So my month sort of got derailed in the best way possible… A ten-day beach vacation! It was exactly what I needed after months of quarantine, and while it shuffled my writing goals and timeline around a little, I got in plenty of relaxing, rejuvenation and reading.
What I Read
GRAND TOTAL: 8
Fearless by Katie Golding ★★★★★
I do not have enough wonderful things to say about this book! I enjoyed every minute of this sassy, sexy, second chance cowboy romance. The characters were absolutely to die for. Billy is my new favorite book boyfriend, and Taryn is such a badass. I loved watching them dance around each other and fall in love all over again. I thought the conflict was really compelling, especially since we don’t really know why these two broke up until later in the book which was a fun mystery. The heat between them is off the charts, and I laughed out loud as I read. Definitely recommend!
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore ★★★★☆
I went through a major phase of reading historical romance a few years back and eventually became burnt. But this was the perfect book to dive back into! Set in a unique time period of Victorian England (too many are set in the Regency era), I truly felt as if I was in every scene. I adored the characters, enjoyed the early look at the Suffragette Movement, and boy, was the chemistry off the charts! I feel as if it lost a little momentum in the final 30%, and I did want a little more originality in the ending. But it was well-executed as is, and I will definitely pick up this author’s next book!
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★★
Bardugo has been hit or miss for me, but she hit this one out of the park, delivering on a stellar premise with perfect pacing, great characters and a mystery that kept reading all day. I mean, who doesn’t want to read about the seedy underground of secret societies at an Ivy League school. Fair warning: this book is every bit as dark as everyone says so prepare yourself. But I honestly feel though as if most readers would enjoy this book despite their usual genre preferences – it has a little bit of everything and this one had me still thinking about it days later. Can’t wait for the sequel!
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle ★★★★★
This might be a new top five favorite romance. Not only were all the technical aspects of the book great – well-rounded character development perfect, pacing, snappy writing – I absolutely fell in love with the story: an engaged couple who grew to despite each other and engages in a game of chicken to see who will back out first. While reading this book, people kept looking at me like I was crazy because I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. I am always a sucker for enemies-to-lovers, and while the trope is a little unique in this read, it’s executed perfectly. If you are looking for a fun, fresh and sexy read with a lot of heart, this is the one for you.
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett ★★★★☆
I can’t think of a better time to read this book: the story of a dystopian society who banishes teenage girls to the wilderness to lose their seductive “magic” before they return “purified” to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Not only is this book extremely poignant, it was a compelling read. The society Liggett created jumps off the page alongside the varied cast of well-developed characters. The tension had me flying through it, and I’d definitely recommend this one to all women – and men too. The one thing that fell flat for me was the romance – way too insta-love for me – but it was still a fantastic and satisfying read that sticks with me even now.
All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace ★★★★☆
What a perfect beach read: a princess on the run, the mysterious pirate she joins on a mission to save the kingdom, sea monsters and mermaids and more! This was SUCH a fun read. The world building and magical systems in particular really stood out – completely unique and enthralling and made me want to jump into the pages to join the badass, flawed but fun characters. The stakes were also incredibly high which I loved. The romance itself was good and well-developed (no insta-love here), and while the plot itself was pretty predictable, I still enjoyed the ride!
You Can’t Catch Me by Catherine McKenzie ★★★☆☆
Alternating between the main characters past life and escape from a cult with present day chasing the woman who stole her identity, this story captured me from the beginning. All its twists and turns were surprising and fresh, the cast of female characters were badass, and the audiobook narrator was perfection. Despite several instances where the pacing seemed to drag a bit, I was getting ready to give this one four stars. I really did enjoy it and couldn’t help myself from reading toward the mystery she’s expertly built up through the book. But then the ending… It wasn’t bad necessarily (it surprised even me) but it really left me hanging without the resolution I typically prefer.
The Damned by Renee Ahdieh ★★★★☆
I loved the first book in this series, so I was beyond excited to dive into the sequel. It was definitely not what I expected, but not necessarily in a bad way! First, the bulk of this book is narrated by a different character than the first. I really enjoyed being in Bastien’s head though for a change. He’s such a well-developed character – well, really they all are. Secondly, there were a few twists and surprises that took this book beyond the first: a trip to a fantasy world outside New Orleans, more mythical creatures, etc. I really enjoyed all of the world building and extra insight into the conflict. Lastly, I thought this book was the final! Imagine my surprise when I realized otherwise – apparently there’s going to be four! Just like The Beautiful, this story relies much more on character arcs, beautiful prose and swoon-worthy romance than on actual plot – most of it was setting the stage for the next book. I still loved every minute of it.
What I Wrote
My plan for July was to kick things into gear, participate in Camp NaNoWriMo and knock out my revision of The One. That didn’t happen. The month started slow with me having major imposter syndrome/writing anxiety about revisions. That’s normal for me – although I hate that it is. Diving back into after time off is nerve-wracking and overwhelming. But sometimes those feelings are a sign.
After a week or so of beating myself up for falling behind on my goal so quickly, I realized what my brain was trying to tell me. I wasn’t ready. The full scope of revisions hadn’t been percolating in my brain long enough for me to have a clear path forward. So I stopped putting so much pressure on myself and let my brain have the freedom and time it needed. I’d start revisions after my vacation. And of course, then the ideas started to really flow and I ended up with a strong new outline I could dive into as soon as I got home.
Because of taking the bulk of another month off writing, my plans and timeline may change a little. I am not sure if I will be ready to submit to Pitch Wars or begin querying at the end of September. But that’s okay. I am going to keep working toward those goals, and if I make it great. If not, that’s okay too. But August will be a month full of revisions and I am excited about this story’s potential.
As far as reads go, I will likely be a little slower this month since so much of my free time will be dedicated to revising, but I am pumped about these books:
- Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
- Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
How is your summer going?