Genre: Contemporary Romance

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book Review

Posted October 3, 2016 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 1 Comment

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book ReviewP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Published by Point on July 26, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 330
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Barnes & Noble Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds thatsomeone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

What’s a girl to read the day after she finishes A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas? I was worried no book would pull me out of the already very strong hangover I was experiencing. I had heard amazing things about P.S. I Like You, so I figured I’d give it a try. I LOVED it. It was exactly what I needed! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

(This is a spoiler-free review. I will not use the names of any guys in this story, so you won’t find out who Lily’s mystery guy is from me!)

1. This is my first Kasie West book. I had tried one other of hers, but did not finish it. I must have been in the wrong frame of mind or needing a different kind of book that day. I’m going to go back to that book and pick up more of hers!

2. The story is so unique and special to me. I loved this romance that bloomed from handwritten notes hidden under desks. It felt nostalgic to me, and reminiscent of my high school years where we wrote notes to each other rather than texts or emails (boy, do I sound old… it’s not like these things weren’t around, but texting was relatively new, Facebook wasn’t a thing yet, and the lack of smart phones prevented email/MySpace communication during school hours… lol).

3. Music is a huge theme in this story, and I loved that! I love that Lily and her mystery guy connected over their nearly identical tastes in obscure music. Lily is also a songwriter, so we read a lot about her lyrics brainstorm sessions.

4. The characters are amazing. I love awkward, odd, hilarious Lily and her sweet family. She’s got adorable relationships with her little brothers, her older sister, and her parents. This book has the family dynamic done right. I love the strong friendship between Lily and her best friend. Those two are friendship goals. There’s also the hunk of burning love Lily has a crush on but is scared to look at for too long and the jerky guy who has caused her so much hurt and embarrassment for years. Each character is well developed, their own person, and an important part of the story. And seriously, the relationships are the best part.

5. The notes are so cute! Both Lily and her mystery guy let their personalities shine through and are their true selves with one another. That’s rare, especially in high school when you’re not even completely sure who your true self is. We get to learn so much about these two–intimate details that round them out and make you pull for them. I was just as excited to read their daily notes as they were!

6. I LOVE the mystery guy. So much snark, sarcasm, and swoon. He’s adorable, yet flawed. He’s real and sweet and even though I figured out who he was pretty easily I loved the mystery anyway. I also love that his identity is revealed at about the halfway point and we get to see how everything pans out.

7. So. Much. Swooning. The romance is adorable.

8. Halloween and Thanksgiving happen in this book, so I will always associate this book with fall and the holidays. I read this at the exactly perfect time of year, and I love how the holidays were covered in this book. I would love to go to Thanksgiving at Lily’s house. I adore her family and their silly traditions.

Bottom line, I have no complaints. I loved this book, and I can’t wait to read more books from Kasie West. Definitely give this a try if you’re looking for wonderful, developed relationships; sweet, amazing characters; and a swoony romance. Seriously, just read it.

 


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 / 4 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 Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Won
Amazon Add to Goodreads
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
Add to Goodreads | Buy from Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

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! 


The Kiss Before Christmas by Sophie Pembroke | Mini Book Review

Posted December 23, 2015 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

The Kiss Before Christmas by Sophie Pembroke | Mini Book ReviewThe Kiss Before Christmas by Sophie Pembroke
Published by Harper Impulse on December 19, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 108
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
An English Girl in New York

As the snow starts to fall on Manhattan, PA Dory Mackenzie is a long way from home, far from the comforts and cheer of her cozy family Christmases back in Liverpool.

So when her boss Tyler Alexander offers to pay her pricey ticket home for New Year, Dory just can’t say no… even if she has to pretend to be his girlfriend for the holidays!

Tyler may be hiding the real reason he needs a girlfriend-of-convenience but that’s the least of Dory’s worries when she’s up against the disapproval of his high society mother, and the suspicions of his gorgeous older brother Lucas, the black sheep of the family.

There’s no fooling Lucas, and it’s not just the truth he wants to get closer to… So before the bells have even rung out for Christmas day, Dory finds herself caught up in the Alexander family’s dramas – and sharing more than just a few kisses under the mistletoe!

This book was just ok for me, which is why I don’t have much to say about it. lol. It’s a short, festive Christmas read, but I felt like the story was a little too big for the size of the book. Things moved too quickly to seem realistic to me. I liked the idea of the story–a girlfriend of convenience always ends up going crazy, and I was intrigued to see how this would work out. Tyler is a jerk, though, and Lucas (his brother) falls a little too fast. Actually, he and Dory both fall for each other really fast. They have one late-night conversation over leftover chocolate cake, and all of a sudden things get feelingsy and dramatic pretty quick. The Alexander family is not warm and fuzzy, and I never grew to like them for any reason. I liked Lucas a lot, and his interactions with Dory were sweet and romantic. There was a scene where he and Dory went looking for a Christmas tree, which was sweet. The entire story as a whole, though, was a bit of a disappointment.


Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards | Book Review

Posted December 18, 2015 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards | Book ReviewOperation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards
Series: Escape to the Country #2.5
Also in this series: Operation Mistletoe Magic
Published by Pan Macmillan AU on December 17, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 153
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars
Hollie Douglas has dreamed of a White Christmas ever since she was a child, but her dream implodes when her fiancé breaks her heart two months before their big day. Convinced by her best friend to go ahead with her planned honeymoon anyway, Hollie doesn't expect to find herself stuck in a snowstorm in rural Canada two days before Christmas.

Jim Bell has been dreading another Christmas without his wife. When one of his orphaned animals goes missing in the middle of a snowstorm, he didn't expect he'd be rescuing a stranded Australian tourist as well. He quickly realizes Hollie is carrying as much emotional baggage as him, and when she accepts his offer to seek shelter at his farm, he wonders if he's doing the right thing.

As Jim helps Hollie fulfil her White Christmas dreams, the winter wonderland and spirit of Christmas work their healing magic on both of them.

This book is adorable. I’m not even kidding. I don’t even have much to say about it (it’s short), other than the fact that I LOVED it so much. It’s one of my new favorite Christmas books, and I’m hoping to re-read it every year or so. It’s a sweet and swoony, feel-good, perfectly clean Christmas story that really got me in the holiday spirit. I loved the characters, the dog, the baby llama, the snow, the setting, the feelings, the activities they did together, the revelations, the writing style, and the ending. Really, I have no complaints, except that I wish it had been longer! I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m keeping this review short and pretty much detail-free. The story is so romantic and magical, that readers are going to wish it had happened to them.


Mistletoe and Mr. Right: Two Stories of Holiday Romance by Lyla Payne | Book Review

Posted December 4, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, New Adult / 4 Comments

Mistletoe and Mr. Right: Two Stories of Holiday Romance by Lyla Payne | Book ReviewMistletoe and Mr. Right: Two Stories of Holiday Romance by Lyla Payne
Published by Bloomsbury on October 6, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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3 Stars
In "Mistletoe and Mr. Right," Jessica (not Jessie) takes a flying leap and follows her boyfriend home for the holidays for Christmas break, sure that Ireland will provide the perfect backdrop to the beginning of their happily ever after. But it turns out his family--and his gorgeous ex-girlfriend--don't feel the same way, and the only person making the trip worthwhile is the local farmhand, who has a way of showing up when Jessica needs him most . . . and least.

The holiday hijinks continue in "Sleigh Bells and Second Chances," when Jessica's best friend makes her own way across the pond! Christina Lake does not want to be away at Christmas, but it's her duty to babysit one of London's hottest bands at their last-minute concert on Christmas Eve . . . even though she had a fling with Cary, the band's lead singer, that never officially ended. Now forced to reconnect, Christina is starting to think that maybe London is exactly where she's supposed to be to get the perfect New Year's kiss--at least until she finds out that he's been lying the whole time. Can Cary find a way to prove himself before the clock strikes twelve? Or will the New Year ring in a new romance?

Lyla Payne wraps up two perfect holiday novellas, ties them with a ribbon of romance, and tops them with a light dusting of snow. Perfect to curl up with under the tree. Just add hot cocoa!

I really enjoyed Mistletoe and Mr. Right when I read it last year, so I was very excited to receive this bundle for Bloomsbury, which contains Mistletoe and Mr. Right and also a follow-up novella called Sleigh Bells and Second Chances. Just for convenience, I’m going to paste my original review of Mistletoe and Mr. Right here before reviewing the follow-up novel!

Mistletoe and Mr. Right: I was particularly excited when I found out that this novel takes place in Ireland, and Lyla Payne really did a wonderful job with the setting. It felt magical and quintessentially Irish. The characters were charming, and I could just hear their beautiful Irish accents as I read their exchanges. I loved the bed and breakfast that Jessica’s boyfriend’s parents owned, and I loved the snow and the decorations. I could just smell the Christmas treats baking in the oven.

My favorite part of the story was the very beginning. I commiserated with Jessica’s long and eventful travel time. Transatlantic flights are not fun at all, plus then she had to drive the snowy roads on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road… and almost killed the family’s beloved goat. There she is, wet and cold, standing in the dark looking for the goat she hit and up comes the sexy farmhand, Grady. I loved this guy, and I loved him so much more than Jessica’s stuffy boyfriend, Brennan. I did love Brennan’s family, though. They were such characters, and I laughed at their antics several times. I’d love to be a fly on their wall during their Christmas dinner.

The writing was kind of dramatic, but I tend to allow so many things I don’t usually allow when it comes to Christmas books. It read like a super cheesy Hallmark movie, but I get all sappy and cheesy during the holidays so I didn’t even care. Things are a bit predictable and formulaic, but I came away happy and satisfied and ready for Christmas!

Sleigh Bells and Second Chances: Sadly, I didn’t like this one as much. Mistletoe and Mr. Right was funny and light and sweet, and I found myself so annoyed by Christina that I honestly could not wait to finish this novella. I love that it took place in London, and there were some magical descriptions of the scenery… but my love stopped there. I cared more about the romance than the technical goings-on of a band publicist. The descriptions of sound checks and sweaty band members bored me. And Christina’s drama bothered me a lot. She spent most of the book either miserable, broody, or self conscious. I really liked Cary as a person now, although I hate what he did to Christina. But he’s trying to make amends, and she’s just being a baby who throws tantrums all the time. The backstory of why Cary did what he did makes no sense at all, and I was really unconvinced. Maybe I’m just at a higher level, but what girl goes out and sleeps with a guy who betrayed her? She keeps saying she can’t trust him and she doesn’t want his life, so why is she sleeping with him? Her poor decisions made me lose respect for her. And really, the story isn’t even very Christmassy. Meh.

Read this book for Mistletoe and Mr. Right! I thought it was very fun and an enjoyable read. Sleigh Bells and Second Chances just didn’t work for me, even though I was super excited about the whole band aspect. Things just fell flat. I wanted more Christmas magic and less brooding.


Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book Review

Posted September 21, 2015 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book ReviewHeart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves
Series: Kate and Ian #1
Published by Self on August 25, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 277
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
When Kate Watts abandoned her law career to open a food pantry in Northeast Minneapolis, she never dreamed it would be this difficult. Facing the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away, she is grateful for the anonymous donations that begin appearing at the end of each month. Determined to identify and thank her secret benefactor, she launches a plan and catches Ian —a charismatic hacker with a Robin Hood complex—in the act.

Ian intrigues Kate in a way no man ever has. But after learning he’s snooped around on her personal computer, she demands retribution. Impressed with her tolerance and captivated by her spirit, he complies and begins to slowly charm his way past her defenses. Time spent with Ian is never boring, and Kate soon finds herself falling for the mysterious hacker.

But Ian has enemies and they’re growing restless. In the hacking world, exploiting a target’s weakness is paramount, and no price is too high to stop an attack. And when Kate learns exactly how much Ian has paid, she’ll discover just how strong her love is for the man who has hacked his way into her heart.

There’s never been a question about my love for Tracey Garvis-Graves’s books. I will always read anything she writes because she grabs you immediately, immerses you in a story with wonderful characters, and leaves you wishing she would write you a book every week. Heart-Shaped Hack is another title I’m adding to my list of reasons to love Tracey. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Tracey likes to be unique. Every book she has ever written has never been written before. She keeps throwing in elements that make the story fresh, and I love that. Our main guy, Ian, is a computer hacker philanthropist. He’s basically Robin Hood. Can’t say I’ve ever read a book about a guy like him, and I’m pretty sure that if I did I would not like it as much.

2. Ian’s snark is probably my favorite thing about the entire book. He is blunt and cocky and has absolutely no filter. Everything in his life is gray. There’s no black or white, wrong or right. Everything is just Ian. He dissolves boundaries and can charm his way into anything. He finds Kate several times because he hacks into her credit card history to discover where she is. And then he goes there. And then he tells her how he found her. And he’s so charming and sexy that it doesn’t even matter that he’s spying on her! As much as he likes her, he turns their relationship into something SHE has to work for. Not only did he capture her heart against her will, he made her pursue him! This guy is something. And the master of the swoons.

3. Kate reminds me of myself. She’s following her dreams and living a relatively simple, quiet, almost cautious life. She cares a lot about helping others and making a difference in the world. I liked that Ian bugged the crap out of her in the beginning. She rolled her eyes at him and threw his cockiness back in his face countless numbers of times, and the banter that ensued had me giggling and turning the pages as quickly as I could.

4. Ian challenges Kate to break down walls and take risks, and Kate challenges Ian to be open and caring. These two are great together!

5. A hacker’s life is a dangerous life, and Ian’s attachments to Kate (and his desire to stay in one place for too long) bring with them a scary situation that nobody anticipated. I loved the mystery and the danger surrounding this part of the story, even though my heart is a little worse for wear as a result.

6. I feel like this book was really well researched! Garvis-Graves does a great job of portraying the life of a hacker.

7. The writing style is, as always with Tracey, amazing! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. She knows how to grab you immediately and never let go. And, even though I read an ARC, I did not find one typo or grammatical error. I noticed the same thing when I read her self-published On the Island back in the day. Tracey pays attention to every detail, and that’s why her stories are perfect. She’s just that good!

8. There were more sexytimes than I’m used to with her books, but I can kind of see why that was necessary for these particular characters. I wish there had been a little less, though, because I was blushing way too much!!

I can’t wait for the sequel, White-Hot Hack, which I know I’ll be bugging Tracey about over the next few months. I’m excited to see where Ian and Kate go from here! I still stand by my bold proclamation that I will read anything Tracey ever writes. Definitely give this book a shot if you like words.


The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book Review

Posted August 13, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 5 Comments

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book ReviewThe Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on December 8, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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0.5 Stars
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

*sigh* I’m sorry, but this was a bit of a train wreck for me. I loved Lauren’s other books so very much, so I’m really sad to feel this way. Aside from the cheesiness, which could have been cute under other circumstances, this book is riddled with inaccuracies. Maybe I should not have read it while I was on a cruise… So here are my problems:

1. No school band in the entire world would be able to go on a cruise for free for any reason, much less for less than $25,000. If this band can afford to go on a cruise, but they MUST win $25,000 or the band program is discontinued… isn’t that contradictory? Sure, they won a contest that got them on a ship. But no cruise line would ever hold a contest with this kind of prize, much less have the space to allow for a marching band (or multiple marching bands).

2. The Destiny, a luxury cruise liner, weighs only 50,000 tons but has six sun decks, three pools, a casino, an atrium, “many buffets”, multiple lounges, a spa, and a bowling alley. This is pretty much impossible. Pretty much all of today’s large cruise ships with these features weigh 2-3 times this amount. I was on the Carnival Dream when I read this. That ship weighs 130,000 tons, has three pools, an atrium, one buffet, two lounges, a spa, and a few bars. No bowling alley. I mean, an author can squish anything into anything, so perhaps this ship is really tiny, with really tiny amenities and can hold very few passengers. But it just did not feel realistic to me.

3. There was no lifeboat drill! This is required by international maritime law, and happens before or during the ship’s departure from the original port. But when the ship pulled away, nobody had done the lifeboat drill and there was not even mention of it. Sure, maybe the author just chose to not mention it… but everything else was mentioned!

4. There are so many problems with the ship. It is constantly not working properly. This does not happen. And if it does, it’s a huge deal. It’s very dangerous. It makes the news.

5. A kid threw a drink overboard. Glass and all. You can get in so much trouble! Depending on the deck, that drink most likely blew back into the ship and landed on someone’s balcony or an open deck.

6. Seasickness patches (Scopolamine patches) are not applied to the arm like the book says they are. They are placed behind the ear. And you can’t use more than one like Liza did during the storm. That’d be an overdose, and you’d get pretty sick. One lasts an entire week on a cruise.

7. You are NOT allowed to sleep on deck. Cruise ship workers circle the decks all night and wake people up and make them go to their cabins. It’s a liability.

8. Drum majors (Liza) do not have that much power. And seriously? Where was the band director? Did he throw some empty margarita glass overboard and get confined to quarters? Oh wait…

9. Liza made me want to strangle something. She’s awful! I’m not used to such an unlikeable main character, but she is high strung and annoying and judgmental and a major slut shamer.

10. I was bored. The people are boring. The story is boring. I would have died if I had been on this ship. I would have jumper overboard.

11. THE ANIMAL SIMILES made me want to die. Here are a few:
–  “…shiver like a drowned chihuahua.”
– “…parrot caught in a hairdryer.”
– “…cat caught in a washing machine.”
– “Like cats tap dancing on a chalkboard.”
– Someone was compared to a “coked-up gorilla”.
I could go on.

The premise sounded like so much fun… I love books that take place on cruises, but this one just did not work for me. It did not feel realistic and the romance was nothing to get excited about. Seriously, it was just so silly (in an annoying way) and meh. If you can get past the fact that this story is not at all realistic, maybe you’ll enjoy the silly little teen drama and cattiness. I just felt way too old for this book. I liked the idea, but that was it.


Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout | Book Review

Posted July 27, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 9 Comments

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout | Book ReviewHello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
Published by St Martin's Press on June 9, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0 Stars
A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.

I think most people will agree with me when I say that I was looking forward to a diverse book, taking place in a country we don’t see much in YA lit, and on a subject (KPop) that I’m not at all familiar with. I was excited to learn about and experience a new culture, new scenery, new music scene, and new people. The author had an amazing opportunity to shine a positive light on the Korean culture, but instead made a mockery of them, not to mention Americans and our knowledge of cultures other than our own. I was very, very disappointed in this book and almost didn’t even finish it. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I hope not all Americans act like Grace did when she ended up in South Korea, because she was ignorant, judgmental, pretentious, patronizing, and obnoxious. I was embarrassed and offended. She ran away from her problems at home to a place I’m not sure she had even heard of before, with all these pre-conceived notions and transparent stereotypes. She has this superiority complex that never goes away throughout the entire story. She seems to think it’s impossible that Koreans can think or act without the influence of Americans. “Oh, they have music here? Oh, they have their own fashion sense? Oh, they have their own food?” Does the girl not know that Earth is not some huge America? She’s insensitive, she’s not accepting, and her comments (spoken and thought) are downright rude. I can’t believe she made friends or fell in love because I would want nothing to do with someone like her if they came to visit my country.

2. The author did nothing to make me feel like I was in South Korea, except for throwing in a bunch of Grace’s horrible comments about how the people look and what they eat. This could have taken place anywhere. KPop was pretty much non-existent. I feel like the author just wanted to label her book “diverse” because that’s the thing to do right now, but did absolutely no research to back herself up. 

3. I did not find the romance to be cute or sweet because I hated Grace so much. And the fact that Jason could fall for someone who is so rude and judgmental about his culture and his home made me respect him less. Is she just really pretty or something? I don’t see the appeal.

4. For that matter, I didn’t like anyone in this book. When I was a teen I chose good friends based on common interests and a mutual respect. Grace spent the whole story on her high horse, making fun of the place she chose to live (on a complete whim, no less). Why does anyone like her? So I kind of lost respect for them as well.

Basically, Grace ruined the story for me. I have not hated a character this much in a long time. As such, I’m going to quit reviewing this now because all I’m going to do is continue to justify my complaints with my hatred towards Grace. I’m so disappointed in this book, and would not recommend it to anyone. Hence, my 0-star review.


Of Neptune by Anna Banks | Book Review

Posted June 10, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Of Neptune by Anna Banks | Book ReviewOf Neptune by Anna Banks
Series: The Syrena Legacy #3
Also in this series: Of Poseidon, Of Triton
Published by Feiwel and Friends on May 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 330
Format: Hardcover
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2.5 Stars
Emma, who is half human and half Syrena, and her Syrena love, Galen, need time together. Alone. Away from the kingdoms of Poseidon and Triton. Emma’s grandfather, the Poseidon king, suggests the two visit a small town called Neptune.

Neptune is home to both Syrena and Half-Breeds alike. But Emma and Galen didn’t sign up to be peacemakers between the ocean-living Syrena and the land-dwelling, freshwater counterparts. They didn’t bargain for meeting a charming Half-Breed named Reed, who can barely disguise his feelings for Emma. And they especially didn’t expect to find themselves in the middle of a power struggle that threatens not only their love, but their ocean kingdoms.

In this stunning conclusion to her bestselling Syrena Legacy, Anna Banks thrills fans with more action and romance than ever.

I really, REALLY loved the first two books in The Syrena Legacy, Of Poseidon and Of Triton. I was excited for this third book because I loved the characters. At the same time, I felt like there wasn’t really a need for a third book. Of Triton wrapped up everything for me, and I felt like there really was nothing left I needed from the series. For this reason, I was also worried I would not love Of Neptune. Sadly, I was right. I almost didn’t even finish it and that broke my heart.

I don’t know if I’m tired of Emma or what, but her little wacky idiosyncrasies really bugged me this time around. I feel like in areas of her life, she has grown and changed and matured. In other areas, though, she’s stayed the same silly little teenager she was before she discovered herself and her family and her destiny. Things I found funny in book one, like Emma’s “ohmysweetgoodness” and “fan-freaking-tastic” and sarcastic quips were not funny this time. I wanted her to grow up a little and show me that she has changed over the years. I didn’t even like her in this book. She’s selfish (SO SELFISH) and inconsiderate and petty. She acted too young to be in a relationship. They both did, really.

I didn’t love Galen this time, and that surprised me. Hs uses of marine words inserted into human phrases is not endearing anymore. He calls Emma “Angel Fish” and that really started to bug me! He has also gotten way too broody. I loved the romance in the first book, but things really fizzled in book 2 and even more in book 3. I’m not sure why, after everything we’ve been through with Emma and Galen, a brand new love triangle was necessary in this final book. Emma goes to a town of Half-Breeds called Neptune and meets Reed, who is immediately infatuated with her. He is immediately in love with her. He immediately wants to break Galen and her up. It feels so forced and awkward. And Emma actually considers this and I’m like, “WHAT!?” How can this even happen after it is decided that Galen and Emma are destined for one another. I don’t even believe their love story anymore if she is so easily swayed to leave him for someone else. And REED? He’s a very weak, rather useless addition to the story.

To be honest, the entire Half-Breed town fell a little short of my interest level.I did not enjoy this new storyline that had nothing to do with the other two books. I wanted the magical underwater romance that I got with the first book, and there is none of that. Galen and Emma don’t even get much time with one another. There’s a lot of pouting, brooding, jumping to conclusions, and immaturity and it just bothered me that it was coming from two people who hold a lot of responsibility and who I have invested so much time into. I missed Rayna, Nalia, Toraf, and Grom. They made small cameo appearances, and I did not get their fun personalities. They were the ones I was so excited to see again! I don’t care about these new Half-Breeds and their hidden agendas. I wanted my Syrena family back!

I will admit that I loved the epilogue. If this epilogue had been placed at the end of Of Triton, I would have been a happy girl. If you enjoyed Of Poseidon and Of Triton and are looking for a little something more, definitely read the epilogue because it is very sweet and wraps things up nicely. Of Neptune is not necessary, though, and it pains me to say that more than you might expect.


First Time In Forever by Sarah Morgan | Mini Book Review

Posted March 30, 2015 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review / 1 Comment

First Time In Forever by Sarah Morgan | Mini Book ReviewFirst Time In Forever by Sarah Morgan
Series: Puffin Island #1
Published by HQN Books on February 24, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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4 Stars
Windswept, isolated and ruggedly beautiful, Puffin Island is a haven for day-trippers and daydreamers alike. But this charming community has a way of bringing people together in the most unexpected ways…

It's been a summer of firsts for Emily Donovan. From becoming a stand-in mom to her niece Lizzie to arriving on Puffin Island, her life has become virtually unrecognizable. Between desperately safeguarding Lizzie and her overwhelming fear of the ocean—which surrounds her everywhere she goes!—Emily has lost count of the number of "just breathe" pep talks she's given herself. And that's before charismatic local yacht club owner Ryan Cooper kisses her…

Ryan knows all about secrets. And it's clear that newcomer Emily—with her haunted eyes and the little girl she won't let out of her sight—is hiding from something besides the crazy chemistry between them. So Ryan decides he's going to make it his personal mission to help her unwind and enjoy the sparks! But can Puffin Island work its magic on Emily and get her to take the biggest leap of trust of all—putting her heart in someone else's hands?

I have loved every Sarah Morgan book I’ve read (her O’Neil Brothers trilogy is wonderful), so I was excited when I found out about this new series, Puffin Island, set in a new place, with new people, and new issues. I came away having book enjoyed this book a lot as well!

Sarah Morgan is so great at writing settings you love! I loved the Snow Crystal resort from her O’Neil Brothers books, and Puffin Island is no disappointment. It sounds like the perfect place to escape to if you’re in search of beautiful views and a sweet community of people. Speaking of the people, this book has a lot of fun characters who all know each other and look out for one another. I love small town communities where everyone feels like family, and that’s exactly what Puffin Island is like. It’ll be interesting to see the roles these characters play in the future books of the series.

I really felt for Emily. She’s been thrust into the role of mother after the death of her movie star half-sister, and feels very ill-equipped. She flees to Puffin Island to hide from the press, who are after her story. Ryan understands what hardship is like, as he has been through the ringer himself. They both are content on their own, not wanting to settle down or open themselves up to love. But… these things happen. Their romance is really a story of learning to trust again and healing from their pasts. Things were a little lusty (can Ryan think of anything but sex?) for a while, but I enjoyed their story in the end. Ryan is such a nice guy, and is so great with Emily. He pushes her when she needs to be pushed, but knows when to back off and give her space. One thing’s for sure: he’s not giving up on her no matter how closed off she is. I really liked Ryan.

All in all, this was a great, but a bit of a slow start to Sarah’s new series. I love her writing and the way she brings the reader right in to her stories. I’m excited to read the other books in the series, even though I did not love it as much as her O’Neil Brothers trilogy. Puffin Island is such a wonderful setting, though, and the third book is a Christmas book! So sign me up!

 

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