Month: October 2012

The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols (Book Review)

Posted October 29, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 8 Comments

The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols (Book Review)The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols
Published by Simon Pulse on September 8, 2009
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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2.5 Stars

Brace yourself for the battle of the exes...

Hayden and Nick used to be a hot item, but their brief affair ended with a highly publicized breakup. Now the two are "just friends," excluding the occasional flirtation.

When Hayden wins the girls' division of a local snowboarding competition, Nick is unimpressed, claiming that Hayden wouldn't have a chance against a guy. Hayden calls Nick's bluff and challenges him to a head-to-head boarding contest. Their mutual friends quickly take sides, the girls on Hayden's and the boys on Nick's, making for an all-out battle of the sexes. This friendly competition is bound to get heated—and they might end up igniting some old flames.

In honor of the first snowfall of the season here, I thought it would be fun to read a book with lots of winter and lots of snow. The Ex Games jumped out at me, because I have never read a snowboarding book. It was light-hearted, fluffy, and fun, but left me wishing I had been given more details and character development. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The characters are likeable and sweet in their own ways. They made me giggle a little inside, but that was it. I felt they were all rather one-dimensional and forgettable.

2. There was so much needless drama in this story. I got rather frustrated. Hayden and Nick would have an intimate conversation and a little romance, and then all of a sudden one of them would say something the other one did not like, a major emotional explosion would happen, and someone would storm off and slam doors. They would not talk for a while, and then they would reconcile… have another sweet convo/make-out session, and then get REALLY mad and storm off again. This relationship was majorly bi-polar, and I started to get really annoyed. The only reason they did not get together sooner was because they were being dumb.

3. The romance was all based off of a shamble of a 7th grade relationship. 7th grade? I don’t know, it did not seem realistic to me. So they were… what, 13 when this started? And the love was so strong that they chased each other for 4 years? Sorry, I just don’t buy it. I ended up making up my own ages for them, just because it made more sense that way. Young love is real, and I totally get that. I just wasn’t convinced this time.

4. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again. Nick and Hayden were either arguing or making out. All. The. Time. But that was not the only thing that happened over and over again. Someone tripped on the family dog, Doofus, sometimes twice on a page. Lots of time was spent on the slopes trying to talk Hayden into going off the jump. Seriously, how many times must we read about her fear of heights? Lots of time was spent in a cafe talking. I swear, only 3 things happened in this book… just over and over again.

5. While things are very predictable, it was a cute story with all the snow I was hoping for. I loved the setting of the book. It sounded a bit like a resort town just up the mountain from where I live. And I did enjoy the cute, romantic moments when Nick and Hayden weren’t yelling at each other.

Overall, this story won’t have you up at night dreaming over the swoonworthy moments. It was cute and happy, but forgettable. I’d recommend it to people who enjoy light romantic comedies.

2.5 Stars

Covers of the Rainbow: Orange

Posted October 25, 2012 by Jana in Cover Talk, Covers of the Rainbow / 5 Comments


You know me! I love colors, I love art, and I love beautiful book covers. So this new feature here on my blog features my favorite covers from every color of the spectrum. I’ll also feature a short explanation of the color’s meaning so we can discuss if the predominate use of that color was a good choice.


In honor of Halloween coming up, this time I chose to feature covers that are predominately orange. Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.

So, what do you think? Does orange work for these covers? Have you read any of these? What orange covers am I missing?

The Carny by Brooke Moss (Book Review)

Posted October 17, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

The Carny by Brooke Moss (Book Review)The Carny by Brooke Moss
Published by Inkspell Publishing on July 7, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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2.5 Stars

At a town fair on the coast of Oregon, handsome Native American carny, Vincent Youngblood, bestows an unforgettable kiss on shy, awkward teenager, Charlotte Davenport. Then disappears without another word, leaving her baffled and enamored. Ten years later, Charlotte is still living in the small fishing town of Astoria, while being trained to--reluctantly--take over for her philandering hotelier father when he retires. After all, who else will do it? Her two perfect sisters are busy being married to their flawless husbands and having cookie cutter children, while Charlotte remains single, childless, and every bit as mousy as she was a decade ago. As Charlotte struggles to climb out from underneath her judgmental parents thumb, the carnival rolls back into town, and Charlotte finds herself face to face with Vin again. He's back to run his father's carnival, walking away from a promising career in medicine he started in Chicago. Will her biased and judgmental family accept her relationship with a man who is not only a Native American, but works as a carny for a living? And what unsavory secrets bind the well-educated and seemingly superlative Vin to that ramshackle carnival? After all, you can t judge a carny by its cover.

I was quite excited for this book, because I love the idea of this serendipitous moment where two people magically collide and form a connection that spans 10 years! I remember when I was younger, there was this TV show called Providence. One of the small story lines that spanned a few episodes was when Joanie went to a masquerade ball, and was randomly kissed by a masked man in a Zorro costume, before he disappeared. It was so exciting and romantic, especially once these two found each other again. That’s what I pictured with this story. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The romance factor is there, even though it was quite cheesy and predictable at times. We’ve got this sexy, swoon worthy Native American named Vin who is a complete dreamboat. He’s been thinking about Charlotte off and on since that kiss, and their reunion is pretty sweet and made me melt. Plus, the things he said to her were just precious. I’m a huge fan of Vin, and to be honest, he’s way too good for Charlotte. This brings me to my next point.

2. I can’t stand Charlotte. She has such low self esteem, that Vin has to continually reassure her that she’s pretty. She actually apologizes to him for not being pretty enough. My. Gosh. Plus, she jumps to conclusions. If she can be mad at Vin, she will be without even giving him the chance to explain! She’s hopelessly in love with this guy, but goes on pouting sprees as often as she can–ignoring him for days while she mopes. Seriously. Can anyone be good enough for her? And THEN she flips and runs into his arms sobbing. She was weak, and he was blinded by love. Seriously, Vin. Come find me.

3. I’m not a huge fan of the supporting characters either. I liked the people we briefly met at the carnival, the part of Vin’s family we met, and I liked Charlotte’s friend. But I could not stand Charlotte’s racist, annoying family. They were so horrible, that I had a hard time believing they were real. I would have enjoyed reading about Vin’s family so much more.

4. I enjoyed the small details: the carnival, the small cottage with the greenhouses, the lighthouse, the quaint town, the crisp air. I would love to visit this place. It was described wonderfully.

5. The writing was pretty awful. I’m not even sure this book was edited. Sundays does not equal Sunday’s. If you’re enjoying Sunday’s weather, you use it this way. If you’re excited about all the upcoming Sundays, there is no apostrophe. You’re adorable. That’s a good use of you’re. You’re dress is adorable is not a good use of you’re. It’s lovely outside. Yes. This is good. My cat wiggled it’s nose? No. There were more typos and broken grammar laws than I could keep track of. It really detracted from the story.

6. The deeper issues gave the book substance, and I liked that. Charlotte’s horrendous family forced her to defend herself. Vin’s unreliable family forced him to make tough decisions. They both had sad pasts, which made them real.

7. The ending was too much. You can only have so many “happily ever after” elements before it’s just too much. Every single happy thing that could happen to these two did. I mean, I was happy for them and all, but now that all is said and done I keep thinking that the bow this story was tied up in is just too pretty, especially after all the opposition they were facing throughout the entire story.

8. Regardless of my little gripes about the book, I did enjoy the story. I will always pull for a couple like this one. The more opposition they face, the more I want them to end up together. I seriously loved Vin, and I loved some of the romantic scenes these two shared. I had a hard time putting it down.

Overall, I appreciated the story and the attack on racism, because it’s still a modern problem. I loved Vin so much, and would love to read more of his back story. We briefly hear about is past, and I’d love a prequel that shows us Vin’s life before Charlotte. A strong editor could have done wonders for this book, and I’m sad that didn’t happen. I’d recommend this to people who enjoy happy romantic contemporaries with real issues, a loveable hero, and quaint coastal towns.

2.5 Stars

When a Sentence is All You Need… (#1)

Posted October 15, 2012 by Jana in Discussion / 3 Comments


Back before I blogged about books, I still rated them on Goodreads. I never really wrote a formal review, but sometimes added a sentence or two about my thoughts. Or… even now, sometimes I read a book just to read it, with no concern for reviewing it. Or I’ll get into a review slump and feel like I have nothing relevant or interesting to say. I still like to voice my opinions, though, so here are my two cents on a few titles I read just to enjoy.

The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn by Mark Twain
I actually enjoyed this!

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
So depressing… I have hope that the next book will be a little happier.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Not as good as the first one, but still worth the read. Can’t wait for the third book!

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
You know… I wish there was a little more romance, but the suspense factor was amazing and the ending was sweet.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Oh. My. I just found my new favorite book. Seriously! This was adorable. And I am SO excited to go to Paris now!!

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Oh my. Wonderful. I got so attached to the characters and the story was captivating. This is definitely Stephenie’s best.

Do your reviews ever look like this? Sometimes a sentence really is all you need to get your feelings out. And for my fellow book bloggers, do you ever decide to just not review a book? Both Wither and Anna were books I intended to fully review, but then chose not to.

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson (Mini Book Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway)

Posted October 8, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Guest Post / 2 Comments

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson (Mini Book Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway)The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Renee Anderson
Published by HEA Publishing on September 8, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 300
Format: eBook
Source: Author
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4 Stars

Luke Carney has no idea what possessed him to move back to Shelter Springs, Colorado, to set up his veterinarian practice. His parents have long since left, the small farming community is on the brink of extinction, and only one close friend from his childhood remains--Taycee Emerson, his best friend’s little sister, who isn’t so little anymore.

Then there’s the matter of Shelter’s Bachelorette, an online reality dating show created to raise some much needed funds for the town.

Unwittingly cast as the bachelorette, Taycee wants out, especially when she discovers that Luke, her childhood crush, is back in town and will be one of the bachelors. To make matters worse, it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go. And they all seem to like Luke.

Unwilling to let him break her heart again, Taycee launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. But she’d forgotten that Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge.

I’m ready and willing to admit that I love The Bachelor and the Bachelorette. These shows make Mondays worth having. I know they are totally silly and the couples pretty much never stay together, but I don’t care! I even watch the show if I really REALLY dislike the people. It’s pure entertainment, and I love the drama. So, of course I was excited to read The Reluctant Bachelorette! It was a cute, cheesy read. Sometimes cheese is what you need. :)

Taycee was a likeable lead, and I really liked Luke. They are an adorable couple, and I enjoyed reading about the development of their relationship. I liked the idea behind the show: raising money for charity. I thought it was a fun way to raise money, and I would love to be in Taycee’s shoes! Give me 20 guys to date, and I’m all for it. The only thing that bothered me about this particular group of guys is that most of them were even likeable. I really felt for Taycee and laughed to myself as she went on some pretty bad dates, just because I’ve totally been there! There were a few I liked, though, and I had fun reading about those dates. There was also quite a bit of secrecy and drama, which I ate up.

Luke is my dream guy. I’d love to date him, and I loved reading about his and Taycee’s romance. One of my favorite scenes was when they went star gazing. I did that with a guy one time. He gave me his jacket, and we drove up into the mountains and the sky was on fire. He put his arms around me and rested his chin on my head as we watched the stars and whispered about random stuff. The scene in this book brought me back to that moment, and I totally remember feeling twitterpated and giddy like they did. It was a sweet moment. :) I also love when they spent the day at the swimming hole. So romantic!

This book is so happy and sweet! It’s one of those simple romantic contemporaries where everything makes you smile. Oh, and the ending… I got teary-eyed! This book had a downright amazing ending. We all need books like this. There was a lot of fluff, mixed in with some more serious issues that kept the story grounded. I liked the main characters, and even a few of the supporting ones.

Last of all, I really appreciate the clean content of this book. There was no steam, smut, or bad language, yet it was still sweet and romantic. Romance is possible without a bed in play, and Rachael did a great job proving that. Read on for her guest post on this exact topic of discussion.

The Author: Rachael Anderson
(Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog)

“I love to read, write, and do most anything outdoors, with the exception of rock climbing and sky diving. (I have serious height phobias.) If there’s something I can do within five feet of solid ground, count me in!”

Keeping it Clean for a Reason

I write unapologetic clean romance, and I always will. My favorite part of any love story is the falling in love part–all of the stuff that happens before sex. There’s something magical and special about that time, and for me, it’s the most romantic part. Take Pride and Prejudice, for example–the most beloved of all love stories. Jane Austin took two strangers, gave them a reason to think less of the other from the get-go, and then let the respect, friendship, attraction, and love grow from there. By the end of the book, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Mr. Darcy and Lizzy had so much more than chemistry. They had something real and lasting and sigh-worthy. And Jane Austin did it all without sex. They didn’t even kiss until the end of the book.

Yes, I realize the contemporary world we live in is a different place. In the movies and so many books these days, people meet, kiss, and fall into bed together in the blink of an eye. It makes me sad, because not only do I NOT want to read (or let my children read) about two characters having sex, but I feel like those writers clicked fast-forward on the most beautiful moments in any love story. I come away feeling shorted.

For me, true romance is in the initial connection, friendship, giddiness, excitement, noticing, frustration, fear, and insecurity. It’s in the first look, first touch, first kiss. It’s in the development of something real, something deep, and something lasting.  By the end of any book I write, I want my readers to know, without a doubt, that those two characters are a perfect fit, in more ways than just chemistry. That regardless of what comes their way, they will stay together for always. That’s the best kind of happily ever after there is.

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4 Stars

Owlet by Emma Michaels (Excerpt, Guest Post, & Giveaway)

Posted October 3, 2012 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post / 4 Comments

Hello! Welcome to my stop along the Owlet tour, hosted by Tribute Books! If you’re here for the readlong, say no more. Your excerpt is right here! Also, it’s my pleasure to have Emma on my blog today. After the excerpt, read on to find her thoughts on Elena’s garden. Finally, make sure to enter the giveaway to win your own copy of Owlet, the first book in the Society of Feathers series.

Title: Owlet
Author: Emma Michaels
Publisher: Tribute Books
Release Date: October 13, 2012
Buy It: Kindle | Nook | iBookstore | Smashwords | PDF
Add It: Goodreads

Summary: Somewhere between falling and flying… there is a girl.
Iris has a secret. She lost her memory eight years ago and never told a living soul. After an asthma attack one night she finds out that her dreams of a strange house on a snowy island may be a memory resurfacing but the more she learns about the past the more she realizes the life she has been living is a lie. As the façade her father has built starts to crumble around her she will have to decide which means more to her; the truth or her life.

Owlet Excerpt
She started to land and closed her eyes, not wanting to spoil that very first glimpse. She was so familiar with this dream that she didn’t need to see the ground to be able to land properly; she could just let herself drift and the wind would set her down. She waited until her feet were planted firmly in the snow and as it melted between her toes she opened her eyes. It was like magic each time she saw it. The snow falling like white feathers of all shapes and sizes before turning into the cold semi-liquid beneath her feet. It was perfect. The trees parted to reveal a road that would lead to the rest of her Never-Never, and revealed the view she knew so well.

A plain white house with many quirks sat before her; shingles from the roof were missing, black shutters framed the windows making them look like wide-open eyes, and empty planter boxes were attached to every window. When she saw the house she ran, placing her hand flat against the dark red door.

“Let me in. You are MY Never-Never—this is MY dream! Let me IN!” Iris gave the doorknob a sharp turn but it wouldn’t budge. She felt like a child throwing a fit and willed herself to calm down. She closed her eyes and when she opened them again she spoke.

The Author: Emma Michaels

Emma Michaels is the author of the ‘A Sense of Truth’ and ‘Society of Feathers’ series. Her goal with her latest YA novel ‘Owlet’ is to give others what she did not have growing up; a strong female protagonist with asthma.  While her previous aspiration was to be a lady knight she realized that not being able to run more than a few feet might become a hindrance so turned to writing instead. Her day jobs include being a cover artist, marketing consultant and silk screen designer.

Find Emma: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

Elena’s Garden from Emma Michaels

While I don’t bring a focus point on Elena’s garden in the novel, it is one of the clearest settings in the novel in terms of how I imagine it in my mind. The island was Elena’s favorite place in the world because of her bedroom, her garden and the privacy/safety that is offered. The garden was her ‘special place’. You know when you are a child and you go somewhere and every time you leave you feel like you are leaving a part of you there because you belong there? Somewhere that feels more like magic than reality to you? That is what her garden is for her.

So while the book doesn’t give an in-depth description, if you want to know more about Elena that is the one place that could show you. The island is naturally covered in trees, especially alders, maple and pine but she had that section that had once been her mother’s garden cleared away and created from scratch. She knew she wanted her mother’s favorite birds, humming birds to visit so started by adding nectar plants like red sage and birds of paradise.

From there she realized why she wanted to create the garden anew, because it could be a paradise for birds. So keeping track of what birds could live in harmony she started compiling a list of what she wanted and found Joseph to help her out. She ended up with wild strawberry plants creeping along the sides of the path, manzanitas, dogwood and hemlock trees, madrone, holly, lilacs, sugar bushes, butterfly bushes, sunflowers, carnations, lavender and Irises. The one thing she had left untouched were the apple trees, she didn’t mind having them in her sanctuary because they fed the deer and were great for birds to nest in.

Her garden ended up attracting a wide variety of birds, though some of them she had imported to the island from rescue bird sanctuaries with her father’s help. Now in her garden you can find flickers, sparrows, waxwings, buntings, thrush, finch, thrasher, hermit thrush, wrens, hummingbirds, the amazing Lyre birds and more.

At the end of all of her hard work you have the garden that Iris got to see a portion of. Over time Elena had decided to add a pond with rose water lilies and koi (since koi go dormant in the winter but stay alive even with the cold temperatures) creating the garden you can read the description of in Owlet. I hope you enjoyed reading this little behind the scenes peak at Elena’s garden! If you haven’t read the novel yet, just wait and see what other wonders await!

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