What I Accomplished in 2019

2019 was a big year for me! I had a lot going on both personally and professionally in my writing life and science career. So today, I’d like to look back at what I hoped to accomplish this year as well as what I actually did accomplish.

Personal Stuff in 2019

So this year I did a bunch of pretty awesome things and/or had some awesome things happen:

  • Had my 1 year anniversary ❤
  • Visited Peru
  • Visited Minnesota
  • Met Nichelle Nichols
  • Earned a promotion to Senior Scientist at my day job
  • Gained a nephew!

Writing Accomplishments in 2019

Guess what? This was also a HUGE year for my writing career. All of these were resolutions last year, and guess what? I did them! Check it out!

  • Published my first novel ever!
  • Published another 2 novellas
  • Queried Sea of Broken Glass…and got a revise & resubmit!
  • Learned So. Much. Marketing.

Looking back on a decade

Yeah, so turns out we’re closing out the 2010s, and a lot of people are talking about what they did over the last 10 years. So let me outline my decade for you:

  • Graduated with my BA in Biology in 2011
  • Attended grad school and obtained my MS in Neuroscience in 2015
  • Learned how much I love to write…and that I wanted to publish
  • Began a job in biology where I get to work on the cutting edge of drug development
  • Earned an award at the day job for key work on a big project
  • Advanced from Scientist to Senior Scientist
  • Made huge strides in learning the industry of publishing and books
  • Became an indie author
  • Had my heart broken, then found the love of my life
  • Lost two grandparents and several pets
  • Fell in love with new pets
  • Married the love of my life
  • Started my own business
  • Visited Iceland and Peru
  • Went to my first conventions: Katsucon, Wizard World, Galaxy Con, and Book Con
  • Got a Revise & Resubmit on a book close to my heart
  • Learned who I want to be 🙂

I have come a long way over the last ten years, including a lot of heartache and struggle that helped me become a better, more compassionate person. I learned who I really am and who I want to be. I found the place in life that makes me happy, and I’m looking forward more than ever to what the next decade will bring us.

Final Thoughts on 2019

I don’t have as many things to list as last year, but I love my accomplishments all the same! I made some huge strides in my career, both writing and science, and I took some big steps in creating the writing life I want, including publishing and writing the stories I love and readers are loving, as well. I also had a great time with my husband on several trips, big and small, learned more about our big, wide world, and saw my extended family grow in exciting ways.

Though some sad and stressful things also happened this year, I choose to focus on these good things. And I love that I’m in a place where I can say the good outweighs the bad. I sincerely hope you can, too!

Be sure to come back next week to hear what my resolutions will be for next year (I’ve got some big things planned!), but until then, tell me all about your year! What did you do? What did you love? Let’s chat and celebrate the end of 2019 together!

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!

Some Bookish Gratitude

The holidays are all about gratitude, at least to me. We get a time specifically set aside to reflect on the good that has been given to us in our lives, the people we surround ourselves with, the things we have been blessed with. And with Christmas just around the corner, we also get to feel the warmth of blessing others.

Today, I’d like to take a few moments to show some bookish gratitude. So here are my book- and writing-related blessings from the year.

A supportive husband

Yeah, yeah. Sappy, I know. But seriously, my husband is my muse and my biggest cheerleader. When I’m stuck on a plot or need to work through a story element, he’s right there to help me come up with ideas. And when I release something new or share some writing, he’s one of the first people to share it, yell in the streets (ok, Facebook), and invite everyone he knows to read it.

I couldn’t have been blessed with a better partner for my life.

Family and Friends who like my work

I have to also include this, because I know many writers don’t have family that supports their passions like I do. My parents buy everything I release and share it with everyone they know. My siblings and siblings-in-law have an interest in what I do. And my sister is one of my first, best, and favorite beta readers. What a blessing, to have family who supports my passion even when they don’t understand it all.

Good stories

This may seem a bit odd, but I am grateful for all the good books I’ve read this year. You’ll have to come back in a couple weeks to hear about them, but I truly found some gems this year, and it makes me happy to have read them.

Audiobooks

Another weird one, right? I didn’t used to be so into audiobooks, but ever since my grad school thesis, when I had to sit in the lab and do mindless work for hours on end, audiobooks have been my boredom killers and reading boosters. I get to hear awesome performances of good books, I get to read more books than I would be able to otherwise, and I get something fun to pass my commute times and mindless lab work.

Courage to share

I had enough courage to finally hit that publish button, with the support of my wonderful husband. It had originally been my dream to publish This Cursed Flame indie, but so much happened between when I finished it and this year, so many things changed, that I went back and forth for seven years.

I finally did it.

And I published two more.

I’m proud of what I accomplished, and I’m happy to share my work with you guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

You

That’s right, my final bookish gratitude is for you, my readers. Whether you’ve read my blog for only one or two posts, followed from the beginning, or have gotten your hands on all my books, I appreciate that you take time out of your day to come visit with me. Readers are the lifeblood of books, as I’ve said before. Without you, none of what I do would have life.

So thank you, so much. ❤

My wishes for you

In this holiday season, I sincerely hope you will find the people to support you, to build you up, to cheer you on and shout about your passions to everyone who will listen. I hope you have wonderful writing sessions. I hope you read wonderful books. I hope you find joy and warmth and love.

Keep writing, my friends. And please, share the bookish things you’re grateful for this year in the comments below!

3 Ways Food is Worldbuilding

I love food.

No, really. I know that a lot of people love food, but really. I. Love. Food. I love the cultural identity that comes with it, the bonding experiences with people over meals, and of course the delicious flavors. I love food in cartoons, I love it in books, I love it in movies.

But did you know that food can also be part of worldbuilding? And that how you use and present food can help to define your world and character relationships better to readers?

And what better topic to discuss right before the US’s Thanksgiving holiday? So let’s dig right in!

Food lends an idea of place and time.

One of the beautiful things about food is that it’s incredibly diverse. A simple meal can tell a reader what kinds of crops are grown, what foods are accepted, what cultures may be involved, and the cooking capabilities of the time and place.

For example, many fantasy authors like to include feasts (more of a discussion on this can be found on the podcast Writing Excuses, season 14 episode 30, “Eating Your Way to Better Worldbuilding”). The foods are often what we see in medieval works like Lord of the Rings, including breads, meats (maybe even a whole stuffed pig), and cheeses.

But utilizing cultural foods, like saurkraut and bratwurst for example, can help the reader ground your world in a culture they may recognize. With a simple inclusion of one of these dishes, you can set a tone for what the reader can expect without overexplaining the culture.

Likewise, if you’re writing contemporary, think of what things you eat on a regular basis. Do you go to a taco truck? The cupcake stand on the corner? The fancy Asian Fusion restaurant on the other side of town?

The types of foods, and their preparation and presentation, can help readers picture your world more completely and set a tone for your world in a way that is unique to food culture.

Food can indicate a character’s condition and status.

In the same vein as the points above, the types and presentation of foods can help to solidify the conditions and status of your character. If they feast, they are in a time of plenty or they are rich and/or generous. If they’re scraping through the garbage to find a few potato peels, they’re in a pretty dire situation. How the character sustains themselves tells a lot to the reader about them.

As an example, I have a section in my first chapter of the R&R story where the younger sister is smelling what the older sister is cooking: a stew with a healthy portion of meat. The younger sister can’t help but feel angry and bitter, as the older sister is preparing meat for no reason other than to impress her peers, and they have limited amounts until the rainy season ends, not to mention how expensive it has become to purchase. She comments that they should be saving it for a feast day.

Just by this exchange, I am showing that the family has limited supplies, as does the village, and that some foods are precious and reserved for important days. It helps me establish the status of the sisters (scraping to impress the rest of the village) and the setting, as in the first point (the rainy season, a season of famine, restricted access to expensive foods).

Food can be used to strengthen a relationship.

Just like setting the tone, setting, and character status, food can also be used for building relationships. Do your characters often cook together? Is it bonding time? Do they eat out together often? Is one of them responsible for the cooking? Do they eat alone in the living room or as a family in a formal dining room?

Here’s another example from my R&R book. In a tense time, when the younger sister suddenly has expanded magic, she worries that her sister has reported her to the village officials (magic is not okay to them). When her sister gets home, they cook together in a way that is natural, indicating they’ve worked together to keep the house for years, but is full of unspoken tension masked by everyday tasks. It’s a way to show the older sister’s real actions…and reveal that she also has magic. It builds on their normal by throwing in something unexpected, something they have to discuss.

Think of a romance. How many movies and books have scenes of the male love interest cooking the woman a meal or vice versa? Or of them cooking together? It shows the amount of care they have for being together and for each other, and it can be used as a cute moment to give readers all the feels.

Food is such a handy tool for relationships!

A final word of caution

As I mentioned above, I love food. And because of this, I tend to have a lot of comfort eating scenes or cooking etc. in my stories. IT IS POSSIBLE TO OVERUSE THIS TOOL. Instead of focusing just on food or having an overabundance, make sure that each scene involving food serves a purpose. Know what that purpose is, and consider if there are any better ways to show it. Ask your beta readers for input. Be intentional.

But also don’t be afraid to pig out now and then on this powerful worldbuilding element. 😉

And of course, keep writing. (And Happy Thanksgiving, friends!)

Why Readers Struggle to Quit Books They Don’t Like

I used to have a huge problem. If I started a book, I had to finish it. Even if it took me months. The entire year. Even at the cost of getting to books I’m really excited about.

And there are plenty of reasons you may not want to keep reading, like the writing isn’t the right style for you, the story doesn’t hold your interest, or it’s not a genre for you. I can’t express how many books I read just because they were popular and I thought I had to read them even though I knew I didn’t like the genre (i.e. steampunk, historical YA, a few others).

These days, I don’t feel so obligated to read everything I start. If I start a book and it doesn’t feel right or doesn’t hold my interest, I set it aside and pick up something else. I even once cycled through five books, reading the first few pages of each, before I settled on my next book.

But why is this? Why do we struggle so much to quit reading a book we aren’t enjoying?

Here are my theories.

  1. Sense of completion. This tends to be a big one for me. I want to feel as if I accomplished something, and sometimes, getting through that rough book is the thing I feel like I have to do.
  2. Clearing space. I talked about this before, but my TBR is kind of out of control. While my physical shelf is a little better off now, my ereader is way overloaded. Sometimes, I don’t want to put that book back on the shelf. I want to clear it somewhere else, whether that’s a spot on my other shelves (unlikely if I really hated it) or to another reader.
  3. I don’t want to start it over later. I know if I put a book down halfway through, I’ll have to start over next time I pick it up to remember what’s happening. And if I didn’t like it the first time, why would I want to repeat all that work next time?
  4. It’s required reading. This doesn’t happen to me now that I’m a full-fledged adult with a career (two careers, actually) and no homework, but in school I had to read plenty of things I hated. And I had to power through those. This is probably the only reason you really have to finish a book you aren’t enjoying. For more on this, you can see a previous post I did on how to power through a book.

Other than point 4, all the reasons are blocks I put myself into. I create my own misery by forcing myself to read a book I don’t like.

If you have other reasons why you struggle to put down books you don’t like, please share them in the comments! But if you want to keep reading about how to quit these books (or the tricks I tell myself to get past my mental blocks), check out my previous post on how to quit a book you aren’t enjoying.

Until next week, let’s chat in the comments all about the struggle of finishing (and not finishing) our books and TBR piles!

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!

~~~

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! ❤

Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks Cover Reveal!

Guys, it’s time! I don’t have an official buy link for you yet, but I am ready to share the beautiful cover of Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks with you!

But first, 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.

You can add it to Goodreads now!

And now, the main event!

*drumroll*

Savannah once again did a beautiful job catching Reese as I imagined her. I love the whimsy and fun I can feel in this title, and I feel like it fits with the story perfectly!

Let’s take a look at how Savannah put it all together:

Just, wow. From a florist and a cat in a basket to a baker, a magic pie, and adorable little Nutmeg!

Okay, okay. Since we’re talking treats, and it IS October now, how about a little taste of Nutmeg herself?

Don’t forget to add it to Goodreads, and keep an eye out for the official release link!

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!

Series I NEED to Finish

Two weeks ago, we discussed why book series appeal to readers and writers, and last week I spent a lot of time diving into some of my favorite series that I’ve finished reading.

But what about all those lost, lonely stories I haven’t gotten around to completing yet??? I mean, the series are completed, so what am I waiting for?

Let’s not put it off any longer. Here are the book series I’ve started and absolutely NEED to complete. (PS, did you know I read such varied series? Lots and lots of genres represented this week and last week!)

Unlike last week, unless I know they are absolutely adult, I cannot provide content ratings since I haven’t finished the series. Read at your own risk!

The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco

This is a wonderful, intense, and rich fantasy series for young adults that follows a girl who accidentally found out she was a necromancer when she raised her brother from the dead. It’s got lots of magic woven into society and a great sibling relationship, as well as political intrigue and revenge! (Young adult)

Alpha Girl, by Aileen Erin

I started this with a free book, and I honestly loved it. It’s an indie fantasy about a girl who accidentally gets turned into a werewolf, except she was already a bruja…a forbidden combination. (Young adult)

Ivory and Bone, by Julie Eshbaugh

This is historic fantasy? I’m not sure. But it’s got a really big Ice Age vibe going and is told in second person. Very cool storytelling and captivating story! (Young adult)

Firebird, by Claudia Gray

This is a sci-fi with alternate dimensions and science! The main character uses a device created by her father (I think?) and travels into another dimension. I only got to read book one so far, but it’s so different, and the covers are GORGEOUS! (Young adult)

Dreamblood, by N.K. Jemisin

This is a really unique fantasy about dream-based magic, and it has a non-European fantasy setting, which was really cool. Can’t wait to finish it! (Adult)

Portland Hafu, by K. Bird Lincoln

I started this one with a free book as well, and it is an indie urban fantasy about a girl who finds out she is a dream eater (takes the dreams of people she comes in contact with). This awakens some ancient forces, and danger ensues! (Adult-ish? College age)

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas

These are very good, but they are bricks. Like, so long. And I’m actually really intimidated by long books. They are based mostly in Fae courts, but the main character is a human thrown into all kinds of unwinnable situations. Caution: these are marketed as young adult, but they are very much NOT. Very graphic.

Mark of the Lion, by Francine Rivers

I only have one left, but it follows a different character than the first two, so I keep putting it off. But these are Christian historical fiction set in the early days of the church in…Rome? I think? Very good, very emotional. (Adult)

The Fourth Element, by Kat Ross

Another indie, yay! These books follow an interesting non-European mythology that I kind of fell in love with. I’m not sure what the age range is, and I don’t know how to explain it. Follow the link, sorry! XD

Monsters of Verity, by Victoria Schwab

This is a duology in which monsters actually exist in the city, sometimes brought about by violence and horrible circumstances…but you really start to question who the real monsters are. (Young adult)

Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

This is a high fantasy with a very interesting cultural setting in which “gods” appeared in a floating city, tormented the people, and then the people lashed out and killed them…all except a small group of half-god children. (Young adult)

Concluding Thoughts

As you can no doubt see, I have started many series. But I have trouble binging an entire series at once, so now I have many incomplete series. Woo!

What series are you currently reading? Are you loving them? Hating them? Let’s talk in the comments!

Series I’ve Completed (and Loved!)

Last week, I talked a bit about the appeal of a book series to both readers and writers. We discussed the learning curve of a story, binge culture and episodic fiction, and the love of a world, as well as a few models authors can use to take advantage of reader habits.

This week, I want to dive into some of my favorite completed series. I have finished more series than these, but today I only want to discuss the things I love. There have absolutely been series I completed that I didn’t love, but I don’t believe in calling those out. It’s not so fair to the author, and everyone has their own taste in fiction!

So without further ado, my favorite series (that I’ve completed). Buckle up, ‘cuz we are going to talk about a TON of books this month! Check out the end of each description to learn about the age level and/or how clean it is, if that concerns you.

Passenger, by Alexandra Bracken

This is a duology about a violinist who just happens to also be from a time-traveling family. The main character gets tied up in the evil-doings and excitement of the time travelers, moving from time and place while trying to find her way home again. This is young adult and pretty clean.

The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken

Okay, so I LOVE Alex Bracken. She writes great stories, and she is such a nice human. This is the series that first introduced me to her (yes it was a movie, but trust me, the books are much better!). If you don’t know, this is about a plague that sweeps through the US, killing most children. The ones who survive develop psychic abilities, and this is their story, one of fear and struggle and triumph! This is young adult and fairly clean to read.

Weather Warden, by Rachel Caine

This is one of my favorite urban fantasy series! The earth is protected and controlled by wardens and their enslaved djinn…only the djinn are tired of being trapped. Every book gets better and better, and I am in love with this world and magic system! Caution: for older readers (includes on-page sex).

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer

I started this series way back in middle school and completed it in college, and it is absolutely delightful! It follows child evil genius Artemis Fowl and his tricks on the fairy folk. Middle grade, clean for all ages.

Diamond of the Rockies, by Kristen Heitzmann

This one was from my Western/historical fiction craze when I was younger. It follows the journey of an Italian-American woman as she moves out West to the frontier and ends up starting her own restaurant…while also dealing with a bothersome, cranky man. Some adult situations, but is Christian fiction.

Elemental Origins, by A.L. Knorr

This is a delightful indie urban fantasy series intended for young adults. Each book in this series follows a different character with a different elemental ability, starting with mermaids. Clean and good for all ages.

Cheney Duvall, M.D., by Lynn & Gilbert Morris

I must have read this series three times through, at least. This is a Christian historical fiction starring Cheney Duvall, one of the first female doctors, and follows her around the country with her trusty nurse, ex-pugilist Shiloh Irons! Cheney is from a well-to-do family but struggles to be recognized as a real doctor while struggling to understand people who don’t belong to her class. It’s so, so good! There’s even a few books in a spinoff series, The Inheritance. Hmm, may be time for another read-through… Clean, but there are marriage situations/discussions as the series progresses.

Ashfall, by Mike Mullin

By far, this is one of the best trilogies I have read. It’s a sci-fi that takes place after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, and the main character is separated from his family and must find his way in a new, and incredibly dangerous, world. It also has one of the BEST endings I’ve ever seen in a series. Young adult, but very adult dangers. You have been warned.

Zenta and Matsuzo, by Lensey Namioka

This is a middle grade, but it’s historical fiction. It follows a ronin (masterless samurai) and his sidekick as they solve mysteries in feudal Japan. I loved reading these in the summer and eventually collected the whole series. Clean reads for kids!

The Cooper Kids, by Frank Peretti

This is a Christian middle grade that follows the two children of an archaeologist. My dad used to read these to us, so it’s got some great sentimental value to me. I loved all the adventures they had and the places they got to visit. Clean read!

Lost Voices, by Sarah Porter

This is BY FAR one of my favorite mermaid series. It follows a girl who gives up on the world, so the sea changes her into a mermaid. Now, she must learn this new life and deal with her fellow mermaids, their hatred of humanity, and humanity’s hatred of them. Fairly clean, but some discussion related to adult situations.

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling

I don’t need to explain this, but of course it had to be on the list. I didn’t read these until college, but I was sucked into the world like everyone else and was actually surprised to find so many moral and religious themes sprinkled throughout, particularly in the last book. Clean, but gets darker as the series progresses, in case you didn’t know.

Tales of Goldstone Wood, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

This is a Christian high fantasy series that was slated to have another book or two, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen, so I’ve included it as complete. It’s a traditional feeling fantasy, but each book follows different characters and stories (with a few consistent characters woven throughout) and has plenty of warm, Christian themes. One of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read! Clean!

The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stiefvater

I. Love. This. Series. I’d call this a young adult magic realism. It follows Blue, the non-psychic daughter of a psychic who meets a group of boys from the nearby school and joins in their quest to find an ancient lost Welsh king supposedly buried somewhere in the area…and if you find him, he’ll grant you a wish. Clean!

Saga of the Sierras, by Brock & Bodie Thoene

This is another from my Western days. It’s a Christian historic fiction and follows a bunch of different characters out in 1800s California, through all the danger and intrigue they face, as well as dealing with living on a frontier. Clean!

The Castle in the Attic, by Elizabeth Winthrop

Finally, this one is another childhood favorite. Much like The Indian in the Cupboard, it involves a tiny toy that turns out to be real! The children get to visit the castle kingdom by visiting a toy castle in the attic, and they have adventures! Yay! Clean!

Concluding Thoughts

These are only a fraction of the series I’ve finished. If I wrote them all here, it’d take us forever to get through it! I did enjoy other series as well, but these are some that really stand out to me, even years after I read them.

So tell me below: what series have you completed and loved? Are there any I’m missing out on?