Month: November 2017

Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano | Mini Book Review

Posted November 30, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano | Mini Book ReviewLost Girls by Merrie Destefano
Published by Entangled Teen on February 14, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 301
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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0.5 Stars

Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…

The only rule is: There are no rules.

So… This book sounded good. It really did. But I HATED it. I was excited to find out where these “lost girls” went, but as soon as I did (which happens quickly) I was like, “well crap.”. Seriously. This is not good. I have so little to say about this book. It was uninteresting, dark, unbelievable, farfetched, and so slow. I have so little to say that normally I wouldn’t even write a review. But I felt like I needed to warn those who are at risk of being swindled by the book’s synopsis like I was. Major spoiler ahead, so proceed at your own risk.

The lost girls? They’re kidnapped and forced into a teen underground fighting ring. If they’re good, they move to platinum level where they are sold and rape is implied. They’re drugged and abused and it’s awful. The book has so much depressing content, with absolutely no redeeming qualities.

You’ve been warned. Run away. Run far away.

 

0.5 Stars

Top Ten Books on My Winter 2017-2018 TBR

Posted November 27, 2017 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 10 Comments

 

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

I don’t know about you, but I am REALLY excited for winter. We’ve had unseasonably warm weather where I live, and it doesn’t even feel like Christmas. I want snow and freezing temperatures so I can wear my cozy sweaters and curl up under my fuzzy blankets. I want fires! This time of the year I love reading two things: Christmas romances and fantasy. I’ve chosen 5 of each for today’s topic!

Snowbound with Mr. Wrong by Barbara White Daille
Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt
Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber
Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider
Maybe This Kiss by Jennifer Snow

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
By A Charm and a Curse by Jamie Questell

Which books are you looking forward to reading this winter?
Anything on my list you think I need to push ahead of the others?

Snowflakes created by starline – www.freepik.com


Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

Posted November 23, 2017 by Jana in About Me, Personal / 1 Comment

 

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays (aside from Christmas which, if you know me at all, you know it’s my favorite time of the year). I love getting the family together and eating tons of yummy food. My family is very small, and it has gotten smaller over the last few years. My two grandpas, my uncle, my parents, and my little sister and I will gather around the table in a few hours to eat turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole (my favorite), corn soufflé, cranberry salad, rolls, and sparkling apple grape juice. I’ll be decorating the table in with a gold table cloth, black hurricane lanterns, fall foliage, glittery pumpkins, and a million tea light and pillar candles. One of my grandpas will probably fall asleep at the table, and the other will tell us stories of his time in WWII. We will be silly and laugh and the cat might try to take a flying leap onto the table and destroy it all, but she’ll chicken out and fall asleep on the heating vent instead. We’re all pretty private and don’t like to get emotional, so we will spend the day reflecting internally on the things we’re thankful for. This is what Thanksgiving is to me. I hope your day is filled with love, food, memories, and family.

What is Thanksgiving to you? What’s your favorite thing on the menu tonight? What are you thankful for?


Top Ten Books I’m Thankful For

Posted November 20, 2017 by Jana in About Me, Top Ten Tuesday / 11 Comments

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

It’s Thanksgiving week in the USA, and this week’s TTT topic encourages us to think of the books we’re thankful we read. I connect a lot with books, and many times I come away thinking that it was written just for me. Other times the book ended up being just what I needed in that moment, whether it was a gateway to a new world, an escape, a character I connected with, or something I needed to learn. I’m excited to share these titles with you today!

 

1. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
This book seriously changed my life. It’s the kind of book that encourages you to take the bull by the horns and go with it. I just felt so refreshed by the end, like I had been the one to go on a whirlwind trip that changed my life. It prompted me to make amazing goals: to travel more, to practice my art more, to be spontaneous, to let my hair down and not worry what other people think, to look to the future, to develop other talents, to conquer fears, and to enjoy my life more. I ended up going on a whirlwind trip just like Bria did, and I cam home a completely changed person.

 

2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
This is the book that made me fall in love with reading. I read it when I was in college, and it was my first dip into the YA genre. I had not been grabbed by a book in years, and I have not quit reading since.

 

3. Night by Elie Wiesel
I read this for my Ethics and Values class in college, and it was the first Holocaust book I had read since The Diary of Anne Frank when I was a child. I don’t know if it was the writing, the story, or the fact that I was older, but it really resonated with me and taught me so much about life and mankind.

 

4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
This book was completely magical and made me wish I was a child again. I can’t wait to continue on with the series, as this is the only one I’ve read. I know it will probably change my life even more as I continue!

 

5. Love, Lucy by April Lindner 
Everyone knows that traveling makes you fall in love with the person that you are, and Love, Lucy had everything I could have ever wanted in a travel book. It’s an inspiring story that makes you want to make your traveling dreams come true, not to mention it makes you feel like you can do it.

 

6. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
I feel very much about this book like I do about Wanderlove. This is another book that encourages you to leave your life behind and find yourself.

 

7. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
I wish I had had this book as a teen to help me get through heartbreak. The emotions are so pure. I’m grateful that I have this to recommend to young people who need a story like this.

 

8. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
This book was my gateway to fantasy, and now it’s one of my very favorite genres! It’s funny because I bought this because I was going to my very first author signing, and I wanted all the authors to sign all their books. But I owned none of them. So I ordered one of each and figured I’d never read this one. I’m so glad I did, though! It is a wonderful story, and is the book that made me fall in love with fantasy.

 

9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Another gateway book! I was so against reading this book because it sounded so inhumane, but everyone was raving about it and I decided I’d give it a try. It was my very first dystopia, and made me so eager to read more of them.

 

10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The last gateway book: YA contemporary romance. I know! Crazy, right?! Up to this point I pretty much only read dystopia and paranormal (all the vampires and werewolves). Anna opened me up to a totally new genre, and I have fallen in love with so many books because of it, including four of the books in this list today.

Which books are you thankful for?
Do we have any in common?


Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | Mini Book Review

Posted November 13, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | Mini Book ReviewDangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard
Published by Razorbill on September 4, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Retelling
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift
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2.5 Stars

A modern-day retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a chilling twist

Harper has never been worried about falling in love, something she is skeptical even exists. But everything changes when Logan moves to town, and to Harper's shock, the two tumble into an intense romance. It's everything she never thought she wanted.

Then she meets Logan's twin brother, Caleb, who was expelled from his last school. True, he's a bad boy, but Harper can't shake the feeling that there's something deeply sinister about him--something dangerous. When Logan starts pulling away, Harper is convinced that Caleb's shadowy past is the wedge being driven between them. But by the time she uncovers the truth, it may be too late.

The author of Prada & Prejudice, You Wish, and Ripple delivers a modern-day retelling of a famously gothic tale, full of suspense, lies, and romance.

This review is incredibly tiny because I don’t have much to say. I was very disappointed in what could have been an amazing book. Mandy’s writing was great, and her storytelling was wonderful. But the publisher did readers a huge disservice by telling us that this is a Jekyll and Hyde retelling. That’s a major spoiler, and it made me far less intrigued and curious. I knew what was going to happen before I even opened the book, and I was right on the money. This could have been very exciting and suspenseful, but all I could do was roll my eyes at the dumb decisions Harper made.

2.5 Stars

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | Book Review

Posted November 9, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | Book ReviewThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow on August 9, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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5 Stars

Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

You. Guys. I didn’t think I’d like The Hating Game, and I actually had it on my “possibly” shelf on Goodreads for a long time because I didn’t believe anyone when they said it was amazing. I finally bit the bullet and read it and then wanted to go yell at everyone for not working harder to talk me into reading it because IT’S PERFECTION. I don’t even know how to talk about it because I loved everything. There is not one thing I don’t love about the book except for the fact that it ended. And that it’s not a movie. And that I’ve already read it because I wish I could read it for the first time again. Should I stop my review right here? Probably. But I won’t. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. The banter. I love the flirty back and forth between Lucy and Joshua so much that I want to go get a job in an office with a desk next to a swoony guy so I can recreate it myself. It’s so inappropriate for an office setting, but that made it so much better.

2. Hate to love is my favorite. The hate these two share for one another is practically a character in this book. So. Much. Hate. But, like they say, there’s a fine line between love and hate. And oh my GOSH do these two dance around that line. They cross it, run far away from it, and press their noses up against it.

3. The chemistry. You guys, THE CHEMISTRY. Everything was bubbling and fizzing and threatening to boil over at a moment’s notice and I was on. board.

4. I can’t even with Josh. He’s mysterious and quirky and swoony and perfect. He’s intense and broody and I’m melting all over again just trying to describe him. You can’t even describe him. It’s like Sally Thorne pulled him from the dream space in my head where guys that don’t actually exist live.

5. One word: Elevator. If you’ve read this, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t read this, do it. You want to know what I’m talking about.

6. Lucy gets sick and Josh is THERE. Seriously, this was my favorite part of the book. So much talking and learning and bonding and I swooned so many times that I thought maybe I had caught Lucy’s bug.

7. I need a few drops of Lucy added to my personality. She takes no crap. And she has so much self-confidence.

8. Were there other characters in this book? I think so… but I seriously don’t even care about them.

9. Sally is a genius.

10. I’ve never finished a book before and then immediately wanted to flip to page 1 and start over again. AHHHHHH. I refrained, but I’ll probably read this at least once a year for the rest of forever.

So… Have I convinced you to read this yet? If not, you’re kind of a lost cause, I think. I LOVE this book, and I hope Sally writes a million more like it.

5 Stars

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Mini Book Review

Posted November 7, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Mini Book ReviewAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 388
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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4 Stars

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

I really love the movie You’ve Got Mail, so when I heard that Alex, Approximately is a You’ve Got Mail kind of story I was sold. And with the little references to one of my favorite movies throughout the story, I wasn’t disappointed by the comparison. This book was sweet and light and fluffy and so perfectly teen. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting too old for stories like these, but then one really grabs me and brings nostalgic feelings of young love and teen crushes and I decide not to write them off just yet. That’s kind of what this story did for me. It’s quirky and cute and adorably awkward.

Bailey avoids uncomfortable situations at all costs. She’s a film geek who develops a thing for a boy she meets in an online forum named “Alex”, who lives on the other side of the country. But then she moves to California. To his town. And it’s like, “NOOO AWKWARD!” Instead of telling Alex she’s moved, she just sneaks around trying to find him without him knowing there’s even a possibility she might. She sees a cat on the boardwalk ad is convinced it’s the same cat Alex wrote to her about. She keeps thinking she finds him, only to realize that she’s wrong. There’s so much excitement and insecurity and curiosity and shenanigans throughout her search, and it’s cute because it’s the kind of thing I would do. lol. All the while, she gets a job working at this really weird museum with a guy named Porter that she cannot STAND. As the book’s official summary so rudely spoils for us, Porter is actually Alex. And it’s kind of hilarious watching these two crazy kids work through all of that. At times I kept thinking, “Duh, you two silly little ones! Why can’t you see the signs!?”

All in all, this was such a cute little book.My biggest complaint is that we knew immediately that Porter was Alex. The publisher really should not have made the You’ve Got Mail comparison and not told us who Porter really was because it would have been more fun to work things out and discover things with Bailey. It really took me out of the story. But oh well. The damage has been done. Regardless, it’s fun to watch them figure it out even though it got annoying at times watching from the sidelines already having all the answers. Jenn’s writing is delightful, and I enjoyed the banter between Porter and Bailey. Definitely give it a shot if you enjoyed Kasie West’s P.S. I Like You. That’s another cute contemporary with similar feelings.

4 Stars

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware | Book Review

Posted November 3, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware | Book ReviewThe Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on July 19, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 340
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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4 Stars

In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

I really, really love mysteries and I love them even more if they are set at sea. So obviously the cover and the synopsis had me sold, not to mention that our heroine is a travel journalist sent to write about a luxury cruise on a small, elite, incredibly expensive vessel during its maiden voyage. The Woman In Cabin 10 is suspenseful, exciting, chilling, and completely enthralling. While trying to write my review I realized I don’t want to stick with my usual format of bolding my points and elaborating on them. I just want to list things out instead, so here we go!

What I liked:

  • We start off with a bang. We immediately learn that Lo has crippling anxiety, which was very well written. In the beginning of the story, someone breaks into her house while she is there. Understandably, she is already on edge and quite paranoid when she boards the ship and soon hears something horribly wrong happen in the cabin next to hers on night.
  • The setting. The Aurora has 10 cabins, with only a handful of guests (20 at most) and a few common areas. It’s lavishly decorated and sounds super cozy and intimate. The guests are sailing the freezing Norwegian fjords, which is a huge bucket list item for me. I’m so jealous of the beautiful scenery they saw. Northern Lights, people!!
  • The mystery. One night, Lo hears a scream followed by a splash. She sees blood on the balcony next to hers, but the person who was supposed to be in that cabin never boarded. But Lo met the woman in cabin 10 the day before. So what is even going on? What caused the splash? Whose blood was that on the balcony? And why are there more questions than answers? Lo’s anxiety is blamed as the investigation proves no help, so she’s left completely helpless on a little boat in freezing waters, surrounded by guests and crew that do not believe her and that she cannot trust.
  • The atmosphere. As amazing as the Aurora sounds, it turns into a very creepy place once murder is suggested. Things felt very ominous, unsettled, and unsafe as Lo laid in bed at night trying to sleep or as she walked the halls looking for answers.
  • There’s a twist that I wasn’t expecting at all.
  • I didn’t know who did it until the end.

What I didn’t Like: 

  • The characters. Lo exhausted me. Her anxiety and paranoia, while very well done and very realistic, kind of wore me out because I never got to know anything else about her. She became a condition instead of a character, and I could not separate the two and see who she truly was. She also makes some silly mistakes for the sake of making the story work. And she has no backbone. The supporting characters were shells, and not very memorable or used to their fullest potentials.
  • Parts dragged a bit and slowed down at times.
  • The narrator of the book is rather long-winded and repetitive at times.
  • The resolution. The end went in a direction that was interesting, but not what I was hoping for. Things started to feel unbelievable, but not enough for me to be irritated or upset.

All in all, I really enjoyed the mystery. I tend to like the story more than the characters in mysteries like this, so the fact that I didn’t enjoy the characters didn’t bother me. I love mysteries at sea, and this one was quite entertaining. I’d definitely recommend it to those looking for an entertaining mystery.

4 Stars