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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Romance book talk, reviews, recipes, and dog pictures

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"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer

Conversations With The Fat Girl - Liza Palmer

 

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

My life is about never putting myself into that situation. I never call attention to myself. That is the code I live by.

 

At twenty-seven Maggie is still working at Joe's coffee shop, it was just supposed to be while she applied for jobs after college, a week away from being evicted from the house she rents, and starting to feel cracks in the friendship with her bestfriend Olivia. Her mother and sister are trying to gently push her towards a dream internship and to stand up for herself with Olivia, while all Maggie wants to do is be there for her bestfriend as Olivia lives out their highschool dream wedding and quietly lust after Domenic, the bus boy at Joe's.

Conversations with the Fat Girl is a contemporary fiction snippet of life look at how we slowly let societal expectations dictate who we become and how we think about ourselves and the strength and courage it takes to live caring and true to yourself.

 

Should it worry me that even in my fantasy, the man is getting married for love but I just don't want to be alone anymore?

 

Told in first person pov from Maggie, the casual, funny, hurts because it's true tone and style drew me in and wrapped me up in Maggie's world. Maggie's always been on the heavier side but the last couple years she's put on more weight and has been slipping into a more lonely life. With Maggie's mom and sister physically looking so different from her, it could have been a ground zero for her pain but the author created a solid family bond that while on the edges can bother Maggie, her relationship with the two ultimately give her love and support. I thought Maggie hurting because she felt lonely but thinking of her family and realizing she may be lonely but she wasn't alone was one of the best moments in the book.

 

The friendship with Olivia was for the most part at the center of the story, they bonded throughout school with being the outcasts because of their appearance but had a friendship that felt real and it was heartbreaking as the reader sees it breaking apart, before Maggie can even admit it to herself. I thought it was an honest look at how relationships grow and how Maggie feared letting go of a constant in her life. The other secondary characters that included Maggie's co-workers and Olivia's friends were at times rounded out enough to fill out Maggie's world and at others frustratingly left vague (her landlord, Cole the manager at Joe's) or caricature vapid (Olivia's friends).

 

Dominic is resting his arms on the top of the doorjamb into the bedroom. I know his mouth is moving, but I can't quite make out the words over the roaring fantasies of him standing like that.

 

I would call this more of a women's fiction than romance but we do have some back and forth and tension with one of Maggie's co-workers, Domenic. We don't get a pov from Domenic, which made some of his actions extremely frustrating as readers are left in the dark along with Maggie about his thoughts and feelings. The author adds in some clues through his body language but for the most part, he was a tough character to crack. When they are together Maggie and Domenic had cute chemistry but just don't expect a strong romance or clear happily ever after as this is solidly Maggie's story.

 

I finally see myself in the harsh light of that training room. I've convinced myself that I'm unlovable, untouchable, and invisible. But is the reality that there is someone out there for me who will know exactly what it takes to comfort me? That all I need to do is allow it?

 

This will make you laugh and hurt as Maggie's sense of humor about herself and life is appreciating and depreciating. The first half is more of learning how and why Maggie is in a rut and all the ways she's scared to get out of it and the second half has her waking up to the fact that she is not only hiding from the pain of life but also the joys. Maggie's not a flawless character, she makes fun of a woman's appearance and admits she plays the victim role at times, but Maggie and her story are about evolving and growing out of these attitudes and actions. I enjoyed the friendships she had, hurt for her, cheered her on, and hope Olivia eventually gets the courage Maggie develops. Conversations with the Fat Girl was a draw you in story and I hope everyone leaves it with a little more confidence and a little less apology attitude in their own lives.

 

What's worse than sitting here now---alone and tormented by my own safe and comfortable life?

 

50%

Conversations With The Fat Girl - Liza Palmer

I remember Kate telling me a story about when she enrolled Emily in ballet class at the Pasadena Athletic Club. Kate was told to bring Emily to class in full ballet togs so she could hop around for an hour with a former ballerina named Miss Janie. Upon their arrival, Kate was horrified to see that all the other little girls were wearing little black leotards and pink tights. Emily, on the other hand, was in pink from head to toe, including her tutu and sparkling wand. Kate turned to Emily thinking her daughter would be humiliated.

Sweetie, are you okay?” Kate asked gently.

Yes, Mommy, I'm fine,” she said. “I hope all the other girls are okay with what they're wearing.” And into class she walked, sparkling wand in the air, to greet Miss Janie.

I want to be like that. I want to be seven years old again. I want to go back to the day my confidence left me and was replaced by an apology.

 

 

 

Reading Update: Page 1

Conversations With The Fat Girl - Liza Palmer

Weekend reading and eating! Have heard such great things about this book, can’t wait to crack the cover :)

 

Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer purchase link

 

Salmon & Avocado sheet pan Fajitas recipe

Favorite of mine to make, easy and delicious. Highly recommend for salmon lovers

 

 

The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen

The Immortal City (The Magicians of Venice Book 1) - Amy Kuivalainen

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

The discovery of a piece of tablet that Dr. Penelope Bryne found on the ocean floor has her claiming it is from the lost civilization of Atlantis. Trying to get funding, she gives a lecture on her findings but is made to look a fool when an audience member directs the conversation towards magic. When an Inspector in Italy emails about a gruesome murder in Venice, she flies on the first plane out of Australia when the writing and symbols decorating the murder scene match the writing on her tablet.

Alexis is known as The Defender and for thousands of years, he has tried to keep any knowledge about Atlantis from the public. As one of the surviving magicians from Atlantis, he feel it is his sacred duty. When Dr. Bryne's discovery gains attention, he immediately tries to destroy any credibility she may have but he can't ignore the feelings he has for her.

Ritual murders and long thought enemies destroyed will have Penelope and Alexis working together and also fighting the magic happening between them.

 

The Doctor and the magician eyed each other, neither moving.

 

The first in The Immortal City series, we are first introduced to Penelope who is fighting to prove Atlantis existed and trying to help an Inspector Marco with a series of ritualistic murders. The set-up to get Penelope to Venice and involved in the murders was a little loose and her involvement lessens to a degree that made it feel a bit weak. I did enjoy the secondary character of Marco and how he helped fill out the story but at times he felt more colored in than Alexis, who should be the co-star, with Penelope, of the story.

 

We learn the basics of who Alexis is, an immortal magician from Atlantis, but a solid backstory is left to around the sixty percent, where we learn a little bit about his life in Atlantis and how he was picked to become a magician. The other six magicians, with Nereus being their leader, were rounded out well and they did intrigue enough to gain some interest in their future books.

 

A man appears in my meditation, turns out to be a real-life magician from Atlantis who wants my help hunting down priests of a demonic cult,”

 

The gist of the plot is Penelope trying to help Marco translate the writing at what appears to be ritualistic murder scenes (the author gets pretty gruesome in describing these scenes) with Alexis coming in as he's been keeping tabs on Penelope and trying to figure out how the murderer could possibly know about Atlantis dark magic. There's the mystery of could it be dark priests or demons of a cult, called Thevetat that the magicians clashed with and brought down the demise of Atlantis but thought to have died there or if the killings are just supposed to scare people in a political power move. The inclusion of how Venice should be structured because of rising water levels with DIGOS and MOSE was more confusing than adding another level to the story, I thought this whole part should have been left out in favor of just going with the magicians versus Thevetat and more of a backstory to them in Atlantis.

 

We do this together, Penelope Bryne, or not at all.”

 

Penelope's character came through strong but for most of the story, I didn't have a strong feel for Alexis and this caused some lack of emotional connection between the two for me. They are said to have a destiny knot and that seemed to be more of an explanation for attraction between the two than I wanted; would have liked to have felt their growing attraction to each other more through scenes.

 

Some of the middle, forty to sixy percent, dragged for me as we didn't have much momentum in the murder mystery and rehashed a lot but then we get more of Alexis' backstory and the magical, fantasy elements were included more and it did become interesting fiction reading. Alexis and Penelope's romance felt underdeveloped to me and there seemed to be an overall polish to the story that was missing but the author has set-up a curious world with magicians, demons, and Atlantis.

40%

The Immortal City (The Magicians of Venice Book 1) - Amy Kuivalainen

“Immortal magicians from Atlantis. Atlantis. That is…” Her breath hitched as her lungs tightened. “Impossible.”

Reading Update: Page 1

The Immortal City (The Magicians of Venice Book 1) - Amy Kuivalainen

Venice, magicians, and a quest for Atlantis.

This looks to be a mystery and fantasy, can’t wait to start!

 

The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen preorder (Sept. 19) link

 

BBQ Chipotle Chicken with Mango Guacamole recipe

 

This is one of my favorite sandwiches to make. This all takes a little bit of time and effort but don’t skip out on making any of it, everything and all the flavors combine incredibly. Messy sandwich but oh so good!

 

 

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1) - Alisha Rai

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Rhiannon has been burned badly in the world of tech business, she decides her best revenge is to succeed. With the help of a friend, she starts her own dating app company, Crush, and wants to buy Matchmaker, one of the original online dating companies.

 

Samson ended his professional football career early in protest over how head injuries were being taken care of, after seeing how his father and uncle suffered from CTE, he has no compromise for it. Now that his uncle has died, he begins working for his aunt's company Matchmaker in a P.R. campaign.

 

Rhiannon and Samson end up having one amazing night and then a next day that, accidentally, ends in ghosting and then are brought back together through chance and some meddling. Rhiannon has trust issues and Samson has patience, in the world of modern dating these two might just find themselves in an old fashioned love story.

 

She’d been decimated before, and by someone whom she’d thought was on her side. Samson was technically a competitor, and she needed to be careful.

 

If you've read Rai's Forbidden Hearts series, you'll recognize Rhiannon as Gabe's (Hurts to Love You) sister. We know her as a tough cookie who doesn't like to dress up and has a strained relationship with her mother. Rhiannon clearly has trust issues and as you learn the backstory of how her boss, who became her boyfriend, began to become controlling, and eventually forced her out of a company she helped to build and spread nasty rumors about her, you'll understand why she's developed a harden layer. I thought Rai did a good job of giving us glimpses into her cracks, her relationship with Katrina (silent partner in Crush and friend) showed her caring and human connectivity side and the way she continuously “hugged” herself with hoodies or long sleeves. The sheer fact of how hard Rhiannon fought to be unreachable showcased her vulnerability.

 

Samson came from a football dynasty that was publicly celebrated but he lived the personal downside of what professional sports can deliver back. The way his father's personality changed and how his uncle declined through ALS and Alzheimer was sad and anger inducing, Rai did a good job of addressing how players had to fight against an employer who didn't want to admit there was a problem and accountability and a culture of “tough it out”. I did think we missed some emotional connections without getting scenes of Samson with his uncle. Samson has friends that pop in and out but there were times where he felt like he existed more in a vacuum.

 

Now what? What did one do when someone behaved badly and gave you a reasonable explanation for what motivated their bad behavior and apologized?

 

I thought the set-up of Samson accidentally ghosting Rhiannon and the surprise competitor angle worked well but even though their decision to do a P.R. campaign together gave us some cute and steamy scenes, I'm not sure I really ever bought into the why and then it is kind of left to dangle off in the end. There were some heavy topics discussed and addressed in this story, CTE, work place sexual harassment, abuse, and toxic masculinity, while I felt Rai did a good job creating a story and characters with these topics, the romance seemed to be left out in the cold.

 

He missed Rhiannon. Like she was home.

 

As a story, I give this 3.5 stars but if I were to rate it solely on the romance, it'd be 2 stars. Rhiannon and Samson have their P.R. campaign dates and then some text messaging but I didn't quite feel they had enough time together, giving me the highs of seeing and feeling them fall in love. Samson was also written to be a very patient and understanding man, which made two later half instances where Rhiannon leans into her trust issues very frustrating. I understood why Rhiannon had trust issues but by that time in the story, Samson's character warranted more trust.

 

Distrust issues stretched out too long for me and for the most part, this felt more like Rhiannon and Samson's story separately, instead of theirs together. Rai is fantastic at writing family and friendship and all the support and angst that can come from those relationships. There were some steamy sexual moments but, maybe due to feeling a weaker emotional romance connection between the leads, I thought they lacked the heat of her usual flair. I always enjoy Rai's writing and will definitely be reading the next in the series that stars Rhiannon's friend Katrina, and hoping for more of a romance feel.

50%

The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1) - Alisha Rai

What an interesting, demanding, adorable puzzle of a woman.

Reading Update: Page 1

The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1) - Alisha Rai

I'm so excited that this is my returning to reading and reviewing after a month off book :)

 

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai purchase link (Aug 6)

 

Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken w/ Strawberry Salsa recipe link

 

I used 2 jalapeños and the strawberry really holds/pulls in the jalapeño, ended up making this very spicy. Overall, light and nice summer meal that was easy to make.

 

A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian

A Little Light Mischief: A Turner Novella - Cat Sebastian

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Alice was disowned by her family for something that wasn't her fault but her new situation has her with idle hands for the first time in her life and eyes that can't help but follow the maid.

Molly was used to doing whatever it took to survive, thievery and cheating, but she finally has a stable working situation and is determined to not lose it. The new companion in the house, however, has her wanting to live life in a different reckless way.

 

Alice was overwhelmed by this sudden sense of common feeling with a woman whose life had been so different from her own, but who had wound up in roughly the same place.

 

A Little Light Mischief, is a novella in the Turner series, but as a newcomer, I didn't have any problem starting here. There were some names and relationships that had me feeling a little lost in the beginning but the author keeps the focus on Molly and Alice and their character and relationship development.

 

As a novella, around a 100pgs, there usually isn't much time to get the characters where they need to be but Sebastian creates a believable (and easy to relish in) arc of Molly giving validation to Alice's feelings and anger of being wronged, sharing in them from her own life experiences, and providing a way for Alice to get some vindication, even with danger to herself.

 

But now Molly knew she might actually like Miss Stapleton, and she rather wished she didn’t.

 

Molly and Alice were strong characters but, probably due to the page count restrictions, secondary characters fell a bit short, like the woman employing Molly and taken in Alice as her companion; readers of the series might have more character information and foundation here. I would have also liked to have more with Molly and her daughter, their relationship and the way Sebastian brought Alice into their fold (Alice writes stories that Molly's daughter ends up liking) was sweet but I still felt I was missing more emotional support to Molly's character and the story.

 

Suddenly she was very aware of the fact that if she moved her own hand a bit to the side, her own little finger would touch Molly’s.

 

Even with Molly as the maid in the household Alice currently lived in, I didn't feel a problem with any power imbalances between the two. Alice's situation was just as precarious as Molly's, Alice was disowned by her family, was lucky to have someone take her in as a companion, and didn't have enough money to survive on her own. Their class stations are obvious but the way Sebastian wrote the characters, emotions, and actions, I didn't feel anyone was taking advantage of the other. What I felt was two people from different walks of life, having a fabric of shared experiences, attracted to each other, and coming together.

 

A Little Light Mischief had some longing looks, sweetness, frustration, thievery, steam, empowerment, and love. Readers of the Turner series will not want to miss this one and newcomers will certainly enjoy Molly and Alice taking what's theirs.

 

Today would be the first time she had taken for herself.

Pre-Party Halloween Bingo

 

These are my top 3 rated reads from past Halloween Bingos :)

 

2018

 

Terrifying Women -  The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

 

Classic Horror - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

 

Free Space -  Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

 

 

2017

 

Terrifying Women - The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole

 

Cozy Mystery - The Witch and the Dead by Heather Blake

 

'80s Horror - Watchers by Dean Koontz

 

 

2016

 

Read by candlelight or flashlight:  Deadly Silence by Rebecca Zanetti

 

Classic Horror:  The Monk by Matthew Lewis

 

Set on Halloween:  A Halloween Hook-up by Jennie Marts

Reading Update: Page 1

A Little Light Mischief: A Turner Novella - Cat Sebastian

What’s better than one purplish dress on a romance cover? Why TWO purplish dresses, of course!

Happy Sunday reading and eating, everyone.

 

A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian preorder (Aug 6) link

 

The Devil's Shrimp recipe

Sadly, this recipe did not live up to its name for me, I wouldn’t even call it hot. If I made it again, I’d add the whole can of adobe chilies. This tasted more tomato-y than anything. Admittedly, my tolerance leans more towards spicy but I still see most being disappointed in the heat level this turned out to have. 

 

The Rogue to Ruin by Vivienne Lorret

The Rogue to Ruin (Misadventures in Matchmaking Book 3) - Vivienne Lorret

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Third in the Misadventures of Matchmaking, The Rogue to Ruin, stars the eldest sister Ainsley and her pesky across the street neighbor Reed. I was a new reader to the series and had no problem jumping in here. The author seamlessly involves the reader into the story of Ainsley trying to keep her matchmaking business afloat after her two sisters (heroines of book #1 & #2) ended up marrying two clients. Ainsley blames their lack of business on Reed and his gaming hell across the street. Reed also isn't a fan of having a matchmaking business across the street but his enjoyment of sparking Ainsley's fire more than makes up for it.

Reed's business is flourishing, Ainsley's is sinking, and they both seem to be enjoying their war a little too much.

 

Reed Sterling had seen her flinch. What were the chances that he would simply forget about it?

 

New to the series had me missing out on some past relationship knowledge, I would have liked more with her sisters and a clearer picture about her father, but I also came to Ainsley's character without preconceived notions. She's very buttoned up and seems to have some unwarranted animosity towards Reed, her solely blaming his business for her lack of clients seems a bit forced as the story goes on, but the author let's us in on why Ainsley holds herself so protectively pretty early on. She lost her mother at an early age and circumstances had her having to take care of everything with too much responsibility falling to her shoulders and she had an abusive fiance. I thought her guarded heart attitude was understandable and it made how Reed treated her even more heartwarming.

 

From the day they’d met, he’d wanted to unwrap her. Not only her prim and proper clothes, layer by layer, but all the thoughts she kept buttoned up as well.

 

Reed's background was more clear but like with Ainsley and her sisters, I would have liked more scenes with his friends Finch, Raven, or others to get a more rounded out look at his character. Ultimately, though, we're all here for the romance and the way he teased and gently handled Ainsley, will have you ardently in his corner. Romance more often than not likes to have the hardened hero be gently loved out of their cocoon, here it is flipped with Ainsley afraid to lean on him after having to be in charge for so long and scared to trust a man after her father and fiance. Reed has some issues with not feeling good enough for her but he consistently is there for her and not only talks the talk but walks the walk showing she can trust him.

 

That’ll be enough. Give her over,” Mr. Sterling said with an impatient gesture, crowding the doorway. “It took a long while for me to earn her trust, and I’ll not have you undermining my efforts by spoiling her more than I do.”

With the way she’s been mistreated in the past, it’s no wonder she doesn’t trust easily. Why, just look at her. Anyone can see that she requires tender care. I can hardly believe she could ever be comfortable with a rough and burly man like you.”

Are we still talking about the cat, highness?” he asked, stone-faced.

 

The first twenty percent of this was glorious with their verbal back and forth that lead to the middle being physical reaching out to touch and nervously retreating back, and finally the later half of trusting and loving. I did think Ainsley created a little too much angst towards the end with not trusting Reed, it seemed only a couple chapters before, only because it had felt like the author had written away that obstacle, that she had overcome this. Around the 60% I felt like the pace had slowed, their sexual relationship gets a lot of focus, that made the extra angst feel even more of an impede. The ending rushes up with Ainsley searching deep, realizations, surprises, and a sweet epilogue.

 

I will definitely be searching out the other books in the series and be hoping for future ones starring some secondary characters we met here; Raven and Lord Savage, pretty please. The chemistry between this couple was sparking and sweet, which made for an emotionally delightful story. If a protective of her heart heroine, very patient hero, and their idea of foreplay is some sexual tension filled bantering, grab this one up.

 

There was always something between them—class, profession, animosity, frustration. Yet when his bare hand had been on hers, there was something there, too.

Halloween Pre-Party 2019

The legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark - Alvin Schwartz, Stephen Gammell Pet Sematary - Stephen King The Haunting of Maddy Clare - Simone St. James Dangerous - Amanda Quick

 

Ghost stories are a little tough to really scare me because I'm 99% sure I don't think they exist. When I was younger, Scary Stories to tell in the Dark was a sleepover staple, we'd read (ok, me) aloud trying to scare the bejebus out of each other.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was one I read somewhere in early teens and remember loving the setting, slight creep factor, and relationships.

Pet Sematary I probably read in mid-teens and while I didn't feel too scared being an animal lover drew out the emotions in me. 

The Lovely Bones seems to be a book that likes to divide people. It seems weird to say I enjoyed the story because of how freaking awful some things in it are but gawd, talk about a story that will emotionally wring you out. 

I think it was last year for Halloween Bingo I read The Haunting of Maddy Clare and I still remember that barn scene, hair on neck standing up.

And because I'm a punk, I added a romance that has a main character that likes to investigate the supernatural and a ghost, seemingly, comes to the rescue.

 

Shout-out to people doing today's prompt, adding some to my potential Bingo reading list :)

 

I've definitely read more vampire stories in my life but probably watched more zombie movies. Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire series got me started on them pretty young.  I loved when zombie movies started making the zombies fast, added a whole new dimension to their terror. Since the romance genre is what I read the most, werewolves kind of fall into the shifter category and I just don't respond the best to imagining partners as animals. 

 

For other, definitely witches and ghosts, numerous books and movies have been consumed about those beings. 

 

I don't know if anyone watched Being Human (the BBC tv show, never watched the American one), that starred a ghost, vampire, and werewolf?The first three seasons were pretty good. 

Reading Update: 20%

The Rogue to Ruin (Misadventures in Matchmaking Book 3) - Vivienne Lorret

Why have I not read this author before?? The first 20% of this has me very much liking. This couple has some sexual tension back and forth goodness. 

 

The Rogue to Ruin by Vivienne Lorret purchase link

 

Skillet Tilapia with Shrimp recipe

Quick and easy, used Chardonnay for white wine. Nice lemony flavor