Month: December 2012

2012 End of Year Book Survey

Posted December 28, 2012 by Jana in About Me / 7 Comments

Thanks to Jamie for hosting this fun feature again! I love the idea of doing this every year, as I think reflection is a great thing. Last year’s end of year book survey was not all that exciting, since my blog had only existed for a month by the time the year ended and the new one began. Plus, I didn’t read nearly as many books as I should have. Before I get into my answers for this year, I wanted to address a few of mine from last year!

  • My goal was to read The Watchtower by Lee Carroll this year, because I was SO excited for it last year and never got around to it. Well guess what. This must be the most elusive book I own, because I didn’t get to it this year either! Man!
  • I listed Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver as my most anticipated book of this year. Well, duh! And can you believe I didn’t read it until MAY? Why, oh why did it take me so long? At least I got to it, though. And I LOVED IT. Go read my review!
  • I hoped to read over 50 or 60 books this year to surpass last year’s reading goal. I just passed my goal last month, and am still going strong! And to think that I now have a full time job, whereas last year I wasn’t working. Interesting the things that happen when you prioritize.
  • I wanted to reach 100 followers. WHOA. I’m at 634 as of December 3rd, when I’m typing this up. Thanks so much to all of you for being such wonderful friends of mine, and supporting my blog in its first year. :)

I think it was a good year!

Best Books of 2012

1. Best book you read in 2012? (Broken down by genre)

 
Time Between Us

Hands down, the book I loved more than any other book this year was Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone. It made me so amazingly happy and giddy that I can’t stop thinking about it even now! But I can’t stop with just that one!

Adult Fiction: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Contemporary YA: Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker (OH MAN. This book spoke to my soul.), Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (ditto)

Dystopian YA: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Incarnate by Jodi Meadows.

Paranormal: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (this is the year I fell in love with mermaids)

Fantasy: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more, but didn’t?
Black City by Elizabeth Richards. The summary sounded amazing, and there was so much promise! I could not wait to get it, and was thrilled when I received an ARC in the mail. It ended up being way too gory, though, plus my #1 toss-the-book-to-the-depths-of-the-Earth thing happened: animal abuse. A kitty, no less. I almost lost it. Don’t mess with my furry little babies, I tell you! Oh, and Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson was a major disappointment that broke my heart. I wanted this book to be SO amazing.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 

 
Unbreak My Heart

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker. Honestly, I thought this book would be about a whiny girl getting over some silly relationship. I’m so tired of those, especially because I rarely find teenage relationships that I believe could stand the test of time. To my surprise, her broken heart was over a lost friendship, though, which was amazingly real and tender. Clem was so relateable, and I could not help but remember my times as a fragile teenager.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

 
Wanderlove
Everyone who has ever heard me talk about books knows how much shouting from the rooftops I did over Wanderlove. Honestly, you have got to read this one.

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

 

The Frost Chronicles by Kate Avery Ellison. On a whim, I decided to participate in a blog tour for Frost, and I adored it. The writing is beautiful, the story unique, the characters amazing. I loved this book. And then when Kate wrote and asked if I’d like to read the next one, Thorns, I jumped at the chance. People, I have never loved the second book in a series more.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
Pretty much all the debut authors this year were amazing: Jodi Meadows, Veronica Rossi, Anna Banks, Marissa Meyer, etc. Amazing. Sophie Kinsella is hilarious. Oh my. Shannon Greenland. YES. This was a good author year! I made friends with so many of them!

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

 
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas was my first epic fantasy, and I loved it!

8. Most thrilling, un-put-down-able book in 2012?

 
On the Island
On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves. OH MAN. Talk about up all night.

9. Book you read in 2012 that you are most likely to re-read next year?

 
Snowed Over
I don’t typically re-read, but the darling little Christmas romance, Snowed Over by Angie Stanton, is definitely worth being made a yearly tradition. I adored it!

10. Favorite book cover of a book you read in 2012?

 
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Rather glorious, wouldn’t you say? I love that typography, and use of minimal color.And I LOVED this book!

11. Most memorable character read about in 2012?
Elysa Morgan in Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett (AKA Anna Banks). This character is seriously my best friend in another life. She is everyone I wish I was. And seriously. this book is amazing. I LOVED it.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

 
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer. It’s not necessarily beautiful in subject matter, but beautiful in word choice. You can tell the author loves language, because she formed such amazing words. I was having to use a dictionary to define some of them. I loved it.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. It inspired me to make all these goals to travel more and experience life more fully. To better my art, and to make more friends. To be spontaneous and more easy-going. I set this huge goal to go on a major trip so that I could have the same journey of self-discovery that Bria did. I never thought I’d actually do it, but I did just this past summer. And you know what? It worked. I spent 6 weeks traveling through Europe with my mom, and came away knowing myself so much better than I thought I ever would. I was extremely sick through most of the trip, but I pushed myself and found out what I’m capable of. I had an amazing time that I will never forget. I didn’t fall in love with some sexy guy on this trip, but I think I got something even better out of it. I fell in love with myself.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman. Haha. I think it was the only book I read this year that did not come out this year or last year. I did love it so much, though, and wished I had read it earlier.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2012?
Bah! I rarely keep track of passages I loved, even though I have been over the moon about some of them! That’s a goal for next year: to write down my favorite book quotes. I just raided my Instagram account, though, and found this one from Frost by Kate Avery Ellison:

 
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16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?
Longest: Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers at 560 pages. I wish I had loved it more. :( That’s a lot of reading for not a lot of love.
Shortest: Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks at 96 pages. It was a quick little Christmas romance that was cute enough, but forgettable.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

 
Pandemonium (Delirium, #2) 
The end of Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver had me freaking out, flipping out, and murmuring quietly to myself. I need to make sure I don’t read Requiem on a cruise this year. Both Delirium and Pandemonium were read on cruise ships. You know why this is bad? There is not a single person aboard who you can talk to about things like these! Not one. And there’s no internet either. It’s pure torture. I need the support of my bookish pals if Lauren is going to do this again!

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2012?
If we’re thinking Romance, then it has to be Anna and Bennett from Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone.

My favorite friendships were Will and Kylie in From What I Remember by Kramer and Thomas, and Ella, Frankie, and Sadie in The fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen. My favorite family was the one in The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland.

19. Favorite book you read in 2012 from an author you read previously?
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver. Amazingly enough, this book is the only book this year that I read by an author I’d already read before. Well, except for I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins-Clark, which was really not very good at all.

20. Best book you read that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?
Had it not been for the person who recommended The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer, I never would have found one of my new favorite books! I wish I could remember who told me I should read this!

Blogging and Reading

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?
I came across quite a few book blogs this year, many of which I really enjoy including The Book Addict’s Guide, Books, Biscuits, and Tea, Novel Sounds, Brooke Reports, and Katie’s Book Blog.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012?
I really enjoyed writing my review for Wanderlove, because I got to put a lot of myself in it. I always try to get personal with my reviews, but I can’t always find a way to do that. I connected with it a lot, and ended up pouring a lot of myself into my review.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
I love it when discussions happen on my blog! I’ve done a couple posts on books with the same covers, and asked my readers what they thought of books with identical covers. I loved reading everyone’s opinion. I also asked my readers how they review memoirs, after I was publicly attacked by an author for writing a 1-star review of her memoir. Finally, my discussion on book blogging safety also got a lot of thoughts.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
Jamie’s book blogger confessions post made me feel like I wasn’t alone!

5. Best event that you participated in?
ALA Anaheim 2012! That was such an amazing experience, and I met so many cool people!

 

 

Espe, Me, Georgia, Jen, and Magan.

I also went to quite a few book signings, which was fun. I went to Fierce Reads, and Dark Days over the summer.

Kimberly (a fellow Broke and Bookish writer) and me at the Dark Days signing!

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?
This is a hard question! I loved meeting everyone at ALA, and I love all the book signings. The people are the best part of the bookish community. However… I was jumping all over my house, giddy and excited and going pretty nuts when my first ARC request was granted. The day I received Of Poseidon in the mail was one of the best ever!

7. Most popular post this year on your blog? By views: My post on quotes for book lovers received over 2,280 views!
In comments: My Leap into Books Giveaway received 163 comments.

8. Post you wished got a little more love?
As a whole, I wish people would have paid a little more attention to my Bookish Little Christmas event. :) It’s a busy time of year, though, so it makes sense!

9. Best bookish discovery?
Edelweiss! I finally figure out how to use it!

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I surpassed my Goodreads reading challenge goal by over 10 books! I’d only hoped for 50! I also surpassed my goal in the 2012 Netgalley Reading challenge, hosted by Red House Books. My goal was 11-20, and I read 24. I want to participate in more challenges next year!

What Lies Ahead…

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2012 but will be your number 1 priority in 2013?
Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway. I’ve been so excited for this!

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2013?
Requiem by Lauren Oliver
Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Triangles by Kimberly Ann Miller<

3. Things you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2013?
– Read at least 52 books this year. (I’m working full time now, so I’m hoping for a book a week. Maybe more!)
– More discussions on the blog!
– Read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
– Read the Chronicles of Narnia.
– I want to be able to make time to go an comment on other blogs, and make friends.
– Get to even more events and signings. I’m hoping to get at least 5 books signed this year!
– I want to foster stronger relationships with some of my favorite publishers, in order to learn more about the book world, and how I can get a job in it in the future.


Merry Christmas! (+ My Top 10 Favorite things About Christmas)

Posted December 25, 2012 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 11 Comments

Merry Christmas, everyone! I just wanted to thank all of you for tuning in this month for my Bookish Little Christmas event! And thanks to my author and blogger friends for writing guest posts, and to the publishers for giving me some Christmas books to review. I definitely had a fun time, and I hope you did too! If you missed any of my posts, go check out the schedule of events.

I hope you all enjoy your day with family and friends. Eat lots, give, receive, and report back to me with a huge list of books you got! I know I’ll be busy with all of mine. Now that my Christmas event has come to an end, I’ll be posting sporadically for the rest of the year. It’s been a super busy month, and I need a break! I’ve still got a post or two up my sleeve, but I’ll be back in full swing in 2013!

Today is Tuesday! I’m posting my top ten favorite things about Christmas (yeah, not so bookish… but seriously.).
(TTT at The Broke and the Bookish is a freebie for today.)

1. The decorations. My entire house looks like Santa’s workshop exploded. There’s lighted villages, a jam-packed Christmas tree, nativities, and poinsettias everywhere. Plus, there’s like a million colored lights and snowflakes outside.

2. The music. I am such a sucker for Christmas music! It’s all I listen to from Thanksgiving day on.

3. The smells. I love the smell of Christmas trees, gingerbread, sugar cookies, hot chocolate, sparkling grape juice, and Christmas dinner cooking in the kitchen.

4. Giving to others. I start Christmas shopping in July! I love spending hours and hours trying to figure out what my friends and family would get giddy over.

5. Baking. I love making elaborate Christmas cookies!

6. Everyone is so much nicer and happier. 

7. The snow. I LOVE SNOW.

8. The books! I love Christmas books, but especially the ones I grew up reading. We have a huge basket that we bring out every year full of Christmas picture books. I love pulling out my favorites and reading them by the fire.

9. Red and green. I wear so much red and green during the Christmas season. I paint my nails, I have this huge collection of Christmas jewelry, and we can’t forget my bright red patent leather pumps.

10. Time off work! I love having time off to spend with my family. :)

What do you love about Christmas? And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, do you celebrate another holiday? Tell me about it, and have a wonderful day!

 


Decked with Holly by Marni Bates (Book Review)

Posted December 24, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Decked with Holly by Marni Bates (Book Review)Decked with Holly by Marni Bates
Published by K-Teen on September 25, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Pages: 244
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
Taking a Christmas cruise with her two cousins from hell isn't Holly's idea of a good time. And when seasickness forces her into an open suite, she's pepper-sprayed by a gorgeous guy called Nick. But when Holly makes her exit, she's greeted by a horde of screaming teenage fans. Because Nick happens to be Dominic Wyatt, drummer for one of the hottest bands in America. Suddenly rumors are swirling and Holly's face is plastered all over the Internet. The band can't risk a scandal destroying their family-friendly image, so Dominic convinces Holly to be his fake girlfriend - just for two weeks. How bad could it be to be "fauxmantically" involved with a cute rock star? She's about to find out...

As soon as I read the synopsis of Decked with Holly, I could hear it screaming sweet Christmas nothings at me. Alexa’s review, however, is what clinched the deal for me. I knew I had to have this book, because it just sounds so adorable! And I have a big thing for books set on cruise ships… and cute Christmas stories… so this book won in two areas of my bookish heart. It was just as adorable and laugh-out-loud funny as I had hoped. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Holly is a girl after my own heart: quirky, artsy, witty, funny, a little eccentric, and always in the shadow of her friends and glamorous family members. She’s so down to earth and average. I loved watching her get thrown into this awkward fake romance with a sexy boy she’s been crushing on from afar for quite some time.

2. This book made me remember my boy band crush days as a teen. I can’t tell you how many times I sat on my bed, listening to N’Sync or Backstreet Boys on repeat, pretending their love songs were about me. I’m not sure what would have happened to me if I’d had to play starlet and be one of their girlfriends for a couple weeks.

3. Nick is the typical boy band persona, and I loved reading about him and his musings and silly thoughts. And I loved how he softened as he got to know Holly more.

4. I love the word “fauxmance”. That’s just one of the hilarious things that was said in this book. Holly and Nick are so quirky and unique in their own way, and they had some of the funniest spats and arguments.

5. I’ve been on several cruises to the Mexican Riviera, so it was really fun for me reading a book that took place on one. I could picture Cabo and Puerto Vallarta (although cruise ships don’t go there anymore, because it’s too dangerous.).

6. Decked with Holly is kind of a conglomeration of Cinderella and Pretty Woman. I loved it. We’ve got this average, plain Jane who gets scooped up into the high rolling life, if you will. She gets a makeover, and she gets treated like a princess. She gets to stay in a suite, have spa days and scuba lessons, and wear expensive make up and cocktail dresses. This, combined with the sweet romance, made me really fall in love with the book.

7. I loved the author’s writing style. Here are some of my favorite quotes.

– “I closed my eyes and said, ‘It’s ok, Holly. You aren’t moving at sea. Oh, no, you are actually lying still on something very stable… like a mountain. That’s right, an enormous mountain with no water anywhere nearby.'”

– “Well, crap. I had probably just pepper sprayed my biggest fan.”

– “I hate the ocean. Someone should drain it.”

– “Apparently, the very mention of shopping was bringing back all sorts of bad memories, like he was having post-traumatic stress disorder from selecting mascara.”

– “I had nearly bailed several times on yoga. I’m sorry, but balancing on one foot isn’t exactly easy when you happen to be on a moving ship. I have no idea how everyone else managed what was absolutely not beginning yoga. It should have been called an advanced course on the art of Twister instead.”

Overall, Decked with Holly is darling, and just what I needed. There was not a huge emphasis on Christmas, so you could actually read it any time during the year. Maybe even on a cruise! It was a light, adorable little romance that I really, really loved.


My Christmas Playlist (The Songs I Grew Up On)

Posted December 22, 2012 by Jana in About Me / 1 Comment

I don’t know about you, but in my family we always listened to the same Christmas CDs every year. It was always super exciting to pull out the CDs the day after Thanksgiving and start dancing as we baked, decorated, wrapped, and sat by the fire. Here are some of my favorite Christmas tunes that I’ve been listening to since I was little.

Neil Diamond – Joy to the World
I love both his Christmas albums!

David Lanz – The Christmas Waltz/The First Noel
Ahh… David Lanz… This guy is amazing. I went to a concert of his, and melted.

The Beach Boys – Little St. Nick
Yes, I grew up listening to the Beach Boys. (I saw them live on the 4th of July this year, actually!)
And I love their Christmas album!

Andy Williams – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Is this not the most amazing Christmas song ever? Yeah, I thought so too. Every time I hear is I smile like a little kid.

Kenny G – The Christmas Song
Christmas Eve dinner was always spent listening to Kenny G’s Christmas albums by candlelight!

Wham! – Last Christmas
And honestly. Wham! had to happen. Every time I say the word “special” I say it they way they did in this song.

So, what Christmas songs did you grow up listening to with your family? Do we have any in common?

 


The Magic of A Christmas Carol (Guest Post by Kimberly)

Posted December 21, 2012 by Jana in Guest Post / 1 Comment

I’d like to welcome to the blog, one of my very best book blogging friends, and fellow Broke and Bookish writer, Kimberly! I’ve always known of Kimberly’s love for Dickens’s Christmas Carol, so I was delighted when she offered to fangirl about it on the blog today!

Everyone has their Christmas tradition. Caroling, baking cookies, visiting the neighbors, etc. In my family we have a lot of the same traditions, but one in particular is my favorite.  Every year we watch the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol. We have watched this every year for as long as I can remember.

A Christmas Carol is my favorite Christmas story. My love for it is a mix of nostalgia, and love for the story itself. I’ve probably watched more versions of this story than anyone else I know. I’ve seen 4 different stage productions of it (For you Utahns, Hale Center Theatre has the best one!) I’ve watched numerous movie versions (Muppet Christmas Carol anyone?)  Alastair Sim is my favorite, but Patrick Stewart’s is fantastic as well.

There is another version, with MANY liberties taken, that has completely stolen my heart. I don’t know how many Doctor Who fans are reading this, but I’m going to tell you about it anyway. (Shoot, how to explain Doctor Who???) Basically the Doctor is man (well, a Time Lord but that’s more explanation) who travels around in time and space, saving the world, people, making you laugh, cry, smile and… Anyway there is a Doctor Who version of A Christmas Carol. In this version the Doctor comes across a nasty old man (played by Michael Gambon) the Scrooge of his world. He has the power to save thousands of lives, but can’t be bothered to do so. “We have a surplus population as it is! Better they die!” The Doctor of course, won’t let that stand. But instead of sending three ghosts, he does the job himself. He travels back in time, to the younger version of this jaundiced man. Befriends him, shows him a better side of life. I won’t say much more, in case you want to watch it, but it is one of the most heartwarming stories. I’ve watched it multiple times and it brings tears to my eyes every time.

Then there is my Christmas village. I’ve always loved them, and my aunt has a beautiful one. It’s huge: over a hundred buildings. I’d always admired it. Imagine my delight when I found out my grandparents had one that was made by the same company, Department 56, except their village is different from my aunt’s. She has the “North Pole” series. My Grandparents? The “Dickens” series. All of the buildings are based off of places from his books and other shops and homes and famous places that were around in his time. Then I found out something incredibly special. Out of all the grandkids in my family (15ish or so of them including spouses and kids) my grandparents had decided to give the village to me! They had intended to simply put it in their will, but they never put the village out any more. The entire set was in several large boxes, sitting in storage. So my grandparents and I made a deal, I could have the village now if I went and found it in the storage shed. I was more than happy to do that. I drove over to the storage center, and two hours later, covered in dust, several broken nails, smashed fingers and more cobwebs that I care to think about… I had it. MY village. Mine. I took the boxes home and immediately began to put it together. It’s beautiful. The buildings are typical Victorian England, everything is perfect down to the last detail. It has buildings from Oliver, Christmas Carol, as well as a few of his other stories. There is even a Globe Theatre (For those who aren’t as geeky as me, that is Shakespeare’s theatre that he built). The next piece I want, if I can ever afford it is 221b Baker Street, the residence of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. This village is a dream to someone as bookish as I am. I put it out every year. I didn’t get the best picture, but here is one for you!


Back to the original story. There is so much to love. Dickens wrote with a wry sort of humor. While it is mostly a serious story, it is littered with spots of humor that balance out the emotions perfectly. The characters are wonderful, and you’ll find one from every walk of life. Scrooge, who is rich but refuses to part with any more of his money that he must. Nephew Fred, full of life and true Christmas spirit. Bob Cratchet, poor, but loves his family dearly and welcomes the holidays despite the lack of money.

Scrooge refers to Christmas as a ‘humbug’. The true meaning of this word has been lost over the decades, but once you know what it means, it gives you much more insight into Scrooges mind. Humbug means “deceptive or false behaviour”. So when he refers to people or Christmas as a ‘humbug’, he is saying that they are being false. That they aren’t truly happy for Christmas. That  they, like him, are only looking to profit from it. Scrooge doesn’t necessarily hate Christmas, he simply cannot stand facades, and that is how he views Christmas.

There are a few lines in this book that stick with me, they are powerful words… The first comes from Jacob Marley, “I wear the chains I forged in life, I made them, link by link, yard by yard.” He is referring to his misdeeds in life, they are all represented by heavy chains that he is doomed to wear forever. The other quote comes from a conversation between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past. The Ghost begins to lead Scrooge to the window, and in fear he cries out “But I am but mortal, and liable to fall!” The Ghost replies: “But a touch of my hand, and you shall be upheld in more than this.” Then there are the powerful words spoken by the Ghost of Christmas Present, when he reveals the two children. “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom…

Then there is the transformation of Scrooge. We watch him change. He is bitter at the world until he is visited by Marley, his only friend, and the other Ghosts. They show him his past and he remembers the joys he had long forgotten and sees the mistakes he made, and for the first time feels scorn for himself. He is show the present and how others celebrate Christmas, with pure joy. No falseness, no ‘humbug’. He is shown the future and is shown how pathetically he has lived his life. He observes how others perceive him. He learns that he has to power to not only change his own future, but the lives of others.

I believe I have rambled on about this long enough, as you can tell, I have so much love for this story. When I start talking about it, I can’t stop! So read this story! Watch the movie, or listen to the audio book. Jim Dale narrates the unabridged version, and does a brilliant job. (Yes, THAT Jim Dale, as in the genius that narrates the Harry Potter books).

Any other Christmas Carol fans out there? Please comment!
Merry Christmas!

 


Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks (Mini Book Review)

Posted December 19, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks (Mini Book Review)Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks
Published by Word Garden Press on September 9, 2011
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 96
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller. For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block--until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes it’s the perfect solution to his plot problem. He digs in and discovers two things: one, his villain’s weapon will fit inside a snowman's body, and two, this particular snowman was supposed to be the backdrop for Lexi’s next show. From this improbable beginning comes friendship, but can there be a happy ending for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood? Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

You know how sometimes you’ll be flipping through the channels for a fun Christmas movie to watch, and all of a sudden you come across a particularly cheesy and sugary romance on Hallmark? That’s how I felt with this book. It was SOO a Hallmark movie. And don’t get me wrong. I love some of those Hallmark Christmas movies! But I’m sure you know exactly what I’m saying when I tell you that this one was just TOO Hallmarky. I supposed with the right overdose of the Christmas spirit pills, one might be able to sink their teeth into this one without getting a cavity. But even the cheeriest of elves, or Mrs. Claus herself, would probably feel the need to brush their teeth big time once they finished this.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad book by any means. The story idea was a lot of fun: famous children’s author meets young Martha Stewart, and they help each other recover from their pasts to pave the way for a future together. But the story was so implausible that I could not see past that to anything else. Lexi and Kyle meet for the first time when he destroys her beautiful snowman, in the hopes of finding a twist for his next book. She gets so unbelievably mad at him, you’d think he stole her secret fruitcake recipe and sold it on the Black Market. It’s a snowman. But she flies over the handlebars and refers to him as one of the worst men in the world for ruining her snowman.

This is the biggest case of instalove I’ve ever seen. More than Twilight, even. They go from hating each other’s guts to planning a Christmas party together, which of course makes them fall in love. The two are engaged before they even have their first kiss and before they even exchange “I love you’s”. Ahhhh! It happens in like 4 days! To offset the sugary love, the author threw a very depressing pity party for Kyle and his family, who spend Christmas Eve morning the 22nd anniversary of their mother’s death. It felt a little forced to me, and I got really depressed reading pages and pages of crying. It was just a roller coaster of extreme emotions.

I did enjoy that the story takes place in Salt Lake City. I always have fun reading about places I’ve actually seen, like the mall they mentioned. And I really liked Lexi’s kids, especially her daughter Tricia. But other than that, this book was just too much for me. Martha added too much sugar to this batch of cookies!


Christmas Around the book World (Alexa Loves Books Guest Post)

Posted December 17, 2012 by Jana in Guest Post / 2 Comments

 

It’s my pleasure to have Alexa on the blog today, discussing some dreamy places to spend Christmas from some of my favorite books. I adore Alexa, and am SO excited about this wonderfully creative post she dreamed up! I agree with all of her choices, and am off to Amazon to buy the ones I have not read about yet!

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year! It is absolutely delightful to me when December 1 hits (since that is when I personally start my Christmas countdown). I love seeing all the sparkly, colorful decorations and the twinkly lights go up, shopping for the perfect presents for my loved ones, munching on Christmas goodies, listening (and singing along!) to Christmas tunes, and attending various holiday celebrations. It’s always a joyous, lovely time of year, and I enjoy it as much as I can!

I’ve been thinking lately how lucky I am to have experienced the holiday seasons in both the Philippines, and in New York (and also Ohio and Virginia and California, but I was much younger then…). It really does make a difference where you choose to celebrate, as each place has a different atmosphere.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this. Well, in thinking about where I’ve celebrated the holidays, I got to thinking about the book settings where I think it might be fun or interesting to celebrate the holiday season. I had a hard time narrowing down my choices, but I’ve finally come up with my top five!

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
It would be fun to celebrate Christmas in a castle, don’t you think? I can just imagine the grand balls and dances that would occur, as well as all the food that would be served. Everyone would be dressed up, and the decorations would be spectacular. I would probably be divvying up the sweets with Celaena, and hoping that Chaol would give me a present!

My Life Next Door
2. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
If I got invited to celebrate the holiday season with the Garretts, I would not hesitate to say yes! I can only imagine how much fun (and chaos) would ensue as we engaged in all the typical Christmas traditions. Plus, if I happened to catch Jase under the mistletoe, I would consider that a fine present indeed (but don’t tell the husband-to-be that!).

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)

3. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
I would love to celebrate Christmas in this particular world for two things: the sure to be amazing Christmas music (care of Seraphina and her master!) that I would be able to hear and the fact that I would get the best Christmas present ever if I got to see a dragon. It would also be very, very amusing if I got to hang out with Seraphina and Kiggs.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
I honestly don’t take credit for this particular choice, since Jana actually gave me the idea for this post by mentioning this book in her email. But I think it would be interesting to celebrate in New Beijing – especially if I got invited to a ball thrown by Prince Kai. Plus, having Cinder + Iko as friends would result in some very interesting presents from both of them!

Decked with Holly

5. Decked with Holly by Marni Bates
Spending Christmas on a cruise sounds like so much fun, especially seeing as I’ve never experienced one for myself. I think it would be interesting to go on a trip with my loved ones, and relax in the nice, warm weather. And if there happened to be a rock star or two (or in my case, a boy band member) on board who wanted to date me? Well, that’s a bonus.

Discussion: There are so many more books I’d love to include, but now it’s YOUR turn. If you could celebrate Christmas in any book setting, where would it be and why?


My Favorite Christmas Book Covers

Posted December 16, 2012 by Jana in Cover Talk / 2 Comments

There are so many darling Christmas book covers out there with pretty winter scenes and glitter. I’ve picked out some of my favorites to display here. Let me know what you think!

What Happens at Christmas by Victoria Alexander
All I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver
Twelve Days of Christmas by Trish Ashley
Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan
Wish Upon a Star by Sarah Morgan
Secret Santa by Sabrina James
Married by Christmas by Scarlett Bailey
Home for Christmas by Cally Taylor
It Started with a Kiss… by Miranda Dickinson
Home for Christmas by Cally Taylor


A Man’s Opinion on Let it Snow by Green, Johnson, & Myracle

Posted December 15, 2012 by Jana in Guest Post, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Can you believe it? 10 days until Christmas! I don’t know about you, but I am getting extremely excited about it! And I’m also super excited to welcome my friend from Resolution Corner to give us a guy’s perspective on one of my very favorite Christmas romances, Let it Snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. I read and reviewed this book last Christmas, and was delighted to find out that he enjoyed it as much as I did!

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Romance is as much a part of the modern day Christmas with romantic films such as “The Holiday” or “Love Actually” as it is about the nice big guy in the red coat who delivers nice presents, snow (if you can get it), cheesy music and a good Gingerbread Latte.

As part of this thread for the month of December, I offered to read and review this book from three of THE hot YA writers around – Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle.  “Let It Snow” is a book of three separate, but interlinked stories which takes place over one particularly snow affected Christmas.

The first story, “The Jubilee Express”, is written by Maureen Johnson and sees lead character Jubilee Dougal (you find out the origin of her unusual first name at the start of this story).  Due to circumstances out of her control, she is forced to leave her ideal Christmas behind, including her boyfriend, Noah, and his family’s Smorgasbord party, to travel to Florida to spend Christmas with her grandparents.  Along the way, the train in which she is travelling is halted by a snow drift just outside Gracetown and due to a series of circumstances, she is forced to spend Christmas Day in Gracetown with a boy named Stuart, along with his family, whilst being offered the chance to re-evaluate her priorities.

The second story, “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle”, is written by John Green. Tobin, the lead character of this story, along with his friends JP and The Duke are settling down to a James Bond movie marathon whilst Tobin’s parents are stuck at a medical conference.  However, plans change when a phone call sends them on an epic quest in the snow with the promise of stranded cheerleaders, Twister and hash browns at the Waffle House.  But what do you do when one of your party is a girl who doesn’t really like the idea of cheerleaders, the Reston brothers along with a group of college guys are trying to get there first and the only way to get there is your parents’ car?

The third story, “The Patron Saint of Pigs”, by Lauren Myracle centres round a girl by the name of Addie who has recently split up with her boyfriend because she cheated on him.  It also features “Guardian Angels”, Starbucks (apologies for the unintentional plug, but one of the main locations is a franchise store of Starbucks – (Other coffee stores are available)) and tea-cup pigs.

I had already read books by Maureen Johnson and John Green earlier this year which meant that I had high expectations from this book.  Thankfully, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Green along with co-author Lauren Myracle delivered with a fantastic romantic read which clearly aims towards the Young Adult market without excluding older members of the audience.  (I can say this as a forty year old male).


It’s funny that I mention “Love Actually” because a friend of mine asked me in passing what I thought of the book and I said that it felt like the YA version of this film.  The reason that I say this is that although all three stories could operate on their own, there are characters, both lead and supporting, who weave between all three of these stories who give the book as a whole a sense of community which makes sense as all three stories are predominantly set in Gracetown.  There is also a clear passage of time created between the three stories as the first story being set on the lead up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the second being set later on during Christmas Eve and into early Christmas Day morning and the final story being set during Christmas Day and Boxing Day.   This helped me get to grips not only with the intricate storylines being weaved but the various relationships between all of the characters.

As I said above, the book is definitely written with the Young Adult market in mind from all three writers.  They write three dimensional teenage characters who are not the surly, sulky stereotypes that you sometimes hear of in the media but people who have the same hopes, fears, loves and dislikes that we all do in day-to-day life, albeit with the emphasis on “loves” or male/female relationships – particularly for the three lead characters in Jubilee, Tobin and Addie.

Where this book clearly scored for me was the plotting.  I don’t just mean the way that all three authors have combined to deftly plot a book where people and situations move within the three stories culminating in a fitting climax, but with the careful striking of a balance between humour, sometimes bordering on full on comedy, gentle drama and romantic warmth.  As a reader, I never felt like one element outweighed the other two, which can sometimes happen.  I felt that the humour felt realistic and intelligent without being goofy, the drama complimented the humour rather than working against it by being too dark, miserable or mawkish and the romantic elements not being too, for want of a phrase, mushy.

If I personally had to pick a favourite story out of the three, I would have to say that it would be John Green’s story “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle”.  The reason for this isn’t that the story is written from a male perspective with Tobin being the lead character, it’s from the point of view that the story is more humour led rather than the more gentle drama led “The Jubilee Express” and the modern day moral fable that is “The Patron Saint of Pigs”.  That said, all three are fantastic and dovetail into a wonderfully written payoff at the book’s conclusion.

In short, this is a book that doesn’t talk down to or patronise its target YA audience and gives teenagers some credit for wanting to read books with intelligence and “smarts” whilst being able to indulge the young at heart, such as people like myself, with a story where you were once of a more innocent age and love can come at times and places when you least expect it.

I gave this book five stars on Goodreads and it’s one that I’d happily recommend as a seasonal heart warmer.  To go along with it, I’d recommend the following:

1. Put on some Contemporary Christmas related music – Examples: “A Very She & Him Christmas” by She & Him, “This Is Christmas” by Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler or the soundtrack to “The Holiday” by Hans Zimmer.  (Yes, I did listen to these albums whilst I was reading this book),
2. Get yourself  a suitably warm Christmas drink such as a Gingerbread Latte or Hot Chocolate,
3. Sit by a nice open fire (or a fake one if you don’t have an open fire),
4. Finally, snuggle up in a nice warm blanker or duvet whilst reading.


My Condolences

Posted December 14, 2012 by Jana in Personal / 1 Comment

I’m taking a moment to interrupt my Christmas event and express my deepest, most heartfelt condolences to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut a few hours ago. 18 precious children, between the ages of 5 and 10, and 8 school personnel died in this tragic mass-shooting, and my heart is broken.

As many of you know, I spent several years working in an elementary school teaching children how to read and write. As I read about the shooting, I thought of my sweet students with so much life left to live. My mom works in a school, and my younger sister is in college to be a preschool teacher. This is a very personal story for me and my family, and I only can only express my deepest sympathies to the victims, families, students, and teachers. I know nothing can be said or done to alleviate the pain they are going through, but I certainly hope that peace will fall over all affected.