Interview With Stephanie Morrill | Within These Lines Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted March 4, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 6 Comments

Interview With Stephanie Morrill | Within These Lines Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour for Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill! As one of the co-owners of The FFBC, I had the privilege of organizing this tour and interviewing Stephanie!


Interview With Stephanie Morrill

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. You’re a self-proclaimed list maker. I’m assuming some of these lists are to-do lists, but what other kinds of lists do you write?

All kinds! I keep lists of places I want to go, skills I want my kids to have before they move out, books I read each year (starting and ending with my birthday), quotes I want to think about, and lots of other things. Every year I “celebrate” my birthday by making a list of what I learned in the last year, and the number corresponds with whatever age I’m turning. Sometimes my items are huge things that changed my life. Other times they’re products I fell in love with. I have a dorky amount of fun putting my birthday list together!

2. You’ve written both contemporary and historical YA. Do you prefer one over the other? How are they different for you?

I really love both contemporary and historical YA, though right now I’m in a groove with historical and I imagine I’ll stay here for a while. With historical, I really like being able to explore themes that resonate with our modern time without it feeling like a pointed attack, if that makes sense. I also like being free of questions like, “Should I mention social media platforms by name or is that totally going to date my book in a year or two?” Those are the kinds of struggles I have when I writing contemporaries!

3. Tell us about the site you created, GoTeenWriters.com. Why did you create it, and how has it helped you as a writer?

Go Teen Writers is my favorite corner of the internet. I created it back in January 2010 because so many of the emails I received from enthusiastic readers came from teens who were also writers. I was once a teen writer, and I didn’t know a single other person who wrote stories and wanted to be an author, so I loved the chance to pass along what I knew to these teens, and I also wanted to connect them to each other. A side benefit for me is that having the blog has helped me crystalize my own writing process, because I’m trying to understand and teach it. It also opens my eyes to different ways of doing things because the teens love to share their own processes as well!

4. Your bio says you love to travel, and have a list of places you’d love to visit. Which places are at the top of your list?

I do love to travel! One place that used to be at the very top of my list is Manzanar National Historic Site, but I was fortunate enough to cross that one off in 2018. I’m dying to get to Italy, particularly Venice because I’m just so intrigued by it. My husband and I have been planning a trip for a while, but we keep having babies, which isn’t great for international travel! Our youngest (and final) kiddos is three, so hopefully in the next few years.

5. What are you working on now?

I’m not totally sure yet! I’m really intrigued by the idea of writing a story with a dual timeline so that I can merge my love of contemporary and historical YA fiction, but I’m still figuring out what that looks like.

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. The slogan for Within These Lines is “Be Brave Enough to Care, and Bold Enough to Act”. I love that. Can you tell us what this slogan means to you and how it represents the book?

Thank you! The slogan was born out of a conversation that the main character, Evalina, has with her friend Grace. Evalina’s really nervous about something and Grace tells her that it’s normal to be nervous when you care. That idea really popped out to me as I worked on the rest of the book and I began to notice in my own life how loving others made me vulnerable.

But it’s so easy to care and still not be moved to do anything. Even if we can get over our apathy, actually doing something still takes energy and often means inconveniencing ourselves. I love that in the story both Evalina and Taichi grow to be good at living out this mantra.

2. What inspired you to tell this particular story?

I’m obsessed with podcasts, especially Stuff You Missed in History Class. They did a two-part episode on Executive Order 9066, which is the order Franklin D. Roosevelt signed that gave the US government permission to evacuate Japanese Americans and put them in concentration camps.

I found these episodes fascinating, and because I’ve always written for teenagers the idea popped into my head, “What would’ve happened if there was a Caucasian teenage girl who was in love with a Japanese American teenage boy, and his family was taken away?” As I researched a little bit, I realized the story could be even more interesting if my Caucasian teenage girl was actually an Italian American teenage girl, since Italy was aligned with Germany and Japan, yet Japanese Americans were the only people group targeted as a whole with the incarceration.

3. Tell us about the kind of research you did for Within These Lines.

The research for this book was so intense. For The Lost Girl of Astor Street, my plot was fiction, so my historical era was really an elaborate set piece. For Within These Lines, since I was portraying real historical events and sometimes real people and their role in these events, I devoted about 40 hours total to the research process. (Yes, I kept track. Yes, I’m a nerd.) On top of reading tons of books and actually going to Manzanar, I emailed regularly with a park ranger who specializes in Manzanar history. I also spent lots and lots of time on Densho encyclopedia, which is a fantastic site that’s collected oral history and original source documents from the evacuation and internment periods. I’m sure I still managed to make mistakes in the book, but I did my best to be as accurate as possible.

4. If you wrote yourself into this book, what role would you have played?

That’s a hard question. I would want to be a friend of Evalina’s, protesting and speaking out alongside her. But I’m probably more like Evalina’s mother than any of the other characters. I found myself really relating to Zola’s struggle to support Evalina’s appropriate needs for freedom and also her own desire to have a close relationship with her daughter. Those emotions feel relatable to me as my daughter approaches her teen years!

5. What message do you hope readers take away from your book?

My greatest hope for every story I write is just that readers will enjoy it. That’s always in the front of my mind when I’m writing. But if in addition to enjoying Within These Lines, the book causes readers to awaken to social injustices around them, that would be fantastic too.


Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill
Published by BLINK on March 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Historical, Romance
Add to GoodreadsAmazonB&NBook Depository

Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.


About Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie Morrill writes books about girls who are on an adventure to discover their unique place in the world. She is the author of several contemporary young adult series, as well as the 1920s mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, and the WWII era romance, Within These Lines. Since 2010, Stephanie has been encouraging the next generation of writers at her website, GoTeenWriters.com. She lives in the Kansas City area, where she loves plotting big and small adventures to enjoy with her husband and three children. You can connect with Stephanie and learn more about her books at StephanieMorrill.comInstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

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Top Ten Places Mentioned In Books That I’d Like to Visit

Posted February 25, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 14 Comments

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday! I love visiting new worlds while reading books. That’s one of the biggest perks I get from reading, in all honesty. Today’s topic focuses on places mentioned in books that I’d love to visit, and they can be real or fictional. Thanks to Georgia @justreadthemm for submitting such a fun topic suggestion through my TTT topic submission form!

Havana, Cuba from Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton
I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba. It’s a place that seems frozen in time, and it sounds beautiful.

Irish countryside from Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
There are castles and historic sites and there’s so much pretty scenery! Plus, the author writes really great scenery descriptions. Check out my dream Irish excursion here.

Santorini, Greece from The Gem Thief by Sian Ann Bessey
I’d LOVE to explore Santorini!

The wilderness in Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Well, only if Lennon is there too!

Romania from Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
I’d love to explore Dracula’s castle, but I’d also love to see all the nature and the hostiry and the architecture!

Caraval from Caraval by Stephanie Garber
This world is amazing. I’d love to visit, but it might be too mysterious and unknown for me unless I have a swoony boy there too!

The Night Court from A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
I LOVED The Night Court and the secret, beautiful city of Velaris. The setting was just so pretty and magical. I also loved the people there, and all the new characters I got to meet. Plus, Rhys…

London, England from Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
London, baby!

Istanbul from The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
I’ve wanted to visit forEVER!

Cinque Terre from Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
I’ve seen his place in movies and it’s beautiful, but reading about it made it sound like so much more than just a pretty place.

Which places have books taken you that you’d love to visit yourself?

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Top Ten Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

Posted February 18, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 26 Comments

This week’s topic shows some love to the books that aren’t getting much. What books have you read and loved, but there’s not many ratings or reviews on Goodreads (or any other book pushing/retailer sites)? I’m hoping we all find some great hidden gems for our own TBRs this week!

Love, Lucy by April Lindner (1,678 ratings)
This book is AMAZING, you guys! It takes place in Florence, Italy and is the sweetest romance and coming of age story. It’s also a retelling of A Room With a View, which is very cool.

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore Stultz (1,232 ratings)
A very sweet romance with tons of references to well-loved romantic movies, a beautiful friendship, swoony boys, girl power, and an important message to readers young and old.

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae (1,791 ratings)
OH MY GOODNESS. When I discovered that this book had so few ratings my jaw dropped. It’s a wonderful book. 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.

Captivate by Vanessa Garden (1,432 ratings)
The world in this one is gorgeous and colorful and sparkling and so unique! Humans live on the ocean floor in a huge city that has rivers and gondolas and a modern colosseum where people go to watch criminals get thrown to the sharks in a big aquarium-like tank. The ocean is their sky. Their world is lit and warmed by light crystals that sparkle, and oxygen is brought down to them through air shafts. There’s a garden and a park with real grass. I could go on and on. I’m in love with this place, and the writing is beautiful.

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney (717 ratings)
The premise of Starry Nights is SO unique. I’ve always wanted to read a book with such a huge emphasis on art history. The fact that it’s about a boy who falls in love with a girl in a Renoir painting, and dances and eats dessert with her on the museum floor each night made me love it so much. And there are some twists which make it pretty exciting. Who is she? Why does she come to life at night? Why is Julien the only one who can see her? Yeah, these questions are answered in a blend of excitement, suspense, and the love of art.

Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini (1,405 ratings)
This book will think about your own life, and you will most likely end up making some goals for yourself as you move forward. I was touched by so many of the passages, and related to the emotions that were discussed.

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams (1,245 ratings)
An amazing cast of characters and a unique story that takes place during a reality TV cooking show for teens. It’s like reading an episode of Iron Chef, and made me SO HUNGRY.

Snowed Over by Angie Stanton (1,298 ratings)
A fun NA Christmas novella about two people carpooling home for Christmas and getting stranded in a blizzard. SOOO SWOONY.

Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett (432 ratings)
Anna Scarlett is Anna Banks’s pen name! You know Anna. She wrote Of Poseidon, Nemesis, Joyride, etc. This is her adult sci-fi and it’s AMAZING. A doctor on a mission to find the cure for a deadly virus… and terrorists hoping to kill her before she gets the chance? YES. High-tech equipment, underwater battleships, transport pods, giant squids… YES. The heroine and I would be BFFs until I tried to steal her man. Nicoli is this strong military-type with a hardened exterior and a mushy center reserved for those he cares about.

By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager/Harlin (137 ratings)
I have only three things to say. 1. The writing was beautifully done. 2. I want a Caleb Newman of my very own. 3. This was seriously one of the most adorable, clean romances I’ve ever read! And look at that cover.

What books do you love that deserve more attention?
Will you be adding any of my picks to your TBR?

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Ten of My Very Favorite Couples In Books

Posted February 11, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 30 Comments

In honor of Valentine’s Day in a few days, I thought this would be a fun topic to write up this week! In order for me to enjoy a book there has to be at least a LITTLE romance in the story. This is by no means my actual top ten list of favorite couples because writing one of those would be impossible. I’ve randomly chosen from my very very favorites. Life totally got away from me, so I’m just listing them and not really going into much detail as to why I love them. I think that’s best anyway!

1. Zorie and Lennon from Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (enemies to lovers)
2. Emmy and Beckett from I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill (fauxmance to romance)
3. Hazel and Josh from Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren (college acquaintances to lovers)
4. Millie and Reid from My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren (best friends to lovers)
5. Bella and Edward from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (serial killer and food to lovers)
6. Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell from Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (colleagues to lovers)
7. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman from The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (enemies to lovers)
8. Anna and Étienne from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (classmates to lovers)
9. Feyre and Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (enemies to lovers)
10. Cress and Captain Thorne from Cress by Marissa Meyer (Cress’s star-crossed crush turned lovers)

Which bookish couples are your favorites?

 

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Five Upcoming Books I Need Help Deciding On

Posted February 4, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 23 Comments

So… sometimes I come up with topics and then realize they’re hard. lol. That happened this week, hence the 5 picks instead of my usual 10! This week’s topic is about the upcoming releases that I’m not sure if I actually want to read or not. I’ve received them for review and I’m just not sure if they’re my kind of book or not. Am I wrong? Do they sound good? Have you heard good things about them? Has anyone read an early copy and can tell me if they’re good? I need help deciding on them!

The Bride Test by Helen HoangI did not like The Kiss Quotient. Like, not at all. This one sounds like it could be good, but I worry that I’m going to feel like I did with Hoang’s other book.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey – From what I can tell, this author writes mostly erotica (which I don’t read). Have a been fooled by the cutesey cover? It sounds like so much fun, but erotica is not my thing at all.

One Summer In Paris by Sarah Morgan – I love Sarah Morgan, but really do not like women’s fiction at ALL. I need my romance and my swoons. I don’t enjoy family/personal drama with no romance. This one’s hard.

The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr – I love Gothic fiction, and this one sounds amazing. I’m worried, though, that it’ll be too creepy for me! There’s a fine line between eerie and so-scary-I-might-die for me.

Woman 99 by Greer Macallister – I’m starting to really enjoy historical mysteries, and this one sounds interesting. Asylum type books tend to upset me, though, so I don’t know…

What books are on your radar, but you’re just not sure you’re interested in them yet?
What books are getting a lot of pre-pub hype, but you’re still iffy about?
Can you help me make a decision on any of my picks?

 

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Interview with Maureen Doyle McQuerry | Between Before & After Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted February 4, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 2 Comments

Interview with Maureen Doyle McQuerry | Between Before & After Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Maureen Doyle McQuerry’s Between Before & After! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the privilege of organizing this blog tour and interviewing Maureen!


Interview with Maureen Doyle McQuerry

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your website says, “Writers are like crows. They collect shiny objects that capture their attention and hide them away.” What little treasures have you found to add to your collection over the years?
I keep an idea folder on my computer and a notebook in my pocket. Some of the shiny things that end up there are what I call scraps: scraps of conversations, a line that pops into my head, a cool setting or idea. For example, I read about the real Mr. Walker’s library before I wrote The Peculiars. It was so amazing I cut out pictures of it and tucked them away. It became the seed for Mr.Beasely’s library.

2. What’s been the most thought-provoking question you’d been asked as a presenter at a writer’s conference?
How you know what your characters want.

3. Which books or authors do you look to for inspiration?
Here’s a very random list: Joan Didion, Neil Gaiman, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Mary Oliver, T.S.Elliot, James Agee, Emily St John Mandell’s Station Eleven, Pete Hamill, Denise Levertov, Kate DiCamillo, Madeline L’Engle

4. What are you reading right now?
Transcription by Kate Atkinson, just finished The Changling and will soon start The Gilded Wolves.

5. What are you up to when you’re not writing?
Visiting with friends, hiking, traveling, playing with my grandson, visiting with students and talking about writing and life.

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. You’ve said that there’s a library in every one of your books. Is there one in this book? Tell us about it!
Yes! The 1955 San Jose public library is where Molly and her friend, Ari, go to research old New York. Molly’s looking for information about Woodward School and discovers it was a home for delinquent girls. In 1955, the San Jose library was housed in the old Post Office building that was built in 1892. It’s built from sandstone blocks and with its round turret and clock tower, it looks like a fancy sandcastle. The building is now the San Jose Museum of Art.

There was another library in a deleted scene. The Santa Clara Valley bookmobile! When I was little a pink bookmobile came to our neighborhood twice a month. I had a scene where Molly and brother visit their neighborhood bookmobile, but it slowed down the story and I cut the scene, even though I hated to lose the bookmobile!

2. What’s your favorite quote from the book?
I had to pick two:
“Every story should leave a little room for miracles.”
“The words came out small and feeble, a new born revelation finding its legs.”

3. It is mentioned that a retelling of Hansel and Gretel can be found in this book. What inspired you to retell this story?
The Hansel and Gretel fairy tale is the archetypal story of abandoned children who against all odds survive the darkest forest and eventually find home. It’s a story of resiliency and redemption.

4. If you wrote yourself into this book, what kind of character would you be?
I’d like to be a friend for Elaine when she had none. Someone she could talk to and laugh with because for many years her life had very little joy.

5. What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
That wonder is possible. That you can’t know the ending of the story just because you know the beginning, and that you can’t know how people will change either. I want readers to know that they can survive the darkest part of the woods and still find home.


Between Before & After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Published by BLINK on February 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult — Historical, Mystery
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

“The carnage began with the roses. She hacked at their ruffled blooms until they dropped into monstrous drifts of red on the parched yellow lawn … Only two things kept my mother grounded to us: my uncle Stephen and stories.”

Fourteen-year-old Molly worries about school, friends, and her parents’ failed marriage, but mostly about her mother’s growing depression. Molly knows her mother is nursing a carefully-kept secret. A writer with an obsession for other people’s life stories, Elaine Donnelly is the poster child of repressed emotions.

Molly spends her California summer alternately watching out for her little brother Angus and tip-toeing around her mother’s raw feelings. Molly needs her mother more than ever, but Elaine shuts herself off from real human connections and buries herself in the lives and deaths of the strangers she writes about. When Uncle Stephen is pressed into the limelight because of his miracle cure of a young man, Elaine can no longer hide behind other people’s stories. And as Molly digs into her mother’s past, she finds a secret hidden in her mother’s dresser that may be the key to unlocking a family mystery dating to 1918 New York—a secret that could destroy or save their future.


About Maureen Dole McQuerry

All of my books have an element of mystery and magic, even the realistic stories. And as a friend pointed out, there is a library in every one of them. It must be because libraries have always been magical places for me.

Maureen McQuerry is an award winning poet, novelist and teacher. Her YA novel, The Peculiars (Abrams/Amulet 2012) is an ALA Best Book for Young Adult Readers 2013, Bank Street and Horne Book recommended book, and a winner of the Westchester Award. Her most recent book is Beyond the Door (Abrams/Amulet), a Booklist top Ten Fantasy/SciFi for Youth. It is the first in a MG duo that combines, Celtic myth, shapeshifters and a secret code in a coming of age story. The adventure continues in The Telling Stone. Beyond the Door is a current finalist for the WA State Book awards.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch | Book Review

Posted January 31, 2019 by Jana in Book Review / 2 Comments

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch | Book ReviewLove & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
Published by Simon Pulse on May 8, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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3 Stars
Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.

I read and loved Love & Gelato, and immediately grabbed Jenna’s second book, Love & Luck, because I was so excited to jump back into another one of her stories. Contrary to what you might think, these two books have nothing to do with one another (except there’s a tiny cameo of the couple from Love & Gelato) and are 100% standalones. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. There’s not much emphasis placed on the “love” part of Love & Luck. There’s a bit of a romance there, but the book is mostly about Addie’s journey to mending her broken heart. She finds a guidebook on healing your heart in Ireland, and follows the tasks in the book that make her love herself more. The emphasis on self-care and healing was refreshing and sweet, but I did really miss the romance that I loved so much in Love & Gelato.

2. I love reading about sibling relationships in books, and there’s a lot of that in Love & Luck. Addie and Ian used to be incredibly close, but something happened to her that ripped them apart. This story is about the two of them mending their relationship as well, and I loved that. Even though there’s a lot of tension and hostility between the two of them, you can also see how much they still love and care for one another.

3. At the same time, though, this big huge secret about what happened to Addie kept being referenced but readers don’t find out what it was until well into the book. I couldn’t figure out why it was so important that the reader not know, and I got frustrated because it felt like something was being kept from me.

4. I had so much fun traveling through Ireland with these characters in their dilapidated car. They pass castles and historic sites and so much pretty scenery. Jenna’s scenery descriptions were wonderful, as I’ve come to expect from her. I was actually on the blog tour for Love & Luck last year, and created a post filled with pictures of things I’d love to see on my own Irish excursion. Check it out here.

4. I really liked Ian’s friend, Rowan. He cracked me up.

All in all, I enjoyed Love & Luck but not even close to as much as I loved Love & Gelato. I love Jenna’s writing and her characters, but I just didn’t feel that the plot sucked me in this time. I’d love to travel to more places through Jenna’s books, though, and I hope she writes more soon!

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The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List

Posted January 28, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 35 Comments

Today’s topic is the ten most recent additions to my to-read list! It’s a super easy topic, but a fun way to share what we’re interested in right now. I can’t wait to see what you’re all looking forward to reading next!

The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

No Exit by Taylor Adams

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Beneath the Water by Sarah Painter

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long

What books have you recently added to your to-read list?

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Top Ten 2018 Books I Was Excited About & Should Have Read Already

Posted January 21, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 26 Comments

This week’s topic is books I meant to read in 2018 but never got to. I decided to limit it further to books that came out in 2018 (that I was REALLY excited about), but never got to. I still really want to read these books, and will be making them somewhat of a priority for this year (although I’m quite the mood reader so this most likely won’t even happen. Don’t judge me.). I’m kind of surprised I never made time for them, but again… I’m a mood reader!

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
Legendary by Stephanie Garber
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
(I know this came out in 2017, but I need to read it so I can read… )
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
The Woman In the Window by A.J. Finn
My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West
My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Have you read any of these?
Which should I prioritize?
Which ones aren’t worth worrying about?
What 2018 books are you surprised you still haven’t read yet?

 

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The Gem Thief by Sian Ann Bessey | Book Review

Posted January 21, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

The Gem Thief by Sian Ann Bessey | Book ReviewThe Gem Thief by Sian Ann Bessey
Published by Covenant Communications on November 1, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 267
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Gracie Miller is a small-town girl who has landed her dream job in New York City. As jewelry designer for one of the most prestigious jewelers in the world, she completed a particularly stunning piece, a custom setting for a large pink diamond. But when her billionaire client Mrs. Katsaros comes to repair a minor issue with the setting, Gracie is horrified to realize it is not the ring she created. Someone has forged her design, and the priceless diamond is gone.

Mrs. Katsaros has no desire to bring media attention to the jewelry heist, so she recruits her nephew, Quinn, and his FBI agent friend, Steve, to do some sleuthing off the record. When they discover that the missing ring is just one of many forgeries in the widow's collection, they look to Gracie for help. They need her to act the part of Quinn's fiancée. From the lights of New York to the shimmering islands of the Mediterranean, Gracie is swept into a thrilling hunt. But amid the search for the elusive thief, she and Quinn find themselves increasingly distracted by their growing feelings for each other. What neither realizes is how close the danger lies and how serious the vendetta is—because, apparently, it is worth killing for.

The Gem Thief pretty much had my name written all over it! I knew I needed a change of pace from all the contemporary romance I’d been reading lately, so when I saw that this book was a combination some of my favorite things  (mystery, romance, intrigue, and travel) I knew it was going to be something I’d enjoy. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I really, really love jewelry so I was excited to find out that Gracie is a jewelry designer for a big company in New York City. She designs settings for beautiful gems and precious stones, and when she arrives at work one day to learn that one of her pieces was replaced with a forgery, our mystery begins. I was so excited to see how it all played out.

2. Gracie is a very sweet, caring person. She’s polite, warm, calm under pressure, a little insecure, and down to earth even though she works for such a prestigious company and such wealthy customers. She loves her job and puts so much of herself into each piece of jewelry she designs for her clients. She felt so much empathy for and compassion towards Dorcas when she learned of the theft and immediately wanted to help in any way that she could. She’s just an all around good person, who I could easily picture myself being friends with.

3. Quinn is Dorcas’s nephew, and works for the insurance company that insures Dorcas’s expensive pieces of jewelry. As soon as the forgery is discovered, he is called in to help. I liked Quinn a lot, and thought his devotion to his aunt was very endearing and made him even more attractive in my eyes. He’s a great listener, and opens his heart to those he cares about.

4. Dorcas is so much fun! She lived a normal, mainstream life until she fell in love with and married the founder of the Greek Cruise Line (GCL). Then her life became glitzy and glamorous, filled with expensive jewelry, luxurious living arrangements, and extravagant vacations. She loves to wear bright colors, and has the sweetest, most caring personality.

5. I was eager for the traveling to begin once Gracie, Quinn, and Dorcas decided to solve this mystery themselves. I wasn’t disappointed at all. Their first stop is to the Venetian Jewelry Show (I LOVE VENICE), where Dorcas went with her husband each year to buy a new piece of jewelry. The descriptions of Venice were spot-on, and sent me right back to the Grand Canal and the winding passageways. Then they board a fancy luxury cruise ship and explore the Mediterranean. I just loved reading about their visits to Athens, Santorini, and Dubrovnik to name a few. The descriptions of the scenery, sunsets, and weather were wonderful.

6. I loved the slow burning romance. Quinn and Gracie get off to a very rocky start, but their fake engagement brings out real feelings very quickly. And I loved that their love story grew from mutual respect, to friendship, to more. It wasn’t founded on a one-night stand or lust. It felt real and organic to me. And the romance is totally clean. There’s some kisses, but no sex whatsoever. There’s not even a mention of sex as a want or an option on either side, and I really loved that about the book.

7. I would have liked more suspense, but that’s just me. I love suspense!

8. I was annoyed that the ship had “floors” instead of “decks”. Nobody calls them floors on a cruise ship! You don’t get in an elevator to go up one or two floors on a ship, you go up one or two decks. So that drove me nuts. I hope that was fixed in the final version of the book. DECKS.

9. Let me get picky about geography for a second. At one point in the story, Gracie and Dorcas were standing at the edge of the Grand Canal looking at the Mediterranean Sea beyond. That’s the Adriatic Sea. And yes, that’s part of the Mediterranean so I guess it works, but if you look at a map you’ll see that the Med is down at the tip of Italy. You can’t see the Med from Venice. Technically the author isn’t wrong, but if it were me I would have been more accurate about it.

Obviously, I have very few complaints. I really, really loved reading The Gem Thief. I’ve been in a book slump for quite some time, and I flew through this one. It was refreshing, and it allowed me to escape to one of my favorite places. I loved the characters and the romance and the mystery. It was just very fun for me. The writing is wonderful, and I’m planning to look into more books by Sian. I highly recommend this one!

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