Category Archives: Monthly Recaps

September & October Recap 2019

So…it’s been a while. Hi! Sorry I haven’t posted a blog in a long time. Which is something that I’m very sad to say I missed out on. For some personal reasons and the business of life, I had to set blogging aside. That said, I’m back again! Though I don’t know how frequently I’ll be posting, I’ll try to keep up with these monthly recaps again.

So far in my life, last time I updated, I got engaged! My fiancé and I went looking at venues in the beginning of October and finally settled on one! We’re very excited to be planning our wedding! This past week I’ve been really sick, so I’m trying to recover. Luckily I’m starting to feel better!

What I Wrote:

Back in September, I was 18k words into my YA Foreign Princess WIP. I am very happy to say that I officially completed writing that book! I also went through several rounds of revisions for my adult fantasy romance, and submitted it to Pitch Wars! I made a lot of progress and am very proud of myself.

What I Read:

Total: 14

Between September and October, I read fourteen books!

Before I Disappear by Danielle Stinson ★☆☆☆☆

I really, really did not like this book. I felt like the plot was very jumpy and all over the place; the story didn’t make any sense, and it was really repetitive. This one was not for me.

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin ★★★☆☆

I wanted to love this book, I really did. This book had so much hype built around it and I was very excited to dive in. While I was enjoying most of the book – it was the end that really lost. I found the entire last act of this book to be very contrived, full of conveniences, and the ending had no emotional impact for me. I didn’t hate this book, but I definitely didn’t think it was worth the hype.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★★★

My CP gifted this book to me for my birthday and I LOVED it. It was a very well-written, well-plotted, and well-placed read with a great cast of characters. I highly recommend this one!

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman ★☆☆☆☆

I saw this at Target several times before I finally decided to pick it up. Unfortunately, I just didn’t connect with this story the way I wanted to. There was nothing creepy or thrilling about this, and I felt like I was reading the same kind of thriller I’ve read dozens of times before.

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Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly ★☆☆☆☆

Another book I’m really disappointed by. I wanted to love this one, especially since it was in my anticipated reads, but I found this book to be so…I don’t know. The characters weren’t interesting, the plot was silly, and I discovered that I really don’t like my fantasy to blend in with realism. I just didn’t connect with this one, and had to force myself to finish.

The Babysitter by Sherly Brown ★☆☆☆☆

I bought this as a two-in-one book at Target. Unfortunately, this was another thriller that I just didn’t find to be “thrilling.” While the writing was fine and the story fast-paced, the biggest problem with this book was that the main twist is given away in the prologue. Our antagonist also gets their own POV, so there was never any mystery behind their actions or motivations, and it just didn’t sit well with me.

The Affair by Sheryl Brown ★★☆☆☆

Because this was part of the two-in-one book, I went ahead and read this one, too. While I liked it a little better than The Babysitter, this one still just wasn’t something I couldn’t connect with.

Party Games by R.L. Stine ★★★★☆

If you didn’t know, I love R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series. This is the first book in his new relaunch of the series, and I picked it up a couple years ago when it first came out, but never got around to reading. While yes the plot is a little predictable, and the writing geared at a younger audience, as a lifelong Fear Street fan I just couldn’t help but enjoy this book.

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Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica ★★★★☆

This is one of those rare books that I enjoyed almost every minute of. I liked the characters, the writing, the plot – almost everything. While I wished the ending would’ve been a little more impactful, I did enjoy this book a lot.

One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase ★★★☆☆

When I picked this up, I actually thought it was a thriller! Turns out it was Women’s Fiction, which I don’t normally read. Whoops! That said, I was enjoying this book – until the final twist. I just have so many conflicting feelings about how this book ended and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister ★★★★★

Like Every Last Lie, this is a rare thriller that I enjoyed from start to finish. The court-room drama, the twists, and the constant guessing kept me on my toes!

The Missing Season by Gillian French ★★☆☆☆

Oh man, I’m disappointed. I specifically picked this one up, thinking it would be perfect book for spooky season. A new girl moves to town only to learn about the urban legend of “The Mumbler”, a man who kidnaps and kills bad kids on Halloween? This should’ve had everything I wanted and instead…it didn’t. The urban legend plot is shoved the side instead, and most of the book revolves around Clara adjusting to her new life and finding friends. It was such a bore.

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A Game For All The Family by Sophie Hanna ★☆☆☆☆

Again – this book should’ve had everything I wanted in a thriller: a compelling mystery, intrigue, perhaps a ghost? No. Instead, I got a boring plotline with an annoying main character. I struggled to push myself through this one, and was skimming by the end.

Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young ★★★★☆

This has been one of my favorites of the year – and this book had everything I could’ve wanted! An interesting main characters, a boarding school, mysterious things happening, strange behavior…I really enjoyed this one! I struggle to give this one 5 stars since I wasn’t blown away, but I highly recommend reading!

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What I’m Watching:

My fiancé and I started our rewatch of Lost and we’re already halfway through Season 4. Gonna be honest and say that Lost is one of my all-time favorite shows! What’s yours?

I also watched You and I started watching Designated Survivor. I’ve never really been into political thrillers before, but this one intrigued me.

Currently Reading:

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How I Did: September & October Goals

At the beginning of September, I gave myself several goals:

• Finish writing Foreign Princess WIP
• Organize list of literary agents
• Get submission materials ready for Pitch Wars
• Submit to Pitch Wars
• Plot out adult fantasy WIP sequel

I’m happy to say I completed 4 out of 5 of these goals! The only one I didn’t get around to was plotting out my sequel, but I’m pretty sure that’ll still take a while. Since I finished my Foreign Princess WIP in early October, I decided to spend the rest of the month taking a writing break!

November Goals:

• Plot out new adult fantasy romance WIP
• Plot out YA Alice in Wonderland Retelling Idea
• Do one more small revision for Forbidden
•Begin querying Forbidden
• Reread my YA Thriller and decide if I want to pursue working on it or not
• Plot out Forbidden sequel


How is everyone’s fall? What was everyone up to while I was gone? Let me know!

XOXO – Devon

August Recap 2019

To be honest, I don’t have too much to say about August. Oh…except that I got engaged! My (now) fiancé and I went on a little vacation at the beginning of the month, and he popped the question! Of course, I said yes, but I am so excited! We’ve already begun planning the wedding, and I am finding myself overwhelmed. There is so much to planning a wedding that I didn’t even think about.

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What I Wrote:

After much debate, I decided to trunk my YA thief novel. I’d lost momentum and inspiration, and found myself uninterested in working on it anymore. As much as I didn’t want to, I had to listen to what my mind was saying. It was pointless to force myself to write something I wasn’t passionate about anymore.

That said, I did start writing my Foreign Princess WIP, and am currently 18,000 words in! I’m aiming for at least 70k – 80k for this one, and so far, it’s going well!

What I Read:

Total: 4

Wilder Girls by Rory Power ★★★☆☆

I was so eager to read this book and anxiously awaited its arrival. There were so many things about this book that I was loving: survival of the fittest, deadly diseases, mutation – all of it was great. This book should’ve been a five stars from me.
And then the ending came.

While I don’t want to spoil it, the only real thing I can say is that there was hardly any resolution. Almost none of the questions brought up in the beginning were answered. The book ended on a very weird note, and I haven’t heard any confirmation that the author will be writing a sequel. If this remains a standalone novel, I will be very disappointed.

I’ll Never Tell by Abigail Haas ★★★☆☆

I am so torn on how I feel about this book. The novel follows Anna, a high school senior who goes on vacation with her friends. When one of her friends is murdered, Anna is to blame. The novel jumps between different timelines – detailing Anna’s life in school before the vacation, the events during the vacation, and then Anna as she is detained in prison while awaiting trial.

There was so much I loved about this. It was a great read, and I read almost all of it in one sitting. But much like Wilder Girls, once I got to the end, I was stunned at the twist. While it got me totally off guard, there were a lot of loose ends. While I really enjoyed this book, I don’t know if I would read it again.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan ★★★☆☆

I wanted to love this book – and I was. I loved the characters, the world, the magic, the atmosphere – everything about this book pulled me in from the very beginning. And then: the end came. The end of this book felt very rushed; many things were left unanswered, certain magic rules set in place suddenly flew out the window. This was the kind of book that I loved reading in the moment, but once I put it down, I started to notice a lot of inconsistencies within the plot.

Likewise, after every book I finish reading, I read other people’s reviews to see if they felt the same way I did. In reading and watching reviews of this book, many things were brought to my attention regarding discrepancies within the plot, the world, the characters, and with the author herself. It’s clear that the author borrowed many ideas from other source material – which, while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since many authors do the same – the fact that so many different reviewers noticed almost plagiarized ideas made me feel a little uneasy.

All this said, I did enjoy this book enough to pick up the sequel. Considering this is the author’s debut novel, I’m willing to look past some of the issues and give her a second chance.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig ★★★★☆

I really, really enjoyed this book. Craig’s debut novel is a dark fantasy retelling of the classic fairytale Twelve Dancing Princesses. There was so much about this book from the characters, world-building and writing that I really enjoyed. I read 130 pages of this book in one sitting, and when I picked it up again, I could not put it down!

The only reason I’m not giving it five stars are because of a few little, nit-picky things that I can’t mention without spoiling the whole book. But otherwise, I highly recommend picking this one up!

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What I’m Watching:

The fiancé and I finished watching Dragon Ball Z Super, which we loved. I’ve been watching The Originals more as well, but as of right now, we have no idea what to watch together as a couple! Any recommendations?

Currently Reading:

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How I Did: August Goals

At the beginning of August, I gave myself several goals:

• Finish revising adult fantasy WIP
• Finish writing YA Thief Idea
• Send adult fantasy back out to beta readers
• Create blog schedule for September and October
• Start writing YA Foreign Princess Idea
• Start plotting new adult fantasy romance idea
• Research literary agents
• Revise query letter for adult fantasy WIP

I’m happy to say that I completed five and a half of these goals!

For starters, I not only finished revising my adult fantasy WIP, but I also sent it out to beta readers! I even researched literary agents and revised my query letter. It still needs work, but I’ve got a good start! I also created my blog schedule for September and already have them my posts scheduled and ready to go. And as I mentioned above, I started writing my Foreign Princess WIP! All in all, I feel pretty good about the goals I accomplished last month.

September Goals:

• Finish writing Foreign Princess WIP
• Organize list of literary agents
• Get submission materials ready for Pitch Wars
• Submit to Pitch Wars
• Plot out adult fantasy WIP sequel


How was everyone’s August? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

July Recap 2019

July has been a hard month. A lot has been going on in my personal life, and I’m finding myself both emotionally and creatively drained. On a high note, I began revising my adult fantasy romance WIP, Forbidden, and finished round one of revisions, which is amazing! But on the bad side of things, my mom had a mini-stroke and I had to take her to the hospital. She’s recovered well and luckily nothing too serious happened, but there’s still the worry of another stroke possibly happening again. On top of that, I started a new job! I’ll be working weekends, and still get several days during the week to dedicate to writing! But just between all the travel, the hospital visits, and the stress of the new job, I’m worn out. But I’m hoping I can bounce back soon!

What I Wrote:

Like I mentioned above, I finished round one of revising Forbidden. The previous draft was sitting at 128k, and I managed to cut it down to 117k! I’d still like to cut those extra 2,000 words, but I’ve made a plan on how to tackle the next few rounds of revisions. Otherwise, I really haven’t dedicated time to any of my other projects. All of my focus has been going towards these revisions instead, but I did get an idea for a new WIP that I’m very excited begin plotting.

What I Read:

Total: 8

My Sweet Audrina/Whitefern by V.C. Andrews ★☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

My Sweet Audrina ★☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Whitefern ★☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

If I could say two words to describe these books, it would be: just don’t.

Seriously.

I saw this two-in-one book on the shelf at Walmart one day and thought it sounded intriguing, so I decided to pick it up, thinking it would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, I bit off more than I could chew, and found myself spiraling into a book series I wish I’d never discovered.

The story follows seven-year-old Audrina, who after her older sister – also named Audrina – was brutally murdered, struggles to become “The First and Best Audrina” instead of “The Second and Worst Audrina”. As Audrina grows and lives her life, she uncovers the dark secrets that her family has been keeping from her. Whitefern, the sequel, follows Audrina as an adult, as she struggles to come to terms with the secrets she’s learned.

The premise itself is very interesting – but the problem is everything inside the book. It’s chock-full of melodrama, long, drawn-out scenes, and abusive themes and messages such as:

Trigger Warning:

*Hints of pedophilia
*Spousal Abuse
*Verbal and Physical Abuse
*Child Abuse
*Rape/Sexual Assault
*Misandry
*Misogyny
*Disability Abuse
*Substance Abuse
*And much more

The worst part about reading these two books is that they’ve put me in a very negative headspace, and many of the negative messages inside have burrowed their way into my brain. I definitely did not feel good or excited while reading these, and I wouldn’t recommend these books to anyone.

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The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins ★★★★☆

The Hunger Games ★★★★★
Catching Fire ★★★★☆
Mockingjay ★★★★☆

Okay, I have a dirty little secret: I’ve never read The Hunger Games. Until now. The books came out when I was in high school I think, but for some reason, I just never picked them up. Even though I’ve seen the movies and knew the plot o each book, when my boyfriend asked me to read them (since he has the box set) I said sure!

Even though I knew what was going to happen with every scene, I still found myself completely enthralled in the world of Panem. I loved the writing, the story, and found myself constantly on the edge of my seat in anticipation. I really don’t have anything negative to say about the series – except when it comes to the final book, Mockingjay. I did find Mockingjay, at times, to be rather confusing to read when it came down to the war and battle scenes, but other than that, the series was a very satisfying and fulfilling read.

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To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo ★★★☆☆

I was really loving this book, until about halfway through. Something shifted in the middle of this book. Everything about the tone, the pacing, the characters – things took a very drastic turn that I just couldn’t get behind, and I found myself growing bored as I got closer to the end. By the time I did reach the final fifty pages or so, I was skimming just to get this book over with. Unfortunately, the plot became very unrealistic and cliché towards the end, and it wasn’t my cup of tea.

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks ★★★☆☆

I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t love it either. The writing was compelling, and I was really interested in the story. Even the twists and turns I didn’t expect! But as I was drawing closer to the end, I kept thinking there was going to be some big, mind-blowing twist, but there really wasn’t. While the story hooked me and kept me reading, I just wasn’t satisfied with the ending.

Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau ★★★★☆

This was one of my anticipated releases for this year, and it was definitely worth the hype! I loved the characters and the world, particularly the magic system – it was all so unique and interesting to read! I don’t have really any complaints about this book, other than I felt like the ending was just a tad rushed, but other than that, this was an enjoyable read! If you love fantasy romance, you should definitely pick this one up!

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre ★★☆☆☆

I wanted to love this book, I really did. Everything about this premise sounded right up my alley. While the writing is nice and the story is fast-paced and an easy read, it felt like the author had multiple ideas that she wanted to write about, and decided to mesh them all together in this one book. Unfortunately, the difference in the ideas just didn’t work well together for me. There’s so much going on in this book, and not nearly enough time is spent developing each plot point. The ending wasn’t fulfilling, and there were multiple plot holes and subplots that felt neglected. Despite my complaints, I didn’t hate this book, but I feel like it was wildly miss-marketed. This is a really close three stars, but in the end, I just wasn’t happy with this one.

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What I’m Watching:

I finally finished The Fosters, which I was very sad to see end! My boyfriend and I also watched Netflix’s Castlevania series, which was actually pretty good, and I’m very excited for Season 3! We also finished The Tudors, which was very good, and I definitely recommend watching it. We’ve started rewatching Dragon Ball Super in preparation for the last two volumes to be released on DVD, and as always, DBZ Super is a fun time, and an amazing show.

Currently Reading:

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How I Did: July Goals

Back in July, I gave myself several goals:

• Revise adult fantasy WIP
• Finish writing YA Thief Idea
• Send adult fantasy WIP back out to readers
• Make a final decision about going back to school
• Create my blog schedule for August and September

Unfortunately, I only managed to complete one of these, which was revising my adult fantasy WIP! Since I still have a few more rounds of revision I want to complete, it probably won’t go back out to beta’s until August! I also didn’t finish writing my YA thief idea since I was so preoccupied with these revisions. I did create my August blog post schedule, but not my September one, so I guess I completed half the goal.

And then there’s the school thing. Ugh. Ever since I started posting monthly recaps, I’ve been talking about wanting to go back to school – and I did. But at this point in time, I have no debt, and I’m scared of getting into a ton of debt. Have any of you gone back to school later in life? How did that turn out?

August Goals:

• Finish revising adult fantasy WIP
• Finish writing YA Thief Idea
• Send adult fantasy back out to beta readers
• Create blog schedule for September and October
• Start writing YA Foreign Princess Idea
• Start plotting new adult fantasy romance idea
• Research literary agents
• Revise query letter for adult fantasy WIP


How was everyone’s July? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

June Recap 2019

Today’s my birthday! I officially turn twenty-five today, and that means I’m five years away from being thirty. Wow. It’s so hard to wrap my head around. I feel like when you’re a teenager, thinking about your twenties seem so far away, but every year just goes by faster and faster. June went by in a blur, but I’m still feeling pretty down about certain things in my life. I’m hoping July is a better month!

What I Wrote:

Back in May, I finished outlining three new projects. My original plan was to bounce between all three and work on them all simultaneously, but after more thought, I decided against doing so. I had a feeling that pushing myself to write three different stories would only both confuse me, and mess with my writing.

However, I did start writing my YA Thief idea, and it’s currently sitting at 42,000 words! I feel strongly that I’m going to hit my 80k word count goal, and while this project has been pretty hard to write, I’m falling more in love with it every day.

What I Read:

Total: 3

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon ★★★★☆

I’ve really been in the mood for a ghost story, so when I googled “ghost stories” and saw this new release on Goodreads, I just had to pick it up. The story follows Helen and Nate, a couple who are building their dream house – but little do they realize that the land they’ve bought may be haunted.

While I did really enjoy this book, I had two gripes with it: one was that it just didn’t feel spooky enough. I was hoping for a little more fright and chills, but I unfortunately didn’t get any of that. My second gripe is that it took me forever to finish this book; I normally finish a book within three-to-four days, but this took me over a week to read. I’m not sure if it was the pacing, or the fact that words were rather small and the pages really long, so my brain was tricked into believing there were more words than there actually were.

All in all, I did really enjoy the mystery and the characters within this book. If you’re looking for a ghost story that’s not too scary, then this might be the perfect book for you!

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson ★★★★☆

This is the first novel I’ve read by Margaret Rogerson, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The world and characters were rich and complex, and I love the magic system. I also loved that this was a standalone fantasy, which I don’t feel like there are enough of. My only major issues with the book (besides a few nitpicky personal things) were that the pacing felt off, and there was quite a bit of purple prose.

By the last hundred pages of this book, I kept wondering when it was going to end. While the story was amazing, I definitely felt it dragged on just a tad too long. There were also many instances of far too heavy-handed description, which would pull me out of the story. However, the ending made up for a lot of the issues I had, and this was still a really beautiful story.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman ★★★★☆

Reading Ms. Herman’s debut novel has really made me miss contemporary fantasy in the same vein of Beautiful Creatures. The writing was simplistic, yet beautiful, and I did enjoy the story and characters within the novel. There’s not much more I can say, other than that while reading this book, I felt transported back in time to my high school days, and I really miss contemporary and paranormal fantasy being on the shelves.

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What I’m Watching:

I’m halfway through the final season of The Fosters, and will be sad to finish the series. Once I do, I’m not sure what I do watch next. Let me know if you have any recommendations!

Otherwise, the boyfriend and I are on the final season of The Tudors, and I’ve been really enjoying it.

Currently Reading:

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How I Did: June Goals

Back in June, I gave myself several goals:

• Create my July blogging schedule
• Finally apply to school
• Begin writing YA Fantasy Thief Idea
• Begin writing Secret Project Idea
• Begin writing Sci-Fi Idea

I’m happy to see that I completed two of these. As I mentioned before, I decided not to write all three WIP’s at once, so I haven’t got around to writing the Secret Project idea or the Sci-Fi idea. I also created my July blogging schedule; unfortunately, I still have not applied for school. I really feel like I need to go and get a degree, but I’m so worried about the cost of going back.

Have any of you gone back to school later in life? How did that go for you, and do you regret it? Let me know in the comments!

July Goals:

I’m very excited to say that all of my beta readers finally got back to me, and I’ve analyzed all of their feedback and read through my adult fantasy WIP once again with a fresh pair of eyes. I’m ready to dive into revisions, and that’s definitely one of my new goals this month:

• Revise adult fantasy WIP
• Finish writing YA Thief Idea
• Send adult fantasy WIP back out to readers
• Make a final decision about going back to school
• Create my blog schedule for August and September

Coming Up:

Since I’m about to start revisions, and I have three projects I want to work on, I’m going to be taking a step back from the blog. I have several posts scheduled to upload for the rest of July, but I’ll be taking most of August off to really focus on my writing. I still plan on uploading at least two blog posts, but I hope to be back in full swing in September!


How’d everyone’s June go? Are you excited for the summer?

Let me know!

XOXO – Devon

May Recap 2019

May was a hard month for me. Between what feels like constant kidney stone pain, some personal things going, and just feeling stuck in life, I’ve had a rough month. I’m really hoping for a fresh start in June!

What I Wrote:

Well, I didn’t get any writing done; but I did finish outlining three of my new projects, which I’m very excited for! I have big hopes and ideas for these projects, and am so excited to start writing them!

What I Read:

Total: 7

Shadow Crown by Kristen Martin ★★☆☆☆

I read Ms. Martin’s first novel, The Alpha Drive, last year and was really unimpressed. I felt there were far too many problems with the novel and that it needed a lot more work before being published. That said, I debated for a long time on whether or not I wanted to buy the first novel in her newest series, but finally caved and decided to buy.

By far, Shadow Crown is leaps and bounds ahead of her first novel. The writing is much smoother, the plot is less jumpy, and the story is more focused. However, Shadow Crown is not without err.

The novel is littered with grammatical errors, the use of modern language, and military time. Phrases like “firing like missiles” and “awesome” are used. The characters act without much reason or motivation, and the entire inciting incident only happens because our main characters makes a decision that is completely out of character. We’re constantly told things instead of shown them, and there is hardly any world-building.

While Shadow Crown is much better than The Alpha Drive, I have to give this two stars. It’s clear Ms. Martin is improving as a writer, but I still think she needs work.

Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline ★★★☆☆

This is my first Lisa Scottoline novel, and I’m really torn on how I feel about it. The writing was absolutely beautiful, and the world was vivid. The characters were interesting and complex, and every voice was unique and easy to follow.

The novel is divided into two parts, following the past and present. The past part of the novel was by far my favorite, and the mystery was well constructed and amazingly written. However, the present part of the novel – which takes place twenty years later – felt like it fell into the thriller cliché a little too much. The killer was outed easily, but the final, end twist was unexpected and it really made this novel.

But between the beautiful writing, there were far too many characters to follow whose POV’s felt unnecessary to the overall plot. One character also keeps a secret from his spouse, and has a choice to revel this secret, but he choose not to. This character decision was something I could not get behind, and it’s one of the reasons I have to take a star off.

Someone Knows is a really close four stars, but I would definitely pick up another Lisa Scottoline novel and give the author another shot.

The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy by Jenny Han ★★★☆☆

The Summer I Turned Pretty ★★★★☆
It’s Not Summer Without You ★★★☆☆
We’ll Always Have Summer ★★☆☆☆

I’m rating the entire trilogy three stars, but I’ve given each book in the series an individual rating as well. After reading, I have some major thoughts on these books.

On one hand, I loved the first book. I really connected to the main character, Belly, and identified with her struggles as she grew into a young woman. The writing was simple, yet beautiful, and I didn’t expect to enjoy the first novel as much as I did.

Unfortunately, my enjoyment for this series only faltered as I went on. The quality of the writing stayed the same, but it was the two love interest’s behaviors and actions that made me enjoy the series less and less. I didn’t agree with Belly choosing either love interest, not after the way they treated her throughout the series, and by the end I found myself rooting for Belly to find her own independence. Unfortunately, the books ended in a way I just wasn’t happy with.

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An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena ★★★☆☆

I’ve read both of Shari Lapena’s previous works and enjoyed them, so when I saw she’d released a new book, I picked it up without hesitation.

An Unwanted Guest is clearly inspired by Agatha Christie’s novel, And Then There Were None, and there’s even a slight mention of the novel within the book itself. Lapena does well to make sure her own novel is original and interesting, and the premise really pulled me in.

What really fell flat for me is that the end twist – while I didn’t see it coming – just didn’t grab me the way I hoped.

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald ★★★★★

Okay, I LOVED this book. The writing was beautiful, the characters were complex, and the story was fast-paced and so gripping. The story was unique, and I love the parallels between past and present. This book brought tears to my eyes in the end, and I was satisfied with the journey and ending of the amazing novel. I will definitely be picking up Christina McDonald’s next book!

What I’m Watching:

Well, May marked the series finale of Game of Thrones. I admit that I was crushed by the ending. I’d been rooting for Daenerys to win the Iron Throne since day one, so seeing what happened to her was so disappointing.

The boyfriend and I also stopped watching The Magicians, which was a bit disappointing, but we just didn’t have any interest anymore. On the flip side, we’ve begun watching Psyche and The Tudors, which we’re both really enjoying.

I am devastated that Netflix took off Switched at Birth. I was halfway through season two and loving it. Since they’ve taken it off, I’ve been watching The Fosters, and am already halfway through season three!

Currently Reading:

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How I Did: May Goals:

Back in May, I gave myself several goals:

• Outline YA Fantasy Thief Idea
• Outline Secret Project Idea
• Actually make a plan to go back to school
• Create my June blogging schedule
• Begin writing YA Fantasy Thief Idea
• Begin writing Secret Project Idea

I’m proud to say I completed three of these! I outlined both projects and created my June blogging schedule. I wanted to come up with a plan to go back to school, but unfortunately, I had some decisions to make that I was holding back on making. I’m proud to say I have made a final decision, and am excited to move forward with my education!

I really wanted to begin writing my two new projects in May, but wasn’t able to, considering it took me most of the month to plan both novels! I also decided to add a third new project to my plate as well, which I’m proud to say I also finished outlining!

June Goals:

• Create my July blogging schedule
• Finally apply to school
• Begin writing YA Fantasy Thief Idea
• Begin writing Secret Project Idea
• Begin writing Sci-Fi Idea

What’s Coming Up On the Blog:

I have a brand new series planned to be released this month, so stayed tuned for that!

I’ve also been considering doing more full-length book reviews instead of only these smaller reviews on my Monthly Recaps. Do you guys want to see more in-depth book reviews? Let me know!


How’d everyone else’s May go? What goals do you have planned for June?

XOXO – Devon

April Recap 2019

Well, April is over and May is here. The weather where I live has been up and down from good to bad. We even had a snow storm a couple days ago. I am so sick of this rainy weather, and am eagerly awaiting the sunny, warm days.

April started out a lot like March did. I was recovering from my kidney stone but continued to have pain, and ended up in the hospital once again. I’m feeling a lot better now after tons of rest, but I finally made an appointment to see a urologist to try and figure out what the heck is going on with my body.

I also finished writing my YA Thriller, Little Lost Girls! It ended up at 54k, which was 10k-20k shorter than I had anticipated writing. I’m not too bummed about it though, since it gives me a lot of room to really expand on the mystery and the characters.

Overall, April has been an okay month for me. I’m proud of myself for writing another book, but there’s still a ton of work ahead.

What I Wrote:

I am so happy to say that I finished writing my YA Thriller, Little Lost Girls, which took me about twenty days to write. Camp Nano really helped me shoot for meeting a daily word count goal. Unfortunately, I’m not too thrilled with the way it turned out. It needs a lot of work to get into shape, and I’m not rushing to dive into rewrites or revisions just yet. I have some other projects I really want to write first.

What I Read:

Total: 8

They All Fall Down by Roxanna St. Claire ★★☆☆☆

I actually posted a full review of this to Goodreads, which you can read here. I went into this book with high expectations, expecting a thriller with a lot of unique twists and turns. While the author did deliver on that – there are actually three different twists thrown at you – the ending is what failed. The final twist, while unique, is highly implausible and doesn’t make any sense. Your suspension of disbelief really needs to be thrown out the window to enjoy this book, and unfortunately, I didn’t.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart ★★★★★

Wow, wow, wow. I picked up this book on a whim because I’d heard such good things. But this novel did not disappoint! While I wasn’t a fan of the writing in the beginning, somewhere around page fifty I suddenly got hooked into the plot. The characters were great, the twists and turns, the story – everything about this book was amazing.

People Like Us by Dana Mele ★★☆☆☆

I love a good boarding school mystery, but this one fell flat. While I liked the premise, I had a hard time connecting to our main character, Kay. Much of the plot revolves around the characters ability to generally be jerks to one another, and the mystery itself was just kind of…boring? The first half of the novel was rather fast-paced and exciting, but somewhere in the middle, it really slowed down and became less than enjoyable. And while I didn’t see the twist coming, I was just too bored to be hooked any longer.

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Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser ★★★★☆

I’m a little torn on how I feel about this book. On one hand, I did enjoy reading it. I liked the characters and the story. But on the other hand, I feel like this was marketed as a thriller, and it really…wasn’t? The book focuses more on domestic abuse and the realities of what can happen in a situation like that. Because of this, the end twist was pretty obvious, and there wasn’t much of a mystery. Had I known going in that this book was more about abuse, I think I would give it five stars.

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian ★★★★☆

The sequel, Lady Smoke, came out earlier this year, and I really wanted to reread Ash Princess before reading it. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I love this book. I like the characters and the world-building is solid. I appreciate that our main character, Theo, uses her mind more than she does magic. Seeing a character only rely on their wits and not be some super badass assassin or magic wielder is refreshing to read.

All that said, the reason I haven’t given this five stars is because of the ending. There’s a particular twist at the end that I’m not a fan of. Reading it this time around I wasn’t bothered by it, but the first time I finished the book, I was really underwhelmed and a little upset. Ash Princess is still a gem, and I would definitely give it a read.

Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian ★★★☆☆

I was originally going to give this book four stars, but after some reflection and reading other reviews, I decided to lower it to three. As much as I loved Ash Princess, I really think Lady Smoke suffered hard from second-book syndrome. While I thought the initial set-up was great, the rest of the book suffered from a saggy middle. The entire plotline about Theo trying to find a husband who could provide her an army pretty much becomes null and void in the end, and if you took it out of the book entirely, I don’t think it would have suffered.

On top of that, I was most disappointed about what happened to another character. In Ash Princess, something happens to another character and I was eagerly awaiting to see what would come of her in this book. Unfortunately, she doesn’t show up until the very end, and even then we don’t get to see much of her. I feel like the author really missed out by not including this character’s own POV in the novel, which would’ve been so interesting to explore.

In the end, I’m pretty disappointed by Lady Smoke, but I’ll still be reading the final installment in the series when it releases.

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Sea Witch by Sarah Henning DNF’ed

I’d heard mixed reviews of this book, but as a big fan of the Little Mermaid as a kid, I was excited to dive in. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t connect with anything about this book. The writing style never pulled me in, and I couldn’t connect to the characters. On top of that, this story was just…boring. I never felt like anything really pulled the plot along, and the magic system and world-building didn’t make much sense. I got halfway through this book in one sitting, but when I put it down and began dreading coming back to it, I knew it was time to put it aside. Maybe one day I’ll come back to it though.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen ★★★★☆

My mom actually let me borrow this book some time ago. She’s an avid thriller and horror reader, so her recommending it made me even more excited to read. That said, I read this novel in one sitting, and couldn’t put it down. The writing was beautiful and I loved the detail and interwoven mysteries of the plot.

My only gripe is that the final, big end twist just didn’t blow me away like I was hoping for. While I definitely didn’t see it coming, I just sort of shrugged me shoulders and thought, “That’s it?” On top of that, I’m a little over the “husband-who’s-too-good-to-be-true-is-actually-an-abuser-” plotline that seems to be surfacing a lot in thrillers lately.

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What I’m Watching:

The boyfriend and I finally caught up on all seven seasons of Game of Thrones, and he got HBO so now we can watch the last season live! We didn’t have it when the first episode of season 8 aired, but we got to watch episode two! I’m not going to lie that it felt good to watch and be in the loop with everyone else. I’m totally rooting for Daenerys to take the throne – she’s been my #1 since the beginning. Who are you rooting for?

Beside Games of Thrones, we also started watching The Magicians, which we’re both really enjoying.

Unfortunately, I gave up on watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I just couldn’t continue watching with the strange plotlines, the weird characters – I don’t know. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

I did start watching Switched at Birth. I got halfway through season two last year, and for some reason I stopped watching, I think just due to time. I’m almost finished with season one, and am really enjoying it so far.

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How I Did: April Goals:

At the end of April, I gave myself several goals:

• 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

I only managed to complete two of these. While I didn’t quite write 50k for Little Lost Girls, I did end up finishing the book. I also managed to come up with a list of blog topics and have been planning out my blogging schedule every month.

Unfortunately, I didn’t end up outlining my three other projects, or really figure out how to go back to school. I’ve been feeling pretty uncreative lately, and took the rest of April off to try and refill my creative well. I might take a few more days off in May, since I still don’t feel ready to outline the new projects, but I’m definitely beginning to get more ideas!

May Goals:

• Outline YA Fantasy Thief Idea
• Outline Secret Project Idea
• Actually make a plan to go back to school
• Create my June blogging schedule
• Begin writing YA Fantasy Thief Idea
• Begin writing Secret Project Idea

I’ve got my fingers crossed that May will be an even more productive month! What are your goals for May?

XOXO – Devon

 

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