Top Ten Books that Take me Somewhere

Posted January 24, 2012 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 15 Comments

TTT

Hey guys! I love traveling. LOVE it. And it’s during months like these that I get the travel bug. January is tough. It’s cold, we’ve got holiday hangovers, and the days are short and dark. It makes me want to go somewhere fun! So for this week’s freebie TTT, I’ve chosen to tell you about my favorite books set in places I’d love to escape to right now (or books with travelers I envy).

By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager
This book takes place in a quaint little seaside town. It’s a very sweet, clean romance that I just loved. I want to visit this place.

Kiss and Tell by Suzanne Brockman
Here, we get to visit this adorable town in Florida called Sunrise Key. Picture flower boxes, white and blue-striped awnings, and picket fences. Everyone knows everyone. I want to find a bed and breakfast and live there for a little while!

Royal Target by Traci Hunter Ambramson
The heroine is a CIA agent, who goes to Venezuela on assignment and meets Prince Garrett. They hit it off, and her mission is terminated as she receives new orders to go to Meridia (a city on the coast of Italy) to pretend to be his fiancee as part of their security plan. Meridia sounds amazing, and Venezuela would be a wonderful place to visit as well!

My Heart Stood Still by Lynn Kurland 
Here, we get to go to an old castle in on the English moors. An American man falls in love with a Scottish woman from the past. It’s a gorgeous story, and the scenery sounds amazing.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The bulk of this takes place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. PLEASE let me go! I love the Met, and I could definitely use a trip there right now.

Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter
The characters in this story go on the Jane Austen tour of England! I’d love to go on that trip.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
A “race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe”. I’ll take it!

Carrie Goes off the Map by Phillippa Ashley
The heroine goes on a road trip through the English countryside with a really sexy guy… I want to do that!

Caribbean Cruising by Rachel Hawthorne
Now, I didn’t like this book very much, but it takes place on cruise ships and there’s nothing I love more than reading on the sun-drenched deck of a ship floating around the Caribbean!

Sailing to Capri by Elizabeth Adler
This takes place on a yacht set for Capri, Italy! Can you tell I love water and Europe?

So! Which books have you read that involve traveling, or just awesome places? And be sure to link me to your Top Ten Tuesday posts! I want to see what you came up with. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly (Book Review)

Posted January 23, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly (Book Review)Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly
Series: Austen Addicts #2
Also in this series: Mr. Darcy Forever
Published by Sourcebooks on January 1, 2012
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 280
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
Fledging illustrator and Darcy fanatic Kay Ashton settles in the seaside town of Lyme to finish her book, The Illustrated Darcy, when a film company arrives to make a new adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion. Kay is soon falling for the handsome bad boy actor playing Captain Wentworth, but it's the quiet screenwriter Adam Craig who has more in common with her beloved Mr. Darcy. Though still healing from a broken heart, Adam finds himself unexpectedly in love with Kay. But it will take more than good intentions to convince her that her real happy ending is with him.

(While this is book #2 in a series, I contacted the author and she said each novel is a standalone, and they can be read out of order.)

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I loved the little town of Lyme. It sounds breathtaking, and I have always thought it would be fun to own a B&B by the sea. Kay’s sounds very cute and old-fashioned, with lots of character and charm. I liked the two actresses, Sophie and Gemma. They are very sweet and caring, and end up being great friends to Kay. I like Adam a lot, and think he’s a saint for putting up with Kay’s antics. He’s hopelessly in love with her, while she is trying to set him up with someone else (like Emma Woodhouse would). She’s completely clueless! The smartest person in this book is Adam’s eccentric Nana, who tells it like it is. She totally knows what’s going on, and is perfectly willing to voice her opinions. I liked her!

I had a hard time with the insta-love. Everyone falls in love with everyone really fast! With Adam, it’s love at first sight. He falls for Kay, the girl with the “toffee-colored hair” before he even knows her name. (By the way, you’ll get really tired of the phrase “toffee-colored hair”. It is used a LOT in this book.) Kay falls in love with Oli (the male lead in the movie) really fast. She’s planning their wedding and naming their children, and he hasn’t even kissed her yet. He hasn’t even told her he likes her yet! Gemma’s love interest takes a little more time, but again it’s love at first sight for him and love at first realization that he loves her for her. This is just not realistic! These characters are not junior high schoolers who think they are in love because they’ve never felt it before! And why is everyone so clueless? Kay is clueless about everything, Adam is spineless and won’t tell Kay that he likes her and not the girl she’s trying to match him with, Gemma is clueless and can’t figure out why a guy is being nice to her. People are not this dumb! Really, it felt like high school and all the he-said-she-said drama. These people are too old for this. I think this is the reason that I didn’t really connect with any of them. I just kept wanting to smack them.

Kay has conversations with herself, which are just weird to me. I don’t sit and actually have a conversation with myself, especially out loud. I guess I just don’t like it when characters have conversations with themselves, because I had the same complaint with Midnight in Austenland. Also… the title led me to believe I was going to be reading a Pride and Prejudice spin-off. This book is all centered around Persuasion, though, so you’ll be hearing much more about Captain Wentworth than Mr. Darcy. I’m not complaining or anything, and I really enjoyed reading about the romantic story of Persuasion. I just thought it was worth mentioning for those who are on the look-out for P&P retellings or spin-offs. This isn’t one.

My favorite part was when two characters get completely drenched in a downpour and have to make due with borrowed clothes. The guy has no pants, a bright yellow raincoat, and a t-shirt. The girl is wearing granny clothes that are too big. That was funny. And I really enjoyed the descriptions of the Cobb and the surrounding area. I’ve always really wanted to go to England, so any book that describes it to me is a book I appreciate. I really liked the idea of the novel as well. There were just a few parts that kept me from liking it as much as I could have, and expected to.

I’m glad I read Dreaming of Mr. Darcy. I was really excited for it, and it was a nice change from all the dark dystopias I’ve been reading lately. I just had higher expectations. Like all romances, everyone ends up with who you want/expect them to. I still plan to read the other stories in this series, and hope to connect with them more. :)

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100 Followers Giveaway! (International)

Posted January 21, 2012 by Jana in Giveaway / 39 Comments

Hi guys! My blog reached 100 followers a few nights ago, and let me tell you… I was much more excited than I thought I would be! Haha. I love all my readers, tweeters, and awesome book blogging friends. It means so much to me that you all care about my opinions, and take the time to read what I have to say! I also love the discussions we’ve had! To thank you for following me, supporting my blog, and being great friends, I’m giving the winner of this giveaway $10 at The Book Depository to spend on whatever book they’d like. This giveaway is open to my International readers, as long as The Book Depository ships to you. (Check here if you’re not sure.) Once again, thank you and good luck! I hope you win, because I kind of adore you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations, Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books!
Your book, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, will arrive at your house on February 1st! Hope you love it!

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When Good Books Get Lost Behind Not-So-Good Covers

Posted January 20, 2012 by Jana in Cover Talk, Discussion / 16 Comments

Discussion time! You know how pretty much everyone judges a book by its cover, even though they say they don’t? I know I do. It’s really hard not to, especially since I’m an artist and expect the art to reflect the content. If a cover is bad (or lacking in good design, or design at all), I usually assume the book is so bad it’s not worth spending the money on a really great cover. Of course, this is not always the case. We’ve all been deceived by a beautiful cover before, haven’t we? (By the way, this will be the topic of my next discussion. Just you wait!) Here are some books I’ve read that ended up being good, despite the cover! It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?

If you click on this montage, it will expand so you can see all the cover details better!

Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception and Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater – These books are so much better than the cover! A plain black background with some clip art stuck on is no fun!

The Host by Stephenie Meyer – Yes, the silver ring in the eye is cool, but the gunky make-up in the corner of the eye is not. The story is SO long, with so much going on. I’m sure more inspiration could have been stirred up for a better cover.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller – Nothing says drama, magic, and the Salem Witch Trials better than the back of a head…

Nightshade (The Poison Diaries #2) by Maryrose Wood – There’s just too much going on here. A face with pink cotton candy stuck to it and a forest with sunbeams growing out of her chin. “The Poison Diaries” logo is well done, but then they just slapped “Nightshade” on there all non-typographically pleasing. I bet they could have incorporated it somehow.

Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll – Ugh. I’ve read this, and there is nothing in the story that looks like this.

Most Historical Romance (Like Master of Seduction by Kinley MacGregor) – I think more people would read historical romance (and romance in general) if we didn’t have half-dressed Fabios staring at us! I love this genre, but please. We’ve got a naked man, a flowery font, and “Master of Seduction” HUGE with an innuendo of a catch phrase on there. Thank goodness I have a Kindle. Covers like these embarrass me, and I’m terrified of being seen reading a book with one!

Hush, Hush be Becca Fitzpatrick – Honestly, this dude looks like he is being murdered with a feather (the red feathers above don’t help much). Yes, he is falling from Heaven, but that pose is just unnatural and painful looking.

The Giver by Lois Lowry – Hello, old man. Yes, it works with the story, but there’s no ingenuity at work here!

Loves Music, Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark – Guess who wrote this one? I hope you can read it, seeing as how the name is so small. WHY must an author’s name take up 2/3rds of a cover? It’s not like it’s a really cool name, or a really cool font. Seriously.

Ok! So, you’ve got my picks! What are yours? What other books out there have I been avoiding for years because of the cover? Or do you like these covers? Tell me what you think!

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Incarnate by Jodi Meadows (Book Review)

Posted January 19, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 9 Comments

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows (Book Review)Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Series: Newsoul #1
Also in this series: Asunder, Infinite
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 31, 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 374
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
NEWSOUL
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

NOSOUL
Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

HEART
Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana's enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Do you ever read a book that leaves you thinking, “Ok, how on Earth am I supposed to go about reviewing that?” Don’t get me wrong. I loved this book. Sometimes, though, I come across a book I love so much, that it leaves me wordless. Haha. This was one of them. I’m not sure exactly what it was that made me love it so much. Perhaps it was the sweeping, yet believable non-insta-love romance, the unique take on a utopian world, or the writing that I totally got. You know how sometimes your brain and an author’s writing style just mesh, and you’re writing in your mind the exact same story you’re reading? Jodi just did everything right. She and I were on the same wavelength, and I totally got her. I’m not saying the book was predictable, because it totally wasn’t. I’m saying that everything she wrote was exactly what I wanted. I got my romance, my mystery, my alternate world, my suspense, my excitement. Let’s see if I can break this down for you in a way that makes sense. Haha. I’m really into putting my thoughts into numbered lists right now, so that’s what I’m going to do. It works for me.

1. I really loved reading about Ana’s journey to Heart. The very beginning of the book just sucked me in, and I was sold. It was suspenseful, and adventurous. It was also a great way to be introduced into this world. We’re introduced to the sylph, which are vicious invisible fire breathers that burn anything in their path. Whoa.

2. And then we meet Sam. I LOVE SAM. He might just be one of my favorite YA male characters. Because he’s been reincarnated so many times, he’s extremely smart, talented, and mature. He’s unbelievably caring and considerate. People in this world hate Ana because in order for her to be born, a person had to die and never be reincarnated again. Her birth was a complete mistake, and people resent her not only because she “stole” a life, but because they are worried that more people like her will be born in the future. Sam’s totally not on board with their train of thought, though. He adores her and helps her figure out that she’s worth so much more than her birth mother has been telling her her whole life. And he’s musical. He made me melt a little.

3. I really enjoyed learning about Heart. The walls have a heartbeat. There’s a mysterious temple with no doors that is so tall, you can’t see the top of it. It’s so huge that almost the entire human race lives there. Plus, it’s been there since the beginning of time. The inhabitants of this place said they just stumbled upon it after being born the first time. They think it was given to them by their God, Janan (which is so close to my name. woot!), to protect them from the dangerous beasts of the world.

4. The Masquerade Ball is flat-out one of the most beautiful scenes in the book. The ball is held for two souls who have pledged their undying love for one another across all their incarnations, even if sometimes one of them happens to be 80 and the other one 5. Or… if they both happen to come back as members of the same gender. It’s their souls that matter, not their bodies or age. So they celebrate this ceremony with a masquerade ball, where nobody knows who anyone is dressed as. The goal is for this couple to find each other anyway. What a beautiful underlying message of eternal love knowing no bounds. It’s a breathtaking thought. And wow, this ball was sexy. I’ll leave it at that!

5. The action and suspense! Dragons, Sylph, people out to kill Ana and Sam… SO exciting! I was flipping pages faster than I could read, and had to press the back button on my Kindle to go back. (Anyone else ever do that? Haha.)

6. Music was a HUGE part of this book. Sam’s an amazing musician, and Ana connects with music on the same level I do. Music has always been one of the main elements of my life. It brings out such strong emotions and feelings in me. I connect with it on so many levels, just like she mentions throughout this story. I identified with her so much for this reason.

7. The lyrical writing was gorgeous, but not over the top or flowery. Like I said, I just got it. I don’t want to give away too many details, because it’s something you’ve got to experience on your own.

8. There were no hidden agendas in this book. There were points where the people seem to be very religious and devoted to their God, but this was not preachy at all. I didn’t feel like anything was being shoved down my throat. There were also a few moments that could almost be identified as anti-religious, but again I didn’t feel like the author was trying to sway me one way or another. Remember in my review of Halo when I said that a good author can write a religion without preaching it? This book, unlike Halo, was a good example of an author who handles it without trying to force someone to have an opinion. I really appreciated that.

9. The idea of reincarnation was handled in a very interesting way. These people live, they die. Then they are reincarnated into a new body (male or female) and come back as a grown human in a baby’s body. They come out smart, and with all the memories of their previous lives. It’s a very cool idea, and opens the door for many interesting and well-rounded characters. I loved it.

10. And… I just have to mention the cover. It’s gorgeous. And unlike some book covers, this cover tells so much about the story itself. I’m not going to elaborate on this because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I might just have to buy a hard copy of this book so I can own the cover. I’m a graphic designer, and I really appreciate art that is done for a better reason that to “just look pretty”. This is one of the best examples I’ve seen of a cover that very subtly opens a window to the story. You’ll understand what I mean once you read it.

All in all, read this book! It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s romantic, and it’s pretty much awesome. I can’t wait for the next one!

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Top 10 Books I’d Recommend to if You Don’t Like Contemporary

Posted January 17, 2012 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 14 Comments

TTT

So, I love this week’s theme over at the Broke and the Bookish, because we were instructed to recommend books to someone who does not read _________. Meaning, all the lists this week are going to be different and will cater to many different kinds of readers. It’s so exciting, and I know I will love hopping around to everyone’s blogs!

I used to be one of those people who did not like contemporary novels. I always figured that if I treated reading as an escape, why should I read books that keep me right in the here and now? I should read to travel to a different time, not to hang out here in the world I’m trying to get away from! I’ve change my mind, though, and now I love them! So, it’s kind of like I’m recommending books to my past self. If I’m leaving anything out, let me know! I’m still a new lover of contemporary, so I don’t know all the good stuff yet!

Adult Contemporary Fiction:

Austenland by Shannon Hale
This was the first book I ever read that was completely contemporary. There’s a little romance, and the characters hearken back to regency times… but the whole thing takes place right now. It was a good way to slowly ease into contemporary, because it combined inklings of a genre I’ve always loved: historical fiction/romance.
(Read my review of Austenland.)

Carrie Goes Off The Map by Phillipa Ashley
I LOVED this book. The heroine is strong and independent. She’s been hurt by her now ex-fiance, and wants an escape from her normal life. So she grabs a friend-of-a-friend that she barely knows, and they go on a road trip around England, exploring the scenery, meeting new people, and getting to know each other. It’s a contemporary romance that allowed me the escape I always crave in a book.
(Read my review of Carrie.)

The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks
Nicholas knows how to create such strong, beautiful romances that you forget you’re reading about people just like you. Romances that strong have GOT to be otherworldly, but this book takes place right here, right now. It’s also probably the only book by him that won’t have you crying a TON. I cried a little during this one, but not much. It’s also got some suspense thrown in, which is fabulous.

Nocturne by Syrie James
This book has a vampire element to it, but the rest of the story is so realistic and so “right now” that you’re convinced vampires exist! The scenery is awesome. I love tying a bit of paranormal stuff!
(Enter my giveaway of this book right here!)

Pretty much anything by Mary Higgins Clark
Mary Higgins Clark writes the best, most exciting mysteries ever. They are amazing! She’s an auto-buy for me. I don’t even have to read the summary. I think all of them are contemporary, and I love, love, love the ride she takes her readers on.

Young Adult Contemporary Fiction:

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
This book is totally Christmasy, but you can read it anytime during the year. It’s composed of three short stories that are all connected. It’s full of blizzards and romance, and it’s one of my favorites!
(Read my review of Let it Snow.)

Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Anna was my first YA contemporary, and I have been sold ever since. This is definitely the best book to start with if you’re interested in YA contemporary. I’ve been ripping bookstores apart ever since, hoping to find another novel like this one.

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
This book is very light and fun, with a unique storyline. It’s magical, which had me completely sold. Plus, it takes place in NYC, which is definitely the best place in the USA, in my opinion.
(Read my review of Dash and Lily.)

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
I’m cheating here because I haven’t read this yet (but I have been anticipating this for months)! All my friends love it, though, so I know I will. And seriously, who wouldn’t want to fall in love in an airport??

My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite
This book is adorable, and all about this college freshman who is a romance novel junkie, and compares her own life to a novel. But then, when love comes her way she flips out and has no idea how to be anything less than awkward. I died of laughter so many times.

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Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale (Book Review)

Posted January 16, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale (Book Review)Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
Series: Austenland #2
Also in this series: Austenland
Published by Bloomsbury on January 31, 2012
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 277
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.

Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?

Midnight in Austenland is the companion novel to Hale’s Austenland (read my review), which I have been gushing about across the Internet for EVER. Lucky for you, the release date was pushed up a few days, so you can grab yourself a copy of it even sooner than I had originally said! Oh, and I love the cover. It’s so pretty!

Austenland is one of my favorite books in life, so I knew it would take a lot to supersede (or even meet) my really high expectations for its companion. I went into this knowing that it was a companion novel and not a sequel, so I would not be reunited with my beloved characters from book 1. No biggie, I just miss them. Midnight focuses less on the romance, and more on an underlying murder mystery, which was pretty exciting (although the romance is totally there). It was a cute book, but I’ll always love the first one better. Seriously, though, when is the second book ever better than the first one? I think it all boils down to the fact that the heroine in Austenland (Jane) was so much better and more likeable than the one in Midnight (Charlotte). I still liked Charlotte, I just didn’t identify with her as much as I did Jane (seeing as how I’m not a divorced mother of two, but I am a closet Mr. Darcy Lover with a desire to hide my overly used BBC copy of P&P like Jane did.). I don’t have a ton to say about this book, but I broke up my thoughts into several different sections:

1. I loved the mystery/murder/suspense aspects that were woven throughout the book. It was a bit spooky, and I know I’m a chicken, but… I had a hard time reading after the family went to bed! When I started the book, I really was not expecting this. The characters sat around in the parlor playing mindless little games, and this mystery was a game initially. Then it broke out into the truth, and really blindsided everyone, including me.

2. The “Inner Thoughts” drove me nuts. The heroine’s inner thoughts speak to her a lot in this book, and she has frequent conversations with them. I hated it. It was so cheesy and done in a rather unnecessary, bulky sort of way. It was like she had multiple personalities that talked to each other. Kinda weird.

3. I did enjoy the romance. I ALWAYS enjoy the romance, and this love story is pretty dang cute. Charlotte is divorced, and her ex-husband recently re-married. So she decided to get away. The “resort” hires men to be love interests for the female paying customers. Just like in the first novel, a true romance bloomed… but a less predicable one. Hales is great at writing love stories. I would get butterflies in my stomach, like I was the one who was in love! Haha.

4. I love the idea of a themed vacation. I want to go find a company that actually does this, and book my trip! It would be so much fun to fly off to England, wear regency clothing, and live in an old mansion with chivalrous men hanging on your every word. Both Austenland and Midnight in Austenland made me feel like a vacation like that was really possible!  

If you loved the first one, I think you’ll really enjoy this one too. I recommend it to lovers of Jane Austen, a little mystery, and a sweet love story. 

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My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions by B. Wilhite (Book Review)

Posted January 13, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions by B. Wilhite (Book Review)My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite
Published by Shadow Mountain on March 3, 2010
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 181
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Sarah Howard's first year at the university is everything and nothing she expected especially when a very cute boy named Ben in her Art History class starts to show interest in her.

Sarah feels like she's an average, normal, everyday girl. So, when Ben (to whom she secretly refers as Adonis because she thinks he could be a Greek god) begins to take interest in her, Sarah is in denial. For one thing, last year she was deeply crushed and humiliated by Jesse James a guy who she thought liked her.

She's determined not to get burned again. But in her heart of hearts, what she really wants is a Jane Austen kind of romance. Ridiculous, right? That kind of romance doesn t exist anymore . . . or does it? Sarah is smart and fun to be around and even pretty, despite her Medusa-like red curls. She even plays the guitar. (So does Ben!) Yes, Sarah is everything Ben has wanted. He's crazy for her, but Sarah is just not getting it. She's playing hard to get, and if she s not careful, she s going to lose a real hot gentleman -- her 21st-century Mr. Darcy.

So, this is kind of a mini book review! It’s a REALLY cute story. This is the kind of story that will instantly improve your mood and make you smile. I was actually laughing out loud and then reading parts of it to a co-worker. I never laugh out loud when I read, especially while I’m at work!

Sarah compares her life to a romance novel. I do that a lot too! I read a ton of romance books or books with romantic overtones, and always find myself looking for a novel romance in my own life. I identified with her a lot for this reason. And even though she reads a lot of these novels, she’s not very good at handling her own romances! I love her internal dialogue and her flip-out sessions over the latest conundrum. My only complaint is that she was SO clueless about how this guy felt about her. Her best friends were drilling it into her head that he liked her. He was moping right in front of her face when she called him a “good friend.” College freshman girls are not THAT clueless, especially if they are romance novel junkies. I just wanted to shake her! Almost the last half of the book was a total miscommunication, when all I really wanted was more cute romance and conversations between the two of them. I’ll admit, though, the miscommunication was pretty funny and kept me turning the pages to see what happened next.

My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions is a quick read that will only take you an hour or two to get through, but will leave you smiling. It’s definitely a book I needed in order to pull myself out of the dark supernatural/dystopian rut I was in. I absolutely love YA contemporary, and this one is one of my favorites!

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Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Book Review)

Posted January 11, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 10 Comments

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Book Review)Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Also in this series: Through the Ever Night, Into the Still Blue
Published by HarperTEEN on January 3, 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Romance
Pages: 374
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars
Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY

I really loved this book! Ever since I read The Hunger Games, I’ve been devouring dystopian novels. I honestly never thought I’d find one I liked as much, but this one came pretty close. The story was extremely exciting and had me hooked within a few pages. I became quickly invested in the story and the characters, and fell off the face of the Internet until I finished!

Aria’s world is crazy. These Realms take her and her people, The Dwellers, anywhere in time and in space that they wish to visit–from medieval encounters with the knights of the roundtable, to mysterious forests, to the Paris Opera House. All they have to do is think, and they are transported there. It’s all marketed as being real, but so much better. They live in domed pods with white ceilings, and never see the sky. The outside world is filled with deadly diseases, savages, and cannibals. Nobody wants to go out there, but Aria (named for her lovely singing voice) is forced out there after being blamed for a crime she didn’t commit. When she runs across Perry, she’s in desperate need of help to survive and return home to find her mother who has become unreachable at her scientific research lab miles away. Perry also desperately needs her help, as his nephew has been abducted by her people. A very unlikely duo sets out on a treacherous journey in search of a way to beat the odds.

My favorite character is Perry. He’s very dynamic, with lots of layers that are slowly peeled off throughout the story. His back story has lots of interesting details, and I grew to find him completely captivating. His ability to sense what a person is feeling has made him extremely mature and sensitive. It has also caused him to care very deeply for people. Even though Aria is his enemy, he can’t block out her feelings of pain and sorrow over the possible loss of her mother. He tries so hard to stay away, but can’t help himself from trying to console and understand her. Aria sees him as a dirty savage, but softens as she realizes that he is just as capable of loving and losing someone as she is. As they begin to recognize that they’re both human and are both going through the same thing even though they come from different worlds, their hearts are softened towards one another and a special bond forms. Aria’s pretty strong, considering she was exiled from the only world she knew and thrown into a disease-ridden wasteland, ravaged by cannibals and deadly electric storms. She learns a lot about herself in this story, including where she came from, her powerful desire to survive, her ability to handle scary situations, the gift of her voice, and her desire to love. I liked her, but not as much I liked Perry and his best friend, Roar, who tags along mid-journey and becomes a character you grow to adore. Another character I was surprised to grow attached to was Cinder, an orphaned boy who’s a lot more special than he realizes.

The writing was mesmerizing. I was totally immersed in the vivid descriptions of the land, the Aether (which made me picture the magnificent skies of Vincent van Gogh even before the author mentioned Starry Night), the advanced, limitless technology, the Realms and their virtual worlds, and even the pungent smells of the cannibals (ick!). Perry’s inner struggle with feeling the feelings of others was beautifully written. The author explains his interpretations so well, that it’s like a window has been opened to his mind. I could feel and understand Aria’s fear when she was dropped in the Death Shop. It can be hard to write emotion, but Rossi did a wonderful job. I could feel the love as it grew between Perry and Aria. Nothing was forced or instant, just believable. I could feel Cinder’s inner confusion and Roar’s sense of mischief and humor. It was like I was there, along for the journey. I’m so sad the book is over! I can’t wait to rejoin my friends in book #2, with a pretty vague release date of 2013.

I would definitely recommend this to futuristic dystopian lovers who enjoy action and sweet, innocent romance. I’m so proud of this 2012 debut author! Her first book is amazing, and I know it will only get better from here!

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Bookish Finds: Bookishness Meets Visual Communications!

Posted January 10, 2012 by Jana in Bookish Finds / 6 Comments

TTT

Bookish Finds is a feature here at That Artsy Reader Girl, where I highlight awesome bookish things I come across during my exciting life.

PEOPLE. You must watch this video! Ever wondered what books do for fun at night when the bookstore door is locked, and nobody is watching them? This happens. Check out the amazing stop motion video awesomeness, uploaded to YouTube by user: crazedadman.

You loved it, right? I absolutely love it when I discover that my two passions in life have collided: books and art/visual communication. :)

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