Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

About January Janes

January likes a little bit of everything. She's partial to unique paranormals, erotic romances, contemporary, and YA. She has a fondness for novellas and trying self-published works, though more of those are misses than hits. She still refuses to read anything that smells like literary fiction. January also changes this bio on a regular basis depending on her reading mood.

Posts by January Janes:

REVIEW:  On the Island by Tracy Garvis-Graves

REVIEW: On the Island by Tracy Garvis-Graves

Dear Ms. Garvis-Graves,

I picked up your book because it is everywhere lately. The concept of the teen boy-older woman romance is pretty repellant to me, but over 700 positive reviews on Amazon for a self-published book told me I should give this one a try. I read it, and I can see why it appeals so much. It’s a quick, easy read with a sweet romantic storyline at the center. If you’re looking for something soothing and nice, this is the book for you. If you are looking for controversy, keep looking.

12991245On the Island is the story of Anna and TJ. Anna is a 30 year old private tutor who has traveled overseas for the summer despite her boyfriend’s wishes. She wants to be engaged and start a family, and the boyfriend does not. So she takes a job as the private tutor of TJ, who is a 16 year old recovering from cancer. While on a plane ride over the Maldives, the pilot has a heart attack and the plane goes down. Anna and TJ make it to the island and then struggle to survive.

The plot is a very simple one: stay alive until rescue. TJ and Anna have a hard time adjusting to the island life. There’s no fresh water, they don’t know how to care for themselves, and there’s no shelter. Over time, they figure out how to care for themselves, and as the years pass, they grow to care for each other. Three years pass on the island before they are rescued. I feel like that is a spoiler, but it’s touted as a romance and I don’t think these two could have a happy ending while on the island, so I’m comfortable revealing that.

The romance between TJ and Anna is rather uneventful despite their age differences. TJ of course finds Anna extremely attractive, but he holds this in check and doesn’t touch her or even watch her bathe in the ocean. They’re never nude around each other. They’re very careful until TJ is over the age of eighteen, and then he slowly begins to make moves on Anna, who is reluctant because he’s her student and he’s barely legal. Eventually, however, Anna gives in and they have a relationship. By the time they get off the island, they are firmly a couple. When they are off the island, society questions the relationship between the two and Anna continues to have doubts as to whether she should be with TJ.

I thought it was good that Anna had doubts, as being the reader, I had lots of doubts about this relationship. While it worked for them on the island, when they got back to land, I did wonder how it would pan out, and the author explores this for a time. Unfortunately, once they do get off the island, I felt as if all tension had drained from the book and struggled to finish the last third of the story. It went on for too long. Furthermore, I felt like the conflicts of Anna and TJ’s relationship were easily resolved. Anna was a teacher, and she’s fired, but she is given a settlement, so she’s fine monetarily. TJ’s family likes Anna so there are no problems with the relationship there. It’s just all very…pleasant.

I think that was my biggest beef with the story – it’s just nice. Anna and TJ struggle to survive on the island, but they are given lots of things to ‘help’ them survive. Anna’s suitcase washes up and it is conveniently filled with enough shampoo and toothpaste and such for several years on the island. They use her earrings as fishhooks. No one really has a problem with the relationship other than the media. All conflicts are presented and then quickly dismissed again. Overall, it’s just a nice, easy story. It’s not particularly memorable in my eyes, either. Everything is just a little too pat and saccharine. Even TJ’s cancer, which is a concern for both characters in the time on the island, is easily dismissed once they return.

It’s not a bad book. The cover is pleasant, the typos were few and far between, and the writing style is very easy to sink into. I read this in one sitting and enjoyed it, but looking back on it, I feel vaguely dissatisfied. Perhaps I was looking for more emotional nuance, or perhaps I was just hoping to be blown away like the other 700 positive reviews on Amazon. It’s not a bad read, but it wasn’t a great one, either. C+

All best,
January

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REVIEW: One Night to Remember by Kristin Miller

REVIEW: One Night to Remember by Kristin Miller

Dear Ms. Miller,

You can’t seem to go anywhere lately without hearing about the Titanic. It’s been on TV all weekend and commercials for the 3D movie seem to play every 10 minutes. It must have worked for me, because I went looking for Titanic books online and settled upon yours. The price seemed a little rich at $3.99 for 66 pages, but it was on sale for $1.99 at the time that I bought it, so I took a chance. After reading it, I have to say it’s a mixed bag. There are parts of this story that are very good, and there are parts of it that are garbage.

One Night to Remember starts off with Elizabeth Scott, who is having dinner in the first class section. She is chatting with another rich passenger, Lady Grace, and lifting silverware from the table to steal. If this weren’t bad enough, she tells the other woman that she’s traveling alone, unchaperoned.

“And you’re traveling with your fiance, I presume?” Lady Isabelle twiddled a diamond bee brooch on the collar of her dress. It was Tiffany & Co. 1890 collection.

“No. I’m traveling alone.” Elizabeth slid the knife into her purse, then pressed it shut. “Alone?” Isabelle spoke the word with such disdain, Elizabeth wondered if her tongue was sizzling. “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

No, she wouldn’t have.

Sorry, but that makes two of us. I find it hard to believe that at that time, a woman could travel first class alone and no one would be bothered by it. But that didn’t bother me nearly as much as the next statement to her dinner companion.

“I’m afraid I cannot stay. You see, I’m not feeling well, but it’s not due to the lamb.” She went in for the kill, gently brushing her stomach. “My situation is…delicate in nature.”

Nearly jumping out of her seat, Isabelle lost all color. “You are with child? Oh my dear, I am so sorry. And with no fiancĂ©!”

“It’s all right. I’m plenty accustomed to doing things on my own. Now if you’ll excuse me…”

My faith in your plot has just flown out the window. Telling someone in 1912 that you’re not engaged but still pregnant is probably not a good idea. But no one thinks anything of this, and Elizabeth steals Lady Isabelle’s purse and the money inside. She then goes to the lower class decks and gives this to the poor. Yes, you read that correctly. She takes her stolen goods and gives them to someone else. She envisions herself as a Robin Hood type. Not only this, but she does not need the money. Elizabeth designs and creates her own dresses and runs a shop and from what is inferred in the text, she is extremely wealthy.

Unfortunately for Elizabeth, she is caught stealing by Thomas, the hero of the story, who is a handsome officer on the ship. He is incredibly attracted to her, but she is breaking the law. He arrests her and questions her why she steals.

“You stole silver from this ship and money from her.”

“I gave to a family who needed it.”

“That does not negate the crime.”

Her thin eyebrows rose smoke-stack high. “It should.”

It is at this point that I decide that I hate Elizabeth for being an enormous Mary Sue. She then proceeds to seduce Thomas, and they have quick vanilla sex. He is so entranced by her that he replaces the money stolen with his own wages and sets her free to go. She returns to her own quarters and is equally dazzled by Thomas, but their love affair is cut short when the Titanic hits an iceberg.

One Night to Remember by Kristin MillerUp to this point, this is an insipid, historically inaccurate, regrettable purchase. But then the ‘disaster’ portion of the story kicks in and the story grows entertaining. It’s interesting to see the dichotomy of the attitudes of Thomas and Elizabeth. When Elizabeth, the spoiled first class passenger, hears about the iceberg, she wants to go back to bed rather than gather on deck. She doesn’t truly think the ship will sink. Thomas, on the other hand, is terrified as to what this means for everyone. The Titanic sinking portion of the story flows very well. You give enough details that keep me interested, and the story becomes tense and dramatic. The reunion of the hero and heroine (this is a romance, after all) is anticlimactic and overdrawn.

If this was a short story about the sinking of the Titanic, I’d give this a much higher grade. As it is, the romance is a total dud. I wished that Elizabeth would have gone down with the ship. You also bill this as an ‘erotic historical novella’ but there are only two vanilla love scenes. Just because your book has sex in it does not make it erotic. This would have been a DNF if not for the disaster portion of the story, which I enjoyed. C-

All best,

January

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