February and March Reading Highlights

February and March Reading Highlights

Last week, I announced my goal to share the top books I’ve read this year in a series of blog posts. I originally thought this could take a couple of months – I mean, I’ve read over a hundred books so far this year! But then I started combing through my ratings. Turns out that while I read a respectable number of titles in February and March, there weren’t many that elicited a strong response from me. In fact, there were only a handful that stood out:

February

  • Half Bad by Sally Green – YA Fantasy – Riveting story – I loved the choppy and unusual start to the book. Written in second person (which I’ve rarely seen) and with evocative imagery, it draws you in and makes you want to know more. Then, to see the main character mistreated by everyone except family (and even then, some family still treats him like crap) you find yourself rooting for him throughout the book. Very good read – so much so that I had to immediately check out the next book in the series!
  • By Your Side by Kasie West – YA Contemporary Romance – This book had me at ‘locked in a library’ – but surprisingly, the library incident didn’t affect the story in the way I anticipated. Instead, I found myself ensnared by Autumn’s anxiety disorder and Dax’s mysterious background. I felt that the romance played less of a part than in West’s other books I’ve read – partly because Autumn herself was torn between two boys. Despite the love triangle and disappointing lack of bookish appreciation during the library scene, I enjoyed the story and would highly recommend to fans of the YA contemporary genre.

March

  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi – YA Fantasy – Excellent fantasy with a swoon-worthy romance. I love the strong female lead, and the INCREDIBLE writing. Her prose is like reading jewelry, seriously beautiful.
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – YA (NA) Contemporary Romance – This is one of my favorite books ever. Cath was incredibly easy to identify with, and the cast of characters surrounding her provided a foil for different aspects of her personality. The romance was utterly adorable – and rather realistic. The whole book is pretty realistic, actually, complete with the inevitable mistakes and repercussions that come with new adulthood. Highly recommended, especially for extroverts who want a glimpse into how introvert minds work. 😉
  • The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson – YA Contemporary Romance – EXCELLENT book. Stuffed with oodles of sarcastic humor and a hate-to-love romance, I adored every second of this book. Even better, while there were a few predictable plot twists, there were a few that blindsided me out of nowhere. But seriously, the best part was the banter. So. Much. Banter. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard reading a book.

See what I mean? Out of twenty-seven books read, I only rated five (five?!) as five stars. Granted, these five are some serious gems: I’ve already read three out of five more than once. In fact, I read The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You three times.

Honorable Mentions

  • Half Wild and Half Lost by Sally Green – YA Fantasy – I’m bitter because I like happy endings, and I didn’t like how the trilogy ended … but for those that like their books a little bittersweet, this is a series for you. I’m personally not a fan of the whole ‘Romeo and Juliet star-crossed lovers who die to be with each other’ trope … yeah. Spoiler alert, I guess.
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo – YA Fantasy – I really enjoyed this series, but not quite as much as I loved her Six of Crows duology. Honestly, I think a huge part of my problem is that I fell in love with the Darkling, and he’s (spoiler alert) not the hero. 😛
  • Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum – YA Contemporary Romance – Okay, I really enjoy romances that start out with anonymous letters/notes/emails (in this instance, emails) because I feel it gives the characters added depth – yeah, it’s a lot of ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’ but I think it’s a bit more organic, like dialogue. And the inevitable misunderstanding/drama when they learn the identity of the mystery writer is always a plus. Especially in books like this one, where the drama is relatively low key. Very cute but also thought provoking (the main character deals with the loss of a parent and the subsequent moving on with life).
  • Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer – YA Science Fiction/Graphic Novel – The only reason I didn’t give this 5 stars is because I’m not a huge fan of the art style. I love the story and the characters … just not big on traditional comic-book type drawing. I’m more of a manga girl … but it’s still a great graphic novel! I can’t wait to read the rest. 😀
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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.

In other news …

Okay, after my panicked post about my forgotten Virtual Con, I’ve decided to come back and give you guys a real blog post. At least, one that’s not quite so spastic and maybe shares a little bit of what I’ve been up to these last few weeks.

First, I attended the Texas Teen Book Festival on October 1st with a few of my good friends.

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Celaena Sardothien (me), Dauntless initiate Olivia, Leigh Bardugo, Kendare Blake, and Sabaa Tahir. Best. Book. Festival. Ever.

Now, I attended the Texas Book Festival last year … but the Texas Teen Book Festival is apparently my true calling. Not only did I recognize over half of the authors at the Teen Festival (as opposed to the one I knew at the regular festival) but the gym where they had the vendors and friends of the festival was jam-packed with titles I’ve read (or want to read) … and Owlcrate was even there! They had this awesome spin-the-wheel game for free loot. (I won a book – and got there before their free totes ran out. 😀 ) I managed to get three books signed: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. My one complaint (which is good natured, I assure you) is the length of time I had to wait in line to get my books signed. I missed out on a lot of panels I really wanted to see because the lines were ridiculous – especially for Sabaa Tahir and Leigh Bardugo. Curses to the explosive nature of YA popularity! Ah well, it was great meeting everyone … and to put the icing on an already awesome experience, I managed to win the costume contest! Well, one of the prizes. I wasn’t at the actual winners announcement (I was in line for Leigh) but someone hunted down my friends and told them I won. So I’m going to say I won. Yay, me!

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I am Celaena Sardothien, and I will not be afraid.

In related news, I started reading Six of Crows while waiting in the signing lines (because, I mean, what better time to read than at a book festival?) and guys: I’m officially obsessed. Maybe not quite Throne of Glass obsessed, but holy cow is it close. I should not love Kaz, there’s a very good reason the other characters call him a demon, but I do. The scene on the ship? With the oyster knife? Gave me the heebie jeebies … and I loved every minute of it! I guess I just love dark, flawed characters. Dark flawed characters capable of doing horrific things … like Celaena in Crown of Midnight with Grave. So yeah, now I have Crooked Kingdom, cause I finished Six of Crows and had a fit over the cliffhanger – and now I’m hoping there’s at least a semi-happy ending. It’s great that it’s only a duology (I know there won’t be any suspense at the end of this one), but at the same time, if things don’t wrap up neatly, then I’ll have no hopes to cling to. Does Leigh normally sink ships? I mean, she wouldn’t write the epic romance sub-plots just to kill someone in the end, right? I do NOT want a Romeo and Juliet!

Okay, enough about the book festival. Why don’t I share some news about my writing? 😀

I have officially finished the first drafts of both my short stories and sent them off to beta readers for analysis. Newsletter subscribers should keep their eyes on their inboxes starting November 1st for a special free sneak peek. Yes, the newsletter is still a thing, even though I haven’t posted since June. I promised not to spam you guys, didn’t I? I adhere strictly to the ‘If I don’t have something relevant and important to say, don’t say anything at all’ mindset. Granted, this is probably why I’ll never be a NY Times bestselling author … but at least you know if I am, you’ll hear about it in my newsletter. 😉

Other exciting news: thanks to an impromptu vacation, I’m going to be doing some extensive writing over the next week! Goals are to get the final book in the Blessings of Myrillia fleshed out and maybe – just maybe – work on a new little project that’s invaded my brain.

Virtual Fantasy Con 2016

Omigosh! I almost forgot my first ever Virtual Con!

*panicked scrambling* Um, um, head on over to Facebook to check out oodles of authors and chat with me about my various projects: both published and planned. I’ll be participating in the final dregs of Epic/Sword and Sorcery Sunday as well as the Children/YA Fantasy Sunday. Hmm. Apparently, I have a thing for Sundays.

Anyway, here are some links for you to check out. My ‘booth’ is waaaay down at the bottom because I’m horrible and unprepared … but you can feel free to hit me up on Facebook messenger or on my Facebook page if you have a burning question to ask.

https://www.facebook.com/events/518395788285240/permalink/523919017732917/

Birthday wrap up and back to the grinding stone … or laptop, I guess.

Birthday wrap up and back to the grinding stone … or laptop, I guess.

I’ve finally reached the end of my ‘bursting with awesomeness’ timeframe. At least until the end of October, when I start gearing up for the whole Halloween, BlizzCon, Thanksgiving, Christmas excitement. But for now, my new World of Warcraft expansion is out (and it’s EPIC), the contest results are back (not-so-epic), I’ve met one of my favorite authors (BEYOND EPIC), and celebrated my birthday (happy birthday to me!)

I mentioned in my last post that I’m enjoying Legion. I’ve now gotten one character to max level, and I’m astounded by the amount of end-game content available. Normally, I’m a bit of an alt-oholic (meaning I play a lot of characters), but it’s pretty hard to tear myself away from my druid when there’s still so much left to do. Heck, I’ve barely unlocked world quests!

What you might not know is that on September 7th, I got to meet Sarah Maas: author of the Throne of Glass and Court of Thorns and Roses series. Let me just say that I adore her writing. I discovered her books the year after her debut novel released and was immediately hooked. Her world building is stellar, her characters are eerily realistic and identifiable, and the way she paints her setting is perfect – as in, I utterly idolize her ability to weave description seamlessly into the story, and hope to one day create books half as good as hers. I pre-order everything she puts out, and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

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And I got to meet her! Like, listen to her talk about her journey and inspirations and writing habits … and (theoretically) talk to her while she personally signed her new release for me. I say theoretically because I was so excited/nervous/starstruck that, even though I rehearsed my lines beforehand, all I could do was babble like a weirdo when I was finally in front of her. As in I told her ‘You’re such an inspiration!’ about nine times – and that’s about it. Ugh, why do I have to be such a fangirl? That and I felt the need to explain why I brought her a gift: though I don’t think I explained it very well. Again, all coherent thought flew out of my head when I got to the signing table. (And no: it wasn’t bribery or anything. Her writing is an incredible gift, in my opinion, and I wanted to give her something in return.)

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As if Legion and meeting Sarah Maas wasn’t enough excitement, I also celebrated my birthday on Monday. My coworkers surprised me with great balloons and awesome gifts, as did all my family and friends. (Well, minus the balloons – my boss was the only one cool enough to give me balloons 😀 ) So basically, I’ve been walking on clouds and rainbows for the past month. (Translation: I’m incredibly happy.)

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Now that all the fun is over (for now), I’m diving back into my writing. Yay, right? I know I’ve got a few fans out there desperate for the final installment of the Blessings of Myrillia. I assure you guys, I’m working on it! In the meantime, you can look forward to not one, but two super-cute short stories set within Myrillia. Stay tuned for more information – but I can tell you they’ll be out this holiday season. 😉

I have a confession to make.

The last week and a half of August, I failed miserably at my August goals. As in, zero book reviews and zero pages written. *smacks hand* Bad Crystin.

Honestly, I should have known better. The last week of August had a TON of fantastic and exciting things that I was waiting for, and I literally could not concentrate on anything for more than five minutes. I even had to stop drinking caffeine at work because I was bouncing off the walls without it. (Needless to say, my coworkers found me equally amusing and annoying.)

So what was I so hyped about?

First, the new World of Warcraft: Legion expansion released on August 30th … Ooh, and let me tell you, it’s incredible. I’ve wanted a demon hunter since I saw the cinematic with Illidan back in Burning Crusade (which is when I started playing, for those who want to know). Granted, I know that I’m easy to please, but Blizzard did not let me down: not only does demon hunter rock, I’m thoroughly enjoying all the new content and changes and little hidden gems. In fact, you’re all lucky I surfaced long enough to confess where I’ve been the last … has it already been three days? Oh well. At least I’ve been a responsible adult and still gone to work. 😉

However, Legion wasn’t the only thing I was excited about. Unfortunately, item number two resulted in a minor disappointment. Some of you may remember that I entered my second book, Fire Blessed, into the Reader’s Favorite International Book Award Contest. The results were announced on September 1st – sadly, my book didn’t place. Still, I received a glowing five-star review (which is pretty awesome) and I’ve added the books that did win to my TBR, so that I’ll get an idea of what the judges are looking for in future. Overall, I feel it’s been a positive experience, so I’m not particularly depressed or upset. I’ll just have to try harder next time: the way I look at it, I’ve already ‘not won’ once, so the worst has already happened.

Now I just have to keep trying until I succeed. Because I’m not gonna lie: I want a shiny award sticker on my books one day. 😀

 

Attention readers!

Attention readers!

Do you like to read fantasy? Are you looking for a new series to sink your teeth into?

For a limited time, I’m offering FREE eBook copies of my first two books, UnBlessed and Fire Blessed, in exchange for honest reviews.

If you’re interested in discovering Myrillia, you can get your free eBook a number of ways:

  • Use my contact form at the top of the page
  • Email me at crystingoodwin@gmail.com
  • Comment on this post (note: ebook will be sent to email associated with your wordpress account)

I have both kindle and epub versions available: don’t forget to let me know which format you prefer!