Tag Archives: monthly recap

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

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.

Currently Reading:51NFXDZzifL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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