Search Results for: unbreak my heart

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker (Book Review)

Posted June 20, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 6 Comments

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker (Book Review)Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on May 22, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 232
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life.

Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now.

Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart?

So, I noticed the other day that I’m reading a lot of books right now with titles that are also songs. First it was Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins (Justin Bieber’s Somebody to Love), then it was the one, and next I’m reading Just Say Yes by Philippa Ashley (Snow Patrol’s Just Say Yes). This is causing me to sing more than I read! Seriously, though. I loved this book so much, and even though Toni Braxton’s love ballad thoroughly wedged itself into my mind and remained there for days, it was SO worth it. This is definitely a new favorite of mine, and I can totally see reading this book again. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Melissa did such a good job at capturing the inner turmoil and despair that a teenager goes through after a heartbreaking situation. I’ve been where Clementine is, and I hurt right along with her. It’s amazing how these heartbreaks do control every thought and action. Crying and self-deprecation almost always happen, and sometimes it takes quite a while to get over it. Clem’s world might not have ended, but she sure thought it had. The emotions in this story were real and pure.

2. I was surprised when I came to realize rather quickly that Clem was getting over a lost friendship, and not a lost relationship. I think it made Clem more relatable, though, as I think we’ve all gone through major spats with our best friends. It’s so hard to be a teenager! Haha. I’m so glad I’m done.

3. Clementine was real. She was me, actually. I loved her flaws, and that as she healed she was able to make sense of those flaws and become a better person. I’ve never cheated on anyone, but I know the ramifications of cheating, because I’ve been cheated on. Of course what she did was wrong, but the fact that she recognized that and turned it into something to learn from rather than something to be mad about was refreshing. Her character development was so enjoyable to read about.

4. Clem’s family is amazing. I think part of why I love reading books geared towards young adults is because they are still tied closely to their families. Their parents have influence over them still, and they mostly still live at home. Her parents are wonderful, and I hope that I can have the kind of relationship with my own kids someday that they have with their daughters. Clem’s sister, Olive, reminds me so much of my little sister–always wanting to tag along, looking up to you, silly humor, sweet disposition, biggest fan. It made me reminisce on the times when we would set up forts in the living room or immaculate Barbie cities in our bedrooms… late night dance parties to Britney Spears in the light of my lava lamp.

5. James, a.k.a. Red, is my new favorite young adult male character. If I could wrap him up, and add about 10-12 years to him, I’d take him for myself! What a likeable, happy, artistic, charismatic, and hilarious guy. He knows Clem is sad about something, but he’s giving her the time to tell him on her own. He’s also sad about something in his past, and as the two get to know each other better, they help each other heal. I love his philosophy, which is basically this: you can be sad and you can mourn what you’ve lost, but the memories you created before that loss are yours forever. Never discount the happy times in life, just because they ended unhappily. I can learn a lot from Red. 

6. Don’t get me wrong, this story is not all sad and depressing! Clem and her family spend the summer aboard a sailboat, spending time together, eating disgusting meals made only from canned foods, eating s’mores by blow torch, star gazing, sunbathing, laughing, and bonding. Clem, Olive, and red spend many hours hanging out trying to catch fish, perfecting their Little Mermaid moves, giggling, and teasing each other. An elderly couple is another hilarious addition to the story, and not only made me laugh with the things they said, but warmed my heart with their views on true love. I laughed and smiled a lot. And: ding ding ding! I did not cry. There was no reason to!

7. This book makes me want to do great things. It makes me want to get over my own little heartbreaks along the road, and spend more time with my family. It makes me want to value my mom and sister more. And it makes me want to get a sailboat and go sailing all summer! I can finally attest to the fact that long trips altar the person you are. They let you step away from normal life and learn about yourself. I got to experience this on my recent trip to Europe, and I want to do it again! You know that term “wanderlust” that everyone speaks of? It’s not about the love of traveling, I’ve decided. It’s about the love of getting away from your life so that you can discover what you life is all about. Clem got to discover this as well, and I was rooting for her.

Clearly, I loved this story! I love flawed characters who can pull themselves out of their pits of despair and come away better people. I love sweet, simple romances that bloom from deep conversation and friendship rather than instant attraction. And I love it when those romances turn people into better versions of themselves. I love strong families who support one another. This really is the perfect summery beach read that will have you smiling and thinking back on what it was like to be a kid. I think that’s another reason I love YA: it reminds me of the really simple times in life, when I would not have been embarrassed to pretend I’m Ariel, breaking the surface of the water.

5 Stars

22 YA Contemporary Romances Teen Me Would Have Loved

Posted April 27, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 25 Comments

Happy TTT! Is it just me, or are the weeks both flying AND dragging? I feel like I’ve been in isolation forever, yet I also feel like I’m writing up TTTs every single day. It’s weird how that happens. Oh, before I forget. I’ve updated the TTT topic schedule through June (including TTT’s 10th birthday topic) and will be adding July soon!

Today’s topic lets us think back to a simpler, less chaotic time in our lives. As you can see by my post’s title I switched the topic up a little, but the actual topic is Top Ten Books I Wish I’d Read As a Child. Maybe you weren’t much of a reader as a kid (a.k.a. me), maybe the book you’re thinking of hadn’t been published yet, or maybe you just simply didn’t have the opportunity to read it then. Whatever the reason may be, tell us about the books that little you would have really loved or really needed to read.

I turned 13 in 2000, and contemporary YA romances were just not a thing back then. Actually, YA lit was barely a thing and if it was nobody knew about it. lol. When I went to the bookstore, I never saw any evidence that there were books written just for me. Apparently there was a shelf of “teen reads” in the back by the huge kids section, but I never noticed it. I read historical romance and mysteries instead. YA has now exploded and become an expansive ocean of books that I wish existed when I was a teen. The titles I’m sharing today are all 5-star favorites of mine, and I know I would have loved even MORE if I’d been able to read them as a teenager instead of as an adult. And no, I couldn’t limit it to 10! The book links will lead you to my review, which is where you will find more info on the book and all my thoughts!

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Save the Date by Morgan Matson
The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
From What I Remember… by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker
P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
Love, Lucy by April Lindner
Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore Stultz
Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams
Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Just One Night by Gayle Forman
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer*
(*This is the only one of my picks that was actually available when I was a teen.
I SO wish I’d known about this hidden gem! It’s exquisite!)

Are there any YA contemporary romances you wish you’d been able to read as a teen as well?
Or any books at all that you’ve read, but would have loved to read as a teen/younger child instead?


Top Ten Platonic Relationships In Books

Posted November 26, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 19 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! This week’s topic is about those wonderful non-romantic relationships we read about in books that warm our hearts and make us smile. I cannot get enough of these kinds of relationships in my books, so I can’t wait to jump around the Linky and find more books to add to my TBR! My list focuses on best friends and wonderful families.

1. Cinder and Thorne in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
One of my favorite platonic boy-girl friendships.

2. Cinder and Iko in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
A girl and her devoted android.

3. Roar and Aria/Perry from Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi 
Roar is the BEST friend ever. And Roar and Perry have the very best bromance I’ve read.

4. The Weasley Family in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
This family. I don’t need to say much more than that.

5. Lucien and Feyre in A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
It’s always nice to have a snarky guy in your corner to make sure you’re doing ok.

6. Kylie and Will in From What I Remember… by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
Will is the gay best friend that every girl needs!

7. The Family in The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
Everyone loves each other, even though they all carry scars from difficult pasts. Their trials brought them together, though, into this tight make-shift family that I LOVED.

8. Clem’s Family in Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Her parents are wonderful, and her sister reminds me so much of my little sister–always wanting to tag along, looking up to you, and being your biggest fan. he also has a sweet disposition and a goofy sense of humor.

9. Maggie and Roux from Also Known As by Robin Benway
Roux is a mean girl who got a huge dose of karma, and is now the social outcast. Her new status has made her very uninhibited, and the girl has no filter. She gloms on to Maggie, and the two become inseparable.

10. Angelo (Maggie’s Honorary Uncle) from Also Known As by Robin Benway
He’s this suave, debonair, dapper older gentleman who is also part of The Collective (the spy organization Maggie and her parents are members of). He is a very close friend of Maggie and her family. I love his relationship with Maggie most of all. He is just so loving, and he adores her in this grandfatherly way. I just found him to be so charming and likable.

Twelve Books That Awaken the Travel Bug In Me

Posted June 11, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 51 Comments

Don’t worry! You’re in the right spot! I unveiled my new blog design today, and I’m pretty much in love with it. Things needed to change! I’m still working out some little kinks, but I wanted to make sure it was live and working in time for TTT!

Books with travel aspects (or that just make me want to pack my suitcase and jet set somewhere amazing) are my absolute favorite kind of books! I especially love books that take place in places I’ve been to before because it’s a cheap way to go back for a visit. lol. So today’s topic highlights 13 of my very favorite books that awaken the travel bug in me!


Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch (Florence and Rome, Italy)
This book takes place in Florence and Rome, Italy and it is amazing. Lina moves to Italy after her mother’s death, and learns all about who she is, who her mother was, and that she’s not as alone as she thought.

Love, Lucy by April Lindner (Florence, Italy)
This book is actually a modern YA retelling of A Room With a View by E.M. Forster. I can’t really comment on the retelling aspects of the story because I’ve never read A Room With a View, but I really loved Love, Lucy. It’s the perfect summer love story that blossoms while Lucy is backpacking through Florence and drinking in everything from the food to the architecture. She falls for a street musician, and I pretty much fell for him too!

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae (Rome and Cinque Terre, Italy)
BAH. This book is one of my greatest loves! Pippa is off to Florence for art school, but ditches that plan to explore instead. She finds herself traveling solo through Italy and ends up in the beautiful Cinque Terre, living with the cashier from a coffee shop and her family. She goes on long walks, explores ruins, eats a lot, souvenir shops, goes on train rides, swims in the Mediterranean Sea, works in a restaurant, and goes sightseeing.

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson (Italy)
A few days before a class trip to Italy, Jessa discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her. Before she leaves, her best friend equips her with a list called “Top Twenty Reasons He’s a Slimy Jerk Bastard”. She also gives her instructions to do one thing out of her comfort zone each day she’s gone in the hopes of getting her through the heartbreak.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Paris, France)
I love Paris. I could picture Allyson and Willem on the train, walking the streets of Paris, eating crepes, gazing over the river, even walking past all the street vendors. I loved that they did not do the typical touristy things, though. They experienced Paris in a way that most people who only have one day there don’t. I want to do what they did, and I want to find a guy like Willem to be right there next to me.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Paris, France)
This is just SUCH a cute boarding school story set in Paris, with a pretty cute boy. Paris is described so perfectly, and brings the entire city to life.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (Central America, namely Belize)
Artsy Bria goes on this crazy adventure through Central America. Along the way, she learns so much about herself and gains a lot of life experience. Plus, she sees amazing places, experiences new things, meets cool people, and falls in love.

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (London, England)
A class trip to London results in a really cute love story. The author paints a really great picture of the city, and I felt like I was there, wandering the museums, running in the rain, and soaking in an old fashioned bath tub after a long day of walking.

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch (Ireland)
Addie, her brother, and her brother’s swoony online friend drive all over the Irish countryside in a tiny dilapidated car, looking for important sites that are tied to a popular band. It’s both funny and romantic.

Austenland by Shannon Hale (England)
Jane is obsessed with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Seriously obsessed. After her great aunt’s death, Jane’s learns that she left her an all-inclusive, all expenses paid trip to Pembrook Park to experience what it’s like to have your very own Mr. Darcy. It’s fun and fluffy, and I loved it.

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker (Summer on a sailboat)
Clem and her family spend the summer aboard a sailboat, spending time together, eating disgusting meals made only from canned foods, eating s’mores by blow torch, star gazing, sunbathing, laughing, and bonding. Clem, Olive, and red spend many hours hanging out trying to catch fish, perfecting their Little Mermaid moves, giggling, and teasing each other.

Carrie Goes Off the Map by Phillipa Ashley (Road trip through the English countryside)
Carrie’s fiancé comes home from a stag party and tells her he can’t marry her anymore. Her best friend, Rowena, decides the two of them need to go on a road trip to Italy and beyond. But then Rowena gets a job on a soap opera and has to back out of the trip the morning of. She mischievously calls on Dr. Matt Landor, an old friend from college, to go with Carrie instead. Carrie is mortified at this change in plans, but Matt finally talks her into going on a trip with him. They spend just over a month traveling around the English countryside meeting new people, and getting to know each other far better than they expected. Love blossoms among several different sets of characters. There’s even a bit of a scary twist that makes you worry for the characters!

Girl At Sea by Maureen Johnson (Summer aboard a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean Sea)
Luxury yacht in the Med, guys. And the book has history, mystery, adventure, suspense, romance, and humor. It’s the complete package, and I LOVED it.

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch | Book Review

Posted April 5, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 9 Comments

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch | Book ReviewLove & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Published by Simon Pulse on May 3, 2016
Pages: 389
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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5 Stars

“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

I love books set in other countries, especially countries I’ve visited myself. It makes for a very fun reading experience, and I usually gobble them up quickly. Love & Gelato is another book I can add to my stack of favorites, and it’s not just because it takes place in one of my favorite cities in the world.

1. Love & Gelato was everything I hoped for and more. I loved it so much, not only because the story and writing were pure and utter perfection, but because my love of YA contemporary romance was renewed. I’ve been having a hard time with this genre for the last couple of years, and I chalked it up to the fact that I’m not a young adult anymore. I figured I was identifying less and less with the characters, so I needed to move on and read books with characters my age in order to connect. I was pretty heartbroken about this. I thought back to all my favorite YA contemporaries: Wanderlove, Just One Day, Anna and the French Kiss, Unbreak My Heart, The Summer I Became a Nerd, and Wish You Were Italian and was super sad that, if I were to re-read them, maybe I wouldn’t love them anymore. Love & Gelato was a bit of a gamble for me, but since I love Italy so much I figured I would at least love that about it. But I loved EVERYTHING. I loved the characters, the story, the romance, the issues, the scenery, the mystery, and all the coming of age moments. It reminded me that I will always be able to relate to teens because I was there. I went through it, and no matter how old you get you never forget what it was like to be a teenager. I’m so relieved that I’d just found a bunch of bad egg books, rather than discovered that the genre that once brought me so much joy was not for me anymore.

2. This book takes place on the outskirts of Florence, Italy… one of my favorite places in Italy. Lina’s mother dies of cancer and has spent her last months talking with Lina about her time in Italy. She wants so badly for Lina to move there and live with a man named Howard. So she goes there and lives with him in a WWII cemetery where he is the groundskeeper. Lina is given the journal that her mom wrote in while she was living in Italy, and she learns so much about her mom and herself. Pretty much the entire story is Lina walking in her mother’s footsteps, while also falling in love and experiencing Italy. I loved every page.

3. Howard is the kind of guy every girl wishes was her dad. He clumsily navigates his relationship in a way that only a man who has no idea what a teenage girl is could. But he is so full of love and only wants what’s best for her. If that’s an overflowing plate of lasagne or a shoulder to cry on, he’ll give you both.

4. Lina is strong in the wake of her biggest personal tragedy to date, and I admired her. She flies all the way to Italy and into the unknown while mourning the loss of her mom. She pouts and mopes and comes up with a million reasons to go home, but she also searches for answers and discovers why she’s there. Ren is very sweet and goofy, and I loved his personality. The supporting characters are all great, too. Ren’s mom is so much fun. Ren’s friends are great.

5. So much Italy! And so much gelato! It was like I was there again.

6. The writing was lovely. I can’t say much more about it, other than the fact that I remember the story and the people more than the writing. I think an author does their job when that happens.

All in all, I will be forever grateful to Jenna Evans Welch for reminding me why I love YA so much. I’ve read two more YA contemporary romances since I read this book, and I loved them both. I think I’m out of my slump! I loved going back to Italy and watching Lina figure out who she was and where she came from. I highly recommend Love & Gelato.

5 Stars

Top Ten Books I’m Thankful For

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

Top Twelve Hidden Gems In Contemporary YA Lit

Posted August 28, 2017 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 7 Comments


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

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with contemporary YA right now. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and not relating as easily as I used to, or if trends in the genre are shifting and I’m just not as happy with the new direction? I’m not sure. I keep holding out hope, though, and I continue trying books and adding them to my TBR because of hidden gems like these that I’ve loved over the years. And I couldn’t pick just 10, so here’s twelve for you!

Note: I’m defining hidden gem as a book that I don’t remember hearing much about when it came out, or a book that is so backlisted that nobody is really talking about it anymore.

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams
Reality TV and pizza. What more can a person ask for?

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson
I was sold when I heard school trip to Italy.

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
Popular cheerleader turns nerd over the summer and falls for a boy in a comic book store. It’s adorable.

Love, Lucy by April Lindner
Summer backpacking trip through Italy! Plus it’s a retelling of A Room With a View!

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
Artsy character! And a super cute romance that’s compared to Anna and the French Kiss.

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney
This book was a gift to my inner art historian. It’s about a boy who falls in love with a girl in a Renoir painting, and dances and eats dessert with her on the museum floor each night. So fun!

From What I Remember… by Stacy Kramer
The entire story had a very “Grease” kind of feeling.  Kylie is the valedictorian of her graduating class. She’s smart, and liked by pretty much nobody except her hilarious gay friend named Will. She gets paired up for a last-minute class project with the jock of the school, Max. He’s extremely hard to work with, but she HAS to get a good grade. So she pushes him. In a conglomeration of crazy events, they both find themselves smuggled across the border in a van of stolen electronics. They are in Mexico with no passports, no way of getting home, and graduation day is closing in. Geeky girl turns hard core, and jock notices. So cute!

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker
Clementine spends her summer on her parents’ sailboat nursing a broken heart. But it might not be the kind of heartbreak your mind just jumped to. She falls in love and spends a lot of time with her family eating disgusting meals made only from canned foods, eating s’mores by blow torch, star gazing, sunbathing, laughing, and bonding. I really loved this book!

Decked With Holly by Marni Bates
I have a big thing for books set on cruise ships… and cute Christmas stories… so this book won in two areas of my bookish heart. It was just as adorable and laugh-out-loud funny as I had hoped.

The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer
Adorably quirky heroine who is a self proclaimed writer, witty dialogue, mature word choices (I had to use a dictionary a time or two), tons of glorious 90’s references, a so sparkly and Christmasy story. Kate’s family has this huge traditional Swedish Christmas with lots of yummy food, decorations, great music playing all the time, a TON of snow, Christmas tree shopping and trimming, etc.

The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
This book warmed me inside and out, and had me smiling like an idiot while I read it. It takes place in a little Outer Banks town that I’d love to visit, the descriptions are dripping with summer, I fell in love with the characters, there’s an amazing family dynamic, and I love the messages of learning who you are and having fun while you do it.

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
This book shocked me so many times, but how I felt at the end of it shocked me more than anything else.

Did you read and love any of these, too?
Have you added any of these to your TBR?
Any recommendations for other contemporary YA gems that have slid past me?

Books That Take Place In Or On the Water | Goldfish Blog Tour

Posted June 27, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour / 1 Comment

Books That Take Place In Or On the Water | Goldfish Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop along the Goldfish blog tour! Goldfish, written by Nat Luurtsema, is a young adult book about swimming and the Olympics so all of us on the blog tour are posting about swimmers and swimming and the Olympics. Nat is guest posting a lot, too, so this is a really fun tour to be on and I’m happy to be a part of it.

I absolutely love books that make the ocean or other body of water one of the main settings of the story, so for my post I’ve written up a list of books I love that take place in or on the water! Some of these books take place on boats, ships, and lifeboats. I’m also highlighting books about mermaids and books that take place in underwater worlds. I even threw in a couple that feature swimmers aspiring to make it to the olympics just like our heroine, Lou, in Goldfish. The book links will take you either to my review or Goodreads.



1. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Clementine spends her summer on her parents’ sailboat nursing a broken heart. But it might not be the kind of heartbreak your mind just jumped to. She falls in love and spends a lot of time with her family eating disgusting meals made only from canned foods, eating s’mores by blow torch, star gazing, sunbathing, laughing, and bonding. I really loved this book!

2. Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson
This book is SO much fun and SO underrated. This book takes place on Clio’s dad’s luxury yacht in the Mediterranean Sea with side trips to amazing Italian towns. The story has a little of everything: history, mystery, adventure, suspense, romance, and humor. We see clio go through a lot of introspection as she works through the barely-there relationship between a her and her estranged father and discovers what kind of person she wants to be.

3. Catherine and the Pirate by Karen Hawkins
This book is part of the Avon True Romance for Teens series, and I loved it. It’s no surprise that the story takes place aboard a pirate ship. I read this as a young teen, and all I remember is that Derrick St. John is REALLY swoony. This book got my hooked on pirate romances.

4. Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
A mermaid book! Emma, for some reason, can communicate with sea life even though she’s a human. She learns of her ability during a shark attack. Galen, the prince of Syrena, has gone to land to find her because his kingdom is in trouble. I love the characters and the humor mixed in with the more intense moments. Anna’s take on mermaid and Greek mythology is very interesting, and the underwater scenes are amazingly well done.

5. Renegade by J.A. Souders
Another highly underrated book. The people (humans, not mermaids) of Elysium live in a glass structure at the bottom of the sea. Who needs wallpaper when you’ve got whales swimming past you? It’s absolutely beautiful, even though it is hiding a very creepy world inside. Our heroine, Evelyn, has been brainwashed to believe life is perfect in this little “utopia” at the bottom of the sea, but when Gavin, a Surface Dweller, finds them by accident she discovers the truth. The descriptions of the scenery, the world, the feelings, and the romance are amazing.

6. Captivate by Vanessa Garden
Harlequin Teen Australia accidentally approved me for this title on Netgalley and it was the best mistake ever. This is one of my FAVORITE books. This book takes place in Marin, which is a gorgeous and colorful and sparkling underwater world. The city has rivers and gondolas and a modern colosseum where people go to watch criminals get thrown to the sharks in a big aquarium-like tank. When they look up to the sky they see the ocean instead. Their world is lit and warmed by light crystals that sparkle, and oxygen is brought down to them through air shafts. There’s a garden and a park with real grass. I could go on and on. I’m in love with this place. While taking a midnight swim, Miranda is abducted by sexy Marko and taken to Marin where danger and secrets lie.

7. Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison
I’ve loved every book I’ve read by Kate (her writing is gorgeous), but this series is my favorite. Itlantis is a series of underwater cities spread out across the entire ocean floor. Aemi has been captured from her village at the surface and taken to the city of Celestrus to serve as a slave. This city has, what I can only describe to be, glass spheres that are suspended in the water. Each sphere is a library dedicated to each of the different cities of Itlantis. You can see sea life swimming by and light from the surface dancing. The libraries are filled with books, foliage, sculpture, fountains, and walkways. Nol, her arch nemesis from her old village, has also been captured and they work together to try and escape.

8. By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager
“When a mysterious and ragged sailor appears in the seaside town where Alice Lind Frank lives with her grandparents, Alice is shocked to learn that the sailor is her childhood love, Caleb, who she thought was lost at sea.”

9. Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
This book has a male narrator, guys! Anyway, this mermaid novel takes place in Lake Superior. I LOVE that the story took place here rather than in the cliche tropical location. Rather than hearing about rainbow fish and sea turtles, you get to read about sunken ships and the unexplored depths of the lake. We even get a mention of an ancient road down there. Calder is a merman from a family of human-killing mermaids. He was not born this way, but was changed to a merman after falling off a boat and drowning as a young child. He and his family are hell-bent on murdering the man they blame for their mother’s death, but oh crap… Calder falls for this man’s daughter Lily.

10. Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
I actually liked book 2 in this trilogy better than this one, but I figured I’d add this one because you kind of have to read it before book 2. Again, we have a book about mermaids. Tempest is half mermaid and has to decide by her 17th birthday whether she will life her life as a human or a mermaid. It doesn’t help that Kai’s a sexy merman who wants her to choose him. I enjoyed Tracy’s descriptions of the underwater world. The sea life and the scenery were so beautifully described, which is what made the story exciting to me.

11. The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks
Denver, our heroine, is basically Veronica Mars. And she’s found herself a survivor of a huge tsunami and is floating around in a lifeboat with her least favorite people in the world. This book gets deep. There’s a lot of soul searching and healing that goes on out there in that lifeboat. There are some heart-wrenching moments, some funny moments, some horrifying moments, and some tender moments. I loved all the different dimensions of the story.

12. 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival by Jonathan Franklin
Non-fiction! This is the true story of Salvador Alvarenga, the man we all remember from the news as having survived a grueling 438 days lost at sea in the tiniest boat ever. This man’s story is unfathomable, and inspiring. There are really no words that can accurately describe what he went through. So much detail is used to describe his day-to-day activities, the weather, his surroundings, etc. that I felt like I was there. He continued to amaze me throughout the entire story. I honestly have no idea how he was able to survive for so long drinking turtle blood and eating raw birds and fish. Every time I think of this man, the words “amazing” and “miraculous” come to mind. I really enjoyed reading it, and felt feelings of hope throughout. I felt inspired to do great things. I love it when books have the power to do this to a person, and that’s the beauty of survival stories.

13. Undercurrents by Traci Hunter Abramson
This book is a work of LDS (Mormon) fiction, but it’s not at all preachy so don’t worry. “Shaye Kendall, an Olympic-bound swimmer, has been in the witness protection program ever since she witnessed her boyfriend’s murder.” This is the first book in a trilogy that was really exciting and suspenseful.

14. Girl Underwater by Claire Kells
This book “cross cuts between a competitive college swimmer’s harrowing days in the Rocky Mountains after a major airline disaster and her recovery supported by the two men who love her—only one of whom knows what really happened in the wilderness.” This story is predominately about surviving your life after you survive a disaster. We read a lot about Avery’s attempts to deal with her PTSD and her efforts to pick up where she left off the moment her plane went down. It was a very powerful, yet sometimes depressing, portrayal of someone who has gone through the unthinkable. I loved the characters, especially Avery and Colin who ended up having to not only survive and cope but help three young boys survive and recover after their rescue as well.

Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema
Published by: Feiwel & Friends on June 7, 2016
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Lou Brown is one of the fastest swimmers in the county. She’s not boasting, she really is. So things are looking pretty rosy the day of the Olympic time-trials. With her best mate Hannah by her side, Lou lines up by the edge of the pool, snaps her goggles on and bends into her dive…

Everything rests on this race. It’s Lou’s thing.

… or it was. She comes dead last and to top it all off Hannah sails through leaving a totally broken Lou behind.

Starting again is never easy, particularly when you’re the odd-one out in a family of insanely beautiful people and a school full of social groups way too intimidating to join. Where do you go from here? Finding a new thing turns out to be the biggest challenge Lou’s ever faced and opens up a whole new world of underwater somersaults, crazy talent shows, bitchy girls and a great big load of awkward boy chat.

Lou Brown guides us through the utter humiliation of failure with honesty, sass and a keen sense of the ridiculous. This girl will not be beaten.

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Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read

Posted April 7, 2014 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 7 Comments


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

This is a hard topic! There are so many reasons why I love books, and frequently it’s because the book is about something or is set somewhere that is very uncommon in the books I read. I’m going to break things down into unique settings and unique topics/premises. Hopefully I’ll be able to narrow things down to ten books that fall into these two categories because I am all about organization. Hehe.

Unique Settings
Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson (set on a boat sailing the Mediterranean)
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (set on tour buses as they drive around the country)
Captivate by Vanessa Garden (set in an underwater world that’s not about mermaids)
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (set in futuristic Russia)
Frost by Kate Avery Ellison (set in the coldest place in the world, ridden with monsters)

Unique Topics/Premises
From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas (an accidental road trip to Mexico)
Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney (a love story between a modern-day guy and a girl in a painting)
On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves (a love story between two stranded survivors, one 18 and one 31)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (love is a disease)
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker (heartbreak over a lost friendship instead of a lost relationship)

So! Agree? Disagree? What are some of the most unique books you’ve read?

A to Z Bookish Survey

Posted September 18, 2013 by Jana in About Me / 15 Comments



Author you’ve read the most books from:
Mary Higgins-Clark. I’ve always loved her mysteries, and have read a TON of them!

Best sequel ever:
Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone. Time Between Us was amazing, and Time After Time blew me away as well.

Currently reading:
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill. It’s really good so far!

Drink of choice while reading:
Chamomile tea with cream and honey. :)

E-reader or physical book?:
The battle will go on forever with me. Some days I really love my Kindle, and some days I jump for joy when I get a real book in the mail. I love my Kindle on vacations, though. I can pack a TON of books, so choosing is not necessary.

Fictional character you probably would have dated in high school:
James from Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker. This guy is amazing, and I really adore him. I love his philosophy, which is basically this: you can be sad and you can mourn what you’ve lost, but the memories you created before that loss are yours forever. Never discount the happy times in life, just because they ended unhappily.

Glad you gave this book a chance:
Divergent by Veronica Roth.

Hidden gem book:
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer

Important moment in your reading life:
I found Goodreads! I had no idea what to read. Ever. I didn’t know any readers, so I always resorted to romance novels with not too sexy a cover as a teen. I had no idea about young adult books! Once I found Goodreads, I found a ton of books, found the Goodreads College Students Group, started The Broke and the Bookish with Jamie, ended up starting my own blog too, and then decided on getting a Master’s in Library and Information Science. Goodreads started it all, and led to me changing my life. :)

Just finished:
Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney. It’s a brand new favorite! I loved it SOOO much.

Kinds of books you won’t read:
Erotica, books with a lot of gore, books with a lot of band language, books with animal deaths, books with super upsetting subject matter.

Longest book you’ve read:
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, which is 756 pages.

Major book hangover because of:
Twilight Saga. I was was hungover, and had a hard time finding something else to read after that.

Number of bookcases you own:
Two floor-to-ceiling (triple stacked) and then the shelf across my headboard.

One book you have read multiple times:
I’ve never re-read a book!

Preferred place to read:
Well, in an ideal world I’d live on a cruise ship bound for Italy and spend my life on the balcony reading. If I’m being realistic, though, my bed is my favorite place. :)

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

“I guess I work in small ways. It’s kind of like this story someone told me, about a guy on the beach in Mexico throwing starfish in the sea. Thousands had washed ashore. Someone asked him why – ‘Why are you wasting your time, when there are so many? You can’t possibly make a difference.'”

“I know that story! The man threw another one back, and said -”

“‘Made a difference to that one!'” Rowan finishes.”

– From Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Reading regret:
I really regret not having read The Chronicles of Narnia as a girl. I’m making up for it now, but I know I needed the magic in my early years. :)

Series you started and need to finish (all books in the series are out):
Study series by Maria V. Snyder

Three of your all-time favorite books:
Just One Day by Gayle Forman, Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard, On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Unapologetic fangirl for:
Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney. Seriously, people. It’s so unique, and it spoke to my inner art history nerd. I flailed with this one. It’s amazing.

Very excited for this release (more than any others):
Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Worst bookish habit:
If I really want to read a book, but don’t know what, I’ll go to my shelves and look for something. As I try to decide, sometimes I get so overwhelmed by the MANY choices I have, that I give up and watch a movie instead.

Your last book purchase:
On Christmas Hill by Nichole Chase (Getting ready for Christmastime!!)

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):
Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis

That was so much fun! Thanks, Jamie, for writing such a fun survey! Have you taken Jamie’s survey yet? If so, link me up!