JUST FOLKING AROUND by Penny Reid – double review!

One night? No strings? A sexy game of chess? No problem.

If you’ve never read a Penny Reid book before, this is the place to start! An all new series starter snack from the author of the WINSTON BROTHERS and KNITTING IN THE CITY series. . .

Raquel Ezra loves to fish. With so many fish in the sea, she’s never had a problem baiting the hook or reeling them in. Raquel is a good actress, she can be anyone’s fantasy for a single night as long as they agree to be hers. Which is why she doesn’t think twice about spending an evening in nowhere Tennessee with a smokin’ hot, well-mannered, and intriguing sheriff’s deputy by the name of Jackson James.

Except, when the time comes, Raquel discovers that reality might just be better than any fantasy, and maybe she’s not ready to release this catch.

JUST FOLKING AROUND is a 16k words, contemporary romance, a complete standalone, and is the prequel to TOTALLY FOLKED, book #1 in the Good Folk: Modern Folktales series.


Title : Just Folking Around
Author : Penny Reid
Series : Good Folk : Modern Folktales (book .5)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 68
Genre : romance
Publisher : Cipher-Naught
Release Date : June 20, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★.5


Hollis’ 3 star review

I was completely surprised when this ARC landed on my kindle — and for good reason! This little novella introduces the couple for book one; the male love interest of course we know well, Mister Deputy Jackson James, but who was he to be paired up with?

Well now we know.

This novella opens up on the day of Sierra’s wedding and we meet Raquel, one of Sierra’s Hollywood friends, in town for the event, who ends up crossing paths, and more (but also maybe less!), with Jackson.

It took me a moment to warm up to her, I’ll be honest, but her Vegas Chess idea? Genius.

This is a sweet little taste test of what’s to come but knowing Reid we have no idea what’s actually coming.

** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Well, that was both delicious and cruel. I am left needing more even if it took me a hot minute to work out what was going on, who was what and why. Once I’d done that working out, I was on board.

This was a hawt little novella, naughty but nice. I loved the chess game and the unravelling that it caused in both these characters. I feel like I know Raquel a little now but I need a lot more knowledge on Jackson, stat.

This short piece of goodness will be the starter that fans didn’t know they needed to get going with this new series. I am all anticipation.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

MARRIAGE AND MURDER by Penny Reid – double review!

The Devil is in the details . . .

Cletus Byron Winston wishes to marry Jennifer Anne Donner-Sylvester (aka The Banana Cake Queen) posthaste! He’s spent the last year wanting nothing more than for the celebrations to be brief, libations flowing, and BYOB (bring your own blueberries). His future mother-in-law has other plans, plans his intended has been willing to indulge, much to Cletus’s chagrin. Therefore, so must he. To a point. But truth be told, he wouldn’t mind if the meddlesome matriarch disappeared, at least until the nuptials are over.

On the night of Cletus and Jenn’s long-awaited engagement party, just when the surly schemer is of a mind to take matters into his own hands, a shocking event upends everyone’s best laid plans and sends the small hamlet of Green Valley into complete disarray. The final months leading up to Cletus and Jenn’s matrimonial bliss are plagued with chaos and uncertainty. Will Cletus and Jenn finally make it to the altar? Or will murder and mayhem derail their happily-ever-after?
And most importantly, who done it?

‘Marriage and Murder’ is the second book in the cozy mystery series Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries. It is best read after Winston Brothers #3, ‘Beard Science’ (which can be read as a standalone) and Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries #1, ‘Engagement and Espionage.’


Title : Marriage and Murder
Author : Penny Reid
Series : Solving for Pie : Cletus and Jenn Mysteries (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 347
Genre : romance/contemporary mystery
Publisher : Cipher-Naught
Release Date : March 2, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I snuck a peek at my review for book one of this series just to see if my feelings about this follow-up were on par and.. you know, mostly? Yes. Also it’s funny to see I had spent a sunday afternoon reading book one and here I spent a sunday morning reading this one. Sundays are for mysteries?

But to reiterate from my previous review, seriously, what is in the water in this town? I realize this is a “mystery” series spinoff from the main books but honestly. Town o’lunatics. Having said that, though, there were fewer characters who irritated me this time around (we love to see growth!) but the drama level is high. Even though I think this one was tamer.. in a few ways. Vague comments are vague.

Overall I find a lot of the conflicts in Reid’s books are a wee bit OTT but I think it feels manageable because her characters are also full of personality. So it all kind of feels on-par.. until you stop and think about it.

Cletus, one of the characters with the absolute most personality, however? He was really off his game in this one. There were reasons (excuses) given of course but it was interesting to see Reid put him through being.. well, fallible. Not quite the smartest in the room. I’m not sure I had many thoughts about Jenn, or about her realizations or the things she came to terms with, which may not be a good thing but neither was it bad. And, I mean, even though this is their series, overall it’s the ensemble that really sells this for me. As always.

Somewhat bonkers plot and conflict aside, even if my feelings overall are becoming bit muted about these books as time goes on, I still had a pretty good time being back in this world. And after all this time, and after all these books and spinoffs, it would take something pretty big to get me to stop reading at this point.

** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Shenanigans upon shenanigans
Family crises
Cue Barry White music

Marriage and Murder took me by surpise in a few ways. Things happened fast and I did not expect that to happen. Another thing I didn’t expect in this book was the pace change in terms of the intimacy between Jenn & Cletus. Book one was a desert and book two was a flood. All the mayhem was wrapped up in the usual tone of the Winstons, Cletus especially bringing that sanguine, dry wit.

I didn’t always love the story in this one but I will always love the Winstons per se and we got lots of side servings. I particularly loved the Ash side storyline in this one, it was pretty special and I have missed Ashley a little. I could have done with a bit more Drew, though. The Iron Wraiths are a necessary evil in this book but they always discomfort me and I think they’re supposed to.

I liked seeing Jenn’s self confidence rise but I also didn’t feel like I got enough of Jenn’s psyche in this book, especially considering how all the events would have had such an impact on her.

The pacing was fast to lull, then it picked up again. Sometimes I had to push a little reading but the culmination was a doozy (a good one). This series is definitely one for the fans and Penny Reid pulls off the suspense alongside keeping the wit and romance of the Winstons.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

ENGAGEMENT AND ESPIONAGE by Penny Reid – double review!

Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil . . . and now they’re engaged!

But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most “fowl” need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear.
Sabotage!
Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?

‘Engagement and Espionage’ is the first book in the Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries series, is a full-length cozy mystery, and is a spin-off of Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series. This novel is best read after ‘Beard Science,’ Winston Brothers #3. 


Title : Engagement and Espionage
Author : Penny Reid
Series : Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries Series #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 350
Genre : Cosy Mystery
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : July 14, 2020

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4 star review

What a delight it was to be back with Cletus and Jenn in ENGAGEMENT & ESPIONAGE. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the idea of a mystery series but it felt all the Winston familiarity I desired alongside a compelling set of circumstances. These characters (okay Cletus) had all the quirkiness and oddities you would expect, wrapped up in funny shennanigans. I was fully entertained from start to finish.

I love that Penny Reid has the confidence to drop you in a timeline you don’t expect and it 100% works. Cletus and Jenn weren’t that long past their origin story and I loved being able to pick back up with them there and see how they fared with the challenges that came. I hope you’re ready for the frustration and ancitipation of a sloooooowww burn.

This story had chickens as you might expect but it went from ooh to arghhh as the tale took some sinister turns. Cletus and Jenn made a great team, not quite in tune, not quite communicating brilliantly but with a connection that grounded them to a common goal…their bedroom. Jenn’s mother and father were central to events and they took some figuring out. The Winston brothers’ were ever present and I was pretty happy when they were on-page.

There were some fantastic moments involving emergency lasagna, rings, mistaken identities and bottoms. I laughed out loud many times and this was just ideal entertainment for my weekend.

“Bakers is one vowel away from being ‘bikers’.”

Penny Reid’s brand of humour, intelligent, odd and unusual totally floats my boat and I cannot wait for more from this series.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy




Hollis’ 3.5 star review

BEARD SCIENCE is one of my favourite Winston Brothers books so I was thrilled to hear that Reid was bringing Cletus and Jenn back into the forefront (though lets be honest, Cletus steals the show in pretty much all the books) for their own spinoff that bridges some of the time jumps in the main series.

Getting even was a waste of time. Why would I get even when I could get the advantage?

I think what I loved most, beyond being reunited with this family (even if it’s back in time and not everything is in the HEA-state that we’ve already seen), was the realism in the post-BEARD SCIENCE reality that just because the couple ended up together, doesn’t mean everything is magically perfect after the book closes. Jenn and Cletus are still working through some things, both individually and as a couple, and they are struggling to find time for each other, to keep to their commitments, to keep their promises. I liked that.

What I didn’t like? Jenn’s mother. Her father. The fact that the population of this town is 90% lunatic. Seriously, is there something in the water in Green Valley?

What’s the difference between the Emergency Lasagna and the Lasagna Emergency?
One fixes an emergency, the other causes an emergency.”

Everything not related to shitty parents and the mystery itself were great. I loved seeing old faces, the games Cletus plays, and I loved every page that featured Shelly (because of course I do). I also loved all the literal cock blocking, even the non-literal cocks that blocked, that set us on the road for a slow build to finally getting this couple to, well, couple.

Cletus, don’t you realize? You already have me. Stop being so careful.
And if I make a mistake?
Trust me to forgive you.

Overall this was a great way to spend a sunday and I have no doubt this will delight Jenntus fans and general Winston Brothers fans alike.

** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

KISSING GALILEO by Penny Reid

Her professor just saw her mostly naked. Awkwardness is guaranteed to ensue.

What do you do when your freakishly smart and wickedly sarcastic Research Methods professor sees you mostly naked? You befriend him, of course.

‘Kissing Galileo’ is the second book in the Dear Professor series, is 74k words, and can be read as a standalone. A shorter version of this story (40k words) was entitled ‘Nobody Looks Good Naked’ and was available via Penny Reid’s newsletter for free over the course of 2018-19.


Title : Kissing Galileo
Author : Penny Reid
Series : Dear Professor #2
Format : library ebook
Page Count : 294
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Cipher-Naught
Release Date : June 17, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 2.5 star review

I really enjoyed Kissing Tolstoy but Galileo just left me a little disconnected, to be honest. Emily and Victor were not opposites, they felt like twins and their similarties actually got on nerves. Core to this story is once again a relationship between professor and student. For me, this storyline was not resolved as one minute there was high concern about the ethics of the relationship and later, none at all.

I normally find Penny Reid’s quirkiness of characters and narrative endearing but in this instance, I didn’t. In fact, I found the whole repetitive reciting of data, statistics and research methods annoying (and I am an academic with a PhD). Perhaps I just don’t like my fiction with such a big slice of work in it but for me it really detracted from the enjoyment. The ‘constant comparion’ (excuse my pun – Penny Reid now has me at research euphemisms) of their friendship and later relationship to statistical analysis or data, got old for me. The eventual relationship came to late for me to truly enjoy it.

The flip of body image issues from the male perpective was a welcome storyline. This topic was handled with realism and I could credibly appreciate Victor’s journey and feelings…bravo! I wanted a bit more from Lavender, I was sad that initial scene was never revisted (or tied up).

This is one of those rare moments where I didn’t really enjoy a Penny Reid book but considering I adore the vast amount, I won’t worry. There are many fans of this book, just not me.

LOVE HACKED by Penny Reid – reread 🎧

There are three things you need to know about Sandra Fielding: 
1) She makes all her first dates cry, 2) She hasn’t been kissed in over two years, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Sandra has difficulty removing her psychotherapist hat. Of her last 30 dates, 29 have ended the same way: the man sobbing uncontrollably. After one such disaster, Sandra–near desperation and maybe a little tipsy–gives in to a seemingly harmless encounter with her hot waiter, Alex. Argumentative, secretive, and hostile Alex may be the opposite of everything Sandra knows is right for her. But now, the girl who has spent all her life helping others change for the better, must find a way to cope with falling for someone who refuses to change at all.

This is a full-length, 110k word novel and is the third book in the Knitting in the City series. All books in the series can be read as a standalone.


Title : Love Hacked
Author : Penny Reid
Narrator : Devra Woodward
Series : Knitting in the City #3
Format : Audiobook
Length : 13 hr 56 min
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Audible Audio
Release Date : March 2, 2014

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


This was a most intriguing story from Penny Reid; it’s full of mystery and fun. Alex is the most curious hero, a waiter who is clearly something more but that’s the big mystery. What or who is Alex? I’ve liked Sandra from the knitting crew but not really had the measure of her character properly until now. Sandra was a smart, witty lady, often found being sarcastic or self deprecating. I really liked her. Her lack of love life was hilarious and she was the woman who made men weep then get therapy.

The direction of this storyline was unexpected, unusual and had me reaching for the Internet to do some research. That’s not to say that background isn’t explained adequately, I just found myself curious as to the reality of the story context and it’s grounded in fact. Penny Reid bring her signature wit and intelligence to this series but I found this book a little hotter than previous books in the series. this was a slow burn connection with all the heat boiling to a frenzy; such a delight to listen to.

I drank in the connection between Alex and Sandra. I swallowed my frustration with Alex at times. I revelled in what could be. Most of all, I sat back and enjoyed almost every minute of this book.

This was a re-read by audio and second time round, it was a dream. The audio was a single pov, single narration audio and Devra Woodward did a fantastic job in general but also with male dialogue. She captured the snark and humour so well and brought these characters alive.

You can totally just listen to this as a standalone but to appreciate the full knitting crew, start at the beginning with Janie.