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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The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting

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official blurb
Lilah isn’t sure what hurt worse: the day Ethan left her to focus on his hockey career, or the day he came back eight years later. He might think they can pick up just where they left off, but she’s no longer that same girl and never wants to be again.  Ethan Kane wants his glory days back. And that includes having Lilah by his side. With her, he was magic. They were magic. All he has to do is make her see that.  Just when Lilah might finally be ready to let him in, though, she finds out their reunion has nothing to do with her and everything to do with his game. But Ethan’s already lost her once, and even if it costs him his career, he’ll do anything to keep from losing her again.

my blurb!
The story of two people who never should have broken up to begin with, trying to make it work years later.

1.5 out of 5
what i liked
I know, with such a low rating, the “liked” section of this review is going to be super small.  I might be willing to try another Helena Hunting book because I did like her writing style.  She wrote the dual perspectives in the book really well.
I also liked the cover of this book because romance novel covers are known to be a little more on the rough side.

what i didn't like
Steam factor of this book was 5 freaking saunas.  I didn’t end up finishing this book and actually didn’t even make it half way through.  It was WAY too steamy for me. I expected this level of steam to only be in a book with a shirtless man on the cover.  (Sidenote- I am ALL for romance novels straying from this whole shirtless man thing.  Do we need to announce to the world that there is going to be sex in the book you’re reading by holding up these covers?!)
Honestly at the point where I stopped reading, the characters were already together and it was so dirty and there was so much of the book left.  I didn’t want to stick around for the inevitable drama or 7,000 more sex scenes so I bailed out.

I knew going into this romance read marathon that it would take me quite a while to find books I liked.  And maybe I just wouldn’t like the genre at all.  But here’s the deal. I do like the genre, but I really don’t like the extreme steam.  I don’t like any descriptions involving bodily fluids.  (I mean… does that even need to be said?)  I need more romcom in my life, and less HBO at night.
I know I usually give suggestions on what you should do while reading books- but my opinion is to never read this book. So no suggestions!  Out with the bad and in with the good!  Remember, life is too short for bad books!

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

official blurb
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position… Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

my blurb!
Pretty Woman reversed. And with a lot more sex scenes.

1.75 out of 5

what i didn't like
This was the kind of romance novel that I was afraid of reading when I started reading romance novels!  It was totally the type that I generalized into the category of romance novels.  Heavily laden with tropes and and uncomplex characters.
This novel was DIRTY. Like x-rated. So much so that I couldn’t finish it. It wasn’t steamy like some others, it was- hide your kids, hide your wives – wow.  (Side Note – I read this book BEFORE I read the Winston Brothers series.  And looking back- for the life of me I cannot remember how this steam compared to the Winston Brothers steam.  I do, however, remember being shocked by the steam in this book- so I am classifying it 5 flames for steam level).

what i liked
The main character is on the Autism Spectrum. I enjoyed reading a book from that perspective. (Though, if I were to recommend a book with a main character along those lines it would undoubtedly be Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine).

while reading you should
Listen to: Without You by Parachute
Watch: Pretty Woman

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Dr Strange Beard (Winston Brothers #5) by Penny Reid

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official blurb
Ten years after Simone Payton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He’d also like to forget her entirely, but that’s never going to happen. Roscoe remembers everything—every look, every word, every single unrequited second—and the last thing he needs is another memory of Simone.  Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be . . . Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She’d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but if she never gets those answers, that’s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She’s more than happy to forget he exists. But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor . . .

my blurb!
A guy who remembers everything proves trying to forget about the love of his life is easier said than done.

3.75 our of 5
I cannot wait for Billy’s book- I’m actually sad to know that his romance hasn’t taken place yet and he’s lived so long in his life without the love of his life (in my guess- Claire!)
I read all of the winston brothers books super fast.  Cletus and Roscoe have been my favorites.  Shout out to Jethro and Duane. Beau bringing up the rear- but still with a book I read in the span of 3 days.  These books are great for romance novel lovers- which I would now consider myself! BUT they didn’t make the required reading list because of the high level of steam.  If you’re up for a steamy read, or up for skimming parts of a fun series- then these ones are for you!

what i liked
I love an interracial couple. It might be because I’m a little biased (hollar to all the other mixed kids out there!) but I love reading about an interracial couple.  You know, I had never read a story with interracial protagonists until I was an adult. And I read a lot of YA… just saying.  (Seriously, I’m saying that it’s a real thing that kids grow up reading books but not seeing themselves or their possibilities in the books they read.)  I should also note that the most diverse protagonists I have ever read have been in romance novels! (This actually really nails why I am so into reading romance novels right now. I love a romcom and I LOVE reading a story involving people of color. I didn’t know I was missing that until …. well until I noticed).
This book also tackled some racism- what it’s like to be an affluent black family living in the south.  Simone had real conversations with her friends about how to support her, and how she wanted to handle situations that directly influenced her.
Can we talk about how all of Penny Reid’s heroine’s are freaking awesome? She always writes smart heroines who aren’t twiddling their thumbs when a smarter man comes and whisks them away.  So far her heroines have been an actress, a business owner, an FBI agent\scientist, and a teacher who brought STEM to her school.  Also, all of them were independently financially stable  (or were by the end of the books) so that’s pretty cool to me.

what i didn't like
My biggest knock on the book is that it was too steamy for me. This was a total 5 out of 5 steam level!  This, I think, was the steamiest of the Winston Brothers books… oh wait, I say that with each review? okay I guess they’re all steamy.
My next knock is that I was kind of confused in the ending- let’s just say there was a lot going on with the towns biker gang and I’m not sure I followed all of it. (This could be partly because, as previously stated in other reviews, I’m not into this plotline so I may be skimming sections involving the biker gang). Now that’s not to say that she won’t write more about it in the next books and it will all resolve itself – but as is, I was confused.  I did actually reread part of the ending to try to clarify some biker gang madness and I still didn’t follow it all.

while reading you should
Watch: Miss Congeniality
Listen: New Light by John Mayer
Eat: donuts from a mom and pop shop.

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Beard in Mind (The Winston Brothers #4) by Penny Reid

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official blurb
Beau Winston is the nicest, most accommodating guy in the world. Usually. Handsome as the devil and twice as charismatic, Beau lives a charmed life as everyone’s favorite Winston Brother. But since his twin decided to leave town, and his other brother hired a stunning human-porcupine hybrid as a replacement mechanic for their auto shop, Beau Winston’s charmed life has gone to hell in a handbasket. Shelly Sullivan is not nice and is never accommodating. Ever. She mumbles to herself, but won’t respond when asked a question. She glares at everyone, especially babies. She won’t shake hands with or touch another person, but has no problems cuddling with a dog. And her damn parrot speaks only in curse words. Beau wants her gone. He wants her out of his auto shop, out of Tennessee, and out of his life. The only problem is, learning why this porcupine wears her coat of spikes opens a Pandora’s box of complexity—exquisite, tempting, heartbreaking complexity—and Beau Winston soon discovers being nice and accommodating might mean losing what matters most.

my blurb!
When the guy voted Most Likely To Charm Your Pants Off finds himself falling for the girl who would’ve never even bothered voting.

2.75 out of 5

what i liked
I liked reading about the Winston Brothers more!  As the books progress you get so many good little snippets of the previous characters and where they are now in their lives.  This is why I would recommend reading them in order- even though you don’t have to. Because you’ll miss out on how exciting it is to experience Cletus, Duane and Jethro in their current state of affairs.
I love how Penny Reid writes complex female characters- she has not let me down with a heroine being complicated yet!

what i didn't like
I’ve read that a bunch of people were super excited to read about Beau. I wasn’t in that camp.  I didn’t find him nearly as likeable as his brothers – especially Cletus- but he’s still a Winston so he has likable in him.
I’m not into plot lines where the character could talk things through with someone, but instead purposefully keeps secrets from them. There was a bit of Duane and Beau drama in this book like that, and I could’ve done without it.  I cannot be the only one who feels like this- but I swear this is actually in the majority of books! The whole- I’m going to deal with this myself even though it directly affects other people.  LAME.
I am hesitant to write much about Shelly- our main girl in this book because, to my VERY limited OCD knowledge- she seemed to also struggle from other issues, and is maybe even on the spectrum- which was never mentioned.  She couldn’t read sarcasm and was very blunt. She SAID she used to lie all of the time, though the reader never experienced that- and maybe this new personality trait of overt bluntness was meant to counteract that?  But it really seemed more like she was on the spectrum, rather than her just being blunt.  Anyways, (in my limited knowledge) it’s a whole separate thing from OCD so that was not in the pro column for me.  Overall I didn’t really like Shelly.
Would you believe me if I told you this book was verrrrry steamy?  Haha.  I know, I’ve said it for the previous books too.  Well, like the rest of the Winston Brothers books- this one was a bit too graphic for me. I find myself skimming over some of the steamier parts.  I know you’re wondering, why read them or finish the series? 1. Because this the 4th of 6 books. 2. Because I wanted to read a romance series and 3. Because I am reading these to experience romance novels and dive into the genre- and I think I certainly am with these ones!

This was my least favorite Winston Brothers novel but I wouldn’t be discouraged from reading it if you read the rest.  And you may also really like Beau more than I did! #teamcletus
Winston Brothers Predictions:
Billy and Claire (where is my Billy and Claire book already?!).  Roscoe and Simone.

while reading you should
Listen to: What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction
Watch: John Tucker Must Die
Learn: How to jump a car (Seriously, you should know how to change your own tire and how to jump a car. I promise it isn’t hard and you’ll feel empowered just by watching a youtube tutorial!)

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Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

official blurb
“We were perfect together. Until we met.”
Misha
I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.
In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.
It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever… And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us. Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.  We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?  Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances? F*ck it. I need to meet her. I just don’t expect to hate what I find.
Ryen
He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch. Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.  He could be gone forever. Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.

my blurb!
Teen pen pals with secrets finally meet.

1 out of 5

what i liked
I liked…. nope. Can’t think of anything

what i didn't like
I was legitimately nervous that there would be a rape scene in this book because Ryen’s semi- love non interest was way too agressive for me.
Also, this MAY be marketed YA. It is for sure for audiences 18+
I actually am pretty sure I did read this book a while ago and quit it because it was… intense and dirty. Now going through a romance novel phase, a friend suggested it. (I appreciate all suggestions as we get closer to finding my niche in the romance novel scene! We now know that this one didn’t do it for me.)  Ps. If you have suggestions for me, send them my way!
It was too crass for me.  Hide your kids, hide your wives language in it.

while reading you should
Listen to: Done For Me by Charlie Puth
Watch: Switched at birth (Random but there is a graffiti storyline in that show and in this book!)

if you would like to buy

Click here.

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