Month: January 2018

Top Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Read

Posted January 29, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 68 Comments

This week’s topic is “Top Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Read”. I made this topic broad on purpose so that you could interpret it however you’d like. Were these books out of your comfort zone? Were they guilty pleasures you’re embarrassed to admit you read? Were they a genre you hate or for an age group you don’t typically read? Were you forced to read it in school and were surprised you actually did it instead o pretending you did? Perhaps they were intimidating to you, had a million pages, were on a topic you tend to shy away from, etc. I’m kind of all over the place with my list. lol. I’m excited to see how you’ve spun this topic!


1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The premise of this book (kids killing each other) seemed SUPER upsetting to me and like something I would NEVER want to read. Ever. I figured it would be way too disturbing, but then I kept hearing about it and my curiosity got the better of me. I really loved it, but I still can’t believe I actually took the plunge.

2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
When I first heard about this book I was a sophomore in college, and the idea of sexy vampires was unheard of to me. In what universe would I ever fall in love with a vampire? Again, I kept hearing about it… And then a guy in my Color Theory class brought his wife’s copy in for an assignment where we had to get up in front of the class and analyze color choices of products. That was the first time I’d ever seen the cover of the book I’d been hearing about. My mom and I decided to read it together for fun, and I was hooked.

3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
So… I found this book in a Scholastic book fair (in 1997) at my school library when I was a little kid and I thought the cover looked cool. I’d never heard about this book, and none of the other books had been released yet so nobody was really talking about it. I bought it and brought it home and read 3 pages before I gave up. And honestly, I went years before I even heard of these books again. I even donated my copy! I vowed to never force myself to read them because I was so not into the first one, but then the movies started coming out and the book blogging world became major pushers of the series for me. I still wasn’t interested, though, because I won’t succumb to peer pressure. The only reason I read this book is because a professor in my library and information science grad program required it for an assignment in my Children’s Literature course. 17 years after I DNFd the book I finally read it, and really enjoyed it. Now I’m working my way through the series and it’s so much fun!


4. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Ok, so I only read this book because Marissa Meyer wrote it. I really hate Alice In Wonderland, so I was not at all interested in this book except for the fact that I love Marissa. And really, I didn’t like it much anyway. lol. But the writing was lovely!

5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Blah. Another required reading in grad school, this time for my YA Lit class. I hate cancer books, I hate crying, and I was not at all a John Green person… this book had absolutely nothing going for it in my mind, and I had no interest in it. And… it was super meh. At least I didn’t cry, though! lol. Still not a John Green person either…

6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I was terrified of this book. I wanted to read it because I had heard it was beautiful and unique and amazing, but I was so scared because of the subject matter. I have a hard time with holocaust books and crying and death. I met Markus at ALA one year and he personalized a beautiful hardback copy (free from the pub) of this for me. That was what made me decide to bite the bullet. He was soooo nice and I wanted to read his book. The final push, though, was when I was assigned to read this in grad school as well. It is beautiful and I loved it, but it was very hard to read.



7. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
This was my first YA contemporary romance! I was never a fan of contemporary novels, and stuck to dystopia or thriller or historical romance, so Anna was my gateway book. The cover is kinda cheesy and the title is a little gaggy, but this is now one of my favorite books of all time and it opened me up to a whole world of really great YA contemporary romances. I’m so glad I took the plunge!

8. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Another gateway book! This was my very first fantasy novel. Ever. I bought it because I was going to a Fierce Reads author signing (my first author signing) and I wanted all the autographs. I knew nothing about it, but when Leigh talked about it at the signing I became intrigued and decided to read it. It’s another one of my favorite novels ever, and I have read so many amazing fantasies because of it.

9. On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves
This book. I have so much love for this book and the author. I read On the Island way back when, as a self-published novel a couple years before Penguin bought it, gave it a new cover, and published it. I got an email about a book tour and read the synopsis and thought there was no way the book was for me. I didn’t love the age gap between the couple, and I had had some bad experiences working with self-published authors so I was very uninterested. But the synopsis got under my skin and I kept thinking about it, so I decided to go ahead and sign up a few days later. I received my ebook and began reading one evening. I could. Not. Stop. I loved it so much. The writing was amazing and the story was so sweet and wonderful and exciting. This was the ultimate out of my comfort zone kind of book, and I am so proud of myself for being brave and saying yes! It’s now one of my top 5 favorite books of all time. I’ve pushed it on many, many people since I read it. And if you look in the acknowledgments of the sequel you’ll see my name. :)



10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
This was a required read in my Children’s Literature class and I hated it even more than I thought I would. Blech. I can’t believe I can claim I’ve read this. Clearly my dumb grad school never let me make my own decisions! I’m literally fuming as I write this that I will have to lie to people if I want to tell them I’ve never read a Wimpy Kid book.

Which books can you not believe you read?

The Debut Dish: Claire Kann, Gloria Chao, C. V. Wyk, & Jackie Yeager (+ Giveaways)

Posted January 28, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 6 Comments

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Claire Kann (Let’s Talk About Love), Gloria Chao (American Panda), C. V. Wyk (Blood and Sand), and Jackie Yeager (Spin the Golden Light Bulb).

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
January 23, 2018 from Swoon Reads
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Alice meets Takumi. Chaos ensues.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I really like the scene where Alice and Takumi have a Wallow session à la The Gilmore Girls. It involves junk food, horror movies, and onesies.

Bonus answer: Any scene with Alice and her best friend, Feenie.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at work! Sitting at my desk, minding my own merry business, and I got an email. I wrote a blog post about The Experience here.

What’s your favorite junk food?

Fun fact: Pizza is also Takumi’s favorite food. Chicago deep dish style with a pound of cheese on top.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Probably my Edward Cullen Funko pop. He’s joined by Gerard Way (The Black Parade era), She-Hulk, and Voldemort.

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American Panda by Gloria Chao
February 6, 2018 by Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Taiwanese-American teen defies parental expectations.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene in the book is toward the end and involves spoilers, so I will instead discuss my second favorite scene, which is the first chapter. The opening hasn’t changed much since the first draft, and the conversations between the parents and Mei, the main character, perfectly sum up what one of my conversations with my traditional Taiwanese parents look like. And yes, all those things the mother says, like, “There are no ugly women, only lazy women,” are true.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was on my way out the door to meet my husband for dinner when my agent called me to tell me about our offer. I remember keeping my composure on the call, but the second I hung up, I began bawling. Like with all news, I told my husband first (and we jumped up and down for a little while), then my parents.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I am a total chocoholic, and it can come in any form. Never met a piece of chocolate I didn’t love!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A plush tofu that was made to be a cell phone holder, but with the advent of larger smart phones, it has transitioned into holding my Bluetooth.

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Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk
January 16, 2018 from Tor Teen
Add to Goodreads | Author Website


The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic―and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus…

For teens who love strong female protagonists in their fantasy and historical fiction, Blood and Sand is a stirring, yet poignant tale of two slaves who dared take on an empire by talented debut author C. V. Wyk.

Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire―an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end―and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus…

Describe your book in five words or less.
I am Spartacus.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
The scenes featuring Xanthus and his blood-brothers were the most fun to write. Their banter and easy way with each other made me smile or smirk or snort every time, especially the scene where Iduma fights while eating hah!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home playing Guild Wars 2 and trying to clear a dungeon with my party when I got The Call. I got tangled up in my headphones and fell off my chair. (The folks in the apartment downstairs came up to ask if we were okay…)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Spicy Cheetos. Whole bag. One sitting. Yes, please.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Pajama pants…Look, wearing pants at home is totally overrated, ok? All about that sartorial freedom.

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Spin the Golden Light Bulb by Jackie Yeager
January 9, 2018 from Amberjack Publishing
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

It’s the year 2071 and eleven year-old Kia Krumpet is determined to build her 67 inventions, but she won’t have the opportunity to unless she earns a spot at PIPS, the Piedmont Inventor’s Prep School. Kia, who has trouble making friends at school, has dreamed of winning the Piedmont Challenge and attending PIPS ever since she learned that her Grandma Kitty won the very first Piedmont Challenge. After she and four of her classmates are selected to compete for a spot at PIPS, they travel by aero-bus to Camp Piedmont to solve a task against forty-nine other state teams to earn their place at the best inventor’s school in the country.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Oh I guess I’d have to say: imaginative, inventive, competitive, heartbreaking, and heartwarming.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a heartbreaking scene between eleven year-old Kia Krumpet and her Grandma Kitty that was particularly difficult to write. It’s a scene where I hope to show the moment in a child’s life when he or she realizes that a family member (like a parent or grandparent) is not perfect—that moment when that illusion is shattered. It happens to every child at some point in their life and can be a defining moment for them. And it’s one of my favorites!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was home alone in my bedroom ready to fold laundry! My phone was sitting on my dresser when I heard the ding. It was my agent telling me that I had an offer! Of course I didn’t have all the details at that moment, and I didn’t know if we would accept, but at that point I knew someone wanted my story and if everything worked out, it would be published. I literally broke into tears!

What’s your favorite junk food?
That’s easy! Baked goods. I love snickerdoodle cookies, coffee cake, sweet rolls, muffins, donuts…all of it!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Well, I have a broken hour glass sitting on it right now! The glass broke out of it so it’s basically a wooden frame. I have plans to spray paint a light bulb gold and place it inside- to make it look like a golden light bulb trophy in honor of my first published book. It will either turn into the coolest thing ever or a mess. We’ll see!

Everless by Sara Holland | 2018 Debut Book Review

Posted January 26, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Debut Author Challenge, Young Adult / 16 Comments

Everless by Sara Holland | 2018 Debut Book ReviewEverless by Sara Holland
Series: Everless #1
Published by HarperTEEN on January 2, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

I’d really been looking forward to Everless. The cover is pretty cool, the premise sounded unique (although I recently watched In Time, so it’s less unique now. lol), and I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy kick as of late. Sadly, though, things fell a bit short for me and I wasn’t impressed. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I tend to reserve the spot of my first book of the year for a book I’m really excited about. I’m not sure if that impacted my overall opinion of the book or not, but I had a lot of expectations going in. I was excited about it, it was going to be my first book of 2018, it was going to be my first debut of 2018, etc. It was a huge letdown. It is receiving rave reviews from readers, including many of my fellow book blogger friends, so am I missing something? I don’t even know, but I am seriously confused as to why I’m one of the very few people who did not like this book.

2. So… Everless is pretty much exactly like the movie, In Time. A Goodreads user asked how similar this book is, and Sofia Frost answered the question better than I could have. Possible spoilers below, so jump to point #3 if you don’t want to be spoiled!

*Main character’s family members die, cause they run out of time.
*Main character moves to place where rich and royal live.
*Main character falls in love with rich and famous (although in the book it is not really love at that point, but I am sure in future books it will become a full love story)
*Main character gains a lot of time. (book: ofc she can not just be a regular poor kid from the country)
*Prediction: Main character would try to break the curse of blood and time- and make everyone equal.

The end.

So… yes. Very similar to In Time. And I hated the movie, too.

3. Scroll back up and read the synopsis of the book. Sounds kind of cool, right? Well… think again. It’s depressing. This book was so depressing. Everyone is a ticking time bomb, not sure exactly how much time they have left. Unless they are rich, they live in an almost constant state of panic. I could never live in this world! I’d be filled with so much anxiety. I’d be scared to sleep. I’d be scared to read or watch movies because I’d worry I’d lose track of time. I’d constantly be worried I overestimated the time I had left and just fall dead one second. I’d never be carefree or happy. Even worse, I’d be scared to fall in love because I’d have to worry about someone else’s time, and not just my own. I’d be worrying about my family and my friends. How depressing is a life like that? Not only is the world depressing, but so is the backstory of almost every single character. Why did I ever think this was going to be a fun book to read? I read to escape to a happier place, and this book needs escaping from. I’ll take my real life, thanks.

4. Jules comes from tragedy. But did it make her smart? Did it make her strong? No. She fell in love with a boy when she was 7 while working for his family, his family ruined her life, she sneaks back to their estate to make blood-irons to help save her dying father even though he’s super against it, and she still has a crush on this boy. I’m sorry, but at 17-18 I didn’t know who I had a crush on 10 years prior, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t still have a crush on him. Especially after his family ruined my life and the lives of others I care about. Nope.

5. The romance…? It was barely there and added nothing to the story, but I see where things are going. No. I’m not at all on board. There’s no swoons, and I really don’t like the guy. Maybe there’s going to be a love triangle and the guy I preferred will end up with Jules, but I probably won’t ever know.

6. Something very Hunger Games happens (and not at all in a good way), and it’s totally spoilery for both this book and The Hunger Games series, so highlight the white space between the brackets if you’re curious. Needless to say, I was pretty furious. If you’re reading via email subscription or RSS reader and you don’t want to be spoiled for either book, jump ahead to point #7 because my whited-out text will only hide the spoilers if you’re reading on my blog. You’ve been warned.

[[[[[[Jules throws everything away to go to a very dangerous place to save her father’s life. He’s so so so against it, to the point of actually following her to beg her to come home. They speak for a few moments, she lies to him and tells him she will come home… all the while never actually planning to. She sends him home, lying that she will come soon. And what happens? He dies on the way home. He was so hell-bent on getting back to her that he wasted his time to try and save her instead of making sure he had enough time left for himself! SHE HAD BLOOD-IRONS WITH HER!! Why did she not give him any to ensure he would have enough time? She was literally there suffering in order to extend his life, but nope. Just like Katniss sacrificed herself for her sister Primm, only to have Primm die at the end, Jules sacrificed for her father, only to lose him anway. It’s maddening. I hate it when authors kill off the reason for a huge piece of the story. At least Katniss was amazing, though. And at least it wasn’t her fault that Primm died. Jules’s father’s death is totally her fault.]]]]]]

7. That was a much longer rant than I thought it would be, but I get madder and madder the more I think about this book. Jules is a wimpy idiot of a character. She has no street smarts, no brain, no fight in her. She has no personality whatsoever. I spent so much of the book yelling at her. By the end of Everless she has not grown at all, and I’m too exhausted to read another book so she can try to prove herself to me. And let’s be fair… every characters was flat and shapeless and boring. I wanted to smack them all.

8. So much of this plot was driven by miscommunication and pointless secrets. If the characters would just TALK to each other instead of waiting for everyone to figure it all out and find the answers themselves everything would have resolved on its own! Jules’s dad comes to the estate to warn her and instead of actually warning her in a way that makes sense he spouts out a bunch of mumbo jumbo that would have only made sense to Jules if she had already known what he was talking about. They say mankind is getting suckier and suckier at communicating with one another due to social media and texting, but these characters have neither. So what’s their excuse? When the fate of humanity rests on a teenaged girl, don’t you think the guy with all the answers could at least give them to her? That’d be too easy, though. Then we wouldn’t have a trilogy.

9. The characters and the world were underdeveloped. There was nothing keeping me there except my desire to actually finish a book so I didn’t start out the year already behind on my Goodreads goal.

10. This might be the most critical piece of my review… but the writing just wasn’t good. And I feel so bad for saying that. It’s easy to not like a story. We all have our likes and dislikes, and that’s widely accepted. All authors know that the story or the characters or the world, etc. that they wrote will not be loved by all. But I always feel so horrible for saying I didn’t like the writing because that removes the story completely and has to do with the actual words instead of the details. But I just didn’t like the writing. It wasn’t memorable or filled with pretty details. There were no quotes I highlighted to save and re-read later.

All in all, I could not get past the fact that this felt like a copy of the movie In Time. Immediately I started looking for all the similarities, which just frustrated me to no end. And I really think that if it had been amazing I would have been ok with those similarities. I hated the movie, so it would not have taken much for me to like it more. lol. But I just didn’t. It was depressing and underdeveloped and frustrating. I’m sorry to say that I would not recommend it to anyone, unless they were looking for In Time fanfic… and is that even a thing?

Top Ten (Ahem… Fifteen) Books I Liked But Can’t Remember

Posted January 22, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 74 Comments

This week’s topic is about the books you loved or really liked, but can’t remember much about. This is a big problem for me, especially where series books are concerned. I love reading a really amazing series, but sometimes I get caught up in so many series at a time that I get really overwhelmed. I end up forgetting the important things from the first/second books and not having the time to re-read them (or the desire because I didn’t LOVE it enough to read it again), but still wanting to finish the series! It’s so frustrating. Luckily I have the Recaptains to help me remember the important stuff, but not always! I’m going to highlight those series books I read but don’t remember, which has sadly prevented me from finishing the series.


1. Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder
2. Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver
3. Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers
4. Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
5. Forbidden (Forbidden #1) by Kimberly Griffiths Little
6. The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski
7. Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) by Alwyn Hamilton
8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor
9. Thorns (The Frost Chronicles #2) by Kate Avery Ellison
10. Captivate (Submerged Sun #1) by Vanessa Garden
11. The Conspiracy of Us (The Conspiracy of Us #1) by Maggie Hall
12. Of Sea and Stone (Secrets of Itlantis #1) by Kate Avery Ellison
13. Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) by Ally Carter
14. Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi
15. A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray

Obviously I need some help here! Which books are worth re-reading so I can finish the series? Which were meh? Which should I give up on completely?

Have you ever had this problem I’m dealing with? What do I do?

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher | Book Review

Posted January 18, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 10 Comments

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher | Book ReviewStolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
Published by Chicken House on May 4, 2009
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist--almost.

I’ve always had a weird fascination with kidnapping stories. I enjoy reading the stories of the survivors because I find them to be hopeful and inspiring. I sometimes get bogged down in my own life and forget to be thankful for what I do have. These stories remind me that I’m safe and I’m loved. And if these victims can survive and bring good from their experience (I’m thinking of people like Elizabeth Smart), then I can survive my own life too. Stolen really made me think, and I think that that’s what I loved most about it.

Stolen is a very unique take on the typical kidnapping/crime novel. The entire book is written as a letter from Gemma to her captor after her rescue, and I loved that about it. She actually talks to him, telling him her entire story as if he wasn’t there. We get to read her thoughts and her interpretations and her feelings about everything that happened while they were together in the Australian Outback. We know exactly how everything impacted her, and we get to see the evolution of her going from fight mode to complacency mode to sympathetic mode. We get to watch her as she goes from hating him with everything she had to almost loving him. I’ll admit, it even happened to me. I had to get real with myself and say, “Jana… he kidnapped her. He isolated her. He took away her freedom. Why are you hoping a romance blooms? That’s nuts!” And it is nuts! What Ty did to her was wrong, awful, traumatizing, despicable. I was frustrated with myself for falling into the same kind of trance Gemma did. It was all very real and emotional and so beautifully written. This book was real enough and sneaky enough to make me develop a little Stockholm Syndrome with her. If I didn’t believe that words had power before, I do now.

I don’t want to say much more, as this is a book you truly need to read and take in on your own in order to really understand it. I think it’s important to note, however, that Ty did nothing of a sexual nature to Gemma. There’s no rape, no sexual abuse, not even any touching. I know this happens more often than not in real life stories like Stolen, and that many captives are not a fraction as lucky as Gemma is. This would have been way too upsetting for me to read, though, so I am grateful that this was not a part of Gemma’s story.

All in all, this is a powerful, beautiful, emotionally confusing and enthralling read. I can see why it is recognized as a Printz honor book. It’s unique and really makes you think. I’d recommend it to pretty much anyone.

Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2018

Posted January 15, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 67 Comments

Welcome to the brand new home of Top Ten Tuesday!

We said a very bittersweet goodbye on The Broke and the Bookish last week. Make sure you stop by, because we all had some sappy things to say and left links for where you can find us.

I’m really excited, but also kind of terrified, to take on hosting such a beloved meme all by myself. I loved writing at The Broke and the Bookish, and am a little sad today because I’ll really miss working with those ladies! Life has taken us all in different directions, though, so the time finally came that we had to split up. I wish them all the happiest lives ever and hope we stay in touch. :)

This week’s topic is centered around our bookish resolutions/goals for 2018. I really love making goals, and I always get to excited when I stick to them. Let’s hope I can with these!

1. Read more classics.
I read two classics in 2017 by Arthur Conan Doyle (A Study In Scarlet and The Sign of the Four) and felt so unbelievably accomplished. lol. I want to feel that way even more! I’m hoping to read Pride and Prejudice and maybe Gone With the Wind? I’m not sure yet. Do you have any recommendations?

2. Read more books this year than I did last year.
I fell into a book slump and ended up reading way less than usual. I’d like to read more than 45 books this year, which should not be too hard. How many books are you hoping to read this year?

3. Write my book review for a book before starting the next one.
I used to do this, so I don’t even know what happened. lol. Maybe I lost my mojo? I’ve got a big list of reviews I still need to write, and I am so overwhelmed. I also don’t remember all the little details of why I loved or didn’t love some of these books. Making myself write a review before I can move on to another book will really improve my blogging, I think. Do you do this?

4. Embrace the concept of DNF.
I need to get even better at DNFing (did not finish) a book. I think this is why I fell into my slump last year. I didn’t DNF because I wanted to reach my goal or because I wanted to say I’d read something. Looking back over the books I read last year, I didn’t like many of them.

5. Read the books I’ve bought.
I buy and am gifted a lot of books, but I always push them to the side to read the books I’m sent for review. But I don’t OWE anyone anything. I need to feel like it’s ok to read the non-review books that I’ve bought because obviously those ones meant enough to me to pay for.

6. Weed my bookshelves again.
I’ve done this a few times over the last two years, and it’s liberating. I don’t have all the space in the world, and I’m feeling my tastes changing. I need to be ok with donating books I no longer think I’m going to read. I’m weighed down by so many books I’m not sure I’m interested in! Reading the books I’ve bought will help me with this.

7. Ignore the hype.
If I want to read a book, I should read it even if it’s not hyped up or if I know people who hated it. If I don’t want to read a book or want to DNF a book, I should not talk myself out of those decisions because everyone loves that book! Down with peer pressure!

8. Figure out my taste in books again.
As I mentioned above, I’m feeling my interests and my likes/dislikes changing as far as books go. Maybe it’s because I turned 30 last year and am really settling into adulthood, but I feel like I’m moving away from certain kinds of books. I’m no longer wanting to read books about people half my age. I find myself looking for more mature characters with careers and serious relationships, more world building, more details, more intensity, etc. I’m less interested in the books I used to really want to read, which is not to say that I don’t like those kinds of books anymore… I’m just getting pickier about them. I need to embrace this shift and figure out what kind of books I love now.

9. Read more during the day.
I pretty much only have time to read late at night now. This isn’t good for me, plus it’s harder to retain what you read when you’re so bleary-eyed while reading. I’m staying up so late and then I’m tired the next day. I also can’t read my scary books. lol. I need to carve out some me time at some point in the day where I can relax and enjoy some reading time.

10. Browse the backlist.
It’s not all about new or recent releases. I want to read the books nobody is talking about anymore and be different from everyone else. Ever noticed how you see the same handful of books being reviewed on each blog? I want to be different and breathe new life into the books that were released 5-10 years ago.

What are you hoping to accomplish in your bookish life this year?

Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham | Mini Book Review

Posted January 15, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham | Mini Book ReviewMr. Kiss and Tell by Jennifer Graham, Rob Thomas
Series: Veronica Mars #2
Also in this series: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line
Published by Vintage Books on January 20, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman's story.

The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why?

In my raving review of The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line I explained how much I love Veronica Mars. And I’m going to pretty much ditto everything I said there in this review (so maybe go read that review as well?). Mr. Kiss and Tell is another great Veronica Mars mystery novel, although I did not love the mystery as much as I did the first one (although it’s very close to Veronica’s heart because of her own past). But that’s ok because Veronica and Logan!!! He wasn’t really around in the first book, save for some Skype calls (he’s in the military), but he’s here now and he brought all of wit and banter with him! This is what we marshmallows have been waiting for.

I don’t have much else to say because I don’t want to take away from anyone’s reading experience. I TOTALLY recommend this book and the first to fans of Veronica Mars.

The Debut Dish: Joanna Ruth Meyer, Rachel Lynn Solomon, Lianne Oelke, & Ben Guterson (+ Giveaway)

Posted January 14, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 9 Comments

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Joanna Ruth Meyer (Beneath the Haunting Sea), Rachel Lynn Solomon (You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone), Lianne Oelke (Nice Try, Jane Sinner), and Ben Guterson (Winterhouse).

Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer
January 9, 2018 from Page Street
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Sixteen-year-old Talia was born to a life of certainty and luxury, destined to become Empress of half the world. But when an ambitious rival seizes power, she and her mother are banished to a nowhere province on the far edge of the Northern Sea.

It is here, in the drafty halls of the Ruen-Dahr, that Talia discovers family secrets, a melancholy boy with a troubling vision of her future, and a relic that holds the power of an ancient Star. On these shores, the eerie melody of the sea is stronger than ever, revealing long-forgotten tales of the Goddess Rahn. The more dark truths that Talia unravels about the gods’ history—and her own—the more the waves call to her, and it may be her destiny to answer.

Describe your book in five words or less.
The Silmarillion meets Jane Austen!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is actually the epilogue, but I can’t tell you about that because SPOILERS. One of my other favorite scenes is when Talia arrives at the Ruen-Dahr, the dreary, mysterious mansion she’s banished to, and meets Wen. He’s shocked to see her, and things go badly!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
The initial interest from my publisher came in June 2016—I was checking my email at a stoplight (as you do), and found a note from my agent with Page’s inquiry as to wether SEA was still available. There were other moments leading up to the actual offer, but that’s what started it all!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Oreo cookies. Double stuff, or don’t bother. :D

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Currently I do a lot of writing *not* at my desk—right now, for example, I have my laptop on the floor. To the left is my 5.5 month old son, to the right my cat! Does that count? ;)

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
January 2, 2018 from Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Twin sisters with opposite fates.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Hmm…most of them are spoilers! I’ll go with this one: there’s a scene about 1/4 into the book where the twin protagonists are on a weekend trip to Canada with their parents. They haven’t been speaking much (for many reasons), and they’re both tiptoeing around each other. In the hotel room, one of them turns on the TV, which is playing a cheesy movie they used to like when they were younger. They start making fun of it, tentatively at first because they’re not sure how the other will react, and slowly slip back into something resembling friendship. It’s a fleeting moment — they’ll have to go through many more obstacles and dig much deeper before they can resolve all their issues — but a very sweet one, I think.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I work from home, and I was on a conference call when my agent called me. I saw her area code, freaked out, and let the phone go to voicemail. When I listened, she said to call her back asap, and after I learned we had an offer and danced a little with my dog, I had to hop on another conference call. I remember IMing one of my coworkers about what happened, and she told me to get off the conference call right away and go celebrate, which I did!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Lately I’ve been obsessed with these one-minute chocolate mug cakes from the baking aisle of the grocery store — you add milk, zap them in the microwave, and voila, a perfect little cake.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A landline.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
January 9, 2018 by Clarion Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

Describe your book in five words or less.
College, reality TV, angst, snark.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s this one challenge in the reality show HOUSE OF ORANGE where Jane and her competitors have to live inside a van. Last person left wins. Jane spends days- DAYS- inside that van, with pretty much the worst character I’ve ever written. It’s disgusting and uncomfortable and kind of hilarious.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at work when my agent called to say I had an offer. I was kind of in shock. I pretty much pretended nothing happened as no one I worked with knew I wrote a book! I definitely had celebratory beers with my boyfriend that night, though.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Caramel popcorn. Or salt and vinegar chips!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An engraved, gold plated fidget spinner that my sister gave to me for being in her bridal party.

Winterhouse by Ben Guterson
January 2, 2018 from Henry Holt & Co. Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

An enchanting urban fantasy middle-grade debut―the first book in a trilogy―set in a magical hotel full of secrets.

Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt and uncle ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms―most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But the deeper she delves into the hotel’s secrets, the more Elizabeth starts to realize that she is somehow connected to Winterhouse. As fate would have it, Elizabeth is the only person who can break the hotel’s curse and solve the mystery. But will it be at the cost of losing the people she has come to care for, and even Winterhouse itself?

Mystery, adventure, and beautiful writing combine in this exciting debut richly set in a hotel full of secrets.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Heroine discovers a magical book.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I enjoy a scene early in the novel when my main character, Elizabeth Somers, explores the vast library inside the lavish Winterhouse Hotel, which is where she is staying over the Christmas holiday. I love the winter season, I love enormous lodges and mansions, and I love libraries, of course; so it was fun to write about a character who is drawn, mysteriously, to a strange book seemingly forgotten on a shelf in a quiet room.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at work. I quit about three months later.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Every so often, a hamburger from Dick’s Drive-In in Seattle really hits the spot. If that doesn’t officially qualify as junk food, I’ll go with an Almond Joy candy bar–I really love those.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Very little that might qualify as “odd” on my desk right now–unless postage stamps are odd. I do have “Puzzle No. 3444,” a cryptic crossword torn from the last page of a magazine to which I subscribe. I love cryptic crosswords and have a folder of them I’ve been filling for years.

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham | Book Review

Posted January 12, 2018 by Jana in About Me, Book Review / 10 Comments

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham | Book ReviewThe Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Jennifer Graham, Rob Thomas
Series: Veronica Mars #1
Also in this series: Mr. Kiss and Tell
Published by Vintage Books on March 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 324
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She's traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it's spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is not a simple missing person's case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica's past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

I absolutely love Veronica Mars. I discovered the TV show a few years ago when my friend, Jess, sent me the complete DVD set as a gift after finding out I’d never seen it. And a huge fan was born! Even though I knew the TV series would end, I was still soooo sad when it did. Then I discovered that the writers of the show also wrote two books and I was elated. I was not disappointed. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This book is definitely a gift to Veronica Mars fans. I’m sure you’d enjoy reading it if you’ve never seen the show, but I can’t imagine why you’d want to. This book takes place years after the series and the movie, so it really goes without saying that you’ll be happier and love it more if you watch all of those first.

2. The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line reads like an episode of the show, and I LOVED that about it. Veronica’s inner monologues are still golden. Her snark is perfection. I was all smiles.

3. Veronica is back in Neptune, and so are all of our favorite characters (Mac) and not-so favorite characters (Sheriff Lamb).

4. The mystery is actually really amazing. I was invested not just because I love the characters and the world, but because I was legitimately curious about how the mystery of the missing girl would be solved. It was exciting and filled with twists and turns.

5. The writing was awesome. There’s a lot of books out there that serve as sequels of or extensions to TV shows or movies, and I can’t imagine that any of them were as well done or pleasant to read. Nothing was missing for me. I wasn’t wishing I was watching it instead of reading it. I just loved it, and that seems crazy to me!

Overall, if you loved the show you will love this book and then re-watch the TV series as soon as you’ve finished it. I loved being back in Neptune with the gang, tagging along on one of their cases again.

The Broke and the Bookish: The End of An Era

Posted January 11, 2018 by Jana in Personal / 8 Comments

So, many of you know that I’ve been writing at The Broke and the Bookish since it was born 8 years ago. Writing there actually inspired me to open up this blog about 7 years ago because I wanted to post more than I was able to over there. Book blogging has seriously changed my life. I’ve made so many new friends, I’ve found my love of reading again, I’ve found so many books I love, I’ve discovered new genres I never would have read before, I’ve gained a new sense of confidence, I’ve found a creative outlet where I can express myself, and I even went to grad school! I’ve been offered opportunities and had experiences that I never would have pictured for myself. I’ve worked with so many wonderful authors and publishers, gone to bookish events, blurbed a book, been mentioned in acknowledgments sections, and even been a content adviser for one of my favorite authors (we talked on the phone, guys!!)! Joining the bookish community all those years ago was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Today at The Broke and the Bookish we officially announced that we are closing the blog. It was a very bittersweet decision for all of us, but we’ve all gone in so many different directions that the time had come. We embarked on this adventure as college students with absolutely no blogging know-how, and we had no idea what the blog would turn into and how it would change all of us. We developed some very special friendships there, and I’m sad to turn the page on that chapter of our lives. I love my broke and bookish ladies: Jamie, Kimberly, Daisy, Lori, Bridget, Julia, and Lauren, and I wish them all the best. I know that we will all be friends for a very long time.

Don’t worry! Top Ten Tuesday is moving to my blog, and I will be hosting it here at That Artsy Reader Girl moving forward. Check the Top Ten Tuesday tab on the top menu bar for more information. I’m really excited to carry on this blogging tradition.

Make sure to head over to the blog and read our goodbye post! We all got a little sentimental and left links for where to find us.

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