Monday, March 30, 2015

Book Review: Twist by Karen Akins

Quick Facts
My Rating: 4 stars

Series: Book 2 of Loop

Date Read: February 19, 2015

Source: Free review copy from Netgalley

Publication Date: March 31, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Genres: Young adult, science fiction, romance

SPOILER WARNING for those who still have not read the first book: I do not spoil Twist in this review, however the first book, Loop, will be spoiled. 

My review of Loop can be found here.

(On a side note as well, I do NOT recommend reading the Goodreads synopsis of Twist before reading the book. It gives away about 80% of the plot, honestly. Now onto the actual review...)

My first thought upon finishing this book was wow. That one word was just about all I could process, even after the book had been closed for some time. I felt similar to this when Loop ended, so I probably should have known. But this book...

This book is even better than Loop. It is even more of an emotional roller coaster. 

We begin the story with a fairly happy Finn and Bree. Sure, she's now her "future self" and still has to visit past Finn in order for the events in the previous book to have happened. But she only has one more shift into the past, and then they can live without this tangled mess of past and future. They deserve that, don't they?

Nope. Because, in the middle of their movie date, Bree realizes there has been another change to the timeline. And she is no longer at the movies with Finn, but with Wyck. 

When she goes back to change things, her future self stops her -- and sets her up for another tangled mess. She has to figure out why she's been forced to date Wyck and, ultimately, how to stop these shifts in the timeline altogether. Once again, she is searching for The Truth.

As is typical for this series, those things all happened in the first few chapters. And the rest of the book is just as crazy. This book played with my emotions more than I've experienced in a long time. I hurt so, so much for Bree and this situation she was in. She is honestly the best, most relatable main character. 

Then you add Finn. And the crazy story-telling from book one. 

This is one of those books that leaves me near speechless -- and I also feel very afraid of spoiling it, because such a huge part of the story relies on experiencing the twists and turns for yourself. But I don't think anyone who enjoyed Loop could be disappointed by this one. It's wonderful. The perfect sequel.

Friday, March 27, 2015

What I'm Reading This Weekend

It's been a couple weeks since I've done one of these posts, so I decided to share my current reads with you guys again!

I have been reading quite a bit lately, especially since I've been listening to audiobooks more, so I'll probably be able to finish both of these books by the end of the weekend.

My audiobook pick for this weekend is Perfect Lies by Kiersten White. This is the second book in a duology (I think; there might be more books) about two sisters who will do anything to protect one another. Both girls have psychic abilities and attend a school that, while it claims to help students, really takes advantage of them. I just finished the first book, Mind Games today and cannot wait to see what happens next!

When I feel like reading, rather than listening, or things get too noisy (my whole house gets loud when I begin to read an audiobook, like everyone knows!), the other book I will be reading this weekend is Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin. This is set in a world where everyone knows the date they will die, and Denton Little's date is only one day away.

I've only just begun this story, but the premise is so interesting and I cannot wait to find out what happens in the last days of Denton's life.

That's going to be all for me. While I'll probably finish both of these by the end of the weekend, I doubt I'll read much else. Go ahead and let me know what you're reading this weekend, or share your thoughts if you've read either of the books above!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Biggest Writing Fear

This is my first writing post on the blog in a long time. My creative writing has gone downhill in so many ways - quantity and quality both. In writing, I think they go together.

One of the most popular bits of writing advice is to write daily. Usually, this is not difficult for me. But lately I have hardly written at all. I'm lucky to sit down and try to write once a week - and that's not saying that the words come. It just means that I read over the last chapter written, decided it sucks, and closed the document.

I know writer's block is a thing. I know that, to overcome it, I should just keep writing. But my inspiration is gone. Most of my old ideas don't capture my interest anymore, and I lack new ones. After I finished my NaNoWriMo novel (which I also no longer like), I could not decide on a new project.

My biggest writing fear has always been that I stop writing. Any ideas for new work disappears and I never write again. Whenever I don't feel like writing, I think of this fear.

So it's been on my mind quite often lately. I need something, anything, to get me out of this block. Maybe (probably) I just need to sit down and write. It's easier said than done, but I have to start somewhere.

If you're a writer, you should let me know what helps you to write. What brings you back to your work every day? 

Also, what is your biggest writing fear?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Quick Facts
My Rating: 5 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: February 26, 2015

Source: Free review copy from Netgalley

Publication Date: March 24, 2015

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Genres: Young adult, paranormal

The Walls Around Us is the story of one girl, told from two other girls' points of view. There's Amber, who has been living in a juvenile detention center for years. And then there is Violet, a ballet dancer with a bright future ahead of her. The two seem to have nothing in common at first, but they do: They both knew Orianna.

I opened this while trying to decide what to read - not really planning to read it quite yet, but figuring I would give the first few pages a try. And then I was hooked. From the first few pages, the story grabbed my attention and never let go. Each time I sat down to read, I had to force myself to stop - unfortunately, I did not have time to read this all in one sitting.

The writing and the plot are the best parts, but the entire book is wonderful. I loved every bit of it - the characters, the mystery ... Every single page.

It started off very realistically, and I wondered then if I had been mistaken when I expected a paranormal book. But those aspects were introduced slowly, and the story became darker as they were developed - there were definitely a couple of twists that snuck up on me, although I found the majority of the plot fairly predictable.

The character development was nicely done here as well. Although I had my problems with Violet throughout the book, some things she said - especially towards the end - left me in shock. She definitely did not acknowledge her own privileges, although she saw others' well enough. Her character felt so realistic and I like that we were able to see a few of her better aspects, as well.

While I also enjoyed Amber - despite her flaws, I couldn't completely dislike her - I did have some trouble with Orianna. At points, she was almost too good, but I think it worked well for the book. It just would have been nice to see more of her bad traits.

Overall, this isn't my typically genre at all - it was a bit creepy for my tastes. If I had known that going in, I probably not have picked it up. But I'm still so glad that I read it. I enjoyed it a lot, despite it being different from my usual tastes.

I would definitely recommend this - very highly! It was incredible and the writing, especially, just completely blew me away. It could not have been more perfect.

Friday, March 20, 2015

How Do You Read Series?

Lately, I seem to be reading a bit differently. I've noticed that once I find an author I like, I want to read all of their books. I want to be caught up on series, or even standalone books, so that I can read new releases as they come out and feel "caught up" with that series and/or author. It gives me an odd feeling of accomplishment.

I think this is the reason a lot of my reading has been focused on series, and I've been more drawn to the ones that are unfinished - especially if there are only one or two books out so far. I want to feel like I finished a series without actually putting the time into several books.

I've been doing this with authors as well - it's very useful in finally getting around to those who I've read one book from, and always swore I would read the others eventually. I'm wondering if this is because I signed up for one of those ebook subscription sites recently, and they mostly offer older titles. I admit, I was very excited to see books that I've been meaning to get around to for years now!

Either way, it's a strange way for me to read. I used to always wait for every book in a series to be out, so I could avoid the wait, and now I'm hopping right into books that I know I will have to wait for sequels to. I also have this odd habit of leaving at least one book unread from my favorite authors - I guess, so that I always have access to an unread book if I don't feel like waiting for a new release. (Which, admittedly, doesn't even make sense.)

I'd really like to know how you guys read series, or what you do when you find a new (or old) favorite author. Do you read all the books right away, or wait awhile? Do you read incomplete series, even if it means waiting a year or more for the sequels?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Quick Facts
My Rating: 5 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: March 3, 2015

Source: Purchased audiobook

Publication Date: February 15, 2015

Publisher: Harper Teen

Genres: Young adult, contemporary

When Lex's brother dies, she loses everything. Her mother is lost in her own grief, and Lex distances herself from her friends and boyfriend. She has a difficult time letting in any kind of support - particularly because she blames herself for what happened. 

This was my first young adult audiobook, and also the first audiobook review on the blog. I couldn't have chosen a better one to start with.

The storytelling was my favorite thing about this. Not only was did the writing flow wonderfully, but the reading for the audio version was spot-on as well. I honestly believed this was Lex talking to me, telling her story. It was easy to get lost in for that reason.

At first the male voices sounded awkward and a bit forced to me, especially when Lex's therapist was talking, but I found myself unbothered by the end. I'm not sure whether I grew used to it, or perhaps the voices became better over time. I do think some of them were done really well (Ty's especially stood out to me) and I really do think it was the case of a few awkward lines, and of one person trying to sound like so many different people.

Speaking of people: the characters were great. Most of them began as usual tropes - the therapist serving as a wise mentor, Ty the perfect guy who nobody believes would commit suicide, etc. But I think this was more due to the way Lex saw the world and people around her, and I think the stereotype problem vanished as soon as we were allowed to see more of the characters. (Although I do wish a few had been fleshed out a bit more, I do understand that not all side characters are going to get that level of character development, and it didn't bother me too much.)

Despite the fact that I had a few small problems, I couldn't give this book less than five stars. I almost did, but 4.5 feels too low. 4.9 sounds ridiculous. So, five it is, and the reason is because I loved the story. Lex's character development was so well done, and her grief was so real. I think anyone who's lost a loved one would be able to relate to her anger, her sadness, and her guilt. It was so well done.

I also loved the parent aspect. They were truly important characters, essential in Lex's life, and the book showed that. They each had their own character arc that I really enjoyed as well.

Lastly, I feel like I have to mention the friendships - there were so many great ones. Lex's friends stuck with her so well, through everything, and it was so nice to see. I also think the relationship between Tyler and his friends was great and wish we had been able to see more of it - but, for obvious reasons, that wasn't possible in the book.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Here is the link to the Top Ten Tuesday information from The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR List. My Spring TBR is full of series!

1. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

2. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

These will be my next reads, most likely. I want to be caught up on the series so that I know what happens, and can read the last book right away when it's released!

3. Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

4. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

I recently bought the entire Bloodlines series when the ebooks were on sale, so now I need to finish Vampire Academy in order to get to them! I've been meaning to finish this for awhile anyway (I wanted to be caught up when the last Bloodlines book came out, but that didn't happen), and I think I should be able to finish at least these two by the end of Spring.

I'm not going to say I'll finish the series, since it has taken me forever to read this far, but I want to get at least this book in sometime during Spring. I really want to say I've read this series, but I also don't want it to end. I tend to do this with longer series, it seems, and I know who dies as well ... And I always put off books if I know someone will die in them.

6. Denton Little's Death Date by Lance Rubin

This was in my TBR for this month as well, but I'm not sure I will get to it in March. However, it is a review copy that comes out mid-April, so I will be getting to it before then!

7. Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Since I read The Vow, quite awhile ago now, I've wanted to read more by this author. I think I'm finally going to get around to that soon, and I'm pretty excited about it!

8. First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky

9. Second Chance by Katie Kacvinsky

10. Finally, Forever by Katie Kacvinsky

The Awaken trilogy is my favorite series, so I've been meaning to read these books for quite awhile. I think Spring is the perfect time to do it, especially since I now have all of the books!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Review: Past Perfect by Leila Sales

Quick Facts
My Rating: 4 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: March 12, 2015

Source: Purchased ebook

Publication Date: October 4, 2011

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genres: Young adult, contemporary, romance

Chelsea has always worked at Essex Historical Colonial Village, with her parents. This summer, she looks forward to having a different job - perhaps one at the mall with her best friend. But when her friend decides to join Chelsea at her old summer job, rather than find a new one, she has to continue working there - and continue the summer tradition of War, which takes place between the teen workers of Essex and a those of a nearby competitor.

To make things worse, Chelsea's ex is also working at Essex for the summer. Her goal was to get over him, but how is that possible when she has to see him every day?

One thing I was surprised to learn in this book was that Chelsea was going into her senior year. Most of the other characters were around her age, although some were a year or two younger, and I couldn't quite believe they were so old. Even when I knew, I still pictured Chelsea as a freshman in high school. That age just seemed to suit her better.

Some of the others seemed more mature. Fiona, the best friend, and Dan, a love interest, seemed more believable to me. They acted their age more often than I felt the other characters did, especially Chelsea. The War aided this - it all felt trivial and immature to me, but I could see it happening. I think Chelsea's voice is what really made me doubt her age.

Despite this, Chelsea's voice is also what made the book so fun. The humor was great, and I laughed out loud more times than I could count. This book was so entertaining - I would recommend it to anyone looking for a light contemporary, for sure.

On top of this, the writing was fantastic. I have no idea why I didn't think to highlight quotes, but so many stood out to me. The themes in the book were excellent and I loved the historical aspect as well. I like the idea that we're always rewriting the past, even if it's only something that happened months ago in our own lives. Seeing Chelsea's perspective change was so great.

I do wish, thinking back, that a couple more things had been wrapped up. For example, I would have liked to find out more about Dan's life and get a better glimpse at his family and such. (I'm trying to avoid spoilers, but I'm thinking about something in particular that I don't think was answered.)

Overall, I think this is one that's a fun, light read, but I wouldn't try to over-think it too much. I almost didn't even write a review, due to the fact that it was more enjoyable when I didn't have to think critically about the story. It's probably not for everyone, but for me it was just the thing I was looking for.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Weekend Reading

Sorry for the (very) late post today, but I couldn't really pre-schedule this one! Since I've been terrible at planning ahead, I just wanted to give you guys a look at the books I will be reading this weekend.

I finally found my way out of that reading slump, and I've actually been reading daily again which is great. I'm in the middle of quite a few books now, including a couple of audiobooks, so what I'll be working on is finishing them up!

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I've been reading this all month for a book club, but I think this week I'm going to cheat and read ahead. It's so difficult for me to read books slowly, and I can participate in conversations even if I'm ahead of everyone else. Right? I'm really excited to finish this and move on to the sequels, which I will do immediately. (So, if I neglect the rest of this list for those, well...)

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

I'm very close to finishing this, just a couple hours left of the audiobook, so I'll hopefully have time to finish by the end of the weekend. Then comes the looong wait for the sequel!

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I'm reading this pretty slowly at the moment. I started it late at night, in the mood for a light contemporary, then woke up the next morning with no desire to keep reading. So I might continue, or I might put it back into my TBR pile since I'm only a few pages in, anyway.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sequels I Wish Were Released Sooner

As I promised when I stopped posting Waiting on Wednesday posts, I wanted to take some time today and talk about a few releases I'm looking forward to. Because I've started quite a few new series lately, I thought a highly-anticipated series post would be a good idea!

Here are a few sequels that I wish were released ... maybe not now, but within the next month.

This is the second book in the Firebird series, which I believe will be a trilogy. I'm reading the first book, A Thousand Pieces of You, right now and I just know I will want the next book sooner than it's release -- which isn't until November!

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I'm only on the first book of this series, and I'm reading it very slowly as I'm participating in a book club on Goodreads for it. Although we won't finish the entire book until the month is over, I know afterwords I will be reading the next books immediately. It would be nice if the last book was out so that I could finish the entire series without waiting, but it looks like I'll be waiting awhile. This one is released towards the end of September.

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

This isn't technically a sequel, since it's only a companion novel, but I've wanted this book since I read The Boy Next Door. I'm so happy that it finally has a cover, but the release date still feels so far away. It won't be out until June!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Taking Breaks

A couple weeks back, I took a short blogging break. It was not intentional, so I did not write about it here, although I did mention on my Twitter account that there wouldn't be new posts on the blog. I simply didn't have anything to write about.

Another thing I did, about a week ago now, was post an update saying that I would not be posting every weekday anymore.

Between that break -- that lasted less than a week -- and giving myself a bit of breathing room, my blogging slump disappeared. Honestly, I began posting that very same week of my "break." I pre-scheduled the posts (this being one of them!) to give myself even more room to breathe.

This happens every time I take away pressure. It works with nearly everything -- reading, writing, blogging. But I never seem to remember it until I'm so far into a slump that it's my only option.

Like I say, that week-long break was not intentional. I just realized that I had nothing to discuss, and so I could not write a discussion post for that week. Nor did a have a Top Ten Tuesday pre-scheduled, or my typical Waiting on Wednesday post. I felt very blah about it all and just didn't want to blog.

I think I babbled a lot here, but my main message in this post is that breaks are incredibly helpful. They don't mean that we will never blog again. It's not letting anyone down if a blog goes without posts for a week, or even longer. The person who cares the most is the blogger who runs the blog -- not the readers, or whoever else we're trying to please.

So, I'm going to try very hard for stress-free blogging from now on. The main goal for the blog right now is quality content, not posts every day. And if that means taking a break for a week, or a month, then that is what will happen.

And if you guys are feeling stressed out by blogging and need a break -- take it! You'll probably thank yourself later.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My Problem With Writing Blogs

Awhile back, I discovered writing blogs -- specifically, those that are meant to provide a resource for and help writers. I subscribed to these like crazy. They filled my Bloglovin' feed, I subscribed to a bunch of email subscriptions...

As I'm typing this post, I am taking a break from unsubscribing to nearly all the writing blogs I followed. I just don't feel like they were helpful.

The main problem I've found is that blogs are seeing writers as customers. In itself, it's not a bad thing. We all like making a profit from what we do, and I see absolutely no problem with it.

But when I'm getting daily reminders to buy the newest product from something that I subscribed to for information, I have a problem. I feel like I'm getting spam emails, rather than valuable information.

Even worse (for me), is when I see an interesting blog post title. I click it and find that it's a quick list of unhelpful "solutions" to common writing problems. Or it's the same advice that I could find in a quick Google search. The posts aren't quality.

I don't want to sound like every writing blog is like this. I just found the wrong bunch of them and grew overly excited. I love talking about writing, and I love hearing different views. I don't want a post about outlining a novel that says, "Well, some people have detailed outlines. Some people don't outline at all." I don't want common knowledge shoved at me like it's new information.

As a summary, I've just learned to be wary of writing blogs that sell things -- especially writing help books, which seem to be everywhere. And now I'm on the search of new writing blogs to follow. They don't have to be all about writing -- I like when blogs have a variety of content. I'm just looking for something that feels genuine.

If you guys know any great writing blogs, please let me know. Once I've found a nice bunch of them, perhaps I can post about what I love in a writing blog!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March TBR & Goals

Even though I'm in a reading slump that might make a TBR list hard to follow, I am still going to have one this month. However, it is not so much a list of things I will read, as it is the books I will consider first. If these don't appeal to me after the first couple chapters, I plan to swap them for different books. My schedule is rather relaxed since I stopped requesting so many review copies, and I want to keep it that way!

Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Move towards more unique posts. I've already begun this with my pre-scheduled posts for the month, but I really want this blog to feel less like "your typical book blog," if that makes sense. I've noticed that my favorite blogs have more unique posts, discussion posts, etc. and not so many weekly memes and such. So that's what I'm working on for Kittens and Books.
  • No stress! This is a huge priority for me lately. Hobbies will no longer be stressful things for me. So if I don't accomplish all my goals, it's okay! If I completely vary from my TBR, fine! I just want to enjoy what I do here and keep blogging fun.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Review: Sweehearts by Sara Zarr

Quick Facts
My Rating: 4.5 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: February 10, 2015

Source: Purchased ebook

Publication Date: February 1, 2008

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genres: Young adult, contemporary

Goodreads Author Site

This is the story of childhood best friends who are reunited in their last year of high school. Given this, the title, and the cutesy cover, I expected a light romance novel. Instead, it is the story of two kids struggling to deal with their past.

I'm not upset that this book was different. It went far beyond my expectations, and I loved the journey Jenna took. I like when characters find themselves, and I love how strong and independent Jenna was. She went through hard times, made some tough decisions, and I admired her for the way she handled things.

The messages in the book were remarkable as well. This book says that you can't fix everything. It says that being emotional isn't the same as being weak.

I did have some problems with being thrown into the past so suddenly, although I see how this could be beneficial to the story as well - it allowed readers to feel the way Jenna did at the (sometimes) sudden memories.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was one I couldn't put down, that kept me wanting more of the characters and their story. It was beautifully written and weaved together so nicely, and it's definitely one I would recommend.