Top Ten Book Characters I’d Follow On Social Media

Posted February 24, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 14 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! This week’s topic was submitted by Tilly at The Biblioshelf, and is about characters I’d follow on social media! I thought this sounded like a really fun topic, and I’m breaking it down by social media platform!

1. Naomi Westfield from You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
I’d follow Naomi on Twitter because she says some of the funniest things and is such a good storyteller! I think she’d be very entertaining.

2. Graham Barnett from The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler
Graham owns a greasy spoon diner called The Tourist Trap. The service and the food are pretty crummy. He’s been known to just kick everyone out because he wants to go home, yet this place is a right of passage. People line up outside before the place opens because it’s THE THING to do. I’m sure he has some crazy stories about tourists that come through, so I’d love to follow his twitter account and read his random musings. He’s also an artist and carves things out of wood using his chainsaw. I’d love to see an Instagram of all his pieces.

3. Nari from Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar
Nari is a travel blogger, and is always jet-setting to exciting and exotic places. I want to follow her blog as well as her Instagram so I can see some of the amazing things she sees!

4. Veronica Mars from The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Jennifer Graham and Rob Thomas
I’m kind of cheating with this one… but I’d TOTALLY follow Veronica’s blog or the Mars Investigations Facebook page/Twitter to keep up with Veronica and her dad.

5. Thomas Cresswell from the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco
He’s SNARKY, plus I’d be interested to know what he’s learning and the kinds of autopsies he performs. Morbid curiosity? Yes. If he had a Twitter account, I’d be all over it.

6. Lucien Vanserra from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas
I need eye candy. Where is this guy’s personal Instagram? I could easily spend time scrolling through pictures of him and his beautiful city.

7. Lina from Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Lina lives in Florence! I want to follow her Instagram and see pictures of Italy because I LOVE ITALY.

8. Anna from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
If I need Lina’s Insta, I also need Anna’s. I want pictures of Paris and food and her school. I want to see it all!

9. Bria from Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Bria travels all through Central America and I want to hear all about it! Yes to her Instagram.

10. Carrie from Carrie Goes Off the Map by Philippa Ashley
Carrie spends over a month road tripping through the English countryside with Matt, and it sounds like it was beautiful. I clearly use Instagram to armchair travel. lol. My Instagram is full of beautiful locations.

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Christie’s Auction House, Art, & A Trace of Deceit by Karen Odden | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted February 20, 2020 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 1 Comment

I’m pleased to welcome to Karen Odden, author of A Dangerous Duet, to the blog today to talk about the next book in her Victorian Mystery series, A Trace of Deceit! I love art (I minored in art history during undergrad), so this entire post is just fascinating to me. Read more about Karen and A Trace of Deceit below, and enter to win a copy of your own!


Christie’s Auction House, Art, & A Trace of Deceit
by Karen Odden

On my 29th birthday, November 11, 1994, I was standing in the main sales room at Christie’s auction house in New York City. The elegant room was crowded for the rare book auction scheduled to begin at 10 o’clock. On an elevated stage at the front stood Stephen Massey, the head of the Rare Books department, behind a podium. I stood along one wall surveying the rows of chairs, filled with potential buyers and some gawkers. On the opposite wall was a bank of tables draped with black fabric, with phones for other Christie’s employees who’d be taking the bids of people calling in. The star of the auction that day was Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Hammer, one of his notebooks, 32 pages, written right to left, in his mirror handwriting, and featuring the famous image of the Vitruvian Man, among others.

A page from the Codex Leicester (a.k.a. Codex Hammer) by da Vinci, 1510

People who attend Christie’s auctions are generally well behaved. They speak in soft tones, if they speak at all. No one shouts out or flaps their paddle around. But that day people could not stop murmuring. Rare manuscripts, signed copies and first editions sold as expected. But everyone was waiting for the Da Vinci notebook.

As usual the auctioneer started the bidding below the presale estimate. Between buyers in the room and on the phones, the bid began to climb: 6 million, 6.5, 7, 7.5 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 20. Soon it became a duel between two bidders, one in the room and one on the phone, and the employee at the phone bank just kept raising her hand. Eventually the hammer came down at 28 million dollars to a phone bidder whose identity was kept confidential. Later, I heard one of the Christie’s employees say, “It went to someone named Cates.” His friend replied, “Not Cates, Gates. I think he does something with computers.” Back in 1994, Windows 95 was still months away, and Bill Gates wasn’t a household name yet.

That morning was the first time I felt down to my bones the way suspense and story could swirl around art.

I wasn’t at Christie’s because of my art expertise. I was a media buyer, purchasing print ad space to support sales of everything from paintings and photographs to silver, coins and Faberge eggs, Chinese and Latin American art, and antique furniture. I placed ads in publications such as the New York Times, New Yorker, Architectural Digest, Art and Auction, and ArtNews. Because I was buying ad space, I had to read these publications in order to know what art to advertise where, and for the first few weeks of my job, I sat in my cubicle and read magazines. It was fun. (My dad always said, you’re never going to find a job that pays you to read! Ha!)

So like many things in my life I came to art through reading. And while I enjoy art, it’s the stories around art that captivate me. The precious manuscripts smuggled out of Wartime Germany by an American soldier, only to be found by his grandchildren forty years later, after his death. The art heists and dramatic thefts out of museums. The Renaissance painting by Cimabue that a 90-year-old Frenchwoman had hung over her kitchen stove for years because she thought it was a knock off. The painter who fell in love with his subject and then couldn’t bring himself to sell the painting to her husband. So when it came time to write my third book, I had a whole backlog of interest in stories about art.

Kate Greenaway, “Diamonds and Toads,” 1871

I write mysteries set in Victorian England, specifically the 1870s, largely because I wrote my dissertation at NYU on British literature from 1850-1890. It’s my happy time and place. (My son, who is called upon to help me with my iPhone teases me that I belong there.) But if I wanted to write another novel about a young woman in 1870s London, I needed to find a place for her to study. Fortunately, the Slade School, now world-renowned and part of the University College London, was opened in 1871, after a bequest by a very forward-thinking gentleman named Felix Slade, who wanted a school where men and women could study art together. This was met with resistance from the men. Still, women entered with the first class, and early students included Kate Greenaway who became famous for her exquisite illustrations for children’s books.

At the time I began to write, I was thinking a lot about memory—how memory isn’t static, like a painting. You can’t come back to it and see the exact same image. Memory changes with time; and sometimes we unconsciously suppress memories or alter them, depending on the kinds of stories we want to tell about ourselves or people we love or our lives. I also wanted to write about how talent or genius can sometimes be a burden, or even something that is put to use by parents of the gifted child.

With this, Annabel’s story started taking shape. She has an older brother named Edwin, an outrageously talented painter, and his father started to push him, hard, when Edwin was seven. As a result Edwin became a troublemaker and rebellious. He went to school at age 12, and when he returned he had deeply changed. Troubled and angry, he visited opium dens down by the Thames, forging paintings to support himself. He stumbled home more times than Annabel can remember, swearing he was going to do better. This cycle of what we would now call addiction and relapse recurred again and again, until he was arrested for forging and thrown in prison for a year.

As the book begins, Edwin has been out of prison for four months. He has sworn to Annabel that he is going to stay away from opium and to live within the law. When Annabel and Edwin meet, he appears on time; he’s clear eyed; he talks responsibly about his paintings and his work. Slowly Annabel begins to trust him. Besides, he is her only family, and she wants desperately to believe in him.

In the first chapter, Annabel is at her easel at the Slade. Her work finished for the day, she retrieves her umbrella from the stand and ventures out in the rain. At the terraced house where Edwin rented rooms, she climbs the stairs to the top floor, and sees the door open. That’s odd, she thinks. Odder still is the sight of two strange men riffling through Edwin’s paintings and papers. She bursts out, “What are you doing? Where’s Edwin?” They turn, and she sees the truncheon that one of them carries. She realizes they’re plainclothes detectives, and Annabel feels her heart sink, for she assumes that Edwin has fallen back into his old patterns. Unhappily, she sighs and asks, “What has Edwin done now?”

But in fact, Edwin has been murdered.

Christie’s Auction Rooms, engraving from ‘The Microcosm of London’ published by Rudolph Ackermann, 1808

Within hours, Annabel discovers that a priceless painting of Madame de Pompadour, by the French master Francois Boucher, has gone missing from her brother’s studio. Edwin was cleaning it in preparation for an auction to take place in two weeks, at Bettridge’s, an up-and-coming house trying to compete with Christie’s and Sotheby’s, both of which were established in London in the eighteenth century. The painting I’ve described is fictional—but Boucher painted nearly a dozen of Madame de Pompadour, who was King Louis XV’s mistress from 1745-1751. In my novel, this Boucher painting is the star of the auction—like Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex—but then its true owner appears, claiming the original was destroyed a fire in 1874.

François Boucher, “Madame de Pompadour”, 1756

So the questions begin. Was the painting that Edwin was cleaning a forgery? Had Edwin made the forgery? Was he murdered because his past had caught up to him? But even more important than learning why Edwin was murdered, Annabel longs to discover the truth about who her brother was before he died. Was he lying to her about reforming, or sincere? She wants to fix his character in her mind, render it as something stable, the way she paints her portraits and small scenes, so she can find some closure and peace. But what complicates Annabel’s inquiry is that in the process of investigating Edwin’s past, she comes to recognize a general truth: that there is a trace of deceit in many of our memories, both our happiest ones and our most painful; and that memories are not like paintings. They shift and sideslip, depending on the stories we want to tell ourselves—and the ones we want to conceal. Annabel learns that her memories both enable and limit what she can know about Edwin. Indeed, the closure and peace she seeks won’t come through fixing her brother’s character as in a portrait, but in weaving together her brother’s story and her own, and accepting—and grieving—that there are pieces missing. But that perhaps a sincere effort to understand, founded in love, is enough.

 


About Karen Odden

After writing her PhD dissertation on Victorian railway disasters, Karen became trapped in the era. (Her teenage son, who helps her with tech, teases that she belongs there.) Before turning to fiction, Karen taught at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and her essays on literature have appeared in numerous academic journals and books. Her three novels, set in 1870s London, feature young women who solve mysteries with personal stakes. Her first, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today bestseller; A Dangerous Duet won best Historical Fiction at the New Mexico/Arizona book awards; and A Trace of Deceit (Harper Collins) was published in December. She lives in Arizona with her family and beagle-muse Rosy. Visit www.karenodden.com, or find her on twitter: @karen_odden and instagram: @karen_m_odden.


A Trace of Deceit by Karen Odden
Series: Victorian Mystery #2
Other books in the series: A Dangerous Duet (#1)
Publisher: William Morrow
Genres: Adult Fiction — Historical, Mystery
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A young painter digs beneath the veneer of Victorian London’s art world to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder…

Edwin is dead. That’s what Inspector Matthew Hallam of Scotland Yard tells Annabel Rowe when she discovers him searching her brother’s flat for clues. While the news is shocking, Annabel can’t say it’s wholly unexpected, given Edwin’s past as a dissolute risk-taker and art forger, although he swore he’d reformed. After years spent blaming his reckless behavior for their parents’ deaths, Annabel is now faced with the question of who murdered him—because Edwin’s death was both violent and deliberate. A valuable French painting he’d been restoring for an auction house is missing from his studio: find the painting, find the murderer. But the owner of the artwork claims it was destroyed in a warehouse fire years ago.

As a painter at the prestigious Slade School of Art and as Edwin’s closest relative, Annabel makes the case that she is crucial to Matthew’s investigation. But in their search for the painting, Matthew and Annabel trace a path of deceit and viciousness that reaches far beyond the elegant rooms of the auction house, into an underworld of politics, corruption, and secrets someone will kill to keep.


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The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover

Posted February 17, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 18 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! What’s a book hangover, you ask? Well. Urban Dictionary provides us with two definitions that I think fit perfectly.

1. The inability to start a new book because you are still living in the old book’s world
2. The inability to function at work/school because you were up all night binge-reading

So… today’s topic is to share the last ten books you’ve read that have done either of these two things to you! Should be fairly easy, right? I’ve had a few book hangovers over the last year as I figure out the kinds of books I love to read, but before that they were few and far between. Some of these books on my list today were read years ago because I’ve struggled to love books for a while. I actually got to the point where I thought I’d fallen out of love with reading, which killed me! I’ve talked about my falling out with YA a lot lately and how confused it made me, but I think I’m finally figuring things out again! So yay! Bring on all the book hangovers!

1. The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler
Romantic contemporary comedy set in Moose Spring, AK starring a silly Zoey and a swoony, sarcastic Graham. There’s narwhals, beautiful scenery, a close call with a whale, a rinky dink diner, and a moose that likes to lick windows.

2. Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar
A beautiful, festive contemporary romance set in Lapland. You’ve got Sylvie who is supposed to be on her honeymoon, Nari the best friend and travel blogger, Stellan the sexy Finnish ex that owns reindeer and husky puppies, and Niilo the unique guy with a strong connection with his ancestry and the land he calls home. You’ve got an isolated, cozy cabin setting, Northern Lights, so much snow, sled dog rides, and so many swoons!

3. You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
This one. You guys. It’s SOOOOO wonderful. Naomi and Nicholas are engaged, but they hate each other. HATE. But neither one of them wants to end the engagement because then they’ll be stuck with the bill. So they make each other’s lives a living Hell to try and get the other one to end things. I don’t want to give anything away because it’s so special, but feelings. So many feelings.

4. Dating by the Book by Mary Ann Marlowe
Bookish characters! Maddie is an author and gets a bad review on her book. One drunken night, she contacts this reviewer to give them a piece of her mind. They become friends! And then there’s other things. Read this!

5. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
This was so creepy and wonderful and amazing. Jules takes the job of living in a very fancy, exclusive apartment building. But something sinister is afoot and the apartment sitters keep dying! Ahhhh!

6. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
The best man and maid of honor are the only two members of the wedding party who don’t get food poisoning, so they decide to go on the bride and groom’s honeymoon and pose as the newlywed couple. Shenanigans and feelings happen.

7. The Gem Thief by Sian Ann Bessey
This is an amazing trip. Mystery, romance, intrigue, travel… jewelry theft. It’s awesome. So much of it takes place on a luxury cruise ship, jumping from destinations that include Venice and Greece.

8. I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill
Another fake romance (I love these)! Emmy and Beckett both go through a series of unfortunate events that leave them homeless and at college. So why not get married so they can share an apartment in married student housing? I loved watching them “fake” this relationship and catch some feelings for each other.

9. Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My favorite romantic suspense ever. It’s just. So. Good!

10. Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
Dracula has always been a very intriguing story for me, and I loved Kerri’s take on this mystery. I loved the setting and the characters. I loooooove Thomas. It’s such a twisty story! I have a hard time speaking in complete sentences about this book. lol.

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Ten Books On My TBR With the Word “Love” In the Title

Posted February 10, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 27 Comments

Happy love week at Top Ten Tuesday! Valentine’s Day is Friday, so I thought it would be fun to focus on love this week. I decided to share ten books from my TBR that have the word “love” in the title. There’s 260 books listed on my goodreads shelves that have “love” in the title, so I had a lot to choose from!

1. The Love Academy by Belinda Jones
2. Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi
3. Love Beyond Time by Bethany Claire
4. From Scotland With Love by Katie Fforde
5. Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch
6. Love at the Italian Lake by Darcie Boleyn
7. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
8. Love at the Northern Lights by Darcie Boleyn
9. On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci
10. Love Like Water by D.E. Malone

What topic did you pick for TTT this week?
What lovey dovey books do you love? I need recommendations!

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Top Ten Books I Predict Will Be 5-Star Reads for Me

Posted February 3, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 31 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! The Book Dutchesses came up with this topic one week when they didn’t like the prompt I provided, and I thought it sounded like so much fun that I stole it! There’s so many books I’m excited to read, but then there’s the ones I’m REALLY EXCITED TO READ!!! These books are the ones I’m expecting will be 5-star reads for me, and I’ll be sharing those titles with you today!

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
This book has popped up in many of my TTTs over the last few months because I’m SO excited to read Riley’s next book! I loved Lock Every Door so so much, and this one takes place in a creepy building just like that one did!

My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh
Bookish heroine, a nerdy scientist who gets a makeover to be suave, and a fake romance. This has the makings for perfection!

Well Met by Jen DeLuca
Christina Lauren blurbed this and said it was their new favorite feel-good novel, and that on its own would be all I needed to know. BUT it also sounds adorable and unique. Romance and a Renaissance Faire!

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Ok, here’s another thriller set in a creepy building! I’ve never read a book by Lisa Jewell before, but if this one goes well I’m excited at the prospect of finding a new author to love!

True Gold by Michelle Pace
I love romantic suspense, and this one takes place in Alaska! Also… I’m kind of a sucked for a book with the Northern Lights on the cover.

A Dangerous Duet by Karen Odden
This is a historical mystery involving a determined pianist who wants to study at the Royal Academy, but can’t afford tuition. In an effort to save money, she starts disguising herself as a man and sneaks out at night to play at a music hall and stumbles across a deadly crime ring.

One Summer’s Night by Kiley Dunbar
Kiley wrote my most recent favorite book, Christmas At Frozen Falls. I’m so excited to read this summery romance of hers, about a woman whose in a rut and decides to get out of it by becoming a tour guide Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The Northern Lights Lodge by Julie Caplin
Remember what I said about the Northern Lights? I also love books set in wintry locations and this lodge is in Iceland, surrounded by hot springs and glaciers and all the snow!

Ten Things My Cat Hates About You by Lottie Lucas
Cat. I don’t even know what this book is about. lol. Just kidding. It’s a rom-com about a cat who somehow makes meet-cutes happen. This will pretty much either be a 5-star read or a 1-star read.

Save the Date by Carrie Aarons
A best friends marriage pact! I love this, and hope I love the book!

What books do you think will be 5-star reads for you?

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Top Ten Favorite Illustrated Book Covers

Posted January 27, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 27 Comments

Even though I’m the one to write up/select weekly topics all year long for TTT, even I get annoyed when I see that I’ve come to a freebie week. lol. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to think that much! So I took to Twitter and asked for cover suggestions for this week’s cover freebie prompt, and my friend Paige suggested illustrated covers! The thought had entered my mind already, but when she suggested it too I figured it was meant to be! I am so in love with the current illustrated cover trend in romancelandia (that the UK has been doing for eons and I love it), so today I’m sharing my top ten favorite ones!

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
Christina Lauren blurbed this one, so I would have been excited about it even if the cover were covered in refried beans. I finished reading it a few days ago, and it’s a new favorite! PERFECTION. Pre-order it now!

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
One of my favorite books ever, and I’m obsessed with this bright and cheery cover.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
I love the colors and the cute glasses and the font. So fun!

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
I’ve been iffy about this book because I don’t see Tom Hanks as… someone to wait for? lol. But I do love the cover! I love all the hot pink and the cute curvy designs. Has anyone read this one? Is it good?

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Look at the cute little lobster holding on to the “r”!! This book sounds fun, but I’m worried about lack of romance. And too many sads. Anyone read this?

Coming Up Roses by Staci Hart
I love all the roses and the font treatment and the cute little couple. I’ve heard iffy things on this one, so please let me know your thoughts if you’ve read it! It seems to be a gender-swapped Pride & Prejudice retelling, which sounds fun.

Love Like Fire by D.E. Malone
This book is part of 4-book series, and all the covers are adorable. I love this one the most, though, because of the burgundy and the snow-capped evergreen trees. It looks so cozy!

The Northern Lights Lodge by Julie Caplin
Here’s another cozy cover. It’s a dream of mine to see the Northern Lights someday, and this cover is just perfection.

The Summer Getaway by Tilly Tennant
Put a cute illustration of the French Riviera on a cover and I’m yours.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
I’ve loved this cover since the moment I saw it. I love the bridge and the skyline and the little boat in the water.

Well, there you have it! This was hard, because there are
SO many cute covers out there and I want to own all of them! 

Which one of these is your favorite? Or do you love one I haven’t mentioned today?

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren | Book Review

Posted January 23, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 4 Comments

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren | Book ReviewThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on May 14, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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5 Stars

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

I read The Unhoneymooners almost a year ago, and I loved it so much that I didn’t want to review it because it’s hard to review a book that you love EVERYTHING about and hate NOTHING. I didn’t even dislike anything. I instantly added this book to my favorites list and put it on my wishlist to own a physical copy for my bookshelves. It was just so perfect. BUT I’m reviewing it because it deserves to be reviewed. And I’ve talked about it so much on Twitter and here on the blog, so it’s time to explain my love of it (or at least list out the reasons why I love it). As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Right off the bat, that synopsis sold me. I know this author duo well enough to know that they would do this story so well. I mean, the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from a bad seafood buffet at the reception and the ONLY two people who came out of it unscathed (because of an allergy and an aversion to buffets) go on the bride and groom’s honeymoon because why let it go to waste? So, even though they hate each other (or so they think) they dash off to Hawaii together. And hilarity ensues.

2. Why does hilarity ensue? Because they have to PRETEND they’re the bride and groom because the trip was non-transferable. Enter the fauxmance, which is my favorite trope as I’m sure you know. So these two people who hate each other have to be all mushy and lovey dovey and do all these coupley things (like a couples massage) in order to not get in trouble. It’s so perfect and hilarious, because there’s definitely tension there and a mutual attraction but they avoid it all costs because they hate each other.

3. Olive is amazing. She’s spunky and smart and capable. She’s also totally comfortable with herself and has so much confidence. She also has the worst luck ever. I want to be her friend and I want her to teach me how to not care about what anyone thinks.

4. Ethan is pretty swoony. Where Olive is high-strung and emotional Ethan is level-headed and soothing. He’s also pretty snarky and never calls Olive by the right name. They’re such a great match!

5. Their chemistry is explosive, and they can argue like nobody else. There is so much snark and contempt between the two of them, but as they spend more time together they realize there’s something more there.

6. Olive’s family is wonderful. I love her twin sister, Ami (the bride), and their bond. They are so devoted to each other. The entire family is awesome.

7. The writing *Italian chef finger kiss*. I hope these two never quit writing, Their rom-coms give me life.

All in all, read this. Read. This. Book. It’s the perfect romantic comedy with all the tropes I love. Christina Lauren can do no wrong.

5 Stars
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The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf (January 2020 Edition)

Posted January 20, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 33 Comments

I love doing this topic in January, right after the holiday book haul and right at the beginning of the new year when lots of new releases come out! Today I’m highlighting the ten most recent books I’ve either purchased, been gifted, or received for review. I’m not including books I already had e-galleys of and got finished copies for my personal collection. Get excited about all of these! I sure am!

1. One Summer’s Night by Kiley Dunbar
I really, really loved Christmas at Frozen Falls and absolutely had to order Kiley’s first novel.

2. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
My TBTB Secret Santa sent me this for Christmas this year, and I’m so excited to read it! I love books about bookish characters.

3. Wallbanger by Alice Clayton
Also from my TBTB Secret Santa! This one has been on my TBR forever and it sounds really funny.

4. The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda
I love a good thriller, and I hear Megan Miranda writes some great ones. I was very excited when I got this one for review. (Review copy)

5. Make or Break at the Lighthouse B & B by Portia MacIntosh
Doesn’t this cover just scream leisurely summer day? It looks so perfect. (Review copy)

6. 500 Miles from You by Jenny Colgan
A nurse and an “all-purpose medical man” switch jobs for a time, and communicate back and forth through email about the patients they’ve traded. These emails form a kinship and then I’m thinking a bit of a love story. Sounds fun! (Review copy)

7. The Move by Whitney Dineen
When the heroine is 12, a fortune teller tells her that when she’s 30 a dog will jump over her and her life will change. Weird, right? one day… it happens. I’m intrigued! (Review copy)

8. If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
I’ve never read a book by this author, but I’ve heard good things! This is a fauxmance played out on social media… sounds awesome. Fauxmances get me weak in the knees. I don’t care about much else when there’s a fake relationship going on! (Review copy)

9. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
I got the audiobook for Christmas, and I can’t wait to read it! It’s got so much of what I love in the synopsis.

10. Faking It by K. Bromberg
Another fauxmance! I got this one for Christmas. Rich Australian guy makes the heroine miss her job interview because he thinks she’s his dog walker… so he makes it up to her by hiring her to play his girlfriend to help promote his dating website. She has to go on tour with him… sounds like fun to me!

What books have you added to your shelf recently?

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Top Ten Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019

Posted January 13, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 27 Comments

This topic seemed easy until I started writing my list and then I realized that it’s actually very hard. lol. As I’ve mentioned before, 2019 was not the best year for me. I’d just as soon erase it from my existence and move on. BUT I did discover some new authors I love and some other fun bookish things, so here we go!

New-to-Me-Authors

1. Annette Marie 
I really loved listening to Annette’s Guild Codex: Spellbound series!

2. Riley Sager
I read ALL of Riley’s books last year after loving Lock Every Door so much. He’s an amazing author, who writes the kind of creepy that I love.

Different Genre Interests

3. Urban Fantasy
WHAT!? I like urban fantasy now? Who am I?

4. Historical Fiction
I’ve always been a lover of historical romance, but I’ve all of a sudden really fallen in love with historical mysteries or alternative history kinds of books.

5. Adult in general…

6. Therefore… I’ve officially fallen out of love with YA. 
I know… how did this happen? But I’m ok with it! There’s a few authors I love that I’ll still keep tabs on, and I’m sure there will be a YA title here or there that piques my interest, but I’ve been reading significantly less YA over the last year or two, and that’s ok.

Apps

7. Hoopla
I finally fell in love with Hoopla and utilized it way more than I ever have. This is the kind of library service I like… no germs in my bed from gross physical books (the germs, you guys). Digital files on my own devices is so much better.

Products

8. Classical Music for the Reader Album Series
I love classical music, but sometimes the dynamics are so all over the place that the music is super quiet and then crescendos SO quickly that it scares the crap out of me and throws me out of my book. These albums are great, and I’ve made a playlist of all of them on Amazon Music Unlimited to I can stream them anywhere.

Personal Preferences

9. I don’t actually like owning lots of books.
I know this seems counter-intuitive, but hear me out. I love owning books, but only the books I love. When I was younger, I wanted shelves full of books. All the books. I wanted to look like a reader, but I wasn’t. lol. So I got books with pretty covers and then never read them. When my love of reading reignited, and I became a book blogger I wanted to own all the books and ARCs because I thought it made me look cool and like a good blogger. lol. Now, I just want to look at my shelves and smile because I love the books I see. I like having tons of empty space on my shelves for new books that I’ll love in the future. I’m fine with no longer owning all of them, and that dawned on me last year. I did a huge cull/purge and got rid of so many books that I’d lost interest in or didn’t love enough to want to read again. It was amazing, and I felt so light.

10. Book formats don’t mean a ton to me anymore.
I used to want all the hardcovers, but now I’m happy with books in all formats. Although, sometimes I want Kindle because the cover embarrasses me or I want to read the book on vacation and not have to drag a physical copy with me. Sometimes I also want a copy for my shelves because I loved it so much.

What bookish discoveries did you make in 2019?

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Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci | Book Review

Posted January 8, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci | Book ReviewRoman Crazy by Alice Clayton, Nina Bocci
Published by Gallery Books on November 13, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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4 Stars

Avery Bardot steps off the plane in Rome, looking for a fresh start. She’s left behind a soon-to-be ex-husband in Boston and plans to spend the summer with her best friend Daisy, licking her wounds—and perhaps a gelato or two. But when her American-expat friend throws her a welcome party on her first night, Avery’s thrown for a loop when she sees a man she never thought she’d see again: Italian architect Marcello Bianchi.

Marcello was the man—the one who got away. And now her past is colliding with her present, a present where she should be mourning the loss of her marriage and—hey, that fettuccine is delicious! And so is Marcello…

Slipping easily into the good life of summertime in Rome, Avery spends her days exploring a city that makes art historians swoon, and her nights swooning over her unexpected what was old is new again romance. It’s heady, it’s fevered, it’s wanton, and it’s crazy. But could this really be her new life? Or is it just a temporary reprieve before returning to the land of twin-set cardigans and crustless sandwiches?

Anytime I find a book that’s set in Italy, I get excited. I hear bells and I light up because Italy is my favorite place on this earth and I love returning there through books. I’d heard good things about these authors individually, so I was also excited to read a book written by the two of them. I really liked all the characters, but I particularly liked the friendship between Avery and Daisy. It would be seriously so nice to have a best friend like Daisy, who is always there and will support you no matter what. Marcello was also super swoony and quintessentially Italian, so I was falling for him pretty quickly! I love second chance romances, and I love that Marcello and Avery fall right back into old feelings nine years after having a summer fling. It brought so much validity and depth to their love story.

Eve though the book can be called a romance, there’s more going on. This story was largely about Avery finding herself after finding her husband cheating on her with his secretary. She flew to Italy heal and to fall in love with art (again) and herself, and it was so much fun getting to see her come to terms with her life, learn from it, and move on to better things. If only we all had the chance to heal from a breakup in Italy! I loved the descriptions of the food and the scenery. I also loved the mix of funny and deep moments, not to mention super romantic moments. This book was the whole package for me, and I’m excited to read more from these authors.

4 Stars
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