Top 10 books I read in 2016: mini-reviews

CLICK HERE TO READ MINI-REVIEWS FROM 2014 AND 2015.

I’ll be honest. I read a lot less this year than I usually do. It’s been a rough year all the way around, and I’ll probably talk about that later. Meanwhile, I’m writing this annual mini-review post because it brings me joy and also, there’s little I love more than telling people what to read and how to live their lives.

Lezzgo.

10. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

ravenboysAlso known as the book I was supposed to read four years ago when it debuted and didn’t and now I regret my choices.

In The Raven Boys, Blue (our heroine) is the only non-seer in her psychic family. But when she has a vision on St. Mark’s Eve of a boy who will soon die, her clairvoyant mother tells her that the only reason Blue would see him is either that she is his true love, or she killed him herself. The boy – Gansley – goes to Aglionby Academy (infamous for its privileged “Raven Boys”) and when he and Blue accidentally cross paths, she gets swept up in a mystery that she knows will lead to a tragic end for both of them.

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Turn the page

Yesterday morning, at around 7:45am, I finished the second draft of hail the pumpkin king –a novel whose first draft I finished almost a year ago today (I wasn’t writing Draft 2 that whole time, I swear, just for about 4 months on and off).

This is the first book I’ve written multiple drafts of while also working full-time. It’s also the first book whose first draft I’ve underwritten. And just when I feel like I’m learning things, I look up the D2 wordcount and there it is: 11,000 words that were not there before.

Still, it’s not all bad. If you recall, this summer I decided I needed a break from blogging and social media to take a f***ing vacation, phrasing brought to you by My Depleted Vocab, you’re welcome. I took about a week and a half off from social (well, social for pleasure; my job is social media management), and then came back… slowly. I haven’t really posted much of anything in the past few months. I’ve stayed off-blog.

I’m here to report that the hiatus really did help my tired, burnt-out heart. But not for the reason I thought it would.

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Letters to my dead novels

Inspired by “How Writers Mourn Their Dead Novels.”

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Dear Dead Novel #1,

You were the one.

The one that made me realize I could do it. Really do it. Write a book. A whole book.

You were a few hundred handwritten pages of pure, magical dream-fever. Sure, you were about talking horses running wild in Wyoming. Sure, half of you now lies smudged, faded, and illegible in a drawer because I was too naive to write with a pen and not a pencil. But Novel, I remember the long summer nights we spent together.

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More confessions of a yes-woman: take a f***ing vacation

Hi, guys. This will be short, I promise.

This past week, a post I wrote for The Yellow Conference went live, and I reread it for the first time since I wrote it back in May. It’s about saying no and having the courage to set boundaries for ourselves.

A quick excerpt from “Confessions of a Yes-Woman”:

selfless

(click to read the full post)

I know I’ve been writing a lot about self-care in the past few weeks, partly because of all the horrible things that have been happening in the world. I’m so happy to see beautiful friends like Christina Im and Topaz Winters championing self-care with gentle words and soaring voices, and the comments and messages you all have written me have flooded me with a peace I haven’t felt in a while. So thank you. Thank you so much.

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Why we shovel sand

Here’s a fun party story: Over the course of my life, I’ve written five novels.

Despite this, it took me a long time until I found the nerve to start calling myself “a writer.” This was largely because for the majority of my writing life, I was unrepresented and unpublished and yaddayaddayadda I overvalued the validation of other people.

Now? I’m not unpublished anymore. But I am still unrepresented.

So when strangers ask me what I do and I say, “I’m a writer,” I know I’m about to face the inevitable follow-up question, which has nothing to do with The Craft or my artistic sentiments re: the state of humanity (I know, right???). Nah bro, strangers just want to know whether they can find any of my books on a shelf in a Barnes & Noble.

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How to Bookfest Pt. 2: YALLWEST 2016

(Check out part 1 of the “How to Bookfest” series on the LA Times Festival of Books.)

This past weekend marked the end of book festival season with YALLWEST, the only dedicated Young Adult bookfest in southern California. After I got home, my roommate said, “And now you hibernate for another year in preparation for 2017 book festival season.” Which is, I have to say, like 99% accurate.

Early Saturday morning, I drove out to Santa Monica and totally forgot how to get to Santa Monica High School (SAMOHI). Then, magically, I spotted a Saturn on Olympic Blvd. that had a Twilight sticker in her window, so naturally, I tailgated her for two miles until she led me directly to the public parking lot across from SAMOHI campus. Never doubt the commitment of the Twihards.

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How to Bookfest Pt. 1: LA Times Festival of Books 2016

(CHECK OUT PART 2 OF THE “HOW TO BOOKFEST” SERIES ON YALLWEST.)

This weekend kicked off LA’s bookfest season. AND WE SO EXCITE.

A few days ago I got the iPhone notification that I’d set up threemonthsagowhateverit’snotimportant, I almost had a stroke* because I had not yet planned out my day author-panel-by-author-panel. Also, 90% chance of rain all day? No problem. I am a strong, independent nerd who don’t need no umbrella.

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Proof.

The LA Times Festival of Books takes place annually on my alma mater’s campus (University of Southern California), and yesterday, it was indeed raining on and off all day. NEVERTHELESS, I woke up and bounded majestically to the nearest Metro station in my neon blue raincoat, and hopped the Gold Line with my camera to document this beautiful day.

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