Month: August 2015

I Can’t Handle Scary Things!

Posted August 28, 2015 by Jana in About Me, Discussion / 21 Comments

I can’t read scary books at night because I’m a wimp! For example: Shadowlands by Kate Brian. I read this book over the summer, and it was SCARY. I chose to read it when I did because I was on a road trip with my mom and sister, and I knew I would be sleeping in the same hotel room, driving in the same car, and basically not being alone ever. I read all my mysteries on a cruise ship for the same reason. I’m never alone. I’m this way with a lot of books, hence the reason I pretty much never even touch the horror genre. I was a wimp reading Rebecca last October, and it wasn’t even that scary! Same with The Caged Graves! I’m a total baby. Once upon a time I watched a scary movie and slept with my bedroom door locked. To be extra safe, I made my boyfriend at the time sleep on the couch downstairs by the front door. I love scary, but I can’t do it!

October is coming soon. I love the idea of reading eerie, atmospheric, slightly creepy books during October because it’s getting cold and it’s fall and Halloween is coming. This is why I read Rebecca during this time last year. But I just. Can’t. Handle it! What do I do!? I just finished Daughter of Deep Silence last night and was scared to walk down my dark hall to go to the bathroom. So I didn’t. I just went to sleep buried under all my blankets. COME ON JANA. Suck it up!

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? And how do you HANDLE them? Teach me your ways! Not Being a Chicken 101 begins now.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente | Mini Book Review

Posted August 20, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Middle Grade / 4 Comments

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making Published by Feiwel and Friends on May 10, 2011
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 247
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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1 Stars

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.


This is one strange little book, with language I’m not sure I would have understood at age 11 or 12, which is the age I would recommend this book to. I think it’s too young for teenagers, but I don’t think I would have liked is as a tween, but I was not a fan of fairy tales at that age. I’m sure I would have liked the wyvern’s (dragon) humor and the cute illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, though. As an adult, I found myself being bogged down by purple prose (and too much of it!) and so many details that I was unable to actually keep track of what was going on.

The writing style is very pretty and ornate, but too much so and the language is too advanced for the age group the book is marketed to. September’s voice is very strong and dynamic, but she does not act her age (12) because of the way she talks and the way she acts (she uses an advanced vocabulary, but at the same time is naïve enough to run away with the Green Wind). There were too many details and it was so overly stylized that I found myself spacing out and losing focus. It made me tired. I also felt that referring to September as being “Ravished” was a bit odd and sexual. Overall, I just wasn’t a fan and am not sure who I would even recommend it to because it does not fit into one specific age group.

1 Stars

Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors (v. 2.0)

Posted August 17, 2015 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 5 Comments


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

I’ve got quite a few beloved authors on my auto-buy list, so I’m trying to keep it to my ten absolute favorites! But then again… aren’t they my favorite if I auto-buy them? UGH. So basically I’m going to type until I’m tired. I wonder how many I’ll come up with!

After scheduling this post, my site notified me that I had already posted this exact TTT in 2013! I had forgotten, so I wrote this without taking that list into account. These lists have some authors in common, but others have been added or taken away. It’s interesting to see what a couple years can do! Go check out my first Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors list!

1. Tracey Garvis-Graves
2. Stephanie Perkins
3. Sarah J. Maas
4. Marissa Meyer
5. Leigh Bardugo
6. Mary Higgins-Clark
7. Veronica Rossi/Noelle August
8. Tessa Dare (I don’t own all of hers, but they are on my list to own once I have money!)
9. Sarah Morgan
10. Jodi Meadows
11. Kate Avery Ellison

It’s not really worth telling you why I chose these authors because… bottom line, I love them. Their books take me to other worlds, give me the swoons, and make me love reading. I really can’t ask for anything more than that.

Which authors do you have on your auto-buy list?

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book Review

Posted August 13, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book ReviewThe Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on December 8, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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0.5 Stars

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

*sigh* I’m sorry, but this was a bit of a train wreck for me. I loved Lauren’s other books so very much, so I’m really sad to feel this way. Aside from the cheesiness, which could have been cute under other circumstances, this book is riddled with inaccuracies. Maybe I should not have read it while I was on a cruise… So here are my problems:

1. No school band in the entire world would be able to go on a cruise for free for any reason, much less for less than $25,000. If this band can afford to go on a cruise, but they MUST win $25,000 or the band program is discontinued… isn’t that contradictory? Sure, they won a contest that got them on a ship. But no cruise line would ever hold a contest with this kind of prize, much less have the space to allow for a marching band (or multiple marching bands).

2. The Destiny, a luxury cruise liner, weighs only 50,000 tons but has six sun decks, three pools, a casino, an atrium, “many buffets”, multiple lounges, a spa, and a bowling alley. This is pretty much impossible. Pretty much all of today’s large cruise ships with these features weigh 2-3 times this amount. I was on the Carnival Dream when I read this. That ship weighs 130,000 tons, has three pools, an atrium, one buffet, two lounges, a spa, and a few bars. No bowling alley. I mean, an author can squish anything into anything, so perhaps this ship is really tiny, with really tiny amenities and can hold very few passengers. But it just did not feel realistic to me.

3. There was no lifeboat drill! This is required by international maritime law, and happens before or during the ship’s departure from the original port. But when the ship pulled away, nobody had done the lifeboat drill and there was not even mention of it. Sure, maybe the author just chose to not mention it… but everything else was mentioned!

4. There are so many problems with the ship. It is constantly not working properly. This does not happen. And if it does, it’s a huge deal. It’s very dangerous. It makes the news.

5. A kid threw a drink overboard. Glass and all. You can get in so much trouble! Depending on the deck, that drink most likely blew back into the ship and landed on someone’s balcony or an open deck.

6. Seasickness patches (Scopolamine patches) are not applied to the arm like the book says they are. They are placed behind the ear. And you can’t use more than one like Liza did during the storm. That’d be an overdose, and you’d get pretty sick. One lasts an entire week on a cruise.

7. You are NOT allowed to sleep on deck. Cruise ship workers circle the decks all night and wake people up and make them go to their cabins. It’s a liability.

8. Drum majors (Liza) do not have that much power. And seriously? Where was the band director? Did he throw some empty margarita glass overboard and get confined to quarters? Oh wait…

9. Liza made me want to strangle something. She’s awful! I’m not used to such an unlikeable main character, but she is high strung and annoying and judgmental and a major slut shamer.

10. I was bored. The people are boring. The story is boring. I would have died if I had been on this ship. I would have jumper overboard.

11. THE ANIMAL SIMILES made me want to die. Here are a few:
–  “…shiver like a drowned chihuahua.”
– “…parrot caught in a hairdryer.”
– “…cat caught in a washing machine.”
– “Like cats tap dancing on a chalkboard.”
– Someone was compared to a “coked-up gorilla”.
I could go on.

The premise sounded like so much fun… I love books that take place on cruises, but this one just did not work for me. It did not feel realistic and the romance was nothing to get excited about. Seriously, it was just so silly (in an annoying way) and meh. If you can get past the fact that this story is not at all realistic, maybe you’ll enjoy the silly little teen drama and cattiness. I just felt way too old for this book. I liked the idea, but that was it.

0.5 Stars

Top Ten Authors I Want to Read More From

Posted August 10, 2015 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 4 Comments


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

I’m putting a spin on this week’s topic, which is actually top ten authors I’ve read the most books by. I used up all my picks over at The Broke and the Bookish (you know I write there, too, right?), though! I tend to jump around from author to author. I read many debut books since I host the Debut Author Challenge, and my favorite authors are new within the the last few years so they only have 2-5 books out right now. I’ve found some other authors I love, though, and really want to go read their backlists! So here they are!

1. Tessa Dare
I love her Castles Ever After series, and can’t wait to get to her Spindle Cove, Stud Club, and Wanton Dairymaid series as well. She knows how to write wit and swoon, for sure.

2. Julie Anne Long
I’m loving Julie’s Pennyroyal Green series, and want to read more of them ASAP!

3. Ally Carter
Ally’s Heist Soceity books were so much fun, and I’ve heard great things about her Gallagher Girls books as well. I also got Embassy Row, the first book in her new series, from my OTSP Secret sister, so I’m excited for that one as well!

4. Shannon Stacey
I’ve read and really enjoyed one of her Kowalski books, and own a few of her standalone Christmas books as well. Hoping to read more of hers soon!

5. Mary E. Pearson
I LOVED Kiss of Deception and have an ARC of Heart of Betrayal I’m hoping will get me out of my reading slump. I won her Jenna Fox series from Brittany at The Book Addict’s Guide a while back, and want to read them even more now that I know I love Mary!

6. Marie Rutkoski
I’ve only read the first book in her Winner’s trilogy so far, but I really liked it. I want to finish that series (book 3 comes out soon!) and also read The Shadow Society, which looks great.

7. Maria V. Snyder
I’ve only read Poison Study, but I want to read EVERYTHING! All the series/trilogies. I hear wonderful things about Maria all the time, so I want to catch up on everything. I feel like she kind of exploded as an author since I picked up Poison Study. So many Maria books now!

8. Kate Avery Ellison
I’ve read a few of her Frost Chronicles books and I just read the first Secrets of Itlantis book, and she is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is amazing! I want to finish both of these series ASAP.

9. Sophie Jordan
I really liked her Firelight books, and I enjoyed Uninvited. I want to read Unleashed and all of her adult historical romances that I’ve heard so many great things about!

10. Sophie Kinsella
I LOVED I’ve Got Your Number, and want to start her Shopaholic series and get in on some of those other cute standalones everyone loves so much.

So! Which books or authors should I start with first? Which books of theirs are your favorites?

Shadowlands by Kate Brian | Mini Book Review

Posted August 6, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

Shadowlands by Kate Brian | Mini Book ReviewShadowlands by Kate Brian
Series: Shadowlands #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on January 8, 2013
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
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4 Stars

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection program. Entering the program alongside her, is her father and sister Darcy. The trio starts a new life and a new beginning leaving their friends and family behind without a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. Just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

This book had the makings of everything I love. Serial killer. An escape. Witness protection. Suspense. What’s going on here? Paranoia. Stalking. Relocation to a quaint beach town that has creepy fog roll in at night. Shady people. I was all over this book and so super in love for about 96% of the story. The ending derailed my happiness, and I was frustrated and annoyed that such an amazing book had to end that way! It was honestly such a disappointing ending that I’m not even sure I care to read the other two books in the trilogy.

Kate Brian’s writing style and her ability to scare the living daylights out of you and keep you up all night are amazing. I’ve got no complaints there. I loved her descriptive writing style that made my spine tingle. The suspense was intense. The feeling of the book is very ominous and creepy, and I’m glad I read it while I was on vacation so that I was in a hotel room with my family and not sleeping on my own. I loved the alternating chapters, which go back and forth between Rory’s point of view and the killer’s. This guy is psycho. I liked the characters and feel like more attention was paid to them than most characters receive in a mystery or thriller. I enjoyed reading about them and grew to feel for Rory. I loved the setting of the book. It was the perfect location for a story like this because it was so sweet and friendly on the surface, but was hiding an uncomfortable reality underneath. There was a little romantic intrigue, but not so much that it took away from the creep factor. Really, I have very few complaints.

But the ending. UGH. I finished it, threw my book down on my bed, and immediately began venting to my mom. I remember saying, “I spent all my time on this creepy book, looking for an amazing climax… and THIS is the resolution?” I don’t even know why there are two more books in the trilogy. It’s no longer a mystery or a thriller for me. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to ay anything other than the fact that there’s a genre change. If you look on Goodreads and see how this book is classified, you’ll see what I mean. Needless to say, I was so disappointed. I loved everything else about the book, so I’m sad! This is really just a case of the author going in a direction I was not happy about. But oh well. I’m still glad I read it, and I would not refrain from recommending it to others. I would just preface my recommendation with “expect the unexpected.”

4 Stars

Five Fairytale Retellings I Loved and Five I Want to Read

Posted August 4, 2015 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 7 Comments


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

This week we’re talking fairytale retellings! I adore fairytale retellings, and I’m always on the lookout for more. Below you will find five I loved, and five I can’t wait to read.



A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Beauty and the Beast)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Cinderella)
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Little Red Riding Hood)
Cress by Marissa Meyer (Rapunzel)
What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore (Cinderella)


Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Beauty and the Beast)
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (A Thousand and One Nights)
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury (Aladdin)
Winter by Marissa Meyer (Snow White)
The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins (Beauty and the Beast)

Honorable mention:
Heartless by Marissa Meyer (Alice in Wonderland)

What fairytale retellings are your very favorites? Which ones are you excited to read? I need more recommendations, so please give me lots!

Keeping Up With the Debuts: Favorite Quotes from Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Posted August 2, 2015 by Jana in Book Spotlight, Keeping Up With the Debuts / 1 Comment

Adi was a 2014 debut author, with his road trippin’ contemporary romance called Let’s Get Lost. I love keeping up with our former debuts and seeing what they’ve been up to since their first book debuted. Let me introduce to you Adi’s new book, Never always Sometimes, which comes out on Tuesday, August 4th! Read a little about the book, plus I’ve included some quotes from the book that I enjoyed to whet your appetite.

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 4, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • iTunes • Kobo
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Never date your best friend

Always be original

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

Jana’s Favorite Quotes

“The sun kept dipping down into the ocean and the lights came on at the harbor, casting sudden shadows on the ground, illuminating the faces that were just a second ago silhouettes. The sky was golden and purple, the ocean a darker shade of violet.”

“The Best you can ever do is to leave the world a little better than you found it.”

“No point in living a life less ordinary if you don’t know what the other side looks like.

“We are more or less kind, or more or less not. More or less selfish, happy, wise, lonely. Just like things are rarely always true, we aren’t ever exactly one thing or another. We are more or less.

It’s like that in out love lives too. We like to think we’re formulas that even out exactly, that we are perfect matches with each other. But we’re not. We match up with lots of people, more or less.”

“People were always belittling teenage heartbreak. But heartbreak was heartbreak was heartbreak.”

About the Author


Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City, then studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it’s no surprise that after graduating, he did not go into business world but rather packed up his apartment into his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He’s now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he’s lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas, and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him more places will eventually be added to the list. Let’s Get Lost is his YA debut.

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