Month: December 2014

2014 Reading Challenges – How Did I Do?

Posted December 31, 2014 by Jana in About Me / 3 Comments

I participated in several challenges this year, and thought I’d write up how I did before I jump in to 2015’s challenges! So, here we go!

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Jana (That Artsy Reader Girl) has
read 24 books toward her goal of 60 books.

2014 Debut Author Challenge (That Artsy Reader Girl)

The goal: To read twelve YA books by authors who published their first YA book between Jan. 1, 2014 and Jan. 31, 2015. Here is my TBR list of all 2014 debuts.

1. Captivate by Vanessa Garden
2. Nil by Lynne Matson
3. Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
4. What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
5. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
6. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

2014 YA Contemporary Challenge (Katie’s Book Blog)

The goal: I want to read 10+ contemporary YA novels published between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014. Here is my TBR list of 2014 YA contemporaries.

1. A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
2. Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
3. Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
4. Just One Night by Gayle Forman
5. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
6. Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
7. The Body in the Woods by April Henry
8. Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
9. The Body in the Woods by April Henry
10. Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
11. Just One Night by Gayle Forman
12. My True Love Gave to Me by Various Authors

2014 Review Pile Challenge (Fiktshun and Phantamic Reads)

The goal: To review as many of my ARCs, galleys, and egalleys as I can this year! I’m shooting for Grand Master status, which is 31-40 books. This should not be hard! Here is my list of books received for review. As I review them, I will add them to the list below with a link to the review.

1. Cress by Marissa Meyer
2. Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
3. Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
4. Captivate by Vanessa Garden
5. Also Known As by Robin Benway
6. Infinite by Jodi Meadows
7. Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
8. Nil by Lynne Matson
9. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
10. Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
11. Carrier by Vanessa Garden
12. What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
13. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
14. Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
15. Taken With You by Shannon Stacey
16. Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
17. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
18. The Body in the Woods by April Henry
19. The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
20. Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
21. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
22. Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
23. Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan
24. Boomerang by Noelle August
25. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
26. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
27. A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
28. Forbidden by Kimberly Griffiths Little
29. Atlantia by Ally Condie
30. Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves
31. Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne
32. The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak
33. Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan
34. My True Love Gave to Me by Various Authors

2014 Standalone Challenge (Dizneee’s World of Books and Iceybooks)

The goal: To read 15 standalone YA/MG novels released in 2014.

1. Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
2. Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
3. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
4. Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
5. Carrier by Vanessa Garden
6. My True Love Gave to Me by Various Authors
7. Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
8. The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
9. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
10. Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
11. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
12. Atlantia by Ally Condie
13. A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
14. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

2014 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (Novel Heartbeat & Writer Grrl Reads)

The goal: To read as many prequels and sequels as I can. (1 point for each prequel or sequel novella, 2 points for each full-length sequel, 10 points for completing and reviewing a full series.)

1. The Prince (The Selection #.5) by Kiera Cass (1 point)
2. Into the Still Blue (Under the Never sky #3) by Veronica Rossi (12 points)
3. Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer (2 points)
4. Infinite (Newsoul #3) by Jodi Meadows (12 points)
5. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia #2) by C.S. Lewis (2 points)
6. What I Did for a Duke (Pennyroyal Green #5) by Julie Anne Long (2 points)
7. Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5) by Gayle Forman (1 point)
8. Suddenly Last Summer (O’Neil Brothers #2) by Sarah Morgan (2 points)
9. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (12 points)
10. Maybe this Christmas (O’Neil Brothers #3) by Sarah Morgan (12 points)
11. Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) (2 points)

I think I did pretty good! I only finished half of the DAC, which is a bit embarrassing since I hosted it for the second half of the year… but 201 will be so much better! I completed the Review Pile Challenge, which I am super excited about because my review pile is huge. I finished the Stadalone Challenge, and did great with the prequels and sequels! All in all, it was a good year! And I blew my Goodreads reading goal out of the water, which I am the most proud of! How did you do this year?

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Various Authors | Book Review

Posted December 30, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Various Authors | Book ReviewMy True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt de la Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins
Published by St Martin's Press on October 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
3 Stars

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

My True Love Gave to Me was one of the most anticipated holiday reads of mine this season, and I was so excited to dive in and be enchanted. While I liked a few of the stories, I did not like this book as a whole as much as I expected. These are amazing authors, but sadly some of the stories did not wow me. My True Love Gave to Me is a mixed bag of stories ranging from contemporary to fantasy, with a little something for everyone. I don’t want to give too much away since each story is roughly 30 pages, so I’m just going to post my Goodreads status updates for each story. I will note that I might have enjoyed this book more if I had just read a story here and there, rather than trying to binge the whole thing over a few days.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow’s story just massacred my feels! So swoony and perfect and the kind of story hopeless romantics dream of. This was my favorite story of the collection.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link
Kelly Link’s story is odd and weird and magical, yet slightly creepy. My curiosity kept me going, and I ended up utterly captivated.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña
Matt de la Peña’s story was a tad boring, and I could have done without all the swear words and the cheating.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han
Jenny Han’s story is whimsical, and I enjoyed that it took place in Santa’s workshop at the North Pole, but there’s no resolution. It was too short.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins
Stephanie Perkins’s story was really cute. Love the idea of falling in love over Christmas trees and sexy voices.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
Didn’t like David Levithan’s story at all. I liked that we got to see Santa come to life for a little girl, but it was mostly boring.

Krampsuslaf by Holly Black
I did not finish Holly Black’s story. A couple pages into it, and I knew it was not the Christmas story for me. Demons, horns, and scrambling “Santa” to get “Satan” do not mean Christmas to me!

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman
Gayle Forman’s story had me excited because I’ve never read a Hanukkah story before, but I found myself bored. There were a few lovely moments, and some sweet quotes… But overall I felt meh and wanted to move on.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McIntyre
Myra McIntyre’s story was whimsical, but took a little while to get into. I didn’t love it, but it was fun. I’m kind of a sucker for awkward romance as well. :)

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
Loved kiersten White’s story! It’s magical and sweet and completely heartwarming. And I loved the focus on yummy comfort foods and cheesy Christmas decorations.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
I liked the idea of Ally Carter’s story, but it should not have been a short story. We needed more character development, more back story, and more believability. The resolution was way too far fetched and unlikely. If the story were longer, the author might have been able to pull it off.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I LOVED Laini Taylor’s story. It started out a little slow, but I loved the world and the pure magic. I also loved the beautiful descriptions and the writing style. Laini is super talented, and I would love an entire book devoted to the Dreamer. I wanted more.

3 Stars

2014 End of Year Book Survey

Posted December 29, 2014 by Jana in About Me / 9 Comments

This survey is hosted every year by Jamie

2014 Reading Stats

Number of books you read: 75? (It keeps going up!)
Number of re-reads: 0 ( I just don’t re-read things!)
Genre you read the most from: I was super eclectic this year. I read a lot of contemporary romance, fantasy, and mystery.

Best In Books



1. Best books you read in 2014?
YA Paranormal: Captivate by Vanessa Gardner
YA Contemporary Romance: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
YA Dystopia: Cress by Marissa Meyer
YA Fantasy: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
YA Mystery: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
New Adult: Boomerang by Noelle August

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
My True Love Gave to Me by a ton of great YA authors. This book made me sad. I loved a couple of the stories (Rainbow’s and Stephanie’s), but the others were not very uplifting or cheerful.

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper sounded like it was going to be very atmospheric and magical, but it was rather boring and even upsetting to me in places.

harry potter and the sorcerer's stone3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
I had NO idea what an amazing ride I was in for with Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas! LOVED it.
Boomerang by Noelle August made me re-consider the NA genre.
I finally started the Harry Potter series, and loved Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone more than I thought I would!

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did) In 2014?
Ummm… Pretty sure it was The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. I pushed it on a lot of people while waiting in Mary’s signing line at ALA, and I shoved my ARC of it on one of my friends and she’s STILL hungover!

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best sequel of 2014? the selectionBest series-ender of 2014?
Series I started: The Selection by Kiera Kass
Sequel: Cress by Marissa Meyer
Series-ender: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo and Infinite by Jodi Meadows

don't look back6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Jennifer L. Armentrout! I loved Don’t Look Back, and want to read more of her books!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I kind of fell out of the historical romance genre (I loved it when I was younger), but Julie Ann Long’s What I Did for a Duke was wonderful and made me crave more of her books and more historical romances in general!

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
DEFINITELY Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. Holy crap.

9. Book you read in 2014 that you are most likely to re-read in the future?
I don’t re-read books, but I could see myself reading Harry Potter with my future children!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. I’m not usually a fan of girls in dresses, but I love this cover! Ruin and Rising‘s is pretty out of this world as well!

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Captain Carswell Thorne from Cress by Marissa Meyer stole my heart again! I had no idea I could love him more than I did before!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?Infinite
Captivate by Vanessa Garden, Infinite by Jodi Meadows, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2014?
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George had me thinking so much about what I would do if I went a lived on a mountain all by myself! I’d be terrified!

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier! While I did not ADORE it like I expected, I’m amazed at how long it took me to finally read it.

shatter me15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2014?

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books. In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2013?
Ugh. If I count textbooks, the longest book I read was my cataloging textbook, Reference and Information Services: An Introduction by Kay Ann Cassell. Worst. Book. Ever. It’s like I was reading Japanese.

Not counting textbooks, the longest was Rebecca by Daphne at 448 pages.

The shortest I read was Just One Night by Gayle Forman at 40 pages.

17. Book that shocked you the most?
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo broke my heart. Very shocking.
And The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson has a major plot twist/reveal!

18. OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship!)what i did for a duke
Captain Carswell Thorne and Cress! And Alexander Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge and Genevieve Eversea from What I Did for a Duke by Julie Ann Long.

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?
Reagan O’Neill and Lilah Montgomery, best friends from Open Road Summer by Emery Lord.

20. Favorite book you read in 2014 from an author you’ve read previously?
AHH. I don’t know! I love all the authors! I’ll mention one that has not been mentioned yet, though, since things are getting redundant. I loved Also Known As by Robin Benway!

21. Best book you read in 2014 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?
The Selection by Kiera Kass. Andi said it’s book crack, so I read it. And she was right!

illusions of fate22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Finn from Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White. Finn is super swoony. He’s 19, but not. And he’s so proper and romantic. And chivalrous. With these proper mannerisms and personality traits, though, he was not incredibly open with his feelings, which was a bit disappointing. He reminded me a tiny bit of Mr. Darcy. But just a tiny bit.

Paul Markov from A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray is another. Oh, my heart.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
I’m sorry! I can’t do this! As host of the Debut Author Challenge, I’ve worked with a ton of debut authors and am friends with them! I can’t choose!

24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year?atlantia
Atlantia by Ally Condie! Atlantia is a beautiful, self-sustaining, world under the sea that actually sounds a lot like Venice, believe it or not. They have canals and gondolas, and the city is colorful with lots of shops and places to visit. There’s a market in the depths of the city

uncommon criminals25. Book that was the most FUN to read?
Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter. Ally Carter is an amazing storyteller. She writes books that read like movies, and her plots are always full of excitement, humor, and even some tenderness.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014?
I don’t read books that make me cry! But I was upset by Salt & Storm that I almost cried. A bad cry. A mad cry.

And oh my. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray massacred me. Someone could have warned me about this!

27. Hidden gem of the year?
Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White is highly underrated. And I can understand why some might not like it, but it has stuck with me for months!

28. Book that crushed your soul?
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo for spoilery reasons. And A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray.

forbidden kgl29. Most unique book you read in 2014?
Forbidden by Kimberly Griffiths Little. It takes place in the Mesopotamian desert, which never happens. It’s about belly dancers, which is super unique. It depicts a unique world and cultures.

30. Book that made you the most mad?
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper. Sorry, but I hated it.



Your Blogging/Bookish Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?
What Sarah Read. Sarah is so sweet, and I love chatting with her on Twitter!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?
None of my reviews stick out in my head as being particularly fun to write. *shrug*

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
There were some good ones this year! I talked about my decision to get a master’s degree, my goal to read what I love instead of what I feel obligated to read, how book blogging is a lot like online dating, and how library books scare me!

4. Best event that you participated in?
I went to ALA Annual in Las Vegas, which was fun! I met some cool authors, was recognized by people I wasn’t expecting (Mary E. Pearson screamed my name and jumped up to hug me! We hadn’t ever met before!) I was also Macmillan’s official blogger for Sandy Hall’s signing in Salt Lake City, so I got to interview her before the event. That was a fun opportunity. :) OH, and I took over the Debut Author Challenge!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
Getting asked to be the official blogger is pretty awesome! And I found out I got my first blurb in a book (Monarch by Belle Whittington)!! And my blog’s name was put in Siege and Storm and Exquisite Captive!!

7. Most popular post this year on your blog?
My plans to read what I love instead of what I feel obligated to read received the most comments, except for Marissa Meyer’s guest post on why Cress was named “Arugala” originally.

8. Post you wish got a little more love?
My Christmas posts have gotten less attention than I had hoped for.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
I just found out about, and while I have not bought anything there yet, the prices are amazing! And one of my friends told me about, which enabled me to buy an Aussie book I’ve been really wanting!

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or reach any goals you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I completed my Goodreads reading challenge, completely surpassing my goal! So proud of myself.

Looking Ahead

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2014 but will be your number 1 priority in 2015?
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas!

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2015 (non-debut)?
Fairest by Marissa Meyer!

3. 2015 debut you are most anticipating?
There are SO MANY. I’m really excited about The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall, A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas, The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace, and Love, Fortunes, and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
Winter by Marissa Meyer!

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2015?
I really want this Debut Author Challenge to explode and be a huge success! I’d love to get another blurb or my name in another book. And I’d love to find more 5-star reads!

6. A 2015 release you’ve already read & recommend to everyone?
Love, Lucy by April Lindner. It’s PERFECTION. Takes place in Florence, Italy!!!

So, let’s chat! Do you agree with any of my choices? Do you disagree? What have some of your favorite books of 2014 been? What reading/blogging successes have you had? What are you looking forward to in 2015?

The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak | Mini Book Review

Posted December 26, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak | Mini Book ReviewThe Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak
Series: Whiskey Creek #7
Published by Mira on October 28, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
2 Stars

Just call her Christmas Eve… 

Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn't have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that's what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B and B she manages, and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining.

Eve's worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. There's no one in the area she could even imagine as a husband, until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve's definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve's happily ever after, just when it finally seems within reach. And just when she's counting on the best Christmas of her life!


The Heart of Christmas was my first experience with the Whiskey Creek series by Brenda Novak, and I was happy to see that it read as a standalone. I’m intrigued by the stories of some of the other characters in this book, though, so I’m definitely going to look in to the rest of the series! I’m very mixed on my review of this book, so it has been hard to gather my thoughts together in a way that makes sense to me.

I’m a huge fan of small towns where everyone knows everyone, and you feel safe and loved. That’s exactly what the town of Whiskey Creek is like. And that aspect of the book is one of the few things I actually liked, sadly. I loved the atmosphere. I loved the Victorian Christmas at Eve’s B&B. But I did not love Eve. I can relate to her. I’m still single, the last single of my group of friends actually. It’s hard. But I don’t make bad decisions as a result, and I’ve never been excited about romances that bloom from drunken one night stands. I felt like I lost respect for both characters before I even got to know them. Of course, this opinion is obviously based on a personal set of morals and so I tried to not let my feelings taint my thoughts on the book. But… the fact that things escalated from a regretted one night stand to a slight tolerance on both their parts to a lustful friends with benefits, no strings attached thing to MY LIFE IS ALL ABOUT YOU so quickly I just had a hard time believing it. As such, the chemistry was not convincing and I didn’t really care if Eve and Rex ended up together or not.

Rex’s dark, mysterious past seemed too far-fetched. And the semi-mystery/suspense that resulted from it just did not work for me at all. I can see why the author chose to do this, but I felt like it turned the book into a story you would find in an over the top action movie. The ending itself was unsatisfying because the loose ends are not all tied up, and you’re left with a few questions.

Basically, I was disappointed. Perhaps if I were a long-time lover of Whiskey Creek I might have ended up loving this book. While it did read as a standalone, I did not come into it with the love of the series that many people probably did. Maybe this was not the best book to start out the series with, as I’ve heard it’s not as good as some of the earlier titles. I’ve liked Brenda Novak’s historicals, so I’m going to give this series another shot.

2 Stars

Merry Christmas!

Posted December 25, 2014 by Jana in Personal / 3 Comments

Can you believe Christmas is finally here? I feel like the entire holiday season just flew by. I hope you have a wonderful day with your friends and loved ones, full of food, books, giving, and laughter. The blog is going to be pretty slow until the new year, as I am spending time with my family and getting the 2015 Debut Author Challenge ready to go! Make sure you sign up if you haven’t! Merry Christmas!

Perry Como’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Posted December 24, 2014 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas / 2 Comments

I think Perry Como was a pretty charming guy, don’t you? I love his voice, both singing and speaking. So what better way to gear ourselves up for the excitement of Christmas tomorrow, than to listen to him read the classic Christmas tale, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas? I could not resist sharing this magical video, where Perry’s voice is accompanied by cute images from an old version of the book. Curl up in the warm light of your Christmas tree, grab some hot chocolate, and enjoy! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas tomorrow with your loved ones, wherever you are. :) Sleep well!

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings Me Tomorrow Night

Posted December 23, 2014 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 6 Comments


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

I am super excited that Christmas is just a couple days away! At the same time, I’m sad it’s almost over. Does anyone else experience the yearly post-Christmas letdown? BLAH. We’re not even going to get into that today! Santa is coming to town tomorrow night, and I would just LOVE it if he had these books in his bag for me! Some of these are ARCs, but I know Santa can do anything he wants!


1. From Scotland with Love by Katie Fforde
This is a super cute-sounding New Year’s romance, and I’d love to read it after Christmas!

2. Impulse by Vanessa Garden
I LOVED the first book in this series, Captivate, and I’m so sad that it is not being released here in the USA. Shipping costs, like, .50 less than the book itself. If Santa could bring it I wouldn’t have to pay shipping! Hehe.

3. First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan
It’s a new Sarah Morgan series!

4. Mistletoe on Main Street by Olivia Miles
It’s a Christmas book, yes… and I might be tired of them by this point… but I don’t care. This sounds so cute.


5. Rebellion by J.A. Souders
I can’t WAIT for the final book in this trilogy!

6. Forget Me K.A. Harrington
I need a good psychological thriller, and this one has some romance in it!

7. The Falconer by Elizabeth May
Fantasy in Scotland! SO wanting this one.

8. My Summer Roommate by Bridie Hall
I need a cute, warm contemporary for these cold months!


9. Taste Test by Kelly Fiore
I loved Just Like the Movies, and this sounds so cute!

10. The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

So, let’s chat! What would you like Santa to bring you tomorrow night?
Have you read any of my wishlist books?

A Merry Christmas Survey

Posted December 12, 2014 by Jana in About Me / 5 Comments

Welcome back to another Bookish Little Christmas feature post! I found this lovely little survey on Book Nut and decided I’d love to post it myself! If you’d like to as well, that would be great! I’ll post a linky at the bottom of this post so we can jump around and see what everyone else has to say about this special holiday!

When do you begin watching Holiday movies?
I usually start watching them right after Thanksgiving dinner, but this year Hallmark had so many cute ones that I did sneak one in a day or two before Thanksgiving. In my defense, it was Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade… so I’m thinking it’s ok that I fudged a bit.

What’s your favorite Holiday movie? Do you have a favorite scene? A favorite line?
I really, really love The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (with Henry Winkler) and The Holiday. There are too many amazing quotes from The Holiday to pick just one!

What’s your favorite TV special?
I love the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting special. I was in NYC during Christmastime a few years ago, and it was so unbelievably magical ad beautiful that I love seeing the decorations every year on TV. I fast forward through the sucky singers!

christmas under the umbrella treeAre there any specials from your childhood days that you wish would make a come back?
I loved Bluetoes the Christmas Elf and Christmas Under the Umbrella Tree. Oh, and I really loved Barney Waiting for Santa and Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. And A Merry Mirthworm Christmas. I’ve slowly found used VHS tapes or YouTube videos of these specials, and I love re-visiting my childhood.

When do you start listening to Christmas music?
Pretty much after Halloween. I don’t go full-fledged until the week of Thanksgiving, though. I love Christmas music and sometimes feel like I don’t have enough time to listen to everything I love before the season is over!

What are some of your favorite albums?
Neil Diamond’s Christmas Album and Christmas Album Volume II
Let Us Adore Him by The Gibbons Family
The Classic Christmas Album by Kenny G
White Christmas by Bing Crosby
Let it Snow by Michael Buble

I have a million more, but I think I’ll stop with these ones!

Is there a particular album you couldn’t do without because it “makes” it feel like Christmas?
Honestly, both of Neil Diamond’s Christmas albums are classics every year. We to them while I put up the tree and while we open presents.

What’s your favorite Christmas song? Traditional? Nontraditional?
My favorite hymns are The First Noel and Angels We Have Heard on High. My favorite Christmas song is Andy Williams’s It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

If you were to make your own holiday mix what would it have on it?
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow by Dean Martin
White Christmas by Bing Crosby
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Frank Sinatra
It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas by Bing Crosby
White Christmas by The Drifters (this is the one from The Santa Claus movie)
Here Come Santa Claus by Gene Autry
Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms
There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays by Perry Como
Mary Christmas, Darling by Karen Carpenter
We Need a Little Christmas by Percy Faith & His Orchestra
O Come, O Come, Emanuel by Neil Diamond
Little St. Nick by The Beach Boys
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole
Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson
Joy to the World by Neil Diamond
Mele Kalikimaka by Big Crosby and the Andrews Sisters

See how I’m basically pretty traditional? There’s a million more songs I’d add, but you get the idea!

Do you have any favorite holiday-themed books?
My favorites are Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle and Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan.

Is there a book (or two) that you make a point of reading each year?
I have a whole stack of children’s Christmas books that I love looking at each year. I really love Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedilia by Peggy Parish.

What about recipes? Do you have a special food (or drink) that you make or bake only during the holidays?
Spritz cookies are my specialty! I also make Russian Teacakes, frosted sugar cookies, and my mom makes yummy fudge. I found a few new recipes I’m excited to try as well!

Want to share a favorite recipe or cooking tradition?
I might as well share the Spritz Cookie recipe! This is a really popular recipe. You can find it pretty much anywhere.


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon no-color almond extract
Red and green food coloring


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. In bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk, vanilla and almond extract; mix well. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat until combined. Do not chill. Stir in food coloring. Fill cookie press with dough and with desired disks, press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle on sprinkles.
3. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet on cooling rack. Remove from sheet; cool completely.

What’s your favorite memory of Christmas as a child?
I’m not sure how old I was, but a neighbor was walking around outside jingling sleigh bells, and I about lost it! I bolted up the stairs and flew into bed, worried Santa would leave since I was still awake. There’s also the year I got a red kitchen with a ton of food. I played for hours, and was so excited.

What’s your favorite memory of Christmas as an adult?
Wow, this one is hard. I’m going to count a time from high school since I was really close to being 18, which is technically an adult. lol. Three of my guy friends decided to do 12 days of Christmas for me. But they wrote the weirdest, most random things for each day (seriously, they did not make sense and I had to use a magnifying glass a lot of the time just to read them) and gave me the silliest things. I had no idea who they were, so I would sit by the door and then as soon as they rang the bell I’d jump up and bolt outside. They were too fast, or else they had the best hiding spot ever. It became a game. One night I sent up a hidden camera. It was too dark to tell who it was, but the next night one of them dressed up as Bigfoot (where did they find that costume?) and did a dance for the camera. I figured that deserved treats at that point, so I started leaving them things. They finally revealed themselves on the 12th night, and we had so many laughs! I have never felt so special during Christmastime.

Let’s talk gifts. What’s on your wish list this year?
I really don’t want a lot of things in particular. I asked for the complete series of Everybody Loves Raymond, this cute little black kitten hot chocolate mug, some jewelry, and a couple books. OH. There’s a super soft charcoal cardigan sweater with patch pockets that I adore.

When do you begin shopping? Is it something you love or hate?
Believe it or not, I started in June this year! I LOVE Christmas shopping.

When do you do gifts–Christmas Eve or Christmas?
We do gifts on Christmas morning, and we go around the family from oldest to youngest. Each person opens one present at a time while everyone else watches. Its a rule to guess. We love taking our time and making it last as long as possible. We started at 9:00 AM one day and were still going on strong by 9:30 that night, only breaking for food.

Is Christmas Eve family time? Or rushing around crazy time? Or a bit of both?
We take my dad’s dad out to dinner and then drive around to look at Christmas lights. Then we stuff the stockings and go to sleep. During the day we’re usually wrapping last-minute gifts or watching a Christmas movie.

List your favorite things about Christmas.
Listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, reading Christmas romances, spending time with family, driving through light displays (we have two amazing ones here), going to Temple Square to see the lights, baking Christmas cookies, singing carols, decorating (inside and out), going to Riverwoods to see the lights, Christmas shopping, going to Christmas parties, wearing Christmas clothes and jewelry (I have a lot. I should be an elementary school teacher!), going to church the Sunday before Christmas (it’s always such a powerful experience), and giving gifts to people. I love the meaning of the season. I love how happy I am and how much time I have to spend time with my family.


Brittany at The Book Addict’s Guide Presents “The 12 Recs of Christmas”

Posted December 11, 2014 by Jana in Guest Post / 5 Comments

My favorite part of my A Bookish Little Christmas event is that I get to invite my friends to join in on the celebration and contribute Christmassy guest posts! I’m so glad Brittany of The Book Addict’s Guide was so willing to write such a fun post! And I had SO much fun designing and setting up the imagery for it. :)

The holiday season is upon us again — one of my favorite times of the year — and since I don’t usually get too Christmas-y on my own blog, I am THRILLED that Jana asked me to guest post for her wonderful Christmas feature on hers!

One of my favorite parts about being an avid reader and blogger is helping people find new books (especially ones that I’ve fallen in love with myself) and I tend to go a little crazy buying books for people at Christmastime. This year I came up with the idea for “The 12 Recs of Christmas”, sharing some of my favorite books and gift suggestions in the style of “The 12 Days of Christmas” (but don’t worry. No singing involved)!



12. My True Love Gave To Me: 12 Holiday Stories by Various Authors

I actually haven’t read My True Love Gave to Me yet but it’s the perfect selection to kick off this holiday list (and fits the theme too perfectly!) — I was going to buy it for myself but I haven’t yet JUST in case it’s coming as a gift! This book is a collection of short stories by some of my favorite contemporary authors, all with a holiday theme! Perfect for Christmas or any time you want to get back in the holiday mood!

11. Eleven Kids, One Summer by Ann M. Martin

The follow up to Ten Kids, No Pets, this book was one of my all-time favorites growing up. It even ranked higher than The Babysitter’s Club! Both books are about the Russo family which consists of (surprise) ten kids (in the second book, eleven with the latest edition) and the antics of a big family. Personally I think this is a great children’s book, spanning upwards to the younger side of middle grade readers. It was one of my favorites! (And still is!)

10. Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas

This is Liz’s sophomore YA novel and I LOVED it. It takes place on Christmas Eve so it’s perfect for the holidays and it’s just such a fun read. It also has a sort of Breakfast Club-feel and really solidified my love for Liz Czukas (and I loved her debut, Ask Again Later)!

9. To the Nines (Stephanie Plum #9) by Janet Evanovich

The Stephanie Plum books are my fall-back fun reads. I started them a few years ago during a blizzard so they always remind me snowy days a little bit! They’re really fun and both quick and easy to read. The movie didn’t really do the series justice (I think) and I think I’m about 14 in now… Even though they get a bit silly sometimes, definitely a series I plan to keep reading as long as Janet Evanovich keeps writing them!

8. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

I used to love the Ramona books when I was young! I actually don’t remember much about them as an adult and I think a re-read would be really fun! I do know that this was a favorite of mine as a kid and I know it’s favorite of many other people as well! I have to re-read it but I think it’s still a pretty solid recommendation for the younger crowd and a classic!

7. The Sevenwaters Series by Juliet Marillier

My bestie Alyssa bought this for me last year and it’s one of her all-time favorite series ever. She has confidence that I’ll love it and it’s one that I’m resolving to read in 2015! She bought it for me last year and I failed to read it in 2014 but I’m clearing my schedule a bit in 2015 and this one is a priority!!  

6. Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows doesn’t officially come out until October of 2015 (tentatively) but I’m already recommending it. In 2014, I fell in love with Leigh Bardugo’s debut Shadow and Bone and of course the other two books in the trilogy too. Six of Crows takes place in the same universe (the “Grishaverse”) but with other characters (though the original characters may be alluded to)! I already know it’s going to be fantastic because her writing really grows with each book!

5. The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave #1) by Rick Yancey

I almost didn’t pick this one up last year because I don’t do “alien stories” but thank goodness for the hype to make its presence known because I picked it up on blogger recommendations and LOVED it. It was so much more than just aliens. I loved the characters, the setting, the world, and there was so much action and adventure. Perfect for male or female readers, young adult or adult!

4. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

The first review I ever posted on my blog was for the first Sherlock Holmes mystery, A Study in Scarlet. (And also, HarperTeen is coming out with a really neat reprint of ASiS this winter with some great illustrations too!) I really want to keep on reading the Sherlock Holmes mysteries soon because I really enjoyed A Study in Scarlet and I’ve been meaning to read more for years now!

3. Trilogies

Okay, this one is cheating a little bit, but I really enjoy trilogies. I know some people were getting frustrated with how many series were turning out to be trilogies but I really do think it’s a nice way to form a series plot and it’s not too short, not too long. I also can’t help but recommend some of my favorites!

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers
Under the Never Sky Trilogy by Veronica Rossi
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Anna and the French Kiss companion trilogy by Stephanie Perkins
The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson (though there are more “spin-off” books that go with this trilogy)

2. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

This was an all-time favorite book as a kid and I re-read it as an adult, totally terrified that it still wouldn’t hold that same weight. HOLY COW. I’m still in love with it and the book sort of ruined me all over again. It’s great for middle grade readers and I will still recommend it to young adult and adult readers as well!

1. Just One Day
/Just One Year/Just One Night by Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman is definitely a forever-favorite of mine. I fell in love with If I Stay and Where She Went and it was SO exciting being a Gayle Forman fan when the Just One Day duology came out as a new release. I connected SO much with Just One Day and just really loved everything about it. I know readers were a bit frustrated with the slightly open ending of Just One Year so that’s where Just One Night (a novella) comes in (and ahhhh sigh of relief and utter satisfaction). I just love these books and I love Gayle Forman and I will forever recommend her work! 


Thanks so much, Brittany! I’ve got some new books to add to my TBR!

So, let’s chat. What books are you giving for Christmas?

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan | Book Review

Posted December 10, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan | Book ReviewMaybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan
Series: O'Neil Brothers #3
Published by Harlequin on October 28, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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4.5 Stars

This winter, ex-skiing champion, reformed heartbreaker and single dad Tyler O'Neil has only one mission—making sure his daughter, Jess, has the best Christmas ever. The fact that his best friend, Brenna, is also temporarily moving into his chalet at the overbooked Snow Crystal resort is a delicious distraction he's simply going to have to ignore. Theirs is the one relationship he's never ruined, and he's not about to start now.

Ski pro Brenna Daniels knows all about the perils of unrequited love—she's been in love with Tyler for years. But living with him is absolute torture…how can she concentrate on being his friend when he's sleeping in the room next door? Then when Tyler kisses Brenna, suddenly the relationship she's always dreamed of feels so close she could almost touch it. Could this be the Christmas her dreams of a happy-ever-after finally come true?

I have really enjoyed the O’Neil Brothers trilogy, so I was excited to read the final installment about the final brother. I love the Snow Crystal resort in Vermont, especially during Christmastime! It was so nice to go back and visit. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Things started out a little slowly for me. I felt like everyone kept saying the same things over and over again. Brenna kept talking about how she and Tyler could never be because he treats her like one of the guys and thinks of her only as a friend. Tyler kept talking to himself and his brothers about how he and Brenna are such good friends and he does not want to ruin it. Everyone else kept discussing Tyler and Brenna with one another. Even Jess, Tyler’s daughter, can’t stop talking about those two. The main idea for a huge portion of the book was: Brenna and Tyler are friends but wish it were more. I actually skimmed a few passages because I felt like I’d already read it before.

2. Things definitely picked up about halfway through. Brenna goes on a date with the local police chief, and it was hilarious to read about Tyler’s jealousy (apparently his jealousy surprised him!) and his efforts to get Brenna to wear more clothes and snow boots instead of stilettos. I also enjoyed Tyler’s banter with Jess. They have a sweet father/daughter relationship, yet Jess seems to be raising him instead of the other way around. The fact that I love these characters so much helped me swim through the more redundant parts of the book.

3. Like I said, I love Snow Crystal. I love Sarah Morgan’s descriptions of the resort, the snow, the scenery. Everything felt so magical to me!

4. I have always loved reading about friends who fall in love with one another. I just wish the romance took up more of the book. We spend so much time reading about their friendship and how it can be nothing more, that by the time the romance blooms everything escalates too quickly and is resolved too quickly. While I usually believe stories like this, I had a hard time believing it this time. It almost felt like insta-love, even though they have known each other for 20+ years.

5. When the romance did happen, it was super swoony and sweet.

6. I loved catching up with old friends. Kayla, Jackson, Sean, Elise, Elizabeth, Jess, etc. are there and we get to see how their lives have progressed (although we never really saw any interaction between Sean and Elise.).

All in all, I did really enjoy this story despite my few complaints. Christmas books make me so happy, and I love them. Sarah writes very pretty descriptions, and she writes characters you love. I will miss the O’Neil family and the Snow Crystal. I’d love it if Sarah wrote a follow-up in a few years so we can visit again and see what everyone’s up to! Babies? Jess’s wedding? There’s so many possibilities. Definitely read this if you love the O’Neil family. Kayla and Jackson’s story is still my favorite, but I’m glad Tyler and Brenna finally got their happily ever after.

4.5 Stars