Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly (Book Review)

Posted March 19, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 4 Comments

Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly (Book Review)Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly
Series: Austen Addicts #3
Also in this series: Dreaming of Mr. Darcy
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on April 1, 2012
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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3 Stars
Sisters are forever...

Sisters Sarah and Mia Castle haven't spoken for three years but they're about to meet again at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath. But what was it that drove them apart and can the magic of Jane Austen help bring them back together again?

(While this is book #3 in a series, I contacted the author and she said each novel is a standalone, and they can be read out of order.)

I love, love, love Jane Austen spin-offs. I’ve read quite a few, including book #2 in this series, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy. While it was not my favorite book, it was definitely cute and worth the read. I was excited to read this next book. And look at that darling cover! While I did not enjoy it as much as Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, and it bothered me in a few places, this book ended up leaving me with a few warm fuzzies and a smile. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The story is actually kind of boring until about 60% of the way through the book, when things pick up and really get interesting. We’ve got flashbacks to when the sisters parted ways mixed in with the present day at a Jane Austen festival in Bath. Most of the present-day scenes are combinations of 2 or 3 people talking about stuff, but it all happens in different places and at different times. I felt like I was reading the same story multiple times: Sarah talking to Lloyd, Mia talking to Gabe, and Mia talking to Shelley, not to mention what is going on in Sarah and Mia’s minds.Plus, we see it all happen in the flashback as well. It was a bit overkill for me. But then at 60%, things pick up and progress is made. The characters begin to open up and move forward, whereas before it was all talk of the past. The mood gets a bit lighter, and more enjoyable… even funny in some places.

2. Sarah bothers me a bit. She has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which is totally fine. I have it… my sister has it. It’s fine. But seriously. There is SO much OCD talk. Sarah and her love interest bond and essentially fall in love because they both have it. Everything Sarah does is “because of OCD.” It is talked about so much, that it ends up being another character in the book. We had Sarah, Lloyd, Mia, Shelley, Gabe, and Sarah’s OCD. I got tired of hearing about it.

The matter-of-fact, and sometimes sarcastic way that OCD was discussed made me feel like the disorder was made out to be something funny and quirky, not a serious thing. This story is written as if Sarah enjoys having it. She sits and talks about it, and laughs. She’s happy she has found someone else who suffers from it too. I was really bothered by it, and got to the point where I skimmed over all mentions of OCD. Maybe I’m just extra sensitive because I have struggled with this same thing for most of my life, but it just really rubbed me the wrong way.

3. I really disliked Sarah’s sister, Mia, and Mia’s friend, Shelley, in the beginning. They were obnoxious, self-centered and immature, throwing themselves at whoever, whenever they please. If someone is married, who cares? If someone is not interested, who cares? And then if they happen to see someone they dislike, they either hide in plain sight and act completely amazed when they are spotted, or they run away through the streets crying their eyes out and mentally channeling some Jane Austen character, asking for advice. Drama. Over the top drama. However, towards the end they both seem to grow up all of a sudden. We are given insights into Mia’s past, and we get to see Shelley as a very nurturing and concerned best friend. I ended up really liking both of them by the end. And Shelley’s dog, Bingley, is hilarious. I really love that dog, and his silly mannerisms and habits.

4. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the cute town of Bath. I would love to visit someday. The author put me right there in the middle of it all.

5. The present-day romance that both sisters experience after so much pain in their past is refreshing and sweet. Both girls have been through a lot, so I enjoyed reading about them falling in love. And I really like both guys, and kind of wish I had one too!

Overall, this was a cute little contemporary, sometimes cheesy, romance that took a while to get going, but ended up warming my heart. I did not love it as much as Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, but I still enjoyed it and think it was worth the read. This book focuses on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, so don’t be expecting a P&P spin-off based on the title! Now I need to go read the first one, A Weekend with Mr. Darcy!

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The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum (Mini Book Review)

Posted March 18, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum (Mini Book Review)The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum
Series: The Hourglass Door #1
Published by Shadow Mountain on May 1, 2009
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought it!
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5 Stars
Abby's senior year of high school is going according to plan: good friends, cute boyfriend, and college applications in the mail. But when Dante Alexander, foreign-exchange student from Italy, steps into her life, he turns it upside down. He's mysterious, and interesting, and unlike anyone she's ever met before. Abby can't deny the growing attraction she feels for him. Nor can she deny the unusual things that seem to happen when Dante is around. Soon Abby finds herself drawn into a mystery whose roots reach into sixteenth-century Florence, and she uncovers a dangerous truth that threatens not only her future but the lives of those she loves.

Wow! I loved this book so much that I finished it in less than 24 hours. Lisa Mangum’s writing style is beautiful. I found myself re-reading passages because they were incredibly captivating and magical. She described everything in such intricate detail and left me feeling like I was actually there. The plot is extremely interesting and mysterious. It had the potential of being extremely confusing, but Lisa wrote it in a way that every detail was explained, leaving no stone left unturned. And her take on time and time travel is original and exciting. I loved reading about it.

Dante is a swoon-worthy love interest. I mean, he’s Italian… and he’s romantic, and he’s been around for quite a while. He’s got a very interesting past, including being Leonardo Da Vinci’s apprentice. His concern for Abby is sweet, not obsessive or stalkerish. The love story between the two of them is slow and believable, and beautiful. You can just feel them fall in love, and I savored every minute of it.

I really only have one complaint: several of the characters speak to Abby in Italian and there’s no translation anywhere. I had to have my laptop with me so I could translate the lines. Let me just say right now free internet translations frequently make no sense.

I read this series as the books came out. I was one of the first in line for this book, and each one in the series ends in quite a cliffhanger! Well, except for the last. Haha. All three books are out now, though, and all three are favorites of mine. This is one of my very favorite romance stories, and I definitely think you should read it if you’re looking for an exciting, romantic, time traveling story with a mysterious Italian inventor and the modern-day girl he sweeps off her feet. The world they explore together is unique, intriguing, a little dangerous, and utterly magical.

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I’m Featured in the YA Magazine, WovenMyst Today!

Posted March 15, 2012 by Jana in About Me / 2 Comments

Hello! Today, I’m over at the young adult magazine, WovenMyst. I’m one of their bloggers, and they interviewed me a few weeks ago. I really like this magazine, and am excited to be a part of it! Go check it out!(Click Here) is a Young Adult online magazine about everything young adult novels. We bring our readers the latest reviews, the hottest book covers, and amazing interviews with everyone involved in creating a young adult book.’s goal is to make reading fashionable. We want to intertwine literature and the art that’s involved in creating it. We first and foremost focus on the books and their authors, but we never forget about Narrators, Cover Photographers, Publicists, and Publishers. The process is where the magic happens and that’s what we want our readers to experience.
The WovenMyst team consists of young fresh minds. We are artists, writers, and teachers. We strive to be different and we will excel in taking book publicity into a new dimension.
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Slide by Jill Hathaway (Book Review)

Posted March 14, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Slide by Jill Hathaway (Book Review)Slide by Jill Hathaway
Series: Slide #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on March 27, 2012
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Suspense
Pages: 250
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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3 Stars
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth--her sister's friend Sophie didn't kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn't actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else's mind and experiences the world through that person's eyes. She's slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed "friend" when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie's slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can't bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting distant lately, especially now that she's been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

What an interesting take on a paranormal story, huh? A narcoleptic body snatcher on a quest to solve a murder she witnessed while inside and unknown killer. I was very excited to read this book, as I’ve heard great things about it. I liked it a lot, and was surprised (both positively and negatively) by the small details and plot elements of the story. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The unique storyline was very well done and explained in great detail. The author did a great job describing the sliding process and what that meant for Vee. I almost felt like I was the one doing the sliding, because each event was painted out for us so well. These moments were my favorites of the book. I liked the opportunities Vee had to explore the people she thought she knew so well. It’s like she and I were both flies on the wall. Sneaky!

2. I was hooked very quickly. The reader is immediately submerged in the story. Time is not wasted mapping out every single detail, and things just keep on going from there. There’s not a lot of down time, and I was turning pages very quickly.

3. I liked Vee, but her personality is a bit forgettable. Perhaps the next book in the series will let us get to know her more, but this book focused so much more on all the supporting characters than the main one. I think this had a lot to do with the fact that Vee was sliding so much. Naturally, that would focus the story more on the people who are slid into rather than the one who does the sliding. What we do know about Vee is sad. She does not really discuss happy memories or fun times, so she’s kind of one-dimensional.

4. This book is much darker, heavier, and more emotional than I had expected. I’m not sure how I feel about this. When Vee is not sliding, she’s focused mainly on comforting other people or putting herself in tough situations to try and discover who the murderer is. Her little sister’s best friend is the victim of the murder, so Vee spends a lot of time trying to pull her sister out of a deep depression. The grief in this book is very real. The characters do a lot of mourning, which actually started to depress me a lot. This is not a light read.

5. I liked Rollins, the best friend. However, I’m starting to tire of the endless love triangles where the best friend is ignored for the bulk of the story. This storyline is getting a bit old, in my opinion. Rollins obviously cares about Vee a lot, and I think he’s really sweet. He has a hard home life and some secrets, which both add a lot more depth to him than any of the other characters. He and Vee bonded in a very special way long ago, and their relationship is sweet when they actually get to sit and have fun rather than worry about who will die next. Zane, the newcomer, is mysterious and exciting, but I don’t see why that automatically makes him the immediate love interest. I mean, if Rollins is the best friend, why does Vee start distancing herself as soon as someone new enters her life? Friends don’t do that, and I feel bad that best friends are frequently treated badly, or just flat-out ignored in books like this.

6. I loved how complex the storyline was. There was a ton of stuff going on, page-gripping suspense, lots of characters and emotions, interesting twists, and a really convoluted mystery. We’re constantly being introduced to new things, new people, new facts, etc.

7. The mystery was my favorite part of the story. It was not predictable like some mysteries are. I wanted so badly to find out what happened, and kept reading until I was done. Suspense and danger were involved, and I love it when books do that, rather than focus mostly on romance, with a little mystery on the side. The romance was definitely minimal, and not important to the story’s flow.

8. The book did not end in a cliff-hanger! I was worried that since this is book #1, it would end in a frustrating cliffhanger. Everything was resolved, though, which I liked. This novel could be a standalone. Hopefully book #2 does not ruin that!

Overall, this was an interesting, unique, and emotional read. It was darker than I had expected, but the mysteriousness of the book needed that. I actually liked the storyline and the sliding better than any other aspect of the book, including the characters and the romance. I’d recommend this to people who enjoy paranormal thrillers with a tiny bit of romance.

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In My Mailbox (#2)

Posted March 11, 2012 by Jana in / 9 Comments

In My Mailbox is a really fun meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we get to gush about all the books we received and share our thoughts on them!

I haven’t participated in IMM since February 19th, so I have quite a few books to share. I won a few books from different blogs, got some for review, and bought some (of course…). So, let’s get started!



Signed copies of Legend by Marie Lu and Across the Universe by Beth Revis, plus a bunch of swag from Tiffany Schmidt’s Breathless Reads Giveaway on her blog, Letters, words, thoughts, ideas, stories.
I recently got a personalized copy of ATU from Alexa at Alexa Loves Books as well, so this second copy will be up for giveaway soon! :)

Signed copy of The Crystal Princess by Kimberly Norton from Readinista.

Thanks so much to the both of you for hosting such wonderful giveaways!

For Review:

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers exclusive promo galley on Netgalley.
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis from Magan at Rather by Reading from her trip to Ala Midwinter.
Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham from the publisher for review at The Broke and the Bookish .

Thanks to the publishers (and Magan)! I’m excited to read these. :)


Evernight by Claudia Gray (with bonus materials) – Free on kindle!
The Boyfriend Bylaws by Susan Hatler – Free on kindle!
Blue Eyes and Other Teenage Hazards by Janette Rallison (kindle)
Oppression by Jessica Therrien (because of Alexa’s review) (kindle)
Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier> (Paperback)

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Truly, Madly, Deeply, You by Cecilia Robert (Book Review)

Posted March 10, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Truly, Madly, Deeply, You by Cecilia Robert (Book Review)Truly, Madly, Deeply, You by Cecilia Robert
Series: Truly Madly #1
Published by Inkspell Publishing on March 21, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 82
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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1.5 Stars
Four days before Valentine’s Day, Liese Hansfeld is determined to shut the door to her house, as well as her heart, for her annual four days of mourning her one true love. Little does she know her best friend Freytag Meier is just as determined to keep her from her ritual. He’s ready to pick the lock to her apartment door and camp in her living room if that’s what it takes.

What Freytag isn’t prepared for is the surge of deep-rooted emotions he feels for Liese, but two things stand in his way: the grief and guilt she still clutches close to her heart, and a man who threatens to snatch Liese from under Frey’s watchful eye. Frey is determined to distract her into forgetting her pain. But is that enough to ease her grief, or help her see he can be more than her best friend?

I was intrigued by the summary of this book. I don’t have a ton to say about it, though. Haha. It was a bit diappointing, and there really was not much to it. It was just ok in my book. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I’m not a huge fan of Liese. Every year she spends the four days before Valentine’s in a state of intense depression. She will see nobody. She lays in bed, has extreme nightmares, cries a lot, refuses to eat (and gets really weak), takes antidepressants that make her really weird, and relives past events over and over again. This year, Frey has decided to intervene and spend the whole time with her to help her through. Seriously. This girl has no personality, is extremely melodramatic, and really has no redeeming qualities. We find out about 90% of the way through exactly what happened to her, and it’s completely heartbreaking. It’s not something I can begin to comprehend. But really, I was tired of her self-destructive ways and was really hoping there was more to the book than that.

2. I got really tired of reading about how tiny and frail Liese is. Every time she showed a glimmer of sadness, Frey scooped her up/picked her up/set her on his lap/put his leg over her so she could not get up. Frey says she “weighs about as much as a kitten”. And “her tiny fingers” held on to his. She’s wounds like a little girl. If she’s sleepy, he carries her. If she’s medicated, he carries her. Honestly, this girl is not a china doll! I wish she had been portrayed as a strong woman who could go on with life. This, combined with her depression and self-destruction made me really annoyed. Yes, she went through something absolutely terrible. But those things are supposed to make us stronger! I wish we had been given a sense of hope. This book could have been inspirational, motivating, encouraging. It fell completely flat.

3. I wish Liese had some character development. It’s like there was no point to reading about her journey, because this journey never ended up taking us anywhere.

4. I’m not sure how I feel about Frey. There were times I thought he was way too good for her, and there were times he creeped me out a bit. He’s extremely sweet and attentive. He was there to comfort her and drag her out of her mopey time. He was very understanding and patient. If she had a nightmare, he was there to help her go back to sleep. I’d love a friend like that, whom I could depend on. But… he was also very smothering and would not let her make her own decisions. He forced his way in to her house when she just wanted to be alone. He treated her like a 5-year-old. He stood outside the door to her room and heard her having a nightmare, so he ran down to the front desk in his underwear and lied in order to get a key to her room so he could climb in bed with her. She woke up really confused. That’s creepy, and I hope no hotel I ever stay in just hands out random keys to random rooms to random people. Finally, he takes advantage of her during a painful time, daring her to kiss him because he thinks she can’t do a good job… and then saying he doesn’t mind if she kisses him for the wrong reasons. My. Gosh.

5. The story literally went nowhere. Luckily it was short, because nothing happened. I can’t even identify the story’s climax. There was a lot of repetition: lots of crying, nightmares, moping, re-hashing the past, etc. And nothing is really resolved. There was not even a real love story. It just ended where it began.

To sum things up: I really liked the idea of the story. I was hoping for a book that would portray a woman who had been through something terrible, but was picking up the pieces and learning to survive. However, I feel like I wasted my time on a story that went nowhere, taught me nothing, and left me worn out.

(Disclaimer: If anyone has gone through what Liese has gone through, I am in no way minimizing your pain. I feel awful for anyone who has suffered anything like this, and I can only imagine that it’s the worst thing to ever experience. I just got tired of reading about it over and over, with absolutely no character development and no real plot. I was just hoping for something more than what I was given.)

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Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby (Book Review)

Posted March 9, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 6 Comments

Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby (Book Review)Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby
Published by Carina Press on March 12, 2012
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 250
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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4 Stars
Self-professed nerd Maddie Maloney is an expert on jewels. Jewel thieves are another matter entirely! So when a mysterious Englishman warns her that a thief known as The Chameleon is after the rare pink diamond on display in her aunt's shop, she tells herself it's just a joke. Even if she can't get Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome out of her mind...

But Fabian Montgomery doesn't give up easily. He's everywhere she goes, convinced the thief will strike. And when the diamond does go missing - and Maddie is suspected of stealing it - he whisks her away from the police and together they pursue The Chameleon.

Fabian plunges her into a glamorous world far from her humble workshop and transforms geeky Maddie into a sophisticated siren capable of espionage. Her mission: to seduce The Chameleon and steal back the diamond.

But Fabian isn't telling her everything - like who he works for, and why he's so interested in The Chameleon...

I love mysteries with a touch of suspense, and I could tell immediately from the description that I would enjoy this book. What surprised me the most, though, was the comedic element the author threw in. This book was so funny, in addition to being suspenseful and romantic. I had a lot of fun reading this, and am excited to share with you my favorite elements of the book! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I love this title! I’m a total nerd, so I was immediately drawn in by the hilarious title, attractive gentleman, and the bright yellow.

2. The book surprised me by taking place in Australia! I’ve never read a book that took place there, so I really enjoyed all the descriptions of the scenery. Part of the book takes place in a resort town by the beach during the weekend of a sailboat gala. I loved reading about all the boats and the people. It sounded so quaint and romantic. I just loved it.

3. Maddie, a self-proclaimed nerd with a PhD in gemology (I believe? Or is it mineralogy?), is such a fun character. She really is the stereotypical nerd, with the eclectic non-sense of fashion and the gem smarts. Her nerdliness is interrupted by Fabian, an extremely attractive and mysterious Englishman who whisks her away to retrieve the stolen diamond, save her from jail, and protect her aunt’s reputation. Right at the beginning as they are running from the police, all she can think about is her sweet cat, and what will happen to it while she’s away. A girl after my own heart. Fabian turns her into a sexy glamazon, and she’s totally against it. She fights him every step of the way. He sends her to a day spa, and her account of the happenings there had me laughing out loud. She got burned in the sauna, almost drowned in the mineral pool, etc. The daunting task of seducing The Chameleon lies ahead of her, and she goes on and on about how impossible that will be. She even has to practice her seduction skills! Her spunk and quick wit created a really fun contrast to the serious businessman, Fabian.

4. I love it when the geeky girl nabs the attractive James Bond type. Fabian is totally the sexy, mysterious foreigner with a carefully concealed past and a lot of baggage. I love how he feels this need to put on a hardened facade, when in reality he’s laughing at Maddie and falling for her on the inside.You can tell he cares, but wishes he didn’t. She tugs at his heartstrings, and I think it’s so sweet to watch the inner turmoil he goes through as she pushes him outside his comfort zone.

5. The romance is a slow burn, and a minimal part of the story. It really was hate at first sight with these two. Fabian is a major inconvenience to Maddie, following her around, bothering her, making her do things she doesn’t want to do. Maddie is Fabian’s pain in the butt, but he needs an experienced and knowledgeable gemologist on his side in order to find and identify the diamond. As time pushes on, they begin to tolerate one another more and more, but it takes a while. No insta-love here! The romance was believable and sweet.

6. The suspense really grabs you. Fabian and Maddie are really good at getting into trouble. Running from the police… seeking out The Chameleon… intense sailboat rides… guns blazing… deserted islands… concealed identities. Luck is not on their side. This book is a major page-turner.

7. It’s the perfect blend of comedy, romance, and suspense. Plus it’s heartwarming. You’d think with all the stuff going on, you might not get a true sense of what makes the characters who they are. But you do! There are some tender moments with Maddie’s family and with Fabian’s family was well. And Maddie’s cat adds a lot, too. Maybe I’m just a softy for cats. I dunno. But I loved that amidst all the suspense and deception, we were given a sense of the moral fabric these characters possess. The emotion is there, and I liked that. It made the characters more relatable.

All in all, this book is fun and exciting, and I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good romcom with some mystery mixed in. I’m definitely going to go and check out some more of Joan Kilby’s books. She’s got a ton of them!

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A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter (Book Review)

Posted March 8, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review / 3 Comments

A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter (Book Review)A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter
Series: Elemental Mysteries #1
Published by Self on October 18, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
"No secret stays hidden forever."

A phone call from an old friend sets Dr. Giovanni Vecchio back on the path of a mystery he'd abandoned years before. He never expected a young librarian could hold the key to the search, nor could he have expected the danger she would attract. Now he and Beatrice De Novo will follow a twisted maze that leads from the archives of a university library, through the fires of Renaissance Florence, and toward a confrontation they never could have predicted.

I was really excited to sign up for this book as part of the Elemental Mysteries Blog Tour, celebrating the third book’s release. The premise sounded pretty awesome. I loved the idea of the main character being a librarian, and there being such a focus on extremely old literature. And Giovanni is totally an Italian name, and combining that with the mention of Renaissance Florence, I was sold! Books and Italy. What more could I ask for? A Hidden Fire had its moments, but overall I was a little disappointed. It fell short of its potential, and I feel like it could have been so much better than it was.

1. The whole beginning is pretty mysterious. Beatrice is a librarian at the Houston University in the Special Collections reading room, picking up a new shift where she ends up spending time with Dr. Giovanni Vecchio, who is translating a very old document. He’s a unique person with a hidden past, and we go a while in the book before we find out who he is and why he’s connected to bunch of old literature. Beatrice is more to him than a librarian. Danger surrounds her, plus he’s developing feelings for her.

2. I liked the main characters. Beatrice is smart, shy, and bookish.She’s extremely level-headed, all things considered. I love her sarcasm and quick wit. I think we’d be friends. Giovanni is a sexy bad boy. He’s also very scholarly and is always reading or researching something. He’s also reclusive, with a very rich past that is coming back to haunt him. I loved the banter between the two of them. The sexual tension was definitely there. I just with they had done more with it.

3. The romance is kind of silly and unbelievable. You can tell Gio and Beatrice care about each other, but it’s weird. He treats her like a child he needs to protect, and she treats him like a knight in shining armor. They never really hash out their feelings or intentions. Sometimes they have to put on a steamy act in front of spectators, but then they avoid one another for quite a while after. They are always holding back, but never indicate to each other why. So they always appear to mad at the other, when in reality they are lusting after one another. It wasn’t really romantic to me. It was just frustrating and never really got resolved. I guess that’s book 2’s job.

4. The supporting characters were great. Gio’s butler, Caspar, is so sweet and grandfatherly, especially with Beatrice. He’s also very protective and caring towards Gio. He’s clearly part of the family. I love his cat, Doyle, as well. Caspar starts a cute little something up with B’s grandma, who is also a strong character with a lot of spunk. Gio has a friend named Carwyn, who is definitely my favorite character in this book. He’s a Welsh priest who has been around for quite a while, and has a lot of life experience. He’s funny, flirtatious, and becomes a great friend to Beatrice. He always seems to know how she’s thinking and feeling, and knows just what to say to put her mind at ease. I’m kind of envious of Beatrice. She has so many sweet men keeping an eye on her!

5. The settings were unique, and I liked them. I enjoyed all the library time, and it was fun to picture what everything looked like and smelled like. I love libraries! Gio’s house sounds pretty cool. We also get to explore Greece and Chile in this book, which was cool.

6. I laughed a lot. There was a lot of joking around, sarcastic remarks, flirtatious moments, and interesting tastes in clothing. The characters lovingly made fun of each other. It was refreshing, since the underlying story is a bit dark and dangerous.

7. I liked the incorporation of the elements (fire, earth, wind, and water). Each book in the series focuses on one, and this one obviously focused on fire. And I liked the paranormal elements. I’m not going to say what those are, for fear of spoiling things for you, but it’s an interesting twist.

8. Really, my only complaint is that some of the plot dragged on and on, and was rather repetitive. There was a lot of sitting around and talking, with not a lot of action until the last part of the book. This is a long book, yet the bulk of the story felt rushed at the end. Nothing was tied up for us.

I would recommend this to people who enjoy paranormal urban fantasies with a tiny bit of romance. I’m thinking book 2 will open things up a lot more, and I’m curious to see what happens next! Book 2 (This Same Earth) is already out, book 3 (The Force of the Wind) is out this month, and the concluding book (A Fall of Water) has a tentative release date in June of this year.

To visit more stops with reviews of books 2 and 3, interviews with the author and characters, book excerpts, and chances to win all three books, click here

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Dracula, My Love by Syrie James (Book Review)

Posted March 7, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

Dracula, My Love by Syrie James (Book Review)Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker by Syrie James
Published by Avon on July 20, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought it!
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5 Stars
Many have read and loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But questions remain. What is the true story of Dracula’s origin? What if Mina could not bring herself to record the true story of their scandalous affair—until now?

In Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker, Syrie James explores these questions and more. A vibrant dramatization, told from Mina’s point of view, brings to life the crucial parts of Stoker’s story while showcasing Mina’s sexual awakening and evolution as a woman, and revealing a secret that could destroy her life. Torn between two men—a loving husband and a dangerous lover—Mina struggles to hang on to the deep love she’s found within her marriage, even as she is inexorably drawn to Dracula himself—the vampire that everyone she knows is determined to destroy.

Syrie did something amazing with this book. She made me want to read another book. That’s what books should do, in my opinion. It convinced me that I needed to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This book gave me Mina’s point of view, and so obviously, I had to read the original. I was kind of scared to purchase Dracula, My Love, because it’s a little out of my usual comfort zone, but I am SO glad that I did. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The writing style is breathtakingly beautiful. Syrie’s descriptions are notoriously amazing, in my opinion. The writing is done in old-fashioned English, which I found very refreshing. It really added to the story. I have a hard time when historical genres are written in contemporary language. This felt very authentic and seemed very real as a result.

2. The characters are so well developed. Each person has their own voice and their own opinions. Dracula is strong, sexy, deceptive, evil, manipulative, and extremely romantic! Mina is also very strong, rebellious, and thinks for herself during a time when women are supposed to be meek and submissive. She grows up a lot over the course of the book and learns a lot about herself. Mina’s husband is the typical male from the time period. He’s controlling, demanding, protective, and all about saving Mina from this evil man who so desires her. Of course, he never catches on to the fact that Mina is a willing participant in her rendezvous with Dracula.

3. The mannerisms of each character are believable. I love the contrast between the chaste, ladylike behavior Mina displays around her husband and friends and the, for lack of a better word, lustful thoughts and actions she exhibits with Dracula. It’s like he has her under some spell that amplifies her desires and emotions when she’s with him.

4. In all actuality, though, this book is not all about lust and carnal desires. Her time spent with him is always spent in long discussions about life and literature. They have so much in common. Her greatest desire is to be with him. The book is really very clean, except for one steamy “dream” she has about him.

5. You get to jump into Mina’s mind and hear her thoughts. You will begin to understand her wants, fears, and desires. You number yourself lucky for not being in her shoes, but care too much to stop hoping that she figures everything out. She has a difficult situation at hand. She goes from being the plain, simple girl who never gets any romantic attention (even from her husband), to being obsessed over and stalked by a mysterious and sexy bad boy. You’d think that would be terrifying, but she is so captivated by him that she dreams of him and longs for him when most women would flee in fear. This mortifies her. She’s a married woman, but can’t help herself. She can’t keep away from him. And on top of all of these conflicting emotions, she has to keep all of this a secret or else jeopardize Dracula’s life, as well as her own. You will be glued to every page and travel through every emotion with her.

6. It was spooky, suspenseful, exciting, and filled with deception, mystery, and romance. While Mina’s husband and his accomplices (including Van Helsing, a former boyfriend, and the widower of her best friend) came up with an intricate plot to murder Dracula, she appeared to be helping them, but in reality was leading them on a wild goose chase formulated by Dracula himself. She kept swinging back and forth between the two, doing her best to keep everyone in the “loop”. She hoped for both sides to win, because she cared so much about everyone involved. I’d go insane (or have a nervous breakdown) if I were her.

7. This book did not change the original story of Dracula. It is more of a companion to Stoker’s novel, rather than a retelling. I loved the the author stayed so true to the original. You really are seeing everything that happened, but from a different point of view.

8. In addition, reading Mina’s side of the story made me understand and appreciate Dracula so much more. In my opinion, the classic novel is kind of hard to understand. Perhaps I feel that way since I am just beginning to read the classics, and am not used to the old writing styles yet. Because it was so true to the original, I understood what was happening in the original more than I would have otherwise. Plus, I saw a tender, romantic side of Dracula and found myself falling for him right along with Mina. I think that’s part of the reason I loved this book so much. I think a little part of everyone is curious about the forbidden. It’s only human nature.

All in all, you should definitely read this book. I’m glad I gave this book a chance, because it is a truly beautiful story of love, deception, obsession, survival, and sacrifice. I was riveted, and could not put it down! I went out and bought every other novel by Syrie James, and she has yet to disappoint me thus far!

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Book Tag! I’m It!

Posted March 7, 2012 by Jana in About Me / 6 Comments

Hello! So, here I am to participate in the Book Tag meme, thanks to Julia from The Competitive Bibliomaniac! This is a fun meme because it will help all of us get to know one another. And maybe you’ll find a new blog to follow. :) Julia has left me with some fun questions to answer, so let’s get started!

When/Why did you start book blogging?
I started book blogging with the girls at The Broke and The Bookish way back when it started in June of 2010. I formed this blog in November of 2011 so I’d have a more flexible schedule to post book reviews more often. Book blogging totally fell into my lap. Jamie asked the Goodreads College Students group if anyone was interested in starting a blog with her, and I jumped on it. I had no idea a book blogging world existed, nor did I know it was full of so many cool people!

What are some things about your blog (reviews, features, etc.) that you are most proud of?
Well… I really enjoy finding things for my feature, Bookish Finds. I have so much fun showing off the cool things I’ve come across. And I think the blog name is pretty fun and catchy. :)

If you had to invite three characters over for dinner, who would you invite and why?

Sam from Incarnate by Jodi Meadows because I would LOVE to talk with someone who has been alive for forever. I’m sure he has a ton of exciting and interesting stories to tell. Bria from Wanderlove by Kirtsen Hubbard, so she can talk me into going on an amazing trip like she did. St. Claire from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins because he’s hilarious, cute, and I can just imagine his sexy accent.

If you could mandate that everyone read one book, what would it be and why?
Uhh… Wow. I feel like I should be naming some profound classic or controversial banned book. Haha. Really, though, I don’t think I would force anyone to read anything. When I was young, my love of reading vanished because I was forced by my teachers to read books I hated. Everyone connects with books in different ways, sometimes personal. You can’t force learning or force an emotion.

Do you read reviews of books before you read a book (if you know you are going to read it)?
If a good friend wrote the review, then yes. I don’t go looking for them, though, because some people post spoilers! I trust my friends not to spoil anything for me.

Do you judge books by their covers?
Yes I do! I’m that artsy reader girl! I try not to, but I always end up judging books by their covers. Pretty covers grab me. It’s who I am.  It’s usually my opinion that if a book has an awful design, its contents won’t be much better. If the book is drop-dead amazing, then there’s money in the budget to hire a good designer. It’s like having a beautiful baby and wrapping it in a burlap sack. You want to show it off, not hide it.

EReaders vs Books vs Audiobooks: thoughts?
I’ll always love tangible books. I love the covers, the textures, the smell, and the act of turning pages. I’ve run out of room, though, so I bought a Kindle. I LOVE my Kindle. You can find awesome deals on Kindle books, so I own a lot of them. And it saves space, especially while traveling. I can’t concentrate on audiobooks, yet I love the idea of them.

What kind of criteria do you consider when writing a review?
Grammar, spelling, character development, plot development, consistency, use of bad language, writing style, and enjoyability. I also often discuss a character’s behavior, and whether or not I agree with them.

What is your favorite thing about book blogging?
All the awesome friends I’ve made! I’ve found life-long friendships in many of you. :)

What is your favorite genre?
Right now? YA contemporary. Ask me next week if I still feel the same! Haha.


EDIT: Hi again! I was just tagged by Readinista, and she gave me a whole new slew of questions! So I’m going to update and add hers in under Julia’s. So fun!!

1. Why did you start blogging?
Well, I originally started at The Broke and the Bookish. Jamie asked if anyone was interested in starting a blog with her, and I thought it sounded like fun! I never knew about the book blogging realm of the blogosphere, so I was excited to jump in and do something new. I started That Artsy Reader Girl a year and a half later so I could post reviews more frequently.

2. On average, how many books do you read in a month?
About 9, which is a huge deal for me!

3. When do you read? (At night, during the day, commuting to work, etc)
I mostly read at night after the family has gone to bed. So, from about 9:30 until sometime after midnight I get to read!

4. Do you have a favorite spot to read at home or do you read anywhere and everywhere?
I’ll read anywhere, as long as I have a book with me. My Kindle is always tucked in my purse if I know I’m going to be out and about with some free time on my hands. Mostly, though, I end up reading in bed or in the comfy recliner in my room.

5. How frequently do you check your blog statistics? Do you check them everyday or do you not care about the number of hits on your site?
I check maybe once a week. Everything is still so new at this blog, and I’m trying to figure out what works the best for my blog, and how people are finding me.

6. Do you ever get tired of being a book blogger?
If I read too many review books that I don’t like in a row, I do start to get tired of it. Sometimes I miss the days when I could not finish a book and not feel guilty for it. But really, book blogging has become a very addictive hobby for me and I love it. I’d never stop!

7. If you could live in a fictional world, what book world would you choose?
That’s hard! I read a lot of dystopia, with worlds gone wrong… and a lot of contemporary worlds that are just like mine! I think I’d combine elements of several. Like, I love the fairy world in Aprilynne Pike’s Wings series, and I love the dragon world in Sophie Jordan’s Firelight series. I think I’d really just enjoy a world with more paranormal creatures. :)

8. What fictional book characters do you most relate to or would like to be friends with?
I really like Bria from Wanderlove. She’s a traveler at heart, and I’d love to go on a spontaneous trip to anywhere with her. I know we’d get along. And Anna from Anna and the French Kiss also seems like someone I’d have fun sitting in a cafe with and gabbing over French pastries and hot chocolate.

9. Other than reading and blogging what do you do for fun?
Well, I have this really awful addiction to shopping. I don’t care what I’m shopping for, but I love it! Mostly, though, jewelry, purses, and shoes are my favorites. And I love singing a lot. I’m also a graphic designer, so I love designing things… and I love doing puzzles, watching movies, traveling (traveling is my favorite!), bowling, game nights (like board games), and hanging out with my friends and family.

10. Do your family and friends understand your reading and blogging hobbies or are they planning an intervention?
My mom and dad are happy I have a worthwhile hobby, but they definitely get frustrated sometimes that I’m always reading or blogging! And most of my friends don’t know about my secret other life as a blogger, just because they wouldn’t understand. The few who do, actually think it’s really cool that I’m so into all of this.

11. Freebie question – You choose what question you would like to answer (Yes I know this a cop out)
What book should be made into a movie? – Firelight by Sophie Jordan. I’d love to see those dragons come to life, not to mention the really awesome world they live in!

Thanks for tagging me, Readinista! These were fun questions. :)

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