Format: Paperback

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle | Book Review

Posted April 2, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle | Book ReviewYou Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
Published by GP Putnam's Sons on April 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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5 Stars

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They're preparing for their lavish wedding that's three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there's a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they're finally being themselves--and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

The first line of You Deserve Each Other‘s synopsis had me hook, line, and sinker. “When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé…” How could you not be intrigued by this kind of book? Lovers… to enemies… to lovers. This is pretty much never done in the book world (at least that I’m aware of). Contemporary romances tend to fall under a lot of the same tropes and storylines, so I was immediately excited to read something unique. And I LOVED it. Brand new favorite, pre-ordered the moment I finished it. If this book is not on your radar, adjust your radar. You’ll thank me later. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. This book begins right in the nitty gritty of Naomi and Nicholas’s relationship. There’s no meet-cute, no getting-to-know-you, no twitterpated glances across a crowded room. That’s all already happened. We are thrown into a relationship that is seriously on the rocks. It was so refreshing to see a real relationship from a different angle. Rather than starting at ground level and moving up, we’ve got a relationship that’s already been up there and is quickly plummeting downwards. I loved reading about these two characters, and their theories of how they got to this point.

2. I will admit that this book took a little time to hook me. The hatred, mostly on Naomi’s side (since she’s our narrator and her point of view is the only one we get to read), was so SO heavy. But once it took hold, I was fully invested in this story. If you find yourself bogged down or struggling, keep going!

3. Sarah Hogle did a really awesome job of keeping this completely hilarious while also bringing deeper issues to the forefront. When you really think about the premise of this story. it’s actually very sad. These two people, once very much in love, have pushed each other to the brink of ruin. They’re able to so perfectly and effectively push each other’s buttons because they used to avoid pushing them at one point. I laughed at Naomi’s inner ramblings of how much she couldn’t stand Nicholas. I laughed at their antics and their immature acts of sabotage. And then I felt sad for them because this is a relationship that is about to flat-line at any minute! But the entire time I also felt such a strong sense of hope for them. I’d see a glimmer of love here and there, and it’d make me yell: “STOP IT CHILDREN! Can’t you see how much you love each other!?” Naomi and Nicholas do a lot of reflecting and go through a lot of emotional baggage throughout the story and even though I mentioned the strong hate vibes, it was never too much for me. It felt very real and raw. I felt them longing for each other as often as I felt them resenting each other. It quickly becomes obvious that the money one of them would lose if they cancel the wedding is not the soul reason they haven’t called it off.

4. Naomi took some time to worm her way into my heart, but Nicholas got there almost immediately. He made a pretty dumb decision in the beginning of the story that had me side-eyeing him, but by the end I realized it was the absolute best decision he could have made for their relationship. The gears in his brain are constantly working on ways to save them. Yes, he’s really good at the emotional warfare but I never felt like he pushed things too far. Naomi seemed to be the one who had nothing to lose, and I felt like she hit below the belt more. Nicholas seemed to be reacting. He was protecting himself and retaliating more than instigating. I really felt for him, especially once I learned how sentimental and romantic he can be.

5. Many of the pranks and shenanigans were hilarious. Nothing felt abusive. These two are actually very passive aggressive, which readers will quickly learn is the bud of the issue. They bottle up their resentment and never talk about it with each other. Passive aggressive people can be super entertaining, though, and that’s why things worked so well in this story.

6. The emphasis on communication and working through your issues was strong in this book, and I really liked that message. You can’t ever stop working on a relationship. It’s not always easy. This message is not usually presented to readers in contemporary romance, and I really appreciated that Sarah Hogle was able to do this without sounding preachy. It was done in a very lighthearted way.

7. The writing is very sharp and smart, and I still can’t believe how Sarah made me feel so many things all at the same time.

8. The characters are so well done! Even our side characters are amazing. Naomi works at this quirky little shop and has some great friends. Her boss is the biggest teddy bear. Nicholas’s mother is the definition of a momzilla. You will LOVE how the momzilla situation goes down.

9. For those concerned… there is a way happier ending to this book that I expected.

I left out a lot of my feelings because this really is the kind of book you need to read and experience and form your own opinions about. I love Naomi and Nicholas. I loved watching their relationship. I loved all the fall vibes and the cute little cottage they lived in. I loved the lake in the back and the coveralls and the feelings. You Deserve Each Other is a sweet, real, hopeful story. I loved it.

5 Stars

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

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

The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer | Book ReviewThe Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer
Published by Laurel Leaf on October 11, 2005
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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5 Stars

I’m Kate Bjorkman. I don’t like romance novels. They’re full of three-paragraph kisses describing people’s tongues and spittle. But what do you do if you’ve lived a real romance with a great-looking guy (Richard) and he loves you as much as you love him? I know what I did. I wrote this romance novel about myself, using the Romance Writer’s Phrase Book. I also used stuff my English teacher taught me about writing. He said a story must have conflict. No problem there. My life was one big conflict last Christmas. I didn’t make anything up. This is the honest truth and I want truth even in romance. I’m betting you’ll want the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. CHRISTMAS! This book is so sparkly and Christmasy, and perfect. Kate’s family has this huge traditional Swedish Christmas with lots of yummy food, decorations, great music playing all the time, a TON of snow, Christmas tree shopping and trimming, etc. I am so in the mood for Christmas right now.

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

Richard Bradshaw filled the doorway.

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

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

 

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

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

 

5 Stars

Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book Review

Posted July 5, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book ReviewUnder the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham
Series: The MacDonnells #1
Published by Berkley on January 3, 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 319
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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3 Stars

The year is 1746. A young woman from South Carolina and a Scottish Highlander share an intimacy and devotion beyond their understanding. They have had visions of each other their entire lives. And yet they have never met.

Now, with their lives torn asunder, Maggie Johnson and Andrew MacDonnell's quest to find each other is guided only by their dreams— and by the belief in the true love they share.

On the Carolina frontier Maggie Johnson’s family struggles to survive. Maggie’s gift of “the sight” and her visions show her a presence she calls Wolf. She watches him grow from a boy her age to a man even as she goes from child to woman.

Andrew MacDonald has always wondered about the girl he sees in his dreams. He is able to talk to her through their thoughts and vows that even if he must cross an ocean he will find her.

They are thrust into different situations: Andrew fights for the doomed Jacobite cause and Maggie is captured by slavers, then rescued and brought into a kind, loving Native American tribe. They each believe in destiny and the power of the love they have shared forever.

Lots of things about this book excited me. I love historical romance, the back of the book and the cover reminded me of a light, fluffy romance with a paranormal twist (like a Lynn Kurland book), and I loved the idea of telepathic communication across the world, between two characters who have never actually met each other. During tough times these two characters appeared to one other to help, either delivering advice or actual strength. As they got older, their ability to communicate grew stronger and they began to fall in love. The romance was incredibly sweet. They were childhood sweethearts, who were there for each other all the time, even though they were on completely different continents. I love this idea.

While I did like it, this book is far from the light, fluffy romance I was expecting. The cover is quite deceptive, as this book is a rather heavy and sometimes dark read. This time period was a pretty awful time, especially for women, and the author does not sugar coat it, which I respected. At the very beginning of the book, Maggie witnesses the death and/or murders of several family members. She and her sisters are abducted by men hoping to sell them, and are beaten and raped to within an inch of their lives. Andrew goes to war in Scotland, and also experiences a lot of death and heartache. This is all described in great detail, and it actually upset me so much that I thought I would not be able to continue. I was so curious to see how things ended, though, that I decided to continue on with it. To all my fellow tender hearts out there, if you can make it to page 115, you are going to be just fine. The book does lighten up, and it even gets suspenseful and exciting!

A tribe of Cherokee Indians rescues Maggie and her sister from their captors, and takes them in as part of their family. I loved this entire protective and loving group of people. I have not had the opportunity to read much about Native American tribes, except for my history books in school. I learned so much about the culture and belief system of this tribe, and was captivated by their story and strong, almost religious, ties to Mother Nature.

I really, really liked Maggie and Andrew. Maggie is so incredibly strong and resilient. I admire her, and wish I had the kind of strength she has. Andrew is the perfect sexy Scottish highlander. He cares so much for Maggie, his family, and his friends. He’s also very loyal and honorable. We see him interact with two very young orphaned children, and he is amazingly sweet with them. He really is pretty perfect, and I know I would love it if he came to me in my dreams! His accent is also pretty adorable, but sometimes I had to read his lines out loud in order to understand them. :)

Genevieve’s writing style is gorgeous. Her word choice stirred the same emotions in me that her characters felt. She sent me to the woods where Maggie was held captive, to the battle fields of Scotland, to the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, and to the deep southern colonies of North America. The dreams Maggie and Andrew had about each other were mystical and magical. Everything seemed so real to me, and I was completely captivated, even though parts of this book really upset and disturbed me.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of historical romances with a bit of a paranormal twist. Yes, it’s heavy and dark in places. Yes, I had a hard time convincing myself to finish it at one point, but I am so glad I did. You can’t fault the author for retelling history. This all really happened, and I was amazed reading what people are willing to do to each other. The story is also magical and romantic, and I really loved reading about Maggie and Andrew’s journey to find one another. We are left with no loose ends, and you’ll be very happy with how things turn out in the end.

3 Stars

All Summer Long by Hope Larson | Graphic Novel Review

Posted June 28, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade / 1 Comment

All Summer Long by Hope Larson | Graphic Novel ReviewAll Summer Long by Hope Larson
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux on May 1, 2018
Genres: Realistic Fiction
Pages: 176
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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2 Stars

A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written and illustrated by the Eisner Award–winning and New York Times–bestselling Hope Larson.

Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he's off to soccer camp for a month, and he's been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it's up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it's a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin's older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he's acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.

I’ve started developing interest in graphic novels over the last few years, which was a major surprise to me because I’ve always overlooked them. More and more have been trickling in from various publishers, and I’m really seeing the graphic novel format take off, especially for younger readers. I thought All Summer Long sounded like a fun, light read and was excited to dig in. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough substance for me and it felt much younger than I would have liked.

I enjoy coming-of-age stories, but I don’t feel like All Summer Long was a good example of one. I suppose the characters go through some changes, but they felt more like normal kid changes than coming-of-age. When a story is described as a “coming-of-age story”, you expect some major growth. Bina is 13, and she’s spending her summer alone while her best friend, Austin, is at summer camp. She spends the summer playing/listening to music, and hanging out with Austin’s older sister. She gets to babysit and go to a concert and deal with all the normal kid drama: fights, heightened emotions, and overreactions. At the end, she seemed to be pretty much the same person she was in the beginning. The story was very, very simple and the characters seemed like cardboard cutouts. There just wasn’t anything grabbing me and sucking me in.

I know I’m the wrong demographic, but I work with kids who are about this age. Actually, my kids are about a year younger and they don’t talk like these characters. They don’t use the word “bae” or say “like” every other word. I feel like the author tried to write for tweens and young teens, but without a real understanding of what those kids are like today. These kids seemed younger than mine until they said “bae”, which people my age (late 20’s, early 30’s) were already saying when these kids were toddlers. It just felt really unrealistic to me.

The illustrations were fun, but too stylized for me. The proportions were off and there were inconsistencies in the looks of the characters from page to page. Sometimes I had a hard time telling some of the secondary characters apart. It was easy to read and the boxes flowed in a nice way. I rarely read sections out of order because I didn’t know which box came first, which has happened to me in other graphic novels I’ve read.

All in all, this one just didn’t work for me. I shut the book and immediately wrote my review because I’m not even sure I’ll be able to remember it. I would choose to recommend other graphic novels over this one.

2 Stars

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher | Book Review

Posted January 18, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 10 Comments

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher | Book ReviewStolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
Published by Chicken House on May 4, 2009
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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5 Stars

It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist--almost.

I’ve always had a weird fascination with kidnapping stories. I enjoy reading the stories of the survivors because I find them to be hopeful and inspiring. I sometimes get bogged down in my own life and forget to be thankful for what I do have. These stories remind me that I’m safe and I’m loved. And if these victims can survive and bring good from their experience (I’m thinking of people like Elizabeth Smart), then I can survive my own life too. Stolen really made me think, and I think that that’s what I loved most about it.

Stolen is a very unique take on the typical kidnapping/crime novel. The entire book is written as a letter from Gemma to her captor after her rescue, and I loved that about it. She actually talks to him, telling him her entire story as if he wasn’t there. We get to read her thoughts and her interpretations and her feelings about everything that happened while they were together in the Australian Outback. We know exactly how everything impacted her, and we get to see the evolution of her going from fight mode to complacency mode to sympathetic mode. We get to watch her as she goes from hating him with everything she had to almost loving him. I’ll admit, it even happened to me. I had to get real with myself and say, “Jana… he kidnapped her. He isolated her. He took away her freedom. Why are you hoping a romance blooms? That’s nuts!” And it is nuts! What Ty did to her was wrong, awful, traumatizing, despicable. I was frustrated with myself for falling into the same kind of trance Gemma did. It was all very real and emotional and so beautifully written. This book was real enough and sneaky enough to make me develop a little Stockholm Syndrome with her. If I didn’t believe that words had power before, I do now.

I don’t want to say much more, as this is a book you truly need to read and take in on your own in order to really understand it. I think it’s important to note, however, that Ty did nothing of a sexual nature to Gemma. There’s no rape, no sexual abuse, not even any touching. I know this happens more often than not in real life stories like Stolen, and that many captives are not a fraction as lucky as Gemma is. This would have been way too upsetting for me to read, though, so I am grateful that this was not a part of Gemma’s story.

All in all, this is a powerful, beautiful, emotionally confusing and enthralling read. I can see why it is recognized as a Printz honor book. It’s unique and really makes you think. I’d recommend it to pretty much anyone.

5 Stars

Beneath a Sapphire Sea by Jessica Bryan | Mini Book Review

Posted September 29, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Beneath a Sapphire Sea by Jessica Bryan | Mini Book ReviewBeneath a Sapphire Sea by Jessica Bryan
Series: Merfolk Trilogy #3
Published by Fanfare on August 1, 1993
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 437
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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5 Stars

Beneath the shimmering, sunlit surface of the ocean there lives a race of rare and wondrous men and women. They have walked upon the land, but their true heritage is as beings of the sea. Now their people face a grave peril. And one woman holds the key to their survival...

She was a sultry siren with an undiscovered heritage.

A scholar of sea lore, Meredith had come to the Greek island to follow her academic pursuits. But in one magical meeting she gazed into the mesmerizing blue eyes of a proud, determined warrior of the sea...and was eternally linked with a world far more elusive and mysteriously seductive than her own. For she alone possessed a scroll that held the secrets of his people. She alone was their only hope. And she alone would surrender to the powers of a love destined by the tides.

He was an azure-eyed warrior of a long-forgotten race.

With eyes that told the stories of eternity, Galen lured this exquisite woman to join him in a battle for power beneath the sea. For now Galen's clan faces two enemies: Anastas, who wars against his own people, and a deadly unseen foe. He will cross into Meredith's world to choose her as a bold warrior for his people—and as his only love. He will share with her the secrets of a realm beyond time and imagining, and together they will emerge victorious as the keepers of its fate...or see its fragile beauty destroyed forever.

(Even though this is book 3 in a trilogy, each novel is a stand-alone)

I read a raving review for this book on a romance column and was so interested by the unique storyline that I had to buy it! I went on Amazon to order it and found that it was out of print. I kind of panicked because most good books that are out of print are extremely expensive. I found one for a penny, though! So exciting!

Meredith, a landwoman and historian, goes to the Greek islands to study ancient legends about the sea. While there, she comes across Galen, a mysterious and very sexy man with rippling muscles and long dark hair. He claims to also be a scholar and offers to show her around. Meredith soon learns that Galen is different. He can read an ancient language even the most learned scholars can’t identify, he has no problems at all with being wet, and he has heightened senses. She soon learns he is a merman.

Galen’s people and friends are dying of a mysterious illness that apparently only Meredith can remedy. Galen knows this, but Meredith has no idea who she is or the knowledge she possesses. As Galen sets out to gain this knowledge, he falls in love with her and she with him. A lasting bond is formed between the two of them as they begin their journey together to save Galen’s people and learn the truth about Meredith.

I must say that it was SO worth the effort I put in to getting a copy of this book in my possession. I loved it! The descriptions Jessica Bryan writes are beautifully written. I felt like I was the one swimming through the water, gazing at all the scenery, and feeling all the feelings the characters felt. I got so wrapped up in the story and the characters that I became unaware of my own surroundings. LOVED this amazingly beautiful and magical romance.

This review was originally posted on April 24, 2012 and was re-posted for some extra love.

5 Stars

Beastly by Alex Flinn | Mini Book Review + Movie Thoughts

Posted March 13, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 22 Comments

Beastly by Alex Flinn | Mini Book Review + Movie ThoughtsBeastly by Alex Flinn
Published by HarperTEEN on October 2, 2007
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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4 Stars

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright--a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever--ruined--unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

I was really worried about reading a modern take on “Beauty and the Beast.” I love that story so much already that I was worried Flinn was going to ruin it. I absolutely loved it! I love the transformation Kyle makes from being a complete jerk to being Prince Charming. I mean, he was so mean and self-centered… and he really hurt people and didn’t care! He makes a complete 180, and the difference is amazing. I can see many people falling for this guy!

He meets Lindy because of her father. He got into some major trouble, and the only way to get himself out of it was to essentially give his daughter to the Kyle. Their relationship goes from absolute loathing, to tolerance, to curiosity, to a blooming romance. I love the amount of concern Kyle shows for Lindy and her well-being.

I really liked Will (Kyle’s blind tutor) and Magda (Kyle’s housekeeper) too. They were entertaining i nthe same way that Lumiere and Cogsworth are from the Disney movie.

All in all, it was a great story. Kyle’s thoughtfulness and generosity were highlights for me. If you love Beauty and the Beast, this book will not disappoint you at all. I’d recommend it to people who enjoy modern retellings of timeless fairy tales.

My thoughts on the movie version:

I was really excited to see what Hollywood was going to do to Beastly. I loved the magic of the story, and the characters were wonderful. When I saw who was playing Lindy, though, I was majorly disappointed. I’ve never been a fan of Vanessa Hudgens, and I did not think she did a very good job playing this role. And then when I found out that Mary-Kate Olsen was cast as Kendra (the witch), I almost boycotted watching it. But then it came out on DVD, and so many of my friends loved it… so I decided to try it. I thought it was just ok.

Alex Pettyfer was totally not who I pictured as Kyle. I was looking for the tall, dark and handsome type… more like Paul Wesley (Stefan from The Vampire Diaries). This guy just did not seem like he had enough going for him to be able to cause such pain in the lives of his classmates. His “beastly” look was also not what I pictured, but I liked it. It worked. Like I said, Vanessa and Mary-Kate were not the right people to cast, in my opinion… but Mary-Kate did do a great job at looking witchy. I loved Neil Patrick Harris as Will. That was a wonderful choice.

Overall, I am SO glad I read the book before the movie came out. It would have ruined the book for me if I had seen the movie first. The acting and special effects were “meh” for me, and I will most likely not watch this again. The book is so much better, so you should definitely read it, especially if you enjoyed the movie.

 

4 Stars

Love Between the Lines: An Adult Coloring Book for Book Lovers | Coloring Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted November 8, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway / 0 Comments

Love Between the Lines: An Adult Coloring Book for Book Lovers | Coloring Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Love Between the Lines: An Adult Coloring Book for Book Lovers | Coloring Book Review (+ Giveaway)Love Between the Lines: An Adult Coloring Book for Book Lovers by Christina Collie
Published by Forever on November 8, 2016
Genres: Activity Book
Pages: 96
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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3 Stars

Fall in love all over again with this adult coloring book featuring 45 hand-drawn illustrations inspired by romance novels from bestselling writers Colleen Hoover, Anna Todd, S.C. Stephens, Abbi Glines, K. Bromberg, Jodi Ellen Malpas and more. Sit back, grab your pens and markers, and get ready to explore LOVE BETWEEN THE LINES.

In the pages of this book you will find:
· Designs to help you relax and reduce stress
· Hidden images and book quotes
· Each design printed on a separate page
· Elaborate drawings s as well as quickie pages for when you just have a few minutes to color

Illustrations inspired by the works of:

Anna Todd, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Colleen Hoover, S.C. Stephens, Abbi Glines, K. Bromberg, Claire Contreras, Jillian Dodd, Amy Harmon, Tiffany King, R.K. Lilley, Molly McAdams, Tara Sivec, Alessandra Torre, Mia Sheridan, J. Sterling, Katy Evans, Emma Chase, S.L. Jennings, K.A. Linde, Beth Ehemann, Tarryn Fisher, Karina Halle, Helena Hunting, Leisa Rayven, Madeline Sheehan, and K. A. Tucker

I really love coloring books, and have a pretty sizable collection of my own. I’ve done a lot of research on coloring books, always on the lookout for ones I think I’ll love. While I love the idea of Love Between the Lines, it’s not my favorite. Perhaps if I had read any of the books that these pages are inspired by I’d feel differently, but I was hoping for something more bookish. There’s a huge variety of things to color, though, and that’s a lot of fun. I think it would be hard to get bored coloring in this. Many of the pages remind me of pages in an I Spy book. You know, lots of hidden images all centered around a central theme. There’s so many little details and the pages are nice and big, so it’s not hard to stay in the lines. My markers did bleed through onto the next page, though, so be careful.

I’d certainly recommend this coloring book to lovers of romance novels, especially if you’ve read and loved books by the authors that inspired these illustrations. I find coloring to be incredibly relaxing, and this book has a little something for everyone. Here are a couple os the coloring pages:

love-me-with-lies

 

thoughtless


About Christina Collie

Christina Collie is a twenty-eight-year-old Tennessee native who began doodling images inspired by her favorite books almost four years ago before launching Doodles by Christina. Since then she has doodled over 50 images and has sold prints around the globe. Outside of being a huge bookworm, she enjoys watching LSU football, playing with her dog Nola, and hanging out on her best friend’s farm. This is her first coloring book.

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3 Stars

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller | Book Review

Posted April 24, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller | Book Review

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller | Book ReviewThe Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
Series: Nerd #1
Published by Entangled Teen on May 7, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Won
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5 Stars

On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.

Welcome to my spot along the Romancing the Nerd blog tour, hosted by YAReads Blog Tours! Today I get to read the first book in this cute set of companion novels, and I’m pretty excited because I LOVED The Summer I Became a Nerd! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Nerd. I was sold at nerd. I’m a nerd myself and I love nerdy things (like Big Bang Theory and Sidney White and fangirling), so this book spoke to me. I love all the nerdiness: the comic books, the LARPing, the cosplay, the smelling of the comic book store, the Princess Bride references. It was just so much fun!

2. We have Maddie, our closet nerd… She is hilarious! Yes, she bugged me at times because I wanted to shake her and say, “EMBRACE WHO YOU ARE SILLY GIRL!!” but she’s a teenager and teenagers can be like this in high school. I can understand her need to adhere to her popular image and date the idiot jock whom she didn’t even like, much less love, just because he’s a status symbol, but I didn’t love this about her. She does grow and change, though, and that made me love her. So yay for winning my heart, Maddie!

3. Logan is an adorkable dream. He’s so self aware and confident with who he is. I loved watching him try to win Maddie over. The scene where they meet for the first time is about the cutest meet cute I’ve read.

4. The supporting characters are golden. I loved Logan’s mom, and how supportive and fun she was. I loved his little quirky sister. Dan’s drama was great, but his language could use a little cleaning up. Really, though, the entire cast of characters was amazing.

5. The romance, like I said, is pretty dang cute.

This review was short and sweet, but I don’t want to spoil anything by going on. All in all, this is such a fun, sweet, swoony book! I loved everything about it! If you’re at all nerdy, love a nerd, or wish you were a nerd I beg of you to grab a copy of this book!


Romancing the Nerd is all about Logan’s best friend Dan, and it came out on April 5th! See how his former nerdom (seriously, how can Dan become un-nerdy?) creeps back in to his life in the form of a cute redheaded girl named Zelda. Once a nerd, always a nerd? I guess you’ll have to read and find out!

romancing the nerdRomancing the Nerd by Leigh Rae Miller
April 5, 2016 from Entangled Teen
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Dan Garrett has become exactly what he hates—popular. Until recently, he was just another live-action role-playing (LARP) geek on the lowest run of the social ladder. Cue a massive growth spurt and an uncanny skill at taking three-point shots in basketball and voila…Mr. Popular. It’s definitely weird.
And the biggest drawback? Going from high school zero to basketball hero cost Dan the secret girl-of-his-dorky dreams.

A tuba-playing nerd with an eclectic fashion sense, Zelda Potts’s “Coolness” stat is about minus forty-two. Dan turning his back on her and the rest of nerd-dom was brutal enough, but when he humiliates her at school, Zelda decides it’s time for a little revenge—dork style. Nevermind that she used to have a crush on him. Nevermind that her plan could backfire big time.

It’s time to roll the dice…and hope like freakin’ hell she doesn’t lose her heart in the process.


Follow the rest of the tour! 

5 Stars

501 Must-Visit Destinations | Book Review

Posted January 28, 2016 by Jana in Adult Non-Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

501 Must-Visit Destinations | Book Review501 Must-Visit Destinations by David Brown, Jackum Brown, Kieran Fogarty, Rebecca Walder
Published by Bounty Books on January 1, 2006
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 544
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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5 Stars

The book covers 501 must-visit destinations, ranging from remote hideaways and tropical islands to bustling cities, breathtaking monuments and stunning landscapes across the world. Stunning photography sits alongside informative text and a summary of don't-miss features of each site.

I’m plagued with a very serious disease called wanderlust. I live to explore new places, which is hard when you’re a poor grad school student. The next best thing is to flip through books like these and transport yourself to a new place, free of charge. This book takes you to every possible vacation spot ever! It covers Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean, Asia, Australasia and Oceania, Europe, and the Middle East. The pages all have color-coded tabs that tell you where you are. Each destination gets one page with about 4-6 paragraphs of text and a beautiful image or two. There’s also a sidebar for each location that tells you a number of different important facts about when to go, how to get there, any yummy foods you should try, what to do while you’re there, where to stay, legends, taboo, entrance fees, and any social etiquette you should be aware of. The main body of the text discusses the history, culture, and other interesting tidbits.

I learned a lot on my journey with this book! Let me highlight some of my favorite facts. Did you know that Lake Malawi has the largest variety of freshwater tropical fish in the world? In Egypt, women should cover their knees and shoulders in public. Cat Island in the Bahamas is where Columbus first landed in the New World. For all you pink-lovers out there, visit Barbuda in the Caribbean! They have a pink sand beach! Canada has its own serpent-like creature lurking around the waters of the Lake Okanagan. Sightings have been made at least once a year, unlike the Loch Ness Monster. They also have a Sasquatch-like creature creeping through the islands of God’s Pocket. I had no idea that the Florida Everglades is the only place on earth where alligators and crocodiles cohabit!

Moving on. Welcome to Asia! Did you know that the Buddhists believe that mountain Kailasa is the birthplace of the world? They feel this way because there are four rivers that flow down its slopes into the four corners of the world. I’d love to see that, wouldn’t you? Be careful, though! According to the locals, setting foot on its slopes is a dire sin. You might die. That’d put a damper on the vacation, huh? Thought so.

Remember how “The Bear Necessities” in Disney’s The Jungle Book mentions the pawpaw (prickly pear)? Well, Captain Bligh is credited with introducing that fruit to the people of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. The Louvre used to be the world’s largest palace before it became the world’s largest art museum. Europe has its own Grand Canyon: Les Gorges du Verdon in France. The film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was partially filmed in Neuschwanstein—the royal palace in the Bavarian Alps of Germany. The beautiful British Museum is totally and completely amazing… plus, entrance is FREE! Good to know!

Anyone seen the movie Leap Year? Part of it takes place in beautiful Dingle. A dolphin named Fungie has lived in that harbor since 1984. Makes me want to visit even more now! Mount Athos, in Greece, is the treasury of the Greek Orthodox faith and only men can apply to enter. Men, if you’re interested be sure to apply at least 6 months in advance because only 10 are allowed to visit per day. Spain has its own Guggenheim Museum! It looks just as awesome as the famous Guggenheim in New York. Our journey ends in the Middle East with a personal favorite: Jerusalem. Did you know that Jerusalem is also known as “the City of Peace”? Kind of ironic, considering it’s the most disputed city on earth.

Doesn’t this make you want to jump on a plane and start exploring? This book is 544 pages of dream vacations, and I would love to visit every single one of them. I am really annoyed that the book did not come with plane tickets and travel accommodations for each of these destinations. I mean, come on! I would recommend this book to any traveler, whether you’re experienced or just daydream about it a lot.

5 Stars