The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia #2) by C.S. Lewis

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official blurb
Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy find their way through an old wardrobe into the world of Narnia. There, they unite with Aslan to fight the White Witch and save Narnia from perpetual Darkness.

my blurb!
Three siblings discover a magical land and then come to find that it is their destiny to save it.

3.5 stars

 

what i liked
I can vividly picture the scenes in this book.  I mean, I have seen the movie, so maybe that was why- but I’m gonna say that it was because of how descriptive it was.
There is something so magical about discovering an entirely new world within the confines of a house.  I don’t think that walking into that wardrobe will ever be anything short of amazing for me!
The overall allegory in this story is so well written- there is no room for confusion and it is so easily understood in the mind of a child.  I mean… it’s really pretty cool.  For instance- turkish delight is so good, it’s sinful.  See what I did there?  I couldn’t help myself.  Edmond has a taste of turkish delight and that is soon all he can think about.  It becomes an unquenchable desire to have more turkish delight regardless of the EXTREME consequences it would take to acquire more.

what i didn't like
Edmond sucks so badly.  I mean, wow- he is AWFUL.  I should mention that he isn’t inherently sucky- his siblings (or maybe the narrator) mention that he went away to boarding school and came back with this level of suckage.  He is a genuine unkind soul and I just got so irritated reading about him!
There is a scene featuring Aslan and Edmond and that scene was perfectly awkward in every way.
I think that Peter is portrayed as mean to Edmond.  And I didn’t really like that! Not that Peter was mean, but that he came across that way.  Because seriously, Peter said everything I wanted to say to Edmond.
Again, just as in The Magician’s Nephew, the sexism in this book was off putting for me.  Just so many constant insults about girls.

Overall, I thought I was going to like this book more.  I discovered when reading my copy, that I had actually read the book in college but I hadn’t remembered that at all!  So there are a few reasons that perhaps I didn’t like it as much- being a kids book and a reread, and having already seen the movie.  But I will say, that that has not stopped my love from blooming in the past.
Also, you know when it snows and everything is a beautiful winter wonderland and people all around you make references to Narnia?  I just want to point out that when Narnia was in this perpetual state of winter, it was being ruled by a dark and evil queen.  (Did I just make it obvious that I don’t like winter?)

 

while reading you should
Listen: The Blue Planet by Hans Zimmer
Watch: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe movie!
Eat: Turkish delight! (oh… that’s gross? Okay,  eat dark chocolate brownies.)

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Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey

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official blurb
Lucas Thatcher has always been my enemy. It’s been a decade since I’ve seen him, but our years on opposite coasts were less of a lasting peace and more of a temporary cease-fire. Now that we’re both back in our small town, I know Lucas expects the same old war, but I’ve changed since high school—and from the looks of it, so has he. The arrogant boy who was my teenage rival is now a chiseled doctor armed with intimidating good looks. He is Lucas Thatcher 2.0, the new and improved version I’ll be competing with in the workplace instead of the schoolyard. I’m not worried; I’m a doctor now too, board-certified and sexy in a white coat. It almost feels like winning will be too easy—until Lucas unveils a tactic neither of us has ever used before: sexual warfare. The day he pushes me up against the wall and presses his lips to mine, I can’t help but wonder if he’s filling me with passion or poison. Every fleeting touch is perfect torture. With every stolen kiss, my walls crumble a little more. After all this time, Lucas knows exactly how to strip me of my defenses, but I’m in no hurry to surrender. Knowing thy enemy has never felt so good.

my blurb!
The Hating Game meets Grey’s Anatomy.

4.25 out of 5                                                                  5 / 5 steam level

 

what i liked
Do you remember how much I loved The Hating Game?  Yes? Okay, I may have mentioned it excessively.  Well, this book had a lot of vibes of THG.  I laughed so many times while reading it- Grey knows how to write sarcastic and hilarious girls!
I read this book in one sitting! I know, it seems like it should be an automatic 5 star rating then- but we’ll get to that part in a second.
I loved Lucas!  I love a man with a plan.
I loved the trope!  Compete with each other and then fall in love doing it? Yes! I love it, what’s not to love?
This book had an epilogue and it was great.  It needed the epilogue, and I enjoyed it!  I am so pro epilogue – if there was ever some form of politics involving books, I would run for senate and that would be my platform. “No more love triangles! Say yes to epilogues!”
I loved the mom and the BFF in the book. They were manipulative (in the best way), supportive, and hilarious!
I’ve mentioned that Grey is funny- but you might not believe me yet.  Here’s some quotes I laughed at in the book:

“I’m 28 and have never declared my love for a significant other. My biggest commitment so far is buying a Roomba.”

“Another bright spot for me is that men regularly mistake my exhausted ramblings and honest deprecation as humor and personality.”

“I’m having what I can only assume is a hot flash. Maybe the sight of a glistening Lucas has caused me to tumble into early menopause.”

She’s funny right?! Right.  I’m so glad we had this conversation.

what i didn't like
Of course you know me by now, and know that I don’t like a 5 steam level. It’s really hard for me to give a book I really loved a required reading status, if it’s too steamy for me.
In THG – pranks are played. I enjoyed it.  In this book, something felt too juvenile about a lot of the pranking.
There are some scenes where our main characters have to share a living space.  I wanted more out of these scenes to see what their normal lives would’ve been like.  I felt like I was kind of robbed of that.  (Too dramatic?  Ohhhhkay fine).

while reading you should
Act: make an appointment for your yearly physical
Listen: Anything You Can Do by Bing Crosby
Watch:  Grey’s Anatomy
Read: The Hating Game again!

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The Magician’s Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) by C.S. Lewis

the magicians nephew

 

official blurb
In this unforgettable story, British schoolchildren Polly and Digory inadvertently tumble into the Wood Between the Worlds, where they meet the evil Queen Jadis and, ultimately, the great, mysterious King Aslan. We witness the birth of Narnia and discover the legendary source of all the adventures that are to follow in the seven books that comprise the series.

my blurb!
Read chronologically, this is the first book in The Chronicle of Narnia series, telling the origin story of the creation of Narnia.

4 out of 5

what i liked
This was a great start to The Chronicles of Narnia series. I really enjoyed reading it!  I had a hand injury when I started doing this buddy read, and was in a bit of a time crunch to complete it – so I actually read the print version and listened to the audiobook version in order to finish it on time.  And I would recommend either version of this book.
This is written for young readers.  I know you’re wondering, “How do you love it so much when you’re not a young reader?”  First of all, don’t be rude. Secondly, I really enjoyed the writing style! I was nervous that the old english would overtake me, but because it was written for kids it was a lot less intimidating!
This book features great quotes, amazing life lessons and a lot of Christian allegories throughout.
My favorite part about it, was probably all of the snide references about people who think they’re better than everyone else.
Shout out to Polly (why isn’t that name more popular by the way? What a cute name!) and to Aslan.  They were my favorite characters in the book!
The last big pro of the story for me was the final chapter.  It was a great wrap up for the story- almost more epilogue-ish.  And I love a good epilogue!

Now, I know I mentioned this is a kids book, but I also feel the need to mention that the queen was SCARY.  Lewis did a great job with her, I had no compassion for her whatsoever because – wowzah- that woman was out of control.  This isn’t in the pro or con column for the book- but I wanted to mention that if you’re thinking about reading this book to your kids.

what i didn't like
Diggory was so completely annoying in this story.  He is one of our main characters and oh boy, I found him so frustrating.  The uncle in the story was also way too much for me, but it made you really dislike him and he wasn’t supposed to be likable so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
There are a lot of statements about women being lesser than men throughout this book.  Insults to girls overall.  Now, this book was dedicated to a girl, and I feel that Lewis overall does have the girls stand above the boys as far as plot goes.  So if you’re studying the book, you would probably notice that and let it go. However, since this is a book for children, I’m not sure if they would easily separate the girl insults from the overall character arch.

while reading you should
Do: go on a walk in the countryside.
Listen: Zero by Hans Zimmer
Drink: tea. (this is an English book, afterall)

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99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

99pm

 

official blurb
Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough. When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade. Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

my blurb!
Two bickering twins fight over the attention of their childhood best friend.

 

So I’ve kind of been dreading doing this review because this was my first ever physical copy of a book from a publisher and I did expect to give it 5 stars. Spoiler alert- this wasn’t 5 stars for me, but I really do think that this book will find its audience!

Thank you William Morrow for this book! Receiving the free book did not change my feelings about the book!

3 out of 5                                                             4 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
Okay this book ends with an Epilogue for The Hating Game.  I know, this isn’t technically reviewing 99 Percent Mine – but the epilogue for THG is in this book so trust me it needs to be included.  Did you know that I loved THG?  Oh I’ve mentioned it roughly 1 million times?  Wait, are you saying I’m starting to sound like a broken record and you’re tired of hearing about Josh and Lucy?  Well, too bad! I love them with my whole heart and this epilogue was EVERYTHING.  Is that dramatic? NO! This was a 5 star epilogue!!!  I am not upset to own this book (which wasn’t 5 stars) because I would have bought it anyways simply to own this epilogue!
Okay, now to 99PM.  Darcy’s best friend in this book is great! She has her own business (which is an amazing business idea, btw) and is working hard to make it successful. She is supportive of Darcy! She wasn’t entirely awesome but was mostly amazing (I could go into that more but that would give you some spoilers so… Not today satan!)
While I didn’t laugh out loud while reading this book, I did enjoy some of Darcy’s inner dialogue.
I read this book quickly, in less than 24 hours. So quick and easy reading with this one!
So that’s the end of what I liked. You’re wondering how I possible gave it 3 stars and not 2 stars or 1 star.  Did you already forget the 5 star Epilogue?!  It carries this book.

what i didn't like
Lucy (from The Hating Game) is all sunshine and strawberries.  Darcy (from 99 Percent Mine) is black nail polish and remorse. I just could not connect with Darcy.  Sally Thorne said that Darcy is like Lucy’s older sister.  Darcy is crass and hardened. She has constantly showing bra straps, and a boy always in her bed.  HUGE contrast in the two main characters from the two books.  Which is TOTALLY fine- I don’t want to read the same character in every book at all! So Sally did a great job with that really.   But, I just couldn’t connect with Darcy because of these reasons!  The reasons I loved Lucy, I disliked Darcy.  Now it should be noted that I do think this book will find its audience. I think that some people didn’t love sunshine Lucy and they will love rain cloud Darcy.
Okay, moving on.  I didn’t fall in love alongside this couple.  When I finished the book, I wasn’t scrambling for more.  In a romance novel- I should be shipping this couple all day every day.
In THG- Sally (who is Australian) – does a phenomenal job of not using any language specific to Australia- so I actually thought THG took place in America because that is where I’m from!  In 99PM, there were some phrases and words used that didn’t translate easily to “American.”  Which confused me because I was pretty sure that this book was actually supposed to be in America.
There were aspects of the dialogue and certain scenes that actually didn’t make sense to me. A few times, I flipped the page to see if two pages stuck together because I didn’t think the scene made sense.
Darcy loves to flirt with other men, and even in the ending of the book, this is still mentioned.  Why? That was super weird to me.  The main couple is already together, but she still flirts with other men? What?!  I was  not into that at all.
This book was predictable. I’ve had a lot of feedback from people who read THG and thought it was predictable too.  But there were aspects of the plot in THG that were smaller plotlines and were not predictable.  In 99PM – every small plotline was predictable.  Obviously it’s a romance novel, so the overall plot is predictable (which I appreciate).  But I wanted more out of the smaller plots in this book.
Darcy and her brother are twins. They are both so annoying. I don’t know another way to say that. But wow they are annoying.  Like, I heavily disliked them.  Whenever there were scenes where they looked back on their lives with Tom… all I could think was, “Why in the world would Tom want to be around these out of control twins?! Let alone fall in in love with one?!”

while reading you should
Do: learn how to make a cocktail you really want!
Eat: Pizza
Listen to this playlist I created while reading this book:
Your Ex Lover is Dead by Stars
Fall by Justin Bieber
The Best of You and Me by Number one Gun
Show You by CXLOE (Full disclosure, Sally posted the following songs on her insta stories when she was talking about 99 Percent Mine!)
Call it What you Want by Taylor Swift
Backseat by Charli XCX
Baby by Bishop Briggs
Lucky Strike by Troye Sivan
Clumsy Love by Thelma Plum

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

official blurb
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

my blurb!
A fantasy dystopian Ocean’s Eleven crew, with a story that leaves you turning the pages non-stop instead of going to bed.

5 out of 5

*This book is a part of a world created called the Grishaverse.  Technically in the timeline of the Grishaverse, this book (which is part one of a duology) comes AFTER the Grisha Trilogy.  However, this is a stand alone duology and can be read out of order. I did read these books BEFORE picking up the Grisha Trilogy and I don’t regret that decision.*

what i liked
I liked so much about this book.  First of all the characters were SO well written!  The story is told by each of the six crows different perspectives.  Although now that I think of it, I’m not sure if there actually was a chapter from Wylan’s perspective.  As the chapters unfold there are also time jumps that occur.  I mean, the characters aren’t time traveling, but you learn about them in the past and then you come back to the present day heist.
All of the characters were fighting to survive in the world- filled with darkness and thievery and rich merchants and traveling acrobats.  I mean… what a world to live in!  This book was a little dark, just in the realistic world building that Bardugo writes, and the revelations of what the characters had to do to survive with the hands they were dealt.
Seriously, the world building. Wow. so good.  Big shout out to my favorite characters Kaz and Inej.   I was doing a buddy read for this book and we decided to do our own Hollywood casting.  The actors we chose are FAR too old to be playing these teens in the book, but when has that ever stopped Hollywood before?!  In the fictional movie that my friend and I created, Kaz would be played by Taron Egerton and Inej would be played by Alicia Vikander.  You’re welcome for that fictional casting.  (If you’ve read the book, who do you think should be cast in the 6 of Crows roles?)
***since reading this book it was JUST announced that this series will be combined with the Grisha Trilogy books in a new Netflix show!***
This book was a page turner, it had a great plot, amazing characters, and a realistic world created.  What else do you need for a 5 star book?!  So good!
I want to mention again that while this is YA- it is dark- so reader beware. Also, don’t let the whole YA tag dissuade you from reading this book! Read what you love and love what you read!

what i didn't like
Towards the end-ish of the book, Bardugo literally tells you some things about Kaz’s character that I already knew as a reader.  I couldn’t tell if she wanted to make sure the reader understood what she was alluding to in previous chapters, or if she had forgotten she’d already mentioned that whole plot line previously in the book.  I’m not sure.  It wasn’t enough of an annoyance to not make this book Required Reading: Fantasy- because readers who love that genre will love this book – but it needed to be mentioned.

while reading you should
Play: Poker
Watch: Ocean’s Eleven or the Italian Job
Eat: Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes… and waffles. Not together. But hey, you do you.
Listen to: Everybody Knows by Sigrid

if you would like to buy
Click here: Six of Crows

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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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