I can’t believe we’re already in the middle of 2017! This year is seriously flying by.
I made a goal in January to read 50 books this year. That’s up about 2x from what I read last year, and felt like a stretch goal, but still possible! I also wanted to read some more books out of my normal YA Fantasy diet–some classics, some political books, some books on productivity and writing/book marketing. As we’re halfway through, I thought I would take a look at how far I’ve come.
The current count is…44! I’m seriously blowing my goal out of the water! There’s just so much good stuff out there to read, and I’m spending more time reading than watching tv these days. I’m also listening to a lot of audiobooks on 1.5 speed, which helps me get through more books. I guess setting a goal really does help!
Here’s what I’ve read this year so far…
YA and/or Fantasy
A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah Maas
A Court of Wings and Ruin, Sarah Maas
Air Awakens, Elise Kova
A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows, V.E. Schwab
Roses & Rot, Kat Howard
And I Darken, Kristen White
The Reader, Traci Chee
A Shadow Bright & Burning, Jessica Cluess
The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemesin
Labyrinth Lost, Zoraida Cordova
Illuminae, Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Gemina, Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho
Wintersong, S.J. Jones
The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman
Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor
Vengeance Road, Erin Bowman
The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Choshki
Wake of Vultures, Lila Bowen
Windwitch, Susan Dennard
Red Rising, Pierce Brown
Golden Son, Pierce Brown
Morning Star, Pierce Brown
Nevernight, Jay Kristoff
Walk on Earth a Stranger, Rae Carson
Passenger, Alexandra Bracken
Middle Grade Fiction:
Pax, Sara Pennypacker
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill
Outside my Genre Fiction:
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
1984, George Orwell
Cinnamon & Gunpowder, Eli Brown
Men Explain things to Me, Rebecca Solnit
Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay
R*tfucked, David Daley
March, Volume 1, John Lewis
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Adulthood is a Myth, Sarah Andersen
Deep Work, Cal Newport
Manuscript Makeover, Elizabeth Lyon
Guerilla Marketing, Derek Murphy
Launch to Market, Chris Fox
Write Better, Faster, Monica Leonelle
If you’re interested in following the rest of my challenge, or for my thoughts on any of these books, find me online on Goodreads, or on the Litsy App–my handle is claireluana.
What about you? What are your reading goals for the year? Read anything good lately?
A few months ago I submitted the first 5,000 words of my new book, The Confectioner’s Guild, to an anthology put together by the Alliance of Young Adult Authors. My story was selected to be one of 40 featured in the anthology! The anthology launched last week, and is available on Amazon for free!
Download it HERE to check out my story and stories by some other amazing YA authors! You might just find your new favorite author…(besides yours truly)!
That Moment When is an anthology of young adult writing featuring some of today’s hottest new talent in young adult fiction. Find your next favorite author as you read through 40 thrilling short stories.
Get it on Kindle / Get it on iBooks / Get it on Kobo
We’ve gathered a handful of thrilling stories from all of your favorite genres and put them together into an epic anthology of young adult fiction. Some of them are just the beginning of a unique adventure, while others are complete stories that will spark your imagination.
With over 200,000 words (about three full-length novels) That Moment When will provide weeks of reading pleasure.
Have you ever reached a moment in your life when everything changed? A crossroads of sorts–a point of no return. An event or realization so enormous you knew it would impact you forever in ways you couldnít begin to understand? Discoveries so momentous they changed everything you thought you knew about the world, and yourself?
That Moment When is filled with exactly these kinds of moments.
If you read the stories in this anthology, I guarantee you’ll find at least a few that thrill and excite you. Make sure to follow the authors if you want to read more – most of us have at least one free book on our sites.
All your favorite YA genres!
PARANORMAL & URBAN FANTASY
DYSTOPIAN & POST-APOCALYPTIC
THRILLER & HORROR
AND MORE (UNIQUELY SPECULATIVE FICTION)
Get it on Kindle / Get it on iBooks / Get it on Kobo
The Alliance of YA Authors is a community of over 1000 young adult writers. Many of us are award-winning, bestselling authors; others are brilliant debut authors just starting out. We team up to make it easier for you to find your new favorite reads, with book giveaways, contests and joint book promotions.
Can I share about my newest girl crush? It’s on Maggie Stiefvater, the author of the Shiver books, The Scorpio Races, and *squeal* the Raven Cycle. I tend towards fantasy in stand-alone worlds, and so I wasn’t sure what I would think of the Raven Boys, the first book in the four-part series. It’s about a psychic’s daughter named Blue, who has always been told that if she kissed her true love, she would kill him, and Gansey, a golden-haired all-American golden boy rich kid who is obsessed with discovering a sleeping Welsh King. Unusual premise, but I’m interested.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her. His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take? Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself. One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams. And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.
All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
A few chapters in, I was hooked. I flew through all four books in about two weeks, reading book 2 and 3 in less than 24 hours. Three things make these books.
- Stiefvater’s writing style. Now that I’m a writer, I tend to notice a beautiful turn of phrase. They stand out to me, and I think about the writing process that probably went into that gorgeous snippet of prose, the satisfaction the writer felt when they got the wording just right. Uh, these are peppered throughout the book. The writing is really gorgeous, and funny, and poignant, and frankly I’m jealous. But in a good way.
- The characters. The Raven Boys. Blue befriends Gansey and his three close friends, Adam, Ronan, and Noah. Each of these boys has incredibly deep, unique, magical stories that you don’t see coming. By the end, you know them each inside and out. She peels the onions of each of these boys over the course of the books and wow, you just love them, and the messy dynamics between them. Blue is a wonderful protagonist but for me she was almost a foil for the boys, this was their story as much as hers. Then there are the secondary characters, which are also colorful and lively. Blue lives in a wild house full of loopy psychics and you can just imagine the smell of patchouli and candles… but it feels so homey you want to visit.
- The magic. You think this series is about one thing, and in each book it deepens and grows more complex. After the first book, I was excited to keep reading, but I wondered where she could go with the story for three more books. Things changed dramatically, weaving in whole new magical elements that were unique and thought provoking. The story is dark and spooky at times, but lovingly rendered, and you just want to eat it up!
Is the series perfect? No. especially the last book left me wanting a bit more. The ending is satisfying, but could have been stronger. There were some tangents that felt unnecessary, loose ends left untied. But, that’s ok, because overall, I loved it. I highly recommend this series!
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There are a ton of free books out there! So if you love a deal or just can’t wait to get until your library holds come in, this list is for you.
- Bookbub and Book-bub wannabes
There are a ton of websites out there that specialize in delivering free or reduced priced e-books right to your inbox. Readers love it, because they can pick up great books for cheap or free, and authors love it because they get new readers for their discount books or later books in their series (if they are giving away a first book for free). Bookbub is the biggest player in the market, but there are a ton of other options, too!
Netgalley is a website that allows you to sign up for Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of upcoming releases, in exchange for providing a review of the book. Pretty much every major and minor publisher uses this site to distribute their ARCs. You ask publishers to provide you an ARC, and the publisher can accept or reject your request. This website is tailored for professional reviewers down to hobby bloggers, but publishers will be more likely to send you an ARC if you have some sort of website. But, saying you’ll post your review on Goodreads and Amazon is likely good enough for some publishers!
3. Library Thing
If Goodreads and Netgalley had a baby, it would be this website. This site allows you to post reviews and share book recommendations, but also has two features that give away books: the Early Reviewers option and Member Giveaways. The Early Reviewers option is like Netgalley in that authors and publishers give away ARCs in exchange for a review, while the Member Giveaway feature is just authors giving away copies. Both are pretty easy to get books through, even if you don’t have a blog or website.
4. Shelf Awareness & Publisher’s Weekly
Shelf Awareness & Publisher’s Weekly are both publishing industry publications that have email newsletters. If you sign up for both (select the pro version of Shelf Awareness), you end up with a fair amount of information about the industry in your inbox (which I happen to find interesting), but also opportunities to request or enter to win ARC copies of new books. These are the real deal, paperbacks delivered right to your mailbox! I enjoy getting free physical books more than ebooks, so when one of these arrives, it is extra exciting.
Goodreads provides authors with an easy way to give away print or e-copies of their books. When you give away a copy, people add your book to their “To Be Read” stack, so these giveaways help authors gain visibility. If you have a book in your To Be Read stack, you will get email updates about a new giveaway for that book. Or, you can peruse the giveaway section of the website to find books that look interesting to you!
Goodreads also has groups where you can sign up to beta read, or get free copies of books in exchange for reviews. Authors post blurbs of their stories and you can offer to read the ones that seem interesting to you! You can ever get audiobooks for free in these group sometimes!
6. Author Email Lists
Sign-up page for one of my fav authors, Leigh Bardugo!
Authors these days, especially self-published authors, are connecting with readers through their e-mail lists. Email lists are a great way for authors to give you up to date info about new releases, but they are constantly wanting to share fresh and relevant content with readers to keep them engaged. By signing up for the email list of your favorite authors, you will gain the inside scoop for new releases, which often includes an opportunity to beta read for the author or read ARC copies. Authors will also share when their books go on sale, when they have a giveaway, or when their authors friends are having discounts or giveaways.
Wattpad is a social networking site that allows people to post and read stories and books for free. There are a lot of amateur writers getting their feet wet on Wattpad (which is great!) but there are also a lot of professional writers who share their stories on the site to connect with new readers. Wattpad allows you to read chapter by chapter in your browser or on your phone, and then like or comment on each chapter. You can interact directly with the author, which is pretty cool. With 45 million members, there are more stories and books on this site than you will EVER have time for.
So there you have it. More free books than you will ever have time to read! Two caveats. If you get a book for free in exchange for a review…write the review. It should absolutely be an honest review, and if you hated the book and quit 20 pages in, write that review too. We call those Do Not Finish (DNF) reviews, and that’s ok. Try to be objective (and not cruel) in explaining why the book wasn’t for you…if it might be in someone else’s wheelhouse though, say that!
Lastly, free books are great. Everyone loves a deal, and it gets people introduced to new authors all the time. But authors work really, really hard to write those books. And the average e-book costs $2-5. That’s less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and I know you don’t think twice about indulging in one of those every once and a while (or every day). So if you loved that first book in the series, buy the next one!
Have you heard of Litsy? No? Well let me gush about it. Likened to the baby of Instagram and Goodreads, Litsy is a newcomer to the social network scene (only available on iOS currently, sorry!). It is the app for book-lovers and frequent readers!
It’s pretty simple. You can do three things when it comes to a book you read: post a Quote from the book, write a Blurb about the book, or Review the book.
Posts can contain photos, text, or both, but they have to be linked to a particular book. When you review a book, there are only four options: Pick, So-So, Pan, and Bail.
Here’s a post I made last month:
Find other Litsy’ers to follow, and their posts show up in your feed. When viewing your feed, you have only a few options: add a book to your To Be Read stack, comment on their post, or love their post. That’s pretty much it!
Here’s what my profile page looks like:
The little glasses show what I am reading currently, the little lightning bolt at the bottom gives me notifications, and the little plus gives me the option to post a new post. The more you interact with Litsy, the more your “Litfluence” number rises (see my number on the right). Everyone starts with 42 (a nod to Douglas Adams) but it is fun to see it rise quickly! The whole app is easy and intuitive.
So why am I so enamored with Litsy? Well, for the most part, Litsy’ers are AWESOME. Everyone is so kind and just gosh darn into books. It’s book nerd paradise. When I am partway through a book and considering bailing, I can ask the Litsy community if it’s worth pushing through. When I need a recommendation, the Litsy folks are there. I have added so many amazing books to my To Be Read stack that I never would have heard of without the recommendations of Litsy’ers. Here are a few of the books I am excited to read based on Litsy recommendations but are totally outside my normal YA Fantasy wheelhouse:
Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby
When young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. But Finn knows what really happened to Roza. He knows she was kidnapped by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember.
The Fireman, by Joe Hill
From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.
City of Thieves, by David Benioff
During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.
Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson
Five thousand years later after a catastropic event rendered the Earth a ticking time bomb, the progeny of a handful of outer space explorers–seven distinct races now three billion strong–embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown … to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.
If you haven’t given Litsy a chance, I highly recommend it! Find me on Litsy at claireluana!
Claire Luana is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
I’ve recently revealed my secret identity (this website and blog) to a whole host of folks who know me through my regular life. And while I have been immersed in thinking and learning about writing, publishing, and marketing books for the last year or so, most of you reading this only think of books from the eyes of a consumer—what should I read next? This got me thinking…If I could share one piece of wisdom that I have gained through my new author lens, what would it be? Most definitely: the importance of book reviews.
Before I started on my quest to become an author, I had never written a book review. Like a locust, I was happy to consume and move on to the next fertile pasture. But as I started writing and blogging I met a whole host of striving (and sometimes starving) writers and authors. I began to see them as people. I started to see how much effort went into the products they were selling (their books). And so I started reviewing the books I read.
The book review is one of the most critical tools for driving readership and selling books. Why? Think about it. How do we make purchases these days? If we have to compare cars, lawn mowers, beauty products, whatever it is, we read reviews to determine which product we should buy. We comparison shop almost using Amazon.com reviews. We go to Facebook and crowd-source the decision we need to make by asking others what they recommend.
Book readers are no different. You’re probably reading what you’re reading right now because (a) someone recommended it to you, (b) you’ve read a book by the author before and know you enjoy his or her work, (c) a purchasing website like Amazon or Barnes and Noble recommended it to you, or (d) it was highly reviewed on such a site. And who can blame you? Our time is limited. Why take a risk on something unknown when you can make a purchase that gets 4.5 stars from the last 812 reviewers? Items without reviews are like pariahs, viewed with skepticism.
Book reviews can help authors get attention in a marketplace flooded with new books coming out daily. So if you read something you really love, consider writing a review on Amazon or a social media site like Goodreads. Especially if it’s a newer or self-published author, it will mean a lot!
Featured image by JLS Photography, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/