Kittens and Books

My name is Katie, and I am a reader, writer, and book blogger. I read mainly young adult, although sometimes I venture into adult or children's books.

My blog, where I post book discussions, reviews, and the occasional writing-related post, is Kittens and Books.

My Sunshine Away A Novel

My Sunshine Away A Novel - M.O. Walsh I received a free review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.

This book is not narrated by Lindy Simpson, but it is her story. It takes place in a quiet neighborhood, and many people are shocked to hear of Lindy's rape. There are several suspects, including our narrator - and it doesn't help that he's obsessed with her.

In the beginning, this book was difficult for me to get into. Firstly, because I am used to young adult books, and did not expect the details to be so "adult" in this book. The bigger problem was that many issues were dismissed as normal - for example, the obsession with Lindy was justified as a crush.

Around the middle, things started to become more clear. The narrator was called out for his obsession. He began to turn around as a person, although I admit it was still difficult to like him. I kept waiting for him to do something stupid.

Luckily, I don't need to like a main character to enjoy a book. This one was written beautifully, although I could have done without some of the descriptions. I skipped a couple of paragraphs, not because the writing was slow, but because of details I did not want to hear. For example, there was a case of animal cruelty depicted that I had to skip over. (And it was a dog death. I hate when dogs die in books.) However, I do admire the way that nothing was held back.

Overall, this one was darker than I expected. It was suspenseful, but in a quiet way, and I was hooked throughout the story. The mystery aspect was done well and kept the reader wondering. The format was also really cool, with the memories being told and pieced together, and I loved the end.

Kate & Alf

Kate & Alf - Carrie Stone I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.

My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books

2.5 stars

When Kate's boyfriend Alf tells her about the surprise he has planned for her birthday, she expects a proposal. Things begin going wrong early on, with a ruined dress and Alf driving to a place Kate completely didn't expect for the party. She does not get a ring, but a puppy, and she can't help but wonder how Alf got things so wrong.

As misunderstandings and lack of communication continue, Kate's doubts about her seven-year relationship grow. Although I personally thought the Goodreads synopsis hinted at a love triangle, there is not one - which was a great relief. This book focuses on Kate and Alf, just like the title says.

Before I began this review, I kept trying to think of ways to describe this book without using the word dull. But in the end, I can't. I cared about Kate, by the end, and wanted to see her happy. I even cared about most of the other characters and what happened to them. But it wasn't enough.

The events themselves were not out of the ordinary - mostly, we followed the daily life of Kate, although this story was told in third-person point of view. We saw everyone's thoughts, even those of a few side characters. Nobody had an extraordinary life, but that's not the problem - or at least, I didn't see it as a problem.

The writing is what ultimately ruined this book. The dialogue never felt quite believable to me - I kept wondering who actually spoke like that. The story was not told in an interesting way, although I think it could have been. The writing itself just wasn't engaging.

It seems to me like this book tried too hard, and played things too safe. There was also a bit too much story for me here - I felt like many characters and relationships were only introduced in order to add twists to the story. It didn't work, and it took away from the main characters and their stories.

Honestly, I have a difficult time making sense of my feelings for this - because it was both too much, and not enough. There were too many points of view shown, too many romantic relationships, too many cliches. But there was not enough of the main story - not enough Kate and Alf. Not enough focus on any individual part of the book, because there were too many subplots.

Overall, I like what this book was trying to do. I liked its viewpoint on relationships and doing what is right for yourself. But I also felt like the story was all over the place, and for that reason I did not enjoy it like I hoped to.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James: A Novel

Etta and Otto and Russell and James: A Novel - Emma Hooper I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.

My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.

4.5 stars

This is the story of three people, each around eighty, who have spent the majority of their lives together. When Otto and Russell were in school, their old teacher was replaced with Etta, who was around the same age as themselves. From there, the lives of these three are mixed together, blended, it seems, almost into one.

The book itself intertwines the past and the present. In the past there are war memories, the story of Etta and Russell's brief romance, and school and dancing and songs. In the present there is Etta, walking to the ocean, Otto, making papier-mâché animals, Russell, in search of Etta, and James, a talking coyote who follows Etta around.

At first, the story felt pretty cohesive, but further in things get more scrambled. I found myself reading parts over again, to be sure I read them right. We are mostly following Etta's journey in this book, and she is not completely in touch with reality - sometimes, her memories are clear. Other times, she is confused. She keeps a note in her pocket to remind her of herself, and that lists her family members.

While the book lacked clarity, this did seem intentional, and I actually really liked the writing style. I liked getting further into the story and feeling just a little bit more lost on every page. This resembled the characters and the situation very well. It added to the book, rather than took away from it.

The characters themselves were great as well. I loved reading their pasts, although sometimes I did want to just jump ahead to what was happening currently. I did expect to see more of Russell in the present, as I really enjoyed his character - if he had a story of his own, I would read it. If there was one more thing I could ask for in this book, it would be more Russell. His present scenes were so short, and so far apart. Still, I loved reading about Etta and Otto. I enjoyed the parts with James as well, especially early on in the book.

I do have to say that this book won't be for everybody. The style is different, and some readers won't appreciate that. If you like a straightforward story, I would recommend reading something else. However, this is a sweet story of love and friendship and adventure, and it's perfect for readers who don't mind being a bit confused, It all felt very real, very heartfelt and touching, and - given the right reader - so, so much can be taken from this story.

If I Fall, If I Die

If I Fall, If I Die - Michael Christie I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.

My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.

Upon checking Goodreads for the genre listing, as I do for every review, I realized the third genre listed is young adult. I feel like this may be due to the low amount of users shelving the book so far - although it's third, only 6 users have marked it as YA. I realize it might (and probably will) change as time goes on and more people read the book after its release, but I also thought I should say here that this book is not young adult. Although the protagonist is in middle school, I don't think most kids that age would get as much out of the book as someone older.

The center of this book is anxiety. Will's mother has gone through a lot in her life, including the tragic loss of her entire family - even her twin brother, whose death she feels responsible for. As time went on, her fear grew, until she could no longer leave her house or even answer the door.

She never told Will not to leave the house, but of course she led by example. On the day he does leave, he realizes that outside is not as dangerous as his mother thinks. As Will grows more fearless, his mother's fears seem to multiply. How can she protect her son, the only thing she has left, if she cannot even leave her own house?

I really enjoyed this story. Although it took me a long time to read - the pacing was slow, especially in the beginning, and I normally read adult fiction pretty slowly anyway - the story had my attention from the start. Part of it had to do with my interest in psychology, and how interested I was in the anxiety Will's mother faced, but the other part had to do with the characters.

The characters felt like people. They were complex, with several sides to them, and each had a past, several of which were shared throughout the book. Seeing things through Will's eyes was wonderful, but the parts from his mother's perspective were just as great. The perspective change to "Titus" around the center of the book threw me off and I found it difficult to care for this new character who so suddenly took over their story - but by the end, the importance of his chapter was shown. I still wonder if there wasn't a better way to introduce him.

Overall, this is a great book. There are a few things that bothered me, including a part that felt incredibly unrealistic and something towards the end that felt a bit unresolved to me - neither of which I can give away without spoilers. But I think the positives outweigh the negatives by far, and I personally took a lot out of this book. I cannot help but feel it would be a very relatable book for parents as well, as Will's mother worrying over him and wanting him safe was such a central theme in the book. She had the same fears as I imagine most parents do, only amplified due to her anxiety.

I think this is one to read when you're in a patient mood, although the pacing does pick up towards the end, but it's definitely one I would recommend.


Suspicion - Alexandra Monir

I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.


My reviews can be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.

As a child, Imogen visited England to visit her grandfather, a duke, and the rest of her family who lived in his manor. When a fire took the lives of her parents, uncle, and aunt, she left to live with family friends near her home in New York.

Imogen always felt a connection to the land at the manor. Before leaving, she grew a flower instantly with her touch, and watched fire flame from her own hand. Years later, in New York, she figures those powers she found so briefly were only a fluke.

It's only when she is brought back to the manor that she realizes how she missed it, and that she finds her powers again. But are they a blessing, or something to be afraid of?

As much as the beginning of the story leads up nicely to display the fantasy aspect, I can't say I would recommend this to someone looking for a fantasy read. In fact, the book felt very near to a contemporary. Personally, I felt the magical element was kind of a cheat - only coming up when useful, and coming up very conveniently at that.

Still, I enjoyed this story. I liked the writing style, even the slow pacing. It matched the story well. The end of the book really picked up, and the twists were great and unexpected.

In the end, I had a difficult time rating this book. While it was an enjoyable read, it did have it's problems. It left me with many questions, which is not a problem if the story will be continued - but I'm not sure whether that is the plan. Either way, I definitely think this one is worth reading. I will keep my fingers crossed that it'll be turned into a series, though!

For Real

For Real - Alison Cherry

I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.


My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.

Claire does not understand people. She does not like parties - which is why, when her sister takes her to one, she ends up outside watching reality TV on her phone. When she does go inside, it's only to leave shortly after with a heartbroken older sister. Miranda's boyfriend, Samir, has cheated on her.

On the way home, they discuss revenge. It is only talk in Miranda's mind, but Claire really does want to get back at Samir for hurting her sister. In the end, her grand plan is to participate in Around the World, a reality show which Samir is also going to be a part of.

But when Team Revenge gets split apart by an unexpected twist in the show, and Claire is left doubting how much she actually knows about reality television, she realizes things aren't going to go as expected. When she gets paired with an actor named Will for the first challenge, she decides it might not be that bad.

The first word I can think of to describe this book is fun. It was a light read that kept me smiling to myself nearly the whole time. I found myself so quickly invested in the story, even speaking aloud at times to Claire - mostly to yell at her, although I did cheer her along as well. To some people, having to yell at a character could be frustrating, but I think Claire was very realistic, relateable, and likable. I would not have had her any other way.

The reality show aspect of the story was fantastic as well. It really helped to develop Claire as a person, and it also led to some great twists and turns. It contributed to the fun, fast-paced feel of the story.

Towards the end, I began to disbelieve how many pages were left - did I not recieve the entire book for review? Had someone chopped the end off? Of course, the whole book was there. The epilogue proved it. But by the time I was about ten pages away, I knew I would not be satisfied with the ending.

The story was not allowed to slow down, and it made the conclusion feel like a bit of a shock. It felt rushed, and I wish the ending had been paced just a tad slower. Despite this, though, I really enjoyed the book. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun read, especially if you still want to feel for and relate to the characters. I think For Real did a great job at this.


Slated - Teri Terry

My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.


This book was just short of five stars for me, and I can't quite figure out why. Maybe if I weren't in such a reading slump, I would have ended up giving this a perfect rating. Or maybe I still would have thought it to be a little off. The beginning did take me awhile to get into, but due to that reading slump, most books seemed slow to me.

Anyway, I did enjoy this. It was a fantastic start to the series. The concept of criminals being "slated" is interesting and worked well. So many questions arose, and I like how they were answered, for the most part, but there was still some mystery left behind - I just can't be sure what is true and what is not.

The ending found a way to be satisfying while still leaving questions to be answered in future books, which is something many first books lack. It feels like it could stand on its own, yet leaves the reader wanting to keep going.

The action and fast pace made this book even better, especially towards the middle and onto the end of the novel. As I said, I was in a reading slump, and so the fast pace definitely helped me get through the book. At around four-hundred pages, it felt much shorter. I cannot wait until I can pick up the second book.


Loop - Karen Akins

I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.


My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.

This was a great read, but it wasn't perfect. At the same time, I couldn't tell you why something felt off to me - just that it did. It did take some time for the main character, Bree, to grow on me, and that might have been part of the problem.

What I do know is that this book was full of twists and turns. I anticipated some of them, but some were absolutely unpredictable and I loved that feeling of not knowing what would happen next. Finn was an amazing character and so understanding - he was one of the highlights of this one.

Time travel doesn't usually work for me in books - I am usually interested in the plots in theory, but don't actually enjoy them while written. This might have been another aspect that made the book a bit awkward for me going in - but I'm definitely glad that I picked it up despite my usual feelings. Time travel was handled so, so well here. Things were described well and they made sense, and combined with the mystery aspect that made for a wonderful story.

I can definitely say that I recommend this one, especially to those looking for a fun read. Despite the serious things happening in this book - Bree's struggles with her mother, especially - it really did read as light-hearted and fun to me, with the fast pacing and plot twists. Overall, I really enjoyed it.

The Good Sister

The Good Sister - Jamie Kain

I received a free review copy from Netgalley.

My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.

I didn't expect this book to be so sweet, so dark, so sad, or so unpredictable. We begin reading in Sarah's point of view. She is the sister everyone expected to be taken by cancer, but she wasn't. She is dead, however. Between the three points of view of Sarah and her sisters, we learn of her death and how everyone attempts to move on after.

This was emotional from the start. It was so easy to care about the characters, because they were unique and incredibly real. The feelings, the guilt, the hindsight - it was all there and written perfectly.

Although Sarah was "the good sister," she wasn't my favorite. I'm not sure if this is a personal thing - probably, it will vary depending on the reader of the book - but I felt so much more connected to Asha's character than the others. She was the clueless one, fitting in with the readers since neither of her sisters went into detail about what happened until late in the book. She was confused and wanted answers, until the answers became too much to bear. (Sin helped her, too. I adored him and he only came up in her point of view, so there was that.)

Something that really struck me was that, as their family fell apart, each of the sisters blamed themselves. That's how things usually are, really. When it comes down to it, we are more likley to look back on the things we could've done differently. We get more critical of ourselves than we do others. I feel like this was shown wonderfully and I really enjoyed seeing so much of the cause and effect throughout the story. In the end, it's not just one action that could have changed a situation, but the combined actions of many.

Overall, I just really loved this. If every book were so real, so heartfelt and emotional, I don't think I could ever complain.

The Death Cure

The Death Cure - James Dashner 2.5 stars.

To see my book talk (WITH SPOILERS) and read more of what I think about this book, click here.

After reading this, I felt so conflicted. As it's the end of the trilogy, I expected to feel more satisfied. And while I guess most of my questions were answered, that just wasn't enough.

I felt cheated so many times while reading. So many things that happened simply felt like excuses not to continue a plot line. I grew even more tired of Thomas being 'special' than I did in the second book.

The ending wasn't realistic and I feel that it ruined one of the main points of the series. Overall I was extremely disappointed and had hoped for so much better before reading. This is definitely my least favorite of the series and although the first and second books had some of these problems as well, they're bigger problems in a conclusion to a story.

That said, though, I didn't hate it. I don't regret reading the series, although I'm no longer positive I'll read the prequel. This book was enjoyable, but its flaws make it difficult for me to say I liked it. Half the reason I kept reading was in hopes that things would get better and be explained more, and instead I seemed to be let down over and over.

A Letter to My Cat: Notes to Our Best Friends

A Letter to My Cat: Notes to Our Best Friends - Lisa Erspamer

I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.

My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.

I couldn't avoid requesting this book. I listed the reasons: I have too many review copies, my TBR is a mile long, I've been busy and not reading as much lately . . . I still ended up with this book because, let's face it, what book could be more perfect for a blog named "Kittens and Books"?

Reading this has left me with very mixed feelings. Being a huge cat lover myself, many things these people had to write about their cats (or to their cats, really) are things I've thought about as well. Most of the humor was very relatable, as well as the sadness. And the humorous letters were most definitely my favorites.

The average letter here said something along the lines of, "I love you. Here's how we met. Thanks for being great." While that's cute at first, the letters didn't remain original enough to hold my interest, and for that reason I set the book down a number of times.

Overall, it was nice to read people appreciating their cats and there were some great rescue stories, but I can't say I would be missing much if I had decided to skip this one. The pictures were cute and a few of the letters were original, but for the most part they were too repetitive and it was easy to feel like I was reading the same things again and again.


Scratch - Rhonda Helms

I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.


My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.

3.5 stars

I'd say this is your average new adult - girl with a damaged past meets boy who tries to fix her. The plot isn't anything super special. Casey is living with a roommate she barely talks to and is especially close to her grandparents, who raised her since a tragedy took her parents and sister. When she meets Daniel, she slowly learns to open up and trust others.

I do think there are parts of this worth noting, though. The music is an interesting part of the book. Casey works as a deejay, and even creates her own songs. I do wish there had been more about that - and about her safe, practical choice when it came to her college major. She took a chance with a lot of things as the story progressed, and she did think about how nice it would be to go into music. It would have been great to see her consider it more, though. Not that she was the type to toss everything else aside - nor should she - but she could have begun chasing her dreams a bit.

Daniel was different as well. He didn't do everything right, like some love interests in books, but he was genuinely a nice guy and his heart was in the right place. I like that he pushed Casey more than she wanted, and that he was willing to fight with her. It was also admirable that he could admit to being wrong.

The one thing that bothered me was their separation. When Casey wasn't around Daniel, she was miserable. Although I do think she grew a lot, I also think she should have depended on him a bit less. While she said herself that she could live without him, I just wasn't believing it. There were hints at her developing her own life and growing comfortable with herself. Maybe there should have been more of that, in order to better show Casey's independence and the fact that she could manage on her own.

Overall, this one was good so long as you aren't looking for something way different. If you know what you're getting into, I don't think you'll be let down. I definitely wasn't.


Random - Tom Leveen I have to be honest - this book didn't do much for me. But I also don't think I'm the target here. This was geared more towards teaching a lesson than anything, and for certain people I think it will help. I'm just a little sad that this book didn't get past saying, "You shouldn't bully."

At the beginning, we meet Tori and she seems desperate and innocent. I was almost thinking that maybe she hadn't done anything. There could have been false accusations of some sort.

Then we learn what happened. We see the Facebook pages, the chats where she and so-called "friends" made fun of Kevin. People tell Tori again and again - sometimes subtly, sometimes straightforward - that she was wrong. She continuously denies it. Why? Because she "didn't kill him."

I feel like she deliberately missed their points. And I understand that, because how hard would it be to know you caused a suicide? But for Tori I'm not even sure it would be difficult.

Really, I just expected more from this. More than, "Oh, hey, I'm lucky to be alive." More than endless apologies that didn't feel real. It's awful to me that Tori knew Kevin, but didn't seem sad for him. Only for herself. And until the end, it felt like that was all she cared about.

Overall, it was a quick read. I was hooked from the beginning, although the last 20% or so took a turn I wasn't expecting - and not in a really positive way. The twist was great, but afterwords it seemed to go downhill. There were so many questions left unanswered, and finding those answers were the main reason I was reading the book.

I did like Noah and Tori's brother, though. The way they stuck by her was admirable and I did enjoy the loyalty shown throughout the story. I also think this carries a message that will stick with some readers. It just didn't feel genuine to me. It almost seemed like Tori saying sorry for the hundredth time and half meaning it was enough - although to be fair, I think she was supposed to actually feel sorry. It just happened too fast to feel realistic.

This is Falling

This is Falling - Ginger Scott

My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.

I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.

I began this book very shortly after reading Ginger Scott's other novel, How We Deal With Gravity. I loved it, unexpectedly, and I was afraid this one wouldn't meet my expectations.

I was wrong. The first few pages were a bit rough for me, but the rest was great. I was hooked and ended up reading most of it at once. I liked the writing style, and I loved these characters.

Rowe was so brave, and so easy to sympathize with. She clearly went through a lot before getting to the beginning of this book, the time when she finally decided to move on. And Nate was sweet and understanding. He knew not to push her too far and really proved himself and his love for Rowe throughout the story. I also adored the way they joked around with each other.

It does seem like it should be said that the plot was predictable. The storyline itself isn't anything amazing, but that isn't the point of this book. It's a quick read with lovable characters and great romance - and I think it does a fantastic job at that.


Sway - Kat Spears

I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.


My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.

From the very start, Jesse presented himself as an unlikable character. His thoughts were unfiltered and often mean, and his voice was blunt and unemotional. Still, I liked him. Of course he was a jerk, but I rooted for him all the same - to become better, to see the brighter side of things, just to get what he wanted.

It was so interesting to see things through his eyes. The thing that kept me going in this book was his voice, and the fact that I was interested in the story and what he had to say. Jesse struck me as very believable and realistic, and I loved that.

His relationships with others were also great. Mr. Dunkelman, Jesse's fake grandfather, and Pete, an unlikely friend, could be just as bad as Jesse. Their interactions made me smile, even though they were less than polite towards one another. Pete was also a nice way to bring in a character with disabilities, without putting too much emphasis on this or making him out to be the poor disabled kid. I liked that Jesse didn't take pity on him, because Pete took enough pity on himself - which was also good to see. He had flaws and was treated like an actual character, same as the rest.

Bridget brought some balance to the story. In the middle of these grumpy, somewhat unlikable people, there is this nice, seemingly perfect girl. The way she cared for Pete and the other kids she worked with was so touching.

Overall, I really love this book. The more I think about it, the more I love the entire story and all the characters. It's definitely a new favorite.

How We Deal With Gravity

How We Deal With Gravity - Ginger Scott I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.

My reviews can also be found on my blog.

4.5 stars

Going into this book, I expected a typical romance. I was interested in the fact that Avery's son had autism, but I didn't think it would play a large part in the book - or be included so well. In fact, I fully expected to be disappointed.

The autism was portrayed nicely here, but that wasn't all. Being a mother in general was really captured in this story. I feel like so many novels - and maybe this is because I read mostly young adult, where parents tend to be absent - show people with children, but they don't feel like parents to me. They don't sacrifice for their kids or do anything that a "real" parent should.

Avery does. This isn't important just because Max is autistic, either, although it does mean he needs extra attention and understanding. But every child needs parents who are willing to put their lives on hold, who are going to do anything it takes for their kid. I think this book captured that wonderfully and blended it together with the love story.

I will say, once I was into the story, I predicted nearly everything. Only one thing at the end caught me off guard - and surprisingly enough, that wasn't even the part that made me cry. I did cry, though, because Avery was such a caring mother, and the way she worried for Max was touching. At one point, her father pointed out what I had been thinking throughout the book - she shielded Max too much from the real world. And her concern and her tears in that moment caused some of my own.

This book wasn't about plot, at least not for me. It was about emotion and what it's like to be a mother. It was about Max, and it was about making time for yourself - it was about Avery.

The only fault I found was the rush towards the end. It felt like too much happened at once, and it might have been better if the book were longer so things could be slowed down. That way, the characters could work through one thing at a time, and so many important events wouldn't be thrown at once toward the readers.

Really, though, that's a small thing when I think about how much I enjoyed this book. It was real and heartfelt, and I'm so glad I decided to pick it up.