March Recap 2019

I can’t believe April is here already. As of right now, I’ve been unemployed since December and am still pursuing my dream of being a full-time writer (even though I’m not making any money!). But I plan to make a blog post dedicated to what allowed me to take this big leap!

March started out rather strange for me. We went up to visit my Mom, and overnight I started passing a kidney stone (don’t worry, I’ve had them before). My boyfriend had to take me to the hospital at 3AM, and watch me vomit my guts up every five minutes. Yeah, it wasn’t fun. But while I was bedridden for a week, I managed to read eight books! Since then, I’ve sort of been on a roll with reading.

On top of that, towards the end of February I sent my Adult Fantasy novel, working title Forbidden, out to my CP’s and beta reader’s and am awaiting their feedback. Some has already started to come in – both good and bad – and I won’t lie that some of the feedback has really been eating at me. That said, I’m still hanging in there, and taking one step at a time to digest everyone’s feedback. Stay tuned for an eventual blog post on what I’ve learned about working with beta readers!

Overall, March has been a weird month. There’s a lot going on in my personal life, with my health, and I recently made the decision to go back to school in pursuit of an English and Creative Writing Degree. It’s not official yet, and I still have loads of work to do in terms of applying, figuring out scholarships, etc., but I’m hanging in there. I’m hoping April is a better month!

What I Wrote:

Since finishing Forbidden, I’ve had two ideas in my head that I wanted to pursue next.
One was a YA fantasy about a thief, and I’ve been really excited to start working on it. Unfortunately, while I’ve had no trouble figuring out Act I, Act II has been a bust. It’s like my brain can’t figure out what to happen next or where to take the story. I’ve since decided to put it on the back burner for now, and am hoping that with some time an idea will spring up and help me figure out where to go.

In the same vein, the other idea I have is a YA Thriller. I’ve had this idea in my head for several years, and the best way I can describe it is Pretty Little Liars meets anything by Kara Thomas. While I’m excited to work on this idea, I’m running into some big problems. I picture this story being part of a four book series with an overall giant mystery – but I’m worried the plotline is going to become too convoluted. I’ve since decided to put this story on the backburner for now as well.

Instead, a new YA Thriller idea popped into my head. I was cleaning up the kitchen one day when this idea slammed into me out of nowhere: I knew my characters, my bad guy, their motive, the inciting incident, the ending – all of it within a matter of minutes. I knew I just had to write it down. By the next night I had a full outline. It still needs some tweaking, but I’ve been writing the novel, and already hit 20,000 words! I’ve joined Nano in the hopes of writing another 50,000, and hope this novel will fall in the 70k – 80k range. I’ve titled it Little Lost Girls, but that may eventually change. Progress is going well for this book!

The last thing I’m excited to work on is a new project that also popped into my head. Let’s just say, a lot of people watch Game of Thrones and tend to be inspired by certain characters – Daenerys, Sansa, Brienne, etc…the inspiration for this new project is from a character you probably wouldn’t expect. I’m excited to dig in, but for now, this project is a secret!

What I Read:

Total: 12

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi ★☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

This book had so much going for it. I saw it hyped all over social media, and even though I read the blurb and it didn’t sound like my kind of book, I still wanted to give it a shot. Needless to say, I am so disappointed.

I read all 384 pages and still have no idea what happened. The pacing was all over the place, the characters were uninteresting and felt like cheap cardboard cutouts of the characters from Six of Crows. The world-building made no sense, and neither did the magic system. Characters would jump from one location to the next in the middle of paragraphs. The villain of this book didn’t make a real appearance until the climax, and their motivation and character were so confusing.

Honestly, this book felt like a first draft that needed another few rounds of revisions before it was published. I definitely would not recommend this book or pick it up ever again.

After the Fire by Will Hill ★★★★★

I don’t normally pick up books like this, but the blurb really caught my eye. But I could not put this book down! It follows Moonbeam, a teenage girl who lived most of her life in a cult. The story chronicles her life in the past – before the fire – and after, when she’s rescued and how she comes to terms with what’s happened to her and the other members.

This book was well-written, I liked the characters, and you could tell the author did their research to show the physical and psychological affects that living in a cult had on everybody. Even showing how far people can use religious extremes to manipulate people and bend them to their will. I really enjoyed this book, and definitely recommend!

Enter the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz DNF’D

I read Stolarz’s Blue is For Nightmares series way back in high school and really enjoyed it, but it’s been years since I’ve seen her come out with something new. So when I saw Enter the Dark House sitting on the shelf, I just had to pick it up.

Unfortunately, I got about 150 pages in and couldn’t continue. The characters acted far too immature for my taste, and they all sounded the same. Every chapter switched between one of five characters in first person POV. I had a hard time keeping track of who was who, and constantly had to flip back to the beginning of a chapter to remind myself who’s POV I was reading from.

On top of that, the overall mystery wasn’t really present. A huge chunk of the novel follows the characters getting to know and interact with each other, and it wasn’t until where I stopped reading that the actual mystery began to show itself, but by then I’d had enough.

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Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson ★★★★☆

This book was really gripping from the very beginning! Like After the Fire, I couldn’t put it down. It follows two teenagers whose stories of forbidden and dangerous love shows what can happen when you cross the line into obsession and toxic relationships.

The writing and the pacing was good, as was the twist, which I didn’t see coming! If you’re looking for a good thriller, this one I highly recommend!

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus ★★★☆☆

This is another really hyped-up book and I was really excited to read. The writing was well done, and the pacing was good. There are four characters who are written from first person POV, but unlike Enter the Dark House, I never had a problem keeping track of who’s head I was in. Each character was unique, well-written, and I enjoyed reading from all their perspectives.

My biggest problem with this book came from two things. The first is that I guessed the big twist halfway through, and was right in the end, but I can see why some people have a lot of issues with what the twist really is. The second is there are two characters who get involved in a romance, and I felt like the romance plotline really overshadowed the rest of the book. When I was in either of the two character’s heads, most of their thoughts revolved around each other instead of the mystery. The characters didn’t do nearly as much as investigating as I would have liked to see.

I can see why people really liked this book. I just think there’s been better thrillers out there.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus ★★★★☆

Funny enough, I liked this book a lot more than One of Us is Lying. I felt the mystery was much more compelling, and the characters did a lot more sleuthing and trying to solve the mystery than they did in McManus’s previous work.

I would recommend this book over One of Us is Lying, but I would pick up a third book by the author because I have genuinely enjoyed reading both of her works.

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Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart ★★★☆☆

I’ve had this book on my shelf for a really long time, so I was so excited to get a chance to read it. It follows two sisters, Serina and Nomi; Serina has been groomed all her life to become a Grace – chosen to stand by the Heir’s side and essentially become his concubine. But when Nomi and Serina switch places due to unfortunate circumstances, Nomi finds herself the Grace and Serina is exiled.

This book had so much potential, but it really fell flat. While I liked the characters, the biggest thing was that this book lacked world-building. And it’s a rather short book, only 311 pages. I feel the author could have dedicated another 30 – 40 pages throughout the novel just on world-building.

I never really got a good sense of where we were or what the world looked like. Even from the beginning, the story jumps right into Serina being chosen as a Grace, without any explanation on where we were, why this was important, and it really glosses over the choosing ceremony.

It wasn’t necessarily a bad book, but it falls flat amongst the rest of the YA fantasy on the shelves.

The Cabin by Natasha Preston ★☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Ugh, this is another one star from me. This is another book I’ve had on my shelf for a really long time and I finally got the opportunity to read. Unfortunately, this book had way too many problems. While the initial mystery happens pretty fast and is actually compelling – several friends go to a cabin only to wake up the next morning and two of them are dead – the mystery is overshadowed by the toxic romantic subplot.

Our main character, Mackenzie, is rather stupid, and she quickly gets involved with the love interest Blake. The biggest problem I had is that Blake is an asshole. He’s rather toxic, he complains about how he can’t handle “emotional women”, and he doesn’t come off in the good light the author tries to paint him in. Their romance completely takes over the actual mystery, which is rather convoluted.

The writing is shallow and poorly done, the pacing is off, and the ending was anticlimactic and stupid. I won’t be picking up another of Ms. Preston’s novels.

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver ★★★★★

I picked this book up in high school or college I think, only got 50 pages in, and put the book down for some reason; but when I was looking for another thriller on my shelf, I pulled this out and gave it another shot. I’m so glad I did!

Lauren Oliver’s writing is wonderful, and she really knows how to spin a mystery. I finished this book in one day, and stayed up late because I couldn’t put it down. The sister relationship between Nick and Dara is really well done, and the end twist I didn’t see coming at all. This book had everything I could’ve wanted, and I highly recommend it.

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Broken Things by Lauren Oliver ★★★★☆

Because I loved Vanishing Girls so much, I went ahead and picked up Broken Things. Like Vanishing Girls, Lauren Oliver’s writing is gripping and well done. The mystery is compelling and I never guessed the twist.

That said, I was a little more let down by this book. I didn’t like the characters of Brynn and Mia nearly as much, and sometimes their voices sounded too similar. I’ll still be picking up whatever Lauren Oliver writes next despite my small disappointment with this one.

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry ★★☆☆☆

This is another book I just couldn’t get behind. This mystery was interesting, and I felt the beginning of the book had a strong start. But this book just got boring by the middle.
The main character, Olivia, just didn’t do much. She spent most of the novel drifting around and waiting for things to happen.

However, what really ruined this book for me was the climax. Towards the end, several red herrings were thrown our way out of nowhere, and the book felt very rushed. The villain also came in out of nowhere, and a series of stupid events chained together that just didn’t seem probable. In the end, I don’t think I’ll be picking up another of April Henry’s books.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody ★★★★★

I’d heard so many people having success with this book, so I decided to give it a shot, and I’m so glad I did! This book is wonderfully written. Jessica Brody does an excellent job in explaining all the different beats that go into writing a novel, how they work, and what their purposes are. I have this sitting at my desk side and within reach in case I ever get stuck.

On top of that, my favorite thing about this book is the end. Jessica Brody has a helpful guide in the back that helps sum up every type of novel there is, and the way each beat should follow the type of novel you’re writing. It’s been insanely helpful. If you’re struggling, whether you’re a plotter of panster, I think any writer can find value in this book.

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What I’m Watching

Right now, I’m catching up on Game of Thrones with the boyfriend and am in season five. I have a tendency to be browsing my phone while watch other shows, but GoT is one I just can’t look away from.

By myself, I’ve started The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. While I enjoyed the first two episodes, I’m beginning to lose interest in the series. I feel like the show has divulged into a series of cliché events, and big, bad mean bullying witches and the evil, evil principle. The show just feels a little childish to me, and I’m not sure if I should continue watching.

April Goals

I have a lot I want to get done this month.

I want to finish writing Little Lost Girls, and am hoping Camp Nano will help put my butt into gear. On top of that, I want to finish outlining the three projects I’ve mentioned before. I’m also hoping my beta readers will all get back to me and that I’ll be able to reflect on their feedback, and have a plan to revise Forbidden by the end of the month.

• Write 50,000 words for Little Lost Girls
• Outline my three new projects
• Finish my plan for figuring out how to go back to school
• Figure out new topics to blog about

So, that’s been March for me! If anyone has any blog topics they’d be interested in me talking about, let me know!

XOXO – Devon

2 thoughts on “March Recap 2019

  1. Tara Sexton (@TSEXTON013)

    Great post. I enjoyed taking a break at work to catch up with you. I loved the book reviews, especially since Mystery and Thriller’s aren’t necessarily something I gravitate towards myself. Best of luck on your writing this month. I know it can be hard to stick to a word count goal, but you can do it!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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