Month: June 2013

Pack Your Beach Bag! (JKS Summer Beach Reads Tour)

Posted June 30, 2013 by Jana in Blog Tour / 0 Comments

Welcome to my stop along the JKS Summer Beach Reads Tour! If you’re looking for some highly addictive series to pack for your trip to the beach, you’ve come to the right place. These should definitely keep you entertained as you listen to the waves roll in. So, sit back, dig your feet in the sand, apply some sunblock, and get reading!

The Godling Chronicles by Brian Anderson

The Sword of Truth (The Godling Chronicles, #1)Book #1: The Sword of Truth
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy It: Amazon

Darkness comes as a new power rises in Angrääl. The Dark Knight has betrayed the Gods and stolen The Sword of Truth, trapping them in heaven. With the power of the Sword he can reshape the world and bring death to all who oppose him.

Only one thing stands between the darkness and the light. Gewey Stedding. Only he has the power to stand against the oncoming storm.

Only he can mend the world. But only if he can discover his power…

Click here for information on books 2 and 3: 
Of Gods and Elves and The Shadow of Gods.


The Asphalt Warrior Series by Gary Reilly

The Asphalt WarriorBook #1: The Asphalt Warrior
Genre: Adult Fiction, Humor
Buy It: Amazon

Murph has two main goals in life. First, to earn no more from driving his cab than it takes to keep his bohem lifestyle afloat. Second, never and under any circumstance get involved in the lives of his fares. He’s not very good at the first and spectacularly bad at the second.


Click here for information on books 2 and 3:  
Ticket to Hollywood and The Heart of Darkness Club.


Sister Nun Mystery Series by Deborah Plummer Bussey

They Still Call Me SisterBook #1: They Still Call Me Sister
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery
Buy It: Amazon

How are you reinventing your life to support who you are today? Former nun Kathy Carpenter is comfortable in her role as a wife and practicing psychologist when a new patient from her past takes her down a journey that proves to be professionally and emotionally challenging. When the patient is found dead and it’s claimed a suicide she knows that something is off. Enlisting the help of her gregarious sister in Atlanta, she sets out to prove her patient was murdered. But with the only suspect a shadowy figure whom she only knows by a nickname, the answers seem well out of reach. As Kathy gets closer to the truth, political intrigue begins to surround her, and her own life begins to be in danger. Can she find the killer—or will she be a victim herself?

Click here for information on book 2: 
The Family That Stays Together


Lucky O’Toole Las Vegas Adventures by Deborah Coonts

Wanna Get Lucky?Book #1: Wanna Get Lucky?
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Buy It: Amazon

A young woman plunges from a Las Vegas sightseeing helicopter, landing in the Pirate’s lagoon in front of the Treasure Island Hotel in the middle of the 8:30 Pirate Show.  Almost everyone writes her off as another Vegas victim.

But Lucky O’Toole smells a rat.  She’s head of Customer Relations at The Babylon, the newest, most opulent mega-casino and resort on the Strip, so she’s got a lot on her plate: the Adult Film industry’s annual awards banquet, a spouse-swapping convention, sex toy purveyors preying on the pocket-protector crowd attending ElectroniCon….  Still, Lucky can’t resist turning over a few stones.

When a former flame is one of the snakes she uncovers, Lucky’s certain she’s no longer dealing with an anonymous Sin City suicide.  To top it all off, Lucky’s best friend Teddie—Las Vegas’ finest female impersonator—presses to take their relationship to the next level.  Leave it to Lucky to attract a man who looks better in a dress than she does.

Lucky must manage the Babylon’s onslaught of outrageous festivities, solve a murder, and struggle to keep her life and libido from spinning out of control… not to mention keep her balance in six inch heels.

Click here for information on books 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7:
Lucky Stiff, Lucky in Love, So Damn Lucky, Lucky Bang, Lucky Now & Then, and Lucky Bastard

Have fun at the beach! Wish I could go with you!

Top Ten Books I’ve Read in 2013 So Far

Posted June 25, 2013 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 44 Comments


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

Can you believe we’ve passed the halfway point of 2013? I sure can’t! What better topic to have today, than a re-cap of the first half of a year of great books! Links lead to my reviews!





1. Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi (Read December 24, 2012 – January 4, 2013)
Creativity, character growth from the first book, heart-stopping ending. If you loved Under the Never Sky, this book will NOT disappoint you!

2. Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Read January 5 – January 7, 2013)
This is THE DAY I want to have happen to me, and it reawakened the wanderlust within me (although, it really hadn’t been asleep for long). Allyson let her life behind, got totally lost, and was changed. PLUS she fell in love with a cute Dutch boy! The story is beautiful.

3. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Read January 21 – February 8, 2013)
I LOVED Cinder, and Scarlet is just as, if not more, amazing! Cinder is back, but now we’ve got Scarlet too. And she’s amazing! I love Marissa’s strong female characters, and how her books showcase them rather than whiny little spineless girls. And I love Wolf! The characters say some laugh out loud things, yet there’s some serious stuff going on. TONS of stuff happens, and I love this futuristic looks at Paris.

4. Unremembered by Jessica Brody (Read February 8 – February 11, 2013)
I love mysteries and I love survival stories. Unremembered is both, plus a little science fiction.

5. Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini (Read March 21 – April 2, 2013)
I’m not usually a fan of afterlife-type novels, because I don’t usually like an author’s take on Heaven/Hell, Angels, God, and the afterlife in general. For this reason, I almost did not accept this book for review. Something about it, though, drew me right in and I decided to give it a chance. I am SO glad I did, because this book is a new favorite of mine! I really loved it, and it made me think about my life.

6. Of Triton by Anna Banks (Read April 3 – April 5, 2013)
Mermaids!! It’s funny, has amazing characters, I loved the dual perspectives, I loved Anna’s take on mermaid and Greek mythology, I loved the intense moments, I loved the writing style and the gorgeous underwater descriptions, and the ending killed me! Oh, and you get to learn SO much more about the Syrena in this one!

7. Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson (Read April 5 – April 19, 2013)
I was sold when I found out about Jessa’s coming-of-age journey through Italy! Jessa is so down-to-earth and normal. She’s on a trip to Italy with her newly ex-boyfriend, and she gets to watch him hang all over the girl he cheated with. That takes guts. And she kicks her heartbreak in the butt. Plus, the Italy scenes! SO GREAT.

8. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Read April 19 – April 25, 2013)
AMAZING. The world, people. THE WORLD. You just HAVE to read this even if you think Fantastical futuristic Russia, sexy male leads, a kick-butt heroine, and feeling is not for you.

9. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (Read May 3 – May 5, 2013)
A quirky heroine, breathtaking scenes of London, breaking rules, mysterious suitors, culture, bookishness, witty banter, and a slow-burning swoony romance? Yessssssss! I LOVE this one.

10. Heist Society by Ally Carter (Read May 7 – May 8, 2013)
Good YA mysteries are hard to come by, and this one involves thieves and art! Plus, we get to do a lot of traveling with a bunch of awesome, charming characters. There’s action and suspense, and it’s all wrapped up in cuteness! Can’t WAIT to read the rest of this series.

So, tell me what you think! Have you read and loved these, too? Read and hated them? Leave links, and I’ll come see! I can’t wait to see what you recommend. :)

While you’re here, make sure you enter my birthday giveaway!

Jana’s Birthday: Now Closer to 30 than 20… Ahh! (Giveaway)

Posted June 22, 2013 by Jana in About Me, Giveaway / 52 Comments

Hi! So, today I turned 26, and OH MY THAT’S SO CLOSE TO 30! I remember turning 13 and thinking I was the most awesome person in the world because, HELLO, I was a teenager! That was half my life ago! It’s amazing how time flies. It’s also hilarious looking back on your life and realizing how totally uncool you were back in the day when you thought you were the coolest ever.

Anyway, I thought this would be a fun occasion to thank you all for your support, loving comments, and friendships. I’ve had an outpouring of “happy birthday”‘s on Facebook, Twitter, and even in my email. You’re all so amazing! So, I’d like to give you something. I wish I could give ALL of you something, but then I’d be broke. Haha. So, please enter this giveaway and know I love you!

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Do you check back for follow-up comments?

Posted June 20, 2013 by Jana in Discussion / 33 Comments

I absolutely LOVE comments on my posts. I love interacting with readers of my blog, to discuss bookish things and even milestones in my life! I love coming to you all for advice, and that’s actually what I’m doing today.

How do I respond to your comments? Do I reply here, or do you not come back to check and see if I did? Do I respond here just in case, and to show other people that I do respond? Do I tweet you? Do I reciprocate and go to your blog and leave a meaningful comment on a review of yours, while also thanking you for coming to my blog and then responding to whatever it was you asked me? Do I email you? I just don’t know!!!

Bottom line, I don’t want anyone to feel ignored. I love all of you, and I want to make sure you know how much I appreciate it when you reach out to me! Advice, please! What do you do? How do you make sure your blog readers know you care about the comments they leave you?

Inner Child: Riding on a Beam of Light by Ramsey Dean (Book Review)

Posted June 19, 2013 by Jana in Children's Book Review, Inner Child / 4 Comments


Inner Child is an original Artsy Reader Girl feature, where I take a moment to highlight a cute book for kids! I love children’s books. Hey, I started out on them! They are the foundation of my love of reading. When I need a smile, or a quick dose of the “good old days”, I never hesitate to crack open a picture book and feed my inner child.


Title: Riding on a Beam of Light
Author: Ramsey Dean
Illustrator: Noah Hamden
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: The Light Beam Riders
Format: PDF
Source: JKS Communications (thanks!)
Buy It: Amazon
Add It: Goodreads

Albert Einstein adamantly emphasized the importance of imagination. In this vividly illustrated storybook, lights-out turns into learning as we’re swept away by young Albert Einstein’s fantastical, and ultimately world-changing idea in an adventure that’s reminiscent of classics like Harold and the Purple Crayon and Where the Wild Things Are. At it’s heart is a story about imagination and dreaming, adventurous and engaging, with gorgeous illustrations that captures our grown-up hearts and our children’s curiosity.

I’m so happy to be here today with another fun book for children! This one is all about young Albert Einstein, a boy who grew into a man whose ideas changed the world. I have always been fascinated by him. I think we all remember the days when mom would come in and turn out the lights, plunging our bedrooms into darkness in the hopes that we would drift off to sleep soon. Did that ever really happen? No. Some of us pulled out flashlights and read under the covers. Some of us jumped out of bed and built a fort in the dark. Albert went on space adventures, and this book takes us along for the ride.

I think the thing I love most about Riding on a Beam of Light is the strong emphasis placed on curiosity, discovery, imagination, and free thinking. Albert is proof that young minds can do great things, and that message is conveyed to readers. The whimsical rhyming and illustrations bursting with color strike up a feeling of awe and excitement. It’s absolutely magical. I also think that this is a wonderful way to introduce science at an early age. I’ve run across many Einstein wannabes in my years of teaching and working with kids, and I can just picture a few of them absolutely LOVING Riding on a Beam of Light. I’m going to end with my very favorite illustration from the book. I think Mr. Einstein would agree that this is where it all started.

Sky on Fire (Monument 14 #2) by Emmy Laybourne (Book Review)

Posted June 17, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 13 Comments

Sky on Fire (Monument 14 #2) by Emmy Laybourne (Book Review)Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne
Series: Monument 14 #2
Also in this series: Monument 14
Published by Feiwel and Friends on May 28, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic, Survival
Pages: 212
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Trapped in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, including a monster hailstorm and terrifying chemical weapons spill, brothers Dean and Alex learned how to survive and worked together with twelve other kids to build a refuge from the chaos. But then strangers appeared, destroying their fragile peace, and bringing both fresh disaster and a glimmer of hope.

Knowing that the chemical weapons saturating the air outside will turn him into a bloodthirsty rage monster, Dean decides to stay in the safety of the store with Astrid and some of the younger kids. But their sanctuary has already been breached once. . . .

Meanwhile, Alex, determined to find their parents, heads out into the darkness and devastation with Niko and some others in a recently repaired school bus. If they can get to Denver International Airport, they might be evacuated to safety. But the outside world is even worse than they expected. . . .

If you read my review of Monument 14 last summer, you know I got quite attached to the children in this series. I’m not sure if it’s because I work with children all the time, or what, but I just had to know what happened to all of them–especially the ones who drove off in search of help at the end of the last book. What a cliffhanger to end on! Luckily, Sky on Fire picks up right where we left off and it does not take too much time to refresh your memory before being thrown right back into the action. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I feel like there was a lot more action in this installment. Half the kids are driving a torn up bus through the ravaged towns and cities in search of a way to a safer world. Their goal is to make it to the Denver airport. All the while, they are trying to keep exposure to the atmosphere at a minimum, due to the dangerous effects of the chemicals in the air. This part of the story was the most exciting, and had me flying through the pages. The kids get attacked, their bus gets stolen, they find a little humanity left in the world, and they really get pushed to the limits. I was SO scared for them as I read.

2. And then we have the kids who stayed back at the store. Most of them become aggressive, murderous monsters when exposed to the chemicals, so they end up waiting things out in the hopes that their friends bring back rescuers. They are faced with their challenges as well including walls being torn down and letting the chemicals in, losing their electricity, and dealing with intruders.

3. I really like how the story flips back and forth between the two brothers, Alex and Dean. Alex, the younger brother, decided to go off in the bus with Niko and the others, while Dean stayed back with a pregnant Astrid and the little ones. We get to read Dean’s story as it happens, and Alex’s in the form of a journal he kept as a letter to Dean in case they didn’t make it.

4. Because such a huge part of the story takes place outside of the store, we finally get to see what’s really going on in the world during this time. The chemicals have absolutely decimated the place. These chemicals are so powerful, that they dissolve rubber after a few hours. The few remaining survivors are pretty much insane, heartless, or not even human anymore. The world has been plunged into complete darkness. Scary! I really liked seeing what’s been going on outside the store.

5. Alex really shown in this novel, whereas I hardly remember him as being anything more than annoying in the first one. He has had to grown up, mature, and learn to remain level-headed. I liked reading his thoughts much more than Dean’s this time around.

6. Dean’s chapters were rather monotonous. There’s only so much that can happen in a store, and though some more intruders arrive and a romance blooms (one I’m not so sure I like, for that matter), I really looked forward to getting back to Alex.

7. Our supporting characters do not play the same dynamic roles this time around, and I really did not get to hear much about them. I missed little doomsday priest Batiste, although he is there piping in every once in a while. I think a little character development had to fall to the wayside since Alex was writing about his impressions, not giving us a play-by-play of what everyone is up to. Honestly, I didn’t mind much. I was so interested in what was going on, and how things would turn out, that I didn’t crave the dialogue between characters as much as I would have if they had all stayed in the store.

8. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. SO much happened! I had to keep reminding myself that these kids had only been living like this for a couple of weeks, because it’s insane how much happens to them and how long it takes to get places.

9. I was super satisfied with the ending (holy crap, it was tense and insane) until the last paragraph or so. I was thinking we were done, but BOOM. Cliffhanger! We are not done with kids of Monument yet, and I’m kind of excited to see where things go next.

All in all, Sky on Fire is a great read. It’s fast, action-packed, and I love those kids! I just want to squeeze them and save them from their world. They still have the strong determination to survive that they did in Monument 14, and I just LOVE watching children being portrayed in books as strong. I still love how much they care for each other. They are tenacious and smart, and they work with what they have. I just loved reading about them. Definitely read this book if enjoyed Monument 14, because I’m pretty sure I like this one better!

Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)

Posted June 14, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 8 Comments

Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Also in this series: Shadow and Bone, Ruin and Rising
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 4, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 435
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Oh. My. People, Leigh Bardugo is my hero. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved Shadow and Bone. I thought for SURE there was no way to top it ever. BUT Siege and Storm is perfection! I was over the moon when I received my ARC, and I dropped everything to read it. Honestly, I have no idea how to even review this one. No idea. My brain wheels are spinning so fast, but then I type and nothing makes sense! I just loved it, and that’s that. I will do my best, but basically it all boils down to the fact that you just HAVE to read this even if you think Fantastical futuristic Russia, sexy male leads, a kick-butt heroine, and feeling is not for you. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Everything I loved about Shadow and Bone showed up in Siege and Storm. I was flooded with feels, swoons, and gasps. OH MAN. It’s like I’m reliving it.

2. The World. We learn so much more, and we are introduced to new places! Like the OCEAN. And there’s a sea monster and privateers! Need I say more?

3. Alina is SO much stronger! I didn’t think it was possible, but she’s just crazy nuts now. She’s more powerful, and she knows it. And I love watching her struggle as she tries to keep this power in check without succumbing to the darkness. She’s beginning to identify more with The Darkling, which puts a bit of a rift between her and Mal. And I totally understand why she’s drawn to him, as he is still just as alluring in that dangerous bad-boy kind of way. But oh, is he scary. But then he’s not… because he can be so understanding towards Alina. He totally gets her, and this softens me a bit. It’s kind of romantic. He’s like a drug. I kinda love him, but he’s just not good. I’m so torn.

4. So, we have this new guy Sturmhond. I LOVE HIM. He’s one of those suave sailor guys who can’t say anything wrong, and he totally steals the show. He’s just so dashing and cocky that you can’t help but flutter your eyelashes. The things he comes up with had me laughing. He’s so dynamic, that even though he’s new to the scene he makes a place for himself and makes sure he’s not overlooked. He brings out a lot of great things in Alina, as he coaches her and sticks by her side. And he’s really mysterious and hard to figure out because he’s a privateer. Who is he looking out for? Which side is he on? Gah, the complexity. I’m already planning our winter wedding.

5. Mal… I feel like he’s fallen to the back of the pack a little. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s a soldier among Grisha and royalty, if he’s not supportive enough of Alina and her place in this world, or if he’s just got a lot on his mind. Whatever the case may be, I’m totally ok with this because we’ve got more room for action and craziness. Rather than focusing on him and Alina, Leigh has chosen to showcase other characters (like my future husband), as well as the ongoing battle between Alina and The Darkling. I love that this entire trilogy has SO much more going on than love triangles.

6. Leigh’s writing is still gorgeous. She can go from writing deep feelings to crazy battle scenes to detailed descriptions of Grisha powers. I mentioned it in my review of Shadow and Bone, and I’ll mention it again: if Leigh’s writing was not so amazing this book would be just another fantasy novel.

7. And… again… everything happens! There’s no mindless dialogue or details nobody cares about (I really hate needless details). Everything written on these pages is written for a purpose. Events are strung together so fast, but with transitions that do not cause whiplash. I was always on my toes wondering what was going to happen next, and I was completely engrossed. Siege and Storm really reads like a movie.

OH MAN. I want to go back and read S&B and S&S all over again for the first time! I just love this series. Leigh really has jumped to the top of my most beloved authors list. I will follow her and her books to the ends of the earth. Just read them.

Our Song by Jordanna Fraiberg (Blog Tour Spotlight & Giveaway)

Posted June 13, 2013 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Giveaway / 1 Comment

Welcome to my spot along the Our Song blog tour, hosted by Itching for Books! It’s my pleasure to spotlight Our Song today, as well as author Jordanna Fraiberg, who is so unbelievably nice!

Our SongTitle: Our Song
Author: Jordanna Fraiberg
Series: Standalone
Release Date: May 2, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Buy It: Amazon
Add It: Goodreads

Olive Bell has spent her entire life in the beautiful suburb of Vista Valley, with a picture-perfect home, a loving family, and a seemingly perfect boyfriend. But after a near-fatal car accident, she’s haunted by a broken heart and a melody that she cannot place.

Then Olive meets Nick. He’s dark, handsome, mysterious . . . and Olive feels connected to him in a way she can’t explain. Is there such a thing as fate? The two embark on a whirlwind romance—until Nick makes a troubling confession.

Heartbroken, Olive pieces together what really happened the night of her accident and arrives at a startling revelation. Only by facing the truth can she uncover the mystery behind the song and the power of what it means to love someone.

Meet the Author:

Jordanna Fraiberg was born in Montreal, Quebec, and currently lives in L.A., where she settled after receiving degrees from Harvard and Oxford. A former national squash champion and Hollywood film executive, she now divides her time between dreaming up stories and chasing her toddler. She is the author of Our Song and In Your Room.

Author Website  |  Twitter

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Triangles by Kimberly Ann Miller (Book Spotlight & Giveaway)

Posted June 12, 2013 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Giveaway / 1 Comment

As part of the official blog tour for Kimberly Ann Miller’s debut novel, Triangles, I’m spotlighting the book and giving you a friendly reminder that it is coming out REAL soon. Like, in 6 days! I had really been anticipating this book’s release, and was so happy when Spencer Hill Press sent me an ARC. Keep an eye out for my review next month. :) In case you’re wondering, here’s the book info and a pretty sweet cruise giveaway! You know I love cruising, so this giveaway has my name all over it.

Title: Triangles
Author: Kimberly Ann Miller
Series: A companion novel is in the works!
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pre-Order it: Amazon
Add It: Goodreads 

A cruise ship. A beautiful island. Two sexy guys. What could possibly go wrong?

In the Bermuda Triangle—a lot.

Hoping to leave behind the reminders of her crappy life–her father’s death years ago, her mother’s medical problems, and the loser who’s practically stalking her–seventeen-year-old Autumn Taylor hops on a ship with her sister for a little distraction. When she wakes up in the Bermuda Triangle, she fears she’s gone nuts for more than one reason: that loser’s suddenly claiming they’re a happy couple… a hot guy is wrapping his arms around her and saying “Happy Anniversary”… and suddenly, she’s full of bruises, losing her hair, and getting IV medication. Autumn visits the ship’s doctor, hoping for a pill or a shot to make the craziness go away. Instead, she’s warned that these “alternate realities” could become permanent

Kimberly Ann MillerMeet the Author: Kimberly Ann Miller

Kimberly Ann Miller received Bachelor’s degrees from Georgian Court University and Rutgers University and a Master’s degree from The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She is an avid reader and particularly enjoys true crime and young adult novels. She grew up in New Jersey and currently resides in Monmouth County with her husband and three cats. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel to sunny islands where she snorkels by day and stargazes by night. She always takes her Nook with her.


Spencer Hill Press has decided that since Kimberly’s book takes place on a cruise ship, why not giveaway a cruise in honor of its release? Well, actually it’s a travel voucher to cover the cost of a cruise… or any other form of travel.Crazy, huh? I think it’s pretty exciting. Two other winners will receive $50 gift cards to their choice of either Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository, or their local bookseller. Free travel or free money? Yes, please!

You have until September 14th to enter, and winners will be drawn on September 16th. Good luck to you! If you win, you have to take me on your trip! :P

Official rules and entry forms are here
Click here to download the PDF entry form

Boys, Bears, & a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald (Mini Book Review)

Posted June 10, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 5 Comments

Boys, Bears, & a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald (Mini Book Review)Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald
Published by Candlewick Press on April 13, 2010
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3.5 Stars
Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?(

Ooooo! An outdoorsy contemporary, with a Jersey girl in the summery Canadian wilderness!? I was all for it. And honestly, the title was quite intriguing and made me laugh. I also thought the “Green Teen” spin was kind of a unique story element. All in all, I really enjoyed Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots. It was cute, light, and full of nature.

Jenna is an activist for preserving the environment. I liked reading about a heroine that had such strong values at such a young age. She is driven, and has goals for her future. I identified with her because I also had my future planned out as a teenager. And like her, my goals changed or were added to. I also liked that she was clean cut and had a desire to stay healthy by eating properly and staying away from drugs. AND she chose to go live in the wilderness over spending a summer poolside in Florida! She’s just a refreshing character, and stands out from the bulk of YA contemporary heroines.

So, she heads off to Canada to stay with her godmother, Susie, and help her spruce up a quaint little B&B in the woods. I really like her godmother! She kind of reminds me of Meryl Streep’s character in Mama Mia! She’s laid back, doesn’t stress to much, lets thing roll off her, and is a lot of fun to talk to. I also like Susie’s husband. He’s a bit quiet and removed, but he has a good heart. Then there’s Fiona, Susie’s stepdaughter, who is pretty much a brat. Every book has to have opposition, and Fiona plays that role on her own. I liked watching her change as Jenna’s perkiness and conscience wore off on her. And THEN we have the three, cute wilderness boys. They spend their summer hanging out with Jenna and making a documentary of sorts about all the fun you can have in that area. Their goal is to put it on a website and attract tourists to the B&B, rather than the high-end spa up the mountain. They spend lots of time swimming, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, etc. I loved reading about all the fun they have doing things I’m too chicken to do!

To sum things up, this book is really cute! I enjoyed seeing Jenna change into a more realistic, mature girl. I think everyone has a pivotal moment in their life when they really decide what they believe in. This summer did just that for Jenna. Plus, she made some memories, made some friends, strengthened her family bonds, and even found herself in the middle of some romance. Was the book memorable? Probably not. But I enjoyed my time reading it, and would recommend it as a fun contemporary romance.

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