Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss

Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren | Book Review

Posted August 2, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, New Adult / 3 Comments

Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren | Book ReviewJosh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on September 4, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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4 Stars
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

After reading and enjoying Roomies earlier this year, I was excited to jump into another Christina Lauren book! I loved the characters that this author duo created in that story, and I hoped that they would deliver another wonderful group for me to fall in love with. I wasn’t disappointed in the least! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I’m just going to jump right in here and say that I LOVE Hazel. She’s hilarious and bubbly and eccentric and full of life. She’s exactly the kind of wild, uninhibited, self-confident person I wish I was. She dances through life and if you can’t handle her, she doesn’t even care. She doesn’t even notice. She reminded me so much of Jessica Day from New Girl that I was actually picturing Jess the entire time. She loves animals, she’s a school teacher, she has so much energy, and she makes everyone who knows her happy. I SO need a friend like her in my life.

2. I loved Josh as well. He is the sweetest, most caring best friend a girl could ask for. He tolerates Hazel until she worms her way into his very soul, and then he’s 100% the devoted and loving best friend. Can I have a Josh in my life as well? He’s seriously the cutest. He’s all order and organized. I loved how warm and open and accepting he was of Hazel’s eccentricities. He makes her feel perfect, and every girl should feel that way.

3. These two are so perfect together. She decides she wants to be his best friend, so she makes it happen whether he wants it or not. They end up with this very flirty, witty, tender friendship that is just so unique and special. Their whole “not dating” thing works for a while as they set each other up on blind dates for their double date nights, but then they end up having more fun with each other than they do with their actual dates. Josh lets Hazel live with him when her apartment floods and internally gripes over her messiness, but secretly loves it at the same time. Her dog ADORES him. They have inside jokes and cute pet names (Josh is Korean and his real name is Jimin, so she calls him Jiminy and other silly things. He calls her Haze, which is adorable.). It’s just such a perfect combination of two completely different people.

4. I really love the best-friends-turned-lovers trope, and this romance was particularly swoony and sweet, with some interesting twists and turns. Neither wants to ruin their friendship with possible unrequited feelings, so that underlying tension creates so much depth and interest.

All in all, I loved this story! I loved the characters and the sweet romance. There’s so many other gems in this story as well, including a few crazy awkward college moments between Josh and Hazel before their reunion years later at a party, and some yummy-sounding Korean food. I highly recommend this Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating to anyone looking for a cute rom-com with a lot of depth and feeling below the surface.


Roomies by Christina Lauren | Book Review

Posted April 12, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, New Adult / 3 Comments

Roomies by Christina Lauren | Book ReviewRoomies by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on December 5, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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3.5 Stars
Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

I love marriages of convenience and fake/sham romances, so I was excited to find another one from an author (or author partnership) I’ve been hearing really good things about. I also love books set in New York and/or surrounding the theme of music. And… it kind of goes without saying that I love Irish men, so the synopsis checked all my boxes. I eagerly jumped in, and had a lot of fun with this one! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I really loved Holland Baker. She’s so relatable, and I think we can all see at least a small part of ourselves in her. She’s a 25-year-old plain Jane living in New York City (with the help of her two uncles who pay most of her rent), working a dead-end job (that her uncle go her) that is way below her qualifications as she tries to achieve her dream of becoming a published author. Who has been in this position before? *raises hand* Her morning subway runs to work become bearable when she stumbles across a musical genius busking in the station one morning. She gives him a name and makes up his life story in her mind, going out of her way to hear him play as often as she can. This mysterious musician has her completely entranced even though she’s never seen his face or heard his voice. If you haven’t ever had a crush on someone you don’t know, then you’re either crazy or lucky.

2. Calvin is a swoony Irishman who is also working below his qualifications while trying to achieve his dream of becoming a Broadway musician. While busking in the subway station one evening, he saves Holland from an attack and then pretty much disappears. We learn a lot about Holland’s mystery musician, and the two of them end up in a marriage of convenience–both for very different reasons. Calvin is pretty cute (his accent comes through the pages), but not my favorite male love interest. I had a really hard time trusting his intentions with Holland, and questioned his feelings pretty consistently throughout the story. He’s not incredibly thoughtful or romantic, either. I did change my mind about him, and by the end I was in love with him. I was sad I didn’t get more pages with him like he was in the end.

3. I did really like the banter between Holland and Calvin. They’re pretty funny and flirtatious, and I ate it all up.

4. I could not help but picture scenes from the movie, The Proposal, while I read about Holland and Calvin at their interview to prove the validity of their marriage. And their cramming sessions where they tried to learn as much about each other as possible were great.

5. I LOVED Holland’s two uncles, Robert and Jeff. They took care of her like they were her parents, and I loved how tender and concerned they were for her. They call her “Hollsy”, which is so cute! Robert is the mastermind behind a hit Broadway show, but he’s still super down-to-earth and even a little silly.

6. I loved the walks through New York in the freezing cold because it took me back to when I was there at Christmastime freezing my butt off.

7. I love the author’s descriptions of music and what it does to a person. There were some beautiful, sweeping passages that perfectly described the impact music has on people.

8. A fair amount of the book takes place at the theater, and I enjoyed all the tidbits of life behind Broadway. 

9. I think things went slightly sour for me when Holland and Calvin left the getting-to-know-you phase and jumped into the lustier side of their relationship. I loved the sincerity that they brought to the scene as they got to know one another and were intoxicated by Calvin’s new job and Holland’s secret infatuation with him had her checking herself to see if she was dreaming. That was all very sweet and exciting. When they started lying to each other and sleeping together for no meaningful reason, it cheapened everything for me.

10. There was a lot of needless drama, in my opinion. I’ve never read a book where the main couple argued with one another so much, or had so many disagreements. 

11. I loved watching Holland find herself. 

12. The ending was very sweet, if not a little convenient and quick. It all seemed to wrap up too fast for me.

13. I could have done with fewer f-words. 

So, there you have it! My slightly all over the place review. There were parts I loved, and parts I didn’t love. Overall, however, I am so glad I read this book. It was fun and fresh and different from all the other contemporary romances I’ve read.


Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch | Book Review

Posted April 5, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 9 Comments

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch | Book ReviewLove & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Published by Simon Pulse on May 3, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 389
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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5 Stars
“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

I love books set in other countries, especially countries I’ve visited myself. It makes for a very fun reading experience, and I usually gobble them up quickly. Love & Gelato is another book I can add to my stack of favorites, and it’s not just because it takes place in one of my favorite cities in the world.

1. Love & Gelato was everything I hoped for and more. I loved it so much, not only because the story and writing were pure and utter perfection, but because my love of YA contemporary romance was renewed. I’ve been having a hard time with this genre for the last couple of years, and I chalked it up to the fact that I’m not a young adult anymore. I figured I was identifying less and less with the characters, so I needed to move on and read books with characters my age in order to connect. I was pretty heartbroken about this. I thought back to all my favorite YA contemporaries: Wanderlove, Just One Day, Anna and the French Kiss, Unbreak My Heart, The Summer I Became a Nerd, and Wish You Were Italian and was super sad that, if I were to re-read them, maybe I wouldn’t love them anymore. Love & Gelato was a bit of a gamble for me, but since I love Italy so much I figured I would at least love that about it. But I loved EVERYTHING. I loved the characters, the story, the romance, the issues, the scenery, the mystery, and all the coming of age moments. It reminded me that I will always be able to relate to teens because I was there. I went through it, and no matter how old you get you never forget what it was like to be a teenager. I’m so relieved that I’d just found a bunch of bad egg books, rather than discovered that the genre that once brought me so much joy was not for me anymore.

2. This book takes place on the outskirts of Florence, Italy… one of my favorite places in Italy. Lina’s mother dies of cancer and has spent her last months talking with Lina about her time in Italy. She wants so badly for Lina to move there and live with a man named Howard. So she goes there and lives with him in a WWII cemetery where he is the groundskeeper. Lina is given the journal that her mom wrote in while she was living in Italy, and she learns so much about her mom and herself. Pretty much the entire story is Lina walking in her mother’s footsteps, while also falling in love and experiencing Italy. I loved every page.

3. Howard is the kind of guy every girl wishes was her dad. He clumsily navigates his relationship in a way that only a man who has no idea what a teenage girl is could. But he is so full of love and only wants what’s best for her. If that’s an overflowing plate of lasagne or a shoulder to cry on, he’ll give you both.

4. Lina is strong in the wake of her biggest personal tragedy to date, and I admired her. She flies all the way to Italy and into the unknown while mourning the loss of her mom. She pouts and mopes and comes up with a million reasons to go home, but she also searches for answers and discovers why she’s there. Ren is very sweet and goofy, and I loved his personality. The supporting characters are all great, too. Ren’s mom is so much fun. Ren’s friends are great.

5. So much Italy! And so much gelato! It was like I was there again.

6. The writing was lovely. I can’t say much more about it, other than the fact that I remember the story and the people more than the writing. I think an author does their job when that happens.

All in all, I will be forever grateful to Jenna Evans Welch for reminding me why I love YA so much. I’ve read two more YA contemporary romances since I read this book, and I loved them both. I think I’m out of my slump! I loved going back to Italy and watching Lina figure out who she was and where she came from. I highly recommend Love & Gelato.


Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett | Book Review

Posted March 28, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 8 Comments

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett | Book ReviewStarry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 3, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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5 Stars
Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Jenn Bennett is a wonderful storyteller, and is quickly becoming a YA author that I trust to provide some really sweet, swoony contemporary romances. After really enjoying Alex, Approximately, I was excited to spot this next book of hers on Edelweiss. I’m happy to report that I loved this one even more. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I was immediately drawn to the unique plot elements that were mentioned in the synopsis. Former best friends go camping and end up stranded in the wilderness, having to fend for themselves. I love survival stories, and stories that take place outdoors so I really loved this idea. It was done SO WELL.

2. I loved the little tidbits about how to survive outdoors, as well as the beautiful descriptions of scenery. There’s a pretty intense thunderstorm that happens in this book, and I was captivated by the way the author portrayed it.

3. The characters are sweet and quirky. I know I will never forget Lennon, son of a sex shop owning lesbian couple and a punk rocker has-been. He loves reptiles and graphic novels, wears all black, and has spiky hair and a dry sense of humor. He’s also very loving, loyal, kind of broken, and very mysterious. I loved him! Zorie is a wannabe astronomer, who gazes at life through the eyepiece of her telescope. Her birth mother died when she was young, and she’s fallen in love with her dad’s Korean wife, Joy, and adopted her as her real mom. This family, like all families, has some issues. As Zorie and Lennon work to survive the wilderness and the elements, they talk and work through how to survive their lives as well. They both grow so much individually as well as together, and I loved watching them process real emotions together.

4. Things got really good for me once the glamping trip ended and Lennon and Zorie were left to fend for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the parts leading up to that, but I got super invested at this point in the story and had a really hard time putting my book down to go to bed.

5. There was a strong focus on friendship and relationships that I loved.

6. I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s some major girl power moments towards the end of the book that had me cheering. I love strong women in books because they inspire me to be more assertive and not take crap from anyone.

All in all, I loved Starry Eyes. It’s swoony and deep and angsty and full of so much reality, set against the love-hate relationship between two best-friends-turned-enemies as they traverse the elements and depend on one another to survive the literal wilderness, as well as their own wild, untamed lives.


Everless by Sara Holland | 2018 Debut Book Review

Posted January 26, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Debut Author Challenge, Young Adult / 16 Comments

Everless by Sara Holland | 2018 Debut Book ReviewEverless by Sara Holland
Series: Everless #1
Published by HarperTEEN on January 2, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

I’d really been looking forward to Everless. The cover is pretty cool, the premise sounded unique (although I recently watched In Time, so it’s less unique now. lol), and I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy kick as of late. Sadly, though, things fell a bit short for me and I wasn’t impressed. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I tend to reserve the spot of my first book of the year for a book I’m really excited about. I’m not sure if that impacted my overall opinion of the book or not, but I had a lot of expectations going in. I was excited about it, it was going to be my first book of 2018, it was going to be my first debut of 2018, etc. It was a huge letdown. It is receiving rave reviews from readers, including many of my fellow book blogger friends, so am I missing something? I don’t even know, but I am seriously confused as to why I’m one of the very few people who did not like this book.

2. So… Everless is pretty much exactly like the movie, In Time. A Goodreads user asked how similar this book is, and Sofia Frost answered the question better than I could have. Possible spoilers below, so jump to point #3 if you don’t want to be spoiled!

*Main character’s family members die, cause they run out of time.
*Main character moves to place where rich and royal live.
*Main character falls in love with rich and famous (although in the book it is not really love at that point, but I am sure in future books it will become a full love story)
*Main character gains a lot of time. (book: ofc she can not just be a regular poor kid from the country)
*Prediction: Main character would try to break the curse of blood and time- and make everyone equal.

The end.

So… yes. Very similar to In Time. And I hated the movie, too.

3. Scroll back up and read the synopsis of the book. Sounds kind of cool, right? Well… think again. It’s depressing. This book was so depressing. Everyone is a ticking time bomb, not sure exactly how much time they have left. Unless they are rich, they live in an almost constant state of panic. I could never live in this world! I’d be filled with so much anxiety. I’d be scared to sleep. I’d be scared to read or watch movies because I’d worry I’d lose track of time. I’d constantly be worried I overestimated the time I had left and just fall dead one second. I’d never be carefree or happy. Even worse, I’d be scared to fall in love because I’d have to worry about someone else’s time, and not just my own. I’d be worrying about my family and my friends. How depressing is a life like that? Not only is the world depressing, but so is the backstory of almost every single character. Why did I ever think this was going to be a fun book to read? I read to escape to a happier place, and this book needs escaping from. I’ll take my real life, thanks.

4. Jules comes from tragedy. But did it make her smart? Did it make her strong? No. She fell in love with a boy when she was 7 while working for his family, his family ruined her life, she sneaks back to their estate to make blood-irons to help save her dying father even though he’s super against it, and she still has a crush on this boy. I’m sorry, but at 17-18 I didn’t know who I had a crush on 10 years prior, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t still have a crush on him. Especially after his family ruined my life and the lives of others I care about. Nope.

5. The romance…? It was barely there and added nothing to the story, but I see where things are going. No. I’m not at all on board. There’s no swoons, and I really don’t like the guy. Maybe there’s going to be a love triangle and the guy I preferred will end up with Jules, but I probably won’t ever know.

6. Something very Hunger Games happens (and not at all in a good way), and it’s totally spoilery for both this book and The Hunger Games series, so highlight the white space between the brackets if you’re curious. Needless to say, I was pretty furious. If you’re reading via email subscription or RSS reader and you don’t want to be spoiled for either book, jump ahead to point #7 because my whited-out text will only hide the spoilers if you’re reading on my blog. You’ve been warned.

[[[[[[Jules throws everything away to go to a very dangerous place to save her father’s life. He’s so so so against it, to the point of actually following her to beg her to come home. They speak for a few moments, she lies to him and tells him she will come home… all the while never actually planning to. She sends him home, lying that she will come soon. And what happens? He dies on the way home. He was so hell-bent on getting back to her that he wasted his time to try and save her instead of making sure he had enough time left for himself! SHE HAD BLOOD-IRONS WITH HER!! Why did she not give him any to ensure he would have enough time? She was literally there suffering in order to extend his life, but nope. Just like Katniss sacrificed herself for her sister Primm, only to have Primm die at the end, Jules sacrificed for her father, only to lose him anway. It’s maddening. I hate it when authors kill off the reason for a huge piece of the story. At least Katniss was amazing, though. And at least it wasn’t her fault that Primm died. Jules’s father’s death is totally her fault.]]]]]]

7. That was a much longer rant than I thought it would be, but I get madder and madder the more I think about this book. Jules is a wimpy idiot of a character. She has no street smarts, no brain, no fight in her. She has no personality whatsoever. I spent so much of the book yelling at her. By the end of Everless she has not grown at all, and I’m too exhausted to read another book so she can try to prove herself to me. And let’s be fair… every characters was flat and shapeless and boring. I wanted to smack them all.

8. So much of this plot was driven by miscommunication and pointless secrets. If the characters would just TALK to each other instead of waiting for everyone to figure it all out and find the answers themselves everything would have resolved on its own! Jules’s dad comes to the estate to warn her and instead of actually warning her in a way that makes sense he spouts out a bunch of mumbo jumbo that would have only made sense to Jules if she had already known what he was talking about. They say mankind is getting suckier and suckier at communicating with one another due to social media and texting, but these characters have neither. So what’s their excuse? When the fate of humanity rests on a teenaged girl, don’t you think the guy with all the answers could at least give them to her? That’d be too easy, though. Then we wouldn’t have a trilogy.

9. The characters and the world were underdeveloped. There was nothing keeping me there except my desire to actually finish a book so I didn’t start out the year already behind on my Goodreads goal.

10. This might be the most critical piece of my review… but the writing just wasn’t good. And I feel so bad for saying that. It’s easy to not like a story. We all have our likes and dislikes, and that’s widely accepted. All authors know that the story or the characters or the world, etc. that they wrote will not be loved by all. But I always feel so horrible for saying I didn’t like the writing because that removes the story completely and has to do with the actual words instead of the details. But I just didn’t like the writing. It wasn’t memorable or filled with pretty details. There were no quotes I highlighted to save and re-read later.

All in all, I could not get past the fact that this felt like a copy of the movie In Time. Immediately I started looking for all the similarities, which just frustrated me to no end. And I really think that if it had been amazing I would have been ok with those similarities. I hated the movie, so it would not have taken much for me to like it more. lol. But I just didn’t. It was depressing and underdeveloped and frustrating. I’m sorry to say that I would not recommend it to anyone, unless they were looking for In Time fanfic… and is that even a thing?


Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

Posted December 23, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewChasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #4
Also in this series: One Snowy Night
Published by Avon on September 26, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Meet cute...

Run for the hills—temporarily. That's Colbie Albright's plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie's so over it that she's under it. She's also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she's pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won't be a stranger for long.

Make merry...

Spence's commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn't have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot chemistry—he's got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself... just because she's gorgeous and a great listener just because she gets Spence immediately doesn't mean he won't be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

and hope for a miracle.

Now the clock's ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.

I think it’s worth recognizing and celebrating my very first full-length novel by Jill Shalvis! I’ve read a handful of her Christmas novellas, and I decided that it was finally time to settle in for a longer novel and really discover what all the fuss is about. I own all but one of the books in the Lucky Harbor series and all the Heartbreaker Bay books that have been released thus far, so I really haven’t had any excuses to not read them yet. The synopsis of Chasing Christmas Eve really grabbed me, and it ended up being a really good choice! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I wasn’t too excited about reading a Christmas book that takes place in California. I lived in California for 6 years and it’s a beautiful place, so this isn’t personal, Californians! I just love snow in my Christmas novels, and that obviously was not going to happen here. Colbie is nuts for fleeing New York at Christmas, but I digress.

2. The lack of snow didn’t take away from the festiveness of the book, though! There were Christmas lights and enough warm fuzzies to make me forget that there wasn’t snow swirling around outside.

3. Colbie is a verrrrry successful YA author, and that’s the main reason I was drawn to this book! I love YA, and I love many YA authors, so Colbie immediately felt like my friend. I thought of her the way I think of any of my favorite YA authors. She’s so sweet and down to earth, not to mention incredibly nice. She’s dealing with writer’s block and she’s under a ton of stress from that, plus the fact that her entire family depends on her for every little thing. I love that she took the plunge and ran away to take care of herself. She’s also really funny and has this bright personality that made me smile. I would totally be friends with her.

4. I loved nerdy Spence. He’s a hot, rich, reclusive genius. But he’s not rich in a snobby way. He takes care of a homeless man that lives outside the building! He keeps to himself and lives his own life, and when he needs a breather he walks dogs! I mean, come on. He’s a bit of a workaholic, which has sealed off the part of himself that can have a love life. But all it takes is the right girl, right?

5. I love how Colbie and Spence meet for the first time. The description mentions a meet cute, and that’s exactly what we were given with this book. I’m not even going to say how it happens because I don’t want to spoil it. Just know that a dog is involved.

6. The romance is very sweet, regardless of the secrets they are both keeping from each other. What was supposed to be a quick little fling turns into something more than that, and forces Colbie and Spence to smooth out some of the wrinkles in their relationship.

7. I liked the supporting characters a lot, but can tell it would have really been great if I’d read the other three books in the series first so I’d know them a little better. The book works fine as a standalone, but I could have used a few more details on Spence and Elle especially.

All in all, this was a very fun Christmas romance! I loved watching Colbie and Spence fall in love and work through what being in love means to them. I’m definitely a fan of Jill Shalvis, so yay! It would have really sucked if I’d come out of this hating her and already owning a million of her books. I’m excited to read more of the books in the Heartbreaker Bay series and then start working on Lucky Harbor!

Which Jill Shalvis book is your absolute favorite?


Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Mini Book Review

Posted November 7, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Mini Book ReviewAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 388
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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4 Stars
The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

I really love the movie You’ve Got Mail, so when I heard that Alex, Approximately is a You’ve Got Mail kind of story I was sold. And with the little references to one of my favorite movies throughout the story, I wasn’t disappointed by the comparison. This book was sweet and light and fluffy and so perfectly teen. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting too old for stories like these, but then one really grabs me and brings nostalgic feelings of young love and teen crushes and I decide not to write them off just yet. That’s kind of what this story did for me. It’s quirky and cute and adorably awkward.

Bailey avoids uncomfortable situations at all costs. She’s a film geek who develops a thing for a boy she meets in an online forum named “Alex”, who lives on the other side of the country. But then she moves to California. To his town. And it’s like, “NOOO AWKWARD!” Instead of telling Alex she’s moved, she just sneaks around trying to find him without him knowing there’s even a possibility she might. She sees a cat on the boardwalk ad is convinced it’s the same cat Alex wrote to her about. She keeps thinking she finds him, only to realize that she’s wrong. There’s so much excitement and insecurity and curiosity and shenanigans throughout her search, and it’s cute because it’s the kind of thing I would do. lol. All the while, she gets a job working at this really weird museum with a guy named Porter that she cannot STAND. As the book’s official summary so rudely spoils for us, Porter is actually Alex. And it’s kind of hilarious watching these two crazy kids work through all of that. At times I kept thinking, “Duh, you two silly little ones! Why can’t you see the signs!?”

All in all, this was such a cute little book.My biggest complaint is that we knew immediately that Porter was Alex. The publisher really should not have made the You’ve Got Mail comparison and not told us who Porter really was because it would have been more fun to work things out and discover things with Bailey. It really took me out of the story. But oh well. The damage has been done. Regardless, it’s fun to watch them figure it out even though it got annoying at times watching from the sidelines already having all the answers. Jenn’s writing is delightful, and I enjoyed the banter between Porter and Bailey. Definitely give it a shot if you enjoyed Kasie West’s P.S. I Like You. That’s another cute contemporary with similar feelings.


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware | Book Review

Posted November 3, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware | Book ReviewThe Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on July 19, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 340
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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4 Stars
In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

I really, really love mysteries and I love them even more if they are set at sea. So obviously the cover and the synopsis had me sold, not to mention that our heroine is a travel journalist sent to write about a luxury cruise on a small, elite, incredibly expensive vessel during its maiden voyage. The Woman In Cabin 10 is suspenseful, exciting, chilling, and completely enthralling. While trying to write my review I realized I don’t want to stick with my usual format of bolding my points and elaborating on them. I just want to list things out instead, so here we go!

What I liked:

  • We start off with a bang. We immediately learn that Lo has crippling anxiety, which was very well written. In the beginning of the story, someone breaks into her house while she is there. Understandably, she is already on edge and quite paranoid when she boards the ship and soon hears something horribly wrong happen in the cabin next to hers on night.
  • The setting. The Aurora has 10 cabins, with only a handful of guests (20 at most) and a few common areas. It’s lavishly decorated and sounds super cozy and intimate. The guests are sailing the freezing Norwegian fjords, which is a huge bucket list item for me. I’m so jealous of the beautiful scenery they saw. Northern Lights, people!!
  • The mystery. One night, Lo hears a scream followed by a splash. She sees blood on the balcony next to hers, but the person who was supposed to be in that cabin never boarded. But Lo met the woman in cabin 10 the day before. So what is even going on? What caused the splash? Whose blood was that on the balcony? And why are there more questions than answers? Lo’s anxiety is blamed as the investigation proves no help, so she’s left completely helpless on a little boat in freezing waters, surrounded by guests and crew that do not believe her and that she cannot trust.
  • The atmosphere. As amazing as the Aurora sounds, it turns into a very creepy place once murder is suggested. Things felt very ominous, unsettled, and unsafe as Lo laid in bed at night trying to sleep or as she walked the halls looking for answers.
  • There’s a twist that I wasn’t expecting at all.
  • I didn’t know who did it until the end.

What I didn’t Like: 

  • The characters. Lo exhausted me. Her anxiety and paranoia, while very well done and very realistic, kind of wore me out because I never got to know anything else about her. She became a condition instead of a character, and I could not separate the two and see who she truly was. She also makes some silly mistakes for the sake of making the story work. And she has no backbone. The supporting characters were shells, and not very memorable or used to their fullest potentials.
  • Parts dragged a bit and slowed down at times.
  • The narrator of the book is rather long-winded and repetitive at times.
  • The resolution. The end went in a direction that was interesting, but not what I was hoping for. Things started to feel unbelievable, but not enough for me to be irritated or upset.

All in all, I really enjoyed the mystery. I tend to like the story more than the characters in mysteries like this, so the fact that I didn’t enjoy the characters didn’t bother me. I love mysteries at sea, and this one was quite entertaining. I’d definitely recommend it to those looking for an entertaining mystery.


Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee | Mini Book Review

Posted July 28, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee | Mini Book ReviewLove Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee
Published by Atria Books on August 16, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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0.5 Stars
If you loved Luckiest Girl Alive and The Girl on the Train, you’ll devour this stunning debut novel about an intense best friendship between two college girls which leads to the abrupt disappearance—and presumed death—of one and the survival of the other, who reveals the twists and turns of their relationship seven years later.

Glo never thought she’d become best friends with a girl like Cyn. Blonde, blue-eyed, and stunningly gorgeous, Cyn is the kind of girl other girls love to hate. Yet Cyn is the only person who embraces Glo when she transfers to their tiny liberal arts college in Florida, looking for a second chance to get things right after falling apart at her first-choice school. With her dark sense of humor and bad-girl ways, Cyn is captivating to a nice girl like Glo, and soon they’re inseparable.

Until they both fall for the same guy.

It’s Cyn who suggests they share Raj. Half the time he’ll be Cyn’s boyfriend, the other half he’ll be Glo’s. And for a while, everything goes smoothly. Until Glo realizes that she doesn’t know Cyn or Raj half as well as she thinks. Until Glo and Cyn’s friendship implodes while they’re studying abroad in Costa Rica. Until Cyn disappears one night, setting off a media firestorm and leaving Glo in the dark for seven long years.

Until Cyn resurfaces.

Another book that claims to be just like The Girl On the Train that so totally is NOT. This. Was. Awful. And seriously, it could have been so good! Girl goes missing in Costa Rica after being chased into the ocean by ominous men while studying abroad? And then BAM, resurfaces later? I was seriously intrigued. But this book was so unbelievably terrible that it got its slime all over me in the process.

I HATE these two girls, Cyn and Glo. They are awful awful people. I hated reading about their history and how they became friends. I hated their toxic, creepy friendship. They spent so much time doing drugs, getting drunk and high, sleeping around… one of them was a prostitute. And then they decided to SHARE a boyfriend. How gross and demented is that?? I mean, clearly he enjoyed it but seriously? I’ll never like a friend enough to let her share my boyfriend with me. It was a very weird threesome, with him using one for physical closeness and the other for emotional closeness. Until then he’s sleeping with them both and connecting with them both and they get mad at each other for connecting with him in the wrong ways. I don’t know exactly what they were expecting. Really, these two were extreme cliches to me. There are all kinds of people out there, but I think these two were specifically designed to come off as a combination of all the worst kinds.

When Cyn resurfaces things got even worse. I can’t even begin to explain how implausible this story felt to me. Everything was just so convoluted that it felt convenient, not to mention clunky and unbelievable. If I liked the two girls I might have somewhat enjoyed the story before Cyn’s return, but her return was the last nail in the coffin for me. I wish I had not finished this book. Or opened it, for that matter.


The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye | Book Review

Posted April 17, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 3 Comments

The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye | Book ReviewThe Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game #2
Also in this series: The Crown's Game
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 16, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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1 Stars
Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

Here I sit, broken-hearted after taking a month to read this book. Guys, I loved The Crown’s Game. LOVED it. I was so excited for this sequel and ended up having to talk myself out of DNFing an infinite number of times because I so wanted to get back there to that place of love for this world and these characters. Sadly, it didn’t happen and I’m left so disappointed that I don’t even have much to say.

I felt like I was in a different world with this book. It was dark, depressing, and to be honest… boring. I found myself skimming at multiple points due to a complete lack of interest. The Crown’s Game was magical and whimsical and light and full of color and excitement. All of these things that I loved so much were gone in The Crown’s Fate. Nikolai’s character was unrecognizable in a bad way. He went in a very heartbreaking direction that I did not get over even after all loose ends were quickly tied up into a convenient little bow at the end (seriously, that ending was a huge disappointment after everything we’ve been through). Pasha and Vika both seemed weaker than they used to, and never really did or said anything important. There was very little going on in the story, and I felt like what did happen just continued to repeat itself because there was nothing else to say. What little magic there was was just not good for me. And I did not like seeing the characters I once loved being evil and plotting against each other. The book was too long for the story, and I ended up just going through the motions by the end. Let me just say: some horrible stuff happens that any normal person would not be ok with as quickly as these characters were ok with it.

So yeah, that’s all I have to say. The only thing good I can take away from this is that there were a few glimmers of the world I loved. Evelyn’s writing is also still lovely, but I was just not happy with where the story went. I’m so SO sad, as I was highly anticipating this sequel. I will forever recommend The Crown’s Game, but will that suggest people treat it as a standalone.

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