Awesome Books for Writers

Looking for some great books for writers? Look no further!

If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the lookout for a good craft or business book to grow your knowledge. This week I took a look over all the writing and art books I’ve consumed since I started seriously writing, and I figured why not share my up-to-date favorites list with all of you?

So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Writing Craft, Business, and Life

The first category is my favorite books on writing craft, books that teach elements of writing itself or what’s involved in the writing life and business. And boy do I have some excellent (and classic) favorites!

On Writing by Stephen King

This one is, of course, one of the biggest classics! King tells it like it is, in a relateable, down-to-earth voice. In fact, I might be due for a reread!

Bird by Bird by Anne lamott

This is an encouraging and entertaining look at how to write a book. Definitely one of my favorites, and it’s so quotable!

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

This is another classic, a collection of essays by classic writer Ray Bradbury. Definitely some interesting food for thought here!

Wired for STory by Lisa Cron

As a neuroscientist and a writer, I’ve loved this particular book. It delves into the neuroscience and psychology behind elements of a story and why certain things work so well…and how to improve your own writing with those ideas in mind!

THe Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman

This is an excellent overview and must-read for any author looking to make a career from their writing. Friedman goes through things like how publishing works, your publishing and career options, platforms, and more resources for delving deeper.

For Christian Writers

This section is specific to Christian writers, but the books are packed with so much to think about regarding spirituality, mental health, and art and creativity.

Walking on Water by Madeline L’Engle

This is another collection of essays by a classic author. It discusses what it means to be a Christian artist and how faith and art are related.

Unlocking the Heart of the Artist by Matt Tommey

This is an incredible look at how to deal with your issues to become the artist God created and to help you create as best you can. It also does some work to dispel the myth of the starving artist. It’s such a powerful read!

For Encouragement

There are also a couple short reads that do such an uplifting job of encouraging writers to keep going and dream about how what they do affects readers. If you need a lift, pick one (or both) of these up! It won’t take long, and you’ll end up feeling validated, appreciated, and, hopefully, excited to keep writing!

Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl by Laura A. Grace

This book is a collection of letters from a hypothetical fan to you, the author. It covers a range of scenarios and is so heartwarming!

For the love of a word Ed. by Annie Louise Twitchell

Disclaimer: I have a couple pieces in this anthology. But it’s such an encouraging and motivating collection of essays, poetry, and art. Definitely give this one a read if you need a bit of a pick-me-up.

My Upcoming Reads

Finally, I can’t complete this list without addressing a bunch of books on my list that I’m either currently reading or excited to dive into next. I won’t have too much info here, but feel free to follow the links to learn more!

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making

Romance Your Brand: Building a Marketable Genre Fiction Series

Become a Successful Indie Author: Work Toward Your Writing Dream

Writing the Other

The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults

The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write with Emotional Power, Develop Achingly Real Characters, Move Your Readers, and Create Riveting Moral Stakes

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel

Closing Thoughts

There are so many good resources out there for craft, business, and life of a writer! I’m always on the hunt for new, good titles to consume. If you know of some not on my list, feel free to drop them in the comments.

Or, if you’ve read any of these, what are your own thoughts? Did you find them helpful? Let’s chat about it!

See you in the comments. 🙂

The Best Books I Read This Winter (2020)

Read any good books lately? I have!

I don’t know about you, but my e-reader is filled to overflowing from the generosity of so many authors out there! And so far this year, I’ve managed to complete 29 books ranging from contemporary to nonfiction to fantasy. So I figured why not have a recap of which books I’ve really enjoyed so far?

And by the way, I am offering my Rapunzel novella, “Of the Clouds,” free to newsletter subscribers, along with a contemporary fantasy short story titled “Queen of Mist and Fog.” You can pick those up here, and don’t worry…you can unsubscribe at any time.

Now on to the books! (And you can see EVERYTHING I finished this year here!)

Fantasy

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

This is a young adult contemporary magic realism that takes place largely in Taiwan and follows the aftermath of the main character’s mother committing suicide. It’s a beautiful exploration of depression, suicide, and the people left behind . One of the most beautiful books I read this year for sure. You can learn more here.

Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

This is another young adult fantasy, and it is also beautifully written. It’s a debut for a duology that’s finishing in October 2020, and it’s a unique world where two sisters are torn apart by the customs of their people: one who is desperate to redeem her healer father’s reputation, and one who was chosen to die with their leader and accompany him into the afterlife. It’s amazing lore, great intrigue, and fascinating worldbuilding…and the author is also pretty nice and will chat with you on social media. 🙂 You can pick up a copy here (and take note of the AMAZING cover).

The Earth Magic Rises Trilogy by A.L. Knorr

I finished this trilogy this year, though I read book one last year. It’s a fantastic expansion of the Elementals world starring Georgie and the beautiful Scottish landscape, and it’s a nail-biting adventure of magic and discovery. Scary, atmospheric, and intense…I loved every minute!

Contemporary Young Adult

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

This was such an amazing book of friendship and PIZZA. Sydney is learning who she wants to be after her golden-boy brother is incarcerated for hitting someone when driving drunk one night. Now her parents’ attention is all on her as she copes with the guilt over what her brother did. A beautiful coming-of-age story. You can check out more here.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

This was a really well-done story…and might I just add that it’s worth listening to the audiobook? This book bounces back and forth between Sadie searching for her missing sister and tracking down the man she KNOWS is responsible for her disappearance and the podcast exploring the disappearance. And the audiobook really does this justice. You can learn more here.

Manga

Hakumei & Mikochi by Takuto Kashiki

This year, hubs bought me a new manga to try for my birthday. And he picked so well! Hakumei & Mikochi is an adorable story of two forest-dwelling spirits. It has everything I love: cute things, food, and all things tiny! You can learn more here.

Children’s

Floral Frolic by Cari Corene and Amanda Coronado

I don’t read too many children’s books, but I’m on the lookout for good ones now that I have a nephew and hubs and I are thinking about starting our family. This is a gorgeous book with watercolor art and foxes (two of my favorite things) and tells a really cute story involving flowers. Definitely a pretty, pleasant read for the young ones AND you. You can learn more here.

Nonfiction

Dear Author by Laura A. Grace (Illustrated by Hannah S.J. Williams)

I read a few different nonfiction already this year, but this one is definitely the best! It’s an encouraging and inspiring collection of letters written to their favorite author in a way that any writer can relate to. I found it to be so motivational, heartwarming, and inspiring for my own writing. Every author needs a copy of this book! You can find out more here.

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So what about you? How are you doing on your reading goals? Do you have any standout favorites for the year yet? Share below! 😀

Cover Reveal: Freeze Thaw!

It’s time!!!

Guess what? It’s time again! The next Seasons of Magic is coming!

You may have seen this one floating around on the home page of this site for YEARS, and I kept promising to release it. It’s a story I wrote as part of Rooglewood Press’s Five Magic Spindles contest (Sleeping Beauty retellings), and it hit the top ten finalist list! Of those ten, five were chosen for the anthology…mine wasn’t picked because it didn’t quite fit with the others.

But that one thing inspired the entire Seasons of Magic series. We’ve already seen Rapunzel in Of the Clouds and Hansel & Gretel in Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks.

Now meet Talia, my Ice Age Sleeping Beauty, waking in the middle of a glacier archaeology dig.

Here’s the blurb:

An archaeology student, an Ice Age princess, and an undead sorceress…

Talia was meant to be her clan’s greatest leader. But when her parents fail to invite a powerful—and very dangerous—sorceress to her birth party, the clan’s long-desired blessing becomes their final curse. As Talia comes of age, the power of the sorceress finds her, and she is lost in a blizzard.

Millennia later, archeaology student Owen is on the field trip of his life to a glacier dig. But what begins as a routine dig soon becomes much more when he discovers a perfectly preserved mummy in the ice—a mummy that returns to life and drags him into a millennias-old dispute.

For deeper in the glacier, dark magic is at work, waking the sorceress known as the Shadow Woman, and she will stop at nothing to end Talia’s life and destroy the clan once and for all. If Talia and Owen can’t stop her, she will destroy not only Talia but also Owen and the rest of the team. But if they can survive, they may just re-discover more than they could have ever hoped for.

This was a Top Ten Finalist for the Five Magic Spindles contest by Rooglewood Press.

And now, without further ado, what you’re all here for: the cover!

Isn’t it beautiful? (Image shows the cover for Freeze Thaw, mostly black with an Ice Age woman standing in the foreground and an aurora and waterfall in the dark background. The title looks like it is made of ice, and green sparkles surround it and the girl. The text around the title reads “Cover Reveal”, then “An archaeology student, an Ice Age princess, and an undead sorceress…” followed by the title, the author Selina J. Eckert, and the designer Dragonpen Designs. Surrounding text is on a backdrop of green ice.)

And, as promised, this was a finalist, so I HAD to share my finalist medal on SOMETHING:

(Image of the cover again, this one including a medallion that says “Five Magic Spindles Top Ten Finalist”)

Convinced?

You can preorder this beauty, or it will also be available through KU…this is my first book ever available through the program, so take advantage of it!

If you’re not quite ready to order, you can also add the book to Goodreads.

The story will be available on February 14 (just in time for Valentine’s Day). I can’t wait for you all to read it! 😀

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PS: If you have read any of my previous books, I’d love it if you could leave a review on either Amazon or Goodreads (or your favorite book seller’s website!). It doesn’t have to be long and can say whatever you want! I’m so, so grateful for every review I get (even the critical ones), and I’d really appreciate any additional reviews. But even if you choose not to, I hope you continue to enjoy my stories! ❤

My Year in Books: 2019 Edition

It’s that time of year again! The time to discuss all the wonderful books I read and loved this year! If you want to see everything I read this year, hop over to Goodreads and check it out.

First, some stats.

This year my goal was to read 70 books. I blew that goal away! As of the writing of this post, I’m at 89 books and expect to finish at least 1 or 2 more before the end of December.

Of those books, I believe 25 (possibly more) were indie authors.

Three were my own (surprise!), which technically I read at least 3 times each.

One was a book I beta read.

Eight were graphic novels or manga.

Six were nonfiction (including an anthology I participated in).

Four were poetry.

And now, without further ado, my picks for favorite reads of the year!

Young adult

The Siren, by Kiera Cass

Yes, I know this is kind of an old one, but I adored this standalone! I especially loved how the ocean was its own character.

Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

This was an incredibly inventive fantasy that I became completely immersed in. If you’re looking for something well-written and just a bit different, this is a great pick!

General Fiction and Adult Fiction

Sourdough, by Robin Sloan

Oh my word, I loved this book! It’s all about an engineer who discovers a love for baking bread…and who inherits a pretty awesome sourdough starter that may or may not be alive? I mean, beyond the usual yeast-alive that bread starters have…

Fantasy

The WAy of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

I can’t believe it took me so long to finally dive into Brandon Sanderson, but I finished this book early in the year and still can’t get over the magic and worldbuilding in this series. They’re long, but so worth the read!

Daughter of Sun, Bride of Ice, by H.L. Burke

This is an indie book that was absolutely fantastic. I really loved the worldbuilding and the fiery characters in here!

Sand and Storm, by Stella Dorthwany

Another indie I read in the Fellowship of Fantasy book club this year, this book has some awesome high fantasy worldbuilding, sand magic, and archaeology, all things I loved wrapped together so beautifully!

Garden of Lilies, by Eli Constant

Okay, so I read a lot of indies this year! This was an adult urban fantasy I just could not put down…even though I didn’t love what happened in the ending. Despite that, I found that by the end of November, I was craving the world and characters again, and I purchased and devoured book 2. Definitely worth the read, but not for those of you who like clean fiction!

Lake Silence, by Anne Bishop

And finally, of course Anne Bishop is on this list! I was a little skeptical when the new The Others book wasn’t following Meg and Simon, but I quickly fell in love with this book. Let’s be real, I just love this world!

Graphic Novels

Monstress

This is such a beautifully created art style and interesting fantasy. I highly recommend this!

Over the Wall

Another gorgeous fantasy with an awesome storyline. I can’t wait to get the next books by this creator!

Delicious in Dungeon

I discovered this one at Katsucon in February, and I just can’t get over it. It’s basically a group of adventurers who need to return to the depths of a dungeon to save their friend from a dragon, but because they have no money to supply themselves, they eat their way through the dungeon. Hilarious, and an awesome treat for fans of DND!

Nonfiction

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

I have a soft spot for adventure nonfiction. In previous years I enjoyed A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson and Antarctic Tears by Aaron Linsdau, and this book felt like it was in the same vein. It was a story of discovery, perseverance, and nature that I loved!

Resources for Writers

The Business of Being a Writer, by Jane Friedman

This is definitely a must-read for anyone who wants to write professionally, whether that’s indie or traditional. It covers a range of topics including the basics of writing jobs, online tools, and the ins and outs of the industry, both indie and trad.

Concluding Thoughts

I read so many awesome books this year, and if I shared every one I loved, this post would be more like a novella! So if you’re interested in seeing everything I read, don’t forget to hop over to Goodreads!

There are also a bunch of books on my TBR that I wish I could have read this year but unfortunately won’t make it until next year (thinking of you, Dear Author!). I look forward to sharing them next December!

In the meantime, what did you read and love this year? I’m always looking for new reads, especially in fantasy, urban fantasy, YA, and writing! Let’s chat in the comments!

Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks Release Day!

It’s release day!!!!

Happy book birthday to Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks, Reese, and her magical bakery!

If you’re ready for all things fall, pie, and tricky, sweet magic, check out this novella inspired by Hansel & Gretel.

But don’t rely on me. Take a look at the blurb!

When fate comes knocking, feed it pie!

Reese was never a risk-taker…that is, until she quit her job to open a bakery serving magical pies from her home. Now, she has the opportunity of a lifetime to win a contract with the visiting Autumn Court. But when two troublesome Fae appear on her doorstep, determined to find a mate for their prince, Reese’s life is thrown into chaos, and she begins to question every choice she has made. Can she learn to take a risk on her new life, despite the troubles around her? Or will the mischief of the Fae drive her business into ruin-forcing her to move back in with her parents? This light and entertaining tale is inspired by Hansel & Gretel and is a perfect way to celebrate the autumn season.

Need more convincing? How about a quote from the story?

Trouble is brewing…and maybe a little romance! If I’ve convinced you, or if you want to see more, check it out from your favorite retailer here or add it to Goodreads!

And if you read it, I’d love it if you could leave a review! Even something as simple as a single line is enough to help this book be seen.

Thanks, folks! Happy Halloween!!! ❤

5 Great Books for Halloween

Need some seasonal reading material? I got you covered.

You may or may not have noticed that last week’s post is a bit late. Well, hubs and I took a vacation to Peru! However, I forgot to schedule the post ahead of time. But instead of skipping, I wanted to make sure to post before Halloween so we can talk about some good books to read this time of year!

(Side note: if you’d like to see a few pics from our trip, make sure to subscribe to the newsletter!)

Without further ado, five great books to read this Halloween!

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

I’m currently reading this one, and it is so far delightful! This is a middle grade story about a boy who lives in a New England town where his ancestors struck a deal with a demon…and then broke it. If you want the atmosphere of the season, there are plenty of bright leaves, atmospheric locations, and special treats to be had!

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

In this young adult fantasy, find yourself in a town that worships its founders ever since they locked a terrifying, dangerous beast away in the Gray. But the beast is growing more powerful, and the powers the founders have may no longer be enough to keep it contained. This book is several parts spooky, magical, and chilling, perfect for a Halloween read!

Garden of Lilies by Eli Constant

Warning for those of you who read clean fiction: this is not what you’re looking for. But if you want an engaging, raw, and chilling adult urban fantasy, pick this indie up.

Victoria is a necromancer…one of the last of her kind. Necromancers were killed and outlawed after they inadvertently caused The Rising, a zombie apocalypse, years before. But now Victoria works at the family morgue, which makes it a little harder to stay hidden, especially when one of her clients reanimates and begs for help. This book drew me in, and I had so much trouble putting it down!

Must Love Ghosts by Charity Tahmaseb

This one is another indie and a little bit different. Instead of a novel, this series is written like a TV show, and each book is a season of “episodes” revolving around a central arc. The tales are both spooky and cute, and there is plenty of coffee and tea to go around! If you want cute and spooky, this is the one for you.

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

This is another traditionally published young adult fantasy, written by one of the descendants of the players in the Salem witch trials. In the story, a descendant of Cotton Mather returns to Salem where she is immediately seen as the enemy…and targeted by the all-too-real witches who still live in the town. This was definitely a spooky read, and its suspenseful telling is just creepy enough for this time of year.

Bonus: Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks by Selina J. Eckert

Finally, for a cute little bonus, I have this novella written specifically to celebrate the fall season. Reese is a pie witch: a woman who bakes magical pies in her own little bakery. But when two autumn sprites show up at her door demanding pie, her entire world is thrown into chaos. This tale inspired by Hansel and Gretel is fully of candy, autumn vibes, cute romance, and PIE.

And guess what? It’s out on Halloween! Don’t forget to pick up your copy and soak in the season!

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So what about you? Do you have any books you love to read in the fall? What are they? Help me, and your fellow bibliophiles, find some new seasonal books! ❤

Ongoing Series I LOVE

Okay, so we talked about why readers and writers love series, the series that are complete that I adore, and the series I NEED to finish…but that leaves out one major category of books: series that are not yet complete but are on my auto-buy or will-eventually-buy list.

Ongoing series I adore! Let’s finish this series (ha!) strong!

The Others, by Anne Bishop

This is a world full of vampires, shifters, elementals, and other dangerous creatures…and oh yeah, they’re in charge. It’s such an interesting twist on urban fantasy and lovable characters! (Adult)

The World of the Others, by Anne Bishop

This is a spinoff of The Others, following different characters but set in the same world. I’ll be the first to say I was leery of this, because I loved Meg and Simon so much, but I read the first one this summer and I was in love!!! (Adult)

Mercy Thompson, by Patricia Briggs

At this point, this may as well be a classic of urban fantasy. This follows mechanic and history graduate Mercy Thompson…who is also a coyote shifter and lives next to a werewolf pack. There are also fae, ghosts, and vampires, as well as other unique creatures. Every book is a new adventure, and I’m in love with these characters! (Adult)

Alpha and Omega, by Patricia Briggs

This is a spinoff of Mercy Thompson and follows the North American werewolf law enforcer, Charles, and his mate, an omega wolf named Anna. Their relationship is so sweet, and it’s a very different view from Mercy’s world. (Adult)

Victoria Cage, Necromancer, by Eli Constant

This is one of those books that kept me up late reading. It’s incredibly well-written and is a completely unique take on zombies (uh, yeah, the Rising was accidentally caused by necromancers, who are now illegal). I can’t wait to keep reading these! I thought the series was over with book 3, but it seems there’s another one in the works? (Adult with Adult Situations)

Legendary Magic, by Stella Dorthwany

I just read book one in an online book club, and I love these characters, the world, and the magic system. I’m super excited to keep reading! (uh…Adult? But clean it seems?)

Steel City Genie, by Janeen Ippolito

As the name would suggest, this follows a genie in a world of shifters and other cryptozoological entities. And it’s set in Pittsburgh. So home state advantage for me! Though I’ve never been there… Anyway, very good, highly recommend! (Adult)

October Daye, by Seanan McGuire

This follows a fae detective and has all kinds of really old faerie folk from Celtic lore. These are fantastic, and every book is something different. Also, there aren’t so many series that have selkies… (Adult)

Desert Nights, by Helena Rookwood and Elm Vince

I just read the prequel, and I was hooked. This is a desert fantasy serial (short novels/novellas? I think?) that is well written and grabbed my interest right away. I can’t wait to continue! (uh…young adult? Adult? Not sure.)

The Stormlight Archive, by Brandon Sanderson

This is definitely one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. The worldbuilding is unique, and I love the characters! But be ready for the length. Book 3 is over 1200 pages… (Adult)

Concluding Thoughts

This about wraps up our series on series! So to end it all, let’s get out any other series you’re currently reading, have read, or want to read in the comments below! I want to know if you’ve read any I have, or if any of these discussions the past few weeks have introduced you to something new.

Let’s chat!

This Cursed Flame Cover Reveal!

It’s time… to announce the cover!

Guys. I have the most exciting thing I’ve had to share in a while.

This Cursed Flame has a cover! It is beautiful and amazing and gorgeous, designed by the ever-so-talented Savannah Jezowski (also a super talented author!) over at Dragonpen Designs. You may remember my old cover from Wattpad (or my homepage), which I LOVED, but I can’t use it as my actual cover for numerous reasons. And this new cover! I am absolutely blown away! ❤ *allthehearteyes* (Also many thanks to Author Cheryllynn Dyess for the blurred cover I used in the promo image!)

But first, if I can draw out the suspense a little. How about an updated blurb to better reflect all the changes that came about during editing?

This Cursed Flame

Six years ago, Janan was transformed into a genie by an evil djinn, ripping her away from her home, her life, and her humanity. She has been on the run from him ever since. Worlds away, high school honors student Laurelin just wants to get into the chemistry program of her dreams.

When Laurelin discovers a crystal bottle that sucks her into the djinn realm, the girls find themselves working together to escape Janan’s creator and get Laurelin back home. But war is brewing in the djinn realm—a rebellion led by the same evil djinn they’ve been trying to escape. And he is determined to rule both the djinn and the human realms. As his creation, Janan is the one person standing in his way.

But to stop him, Janan must learn to overcome the fears he instilled in her and embrace her own dark magic while Laurelin must accept that some things are more important than an A+. Now, they will have to trust each other, and themselves, to stop the encroaching evil. Otherwise, both the human and djinn realms will fall to the tide of death and dark magic this war will unleash.

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for… I present to you the cover for This Cursed Flame!

Janan, in all her beautiful fire genie glory!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

This project has been close to my heart since 2011, and I am both thrilled and terrified to finally be sending it out into the world. It has been added to Goodreads, and I will let you all know when the pre-order link is live! Publication is scheduled for April 27, 2019, so mark your calendar!

If you want to see more updates and be the first to know about all the upcoming launch day activities (including the launch day announcement!), be sure to subscribe to the newsletter. You’re always free to unsubscribe later if you like, but you will also get a free short fantasy story from me just for signing up!

Until next time, happy reading, and happy writing! ❤

My Favorite Mental Health Novels

Next week, I will be discussing my least favorite tropes dealing with mental health and mental illness. But before that, I wanted to take a week to share some of the books I like on the topic! All of these are fiction, and many of them are also young adult. Also please keep in mind that though I enjoyed them, I’m not saying they’re perfect, and I’m not saying they’re always amazing reads. What I am saying is that they touched me in good ways, and they said something important in regards to mental health.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Okay. So, this is by no means Laurie Halse Anderson’s most famous book. But I think it is one of her best. This is a book dealing with eating disorders, grief, and, I would argue, the recovery process. In the story, the main character, Lia, struggles with an eating disorder that also claims the life of her friend. There is a struggle throughout the book where she feels as if her friend is haunting her, and it influences her own disorder, which progresses as the book moves along.

What I really like about this book comes close to the end: the ideas around therapy and recovery that are realistic and truthful, that the process is long and hard but worth it. This concept is rarely conveyed so realistically in fiction, and it was refreshing and encouraging.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

This was one of Anderson’s more recent books, and it’s about a girl who lives with her father… a former soldier suffering from PTSD. Unlike a lot of YA stories dealing with mental health, the protagonist isn’t the one with the most prominent problem, but rather she is the family who needs to care for the mentally ill family member while still handling her own life and coping with the problems it all creates.

I loved this book because it addresses the needs and experiences of family members, and it is an intense and real look at PTSD. Honestly, I feel this is something that Anderson does best: a real, unromanticized, truthful look at mental illness.

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

This is a different one. In this book, the protagonist was part of a reality TV show with their family for years, until it ended. And being a part of that left her with severe anxiety about things as simple as having her picture taken. And then the show gets picked up to come back.

So, the reason I like this is because it takes a critical look at reality TV, particularly the shows that involve kids under 18, how it affects the people involved, how fame changes people, and how all of that can affect the person’s mental health. As a society, we can be critical of TV stars and celebrities when they crash and burn, but we often fail to humanize it in the way this book does.

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

Not only does this book have one of my favorite covers, but it takes a look at something most mental health-related novels skip: recovery. The story begins just after the protagonist attempts to take her own life and then details her journey through those feelings and toward a more hopeful, fulfilling future.

And that is what I loved about this story. It didn’t stop at the realization that something was wrong, it didn’t stop where things hit their lowest. It started there and allowed the protagonist, and the reader, to follow a recovery process that wasn’t perfect and wasn’t a straight path but ultimately ended in a better place.

Concluding Thoughts

There are a lot more books out there dealing with mental health that I didn’t mention. I read some of them, and enjoyed many of them, but by no means all. There were also books I didn’t like, often because of their attempt at portraying mental health. But in this post, I’ve only included some books that more directly deal with mental illness that I did like, though some of my other favorite books, like Fangirl and Eliza and her Monsters also have elements of mental illness.

You may not agree with my feelings on these books, if you’ve read them, but that’s the great thing about books: they are many things to many people. Books are what the reader makes them. Everyone brings their own experience to the pages, and the times in my life when I read them gave me these impressions. I’m sure if I read them again, I would see something different. That happened with Bird Box when I watched the movie; I saw something I didn’t like that I hadn’t picked up, or remembered, about the book.

So whether you agree or not, these are some of my favorite books that deal with mental illness. You don’t need to argue with me, but I’d love to hear what books you’ve really enjoyed on the subject, what books spoke to you and connected with you. Tell me in the comments!

My Year in Books: 2018 Edition

I read so many awesome books this year. Here are some of my favorites!

This year was a good reading year for me. As of the writing of this post, I completed 77 books, comics, and short stories (and yes, I include comics in this count. That’s a post for another day.). And I think that’s pretty good!

So today, for the final post of 2018, I thought it would be a good idea to hold my own bookish awards party. Here are my favorite books for a few different categories. 😉 (All books I read in 2018, though they were not necessarily published this year.)

Non-Fiction

First place: Educated, by Tara Westover. This is an amazing memoir about the childhood and education of a girl who grew up outside of the school system in a family that told her the world was out to get her. It’s thoughtful, insightful, heartbreaking, and empowering, all in one book!

Honorable mentions:

The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. This book is all about a serial killer who was active during the Chicago World’s Fair. Very creepy and well-written!

On My Own, by Savannah Jezowski. This is a great little companion for indie authors, teaching them how to use Word to format manuscripts for print and ebook publication… not only is it good for saving some money, but Savannah’s voice is easy to read and friendly.

Contemporary Fiction

First place: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. Every human should read this book. It’s empowering and devastating and really explains the world that either readers are all too familiar with or not familiar enough with. Everyone needs to read it.

Honorable mentions:

When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon. This is an excellent coming-of-age story set in the American Indian culture… with a pretty fantastic set of characters!

Hushed, by Joanne MacGregor. This is a unique Little Mermaid retelling about a girl determined to save the world and the movie star she loves. It’s an adorable story!

American Panda, by Gloria Chao. This is another coming-of-age story about a girl who must come to terms with what she wants versus what her family wants for her… and all the consequences that come with it.

Save the Date, by Morgan Matson. This is a cute, funny, and simultaneously heavy story about what it means to grow up and become your own person… all set against the backdrop of a wedding gone horribly wrong! As I had my wedding this year, it was a fun addition to my TBR.

Science Fiction

First place: The Fireman, by Joe Hill. This is such an imaginative story about a fungal infection that ravages the Earth. Once infected, people have only a little time before they spontaneously combust… or do they?

Honorable mentions:

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein. This is a great classic tale of revolution with an amazing narrator.

Fantasy

My biggest category.

First Place: Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi AdeyemiThis story is about a girl with magic in a world that hates people like her. And her quest to restore magic to the world for good.

Honorable mentions:

Etched in Bone, by Anne Bishop. This is last year’s installment in The Others series, one of my favorite urban fantasies. The political tension is heating up, and the characters are as lovable as ever!

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater. This is a very unique standalone based on kelpie mythology. If you ever wondered about racing kelpies, this book is for you. Such fantastic lore and worldbuilding here!

Salt & Stone, by A. L. Knorr. This is an extension of The Elemental Origins series, so you’d do best to read that first. But this is such a deep and emotional story of magic, self-sacrifice, and mystery… with mermaids!

How to Hang a Witch, by Adriana Mather. This is set in modern day Salem, following the descendant of Cotton Mather. It was a delightfully creepy tale of teen angst, generational grudges, ghosts, and witches. Good for an October read!

Short Stories

First Place: Tears of the Sea, by Savannah Jezowski. Very rarely have I read anything that can do so much worldbuilding with so few pages! And her writing is so lyrical and beautiful… I truly read nothing else like it this year!

Honorable Mentions:

Blood in the Snow, by Sarah Pennington. This is an Asian-inspired Snow White retelling that I’ve talked about before. It’s a beautiful story of love and magic!

Final Thoughts for 2018

It was a good reading year. I also read plenty of graphic novels and comics, and while I didn’t lay out my favorites here, or list all the books that deserve attention, I enjoyed so many of the stories I read for a variety of reasons. You can drop on over to my Goodreads page to see them all!

But now I want to hear about your year in books. What were your absolute favorites? Were there any that you’d recommend? What about books you didn’t much care for? Let’s talk in the comments!