New feature: monthly book recommendations!

New feature: monthly book recommendations!

In an attempt to prevent a future social media hiatus, I’m toying with a few ideas for regular blog posts. I have a super secret one in the works (one that should appeal to fans of my books *wink**wink*) but first, I wanted to experiment with a reading-related post. After all, reading is a huge part of my personality: just ask my co-workers who have to listen to me rant and rave about books for eight hours straight. (Well, we do work too, so maybe my book rants are more like five hours … but still.)

Actually, my above book rants inspired the idea for this post: namely, once a month I’ll share my top favorite books from the month before. However, since this year is already half over (and there are a TON of books I read and adored so far this year) I’ll post bi-weekly until I’ve caught up. This way, you all can see what books inspire me … and maybe I’ll find a couple of new book-friends to fangirl with! 😀

To give fellow readers a better grasp of what stories I’m most passionate about, I’ll only share books I’ve rated as 5 stars

January:

  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik  – YA epic fantasy with truly gorgeous world building and unexpected plot twists. I really liked the dynamic between Agneiszka and her ‘Dragon’ – I always enjoy reading about characters that don’t know how to relate to others, and I have a bit of a soft spot for hate-to-love stories.
  • On the Fence by Kasie West  – YA contemporary romance by a new favorite author. Very realistic, with swoon-worthy guys all over the place (granted, most of them were brothers) and a compelling undercurrent on the importance of being yourself and not locking away unpleasant feelings.
  • The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson – YA contemporary romance that will make you melt from the awkward adorableness. There’s a bit of cringe-drama, but it’s a bit realistic and necessary for the plot to progress … and it all works out in the end, which makes everything all better in my book.
  • Roseblood by A.G. Howard – YA Fantasy Retelling of the Phantom of the Opera, with nice paranormal twists and a compelling element of mystery. Excellent story.
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro – YA contemporary retelling of Sherlock Holmes with a fascinating, gripping story and intriguing characters. I love that there isn’t blatant romance between the main characters (Charlotte Holmes, a descendant of Sherlock, and James Watson, a descendant of Dr. John Watson) and instead focuses on their becoming friends. The mystery was perfect, with just enough hints for me to follow along, but not enough for me to immediately guess the culprit or their reasoning.
  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – Contemporary romance – one of my two non-YA 5 star reads this month. I picked this book up because my favorite author recommended it as a perfect ‘hate-to-love’ romance … and she was right! I loved the ups and downs and sassy dialogue and unexpected twists thrown in all over the place, with laugh-out-loud moments and a great ending.
  • World of Warcraft: Illidan by William King – Fantasy/Video Game Lore –  Illidan.JPGmy second non-YA 5 star for the month. I’m a huge WoW geek, and I’ve adored almost all the Warcraft books published thus far (Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects tore me to pieces and I prefer to think it doesn’t exist) but this volume is near the top: mainly because Illidan is my absolute favorite WoW character ever. (Side note: yes, I’m in heaven with the new expansion, Legion. All hail demon hunters and Lord Illidan!!! 😀 ) While you don’t necessarily have to play the game to enjoy this book, I would recommend reading Richard A Knaak’s War of the Ancients trilogy first to better understand Illidan’s backstory.

 

This social media thing is hard. =/

Yes, yes. I know. I dropped off the face of the internet.

Again.

I don’t even have a decent excuse this time. Not unless you count my short attention span and tendency to get distracted by the smallest —  oooh, a new library book just downloaded to my kindle! 😉

Okay, I guess extensive reading binges do count as a decent excuse to disappear from social media. Though I’ve been posting ratings and the occasional review on Goodreads, so I guess I haven’t totally dropped off the interwebs. Here’s a brief glimpse of the 74 (yes, seventy four!) books I’ve devoured so far this year:

  • Reread the entire Court of Roses and Thorns series (including the newest installment)
  • Laughed myself silly at:
    • The Upside of Unrequited
    • All The Feels, All’s Fair In Love and Fandom
    • Noteworthy
    • The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You
  • Waited over a month for Geekerella to be available from the library
  • Drooled over the gorgeous writing in Star-Touched Queen
  • Finally read the Grisha trilogy (seriously, why did I wait so long for this?!)

So yeah. I’ve been a bit, uh, preoccupied.

But the one really awesome side effect of all this reading? My creative battery is now fully charged. That means I’m going to dive into Camp Nanowrimo this July!

You heard it here first folks. I plan to have the entire rough draft of my fourth book in the Blessings of Myrillia series completed by the end of July!!!

Stay tuned for updates, progress reports, and maybe even a snippet or two. 😀

P.S. Did you see my epic news in April? UnBlessed is an award-winning novel! Both the paperback and kindle versions now sport a shiny award seal!!!

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If you’re still on the fence on whether you’d like to add this award-winner to your bookshelf, check out the first few pages free here – or read for free on Kindle Unlimited.

Do you like free books?

How about a free autographed book?

Even better, a free autographed book with an exclusive piece of fanart featuring the first line of said book?

Then you might want to follow Behind the Willows.

She often has montly Book-at-the-Door giveaways, with a chance to win a book she’s read and enjoyed. All you have to do is guess which book she’s offering in a comment, and you get entered for a chance to win the book, art print, and any other potential goodies.

Hint for fans of my books: this month’s giveaway features a signed copy from yours truly … but you still have to guess which of the three it might be. 😉

But hurry! The giveaway ends April 25th!

Dreams really do come true.

Dreams really do come true.

April 2nd is nearly over and despite multiple deliberate pinches (and one accidental stubbed toe), I have yet to wake from this glorious dream. In fact, I’m now confident that I won’t wake from this dream, because I’m living it.

My first book won a book award.

A real book award! One where my target audience read and voted without any input or interference from me – just them and my novel.

Yes, it’s a small book award. True, I only scored the bronze. But you know what? I still won a book award. I made it into the top five out of (at least) twenty-one finalists. Readers loved my book; they chose my story as one of their favorites.

And at the end of the day, I get to call myself an award-winning author.

Heck, I can say it at the beginning of the day too, if I want.

“Hi! I’m Crystin Goodwin, and I’m an award-winning author.”

Those are words I thought I’d never hear outside of my own little daydreams. Guess that means I have to pick a new goal to fantasize about …

… hmm. Maybe best-selling author? 😉

Sparkly UnBlessed

Want to see what all the hype is about? Hop on over to Amazon and pick up a copy of UnBlessed for yourself!

 

UnBlessed is now a book award finalist!

Yes, my friends, you heard that right!

UnBlessed was recently selected as a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards! What I found most exciting is that this particular award is NOT a popularity contest. My book went out to various members of my target audience (aka, a few high schools, since I’m in the Teen Category) and the readers voted and ranked.

This is an incredible opportunity. To be selected as a finalist, I had to score over 30/40 points in editing, style, cover, and theme. The winners will be announced in April, but even just making finalist is a huge deal! I get a gorgeous award seal (see below) to plaster all over my blog and book and Facebook page (because, why not?) AND I’ll be featured on the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award website for two years. Plus, there’s a ton of other cool things in store … potential Goodreads promotion, inclusion in a press release sent to major literary magazines, even the opportunity to be discovered by a publisher!

Needless to say, I’ll keep all you wonderful people updated as soon as I know anything (you guys are getting this post literally two hours after I read the email) so stay tuned! Meanwhile, I want to thank my editor and cover designer for helping me get to this point: James and Winter, I seriously couldn’t have done it without you guys. I mean, EDITING and COVER – you guys helped me score two out of three categories! Thank you thank you thank you!

And for all my fans – thanks for sticking with me. Great things are bound to be in store for Myrillia, and it means the world to me that you’ve all been along since the start!

Now, behold my new shiny award seal!

Favorite books of 2016

Well, the year is almost over, and though I didn’t achieve my Goodreads Reading Challenge (not officially, though if you add in the 30+ graphic novels I read this year, I blew it out of the park), I still managed to read and discover a number of delightful stories.

I frequently gush about my current read at work with my coworkers, but this year I thought I’d compile a list of all the books I loved this year to share with the rest of the world.

Disclaimer** I’m listing my favorite books I’ve read this year, which may not necessarily translate to books published this year. Still, I’m hoping one or two readers might find a new title or two to enjoy. If you see something you like, click the picture for the Goodreads page, or the title to buy from Amazon!

  1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
    Best book of the year, by far. A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)There was just so much to love – the character growth, the emotion, the foreshadowing … I get goosebumps just remembering. This was one of those books where I finished and immediately wanted to read it again. What’s even more incredible? I felt pretty meh about the first book in the series. I mean, it was good, but it didn’t blow my socks off like the sequel has! Now I’m counting down the days until A Court of Wings and Ruin (goosebumps again!) releases this May. FYI – if anyone wants to send me an ARC of ACOWAR they’ll become my favorite person in the universe. Hint, hint, Madam Maas. 🙂
  2. Six of Crows (and Crooked Kingdom) by Leigh Bardugo – Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)Now, I will admit: this duology came a very close second to ACOMAF. Interestingly enough, I only picked Six of Crows up because it looked pretty. The pages are black around the edges (at least, for the hardcover they are) with gorgeous red end papers. Then I started reading it while waiting in line to get it signed … and I was thrilled to discover the story was just as incredible as it looked! I may or may not have finished the first in record time and ran straight to a store to buy the sequel … Plot twists, anti-heroes, unexpected romance, and tons of action abound in these two books, making them some of my favorites ever. Again, I had that itch to reread them as soon as I finished them. Always a good sign, in my opinion.
  3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell –
    I don’t even remember Fangirlwhat made me pick this book up, but boy, am I glad I did! Unlike my first two choices (which are both fantasy), Fangirl is a wonderful new adult contemporary romance. Though, when I first started reading, I didn’t realize it was going to be a romance. I just liked it because the main character, Cath, is the epitome of an introvert and happens to write fanfiction as well. But the romance in this book is sooo sweet, and I love the challenges that Cath has to face regarding her family, her writing, and herself. I actually surrendered to the urge to reread this one … twice! It gets better every time. 🙂
  4. In 27 Days by Alison GervaisIn 27 Days
    I almost didn’t include this title, because it’s technically not out yet. I received an ARC of this incredible contemporary romance (with paranormal elements), and guys: you have to put this on your reading list now. Not only are there the usual comedic or swoon-worthy scenes found in YA romance, but there are some deep messages regarding depression and suicide. Even so, the book is still fun and enjoyable, and I look forward to reading it again and again!
  5. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
    HeartlessProbably the only book on this list that doesn’t have a happy ending … and no, that isn’t a spoiler, because Heartless is the origin story behind the infamous Queen of Hearts from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. I mean, we all know what she’s like in that story, so something drastic had to happen to make her the way she was, right? However, one of the aspects of Heartless that I truly admired was the way Marissa Meyer wove all of the characters from Alice into her story. You learn how the Duchess came to have a pig-child, where the White Rabbit’s housemaid came from, the unfortunate origin of the mock turtle … and why the Queen of Hearts is so obsessed with beheading. And that’s just a few of them.
  6. The Black Orchid by Celine JeanjeanThe Black Orchid (The Viper and the Urchin, #2)
    This steampunk-esque fantasy series is one of my favorites. You have interesting characters (an assassin that can’t stand the sight of blood), a touch of romance (go Rafe!), mystery (poor Longinus and his black silk), murder (bloodless, even) and so much more. The author took the solid foundation of book one and created an even more compelling and incredible sequel – and I can’t wait to read the next installment! Honestly, I love and hate the fact that I fall in love with books in a series … because waiting for the authors to write new volumes is agony.
  7. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi AshtonMy Lady JaneI’ll admit, I wasn’t very thrilled to receive this book in my first ever Owlcrate, because it didn’t seem like something I’d enjoy. Boy, was I wrong. In less than three pages, I was howling with laughter and completely hooked on the story: who wouldn’t be when you learned that this alternate history had shapeshifters in it, and Henry VIII would turn into a lion and eat people instead of beheading them? You know the saying, “Don’t kill the messenger?” In My Lady Jane, it’s “Don’t eat the messenger.” I kid you not. If that’s not good enough, wait until you get to the horse jokes. Seriously, this was one of the most enjoyable books I read this year, in that it had me in stitches throughout the whole thing. I love books that make you laugh out loud!
  8. P.S. I Like You by Kasie WestP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
    Despite the fact that I saw the plot twist coming from a mile away, P.S. I Like You is a sweet romance capturing all the drama of high school. The characters are all identifiable, make ridiculous assumptions and mistakes (just like I used to in high school), and have realistic problems and issues that they work out during the story. This book might not be life-changing, but it was adorable and refreshing and I think folks should read it anyway. 😀
  9. The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
    The Burning Sky by Sherry ThomasThis book has everything I could possibly ask for in a fantasy. Magic, royalty, humor, romance, ridiculous attempts for the female MC to masquarade as a boy … well, I guess that last one isn’t a requirement. But it sure made for fantastic tension and great shenanigans! I also really liked the parallel universe setting – though it was a little confusing at first. After all, I knew Eton was in England – but the book starts off somewhere else. Also, the little footnotes scattered throughout the book were a little annoying … but not enough to stop me from enjoying the story and characters! Now I need to stop being lazy and go read the rest of the series …
  10. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)Another book that had me rolling with laughter. Take a typical high school girl, have her (for some crazy reason) write love letters to the guys she’s fallen out of love with because of whatever reason (they’re taken, she’s realized they’ll never like her back, they move away, etc), ADDRESS THEM, only to put them in a box in her closet. That’s not a recipe for disaster, now is it? Needless to say, hilarity abounds in this lighthearted story.
  11. Do Not Wash Hands In Plates by Barb Taub
    Do Not Wash Hands In Plates by Barb Taub My only non-fiction title on the list, and y
    et another book that will have you laughing so hard you might wet your pants. Do Not Wash Hands In Plates is a tongue-in-cheek travel memoir depicting the real-life issues author Barb Taub encountered in India, complete with pictures. My one piece of advice? Make sure you read the prologue, because you definitely need to know about horn sonar. Well, and try not to drink anything when you read … and if you don’t like giggling like a lunatic in public, maybe make sure to read the book in the safety of your own home.
  12. Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson – After My Lady Jane, I decided to give Walk on Earth a Stranger  (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #1)historical fantasy more of a chance; Rae Carson’s novel did not disappoint. Set during the Gold Rush-era America, it follows Lee Westfall, a girl who can sense gold. When her parents are murdered, she embarks on a journey west to California. Lee’s magic is woven seamlessly into what’s basically a historical novel, complete with all the hardships and obstacles settlers moving west would have encountered. In fact, at times it felt a lot like a fantasy version of Little House On The Prairie meets the Oregon Trail … complete with dysentery.
  13. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
    Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
    Recommended by my favorite author, Sarah Maas, Truthwitch is a classic YA fantasy … and boy, does it live up to its recommendation! The action scenes are awesome, the magic system fascinating, and the characters are wonderful. I particularly liked Merik and Aeduan, though Safi and Iseult are fascinating as well. I still want to know more about Iseult’s abilities and history. I can’t wait to see where the story goes next. Even if Truthwitch ended on a heartbreaking note …
  14. Bookishly Ever After by Isabel BandeiraBookishly Ever After One of the most identifiable books I’ve ever read, with a main character eerily similar to … me. Phoebe is a book worm, the type that gets sucked into a story during lunch and is forced to socialize by her best friends. A hard core fan that has outfits designed after her favorite characters, and then wears them in public. The problem is, she’s more in love with fictional boys than real ones … Seriously, this sounds like a transcript of my life! But I honestly enjoyed the story, and the blossoming romance, and the fact that Phoebe learns that one shouldn’t always judge a book my its cover … or a boy by his resemblance to fictional characters.
  15. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
    Another great contemporary romance, The Start of Me and You
    with a dark, serious streak running through the plot. This is another story with incredible character growth, and I particularly liked that – for the first time ever – the main character chooses the guy I rooted for!
Final day for a free eBook!

Final day for a free eBook!

Today marks the last day you can pick up your free kindle copy of Fire Blessed, the second book in my Blessings of Myrillia series … So head over to Amazon before it’s too late!

Not only is Fire Blessed a great book, it also happens to be my longest (so far), which means you’re getting a great deal when you snag it for free. Over 500 pages of intrigue, action, and a sweet love story … like this:

Renelle groaned, closing her eyes as she buried her face in her hands. Oh, Spirits help her. All this time, she thought she had been so careful. Had been practical, excusing her feelings because he gave her a place to live. A reason to live. She gave a hysterical laugh. Oh, he gave her a reason to live, all right. It just wasn’t the same as it was seven years ago. No, now he was her reason for living. When had his well-being become more important than her own? When had she let herself fall in love?

So go grab that copy of Fire Blessed today, before it jumps back up to $4.99!

After all, book three comes out in a week. Oh, yeah. Here’s the preorder page if you want to have a seamless transition from Fire to Ice. 🙂

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Remember, Fire Blessed received a Reader’s Favorite Five-Star review and hit#1 in its category on the Amazon Free Bestsellers List!