Read & Written: Birthday Edition! (March 2017)
It's celebration time, friends! Today just so happens to be my 22nd birthday, and no, that is NOT an April Fool's joke. It really is my birthday, so let's break out the cake!
In all honesty, it kind of blows my mind that this will be the third birthday I've celebrated with you guys. (I began She's Novel when I was 19!) I don't know where the time's gone, but I do know that I'm so, sooo grateful that you lovely folks are a part of my life.
Today's Read & Written, as always, will mostly recap what I read, wrote, and blogged in the previous month, but since I'll also share my plans for April, we're totally calling this the birthday edition.
So settle in, grab yourself a delicious slice of cake, and let's get to recapping!
What did I read in March?
My goal for March was to read 6 - 10 books, and boy did I nail it. I actually probably read too much, but I was in a bit of a depressive funk this month, and reading instead wallowing in a puddle of self-pity was a HUGE help.
Here's a spoiler-free recap of all the books I devoured!
(Psst! The Book Depository links below include affiliate codes. Any purchases made through those links helps me keep the lights on here at no extra cost to you. Also, free worldwide shipping, yo!)
1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (link)
My rating: 4 / 5 stars
The Raven Cycle is a series I've been hearing about for ages.
I have a mixed past with its author, Maggie Stiefvater (I didn't much enjoy her first two series, but I *loved* her standalone, The Scorpio Races). But everyone I talk to seems to adore this quartet, so I decided to dive in.
The first installment, The Raven Boys, was definitely one of the most unique books I've read in a while (no surprise from Maggie Stiefvater), and I really enjoyed it!
2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (link)
My rating: 5 / 5 stars
The Hate U Give is probably THE most hyped young adult book of 2017.
Inspired by Black Lives Matter, the story follows Starr, a black teenager stuck in two different worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the rich, predominantly white private school she attends.
Her life gets infinitely more complicated when she becomes the sole witness to the police shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil.
Angie Thomas absolutely stuns with her debut. She doesn't back away from the complexities of police brutality and systemic racism in America. In fact, she handles both with complete grace.
This book is an absolute stunner, one of my favorite reads of 2017 thus far, and I cannot recommend getting your hands on a copy enough. You won't regret it!
3. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (link)
My rating: 4 / 5 stars
I couldn't stop thinking about The Raven Boys this month, so prepare yourself for a bit of déjà vous.
The Dream Thieves is the second installment in The Raven Cycle. It takes a surprising turn by mostly focusing on just one of the main protagonists, Ronan Lynch.
There's more to Ronan than meets the eye, and watching his story unfold was captivating. I also loved seeing some of the other characters, especially Adam Parrish, begin to develop.
Unfortunately, this book did seem a bit disconnected from the series as a whole. Still a fun read though!
4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Bejamin Alire Sáenz (link)
My rating: 4 / 5 stars
Hmm...it's kind of hard to believe I rated this book the same as The Dream Thieves on Goodreads. I may need to change that because Aristotle and Dante was absolutely lovely.
The story occurs over several years in the lives of two Mexican-American teens trying to find their place in the world.
Though the beginning of the story was quite slow, Sáenz's lyrical writing style easily captivated me. Soon, I began to fall in love with the characters, and by the end...ugh. Just. Divine. Book hangover, anyone?
5. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (link)
My rating: 4 / 5 stars
Lots of 4 star reads this month! I initially wanted to pick up the Shades of Magic series because Victoria Schwab is one of my favorite authors to follow on Twitter.
I tried her young adult novel, This Savage Song, last year, but didn't get very far. I think I was just in a bit of a funk at the time, so I'd like to try it again sometime.
Shades of Magic is the series that really made Schwab's name, so when everyone seemed to love the third and final installment that came out this January, I knew I needed to get on board.
I quickly fell in love Schwab's worldbuilding and characters, and I can't wait to see where the story heads next!
6. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (link)
My rating: 3 / 5 stars
Surprise, surprise. I read the third book in The Raven Cycle this month.
Overall, I was disappointed by The Raven Cycle. I loved the characters (so, SO much!) and the general idea of the plot. But overall, I felt the story needed a lot of work.
Book three is where things begin to really fall apart. Though exciting things do happen and characters do grow, nothing much in this book pushed the overall arc of the story forward. A lot of it felt like filler.
I think my ratings for books 2, 3 & 4 would all be a full star lower if it weren't for the fantastic characters. :/
6. So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (link)
My rating: 4 / 5 stars
The book community on Youtube is called Booktube, and my favorite Booktuber of all time is Ariel Bisset.
Ariel raved about this book on multiple occasions (here's her main review), so when I saw it in my library by chance, I decided to pick it up.
So You've Been Publicly Shamed is a non-fiction book in which journalist Jon Ronson explores the re-emergence of public shaming as a form of social punishment, most popularly on Twitter.
This book is way outside my norm, but I found it wholly captivating. I can't wait to explore more pop science books in the future!
7. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (link)
My rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Ten points if you saw this coming!
This month, I finished out The Raven Cycle by reading The Raven King, which turned out to be even more disappointing than I'd imagined.
I hate trashing a book when SO many people seemed to love it, but again this book seemed to waver so far from the series arc, with so many random events failing to tie into the story as a whole.
Worse yet, the climax was very...anti-climactic. Downright frustrating really, and overall I was left with far more questions than were answered. Which adds even more to my frustration because I'M STILL SO IN LOVE WITH THE CHARACTERS. *sighs for all eternity*
That wraps up the books I completed last month. I also started The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss and A Gathering of Shadows, the second book in the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab, but I've yet to finish either.
Oh, but some awesome news? My library hold on Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is finally available. HURRAY!!
What did I write in March?
In last month's recap, I shared how I came to the realization that I'd fallen out of love with my writing, and I set out to fix that. Now I'm happy to report that I'm back in the swing of things!
Somewhere along my journey towards rediscovery, a switch flipped and all that love came rushing back. I ended up doing major edits on four chapters and a prologue this month (all for The Dark Between), and I just started re-writes on a new chapter.
Here's a quick snippet from the newly-edited chapter one:
Cannen took her into his office.
No, swept her there, in a flurry of long robes and fluttering hair. When he settled into the chair behind his desk, leaving her standing between the stacks of books and boxes of instruments that littered his fine rug, Thea caught her breath.
It was in moments like these the master healer looked oh-so different from his sister, from the woman who had raised Thea up from orphan to healer’s apprentice in a tiny, forgotten land just over the distant mountains.
Sure, the coloring was the same. The build, too. Essa and Cannen both had their father’s impossibly tall, thin frame and thick chestnut hair. But in Essa there was a measure of peace, of careful, deliberate patience born–Thea thought–of love.
With Cannen there was only control, and when control was beyond his reach, fury settled.
“You would leave? Now?” he demanded, his words so loud they rattled her bones. “Two years, Thea. You are my brightest student. Two years and your training would be complete. A master healer. Stars!” His hand cut through the air like a knife. “You could go wherever you wanted. Work, wherever you wanted.”
Thea drew a steadying breath. “I will return, lord master. As soon as I am able.”
“Return?” Cannen shouted.
Thea didn’t need her gifts to know that he was angry. But instead of growing red, Cannen’s fury settled pale and white.
“And what shall I do while I wait? Twiddle my thumbs? There are students here who would bite off their own fingers to be my apprentice if they didn’t need them to heal.”
He pressed a hand to his brow, sighing. His voice was low when he spoke. “Two years of my life I have given you, and two yet you require, and still you would leave?”
A small snippet, I know. But I hope you enjoyed it! I can't remember if I shared a version of this scene with you before on my old author website, so forgive me if it sounds familiar. :)
What happened at Well-Storied in March?
Lots of cool stuff!
The most exciting moment of the month was probably the launch of Write With Purpose, the free 46-page workbook I created to help writers find focus, gain confidence in storytelling, and begin building their ideal writing lives. You can learn more about it by clicking here!
Published on the Blog:
- I launched the very first Well-Storied giveaway! It's only available to subscribed community members this time around, but if it goes well, I hope to do more elaborate giveaways that are available to everyone in the future.
- I hosted the first guest post of the year on the blog. (Margaret McGriff really knocked it out of the park, too!)
- I didn't originally intend to accept guest posts this year after many disappointing, rude, and time-consuming submissions in 2016. I'm still not promoting an open call on my contact page (hoping to weed out unprofessional submissions this way), but if you're interested in writing an article for the blog, I'll take a look at what y'ave got!
- A win for the writing blogger community: my lovely friend and fellow writing blogger, Tomi Adeyemi, just landed super splashy book & movie deals for her young adult West-African inspired fantasy trilogy, Children of Blood and Bone.
- How incredibly amazing is that? I can't wait to follow her meteoric writing journey!
What are my plans for April?
Y'all know how much I love planning. Let's dive in!
- Celebrate my birthday. Today, I'm heading out for some thrift shopping and delicious food, while later this month, my mom and I plan to head into Philly for a day trip of my request: visiting all the tourist-y American Revolution sites (Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center, the Betsy Ross house, etc.).
- Read 3 - 5 books. After finishing up A Gathering of Shadows and The Slow Regard of Silent Things, I hope to tackle a few of the lengthier books on my TBR.
- Options: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin, The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, and Voyager by Diana Gabaldon.
(I may also try to finish out the Shades of Magic series this month. We'll see!)
- Write my little heart out. April is a Camp NaNo month, but I don't think I'm going to officially participate. Instead, I plan to simply continue nurturing my newly-recovered love for writing. I hope to tackle around 5-ish chapters this month.
- Finish redesigning The Pre-Write Project. I've mentioned this potential goal in the past few recaps, but this is the month it actually happens. Look for the new edition later this month!
- Create my next free resource. This May, I hope to launch another full-scale free resource like Write With Purpose. I'm not ready to share the details yet, but know that this project is indeed under way!
Aaaand, I think that's all I'd like to set in stone for this month. I have a few other ideas I'm playing around with, but we'll save these for another time. ;)
As always, I hope you guys enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at some of the things that have happened in my life this February.
I'd love to hear what you've been up to in return! Share a mini-recap of your month with me in the comments below, or write your own full-length blog recap and shoot me a link. I can't wait to check it out!