Thinks You Save In A Fire by Katherine Center

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official blurb

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated. The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

my blurb!

A woman who has built her life on independence and being one of the guys, has to make the decision if being herself fits into either of those categories.

I received this copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for my review which does not have to be favorable.

*Reader beware: this book deals with rape*

3.25 out of 5

what i didn't like

The majority of the book the reader is aware of a shady “relationship” between Cassie and another man, but no details are given (which I appreciated). But in the last 1/8 or so of the book, the event is described (it’s not in extreme detail, but it is described). I personally steer VERY clear of this type of storyline, and had I known this was going to be a plot in this book I probably would not have picked it up. All in all, that is a negative for me, but nothing described was nightmare inducing, and it was written well overall.
Another thing I didn’t love… There is an issue with a fellow firefighter that endangers the life of another person. As a reader, we see how Cassie reacts, but we don’t see enough of how the other person affected reacts. This seemed like a missed opportunity to me.
There wasn’t enough dialogue in this book for me. I craved more of it.
Regarding Cassie’s mom’s health…. I think as a reader, I was supposed to be surprised about something. I wasn’t surprised. I mean, I do watch a lot of Masterpiece Mystery shows on the BBC so maybe I’m unwittingly channeling Sherlock. Or maybe that was predictable.
This book felt long. I can’t describe that another way, other than I asked myself if it was going to be over soon, just to look down at the percent completed and realize “nope, only 65% done.” And I’m not sure this book was actually long, it just felt like that at times.
I don’t believe in love at first sight. Attraction? Of Course. Lust? For sure. Love? No way. This book had a case of love-at-first-sight’s and the majority of the book did feature a love story. I read the whole book and I didn’t finish it and think to myself… wow they really love each other.

what i liked

Wow that was a LONG list of things I didn’t like! I bet you’re wondering if there is anything I DID like in this book. Don’t worry, there was! A 3 star rating for me is by no means a dud! Consider this a thorough review!
There are some great quotes in this book. I felt like I was constantly highlighting quotes to come back to later! (In my initial draft of this review I wrote down no less than three quotes from this book- but then I remembered this was an ARC and I can’t include quotes in my review! but TRUST me, her writing is AMAZING!)
This book talks a lot about forgiveness. Katherine Center has an uncanny ability to capture an unbelievable degree of realism in her books. Maybe not every plot line, but she’ll describe something so accurately that you’ll begin to wonder what struggles she’s experienced in life to make her so acutely aware of the words needed to describe them! And then you realize that perhaps she hasn’t at all and she’s simply an amazing author. In The Bright Side Of Disaster, she captures everything from a birth plan to life as a new mom. In How To Walk Away she captures the ache of being in a hospital and the truth about hopelessness in your health. In this book, it’s the real steps it takes to forgive, and the reality of what it looks like to cope in life without forgiving. You can live a perfectly reasonable life without forgiveness, but a much more full one with it. I think that was the message in this book and it was well received.
Another BIG pro (I can’t emphasize that enough) in this book is the women’s issues it tackles. Cassie is a woman doing a job that is almost exclusively male. She sees the pros and cons of being a girl and doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder when proving why she is amazing at her job. Her attitude throughout the book is so stellar – because she assumes positive intent from her coworkers. Cassie mentions at one point that she was trying to recalibrate her coworkers idea of what it meant to be female. I loved that thought.

Overall I’m not sure if I should classify this book as a romance novel or a fiction novel- truth be told, those genres overlap a lot more than people are willing to admit. This book wasn’t crazy steamy or anything (it’s no Winston Brothers), but there is romance involved!

while reading you should

Act: make sure your house is up to date with Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and that the batteries all work.
Listen: Moonlight Kiss by Bap Kennedy
Watch: How to Deal (Mandy Moore at her finest!)

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The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center

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official blurb
Jenny Harris always expected that she’d fall in love, get married, and have a baby–in that order. Now, very pregnant and not quite married, she actually doesn’t mind that she and her live-in fiancé, Dean, accidentally started their family a little earlier than planned; she’s happy to have so much to look forward to. But Dean–whom Jenny loves enough to overlook his bad facial hair, his smoking habit, and his total commitment to a cheesy cover band–is acting distant, and not in a pre-wedding-jitters kind of way. The night he runs out for cigarettes and just doesn’t come back, he demotes himself from future husband to sperm donor. And the very next day, Jenny goes into labor. In the months that follow, Jenny plunges into a life she never anticipated: single motherhood. At least with the sleep deprivation, sore boobs, and fits of crying (both hers and the baby’s), there’s not much time to dwell on her broken heart. And things start looking up. She learns how to do everything one-handed, makes friends in a mommy group, and even manages to give dating tips to her sweet, clueless father–who’s trying to court her sassy mother again, fifteen years after their divorce. She also gets to know a handsome, helpful neighbor–with a knack for soothing babies–who invites her out dancing. But Dean is never far from Jenny’s thoughts or, it turns out, her doorstep, and in the end Jenny must choose between the old life she thought she wanted and the new life she’s been lucky to find.

my blurb!
A girl with zero instincts for making good decisions learns how to try to make better ones in the wake of being a new mom.

3.25 out of 5

When I finished How To Walk Away, I knew I was gonna need to go out and read all of Katherine Center’s books.  This book did not live up to the love I had for How to Walk Away, but it was still well written and a good read.

what i liked
I loved Jenny’s mom. She was consistent and supportive.  (Btw, these two words should always describe moms but rarely are!)  She was logical and helpful.  She was a survivor from heartbreak. She was great!
I loved Gardner- our friendly neighbor.  I would’ve loved more from (and about) Gardner actually!
My favorite part about the book was how INSANELY realistically it painted the picture of the pressures moms put on themselves.  Even pregnant- Jenny really struggled with her birth plan changing- and how much to stick up for herself and her birth plan (that is SO real, you guys! So real!).  Then post birth- omg did she capture the struggle of breastfeeding, of not wanting to leave your baby, of having zero sleep, of eating almost nothing. I mean, wow! Katherine Center captured this phase of life SO well.  It was actually sometimes hard to read because it was so realistic!

what i didn't like
Do you remember that book I read a while ago, Matchmaking for Beginners? People had a really big problem with Marnie and how stupid she was to continually let her dirtbag of a fiancé walk all over her?  But I said- it wasn’t crazy annoying but somewhat annoying?  Well in this book- Jenny was SO unbelievably annoying. I could not take her poor decision making skills.  I’m not going to write any spoilers but wow. So. Annoying.
My major problem with the book is that I liked Gardner- Jenny’s neighbor- more than I liked Jenny.
Also Jenny had a brand new cat that her mom was CRAZY allergic to. Her mom. Who came over to help her. Every. Single. Day. And she never attempted to find a different solution- other than having her mom take benadryl.  I’m an animal person. I am also a human person.  This was so insane to me.  Jenny has friends! Ask if anyone would want the cat!!!

while reading you should
Do: plan and have a garage sale.  You know you have the stuff to sell… we all do!
Eat: casserole.  Any kind really. They all taste the same…. delicious!
Listen to: Salsa music

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The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

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official blurb
A long, hot summer… That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father. But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to question her sheltered life.

my blurb!
A girl who is in search of perfection finds her perfect life doesn’t look exactly like she planned.

5 out of 5

 

what i liked
This is required reading for YA fans! (Here’s my list of amazing YA books).
Let me start with the elephant in the room.  Before I met my husband I was in love with someone else.  I have never gotten over him and still think of him often.  That’s right, I am talking about my first fictional boyfriend, Wes.  And he lives in the pages of The Truth About Forever.  Now before you go on and on saying that you also loved Wes, let me tell you that our love is good and it is true- so don’t go trying to make it anything other than that with your false tales of your swooning heart!  Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, you can see why Wes is the first thing mentioned under things that I liked in this book.
This is a reread. To be truthful, I reread this book every year.  Every. Year. Since it was published. I told you my love for Wes was real!  So to be clear, this was published in 2004. I’m pretty certain I read it back to back when I got it, so that brings my total to 15 times read!  I guess you could say I like this book.
Sarah Dessen came out with a gauntlet of perfect YA books in the early 2000s.  And don’t let this whole “YA” tag fool you.  She writes heavy topics that also happen to have swoon worthy love stories in them.
In this book, Macy is trying to cope with life after her dad died.  Dessen does an amazing job of giving you all of the feels of loss, and the repercussions of choosing the way you’re going to mourn. Macy is a crazy flawed character. She is insecure and wants total control.  She never speaks her own voice and she hides in other people’s shadows.  And she is somehow so likable.
Macy and her mom have so many realistic interactions that it is sometimes stressful to read.  Me being me, I wanted all Wes scenes all day long.  The worst part about this book is going from being with the fictional love of my life, directly into the next scene of a crappy interaction with Macy’s mom! I found myself saying, “I don’t care about your mom damn it! I want Wes!”  And then the librarian would graciously ask me to lower my voice and refrain from using curse words while watching my kids play at the library.
Have I ranted on and on about this book enough to convince you to read it? No… okay here comes my second wind.
Just kidding.  Go get this book!

Ps. You can order a personalized book from Sarah Dessen here.  I personally would like a dedication stating that she acknowledges that I am Wes’ true love but that she felt she couldn’t write about our nonfiction love so she wrote Macy instead. That’s reasonable, right?

when to read
This is a great summer read!  But since it is required reading- pick it up any time!

while reading you should
Listen to my “The Truth About Forever Mini Playlist:”
-Summertime romance by Johnnyswim
-Something Stupid by Michael Bublé ft Reese Witherspoon
– Catching Feelings by Justin Bieber
-I Run To You by Lady Antebellum

Picture the following actors as the characters in this book:
Wes: Bob Morley, Shawn Mendes, Liam Hemsworth, Logan Lerman
Macy’s mom: Lauren Graham, Julia Roberts,
Macy: Dakota Fanning, Lily Collins, Emma Watson
Kristy: (way younger) Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Lawrence
Monica: Taylor Momsen, Carly Chaikin
Jason: Michael Welch, Freddie Highmore, Lucas Till
Bert: Jack O’connell, Taron Egerton

Eat: Meatballs
Do: Go for a Run
Watch: A news special on Armageddon

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Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount

official blurb
Book lovers, rejoice! In this love letter to all things bookish, Jane Mount brings literary people, places, and things to life through her signature and vibrant illustrations. Readers will:
• Tour the world’s most beautiful bookstores
• Test their knowledge of the written word with quizzes
• Find their next great read in lovingly curated stacks of books
• Sample the most famous fictional meals
• Peek inside the workspaces of their favorite authors
A source of endless inspiration, literary facts and recommendations, and pure bookish joy, Bibliophile is sure to enchant book clubbers, English majors, poetry devotees, inspiring writers, and any and all who identify as bookworms.

my blurb!
The perfect coffee table book for book lovers, and lovers of illustration.

5 out of 5

Okay, this one is a really weird one to rate because it is 100% a coffee table book.  The kind of book that you flip through once, but then might keep on the table (or in your bathroom) to skim through and read a page or two at any random point to spark your interest.  So if this is the case how could I have rated it 5 stars?  Well… what can I say, it’s a good coffee table book!

what i liked
The illustrations were gorgeous! I would LOVE to have Jane Mount draw a picture of me holding my favorite book (dream Christmas list item anyone?).  I almost wish some of the pages were perforated so that I could tear them out and frame them!  (Also, I should mention that I got this as a library book so I couldn’t do that if my dream became a reality).
I loved all of the lists.  Bookstores that are owned by authors, amazing libraries to visit, books recommended by authors or influencers, best books by genre, etc.  They were great ones to go through, and always kept my attention.  My personal favorite was definitely bookstores owned by authors.
I read the whole book in one sitting, it was easy to flip through and kept my attention.  I found myself taking pictures of quite a few of the pages because I wanted to remember what she was referencing.  I know, so lame (yes, I am a cheap genius). But it also made me realize that I wanted to buy this book. Hence the 5 star rating!
Ps. Since my initial read through of this book, I have received this book as a gift and I am THRILLED to add it to my library!

what i didn't like
No bookstore recommendations in my current hometown or my OG hometown!  But I can look past that.  Maybe that means I need to open one (not gonna happen!). haha.

while reading you should
Make: a list of all of the books you want to buy or check out from your library
Eat: anything you made out of a legit cookbook- not online.
Listen: The Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack (it just makes me feel all literary!)
Buy: this bibliophile journal or these notecards!  (I personally have two of Jane Mount’s vases and am *patiently* waiting to be gifted the third, cough cough).

if you would like to buy
Click here: Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany

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Dating – ish (Knitting in the City #6) by Penny Reid

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official blurb
There are three things you need to know about Marie Harris:  1) She’s fed up with online dating,  2) She’s so fed up, she’s willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and  3) She knows how to knit. After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of human kind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities: Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services? But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he’s not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different—and crazier—solution to her dilemma . . . As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?

my blurb!
The story of a super cool girl and a smartypants guy, who decide to use each other for professional gain but but end up gaining something else in the end.

3.25 out of 5

what i liked
I really liked Marie!  Can you tell by now that I ALWAYS like the Penny Reid heroine?  She is motivated and kind, she sticks up for herself and is loyal.  What’s not to like?
This book was a really cute romcom…. BUT it was too steamy.  So if you don’t mind a steamy romance- you’ll like this romcom.
I liked the topic that this book focused on- writing an article or solving a scientific problem of the perks of a relationship without being in one. (Sidenote- I JUST watched a new hallmark movie called Mingle All The Way that also tried to tackle this topic!)

what i didn't like
It’s too steamy!!! I have to skim a lot of parts in a Penny Reid book but I keep coming back to her. I know… why?!  Because I love her writing and her characters but I don’t love her steam! It’s too much!
The ending I didn’t love. I won’t give anything away… but the last scene.  Nope… wasn’t into it.
This was the 6th book in a series- and somehow my library has this book and only this book in the series.  They are each stand alone books but I found a lot of recaps in this book that I knew were big plot points in other books.  It didn’t flow very well.

while reading you should
Do: Read a newspaper- while you’re at it, get me a subscription bc my free local one just went out of business 😦
Make: coconut cake
Listen: Turning the Page by Sleeping At Last

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Attraction (Elements of Chemistry #1) by Penny Reid

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official blurb
One week. Private beach. Invisible girl. Jerk-faced bully. What’s the worst that could happen? Kaitlyn Parker has no problem being the invisible girl, which is why she finds herself hiding in various cabinets and closets all over her college campus. Despite her best efforts, she can’t escape the notice of Martin Sandeke—bad boy, jerkface bully, and the universe’s hottest, wealthiest, and most unobtainable bachelor—who also happens to be Kaitlyn’s chemistry lab partner. Kaitlyn might be the only girl who isn’t interested in exploiting his stunning rower’s build, chiseled features, and family’s billionaire fortune. Kaitlyn wants Martin for his brain, specifically to tabulate findings of trace elements in surface water. When Kaitlyn saves Martin from a nefarious plot, Martin uses the opportunity to push Kaitlyn out of her comfort zone: spring break, one week, house parties, bathing suits, and suntan lotion. Can she overcome her aversion to being noticed? Will he be able grow beyond his self-centered nature? Or, despite their obvious chemistry, will Martin be the one to drive Kaitlyn into the science cabinet of obscurity for good?

my blurb!
An inexperienced and really smart girl tries to decide if it’s worth winging it in life with her lab partner.

1.75 out of 5

what i didn't like
Let me start by saying I really enjoy reading Penny Reid’s writing.  But this book did not do it for me.  There was a vibe in this book that made me feel like the main character wasn’t always safe.  And let me tell you right now- there is not a rape scene in this book. But I sure thought there might have been one at some point.  I didn’t like that at all.
Let’s take a second to talk about consent.  Consent.  Okay we talked about it.  That was more than the conversations that were happening in this book.  It was like “oh, I’ve never done anything sexual- in fact I’ve never actually really had a boyfriend.”  Followed by me reading and saying “Ahhhh! skimming, skimming, skimming…”  And then reading for pages about how the Kaitlyn wasn’t even sure she enjoyed doing what she was doing, and certainly didn’t like Martin claiming her like property.  I’m sorry, am I supposed to be rooting for this couple to get together? Big problem for me.

what i liked
I really like Penny Reid’s characters.  She writes super smart women- who are quirky and fun.  I love reading Kaitlyn’s thought process and laughed out loud a few times while reading.
I also liked that this book was free this month on kindle.  I mean, I would’ve gotten it from the library if it wasn’t free.  But that for some reason is in the pro column for this book in my head. haha

 

while reading you should
Do: Stand up straight. Put your arms up to your hips like you’re superwoman. Look in the mirror and feel awesome.  (What… is that weird. I watched a whole TED talk on this!)
Eat:  something someone else made for you (in the book they stay at a place that comes with a chef.)
Listen: Firework by Katy Perry

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Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

official blurb
Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich is a rollicking and poignant romantic comedy about a young widow who decides to get in shape…and winds up getting her groove back–and a whole lot more! Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband’s illness and death. Now she’s alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief. Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she’s met her goals–and other men are noticing?

my blurb!
Holly, an overweight loner, decides to make a change and hits the gym hard.  All the while also falling hard for her trainer Logan- who has a thing for ugly ducklings.

1.75 out of 5

what i didn't like
Seriously, why does this guy get so turned on by her and then disgusted by her cellulite?  It was mentioned a million times and it got old.  I didn’t like how disgusted Logan was by her- and he was.  There are so many instances I could bring up- but I don’t want to allow for any spoilers, but basically he fat shames her the whole book. I will say that I wasn’t rooting for him in the end.  Which is obviously an issue in a romance novel read.
The spanking storyline- there were two side characters who were in the book quite a bit and actually had their perspective in a few chapters – Amanda and Chase.  I got to read all about their sexual preferences- specifically spanking.  Why was that even in the book and why was it brought up so many times? It was weird. I didn’t like it at all.  And it’s kind of a shame because Chase was a pretty fun character but EVERY time he was in the book there was a reference to him spanking his wife.
Towards the climax of the book Holly realizes that she molded her life to Logan’s.  Then there is more in the storyline and the book ends.  But this is a loose end.  She doesn’t ever take that realization back but it isn’t ever mentioned.  Reading the story- I 100% agreed that she made her day all about Logan and was all about pleasing him.  So that was a big way to fall short – by not addressing that in the end.
This book painted a setting of celebrities and celebrity trainers.  There wasn’t a lot in their lives that I could identify with. They were super rich, and judged fat people, and only dated Barbie models.  I didn’t leave the book bummed that I wouldn’t be seeing the characters at my next party.  If I had a party, no one in this book would be invited.

what i liked
I did like reading the workouts in the book.  Logan was a good trainer and believable- I liked that he prided himself in having a masters degree and really judged the trainers at the big box stores for having zero expertise in the field of personal training.  It’s a little rivalry I never would have thought of and I enjoyed glimpsing into that a bit.  It also made me wanna work out while I read it.  Let me be clear, I didn’t work out while I read this. But I did think about it, and that counts for something right?

while reading you should
Do: renew your gym membership
Eat: some ice cream – you deserve it for renewing that gym membership
Take: breaks from reading this book to do a few sets of lunges
Watch: baseball (and by that, I mean have it in the background while you’re reading… maybe that’s even too far. okay, watch Fever Pitch with Jimmy Fallon.  It’s kind of about baseball, anyways).

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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The Space Between by Kate Canterbary

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official blurb
Patrick
That hair. That fucking hair. It was everywhere, always, and I wanted to tangle my fingers in those dark curls and pull. And that would be fine if she wasn’t my apprentice. Andy Asani was nothing like I expected. She was exotic and scary-brilliant, and the slightest murmur from those lips sent hot, hungry lust swirling through my veins. Outside my siblings, she was the only person I could name who shared my obsession with preserving Boston’s crumbling buildings.
Andy
My wants were few: good eats, tall boots, hot yoga, interesting work. One incredibly hot architect with the most expressive hazel eyes I ever encountered and entirely too much talent in and out of the bedroom wasn’t part of the original plan. Apparently he was part of the package. Wine was my rabbi and vodka was my therapist, and I needed plenty of both to survive my apprenticeship. Especially with Patrick Walsh leaving love notes in the form of bite marks all over my body.

my blurb!
A book that should 100% be judged off of its cover.

1 out of 5

what i didn't like
Wow. This. Book. Was. Awful.
I know, I know- some of you will say… did you read the blurb about it before you read it?  No, no I did not.  This is not abnormal for me to do by the way.  I find that the blurb often gives away too much of the storyline so I don’t read them.
When I decided to really immerse myself into the romance genre for my first ever romance read- a- thon, I wanted to make sure I really went for it to find out what I liked and what I hated.  I hated this book!  Oh, you could tell from the rating? Well okay then.
At one point a month into reading romance novels- I realized I had never picked up a book with a really trashy and embarrassing cover.  Trying to rectify this, I saw this book for free on amazon kindle, looking exactly like the type of book I was trying to cross off of my list.  I then went to goodreads.  Oh goodreads… how you lead me astray.  (Btw, if you’re not following me on goodreads- click here to fix that!)  There is a 4.19 out of 5 star rating for this book!!! WHAT?!  I can only imagine that this book appeals to people who aren’t embarrassed by the cover… or the contents.  And to each their own- that is the cool thing about books, there is something for everyone!
Well this one wasn’t for me. It was crass. Way too sexual. I didn’t like the characters. I wasn’t rooting for them.  In fact they annoyed me so much that I might have been rooting against them.  I tried desperately to give this a fair shake and really push myself to read it, and just skim the parts I didn’t like.  Then I realized I was skimming like 10 pages and then reading one page.  So I stopped reading it.  Because if you didn’t get it before… this book was awful.

I know I always include a list of things to do while reading this book. But there isn’t a list for this one. Because you should totally NOT read this book.  In fact if someone gifts it to you, throw it at their heads.  …too confrontational?  Okay you can take the gift, but then go home and use it for kindling.

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