Month: July 2018

Five Books That I Hope Live Up to the Hype & Five Books That Did

Posted July 30, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 41 Comments

We’ve all heard about those SUPER AMAZING BUY THEM NOW kinds of books that are so hyped, and almost always overly so that they end up being a huge letdown. I know I’ve been there countless numbers of times and I think that’s the main reason why I actually tend to shy away from hyped books. Today I’m sharing with you five super popular books that I plan to read and hope live up to the hype for me, and five books that did!

Five Books I Hope Live Up to the Hype

1. Warcross by Marie Lu
2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
3. Geekerella by Ashley Poston
4. An Ember In the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
5. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Five Books That Lived Up to the Hype (for Me)

1. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
4. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
5. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Have you read any of the first 5 books I listed? Did they live up to the hype for you?
Anything I need to really hurry up and read?
Do you agree with the books I chose that I felt did live up to the hype?

 


Second Annual Magic, Myth, & Mischief | Participation Invitation

Posted July 25, 2018 by Jana in Blog Event / 12 Comments

I’m very excited to announce the second annual Magic, Myth, & Mischief blog event, which Bonnie from A Backwards Story and I are hosting again this fall!

Magic, Myth, & Mischief will take place during the entire month of September, and it’s going to be a lot of fun! The entire month will center around fairy tales and mythological retellings, but we’ll also spotlight retellings of favorite classic novels and books featuring lore about mythical beasts and creatures such as mermaids, dragons, and fae!

We’d love for you to join in the fun! Would you like to write a guest post about any aspect of this topic? Would you like to write a book review for us to host for you? Are you an author with a book that fits the event’s parameters and want to talk about it? We want you! Feel free to email me your ideas (JanaSparkles {at} yahoo {dot} com) by August 30th and I will get you on the event schedule! Or you can fill out this handy form:

Even if you can’t participate, we’d love your help spreading the word! I made a button for the event that you’re free to use on social media or on your own websites. You can also help us by tweeting out links to our posts. We’d truly appreciate the publicity, plus you’ll get extra entries in our giveaway if you share now and throughout the entire month! :)

Official event hashtag: #magicmythmischief

 

That Artsy Reader Girl

We will also be putting on an Instagram photo challenge that we’d love for you to participate in with us! Here’s the list of prompts so you can start planning early. Interpret these prompts as loosely/narrowly as you’d like. Be creative!

 


Nine Books That are Linked to Specific Moments In My Life

Posted July 23, 2018 by Jana in About Me, Top Ten Tuesday / 25 Comments

This week’s topic is books with sensory memories, and was submitted through my TTT topic submission form by Jessica at A Cocoon of Books. These are the books that are linked to very specific memories for you: where you were, what time of year it was, who you were with, what you were eating, what you were feeling, what you were seeing, etc. The topic might feel narrow and difficult at first, but I think it provides so much freedom to be creative and come up with a really personal list this week. I’m excited to see what you came up with!

I chose to share ten books that are linked to happy moments in my life. I don’t know about you, but I tend to attach all kinds of things to events in my life. I have a very vivid memory and have always remembered certain songs that were playing during different times in my life, who I was with when I watched a certain movie, what a guy and I were wearing on a random date 10 years ago, etc. While taking tests in school I could pull up a page of my notes in my mind. Picturing where certain information was on the page helped me remember facts or answers to questions. So in today’s case, I’ll be sharing books that I have very vivid memories about, but not in terms of the stories themselves. These memories surround my reading experience.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
My mom and I read New Moon together a few months before Eclipse came out. During this time, my little sister had weekly choir practice in the evenings at her choir director’s home about 25 minutes away from our house. My mom would always drive her to practice, and I frequently went with her so we could do some shopping or go out to eat while my sister was singing. This time, however, we were so hooked on this book that we each brought ours along with us and sat in the van outside the director’s house reading as the sun went down.

Decked with Holly by Marni Bates
I love reading Christmas books during Christmastime! My mom and I got tickets to a Christmas concert in Salt Lake City, and we went up early to be in our seats on time. You know how it is, though. The wait from when you’re seated until the show starts is always super long. What bookworm doesn’t bring a book with them in these situations? I remember it was freezing outside, so my mom and I wore nice pants and snow boots instead of dresses/skirts like usual. The center was beautifully decorated and the buzz of excited concertgoers made it tricky for me to focus. I did get some reading done, though!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I started this after a breakup with a pretty crummy guy. I was looking forward to a non-sappy book with people killing each other. :’)

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
I took this hardback on a cruise, which is absolutely insane. lol. In what universe did I ever have enough luggage space to bring multiple hardback books? I could never cart a bag of hardbacks with me on cruises now. I bring too many clothes and essentials. I remember sitting in a lounge chair by the pool after I had gone swimming. The bottom of the pages are rippled because I rested the book on my stomach while I was reading, and my swimsuit was still wet. The book ended on such a cliffhanger that I was tempted to throw it overboard in frustration. lol.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
My mom and I were in North Carolina for a family wedding, and we had major plane issues going home. Long story short, we were offered free first class upgrades as long as we were ok with not sitting together. We were all about flying first class for the first time ever, so we were fine with it. I ended up sitting in a window seat next to an older guy who fell asleep. I spent the flight reading Poison Study and praying like crazy that I wouldn’t have to pee!

The Maze by Catherine Coulter
Long ago, I worked as a customer service rep for American Express’s small business network (for a few weeks. lol). The job was boring and slightly stressful. I read this book while on the phones. Sometimes I read while I was working with a customer because everything was so engrained in my head at that point that I didn’t have to think much. I also brought coloring books to this job. Anything to pass the time!

Carrie Goes Off the Map by Phillipa Ashley
I actually read this while I was substitute teaching an elementary school music class. The teacher left me instructions to play a movie for them, and I sat in the back and read this book while they watched.

Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson
I read this while on a transatlantic cruise! The heroine was on a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea, and I was sitting on my cabin’s balcony reading this as we crossed from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean. You could tell because the water was doing some really cool swirly stuff and flowing in all different directions. I had to set my Kindle down and watch. It was pretty amazing.

Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
I read this book on my road trip to Georgia with my mom for grad school orientation. I remember I really didn’t want to bring it with me because I was trying to limit my books to Kindle only, but I hadn’t finished this one yet. I read, like, 2 pages a day because I was so busy that I hardly had time to read.

What direction did you take this topic in this week?
Have you read any books that are linked to specific events or times in your life?


Five of My Favorite Novellas and Five I Want to Read

Posted July 16, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 18 Comments

This week’s topic is about short stories and novellas you’ve read and loved! As I was going through my list of books I quickly realized that I suck at reading novellas. I own them, but I don’t read them often because I like longer stories. And he ones I do read are frequently Christmas ones. That’s why this week I’m sharing with you five of the novellas I’ve read and seriously loved everything about, as well as five novellas I’d really like to read.

Read and Loved

Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards
This is one of my favorite Christmas stories. I loved the characters, the dog, the baby llama, and particularly the ending.

Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare
This is such a cute Spindle Cove novella with a blacksmith hero who will steal your heart.

Uncharted by Tracey Garvis-Graves
This is the novella companion to On the Island takes Anna and TJ head back to where they were stranded, although they are not the main focus of this story. It’s pretty much about a guy named Owen. I won’t say anything more because spoilers! But this is seriously a MUST read if you loved On the Island!

Just One Night by Gayle Forman
THIS was the ending we needed after Just One Day. You can skip Just One Year, for all I care.

Snowed Over by Angie Stanton
Another of myfavorite Christmas stories about two college students who decide to carpool home for Christmas and a snowstorm has other plans for them.

Want to Read

The Demon In the Wood by Leigh Bardugo
I loved The Darkling in this trilogy, and I’d love to learn his backstory!

Phoenix Overture by Jodi Meadows
I’d love to learn more about one of my favorite book boyfriends, Sam!

Compulsion by Vanessa Garden
This is a prequel to Submerged Sun, which is a favorite of mine. I didn’t even know about it until I was putting this list together! And I don’t know how to get it because I can’t find it anywhere online!

The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare
It’s my goal to read anything she writes, and this sounds wonderful!

Paris for One by Jojo Moyes
I’ve never read a book by Jojo, but this is Paris and new romance and I’m here for it!

Are you a novella person?
Have you read any of these? Do you want to?
What novellas do you love that you think I might, too?


Iconic Pen Names Across History and Why They Were Chosen

Posted July 12, 2018 by Jana in Discussion / 7 Comments

Pen names are so much fun, and I love learning the reasons behind why authors choose them. Centuries prior, there were countless reasons why authors adopted a nom de plume. Sometimes it was strictly to remain anonymous, and other times it was because authors were more successful if their genders were concealed. You can check out some of the most iconic authors and their pen names in the infographic (created by Invaluable) below.

Today, pen names are still widely used, but it can be difficult to land on one that suits both you and your writing. Invaluable created this fun pen name generator to help you out! It generates a unique pen name based on the genre and gender you choose. If you know you want to include your first or last name, you can type that in and it will populate a nom de plume incorporating one.

How do you feel about pen names?
Which pen name would you choose for yourself and why?
What name did the pen name generator provide you?


The Best Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far!)

Posted July 9, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 47 Comments

I cannot believe we’re over halfway done with 2018 (obviously, since I totally forgot to put this topic into the calendar and had to swap it out for the freebie that was originally scheduled for today). It feels like just yesterday I was packing up the Christmas decorations on a dreary January morning. Now it’s blisteringly hot outside and I’m  itching for fall weather to blow in and cool us off again. And then it’ll be 2019 before we know it! There’s still lots of reading to be done, but today let’s talk about the best of the best that we’ve read this year!

I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill
This marriage of convenience story is seriously so heartwarming and wonderful. It’s also filled with swoons! Emmy is conned out of a place to live on campus (as well as all of her money), and recently dumped Beckett remembers that his apartment is in married student housing. Rather than drop out of school, Emmy and Beckett decide to get married and share the apartment. They have to play the part of a newlywed couple for all their new friends, and I loved watching them convince themselves that they’re great together as well.


Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Love & Gelato was everything I had hoped for and more. I love stories set in Italy, and this one was pure perfection. Read my review for more info!

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
The bulk of Love & Luck takes place on a road trip across Ireland in dilapidated old car, passing castles and historic sites and tons of beautiful scenery. It’s seriously such a fun story, and Jenna’s writing is wonderful.


Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
I loved Starry Eyes. It’s swoony and deep and angsty and full of so much reality, set against the love-hate relationship between two best-friends-turned-enemies as they traverse the elements and depend on one another to survive the literal wilderness, as well as their own wild, untamed lives. Read my full review!


Roomies by Christina Lauren
I love marriages of convenience and fake/sham romances, books set in New York, stories surrounding the theme of music, and hot Irish men. This one did not disappoint! Read my full review.


The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a Tracey fangirl and have been following her since the very beginning of her writing career when she self-published On the Island. TGHUtK is her first plunge into women’s fiction, and I loved it! It features a heroine on the Autism spectrum, a romance from the past, lots of feelings, and characters who find themselves in each other. I don’t want to talk too much about i because it comes out in April of 2019, but keep your eyes peeled for more on this one in the coming months!


Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci
Here’s another Italy romance! A chance encounter with the sexy Italian man who got away years ago brings lots of romantic moments and feelings.


Save the Date by Morgan Matson
I’m SO glad I finally jumped on the Morgan Matson train! I hope her others are just as wonderful for me as this one was. I loved the family dynamics, the wedding craziness, and all heart and feeling that swirled around it all. Read my full review.


The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
I REALLY love the audio for this one. It is amazingly well done. And the steampunk historical fiction mixed with a little suspense/intrigue and hints of romance made this a very unique and enjoyable read.

Which books have you read and loved this year so far?


Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book Review

Posted July 5, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book ReviewUnder the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham
Series: The MacDonnells #1
Also in this series: Sound of the Heart
Published by Berkley on January 3, 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 319
Format: Paperback
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
The year is 1746. A young woman from South Carolina and a Scottish Highlander share an intimacy and devotion beyond their understanding. They have had visions of each other their entire lives. And yet they have never met.

Now, with their lives torn asunder, Maggie Johnson and Andrew MacDonnell's quest to find each other is guided only by their dreams— and by the belief in the true love they share.

On the Carolina frontier Maggie Johnson’s family struggles to survive. Maggie’s gift of “the sight” and her visions show her a presence she calls Wolf. She watches him grow from a boy her age to a man even as she goes from child to woman.

Andrew MacDonald has always wondered about the girl he sees in his dreams. He is able to talk to her through their thoughts and vows that even if he must cross an ocean he will find her.

They are thrust into different situations: Andrew fights for the doomed Jacobite cause and Maggie is captured by slavers, then rescued and brought into a kind, loving Native American tribe. They each believe in destiny and the power of the love they have shared forever.

Lots of things about this book excited me. I love historical romance, the back of the book and the cover reminded me of a light, fluffy romance with a paranormal twist (like a Lynn Kurland book), and I loved the idea of telepathic communication across the world, between two characters who have never actually met each other. During tough times these two characters appeared to one other to help, either delivering advice or actual strength. As they got older, their ability to communicate grew stronger and they began to fall in love. The romance was incredibly sweet. They were childhood sweethearts, who were there for each other all the time, even though they were on completely different continents. I love this idea.

While I did like it, this book is far from the light, fluffy romance I was expecting. The cover is quite deceptive, as this book is a rather heavy and sometimes dark read. This time period was a pretty awful time, especially for women, and the author does not sugar coat it, which I respected. At the very beginning of the book, Maggie witnesses the death and/or murders of several family members. She and her sisters are abducted by men hoping to sell them, and are beaten and raped to within an inch of their lives. Andrew goes to war in Scotland, and also experiences a lot of death and heartache. This is all described in great detail, and it actually upset me so much that I thought I would not be able to continue. I was so curious to see how things ended, though, that I decided to continue on with it. To all my fellow tender hearts out there, if you can make it to page 115, you are going to be just fine. The book does lighten up, and it even gets suspenseful and exciting!

A tribe of Cherokee Indians rescues Maggie and her sister from their captors, and takes them in as part of their family. I loved this entire protective and loving group of people. I have not had the opportunity to read much about Native American tribes, except for my history books in school. I learned so much about the culture and belief system of this tribe, and was captivated by their story and strong, almost religious, ties to Mother Nature.

I really, really liked Maggie and Andrew. Maggie is so incredibly strong and resilient. I admire her, and wish I had the kind of strength she has. Andrew is the perfect sexy Scottish highlander. He cares so much for Maggie, his family, and his friends. He’s also very loyal and honorable. We see him interact with two very young orphaned children, and he is amazingly sweet with them. He really is pretty perfect, and I know I would love it if he came to me in my dreams! His accent is also pretty adorable, but sometimes I had to read his lines out loud in order to understand them. :)

Genevieve’s writing style is gorgeous. Her word choice stirred the same emotions in me that her characters felt. She sent me to the woods where Maggie was held captive, to the battle fields of Scotland, to the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, and to the deep southern colonies of North America. The dreams Maggie and Andrew had about each other were mystical and magical. Everything seemed so real to me, and I was completely captivated, even though parts of this book really upset and disturbed me.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of historical romances with a bit of a paranormal twist. Yes, it’s heavy and dark in places. Yes, I had a hard time convincing myself to finish it at one point, but I am so glad I did. You can’t fault the author for retelling history. This all really happened, and I was amazed reading what people are willing to do to each other. The story is also magical and romantic, and I really loved reading about Maggie and Andrew’s journey to find one another. We are left with no loose ends, and you’ll be very happy with how things turn out in the end.


Ten Red, White, & Blue Books I Want to Read

Posted July 2, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 31 Comments

Since 4th of July is tomorrow here in the United States of America, I thought it would be fun to showcase book covers that have country colors on them today! I love learning where my fellow book nerds live. If you live in another country, I hope you’ve chosen book covers with the colors from your country’s flag! If you decided to helped me celebrate the 4th of July, though, and chose red, white, and blue covers then that’s also awesome.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
Study abroad at Oxford and romance!

Freshmen by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
A funny look at Freshman year at college.

Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Her dad is the Republican nominee for President of the USA, which his mom is he Democratic nominee. This could be interesting.

Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Scotland, for one thing. And there’s a prince in disguise!!

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
I’ve been wanting to read this Kate Middleton/Prince William-inspired romance for a LONG time.

Enchantée by Gita Trelease
1789 Paris. A double life. Magic. Blackmail. Marie Antoinette.

Girl on a Plane by Cassandra O’Leary
A flight attendant falls for the sexy Australian in First Class on a flight from Melbourne to London. There’s also an unexpected landing in Singapore.

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
If the title alone isn’t enough to get you, then I don’t know what to tell you.

The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright
This sounds very Prince and Me/Princess Diaries, and I am here for it.

My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
A choose your own adventure romance novel! Yes please!

Which country do you call home?
If you’re in the USA, what are your 4th of July plans?


Debut Author Challenge 2018: July – December Review Link-Up

Posted July 1, 2018 by Jana in Debut Author Challenge / 0 Comments

Welcome to the second half of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge! I can’t believe the year is already half over, but here we are! You all linked up 119 reviews in January-June, and I am so proud! Let’s get even more during this last half of the year!

Helpful Links:

Goodreads list of 2018 Debut Author Challenge books.
• Official Goodreads group for the challenge.
Google spreadsheet of 2018 debuts.
• Request that a book be added to the Google spreadsheet here.
• Debut authors: learn how to be featured in an issue of the Debut Dish!

Some things to remember:

– This is the review link-up for all debut reviews you write in July, August, September, October, November, and December. This does not mean that the books you review have to be published during these six months. You can read and review any debut, any month of the year.

– If you forgot to link up anything from the last 6 months to he last link-up, go ahead and link them now. I know it’s hard to remember. Please be honest about this and don’t re-post links to reviews that you already linked up on the previous link-up post.

– In order to get credit for your review, you must have read the book in 2018. If you read an ARC of a 2018 debut in 2017, it does not count. Also, don’t jump the gun and start reading 2019 ARCs! They won’t count for either the 2018 challenge or the 2019 challenge. I don’t want people with access to ARCs to have an advantage over those who don’t.

– I’m here if you have any questions at all, so don’t hesitate to shoot me a message via Twitter or comment or homing pigeon.

This is the second of two bi-annual review link-ups, which will be accessible by hovering over the Debut Author Challenge tab at the top of the blog and clicking the box that says “Book Review Link-Up”. Each link you submit counts as one entry into the giveaway. I will use the random number generator to draw a winner at the end of December. The winner will win their choice of a 2018 debut book from my list, which I will mail them. This giveaways is open internationally, provided Book Depository ships to you!

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