Return Once More by Trisha Leigh | Book Review

Posted October 24, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Return Once More by Trisha Leigh | Book ReviewReturn Once More by Trisha Leigh
Series: The Historians #1
Published by Bloomsbury Spark on October 20, 2015
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Pages: 294
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
If you could learn the identity of your one true love—even though you will never meet— would you?

Years have passed since refugees from a ruined earth took to space, eventually settling a new system of planets. Science has not only made the leaps necessary to allow time travel, but the process engineered a strange side effect—predicting your one true love.

If you could save your one true love from an untimely death, would you be able to resist?

Sixteen-year-old Kaia Vespasian is an apprentice to the Historians—a group charged with using time travel to document the triumphs and failures of the past—and she can’t resist a peek at her long-dead soul mate in Ancient Egypt. Before she knows it, she’s broken every rule in the book, and the consequences of getting caught could destroy more than just her new romance.

Or would you have the strength to watch him die?

But when Kaia notices a fellow classmate snooping around in a time where he doesn’t belong, she suspects he has a secret of his own—and the conspiracy she uncovers could threaten the entire universe. If her experience has taught her anything, to changing history means facing the consequences. The Historians trained her to observe and record the past, but Kaia never guessed she might have to protect it— in a race across time to save her only chance at a future.

You’d think a book about a girl who travels back in time to learn what mankind did to make earth uninhabitable, and ends up meeting the love of her life in ancient Egypt would be right up my alley, but it SO wasn’t. I love history and learning about ancient times. I love time travel. I love the scientific explanations as to why time travel is possible. I love the excitement and mystery of time travel. So… what was my problem? Well, hold my drink.

1. Ok, so we’ve got these Historians who go back in time to analyze the great tragedies and mess-ups of humankind to ensure that these events do not repeat themselves. That sounds kind of cool, but ultimately we, as readers, only get to hear about the crap the world has gone through. One scene in particular about a fire in a factory really depressed me.

2. Something sciency has happened, and now people can find out who their ideal mate is. The problem is, their ideal mate could have been anyone since the beginning of human existence. This means that when these kids become of age they can get the name of their one true love who statistically isn’t even alive anymore. How demotivating is that?! If I found out that my one true love died in 15 B.C., then what’s the point of even trying to find love now? lol. This is what happens to Kaia. She finds out that her ideal match died during the time of Caesar. So… “Ok, here’s the name of the man of your dreams. He died thousands of years ago. You have the power to easily travel back in time to be with him, but DON’T because it could altar everything.” This is just so stupid! Of COURSE she’s going to go meet him. Of COURSE they’re going o fall in love. Of COURSE they are going to endanger practically everyone who has ever lived. Why would a society even do this to its people when it could easily destroy humanity!? Everything rests on lovestruck teenagers and whether or not they have the willpower to resist pushing a button that will take them to their greatest love story ever. *facepalm*

3. These Historians really aren’t supposed to change anything about the past because it could have detrimental effects on the future. But that doesn’t mean they don’t change EVERYTHING. They just secretly change things and go home, hoping the world and the people and the life they’ve always known still exist. Again, too much rests on a very flimsy system.

4. So… we know that too-stupid-to-live Kaia goes to visit her man, Oz, in Egypt. And of course she forces the instalove because science told her he’s The One. Oz is awkward and weird, and I don’t think that people in ancient Egypt talked like he talks in this book. They immediately fall in love because of some unseen reason, and he immediately understands and accepts that she’s a time traveler even though he’s never even heard of electricity, much less a time machine. It all just felt so wrong and forced.

5. I didn’t even care about the other characters. I just remember a lot of judging and moral grey areas.

6. You’ve got characters trying to play God, and I hate that. He’s doing fine on His own, thank you.

7. There is so much more that I hated about this book, but I’m getting tired of writing about it. You know how you hate something more the more you think about it? That’s me right now.

So… bottom line: don’t read this. lol. I just looked at Goodreads and saw how highly rated this book is and made that emoji face that has the big eyes and no mouth. I don’t feel like we read the same book. lol. There’s better options out there for time travel romance. This one was just depressing.

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Top Ten Lovable Villains

Posted October 22, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 17 Comments

This week’s topic is getting us ready for Halloween next week! We’re highlighting bookish villains this week. Which villains do you absolutely hate? Which ones do you love? Which are the creepiest, the sweetest, the most evil, the most misunderstood, etc.? I can’t wait to see your lists!

1. The Darkling from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
He’s dark and sexy and charming and dangerous, and people are just drawn to him for some mysterious reason.

2. Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
He was the villain in the beginning, but he captured al of our hearts.

3. Valek from Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Valek is a master assassin and trains Yelena in the art of poison. He makes her pretty miserable until…

4. Akiva from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.

It did not end well.”

It didn’t start so well, considering Akiva attacked Karou at their first meeting. lol.

5. Bastien Toussaint from Black Ice by Anne Stuart
Bastien is a ruthless assassin, hired to take out Chloe for knowing too much about his illegal arms dealer employers, but he eventually decides to protect her instead.

6. Ty from Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
I have no idea how Lucy Christopher got me to sympathize with the kidnapper, but she did!

7. Alexander Moncrieffe from What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long
Alex initially wanted to seduce his rival’s little sister as revenge. Making her fall in love and then breaking her heart is the perfect way to get back at Ian Eversea. He falls for her, though. Of course. So many swoons in this book!

8. Luke from Lament: The Faery Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater
Luke is an assassin who has been assigned to kill Deirdre. He shows up mysteriously and Dee is totally drawn to him. He’s in love with her, but do we trust him?

9. Beast from Hunted by Meagan Spooner
I love this guy for pretty much the same reason I love The Beast in Beauty and the Beast. He’s tortured, brooding and… beastly. He’s holding Yeva prisoner in his castle. But… then the swoons happen.

10. Joshua Templeman from The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Josh is the enemy. He’s Lucy’s nemesis. They hate each other, and are fighting for their place in the company they both work for. But there’s a very fine line between love and hate, and they don’t seem to know where it is.

Which villains did you highlight this week?

 

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Author Interview With Emily Suvada | This Cruel Design Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted October 22, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 3 Comments

Author Interview With Emily Suvada | This Cruel Design Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Emily Suvada’s This Cruel Design! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour and am delighted to be hosting Emily’s welcome interview here on my blog as well!


Author Interview With Emily Suvada

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your bio says you’re very passionate about STEM subjects. How have your books allowed you to share that passion with your readers?

I’m definitely passionate about STEM subjects. I studied math and science at university and while I don’t work in those fields today, I still read about science constantly and work hard to keep up-to-date with new advancements in those fields. Personally, I think science is exciting, fast-moving, creative, and holds a lot of ways to express yourself. That’s something I wanted to incorporate into my books by using science as a foundation for my world-building as well as a core interest for many of my characters. A lot of books showcase fairly recognizable scientific characters—the cold, clinical and logical person in a lab coat. I definitely have a character like that in my book, but I’ve also got the ambitious, headstrong and reckless scientist in there, as well as the curious, contemplative, idealistic scientist, and even the ground-breaking, unrestrained, and wildly creative scientist, too. There’s so much more to STEM subjects than charts and lab coats – there’s philosophy, ethics, and adventure, and I wanted to showcase all these sides of science through the plot, characters, and world of the Mortal Coil series.

2. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I remember crafting complicated stories about pirates and lush tropical islands in grade school, and being proud when the teacher read one aloud to the class. I’ve always been a voracious reader – I lived right near my town’s library and went there almost every day – and I think that love of books naturally translated into a desire to write them myself. I tried writing short stories and had a few failed starts at tackling a novel while I was at university, but I didn’t really know what genre I wanted to write in. I was trying to craft literary stories but my heart had always been in scifi. It wasn’t until I read Twilight that I truly fell in love with the YA genre and realized it was where I wanted to be. From there, I found my way back to science fiction and discovered a love of thrillers, and This Mortal Coil was the result of merging those three interests – YA, scifi, and thrillers.

3. What have you learned about writing/yourself since your debut?

What a great question! I think the biggest thing I’ve learned since publishing my debut is that I love being an author. Before you’re published, it’s easy to think of being an author as just someone who writes books which magically appear on shelves, and who spends their days inside crafting sentences and characters. That’s definitely part of the job, and it’s a part that I love, but I also really like interacting with readers, I like promoting my books, and I like strategizing about the business aspects of publishing. I love every facet of the role of being an author – and I’ve learned that this truly is what I want to do for the rest of my life!

4. What are some of the best books you’ve read so far this year?

This year has been a great one for books! I read Laini Taylor’s STRANGE THE DREAMER early in the year and was absolutely spellbound and awestruck by it. I’ve got MUSE OF NIGHTMARES and am dying to get into it, too. I also tore my way through the SHADES OF MAGIC series by V.E. Schwab this year, having come to it a little late. I absolutely loved it, and wish desperately there was more of them to read! I’ve also loved a couple of debuts that are coming out next year – WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power and THE LUMINOUS DEAD by Caitlin Starling. Both books totally gripped me – they’re beautifully written and I can’t wait to see them out in the world.

5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

I really like gardening, cooking, and crafts – anything I can do with my hands and create something I can look at and enjoy. I’m fairly active, and try to go for a run or a bike ride a few of times a week, though sometimes I just want to snuggle on the couch with a good book. My husband and I play video games together, too. Right now we’re playing one of the Divinity RPGs and I’m obsessed with crafting :D

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. Describe your book in five words or less.

Fast, twisty, scientific, bold, and exciting. (I’m not counting ‘and’. You can’t make me!)

2. Pitch this series to those who haven’t read This Mortal Coil yet!

If you liked the science and action in Jurassic Park, or the pace and apocalyptic imagery of Mad Max, or if you like the sound of a story about a gene-hacker trying to saving the world from a virus that detonates its victims into plumes of infectious mist, then you should check out This Mortal Coil!

3. The heroine, Cat, is a gene-hacker. What inspired you to write about a character with this unique skill?

I’m so interested in genetics, and genetic engineering. I keep up-to-date with advancements in these fields, and some of the emerging technology is truly groundbreaking. While I think we’re a long way from hacking our DNA on-the-fly, we’re definitely not far from hacking our own genes – in fact people are already trying it in their own homes. As with any emerging tech, I think researchers and corporations are going to do most of the groundbreaking work, but people have a vested interest in their own health and many people are happy to try a supplement or strange treatment if it’s going to give them a shot at being healthier. If you take this adventurous spirit with regards to medicine and combine it with easy access to genetic engineering, I don’t think it’s too outlandish to imagine a world where people are pursuing genetic alterations like we see in This Mortal Coil. Since I expect that we’re going to end up relying on algorithms to edit our DNA, it seemed sensible to combine coding and genetics, and then I created a character with a love of both fields, and Cat was born.

4. What’s your favorite quote from This Cruel Design?

I have two. One quote comes from a point in the story where Cat has been pushed to a limit inside herself and finds a strength there she’s been searching for:

There is not one of me—I am no single voice in the darkness. I am a chorus. A symphony of code and violence, driving a knife into each of their hearts.

The other of my favorite quotes is the last line from Chapter 26, just because I think it’s badass :D

5. Is there a message you hope readers pull from the story?

With the entire series, what I’m hoping for is that readers will be faced with difficult questions that there is no easy answer to. That’s because I don’t think there really are any easy answers when it comes to scientific ethics and development. What’s more important than the answers is the eagerness to consider multiple viewpoints, and to try to keep learning and thinking, and contemplating. Today’s young readers are tomorrow’s scientists, and I hope they come away from these books a little more excited about science, about coding and STEM topics, but also with an understanding that these subjects are likely to radically change the world in the next hundred years, and they will be the ones who determine if it changes for the better, or for the worse.


This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada
Series: This Mortal Coil #2
Published by Simon Pulse on October 30, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Science Fiction, Dystopia
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.


About Emily Suvada

Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

 

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A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan | Book Review

Posted October 19, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 0 Comments

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan | Book ReviewA Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan
Published by Blink on August 14, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling
Pages: 313
Format: Audiobook
Source: Borrowed from Library
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

I’ve always been fascinated by mythology, but I’ve read very few retellings of mythological stories. When I learned of this retelling of the story of King Midas from his daughter’s perspective I was immediately intrigued. In the original story of King Midas, the king is granted one wish from the god of wine, Dionysus. The king wished that everything he touched turned to gold, making him the wealthiest man in the world. Everything is fine at first, but then he tries to eat and can’t because his food turns to gold. His daughter, seeing his dismay, throws her arms around him to console him and turns to gold herself. Obviously the moral of the story is to not be greedy and to value family more than wealth.

A Touch of Gold picks up where the story of King Midas ends, so it’s not exactly a retelling. It’s close, though. In A Touch of Gold, King Midas’s daughter, Kora, survived the touch and is alive and human once again. However, she has suffered permanent side effects. Her skin has a gold sheen to it, and anything she touches turns to gold. She can also sense gold, and it calls to her constantly. This side effect in particular is kept a secret. The King has also suffered long-lasting side effects. He cannot be too far away from the remaining items that he turned to gold himself. They are stored in a room in his palace, but someone breaks in and steals them one night. The king begins to get very sick and slowly deteriorates. In an effort to save his life, Kora goes on a journey by ship to find and return the gold to her father before it gets so far away that he dies. A handsome duke offers to take her on his ship, and the adventure begins.

A Touch of Gold is filled with action, adventure, betrayal, and a bit of romance. I flew through it pretty quickly because it was such an entertaining story. Some other mythological stories and woven into the story of King Midas, and it was very interesting to see how the author chose to do that. I liked the characters, and the twists and turns that they were involved in.

I can definitely see room for a sequel or a companion novel, and I hope that Annie Sullivan writes more mythological stories to expand this world that she has created in A Touch of Gold. Her writing is lovely and flowing, and I really enjoyed my reading experience. I wholeheartedly recommend this story to those interested in mythology and adventures on the high seas. There’s strong characters and just a hint of romance, so I think there’s something in it for everyone.

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The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner | Book Review

Posted October 17, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 7 Comments

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner | Book ReviewThe Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Series: The Queen's Thief #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on December 27, 2005
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 280
Format: Audiobook
Source: Borrowed from Library
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
The king's scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king's prison. The magus is interested only in the thief's abilities.

What Gen is interested in is anyone's guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.

I’ve been hearing great things about Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series for years, but wasn’t ever really interested in The Thief because there’s no romance in it. I must have at least a little romance in my books or I start to go a little nuts! However, I quickly changed my mind when I found out that Steve West narrates these books because I’m basically in love with him. Honestly, his narration was pretty much the only reason I even finished it. I mean, it was ok. I was intrigued enough that I wanted to see how things ended. And I’d heard of an awesome twist that happens in The Thief, so I was curious about that as well. A word to the lovers of this series: don’t make it sound THAT amazing and filled with twists and action because I built it all up so much in my head that I’m not sure anything would have lived up to my anticipation. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. The bulk of this story takes place during a journey toward a mythical treasure. There’s a lot of walking. A LOT of walking and traveling and horseback riding and stopping for camp at night. Things were very uneventful for a long time. 

2. Gen complains a lot. Like, I wanted to slap him upside the head all the time but didn’t because he’s STEVE WEST so I refrained from getting too mad. I mean yes, his life is not so good. He’s been held prisoner and now he’s been let out to go steal a treasure for the magus so the magus can give it to the king and have all the credit and notoriety. That sucks. Gen is a prisoner during the entire journey. That’s not fun at all. But oh my gosh, does he have to be such a whiney baby!?

3. I found the mythology of this world to be rather interesting. While the characters walk and walk, they tell the stories of their belief system. We get to hear about the creation and their system of gods and goddesses. It was interesting for a while, but then I started to grow bored and wanted something else to happen.

4. The twist. As I mentioned before, when people build something up to be so unbelievably amazing and exciting I almost always end up being disappointed. I wish I hadn’t known a twist was coming. Maybe my imagination is just way too big, but I thought up a ton of possible twists that would have been more exciting to me. Yes, it’s a twist. Yes, it did kind of make me double-take and start analyzing everything up to that point to see why I hadn’t thought it up myself. But it was still not as grand as I had hoped. It did make me glad I finished the book, though, so I guess it still worked a little.

All in all, I enjoyed The Thief enough to immediately start The Queen of Attolia. I wanted to know where things would go next, and I wanted to listen to more of Steve West’s swoony voice!! But I ultimately DNFed it after about an hour into the audiobook, so I guess I reached the point where even Steve couldn’t keep me going anymore. And that makes me sad. I can see why people like these books, but I can also tell that they came out before YA fantasy really took off. I’ve just read much better.

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Top Ten Bookstores & Libraries I’d Love to Visit

Posted October 15, 2018 by Jana in About Me, Top Ten Tuesday / 22 Comments

This week I’m sharing my bookstore and library bucket list. There are SO many beautiful buildings that serve as havens for bookworms, and there are so many unique, quaint, and special places that house books. I had so much fun looking for pictures to feature this week. When I start falling down he rabbit hole on something like this, it’s very hard for me to stop. I had a hard time narrowing my list down to only ten places! I’d love to visit these and so many other bookstores and libraries in this world. I wish the USA had more book places that were pretty like these ones are.

Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice, Italy

I wish I’d known about this bookstore when I went to Venice a few years ago, because it sounds wonderful! The name translates to “bookstore of high water”, and it floods each year. To combat the water, which is a book’s worst enemy, the owner stores the books in waterproof bins, buckets, bathtubs, canoes, and gondolas. There are many books and maps of Venice, used and new books, and even some stray cats that have made the store their home. They seem to love people, and I’ve seen pictures of visitors petting them. There’s an outdoor courtyard with a stairway made of old encyclopedias that leads you to beautiful canal views.

Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal

The neo-gothic and art nouveau design elements make this bookstore a must-see for me. It’s so opulent and grand! I love the stained glass ceiling and that huge, sweeping red staircase. Apparently J.K. Rowling did some of her early Harry Potter brainstorming here, and is rumored to have inspired some of her designs of Hogwarts. Very cool!

Libreria El Pendulo in Mexico City, Mexico

This beautiful bookstore is known for looking like the city of Paris, France inside. It’s crammed full of shelves of books and trees and cozy places to sit. It looks like such a fun place to be.

Cook & Book in Brussels, Belgium

The Cook & Book is a bookstore and restaurant! It’s divided up into nine different rooms that each house different kinds of books, and you can choose to eat your meal at a table in any of them. The English books room is decorated like an old British library. There’s also a terrace and a playground for children. I particularly love the ceiling of flying books.

Book Now in Bendigo, Australia

This rare and out of print bookstore looks like a log cabin inside! I love this old nineteenth century building that was once owned by a wine and spirits merchant.

Boekhandel Dominicanen (Polare Maastricht) in Maastricht, The Netherlands

This bookstore is located in an old Medieval Dominican church. I don’t even care what kind of books this store houses, I want to visit this beautiful church!

Klementinum Baroque Library Hall in Prague, Czech Republic

This place is beautiful… “The baroque library was first opened in 1722 as a part of the Jesuit university based in Klementinum. It houses over 20,000 volumes of mostly foreign theological literature, coming into Klementinum from the beginning of the 17th century until recent times. Books with white painted spines and red marks have been in the library since the time of the Jesuits… The interior of the baroque library has remained intact since the 18th century. The hall is decorated with ceiling frescoes by Jan Hiebl depicting allegorical motifs of education, and portraits of Jesuit saints, patrons of the university and prominent representatives of this order.”

The Abbey Bookshop in Paris, France

I’ve been to Shakespeare & Company, which was so much fun, but I didn’t know about this cute little bookstore in the Latin Quarter until I was already home. Just another excuse to go back to Paris someday!

The Bookworm Bookshop in Beijing, China

This is a bookstore, library, bar, and restaurant, but I was sold when I saw these magical ceilings with lights and lanterns. It looks like such a cozy place to go to browse, buy, and borrow books; eat a yummy meal or dessert; and meet authors!

Leakey’s Secondhand Bookshop in Iverness, Scotland

Pictures of this bookstore make me smile. It’s positively charming! Look at the colorful panels walls, that spiral staircase, and the rich wood and cute little railings. I love the upper floor that runs around the perimeter of the store, and that you can find cozy places to sit anywhere. They even have an open log fireplace. Sounds perfect!

Have you been to any of these bookstores and libraries? 
Do we have any of the same ones on our lists?

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The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett | Book Review

Posted October 11, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 8 Comments

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett | Book ReviewThe Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Published by Feiwel and Friends on November 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Depository Add to Goodreads
Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

I’ve become quite the Jenn Bennett fangirl this year (starting with Starry Eyes), so I’d been eager to read her oldest YA title, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, to see where it all began. One thing I really love about Jenn is that she comes up with unique story lines that don’t include the typical cookie cutter characters and the typical tropes and themes. She really thinks outside the box, and I appreciate that so much because I’ve been feeling lately that I’m losing interest in YA contemporary romance. It’s all so similar, and the stories have all been told over and over again. This one is different, though, and in a very wonderful way. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Beatrix (Bex) is a medical artist. Basically, her dream is to draw extremely accurate drawings of bodies for medical publications. Interesting, right? Many teens sneak away at night to go to parties or movies, but Bex sneaks away to the hospital to draw cadavers. She’s doing this in the hopes of winning an art scholarship. I love slightly nerdy, unique heroines because they are so accepting and easy to relate to. Bex was so much fun to read about. She’s determined to get what she wants, and pushes back in the face of opposition.

2. Jack is the absolute cutest. He’s immediately interested in Bex, even though she’s not even interested in giving him the time of day. Puking in the bushes after drawing her first cadaver didn’t even chase him away. This is the kind of guy a girl needs. He’s one of San Francisco’s most wanted criminals, and he’s also the mayor’s son. Interesting, right!? He’s a very talented graffiti artist, and when you find out his motivation behind his art you’ll pretty much melt. He admires Bex’s creativity, and they bond over art, family troubles, and the excitement of being rebellious together. They are just way too cute.

3. There’s a lot of heavy themes in this story, that are nicely balanced by the silliness of two teens falling in love. Bex’s dad walked out on his family for another one. Now she and her mom and older brother live in a small place together. Bex’s room is in the dining room and her brother lives in the cement covered basement. They love each other, but have heir problems. Jack’s family has covered up mental illness to protect his dad’s image, and I love the sensitivity and realness of how mental illness is portrayed. Bex and Jack both struggle with life, and have both had to grow up quicker than many other teens. This made their relationship feel deeper to me. They have some of the best banter!

4. The romance is so sweet. In the very beginning neither of them knew much of anything about the other. Jack didn’t even know Bex’s name at first, and got to know her through her online portfolio. Then he stalked her on social media (in a cute, non-creepy way of course), and started strategically bumping into her. Things simmered for a while and built up to something really great. Their feelings felt so real and genuine to me. I love how relentlessly he pursued her.

All in all, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is a swoony little package of happy. I love this bookish couple, the family dynamics, the unique subject matter, and the feelings. I highly recommend this sweet story to anyone who is looking for a little something different from their contemporary YA.

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The Ten Longest Books I’ve Read

Posted October 8, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 41 Comments

This week you get to brag about the longest books you’ve ever read! This can be by page number, by hours and minutes in the audiobook, by days/weeks/months it took you to read it, etc. You choose how you measure “long”. For me, I’m going by page number! I’m not counting textbooks or religious texts in this list. I’m going strictly by the page numbers, and it’ll show up here even if I didn’t like it because I deserve the credit!!

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Cress by Marissa Meyer

What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?

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Top Ten Authors I’d Love to Meet

Posted October 1, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 17 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! This week we get to gush and flail over the authors we’d love to meet! Did any of you have as hard a time narrowing his list down to ten as I did? I’m not even going to explain why I want to meet these authors, because I started to and it just kept coming out, “I LOVE HER!!” So basically, I love all these authors and their books! I want to hug them and get them to sign my copies of all their books!

1. Tracey Garvis-Graves
2. Sarah J. Maas
3. Sarah Morgan
4. Jenna Evans Welch
5. Stephanie Perkins
6. Jenn Bennett
7. Jodi Meadows
8. Tessa Dare
9. Kerri Maniscalco
10. Stephenie Meyer

Have you met any of these authors? Tell me about it!!
Which authors would you love to meet?

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Author Interview with Jessica Brody | The Geography of Lost Things Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Posted October 1, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 4 Comments

Author Interview with Jessica Brody | The Geography of Lost Things Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Jessica Brody’s The Geography of Lost Things! As one of the brand new co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour (creating the tour banner was especially fun!) and am delighted to be hosting Jessica’s welcome interview here on my blog as well!


Author Interview with Jessica Brody

Jana: Hi Jessica! I’m so excited to welcome you to my blog today to kick-start the The Geography of Lost Things blog tour!

Jessica: Thanks for hosting me on the tour! It’s been a blast!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your bio says you knew you wanted to be a writer from a very young age. What advice would you like to give younger Jessica about life as an author?

Haha. I think I would tell her that inspiration is not a daily occurrence. So many young writers (myself included!) believe that writing is a magical job where you wake up every day feeling inspired and motivated to write. Not. So. Most of my life as a writer is forcing myself to sit down and write even when I’m not inspired. Inspiration is great when it comes but you can’t always rely on it or you’ll never finish anything. I like to say, “Inspiration gets you started. Discipline gets you finished.” So, heed my advice, 7-year-old Jessica! Your writing life isn’t going to be as easy and carefree as it was when you wrote “The Puppy and the Kitty.”

2. You’ve written books in multiple genres, spanning middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction. Which genre(s) is/are the most fun for you to write?

I always say my favorite genre to write is the genre I’m not currently writing. LOL! It’s a classic case of the grass is always greener. When I’m writing a complicated sci-fi epic with futuristic weapons and life or death battles, all I want to do is write a nice, cozy contemporary romance. When I’m writing a nice, cozy, contemporary romance with all sorts of complicated feelings and emotional stakes, all I want to do is write a fun, middle grade comedy where the characters are too young to feel those complicated teen emotions. And round and round it goes! Every story in every genre has its own set of challenges.

3. Which of your books do you see the most of yourself in?

I find a little of myself in all of my novels. I think my characters and I end up sharing a lot of the same fears, insecurities, and shortcomings. For instance, all of my characters, in some way, experience a life lesson of “acceptance.” Accepting things you can’t change, accepting things you have little control over, accepting that sometimes things happen differently than you expected them to. It’s not a coincidence. I’m dealing with that “life lesson” every single day.

4. What’s been your favorite read so far this year?

OOH! The toughest question of them all! I’ll have to go with The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. It’s been on my TBR list for years and I finally got around to it this summer. It’s just magnificent. Beautiful, poetic, charming, uplifting. The kind of book that makes you want to run around hugging strangers. (Just me? Okay, moving on.)

5. What are you up to when you’re not writing?

Mostly, hanging out with my doggies. I have three dogs at home—a golden retriever, a great pyrenees, and a chihuahua—and they are my life. I try to spend as much time with them as I can because I always feel like I’m neglecting them when I’m neck deep in a manuscript.

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. Describe your book in 5 words or less.

Road trip with an ex.

Yikes!

2. What’s your most prized possession?

Each and every one of my books. I’m so proud of all 17 of them! Yes, they’re all different and some gave me more grief than others but I still love them equally. I’ve heard some authors describe their books as their “babies” and it really is true. With every single one you feel like you birthed something into the world.

3. Do you collect any seemingly insignificant objects?

Coffee mugs! I buy one for every book I write and it becomes my “scared totem” for that book. Which is just like me, to have a sacred totem that is completely functional. Because, hey, I need to drink my coffee out of something!

4. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

That not everything is what it seems. People can surprise you. And rarely do you ever know or understand the full story. In short, don’t be so quick to judge. When you let people in, they can surprise the crap out of you.

5. Do you have any fun road trip experiences of your own that you’d like to share?

Fun? Well, this one might be a little more scary, but it ends well. One summer, my mom and I were driving my car home from college on the east coast, and we ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. There was no cell phone reception so we couldn’t call for help. We were completely stranded. Soon, a massive 18-wheeler truck pulled up behind us and a man got out. I could tell my mom was terrified but trying to hold it together for me. The driver asked if we needed help. When we told him we’d run out of gas, he offered to drive us to the nearest gas station to get gas. My mom, being the amazing super woman that she is, said very politely and kindly, “I very much appreciate the offer that but I honestly wouldn’t feel comfortable getting in the car with someone I don’t know.”

The guy could have easily left us stranded. But he didn’t. He smiled and said, “I totally get it. I have sisters and I wouldn’t want them getting into a truck with a strange man either. I’ll go get the gas for you.” He drove off and we were pretty convinced he wasn’t coming back. But then, 30 minutes alter, he pulled up behind us again. This time, he had a gas can full of gas for us. Funny, how I’ve been writing about the “kindness of strangers” for most of my adult life.


The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody
Published by Simon Pulse on October 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Contemporary, Romance
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

In this romantic road trip story perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson, a teen girl discovers the value of ordinary objects while learning to forgive her absent father.

After Ali’s father passes away, he leaves his one and only prized possession—a 1968 Firebird convertible—to his daughter. But Ali doesn’t plan on keeping it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father’s unfulfilled promises. So when she finds a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast willing to pay enough money for the car to save her childhood home, Ali can’t wait to get going. Except Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But guess who does?

Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Nico. And Nico has other plans.

He persuades Ali that instead of selling the car, they should “trade up” the items they collect on their trip to eventually reach the monetary amount Ali needs. Agreeing with Nico’s crazy plan, Ali sets off on a unique adventure that is unlike anything she ever could have expected.

And it’s through Ali’s travels, through the strangers she meets and the things that they value—and why they value them—that Ali eventually comes to understand her father and how his life may not have been as easy and carefree as she previously thought. Because just like the seemingly insignificant objects Ali collects, not everything is exactly as it appears.


About Jessica Brody

Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples, and electrical tape.

After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author.

Since then, Jessica has sold over fifteen novels for teens, tweens, and adults…

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