I’m taking part in the Notebook Sisters’ link-up/giveaway because I thought it was a good way to recap what I’ve read and written in 2013! I chose to answer all the bookish questions but skip some of the ones for writers. They asked me to show excerpts but I’m not really comfortable doing that because I’m not as confident about my fiction as I am with my creative nonfiction (AKA blogging and essays and stuff). So yeah.
For The Bookworms
What was your overall favorite book this year? (Yes. Pick one.)
Argh. One?! I resent this, just so you know. I choose The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater because the writing is beautiful, I feel like I know all the characters personally, and it’s even better than the first book. (I’m really picky about sequels.) It should get an award; it’s one of the best YA novels I’ve ever read.
Favorite debut(s)? (Author must have been first published in 2013.)
Rainbow Rowell in Eleanor & Park, I suppose. I have yet to finish Fangirl but it’s supposed to be good.
Which books did you reread this year?
Too many to count. Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Among the Hidden was notable. I’d forgotten how much I love that book and want to write like her.
Favorite cover(s) this year!
Unfortunately, the best part of this book was its cover but hey, it still deserves a spot on this list. I love the combination of colors because they seem eerie.
I picked this up for the cover alone – it was only when I got home and read the blurb that I went OOH YAY, I HAVE GREAT BOOK GAYDAR. (See below.) It’s a very bright picture and, for a photograph, quite minimalist.
I love minimalist covers and this is currently my favorite of them all.
I get that it’s meant to look like the uniforms concentration camp inmates wore. I think they should’ve used a picture of, well, a boy in striped pajamas. That’s all.
What self-published books did you read this year?
I read Mythology by Helen Boswell and it was OK.
Which book(s) gave you a massive hangover?
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, which is my second-favorite from this year. It’s about a gay girl who grows up in a small town but gets sent away to be ‘cured.’ The book has wonderful description and just pulls you in. It’s the sort of book where you take a break from reading and look around somewhat bewildered because you were pretty sure a few seconds ago that this story was real. I really want a sequel.
Best standalone you read?
See my answer to question seven.
Biggest book(s) you’ve read this year?
I have neither the time nor the interest to look up the exact numbers of pages in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, but any of its books were easily the biggest. They’re at least eight hundred pages in paperback.
Book(s) you followed the hype for and then loved!
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I heard it was great high fantasy and while it’s not quite as good as Tolkien’s stuff, it’ll do.
Most disappointing book(s) you read this year?
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. I could deal with the simplistic writing style – I couldn’t stand the idiotic narrator.
Favorite leading-female character?
Cameron Post, because she is smart and snarky and stubborn.
Favorite leading-male character?
Ronan Lynch from The Dream Thieves! Wow. Just wow. In The Raven Boys he was Mr. Stereotypical Angry Teenage Boy and I didn’t much care for him but now that his life previously has been explained, he’s much more complex and interesting.
Dany & Drogo, Jaime & Cersei, and Ned & Cat (A Song of Ice and Fire). Eleanor & Park – I’m sure you can figure out what book they’re from. Cam & Irene and Cam & Coley (Miseducation). Ronan & Kavinsky, Ronan & Gansey, and Blue & Gansey (The Dream Thieves).
What book(s) hit the DNF list? (Did not finish.)
I began Cinder by Marissa Meyer and enjoyed what little I read (about three chapters, methinks), but then I had to return it to the library and never got around to trying again. Similarly, I was distracted from Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg.
What book(s) did you read out of your comfort-zone?
I don’t normally read YA romance like Eleanor & Park. And when I do, it’s usually not straight romance anyway because there’s enough of that – it pops up everywhere, even in stuff like A Song of Ice and Fire where it doesn’t really fit because the plot is about characters trying to murder each other.
Which author did you read the most from?
Going by sheer number of pages, George R.R. Martin.
Top 5 books you’d recommend from all the books you’ve read this year?
The Dream Thieves, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, A Game of Thrones, Eleanor & Park, and A Clash of Kings (another Martin book).
How many books did you read this year all up?
This question is worded strangely, what does it mean? How many did I read total? Probably two hundred. Ish.
What’s a book you’re hugely excited for coming out in 2014?!
The as-yet-untitled sequel to The Dream Thieves. I think it’s out next September.
For The Writers
How many books did you write this year? (Estimate your overall wordcount for us too!)
Um. I don’t really write books, see. I prefer short stories. I worked on probably thirty, but there are only about eight or ten I consider complete. Between short stories, blog posts, and papers for school, I probably wrote 150,000 words. But I’m not sure about that – it’s definitely over 100K but might be as much as 300K. I’m not very good at estimating so I decided to err on the side of fewer words.
Which was your favorite to write?
A retelling of “The Gingerbread Man”! I wanted it mostly serious like A Song of Ice and Fire – I was going for kind of an epic feeling – but it ended up more like Monty Python. It was fun to be so ridiculous.
Which was the hardest to write?
I tried to retell “Little Red Riding Hood” set in modern-day New York City, but it’s still not finished because I’m having problems with the supporting characters.
Tell us about your favorite male character you wrote this year!
Hello. I am the writer who says, “You know what this story needs? Lesbians!”
Um. I guess my favorite male character was George the gingerbread man because I got to be goofy when writing him.
And how about your favorite female character?
Definitely, definitely the princess in my version of “The Gingerbread Man,” because she’s so sarcastic. I based her off my mom – I hope she doesn’t mind.
Can you tell I like to write funny characters?
Can you introduce us to some awesome sidekick(s)?
OK, OK, I will. Clara is the sidekick in one of my science fiction short stories. She’s basically me (a very ordinary person), except also an assassin. Because… because.
Any romances in your writing? Which couple didn’t go together as expected?
YES – because my project for NaNoWriMo was retelling fairy tales, and most of them have romance. My favorite couple was probably George (the gingerbread man, remember) and the princess. Sadly, it was very one-sided. George was enamored of her but she was just like, “Dude… you’re a cookie. It would never work out between the two of us.”
What’s your favorite Pinterest board for one of your books? Can we see some pics for the book they inspire?
I don’t have a Pinterest account, sorry.
What challenges did you compete in this year? (NaNos? Personal goals? Challenges run by other blogs?) And how did you go?
I won the NaNoWriMo YWP with 25,000 words and because I don’t have as much free time now, it was even harder than last year when I did 50,000.
Tell us about some funny typos or writer-bloopers you’ve had this year!
When I’m distracted I tend to incorporate things I hear around me – hence why I accidentally called a character Dinner. Hey, I was hungry.
What has writing taught you about yourself this year?
When I write, I need to just stop worrying that my first draft won’t be perfect. I need to stop doubting myself so much.
Best piece of writing advice you learnt this year?
If I budget my time more wisely, I can get everything done. Boring, but useful.
Anything big on the horizons for next year? Plans to query? Publish? Edit?
I’d love to start querying. I want to do this for myself and also because it might look good on my college applications if I’ve already published a book. Maybe I could use the (very small amounts of) money that I’d earn if my book is published to help pay for college, too!
Tell us a bit about a book you’re super excited to write in 2014!
I want to write a mystery. It need not be a novel, but at least a novella would be nice. I love mysteries and think it takes a lot of talent to write them because one has to hint at the solution the entire way through without giving away too much.
What have you enjoyed reading and writing this year, and what do you look forward to in 2014?