to read Eve of the Fae to get what’s going on here. The two books are definitely connected, but if you haven’t read book one, yet, or if you aren’t sure you’ll like it, the prequel novella is another perfectly acceptable place to start with my series.
  2. Do you like your Fae on the creepy side? My world has both creepy Fae and more friendly Fae, but this book happens to feature a trickster Fae who is definitely on the creepy side.
  3. How about fake relationships? The two main characters in this novella (Vivian and Oscar, both humans) are strangers at the start of the story, but have to pretend to be engaged in order to survive an encounter with the Wild Hunt.
  4. Are you a fan of gruff heroes who are sensitive but not necessarily forthcoming with their emotions? If so, you’re probably going to fall in love with Oscar.
  5. How about short and spunky heroines who aren’t afraid of speaking up? Regardless of whether she’s facing off with the leader of a gang of ghosts or standing up to her parents, Vivian may be the sweet auntie in Eve of the Fae, but she’s definitely got a salty side.

Bonus reasons to grab a copy of Vivian’s Promise: it’s a short, fast, fun read, and it’s only $1.99.

Vivian’s Promise will be released on 18 December in ebook format, only (because it’s a novella). Pre-orders are up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Google Play and iBooks links are coming soon. You can also add it to Goodreads. And, please feel free to request the ebook from your local library.

Thanks for your support! I can’t wait to share this new release with you!

Top 5 books I almost forgot I want to finish before the end of 2018 (#Top5Wednesday)

It’s Wednesday again and time for another Top 5 Wednesday post. This week, we’re supposed to be talking about books we want to read before the end of the year.

I was going to skip this one because I sort of already did this with my end of year TBR. Then I sort of did it again with my Tome Topple TBR. But several other books have popped back up on my radar due to podcasts, end of year best of lists, Goodreads choice awards, etc. So, in an effort to not repeat myself, and because my TBR is insane right now, I thought I’d make this list about five books that I almost forgot about, but really want to read before the end of the year.

Here are the top five books I almost forgot that I want to read this year:

I’ve been really enjoying the “Lady Sherlock” series by Sherry Thomas. So, when I realized that I had the first book in her YA fantasy, The Burning Sky, on my Kindle, I boosted it to the top of my TBR. That was sometime earlier this year, and I haven’t had a chance to read it, yet. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to squeeze this in before the end of the year.

I’d almost forgotten about Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne. I bought this when it was on sale because I try to read any YA sci-fi that sounds like it might be a space opera. Recently, I’ve been watching Alexa’s YouTube videos on writing and publishing, and now I’m even more curious about how I’ll like her book. I have to say, based on her writing advice and how she talks about her books, I’m sure it will be romantic and melodramatic, but I’m skeptical about her world building skills. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised?

In contrast, the YA sci-fi that I’m most excited about right now is Light Years by Kass Morgan. I’m a big fan of the TV show The 100, but never read the books. So, when I saw that the author had a new series coming out, also sci-fi, I was all over it. I’ve got this book queued up on my hold list at the library, just waiting for me to release it so it can land on my Kindle.

Then, I just saw the trailer for Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, and it looks amazing. I happen to have a signed copy of this book sitting on my shelf, just waiting for me to dive into it. Maybe I’ll grab that today after I finish Seafire. Seems like a good pairing because I know Natalie and Julie are friends.

Another book that I was recently reminded of is Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone. This book is not like anything that normally makes it onto my TBR. However, I’ve been hearing so many people gush about this book that I snatched up a copy months ago, when it was on sale. Then, over the weekend, I listened to an interview with the author on one of my favorite podcasts, and that conversation bounced this back up to the top of my TBR. Or at least to the top five, anyway.

Now, I better get back to finishing my NaNoWriMo novel, or I’m never going to have time to read all these books! Which reminds me… If you’re looking for a fun, fast, winter-themed fantasy read to add to your end of year TBR, you should check out Eve of the Fae. 🙂

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Largest Books on my TBR

It’s Wednesday! Time for a Top 5 Wednesday List! This week’s topic is “Longest books on your TBR” because there’s going to be a #TomeToppleReadathon later this month. Yay!

For this list, I’m only counting books that I actually own, and I’m excluding any multi-book compilations (like The Inheritance Trilogy, or the Southern Reach Trilogy) that I purchased in one ebook bundle or bound set. The individual books within these multi-book bundles may or may not all be over 500 pages.

That leaves these as the top five longest books on my TBR:

The funny thing is, I have no plans to read any of these anytime soon. It’s not that I don’t want to read them…well, most of them, anyway. I just don’t want to read them right now. I’m still excited about the Neal Stephenson books (Reamde and Anathem), but I’m just not in the mood for his writing style right now.

I really want to read The Wise Man’s Fear, but what’s the point when I don’t even know when book three will be available? I’m just going to have to re-read the entire series, anyway. So, I’m saving that.

I also really want to read Kushiel’s Dart, but not enough to bump it ahead of the rest of my end-of-year TBR. I’m going to save it for a different Tome Topple event.

And then there’s City on Fire… I got this in my Indiespensible subscription box. Unlike the others, this one I actually have on paper, and not just paper, but hardcover special edition in a sleeve and everything. It may even be signed. I really should just un-haul this or give it as a gift. I’m probably never going to read this book. But, who knows.

Sad to say, but none of these would make it onto my Tome Topple TBR. Not that I really have time to participate… This month’s Tome Topple Readathon starts at midnight (in your time zone) on November 16th and ends at 11:59pm (in your time zone) on the 29th of November.

If you read my blog, you know my November is already pretty booked up with NaNoWriMo. I think I’m going to participate by reading at least one of the “tomes” on my end-of-year TBR (see previous post), specifically Our Dark Duet and/or Muse of Nightmares. I probably won’t finish one, let alone both, of these 500+ page books during Tome Topple. But, I thought I’d make a Tome Topple TBR anyway…

If I had more time to read, this would be my full Tome Topple TBR:

As you can see, I’m a little bit behind on the Throne of Glass series. Looking through the books over 500 pages on my Kindle reminded me of that. So I added Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn. At this point, I really need a refresher on what happened in the first four books, because I’m not sure I remember where things left off. How sad is that? This was once one of my favorite series… Since the last book in the series (Kingdom of Ash) just came out, it’s probably time to get caught up.

I also added Jade City to my pretend Tome Topple TBR because I’ve been meaning to read this book all year and haven’t gotten around to it. This was one of the Hugo/Nebula nominees that I wanted to try to read before the awards were announced. At this point, it’s not likely I’ll get around to reading it until next year. But, it would definitely be in my top five for Tome Topple.

Are you planning on participating in Tome Topple this month or are you too busy with NaNoWriMo? Are any of these books on your TBR? Let me know in the comments…

October reading recap and end of year TBR

It’s officially NaNoWriMo time, and I should be writing my novel right now. So, I’m going to try to keep this post short. But I wanted to get my October reading recap out there and share my end of year TBR. Yep. That’s right. I’m doing a TBR. Because there are still two more months to go in this year, but I’ve already hit 2018 my reading goal! Whoohoo!

First, what I read this month:

I started the month already in the middle of reading Obsidio and Aru Shah and the End of Time. These two took me a little longer than normal to read. The first (Obsidio) because of the format. I don’t like to carry paper books around with me, and I especially don’t like carrying around large hardcovers. Plus, I couldn’t read it in bed at night without a light on. So, it limited my reading opportunities. But, ultimately, I thought this was a great end to a really fun series. These are some of the best YA sci-fi that I’ve read recently. I highly recommend them. But I also highly recommend you get paper copies because the interior layout takes the form of a compiled file of documents (hence the series title: The Illuminae Files).

Aru Shah took me even longer to finish reading, but not for the same reasons. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but middle grade books are getting increasingly harder for me to read. No matter how good they are, they just don’t hold my attention. Which should be expected. I’m an adult. But, it’s kind of a bummer because most of the kids in my life are just getting to chapter books and breaking into middle grade books, and I like to be able to read whatever I recommend to them so we can talk about it and share favorite bits of the story. I enjoyed Aru Shah and the End of Time, and if you have a kid in your life that loves the Percy Jackson books, but you maybe want to expand their world-view and toss some heroines their way, you should definitely get them a copy of this book.

Somewhere in there, while I was finishing up those books, I read the third book in the Three Dark Crowns series, Two Dark Reigns. I’ve been gushing about this series for a while now, and I also really enjoyed this book. But…the plot has taken a couple of turns that I’m not fully into, and I’m reserving judgement until I see what happens in the next (final?) book. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I feel like at this point in the series we should be reducing the number of contenders for the crown instead of adding more to the mix. If you’ve read this series, let’s discuss in the comments.

In preparation for NaNoWriMo, and because I’m still learning how to do this whole “indie author” thing, I also read a few writing books in October. The only one that I read cover to cover was Marketing Steamy Romance. My books aren’t super steamy. The potentially super steamy scenes fade to black, and I like to try to find a 50/50 balance between romance and fantasy plot in my stories. But, I still found this book super helpful. Finding your readers is really hard. I write what I like to read. But the world is full of great books. Every time I consider my TBR, I’m reminded of that. So, you really have to work to convince readers that they want to try your book next. This book offers a lot of great options that I hadn’t necessarily considered. Plus the author offers pros and cons for all the things she discusses, so you can sort of “choose your own adventure” based on what you’re willing and able to do from a time, talent, and/or budget perspective. If you’re an author, I highly recommend you check out her book, even if you don’t write “steamy romance.”

Now, about that TBR…

I’ve suspended all my library holds for the rest of the year so that I can focus on writing book two in the Modern Fae series. November is going to be mostly writing, and I have a feeling that may bleed into December as well. But, there are a handful of 2018 and 2017 releases that I bought (or received as a gift) that I haven’t had a chance to read, yet. I was (and still am) really excited about these books, and I’d really like to try to finish at least a few of these before the end of the year.

So, when I need a break from writing, this is my end of year TBR:

I’m also starting to think about my reading goals for 2019, because tracking my reading the way that I’ve been doing it is starting to feel like a chore, and it’s sucking some of the joy out of reading. I really love keeping track of what I’m reading and various other related stats (book lengths, genres, diversity of authors and main characters, etc.). But, managing a spreadsheet, plus my Goodreads shelves, plus tracking in my bullet journal is getting to be way too much. Also, library hold availability has started to drive when I’m reading books instead of me just reading what I want to, when I want to.

Now that I’m writing full time, reading has definitely become part of my job, but it’s still also something I do for fun and pleasure. So, I want to try to find a better balance next year. I may do a post on that as we get closer to the end of the year, or once I decide on my 2019 reading goals.

As for what I’m writing for NaNoWriMo this year…If you like Pride and Prejudice, and if you liked the magic competition in book two of V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, you are probably going to love book two in my Modern Fae series. I highly recommend that you read book one now because there are two novellas coming out very soon, and book two will be out in Spring 2019. Click on the image below to read the first chapter and get links to buy at all retailers.

That’s it from me, for now. This post turned out to be much longer than I’d planned. Time to get back to writing. Talk with you more in the comments!

Bullet Journal Set-Up for NaNoWriMo 2018

It’s time. I finally set up my November month at a glance and NaNoWriMo tracker.

This month I’m going minimalist as possible. Only five habits to track, chosen for what I think will keep me healthy and sane while I shift my focus more fully to writing. In terms of health and fitness, my habit goal is to hit my step count every day, try to eat fewer calories than I burn, and shoot for getting at least 45 minutes of continuous movement each day. In terms of mental well-being, my habit goal is at least 5 minutes of meditation and at least 30 minutes of reading for fun. That frees me up to focus the rest of the day on writing. Woo hoo!

This is the first year that I’m not working full time in addition to trying to hit my NaNoWriMo word count goal. I haven’t been able to focus on writing like this since my very first NaNoWriMo, back in 2007. So, this year, I’m shooting for 70,000 words in November instead of 50,000 words. We’ll see how it goes.

You’ll notice I have three benchmark columns in my NaNoWriMo tracker. The first is the basic “peanut butter” goal based on writing 1667 words per day. The second is based on the “reverse NaNoWriMo” method which front-loads the month and decreases your daily word count goal until you get to one word on the last day of the month. I like that method a lot. But, since I’m shooting for 70,000 words this month, I’ve added a third “modified” column. This one starts off using the reverse NaNoWriMo method for the first ten days and then shifts to 2100 words per day for days 11 thru 30.

Ultimately, my goal is to track to the “Modify” column total word count goal. But, I wanted to include all three so that I can make sure I’m at least staying ahead of the “peanut butter” and/or the “reverse” goals.

If you’re planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year, let me know in the comments, and feel free to add me as a buddy on the website. And share your bullet journal word count trackers. I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration.

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Books Featuring Witches

It’s another Wednesday in October. Last Wednesday we talked about monsters. Since I love top 5 lists, and Top 5 Wednesday is awesome, I decided to it again. This week’s topic is about favorite books featuring a paranormal creature of your choice. So, let’s talk witches!

You thought I was going to pick Fae, huh? I considered it. But it’s nearly Halloween, and I have witches on my mind (possibly for costume-related reason but maybe also for book-related reasons…). So, I’ll save Fae for later. Today let’s talk about humans who use magic.

First, I feel like I need to draw a fine line between witches and magicians. Both are magic wielding humans. But to me, magician magic feels more like a showy thing, something that maybe someone has an aptitude for, but has to learn and study to figure out how to do it. I love magician magic, especially schools for magicians, warring magicians, and evil magicians. All excellent fantasy tropes that will most often result in me clicking “add to shelf” on Goodreads. But I associate magicians with classic fantasy. They’re not “paranormal” to me.

Witch magic, on the other hand, seems more primal. Like you’re born with the ability and you just figure it out. Or you have a family tradition that’s passed down with a spell book or something. Witch magic feels more like a practical thing for some reason. It also always seems to involve a lot of blood.

I’d also like to point out, most of the so-called magicians we see in fantasy are men. Which is a bummer. If a woman wields magic in a fantasy world, she’s usually a witch. I refuse to buy into this gendered nonsense. This is why I’m drawing my fine line between magic as a discipline and magic as a primal skill (I feel like The Magicians series, books and show, come the closest I’ve seen to a similar distinction).

In general, I want more female magicians in fantasy, especially of the evil magician and warring magician varieties. So if you have good recommendations (aside from Uprooted and The Night Circus, both of which I’ve read and enjoyed), let me know in the comments. And, similarly, I’d also like more male witches. Maybe as love interests for paranormal heroines (that may or may not be a hint for a future Modern Fae book…).

I think as a kid I read more “witch magic” books, especially ones where you find out you’re a witch on your sixteenth birthday (loved those). But, as an adult, I seem to find myself more often reading “magician magic” books for some reason. I like both types of magic. Honestly, I like all magic. But, I’m going to drop some of my favorite witchy books below, and then you can tell me in the comments if you have any recommendations for me based on my witch/magician rant and my faves. Deal? Cool.

When I think of witches, here are the top 5 books I think of:

  1. The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton — This is the witchiest book I’ve read since…I don’t know when. It’s great. Only a handful of characters in this book are dabbling in witchcraft, but the entire book feels witchy. That’s why I’m giving it the number one slot on my list. If you like witches, you should definitely check this one out.
  2. Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia — Mixtape witches! This book is told in alternating sections between past and present. The witchy bits are mostly in the flashback sections, but if you ever imagined that you and a group of your friends stumbled on a way to do magic, and if you also happen to really like High Fidelity (source of my love of top five lists) you should check out this book.
  3. Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling — The fundamental witches and wizards series for the modern age. Books one through seven, that is. I’m less invested in all the various spin-offs and side-stories.
  4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell — The thing I like best about this book is how the magic works. I love that their spells are song lyrics. I also love that this is basically a Harry Potter / chosen one spoof and that it grew out of a side story in possibly my favorite Rainbow Rowell book (Fangirl).
  5. Dune (series) by Frank Herbert — You may be asking yourself why I’ve included a sci-fi book on a list about witches. Fair question. But, if you’re asking that, then you probably haven’t read this book. The Bene Gesserit, a group of females with special spice-enhanced powers, are called witches throughout the book for the sort-of magic they practice. There are good ones and evil ones and they are all highly political. Basically, they’re space witches, and I love them.

That’s what I’ve got. What do you think? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Top 5 Wednesday: Monsters

I’m feeling like a blog post, and it’s still Wednesday for a few more hours, at least here on the West Coast. And that means that it’s “Top 5 Wednesday” and this week’s topic is “monsters.” So, let’s talk monsters!

I don’t read (or watch) a lot of scary stuff because I don’t like to be creeped out, but sometimes a really good monster is a good addition to an otherwise light and fluffy story.

Here, in no particular order, are my top 5 monsters:

  1. The Dementors from Harry Potter. Those things are freaky. As far as fictional monsters go, I think they may be pretty much perfect. The kind of damage they do to a person is pretty miserable, and the way you get rid of them is pretty awesome. Plus, chocolate. ’nuff said.
  2. The Gentlemen from season 4 episode 10 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is possibly my favorite Buffy episode. It’s definitely in my top 5, at least. I love to watch this one at Halloween because it’s so scary. And funny. And really well acted. And the Gentlemen are terrifying.
  3. AIDAN from the Illuminae Files series. He’ll be the first to tell you, he’s a monster. But, oh such a complex monster. He’s very hard to hate. But he is pretty creepy.
  4. The Stone Eaters from the Broken Earth trilogy. They’re not all bad, but I think they qualify as monsters. I mean, they eat human flesh, but only after it turns to stone from using the obelisks…Which some of them are trying to get the humans to use to destroy the Earth. So…yeah, probably monsters. But incredibly cool and unique monsters.
  5. Shelob, the giant spider from Lord of the Rings. Ugh. Spiders freak me out enough. I do not need them to be that large or that scary. No thank you.

There you go. What cool monster(s) did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

September Reading Recap and NaNoWriMo Prep

September flew by. I read some books. I wrote a lot of words. I got the first book in my “Modern Fae” series ready to publish. I also finished the first draft of a prequel novella in that series. Oh, and it was my husband’s birthday. Phew.

Here’s what I read in September:

I started off the month with a re-read of The House With a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs. This book was one of my favorites as a kid. However, on my re-read, I’m not entirely sure why I liked it so much. The mystery is pretty weak, and there’s a lot of name calling. Plus I didn’t really like the main character. I know I read a LOT of books by John Bellairs as a kid. This is likely the first one I read, but maybe it wasn’t my favorite? Unless my tastes have changed enormously in the past thirty years (maybe, but I don’t think so), I honestly can’t figure out why I remember liking this book. Oh well. I’m still interested in seeing what they do with the movie.

After that disappointment — seriously, I hate it when a childhood favorite doesn’t live up to the memory — I read From Twinkle, With Love. This was another really cute book by the author of When Dimple Met Rishi. This author does adorable heart-warming teen romance between smart, passionate girls and sweet cinnamon roll boys better than any other YA author I’ve read. This is one of those books you read with a dopey grin on your face. I liked her first book a little better than this one, but only because I think the heroine’s character arc gets a bit muddled at points in this book. But this is still a really fun read, and I recommend it if you liked Dimple and Rishi.

While I was waiting for my library hold on Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake, I read the second novella in this series, The Oracle Queen. I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this novella, but it happened to come off hold, so I thought I’d give it a try. Boy am I glad I did. This is a really good novella, especially if you’re already into this series. I didn’t know why I should care about the Oracle Queens after the first two books. You’re always hearing that there aren’t any more because this one when crazy. Then, in this novella, you read what really happened, and you’re like, woah. I won’t spoil it, but I can’t wait to see how this plays into future books. But…if this doesn’t change the game in some way, I’m going to be very disappointed.

After that, I dove into The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. This new contemporary romance has been getting all the hype. After reading it, I think that hype is justified. The book features a heroine with high-functioning autism who hires an escort to teach her how to be in a relationship. (Note: this is also written by a woman with high-functioning autism, and I’m all about #OwnVoices.) It’s kind of a reverse Pretty Woman, but only at a very basic level. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a heroine like this before in any book, and I have to say, it’s refreshing. I really liked Stella. At times I also got really annoyed with Stella. I plowed through this book up until it got to “the black moment” with the obligatory break-up scene near the end of the book. When it got to that part, I closed my Kindle. It took a few days to get back to it because I was so frustrated and disappointed with how that scene was handled. Everything else about this book felt fresh and awesome, but that last bit, from the dark moment to the end, wasn’t as satisfying for me. I still highly, highly recommend this book. I still gave it five stars. I just thought things got a little out of character at the end there.

This month, I just scored a bunch more new releases from my library (Seafire ! Two Dark Reigns ! Yay!). This has been a big digital library loan year for me, and that’s throwing off my reading plans a bit. But it reminds me…if your library let’s you recommend books to buy, would you mind requesting that they add my book (Eve of the Fae by E. Menozzi)? It should be available on Overdrive, and I would love it if people could borrow my book from the library, because libraries are awesome and not everyone has budget to buy books.

Now that the book launch is over, I was planning on spending some quality time reading my pre-order of Vengeful by V. E. Schwab. I think I’m still going to, but first I need to catch up on my NaNoWriMo prep. Plus I’m trying to finish up two short writing projects that I want to get done before November. My new plan is to carve out a chunk of “do not disturb” time in the next few weeks, because I have been waiting for that book for a long time, and I want to savor it.

Speaking of savoring…I hope you are all enjoying the fall! (Or spring, if you’re in the northern hemisphere.) For me, fall means “back to school,” which as an adult, translates into reading and writing. In case you can’t tell, I’m already getting excited for NaNoWriMo next month. If you’re also planning on joining this fun writing challenge in November, I’ve posted a link to a bunch of resources I like over on this page. I’ll probably also do a post on my bullet journal writing tracker once I’ve got that set up.

Until then, happy October and happy reading, everyone!