Well I am a little late in publishing this week, but that just tells you how crazy things have been! I started off the month in book revision hell (which I’ll get to down below) and ended it with a whirlwind trip to Vegas and a week in Dallas house-sitting for my parents and seeing old friends and family and reading some fantastic books…
What I Read
GRAND TOTAL: 4
You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn ★★★★★
Rarely can one book evoke every single feeling on the planet from tears and laughter to fear and swooning. This book does it. Here we meet Clay Coolidge – badboy country start – and Annie Mathers – daughter of two country music legends. Clay needs her to fix his image, but Annie isn’t sure whether the spotlight is right for her. She just loves her music so dang much. And soon falls for Clay as well.
I went into this book thinking it would be a light hearted YA romance, and at moments it was. But it was so much darker and deeper into the real struggles of teenagers in the spotlight, and it was done beautifully and hauntingly. The characters were vivid and compelling, the writing was fresh and witty, and the plot moved forward at the perfect pace. I read this book in one sitting, and you will love it too!
Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★★★
Sex, drugs and rock and roll – that’s what you get with Reid’s latest hit, the story of the biggest band of the 70s and their unexplained split. Well, unexplained until now. In the same distinctive voice, Reid tackles a unique structure: narrating the story as one would in a documentary, a series of oral interviews. It makes for an interesting read as we see so many perspectives.
And speaking of, each character felt like a real, nuanced human being, so much so that I actually Googled if this was based on a real band. It’s not, but it could be. She captures the essence of the time period and the music scene perfectly, and Daisy Jones ranks up there alongside Evelyn Hugo for favorite heroines. I’d also really recommend listening to the audiobook which was that much more immersive!
The Night Villa by Carol Goodman ★★★★☆
My dad has never enjoyed reading. So when he recommends a book, you know it’s going to be good. When Classics professor Sophie Chase is wounded in a shooting at UT Austin, she joins an excavation group for a recently unearthed Italian villa with a mysterious past.
I deducted one star for the slow start, but it picked up quickly once Sophie gets to Italy and maintains it’s fast-paced intrigue from there out. The storytelling itself bounces back and forth between POVs and time periods – past and present for Sophie and through the scrolls they find at the villa – but they’re weaved together seamlessly.
The amount of research Goodman put into this novel is just astounding, and I learned a ton about cults, archaeology and Greek rituals while reading. The setting was sensual and fascinating, and the mythology and history made for a great secondary backdrop. I also loved the sections in my hometown of Austin, TX. Between the mathematical and classics references, it’s a heavier read, but there’s just enough romance and drama to balance it out. Oh and that ending! I won’t spoil it, but you’ll want to add this to your shelves.
One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus ★★★☆☆
This YA thriller has been on my list for months, and I was thrilled (pun intended) to receive it for Christmas. But upon finishing, I was a little disappointed.
McManus took inspiration for her cast of characters from The Breakfast Club, so we have a brain, a jock, a princess, and a badboy. They are gathered in detention with another boy – who runs the school gossip site – dies mysteriously. Suddenly, they are all under suspicion, and no one – including the reader – knows who to trust.
The characters themselves were well-developed, and each had a strong voice so that I didn’t feel confused when we switched POV. McManus did a great job with the pacing and building the suspense. But overall, the story just fell a little flat. It was very trope-heavy, and I guessed the big twist about halfway through.
I liked it. But I didn’t fall in love.
What I Wrote
I am happy to announce that my second draft of The Blood Between Us is finished and sent off to beta readers! I barely made my deadline of April 15, but thanks to Camp NaNoWriMo and my awesome cabin mates, I was able to crank it out. I ended up adding, deleting, rearranging and clarifying. I am super happy with the result!
But while I spent the second half of the month celebrating, I still have a lot of hardwork ahead of me. This draft came in at about 138K words… My goal was 115K, so some major cutting is coming up. I also have a dilemma in regards to the age group: is it YA or adult? If only New Adult was still a thing! So in addition to my typical questions for beta readers, I asked them to really zone in on these two issues so that I can get some of their wonderful guidance.
I also learned a new writing tool that helped me immensely with getting my revision done on time: sprinting! Basically you gather a few friends, set a start time and a duration (typically thirty minutes), and work as fast as you can. The idea is that it’s easier to break your writing or revising into small chunks without distraction. Also, I have a very competitive nature, so that fueled my progress a ton. If you haven’t used sprinting before, give it a try and let me know what you think!
I am super excited to be taking the month off from writing. I will still be blogging and reading, but no writing projects for the moment. I am sure by the end of May I will be anxious to get back to it. But it will be a nice month to relax and focus that energy on other endeavors.
Toward the end of the month, my critique partner Kelsey is coming to visit from Boise, so between giving her a taste of Austin and chatting about our projects, that will be the perfect kickstart to get back in the saddle.
I will also be going on a week-long vacation which means… LOTS OF READING TIME! I plan on catching up this month, so join me in my list:
- Moonlight and Whiskey by Tricia Lynne
- Enchantee by Gita Trelease
- The Editor by Steven Rowley
- House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin Craig
- The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons
- The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
- Finale by Stephanie Garber
- In Her Bones by Kate Moretti
- The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
- The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson
I hope all of you are enjoying your Spring, loving your projects and reading some great books!