Writing Progress: March 2019

Writing Progress

Last year in November, I participated in NaNoWriMo. While I never reached that 50,000-word goal by the end of the month, I still persisted in writing the story that I started. Much to my surprise (really, it wasn’t looking like I would ever finish!), I finish the first draft at the end of January. Since then, I created more goals (and revised them after a long break from my story) to polish up my work in progress (WIP). Currently, my goal is to complete revisions and finish the second draft of my WIP by the middle of May.

Goal #1: I will complete revisions on my WIP to complete my second draft by May 15.

Current Progress: I have revised 3 out of 20 chapters in my work in progress as of March 17, 2019.

Goal #2: I will increase my word count from approximately 35,000 words to 55,000 words by May 15.

Current Progress: My revised work in progress (Chapters 2-4) is currently at is approximately 7,800 words as of March 17, 2019.

While I am already a *little*  (read: a week or two) behind on my plan to meet these goals, I am still hopeful will spring break on the horizon to have a little more time to carry out these plans. One step that I am taking towards these goals is participating in Camp NaNoWriMo.

I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo last year (with a different story), but never joined a cabin and only kept a personal goal. This year, I decided to pick the option to randomly join a cabin with people writing in the same category (middle grade). I am hoping through collaboration with other people, I will stay more accountable for writing and also help other people successfully work on their Camp NaNoWriMo projects.

 

Are you writing anything or participating in Camp NaNoWriMo?

 

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Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

book review

I am not completely fine after reading this book (in a good way!).

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman follows Eleanor, a young woman who struggles to relate with those around her. Eleanor’s isolated life becomes extremely interrupted when she helps save an older man with the help of a colleague. Soon, Eleanor must confront her painful past to create a better future.

I decided to pick up this book at my local library after hearing nothing but positive reviews online. Recently, I have added more and more adult books into my reading and have enjoyed many books that I discovered through social media. When this book started off slow, I feared that I would not enjoy this book as much as everyone else. However, the second half of this book completely turned my opinion around and I know find this book as impactful as others suggested in their reviews.

Eleanor is a tricky character to describe. Eleanor clearly struggles to identify with people her own age. Additionally, her strong opinions (sometimes stated out loud, sometimes in her head), may make readers cringe because while sometimes truthful, they can also be very hurtful. While her demeanor is understandable as you continue to find out more about her, she can be a character that you need to warm up to in order to fully appreciate. As I continued to move throughout Eleanor’s story, however, I found that I really related to her character and I think many other people can eventually relate to her if they push through the first half of this story. I found Eleanor to be more unique, especially in terms of her voice throughout the story, which was a refreshing experience for me.

In terms of the plot, this book starts off extremely slow. I kept on pushing throughout the first half of this book waiting for it be as incredible as it was hyped. This book is fairly long and I did consider putting this book aside and not finishing it. However, I am happy that I trudged through the first half of this book because the second half was truly one of the most relatable and impactful stories that I have read in a long time. Eleanor’s story is not pretty. If you’re triggered by suicide, abuse, and trauma, then this may not be the best story for you to read. This story completely broke my heart and I found myself crying throughout much of the second book because we have seen this same exact story play out so many times in real life. Due to the second half of this book, Eleanor’s story will stick with me for a long time.

Overall, I really enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine although initially put off by the first half. While I do not typically hand out five stars to books where I’m not a huge fan of such a large chunk of the story, this book is the exception to the rule. This book completely captivated me by its emotional and raw ending. I give Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine five out of five stars.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Spring 2019 TBR

top ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is books on my Spring 2019 TBR. Here are my choices:

  • You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

You'd Be Mine

  • Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

Don't Date Rosa Santos

  • If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegmund-Broka

If I'm Being Honest

  • King of Fools (Ace of Shades #2) by Amanda Foody

King of Fools (The Shadow Game, #2)

  • Again, But Better by Christine Riccio 

Again, but Better

  • Somewhere Only We Knew by Maurene Goo 

Somewhere Only We Know

  • There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

There's Something About Sweetie

  • Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett 

Serious Moonlight

  • Night Music by Jenn Marie Thorne

Night Music

  • Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

Just For Clicks

 

What books are on your spring TBR?

 

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Kiss Me, I’m Irish! Book Tag

Book Tag

Since St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, I thought I would celebrate with the Kiss Me, I’m Irish Book tag 🍀! Here are my answers:

  • Green: Book With a Green Cover

Serious Moonlight

I seriously enjoy this cover and it was one of the reasons I wanted to read this book despite not enjoying another book by this author, Alex, Approximately. Fortunately for me, I received this book as an ARC and enjoyed it significantly more than the first book I read by this author. As a contemporary lover, I can definitely see myself picking up more books than Jenn Bennett releases in the future.

  • Blarney: A Book that Deceived You into Liking It or It Was Over-Hyped and You Ended Up Disliking It

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)

I found The Kiss Quotient to be a little over-hyped for me after I read it. The Kiss Quotient is lumped on a lot of lists for people stepping out of YA and into new adult or adult books. I tend to like books on these lists like The Hating Game. However, nothing about the story was particularly memorable for me and I never bought into the relationship which is the sole focus of this story.

  • Brogue (Dialect): A Book Where One of the Characters Has an Accent

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)

When I read this prompt, the first thing that I could think of was how much Anna loved how Etienne pronounced her name!

  • Leprechaun: A Book You Enjoyed When You Were Young

Kristy's Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club, #1)

The amount of Babysitter’s Club books that I owned was insane! I absolutely loved this series and I remember my grandma always finding new ones for my sister and me at garage sales and thrift stores. It’s an understatement to say that I am so excited for this upcoming Netflix series!

  • Pot of Gold: A Book That Cost You a Lot or is of Great Value to You

Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell (Dear America)

I got this book in second grade through a Scholastic catalog.  I remember feeling so fancy as I read this book on the carpet during silent reading time and marking my place with the ribbon bookmark attached to the binding. Those were the good old days!

  • Four-Leaf Clover or Shamrock: Four Leaves = More Than One Book, Pick Your Current or Old Favorite Series

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

I was so into this series when I was in college. I definitely need to re-read this sometime in the near future because I know I would enjoy it just as much as the first time I read it.

  • Magic: A Book that You Found Magical or a Book Where You Enjoyed a Magic Element That Was Found in the Story Line

The Boy Next Story (Bookish Boyfriends, #2)

There’s not a huge magic element to this contemporary series, but it is suspected that the English teacher can make the books truly come to life. I think many readers wish that their favorite characters and stories could be real!

  • Kiss: Your Current Favorite Book Pairing or Your All-Time Favorite Book Pairing

The Proposal

I really enjoyed Nikole and Carlos as a couple in The Proposal. Their relationship was so real and healthy, so it was really refreshing after seeing so many unhealthy relationships in fiction. Nikole and Carlos are definitely #relationshipgoals and I would not mind finding my own Carlos in real life.

  • Luck: A Book on Your Shelf That You Will Luckily Get To… Someday

Little Monsters

I’m not hugely into thrillers, but I have heard nothing but positive reviews for books by Kara Thomas. I picked this book up at a discount store because the story sounded interesting and I enjoy branching out into different genres than my usual contemporary every year. This year seems to be the year of the thrillers for my branch out books, so I’m sure I will pick this one up when I’m in the mood for something other than contemporaries.

  • Jig: A Book That You Don’t Currently Own But If You Could Get a Hold of It, It Would Make You Dance With Joy

I am excited for Sandhya’s Menon’s February 2020 releases of Curses and Kisses. It is described as the first of a contemporary fairytale retelling. This one is a Beauty and the Beast inspired story that features an Indian princess who must make a British aristocrat fall in love with her. I read an ARC of There’s Something About Sweetie and absolutely loved it, so I’m quickly becoming a Sandhya Menon fan. I love fairytale retellings and when authors go in a different direction than the rest of their books. Needless to say, this is one of my most anticipated reads for 2020 so far!

  • Rainbow: That’s You! Lead Others to This “Pot of Gold Tag!”

KayCKay Book Reviews

Late Night Reading

 

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Pride by Ibi Zoboi Review

book review

It is a truth universally acknowledged that I have read way to many Pride and Prejudice retellings.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi follows Zuri Benitez, a girl proud of her Brooklyn neighborhPrideood and Afro-Latino culture. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri decides she wants nothing to do with them. However, Zuri is forced to interact with the two brothers across the street when her sister falls for one of the boys.

I added Pride to my TBR after seeing the cover and synopsis reveal on social media. Pride seemed like such a unique take on the classic Pride and Prejudice storyline. While there are many aspects of this book that I appreciate, there are also several aspects that fell flat for me. Overall, Pride ended up being an average retelling for me.

Let’s start with what I loved. One of my favorite aspects of this book was how Ibi Zoboi developed Zuri’s Afro-Latino culture as well as the culture in her neighborhood. Zuri was proud of who she was and where she came from, which resulted in amazing descriptions of her family, her heritage, and her neighborhood. Jane Austen always commented on the culture of her time through her books and I think Ibi Zoboi modernized the story in a real and relevant way.

That being said, the story itself did not stray far from the original story. Every major event from Pride and Prejudice appeared in this book. While modernized, it did not really offer a unique twist on the events in the original story. If you’re like me, you’ve read countless Pride and Prejudice retellings. While it is a retelling, there needs to be something plotwise that makes it stand out from the original and other retellings of the same work. Additionally, the pacing went rather slow for me. The pacing combined with the formulaic plot made it a slow read where I found myself skimming some sections to push ahead.

As for the relationship itself, it was a standard YA relationship to me and made the book come across as a little younger YA. Zuri and Darius hate each other, but then flip the switch without much explanation. This is a common trope that I see more across younger YA, which generally is not my cup of tea. As a result, I never really connected or believed in their relationship. Since the interactions between the “Elizabeth” and “Darcy” in a Pride and Prejudice retelling is a make-it-or-break-it aspect of the story, this one just did not stand out to me.

Overall, I love the concept of Pride and enjoyed the commentary that the author made about our society. However, the story itself fell flat for me since I never invested in the plot or characters. I give Pride two out of five stars.

 

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99 Percent Mine Review

book review

I’m 99% sure this book won’t end up on my favorites list this year.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne follows Darcy Barrett, a tough bartender who enjoys photography and traveling the world. After inheriting a cottage from her 99 Percent Minegrandmother, however, she finds herself back in her hometown. When Darcy’s brother insists on renovating the cottage to sell, he recruits his longtime best friend Tom and Darcy’s longtime crush, Tom to complete the project.

I read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne last year after countless recommendations online and ended up really enjoying it. In fact, it motivated me to pick up other new adult and adult books last year that I really enjoyed. As a result, I automatically put 99 Percent Mine on my to-buy list for 2019. Unfortunately for me, I did not enjoy this story nearly as much as The Hating Game. That being said, there are some good aspects of this book that will motivate me to pick up more books from this author in the future.

Let’s start off with the main character, Darcy. If you read The Hating Game, Darcy is the complete opposite of Lucy. Darcy is a no-nonsense girl who can put the rowdiest patrons of a biker bar in their place. Darcy is a girl who knows exactly what, and who, she wants. She never backs down from a challenge or anyone who tries to put her down. While I relate more to Lucy in The Hating Game, I still appreciate Darcy as a character. I think all of her actions in the book aligned well with her motivations. I also enjoy that Sally Thorne created a main character drastically different from her first novel because it shows she can write a wide variety of characters.

On to the romance! This aspect of the book fell flat for me. For some reason, I found it hard to connect with the relationship between Darcy and Tom. While the two had some chemistry, it never really popped off the page like with Lucy and Josh from The Hating Game. For me, the banter was not as entertaining. Additionally, since this book takes place over a shorter time span, you do not see as much of their relationship develop on the page. I also did not enjoy the whole “Tom might be still engaged” plotline that spanned the first half of the book.

Overall, 99 Percent Mine failed to create the same spark that The Hating Game did for me. I think I set my expectations too high going into this book, which may have impacted my reading experience. While 99 Percent Mine is a quick and easy read, it is not particularly memorable or a book that’s on the top of my re-read list. I give this book three out of five stars.

 

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March TBR

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This month I actually stuck to my TBR and I am so proud! Out of the three books I planned to read for February, I read 2.5 of them. Here were my February choices below:

  • Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss

I pre-ordered this book and read it quickly after an email telling me it was sent to my Kindle. I’m a huge Kasie West fan and to say I was excited for a new book by her was an understatement. Unfortunately for me, this book was only an average Kasie West book for me. While it was fun and easy to read, I was slightly disappointed with this read and gave it three stars.

  • 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

99 Percent Mine

This is another book that I pre-ordered and was extremely excited to read. Unfortunately again, this book did not live up to my hype for its author. I mentioned in my TBR last month that the synopsis of this book did not grab me like The Hating Game, which proved to be true.

  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

This is my “0.5” of my completed TBR. I am about halfway through this book and at a standstill. I love Brigid Kemmerer’s contemporary books but just can’t seem to get into this fantasy book. I’m hoping by putting it aside for a little bit that I can come back and enjoy it.

 

Now, onto my picks for March! Here are my three choices for my March TBR:

  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

I would really like to finish A Curse So Dark and Lonely this month. I know if I put this book aside for too long, then I will forget the plot. Then, I may not be motivated to ever finish it. Hopefully, the story picks up and it can end up being a solid March read!

  • Bookish Boyfriends: The Boy Next Story by Tiffany Schmidt

The Boy Next Story: A Bookish Boyfriends Novel

I received this book as an eARC via NetGalley and I’m currently about halfway through it. Since I’m close to finishing this book, I know that it should be easy to quickly finish it as the beginning of the month.

  • You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

You'd Be Mine

I also received this book as an eARC via NetGalley. The release date is at the beginning of April, so I wanted to make sure I read and review this book before its release.

 

What do you plan to read in March?

 

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Cold Day in the Sun Review

book review

This book may be called Cold Day in the Sun, but it will warm up your heart.

Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren follows Holland “Dutch” Delviss, a female Cold Day in the Sunhockey player whose team may be chosen for a widely televised hockey event. However, her team’s chance rests on her ability play up her status as the only female on the team. While some people in town show their disdain for Holland’s involvement in the team, she finds support from one of the team’s captain, Wes.

I’m a huge hockey fan, so I was instantly excited when I saw this book on NetGalley. I quickly requested it and was thrilled to read it once approved. From this book, I expected a cute romance as well as some conversations surrounding the discrimination women face when they enter a male-dominated sport. While I enjoyed this quick and fun read, there were some aspects that needed some improvement to make this book a stand-out for me.

I think my favorite aspect of this book was the relationship between Holland and Wes. While I do think their banter was sometimes over the top and their relationship changed to quickly from “hate” to “love”, I generally liked them both as characters and saw the chemistry between them. Their relationship also added to the conversation this book brought up about the discrimination women face in male-dominated sports due to some of the barriers they faced in their relationship, which I appreciated.

I also enjoyed the main character, Holland. She is willing to call out anyone who makes a sexist comment towards her or other people. While she sometimes doubts herself and her abilities, this makes her extremely relatable to other young female readers who face the same discrimination as Holland.

That being said, there were a few other aspects of the novel that fell flat for me, namely the big game constantly emphasized throughout the novel. The actual game comprises very little of the book and the ending left me very unsatisfied. The hockey games often took a large back seat to the romance, journalism, or music aspects of the novel. While I appreciated seeing some of Holland’s other interests, I think it caused some of the other aspects of the story that I was really excited about not be well developed. The game had a lot of build-up, but not a lot of reward.

I also have mixed feelings towards how the feminist aspects played out in this novel. I appreciated how even though Holland played on the boy’s team instead of the girl’s team, she didn’t put down the talent and drive of the girl’s teams. However, I wished more aspects of this part of the story were fleshed out. There were people who made comments on the ice or members of the town that I wished were wrapped up in a more satisfying way. I appreciated that whenever a sexist comment was made, it was immediately shut down. Still, I wanted some big moment at the end to wrap up all the commentary provided in this novel, but I felt like I never got that.

Overall, Cold Day in the Sun is a great sports romance read that is perfect for fans of Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oak series. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys hockey or young adult books that heavily focus on the romance. I give this book three out of four stars.

 

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February Reading-Wrap Up

monthly wrap up.png

This month, my reading was pretty average. Out of the five books I read, I rated four of the books as three-star reads. However, I did have one five-star read. Overall, I did enjoy all the books that I read this month, even though several weren’t exactly memorable. Here’s what I read and my thoughts on them:

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

This book actually started out fairly slow for me. I hear a lot of hype going into this book and midway through I had a feeling this would only be an average read for me. However, the ending completely changed my mind. The ending of this book was extremely emotional, raw, and real. The end definitely redeemed the book for me and it ended up being a five-star read for me.

  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (★ ★ ★)

The Kiss Quotient

The Kiss Quotient is a quick, fun read. However, it lacked the emotional depth for me to invest in the characters and their relationship. While this was an enjoyable read, it definitely wasn’t the most memorable for me.

  • 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne (★ ★ ★)

99 Percent Mine

I was so excited for 99 Percent Mine since I loved The Hating Game. I was slightly disappointed with this book because I did not love it as nearly as much as The Hating Game. Like with The Kiss Quotient, I never connected with the characters and as a result, their relationship fell flat for me. While a fun and quick read, it did not live up to my expectations.

  • Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West (★ ★ ★)

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss

Kasie West is an auto-buy contemporary author for me and I was excited to read about Lacey, who appeared in my favorite book by this author, Love, Life, and the List. However, I’m not a big fan of books involving celebrity and movie sets. Sadly, this book was no exception. Sometimes, Kasie West’s books can be a little all over the place in terms of plot. Unfortunately, this book followed that format. While cute, the relationship also isn’t my favorite out of her books.

  • Sadie by Courtney Summers (★ ★ ★)

Sadie

I’m not a big mystery/thriller type of person, but I heard nothing but positive reviews about this book. I think the hype of this book took away from some of my enjoyment. I understand the message this book wanted to convey, but I found the ending unsatisfying. Plus, sometimes the podcast aspect which was really relevant and unique, bored me because it was like playing catch up on already known information.

 

What was the best book that you read in February?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Places in Books that I Would Love to Visit

top ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is places in books that you would love to visit. Here are my choices:

  • Colby Beach from multiple Sarah Dessen novels

Along for the Ride

Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite young adult authors and Colby Beach is a staple location in many of her books. I would love to shop at Clementine’s, pick up some snacks, or eat the legendary onion rings and pie.

  • Meade Creamery from Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

Stay Sweet

Meade Creamery not only has amazing ice cream, but boasts a long history of a female-run business. I would love to show my support for Meade’s Creamy by purchasing some delicious ice cream!

  • Velaris from A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

Who wouldn’t want to visit the City of Starlight? I would love to visit this city to see some of my favorite characters.

  • The Rampion from Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

Thorne is one of my favorite characters from The Lunar Chronicles, so I would love to chance to travel on his ship.

  • Court of Faerie from The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)

I would not want to necessarily visit the Court of Faerie. However, I would love to be a fly on the wall to learn all the secrets about the people inside.

  • France from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)

After reading this book, I wanted nothing more than to go to a boarding school in France. Perkins included a lot of descriptions about places and food that I couldn’t help but wish to travel there!

  • Ireland from Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & Luck

Jenna Evans Welch does an amazing job describing scenery and this book was no exception. I felt like I was in Ireland while reading this book. However, I’ve never actually been to Ireland, so this book makes me want to travel there and experience it for myself.

  • Greece from Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin

Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me

I loved how much this book focused on the setting, culture, and family. Like with Love & Luck, I felt like I was actually there! Now, I need to actually travel there and experience it for myself.

  • Italy from Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & Gelato

Like with Love & Luck, Jenna Evans Welch did an amazing job describing the location and culture of Italy in this book. Her books always make me want to travel somewhere new!

  • Genovia from The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries, #1)

I absolutely loved The Princess Diaries when I was younger. I always wanted to visit Genovia!

 

What are some places in books that you would love to visit?

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