2016 - further up and further in

Monday, December 5, 2016

What I Read: November

Monday, December 05, 2016 3
What I Read: November
Just as an FYI, this post is going to be seriously lacking in books. *insert crying while laughing emoji here*

November was... hectic, to say the least. I had a major flare up of constant pain, I traveled for Thanksgiving, my mental health wasn't great, and I barely won NaNo. Because of everything that went on, I forgot to read/didn't have time to read. So, here is my grand total of TWO BOOKS for this November! (It's better than nothing, I guess?)

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

I read this one because Jandy Nelson is such a good author and I'll Give You the Sun is one of my favorite books. I must confess I still like IGYtS better, but The Sky Is Everywhere was a worthy novel and a fantastic debut. I loved the quirky atmosphere of this book, and Lennon's family was the best. Speaking of, what a fantastic name--Lennon! I love it so much, and I loved this book so much. Additionally, this book portrayed grief in a very realistic and heartrending way. A+, would read again.
Oh. Also. The puns were too much to resist.

Book in a gif:

Full Tilt by Emma Scott

I was recommended this book by my reading buddy, Ashley. She said I absolutely had to read it, so I read it to try to get out of my reading slump... and boy did it work! This book drew me in with well-developed characters, a deep plotline, and allllll the emotions. Both point-of-view characters felt like such real people to me, and I loved the setting and themes this novel contained. Bonus: it made me cry. It was a well-written feelsy romance novel, and it's everything I love in a book. So good. RIP, my heart.
Many thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book!

Book in TWO gifs (because I'm indecisive):

Annnd, that's all folks! I'm already back into reading now that NaNo's over with two books down and counting. My reading goal for this year (which I revised many, many times since I kept surpassing it) was 80 books, which means I have to read thirteen books by the end of this year. It's probably not a wise decision to try to do so, but I'm totally going to try. Wish me luck!

What was your favorite read in November? What's your ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK? And, in honor of Full Tilt, what book made you cry like a little baby? Sound off in the comments!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Beautiful Books #2: (Still) Carrying the Throne

Thursday, November 17, 2016 3
Beautiful Books #2: (Still) Carrying the Throne

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

Currently, at this moment... I'm good. This may change. It's been a rough November for me personally, as my mental health state isn't the greatest, and I actually wasn't sure at all if I would finish NaNo. But I'm still here, still writing, still fighting, still trying. And I think I'm on my way to catching up.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

The fall leaves skitter on the ground in front of me, almost as if they’re fleeing. 

3. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
Currently, Felix. He's the easiest to write as because I've grasped his voice, and I love him. He's enjoying being in another world. Enjoying the heck out of it, actually.

4. What do you love about your novel so far?
I love how it's coming along, how it balances both our world and the fantasy one. It's like a fantasy novel, but I still get to make some pop culture references, which is super fun. It's taken some twists I didn't expect, but it's all the better for it.

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
My Twitter can tell the tale...

"She puts an arm on my hand--"
No. That's not how it works. #NaNoWriMo2016

"It's creping me out."
When you're trying to convey spookiness and you end up just craving breakfast food instead. #NaNoWriMo2016

In other news, Manhattan is apparently Manhatatan. #NaNoWriMo2016

6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
Ugh, no idea. They each have their pros and cons.

Pro: It's fun! You get to begin a novel you're (hopefully) excited to write.

Pro: This is, arguably, where the meat of the story happens.

Pro: You're done!
Con: You're done.

That was a long-winded way of saying, "Meh. I don't have a favorite."

7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
Whoaaa, so many questions. Let's unpack each one.

What are your writing habits?
Personally I'm fond of this thing called not writing unless it's NaNo. I am working to fix this.

Is there a specific snack you eat?
I end up getting so caught up in the story that I forget to eat. However, often you can find me eating cereal at night while I'm writing. (Cinnamon cereal, it's delicious.)

Do you listen to music?
Ideally, yes, but not lately. It's too much of a hassle for me to go find my earbuds. I'm lame.

What time of day do you write best?

Picture of my writing space:

Things that have changed since last year: my blog design and the fact that my laptop has died. I now use a desktop located at the same desk. But you can still find my flannel often discarded by my desk. (I'm wearing it right now, in fact.)

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing?
Super private. I mean, if you ask, I'll do my best to tell you! But it's hard for me to share. I do really like making Pinterest boards and aesthetic collages, though.

Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
I don't have a massive cheer squad, but I do have a few friends to cheer me on. Most of the time, though, I work alone.

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
Sometimes I don't even know. I think it boils down to the fact that writing is in my bones. I've tried to stop, but I can't. I've gone weeks or months without writing, but I always come back. And when I do, it's like coming home.

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
It is never too late to catch up.

Be bold in your writing, take risks. Just write whatever comes to mind first. (Write it down, edit later.)

Go do this Hamilton-themed word crawl. You are welcome.

Hey! How's NaNo going? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, November 7, 2016

What I Read: October

Monday, November 07, 2016 2
What I Read: October
October is over, and 2016 is almost over too, which is really wild to think about. But for now, here's what I read this past month!

Gilt Hollow by Lorie Langdon

You can read my full review here, but to sum it up: definitely a really good read, especially with the autumn and spooky vibes that this book evokes.

Book in a gif:

Slammed by Colleen Hoover

It's hard to find the words to sum up how much I loved this book. Colleen Hoover doesn't disappoint, and Slammed is easily one of my favorite books.

Book in a gif:

Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

The sequel to Slammed, Point of Retreat was just as enthralling and heartbreaking and amazing as its predecessor. I loved it.

Book in a gif:

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

This book was the worst but in the best way. Nauseating but compelling. Horrifying but amazing. I think you get the idea.

(No gif because how do you even sum this book up?!)

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Um. What. I still don't understand this book fully, but it was PERFECT. I'm not kidding. One of the best, most-mind-blowing books I've read this year.

Book in a gif:

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

I had a few issues with this book's portrayal of mental illness, but I did really like the characters. Caroline wins the book for me.

Book in a gif:

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

I'm so sad about this one because the cover was gorgeous. I so wanted to like it, but this book was just not for me.

Here's how I feel about that:

The Reader by M.K. Harkins

This book was super intriguing. While I found the writing and characters a bit off at times, the premise was really interesting and kept me involved in the book.

Book in a gif:

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

This book was so good, and I'm still thinking about it. I think it's one that will stick around in my subconscious for some time. Read my full review here.

Book in a gif:
(I mean, the Dress wasn't made by Cinna, but it COULD HAVE BEEN.)

Finding Libbie by Deanna Lynn Sletten

This was a sweetly written story. It took me a while to get into, but by 40% I was hooked. It was a really interesting love story wich plenty of obstacles and heartbreak. But it ended so beautifully. Yay happy endings!

Book in a gif:

The Lost & Found by Katrina Leno

This was one highly-anticipated read for me, and it did not disappoint. It portrays internet friendships so well, and the quirky characters are just a major bonus. Though we didn't get as many answers as I would have liked, and the ending was a bit ambiguous, I am still so glad I read this one.

Book in a gif:
Look, I know this gif choice is out there, but this book was SO SWEET, and what better to convey that than Zac Efron with whiskers?

What was your favorite book you read in October?

Many thanks to Netgalley for providing me with the copies of The Reader, The Dress, and Finding Libbie.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Beautiful Books 2016: How's the Writing Going?

Thursday, November 03, 2016 0
Beautiful Books 2016: How's the Writing Going?

Hello, writerlings! If you're like me, you're deep in the throes of NaNo. (This post was scheduled beforehand and thus is brought to you by pre-NaNo Sky, who is probably a lot more calm than current Sky.) It's time for another round of Beautiful Books to discuss our novels!

Beautiful Books is a three-month long event focusing on your novel, whether it's for NaNo or otherwise. In October, we focused on plotting and introducing your novel. In November, we'll be focusing on the writing process and how NaNo is going. And in December, we'll be focusing on editing and how you think your book turned out!

You may have some questions about this...

Do I have to be doing NaNo to participate? Absolutely not! While the general format is suited well to writers doing NaNo, we want this blog link-up to be for everyone! Just pick a work-in-progress and you'll be good to go. Come one, come all!

How does it work? The format is really similar to Beautiful People. Each month, we'll be posting 10 questions, except this time for you to answer about your WIP (or yourself!). You'll take our 10 questions and answer them on your blog, then come back and link up here! And don't forget to go around and read the posts of the other participants--it could be a great way to make friends!

What about Beautiful People? Beautiful People will be back! But for now, show your WIP some love! There’s always the archive if you get the itch to do BP as well.

So... what do I do? Sit tight and read the questions Cait and I will post, then use them to help you think through one of your novels! Then link back, and overall be your awesome self! Also, if you want to share this with your friends, we aren't at all opposed! Making this one big party would be really cool.

Don't forget to link back, either via a text link or this fancy blog button.

This month, let's discuss the nitty-gritty details of your novel and the writing process.

  1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
  2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
  3. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
  4. What do you love about your novel so far?
  5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
  6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
  7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
  8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
  9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
  10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

How's NaNo (or writing in general) going, lovelies? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Keep Calm and Write the Thing (NaNoWriMo 2016)

Monday, October 31, 2016 3
Keep Calm and Write the Thing (NaNoWriMo 2016)

Okay, guys. The NaNo panic is real. It's real for me because I have one of the most hectic schedules I've ever had in the history of ever, and I haven't had much time or brain power to plot as much as I would have liked. In just several hours, it'll be time to put the theoretical pen to paper and start writing a whole new novel from scratch. Since this is my eighth NaNo, after countless years of writing, you'd think that the panic would get easier each year, but it doesn't. I still feel as new, terrified, unsure, and absolutely unprepared as the first time.

But maybe that's the good part. At least this writing thing won't ever get old. It's an adventure each time.

If you're like me and totally panicking, here's your reminder that it's going to be okay. You have a story that needs to be told, and only you can tell it.  Your words don't have to be perfect. They just have to be out there. (This pep talk is uber-cliche, but it fits since my NaNo novel is also cliche.)

No matter what happens, you'll make it through November. No matter what your word count is, you'll make it through November. No matter what happens, NaNo won't kill you. No matter what happens, you will survive.

Me to NaNo 2016

And remember, if all else fails, channel your inner Ron Swanson.

We've got this, guys. LET'S DO THIS.

Book Review: The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

Monday, October 31, 2016 0
Book Review: <i>The Dress</i> by Kate Kerrigan

Joy is beautiful, but she has a secret terror. Although she is the toast of 1950s New York society, with everything money can buy, she is afraid that one day her beauty will fade and she will lose the love of her glamorous husband.
Honor is a young Irish seamstress, who has been working her fingers to the bone with little reward, but her luck is about to change. For her 30th birthday, Joy commissions Honor to create the most dazzling dress ever seen.
Lily has always loved vintage clothes. Thousands follow her fashion blog. One day she stumbles upon an article about a legendary evening dress, created in the 1950s, but now lost to history. She knows that she must find out more.
What Lily uncovers is a story of glamour, friendship and love betrayed. The story of two women, one ruthless man – and a dress so sublime that nothing in couture would ever match it again.

From the very start, The Dress is a book richly steeped in detail, glamour, and family history. The plot lines are woven together so intricately (not unlike the titular Dress) that it's quite simply a pleasure to read this book. I was quickly drawn into the story of Lily, Joy, and Honor--whose stories connect in ways you might not expect. Joy and Honor's stories are set in the past, and Lily's is set in the present. All three of them are connected by... well... The Dress, and it's so interesting to see how the story fits together.

At first, I wasn't sure how the story would connect, especially when the story began with a preacher and a little boy in Ireland. But the way things progressed, as well as the payoff of the beginning scene, was really stunning to me. I found it fascinating, dazzling, and even gritty at times. I couldn't put this book down.

What you can expect:

  • Flawed yet realistic characters. No one in this book is perfect, and they deal with a lot of heavy stuff. Instead of black and white, these characters are definitely gray. At times, the glamorous backdrop of the 1950s combined with the tragic stories of the characters reminded me a bit of The Great Gatsby (though this ended a bit happier than Gatsby, thanks goodness).
  • Beauty. The Dress described in this book is simply stunning, and the way it's written about and described is awe-inspiring. 
  • Complex relationships. This book isn't just about fashion. At its core, it's about relationships--family, friends, and even our worst enemies. This book is full of relationships both heartwarming and backstabby alike. (What? Backstabby is totally a word. At least it should be.) The drama in this book wasn't cheap, and it was enough to fuel my brain into thinking about this book for days.
If you're looking for a super fascinating story with a touch of fashion, I'd say pick up The Dress. This intricate novel won't disappoint.

About the Author: Kate Kerrigan is an author living and working in Ireland. Her novels are Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, The Miracle of Grace, Ellis Island, City of Hope, Land of Dreams and The Lost Garden. Kate began her career as an editor and journalist, editing many of Britain’s most successful young women’s magazines before returning to her native Ireland in the 1990’s to edit Irish Tatler. She writes a weekly column in the Irish Mail about her life in Killala, County Mayo – and contributes regularly to RTE's radio's Sunday Miscellany. Her novel, The Dress, published by Head of Zeus was shortlisted at the Irish Book Awards in 2015, and her new novel, It Was Only Ever You, was published in hardback edition, October 2016. 

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book.