Books Read So Far In 2017 • #30BOOKSCHALLENGE

When it comes to writing these kind of blog posts, consistency is key. Well, consistency hasn’t exactly been my strong suit lately. I have read books this year just as I planned, but it’s hard to remember exactly what I read and what I finished reading because my mind has been all over the place and I haven’t thought to write it down.

It’s June now. It’s halfway through the year and I should have 15 books under my belt. I don’t think I’ve read 15, but bear with me while I try to figure out exactly what I’ve read.

Carve the Mark

books read in 2017This is one of the books I read nearer the start of the year and although it had a few problems – you can read my official review and opinion piece on how it is NOT racist here – I really enjoyed it. I’m invested in the characters and I’ll definitely be buying the sequel to see what happens.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone 

This book by Laini Taylor had a really rough start; I went from thinking ‘Oh my god this is the worst thing I’ve ever read’ to ‘Damn this writer is talented’. It was a weird mix of emotions for me until I got halfway through the book when it really started to grow on me.

It’s essentially a Romeo and Juliet re-telling (or just inspired by the star-crossed lovers motif, really) about angels and demons except the angels are the bad guys. I was craving

books read in 2017

more when I finished this book and immediately bought the sequel.

Days of Blood and Starlight

This is the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone and it had me floored. I absolutely loved it and I was fairly heart broken by the end of it. Like, what are you doing to me Laini Taylor?! I’m totally invested in this series and before I even finished this book I bought the final one. It still hasn’t arrived but I’m going to absolutely devour it when it arrives!

Binti

If you haven’t read anything by Nnedi Okorafor, what are you even doing with your life? I picked up Binti because I’d heard it was fantastic (and it won a Hugo Nebula Award as well, which is always a good indicator of quality!)

books read in 2017

I’m so glad I gave it a go because it was so unusual and unique and it really left a lot of other sci fi books I’ve read in its dust. The sequel, Binti Home, arrived a few days ago and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Akata Witch 

This is another book by Nnedi Okorafor and I loved it even more than Binti. Like, it’s really incredible. I’ve never been to Africa and I don’t know very much about African countries but I learnt so much about Nigerian culture and myth from this book. Okorafor has the effortless ability to weave information into her story so that you get a vivid visual of what she means. This book is wonderful – pick it up!

Shadow and Bone books read in 2017

I read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows series last year and it was the best thing I’d read all year. Her characters have stuck with me even months later and I still find myself thinking about them.

So of course I picked up her other series about The Grisha, who are magical beings living in Bardugo’s fictional world, Ravka. The series follows Alina Starkov’s journey through the strange and mysterious world of the Grisha. Great writing and a great plot – what more can we ask for?

books read in 2017The Spire 

I wanted to try this graphic novel out for a really long time but it was so difficult to find an issue 1 to start with. I ended up finding it on Book Depository and ordered it straight away. It’s about a woman called Sha, the last of the Medusi, who is commander of the city watch, in keeping the citizens of The Spire in check.

However, she isn’t exactly respected due to her race. A new Baroness of the Spire is about to be sworn in but a string of gory murders mars the city, so Sha must find the killer and bring them to justice. It’s a surprising and intriguing book and it’s up there with one of my all-time favourites.

The Space Between books read in 2017

This beautiful LGBT book by Irish writer Meg Grehan blew me away when I first read it. It’s about the life of a girl called Beth as she deals with chronic anxiety and depression. I wrote a full spoiler-free review of the book for The Arcade (which you can read here) but I can tell you here that it is a must-read. Written in prose, it’s rhythmic and heart-wrenching and it allows you to see into the mind of someone with mental illness.

Saga Volume 6 

I’ve loved Saga since the first time I glimpsed the cover. Where have you ever seen a woman with wings breastfeeding her child on the cover of a major book? Never, that’s when.books read in 2017

It follows two soldiers from totally different planets and cultures who fall for each other despite their differences and create a child, an impossible child whose very existence could end their planets’ war or start a new one. Exciting stuff, right? Well volume 6 is no less wonderful than the volumes before it! It’s pure quality.

What have you read so far this year? Let me know in the comments!

Drawing Maps & Growing As A Writer • Inspiration Wall 02

This was a great week for me in terms of writing. Scenes have been flowing better, I’ve plugged a few plot holes and I’m more confident in the path I’ve put my characters on. It’s a win all round! I don’t like to risk jinxing myself but I think I’ll finish my first draft by the end of next month! I’m definitely feeling very positive.

novel writing

Growing as a writer 

I wrote an article last year on ‘author envy’ – that overwhelming feeling of jealousy when you hear that another writer (especially if they’re the same age or younger than you) has not only finished writing their book, but they’re about to get it published. This exact situation happened in my life in the past year; a girl I know worked hard and finished her book and then she got a publishing deal. I couldn’t bring myself to be happy for her, I just couldn’t. All I felt was my undeniable failure in the face of her success.

novel writing

I think this is just something every writer goes through, and it’s nothing to do with the great achievement of the other writer. It really isn’t. It has everything to do with insecurity and feeling like you’re not good enough, like you’re never going to achieve your dream. It’s odd isn’t it? You’d think seeing someone succeeding – someone who is in the same boat as you – would only serve to motivate you more? For me it didn’t.

I was kind of down for a while afterwards, but I pushed on with my writing anyway. I’m so glad I did as I’m now near the finish line and, as a nice bonus, I can now say that I am truly happy for the girl I know who is soon to be a published author. It really is wonderful because, like me, being an author is her dream. You should keep an eye out for her upcoming book called The Space Between which will be published by Little Island. She’s a fabulous, unique writer so I’m sure it will receive rave reviews!

Map making 

Inkarnate.com is a really fun tool to use if you’re planning out a world and you want to get all your visuals down on paper, so to speak. The software allows you to put a basic map together and you can even add things like castles and different types of trees and land (swampy, desert etc.) to personalise it even more. I had a bit of a tinker with it and came up with a fun visual for me to work off of while I’m writing.

I spent approximately 5 minutes on this so it would be infinitely better if I committed real time to it, but it does what I want it to – it allows me to have a good idea of the sizes of the countries in my book and their proximity to each other.

inkarnate world building

Everything is falling into place 

When I first started writing my novel I was worried about the ending. Mainly because I didn’t have one. This is where the ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ style of writing is inspiring. It can take you to a part of your story that you may never have thought of while carefully planning each scene.

When I was a kid I just wrote any old thing that popped into my head. Planning had absolutely no place in my “process”, so to speak. Now I plan a little and wing it a lot, but one isn’t better than the other. They both have their place, and lots of writers prefer different kind of methods.

I’ve never gotten this far in a story before (65+k), so I’m pretty sure that I’ve found my sweet spot. Here’s to many more thousands of words next week!

novel writing

Using Irish culture 

As I mentioned in my first Inspiration Wall, I’ve been looking into my culture more and taking a few elements that I find really beautiful and fascinating to weave them into my story. Some of these things are really small – just details, really – but it’s not just the big, obvious parts of a tale that make it so memorable to the reader. I want to make my story unique.

One of the things I plan on using are ghillies, which are little black Irish dancing shoes that you lace up under the sole. One of my characters dances in an inn and she’ll mention these in one of the scenes. Another thing I plan on including is a rag tree, which you can find in many areas of Ireland. Rag trees are regular trees (usually near a Holy Well) where people with problems or illnesses tie a piece of their clothing/a rag to the tree. It’s said that the problem or sickness will go as the rag rots.

rag tree novel

I loved that Leigh Bardugo included some elements of Russian culture in her Six of Crows duology, as I looked up a lot of the words she used out of interest. It would be fantastic if someone unfamiliar with Irish culture looked up aspects of it because they read my book!

Also, it’s not surprising but I’ve been listening to a lot of Enya this week (LOVE her, she is a national treasure!) and if you’re writing fantasy scenes featuring elves or witches or magic then this music will inspire you. She’s responsible for helping create the stunning LOTR score so, you know, trust me on this one.

 

What gave you inspiration this week? Let me know in the comments below!