Month: November 2015

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Canada and Queensland | Children’s Book Reviews and Giveaway

Posted November 30, 2015 by Jana in Blog Tour, Children's Book Review, Giveaway, Inner Child / 1 Comment

Welcome to my stop along the The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse blog tour, hosted by iRead Book Tours. These books are very cute (and educational!), and I’m excited to share my reviews of them with you today!

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Canada by Gwyneth Jane Page
Illustrated by Megan Elizabeth
Series: The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse #1
Published by First Choice Books
Pages: 42
Source: From the author
Amazon • • Barnes & Noble

PJ Mouse, an adorable little stuffed animal, was lost and alone until young Emily heard his cries for help. Now, along with his new family, PJ gets to travel the world-discovering exciting new places and people along the way!

Come join PJ on his first adventure across Canada as he hikes on a glacier in the Rockies, finds a salt lake in the prairies, and walks on the ocean floor in Nova Scotia.

I love books about travel, but I particularly love children’s travel books because they open young minds to other countries and cultures. While Canada is not at all far away from those of us in the USA, this book transports you there and takes you on an exciting adventure. PJ is a very cute mouse, who comes to life with the sweet, childlike illustrations, filled with color. The book is laid out in easy-to-manage chapters, so struggling readers do not have to worry about taking on too much at one time.

PJ has a very sweet voice, and I loved reading his thoughts and dialogue. He says some funny things. I love the magical moment when he is found by Emily, wet and soggy under a park bench. She heard his cries for help when no grown-ups could, and she can talk to him when nobody else can. This book is filled with complex vocabulary words, which will create wonderful learning experiences for children, especially if their parent is reading with them and can further explain the concepts behind these words. Emily gets to explain to PJ what the word “conceited” means, and she explained it in a way that children will understand and absorb. He also learns what a fifth-wheel is, as well as a glacier. The two have wonderful experiences together, and their excitement is infectious. Readers will learn how long and tall the Rocky Mountains are, that snow lasts in very high elevations even during the summertime, what a crevasse is, what it’s like swimming in salt water, waterfalls and erosion, some French words, a little history, that it’s ok to be short, and more. PJ gets into some sticky situations, but always come out learning from them.

All in all, I really enjoyed this cute, educational story and think it would be a wonderful way to teach youngsters a little something, while having fun at the same time!

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Queensland by Gwyneth Jane Page
Illustrated by Megan Elizabeth
Series: The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse #2
Published by First Choice Books
Pages: 42
Source: From the author
Amazon • • Barnes & Noble

Come join PJ on this, his second adventure, along the coast of Queensland, as he snorkels at the Great Barrier Reef, chats with a Loggerhead turtle in the midst of a great undertaking, and explores the tropical rainforest – until he ha to be rescued by one of the local friendly wildlife.

This was another cute installment of The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse! Pretty much everything I said about the first book applies to this one as well. The illustrations are very cute and colorful, the book is organized into small chapters, PJ is a funny little guy (although he rambles a bit too much at times), and the story not only entertains, but teaches readers about a new place. This time, we visited Queensland, Australia. Lucky PJ! I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. Readers pack their suitcases (much bigger than PJ’s, of course) and board the plane with PJ and Emily.

During his second adventure, PJ learns what a kangaroo is (he thinks it’s an Australian mouse!), that just because you go to the opposite side of the world does not mean you have to walk on your hands, why you can’t breathe underwater, some more vocabulary words, how trees can grow to be REALLY old, and more! He gets to ride the rides at Dreamworld, go boogie-boarding at the beach, go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef (and talk to the fish–this chapter was my favorite. Very magical! I love the descriptions of the sea life underwater), get some help from a sea turtle and a lorikeet, explore the rainforest, watch loggerhead turtles lay eggs on the beach, and go four wheeling.

I really enjoyed this adventure with little PJ, and think readers young and old will as well!

Make sure you enter this tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win the first book (Canada), your very own stuffed PJ, and a passport sticker book!

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Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

Posted November 26, 2015 by Jana in Personal / 0 Comments

To all my friends in the USA, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you spend the day eating yummy food with your loved ones. I know that’s what I’m doing! And as always…

moist turkey

Tell me, what’s on your dinner menu tonight?

Top Ten Things I’m Thankful For (Besides Books!)

Posted November 23, 2015 by Jana in Personal, Top Ten Tuesday / 5 Comments


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

Obviously I’m thankful for books and reading and my Kindle and authors and publishers and publicists and all the bookish things in life. I’m also thankful for my blog and my readers and the IT guy at my hosting company who fixes all my problems and humors me when I panic about little things.. But today I’ve decided to talk about everything ELSE I’m thankful for in my life right now, away from my blogging life and my reading life.

1. My Health
While I have multiple health problems that can cause debilitating pain and sadness, I’m not terminal, nor will my health problems shorten my life. There’s a lot of people out there suffering with life-threatening injuries and diseases, and I’m not one of them. I’m thankful for that.

2. My Family
My mom is my best friend and my sister is my cheerleader. We have a lot of fun together, too! I’m thankful for them. The world is pretty scary right now, and so many have lost their families and loved ones to hateful acts. My family is safe and sound, and I could not ask for anything more.

3. My Religion
I don’t ever get religious here on the blog (I see religion as a very internal and personal thing), but my belief system and my knowledge have shaped me into the person I am. I would be so lost without it. I’m thankful for my Heavenly Father.

4. My Country
As I mentioned before, this world is scary. But I feel safe regardless. I’m free to do a lot of things that people throughout the world cannot due for fear of being harmed. I’m thankful for that freedom.

5. My Friends
There are many wonderful people in my life, who bring me happiness and give me a sense of belonging and community. These are people I’ve met through school, through church, through cultural events, and even through the Internet. I’m so thankful for the people in my life.

6. My Home
I have a warm and cozy house filled with running water, heat, carpeted floors, and things I love. Working at the library this semester, I met a lot of homeless people. It gets COLD here, and I’m so thankful for my house.

7. My Education
Throughout my years of education in elementary and highs school, college, and now grad school, I’ve had the opportunity to become well-read and well-spoken. I’ve learned about culture, religion, history, literature, art, math, science, and more. I’m so thankful I live among people, and in a place, where education is valued and encouraged, and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to get this education in the first place.

8. My Talents
I’m a singer, an artist, a teacher, a writer, a photographer, a designer, a jewelry maker, a seamstress, a baker, a decorator, a hair stylist, a make-up artist, an organizer, an event planner, a dancer, a gardener, a humanitarian, a mother (to children I do not have), a listener, an advice giver, a genealogist, a researcher, a typographer, a social butterfly, a friend. I am thankful for all the things that make me me.

9. My Sense of humor
I love to laugh and make others laugh. Laughter is a blessing, and I’m thankful for that.

10. My Life
I’m so happy to be here, and I’m thankful I get to live in this day and age. It’s a great time to be alive!

So, I got a little sappy. That was expected, though. Haha! During this season of thanksgiving, what are you most thankful for? Leave your link, and I’ll come visit!

2016 Debut Author Challenge Sign-Ups (+ Giveaway)

Posted November 23, 2015 by Jana in Debut Author Challenge, Giveaway / 45 Comments

DAC2016S It’s that time of year again! The 2015 Debut Author Challenge is wrapping up next month, and it’s time to start getting ready for next year’s! The rules are exactly the same as this year’s, and I hope you’ll join us in the fun! I’ve already got about 40 authors lined up for the Debut Dish, and the swag is rolling in for the next round of monthly prize packs!

So, sign up and enter the giveaway! And tell all your friends and 2016 debut author friends as well!


Challenge Objectives:

  • To introduce readers to this year’s wonderful group of debut authors.
  • To challenge readers to read 12 or more (or less! It’s up to you!) middle grade, young adult, and new adult debuts this year.

Challenge Rules:

  • You must post your thoughts on each debut book you read in order for it to count towards the challenge. You can post anywhere: your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, YouTube, Tumblr, etc.
  • You can join the challenge whenever you want.
  • The debuts must have a publishing date in 2016 and must have been read between January 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017 (this extra month allows readers adequate time to read December debuts) in order to count.
  • Each review gives you an entry into the monthly prize pack drawings. Make sure you post the links to my monthly link-ups. I always post these link-ups on the first day of the month.
  • This challenge is open internationally, as are the monthly prize packs.
  • I don’t care what language you write your reviews in, I just need to know which book you have reviewed so I can verify your entry. When you post your link, please include the title in English.
  • Use the hashtag #2016DebAuthC so we can all see what everyone’s up to!

Which Books Count:

  • The book must be classified as a middle grade, young adult, or new adult title.
  • The book must be a full-length novel. Novellas do not count.
  • The book must be the author’s MG/YA/NA 2016 debut. (If the author has published adult fiction before, but this is their first MG/YA/NA book EVER it still counts. If the author has published a YA book before and this is their first MG or NA book, it does not count. We are reading the author’s first book for young people, excluding picture books.)
  • Self-published books do not count, so if the author has self-published a MG/YA/NA book before and this is their first book published by a traditional publisher it counts toward the challenge.
  • ARCs are fine, but only if you read them the year they are published. (If you read a 2016 debut in 2015, it does not count. If you read a 2017 debut in 2016, it does not count. This way, participants who do not have access to ARCs are not at a disadvantage.)
  • Since this challenge is International, some books will be debuts in some countries and not in others. This can be tricky and put some books into a gray area, so here’s what we will do. If the book came out this year in your country for the first time, even though it was available elsewhere, then you can count it.
  • Please feel free to tweet, email, etc. me if you do not know if a book counts or not. I am happy to help you.

Helpful Links:

Challenge Button:

That Artsy Reader Girl

Sign up here!

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The Debut Dish: Stacie Ramey and Kate McGovern (+ Giveaway)

Posted November 15, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 0 Comments

The Debut Dish, a Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey
November 3, 2015 from Sourcebooks Fire
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A suicide pact was supposed to keep them together, but a broken promise tore them apart.

Allie is devastated when her older sister commits suicide – and not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they’d always be together, in life, and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why.

Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief.

But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie’s not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister’s death or facing her new reality without her.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Surviving sister wonders why.

Why should readers pick up your book?
It’s a story about sisters whose bond lasts beyond the grave, but not in a creepy way. At least I don’t think it’s creepy. Hmmm…better hear what you all think about that…

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Everything is wonderful about being a debut author. Fan Tweets are awesome. Reviews are cool. Having people tell me they’re rooting for me is amazing!

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Snowcaps, definitely. And Twizzlers….I can’t choose one (sorry)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The gold nameplate from my Dad’s office. I like to see his name every day. The weird thing is I don’t know where the other part is, you know the wooden or fake wooden part. It’s like someone peeled this off and just left it.

Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
November 24, 2015 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life’s uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.

Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that will tell her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother. With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult—including going to ballet school and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool, and gets an audition for a dance scholarship in California, Rose begins to question her carefully-laid rules.

Describe your book in five words or less.
One girl’s genetic destiny…revealed?

Why should readers pick up your book?
Even though Rose’s circumstances are unique, the questions she’s grappling with—what kind of life do I want to live? What kind of risks do I want to take with my heart and my future?—are universal. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to see into your future, you should pick up this book. Or…if you just love books about teens dealing with tough stuff, falling in love, following their hearts…and riding trains across the country!…you should pick it up.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
It’s living out a lifelong dream. Writing a book and putting it out into the world is something I’ve always, always wanted to do. I used to tell myself stories all the time when I was little (often while pacing around my bedroom…I was an odd duck). There’s nothing like seeing this story from your head become a real book—nothing like it. I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped that happen—especially the readers!

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Popcorn + M&Ms…mixed together. Best. Combination. Ever.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Let’s see…a flash drive with photos from 2009 when I was living in London, a stack of books I haven’t read yet, and nail polish. (I tend to paint my nails when I get stuck on something.)

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Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon Goals

Posted November 12, 2015 by Jana in About Me / 2 Comments

Yay!! Today begins the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon, hosted by Bookshelfery and Caffeinated Book Reviewer! I absolutely love Christmas books, and this is the perfect time to start reading ALL THE BOOKS for my annual Bookish Little Christmas with That Artsy Reader Girl even, which kicks off in just a few weeks! In addition to read lost of fun books, there will be a Twitter party, some challenges, and some prizes! I’m so excited.

I really hope I have time to participate a lot! I’m in grad school right now, and I’m working on a research proposal for my final capstone course, so busy, busy, busy! Here are my goals for books I’d really like to read this week. I’m setting the bar low, so hopefully I can read more than I’ve listed!


Books I Want to Read


Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne
A Light in the Window by Jolyse Barnett
This Christmas by Katlyn Duncan

To be honest, I might not read any of these. lol. I might choose others! I’m a mood reader. We’ll see what happens! What are you planning to read this week? And please wish me luck on my research proposal! I want to get this thing done so I can READ!

#JointheResistance and Enter to Win a Copy of Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Posted November 5, 2015 by Jana in Book Spotlight, Giveaway / 3 Comments


You’d have to be living under a rock if you didn’t know that Winter by Marissa Meyer, the conclusion to the best series ever (The Lunar Chronicles), is coming out in less than one week! The question is: Are you ready? If you’re not, the lovely people at Macmillan have got you covered! As addicting as this series is, I know you’ll fly through all the books in time to join us in reading Winter on November 10th. I assure you, I’ll be stalking my mailman that day. I think we all will. So, join us! Enter to win a paperback copy of Cinder (the first book in the series), a Winter button, and some Lunar Chronicles shimmer tattoos (I’m modeling some of them below). And, do yourself a favor… just go pre-order the rest of the series as well (Winter even has an awesome pre-order giveaway going on right now). You’ll thank me later.


While you’re here, check out my reviews of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest (just in case you needed any more coaxing).

Here’s what you can win!


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Top Five 2014 and 2015 Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward to their Sophomore Novels

Posted November 2, 2015 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 1 Comment


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

As the host of the Debut Author Challenge, how could I not participate in this week’s topic on debut authors who I can’t wait to read more from!? Sadly, I have flaked on reading anything this year, so I’m really behind on debut books. I’ve included last year’s debuts as well, but still… I’m having a rough time right now with books and actually liking the books I read. Anyway, here goes! I chose five instead of 10. :)

1. Maggie Hall (2015 debut)
I LOVED The Conspiracy of Us, and I can’t wait for the nest book in that series: Map of Fates.

2. Lee Kelly (2015 Debut)
I have been wanting a copy of City of Savages for SO LONG, and I finally found a Kindle deal on it! But her NEXT book, A Criminal Magic, sounds so exciting! I can’t wait to read either of her books!

3. Emery Lord (2014 Debut)
I loved Open Road Summer, but have not had the chance to read The Start of Me and You yet, which sounds wonderful!

4. Lauren Skimore (2014 Debut)
I really enjoyed What Is Hidden, and can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the series!

5. Kristin Rae (2014 Debut)
Wish You Were Italian is one of my favorite books ever! I’m SO excited about her next book: What You Always Wanted. It’s another If Only… novel, and it sounds so cute!

Which sophomore novels are you looking forward to?

The Debut Dish: Marcy Beller Paul (+ Giveaway), E. Katherine Kotteras, and Charlotte Huang (+ Giveaway)

Posted November 1, 2015 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 5 Comments

The Debut Dish, a Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul
October 25, 2015 from Balzer + Bray
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.

But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.

And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.

But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.

Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone—she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.

Poignant and provocative, Marcy Beller Paul’s debut novel tells the story of an intoxicating—and toxic—relationship that blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy, love and loyalty, friendship and obsession.

Describe your book in five words or less.
A toxic–and intoxicating–relationship.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Because the relationships you have with your friends and boyfriends/girlfriends aren’t always what you think they are. Because you aren’t always who you think you are.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The community. I’ve met such a huge and wonderful base of authors, agents, bloggers, fans, and publishing people. It is amazing to be surrounded by and supported by such caring, intelligent, enthusiastic, talented people.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Twizzlers. By a long shot.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An Eric Northman (True Blood) figure.

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How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kotteras
November 3, 2015 from St. Martin’s Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want.

Reeling from her mother’s death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave – all the things she’s wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she’s always been afraid to do – including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most – and you learn that you’re stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Be Brave. Do Everything.

Why should readers pick up your book?
There’s an invisible question mark at the end of the title.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Meeting new people.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My cat. Not sure if that’s odd. She’s odd, though. I think that counts.

For the Record by Charlotte Huang
November 10, 2015 from Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

If Almost Famous were a YA novel… a raw, honest debut celebrating music, friendship, romance, and life on the road.

Chelsea thought she knew what being a rock star was like… until she became one. After losing a TV talent show, she slid back into small-town anonymity. But one phone call changed everything Now she’s the lead singer of the band Melbourne, performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a bus with three gorgeous and talented guys. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And when teen heartthrob Lucas Rivers take an interest in her, Chelsea is suddenly famous, bringing Melbourne to the next level—not that they’re happy about that. Her feelings for Beckett, Melbourne’s bassist, are making life even more complicated.

Chelsea only has the summer tour to make the band—and their fans—love her. If she doesn’t, she’ll be back in Michigan for senior year, dying a slow death. The paparazzi, the haters, the grueling schedule… Chelsea believed she could handle it. But what if she can’t?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Fun look at band life.

Why should readers pick up your book?
I think readers will enjoy FOR THE RECORD for the glimpse it gives into a world that we don’t normally get to experience. The main character, Chelsea, is a normal high school girl who has to figure out how to navigate an onslaught of new things all at once: fronting an established rock band, stretching herself creatively, band politics, fame, romance, and being on her own for the first time. It’s an exciting, overwhelming time for her and we get to go along for the ride.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Getting to be part of the wonderful community of authors, both here in LA and online. There are so many interesting and nice people and it’s great to be with people who speak books and publishing.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Anything gummy. But my favorite movie theater serves fresh caramel covered popcorn and I love it.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A Parisian-themed coloring book for grown ups or teens.

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Debut Author Challenge 2015: November Review Link-Up

Posted November 1, 2015 by Jana in Debut Author Challenge / 1 Comment

DAC2015BigHappy November! It’s officially fall here in the Northern Hemisphere, and this is the time of year when I get the most reading done. I’ve got my hoodies, blankets, reading gloves, and chamomile tea all ready for when the temperatures plummet. There’s just something special about curling up with a book when it’s cold and dark out. The forecast says snow on Wednesday here! Bring on the cold, Mother Nature! And to those living in the USA, happy Thanksgiving this month! I have so much to be thankful for, and can’t wait to celebrate with my family. :)

October was a great month! Congratulations to Jenia from Story for Dessert, who has won the October prize pack! Jenia, check your email!

We’re flying through the DAC! Just two months left before we start over again in January 2016. The DAC plans to stay here for the foreseeable future, so keep an eye out for sign-ups for 2016, which will be up in the next few weeks! Have a lovely month, and enjoy the debuts! Personally, I’m looking forward to For the Record by Charlotte Huang. Which debuts are you excited about this month?

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