November is usually one of my favorite months of the year. When Autumn finally reaches Texas, Thanksgiving, football season, family time.
But to be perfectly honest, it was a bit of a rough month for me. Between some health challenges, professional setbacks and personal issues, I was beyond ready for this month to end. Thankfully, I was pretty lucky on the reading front, so let’s dive in!
What I Read
GRAND TOTAL: 4
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater ★★★★☆
Every year on November 1st, riders gather to participate in the Scorpio Races – a breakneck race on the beautiful but terrible carnivorous water horses that haunt the island of Thisby. Talk about a killer and unique concept! And Stiefvater delivers!
First of all, the language is absolutely gorgeous. The descriptions are just enough to create the atmosphere without bogging down the pace. But where this novel really shines is in its character development. The protagonists Sean and Puck are so nuanced and fascinating, and the side characters are every bit as developed. Even the horses have distinct personalities and depth. There was just enough romance to spice things up but it stayed realistic and muted compared to the overall story.
There seem to be conflicting feelings about the ending, but for me, it was just the tiny bit unsatisfying. It came on so quickly, and I wanted a little more resolution for such great characters. But I don’t expect a totally happy ending given the situation, so I am glad that the ending we did get was bittersweet. If you haven’t read this one, definitely do so now! It’s the perfect fall read!
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang ★★★★★
For Stella Lane, French kissing feels like the equivalent of “a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish.” But pressure from her mother and a desire to be normal has her determined to learn the art of dating the only way she knows how: the logical approach of hiring an escort to teach her.
Hoang’s debut is refreshing, heartwarming and chock full of personality. Stella is such a unique and authentic character unlike any I’ve read before, and Michael is the ideal love interest. The perfect bend of sexy and sweet, Michael takes great care to respect the boundaries that come with Stella’s autism, exploring the meaning of consent that is absent from so many romance novels. The message of self-acceptance is so powerful, and the inclusion of diverse characters was very well executed and fun to experience.
I loved every second of this book. Sure, the HEA was a dead giveaway (it is a romance after all) but I greatly enjoyed the journey!
Bird Box by Josh Malerman ★★★★☆
Okay let me start by saying that this book was totally outside of my comfort zone. I tend to stay as far away from horror as possible, but I picked this book up for one reason: the incredible trailer for the upcoming movie.
I purposefully read this book while I was home with family for Thanksgiving instead of at my house by myself, and I am glad I did because there are some really terrifying moments. But overall, this novel read more like psychological suspense than true horror which I loved. The concept of losing your mind after seeing some unknown creature was really unique, and the alternating timelines added so much suspense that I couldn’t stop reading. The characters are extremely well-developed and relatable, and the tension amongst the survivor’s just builds and builds until the explosive ending. Don’t be afraid (pun intended) to pick up this one!
A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet ★★★★☆
A unique blend of fantasy and romance, made-up world and familiar Greek gods, magic and warcraft makes for a enjoyable ride in the first book of the Kingmaker Chronicles. Cat is a soothsayer in a travelling circus who is kidnapped by the new Sintan warlord to serve in his court. But there’s more to both of their stories, and more to the spark between them that masquerades as hate.
I absolutely adore the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope, and this is a shining example. Griffin was highlighted in last month’s blog on book boyfriends, and he definitely lives up to the hype. Cat annoyed me several times throughout (the main reason for my subtraction of one star although to be fair, I think she is supposed to be a little grating) but I did appreciate her strength and sass as well as her character growth.
I am also a sucker for Greek mythology, and it’s woven into the story extremely well while also adding Bouchet’s unique touches. The pace is fast, the romance is hot, and the magic is indeed magical. Oh, and there’s dragons. The ending felt a little incomplete but thank goodness there’s a sequel!
What I Wrote
While everyone else was busying cranking out words for NaNoWriMo, I did the exact opposite: nothing. And it was glorious.
I’ve always said that it’s important to take a break between drafts, and this time I really practiced what I preach with a nice, long eleven week break! Granted I had a lot of other things going on that took my mind off of it, but I am still proud of myself for letting myself rest and relax.
I am also excited that 700 Main (which has a shiny new title I will reveal in due course) is now out on its second round of submissions to publishers! Fingers, toes and eyes crossed!
I am taking December as an “all about me” month. Time to get my body and mind where it needs to be for a good start to the new year. So while I have a plan in place, I am not putting a ton of pressure on myself, so that I can stay balanced and healthy.
That being said, The Blood Between Us is printed and ready to start revisions. First things first though, I need to reread it so that I can reacquaint myself with the story. It’s been a while! While I do that, I will start putting my spreadsheet together so that I can identify any pacing issues or plot holes. My goal for this month is to be ready with a revision plan to start the heavy lifting in January.
I am also hoping my December reading will be as good as November’s, and with this line up, I am sure it will be!
- Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer
- Royally Yours by Emma Chase
- The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
- Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Are you feeling the pressure to accomplish your goals with only one month left? Gearing up for an exciting holiday season?
Share your December plans in the comments and let me know what you’re working on!