Month: December 2017

My 2017 In Books

Posted December 31, 2017 by Jana in About Me / 4 Comments


2017 End of Year Book Survey

Posted December 30, 2017 by Jana in About Me / 2 Comments

I love doing Jamie’s End of Year Book Survey every year! It helps me look back and remember all the wonderful (and terrible) books I’ve read throughout the year!

2017 Reading Stats

Number of books you read: 45
Number of re-reads: 0
Genre you read the most from: I read more adult books than young adult this year, which is crazy! Adult contemporary romance seems to be the genre I read the most from. I read 10 of them.

Best In Books

1. Best books you read in 2017:
Romantic suspense: Till Death by Jennifer Armentrout
Contemporary romance: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Fantasy: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t:
The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read:
I had no idea I was going to love Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco as much as I did.

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did):
Till Death by Jennifer Armentrout. I got a few people to read this.

5. Best series you started in 2017. Best sequel of 2017. Best series ender of 2017.
Started: Katie Ruggle’s Search and Rescue series.
Sequel: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
Ender: I didn’t finish any series this year.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017:
Debut: Sally Thorne
Seasoned: Katie Ruggle

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone:
I didn’t venture out of my comfort zone this year, and I hope to do it next year.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:
Till Death by Jennifer Armentrout

9. Book you read in 2017 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017:
Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

11. Most memorable character of 2017:
Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017:
Hunted by Meagan Spooner.

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2017:
Hmmm… This was a bad reading year for me. I didn’t really come across a book that changed my life or made me think a lot.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read:
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

15. Favorite quote from a book you read in 2017:
“The world is vicious.”
Thomas brushed a lock of hair back from my face, his gaze thoughtful. “The world is neither kind nor is it cruel. It simply exists. We have the ability to view it however we choose.”
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

16. Shortest and longest books you read in 2017:
Shortest: 34 pages, Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Longest: 492 pages, The Witness by Nora Roberts

17. Book that shocked you the most:
I was pretty floored at who the murderer was in Till Death by Jennifer Armentrout.

18. OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship!):
YA: Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell from Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco.
Adult: Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman from The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year:
Sasha and her best friend, Miranda, from Till Death by Jennifer Armentrout.

20. Favorite book you read in 2017 from an author you’ve read previously:
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (I see a trend!!)

21. Best book you read in 2017 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else:
Public Relations by Katie Heaney and Arianna Rebolini

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017:
Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

23. Best 2017 debut you read:
YA: Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Adult: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

24. Most vivid setting you read this year:
This is really hard!! I’d have to say Dracula’s castle in Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco, though. I still have a picture of it and the labyrinth of passages and secret rooms underneath it in my head.

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read:
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne had me giddy.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2017:
I do my best to avoid crying with books, and I succeeded this year!

27. Hidden gem of the year:
Hunted by Meagan Spooner.

28. Book that crushed your soul:
Well, just because I hated it… The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye.

29. Most unique book you read in 2017:
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

30. Book that made you the maddest (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it):
Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee. I haaaaaaated it!!

Your Bookish/Blogging Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017:
Bookmark Lit! I’d always known about Lauren’s blog, but when I found out she loves Christmas as much as I do that was exciting.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017:
I really don’t feel strongly about any of my reviews…

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog:
My 12 Favorites of Christmas was really fun to put together.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.):
I guest posted on Sarah’s blog during her Home for the Holidays event, and I really loved that.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017:
I wrote to so many authors this year and got responses from many, which was wonderful. Other than that, I’m not sure anything huge has happened other than the fact that Top Ten Tuesday is moving here because we’re shutting down The Broke and the Bookish. And that’s super bittersweet for me.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year:
I’ve been in a major reading slump for a long time, so finding books I love has been very hard. I’ve watched a lot more Netlfix because of it. lol.

7. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views):
Comments: 37 comments on my Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings – 2017 Edition
Views:

8. Post you wished got a little more love:
All my reviews, pretty much. lol

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.):
I’m in a rut, guys.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year:
I completed my Goodreads goal of reading 45 books.
I posted more posts to my blog this year than last year.

Looking Ahead

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2017 but will be your number 1 priority in 2018:
Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2018 (non-debut):
Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco!

3. 2018 debut you are most anticipating:
By a Charm and a Curse by Jamie Questell

4. Sequel you are most anticipating in 2018:
Legendary by Stephanie Garber

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2018?
Get out of this reading slump and really love everything I read. I need to DNF more!


2017 Statistics Survey

Posted December 29, 2017 by Jana in About Me / 5 Comments

I’m a huge fan of numbers, and I love participating in Andi and Brittany’s year-end statistics survey every year!

Number of…

Number of books read…
Under 250 pages: 14
Between 251-399 pages: 23
Between 400-449 pages: 7
Between 450-499 pages: 1
Over 500 pages: 0
Over 1000 pages: 0

Number of…
Audiobooks: 3
Re-reads: 0
DNFs (did not finish): 5ish?

Number of books rated…
Five Stars: 10
One/Two Stars: 18 (wow, that’s sad…)

Number of authors met in 2017:
None… Wow. That’s really, really sad!

Number of book events attended in 2017:
None… hence the number above.

Number of books you read in one day:
1.

Number of books that made you cry:
None.

Number of 2018 books you have on pre-order:
3.

By the Books

Book read furthest away from home (vacation reads?):
Read on my cruise to Hawaii: Full Steam Ahead by Valerie Chase, The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke, A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas, and Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas.

Book that took you the longest to read:
The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye took me 41 days to read because I really didn’t like it.

Book that you personally connected with the most:
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I connected with Lucy, but I can’t remember why! Hehe.

Book that made you love the villain:
I’m super intrigued by Legend from Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

Book you said you’d come back to but still haven’t picked up again:
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. Ahhh! I know!!!

Book you read waaaay before it’s publication date:
I read The Crown’s Fate by Eveylen Skye. I started that almost 3 months before it was released because I was SO EXCITED!

Book you read on your birthday:
According to Goodreads I wasn’t reading anything on my birthday! Sad!

Book with a character who shares your name:
This has only happened once, and it was a few years ago. And that Jana was crucified within the first quarter of the book. So great.

Book you weren’t entirely truthful about when rating (Fluff up any ratings? Rated even though you didn’t finish?):
I fluffed up my rating of Public Relations by Katie Heaney and Arianna Rebolini because my friend loved it and sent it to me and I wanted to love it, too!

Book you read in 2017 but already want to re-read:
I didn’t even have to think about this: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne!

Book you borrowed from a friend a long time ago and still have:
I don’t have any friends who love to read and can actually lend me books. lol. They’re all far away.

Book you which you could go back and read for the first time again:
Till Death by Jennifer Armentrout. Now that I know how it turns out, re-reading just won’t be as exciting!

Most books read by one author this year:
It’s a 3-way tie between Mary Higgins Clark, Rob Thomas, and Jill Shalvis. I read two books by each of them.

This and That

Happiest & saddest:
Happiest: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Saddest: I don’t read sad books… So maybe I’m the saddest about hating The Crown’s Fate.

Longest & shortest…
• By page number:
Longest: The Witness by Nora Roberts  (492 grueling pages)
Shortest: Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (34 pages)
• By title:
Longest: Kiss Me On This Cold December Night by Charlotte Phillips
Shortest: Hunted by Meagan Spooner
• From buying to reading:
Longest: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (I waited 8 years to read this!!)
Shortest: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (I waited 3 days. lol)

Best & worst…
Average rating on Goodreads: 3.69 stars
Series enders: I didn’t read any series enders this year.

First & last…
• Reads of 2017:
First: Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Last: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
• Books on your bookcase (1st book on the top left and last book on the bottom right):
First: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Last: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Most disappointing & biggest pleasant surprise:
Most disappointing: The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye
Biggest pleasant surprise: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (I had no idea just HOW MUCH I would love it!)

Fandom you joined & one you abandoned:
I didn’t do either, actually!

Series you picked up & series you quit:
Picked up: Katie Ruggle’s Search and Rescue series
I didn’t quit any this year.

Most lenient & harshest ratings:
Lenient: Public Relations by Katie Heaney and Arianna Rebolini
Harshest: I wasn’t too harsh, I don’t think! I really think everything I rated harshly deserved it. lol

Most hyped & furthest under the radar that you read:
Most hyped: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Furthest under the radar: Of Monsters & Madness by Jessica Verday

Grab Bag

Book you read that is red:
A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Starts with X, Y, or Z:
None.

Book you hugged when you finished it:
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne… lol. See a trend?

Book you wanted to throw across a room:
The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Sky… See another trend? I’m seriously heartbroken about this!

Food you craved while/after reading a certain book:
I don’t feel like I had any craving of note!

Book that became an instant go-to recommendation:
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco!

Furthest out of your comfort zone:
I didn’t really branch out of my comfort zone this year.

Read on a recommendation (that you may not have picked up yourself):
Public Relations by Katie Heaney and Arianna Rebolini

Forced yourself to finish:
Ugh. SO MANY. This was a really bad year for me, book-wise. lol. Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano, The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye, The Witness by Nora Roberts, Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda, Public Relations by Katie Heaney and Arianna Rebolini, Never Apart by Romily Bernard, and The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt.

Series or author’s works you binged (whether all at once or throughout the year):
I binged the Veronica Mars books, but there were only two… so does it count? lol

Blogging Life

First…
Post of 2017: The first link-up for the Debut Author Challenge. but that’s boring. So let’s go with: Top Ten 2017 Debut Books I’m Excited About
Review of 2017: Beauty & the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Last…
Post of 2017: I will be: My 2017 In Books
Review of 2017: Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

Number of posts in 2017:
141

Number of reviews posted this year:
42.

Least coherent review:
Nothing stands out this year!

Post with the most comments (posted in 2017):
Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings – 2017 Edition (37 comments)

Post you wish you could re-write:
I love all my posts!


Brittany Pearlman’s Favorite Winter ’17-’18 YA Books | Guest Post

Posted December 27, 2017 by Jana in Guest Post / 1 Comment

I’m so excited to welcome Brittany Pearlman, publicist at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, to the blog today to share with us some of her favorite books coming out this winter! I’ve been excited to read many of these, and now I’m even more excited!


Hi Bloggers!

I am so excited to share some of my favorite books coming out this winter! I’m always looking for new books to dig into (especially when I’m cold and don’t feel like braving the NYC weather), but I’m usually in the mood for something very specific so here is a list of rec’s broken down by my favorite categories as well.

Wishing everyone a very “Belle in the library surrounded by books and a warm fireplace” kind of holiday!

High Fantasy:

Working in YA right now, I read a lot of fantasy (I’m not complaining at all, that’s just a fact). It’s really rare that I come across a YA fantasy that feels as remarkably original as Tomi Adeyemi’s debut, CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE, does! This is an entirely new world inspired by African culture and mythology– with a fascinating magic system and an even more compelling story. You will root for Zelie as she tries to bring magic back to her disenfranchised people, and you will come to love the whole cast of characters that entirely real. Thoroughly engrossing, you won’t remember what year it is let alone that it’s 12 degrees outside when you start this one.

Jane Austen Vibes:

If you’re like me, you can never have too much of Jane Austen. Unfortunately, the pool original work is rather small, and I’ve basically already read everything published that is somewhat related. Enter THE FORGOTTEN BOOK by Mechthild Gläser! It’s a standalone YA that combines the magic of books with Jane Austen vibes to create a beautiful world that feels super reminiscent of your favorite Austen classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Emma!

Pirate Adventure:

I have been obsessed with pirates ever since that fateful day I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl in theaters in the summer of 2003, and ever since I have been an apologetic sucker for any and all things pirates. If you haven’t read the first book in this duology (Daughter of the Pirate King), you need to stop whatever you’re doing and pick it up IMMEDIATELY. It’s a dashing high seas adventure with a badass female pirate and a super sexy romance. In the sequel, DAUGHTER OF THE SIREN QUEEN, Tricia Levenseller delivers on the promise of the first book– and I promise you that this book will keep you nice and toasty on a cold winter day ;)!

Modern Retelling:

I love Emma Mills. Everything she writes gives me all the feels and FOOLISH HEARTS, her modern retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is no exception. If you’ve read either of Emma’s first two novels (First & Then and This Adventure Ends), you know that NO ONE does dialogue better and that is certainly still true in Foolish Hearts. With a super sweet romance and a heartfelt friendship story at its core, FOOLISH HEARTS is the perfect read when you’re in the mood for something light, breezy, and ultra satisfying.

Contemporary:

Sometimes you just need a good cry. Listen, seasonal depression is a thing (at least it is for me) and sometimes I just need a book that will let me get out all my feelings. IN SEARCH OF US is that book. Ava Dellaira’s sophomore YA novel explores the complicated relationship between a single white mother and her biracial daughter, told in dual points of view of each of them at the age of seventeen. The story unfolds to reveal secrets from the past that inform the present, and both of their coming of age stories. This will make you think and it will make you cry, so get your tissue box before you pick this one up. It’s so worth it!!

Graphic Novel:

It took me a long time to get into graphic novels. I just couldn’t figure out how to read them! If you’re like me and you struggle with learning how to really enjoy this format, then I’d recommend transitioning from a world you’re familiar with (like The Lunar Chronicles), and reading the next adventure in graphic novel form. WIRES AND NERVE Volumes I and II by Marissa Meyer are the perfect introduction. They have all the trappings of the bestselling novels, but give you a new and refreshing visual perspective to accompany your reading experience. After you’ve dipped into these, there are several other amazing graphic novels coming out this winter, including THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER and BRAZEN that I’d also recommend!

Mystery:

Who doesn’t love a good mystery during the cold winter months? Snuggle up with Caleb Roehrig’s sophomore YA mystery, WHITE RABBIT, and find yourself caught up in an enthralling, high-stakes thriller! Full of teenage angst, queer romance, and of course, MURDER, White Rabbit is an entirely modernized take on what would happen if The Hardy Boys realized they were actually gay, and I never knew how badly I needed this in my life.

Which of Brittany’s favorites are you excited to read?


Top Ten 2018 Book Releases I’m the Most Excited About

Posted December 25, 2017 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 24 Comments

 

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

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday! I certainly did, and got lots and lots of books!

I suppose you’ve heard the news now, so I thought I’d mention it here as well: We at The Broke and the Bookish have decided to close our doors after next week’s Top Ten Tuesday (1/9/18). Life has taken us all in so many different directions, and we’re going to miss blogging together. Starting January 16th, Top Ten Tuesday will live here at That Artsy Reader Girl! The schedule is available in my top menu bar through March. I’m really excited about this, so please help spread the word about the move so nobody is confused!

Today we’re looking ahead to next year and all the books we’re excited to read in 2018. I’ve got my eye on so many books already! This list will not include any debuts, as I’m posting about some of the ones I’m excited about later this week.

 

Top Ten 2018 Book Releases
I’m the Most Excited About

1. Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco (no cover yet)
I love this trilogy (especially Hunting Prince Dracula), and I can’t wait to read this adventure that takes place on a ship!

2. Legendary by Stephanie Garber
I loved Caraval, and cannot wait to read more about this world.

3. Furyborn by Claire Legrand
I keep hearing amazing things, and I’ve been seriously craving a great fantasy.

4. Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton
The final book in the Rebel of the Sands trilogy! I’m so excited for it!

5. Love & Luck by Jenna Welch Evans
I’ve had my eye on this for ages, and am so excited it’s coming out soon! I love books that take place in other countries, and this cute contemporary romance set in Ireland sounds right up my alley.

6. The Comfort Zone by Sally Thorne (no cover)
I honestly don’t even know what this one is about, but I loved The Hating Game so much that I don’t even care!

7. Survive the Night by Katie Ruggle
I love Katie’s romantic suspense, and this one sounds amazing.

8. Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
I love outdoorsy/survival stories, and this one sounds like a lot of fun!


9. Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson
More of the Remnant Chronicles universe! I can’t wait!

10. Pacifica by Kristen Simmons
I just found out about this exciting pirate novel while I was putting this post together, and got SUPER excited for it.

Which 2018 releases are you excited about?

Firework images created by freepik – www.freepik.com


Merry Christmas 2017!

Posted December 25, 2017 by Jana in Personal / 7 Comments

I hope you have loved A Bookish Little Christmas as much as I have this year. I can’t believe it’s over already! Thank you so much for coming to celebrate with me and my friends, and thanks to all my friends who wrote up posts for this event. I can’t wait to put it on again next year!

I hope you have a very special day with your loved ones, and that it’s filled with happiness and cheer. For this last Bookish Little Christmas post I wanted to share a really amazing video that encapsulates everything I truly love about this holiday. The end is particularly inspiring, so make sure you get through the entire song! It’ll be the best 4 minutes of your day. Merry Christmas!

 


My Christmas Memories (with Little Jana Pictures!)

Posted December 24, 2017 by Jana in About Me, Personal / 4 Comments

Celebrate the Christmas season with That Artsy Reader Girl and her bookish friends! 

Celebrate #ChristmasWithJanaInstagram ✦ Twitter Event Schedule

Merry Christmas Eve! Boy, this month sure has flown! I can’t believe tomorrow is Christmas Day. There’s just something about Christmas that makes me all nostalgic and look back on my life, particularly my childhood Christmases. Today I’m sharing a few pictures of my Christmases as a child. I grew up a military brat, so I’ve lived in lots of places. My mom and little sister have always been my best friends because we’ve really been the only constants in each other’s lives!

My Christmas Memories

 

Top left: My mom, little sister, and I have always loved baking Christmas cookies together each year. Here we are together in our kitchen living on base in Monterey, California. I wonder which cookies we were making in this picture!

Top right: This is my mom, my Oma, my little sister, and me in front of our Christmas tree in our house in Monterey again. I only wore skirts and dresses as a child and never wore a pair of pants until I moved to Louisiana (Louisiana winters are colder than California winters!) when I was 9 years old. That was quite an adjustment. lol. I’ve always loved dressing in festive colors at Christmastime!

Bottom Left: My first Christmas! We were living in Misawa, Japan at this time and my mom dressed me in my cute little dress and red tights for church. The picture is a little too small to really notice, but she also glued a red bow to my head…

Bottom Middle: My little sister and I loved throwing the wrapping paper up in the air like snow as kids. lol. This picture is in our Louisiana house. I went through a Tweety Bird phase, and this is my Tweety nightshirt.

Bottom Right: Every Christmas my family and I sit in a circle and take turns opening our presents, one by one. Here we are in our house in Arnold, Maryland. I loved this robe soooo much! The body was like a sweatshirt and the arms were like a cozy plaid button-up. We still have those same stockings, which I have always loved. They’re made out of yarn and knitted like a sweater. They hold a LOT of stuff.

What’s your favorite Christmas memory?


Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

Posted December 23, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewChasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #4
Published by Avon on September 26, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

Meet cute...

Run for the hills—temporarily. That's Colbie Albright's plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie's so over it that she's under it. She's also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she's pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won't be a stranger for long.

Make merry...

Spence's commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn't have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot chemistry—he's got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself... just because she's gorgeous and a great listener just because she gets Spence immediately doesn't mean he won't be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

and hope for a miracle.

Now the clock's ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.

I think it’s worth recognizing and celebrating my very first full-length novel by Jill Shalvis! I’ve read a handful of her Christmas novellas, and I decided that it was finally time to settle in for a longer novel and really discover what all the fuss is about. I own all but one of the books in the Lucky Harbor series and all the Heartbreaker Bay books that have been released thus far, so I really haven’t had any excuses to not read them yet. The synopsis of Chasing Christmas Eve really grabbed me, and it ended up being a really good choice! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I wasn’t too excited about reading a Christmas book that takes place in California. I lived in California for 6 years and it’s a beautiful place, so this isn’t personal, Californians! I just love snow in my Christmas novels, and that obviously was not going to happen here. Colbie is nuts for fleeing New York at Christmas, but I digress.

2. The lack of snow didn’t take away from the festiveness of the book, though! There were Christmas lights and enough warm fuzzies to make me forget that there wasn’t snow swirling around outside.

3. Colbie is a verrrrry successful YA author, and that’s the main reason I was drawn to this book! I love YA, and I love many YA authors, so Colbie immediately felt like my friend. I thought of her the way I think of any of my favorite YA authors. She’s so sweet and down to earth, not to mention incredibly nice. She’s dealing with writer’s block and she’s under a ton of stress from that, plus the fact that her entire family depends on her for every little thing. I love that she took the plunge and ran away to take care of herself. She’s also really funny and has this bright personality that made me smile. I would totally be friends with her.

4. I loved nerdy Spence. He’s a hot, rich, reclusive genius. But he’s not rich in a snobby way. He takes care of a homeless man that lives outside the building! He keeps to himself and lives his own life, and when he needs a breather he walks dogs! I mean, come on. He’s a bit of a workaholic, which has sealed off the part of himself that can have a love life. But all it takes is the right girl, right?

5. I love how Colbie and Spence meet for the first time. The description mentions a meet cute, and that’s exactly what we were given with this book. I’m not even going to say how it happens because I don’t want to spoil it. Just know that a dog is involved.

6. The romance is very sweet, regardless of the secrets they are both keeping from each other. What was supposed to be a quick little fling turns into something more than that, and forces Colbie and Spence to smooth out some of the wrinkles in their relationship.

7. I liked the supporting characters a lot, but can tell it would have really been great if I’d read the other three books in the series first so I’d know them a little better. The book works fine as a standalone, but I could have used a few more details on Spence and Elle especially.

All in all, this was a very fun Christmas romance! I loved watching Colbie and Spence fall in love and work through what being in love means to them. I’m definitely a fan of Jill Shalvis, so yay! It would have really sucked if I’d come out of this hating her and already owning a million of her books. I’m excited to read more of the books in the Heartbreaker Bay series and then start working on Lucky Harbor!

Which Jill Shalvis book is your absolute favorite?

4 Stars

My 12 Favorites of Christmas

Posted December 22, 2017 by Jana in About Me / 22 Comments

Celebrate the Christmas season with That Artsy Reader Girl and her bookish friends! 

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Today I’m sharing you with you my 12 favorites of Christmas! I love to read, watch, listen to, bake, and DO Christmas, so I thought it would be fun to share all my favorites with you!

 

Ok, this is not cheating. I picked two. And honestly, that was hard enough. But in my defense, I had to pick one from when I was an actual child and then one that I’ve fallen in love with in adulthood. So… that’s some sound logic there.

Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish was seriously the book I looked for every year when we pulled out our box of Christmas books from storage. I loved reading about crazy Amelia Bedelia and her silly shenanigans. It’s such a funny book!

I just discovered The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski a few years ago, and it’s such a sweet story of a grumpy woodcarver who is hired to carve a nativity for a widow and her young son. This little family wiggles their way into his heart and reminds him to live and love his life.

 

There’s not a lot of great Christmas YA out there, which is super sad, but Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle is amazing. And no, it’s not my favorite because it’s the best of the trash or because the pickings are slim. It’s just wonderful. I don’t love Lauren’s story that much, but I can excuse it because it’s accompanied by John Green’s and Maureen Johnson’s wonderful stories. Read my review for more of my thoughts.

 

Snowed Over by Angie Stanton was the beginning of my love affair with romances that occur because two people are snowed in together. I LOVE THIS BOOK. College studnet, Katie, needs to get home for Christmas and ends up having to hitch a ride with a friend of a friend, Alex. But then a blizzard forces them into an abandoned cabin. What ensues is a super romantic, super clean (no sexy-times, I promise!), night curled up together by the fire to keep warm. Read my review and then go buy a copy. You’ll thank me later.


Starry Night by Debbie Macomber is my favorite Christmas book of all time. It takes place in the Alaskan Bush, under the glow of the Northern Lights. There’s a sweet dog and a swoony guy and a heartwarming message. It’s romantic, yet squeaky clean. Just what I love in a Christmas romance. Read my review!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is super under-rated, in my opinion. I’ve got so much love for Henry Winkler, and he is the BEST in this movie. It’s so totally Hallmark, and it’s so totally perfect. Jenn’s Uncle Ralph comes home for Christmas and brings jack-of-all-trades nomad, Morgan, because he doesn’t want him sleeping on the airport floor until he can fly to Denver after the snow has cleared. But it seems as though Uncle Ralph is a bit of a matchmaker… WATCH IT, GUYS. You will love it!


Maybe it’s because I’ve been to New York City at Christmas and seen the tree in person, but I just love watching Christmas In Rockefeller Center each year with my mom and little sister. Most of the performers are not so great and we fast-forward through those parts, but we love seeing the tree lit and the excitement.


I love The Big Bang Theory so much, and their Christmas episode: The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis is my absolute favorite Christmas episode ever! Sheldon has no idea what to give Penny for Christmas (he wants to give her a gift that is equal in money to what she gives him), but the gift she gives him renders him speechless. We see Sheldon hug Penny for the first time ever and I LOVE it! Watch the moment here.

Ok, so here’s why I’m not cheating again: Neil Diamond made a Christmas Album and a Christmas Album Volume II. There’s two volumes, guys. And my family and I listen to them both while decorating the tree and opening presents every single year. I love these albums so much!

9. Traditional Hymn:
I love the haunting melody of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. This song uses all the beautiful notes. Listen to a beautiful instrumental version done by The Piano Guys here. And Nathan Pacheco’s performance is beautiful.

10. Christmas Song
Everyone who knows me knows that It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year is my happy song, but only if sung by Andy Williams. It brings and instant smile to my face and makes me so happy!

11. Christmas Cookie
These Whipped Shortbread Cookies from Taste of Home are to die for. They melt in your mouth and are just faintly sweet, so you can pretty much eat as many of them as you want. Which will probably be a lot.

 

I love looking at Christmas lights. Every year my mom, sister, and I drive around to find all the cool houses that are lit up around town. We also go to Temple Square to see the beautiful lights, the Tree of Life, and we go to two really amazing drive-through displays as well. This is hands down my favorite Christmassy thing to do.

What are some of your favorites of Christmas? Pick a category (or 2 or 5 or 12) and tell me your favorite! I’m always looking for new recommendations!

The wreath and small embellishments by the numbers were designed by Freepik.


Operation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards | Book Review

Posted December 21, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Operation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards | Book ReviewOperation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards
Series: Escape to the Country #4.5
Published by Momentum on October 25, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Pages: 91
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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4.5 Stars

Christmas is looking grim for Melissa Allen. She has no one to celebrate with, as her boyfriend of five years left her for her best friend and, after losing her home in a fire, she has nowhere to live. Left without a choice, she accepts the offer to the stay with family friends Rob and Linda Nicholls.

Chris Nicholls is excited about bringing his five-year-old daughter, Jasmine, home to Lakefield, Ontario for her first white Christmas. The trip is a surprise for his parents, though no one is more surprised than Chris when he finds his childhood best friend in his parent's spare room. Surprise soon turns to delight as Chris has always had feelings for Melissa, feelings that are only getting stronger the longer they are together.

But Melissa has had her fill of heartbreak, and isn't willing to fall for a man who is only going to leave. And Jasmine? She doesn't want to share her daddy with anyone. If Chris has any hope of convincing Melissa and Jasmine that they have a future together as a family, he'll need all the mistletoe magic he can get.

Nicki Edwards knows how to write sweet Christmas stories. I fell in love with Operation White Christmas two years ago and was very excited when I found out she had written another Christmas novella set in a quaint Canadian winter wonderland. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Even though Operation Mistletoe Magic is considerably shorter than Operation White Christmas, this little novella is packed with so much! It had enough substance that it didn’t feel fluffy and empty to me, but not so much that I felt like we needed a longer novel to fit it all in.

2. I really liked the characters, and the fact that they were so well fleshed out and filled with personality. Melissa has been dumped for her best friend, has lost her job, and her house has burned down, leaving her with nothing. Emotionally and physically, she has nothing. But she didn’t let it get her down. When she was invited to live with her childhood best friend’s family, she was touched and overwhelmed with gratitude. Not many people could make lemonade out of SO MANY lemons, but she found the sunshine through the storm. Chris is a single dad, and a really sweet dad at that. He’s heading home for Christmas with his little girl to give her a chance to see what a white Christmas is like, and also to figure out what he wants for his future.

3. I loved seeing Melissa and Chris become reacquainted and sift through their shared memories as they explored how their feelings for another had evolved over the years. Friends to lovers and second chance romances are some of my favorite kinds of stories, and this book combines both!

4. The romance was so sweet and completely clean (just like Operation White Christmas). It’s like a Hallmark Christmas movie in book form.

5. The story is so Christmassy! It’s wintry and festive and filled with all the glow and shine I crave from Christmas romances.

All in all, I loved Operation Mistletoe Magic. It’s a sweet, quick, feel-good story that can be read in an evening, but will give you a big enough dose of Christmas cheer to carry you through the entire holiday season.

 

4.5 Stars