Hello my lovelies!
Today is December 1st.
I have survived NaNoWriMo. We have a snow day from school. And I read some brilliant books in November!
First, lets all appreciate how beautiful the snow is:
Winter is always my favorite season (and yeah, I know, it's not winter *yet*). I love the stillness and silence of everything. The snow, the cold, the way everything is just more.
Alright, so how did November go? Did you read? Write? Neither? Both? I was very focused on NaNo, so I chose the books I read in November with a lot of intention. I wanted books I knew I would love and books that I knew would push me to want to write my NaNo project. I tend to be at my best writing-wise when I'm reading books that sweep me up in their pages.
Reading is a vital skill for writers. You learn craft--both the good and the bad--by reading. You'll read books you want to emulate and books that you hope you are NEVER compared to. For this month I'm going to dive into the specifics of why I choose the books I did.
The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue: Schwab is known for her beautiful and poignant prose and Addie did not disappoint. This is also a great book to study for a character driven storyline (aka, the story revolves around the character's personal life rather than external, catastrophic world ending stakes), and it's a master's class in how to balance multiple time lines. Schwab is an expert at this (If you haven't read Vicious yet, her manipulation of the timeline in that book is just *chef's kiss*) (CW: Suicide, Suicide Ideation, Depression, Mental health)
2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron: This is pretty obvious--I wanted to up my word count. Aaron's book is filled with great tips and I highly recommend giving it a quick read. Take what works for you, leave what doesn't. I was pleased to learn that I already do about 75% of what she recommends and honestly, that last 25% comes down to actual time since writing is not a source of income for me or a full time job. It gets side lined pretty quick when life gets in the way. But I really loved this book and it has some EXCELLENT writing suggestions to help up your word count and make the whole process easier.
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen: This gorgeous graphic novel is a great read and perfect for studying how to weave together multiple storylines with characters who never meet or even exist in the same world. When everything lined up at the end, I cried. This graphic novel is also a great study for how to do modern retellings of classic fairytales. (CW: parental loss, homophobia)
The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang: My NaNo project was a sequel and, well, sequels are tough. So The Dragon Republic was one of two sequels on my reading list so I could see how it's done. And this book did not disappoint. (I laughed. I cried. I am excited to read The Burning God, but also terrified). Kuang expanded on Rin's world and her emotional and character arc shifted as well. Sequels aren't just *more* of the story, you need to be building on everything you brought in the first book and The Dragon Republic delivered. Additionally, the world building, magic and characters are just AMAZING. Basically, Kuang is an author you can read and learn from in every aspect of writing craft. (CW: War Violence, Racism, Self-harm, Rape)
Chainbreaker by Tara Sim: This was the second sequel on my list and again it was a fantastic study in how to up the stakes and move the story forward. The way Sim adds to what you know and introduces new elements was phenomenal. And that ending. Damn. Just damn. (I'm reading Firestarter, 200 pages to go!!) Sim's prose and the way she uses it to convey abstract ideas about time are also great. (CW: Racism, Violence)
Wings of Ebony by J. Elle (26/1/21): I feel so lucky I was able to read an ARC of this magnificent book. It was a great study in how to write contemporary fantasy. It showed how you can manage both magic and current tech. It also digs into the idea of colonization in a very compelling way and I predict this is going to be one of the HOTTEST books of 2021. It's really phenomenal and I can't wait to read the sequel!! (CW: Parental loss, Racism, Classism, Violence)
The City We Became by N.K. Jemison: Another great study in how to write contemporary fantasy. It's easy to see why Jemison is an award winning author as soon as you start reading. She weaves fantastical speculative elements with modern day New York City and it is filled with allegory and symbolism. So, if you want to see how it's done, read this book! Also, this was one of my audio books this month and not only was the narrator AMAZING, but they added in some sound effects and really made the book come alive. So if you're looking for a phenomenal audio book experience, I cannot recommend this one enough. Also, voice! Basically, Jemison is another author that you can learn something from in every aspect of writing. (CW: Sexual assualt, Racism, Violence)
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon: This novel is great for studying how to write speculative fiction. The world building is in depth and so well planned out. On top of that, you also have a wonderful, character driven story that also tackles current issues and discussions. The way Solomon approaches gender in this novel is refreshing and another great piece of craft to study!
(CW: Body dysmorphia, Violence against women, Rape, Physical abuse, Racism, Classism)
A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey: This delightful rom-com is a bit out of my normal reading wheelhouse, but that's part of why I read it (also because Namey's books are FANTASTIC). Even though I write fantasy, there is a lot I can learn from other genres. Cuban Girl's Guide delivers a fantastically sweet, slow burn love story. Namey also does an amazing job with her mental health rep in her books and it's great to see such good rep on the page. And did I mention her prose? The prose is BEAUTIFUL. (I'll be doing a full write up on this lovely book in December. It involves delicious cookies and tea, so keep your eyes peeled) (CW: Family death, Depression, Mild Self-harm)
All of these books were a pleasure to read (or listen to) and I've tucked away different aspects into my arsenal of craft knowledge. I was also lucky that all of these books were super fun as well! Because, well, reading should also be fun. If it's not fun, then stop reading! Seriously, DNF-ing is a legit thing!
What does December hold? Less writing! Hooray! And hopefully I can finish strong with demolishing more of my TBR pile before 2021 is upon us. Here are the six books I've chosen as my December Must Reads:
And beneath my foxy friend are the three books I've decided to start and read everything up to the last chapter, so that on January first, I can read those last chapters and claim them as my first three reads of 2021. It's not cheating, it's strategic planning, leave me alone!
What's on your TBR for December? What books have you read and learned from? Leave me a comment or talk to me on twitter! I'm always here to talk books!! And if you're looking to purchase any of the books mentioned in this blog, just click on the title to be taken to my bookshop page or check out your local indie bookseller!