Top Ten Things I’m Thankful For: 2020 Edition

Posted November 23, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 23 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! This week is Thanksgiving in the USA, so I thought a thankful freebie would be fun. This year has been HARD. So, so hard on so many people. We’ve all been stretched and challenged in ways we didn’t expect would ever happen: quarantine, canceled trips and events, isolation from family and friends, health challenges, loss of life or quality of life, loss of jobs, fear of all kinds, unkindness, hatred, etc. This year has been a LOT. So I thought it would be therapeutic to set all that aside for a few minutes and reflect on what’s gone right for me and what I’m thankful for.

1. I am thankful for my mom and my sister. They are my biggest cheerleaders, my confidants, and my best friends. My mom and I laugh together, cry together, and are pretty much the same person. She also takes care of me and is always looking out for what I need.

2. I am thankful that I get to live in such a beautiful place!

3. I am thankful for all the awesome travel experiences I’ve had throughout my life. I’m sad I didn’t get to go on my big exciting trip this year, but I will get to someday. Instead, I’ve reflected on what travel has done for me. Through traveling, I have learned so much about myself, what I am capable of, and how lucky I am. I’ve also learned a lot about culture, language, and what an awesome world we live in.

4. I am thankful for animals, whether they are mine, a friend’s, or a stranger’s on Instagram. They never cease to make me smile.

5. I am thankful for books. I love reading and escaping to new worlds and meet new people. Romances have saved me during this pandemic because they remind me of what life will be like again someday.

6. I am thankful for the new and/or stronger friendships I’ve made this year. I found a really nice group of people who have lifted me up and supported me and I love them for it. We’ve had lots of zoom visits and book discussions and have shared all kinds of life things with each other. It’s so refreshing to have this!

7. I’m thankful for my education.

8. I’m thankful for music, and the ability I have to connect with it on such a deep level.

9. I’m thankful for my talents of creativity and singing.

10. I’m thankful for my Heavenly Father.

What are you thankful for this year?

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Top Ten Tuesday Link-up – September 16, 2020

Posted November 16, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 9 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! I have wracked by brain for this week’s topic, “top ten characters I’d name a pet after” and I am sucking at it. Maybe it’s because I read predominately contemporary and thriller novels so everyone has non-pet names? I love old person names for animals, like Fred or Otto or Violet or Millie and my books are not filled with names like those. It’s not super fun when I come up with a topic that’s too hard for me, but then I think that sometimes my topics are too hard for you and you just skip them and come back the following week for a new topic! So then I thought… hey. I can do that, too, sometimes. And that’s ok! If I feel inspired I’ll come back and edit this post, but I’m not sure I will. lol.

What kinds of names do you like for pets? Food? Book/movie/fandom based?
What names did you pick for your pet(s)? How did you come up with that name?
If you don’t have a pet, but hope to someday… have you ever thought of what you’d name them?

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The Santa Box | Movie Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted November 13, 2020 by Jana in Movie Review / 4 Comments

The Santa Box | Movie Review (+ Giveaway)

I’m excited to be a part of the official The Santa Box movie blog tour! If you know me at all, you know how much I love Christmas and Christmas movies, so when I was offered the opportunity to be on this blog tour . Thank you to the PR company for providing a free copy of the DVD for this review!

The Santa Box Movie
Rating: NR (Family movie, suitable for all ages)
Genre: Drama
Movie Trailer
IMDB Info Page
Amazon | Seagull Book | Deseret Book

For 12-year-old Kallie Watts, Christmas is anything but merry. For the last five years, the tinsel-strewn holiday has spelled disaster for her family, so when an apartment fire leaves Kallie and her widowed mother homeless just in time for the holidays, it comes as no surprise. There’s only one logical conclusion: Kallie is cursed by Christmas.

When her mother finds a new job in a small California town, Kallie steps out of the moving van and into her worst nightmare: a real-life version of “Whoville,” overflowing with holiday decorations and brimming with Christmas cheer. Forced to navigate the complicated ins and outs of her jolly new surroundings, Kallie is shaken out of her gloom one day when she discovers an ornately carved wooden Santa box on the porch, addressed to her. The moment she lifts the lid, Kallie’s life is changed forever as she rediscovers the true magic and meaning of Christmas …

What a sweet, heartwarming movie about the true meaning of Christmas: it’s better to give than to receive! The movie starts out during WWII with a boy stealing food from two soldiers in order to survive, and then flashes to present-day with Kallie’s story of dealing with starting life over after a devastating house fire. The town they end up in is suuuuuper Christmassy, and Kallie is overwhelmed by it all. As she and her mom meet new people and see a few miracles in their own lives, things turn around for them both and Kallie begins to soften. I won’t give any more away because I hate reading reviews that spoil books/movies, but it’s very sweet. Well, except for the hints of teens picking on other teens and the popular kids versus the unpopular ones. I don’t enjoy teen drama, and felt that took away a little of my overall enjoyment of the story. I did love the parts of the movie that included Otto, a sweet old German man. The friendship he and Kallie form is so special, and I love how much he loves the magic of Christmas. He takes her under his wing and gives her some great advice. I also really enjoyed the hints of romance between Kallie’s mom and the handyman who comes to their door one day. There were a lot of important messages in the movie including making the most of what you have, forgiving others, and being kind. The magic of the Santa Box was also really fun, but I don’t want to go into more detail than that. Overall, The Santa Box is a wonderful movie that really got me into the festive spirit. I definitely recommend it. And wow… did you notice how many times I used the word “sweet” to describe this movie? lol.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Top Ten Book Titles That Would Make Great Song Titles

Posted November 9, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 19 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! This week’s topic, Book Titles That Would Make Great Song Titles (submitted by Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse), is the companion to a topic we did in April, Book Titles That Would Make Awesome Band Names. This was a really fun topic!

1. Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday
This sounds like something Weezer would sing.

2. Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid
I can hear the kind of song I’m thinking of in my head, but I can’t find the words to describe it!

3. You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
This song SCREAMS break-up song to me, kind of like Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood.

4. Just Say When by Jill Shalvis
This sounds like a Snow Patrol love song to me.

5. One Summer In Santorini by Sandy Barker
I’m thinking of a New Age, piano or other instrumental piece.

6. The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis-Graves
Again, I can’t explain it. Maybe another ballad-type song? Adele sound sing a song with this title, I think.

7. Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
This is totally a man singing to a woman he adores.

8. This Time Next Year by Allison Kent
Another love song! I love love songs.

9. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Totally a cute pop song.

10. Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan
I had to throw in a Christmas song because have you met me?

What books do you think would make good song titles?

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My Top Ten Non-Bookish Hobbies

Posted November 2, 2020 by Jana in About Me, Top Ten Tuesday / 32 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! This week I thought it would be so much fun to get to know each other on a more personal level. We’re all faces in books behind computer screens, but there’s more to all of us than books, right? I’m excited to learn more about you this week. :)

1. Puzzles
I love building puzzles and collecting the prettiest ones. They’re so relaxing and really make me happy!

2. Binging TV Shows
I love marathoning my favorite shows like Friends, MASH, Wings, JAG, etc. Right now I’m working my way through I Love Lucy for the umpteenth time.

3. Christmas
It’s a hobby, ok? I shop for decorations all year long and listen to Christmas music or watch a Christmas movie when I need a pick-me-up. It makes me happy!

4. Graphic Design
Did you know this is where the “artsy” in my blog title comes from? I’m a graphic designer! I love designing things for friends, family, and myself.

5. Animal Crossing
I got a Switch over the summer and I’m super addicted to Animal Crossing. I’m having so much fun decorating my island for the holidays, too. It looked positively adorable for Halloween and now I’m preparing for Christmas!

6. Shopping
I really, really love shopping. If I’m bored, I go browse online for things to add to my wish list!

7. Alternative Medicine
I find natural healing fascinating, and love researching and looking for new ways to feel better. I’ve got a lot of chronic health and pain conditions that have not responded at all to pharmaceuticals, so this takes up a huge chunk of my free time.

8. Baking
I especially like baking Christmas cookies, but I like making regular cookies and muffins all year! I need to star dabbling in bread. I’d love to bake bread!

9. Exploring/Traveling
I love visiting new places or exploring where I live! I love traveling, and I especially love going on cruises. COVID cancelled our two-week cruise this past May, which sucked. My mom, sister, and I just went on a drive looking for fall leaves a few weeks ago and I love doing things like that.

10. Decorating/Organizing/Home Projects
I love interior design, organizing and going through stuff to get rid of, and painting/remodeling the house! My family and I just re-did the family room and office during pandemic, and we’ve been going through everything and reorganizing and getting rid of stuff. It’s been fun!

What are some of your non-bookish hobbies? Do we have any in common?

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The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James | Book Review

Posted October 30, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review / 3 Comments

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James | Book ReviewThe Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Published by Berkley on February 18, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 327
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn't right at the Sun Down, and before long she's determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

I love a good creepy thriller this time of year, and am always on the hunt for the elusive atmospheric writing, so I when I was approached by Berkley to join the blog tour for The Sun Down Motel I was definitely excited about it. The Sun Down Motel is full of strong women, creepy ghosts, and a mystery that spans decades. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. The atmosphere was definitely my favorite part of the story. It was just so creepy (sometimes too creepy), and I enjoyed that uncomfortable feeling it gave me. Viv (1982) and Carly (2017) both worked at The Sun Down, each for their own reasons. Viv was there as a means to an end, and Carly was there to find out what happened to her Aunt Viv. This motel is the epitome of everything repulsive. Nobody would ever actually want to say there, and that made it way creepier. It’s run-down, outdated, and full of noises, mysterious smells, and questionable guests. And both women worked the night shift. Alone. Both women go to the point where they knew the ghosts and talked to them. Well, except the man with the noisy shoes who smoked outside every night. He kept quiet. Doors would open and closed by themselves, the lights would flicker or go completely out, there were voices and footsteps… It’s just a very scary place. These were strong women to put up with working there.

2. Strong women is a huge theme in this story. You’ve got Viv, who left home to go into show business in NYC but actually just wanted to get away from her family. She’s a Nancy Drew type who paid a lot of attention, started connecting dots, and made it her quest to stop a serial killer who was preying on women. Nobody believed that there was anything that needed solving, so she jumped in. Then you’ve got Carly, who left home to find out what happened to her Aunt Viv, who disappeared from the Sun Down one night without a trace. Again, nobody really paid any attention to her. Viv and Carly both had cool roommates who helped them solve their various mysteries. There was also a female police officer named Alma, who was given the night shift because nobody else wanted it, and a freelance photographer who I can’t remember the name of that was also involved. All of these characters were strong, persistent, brave, women who stuck up for themselves and looked out for each other. All of them did things they were not comfortable with because they thought it was their only option.

3. The detective work was so exciting to me. I loved reading about the stakeouts and the research and following people around, hoping to not be seen. Carly/Viv were impersonating people on the phone to get info and sending anonymous tips. It felt like Veronica Mars a little bit in this regard.

4. I really could have done without the ghosts. Actually, I could have done with less activity from the ghosts. It’s fine that they were there, and they really added to that creepy feeling I liked. Sometimes it just got to be too scary for me, though. Some of these ghosts were… mad. Very mad. But they ended up being there for very a important reason in the end, so I understood the need for them.

5. I did struggle sometimes with keeping Carly and Viv straight across the dual timelines. They had the same jobs, were about the same age, each had a roommate, both worked with Alma and the photographer… Sometimes I just got lost on who was who. Even thinking back now on my reading experience, I can’t exactly remember which girl did which important thing. I don’t think it matters, though. Maybe the point was to have these girls live parallel lives so there was barely a seam between them.

6. The plot itself was not very complex, but I was still riveted and had to know what happened. 

7. The book starts out pretty slow, so hang in there!

All in all, I ended up enjoying The Sun Down Motel way more than I thought I would. There were a couple spoilery twists that I called… and one was just a little too twisty to seem reasonable to me, but I still enjoyed the story overall. It’s a great book to read during spooky season, and I’m definitely interested in getting more atmospheric reads from Simone St. James in the future!

4 Stars
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Top Ten Story Elements That Terrify Me

Posted October 26, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 27 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! This week’s topic is a Halloween-themed freebie. I woke up in the middle of the night on Wednesday with the most terrifying thing ever: food poisoning. Or maybe a stomach bug? Who really knows? Anyway, I still haven’t bounced back yet and am drinking Gatorade in bed right now. I’ve decided to do a topic I did way back in the olden days that didn’t get a ton of love, and share the top ten things in books that terrify me. I’m basically the biggest chicken ever so this won’t even be hard. So here we go!

1. Ghosts. I don’t do haunted things. I just can’t. Seriously. I keep trying and I’m getting better at this, but it’s slow going.

2. Murderers. I can handle murderers. I like murder mysteries! I just get terrified really fast.

3. Stalkers. It’s the waiting, you guys. Waiting for something to happen. I call it scary tension.

4. Foggy, craggy shores at night. What foggy, craggy shore doesn’t have a deadly person/thing hanging around it?

5. Zombies. I’m just not a fan of people eating other people.

6. The entire Southern Gothic genre is creepy, but I love it! It’s atmospheric!

7. Possessed animals. I’m talking The Hound of the Baskervilles. Or Nancy Drew’s Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake. Wait, that’s a computer game. In any case, it’s scary.

8. Curses. No no no no no no no no.

9. When a character is home alone and they hear something bump or creek in their house. All of a sudden, I have Vulcan hearing and can hear all things.

10. Medical stories that don’t go down so well. Like if the character is drugged and can’t do something! Or a surgeon is also a serial killer and can kill patients but make it look like an accident??

What creeps you out in books? Do you have a high threshold, or are you totally wimpy like me?
What topic did you come up with this week?
Have a safe Halloween this weekend!

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11th Annual Broke & Bookish Secret Santa & Christmas Card Exchange

Posted October 23, 2020 by Jana in Blog Event, Bookish Little Christmas / 8 Comments

I am SO EXCITED to kick-off one of my favorite holiday traditions! As many of you know, Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) and I used to host this event together, but I hosted it by myself in 2019 to give Jamie some time to breathe. She has since decided to step away permanently, so That Artsy Reader Girl is now the official and forever home of Broke & Bookish Secret Santa.

I have made some minor changes and additions to the event this year, so please read this entire post carefully even if you’re a #TBTBSanta veteran.

Starting this year, I’ve decided to add a Christmas cards only exchange to #TBTBSanta! I’m super excited about this, and think it’s going to allow so many more people the opportunity to receive happy mail this season. 


This exchange is open internationally and you must be 18 years old or older. You can sign up to send 1, 5, or 10 cards and will receive the same in return. Please note that this will not be divided up by countries, so you might be sending internationally. You are more than welcome to sign up for this exchange in addition to a Secret Santa package.

I will be emailing you your list of card recipients by November 10th.

If you want to sign up for the Christmas card exchange, please do so through the following links:

1 card
5 cards
10 cards


1. Mail your cards by December 4th (ASAP if you’re sending internationally). The USPS typically takes 3-7 days to deliver snail mail within the USA, and we all know they’re struggling more than usual this year.

2. Once you have sent out all your cards, please fill out this form.

3. Include some way for your card recipients to find/contact you online! If you only include your mailing address and name, they won’t be able to figure out who you are unless they write back… and since that is not a requirement of this event you might miss out on a new friend. A Twitter handle or email address would be perfect.

4. Include the hashtag #TBTBSanta somewhere on the envelope or in the card so your recipient knows you’re from this event.


1. For safety purposes, you must be 18 or older to participate.

2. Please only sign up if you are committed to sending off a package on time. Really think about whether or not you’ll have the time and the money to send a thoughtful gift to your recipient–one you’d be happy to receive yourself. I really don’t want to hunt you down for not sending your package, or for sending one that does not meet the guidelines for the event. I keep track of those who do not follow the rules, and those people will not be allowed to participate in the future.

3. Be as thorough as possible in your questionnaire (no amount of info is too much). Please utilize the event hashtag on Twitter (#TBTBSanta) to ask questions, or reach out to the contact your recipient provides if you need help or clarification on what to send.

4. NEW THIS YEAR. Instead of sending me an email when you’ve sent and received your packages, you will be filling out Google forms that are linked below in the “things to do” section and will be included in the email I send out with your recipient’s information. This allows for much better organization on my part and faster answers for those who email me with questions or issues.

5. A note to people outside of the USA : Please understand that I can’t guarantee that you will be assigned someone who lives in your country. I try to work it out geographically, but it all depends on who signs up and which level of package they sign up to send.

Countries are divided up into mailing groups to help with shipping costs. If you live in one of the locations listed below, you will be placed in that mailing group and could be sending to any of the countries listed in that group. If you sign up for a package type that nobody else close to you has signed up for, you might be placed in a different mailing group. If you are unsure as to whether or not you can afford the shipping, please do a little research before you sign up. I will continually update this post with a list of countries where participants are from (and which mailing groups they are in) so you can see where you might potentially be sending your package.

Mailing Groups:

– Canada (all package types)
– Europe Mailing Group 1: UK (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) and Ireland (packages B and C)
– Europe Mailing Group 2: Mainland Europe (The Netherlands, France, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Poland) (packages B and C)
– Australia (package C)

6. I’m capping this event at 400 participants this year.

7. I can’t ensure that you will not be assigned to someone you’ve been assigned to before, or who you’ve been paired with in other swaps/gift-giving events. It’s too hard for me to juggle that while also trying to pair you with someone you have something in common with.

8. Please note that this is NOT a swap. You will not be sending to the same person who is sending to you.


(Although, let’s be honest. I’m not going to be pairing while I’m sleeping so if you sneak in on the morning of 11/6, I won’t mind. I will announce on Twitter when I begin pairings, and that will be the official close of sign-ups.)


To sign up, send an email to TBTBSecretSanta (at) gmail (dot) com answering the following questions. (NOTE: Please do not attach a document to your email. Just copy and paste your answers directly into the body of the email.)

  1. Full Name & Mailing Address (Exactly as it should appear on the mailing label)
  2. Please choose what level of package you will be sending to your recipient (I will be grouping people accordingly, so you will be expected to send out what you choose here. Please note that ARCs have no monetary value and will, therefore, not count towards the book quantities listed here. Think of them as a fun bonus if you choose to include them.):
    a) 1 book and a small gift/goodie
    b) 1-2 books and a couple small gifts/goodies
    c) 2+ books and multiple small gifts/goodies
  3. Blog URL/Twitter username/Youtube channel/Instagram username: (Include any social media or online presences to help your Santa get to know you. You MUST be active on at least one platform, and preferably be on Twitter.)
  4. List of 10-15 books you’d like to read, or a link to a wishlist: (Please include old and new releases and please do not ask for books that have not been released yet. Make sure your Goodreads profile or Amazon wishlist is public at least for the time this event runs. Double check that your links work while logged out of your account. Please keep your wishlists separate if you participate in other swaps/secret people events.)
  5. Genres you read the most: (Specify YA, adult, etc. as well.)
  6. List of your bookish preferences: (a few favorite authors, things you will not read, if you prefer hardback or paperback, if you don’t care about book format at all, if you are okay receiving something not on your wishlist that your Santa thinks you would like, etc.)
  7. Food and other allergies:
  8. All the things about yourself: (Please tell your Secret Santa about yourself. The more they know about you, the better job they can do picking out your additional small gifts/goodies. For example: general info about yourself (job, age, school/major, family, pets, etc.), if you celebrate Christmas or not, your hobbies, your passions, music you love, smells or flavors you like/do not like, TV shows you watch, favorite movies, things you collect, fandoms you’re a part of, if you would love something native to where your Secret Santa lives, coffee/tea you like, candy/snacks you like, favorite colors, shoe/sock size, favorite patterns, your style/aesthetic, favorite animals, things you are obsessed with, etc. Also, if you have an e-reader and would be happy to receive ebooks or a gift card, mention that and include any email addresses associated with those accounts. The more info in this section, the better. I literally rejoice when I see a lot of words here.)
  9. Would you be able to send internationally if needed? (This question mainly applies to people in the USA, since I can’t guarantee that you will not be sending internationally if you live outside the USA.)
    Please answer with:
    A. Yes, I can.
    B. No, I cannot.
    C. Would prefer not to but will if needed (be careful with this one, as you could be shipping ANYWHERE)
    NA. I do not live in the USA, and understand that I might be sending internationally.
  10. Please confirm that you are 18 years old or older:
    a) Yes, I am.
    b) I am not.
  11. Have you participated in Broke & Bookish Secret Santa before, or is this your first time? Did you participate in Christmas In July?:
  12. Please provide the contact information (name and Twitter handle/email address) of someone your Secret Santa can contact with questions about you: (This person does not have to know you well. They just have to be able to contact you with questions so I don’t have to relay information back and forth between you and your Santa. Please ask this person before you put their twitter handle or email address here so they are not confused. Please also ask this person to open their DMs on Twitter if you choose to include their Twitter handle as a way to contact them. If you have no idea who to ask to be your contact, post to the event hashtag and ask for volunteers. You’ll find one quickly and make a new friend at the same time!)
  13. Any questions, comments or additional things your Secret Santa (or I) should know.



1. Mail your package no later than December 10th (perhaps earlier if you are sending internationally). The earlier the better. For some people, what you’re sending might be the only thing they receive for Christmas, so please ensure their gift(s) arrives to them before December 25th. IF SOMETHING COMES UP PLEASE EMAIL ME. Communication is super important.

2. **NEW THIS YEAR** Once you’ve sent your box, please fill out this form.

3. **NEW THIS YEAR** Once you’ve received your box, please fill out this form.

4. Be sure to thank your Secret Santa when you receive your package. You can do this via social media or reach out to me for their email address. I know this should go without saying, but we’ve had some ungrateful people in the past who never reached out to their Santa to thank them or even acknowledged that they received their gift. That’s completely unacceptable, not to mention rude.

Another note on thank you’s… Please thank your Santa even if you do not plan to open your gift until Christmas Day (or any day other than the day you received it). Yes, you can’t personally thank them yet since you don’t know who they are, but please at least say you received it publicly on social media. Your Santa is likely stalking you, eager to know that their gift is safely in your hands and has not been stolen or lost. You can thank them again after once you’ve opened your gift and discovered their identity.

5. If you have not received your package by January 4th please email me and I will attempt to contact your Secret Santa. Please understand that I will try my very best to work it out, but there is only so much I can do if someone decided to be a punk.

6. Please utilize the event hashtag #TBTBSanta to ask questions, post hints, thank your Santa, and share in your shopping/gifting/receiving/sending process! Show us what you got! It’s also really helpful to search your person’s handle with the hashtag and see all the questions they’ve answered and the gifts they received in previous years. 



1. Books can be new or used. Use your discretion as far as used books go, but please be kind and don’t send something you wouldn’t want to receive. They should be in very good condition. ARCs have no monetary value and should, therefore, only be included in addition to the number of books you committed to send.

2. When I say “goodies or small gifts”, I don’t mean free swag or promotional items. If you want to add that stuff in after you’ve put in some thoughtful goodies because you think your person would really love those swag/promotional items, wonderful! Please just make sure that those additional goodies are not JUST things anyone could have picked up at a book event or received from publishers in the mail.

3. Due to everything going on in the world right now, please do not send homemade food items. Pre-packaged, store-bought foods are fine (and encouraged!).

4. Be thoughtful. 99% of the time the gifts are really sweet and thoughtful and what you would expect, but occasionally someone just throws random crap in a box and ships it off to fulfill their end. I’ve seen people receive expired face masks, for crying out loud. Don’t be like that. Gifts should be thoughtfully chosen based on your recipient’s questionnaire and wrapped nicely. There should be some sort of note included.

5. Please do not ship directly from Amazon or elsewhere (unless you talk to me first).

6. If you aren’t sure what kinds of things to add for the additional small gifts, peruse the #TBTBsanta thread on Twitter or Instagram to see pictures of packages from previous years. There are lots of good ideas!

Please ask any questions in the comments!!

TBTBSanta logo created with the help of Freepik

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The Ten Most Recent Books I’ve Read Because Someone Recommended Them

Posted October 19, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 20 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! This week’s topic is “books I read because someone recommended them to me”. I love getting recs from people and think it’s so much fun to discuss books with friends. I figured it would be too hard to narrow this list down to the top ten best ones because I’m not sure I could pick. So instead, I’ve chosen to share the ten most recent books I’ve read (good or bad) because someone recommended them to me.

Halloween Boo by Sarah Spade
My friend, Elley, recommended this Hocus Pocus-inspired romance between a ghost and a human. It was a fun little story, but a bit too steamy in places for my comfort level.

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
Elley also recommended this entire trilogy, and said the first one is her favorite. I really enjoyed this historical romance!

Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams
I picked this up because my friend, Caro, LOVED it. Unfortuately, I had a really hard time with some of the themes throughout the story, It was a unique concept, though! Although… it featured an apocalyptic plague, which… well, you know.

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid
I’ve seen these books everywhere, so I’m not sure who specifically made me decide to pick it up… but I loved this book! So much fun.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
My friends Harker and Elley both LOVE this book, and now I do too! Murder mermaids, guys.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
My friend, Michelle, loved the camp setting in this one and it was definitely a great book. I love Riley Sager.

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
My friend, Lindsey (Bring My Books), said the audio of this was amazing and she was right!

Roomies by Christina Lauren
My first Christina Lauren! I have no idea who recommended them. Maybe it was a bunch of voices yelling at me. In any case, I love Christina Lauren now so thank you!

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
My friend, Bonnie, got me this book because she loves it so much and it’s WONDERFUL. Get it!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
I never would have read this if the entire book blogging world hadn’t exploded when the ARCs went out. I was lucky enough to get one, too, and it’s such a good book.

Which of these have you read? What did you think?
What’s the best book you’ve ever read because someone else recommended it?
Have I ever recommended anything on this blog or on social media that you read and loved?

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Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday | Book Review

Posted October 15, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday | Book ReviewParadise Cove by Jenny Holiday
Series: Matchmaker Bay #2
Published by Forever on July 28, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3 Stars

Dr. Nora Walsh has just been dumped in spectacular fashion, making it the perfect time for a major life change. She figures taking over the medical practice in tiny Matchmaker Bay for a couple of years will help her get over her broken heart, and then she can head back to the big city. But when the first man she sees looks like a superhero god, she wonders if maybe there's something to small-town living after all.

Jake Ramsey also has a broken heart -- one he never expects to heal. He doesn't need people anyway and is content hiding out in his secluded cottage on the beach. But after helping Nora with a medical emergency, he finds himself opening up to the witty, warmhearted doctor. Soon the local matchmakers are working overtime to pair them off, and Jake begins to wonder if his campaign to get Nora to stay is for the town or because he can't bear the thought of her leaving.

I’ve struggled with books by this author in the past, so I was a bit worried about trying again. But my friend, Estelle at Forever, pitched this to me so hard while we were talking on the phone one day that I decided to give Jenny Holiday another try! I’m glad I did, because I really enjoyed this for the most part! I do have a few tiny complaints, but I’m definitely interested in reading the other books in this series. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. We’ve got Nora, the city girl who moves to a small town to take over the medical practice there. I love stories like this, because I really enjoy anything medicine (even though it plays a tiny part in the story). She’s also running from a bad relationship and wants a new start. She’s a very energetic, bright personality and I enjoyed the contrast between her and Jake, the hero of this story.

2. Jake is a very quiet Mr. Fix-it that everyone loves even though nobody knows him very well. Well, they know his story but they don’t know him. He’s a man of very few words, but when he does speak it’s important. He lives off in a secluded part of town and goes around quietly fixing things that need fixing. He randomly shows up at Nora’s house to re-build her deck, and she stumbles upon him while he’s out there working. That’s just what he does! He’s the fix-it fairy, and I loved him for that. He’s got major heartbreak in his past, and watching him go through the grieving process and learning to open up again was very sweet. Oh, and Nora refers to him as Aquaman, if that does anything for you. I’m not a fan of the long-haired, man-buned man but I know many are!

3. Nora’s and Jake’s relationship is very organic. They start out as friends with benefits, which I actually hate. lol. But then things get deeper as he opens up to her. She expects absolutely nothing from him, and lets him open up slowly and quietly and on his own terms. When he tells her his story, she responds in a very comforting way without exhausted cliches. She reacts to him in a way nobody else has. She asks him tough, but meaningful, questions about his son instead of glazing over him as if he never existed. It’s hard on Jake, but also helps him realize that he can look to the good times and remember than fondly, rather than feeling guilty for the bad times.

4. The sex scenes were a bit too much and too frequent for me. I enjoy steam in my books, and I like it when it adds to the story. But when these scenes just keep happening and happening I start to skim over them because I need more than that in my books. I begin to disconnect from the characters because I’m not seeing them grown and learn and love. I’m just seeing how much stamina they have in the bedroom and that gets old. lol.

5. That being said, I really had fun getting to know these two characters and seeing their love story unfold. I loved Jake’s dog and his house, which was in a cute little cove. I loved that Jake bought Nora some rain boots that stayed at his house so he could put them out for her when he knew she was coming over. That way, when the tide rolled in she could traverse the wet rocks and wade through the water to get around the bend and make it to his house without getting wet. How sweet is that?

6. I loved the supporting characters and all the friendships that were developed in this story between the townspeople and Nora. I’d like to go back and read the first book in this series so I can get more info about some of these characters.

All in all, I enjoyed the story and am excited to read more books in the Matchmaker Bay series! Jenny’s writing is great and her characters are loveable. I could do with a little less heat and steam and more actual story, but it’s not enough of a drawback for me to keep me from reading more of her books!

3 Stars
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