Month: August 2012

TGIF (#3): Choose Your Next Read

Posted August 31, 2012 by Jana in / 5 Comments

TGIF is hosted by GReads, and is a fun meme where we get to answer a bookish question an recap on the past week’s events on the blog. Hopefully we learn more about each other this way!
This is the last TGIF for a little while, since Ginger is taking a small break from the meme while she gets strict with time management regarding school and life. I think this week’s question is kind of a fun one! Watch me get really OCD with this answer. :P
My stack of review books is massive. If any of you remember my book haul post after ALA, you already know this. On top of that, I’ve got quite a few books from Netgalley as well as some review copies other authors and pubs have sent me. We’re talking about a lot of books here. For this reason, I implemented a pretty strict schedule.
  • ARCs are listed chronologically by release date in a Word document on my computer. These get top priority, because it’s my job to get the word out on new and amazing upcoming books! Plus, when I receive an ARC I see it as a contract that I will read it in a timely manner and post a review
  • I have another document that lists out the blog tours I committed to being a part of. These are also high priority, since the pub/author is depending on having me post on a specific day.
  • I have a third document that lists the already released books that I’ve accepted in the order I received them. These are next in line, and I read them as I have room in my schedule, and in the order I accepted them.
  • Then… I have a fourth one that lists the unsolicited books I am sent. I get to these when/if I can.
  • And then… there’s my huge TBR list on Goodreads and the unread books I purchased eons ago. I get to these if I am really lucky and am ahead of schedule on everything else.
Pretty sad, huh? I honestly never thought I’d end up doing this, and I wish I had been more selective with some of the books I chose to review. As many of you know, I just got a new job that’s really stressful for me. Reading has taken on a new meaning for me as a result. Like it was in college, it’s now become an escape for me once again and I see my strict schedule bending and flexing as I decide to pick a happy book further down my list over the heavy, sad one that’s next in line. Now that I finally have a job, book blogging is beginning to feel more and more like a second job. I can’t let it get to that point. So, I’m getting flexible. Just today I grabbed a book I REALLY wanted to read over the next book on my schedule. It was liberating! I think I’m going to do this more often. :)

Again… That’s Totally the Same cover! (#3)

Posted August 30, 2012 by Jana in Cover Talk / 7 Comments

It’s been a while since I showed off some copycat covers, so I thought it’d be fun to write another post! I’ve gotten a lot of comments on my other posts about how stock images are cheaper than hiring a photographer for your own photo shoot, etc. I know! I promise I know this. :) I’m not pointing fingers or trying to stir up trouble. I just enjoy finding duplicates out there in the book world. :) It’s all in good fun!

Blue Skies by Catherine Anderson (Portuguese version)
Cicada by Belle Whittington

I definitely like the treatment of the image better on Catherine Anderson’s book than I do on Belle’s. Plus, I like the typography so much more. It’s not that I don’t like the second one, I just like the entire presentation of the first one more than the second.

Luna by Julie Anne Peters
Fate by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I like the colors on the second one more than the first. It’s so bright and colorful. The butterfly is more of a focal point, plus I like the way the title was tattooed to the girl’s arm.

Flirting with Boys by Hailey Abbott

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti 

I like the first one more because I really dislike the big yellow box on the second one. I also enjoy it when the title has equal or more emphasis than the author’s name. “Deb Caletti” is screaming at me so much more than the title of the book. I guess that works when you’re a really well-known author, but still… The hierarchy is better on the first one regardless. :)
So, now you get to weigh in on your thoughts! Which covers do you like better? How do you feel about multiple covers with the same imagery? Do you get mixed up between books, or do you really not care at all?



Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff that Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams (Book Review)

Posted August 23, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 7 Comments

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff that Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams (Book Review)Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff that Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on August 21, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (ALA)
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5 Stars

Can a spot on a teen reality show really lead to a scholarship at an elite cooking school AND a summer romance?

Sixteen-year-old Sophie Nicolaides was practically raised in the kitchen of her family’s Italian-Greek restaurant, Taverna Ristorante. When her best friend, Alex, tries to convince her to audition for a new reality show, Teen Test Kitchen, Sophie is reluctant. But the prize includes a full scholarship to one of America's finest culinary schools and a summer in Napa, California, not to mention fame.

Once on-set, Sophie immediately finds herself in the thick of the drama—including a secret burn book, cutthroat celebrity judges, and a very cute French chef. Sophie must figure out a way to survive all the heat and still stay true to herself. A terrific YA offering--fresh, fun, and sprinkled with romance.

Have you ever been on a strict diet and then all of a sudden decide that you need to chill out and eat a little comfort food, or else you just might go crazy? Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff is my comfort food. This book is exactly what I needed to make me smile. It was an adorable, quick read with such a unique sounding storyline that I knew I would love it. And honestly, it had me at the title. I gobbled this book up like I did the delectable pizza I had in Siena, Italy this past May. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I’m kind of a reality TV junkie. I love all of it. The drama, the excitement, the fact that I’m watching real people rather than polished actors. When I read about this book, I knew we’d make a great pair. It embodies all that is reality TV, but also gives you a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes happenings that we all know hold more truth than the show itself. The idea behind the book is so fresh and unique to me. Reality TV meets young adult novel. I’m all for it!

2. The characters are all so likeable. We’ve got Sophie, the main girl, who is this sweet thing with broad hips and a love of food and her foodie family. I love her family. They’re right out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and I loved that. Her best friend, Alex, being the true friend that he is, has her back and gets her on the show with a little coaxing and many pep talks. The contestants on the show (two of which become Sophie’s best friends) all fill a very specific role for a very specific character. You know how reality TV is. You’ve got the sweetheart, the villain, the brooding anti-social, etc. I really enjoyed them all, especially when they stirred up drama. The judges were all the sterotypical, dramatic judges you see on TV, and we even had Tommy who is the spitting image of The Chairman on Iron Chef. And then… there’s the hot French guy who, off camera, has Sophie swooning and daydreaming. The cast of characters was a winner in my book!

3. The FOOD. Oh my! I loved reading all the yummy-sounding descriptions of the dishes that the contestants made. Each week they were on the show focused on different genres, if you will, of food. There was a Latin week, an Asian one, a French one, a Mediterranean one, and a Pastry one. This book made me so hungry! Of course, the author included some of the recipes for these meals and desserts, so if you feel the need to satisfy any resulting cravings, you’re encouraged to do so.

4. I was worried about whether or not I would believe the excitement of the kitchen during competition time, but I did! I got really excited and read faster. It was like reading an episode of Iron Chef. I really enjoyed it.

5. The romance was minimal, but there. I really enjoyed the small glimmers of romance, but appreciated that they were not the focus of the story.

6. I also appreciated that the book was not predictable. It was not perfectly wrapped up into the obvious conclusion. It made things more realistic for me.

Overall, Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff that Made Me Famous was stinkin’ cute. It was quick, light, happy, sweet, and savory. I loved the idea, and the execution was done really well. The writing was witty, and the characters were all loveable. I’d recommend this to anyone who needs a little comfort food in their life.

5 Stars

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen (Book Review)

Posted August 20, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 4 Comments

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen (Book Review)The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
Published by Feiwel and Friends on August 21, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Survival
Pages: 231
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (ALA)
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1.5 Stars

Robie is an experienced traveler. She’s taken the flight from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll, a group of Pacific islands where her parents live, many times. When she has to get to Midway in a hurry after a visit with her aunt in Hawaii, she gets on the next cargo flight at the last minute. She knows the pilot, but on this flight, there’s a new co-pilot named Max. All systems are go until a storm hits during the flight. The only passenger, Robie doesn’t panic until the engine suddenly cuts out and Max shouts at her to put on a life jacket. They are over miles of Pacific Ocean. She sees Max struggle with a raft.

And then . . . she’s in the water. Fighting for her life. Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. They have no water. Their only food is a bag of Skittles. There are sharks. There is an island. But there’s no sign of help on the way.

Ever since I read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen in elementary school, I’ve been captivated by survival stories on TV, in movies, and in books. And there are so many of them! Lost, Survivor, Terra Nova, Castaway, On the Island, etc. I could go on and on. It’s fascinating what we humans will do in order to survive. When I saw The Raft on a table at ALA, I knew it had to come home with me. I was excited to be able to devour another exciting story of survival. Sadly, this book was very lackluster for me. I just didn’t enjoy it. I did not find it as believable as I have other versions of a similar story. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The bulk of the book takes place on a raft in the middle of the ocean. Obviously, not a lot can happen on a raft. That’s exactly what we were given: not a lot. Of course, this is incredibly realistic. I mean… I know that real life is not like Lost, where supernatural things are happening all the time. At the same time, though, I would have enjoyed a little more action to break the monotony of the happenings in the raft. I got bored.

2. The setting = a raft. Let me just say that the author did not paint any images in my mind that looked like anything more exciting than a yellow raft in the middle of a bunch of water. But really, how could she? Sometimes it rained. Sometimes it was sunny. It got dark, and then it got light again. There’s just not a lot you can do with that.

3. Because the book is so short and takes place in such a small amount of time, we don’t get to learn a lot about Robie or Max. And those are really the only two characters that are mentioned across more than 2-3 pages. There’s no character development, no relationship, no nothing.

4. There was a little suspense every now and then, but it could have been so much more. I felt like the writing style took away from the possibilities that could have been there in the more tense moments. The writing was very staccato, with short, blunt sentences and very few long, flowing sentences. Perhaps this was the author’s goal: to create a feeling of tenseness with sequences of multiple short sentences. I just didn’t feel it, though.

5. The emotion did not seem real to me. This book is full of hard and/or sad moments, and Robie was completely flat and emotionless. I mean, if I were there I would have been crying and panicking and really freaking out. She seemed totally removed from the situation, even though she was in the very center of it.

6. A small twist happens that kind of makes you go, “Oh… ok. That kind of makes a little more sense.” But really, I was just ready to be done at that point. I didn’t even like the twist, but at least it made sense. Meh.

Overall, I think the story is what I had a problem with. Not the author. I have a feeling I would enjoy other works of hers. It takes a lot for a survival story to grab me and really pull me in. When I read a book, I’m looking for more than just a picture of reality. I loved the idea, but I was hoping more would be done with the execution to make it exciting, while still being somewhat realistic.

1.5 Stars

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Mini Book Review)

Posted August 17, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 8 Comments

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Mini Book Review)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on August 7, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 404
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (ALA)
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4.5 Stars

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Let this be known… Throne of Glass is my very first high fantasy! After meeting Sarah at ALA, I came home really excited to read it. She’s so nice, and I had fun chatting with her. And seriously? Epic fantasy? Wow! I’m becoming so versatile that I’m surprising myself! I’m totally a convert to the genre, though, and I think this was a great way for me to enter in. I’m loving the glass castle, deadly secrets, hardcore assassin vibe happening with this book, and I can’t wait to see where this series goes.

I really loved the story, and all the elements that went with it: magic, romance, suspense, politics, mystery, a glass castle, an assassin, hidden identities, mythology, fairies, demons, crazy creatures, fight scenes, secret passageways, a handsome prince, a mysterious captain of the guards, a love triangle, pretty dresses, a masquerade ball, a princess from another land, a fight for survival, an amulet, a freezing winter, portals to another world, and scheming, all wrapped up into an exciting package with beautiful writing.

Celaena is awesome. She’s extremely dynamic and exciting, not to mention mysterious. She’s like this wolf in sheep’s clothing, and I loved watching her surprise people. Oh, and she loves candy. Like, a lot. Actually, she loves all food. It’s a unique trait that we don’t see very often in young adult fiction. She also has the ability to really soften people up with her charm, especially Captain Chaol, who wanted to dislike her but ended up really enjoying her company. And then there’s Dorian, who turned into a puddle of mush around her. The love triangle with these three was so much fun, and I had a really hard time deciding on which guy I liked the best.

Really, this book had everything I could ask for, and I loved the glimpse I got into this magical world. I’m left a little speechless, which is why my review is so short. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this author, and the Throne of Glass series. Oh, and now I’m off to get the 4 prequels to this book that were released before its publication date.

4.5 Stars

TGIF (#2): Unexpected Books

Posted August 10, 2012 by Jana in / 5 Comments

TGIF is hosted by GReads, and is a fun meme where we get to answer a bookish question an recap on the past week’s events on the blog. Hopefully we learn more about each other this way!

I really love being surprised, completely blown away, or proven wrong by a book. Well, I only love being proven wrong if I thought the book was going to disappoint and it ends up being amazing. I don’t like it when my high hopes are dashed. Anyway, I love today’s topic, because I love fangirling over books that I did not expect to love! (My reviews are linked in my discussion.)

I think the biggest surprise of the year so far has been On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves. And yes, I know you’re tired of hearing me talk about this book! Seriously, though. I was incredibly scared by the it. I thought for SURE I’d not even finish it. And what do you know? It’s my favorite book, and I own three different copies of it (Kindle, original finished paperback, and brand new finished paperback). I’ve also been forcing people to buy it.  Well, as forceful as I can be… Bahaha.

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker also really surprised me. I was worried it’d be all about this whiny girl who had her heart broken by some guy she probably never would have ended up staying with anyway. I loved it. It was so much more than a lost relationship, and the main girl was darling in all the right ways. Melissa totally captured what it’s like to be a teen going through heartbreak, and I felt so refreshed and happy when it was over.

So, what are your unexpected book picks for the week? Do you agree or disagree with my choices?

Check out my Bookish Finds post on fun crafts for book lovers!

From What I Remember… by Kramer & Thomas (Book Review)

Posted August 7, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 10 Comments

From What I Remember… by Kramer & Thomas (Book Review)From What I Remember... by Stacy Kramer, Valerie Thomas
Published by Disney Hyperion on May 15, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 462
Format: eBook
Source: Gift
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5 Stars

KYLIE: Mexico? What a nightmare! I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY! Wait! Is this a wedding band on my finger??

MAX: It started with Kylie's laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics and it ended in Ensenada. It was hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we're stranded here, with less than twenty-four hours before graduation.

WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border but there's no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.

LILY: This cannot be happening. It's like some cruel joke. Or a bad dream. I close my eyes and when I reopen them, they're still there. Max and Kylie Flores, freak of the century. In bed together. If Kylie thinks I'm giving him up without a fight, she's dead wrong.

Sometimes I love reading a book for the sole purpose of enjoying it. I think all book bloggers get caught up in trying to remember every good (or bad) thing about a book, so that they can provide a thorough review for their readers. This time I decided to just read a book for myself, not keeping anyone else in mind as I read. I wasn’t even going to write a review, but decided I absolutely had to because I love this book so much. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I love the entire idea behind this book: good, geeky, smart girl decides there’s more to life than being good, geeky, and smart. You’ve got to live and have fun as well, or there’s no point. The entire story had a very “Grease” kind of feeling.  Kylie is the valedictorian of her graduating class. She’s smart, and liked by pretty much nobody except her hilarious gay friend named Will. She gets paired up for a last-minute class project with the jock of the school, Max. He’s extremely hard to work with, but she HAS to get a good grade. So she pushes him. In a conglomeration of crazy events, they both find themselves smuggled across the border in a van of stolen electronics. They are in Mexico with no passports, no way of getting home, and graduation day is closing in. Geeky girl turns hard core, and jock notices. Things get really cute.

2. Kylie is just like me. I was the overachieving good girl in high school and college too. Heck, I still am. I’ve always been a little geeky and bookish. I loved her inner thoughts and her street smarts, because I could relate to her so much. Like her, many people never discovered that I was so much more than the girl who chose to study over hanging out with friends. I had more fun watching her grow and change than I have with a character in a long time.

3. Will. Oh, Will. I loved him so much. He’s extremely flamboyant and obnoxious, but in a way you can’t help but love. He’s a cross-dressing, movie-quoting, ball of energy that is the only person who really knows and gets Kylie. He does his best to push her towards opening up, but holds back and is there for her when she needs him to. Everyone needs a friend like him. I also enjoyed watching him grow and progress.

4. Max is a sweetheart, but in a Danny Zucko (see? Grease) kind of way. He’s sweet when nobody is watching, and then he kind of shafts you when he needs to maintain his reputation. You know how Danny and Sandy have a whirlwind summer with the sweetest romance? Danny doesn’t even wear leather! He’s just normal and in love. And then he gets back to school, puts a bottle of gel in his hair, and acts like he barely knows Sandy? That’s kind of how Max was, just not as bad. He did struggle, though, with the choice between following his own heart and following the path that his friends chose for him. I grew to really like him, though. His true colors are beautiful.

5. I liked the 4 different perspectives we get with this book. The narration alternates chapter-by-chapter between Kylie, Max, Will, and Kylie’s younger brother, Jake, who has Asperger’s syndrome. Normally I hate this idea, but it totally worked with the story. Getting into Will’s head was hilarious, getting into Kylie’s head was like jumping in my own brain, getting into Jake’s head made me smile at his sweetness, and getting into Max’s head was enlightening. I really enjoyed it.

6. The story had a few elements that were totally unbelievable. I mean, how many times can these kids get in and out of trouble so easily? Haha! It’s a book, though. It doesn’t have to be true. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. :)

7. The writing is amazing. I always applaud a book that has two authors, because I think it would be really hard to blend two different writing styles. I could not tell when one other began and the other ended. It is a great partnership, and I’m hoping they pair up again in the future.

8. When all was said and done, I had major warm fuzzies happening. I loved watching these kids grow and mature. I loved Kylie’s transformation into a force to be reckoned with. I loved how all the loose ends were tied up.

Favorite Quotes:

“At least she’s not wearing those Uggs anymore, which look like huge suede foot tumors, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Hopefully in the Venn diagram of their lives, they can find a little more overlap.”

“So, kiss the girl. Buy the dress. Take a vacation. Join the circus. Order the fried frog legs. Try out for the play. Learn to snowboard. Do something that scares the s*** out of you. Or something that makes you happy. Or something that makes you cry. Whatever it is, do something that makes you feel something. Because feeling nothing is no way to go through life.”

This is definitely a new favorite book of mine! I’d recommend it to people who enjoy contemporary romance, humor, and a little adventure. Oh, and movie quotes. Each chapter begins with a quote from a popular movie that foreshadows what’s going to happen in that chapter. I loved that idea! Now I need to go watch all those movies!

5 Stars

TGIF (#1): Book Olympics

Posted August 3, 2012 by Jana in / 8 Comments

TGIF is hosted by GReads, and is a fun meme where we get to answer a bookish question and provide a recap on the past week’s events on the blog. Hopefully we learn more about each other this way!

This week, Ginger has given us an awesome question to answer in honor of the Olympics going on right now! Are you enjoying them? I know I am!


Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
This book changed how I view myself as a person. It made me realize that life is supposed to be filled with adventure and excitement and love and self-discovery. I read this shortly before going on a 6-week whirlwind trip of Europe, and I definitely appreciated traveling more after reading this. I viewed my trip differently, and even though I got extremely ill while I was gone, I came away knowing more about myself than I ever thought I’d learn from a trip.


The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
This is such a sweet, happy story of a girl whose summer brings about a few completely life-changing decisions. I could jump inside this book and stay for a long time. I loved the setting and the characters. It was the most picturesque snapshot of the life everyone dreams of living.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
This was my very first romantic contemporary, and I loved it. I love Paris and falling in love and french boys and likeable heroines. This really is the best love story I’ve read in a while. I know you know what I mean!

Haha. See a trend here? Sweet, contemporaries. I never ever thought I’d be a contemporary romance lover! So, what which books would you give medals to?



Haha. Nothing has happened on the blog this week! I feel so bad! The Olympics have put a major hold on my reading, plus I started a new job on Monday, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to balance a full-time job with reading and blogging. It’s SO hard! I honestly feel like I have no time. I work from 9:45 to 6:30, am not allowed to read or blog on the job (unless it’s during my 30-minute lunch break or one of my two 15-minute breaks), and I have to go to sleep earlier than I used to. So, do you have any advice? How do you squeeze reading and blogging into your already jam-packed life?