ContemporaryAThon TBR & Rules


Hey guys, February is still being a hectic month but I’m going to attempt a read-a-thon anyway. This will be my first read-a-thon for 2018! ContemporaryAThon is hosted by Chelsea Dolling,  Julie at Pages and Pens, and Natasha at My Reading is Odd.


ContemporaryAThon is a week-long read-a-thon that is going on from Monday, February 12th until Sunday, February 18th.  There will also be a Live Drunk Show on Feb 17th on Julie’s Channel. Details are here.


Here are the Challenges:

1. Newly acquired contemporary

2. Contemporary book with pink on the cover

3. Read a hyped contemporary

4. Read a diverse contemporary

5. Read a dark or taboo contemporary

6. Read a contemporary graphic novel

7. Read a contemporary that was recommended to you


And here is my TBR!


Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

There’s mixed reviews on this one on BookTube but the Love, Simon movie looks pretty cute so I want to read it before seeing that. This one is on hold at my local library but I did manage to get the audio version. If I’m able to get a physical copy during next week, I’ll read what I haven’t listened to. This meets the challenges of #1, #3, and #4.


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I read this one last year but didn’t get to the other two books. This year my goal is to finish the trilogy so I can do that. I do remember most of the plot and characters but I find trilogies and series more enjoyable when I read them within the same year. So this will be a re-read for me. This one was also not available at the library but I have the audio. If it becomes available, I will also read the physical copy. This book meets the challenges of #2, #3,  and #4.


YOU by Caroline Kepnes

This is a thriller contemporary that I’ve been wanting to read since last year. I own a physical copy but also have the audio on Overdrive in case I want to listen to some of it. This book meets the challenges of #5 and #7 (several BookTubers have recommended this).


French Milk by Lucy Knisley

The graphic novel challenge was very difficult because my library doesn’t have a lot of selection in this department and I couldn’t purchase anything new at the moment. Anything people had recommended me was either already checked out or not available at all so this was the closest I could find.

Even though this is autobiographical, it looked to have taken place not too long ago. I’m also supposed to go to France later on this year so it sounded like something I might want to read. This meets the challenge of #6.


So these are the four books I am attempting for ContemporaryAThon. Are you participating and if so, what books are you reading? I’d love to know!



February 2018 Goals


February is here and while it looks like a very hectic month for me in my personal life, I’m still hoping to accomplish some of my goals for 2018. I have decided to not attempt any writing goals until we March so for this month I will just be focusing on reading in between my super busy schedule.

Reading Goals

1. Finish The Count of Monte Cristo

2. Read The Phantom of the Opera for my classic book

2. Read a book from my childhood

3. Finish Perfect Murder, Perfect Town (quarterly true crime/buddy read)

4. Read a new children’s book

5. Participate in ContemporaryAThon

6. Finish my Dawn VCA Recaps

7. Read at least six books.

8. Read Secrets of the Morning for a series re-read.


These are my goals for this month. What are your goals for this month and how are they going so far?


January 2018 Goals Wrap-Up


So January 2018 has been a very stressful and busy month for me. In short, we are moving into our first house and it hasn’t been easy! Hopefully once we are moved in (by March), things will settle down some. The last few weeks have been crazy but I still got more accomplished than I thought I would. I didn’t meet all of my goals, but I feel I did pretty good considering.


Reading Goals

1. Read The Count of Monte Cristo for my classic book

2. Read The Rainbow Fish for my childhood book

3. Get halfway through Perfect Murder, Perfect Town (quarterly true crime/buddy read)

4. Read a new children’s book

5. Read The Underground Railroad for my group read

6. Read The House With A Clock in its Walls for a group read

7. Read at least six books.

8. Read Dawn for a series re-read.


I’m a little sad that I didn’t finish my classic but I definitely underestimated the size of the book. I’m maybe forty pages in and while it is going along faster than I thought it would, the book itself is still over a thousand pages. I probably should have split this book up between two months to begin with. My revised goal is to finish it next month.


Writing Goals

1. Edit Our Reasons

2. Querying/Publishing Investigating


I completely failed both of these goals but it’s OK–that’s just how life is. I didn’t expect that we would find a house so quickly. I will probably have to put my writing and editing on the backburner until we are settled in but hopefully having a place to truly call my own will really help where my writing is concerned.


So there’s how I did with January’s goals. What were your goals and how did you do? Has 2018 been a crazy year so far for you?


VCA Recaps: Dawn Part 3


On to Part 3!


Again, this recap will contain SPOILERS so read at your OWN risk!

Part 1 | Part 2


This recap will consist of Chapter 4.


At the end of the school day, Dawn catches up with Jimmy in the lobby. He’s unhappy that his math teacher considers him too far behind to catch up and Dawn chastises him about how much school he used to miss. Jimmy says he doesn’t care but Dawn can tell it bothers him. They go to their father’s office to wait for him.


Jimmy asks Dawn about who ruined her clothes but Dawn lies, adding to just forget about it. He goes on a tirade about how awful the other kids are before he starts asking questions about Philip Cutler.


“Funny, how he got so friendly so fast.” Jimmy’s eyes grew small as his mind worked overtime.



As Dawn moons over Philip, Jimmy announces that he doesn’t trust him and suspects he may be part of some kind of prank.


“Oh, that can’t be true, Jimmy. He’s too nice to do anything like that!” I cried a little too desperately.



Ormand chooses to enter the office at that moment and when he asks about the kids’ days, they decide to keep quiet about what happened to Dawn. Dawn notices that he really seems to like his new job, too.


They go home and Sally Jean is curled up with Fern in the bedroom. While Ormand and Jimmy go out to bring back some ice cream for dessert, Sally Jean wakes up and Dawn notices how sick she looks. Dawn asks her if she’s seen a doctor and of course Sally Jean hasn’t, but she has something better–a natural tonic!


Dawn tells her about school aside from the incident and the Cutler siblings. She notices her mother having some chest pains. Dawn threatens to stay home from school until she gets better. Sally Jean replies that she will just get sicker from being upset about that.


“You belong in school, Dawn. You deserve this chance.”


I love that Dawn’s parents at least acknowledge the importance of a good education.



Sally Jean goes on to say how Dawn needs to mix in with the rich kids and how she’s just as good as they are. She is so adamant about Dawn deserving the same things as the rich kids that she squeezes her hand too tightly. When Dawn talks to her father about her mother’s illness, Sally Jean finally agrees to see a doctor if her tonic doesn’t work.


The next day Philip meets Dawn at her locker to ask her if she’ll let him take her for a ride today. He sure is persistent. When she asks where to, he tells her that he has a special spot that he likes to go to but has never taken anyone to before because he’s never met anyone he thought would appreciate it until now.



Dawn wants to go but feels like she is betraying someone. Philip walks her to class and continues to persuade her to go for the ride.


“I’m not asking you to marry me. Not yet, anyway,” he added.


Dawn’s heart flutters because she has apparently been imaging their married life together, complete with her family living with them at the Cutler’s Cove hotel and Clara Sue becoming a chambermaid.


“I’ll be after you all day,” Philip promises regarding the ride.


Maybe Philip thinks that’s cute or something but I’m like:



Louise is staring when Dawn enters the classroom. Dawn tells her how Philip wants to take her for a ride after school but is worried that Clara Sue put him up to it. Louise doesn’t think so since Clara Sue is apparently mad at him for even talking to Dawn but she warns her not to go.


When Dawn goes to her classes,  she sees Philip wave and ask “Well?” After she sits down in her math class, he pops his head into the door and raises his eyebrows. Dawn laughs when he leaves. OK, that is sorta cute. But still kinda creepy.


Dawn later runs into Clara Sue, who is quick to tell Dawn that Mr. Moore is also considering her for the solo. When Dawn wishes her good luck, Clara Sue is nasty about it, calling her a charity case. Dawn defends herself but Clara Sue continues, saying how she is an outsider, white trash from the wrong side of the tracks.


When Dawn adds that Philip really does like her, Clara Sue says she bets he does—that he likes to make girls like Dawn into mothers once a month.



At lunch Philip persuades Jimmy to join the basketball team. Philip gets mad when Dawn tells him that his sister has been warning her against spending time with him. When Dawn pleads with him not to talk to her about it, he tells her he won’t if she goes for a ride with him. Dawn relents, as long as her father is OK with it.


Dawn brings her guitar to music class and plays for Mr. Moore. He tells her that she plays well for someone without any formal lessons. When Dawn admits that one of her dreams is to learn the piano and have one of her own (weird how Dawn’s attraction to music is never mentioned until she gets to this fancy school?), he agrees to teach her how to play in exchange for playing the flute in the school orchestra.


After school, Dawn tells Jimmy to tell their father that she’s going for a ride with Philip even though Jimmy isn’t happy about it. Philip has a “pretty red car with soft furry white sheepskin covers on the seats.” It was a birthday gift from his grandmother, something that Dawn just can’t seem to fathom.


Philip takes Dawn to a deserted road that he claims he found while out driving until they are on top of a hill that overlooks a river. Smooth. Philip tells her that it’s even prettier at night, asking her if she thinks he’ll ever be able to get her out then. Next he starts putting the moves on her, telling her what a pretty girl she is, feigning his surprise over her not having many boyfriends, and the weirdest compliment about how tiny her nose is. He then proceeds to kiss her tiny nose!



One of his hands settles on her knee and of course she tells a tingle go up her thigh.


“Dawn,” he whispered softly in my ear. “Dawn, I just love saying your name. You know what I did this morning? I got up with the sunrise just so I could see the dawn.”


Oh, brother.



Dawn tells him he didn’t but he assures her he did not just with his words but with a deep kiss. She is surprised by all of the feelings going on inside her so Philip takes that as the okay to start fondling her. Dawn pushes him away, unable to help all the warnings, especially from Clara Sue, coming back to her mind.


“Easy,” he said quickly. “I’m not going to hurt you.”


Promises, promises. He is surprised when she admits she’s never been touched like that before and tells her that she’s been missing out and that there is nothing to be afraid of.


“Just relax. You don’t want to be the only girl your age at Emerson Peabody who’s never been kissed and touched like this, do you? I’ll do it slowly, okay?”


Where is Jimmy when you need him?



Anyway, Philip continues to try and feel Dawn up wherever he can get away with until she has had too much. Pushing him away, Dawn tells him she has to go help her mother with dinner. Philip asks her if she has another boyfriend already and if she’ll come back one night.


Ugh. Philip is such slime. Dawn agrees that she will and Philip says he’ll let her slip out of his hands this time–haha, har har, not wanting to consent is so cute!



Then he proceeds to tell her that he likes that she’s shy, anyway. Being new to men and not wanting to go too far the first time is apparently being “shy.” I just can’t with Philip Cutler. He pleads with her to let him teach her things and she agrees–sadly a mistake that he will never let her forget.


Philip thankfully drives her home. Ashamed, Dawn warns him that they don’t live in a nice section of town but that it’s temporary until her father can find something better. When Dawn mentions how much she’s had to travel, he tells her that he’s done some traveling but doesn’t get to do it like other kids he knows. He has to help out at his family’s hotel instead of going to Europe. He complains that one day he’ll be expected to run it, too.



When Philip asks about Dawn’s past, she embellishes on what she does know–that her parents’ family are from Georgia and live on a farm–and makes it seem like a wonderful place that she was happy at. She pretends that she got her musical talent from her harmonica playing grandfather (who she’s never met). Poor girl.


Philip says he doesn’t remember his grandfather and isn’t too close with his grandmother. Dawn begins to feel bad about telling him stories when he promises her that she’s the first girl he’s ever driven home. When he parks, they kiss and he cops another feel. Ugh.


“You taste real good, Dawn. You’re going to let me take you for another ride soon, right?”



Dawn agrees and when Philip asks for her number, she has to admit that they don’t have a phone–yet. Her parents are waiting for her in the kitchen and they aren’t happy about her going off for a ride with Philip. She is forbidden from any future rides. Ormand then admits that he isn’t as crazy about his job as he first was, either–foreshadowing!


That night in bed Jimmy assures Dawn that he didn’t do anything to get their parents mad about her and Philip. He admits that he isn’t too upset about her not being able to go for anymore rides with him, though. He looks at her and point blank tells her that rich kids are spoiled and always get what they want.



Dawn tries to defend rich people by saying poor people can be bad too but Jimmy says at least poor people have an excuse. He tells her to be careful regarding Philip. Dawn has trouble sleeping because she’s so upset over not being able to go out with Philip again. It’s been two days, girl…you’ll be okay.


Anyway, she begins to fantasize about her and Philip back on the hill and things feel so vivid that she moans out loud. Jimmy is still awake and there’s an awkward moment.



A lot happened in Chapter 4 so I’m going to end things here. Next, Dawn has to tell Philip to cool things and she and Jimmy get into some school trouble!




VCA Recaps: Dawn Part 2


On to Part 2!


Again, this recap will contain SPOILERS so read at your OWN risk!

To read Part 1, go here.

This recap will consist of chapters 2 & 3.


During the first week of Sally Jean’s final month of pregnancy, she screams for Dawn to call for an ambulance. Jimmy hurries out to the pay phone on the corner to call. Dawn is worried, especially because her mother begins to look sickly. The ambulance comes and they cart Sally Jean away. Jimmy and Dawn have to call their father and go catch a bus to go to the hospital.


They get there and the baby is breech so the doctors have to turn it around before it can come out. Ormand goes with the doctor.


“It’s stupid,” Jimmy suddenly muttered, “stupid to have a baby now.”

“Don’t say that, Jimmy,” I chided. His words made my own fears crash in upon me like waves.

“Well, I don’t want a baby who threatens Momma’s life, and I don’t want a baby who’ll make our lives more miserable,” he snapped.


I do not blame Jimmy in the slightest. Ormand returns and the three of them sit waiting (no father allowed in the birthing room?) until the doctor comes to congratulate them on their new family member, a seven pound baby girl! The doctor warns Ormand that his wife had a difficult pregnancy and that they are building her blood back up.


Ormand thanks him and they all go to gaze at Baby Longchamp. Dawn is disappointed that the baby has their mother and Jimmy’s black hair and no freckles. It takes Sally Jean a long time to recuperate once she gets home. The baby girl is named Fern. No explanation is given for her name like Dawn’s was.


With Sally Jean being so weak, it’s up to Dawn to do a lot of the caregiving for Fern. Jimmy complains every time she has to disturb him to care for her. Their father’s moods get worse, too, making Dawn afraid that he might abandon them. Ormand Longchamp, father of the year.

Dawn expresses her worries about her mother’s declining health to Ormand. For whatever reason, Sally Jean won’t go see a doctor. Dawn suggests that they sell their family heirloom, a string of pearls they have, but Ormand reminds Dawn that Sally Jean would rather die than do that. Well then.


There’s a moment where Dawn thinks Jimmy is asleep so she gets dressed near him only to catch him watching. Geez, Jimmy, ever learned to avert your eyes? Then again, Dawn just stands there, intrigued by his gaze.


Sally Jean finally gets a part time gig cleaning even though her health is no better. One afternoon Ormand comes home early to tell everyone that the garage is being sold and that he has a better job now. Also,


“You two are gonna go to one of the finest schools in the South and it ain’t gonna cost us nothing.”


See, Ormand is going to be a “maintenance supervisor” at a fancy private school and part of the deal is for his kids to go tuition free. Dawn is awed but Jimmy hates the idea from the start, knowing that they will stick out. The fancy school has a pretentious name of Emerson Peabody.


“Emerson Peabody? What kind of name is that for a school? I ain’t going to to no school named Emerson Peabody,” Jimmy said.


I don’t blame him. Jimmy and Ormand get into it again but are interrupted by Sally Jean’s return home. She has a coughing fit that scares Dawn. But she’s very happy when she hears the news. Jimmy knows that he and Dawn are never going to fit in with all of those rich kids but Dawn tries to be optimistic about it.


A week later, Dawn picks out her best dress and pleads with Jimmy to wear his nicest outfit as well. They have to get up early to ride with their father across town to Emerson Peabody. The school is described in short but impressive detail–for a VCA novel, anyway.


Right away the kids have to meet with the principal, Mrs. Turnbell, who expects nothing but perfect behavior from the two of them. It’s clear that she is not at all happy with this arrangement. She isn’t very kind to Mr. Longchamp either. He is a lowly janitor, after all. She also seems to think Dawn has a strange name and refuses to call Jimmy anything other than James.


She rubs in the fact that they are getting in for free while other student have to pay so much money for the privilege to go there. Blah, blah, blah. Jimmy seems even more sour about Emerson Peabody now.


“Jimmy? Didn’tcha hear? It’s James. We’re in for it now.”


Dawn soon sees just how rich the other students are in their expensive clothes. The comparison of that to the girls at Winterhaven in the Casteel series is interesting. Dawn is starting the year as a sophomore and immediately clicks with a friendly be-speckled redhead named Louise. Louise talks a lot and soon Dawn knows a ton about her.


Dawn and Louise both have a gym class together. Dawn makes a great impression by naively ratting out a girl named Clara Sue Cutler for having a smoking cigarette inside of her locker. She yells at Dawn for ratting her out once the gym teacher has left the locker room and all of the other girls, including Louise, turn against her. I kind of can’t blame Clara Sue for being upset.


After class, Dawn is the last one showering and discovers that all of her clothes have been thrown into a toilet–and there’s urine in it. Even though I kinda felt bad for Clara Sue, this is pretty low. Dawn has no choice but to let her clothes be washed and wear her gym uniform for the rest of the day.


“But…everyone will laugh at me.”



If this was a Stephen King novel, there would be a much different ending for this book. Everyone finds Dawn’s uniform amusing (really?) and Jimmy is pissed when he finds out. To make matters worse, Mrs. Turnbell calls Dawn into her office to scold her for making enemies so soon and for being so classless as to wear her gym uniform to classes. Dawn is ordered to go wait for her clothes to dry, even though her dress comes out super wrinkled.


Louise later goes over to Dawn to tell her how sorry she is about what happened and how she had no part in it. She tells Dawn that she should have warned her about Clara Sue, who can make others do whatever she wants. They go into the cafeteria and Dawn decides to go over to Clara Sue’s table and tell her just what she thinks of her.

Clara Sue isn’t troubled by this at all and acts like they were just hazing her into the school or something. She invites Dawn and Louise to sit with them and asks Dawn about herself. All of the girls are baffled when they discover that Dawn has brought her lunch from home and has money for milk. Clara Sue laughs when Dawn tells her that her father is the janitor and that she and her brother get to go to Emerson Peabody for free despite them being poor. Dawn really needs to learn when to shut up.

Even this is too much for Louise to learn, who makes a flimsy excuse to leave the table. Clara Sue and her minions leave as well. Dawn glares at them and refuses to let them intimidate her. Thank God for that, at least.  Someone asks if there are any free seats and Dawn looks up at the most handsomest boy she’s ever seen. The boy introduces himself as Philip Cutler–Clara Sue’s older brother. When Dawn is hesitant, she admits all that Clara Sue has done and Philip apologizes for it.


Philip is in eleventh grade and just got his driver’s license. He asks Dawn if she would go for a ride with him after school. That escalated fast.


“I’ll show you the sights,” he added, winking.

Oh, I’m sure he will. Dawn has to decline because of her father and responsibilities at home. Dawn learns that Philip lives in the dorms but is from Virginia Beach and that his family owns the Cutler’s Cove Hotel near there. Dawn is impressed. She tells Philip about her father’s occupation but he’s unfazed. Jimmy then comes in and joins them, unhappy about everything.


Introductions are made before Jimmy goes to get his milk. Philip heaps sappy compliments on Dawn before his two friends come over to join them. After lunch, Philip walks Dawn to her music class and tells her more about himself. He asks if she will think about letting him take her for a ride tomorrow. When she notices Clara Sue watching, Dawn loudly says that she’ll think about it.


Dawn’s music teacher, Mr. Moore, is impressed with her music scales and muses aloud that he may have found their next solo singer for their upcoming concert. He’s impressed when Dawn admits that she has been teaching herself the guitar and asks her to bring it in the next day. He is the only teacher who seems to go out of his way to be kind to her.


Louise is waiting for Dawn after class, seeming jealous about Philip Cutler sitting with her at lunch. She warns her that Philip has a bad reputation but Dawn tells her that people should decide about other people for themselves. Louise apologizes for leaving Dawn at lunch and asks if she can join her tomorrow. Dawn is aloof about it, still hurt at the betrayal.


Louise tells Dawn that Clara Sue is going to be even more pissed when she hears about what Mr. Moore said because she sung the solo at last year’s concert and thinks she’s going to do the same this year as well. Dawn just can’t seem to catch a break!


Next, more school and boy drama!



January 2018 Goals

Hey guys, I know it’s already halfway through the month but I’m going to go ahead and post this anyway, along with an update on how my goals are coming along! Hopefully 2018 will start to get a little less hectic soon.

Reading Goals

1. Read The Count of Monte Cristo for my classic book

2. Read The Rainbow Fish for my childhood book

3. Get halfway through Perfect Murder, Perfect Town (quarterly true crime/buddy read)

4. Read a new children’s book

5. Read The Underground Railroad for my group read

6. Read The House With A Clock in its Walls for a group read

7. Read at least six books.

8. Read Dawn for a series re-read.


So far I have finished goal #2 and will probably finish goals #3-8. I’ve read 3 books so far and am in the process of reading 4 more. I don’t usually read this many at one time but there’s some interesting circumstances this month so that’s just how things happened. So far I haven’t had any issues keeping the book’s plots and characters apart, probably because they are all very different books.

At the moment I am reading Dawn, The Underground Railroad, The House With a Clock in its Walls, and Perfect Murder, Perfect Town. I have not had a chance to start my classic yet and it’s over a thousand pages so we’ll see how it goes. I would at least like to get started on that but hopefully I can find a good audiobook to help me along.


Writing Goals

1. Edit Our Reasons

2. Querying/Publishing Investigating


Honestly, I don’t think I will get either of these done though I have sent Our Reasons to a trusted beta reader at least.


So there are my goals for this month and how they are going so far. What are your goals for this month and how are they going so far?


2018 Reading & Writing Goals

Happy 2018! I know it’s the middle of January now but it’s been a crazy time. The end of 2017 happened a little faster than I was expecting but all of the posts from that time are finally up. Things may get a little crazy due to personal life but I’m hoping to get a lot of reading and writing accomplished this year.


Reading Goals

1. Read 80 Books Again.
2. Read 1 Classic per month (12 total)
3. Read 1 book from my childhood per month
4. Read 1 new children’s book per month
5. Finish books (9 total) from 2017 (Afterparty, Crank, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Rooms, Slice of Cherry, Quidditch Through the Ages, Harry A History, & Raging Star).
6. Every quarter (4 months), Read 1 Nonfiction Book.
7. Every quarter (4 months), Read 1 True Crime Novel
8. Participate in more Read-a-thons & Buddy/Group Reads
9. Try to “shop” from my owned books & the library
10. Finish/Make progress with more series


Writing Goals

1. Edit Our Reasons

2. Querying/Publishing Investigating

3. Participate in more Twitter events like #PitMad, PitchMadness, Pitch Wars, etc.

4. Edit The Birthday Bash

5. Edit Evil in the Walls

6. Edit So Much Rage

7. Write a new Horror novel

8. Work on CHALTS

9. Work on Karen’s Not Home

10. Get published


What are your goals for 2018? I’m really going to try and accomplish as many of these as life allows.