Month: July 2019

Ten Books with Beautiful Places On the Cover

Posted July 29, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 26 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie post, which I love because it allows you to express your creativity! It also allows you to do more niche-y, specific topics that I don’t usually select as weekly prompts because I want to keep things broad so everyone can participate. Anyway, I can’t wait to see your list and potentially steal it (with credit, of course) for a future TTT!

I chose to feature books with beautiful places on the book cover. I’m a sucker for a great cover, but even more so if there’s a place I love, or a pretty landscape scene, or a cute shop or house on the cover that makes me want to jump in and be there immediately.

One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan
When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger by Victoria Alexander
Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber
The Summer Getaway by Tilly Tennant
Sailing to Capri by Elizabeth Adler
Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks
Ever My Love by Lynn Kurland
Finding You by Jo Watson
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

What topic did you pick this week?
Which of these covers is your favorite?


Tomb of the Ancients (House of Furies #3) by Madeleine Roux Spotlight and Giveaway

Posted July 26, 2019 by Jana in Book Spotlight, Giveaway / 2 Comments

Tomb of the Ancients, the third and final book in the House of Furies trilogy, came out this past May and Wunderkind PR is graciously offering up a finished copy to one of my readers! Read more about the book below, and enter to win!


Tomb of the Ancients by Madeleine Roux
Series: House of Furies #3
Published by HarperTeen on May 14, 2019
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The war between old gods and monsters comes to a thrilling climax in this final book in the “darkly delightful”* House of Furies series, from the New York Times bestselling author of Asylum. (*Publishers Weekly)

Free from the nightmares of Coldthistle House, Louisa and her friends have taken up a posh new London residence. But there’s no rest for the wicked. Religious zealots from the shepherd’s flock are gathering in the city, and ominous warnings are being left on Louisa’s doorstep. With the evil influence of her father’s spirit growing stronger—trying to take over—Louisa knows she will be forced to pick a side in the coming war between the old gods, whether she’d like to or not.

To save herself, Louisa is desperate enough to do whatever it takes—even if it means returning to Coldthistle House and striking another deal with Mr. Morningside. To uphold her end of the bargain, Louisa will have to rejoin his supernatural staff to venture to a gateway between worlds, a place of legend: the Tomb of Ancients. But, as always, there’s a catch…

Have you read any of the books in this series yet? What did you think?

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Top Ten Settings I’d Like to Visit More Through Books

Posted July 22, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 20 Comments

Sorry I’m late! I had kittens on me!

I love visiting new (or beloved) places through books, and this week’s topic allows me to share some of my favorites with you! I tend to gravitate towards books set in the following places/kinds of places, so if you have any recommendations for books you think I’d love based on my picks this week, please leave them in the comments below!

Creepy Hotels/Apartment Buildings (Like in Lock Every Door by Riley Sager)
Alaska (I love the scenery and the Northern Lights)
Ships/Yachts/Boats (Bonus points if people are visiting cool places.)
Outdoor/Wilderness (Camping, survival stories, etc.)
Secluded Resorts (Like the Snow Crystal Ski Resort in Sarah Morgan’s O’Neil Brothers series)
Venice, Italy (Really, any place in Italy.)
New York City (I SO heart New York, especially at Christmas.)
Castles (Like in Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare)
Any place with snow!! (I love cabins, fireplaces, Christmas, blizzards, etc.)
Cute, quaint, picturesque small towns (Like Kristan Higgins’s Gideon’s Cove)

Which settings do you love and would like to see more of?


The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare | Mini Book Review

Posted July 18, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare | Mini Book ReviewThe Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #1
Published by Avon on April 22, 2017
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 389
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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3 Stars

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules… 

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
- They will be husband and wife by night only.
- No lights, no kissing.
- No questions about his battle scars.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
- They will have dinner together every evening.
- With conversation.
- And unlimited teasing.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

This is a suuuuper mini review, but I just don’t have a ton to say! Everyone knows that I love Tessa Dare, but this book was not a favorite of hers. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t particularly memorable. I really enjoy marriage of convenience stories, and I liked Ash and Emma. I found it funny that these two were going to try and keep the passion out of the marriage and just make a baby, when it’s so obvious that they’re falling for each other. I liked the dual points of view. I loved the cat, Breeches. I enjoyed the romance and the banter. Really, I don’t have any specific complaints other than the fact that the magic just wasn’t there for me like it usually is. I’ve loved some of Tessa’s other books more than this one!

3 Stars

Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors

Posted July 15, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 22 Comments

Happy TTT! This week’s topic was harder for me than I thought it would be, just because I read books by a LOT of authors, and many of those authors that I love (s0 far) only have 1-2 books out right now. I feel like an author has to have been around for a while and have multiple books out in order to be an auto-buy author for me. For example, I’m thinking of this one author and I love her a lot but she’s released two books in two years, with no more announced right now. I know I’ll buy it, but it’s hard to put her into this category since she is so new and has so few books. So I’m sticking with the authors I’ve been reading for YEARS and have proven how wonderful they are to me!

Tessa Dare

Christina Lauren

Tracey Garvis-Graves

Mary Higgins-Clark

Jill Shalvis

Riley Sager

Jenn Bennett

Kate Avery Ellison

Sarah J. Maas

Sarah Morgan

Which authors are auto-buy authors for you?


One Summer in Santorini by Sandy Barker | Book Review

Posted July 12, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

One Summer in Santorini by Sandy Barker | Book ReviewOne Summer In Santorini by Sandy Barker
Published by Maze on June 24, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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1 Stars

Sarah has had enough of men. It's time to rekindle her first true love – travel – so she books a sailing trip around the Greek islands with a group of strangers.

The very last thing Sarah wants is to meet someone new… But then a gorgeous American man boards her yacht and she knows she's in trouble. And when she also encounters a handsome silver fox who promises her the world, she realises that trouble really does come in twos.

Will Sarah dive into a holiday fling, embark on a relationship, or stick to her plan – steer clear of men, continue her love affair with feta, and find her own way after all?

UGHHHHHH. I love books set on vessels. I love books that involve travel–ESPECIALLY to other countries. Greece!! I love when all these things come with a huge side of romance. I expected to LOVE this. I did not expect to find the kind of disappointment I did in this book. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Where do I even begin? I really disliked Sarah. She went on this trip hoping to avoid men at all costs. Did she? No. And instead of owning it and just being with men anyway (nobody would blame her), she just used her I-don’t-want-men-right-now mindset to justify her leading on one guy while leading on another guy and not really caring about the feelings of either one of them. She’s also very dull and boring and lacks personality. I kept forgetting her name.

2. The love interest is an American boy named Josh (I legit just had to check Goodreads to make sure that’s his name, so score one for me), but simply calling him an American doesn’t make him an American. He needs to sound like an American. Josh said things that sounded so non-American. For example, he said “Don’t poke your tongue out at me.” We don’t say that here! We say “Don’t stick your tongue out at me.” There were more non-American things he said, but you get the picture. He was also a snoozefest. I don’t have any clue what he does or who he is. And I’m pretty sure we are never told what he looks like. So I pictured a Ken doll because what else was I going to do?

3. The dialogue was pretty awful and made me want to scratch my eyes out. I like dialogue, but only if it’s interesting. I was beyond bored. Josh and Sarah in particular didn’t talk about anything interesting. I read this on my Kindle with the default font size, and these two doorknobs talked about how much they liked a movie for roughly 5 pages. FIVE PAGES. I did so much skimming to try and slog my through what felt like a very fly-on-the-wall kind of experience throughout the entire book. I felt like I was trapped in a room with two of the dullest people.

4. Every single day was the same. There was so much repetition. The characters wake up, they make toast, they eat breakfast as a group, they say “wow, nice view”, they disembark the boat and go explore various towns. Or they stay on the boat to talk because that’s all they do and who needs cute Greek towns when you can be boring instead? But these towns were all the same. Every town looked the same. I don’t even know why they got off the boat! It seemed like they just kept visiting the same place over and over again because nothing noteworthy was ever said about any of them. They shopped. They looked at the view. They ate food in some cafe or restaurant. But it was all the same food. I kept seeing the same Greek foods mentioned over and over again. Everything they ate was SO GOOD. There was so much horiatiki and it was all SO GOOD. It’s just salad, people! Talk about something else! Oh, and they would not shut up about the AMAZING tomatoes. They’re tomatoes. Move on.

5. The characters also had the same conversations over and over again. “Are you and Josh a thing? Did you sleep together? Did you sleep well? Are you ok? Are you drunk? This travel group is like family!” On and on and on.

6. This is seriously the most boring group of people. Some of them were very sweet and most were completely unremarkable. I’ve already forgotten all of them. They did nothing. They sat around the boat talking about boring stuff. Or they read. They didn’t go swimming off the boat or play games or do anything. They just sat. And talked. About boring things. At one point some dolphins swam in the boat’s wake, and it was seriously the most exciting part of the book for me.

7. The romance just bugged me. I’m fine with the age different between Josh and Sarah (I believe she’s 8-10 years older than he is), but it was brought up so much that I felt like I was supposed to be uncomfortable. And they kept saying they were just friends because neither one wanted to be in a relationship, but then they kept doing very relationshippy things like kissing and cuddling and getting jealous when the other noticed another member of the opposite sex. And it was all so insta-something. How do you look at a guy and decide he’s going to be your best friend by the end of the trip before you’ve even talked to him? And then it happened. It was all so formulaic and easy. And I really hate these two, whether what they have is a relationship or friendship. I just don’t like them. To go from “we’re just the best friends ever” to planning out their sexcapades and never shutting up about all the sex they want to have just… it just didn’t work for me! They felt too brother/sister to me at that point. I cringed a lot.

8. So what kept me reading? Well, there’s this older guy, James, that Sarah meets before the trip who is very drawn to her in a creepy “I’m going to kidnap you and hide you in a secret room in my fancy mansion” kind of way. He puts a little pep in her step because he’s a sexy and serious older man who strokes her ego and makes her feel alive, but she blows him off. But then they cross paths again and he was too smooth for comfort. I wanted to see if she picked our non-American American or our probable “import/export, a little of this, a little of that” creepily mysterious silver fox, so I kept going. I’m all about the drama.

9. Worst ending ever. We are left with all the loose, frayed ends just flapping around in the breeze. The book just ended. There was no climax, no resolution, no information. Just done. There’s no sequel, and I honestly don’t care enough to read one if there is one someday. But to put me through 400 pages of boredom only to leave me hanging just makes me mad. This book wasn’t worth my time.

10. There were some pretty scenery descriptions in the beginning that I liked (and they gave me high hopes for a wonderful trip to Greece), but they were used so many times that by the end I was begging to get off that boat.

Bottom line, I’m mad. lol. Maybe Josh’s non-American speak was fixed by an editor in the finished copy, but I highly doubt any of the rest of this was fixed because it’d have to be a completely different book. I’m so disappointed! One Summer In Santorini had all the makings of a very Jana book, but nope. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it.

1 Stars

Ten Books with Bookish Characters I Want to Read

Posted July 8, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 18 Comments

Four years ago we did a character freebie at The Broke and the Bookish, and I chose to feature bookish characters. I love reading books about people who are bookish like I am. Today I’m going to share some books from my TBR that have bookish characters! I can’t wait to see what kind of character you chose to highlight this week.

By the Book: A Novel of Prose and Cons by Amanda Sellet
This book is about a girl who loves classic romance novels and writes a Scoundrel Survival Guide all about the type of men you should avoid based on her literary research. (This comes out next Spring.)

The Boy Next Story by Tiffany Schmidt
This is part of the Bookish Boyfriends series, and this bookish boyfriend is inspired by Little Women.

My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh
A bluestocking who would rather remain a wallflower than waste her time finding a man hires a bookish academic and transforms him into a dashing rake so she can pass him off as her suitor. I love a good fauxmance!

Writing Mr. Right by T.K. Leigh
A bestselling author of romance novels with a crappy personal life and a bad case of writer’s block joins a bunch of dating apps in the hopes of finding inspiration.

The Way You Love Me by Miranda Liasson
Gabby is an attorney, but wishes more than anything to be an author. She signs up for a writing class taught by a bestselling author who ends up being pretty sexy.

By the Book by Julia Sonneborn
A modern retelling of Persuasion by Jane Austen. “An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.”

The Librarian by Christy Sloat
“On a dark, wintery night, alone in the library, she takes her first glance into one of the antique novels and finds herself transported to 1892 England staring into the eyes of handsome and dashing hero Jack Ridgewell.”

The Bookworm and the Beast by Charlee James
A Christmas retelling of Beauty and the Beast about an assistant for a very grumpy children’s book author.

The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell
I just have to include this entire official synopsis. lol.

“As a young girl, Neave was often stuck in a world that didn’t know what to do with her. As her mother not unkindly told her, she was never going to grow up to be a great beauty. Her glamorous sister, Lilly, moved easily through the world, a parade of handsome men in pursuit. Her brother didn’t want a girl joining his group of friends. And their small town of Lynn, Massachusetts, didn’t have a place for a girl whose feelings often put her at war with the world — often this meant her mother, her brother, and the town librarian who wanted to keep her away from the Dangerous Books she really wanted to read.

But through an unexpected friendship, Neave finds herself with a forbidden copy of The Pirate Lover, a steamy romance, and Neave discovers a world of passion, love, and betrayal. And it is to this world that as a grown up she retreats to again and again when real life becomes too much.

Neave finds herself rereading The Pirate Lover more than she ever would have expected because as she gets older, life does not follow the romances she gobbled up as a child. When Neave and Lilly are about to realize their professional dream, Lilly suddenly disappears. Neave must put her beloved books down and take center stage, something she has been running from her entire life. And she must figure out what happened to Lilly – and if she’s next.

Who Neave turns to help her makes Sharon Pywell’s The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life one of the most original, entertaining, exciting, and chilling novels you will read this year.”

Dancing at Midnight by Julia Quinn
Another bluestocking! Thank goodness men are willing to overlook that quality in a woman and fall in love with them anyway, right? (end sarcasm)


My Top Ten Favorite Picture Books from My Childhood

Posted July 1, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 24 Comments

We at The Broke & the Bookish did top ten childhood favorites back in 2011 (see my picks here), so this time around I’m limiting my picks to picture books. My parents subscribed to a Parents Magazine children’s book program, so pretty much all of my favorite books came from that collection. Those stories were wonderful, and I’ve spent years buying used copies on Amazon and eBay for my own collection.

Sherlock Chick and the Case of the Night Noises by Robert Quackenbush
Only Sherlock Chick can solve the case of the mysterious loud noises that are awakening the farm animals every night. I have a very old home video of me laying on the floor as a 3ish-year-old reading this book to my baby sister. I loved the entire Sherlock Chick series.

Henry’s Awful Mistake by Robert Quackenbush
Henry the Duck has invited his good friend Clara to his home for, but as he starts preparing the food, he sees an ant in his kitchen. He decides the ant absolutely must go, and by the end Henry is basically homeless. This story cracked me up so much.

The Ghost In Dobbs Diner by Robert Alley
Little scaredy-cat Jana could handle a friendly ghost that pops out of the old green bottle Mr. Dobbs finds in his diner!

No Carrots for Harry! by Jean Langerman
Harry the rabbit wants nothing to do with carrots until he goes to his aunt’s house for dinner. I loved this story, and hate carrots too!

The Old Man and the Afternoon Cat by Michaela Muntean
Proof that a sweet little orange and white tabby can melt even the frostiest of old men.

But No Elephants! by Jerry Smath
A salesman stops by the sell lonely Grandma Tildy an animal, and she’ll take pretty much anything that’s not an elephant.

Elephant Goes to School by Jerry Smath
After seeing some children on their way to school, Elephant decides he wants to go to school too.

Who Put the Pepper In the Pot? by Joanna Cole
Fancy Aunt Tootie is coming for dinner, and everyone adds so much pepper to the pot that it’s kinda… whoa.

Miss Mopp’s Lucky Day by Leslie McGuire
While walking through the woods to deliver her cakes, the unobservant Miss Mopp avoids disaster when the threat of a rain storm makes her remember something she forgot.

The Biggest Shadow In the Zoo by Jack Kent
Goober the Elephant loses his shadow when he falls into a moat, and wonders how he will ever save it.

I don’t know about you, but I REALLY loved this trip down memory lane! 
Did you ever have any Parents Magazine books, or were these before your time?
What are some of your childhood faves, picture book or not?