Thursday, April 30, 2015

In April...

It's amazing to me that April is nearly over. Many people say this every month, and I really try not to ... But this past month went by so quick. It was also really great, and although I can't say I was the best blogger recently, I did get a ton of reading and writing done!

In April, I read 6 books.

I did ... okay with my monthly goals.

It took me until the end of the month and I cheated by clicking "mark all as read" on Bloglovin', but I am now caught up again on blog posts and have begun working through them daily again, instead of leaving them sit there unread all the time!

I also prescheduled posts for about half the month ... Then kind of forgot. So I get half points there!

And I posted the first in that series of writing tips I was talking about, which is about writer's block. If you missed it, you can check it out here!

How was your month? Did anything super exciting happen? Did you read a lot?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Books I've Recently Added to my TBR

I've been adding to my TBR more and more often again lately, after a long time of refusing to add more books to the already-long list. Since I've gathered quite a few new (or new-to-me, mostly) books, I decided to share some of the ones I'm most excited to read.

I added Paranormalcy to my list after reading the Mind Games duology by Kiersten White. I immediately knew that I wanted to read more of her books, and I'm excited to get to these.

The only thing holding me back here is that I recently did something similar with another author, where I read one book and wanted more of their writing, but the series ended up really disappointing me. So that experience makes me a bit hesitant to pick up a second series by a new-to-me author. I'm sure I'll get over it, though, and check out the Paranormalcy series very soon!

Dark, Lovely, and Deep is a book that I saw on Goodreads and just knew I needed to read. Look at that cover! From the summary, it seems to be one of those where two troubled people with traumatic pasts meet and learn to love again - which, while cliche, is definitely a trope I like once and awhile. When I'm in the mood, I'll definitely be reading this!

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the only book on this list that hasn't been released yet. While I've yet to read anything by Patrick Ness, I think this is going to be my first of his books. The concept of looking at things from the best friend of the hero, someone just trying to live their daily life, has intrigued me since before I knew it was the concept to this book - it's definitely something I've been thinking about for quite awhile, and kind of playing around with in a couple of my own writing projects even, and I'm interested to see how it's handled in this book.

That's going to be it for today's list, although I do have quite a few great ones on my TBR. Let me know if you've read any of these, or plan to, and what you think of them! Also, let me know what the last book you added to your TBR was!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Unreleased Books With Gorgeous Covers

Recently I went looking through my "not released yet" shelf on Goodreads and found that some of them were so pretty! So I decided to share my top three here, where we can admire them together and maybe you guys can let me know if there are any others to add to my TBR. (I'm very bad about judging books by their covers, but aren't we all?)

I discovered this book just recently and while I actually did add it to my TBR because of the premise, I can't deny that it's a really gorgeous book. The swirls coming from the potion and the way they connect back to the title are really cool, and I like the little flower on top as well. It's a fairly simple idea that looks really, really nice.

Release date: September 29, 2015 | Find it on Goodreads

I think I might have talked about this cover before, or maybe just featured it in a Waiting on Wednesday, but I decided to include it here because it really is one of the prettiest books on my TBR. 

Release date: July 7, 2015 | Find it on Goodreads

This one is so busy. It's a lot to take in at once and normally I would think of that as a bad thing, but it really works for this cover. The whole thing is really cute and I just really love the design. The little cloud and lightening bolt is a really cool detail as well!

Release Date: May 12, 2015 | Find it on Goodreads

Monday, April 27, 2015

Audiobook Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Quick Facts
My Rating: 5 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: April 25, 2015

Source: Purchased audiobook

Publication Date: May 24, 2011

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Genres: Young adult, contemporary

After their plane crashes, thirteen beauty queens are stuck on an island. They start off panicked and mostly still pageant-centered, as many of the girls have dedicated their entire lives to beauty and competition. They wait for someone to come and save them. As time goes by, they begin to worry more about survival - if they aren't found, how will they make it on their own?

Ultimately, this book is about realizing that, while society has a million expectations for people - especially girls - we each have to make our own choices. Some will go out of their way to be pretty whether it's expected or not, and some prefer not to put in the effort. And sometimes, beauty only gets you so far anyway.

I really enjoyed the variety of characters in this book, not only for the diversity but the personalities. Each girl was so different from the others, and they all felt like real people. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to get into the heads of so many people, and to do it right. Beauty Queens gave readers insight into so many of the characters, as it was told in third person and changed perspective quite often.

The format of the book was also brilliant. I'm not sure how it would look in print format, as I listened to this one on audio, but this wasn't only a straight-forward story line. The plot was broken up occasionally by facts about the girls, sheets filled out by them for the pageant, that gave so much insight into their lives and their thoughts, despite being pretty short. There were also "commercials" from time to time, and I don't think any of them failed to make me laugh.

This book managed to be both very funny and incredibly honest. Sometimes things the girls would say or think broke my heart, and other times I couldn't hold back laughter. I'm not sure I've ever reacted to another book quite the way I did this one, and it was just really fun. It definitely brightened my day listening to the audiobook, and I found myself cleaning just so I had something to do while I listened longer. (I spent hours doing that. I was so productive that day.)

Overall, I cannot think of one negative thing to say about this one. I'm already wondering when I can pick up Libba Bray's other books, because I'm almost positive I will enjoy them as well. I can't believe I didn't read this sooner!

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Very Uncertain Weekend Reading Post

So basically, I have very little idea of what I'll be reading this weekend. Perhaps this isn't the best time to type up a weekend reading post, but I wanted to share the books I might read anyway, so here it is!

I will most definitely be finishing my audiobook of Beauty Queens this weekend -- I've actually been listening to this one most of the day today, and was upset when I finally had to turn it off. But, I should get to finishing it either tonight or tomorrow.

I'm also planning to make a little bit more progress in a book club read, The Night Circus, although I admit this is a difficult one for me to get into. I think I'll have to start breaking it up with a faster-paced read.

This brings me to the part where I'm uncertain. I will definitely be reading more this weekend than these two books, though. I'm considering either Falling Into Place, My Heart and Other Black Holes or Snow Like Ashes in audiobook, and I'm completely lost as to which print book to read between The Night Circus. If you have any suggestions, or if you have read any of the audiobooks I'm considering, please let me know in the comments! Otherwise I'll just be picking up a couple random books until I come across something that catches my interest.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Audiobook Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Quick Facts

My Rating: 5 stars

Series: Firebird; Book 1

Date Read: March 15, 2015

Source: Purchased audiobook

Publication Date: November 4, 2014

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genres: Young adult, science fiction

Marguerite's parents are physicists who have invented a technology that lets people travel between dimensions. They enter the body of themselves - whoever they are in that world. Her parents' theory is that there are infinite dimensions, each different from the next, and that everything has happened in one dimension or another. Paul, one of their assistants, thinks differently. He believes in fate, and that some things are destined to happen in every dimension.

But Marguerite is forced to forget about everything Paul has said, and the feelings she was developing for him, when he murders her father and escapes to another dimension. With the help of Theo, another assistant of her parents, she must travel through dimensions to catch Paul and kill him.

I absolutely loved this book, and I cannot wait until the sequel is released. The concept of there being infinite dimensions where one person's life could play out in so many different ways was so interesting. It also allowed the reader to see many sides to each character, and I think that was done very well. Sometimes being placed in a different scenario can really change a person, but there is always that core personality that is them no matter where they are at or what they are forced to deal with. The character development was great to see and this was a unique spin that made it that much better.

The moral issues dealt with, when it came to traveling between dimensions, was excellent as well. Marguerite had to wonder whether relationships with one version of a person could really transfer to their other self. Could she trust the same people in one dimension as she could in another? If someone fell in love with multiple versions of a person, did they love several people, or just one? The issue was also talked about that traveling to different dimensions meant taking over someone else's body. How long could you take over someone's life before it was morally wrong? What decisions of theirs was it okay to make? I really like that these concepts were looked into and thought about through the story, as it made things feel more realistic and gave the reader some interesting points to think about as well.

One thing that I had a kind of love/hate relationship with were the twists. I feel like, in a couple of situations, things happened and then were taken back. While I liked the way things turned out, it was frustrating to think something for most of the novel and then have it taken away. The twists all made sense, but I feel like some of them could have been left out and might have made for a better story.

Either way, I was so invested in the story and these characters. I truly wanted the best for them and I will definitely be picking up the sequel as soon as it comes out. I'm especially happy that, while this book left plenty of room for sequels, there was not a terrible cliffhanger - which makes the wait between this and book two a bit easier!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Three Books That I've Had On Hold For Ages

I have a bad habit of putting down books when I'm not in the mood for them, and then forgetting about them completely. When I'm in the mood for that genre again, I pick up a similar book instead of one of my current "on-hold" books. This says nothing about the books; it's just how I tend to read.

Here are three books that I put down more than a month ago, and am not sure I'll ever get back around to. If you've read any of them, you should let me know your thoughts!

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler is a book I began all the way back in January of 2014 - it's been a long time. I probably will get back to this one, but it might take some time as I will have to reread the half of the book I got through, in order to refresh my memory.

A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani is the one on this list that I am least likely to continue. It never hooked my interest, and felt almost like a repeat of the same book with a slightly different conflict - like the characters got over the strict stereotypes of good and evil only to move onto the conflict between boys and girls. I can already predict how it will end. (If you have anything good to say about this that might convince me to read, please share! I would like to convince myself to finish if only because I paid full price for the ebook.)

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is one that I put down much more recently, back in February. It's the one on this list I'm most likely to get back to reading, although I am not in a huge rush to get back to it, since I know how it ends.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Blogging and Social Media

When I started blogging, I thought I needed to be on all social media platforms. Because several were unfamiliar, I began with Twitter and planned to branch out.

I rather disliked Facebook and stayed away from it for a long time, then saw tons of bloggers recommending it. A few people asked me, So, do you have a Facebook page for your blog? and I felt bad saying no, like I wasn't a "real blogger" if I didn't even have a Facebook page. I created one, finally, but it really just sat there. Nobody liked it, because nobody even knew it was there. I didn't even really want it there.

Recently, I linked my Tumblr page and this blog, which basically means I share my reviews there and have a link to Tumblr on here with my other social media platforms. This is simple for me, because the website itself suits me better. I like sharing pictures of books, seeing reviews, and being able to share cat pictures once and awhile.

But when this happened, I stopped using Twitter so often. If I have something to say, it feels so much easier to ramble about it without a character limit. That said, I feel awful when all Twitter followers see is Goodreads updates and blog posts.

I guess I'm basically trying to say that juggling more than one social media account is difficult, at least for me, and also give a pretty unpopular piece of blogging advice: I don't think you have to be on all social media platforms as a blogger. While it can help your numbers, it can also be an unnecessary stressor. It's much more helpful to do what works for you, and forget about everything else.

I would like to know about you guys, though. Which social media platforms do you use, and do you notice a dramatic difference in your followers/page views/other numbers because of them? (I personally don't.) How do you balance blogging, "real life," and social media?

Monday, April 13, 2015

DNF Review: Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Quick Facts

My Rating: DNF

Series: N/A

Date Read: March 30, 2015

Source: Free review copy from Netgalley

Publication Date: April 14, 2015

Publisher: Random House Children's

Genres: Young adult, science fiction

Goodreads | Author's Website


Denton lives in a world where everybody knows what day they will die. His own is only one day away. But the day before his funeral, Denton's life seems to speed up - he's suddenly involved in a love triangle, recieves a death threat, has a purple rash on his leg that might be the disease that will kill him, and meets a strange man at his funeral who claims to have known his dead mother. He has many questions that he fears will go unanswered, because tomorrow he will be gone.

While the premise seemed interesting, this one just wasn't for me. A big piece of Denton Little's Deathdate relies on the humor, and I did not find it especially funny.

The story started off well, and I thought it would be a quick, light read. I laughed a few times, and definitely saw where people were coming from when they called it funny. The story began to fall short for me around Denton's funeral, which was a little more than 10 percent through. There was a chapter told in second-person that felt awkward to me, and I did not enjoy the love triangle that was developing - to me, it seemed like both girls would be far better off without Denton. 

The more the story progressed, the less I found myself caring about how Denton would die or what would happen next. After making it about a third of the way through the book, I decided to put it down and find something different to read.

I think you really have to connect with the humor in order to enjoy this one, and probably like Denton himself a little more than I did. Based on what I read, I would probably give the book about three stars - it was well-written, and there were aspects of the story that I enjoyed. I just didn't like it as much as I had hoped to.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Audiobook Review: Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

Quick Facts

My Rating: 4 stars

Series: Mind Games; Book 2

Date Read: April 6, 2015

Source: Purchased audiobook

Publication Date: February 8, 2014

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genres: Young adult, paranormal

This review contains spoilers for those who have not read the first book, Mind Games. If you want to know more about Mind Games, see my spoiler-free review or the Mind Games Goodread's page.

If you have read Mind Games, but not Perfect Lies, don't worry! There are no spoilers for book 2 in this review.

In Mind Games, Annie and Fia are separated. They are on two different teams working towards the same goal: To bring down the school that has caused them, and other girls, so much grief. Annie has joined Lerner, where they are still doing research that will enable them to find girls with psychic abilities. And Fia is with James, who she knows is keeping secrets.

Fia's instincts don't feel so spot-on anymore. While Annie is having visions, they aren't necessarily helpful in telling her who is wrong or right. Neither sister knows who to trust, and they're finding it difficult to look out for themselves - yet alone each other.

I found this book quick to read and full of action, but I can't say I enjoyed it like I did the first. It was great to see what happened to the sisters and I really enjoyed the romance aspect of the story, but I felt as though something was missing. Fia's perspective, compared to book one, felt a bit lacking, although Annie flourished as a character and it really added to her point of view.

The romance was also fantastic. As in book one, it did not take over the plot, but it was there. I liked Fia's struggle, and the strength that Annie found with the help of Cole. The ending seemed to fit just right, and it was nice to see hope despite the awful situation and everything that happened at the end.

I think this book really gave Annie her chance to shine, and I'm very glad to have read it. I do wish there had been a bit ... more, where Fia was involved, although I have to admit that I'm not sure what was missing there. Still, I would definitely recommend this one and the duology as a whole. They are both great, quick reads with excellent characters.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

On Writer's Block: Post 1

This is going to be the first of a short series of writing posts I'm planning to publish here on the blog. It's something new for me to be posting writing advice, instead of discussions, so this is kind of a test to see if I like it, and also to see how interested you guys are in what I have to say.

I recently recovered from one of the worst writer's blocks I have been in, and it really caused me to think about the different ways I have been blocked before. Old strategies I had for avoiding blocks just weren't working, and in the end I realized that happened because every block is different.

For this first post, I want to discuss what I think is a pretty common struggle: Writer's block on a specific novel or idea. It seems to me that this is the most talked-about form of writer's block, which is why I thought it might be a good base for these posts.
When you have writer's block for only one project, you usually just don't know what comes next.
I have seen so many pieces of advice for this. If I'm honest, most of them have never worked for me. Common advice includes free-writing (something I'm terrible at; I think too much), or making a list of what could happen next in hopes that one of those ideas jumps out at you. (My problem with that one is that when I don't know what comes next, I don't have a list-full of ideas that could happen next.)

While I know and have heard that those ideas are helpful for other people, here are some strategies that I find more useful:

Begin looking at other stories. This takes time. It is probably best to look at short pieces, just to spark your own imagination, but sometimes you just have to take in large amounts of story. It doesn't have to mean that you're reading novels, though - I have been helped out of blocks like these by poetry, movies, and songs. Especially if you know something relates to the story you're trying to tell, this is the time to look into it.

That being said, make sure you're not taking the plot from that story. If you're unsure, you might want to wait a day and then compare. You don't want your new, major plot twist to be the same as someone else's, you just want to be inspired by their plot.

Clear your mind. Walk away from your work. The best way to do this, for me, is to do something that requires little thought. A change in scenery and a thoughtless activity can sometimes bring you right back to thinking about your project, and solving the problem. One thing that has helped me numerous times is simply going outside to sit or take a walk.

Work on something else. If you're not going to get any writing done on your current project anyway, you might as well be productive somewhere else! Even if you need to write a bunch of random scenes, or an outline to a project you will never start, you're at least writing. And it will probably be a lot easier to work through your problem once you have taken a break from it.

Talk it out. Find someone who is a good listener (or good at pretending to listen!) and tell them about your block. Explain what has happened up to this point, and what direction you're headed in (if you know). You might surprise yourself by thinking of an obvious answer during your explanation, now that you're talking and thinking about the story in a different way. Or, just maybe, the person you're talking to has a solution that will fit.
Of course, there is also the possibility that you hate everything you have written.
I have always found this problem more difficult to solve than the first. It can be extremely difficult to keep going when you dislike the work, and are left wondering why you're trying to write it in the first place.

You could try to simply continue writing. This is actually a really frustrating piece of advice. Sometimes, the worst thing someone can tell you during a block is to just keep writing! But also, sometimes it is the best solution. Most likely, after forcing yourself through a bit of the story, you'll find your love for it again.

Editing the beginning is not wrong. Many pieces of writing advice make it sound like the world will end and your project will never be completed if you edit before it is finished. But if you don't like your beginning, it can be difficult to write the middle or the end. If you feel the urge to edit before you move on, and you simply can't go forward until you do - then edit! Just make sure you don't get lost in the small details, and that you return to writing once you're finished.

Think about why you used to like your work. Chances are, once you begin to think about the foundation of your story, you will like it again. There was something that urged you to begin writing in the first place. There is something you want to convey in this piece - find it and use it to keep yourself from giving up!

You are allowed to not finish. If you don't like this specific piece, maybe you fell out of love with it. Don't feel forced to return to something you are not enjoying. Find a new project that is more important to you, that you enjoy working on, and that you will be proud to complete!

Do you have any advice for these problems that I have forgotten? What is your most common problem when it comes to writer's block?

Also, let me know if you've found this post helpful. This is definitely something new for me and for the blog, so if there is a way I can improve posts like these, please let me know!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Audiobook Review: Mind Games by Kiersten White

Quick Facts

My Rating: 4 stars

Series: Mind Games; Book 1

Date Read: March 27, 2015

Source: Purchased Audiobook

Publication Date: December 3, 2013

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genres: Young adult, paranormal

Mind Games is the story of two sisters. Annie is blind, but can see in her visions, where she gets small glimpses of the future. Fia can pick up on whether something is right or wrong and has perfect instincts. The two attend a school that promised to help Annie, but instead takes advantage of Fia's rare abilities. They expect her to do awful things, actions that Fia would never do if given a choice - but she does not have a choice. If she says no, they will kill Annie.

One of the things that stands out about this novel is the relationship between the sisters. They would each go through anything to protect one another, but this includes keeping secrets. It was interesting to watch each girl struggle to trust her sister, when neither really understood the other. Annie and Fia were so similar to one another, and they both wanted the same things, but sometimes that was lost in translation - mostly due to the school keeping them apart.

I also enjoyed that this book had a romance, bordering on a love triangle, but that never threatened to take over the plot. The main focus was always the evil school, the psychic abilities, the relationship between sisters. The boys were certainly there, but Fia had much bigger concerns, and I feel like that was handled well.

Fia's character was extremely well-developed and I think she dealt with all that she went through very realistically. At times she was ready to break down, and at times I had to wonder about her mental state and whether or not she would eventually snap from all the pressure. Annie seemed a bit more selfish, or perhaps a bit more clueless, and I did enjoy her character less than her sister's.

My favorite side character, and one I especially hope to learn more about in the next book, was James. His father ran the school that Fia and Annie attended, and Annie held a strong dislike for him. Fia, although she often felt wrong about him, grew to trust him and even developed a crush. He seemed like a very complex character throughout the story, and it was very difficult deciding rather to side with Annie or Fia when it came to my opinion on him. 

This is a book I would definitely recommend to those who enjoy young adult paranormal books. (Or sci-fi? I wasn't quite sure which genre to list this as; Goodreads says both.) It's a quick read and very fast-paced, and the story is excellent. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

April TBR

It's April already! March was a really great month for me, especially if we're talking about reading. I read some great books, and found my way out of a reading slump that had gone on for months. I did seem to hit a blogging slump though, although I'm not sure how I did that - it wasn't about not wanting to post, but I kind of forgot about the blog for awhile. I'm going to try and be better this next month!


Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

I'm actually in the middle of this audiobook at the moment, but I've been back to reading more print books lately, so I'm getting through it slowly. Still, I hope to finish it up within the next couple of weeks.

I think I'm finally going to finish the Harry Potter series this month. It's a bit sad to think that I only have one book left, and that I'll probably be reading it very soon, but I'm also excited to be able to say that I've read the entire thing. This will probably be one of the next not-audio books I read.

Joyride by Anna Banks

This is a review copy that I actually read the first couple of chapters to. I enjoyed the beginning, but ended up putting it down the next day because I was in the mood for a fantasy book. I am excited to get back to it this month though, and I think it will be nice to have a contemporary this month, since everything else on my TBR is fantasy/paranormal.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

I've been wanting to read this book for awhile, but put it off because I'm dreading the wait for the last book. Still, I'm going to get to it this month so that I'm caught up in the series. (And also so I can avoid seeing any more spoilers! I've seen too many.)


  • Catch up on others' blog posts. I have been so bad at reading and commenting - I'm not sure I was on Bloglovin' at all this month. So I'm going to do a huge catch-up soon and then try and stay caught up again. (I was doing so well earlier this year!)
  • Pre-schedule posts. This is something I've been terrible at. I posted more last-minute in March than I have since I first began blogging, and I don't like it! While it lets me do things like my "Weekend Reading" posts, which I enjoy, I mostly want to have posts ready at least a week in advance.
  • Writing Tips! I have a small series of posts that I will be posting soon, and it's going to be a little different than my usual writing discussions. It's going to be more advice-oriented and I'm super excited to get them typed up and to let you guys read them!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

In March...

I only read one book from my TBR this month, but I read a lot of others! Like I said, I'm not disappoiSorry this post is coming late, but here I am to tell you guys how badly I did with my March goals! I don't feel bad about it, because I said in that post that I probably would not follow my TBR due to a reading slump. I've found my way out of that slump, finally, so overall I'm pretty happy with how this month went.

This month, I read 7 books.

I only read one book from my TBR this month, but I read a lot of others! Like I said, I'm not disappointed in this month's reading at all. Hopefully this continues and I don't hit another reading slump for a long, long time.

I did complete my goals for this month!

Granted, they were pretty simple goals. I wanted to write posts that felt more unique, rather than so many memes like Top Ten Tuesday, Waiting on Wednesday, etc. I also wanted to stop stressing when it comes to blogging - and I actually managed that pretty well!

Let me know how March was for you.

Did you accomplish any blogging goals? What is your favorite book that you read last month?