Month: May 2014

Carrier by Vanessa Garden | Book Review

Posted May 26, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

Carrier by Vanessa Garden | Book ReviewCarrier by Vanessa Garden
Published by Harlequin Enterprises, Australia Pty Limited on March 1, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 175
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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2 Stars

From the day she was born, Lena has viewed the world through the jagged window of a razor-wired fence. The hundred-acre property she shares with her mother in the Australian outback may keep her safe from the Y-Carrier disease, but it is no longer enough to hold Lena’s interest, and her mother’s increasingly tight grip on her free will is stifling.

Just as her curiosity blooms and her courage rises, she meets a boy through the fence — the first boy she has ever laid eyes on. His name is Patrick and he comes with a dangerous yet irresistible invitation of adventure beyond the fence, an invitation to which Lena cannot say no.

But Lena’s newfound freedom is short-lived and she soon discovers that the Y-Carrier disease is not the only enemy she faces on the outside. Her new enemies want something Lena has, and they are willing to do anything to get it...

After LOVING Vanessa Garden’s debut novel, Captivate, I was beyond thrilled to hear of her next novel. Carrier, a post-apocalyptic dystopian set in the Australian outback, and is completely different from Captivate. While it was an enjoyable read, I did not feel the same magic I did when I read Captivate. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I LOVED reading a book set in the Australian Outback. And I loved all the Aussie words like “dingo”. It was just fun to read a book from an Australian author, as I got a tiny glimpse of a place I would LOVE to visit (although the Outback is not my number one go-to Australian locale. Hehe.). I suppose there’s only so many ways to describe a vast and desert-like place, but I would have loved more scenic details that specifically pointed to the Outback. This story could have taken place anywhere.

2. The worldbuilding was minimal. I would have enjoyed more information about the disease. Where did it come from? How long has it been there? How was it discovered? How did everyone end up scattered all over the place? How much of the human race is left? I just felt let in on the story way too late. If things had started earlier, or we were provided a flashback or prologue explaining the events that led up to this story, I would have been much happier. I’m very detail-oriented, and I was a bit disappointed.

3. I was not the biggest fan of the sci-fi twist, which did end up answering some of my questions, but in an unsatisfying way. The last 10-15% of the book was like a detail dumping, but it was a little too late and a little anti-climactic.

4. A lot of time was spent on a very luke-warm insta-relationship. Patrick is the first boy Lena has ever seen in her life, so naturally they would fall in love almost instantly and start risking their lives for one another, right? I did not believe their love. They barely talked about anything important, and I really think they were more awe-struck at seeing a human of the opposite gender than they were in love with each other. There was just no development.

5. Lena’s mom is very abusive, both verbally and physically. And Lena decides she wants to run away. But not permanently. Just a day or two. And then when times get harder, everything is all of a sudden sunshine and roses. There is no discussion of how horrible Lena’s mother has been, and no reconciliation or amends made. I have a hard time believing that no feelings needed to be shared in order to establish a healthy mother-daughter relationship.

6. I did not connect with any of the characters because I never got to know them well enough. They were all flat and uninteresting to me.

7. The book just felt unorganized. It’s like towards the end the author realized there were some unanswered questions, so she just started throwing out answers. Some of them did not make sense, some did not seem believable, and some were unsatisfying. I think this could be faulted by the book’s length. This is a huge story, shoved into a very tiny package. It was not given enough room to grow, and that hurt it.

8. The ending was super unsatisfying. There’s no indication of any kind of sequel, but after ALL THAT we’re left with a ton of questions. Truth be told, I did not even know what to think when it was over. It just ended abruptly. It was kind of like someone slammed on the breaks and told you to get out of the car before reaching your final destination. I was just confused and let down.

All in all, the premise and the setting were the two strong points. The execution was disappointing, and I don’t even feel like this book is from the same author as the one who wrote Captivate. There was no magic, and I guess that’s what I was looking for. I’m still a fan of Vanessa Garden, though, and cannot wait for the next book in the Submerged Sun series!

2 Stars

What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore | Book Review

Posted May 20, 2014 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore | Book ReviewWhat is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
Published by Cedar Fort on May 13, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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A Cinderella tale of deception and mystery.

In a land of masquerades and mystery, Evie is a mask maker in Venesia, where masks represent rank and identity. When a cryptic bandit strips away Evie's mask and destroys her home, she goes into hiding at the palace to find both a new identity and revenge.


I was very excited to be given the opportunity to read and review What is Hidden for the book’s blog tour. Due to a family emergency, I am a few days late posting my review. I appreciate the patience and understanding of Cedar Fort and Lauren Skidmore. I really enjoyed this book, and am excited to finally have some time to sit down and write out my thoughts! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. In the land of Venisia, nobody is allowed to be seen without a mask covering most of their face. Evie’s job is that of a mask maker, and she and her father make masks together in their home studio. Right at the beginning of the story, it is announced that there is a serial murderer, the Chameleon, going around killing people, stealing their masks, and assuming their identities. Nobody knows who this person is, whether they are male or female, or how to stop them. All they know is that this person has a unique brand on their face, hidden under their mask. One night the Chameleon attacks Evie’s home, burns it down, kills her father, and steals his mask and all other masks in the studio. The Chameleon also brands Evie with the same unique symbol, marking her as the Chameleon. If anyone sees her mark, she will be punished and maybe even killed for the real Chameleon’s crimes. She must go into hiding and abandon her friends, in the hopes of finding the Chameleon herself and clearing her own name. She flees to the palace and poses as a serving girl. It’s a very exciting and unique premise!

2. Evie has one link to her former life, her best friend Aiden. He has always been a master at finding people, and shows up at her bedroom door one night overjoyed that she did not die with her father. He is a noble, and has the ability to pull some strings and make her life a little less unbearable. Of course, she is delighted to have him in her life again and looks forward to their nightly visits and self defense lessons. She confides in him about everything, except for the Chameleon’s brand hiding under her mask. I LOVED Aiden. He’s so suave and cocky and snarky and caring.

3. All things considered, Evie is a pretty strong heroine. Her father has been murdered, she has been branded a criminal by the Chameleon, so can’t trust anyone, she has lost her former life, and she is dealing with the daily verbal abuse from other palace workers. Yet, she keeps her head on straight. I really liked that, instead of rolling over and accepting what has been done to her, she is making it her life’s mission to bringing the correct person to justice.

4. There is a bit of romance, which develops from a very sweet friendship. I loved it.

5. While What is Hidden is marketed as being a Cinderella tale, I also saw some of The Scarlet Pimpernel in it! I can’t tell you why because it’s a bit spoilery, but I really liked the added mystery and intrigue. Nobody is who they say they are, and their masks make things even more mysterious.

6. In case you had not guessed, Venisia is TOTALLY Venice, Italy. I’m not sure whether it’s an old Venice, a new Venice, or a Venice removed from time completely. The language is very modern, though, so it would be hard to convince me that it’s historic Venice. There are canals and water taxis, though, and any book that takes me to Venice or a Venice-like place is welcome on my shelves.

7. The writing style is very descriptive and lovely. I loved reading about the scenery and the intricate masks and costumes.

8. I’m just a little unsatisfied with the ending… There’s some loose ends and no announcement of a sequel. And seriously, these ends could have been tied up with a paragraph or a short epilogue, so a second book is extremely unnecessary. I would have liked a little more closure.

All in all, What is Hidden was a fun, slightly suspenseful story that I highly enjoyed. I loved the friendship turned love story, the Venice-like setting, and the sweet characters. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for Lauren Skidmore’s future books.

This book is a 2014 debut


Nil by Lynne Matson | Book Review

Posted May 15, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 13 Comments

Nil by Lynne Matson | Book ReviewNil by Lynne Matson
Published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers on March 4, 2014
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Survival
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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2 Stars

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days--to escape, or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.

Any book that is marketed as “Survivor meets Lost” has some pretty gargantuan shoes to fill. And honestly, I think this might have hurt Nil, because I went into the book with really huge expectations. I am a Survivor fangirl, and got addicted to Lost very quickly. So I was expecting to fall head over heels into crazy love with Nil. And I didn’t. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The premise sounds AMAZING, right? People are randomly showing up on this unknown island and have a year to get off or they die. I mean, what a unique and creative idea! That’s why I was so drawn to the book in the first place, I just feel like I wanted more from it. More details. More surviving. Less of what we got.

2. I really, REALLY did not like the romance aspect of the story. It completely overshadowed the craziness of the Island. The great thing about Lost was that the island was a character. It was the main character. Everything that happened was because of the island. Nil needed that same treatment. I did not care about the lovebirds, I did not believe in their love story of convenience, and I got really annoyed by the fact that Thad kept not wanting to get off the island because he did not want to leave Charley. Are ya kidding me? He wants to risk his life and, ultimately, die to spend a few extra days with a girl he has known for less than a month? Less than a few weeks? I don’t like dumb characters. It would have made so much more sense for him to do everything he could to get off the island and then hope the same for Charley. Because then they might have a chance. And I got so tired of hearing how hot he was and how long and lean her legs were. And her hair. And blah, blah, blah.

3. I feel like a lot of time was spent reading about the characters as they ran as fast as they could to try and catch an exit portal to escape. There is only so much an author can do with running scenes.

4. I did like the society on Nil. The teens who live there all pull their own weight, have different talents that make life easier or more comfortable, and all look out for one another. I liked that they set up searching groups for exit portals and did everything they could to try and help people get out. I like that they keep track of who makes it off the island and who doesn’t. They really care about one another, and I felt like these friendships made me care much more about the people involved.

5. I’m not sure whether or not I liked the dual point of view from Thad and Charley. I don’t like dual POVs unless they are done really well and add something to the story, rather than rehashing things we already read about. Sometimes the dual point of view was enlightening, but other times I found it to be predictable and re-hashy.

6. There were so many characters that nobody really got enough time spent on them for you to care about them individually. I liked a couple people here and there, but I could not even remember their names. For this reason, I wish more focus had been placed on surviving instead of the people and the romance.

7. I loved the mystery and intrigue of the inner workings of the island. I love puzzles and figuring things out. I wish more time had been spent on this.

8. Everything ended SO FAST. You’re kind of left hanging, yet there’s no sequel.

Basically, Nil had large shoes to fill before it even hit the shelves and I feel like it suffered as a result. I wanted a crazy, twisted survival story and got a lukewarm instalove instead. The story had SO much potential, too. Yes, there were some good moments, but I was disappointed overall.

This book is a 2014 debut

2 Stars

Special Accouncement from Tracey Garvis-Graves!

Posted May 11, 2014 by Jana in Bookish News / 4 Comments

GUESS WHAT!? Tracey Garvis-Graves (author of On the Island, Uncharted, and Covet) is releasing an adult romantic suspense novel sometime this year! I am SO EXCITED. I love romantic suspense and mysteries, and I have loved every one of Tracey’s novels so far! She is an auto-buy author for sure, and I will be trying to get my hands on it as soon as possible. Here’s what we know so far:

Title: Every Time I Think of You
Cover Coming Soon!
Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves
Release Date: Sometime in 2014
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Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child.

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe.

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before.

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost.

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.

HELLO! I am so excited!!!! How good does this one sound!?

Check out the book’s trailer!

Book Excerpt
(In case you need any more reasons to be excited about this…)

My watch said 11:00 p.m. Way too late to show up unannounced, but I knocked on Daisy’s door anyway, picturing her tip-toeing quietly to look through the peephole. It took a full minute because I’d undoubtedly roused her from a sound sleep. But then she opened the door far enough for me to cross the threshold and locked it again behind me.

The apartment was dark, save for a small beam of light that spilled into the hallway from her bedroom. As my eyes adjusted I noticed her hair. I’d never seen it down before. It fell way past her shoulders and was slightly messy, like she’d been tossing and turning in her sleep before I arrived. She wore a pair of pajama pants and a tank top with narrow straps, one of which had fallen off her shoulder.

“What is it?” she asked. “Are you okay?”

“My mom died,” I said. It felt strange to say the words out loud. My voice sounded flat, unemotional.

“I’m so sorry, Brooks,” she said, but she didn’t say anything else.

I wanted something that would take away the empty, restless feeling inside of me. Something solid and real. She was standing close enough that one step was all I needed to close the gap between us. She must have taken a shower right before she went to bed because when I plunged my hands into all that hair, grabbing fistfuls and pulling her up against me, I felt the dampness and smelled the faint traces of her shampoo.

I moved my hands to the sides of her face and cupped it. She didn’t miss a beat when I pressed my lips to hers. She was probably wondering how I could possibly kiss her at a time like this, but it didn’t stop her from putting her arms around me and kissing me back like it was exactly what she needed, too.

Like the steady turn of a release valve, everything that had been bottled up inside of me escaped slowly through that kiss. I hadn’t realized how rigidly I’d been holding my body until it slackened against hers. How tightly I’d been clenching my jaw until I relaxed it to kiss her. All the tension I’d been feeling disappeared when she opened her mouth and let me in.

It was a long slow kiss, the kind that wasn’t meant to lead to anything else and was all the more powerful because of it. When I’d finally had enough I said, “I don’t know why I came. It’s late. I woke you up.”

“It’s okay,” she said softly. “I don’t mind.”

“Go back to bed,” I whispered.

She nodded and I opened the door. “Lock this behind me,” I said, and I waited in the hallway until I heard the tumble of the lock clicking into place.


About Tracey

Tracey Garvis-Graves is the author of On the Island, Uncharted, and Covet. She lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa with her husband, two children, and hyper dog Chloe. She blogs at using colorful language and a snarky sense of humor to write about pop culture, silly television shows, and her suburban neighborhood. You can e-mail her at She’d love to hear from you.

Announcement brought to you by Wordsmith Publicity

Bout of Books 10 – Goals

Posted May 10, 2014 by Jana in Personal / 9 Comments

Bout of BooksI’m so excited to be officially participating in Bout of Books this week! I’ve always wondered what this Bout of Books thing is, and then I came across a couple blogs with goals posted, read a little about it, and found out it starts Monday! Now that school’s done, I can totally do this! It should be a lot of fun!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Books I want to read this week:

1. How to Meet Boys by Catherine Clark
2. Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly
3. Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
4. The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Additional goals for the week:

  • Learn the ins and outs of how this read-a-thon works!
  • Make some new blogging friends!
  • Tackle my massive review pile.
  • Get out of my reading slump, because I am dying.
  • Participate in two or three challenges.

Read-A-Thon Progress:

Monday – 5/12 – (This is the day my dad had a heart attack.)
Books Finished Today: 0
Currently Reading: What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
Total Books Read: 0
Total Pages Read: 9

Tuesday – 5/13 – (Dad still in hospital, had surgery for artery blockage.)
Books Finished Today: 0
Currently Reading: What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
Total Books Read: 0
Total Pages Read: 155

Wednesday – 5/14 (Dad home.)
Books Finished Today: 0
Currently Reading: What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
Total Books Read: 0
Total Pages Read: 155

Thursday – 5/15
Books Finished Today: 0
Currently Reading: What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
Total Books Read: 0
Total Pages Read: 177

Friday – 5/16
Books Finished Today: What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
Currently Reading: Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Total Books Read: 1
Total Pages Read: 280

Saturday – 5/17
Books Finished Today: 0
Currently Reading: Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Total Books Read: 1
Total Pages Read: 280

Sunday – 5/18
Books Finished Today: 0
Currently Reading: Carrier by Vanessa Garden (Set aside Catch a Falling Star for another time)
Total Books Read: 0
Total Pages Read: 310

End-of-Week Wrap-up: 5/19/14

Well… I failed Bout of Books. I mean, if you take my last month of reading into account, one book for the week is really good for me! So in that respect, I did do well! It was a crazy week and I was just not feeling the book I tried to focus on. I should have just set it aside sooner. Catch a Falling Star is very cute, but apparently not what I was in the mood for. I’ll finish it next month hopefully. Carrier is very good, so I’m doing better with reading now! Next Bout of Books, I’ll make sure not to set my goals too high and to remember I’m just out to have fun.

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord | Book Review

Posted May 9, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord | Book ReviewOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord
Published by Walker Children's on April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 342
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

When I think of this book, my heart soars and flutters a little. I was SO in the mood for a light, sweet little romance and Emery Lord gave it to me. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. What a fun idea for a book! I love that the book takes place on a tour bus and in hotels along a 24-city country music tour! It’s such a unique and fresh idea, and I enjoyed listening in on the characters’ discussions as they drove along the open road.

2. I adore the deep and protective friendship that exists between Reagan and Lilah/Dee, and I love the friendship between Dee and Matt. Even though there was a bit of romance to the story, the focus was mostly on friendship and I found that to be extremely refreshing. Everyone was so concerned for each other.

3. I liked seeing the non-glitzy, non-perfect side of celebrity life, and I loved that it did not ruin Lilah. You would think her life was perfect, but she has a lot of pain and sadness built up inside that the world of pop culture doesn’t get. The are pushing on her for information about her break-up, and they are trying to ruin her life with lies. She has to put up this front and come off as America’s little sweetheart, while she cries behind closed doors like any normal teenager would. She is real, and I felt for her.

4. I love how protective Reagan is over Dee. When Matt shows up, Reagan pretty much wants to punt him in to the next universe. But his sweetness and sincerity melts through Reagan’s reservations. The three form a really cute trio.

5. I am SO a fan of swoony Matt Finch. He’s sensitive and charming and a little broody. He seems to be very clean cut and gentlemanly. Totally the boy next door. Plus, he can sing in a melt-your-heart melodic way, rather than a I’m-going-to-scream-obscenities-until-I-bust-a-vocal-chord way.

6. I kind of skimmed over the romance aspect before, but it needs to be addressed. I LOVE THE SWOONS. Matt just knows how to say all the right things. And the way he picks Reagan up and puts her back together melted me.

7. I absolutely loved the writing style. Emery is really good at writing about teen angst, emotion, love, and friendship. I hung on her every word.

Basically, if you’re looking for a sweet summer romance with a little meat to it then this is your book! I will always look back on this fun summer road trip fondly. Open Road Summer is a new favorite, and I highly suggest you go grab yourself a copy.

5 Stars

Goals for My Second Trip to Italy – Wish You Were Italian Release Event

Posted May 8, 2014 by Jana in About Me / 7 Comments

wish you were italianWish You Were Italian is my favorite book of 2014 so far! I loved it so unbelievably much. In honor of the book’s release on May 6th, Kristin Rae, the author, has asked us early readers of the book to share our goals for Italy, just like Pippa (the main character in the book) did before she began her Italian adventure.

I’ve already been to Italy once, and saw a TON of cities and towns and art… but one can never do everything in only one trip! So, these are my goals for the NEXT time I go. Because, honestly, I will be back. The coin I threw on the Trevi Fountain proves it. :)

1. Not be sick this time.
I got to Italy by transatlantic cruise, and contracted a bad case of pneumonia on the ship. My doctor says it’s because I was in such close quarters with a bunch of people from all over the world and pretty much made my own sickness. I was gone for six weeks, and was sick for the entire thing. :'( I actually broke my rib coughing in Florence. SO painful, and so disappointing. I did not let it get me down too much, though. Although when I got home and went to the doctor, he told me I should have been in the hospital. He did a chest x-ray (probably looking for tuberculosis) and could not see my heart through the pneumonia. I was SO sick.

2. Eat more gelato.
Gelato is pretty expensive, and I did not eat nearly enough. I keep thinking back to this gelateria in Florence that sold a “cookies” gelato. It was vanilla with some kind of bakery cookie covered in chocolate mixed in. It was to DIE for, and I swear three cups of it was not enough.

3. Walk the Bridge of Sighs and go into the Dodges Palace in Venice.
Seriously. I looked at this bridge and I looked at this palace but did not go in. WHY? It’s like it did not occur to me! I was so enchanted by Venice that I wanted to be outside the whole time, I guess.

4. Spend more time in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.
My mom and I are the art history buffs, but my dad and sister couldn’t care less. I had been wanting to see this lovely little chapel forEVER, but my mom and I felt pressured to leave sooner than we wanted because the rest of the family was bored. We should have just told them to go out without us. I could have sat there for at least another hour.

5. Visit Cinque Terre
I wanted to go to Cinque Terre before I read Wish You Were Italian, but after reading so much about it, I want to go even more, especially to Riomaggiore!

6. Actually go to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
I just sat at the bottom of it and looked up at it. There were SO MANY STAIRS to get to the top, and sickly me would just not have made it!

7. Visit the Galleria Borghese in Rome.
I’m an ART person and I did not get the chance to see this museum! There was just not enough time!

8. Stay at the Hotel Metropole in Bellagio even longer.
This hotel is the most beautiful, with the most exquisite views I’ve ever seen. We had a corner room with double balconies. My mom and I splurged on this hotel, but it was so worth it. Seriously, click on the link above and go see pictures. Bellagio is the most magical little town, and I loved exploring it.

9. Break the law more.
Haha. I know, this sounds weird. But so many of the places I went to had men yelling at tourists to not take pictures. And at first I complied. But when they tried to take my memories away of the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s David in the Academia in Florence, that was where I drew the line. I got one amazing photo in the Sistine Chapel, which was pure luck. I was in the middle of a huge crowd and just went for it because I knew the guards could not get to me. David was another experience. I held my camera against my stomach and tried to take pictures without being noticed. There was this really scary woman Nazi guard type who was going around making people delete their pictures! I took a risk, and she glared at me and wiggled her finger at me, but I came home with one picture of David as well. I just wish I had more!

10. Stay longer.
There were so many things I wanted to see and do, but there was just not enough time! Next time, I just need to stay in Italy longer. Or move there. *sigh*


Well, I hope you liked my list of goals! If you’re wanting to go to Italy, but just can’t afford it or make the time, grab yourself a copy of Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae! It’s the next best thing. :)

Have you heard about Camp Payback by J.K. Rock? + a Giveaway!

Posted May 7, 2014 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Giveaway / 0 Comments

Have you heard about Camp Payback by J.K. Rock? + a Giveaway!

Welcome to my stop along the Camp Payback blog tour, hosted by AToMR Promotions! Last summer I read the first book of the series, Camp Boyfriend, and ADORED it. It is such a fun, summery romance that had me itching to go to summer camp, even though I hate bugs and dirt and campfire smoke. Check out my review of Camp Boyfriend here (the authors even wrote a fun guest post to go along with my review)! Anyway, I have been eagerly anticipating Camp Payback’s release, and you should be too! Here’s everything you need to know about it! My review will come later, as some crazy school/life stuff happened and I fell into a major reading slump that left me liking nothing I read. :)


camp paybackCamp Payback by J.K. Rock
Series: Camp Boyfriend #2
Published by: Spencer Hill Contemporary on April 29, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, contemporary romance, romance
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Alex has big plans for camp this year, starting with making it the best summer ever. Having fun and breaking some rules will get her the payback she wants against her parents and her ex-boyfriend. Because of his disgusting texts, she’s headed to a super strict all-girls school in the fall.

Then she meets Javier and revenge doesn’t seem nearly as important as getting to know the troubled loner determined to keep a low profile at camp. But Alex’s trouble-magnet personality and Javier’s need to stay in the background don’t mix nearly as well as their irresistible chemistry.

With her home life eroding under her feet and her last year of summer camp speeding to a close, Alex wants to make her mark on the world and squeeze every bit of fun out of her time with Javier. Too bad her old plans for revenge turn back on her just in time to ruin everything. Will she lose Javier too?

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Mini Book Review

Posted May 5, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 6 Comments

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Mini Book ReviewDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 27, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 418
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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5 Stars

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Guys, this book is WEIRD! Haha. It took me a little while to get into it because of its strangeness, but then I was hooked on the story. Laini Taylor is an amazing author, and I feel kind of weird for not having read this book sooner! I am so glad my book club decided to read it for April, because I finally had an excuse to read it.

Karou is the most interesting character I’ve read about in a while. She has blue hair, she is an art student in Prague, and she is not entirely human. She was raised by a demon who lives on the other side of random doors throughout the world. He gives her languages for her birthday, and gives her wishes (hence the blue hair and the fact that her ex-boyfriend itched terribly while he was nude modeling for her art class). Karou runs errands for this demon, and when he needs her he sends a tiny little demon bird to get her. She comes across Akiva on one of her errands, barely escapes with her life, and her world kind of spirals out of control from that point on. Karou is not quite sure who she is, and there are many people who hope things stay that way.

Seriously, Laini Taylor’s imagination is CRAZY. Maybe it’s the bright pink hair? I don’t know. But she is masterful at creating a dynamic and HUGE world that I am convinced exists somewhere. I usually hate stories with angles and demons (haha. No, not talking about Dan Brown here), but I really enjoyed this one! And the mystery of who Karou is, who Akiva is, and what’s GOING ON just kept me on the edge of my seat. The language is beautiful, and can I PLEASE go to Prague!? One of my book club members, Karin, was actually in Prague when she read this and I am SO JEALOUS. From what she told me, though, Laini paints an amazingly accurate Prague… so maybe I’ve been there already? Give this book a shot if you’re in the mood for a little bit of strange and a hugely weird world.

5 Stars