Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich


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? from


I picked this book up on a whim because I thought it looked hilarious. It had an intriguing premise: a large woman decides to change her life dramatically by losing weight. As a woman who has changed her own life over the past year, by losing a significant amount of weight, I was ready to love this book for the topic alone because it was such an unexplored theme. I was greatly disappointed.

I “get” what I think the author was attempting to do with this book: educate people about obesity, confront stereotypes and provide a larger heroine, thereby proving “overweight women” can have fun and have a HEA (even if they still have 20-50 pounds left to lose).  The writing, however, was not very good and in my opinion did not convey the message as well as it could have been done by a more experienced writer. I thought the hero, Logan, was a shallow man-whore, self-centered, overly-focused on feminine weight, commenting about his best friend’s love of women with excess flesh with the implication he doubted his ability to “deal” with extra weight in a partner. The sex was mediocre and the side story involving previously mentioned best friend and his partner’s sex practices was really extraneous.

My biggest problem with the book is how it was so “preachy” about obesity and health. I’m not complaining about pointing out some facts about obesity and how some people will never be thin, due to bone size or body type. Certainly a large portion of people need to lose weight and this book does indeed point out safe ways to do just that: proper nutrition, portion control and exercise are the best way to do that. There is no magic pill that will take away years of bad habits and psychological problems related to food overnight or even in a month. My problem with the book comes more from the way the author presents the  issue. She probably meant to portray realistically confronting society’s notion of thinness and health, but it seemed like she got caught up in a few of her subplots instead of having the hero confront his prejudices earlier in the book. As it stands, he just magically comes to his senses (well, OK, with a little help from…a certain event—no spoilers!) at the end of the book. It just didn’t ring true to me. I had already invested so much time and frustration in grumbling to myself about what a scumbag in an Adonis suit he was that I just didn’t buy his transformation.

There were, however, some really good parts. I loved the part when Holly worked at a gym and encouraged an extremely large woman who had come into the gym to begin the road to losing weight. That alone was worth the price of the book (but it wasn’t enough to give it an overall good rating). I loved when Holly stood up for herself on a few occasions that really warranted it. I wanted to yell at the book “You go, Girl!”  

Recommendation: While the book has a few good points, I cannot in good conscience recommend it to most people. I think the target market is overweight women and it does have some scenes that will appeal to them, but as I mentioned earlier, there is an emphasis on change, not acceptance of who one is. While change is necessary in changing life situations where one is obese, I would wager people reading this book don’t want to read a fiction book about the need to change their life (they KNOW it already!). This review is written by a formerly fat person, so I know the importance of change, patience and perseverance, but I also know I despise being told what to do in my personal life by a book I pick up to read for laughs. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie deals with a not-tiny heroine and the Adonis who falls for her in a much better way.

Sensuality: some sex, not amazingly written and spanking.

Rating: 2 stars

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Personal Update

Hi all, it’s been a while since I posted any kind of personal update, which makes it a good time to do that now!

The past few years have been pretty insane. I lost my dad, grandma and my mom in the space of a year. I turned 40, finished grad school and lost about 90 pounds, celebrated my 10-year anniversary with my husband  and had my gallbladder removed. I have 2 seniors in high school and a junior; they all drive now and have jobs, which means between school, their work and mine and their social lives, I don’t see them as much as I would like to. Time certainly does fly by! Oh yeah! I also got a job in the public library where I did my internship and began serving on state library association committees. Life is good and all kinds of fun right now. While I still read a lot, it is not nearly as much as I WANT to read and my to-read list grows longer and longer, in addition to the ones I want to re-read and savor all over again. I’ve had to limit myself to re-reading favorite passages instead of full books, sadly.

Back to the weight loss. My husband and I each lost 80 pounds in about 7 months by completely changing our lives. We take Plexus Slim pink drink, the accelerator, pro-bio 5 and bio cleanse. Those help regulate our blood sugar, reduce sugar cravings and help with portion control. We also walk regularly together as well as completely changed our diet (read good nutrition, not fad diet) by greatly reducing sugar consumption, adding lots of fruits and veggies, choosing lean meats and also limiting excess carbs (greatly reducing breads, pastas) and choosing healthier options like whole grains when we do choose to eat those. We don’t follow a strict paleo diet, but we do make careful food choices and try to have a balanced and varied diet. It seems to be working well for us with  maintaining the weight loss. If you are interested in Plexus at all, please feel free to go to that site and try the product. You order directly from the company and it arrives in about 3 days. is where you can order it. OK, no more commercials except to say we feel fantastic and our lives are completely different today compared to a year and a half ago.

My job is actually as a children’s librarian, but I am hopeful to be moving more into adult literature eventually. That’s part of the reason I haven’t been posting here quite as much, because I’ve been on the lookout for quality children’s literature to add to the library. I’ve found a good amount of really good children’s books, but obviously that’s the wrong type of book to review here. I do think though that I will occasionally review some cookbooks. I LOVES me some good cookbooks. I especially enjoy ones that tell a story or have entertaining chapter intros. I’ll make a post about 2 I recently purchased, as well as some fun cookbooks I pull out and reference fairly often. I will also be posting reviews to some YA books I find intriguing. There are just so many good books out there right now! I plan on including more of a variety of books in my blog from now on, but still focus on adult and YA. I’ll probably look into reading more of the new adult books that are being published now. I might on occasion review some children’s books that are particularly entertaining as well, though I expect that will be fairly rare.

So, a big thanks for sticking with me through thick and thin. I love doing this blog, even though I don’t get to update it nearly as much as I want to!

Book Review: Fifth Grave Past the Light

Book Description

Release date: July 9, 2013 | Series: Charley Davidson (Book 5)

Never underestimate the power of a woman

on a double espresso with a mocha latte chaser high.


Charley Davidson isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill grim reaper.  She’s more of a paranormal private eye/grim reaper extraordinaire.  However, she gets sidetracked when the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, moves in next door. To further complicate matters, Reyes is her main suspect in an arson case.  Charley has vowed to stay away from him until she can find out the truth…but then dead women start appearing in her apartment, one after another, each lost, confused, and terrified beyond reason.  When it becomes apparent that her own sister, Gemma, is the serial killer’s next target Charley has no choice but to ask for Reyes’ help.  Arsonist or not, he’s the one man alive who could protect Gemma no matter who or what came at her. But he wants something in return. Charley. All of her, body and soul. And to keep her sister safe, it is a price she is willing to pay.

Charley Davidson is at it again in Fifth Grave Past the Light, the sexy, suspenseful, and laugh-out-loud funny fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling series by Darynda Jones.


It’s been a while since I enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed this one. Ms. Jones  masterfully blended humor, mystery, terror and sensuality. It was a bit light on the mystery, but the book furthered the storyline of the series a reasonable amount. I’m really looking forward to the next one, especially due to the bomb dropped at the very end of the book. It was not quite a cliffhanger, but pretty close to it.

Ms. Jones continues to build a rich world in this installment. Her Reaper who can speak all languages ever known to humanity and the supernatural element continue to fascinate me. While I enjoy a good vampire or werewolf story a much as the  next person, it’s refreshing to read an urban fantasy that focuses on neither of those.

It’s pretty difficult to write a review for the 5th book in a series because I don’t want to give away anything from previous books either. If you haven’t read  the first 4 books in the series, much of the story will be lost on you, so go pick up  if you like humorous urban fantasy books with some sensuality, a unique world which is a quick, fun read. If you like that one, read the rest in the series before you enjoy this one.

I can’t emphasize enough how much I enjoyed reading this book. It’s fast becoming one of my favorite series, along with the Cassie Palmer Series, the Grave Witch Series and the Hollows (Rachel Morgan) Series.

Sensuality: some sex, descriptive, but not overly-explicit.

Rating: 5 stars

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Review: Tempest Reborn

Book Description

Release date: May 28, 2013 | Series: Jane True (Book 6)

Anyan may be trapped in an evil dragon and Blondie may be gone, but Jane knows one thing: she's not about to give up. She's ready to tear down heaven and earth to save her lover, despite those who believe he's lost.
Luckily for Jane, those who've given up on Anyan do not include those closest to her. Defying The Powers That Be, Jane and Company form their own crack squad of misfits, in whose hands the fate of the world may well rest.
With a little help from her friends, the Universe, and lots of snacks, Jane embarks on her greatest adventure yet, confident that with great sacrifice comes great reward. The question is, who will be that sacrifice?
The fantastic conclusion to Nicole Peeler's urban fantasy series featuring Jane True. (From



I wanted to love this book, I really did. I’ve been a fan of Jane True and company since Ms. Peeler published the very first Jane True several years ago. Jane is a spunky character who fiercely loves her friends, family and  hometown (and the ocean).

Warning: slight spoilers for earlier books included in this review. If you haven’t read previous books, stop here, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, unless you don’t care about spoilers. Me? I read the end of books first because I have to know, but I digress.

I realize many of my problems with the book are personal preference. When did Jane become British? She began using “whilst” in her inner monologues this time around and it nearly drove me insane, like it always does when American authors use that. To me, it’s like they are trying to sound fancy and more scholarly—Ms. Peeler is smart, she doesn’t need to “try” to sound smart or European. It also irritates me when American authors use “as” in place of because. It comes off as a misguided attempt to to sound literary.

Word choice quibbles aside, Jane read completely different this time around.  Her personality was more abrasive to me; she also seemed more frail emotionally, (understandable) because her lover was not there and she had a lot of inner turmoil relative to the methods she might need to use to save him. I did love the emphasis on friends working together to save the world and how they all had each others’ backs during fights. I didn’t really buy her as the champion. Yes, she had the power that was gifted to her and she listened to her friends who had more war experience (planning and execution of those plans) than she did, but it still didn’t “feel” right to me as a reader.

Anyan and Jane /sigh. I’ve been cheering for them to get together since the first book (never did like Ryu as a leading man), but I didn’t like them together as much as I wanted to. I loved the build up, but the keeping them apart felt artificial. Also, in the past few books, Jane calling him “Puppy” just didn’t sit well with me. Seemed too weird. I know he’s a barghest (big black dog) shapeshifter, but I still didn’t like that term of endearment.

All complaints aside, overall the book was well-written and was a (mostly) satisfactory conclusion to the series. I definitely would not recommend picking this series up with the final book, because of back story involved but it’s a must-read if you’ve read up to this point (Book 6 in the series). It’s an easy, light read, I just couldn’t get into it as much as the other books, which I tore through from the moment I downloaded them to my kindle.

Recommendation: If you have started the series, you should read it to complete it. You’ll probably enjoy it, I just had personal issues with the book that detracted from my enjoyment.

Sensuality: some descriptive sex scenes, not for younger teens.

Rating: 3 stars (that’s a bit generous  because it took me about a month to finish it when I normally devour a book in an evening)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: Dead Ever After

Book Description: (from Amazon)

There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie—and could destroy her heart....

Sookie Stackhouse  finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.
Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.

But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…

Book Review:

It’s time to say goodbye to another series. I finished this several days ago and have been letting it sit and find the longer it sits, the more satisfying the ending.

Sookie’s been through the wringer in the last few books, both physically and emotionally. People have developed very definite ideas about which character Sookie should end up with romantically. The bottom line is, not everyone will be satisfied with the ending; it will leave a sour taste in some people’s mouths. My purpose here is not to give spoilers or to join in any argument about the ending to Ms. Harris’ series, as it is hers to write and end as she chooses. Other quibbles I’ve read that people have with the book is parts have a different PoV (3rd person omniscient in addition to the normal 1st person—Sookie). I’m used to series jumping around PoV to PoV, so this didn’t bother me.

The murder was to a character I didn’t mourn at all though the family did garner a bit of sympathy. I THOUGHT I had figured out who was to blame, but I was only partly correct (have to add that I love it when I’m surprised at least a little bit!). Most of the loose ends were tied up in a satisfactory manner, but I still look forward to this fall, when the book that wraps everything up with everyone in Bon Temps is released.

I feel like I can’t say much more without giving anything away. If you’ve read the series, read this book. It’s a really good conclusion to the series, highly recommend.  The best line in the book, bar none was: “Life should imitate romance literature far more often.” The last 2 paragraphs remind me of why I love this series. Sookie is a strong, independent woman who doesn’t lose her head in a crisis. Thank you for introducing us to Sookie, Ms. Harris.

Sensuality: some sex, would let older teens read.

Rating: 5 stars

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review: A Memory of Light

Book Description: (From amazon)

Since 1990, when Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® burst on the world with its first book, The Eye of the World, readers have been anticipating the final scenes of this extraordinary saga, which has sold over forty million copies in over thirty languages.

When Robert Jordan died in 2007, all feared that these concluding scenes would never be written. But working from notes and partials left by Jordan, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson stepped in to complete the masterwork. With The Gathering Storm (Book 12) and Towers of Midnight (Book 13) behind him, both of which were # 1 New York Times hardcover bestsellers, Sanderson now re-creates the vision that Robert Jordan left behind.

Edited by Jordan’s widow, who edited all of Jordan’s books, A Memory of Light will delight, enthrall, and deeply satisfy all of Jordan’s legions of readers.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass.
What was, what will be, and what is,
may yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Book Review:

As I wipe a few tears from my eyes, I wonder how in the world do I review the final book in a series that took over 4 million words and nearly 12,000 pages to complete the tale (wikipedia). In this saga of good vs. evil, you expect some characters you’ve grown to love while following this series for years will play their part in the Pattern and die. I tried to not think about that as I read A Memory of Light and just allowed the story to unfold as Jordan intended it to be told, albeit through another writer, Sanderson.

This was a (mostly) satisfying conclusion to the series in that it tied up loose threads from the myriad of storylines. I wanted more though, that’s where the mostly comes in! I suppose though, that one of the first rules of Being a Master Story Teller ™ is to leave your audience wanting just a little bit more and in that, Jordan greatly succeeded. He created a world where we really began to care about the characters, to think about them while away from the created world. If you’ve never read a Wheel of Time book, this is NOT the place to begin. Do not pass Go, Do not collect $200. Start with The Eye of The World, originally published in 1990, and read the series in order, all 4 million+ words. It’s a rich tapestry, intricately woven to pull you in. The characters are fantastic, and watching them develop throughout the series is truly a treat. Even if you don’t want to actually read the series but are kind of interested, you might consider listening to the audiobooks. The voice actors truly deliver amazing performances (a man and woman read respective parts).

It took me quite a while to read this final installment for a few reasons: finishing grad school, wanting to savor the last book and some parts just kind of drag in the middle. I know the author is setting the stage, but I really didn’t need to read for the hundredth time about the forces of good being overrun by Trollocs. I get it. The Shadow has nearly inexhaustible forces to block in our heroes so someone can come in and save the day.

Rand’s fight with the Dark One was very different from what I expected, though I’m not sure how else it could have gone with a spirit entity.

Criticisms aside, this really was a fantastic conclusion to the series. It was full of hair-raising moments, chilling moments, awwww moments, gasp-out-loud moments, dread-inducing moments, stomach-dropping moments, eyes-bug out-of your-head moments, LOL moments and teary moments. It’s quite a wild ride and you won’t regret sticking with the series to its completion.

Since I don’t want to give spoilers, there’s really not much more I can say except for if you like epic fantasy series and choose to make the time to read long ones, you will be the richer for having read this one. There’s quite a lot of plot a child will not be able to grasp (we’ll leave out the sheer size of the series for that consideration), but older teens and adults who enjoy fantasy will likely relish diving into this series. Highly recommend.

Sensuality: It’s the end of the world, people, there’s nothing in this one that I remember.

Rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It’s almost done!

Hi folks! I know, I know, it’s been a while, but not for lack of reading! I’m wrapping up grad school in the next week and beginning life as a librarian.

For those of you who don’t know, the past few years have been an amazing journey personally, intellectually as well as professionally. I feel like a completely different person, though I know I’m fundamentally the same. Transformed with purpose, I guess you could say. I’ve lost my mom, my dad and my favorite grandma, lost 80 pounds and in a week will have a Master’s degree and a new profession, 2 kiddos will be seniors next year and the other a junior. My husband and I joke about being on a 2 year plan now, but it’s really true. In all likelihood, in 2 years, we’ll have one in college, one in a technical school and one on the way to the military. Life surely does look different now than it did 2 years ago.


What have I been reading?

I’ve been savoring the final book in the Wheel of Time series, Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. So far, 5 stars and I can’t anticipate changing that. If you want to read a truly epic tale, this is one for your must-read list. I should preface this by saying make sure you have a bit of time though because the series has almost 12,000 pages. The audio books are fantastic if you would rather listen, most of them are between 30 and 40 hours with a grand total of 461 hours.

I read the second Vlad book in the Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost: Twice Tempted. I’ve always loved Vlad and it was fun to meet his love, but I’m really looking forward to reading another Cat and Bones book, which should be out soon. 5 stars. Ms. Frost knocked this one out of the park.

Black City by Christina Henry was another fantastic read. 5 stars.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. 5 stars.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin . 5 stars.

The Color of Earth by Dong Hwa Kim. 5 stars.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. 5 stars.

Touch of the Demon by Diana Rowland. 5 stars.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. 4 stars.

I’ve read others too, some for my Young Adult Literature class, but these were the ones I really enjoyed and think people who read similar books will enjoy as well. I’ve probably read more that I can’t remember right at this moment, but I can always tell you about them later! Happy reading!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Recent Books Read

Waking Up Married by Mira Lyn Kelly:

It’ a pretty hokey start: hot, rich bachelor determines a girl he meets in Vegas is his ideal mate, computer programmer girl approaches said bachelor and asks him to play along. See, she approached him to get her fellow bridesmaids off  her back. Boy convinces girl to marry him because “his plan is better” (she wants to have a baby and is planning artificial insemination. Both are anti-romance but hero still does some wooing as they get to know each other. Blah blah blah, predictable, mediocre writing. I don’t read romances for the “surprise” of oh-my-goodness-are-they-really-going-to-get-together? I do, however expect something fresh, really good dialogue, likeable characters. The author didn’t deliver; I didn’t really care about either character and honestly got frustrated with the two of them.

Rating: 2.5 stars


Black Lament by Christina Henry

This picks up right after the events of the last book (Warning! Spoilers for previous books in this review). Granddaddy Lucifer comforts a grieving Maddy at the beginning of the book and gives readers a shock. Since the author loves to put Maddy through the wringer, not much time passes until she’s presented with several impossible obstacles. Nathaniel is an active part of this book, along with her normal crew of Beezle, Samiel and J.B.

Azazel is just as vile as before, but thankfully, we do not encounter him very much. Throw in some more Faerie shenanigans and Agency politics and you have an action-packed book. Maddy begins down a dark path in this book and I’m not certain she will be returning to her previous way of life. That said, I’m a bit intrigued with where the author is headed with the series as some really big events occur at the end. Big. Huge. Still can’t tell which guy she will choose, but it appears it will be Nathaniel or JB (I totally called that in Book 1!  Gabriel was just very boring.).

If you like supernatural-themed books with a lot of action and smart-alleck sidekicks, you should try this series. Start at the beginning with Black Wings as you will have a difficult time with the amount of backstory involved if you just pick this one up.

Rating: 4 stars


Other recent books I’ve read:

Command Indecision (Lexi Graves Mysteries) by Camilla Chafer

Rating 4 stars


Head Rush (The Disillusionists Trilogy) by Carolyn Crane

Rating: 3 stars


Mr. Real: Code of Shadows Book 1 by Carolyn Crane

Rating 3 stars

Wild About You (Love at Stake) by Kerrelyn Sparks

Rating: 4 stars