The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang | Mini Book Review

Posted January 10, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 9 Comments

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang | Mini Book ReviewThe Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Published by Berkley on June 5, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
1.5 Stars
A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

I had been so SO excited to read this book when I’d heard people compare it to The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I went into it very excited for a similar, swoony, romantic story and it just didn’t work for me at all. I’m leaving my very tiny review here to inform my readers of my overall thoughts, but I wasn’t in the mood to go into more detail than this.

Things started out great and I loved the characters (I still just adore Michael in particular), but things changed for me at about 50% when the story shifted to a very strong focus on sex. I did not enjoy the countless numbers of graphic scenes. I don’t mind sex scenes at all, but these went on and on and were described in way more detail than I was comfortable reading. I started skimming past them to try and find more actual story, but there wasn’t much else that I could find. By about 86% I got to see how everything ended for each of these characters, and I did love that. The ending was sweet and deeper than the bulk of the book. I’m glad I read the end, and wish that there had been more substance throughout the middle.

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Top Ten Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2019

Posted January 7, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 36 Comments

I don’t know about you, but 2019 is shaping up to look like a great year of books for me! I guess I say that every year, and it’s really bad for my TBR, but oh well! Here’s a list of the ten I’m most excited about that are releasing through June of this year.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne (January 29, 2019)

I LOVED The Hating Game, and I cannot wait to read this next book by Sally Thorne! I received an ARC for this one, and I think I’m going to start it as soon as I finish my current read.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (January 29, 2019)

Nikolai is probably my favorite character from the Grisha trilogy, and I’m so excited that he’s getting his own duology now!

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West (February 5, 2019)

Kasie West writes some of the cutest YA contemporary romance, and even though I don’t love Hollywood/actor/famous people romances I’m hoping Kasie does me proud on this one!

Field Notes On Love by Jennifer E. Smith (March 5, 2019)

I was slightly iffy on this one because Jennifer E. Smith is kind of hit or miss for me, but a few things about the synopsis signed the deal for me. 1. College train trip across the United States. This sounds so fun!! 2. The companion ticket is booked in his ex-girlfriend’s name, so he lists the ticket online looking for other girls named Margaret to go on this trip with him. Sounds like such a fun unique premise!

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner (March 19, 2019)

I love Meagan Spooner’s writing, and a female Robin Hood sounds very interesting to me. The clincher, though, was when I found out the audiobook is narrated by Fiona Hardingham (one of my favorite narrators). I pre-ordered it immediately at that point!

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves (April 2, 2019)

I actually got a VERY early review copy of this book last April because I was Tracey’s subject matter expert for the book, but it is AMAZING you guys! It’s so, so good. I cannot wait to own a finished copy for my personal library, but I also can’t wait to see what the world thinks of a book I’ve loved for a long time!


Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett (April 16, 2019)

I’m reading this one right now, and it’s so wonderful so far! I love Jenn’s contemporary romances because they are always so unique and have the best swoony boys! I love the diner in Serious Moonlight, and Birdie’s hilarious Aunt Mona is perfect. I love the slight mystery aspect and swoony Daniel. Do yourself a favor and pre-order this one!

The Unhonymooners by Christina Lauren (May 14, 2019)

There’s no cover for this one yet, but I might be unreasonably excited about The Unhoneymooners. It sounds like it was written for me. And it doesn’t help that I love everything these two ladies write. Two enemies are the only survivors of a wedding food poisoning debacle and end up going on the honeymoon together because someone has to! This just sounds like it’s going to be amazing.


The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (May 28, 2019)

Listen. This book is about two strangers sharing an apartment. “Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.” They develop a friendship by communicating through notes they leave around the apartment for each other!!! When does a friendship ever not turn into more than a friendship? This sounds GOLDEN.

The Beholder by Anna Bright (June 4, 2019)

The Beholder has been pitched as The Odyssey mets Cinderella or Once Upon a Time meets The Bachelorette. Color me intrigued. Selah must cross the Atlantic to find a suitor or just never bother coming home. “From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime.”

Which books are you looking forward to over the next few months?
Do we have any picks in common?

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Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton | Pretty In Punxsutawney Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Posted January 7, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 4 Comments

Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton | Pretty In Punxsutawney Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Laurie Boyle Crompton’s Pretty in Punxsutawney! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour and interviewing Laurie!


Author Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton

About the Author

1. Your bio mentions that you taught in an all-boy high school. Did you take anything away from that experience that helped you as a writer of YA fiction?

I learned that high school boys are just as awkward and nervous about growing up as high school girls are. Some of them take things like grades too seriously, and some of them really need to wake up and start caring a little bit about things like grades! Mostly I found that if you can make them laugh you can gain their trust, and when they open up they can come up with some amazing insights. I also learned that you should maybe not ever let your guard all the way down since some of them are expert spit-ball shooters and I *may* have gotten hit in the face once and had to go out in the hallway to give myself a little pep talk that I could *do this.* It’s probably for the best that I switched my focus to writing that first summer I had off. From there I moved on to working in a bookstore where even the most irate customers were much easier to deal with than teenage boys will ever be.

2. Your bio also states that you worked as a “toy expert”. What did that entail?

Working as a toy expert for a toy magazine was one of my favorite jobs and I highly recommend it! My office was lined with bookshelves filled with kids’ books and games and companies would constantly send us their newest toys. Probably the very best part? Spending a week every year at Toy Fair! That’s the trade show in NYC with all the latest toys, games and books all in one place. As a trade writer, my JOB was to explore the exhibits and find the most fun and innovative inventions and basically just play! It’s almost (but not quite) as much fun as writing fiction.

3. You’ve lived in many different places. Which has been your favorite one?

I grew up in western PA, but we had family in New York who we’d travel to visit a few times every year. As soon as I turned eighteen I moved to Queens, NY and it feels the most like home to me. My husband and I have lived in Florida and England, but always find our way back to New York and there’s something about being in NYC that makes me feel I’m in the center of the universe. That may sound silly, but from what I understand, it also kind of makes me an official New Yorker.

4. What are some of your favorite YA books?

I grew up reading Judy Blume so will always have a soft spot in my heart for books like Blubber and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I have eclectic taste, so I’m happy reading everything from John Green to A. S. King to Elizabeth Acevedo to Rupi Kaur. One of the cool parts of becoming a YA author is that I sometimes get to meet and hang out with awesome authors such as Jess Verdi, Stewart Lewis, Shana Silver and Patty Blount. YA authors are truly some of the nicest and most generous and creative people you’d ever want to meet and I consider myself so lucky to be among them.

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

I love spending time with my family, including our three dogs who I call the pup-turducken since they can each stand over one another in small/medium/large size order. When I’m not writing, I can usually be found on a train or subway heading to television sets where I work part time as an extra, (and sometimes spend hours writing while waiting in holding!). I also love hiking and cross-country skiing through nature upstate. My default-downtime-setting is hanging out on the couch in our home on Long Island, either reading or sometimes drawing with Hulu or Netflix constantly checking in to see if I’m still alive.

About the Book

1. Pretty in Punxsutawney tips its hat to several popular movies from the 1980s. Was it challenging for you to incorporate these movies in to your book in a way that appealed to today’s teens?

Incorporating the teen movies from the 1980s was so much fun! Certain aspects of the films certainly feel dated, but the core emotions are still relevant to teens today. Plus, re-watching those classics was so much fun! It hard to imagine The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off happening today because it’s easy to picture kids sitting in the school library just playing on their phones through detention, or Ferris and Cameron playing Fortnite all day. But teens today wrestle with many of the same issues and insecurities as teens back in the days of neon slouch socks and John Hughes movies, and adolescence will always have certain universal challenges that it feels good to relate to.

2. Pitch your book to teens that have not seen Pretty in Pink or Groundhog Day, and therefore don’t necessarily understand the book’s back cover summary.

Pretty in Punxsutawney’s Andie is obsessed with 80s movies, but readers don’t need to be familiar with 80s movies to come along for the ride! Andie is just like any other girl, really, who happens to find herself looping through the same day over and over. It just so happens that the day she keeps reliving is her very first day at a brand new high school! Andie’s opportunity to re-invent herself is never-ending as she learns from her mistakes. The Pretty in Pink themes of breaking down cliques and ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ are pretty common and universal and certainly don’t require watching the movie, but then again, the movie is streaming on Netflix right now and stars Molly Ringwald and so what are you waiting for?

3. If you could relive any day in your life over and over again, which day would that be? Why?

Actually, repeating just an ordinary day with my family would be perfect. My wedding day was great but also super stressful and even the day I sold my first book was exciting but nerve wracking since I knew right when they were having the acquisitions meeting. Of course, I was thrilled with the outcome, but can’t imagine going through all that stress over and over again. I’d be happy with just a nice, lazy day with my loved ones and dogs all around me. It sounds boring I know, but those are my favorite days and since I live near NYC I could always spend a few years exploring the city and still have more new things to experience.

4. If you wrote yourself into this book, what kind of character would you play?

I’d love to envision myself as a wise teacher character who distributes perfect words of wisdom and encouragement, but please note aforementioned experience as an actual teacher. I’d most likely be the teacher that kids all manipulated into canceling quizzes and extending essay deadlines to the point where I’d get fired. And honestly feel relieved.

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

We should all strive to make the most of each day we are given. Andie’s attitude and actions completely changed the type of day she had. We may not be in control of everything that happens to us today, but with the right attitude we can make it the best day possible!

That’s why we’ve been using the hashtag #todayiswhatyoumakeit

Here’s to making each day the best we possibly can!


Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton
Published by BLINK on January 15, 2019
Genres: Young Adult — Contemporary, Romance
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

A Groundhog Day meets Pretty in Pink mashup from author Laurie Boyle Crompton, Pretty in Punxsutawney tells the tale of a girl willing to look beneath the surface to see people for who they really are.

Andie is the type of girl who always comes up with the perfect thing to say…after it’s too late to say it. She’s addicted to romance movies—okay, all movies—but has yet to experience her first kiss. After a move to Punxsutawney, PA, for her senior year, she gets caught in an endless loop of her first day at her new school, reliving those 24 hours again and again.

Convinced the curse will be broken when she meets her true love, Andie embarks on a mission: infiltrating the various cliques to find the one boy who can break the spell. What she discovers along the way is that people who seem completely different can often share the very same hopes, dreams, and hang-ups. And that even a day that has been lived over and over can be filled with unexpected connections and plenty of happy endings.


About Laurie Boyle Crompton

Laurie Boyle Crompton is the YA author of the upcoming PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY (Blink/HarperCollins 2019) as well as ADRENALINE CRUSH (Macmillan/2014, Square Fish/2016), BLAZE (or Love in the Time of Supervillains), THE REAL PROM QUEENS OF WESTFIELD HIGH and LOVE AND VANDALISM (Sourcebooks/2013, 2014, 2017). Growing up in ‘Pennsyltucky’ in the 1980s, Laurie couldn’t wait to escape rural life. After saving up her tips from waitressing at a local greasy spoon at 18 she packed up her acid wash jeans and moved to NY. Where everyone else had stopped wearing acid wash.

She graduated first in her class from St. John’s University with a BA in English and Journalism. Since then she’s written for national magazines like ALLURE, survived a teaching stint at an all-boy high school, and appeared on Good Day New York several times as a Toy Expert. And yes, ‘toy expert’ is an actual profession. Really.

She has lived in places like Orlando, Florida where she and her husband spent all of their spare time and money visiting theme parks before moving to the Cotswolds in England for six months, which was every bit as cool as that sounds. The Cromptons are now back in New York where their two children resent never going to Disney.

Laurie occasionally enjoys hanging out in fields of blooming flowers and also referring to herself in the third person.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier | Book Review

Posted January 4, 2019 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier | Book ReviewA Tale of Beauty and Beast on November 26, 2017
Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 295
Format: Audiobook
Source: Christmas Present
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Lily has managed to save the duchy of Marin, with the help of her twin, Sophie. But now Sophie faces an even greater threat. Can she save the cursed kingdom of Palinor from its beastly prince?

I love Beauty and the Beast retellings, and after really loving the first book in this series I was even more excited to get to this one because I knew it would be amazing. Be careful reading any further, as this review will spoil who won the Princess Tourney in A Dance of Silver and Shadow!

The Princess Tourney is over and, as its winner, Sophie sets off on a curious and magical journey to Palinor to meet her betrothed: the beast (aka Prince Dominic). Since she’s the narrator this time, readers get to finally know Sophie better. I really liked her, and I felt I identified more with her than I did with Lily in the first book. Sophie arrives at the castle after a long journey in a carriage driven by an invisible force through a wintry wilderness, and finds it to be empty of people even though it looks taken care of. After some exploring she begins hearing voices of people she cannot see. She calls out to them, startling a whole staff of people who work there. They were not expecting her to be able to hear them. Dominic is not invisible, but he cannot speak to her and communicates through abrasive notes. It’s pretty obvious the kingdom has been placed under a curse and, of course, Sophie is going to try to break it and save the people she’s begun to form strong bonds with. The romance also begins to blossom and thrive as time goes on and we learn more about our tortured beast.

There are numerous ties to the original tale of Beauty & the Beast, as well as the Disney version. Melanie Cellier does find unique ways to make the story her own, however. Lily is still a part of the story, although the kingdom is quite isolated. I loved the secondary characters (the wait staff), and their interactions with Sophie. They look out for their master even though he’s kind of a jerk, but they also validate Sophie’s concerns and sympathize with her plight. I loved the relationships she formed with them. I really loved Melanie’s writing, too. Really my only complaint is that the female narrator did a pretty awful job portraying Prince Dominic’s voice. I felt the same with her portrayal of the male characters in the first book, too.

All in all, this was a very nice retelling of Beauty & the Beast! I love the writing, and I enjoy listening to these books even though the narrator bugs me a bit at times. I’m excited to read more from Melanie.

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Top Ten Books I Read In 2018

Posted January 1, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 31 Comments

Happy New Year, bookworms! I’ve decided 2019 is going to be my year, and I’m so happy to say goodbye to 2018. BUT… I did read some great books in 2018 and here they are!

I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Save the Date by Morgan Matson
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

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2018 End of Year Book Survey

Posted December 27, 2018 by Jana in About Me / 8 Comments

I love doing Jamie’s End of Year Book Survey every year! It helps me look back and remember all the wonderful (and terrible) books I’ve read throughout the year!

2018 Reading Stats

Number of books you read: 40
Number of re-reads: 1
Most read genre: Adult contemporary romance (I read 10 of them).

Best In Books

1. Best books you read in 2018:
New Adult Contemporary Romance: I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill
Young Adult Contemporary Romance: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett and Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Fantasy: A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t:
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. I didn’t love it at all, which was really sad for me.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read:
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch really surprised me because it made me fall in love with YA contemporary again after thinking I had grown too old for it.

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did):
Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

5. Best series you started in 2018. Best sequel of 2018. Best series ender of 2018.
Started: Beyond the Four Kingdoms series by Melanie Cellier
Sequel: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron
Ender: I didn’t finish any series this year.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018:
Ellie Cahill and Christina Lauren.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone:
I tend to not enjoy women’s fiction at all, but I made an allowance for Tracey Garvis Graves’s The Girl He Used to Know and I loved it!

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron. The audio was fantastic!

9. Book you read in 2018 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018:
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan.

11. Most memorable character of 2018:
Beckett of I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018:
A Dance of Silver and Shadow by Melanie Cellier.

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2018:
This year wasn’t filled with insanely amazing books for me, but I’ll forever be grateful to Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch for making me love YA contemporary again.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read:
The Thief by MEgan Whalen Turner. I’d been wanting to for so long, and I finally did!

15. Favorite quote from a book you read in 2018:
“When I looked up at the stars, I saw us. You were the stars and I was the dark sky behind you”
“Without dark sky you couldn’t see the stars”
“I knew I was useful” he says
“You’re essential”
Jenn Bennett, Starry Eyes

16. Shortest and longest books you read in 2018:
Shortest: A Kiss In the Snow by Susan Mallery, 57 pages.
Longest: The Book of Mormon, 531 pages.

17. Book that shocked you the most:
Everless by Sara Holland made me so unbelievably mad, which really shocked me.

18. OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship!):
YA: Zorie and Lennon from Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
New Adult: Emmy and Beckett from I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill
Adult: Josh and Hazel from Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year:
The twin sister bond between princesses Lily and Sophie in A Dance of Silver and Shadow by Melanie Cellier.

20. Favorite book you read in 2018 from an author you’ve read previously:
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

21. Best book you read in 2018 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else:
Roomies by Christina Lauren

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018:
Beckett from I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill

23. Best 2018 debut you read:
YA: A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan.

24. Most vivid setting you read this year:
The setting for the Princess Tourney in A Dance of Silver and Shadow by Melanie Cellier.

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read:
I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahillhad me giddy.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2018:
I do my best to avoid crying with books, and I succeeded this year!

27. Hidden gem of the year:
A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan.

28. Book that crushed your soul:
Well, just because I hated it… Everless by Sara Holland

29. Most unique book you read in 2018:
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron was an awesome steampunk with minimal romantic intrigue, so it was unique for me!

30. Book that made you the maddest (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it):
Everless by Sara Holland almost made me throw the book in rage.

My Blogging/Bookish Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2018:
*hides face in shame* I never ventured out of my safe place.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2018:
I really don’t feel strongly about any of my reviews…

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog:
This was the year I took over Top Ten Tuesday when we at The Broke & the Bookish shut down, so I’d say I’m the most proud of what I’ve done with the meme. We’ve had some really fun discussions on all of those posts!

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.):
I went to the Utah Reader’s Luncheon in October, which was a lot of fun.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018:
I got to read the book I was a “content expert” for, and saw my little tidbits of information make it into the story. That was absolutely surreal for me!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year:
I’ve been in a major reading slump for a long time, so finding books I love has been very hard. I’ve watched a lot more Netlfix because of it. lol.

7. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views):
Comments: Top Ten Books My Mom Loves (80)

8. Post you wished got a little more love:
All my reviews, pretty much. lol

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.):
I’m in a rut, guys.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year:
I completed my Goodreads goal of reading 40 books.
I posted more posts to my blog this year than last year.

Looking Ahead

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2018 but will be your number 1 priority in 2019:
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.

2. Book you are most anticipating in 2019 (non-debut):
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

3. 2019 debut you are most anticipating:
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

4. Sequel you are most anticipating in 2019:
I’ve been shying away from series a lot over the last couple of years, so I honestly can’t think of any (although I know there must be some)!

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2019?
Get out of this reading slump and really love everything I read. I need to DNF more!

Did you participate in Jamie’s End of the Year Book Survey this year?
If so, post a link in the comments so I can come visit!
If not, pick a few of her questions and answer in the comments!

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Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brought Last Night

Posted December 24, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 9 Comments

Merry Christmas!! I wish you the very best day with those you love. I hope there’s good food, yummy books, hot chocolate, cookies, fuzzy blankets, snow, music, lights… you get the picture. I wish you all my favorite things about Christmas.

Today’s topic is easy so we can get back to family time ASAP. What books do you hope Santa brought you last night? Or… what books DID he bring you? Or… what books do you plan to spend your gift cards on?? Does anyone else find gift cards stressful? It’s so much easier to be handed a book than it is to be given money to buy one. The pressure is too intense for me! Anyway, let’s fill up our TBRs with everyone else’s wished for books today!

Moonlight Sins by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Moonlight Seduction by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West
The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare
Say You’re Sorry by Melinda Leigh
The Out of Office Girl by Nicola Doherty
Mister Romance by Leisa Rayven
Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Save the Date by Carrie Aarons

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How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, & Joanna Shupe | Book Review

Posted December 24, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, & Joanna Shupe | Book ReviewHow the Dukes Stole Christmas by Joanna Shupe, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Tessa Dare
Published by Avon on October 15, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 392
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
Christmas magic is in the air... From the ballrooms of London, to abandoned Scottish castles, to the snowy streets of Gilded Age New York, four bestselling authors whip up some unforgettable romance...with a little help from some enchanted shortbread.

"Meet Me in Mayfair" by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball tonight, the horrid, heartless Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their beloved Mayfair home. But when her friend begs to switch dance cards, Louisa finds herself waltzing with the enemy: the horrid, heartless--and unexpectedly handsome--Thorndale himself. Now the duke's holding her future in his hands...and he's not letting go.

"The Duke of Christmas Present" by Sarah MacLean
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd, has no time for holidays. Holidays are for whimsy and charm--the only two things his money cannot buy. Lady Jacqueline Mosby is full of both, even now, twelve years after she left to see the world. When Jacqueline returns for a single Christmas, Eben can't resist the woman he never stopped loving...or the future that had once been in reach. It will take a miracle to convince her to stay...but if ever there were a time for miracles, it's Christmas...

"Heiress Alone" by Sophie Jordan
When Annis Bannister's family leaves her behind in the rush to escape an impending snowstorm, she finds herself stranded in the Highlands, left to fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside, robbing homes locked up for winter. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a look, then a kiss ... until she fears the danger to her heart outweighs the danger of brigands and snowstorms.

"Christmas in Central Park" by Joanna Shupe
Women all over America devour Mrs. Walker's weekly column for recipes and advice. No one knows Rose, the column's author, can't even boil water. When the paper's owner, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must scramble to find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Duke is not a man easily fooled and she fears her perfect plan is failing--especially when Duke's attentions make her feel anything but professional. To save her career will she give up her chance at love?

I actually picked this up because I love Tessa Dare so much and make sure I read everything she writes. I’ve also been interested in Sarah MacLean, though, and have enjoyed Sophie Jordan’s YA books so I had a feeling this was going to be good! I really love historical romance, and when Christmas is thrown into the mix it’s even better. This was a wonderful set of novellas that I really loved for the most part!

My thoughts on “Meet Me In Mayfair” by Tessa Dare:
This was a very fun story about a girl trying to save her beloved home from the duke who is planning to take it away from her. I liked the chemistry between Louisa and the Duke of Thorndale. There was also a TOn of Christmas in this. They spend an entire night exploring the town of Mayfair in the snow getting to know one another and falling in love. It’s very sweet and the snow made it so magical. The writing was great, and I loved the banter between the characters that I’ve come to expect from Tessa Dare.

My thoughts on “The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean:
This was my first story written by Sarah McLean! Jacqueline and Eben have quite the history, and she’s back home for Christmas after twelve years of being gone. I really loved the flashback scenes interspersed throughout the present day scenes, and I thought the author did a wonderful job of really developing the story despite its short length. I felt like I got a fully fleshed out novel with the backstory, the baggage that each of the characters carry, and all the feelings and emotions as they figure out their past and their future. Eben is very tender, and Jacqueline is very weary. The story was filled with Christmas spirit, and quite a bit of steam as well! It was very fun to read.

My thoughts on “Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan:
This one was a bit rocky for me because I didn’t love the Scottish-style dialogue of some of the characters. I love books that are set in the Highlands, but I honestly could not figure out what was being said at times without actually reading parts out loud. It took some getting used to. And what family accidentally leaves a member behind!? And then there’s this plot line that deals with magical/bewitched shortbread… it was kinda weird. I didn’t really like the love story or the main characters. I liked the service staff, but the main couple was meh. I did love the castle setting and the added mystery with the scary brigands!

My thoughts on “Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe:
This was my least favorite of the novellas in the book, and I found it hard to get through. I liked the less commonly seen setting (New York City) and the idea of the story, but something was missing for me and I’m not sure what it was. I did have a problem with the dialogue. A character will slip from perfectly proper word choices and not using any contractions to sounding like a character from modern time partway through a paragraph. Characters would go from sounding like an overly proper robot to a silly teen outside the movie theater in the blink of an eye. It just didn’t work for me, and kept undermining my efforts to try and convince myself this was a historical romance. I also didn’t feel that this story particularly complimented the other stories, which felt more traditional and historical than this one. Oh well. You can’t win them all! I did like the Christmas party!

All in all, I really loved Tessa Dare’s novella, am excited to read more from Sarah MacLean, think it’s worth looking into more of Sophie Jordan’s adult books, and might possibly try another Joanna Shupe because she deserves a second chance. I love the Christmassy feels from all of them, some were just better than others.

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Tracey Garvis Graves’s Christmas Traditions | Author Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

Posted December 23, 2018 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 3 Comments

It’s no secret among my friends and family that fall is my all-time favorite season. There’s just so much to love about it: the cooler temperatures, the vivid colors of the falling autumn leaves, pumpkin spice everything, and my favorite cardigan sweaters and boots. But those who know me well also know that winter is my second-favorite season, and there are so many things I enjoy about that time of year, especially the holidays.

I have always loved Christmastime and when I was a child my fervent wish was that every Christmas would be a white one. Living in Iowa, you’d think it was a given that the ground would be covered in snow, but that was not always the case. Now, as an adult, I still wish for a white Christmas and watch the weather forecast closely in the days leading up to Christmas Eve.

In my family, Christmas Eve was always the night we celebrated the most. We hosted a family gathering and then spent Christmas Day in a more leisurely, look-what-Santa-brought-eating-leftovers kind of way. About seven or eight years ago, I took over the hosting of our family on Christmas Eve. My dad and stepmom still host Thanksgiving and Easter at their house, but Christmas Eve is all mine. It felt like a right of passage and it made my favorite holiday even more special to me.

We have traditions that we’ve been following since I started hosting and I have no desire to change them anytime soon. Around Thanksgiving, I start baking the cookies I’ll want on hand for the holiday season. I always make gingersnaps, chocolate crinkles, peanut butter blossoms, sugar cookie cutouts, and some sort of almond bark-covered truffle. I put them in the freezer and on Christmas Eve morning, I pull out the ones I’ve been saving for our holiday celebration and arrange them on my Christmas platters.

Our dinner menu features a surf and turf double entrée. My dad always makes his prime rib and I’m in charge of the seafood. One of the things I love about our menu is that we all cook together at my house. Dad brings the beef and I’m in charge of preparing the king crab legs. I make sure to have appetizers on hand when my siblings and their families arrive so no one goes hungry while we’re putting the main meal together. We often round out the meal with a potato casserole of some kind, a vegetable such as asparagus, and a heaping basket of garlic bread.

I always set the dining room table on the morning of Christmas Eve. I have special green chargers to go under the dinner plates, cloth napkins, reindeer napkin rings, amber water goblets, and candles everywhere. Right before we eat, I often find myself standing in the dining room with the lights down low, basking in the candlelight and enjoying how pretty everything looks.

Once dinner is over, we move to the family room where we let the kids open their gifts one at a time. Once they’re done, we send them to the basement to hang out while the adults take turns opening their gifts. And when the gifts are all opened and the room is a sea of wrapping paper and bows, we make coffee and dig into those cookie platters! It’s a wonderful way to end the evening and I look forward to it every year.

I’m already looking ahead to December, and I might even have a to-do list started. Now bring on the snow. I’m already pining for that white Christmas.

Merry Christmas Giveaway from Tracey Garvis Graves!

Your choice of a copy of On the Island (her debut) or The Girl He Used to Know (her upcoming 2019 release). Such a hard decision because they are both SO GOOD!
This giveaway is open internationally.

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
Published by Penguin on August 16, 2012
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Romance, Survival
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When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn’t bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family – and a stack of overdue assignments — instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.

Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Publishing by St. Martin’s Press on April 2, 2019
Genres: Adult/Womens Fiction – Romance, Contemporary
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Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

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The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer | Book Review

Posted December 22, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer | Book ReviewThe Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer
Published by Laurel Leaf on October 11, 2005
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought on Amazon Marketplace
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
I’m Kate Bjorkman. I don’t like romance novels. They’re full of three-paragraph kisses describing people’s tongues and spittle. But what do you do if you’ve lived a real romance with a great-looking guy (Richard) and he loves you as much as you love him? I know what I did. I wrote this romance novel about myself, using the Romance Writer’s Phrase Book. I also used stuff my English teacher taught me about writing. He said a story must have conflict. No problem there. My life was one big conflict last Christmas. I didn’t make anything up. This is the honest truth and I want truth even in romance. I’m betting you’ll want the same.

This book review was originally posted here on 12/3/12, but the book is absolutely adorable and so underrated that I had to share my review again! It’s everything I look for in a cozy Christmas read. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Kate Bjorkman, aka Boo, is the author and narrator of this book, and she is hilarious. We’ve got a story within a story, as we read both about Kate’s experiences as well as her writing process. Kate’s a bit of an ugly duckling, with coke bottle glasses and boots with fruit on them and stubbly legs. Plus, she’s 6 feet tall and not the smoothest talker out there. It’s Christmastime, and her brother, sister-in-law, her brother’s best friend, and a girl named Fleur all come home from college to celebrate with the positively perfect Bjorkman family. Of course, she has had a crush on her brother’s best friend, Richard, and spends the bulk of the book hopelessly pining after him. Her inner dialogue and her antics had me giggling with delight. 

2. Every so often, we get to a point in the book where we can read Kate’s revision notes. In these notes, she either talks about how she hates what she just wrote, how she needs to add or take away experiences she talked about, or her frustrations as an author trying to come up with the right words and presentation. I really loved this portion of the book, because we get to learn a lot about Kate here.

3. I loved every character in this book, and that rarely happens. Richard is adorable. Fleur is the kind of person you want to hate because she’s absolutely perfect, but can’t hate because she’s absolutely perfect. You know what I mean? I love her bother and sister-in-law and their cute newlywed spats and romance. Her parents are awesome.

4. This book is so witty! I loved the funny things the characters said to each other, plus reading Kate make fun of romance novels was great. The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book, which she quotes a lot is just amazingly hilarious. I wish this book really existed! Rather than having real chapter headings (Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.), Kate wrote things like, “I really love those awesome 3-paragraph kisses in romance novels, and Chapter 4 is where mine happens.” That’s not a direct quote, but you get the idea.

5. I loved the wonderful word choices and love of language that the author exhibited in this book. It’s young adult, of course, but I had to pull out a dictionary to define some of the words! I loved that!

6. This book is dated. 90’s references are everywhere. Embrace them, because they are stupendous.

7. CHRISTMAS! This book is so sparkly and Christmasy, and perfect. 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. I am so in the mood for Christmas right now.

Rather than continuing with my review, I thought I could explain my love of this book best just by giving you a taste of it for yourself. It’s wonderful, a new favorite, and I will be recommending this to everyone. I don’t re-read books, but this one deserves it. Anyway, read the quotes!

Richard Bradshaw filled the doorway.

Okay, a flourish of trumpets here. The hero has arrived. And because he was my hero long before I began writing this novel, ever since I can remember, in fact, my face grew hot.  He was four years older now, of course, and shorter than I remembered, but I wasn’t six feet tall four years ago either.  His eyes – I need the help of The Romance Writers Phrasebook Guide to describe those eyes:

–unfathomable in their murky depths? 
No!
–shades of amber and green?
 Maybe.
–dark gray-green-flecked eyes?
 I don’t know. Maybe.
–hooded like those of a hawk? Absolutely not! The hell with it. They were warm eyes. They were Richard’s eyes. I wouldn’t care if they were cone-shaped.

 

That was me, Kate Bjorkman, a potential Ph. D. candidate, and fairly rational young woman–that’s what my dad always said, even-tempered: “If I could only have one daughter, then Kate was the perfect one to have,” he’d say. And my mother agreed. The only bad thing about me was my eyes: blind as Milton without those glasses. But that morning, January 2, I was deranged. I knew it, I guess, but I couldn’t stop it. Didn’t want to. It wasn’t until I sat in a booth at Bridgeman’s that I realized I was wearing flannel pajamas and had no money.

See? Don’t you want to buy this one now? :)  

 

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