Month: April 2014

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

Posted April 29, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book ReviewDon't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

Holy. Moly. I’ve been in a major reading slump for about the past month, so I went to Twitter and asked people what I should read. One of my friends recommended I read this one because she was hooked so quickly! I love mysteries, so I was all about it. Guys, this was amazing! I absolutely loved everything about Don’t Look Back, and am so happy to say that it pulled me out of my slump! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. There are not a lot of good mysteries out there for YAs these days. And the ones that ARE out there usually ends in some annoying way, like the main character dreamed/hallucinated the whole thing, or there’s not really a mystery after all because the main character is mentally ill. Don’t Look Back is a good, nail-biting, spine-tingling, gripping mystery with all the elements one looks for when they are in the mood for such a book.

2. Usually mysteries don’t do well with a romantic element because there ends up being way too many things and emotions to keep track of. The romance actually enhanced the story in this case, though. Of course, I’m happy about this because we all know I drink love stories like some people drink diet soft drinks.

3. I could not GUESS who did it! I thought for sure at two different times in the book that I had figured out who it was. I was feeling so smart and smug that I had figured everything out. NOPE. I was no Nancy Drew here, which was a very pleasant surprise.

4. Ok, I’m sorry… but I LOVE the whole “I’m caught in a post-traumatic stress induced bout of amnesia, so everything is even scarier because I don’t know anything or anyone” kind of storyline. I know it’s been done before, but I honestly do not care. There’s just something about a person with no memory of the evil that happened to them just makes my spine tingle and my skin crawl.

5. Our main girl, Samantha, does not have the Rapunzel Syndrome as a result of her memory loss. She is not this scared, timid, little naive thing with no reason or common sense. She knew to question things and she knew to keep things to herself when she needed to.

6. Speaking of Samantha, she was a HORRIBLE person before she lost her memory. I mean, she had every single mean girl stereotype going on. I LOVE that this memory loss gave her a second chance, and I loved how mortified she was every time she received new evidence of her evil past life. It just goes to show that people can change, and that you don’t HAVE to be a mean person.

7. There is such a strong sense of family and companionship in this book, and I loved that. Samantha’s brother almost immediately steps into the role of “you touch my sister, you die” even though she has been an absolute jerk to him for years. This loyalty he has for her makes him one of the strongest secondary males I’ve read about in a long time. I love that he was able to set aside the hurt she caused him to help her. And Carson, ahhhhh. She was even worse to him, yet he is able to forgive her and help her as well! I was just amazed that so many people from her younger kid days of being sweet and loving possess the ability to gather around Sam in her time of need.

8. I gotta say this: I LOVE it when a former mean girl gets to tell off her mean girl clique and leave them speechless.

9. The suspense just killed me! I read this book mostly at night, and I was too scared to run across the dark hall to go to the bathroom! There were some moments just dripping with danger and mystery, and I could not handle it! I loved it.

Thank you, Jennifer Armentrout, for pulling me out of my reading slump! Thank you to my Twitter friend (I can’t remember which one of you recommended this!) for pushing Don’t Look Back on me. I had no idea I was in the mood for a mystery, but apparently I was! Definitely get your hands on this book, friends.

5 Stars

Emmy Laybourne’s Monument 14 Series Retrospective + a Giveaway!

Posted April 27, 2014 by Jana in Blog Tour, Giveaway / 11 Comments

Emmy Laybourne's Monument 14 Series Retrospective + a Giveaway!

I’m so excited to have Emmy on the blog today to talk about her Monument 14 trilogy, and what it’s like to finish a trilogy. She has filmed a very fun video blog that perfectly showcases her fun personality, and will hopefully get you all psyched up for the final book, Savage Drift, which comes out on May 6th. Before I turn you over to the video, here’s some very helpful information about Savage Drift and the rest of the trilogy!


Savage Drift (Monument 14 #3) by Emmy Laybourne

The survivors of the Monument 14 have finally made it to the safety of a Canadian refugee camp. Dean and Alex are cautiously starting to hope that a happy ending might be possible.

But for Josie, separated from the group and trapped in a brutal prison camp for exposed Type Os, things have gone from bad to worse. Traumatized by her experiences, she has given up all hope of rescue or safety.

Meanwhile, scared by the government’s unusual interest in her pregnancy, Astrid (with her two protectors, Dean and Jake in tow) joins Niko on his desperate quest to be reunited with his lost love Josie.

Monument 14 on Goodreads | Sky on Fire on Goodreads | Savage Drift on Goodreads
Savage Drift Book Trailer | Emmy’s Website


Thanks for stopping by today, Emmy! Monument 14 is one of my very favorite trilogies, and I am sad to see it end. I’m excited for what you have in store for us next, though!

Macmillan is kind enough to offer up a signed trilogy to one lucky reader (USA/CAN) of my blog! I’m SO excited, because now I get to introduce this amazing trilogy to a new reader! PLUS, you don’t even have to go crazy waiting for the books to come out. You can just binge read. :) OH. And do follow the rest of the tour! There are some very fun posts. :)

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Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae | Book Review

Posted April 21, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae | Book ReviewWish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
Series: If Only... #2
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 323
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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5 Stars

Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the local art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?

OH MY GOODNESS. I actively seek out romances that take place in Italy. I kid you not, I have spent hours looking for them. It’s kind of ridiculous, but I just love them because I love Italy so much and want to go back SO BAD. When I saw this lovely on Goodreads, I could not handle it! I immediately requested it, and was delighted when it arrived in the mail. Thank you SO much, Bloomsbury for sending me to Italy during the craziest time of my life (right now). I loved Wish You Were Italian so much, and I will be making everyone I know read it! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Italy. *sigh* Within just the first few pages, Pippa is in Rome eating gelato by the Pantheon. I DID THAT. I did that exact thing! You can totally tell the author has been to Rome, because she described everything I did! She perfectly described getting off the subway, seeing the massive Colosseum, walking past the Arch of Constantine to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. I was back in Italy! And she made Cinque Terre sound so beautiful. I have always wanted to go there, but I want to go even more now! Rae’s descriptions of scenery are just breathtaking.

2. I loved Pippa. I really respected her for taking such a risk and ditching her art program in Florence to run off to Cinque Terre to live with the cashier from the coffee shop and her family. I would never, EVER be able to do that! It would eat me alive. Her dream is to be a photo journalist, which is not at all what her art aficionado parents want for her. And instead of sulking through the art museums of Florence, which I would have hated her for doing because I LOVE FLORENCE, she actually did something about it and thought of herself for once. She had the best, most snarky, and level-headed voice I’ve read in a while.

3. I really loved the supporting characters. Bruno, the sexy Italian boy was just so endearing. I loved his broken English and his desire to be everything Pippa wanted. He developed a lot throughout the course of the story, and I really enjoyed seeing him change and become a better person. Chiara (Bruno’s sister), the new best friend who takes Pippa to Cinque Terre, is the kind of friend every girl needs. Pippa was floating around on Cloud 9, and Chiara kept pulling her back down to Earth and giving her doses of reality when she needed them. And the family was wonderful. Typical, loving, completely Italian. Darren was just perfection. I loved that he was this nerdy archaeology student with big hair, and he kept popping up wherever she was! I mean, when does that even happen? Pippa is one lucky girl.

4. I was totally ok with the love triangle. *dodges tomatoes* I know, right? I liked both boys for different reasons. I liked one more than the other, but I never found myself rolling my eyes. I was mainly jealous that Pippa was getting attention from both of them!

5. I love all the adventures! Long walks, exploring ruins, eating a lot, souvenir shopping, train rides, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, working in the restaurant, sightseeing. I wanted to be there so badly.

6. The romance is adorable and slow burning. There’s no insta-love, and I loved watching the slow development.

7. The ending is pretty everything-you-want-it-to-be.

I could rave and rave about this book, but I’ll quit now and let you go buy it and read it yourself! Seriously, this book will fly you to Italy and deposit you right into the middle of the best parts of it. My very favorite part was Italy, but the romance and the gelato and the wonderfulness of growing up and discovering your independence and your identity solidified my love. Like I said, I will be recommending this to everyone! And I’m going through Italy withdrawals now. Thanks a lot, Kristin Rae. :P

5 Stars

Happy Easter!

Posted April 20, 2014 by Jana in Personal / 3 Comments


Happy Easter! Sundays are the only days I don’t do school work, no matter what, so I finally get a bit of a break today to go to church and spend time having fun with my family!

What are you going to be up to today? Business as usual, or are you doing anything special? Whatever it is, I hope you have a lovely day!

That Artsy Librarian | It’s Crunch Time, People!

Posted April 14, 2014 by Jana in About Me, That Artsy Librarian / 14 Comments


That Artsy Librarian is a feature all about my journey through graduate school as I work towards my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

People. Life is crazy! And I have SO much school work, and the semester ends REALLY soon (like, the end of the month), and the weather is nice and the books I love are calling me, but all I have time for is school! I can’t blog, I’m barely reading, I’m not doing anything fun. Just writing stuff to turn in. This is majorly, MAJORLY crunch time and I feel like I am clawing my way to the end. So, naturally, I’ve had to slow down on blogging. I am so behind on writing my reviews and I’m behind on reading my review books. And everyone wants something from me! And I’m dealing with some health issues, and it’s like AHHHHHH!

So basically, I’m writing to let you know that I’m not dead. Yet. Things are sparse here, and they might be for another couple weeks but I am ALIVE! As the semester draws to a close and my first year of grad school is behind me, I’m just like, “Wow. I’m too old to be a student.” Stress is no longer a good thing! Haha. I’ll be ok!

Anyone else feeling like this? Spring fever coupled with school-needs-to-end-now syndrome is a tricky combination. How do you cope? Tell me I’m not alone. Please, just vent about how stressed you are.We can be friends. :)

Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read

Posted April 7, 2014 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 7 Comments


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

This is a hard topic! There are so many reasons why I love books, and frequently it’s because the book is about something or is set somewhere that is very uncommon in the books I read. I’m going to break things down into unique settings and unique topics/premises. Hopefully I’ll be able to narrow things down to ten books that fall into these two categories because I am all about organization. Hehe.

Unique Settings
Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson (set on a boat sailing the Mediterranean)
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (set on tour buses as they drive around the country)
Captivate by Vanessa Garden (set in an underwater world that’s not about mermaids)
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (set in futuristic Russia)
Frost by Kate Avery Ellison (set in the coldest place in the world, ridden with monsters)

Unique Topics/Premises
From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas (an accidental road trip to Mexico)
Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney (a love story between a modern-day guy and a girl in a painting)
On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves (a love story between two stranded survivors, one 18 and one 31)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (love is a disease)
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker (heartbreak over a lost friendship instead of a lost relationship)

So! Agree? Disagree? What are some of the most unique books you’ve read?

Epic Recs: April 2014

Posted April 7, 2014 by Jana in Personal / 1 Comment

Hosted by Paper Riot

Last month Racquel recommended I read What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long because she felt I needed a little historical romance in my life. She was SO right! I really, really loved this incredibly romantic romance, and cannot wait to get my hands on the other books in the Pennyroyal Green series. Check out my review of What I Did for a Duke here for a more in depth discussion on what I loved! My recommendation for Racquel was Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett, which she really enjoyed! I was so happy to hear that. :) March was a success! I’m excited to move on to April’s recommendation, which I am really excited about!

EpicRecsApril2014Just the Sexiest Man Alive has been on my wishlist for a very long time! When it went on sale for a few days last month, I snatched it up. Just a couple days later, Racquel posed the idea to me, and I was so excited that she loves this book! Based on her other recommendations, I have a feeling I will love this one too. I can’t wait!

When I found out Racquel had not read Incarnate by Jodi Meadows yet, I squealed with excitement and recommended it immediately. I love, love, love this series so much and am so excited to see what she thinks of it! I hope she loves it, even though she’s not the biggest fan of books with fantasy elements.

Have you read Just the Sexiest Man Alive? Will I like it?What about my rec for Racquel? I don’t know about you, but I am SO excited for her to read it!

Taken with You by Shannon Stacey | Book Review + Giveaway

Posted April 3, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway / 4 Comments

Taken with You by Shannon Stacey | Book Review + Giveaway

Taken with You by Shannon Stacey | Book Review + GiveawayTaken With You by Shannon Stacey
Series: Kowalski Family #8
Published by Carina Press on March 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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Hailey Genest has seen most of her friends marry and have babies, and she's happy for them, but it was a lot easier before she hit forty. She's spent her entire life in Whitford, Maine, and if she hasn't found her Prince Charming by now, she has to accept she's probably not going to. When a new friend suggests they go on an adventure and embrace being single, Hailey agrees.

Surviving in the woods is game warden Matt Barnett's idea of a relaxing vacation. But when he meets two women in need of help, he leads them back to safety - a task that proves more fun than expected, thanks to a certain hot blonde. He can't resist pushing her buttons, even though she's made it clear that the rugged, outdoorsy type just isn't for her.

Hailey is glad to see the back of her tempting-tour-guide-slash-pain-in-the-ass. When he shows up in her life again, she's determined to avoid him, no matter how good he looks in his uniform. But that's easier said than done in Whitford, especially when he's renting the house right next door...

Welcome to my stop along the Taken with You blog tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours! I’m so excited to promote such a fun and romantic book today. :) This is my very first Kowalski Family book, and I am absolutely in love. I can’t wait to grab the other books in the series!

In this book, Hailey the librarian comes across Matt the game warden while being stranded in the woods. She is not at all outdoorsy, and is certainly not at her best when he finds them and shows them to their car. Matt is not at his best either, as he is covered in camping grime and hasn’t shaved. He’s not too fond of Hailey, but thinks she’s a little on the cute side. Imagine how surprised he is when he moves in to town and ends up hosting a meeting at her library. THEN he moves into the house next door to her! I loved all the coincidences, and how exasperated these two were because of each other.

Throughout the entire story, these two keep telling themselves that they are SO wrong for each other. But for some reason, Hailey keeps showing up at his house and Matt keeps looking in her living room window to watch her clean. And Matt’s dog LOVES Hailey. I love books with sweet pet sidekicks, and Matt’s dog is one of my favorites. The romance is a slow burn on again, off again kind of relationship, which I loved. I love that Hailey is a librarian, and in a small town! That’s my dream job! I loved reading about her work and the fun activities she hosted. I love Matt’s ruggedness. Like Hailey, I’m very girlie girl, but I could SO go outdoorsy if I had Matt with me. Phew! I love how these two become friends who really care for one another. Friendships turn romance are always so much fun to read.

All in all, I loved Taken with You! I can’t wait to read more about these Kowalski family members who kept popping up in the story. Had I been a long time reader of the series, I’m sure I would have loved seeing them again! BUT the book can stand alone as well. I did not feel like I was missing anything important, so don’t worry about picking the series up in the middle like I did. There’s not really any bad language, and very few sex scenes, which I appreciated. This book was more about feelings, which I love so much. Definitely give this series a try if you enjoy contemporary romance!


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