Books, Real Life

November Wrap-up: Turning the corner

Happy December!

As always, I’m not quite sure how we got here!

Last month was jam-packed with write-ins, family dinners, and karaoke.

It was so packed I’m going to start with some life updates.

Life Updates

I got my first tattoo. Don’t worry about it.

Originally, my writing group had talked about getting matching tattoos.

Then half my group backed out.

I still wanted to move forward, so I asked my friend Kait about xyr experiences, looked into artists xie recommended, and scheduled a consultation.

Bing bang boom, I have a tiny Calcifer on my right arm just above my elbow.

Calcifer tattoo on upper arm

Has this experience awakened something in me? Will tattoos become my new hyperfixation? It’s possible!

In non-tattoo news, I fully meant to reread The Scorpio Races.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I DID NOT DO IT.

It never felt like the right time.

Also last month, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time in two years.

It was weird doing everything virtually. I missed the excitement of in-person write-ins.

I did, however, write 36,434 words last month. At least some of those were written at my local coffee shop.

Most importantly, I HAD A REALLY FUN TIME WRITING.

I went the NaNo Rebel route and wrote Star Wars fanfic for the month of November. I edited a tiny bit as I went along and sent the finished chapters to three of my wonderful and supportive friends.

I relied heavily on Gwen Hayes’s Romancing the Beat because while I’ve written romance-adjacent things before, I’ve never written a full-on romance.

Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes

I have since learned that writing romance is really fun and I might be good at it???

I included a lot of my own experiences in the fic and that made it more rewarding to write. It also, according to my friends, made it hit harder.

Even though I didn’t technically “win” NaNo, I feel like I did.

I also read some books last month. Let’s talk stats.

Reading Stats

In November, I completed 13 books and DNFed 13 books for a total of 26 books.

I think my habit of extreme DNFing is here to stay.

The guilt I feel about it is probably also here to stay. I’m working on it.

I don’t know. I’m tired of pushing myself to read things I’m not enjoying for whatever reason.

I should also say that I feel like my reading life has improved because of all the DNFing I’ve done. Even though I’ve DNFed 76 books this year, I’ve finished 199.

I’m trying to reframe books as experiences rather than sacred objects that must be Respected.

I stop watching movies I don’t like. I can do the same with books.

Of the books I read in November,

  • 88% were fiction
  • 4% were nonfiction
  • 4% were graphic novels
  • 4% were poetry
  • 50% were physical books
  • 31% were audiobooks
  • 19% were e-books
  • 12% were Young Adult
  • 84% were Adult
  • 4% were Children’s
  • 81% were new books
  • 19% were rereads

Like I mentioned last month, Young Adult is still not doing it for me.

I did read and enjoy at least one YA book last month.

YA, though, is no longer my primary interest.

That feels strange.

I have literal dozens of unread YA books on my shelves and, man, I just don’t know about those.

Regarding genres, queer romantic fantasy is still on top.

Pie chart of book genres read in November 2021

Honestly, why even write anything else?

My top moods for the month were adventurous, mysterious, emotional, and reflective.

Pie chart of reading moods read in November 2021

I don’t think that particular combination has cropped up before.

My overall rating for November BROKE FOUR STARS. UNHEARD OF.

Bar graph of book ratings given in November 2021

I may have read a couple more Top Ten contenders. It’s hard to tell.

Okay, now it’s time to trash and hype books.

This month’s Notable Books section is hefty, so PREPARE YOURSELF.

Notable Books

I didn’t talk about Payback’s a Witch last month because I hadn’t yet committed to DNFing it.

Payback's a Witch by Lana Harper

I finally put it down after hitting the halfway mark because I HATED IT.

I feel like this book was marketed as a dark fantasy when it was, in fact, a romance.

I like romance! That’s not a problem! However, I was really looking forward to the John Tucker Must Die plot that fizzled out at about 30%. This book was a straightforward romance and I wish I’d known that going in.

Also, the actual, non-revenge plot rubbed me the wrong way.

Protagonist Emmy returns home to help her family with a ritual after spending a decade in Chicago.

Emmy intentionally left her magic behind to build a life she loves in a city she enjoys.

ODDLY ENOUGH, I, a queer person who moved from my hometown to a big city, didn’t take kindly to the other characters attacking Emmy for her choices.

Talia, the love interest, said multiple times that she didn’t think Emmy had given their small town a fair chance.

I just…SHE LIVED THERE FOR EIGHTEEN YEARS, DID SHE NOT? SHE KNOWS WHAT IT’S LIKE. SHE IS FAMILIAR WITH THE SOCIAL HIERARCHIES AND DOESN’T WANT TO TAKE PART ANYMORE.

Emmy herself admits that she was never one for magic; her powers have always been limited and while she sometimes misses magic while living in Chicago, her powers have never felt integral to her identity the way her friends’ powers feel to them.

I HAD A REAL PROBLEM WITH ALL THE CHARACTERS SCREAMING AT THE QUEER PROTAGONIST FOR CHOOSING TO MOVE TO A BIG CITY WITH BETTER RESTAURANTS AND MORE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES.

I DOUBT EMMY WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO START A WITCHY SUBSCRIPTION BUSINESS IN THISTLE GROVE.

ALSO, TALIA’S BIG ARGUMENT ABOUT EMMY NOT GIVING THISTLE GROVE A CHANCE FELL FLAT ONCE SHE TRIED CONVINCING EMMY THAT THISTLE GROVE WAS ON PAR WITH CHICAGO…BECAUSE IT RECENTLY ACQUIRED BOTH A SUSHI RESTAURANT AND A COFFEE SHOP.

SO URBANIZATION IS WHAT MAKES THIS TOWN GREAT? NOW THAT IT IS MORE LIKE CHICAGO, IT IS A BETTER PLACE? ARE YOU NOT PROVING EMMY RIGHT?

I feel like I could have gotten on board if SOMEONE had acknowledged that the protagonist made a choice about her life based on the information she had at the time and/or Emmy had been allowed to change her mind without social pressure.

INSTEAD, every other character banded together to tell her how Wrong and Bad her decision to leave Thistle Grove was.

I loathed this book. I didn’t care if the main couple ended up together and I wanted the stupid ex-boyfriend to take all the magic and leave everyone in the dust.

Let me now elaborate on my previously-mentioned Young Adult problems.

I tried rereading my one-time favorite book City of Bones.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I’d attempted rereading it in 2018 but didn’t get very far. That was a rough year, though; I figured now that I was in a more stable place, I’d enjoy the series as much as I once did.

I made it 3/4 of the way through before I couldn’t take it anymore.

First of all, Jace is unbearable and Simon is just as bad.

Clary isn’t like the other girls, Isabelle is unconvincingly shallow, and Alec is basically furniture.

I could ALMOST see The Mortal Instruments working as an adult novel? Like, if it had a bit more edge, maybe I would enjoy it.

That’s what got me thinking that I should stick to adult fiction from now on.

As for young adult books I did like, I started rereading the Song of the Lioness quartet.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

The first book mostly holds up! The gender commentary is still fresh and the trans subtext is TEEMING.

I also read All of Us Villains on audiobook and had a fun, tense time.

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

The book is silly in all the best ways.

I texted my friend after finishing it, “Wow, they truly were all villains!”

A mutual friend published a poetry chapbook this year and it is fantastic.

We Shall Have Life by Dan Rogland

I read it in one sitting on my way to church and made myself really emotional on public transit.

Dan is so talented and their work is so honest.

Do them a favor and buy a copy of We Shall Have Life, especially if you’re a queer Christian (former or present.)

I picked up a couple books I’d DNFed before.

One was The Bear and the Nightingale.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The second time around, I see the appeal.

It’s a slow burn for sure, but there are horses and magical spirits! And commentary about religion!

I also reread The Only Good Indians not at all because of a hot person (it was because of a hot person.)

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

I DNFed the book before because I’d decided “it wasn’t scary.”

ONE CHAPTER LATER, I was terrified out of my mind and didn’t want to stop reading.

I latched onto one of the characters and kept hoping they would survive until the end.

I can’t confirm or deny whether they did.

Just read this.

Man, I read so many books last month that engendered strong feelings in me. One of them was Lore Olympus: Volume One.

(CW: rape)

Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe

I DID NOT LIKE THE ART STYLE OR THE STORYLINE.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a subplot about rape.

I wanted this to be Neon Gods and instead it was…almost wacky?

I took a chance on Among Thieves and I DID like that one!

Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn

It’s a fantastical heist with a bunch of queer, morally gray characters. I loved it.

This Thing Between Us really surprised me.

This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno

It’s an excellent thriller about grief and supernatural possession. I adored it, even though there was intense animal violence.

I read The Princess Trap and now I’m committed to reading the rest of Talia Hibbert’s catalogue.

The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert

I had mixed feelings about what I thought was a WILD LEFT TURN in content. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this one.

The research in Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’s The Dark Fantastic was excellent! I loved this book!

The Dark Fantastic by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas

This book is part of the Postmillennial Pop series. I now want to read ALL the other books, including but not limited to Video Games Have Always Been Queer and Old Futures: Speculative Fiction and Queer Possibility.

After six years, I finally picked up Uprooted and WOW, I HATED IT.

(CW: rape, verbal abuse)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This book could have worked as a queer romance and/or story about female friendship.

Instead, I was given a romance between a village girl unaware of her own power and a VERBALLY ABUSIVE MAN WHO RESENTS HER?

Absolutely not.

I made it through the gross, victim-blamey sexual assault scene and the resentful life-saving scene only to tap out when the Dragon began to belittle Agnieszka’s superior talent.

I have LIVED this. I don’t need any more of this particular mistreatment, thank you.

OKAY, ON TO MY FAVORITE BOOK THAT I READ LAST MONTH:

HOUSE OF EARTH AND BLOOD KILLED ME AND BROUGHT ME BACK TO LIFE MORE THAN ONCE.

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas

I loved every single thing it had to say about grief and recovery.

I adored the romance.

I cared about the characters and was devastated by each subsequent turn of events.

I had a really good time reading this. I read 350 pages in about four hours and screamed the entire time.

It’s possible this book sparked a tattoo idea. Can’t wait for the sequel to be released in February.

That was November!

I had a lot to say!

Will I get to The Scorpio Races this month? Hard to say.

I started going to the movies again and I still have a fanfic to finish.

We’ll see what happens.

7 thoughts on “November Wrap-up: Turning the corner”

  1. You had quite the month! I love your tattoo! I’m still too chicken to get one, but I want one! πŸ˜‚
    When you wrote that Alec is basically furniture I L-O-L-ed real loud because I couldn’t agree more, he’s kinda just there. I mean, that series still holds a special place in my heart but yeah, the older I get and looking back on it… yeah πŸ˜…
    I need to read the third book in the Song of the Lioness series… why haven’t I picked it up yet? I enjoyed the first two books!
    I have to say, you’ve intrigued me on the Sarah J Maas book… I’m not a big fan of hers… but you made it sound really good!
    I hope you have a great December! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was WILD. Also TATTOO. What kind do you think you would get? (If it helps, I was expecting it to hurt more!)
      People are still so into The Mortal Instruments and I wish I could join in?? But I know too much now!
      The third Song of the Lioness book is kind of a swerve! A lot happens! I love the series and I have to brace myself before I read that one!
      Listen I CRIED A LOT while reading Crescent City and I even ordered a sweatshirt. That is the highest praise I can give.
      Thanks! I hope you’re having a great December so far!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve always wanted to get a scorpio tattoo because I’m basic πŸ˜‚ that or the number 23 because for some reason that number follows me around. I’m glad to hear that it didn’t hurt as much!

        They really are! I mean, I won’t lie… I’m still picking up the new releases because I don’t hate them. I keep saying that I think I’ve outgrown the world… and then I keep reading them πŸ˜…
        Oh thank you for the heads up, I need to prepare myself before going in!
        I think that’s pretty high praise of Crescent City! πŸ˜„

        Thank you! It’s been very snowy so far!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I feel like the most basic tattoos are still really fun! Especially small ones that mean something!

        TO BE FAIR, the new books have amazing covers every single time!

        Liked by 1 person

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