February reading summary and bad luck

I didn’t get much reading done in February even though there was a road trip and a vacation involved. This month, I finished three books and got hit by at least two doses of bad luck. People say bad luck comes in threes. So, I’m really hoping we can leave it at two, but I’m hanging on in case there’s one more to come.

Here are the books I read in February:

The month started off great with a weekend writing retreat to Grass Valley with my San Francisco Area romance writer friends. I had a very productive weekend, and then hit the road with my husband for a fun camping road trip to the desert. Along the way, I managed to devour The Cruel Prince and soak up little bits from Scalzi’s Don’t Live For Your Obituary.

The Cruel Prince was my first Holly Black novel. I think it was an excellent introduction to her writing and her version of the fae, which I enjoyed a LOT more than the fae as depicted in SJM’s ACoTaR series. Holly Black’s fae are more traditional tricksters that don’t show up on the page like humans with pointy ears and magic. There’s a creepy otherness to her fae, similar to the ones in An Enchantment of Ravens, that I appreciate. Plus, I really enjoyed her world-building. I didn’t enjoy some of the plot points or how some of the relationships developed (especially the one between the human sisters). Also, I felt like there were some frustrating character inconsistencies. But, overall I enjoyed the story and will definitely be requesting book 2 from the library as soon as it’s available.

That was the only book I managed to finish while on vacation. On the way home, our car got broken into and a ton of stuff got stolen (bad luck #1). So, I’ve been having to deal with that mess, which didn’t leave a lot of time left over for reading (or writing, for that matter).

I did manage to squeeze in some much needed reading breaks to read and finish Beneath the Sugar Sky, book three in the Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway series. I didn’t love this one as much as the first two. Something about the story in this one just didn’t come together for me, and I didn’t connect with it as much as I did the other two. Down Among the Sticks and Bones is still my favorite of the three, with EHaD a close second. I think I may have liked it more if more of the book had taken place in Sumi’s world. As it ended up, we only got a brief glimpse of that world instead of the full immersion we got in Jack and Jill’s world during DAtSaB.

After that, I was psyched to dive into The Belles, which I’d pre-ordered and have been so excited to read for over a year now. But, I ended up with an eye injury that’s making it very hard to spend time staring at any screens, Kindle, computer, or otherwise (bad luck #2). So, I’ve had to put The Belles on hold (temporarily) and switch to anything that was available on audiobook through my library.

Luckily, Cream of the Crop (book 2 in Alice Clayton’s Hudson Valley series) and A Study in Scarlett Women (a Sherlock Holmes re-telling with a female Sherlock) were both available to download. These have both been on my list for a while, and a little romance is always good medicine for when you’re down in the dumps.

I started with Cream of the Crop, which was a fast and fun listen. I love the main character, and the hero. I love all the food descriptions in this series (this one made me crave all the cheese). There’s a lot of hot physical attraction in this book, mostly because the main character has been lusting after the hero (a dairy farmer she’s seen at her local farmer’s market) for a long time. But, even with the HEA, I was not convinced that the characters ever got past the hot sex. When I read this with my writer brain on, I can’t help noticing that I’m not entirely sure what these two characters like about each other besides all the physical attraction. That doesn’t necessarily keep one from enjoying the story, but it is frustrating if you’re looking for more than just a physical connection in your romance. I will say that conveying this aspect of the romance is already set at a high degree of difficulty given that the story is told entirely from her POV (except the epilogue), and he’s not a man of many words (strong, brooding, and silent type). So, if that’s going to bug you, then maybe this isn’t the book for you. But, if you like sassy, bold heroines with a ton of competence and confidence, and you like humor and heat in your romance, you should definitely check this one out (not entirely necessary to read Nuts first).

I have a feeling that there will be a lot more audiobooks in my future for March because my eye is not 100% yet. Outside of audiobooks, I’ve got Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner on my kindle from the library. So, I’m trying to read that when I’m feeling up to it. I’m about 10% in and not quite engaged in the world / characters yet, but I’m going to keep going a bit further before I make a go/no go decision because I like these authors and have enjoyed their previous books.

These are all the books I have either downloaded on audiobook or are in-progress on my kindle right now:

I keep wanting to make a huge TBR list each month. It’s been a struggle to hold off and pick the next book after I’m done with my current book. But, so far, I’m enjoying just seeing where the reading takes me… and hoping that March is a little luckier for me than February.


January reading summary and other happenings

Well, January turned out to be an excellent month for reading. I finished six books! Here’s what I read in January (links go to Goodreads):

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (audiobook) — You may remember that I started this audiobook in December but couldn’t find time to finish it before the end of the year. I had some airport travel, public transit, and good chunk of walking back and forth to work in January, so I managed to plow through the rest of it. I really enjoyed this book more than I thought I would when I started it.
  • The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin (Kindle) — I’m sad to see this series end, but this was an excellent ending to a fantastic series that has become one of my all-time favorites. I got to buddy read this with two friends, which was great because it meant I had people to talk with about it after I finished. I’m going to miss these characters and this world.
  • An Enchantment of Ravens (Kindle) — I really like the depiction of the Fae in this book. These are not your ACoTaR Fae. These are creepy, tricky, almost alien creatures – more like the traditional folklore, I think. But don’t get me wrong, there’s still a solid romance here between Fae and human, and a good adventure that keeps you moving through the world. There were a few weak spots in plot, but the characters were engaging and overall I really enjoyed it.
  • The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanne Borne (Kindle, library) — Here’s another book that I enjoyed more than I thought I would. From the cover, you’d think this is an older “bodice ripper” romance, but it was published only ten years ago. I’d heard it recommended on something like three consecutive Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcasts. What they said about how much they loved this author and this series convinced me I needed to read it. Luckily, my library had a copy on Kindle because there’s no way I was going to be toting around a book with that much bare man-chest. Sorry. The banter, the plot, and the characters (spies!) had me hooked. Definitely recommend.
  • Modern Tarot by Michelle Tea (Kindle, library) — I’ve been pretty curious about tarot and wanted to learn more about it. I heard about this book in a Rookie podcast and requested the digital copy from my library so I could check it out. I didn’t really read it cover to cover. It’s not really that sort of book. But I skimmed through it and may come back to it after I try a couple other books to learn more.
  • Take the Lead by Alexis Daria (Kindle) — The premise of this book had me hooked. The heroine is the equivalent of a “Dancing with the Stars” professional dancer, and the hero is a reality TV star from an Alaskan wilderness survival show. It’s a fast, engaging read, but I was a little disappointed in how it wrapped up because it felt like the main challenge that kept the couple apart was dealt with a little too easily. But, if you like the premise you should definitely check it out. I’ve heard book two is even better.

Right now I’m at a writing retreat with my local RWA chapter. They’re awesome and so much fun! I should probably get back to work on my writing. I’ve been working on final edits and series planning for “Eve of the Fae.” It’s going well so far, and I’m really excited about getting started on my outline for book two.

Stay tuned for more reading (and writing) updates…Until then, happy reading!

Book stack

I made a stack of physical books I have on my shelf that I haven’t read yet, but want to read.

I always find it hard to read physical books when I’m traveling a lot. So, it may take me a while to get through these. But I’m definitely excited to dive into this delicious stack of books.

Reading List: Powell’s Books staff’s best books of 2017

Powell’s just released their Staff Top 5 Picks of 2017, and I’ve crunched the numbers* in order to calculate their “consensus” Top Ten. Presented in order of most to least total points, they are (links below take you to Powell’s, because that seemed appropriate):

  1. The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld (34 points)
  2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (29 points)
  3. Borne by Jeff VanderMeer (26 points)
  4. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (23 points)
  5. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (21 points)
  6. American War by Omar El Akkad (21 points)
  7. Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh (19 points)
  8. History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (19 points)
  9. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie (16 points)
  10. We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby (14 points)

So far, the only book on this list that I’ve read is The Hate U Give. That one made my top five best of 2017 list as well. But, I’ve had my eye on Borne and American War for a while now. Both sound fantastic. I may bump these up on my library hold list based on how well loved they were by the Powell’s staff.

Overall, this looks like a pretty solid list of great books. In general, Powell’s staff recommendations are a pretty reliable source for me of great reads, especially for literary fiction. So, I’ve added these to my to-read shelf and created a separate PowellsBestof2017 Goodreads shelf to keep track of them.

If you’ve already read anything on this list, or if you are planning to read anything here, let me know what you think/recommend in the comments.


* In case you’re interested, here’s how I came up with the total points… I did some good old “copying and pasting” of all the lists into a spreadsheet. Then I assigned points to each mention of each book based on where it appeared in each list (5 points for first place, 4 points for second place, etc.). Then I made a pivot table and sorted the results by total number of points in descending order. There was an obvious cut-off after the first ten books. So I capped the list at ten books.

I did this same analysis for the past 2 years. You can check out my analysis and summary of the 2016 best of post here and the 2015 best of post here if you’re looking for more recommendations.

December reading summary and 2017 reading wrap-up

First day of the New Year and time to wrap up what I read in December and see how I did on my 2017 reading goals…

First, here’s what I read in December (links go to Goodreads):

  • Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (audiobook, library) — I enjoyed this. There are so many things I didn’t know about Carrie Fisher. I loved the stories and her dry sense of humor. And I especially love that she narrated the audiobook.
  • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (Kindle) — I bought this on Kindle on 7/1/2014. It’s taken me 3.5 years to finally get around to reading it. If not for the “Read a book about sports” task in this year’s Read Harder Challenge, it might have remained unread on my Kindle for who knows how much longer. That would have been a shame. As I expected, it reminded me of my 4 yrs as coxswain for Purdue Crew and brought back so many great memories. It’s fascinating to see that not much has changed from the 1930s to the 2000s in the sport of rowing.
  • Jane, Unlimited by Kirstin Cashore (Hardcover) — It took me a while to get into this book. There were so many aspects that I loved (the house, the characters, the sea stuff, the umbrellas, the spies and the art…). But, I started this over the Thanksgiving holiday, got about a quarter of the way into it, put it down, and didn’t feel an overwhelming urge to get back to it. I think maybe just didn’t give myself enough time to get immersed in the story, because when I finally picked it up again (on the second to last day of the year), I finished it in nearly one sitting. It’s clever and also cute. If you read Kirstin Cashore’s blog, you can see so much of her personality (or at least her blog personality) in this book, which is charming.
  • 1984 by George Orwell (Kindle, library) — I read this for the “Read a book published between 1900 and 1950” Read Harder task. This book was published in 1949. So, it just makes the cut off. Plus, since people keep talking about it, and I never had to read it in school, I wanted to read it anyway. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I loved it. It pretty much falls into that genre of “polemics in the form of a novel” like The Circle which, as we’ve already established, are not my jam. The entire first quarter of the book is basically a world-building dump. Plus, at about two thirds of the way in, the main character reads two chapters from “the book” that are included verbatim in the story, serving up another hefty world-building info dump. This would NEVER fly in modern fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the world. I just was expecting there to be more of a story set in the world, rather than a massive info-dump of world-building with a tiny bit of story.

In-progress (unfinished):

  • Information Doesn’t Want to be Free by Cory Doctorow (Hardcover) — I’m reading this aloud with my husband. So, even though it’s a short book, it’s going very slowly.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (audiobook, library) — This audio book is nearly 50 hours long. I’ve manage to listen to about 10 hours, but I’m nowhere close to being done. I’ll have a chunk of commuting time in January where I think I’ll be able to finish it. But, it’s going to have to wait until then.

I really hate leaving books unfinished at the end of the year. I always try to finish everything in-progress before midnight on New Year’s Eve. Plus, I was reading both of these for Read Harder Challenge tasks. So, not finishing them means that I don’t get to check off those tasks either. Double bummer.

So, for the purposes of my end-of-year stats below, I’ve included the hours of audiobook I’ve listened to so far. (I’ll include the remaining hours in my 2018 stats, assuming I finish it next year.) And I’ve given myself partial credit in the total books read.

Here are my overall reading stats for the year:

  • Number of books/comics read (total): 53
  • Number of pages read: 17,840 pages
  • Hours listened: 3 hrs
  • Books published in 2017: 19
  • Published before 2017: 34
  • Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 20 of 24 (83%)
  • Format: 45 digital, 7 print, 1 audio
  • Owned vs. borrowed: 19 of 53 borrowed from the library
  • Fiction vs. Non-Fiction: 46 fiction and 7 non-fiction
  • Genre: 58% sci-fi and fantasy, 25% realistic, 8% romance, 4% comics, 5% other
  • Age category: 57% adult, 40% YA, and 4% MG
  • POC authors/artists: 36% (19 books)

Not bad. I finished slightly better than my goal (50 books), but didn’t quite complete my Read Harder Challenge. As usual, fiction and ebooks dominate my reading life. But, there are a few surprises to be found in the stats. I’ll have to go back and check previous years’ stats, but I think I read a lot more adult books this year than I’ve been reading in the past few years. I was also a little (pleasantly) surprised to see that I made excellent use of the library this year. Over a third of my books read came from the library! And, over a third of my books read were written by POC authors! It’s not a full 50% yet, but it’s heading in the right direction.

And that wraps up another year in reading! Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year, and hoping that your reading in 2018 takes you on delightful adventures!

Swearing off reading challenges for 2018

I know. I say this every year. But this time I really mean it. I am not participating in any reading challenges in 2018. Not even Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge. Sure, I looked it up. And, yeah, I read through the tasks. But, I’m not going to write them down. I’m resisting the urge.

It’s not that I have anything against reading challenges. I really like them. Reading challenges have helped to introduce me to new books in genres I don’t usually gravitate toward. I’ve found new authors I like. They’ve forced me to finally get around to reading books I’ve always meant to read but haven’t made time for. Reading challenges are great.

But, this year I’m determined to try for one year of guilt-free reading. I will only let myself read exactly what I want, when I want to read it, and I refuse to let myself feel bad because I *should* be reading something else. I’m going to let my curiosity drive my reading list this year and see where it takes me.

I’m still planning to keep track of my reading. I’m still setting my usual target of reading 50 books in 2018. But that’s it. No “guilt list” of books I paid full price for but haven’t read yet. No “backlist bust” where I try to eat through the hundred odd ebooks I’ve purchased but haven’t read yet. And definitely no reading challenges.

So, if you’re doing any reading challenges this year, let me know so I can follow your blog or progress on Goodreads or whatever. Just because I’m not participating doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a few reading challenges vicariously through others, right? Plus, I’m a pretty good cheerleader and not bad at recommending books if you need suggestions. 🙂

Setting up my #BuJo for the New Year

It’s the last week of December, so it’s time for me to get my bullet journal set up for January 2018. Since it’s not only a new month, but also a new year, that means I also need to re-do my future log and start thinking about my 2018 goals.

You may remember from a previous post that I’ve been on the fence about the future log. It wasn’t really working for me. But, I came up with a new layout that I think might make it a little more useful. Plus, I have a lot of travel coming up this year that may make this view something I refer to more often.

I love the little mini month-at-a-glance calendars. I’ve started by highlighting birthdays and other important days. Next up, I’m going to start adding in the travel I have planned. But first, I have to nail down a bunch of trip planning.

With my future log sorted, I moved on to my January month-at-a-glance spread. It’s pretty standard. Unfortunately, I started filling it in with stuff before I remembered to take the picture. So, I resorted to creative use of card stock and my snitch necklace to obscure my calendar and goals.

There are two things I want to point out on my monthly spread… one is the Boho Berry Challenge prompts for January, and the other is the section I added to track my January reading.

This month, I started using the Boho Berry Challenge prompts for December as a daily journaling exercise. It’s been pretty fun and useful to reflect on 2017 in a slightly more organized fashion. So, I thought I’d try to keep up this practice in January. I’m not posting these publicly anywhere, which is (I think) how you’re supposed to be participating. But, lots of people are. So, if you’re interested in seeing how others are doing their prompts in their journals, definitely check out #BohoBerryChallenge on Instagram.

I’m going to do a whole post on my reading wrap-up for December and reading goals for 2018. So, I won’t spend much time talking about that here except to say that “what I’m reading in January” box was left blank on purpose. The little vertical bars are the start of boxes that I plan to draw around titles that will be written down as I start reading them in January. I know. No TBR. Shocking. Again…more on this later.

Then, I remembered that I had some “bigger than just January” goals for 2018, and I probably should have put that in before I jumped into my January month-at-a-glance. Oh well. I guess that’s what the index is for… So, I added this spread next:

When I took this photo the page on the right was still blank, but I’ve since started adding my 2018 goals on that page. The page on the left is a running training log.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that swimming is my main sport. However, due to travel plans and other life stuff going on, I’m not planning to have regular access to a pool for much of 2018. That means it’s time to get back into running shape. However, “walk” days will probably become swim days if I have access to a pool.

I haven’t been running regularly for about seven or eight years. So, I’m being smart about it and using a beginner running guide from Runner’s World. Even though I’m in pretty decent shape for swimming, swimming doesn’t translate well to running, and running doesn’t translate well to swimming. This is why (IMO) it’s pretty rare to see folks who are really good at both running and swimming. So, I’m going to take it slow, but I will say that one of my goals that I wrote on the right side of this page is “run a 10k” in 2018. But, I probably won’t be ready to tackle that until late spring at this rate.

I think that’s all the high-level planning I need to get started in the New Year. So, the next spread is my first weekly spread for January, and it looks like this:

I’ve been using this layout for a couple of weeks now, and it seems to be working for me. I can fill the boxes with day-specific events and tasks. When I’m not busy (like the last two weeks), all my “to-dos” fit nicely inside the boxes, and I don’t even need to break things down to daily spreads.

I’ve left a space in the upper right for my top goals and/or things I want to accomplish by the end of the week to keep it in my face. And, I’m working on adapting my habit tracker to this format. I’m not 100% sure which habits I want to track in January. I already have the running plan spread on the previous page where I’ll be tracking my exercise. So, I don’t think I’ll add exercise here. As I discovered during November’s NaNoWriMo tracking, I hate having to check things off in multiple places. So far, I know I’m tracking reading and writing days. I’ll probably also add “healthy eating” and meditation.

We’ll see how this format adapts to post-vacation life and if it keeps working or if I need to adapt it again.

By the way, if you’re thinking of getting started with your own bullet journal, my local bookstore had a copy of Dot Journaling, so I picked it up to get some inspiration. It’s a pretty great introduction to the expanded world of the original bullet journaling idea and has a ton of great ideas for layouts. Definitely check it out. (PSA: I am in no way affiliated with either of those links and get nothing for recommending them to you. I’m just a fan.)

Happy planning! And happy (almost) New Year!

Goodreads: not so good anymore

Here’s a hot take for you…2017 is apparently going down as the year where everything you once loved revealed itself as trash. Somewhat related: I’ve been kind of “Marie Kondo-ing” my social media applications. Goodreads may be the next to go because it’s no longer bringing me joy.

There was a time, not very long ago, when I couldn’t even imagine my reading life without Goodreads. Now I’m basically like: “Meh.” Or, worse, sometimes I think: “Ugh. I have to go update Goodreads.”

I think Goodreads sort of lost the plot. I don’t go there for book reviews anymore because their book reviews are, for the most part, easily-gamed trash. Their website design feels clunky and badly in need of an overhaul. And their Android app is even worse. I finally just deleted it off my phone in frustration. The emails they send (with the one exception being their daily deals) are annoying (“You just finished a book. What are you going to read next?”). Plus most of their integrations with Kindle annoying, not helpful (ex: I really don’t want you to automatically add that book to my currently-reading shelf just because I opened it on my Kindle, thanks).

So what have I found myself doing this year instead of using Goodreads? I’m so glad you asked.

For book recommendations, I’ve been heavily leaning on a few podcasts I love (Reading the End, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, Galactic Suburbia), the Tor.com mailing list, the BookRiot SFF Yeah mailing list, and a handful of “BookTubers” who appear to have similar book tastes to me (Little Book Owl, Thoughts on Tomes).

I’ve found other ways, better and easier ways, to track my reading. In parallel to tracking my reading on Goodreads, I started using a spreadsheet. I started with the one provided in this Book Riot post, then personalized it a little. It’s mostly been working well. It can be a little more time consuming to fill out because I have to look up all the book data, but it makes summarizing my reading stats very easy. I’m kind of a nut for spreadsheets, so I actually find this way more satisfying that updating Goodreads.

The only problem that I haven’t completely solved is where to keep track of all the books I want to read. This one is a little more complicated. On the one hand, I really like that Goodreads emails me when ebooks on my TBR shelf go on sale. But, they also email when all sorts of other books that I’m way less interested in go on sale. And I don’t really need to know when books go on sale because I’m trying to use my library and not to buy more ebooks.

So, if I can get by without the ebook sale emails (narrator: she can), then I really just need a parking lot for the various books I see and want to remember to someday put on hold and borrow from the library. I think this problem is relatively easy to solve by just adding a tab in my spreadsheet to keep track of books I want to read. The great thing about adding this to my spreadsheet is that I can then also keep track of where I heard about the book, or who recommended it to me. This is supposedly something you can do in Goodreads, but has always been such a hassle that I’ve never bothered to figure it out.

Can I get by without Goodreads? Yes, I think I can. Am I ready to give it up completely? Who knows. Place your bets and tune in to find out what I decide…

Thoughts on book buying

For the past few years I’ve been trying to eat through my backlog of ebooks that I’ve purchased on sale but haven’t read yet. I’ve also been trying, and failing, to stop buying new ebooks, especially when I don’t plan to read them right away.

The good news is, even though the year isn’t over yet, I may have *finally* put the brakes on my book buying. And buy “put the brakes on” I basically mean I purchased half the number of books I normally purchase. For the past few years, I’ve purchased between 60 and 70 ebooks each year. But, this year, I only purchased about 35. That’s progress.

For the most part, I succeeded in only buying new releases that I really wanted to read immediately. But, there were definitely more than a few on sale ebooks that I couldn’t resist, the most recent of which was Jade City which sounds amazing and is on sale for $2.99 as of this posting.

Because more of my book purchases were pre-orders this year vs. on sale ebooks, my average cost per book increased from less than $4 per book, to about $4.5o per book. Not a huge increase, but noticeable. Still, overall I spent about $100 less on ebooks than I have in previous years. Again, a notable improvement.

Now comes the big question, why bother tracking my book buying habits, and why bother trying to spend less on books? Well…buying on sale ebooks (usually backlist) makes almost zero sense when my library ebook selection has improved so much in the past few years.

If I want to avoid long hold lists, fine. But, if I just want to read the ebook sometime in the future, it’s way more sensible to let my library inventory that book for me, especially if it’s a backlist title that they already have. Plus, they now allow me to recommend purchases. They don’t always purchase what I want, but they’ve definitely listened to a lot of my recommendations this year.

The other part of why I decided to keep track my book buying was my desire to keep track of books I purchased at full price but never read. Which makes very little sense unless I truly love making myself feel terrible.

At this point, the portion of my purchases bought at full price but not read yet represents 13 books at a total of just over $100. That’s not a small amount of money. But, as of the New Year, I’m officially absolving myself of all guilt over these unread books.

Guilt is a terrible motivator. No. Scratch that, it’s actually a pretty reliable motivator for me, but it sucks all the joy out of reading. And, since reading is a thing I do for fun, a hobby, I’m done with guilt. I know I’ll read these eventually. But, next year I’m officially retiring my “guilt list” TBR. In fact, I’m seriously considering killing the entire concept of a TBR for my 2018 reading. Stay tuned for more on that in a future post…

Until then, happy (guilt free) reading!

November reading summary and December TBR

Well, I did it!

November was a very busy month with a TON of travel and very little stability (we’re moving, location TBD after the holidays). But, I still managed to push through and write 50k words in 30 days. Phew. I have to say, as cool as it is to have “won” NaNoWriMo again — this is my 6th win — the thing I’m most proud of this month is that I wrote every day. Regardless of how crazy life got, no matter what got in the way, I put my butt in the chair and typed. Even if it was just 79 words (my worst day: the day after Thanksgiving). Even if it meant that I had 6 days where I wrote at least double the daily “par” word count of 1667 words in order to catch up.

So, what do I have to show for it? I have just over 50k words of something that is starting to become novel-shaped. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has a (very weak) plot. It has one or two scenes that I’m particularly proud of and a TON of holes that need to be filled in. Gaping holes. Now, I just need to actually *finish* this first draft. But before I do that, I need to tinker with last year’s NaNoWriMo project so that I can send it out for a developmental edit.

Because of all this writing (and life) craziness, I didn’t read much in November. I finished one book. It was a really good book — The Sisters of Alameda Street by Lorena Hughes. It’s a family drama with some romantic sub-plots and an underlying mystery driving the story, and it takes place in Ecuador — a country I lived in for about two months back in 2008. I’d recommend it for anyone who liked My Brilliant Friend.

On my way to Thanksgiving, I bought myself an autographed copy of Kirstin Cashore’s new novel, Jane, Unlimited. I started it, but I didn’t have much time to read over Thanksgiving. I’m almost to the end of the first branch of the story. If you aren’t familiar with this book, it has a kind of “choose your own adventure” or Sliding Doors (though I haven’t seen that movie) premise to it. There’s a base story that sets things up and introduces the characters. Then there are five (I think) possible branches for what happens directly after that base story. Apparently, each of those branches is a different genre of story. It sounds really creative, and I loved her Graceling series, and the story has a lot of elements that I love (huge, creepy house on a private island, odd rich people behaving badly, lots of references to ocean creatures). I’m planning on spending the better part of my weekend curled up with this book.

I’m not sure what else I plan to read in December. I have a “kinda sorta” TBR list, but it’s basically just a list of the books I was going to read for the remaining Read Harder Challenge tasks. I have eight left to read. They’re mostly all books that I really want to read. Some of the ones I picked are really short. So, we’ll see how it goes.

More than anything, I have a lot of reading-related thoughts floating around in my head that I’m going to work on organizing into blog-posts for December. I have a lot of thoughts, folks. Especially about book buying and Goodreads and TBRs and life. So, stay tuned for more on that.

And, I know I don’t talk about writing a lot on my blog (on purpose). But, if you want to hear more about what’s going on with my writing, I’m starting a newsletter. You can sign up for it here. It will contain content that I don’t offer anywhere else on the internet (or at least newsletter subscribers will get that content months before everyone else). I’m shooting for a monthly schedule to be sent each month on or around the 15th, starting in December. This month’s newsletter may just be a giant photo of me watching The Last Jedi with my friends. Plus a few other writing-related tidbits. We’ll see…

Happy holidays, everyone!