I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins-Clark (Mini Book Review)

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

I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins-Clark (Mini Book Review)I'll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
Published by Simon & Schuster on April 5, 2011
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Pages: 337
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
Alexandra “Zan” Moreland, a gifted, beautiful interior designer on the threshold of a successful Manhattan career, is terrified to discover that somebody is not only using her credit cards and manipulating her financial accounts to bankrupt her and destroy her reputation, but may also be impersonating her in a scheme that may involve the much more brutal crimes of kidnapping and murder. Zan is already haunted by the disappearance of her own son, Matthew, kidnapped in broad daylight two years ago in Central Park—a tragedy that has left her torn between hope and despair.

Now, on what would be Matthew’s fifth birthday, photos surface that seem to show Zan kidnapping her own child, followed by a chain of events that suggests somebody—but who? Zan asks herself desperately, and why?—has stolen her identity.

Hounded by the press, under investigation by the police, attacked by both her angry ex-husband and a vindictive business rival, Zan, wracked by fear and pain and sustained only by her belief, which nobody else shares, that Matthew is still alive, sets out to discover who is behind this cruel hoax.

What she does not realize is that with every step she takes toward the truth, she is putting herself— and those she loves most—in mortal danger from the person who has ingeniously plotted out her destruction...

I think I’ve mentioned to a lot of people that I love Mary Higgins-Clark. She is the first author I got hooked on as a teenager, and I really devoured her novels. It’s kind of a summer tradition to read her newest release while on vacation, so I bought this for my kindle and was SO excited to find some time to read it while I was in Europe! I read this mostly on my cruise and in Rome, Italy! The story was entertaining and intense, and I was definitely intrigued. However, the writing in this book does not sound like the Mary I grew up reading. Sadly, I found myself getting really tired of the writing style. It really detracted from the story, and I don’t have a ton to say about it. Haha.

I honestly think that Mary has reached the point in her career where she has hired a ghost writer or two, and I can’t blame her for that. According to her bio, she’s around 85 years old. I just wish she had hired a ghost writer with real talent to match her own. It makes me so sad to think that she chose to continue producing really mediocre books under her own name, rather than just bow out and leave with some amazing books under her belt. Maybe she’s still writing these on her own, but if that’s the case she has definitely slipped. In any case, this book followed a completely different writing style and formula that made her previous books winners in my eyes.

Zan is a pretty boring, semi-crazy kind of character. We know very little about her, except the fact that she is a very rich, divorced interior designer with a child who vanished several years before and a dark past. Plus, she’s gorgeous, thin, and so much better than everyone else. She’s completely unrelatable. Her ex-husband, a PR guy, blames her for the kidnapping of their child. And seriously, this guy is annoying. Not only is he a jerk, but he plays this role of sugar daddy/lover/brown-noser to this young singer client of his and caters to her every whining whim. Again, unrelatable. The other characters in this book are also rich, stuck up, and flat. Honestly, I feel like I learned more about and related more to the nameless culprit than I did with any of the main characters.

The plot seemed incredibly unrealistic and implausible. This just would not happen. For those who wish to read this, I don’t want to spoil it. But seriously. I just kept shaking my head and going, “No.” Haha. Too many coincidences and dumb, unobservant characters. If anyone had taken a second to be smart and use today’s technology and some common sense, I really think this story would have ended much sooner. And the mini romance seemed like it fell out of the sky at the last minute. I didn’t buy it at all. I’m so sad! I think I need to go back and read some of her older novels from the 90’s. She really was an amazing author in her prime, and her books scared the crap out of me and were so well done.

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I’m Featured at Little Red Reads Today!

Posted June 15, 2012 by Jana in About Me / 1 Comment

Hi! Today, you can find me over at Little Red Reads as part of her “Blogs to Talk About” feature. Stephanie is super nice, and I loved the interview questions she gave me! Some of them were really tricky. Anyway, click her blog button and head over to check out the post, learn some more about me, and spend some time at her blog!

I’ll be back later with another book review for you! :)

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Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne (Book Review)

Posted June 14, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 19 Comments

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne (Book Review)Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Series: Monument 14 #1
Also in this series: Sky on Fire
Published by Feiwel and Friends on June 5, 2012
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Survival
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

Wow. This book was SO different than anything I’ve read before, but I actually really loved it. I was in the process of reading Monument 14 when I got to meet Emmy at the Fierce Reads author tour stop near me a few days ago. I loved hearing her talk about her book, because it made me understand and enjoy the story even more. She said that this book is pretty dark, and that a lot of sad things happen to wonderful characters. Originally, so wondered what was wrong with her. Why would she do that? She answered that question for us. She said she did it so that her characters would be able to show heir humanity towards one another. That even during the darkest, most bleak times of our lives, we humans will do what we can to let our light shine through from within. I loved that thought, and I immediately went home from the tour and devoured the rest of the book. I’m SO glad I read it, and I am eagerly awaiting the next one. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. What a unique idea for a story! Think of any survival story you’ve read or seen in movies/TV: Castaway, Survivor, Lost, Hatchet, Lord of the Flies, etc. Then put those survivors in a huge superstore (like Target or Walmart) and you’ve got Monument 14. The world outside the riot gates that they were trapped behind was completely falling apart: natural disasters, chemical spills that affected people depending on their blood type (some people blistered up and died, some became vicious and attacked others, some became incredibly paranoid, and some lost all their reproductive function.), scary people trying to get in, injuries and sickness, depression. These kids went through all of it.

2. I loved the characters. These kids were amazing, and made the entire story. And when I say kids, these kids are KIDS. There were a few older teenagers, and then a bunch of little littles, like 5 years old. The little ones were adorable, and just like the kids I’ve taught at school. They warmed my heart, and were so sweet. Batiste was a bit of a mini doomsday priest, but lightened up when he got to assist Dean (the MC and chef) in cooking really detailed meals for the rest of them. Niko, a boy scout, is appointed as leader and has to keep everyone safe. Josie becomes the level-headed mommy of the group. Alex (Dean’s brother) takes care of the logistics and electronics. Everyone has a job, and everyone does it. Some of them start of resistant and very immature (and downright jerky), but grow into adults very quickly. They all became so mature and responsible. I loved seeing these young people grow. They really did shine through the darkness to take care of each other and provide.

3. They were so smart! I loved what they did with the store. The renovated the dressing room to serve as bedrooms, they blocked off a “dump” for trash and bodily functions, they sealed off the vents from the outside so the chemicals would not come in, they took baths with bottled water, they knew how to use the pharmacy, etc. The older kids knew what to say to the little ones to make them feel better. I loved reading about all of this. So often, kids are labeled as being naive and unable to do anything for themselves. As a teacher, I know that this is not true. Some of my students have taught me more than the adults in my life. I really appreciate Emmy for allowing these kids to reach their fullest potential. Kids deserve more credit than they get.

4. The fight for survival was amazing to read. I love reading about people who gain courage and determination when they are faced with the decision to sit and take it, or to get up and fight for their lives. We got to see a different part of these characters as the need to survive grew bigger, and time was running out.

5. This story was SO fast-paced! There was no down time or time to recover. One thing after another after another happened. I was tearing through the book to see what happened. Emmy told us at the signing that her brother compared the book’s plot to, “being handcuffed and thrown down a flight of stairs. It just goes bam, bam, bam, bam!” I totally agree! Haha. And then when it’s all over, you’re just laying there going, “Whoa…”

6. Emmy’s writing is wonderful. She’s an amazing storyteller. The details and word choice she used made the story an experience, rather than a book.

I’m going to quit while I’m ahead, because I want to give you the chance to experience this for yourself. Haha. I know the bulk of my review focused mostly on the characters, but that’s because they were what brought me back to the book when I had spare time. If Emmy had thrown a different bunch of people together, I’m not sure it would have been such a powerful and moving read. Maybe it’s just because I’ve worked with so many little kids, but the message behind the book was inspiring. I really can’t wait to see what happens next!

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Fierce Reads Tour Recap

Posted June 13, 2012 by Jana in Event Recap / 10 Comments

So, Macmillan sent all of their Fierce Reads authors to me tonight! It was so incredibly exciting to go, as this was my very first book event ever! The construction was insane, so I was really worried I would not make it in time. My ticket said that I had to be in my seat by 6:50, or I no longer had a seat reservation. Luckily, I ran in and up 2 flights of stairs and made it right at the last minute. I should not have worried, though. A lot of people came in a bit late, plus there were a few empty seats. I didn’t bring my camera, so crummy photos from my iPhone will just have to do.

Jennifer Bosworth, Anna Banks, Emmy Laybourne, Leigh Bardugo, and Marissa Meyer came (she was unexpected)!

The moderator for tonight’s discussion came in all dressed up in an elaborate costume, and introduced the tour. Then she took a minute to highlight each author separately, play their book’s trailer for us, and then have the author come to the podium to introduce their books and discuss the inspiration behind the story. I got a picture of each author, and took a few notes on what they had to say. A lot of interviews and tour recaps have been posted, so I’ll just say a few things I learned and observed.

Marissa Meyer (Cinder)

– Marissa is adorable! She is so bubbly and energetic. While she was telling us about the synopsis of Cinder, she went through a wonderful summary of the events, and right before she sat down, she said, “Oh, wait! There’s a plague too!”

– She refers to her breakthrough moment in which the idea of Cinder popped into her had as the, “boy sparkling in a meadow moment.” She had a dream that Cinderella was running down the stairs after the ball in her huge ballgown, and instead of her shoe falling off, her entire foot fell off. Cinder was born.
– The remaining three books in the series are about more fairytale characters who all ban together to take over the Lunar people. Little Red riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White each get their own book. I’m so excited!

Anna Banks (Of Poseidon)
– I already knew Anna was hilarious, since I did an interview with her a little while ago. But she’s even funnier in person!
– She showed up tonight a little drugged on Benadryl. Apparently she’s allergic to Seattle, which is where they were before they came to Utah. Plus, she was in high heels (she claims to only do well in those if she’s standing still), so I was impressed!
– She said she gets asked a lot about why she chose mermaids for her book. She explained that everything else has already been beaten to death, except for Sasquatch. She’s not sure the market is ready for that yet. A Sasquatch romance? I could actually see it working!
– She fully believes that mermaids are out there. (I love that. I think they might be too!)

Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone)
– She has another life as a make-up artist! And she sings in a band. :)
– Her book is all about a metaphor becoming literal. She explains that in a lot of fairy tales especially, darkness is a metaphor. “And darkness fell across the land…” She started wondering, what if darkness was a place? What if the monsters you thought were in that darkness really were, and you had to fight them?
– I loved it when she said that no matter how old we get, darkness has this power to scare us.

– She swooned a little over her hero, saying he’s “full of mystery and handsomness.”
Jennifer Bosworth (Struck)
– Her husband directed her movie trailer and did all the imagery for it.

– Her book was inspired by the world record holder for most lightning strikes survived. He had survived 7! He was a park ranger, and did not quit his job even though it made it easier to get struck by lightning. This made her wonder if maybe he liked it? Maybe it made him feel alive? So, she came up with the lightning addict.


Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14)
– She’s an actress, song-writer, and a teacher!
– She mentioned how much she loves the Provo Library (where tonight’s event was held), and that she was honored to be there. I love how humble she was throughout the entire panel.
– She said, “What’s wrong with me? Why would I do this to such nice characters?” Then she went on to reflect that she realized she did it because she wanted her characters to be able to show their humanity towards each other.
– I loved when she said that in the darkest times of our lives, we humans will do what we can to let the light shine from within us. So Profound.
– When she is not profound, she is absolutely hilarious.

After each author got to talk about her book, a text-in panel opened up. We texted our questions in to the moderator, who then put those up on a big screen. Then each author got to answer (I’m paraphrasing all the answers). I loved the set-up!

1. What scared you most about being a debut author?
MM – She’s been working her who life towards this, so she is more excited than scared. However, she was worried nobody would show up to her signings. It actually did happen to her once, but she was a good sport about it and had fun with the bookstore staff.
EL – She wrote Monument 14 with no audience in mind. She just wanted to tell her story. So she was worried nobody would like it.
JB – It’s hard for her to open up and share the things she has written with anyone and everyone.
LB – Everything. The cover, how much money would be spent on marketing, if people would care about the book, if she needed to go on a diet before tour. Haha. She sounds like me!

2. Was it hard creating brand new wolds and cultures?
MM – She wanted to blend a whole bunch of cultures into one: Chinese, Japanese, Russian, etc. So a lot of research went into play.
EL – Her story takes place in the not to distant future, so it mostly feels like it’s taking place now.
JB – She tore down a world, rather than building one up, by completely destroying Los Angeles. That city is near and dear to her heart, so she kind of laughed and said, “You hurt the one you love!” The cults in her book also angered a lot of people from various religions, so that was a challenge she had to get through.
AB – On land, her story takes place today. Underwater, it’s a completely different world. She mentioned that so many cultures and groups of people around the world have images of mermaids in their museums. Maybe one time long ago, mermaids and humans got along. Now, with all of today’s technology, where are they hiding? How can we not find them? That’s the world she had to create.

3. How is your book different from your first draft? 
AB – She received her editorial letter, and after crying and drinking wine, and sleeping, and crying more, she knew her editor was right. She ended up cutting 17,000 words and writing 18,000 new ones.
LB – She did not have to make a ton of changes, but did have to let go of a few things, which was hard for her.
JB – Her draft started at about page 199 of the book she ended up publishing, so she had to do quite a bit of backtracking. She also did a TON of revising.
EL – She sold her manuscript based on the first 150 pages and proposals for the others. After writing and writing, she submitted the rest of her book and her editor wrote back saying, “This is very hard for me to say, but the book you have written is not the book we bought.” She also had to do quite a bit of re-working to make the second half match the first half.
MM – 100% different. There is not one sentence in Cinder that was in her original manuscript. She completely re-wrote it.

4. Discuss your writing environment. (The focus was on food)
MM – She writes in cafes and restaurants. She’s a picky girl. These places must have a plug for her laptop, beverages, and a chair. Haha!
EL – She fosters her ideas in her brain for 12 hours before writing! Before she gets in bed the night before, she thinks about her scene for the next day. Then she sleeps and lets her brain work. Then she wakes up, takes her kids to school, walks to work, turns on some classical music, and writes. And she loves sunflower seeds.
JB – She has to eat continuously. (And she’s cute and skinny!) She writes a few words, then eats, then writes, then eats. A bowl of popcorn and some lemonheads always accompany her.
LB – She goes out to places wearing her bluetooth headset so that she can pretend to have a conversation with someone, but instead talk to herself about her plans and her goals. CLEVER. and SNEAKY. If she’s writing at home, she tries to stay healthy and eat raw broccoli from a huge bag. One time she went out, though, and found it in her hair. Whoops!
AB – She gets up at 4:30 AM to write in her comfy chair, wrapped in a comforter with some coffee. At night she drinks wine and then writes. She does not eat while writing, because crumbs get stuck in the keyboard and you can’t get them out. Blowing and vacuums don’t work. She does take breaks for fried chicken and cheesecake, though.

5. Best experience since you’ve been published?
EL – Us. I got a little teary-eyed. She stood up and told us that we (her fans) are the best thing that’s happened to her book-wise, of course. She then proceeded to tell us that we had the best turn-out of all the other tour stops they went to (so far), and took our picture. She laughed and said we were so big that we did not fit in her camera’s lens. I think it was Anna who said, “That’s not very nice of you to say, Emmy…” :P
MM – Every person she knew showed up to her release party, but one little girl in particular made her night. She walked up to Marissa shaking and said, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done!!” and Marissa said, “Really? Me too!!!” SO cute.
JB – Filming her book trailer was the best, because the cast filled her vision of her characters so well. It’s like she got to meet them. Movies are a huge part of her life, so combining her book with film made her cry.
LB – When people tell her that they were up all night reading her book, because that’s how she is. She also cried when she saw the design of the map of the store in her book. Actually, everything made her cry.
AB – Her elderly mother was a skeptic the entire time Anna was going through the publishing process. She thought for sure Anna was being scammed and stolen from. When Anna got her first payment, she took the statement to her Mom and got to prove that this was the real deal.

Fun, huh? Then we got to get our books, posters, and swag signed! This was so much fun! I saw Anna first, and told her that I interviewed her on my blog, and she said, “And you are…” I told her I was Jana, and she lit up and said, “You’re Jana!!?!??!?” It made my entire week that she remembered me and knew who I was. She personalized my book, and even took the time to draw a really awesome shark on the title page. I am so happy I got to meet her. I’m not sure she’ll know how happy she made me! I’ll admit, I felt a bit famous.

Then I went to Leigh. She signed my things, and then said to me, “Are those your natural eyelashes?” I said yes, and she said, “I am going to punch you in the face right now.” I took that as a major compliment, seeing as how she’s a make-up artist and all! She also knew my name once she heard it! She knew I was a blogger! I swear, I felt so wonderful. My words are getting out there! Then Jennifer signed my poster and bookmark, and I moved on to Emmy, who is SO sweet. We talked a little about her next book (Monument 14: Sky on Fire), which I’m way excited for! I ended my signing with Marissa. She was not on the poster, but brought stickers to stick on the posters and sign her name under. She was so happy and smiley, and seemed really excited to be there! She also let me in on a few confidential secrets. :) I’m going to show off my signatures, poster, and swag this Sunday in my vlog. :)

All in all, this was such a wonderful experience for me! I loved meeting and talking with the authors, and connecting with them on a more personal level. Sometimes I feel like authors are on a different planet than I am. The Author Planet. I don’t run into them. We don’t all pal around at Denny’s late at night. It was fun to see them as real people, who just want to share their love of writing with us. They were all so funny and it was interesting to hear about their experiences as authors so far, their fears, their triumphs, their inspirations, and their quirky personality traits. I know that this is the beginning of a serious addiction of mine. I will be eagerly seeking out more opportunities like this. I’m even more excited to go to ALA now to meet more authors like them!

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Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins (Book Review)

Posted June 12, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins (Book Review)Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins
Published by HQN Books on April 24, 2012
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2.5 Stars
After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon's Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father's wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she's not thrilled...even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.

Having to fend for herself financially for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist's assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn't the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn't the only thing that needs a little TLC.

So… Thanks, Mr. Bieber, for getting this song stuck in my head. Actually, I think the song came before the book… so… yeah. Anywho… Yeah. Sadly, I know this song. Sadder, it’s an easy one to get stuck your head. Saddest, it was ALWAYS in my head. Every time I read, I was thinking of Justin and his silly little boy dance moves (yeah… I’ve seen the music video, too. *facepalm*) So basically, that’s what happened. I read the book, it had a cute story, too much mention of “lady land”, and the Biebs singing in the background. Interesting mixture, no? As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. What a fun story idea! Any of you HGTV-watchers will agree with me that it’s really fun to watch (or in this case, read) a really ugly, crummy, decrepit house be completely flipped and turned into a really cute/gorgeous living space! That’s what’s going on in the background of the story, and I really loved picturing the changes this house went through.

2. Gideon’s Cove, Maine (the setting for this story) is darling. This place sounds like one of those quaint, hidden oceanside towns where everyone knows who you are whether you want them to or not. I really liked all the people she met while she was there, and each character added something special to the story.

3. I liked Parker, because she was not the stereotypical spoiled heiress. No offense to you if you are a spoiled heiress, but I generally don’t like them because they feel entitled and better than everyone else. Of course, there are exceptions, and Parker is one of them. I found it refreshing. Yes, she had to be taught how to change a vacuum cleaner bag, but what counts is that she was willing to learn and then do it herself. I liked that she is the author of a quirky children’s book series, but I really did not like that the characters in her books talked to her. That was weird.

4. James, a.k.a. “Thing One”, is a total babe. He’s Parker’s Dad’s lawyer, and has been hanging out in the background of Parker’s life for years. Now, he’s off to Gideon’s Cove to help Parker spruce up her house, and to crush on her a LOT. He’s had a thing for her, but it’s complicated. You know how it is. He’s got this troubled past that makes him guarded and tough, but his dreams make him completely perfect and sweet. Plus, he’s a hard worker. Phew! I really liked his character.

5. Parker’s son, Nicky, his father Ethan (who is one of her very best friends), and Ethan’s wife Lucy are pretty much Parker’s only family, since her dad screwed his life up and pushed her away. I really liked all the supporting characters, but these three were my favorites (although Malone is pretty great).

6. I liked reading about Parker’s relationship with her dad: how it used to be, how it is now (and why), and how they try to mend fences. It added a deeper feeling to the story that gave me something to root for.

7. I got really tired of hearing about how Parker’s Lady Land perked up when James smiled, or how it stirred when he ripped siding off the house. There was just so much lust! And when they finally did act on things, it was meant to be a fling and only a fling. I guess I’m more of a traditionalist, but I don’t like it when love stories begin with two characters only interested in physical encounters and nothing more than that.

8. Sometimes this book was pretty funny! Here’s my favorite part. Parker had just gotten to Gideon’s Cove, expecting a mansion, and found the little run-down shack she inherited. Of course, she ventured in to assess the situation:

“Hi,” he said, as if she wasn’t murdering her jeans against the hood. “How’s it going?”
“There was a mouse in my pants.”
He raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Lucky Mouse.”
Her breath caught. Wrong thing to say. Wrong. “It’s pretty traumatic to have a rodent in your pants, Thing One,” she snapped. “Unless you like that sort of thing.”
“Oh, hey, sorry princess,” he said, approaching the car. “Didn’t mean to make light of your tragedy.”
“There was a mouse in my pants,” she blurted.

I actually laughed. I enjoy it when that happens!

9. Sometimes I got a little bored with all the dialogue between the main characters and supporting characters that didn’t do much to add to the story. I found myself skimming through a few passages because things were just moving too slowly.

10. The ending made the entire book worth it, and I got pretty teary-eyed. I’m a sap. Haha. It was just really sweet!

While this book had its moments, and the story was appealing, it was not one of my favorite reads and I actually had a bit of a hard time finding the motivation to read it. I’m glad I stuck with it, though, because it was fun to see how everything wrapped up. I got attached to Gideon’s Cove and some of the characters, so I had to see where everyone ended up. I was pleased with how things were left. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy a fluffy summer romance, laced with a deeper lesson on family and healing. This was my first Kristan Higgins book, and I do think she’s an author I’ll consider in the future!

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Bookish Finds: Game Night Edition

Posted June 11, 2012 by Jana in Bookish Finds / 13 Comments


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

Today, can I just show you all of these fun games for lovers of all things bookish? I absolutely love board games, and hosting game nights with my friends and family. Sadly, not many of them are bookish. Would any of you like to come play with me? :)



Book-opoly allows a look inside the many worlds contained in classic literature. It’s a traditional trading game where players buy, sell and trade their way to fun with family and friends. Interesting facts about the books and the authors are printed on the back of each property deed. Roll the dice and advance to READ. Collect Bookstores and trade them in for Libraries. Who knows! You may soon be elected President of the Book Club — or you may be tossed out of the game for three turns and sent to WATCH TV! Whatever happens, you are going to have fun – and perhaps learn a little something too!
Buy It: Amazon



If you like to read, you’ll really love playing Trivial Pursuit Book Lover’s Edition! This game combines the fun of the Trivial Pursuit game with the exciting world of books, authors and literary characters. Inside there are over 2000 fascinating questions from six different categories. You’ll find questions on English and American Literature as well as popular romance novels. Your favorite childhood stories are included, too. From the Mother Goose Classics to Edgar Allen Poe to today’s best-seller’s list, everything fun about books is covered here!

Buy It: Amazon



It Was A Dark & Stormy Night, a game of “first lines,” is one of the quintessential games about books. Bring it to book club for a change of pace, or simply invite your bookish friends over for a night of fun, laughs and a splash of culture!

Participants listen to the opening line or two from a book and identify its title or author. That might sound daunting, but you’ll know more than you think! Impress your friends, and learn about some interesting new books along the way.

Includes a wide variety of categories: Novels, poetry, science fiction, children’s books, books made into movies, classics and the not-so classic.

Buy It: Gone Reading


Bring family and friends together for a literary round of Jenga. Players remove and stack custom blocks which feature thought provoking book-related questions. As the tower builds, so does the dialogue! If you are the last player to stack a block without making the tower fall, you win!

Buy It: Barnes & Noble




Scrabble – Book Lovers Edition is classic Scrabble with a novel twist. Play traditional Scrabble and enhance your score with custom game play including Plot Twist cards and bonus points for literary words. Draw letter tiles form the mini book bag and custom tile racks hold the all-new Plot Twist cards!

Buy It: Amazon

So, what do you think? Want to come over and play some of these with me? I’ll make popcorn and cookies, and we can watch Pride and Prejudice!


Have you played any of these? If so, are they fun?

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I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella (Book Review)

Posted June 9, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 11 Comments

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella (Book Review)I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
Published by The Dial Press on February 14, 2012
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 433
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
I’ve lost it. :( The only thing in the world I wasn’t supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It’s been in Magnus’s family for three generations. And now the very same day his parents are coming, I’ve lost it. The very same day! Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive :) !!

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.

Guys, this is my very first Sophie Kinsella book, and I officially love her to pieces! I really, really debated buying this book. Even on Kindle it’s over $13, and I had not read a book by her before… and I already owned Can You Keep a Secret? and the Shopaholic series, so I should probably read one of those first, right?… but I wanted this because it sounded adorable. Seriously. This inner debate went on for months. Finally, I bit the bullet and bought it before my big Europe trip, and I LOVED IT. I am SO glad I trusted my inner shopaholic and bought this book anyway. It was a great Sophie book to start out with! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The humor is, hands down, my favorite part of this book. Poppy (love that name!) thinks some of the funniest things! Her ring is gone, so doomsday is here. She panics like I panic. Worst case scenario? Yes. No matter what, she worries about the worst possible thing that could happen. And the string of events that occur are priceless. She is so unlucky that it’s almost hard to believe! I laughed a lot.

2. The story is super unique, in my eyes. And the romance is too! What a way to fall in love! Find someone’s fun in a garbage can, and spend days commiserating about the woes of life, not to mention arguing over who deserves the phone. It’s a completely modern love story that totally worked for me. I really want this to be my love story!

3. Poppy is so likeable, and so much fun to read about. Magnus is a stick in the mud you love to hate. Oh, and his parents are stuck up in a hilarious kind of way. And Sam is a snarky and dreamy and incredibly sweet business man, who kind of reminds me of Mr. Darcy. The characters are amazing and dynamic. None of them are perfect (even though some of them think they are!), and their flaws made them real, believable, and memorable.

4. I didn’t like the footnotes. Yeah… there’s about 10 footnotes a chapter. Problem is, I read the Kindle version and the footnotes for each page were not on that page, but compiled in a list on the last page of the chapter. Nobody likes flipping and flipping through the “pages” on Kindle. It’s annoying, and you forget where you are and where you were. I ended up having to ignore them, or trying to remember where the footnotes happened so I could understand the footnote once I got to the end of the chapter. For this reason, most of them made no sense to me, and made me rather frustrated.

I didn’t have a ton to say about this one, did I? Haha. It’s just a wonderful book. Rather than looking for my likes and dislikes, I just read and experienced the story. I didn’t take notes, and I didn’t read critically. I just read it, and I loved it! I don’t know about all her other books, so I’m basing my love of Sophie Kinsella off of this one alone. I’m pretty convinced, though, that I will automatically buy anything she writes from now on! Read this if you love silly, inspiring, makes-you-giddy kind of sweet contemporary romances!

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Armchair BEA 2012: The Future of Book Blogging

Posted June 8, 2012 by Jana in Uncategorized / 10 Comments

Armchair BEA is a fun online event that those of us who could not attend BEA in New York City can participate in! There’s ways to network with other bloggers, posts on blogging tips, giveaways, and happenings at BEA from people who are there. Visit the Armchair BEA blog to see a schedule of events!

Hi everyone! Today is the final day of Armchair BEA, and I’m sad to see it go. Hopefully the friendships we have made will continue to grow after the event is closed, and we go back to our normal blogging lives. Today’s topic encourages all of us to ask our fellow bloggers any questions we’ve got about blogging. I’ve decided on posting a small bookish survey, hoping to gain insight on what people look for when they search for book blogs to follow, and how I can improve my own blog. If you’re a new visitor, would you mind taking a few minutes to look over my blog and let me know what you think? Help me make my blog a place that encourages readers to stay for a while! Thank you!

**By filling out this survey, you will be able to claim two extra entries in my birthday bash giveaway that I will be hosting, beginning on the 22nd.**

Start Survey Now!

It’s only 10 questions, and will pop up in a window momentarily.

Thanks for a wonderful week at Armchair BEA! I have loved getting to know all of you, and learning more about the bookish community. Hopefully we can all meet up at BEA in NYC someday soon!

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Armchair BEA 2012: Life Beyond the Blog

Posted June 7, 2012 by Jana in About Me / 15 Comments

Armchair BEA is a fun online event that those of us who could not attend BEA in New York City can participate in! There’s ways to network with other bloggers, posts on blogging tips, giveaways, and happenings at BEA from people who are there. Visit the Armchair BEA blog to see a schedule of events!

Today’s topic is tricky for me. The creators of Armchair BEA have asked us to, “share your top tips for getting beyond your blog! Have you done any freelance writing? Are you monetizing your blog and how so? How do you make connections outside the book blog community on the internet?” I haven’t freelanced, I’m only an Amazon Associate, and there’s not a lot of ways to get involved in the bookish community where I live. Since none of these really apply to me, I’ve been encouraged to talk about a fun aspect of my life, separate from books.

There’s not a lot I do that’s separate from books! Haha. I’m a graphic designer, and I own my own business called Enchanting Simplicity Graphic Design Studio. Throughout my design career, I have freelanced for Microsoft working on some XBOX things, created a brand identity for a motion picture company, designed websites for schools and small businesses, done a lot of wedding announcements, and designed t-shirts, album covers, advertisements, and books for various performing groups and organizations. I love, LOVE what I do. In the future, I plan to get beyond my blog by designing book covers for self-published authors (and maybe someday I can get on a design team for a major publisher like Harper Collins, Random House, Macmillan, etc. That’s my dream!). Book covers are very exciting things to design, and I already know I love working with authors and other people in the book industry! If you’re looking for a book cover, let’s talk!

When I’m not designing, I love making jewelry, watching re-runs of my favorite shows (like Friends, Saved by the Bell, Wings, etc.), hanging out with my friends and family, and going to MOVIES. I am a major movie-lover. I also love traveling around the world. Reading has really opened my mind and taken me to amazing places. I’ve got this constant hunger to find the locations I read about, and if they don’t exist I like to find places that remind me of them.

Well, this is my life beyond the blog! What’s your life like when you’re not reading or blogging? And what are you doing to achieve the goals you’re hoping to achieve through book blogging? Link me up, and I’ll come visit!

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Armchair BEA 2012: My Life With Books

Posted June 6, 2012 by Jana in About Me / 11 Comments

Armchair BEA is a fun online event that those of us who could not attend BEA in New York City can participate in! There’s ways to network with other bloggers, posts on blogging tips, giveaways, and happenings at BEA from people who are there. Visit the Armchair BEA blog to see a schedule of events!

Today, I get to talk all about my life with books, networking outside the book blogosphere, and what I have done to impact the bookish community locally, rather than just online. This is a topic I simply adore, just because doing this helped me discover that my love of reading is even stronger than I had thought.

After I graduated college in December of 2009, I kind of went through a mini “what now?” crisis. I had my degree, but just didn’t know where to go from there. I knew I wanted to own my own graphic design business, which I do now, but I didn’t know if I wanted to only do that, or if I wanted to do that as a side thing and find something else to do as well. Long story short, I had to feel useful until I knew what I was going to do with my life. I decided to start volunteering at a local elementary school, teaching children how to read and/or speak English. The school I chose did not have enough employees to reach every child who was in need of extra help. Most of the children come from low-income families, and almost all of them are Spanish-speakers. I knew this would be a wonderful use of my time.

I started working with children one-on-one for several hours a week, and really enjoyed it. My kids and I bonded, and it was amazing to see the transformations they went through. It was so fast! I had one little guy in particular who had just arrived from Mexico. Not only did I have to try and teach him to read, I had to teach him English! We went through the alphabet every day, and he would get so excited when he got things right. It was an amazing experience. I ended up being offered a job, and I snatched it up. I spent the whole next year tutoring in reading, teaching English and phonics to different classes of youngsters, smiling every time I heard “Miss Jana!!!”, and getting lots of hugs.

In a way, this blog is dedicated to them. I constantly think of my littles, and all the amazing things we learned together. They made me realize how important reading is, and how exciting it can be. I watched the tears fall when it was too hard, and we jumped up and down together when it all of a sudden became easier for them. Those breakthrough moments made me grateful for my education. I think about them every time I close a book. Some of them have excelled far and beyond beyond their grade levels, and some are still working. I like to think I was able to give something back to them, though, as they all changed my life forever.

Please, PLEASE link me to your awesome posts for today’s topic! I’ll come visit as soon as I can!

Oh, and can I just thank all of you? I hit 500 followers tonight, and could not be more thrilled! I love you all!

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