I have to say, as someone who usually enjoys winter, this one has been brutal! Between all the ice and snow I have hardly been outside of my house since December.

The bright side is that I’ve had lots of time to catch up on reading (and writing but I will get to that). This winter has been the season to finish some series that I have been following for years.

December and January were dedicated to completing the Red Queen series. I have to say, I have mixed emotions about this four book series from Victoria Aveyard. While I really liked the world building and the cinematic action, I was not a fan of the characters. I thought both Mare and Cal to be rather unlikable people that seemed to constantly throw away their happiness with both hands. This, coupled with the lukewarm heat level and an unsatisfactory ending, I don’t think this will make the reread shelf.

In February and the beginning of March I finished (for now) the Dark Artifices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Well you all know how I feel about basically anything this talented goddess writes – I LOVED IT! This was probably my favorite to date of her series – although the Infernal Devices is a very close second.

Julian and Emma were such great characters – the perfect mix of hero and flawed human – as one would expect half angles to be. Mark, Christina and Kieran were also dynamite characters. The heat level of this series was so steamy I thought for a moment I was reading an adult book. I loved how in touch with their sexuality these characters were – yet still responsible and took sex seriously. Consent was always asked for and given – something that does not always make an appearance in YA books.

This was probably the darkest series yet by Cassandra Clare. Both death and fear mongering and racial hatred were big themes in the books. It was obvious that Claire’s writing has been affected by the dark and difficult times that we are living in. It was interesting to see such dark realism paired with unflagging hope and heroism. The Shadow Hunters realm has really matured, and Clare is not afraid to take on the real issues facing us today.

Okay, now on to my own writing. I am deep in editing land. I thought getting the words on the page was the hard part. Boy was I wrong! Editing is like hiking uphill in flip flops. I am spending most of my time sweating, slipping and falling on my ass.

This past weekend helped give me some guidance and some new perspectives on my work. I was privileged to work with Elly Blake (author of the Frostblood Saga) and three other very talented YA writers at the Toronto Romance Writers annual critique session. I got to see my story from a new angle and I have some concrete changes that I need to make. I am still hoping to meet my spring completion deadline so that I can start my new dark fantasy/horror novel this summer.

These last few months I have really started dedicating myself to my craft. I am putting my writing ahead of pretty much everything else (save my family). Hard work and dedication is the only way I will be able to finish my book, and start the next one!

How have you been surviving this winter? Any good books to recommend?

PS: Had the most AMAZING chocolate in my February #GoScribbler box – salted caramel dark chocolate from @sweetercards