Monthly Recap: March 2019

Is it just me or does March always feel like the busiest month of the year?

Between grueling revisions, my company’s acquisition, a best friend’s wedding, my birthday weekend and building a dining room table, my head is spinning. And April shows no sign of slowing down.

But they are all wonderful things – including the books I was able to read – so I can’t complain!

 

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What I Read

GRAND TOTAL: 4

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I am not quite sure how to even put into words how much I love this book. Holy moly. It’s told through two POVs – famed superstar Evelyn Hugo as she reflects back on her life, and that of Monique Grant, the write who has been hired to pen her biography.

I can’t go into too much detail on the plot without giving anything away, and trust me, you’ll want to be surprised. But everything about it compelled me to keep reading: the differing definitions of success and failure, the mask we wear to the outside world, the glitz and glamour (as well as the dark sides) of old Hollywood, and the mystery of why Evelyn chose a stranger to write her story.

Evelyn may be one of my new favorite literary characters – even as morally grey as she is. trust me, pick up this book. You’ll be as hooked as I was.

A Curse So Dark and Lovely by Brigid Kemmerer ★☆☆
I am a sucker for any time of Beauty and the Beast retelling, but while I enjoyed the book overall, this one fell a little flat for me. Our heroine Harper is kidnapped and brought to the world of Ember where a cursed prince is fated to transform into a monster and ruin his kingdom unless he can get someone to fall in love with him.

I think the characters themselves were very well developed. Harper’s strength and her experience with cerebral palsy was moving. I loved that she faced her challenges head on and jumped right into helping to save Ember. The prince also had a fascinating mindset – his trauma was done beautifully. But the real scene stealer was his commander, Grey. In fact, he was so interesting and enigmatic, he almost outshone everyone else.

But while I enjoyed the characters, the pacing was unbalanced. Overall, I think the book was just too long and definitely experienced a saggy middle. I would have preferred more time be dedicated to Harper’s life in Washington DC as that seemed to just be thrown in for no real reason.

I will continue this series – mainly for Grey’s POV – and hope book 2 picks up the pace a little!

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover ★★★★★
This book absolutely wrecked me. Similarly to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I can’t really tell you what it’s about without ruining it. But we have a florist shop, a sexy surgeon, a bit of a love triangle, and some absolutely devastating consequences.

I’ve always loved books that take a social justice issue and fictionalize a surrounding story. But rarely have I seen it down as well as this one. Not only was Hoover’s writing style, voice, and pacing on par, the subject matter was so elegantly nuanced. We often wonder why women are so confused, so reluctant, so scared to leave an abusive partner. Hoover shows us the answer, and while it’s sometimes hard to read, it’s extremely powerful. And the characters… I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced such real fictional characters.

I cried, I laughed, I binge-read. A new favorite for my shelf.

Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym Martineau
As one of my most anticipated 2019 releases, I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this book from Netgalley, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Advertised as Fantastic Beasts meets Assassin’s Creed, it definitely lived up to expectations.

After the littlest bit of a rocky start – characters and world-building was introduced a wee bit abruptly – I fell in love with the uniqueness of this fantasy romance. Leena is a beast charmer who has been exiled from her community, and getting to know her sassy side as well as her compassion for her beasts was great character building. The beasts themselves were my favorite part – Martineau has a wonderful imagination.

I also adored our love interest, Noc, and his band of assassins. All had such unique personalities, and I can’t wait to read more about them. The pacing was spot on, the dark moments were gut-wrenching, and the romance had me swooning. Definitely add this adventure to your list – it comes out June 25!

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What I Wrote

March was a month chock full of revisions for The Blood Between Us, and while there have been up’s and down’s, I am really happy with how it’s shaping up. I think I finally got the romance subplot where it needed to be – which was arguably my biggest worry. And my main character’s internal arc is falling into place nicely.

I’ve worked through chapter 30, so I have fifteen more to revise before my deadline of April 12. Then it’s off to beta readers, my coach and my agent.

But first, I’m excited to share a little sneak peek with you guys – a new scene I’ve added. Yes, I realize I should be cutting words not adding more… Shh. Enjoy!

I shuffled to a stop and bent over at the waist to catch my breath. “What are we doing here?”

Dax brought his arms over his head, stretching from side to side and exposing a strip of toned muscle beneath the edge of his shirt. “I need to pick something up.”

“We’re on an errand? So now I know why you really wanted to go on a run.”

He ignored me and pushed through the door to the voodoo shop.

At first glance, it looked just like Siggy’s. Walls of jars, shelves and bins selling various voodoo supplies. Wildly colorful and cramped.

But upon closer inspection, it couldn’t have been more different. This was real where Siggy’s had just been a cheap counterfeit.

There were no fake coins, no plastic statues of saints, no t-shirts for sale. I could smell that the herbs were real and fresh, and bundles of them and strings of garlic hung in the doorways. All of the products – soaps, bath salts, lotions, oils – looked handmade and local.

Show globes – glass vases of various sizes and shapes – sat in the front window, marking the store as an apothecary as well. Each vase was filled with a different colored liquid, said to show the skill of the pharmacist in mixing such perfect colors. But the majority of the globes were tinged red which unnerved me. The color to warn newcomers of plague or danger.

An elderly black woman stood behind the counter, hunched over, extracting venom from a scorpion with a long needle. I cringed and stepped a safe distance away.

“What exactly are you picking up?”

Dax ignored me again. The woman didn’t.

She looked up at us as if she’d just noticed we were there. “Ah, you’re back.” Then she turned and passed through a curtain of beads to the back of the shop.

 “Weird,” I muttered under my breath and began to wander through the shop. When I made it to a wall of essential – and magical oils – something caught my eye.

I picked up a bottle and read the label. “The Seven Sisters of New Orleans.” I turned to Dax and held it up for him to see. “Who are the seven sisters?”

He walked toward me and took the bottle from my hand to look closer. “I don’t know.”

I gasped. “There’s something you don’t know?”

He shot me a dirty look. “The sass is unnecessary, Dubray.”

I grabbed the bottle back from him, squinted at the label, and read aloud. “The seven sisters of New Orleans were daughters of the infamous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and have passed their knowledge down through generations – straight into your hands.” I cocked my head. “Marie Laveau had seven daughters? I thought – “

The clinking of beads drew my attention to the shop owner who had returned. “Marketing mumbo jumbo,” she spat, her voice a harsh croak. “Everyone who’s anyone knows Marie Laveau only had the one… Only one direct descendant. One true Queen.”

Coming Up

Like I said above, I will be finishing up revisions in the first two weeks of April and then taking a nice break for the rest of the month while I figure out my next project. Will it be The Blood Between Us‘s sequel? State of Grace rewrite? Something totally new?

Who knows!

I am also hoping to get some reading done – I have so many books waiting on my shelves that I am extremely excited about!

  • One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
  • Enchantee by Gita Trelease
  • Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Moonlight and Whiskey by Tricia Lynne
  • The Night Villa by Carol Goodman

I also have some fun blog posts planned this month, so stay tuned and let me know if there’s any topics you’d like me to cover!

Happy Spring!

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