Monthly Recap: August 2018

You know those times when you have a heaping to do list that just grows longer and longer and you never have enough time in the day? That’s how August was for me. Sometimes life just gets in the way and restructures your to do list a little, making some priorities absolutely must-dos while others get pushed down.

But that being said, I still made forward progress. And the coming months are going to be just as crazy, so I better get used to it!

What I Read

GRAND TOTAL: 6

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning ★★★★☆
Mermaids and sirens are all the rage in the industry these days, but when I heard about an origin story of Ursula from The Little Mermaid, I started counting down the days until I could read. And it didn’t disappoint.

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First of all, Henning is a spectacular writer. Her prose is just gorgeous. And it really contributed to the tone of the novel. Furthermore, the world building – which felt like a fantasy but was set in very real Denmark – was breathtaking from the scenery and food to the customs and history. Knowing all of it was so well-researched added a level of sophistication.

I’ll admit the first half was a little slow. Then the stakes built and built, racing toward a very climactic ending. The romances felt a little forced, definitely outshone by the strong friendships described.

But the real question is whether we received a satisfying explanation for how Ursula became Ursula. The answer is yes, and it was very unique. I wasn’t expecting the several different twists at the end. And the final pages had me gripped with emotion and expectation for how the story we know comes to pass.

Royally Matched by Emma Chase 
We got to meet and fall in love with Prince Henry in the first book of this series – which I read and reviewed last month – and now he gets his own story. And I am just as obsessed with this new installment as I was the first.

Henry is the reckless, selfish, playboy prince who is now stuck becoming King. Reeling at the responsibility, he signs up to be the star in a Bachelor-type reality show only to fall for Sarah – the shy, bookish sister of one of the contestants.

It was everything I loved about the first book but more. While I loved Nicholas and Olivia, I connected with these characters in a crazy way . They were so much more than the rake and the virgin as advertised. Each are both wounded in serious ways and watching them grow together was an amazing journey. I especially loved Sarah’s way of using literary references to describe real life. As a fellow book nerd, I empathized with this so much.

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The last few chapters really surprised me – another testament to Chase’s ability to take a romance and still install a twist before the happy ending – and while I was unsure at first,  it played out well. If you are a romance fan, this is the series for you! And for me, the third book is next.

Royally Endowed by Emma Chase ★★★★☆
I went into this with really high expectations due to the first two novels and the prospect of forbidden love between the princess’ sister and her bodyguard. I still very much enjoyed it, but this was probably my least favorite in the series.

This one was a lot dirtier than the first two. Not in the sex scenes – which are just as steamy – but in the language itself, and I found myself a little turned off.

And while I am usually a big fan of slow burn, this was almost too much. The first half takes place over five years, and while we really get to know these characters AND feel the tension between them, it felt a little too jumpy and synopsis-y to me.

But when we finally get to present day, it picks up beautifully. For a lighthearted romance, there are several rather serious/sinister topics included which I enjoyed, and the scenes in the aftermath of the fire (NO SPOILERS) had me in tears.

Logan and Ellie are two very flawed but believable and likable characters, and I loved getting to see how they fit into the royal universe Chase has created. Here’s hoping for more stories!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han ★★★★☆
So I’m a little late to this train, but when I saw that the movie was coming out on Netflix, I read quickly to catch up. And this sweet teen rom-com should be on everyone’s list!

Lara Jean writes secret love letters to each boy she has a crush on and hides them in her closet. Until the day they get mysteriously mailed… First off, I would’ve died of embarrassment and switched school, cities even countries. But Lara Jean handles it pretty well, and it even leads to a fake relationship with letter recipient, Peter Kavinsky, who wants to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. It also helps hide the fact that Lara Jean is in love with her sister’s boyfriend. And that Peter Kavinsky is one of the cutest boys ever.

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This is very much a YA in that the voice is young and somewhat naive/immature. But I found the whole story to be absolutely adorable. The family dynamics are one of the best I’ve seen in YA, and the romance is sweet but realistic.

I loved every minute of it up until the final page, and the ending was super disappointing! I think it’s resolved in the sequel, but it felt like a cheap shot.

The movie is just as if not MORE adorable, so definitely go watch it ASAP! And the ending is much more satisfying.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir ★★☆☆☆
I read and enjoyed the first book in this series last month, but I have to say I struggled to make my way through the sequel.

It picks up exactly where Ember in the Ashes left off, with several exciting chapters of Elias and Laia on the run. Unfortunately that about sums up the book: Elias and Laia on the run. They bulk of the novel was their journey to break Laia’s brother out of prison (which is somewhat unbelievable in and of itself – two people against an entire prison?!), and the pace was just too inconsistent with a very sagging middle.

That being said, I still adore Elias, and his story is fascinating in this novel. From meeting his adoptive family to seeing his adventures in the otherworldly Waiting Place, his POV continued to be compelling. The villains also held up with a fascinating new addition in the Warden and additional info on the Nightbringer including a jaw-dropping twist.

But the other two POVs fell really flat for me. Laia makes mistake after mistake without really taking responsibility, and her involvement in not one but two shallow insta-love type relationships really wore on me. Helene’s storyline was basically one big whining dilemma of whether she could or couldn’t kill Elias. I sympathized, but it got old real quick.

Overall, I was very underwhelmed. I can only hope the third book has more of the consistency and magic of the first.

The Siren by Kiera Cass ★★★★☆
Like I said earlier, sirens and mermaids are the hot thing in publishing right now, and though this is a few years old, it’s one of the better-executed ones I’ve read.

Kahlen was supposed to die in a shipwreck when she was nineteen, but the Ocean saved her and transformed her into one of her servants. Think Davy Jones but not quite as brutal. Each siren must serve a 100 year sentence of singing to cause shipwrecks and feed the Ocean. A pretty cool concept right? The Ocean as a character in and of itself was really interesting, and she is enigmatic in that you can’t decide whether you love her or hate her. Kahlen and her sisters are also very well-developed with unique personalities, flaws and strengths.

This is also one of the rare occasions where insta-love didn’t bother me as much as it usually does. It’s a very sweet romance that is built on friendship and communication instead of lust which was a nice change. And the several different obstacles throughout kept the pace moving along at a nice clip while still allowing room for lots of character development.

Cass’ books are pure fluff – and I mean that in the nicest possible way. There is not a lot of depth – although there were some beautiful themes in this novel – but they are so lovely to just sit back and enjoy.

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August Reads

What I Wrote

As I said above, August was full of interference, and my day job took up a lot of time and energy this month (how dare they, right?). The high stress levels and longer hours led to a decrease in my writing time – but I am not going to beat myself up about it!

While my original goal was to finish Act 2 of The Blood Between Us (which I guess would be approximately 30K words), I only made it to about 18K. Still not bad though! I also outlined the remainder of the novel, so now all I have to do is sit down and write.

In other news, 700 Main is still out on submission, and I have so appreciated all the prayers, finger crossing and sweet messages! Keep it coming!

Coming Up

The middle of September marks the beginning of a crazy fall full of travel, and while I am PUMPED, I also am determined to get the first draft of The Blood Between Us done before that starts.

Which means I have twelve more days to draft ten chapters…

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Can I do it? Only time will tell. But my upcoming travels does mean I will have a good chunk of reading on planes, trains and automobiles.  So here is my September list. Hopefully I can finally catch up on some of these books that have already been on TBR list for a while!

  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
  • Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
  • The Towering Sky by Katherine McGee
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I am also hoping to get back to blogging on a regular basis BUT I need your help! What are some topics you’d love to hear more about? Share in the comments below!

 

4 thoughts on “Monthly Recap: August 2018

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