Where to begin? I guess from the beginning. Several writer and blogger friends have been singing the praises of Penny Reid for a while and so when they'd mention a book, I'd buy it and look longingly at it sitting on my Kindle as I passed it by for a book we were reviewing. This kept happening and her books kept piling up and then getting further down the Kindle display and I'd forget and then remember that I wanted to try one of her books and then life would happen. Sigh. I have to shake my head at my own damn self for this oversight. Anyway, recently, I was gifted Beard Science and even though it was book 3 in a series and that made me nervous, I was told that I could jump right in and read it without feeling like I was lost. So I did; I jumped in and read Beard Science and I really really enjoyed it, so much so that I found all of my other Penny Reid purchases and bumped them up on my Kindle so that I could start reading the ones that I hadn't read yet. But then, siiiiigh, then grading papers, senior exams, graduation...teaching life and blogging life steamrolled me and all my plans for reading more of her books. Now summer is here and my hope is that I can once again begin reading the backlist of Penny Reid. I've actually started...with Dating-ish which I know may be weird since it's her latest release but I heard so many people raving about it (and by heard, I mean read all over social media) that I couldn't control the impulse to start there.
The problem with starting with the newest book is that I've semi-spoiled myself on certain aspects of the series. The other problem is that I know I'm not getting the full impact of jokes and characterizations of characters and perspectives because I'm starting where I am, but you know what? I will own that problem; it's my own fault. And, to be honest, while I know I missed some things it absolutely did not interfere with my enjoyment of Marie and Matt's story in
Dating-ish. Watching their romance unfold on the page gave me all sorts of feelings: I laughed, cringed, gasped, shook my head, felt disbelief, wanted to shake both of them at different times, and swooned. I particularly loved their conversations about Matt's project and Marie's inability to see what I think all of us could (that he was crushing on her so hard)--the questions and tensions that these two things created had me thinking a lot about AI (and what I'd also learned from one of my seniors' projects this year) and turning pages, quickly, to see what would happen next and how things would be resolved. I liked all the science-y conversations and the AI snippets at the beginning of the chapters as well as Marie's devotion to immersing herself into what she was researching. I also liked how confident she was in what she wanted and even though I hated her constant struggle to find her footing with Matt, I loved how honest she was about all of her conflicting emotions and how self aware she was. And finally, ending with Matt and his point of view was a great way to end, in my opinion. There's a lot to love about this book and I know I'm glossing over it but TWO REVIEWS in one post is a lot for people to skim through (because let's face it, that's what they'll do if they even read it at all). In summary, I can't wait to read the first books in this series and I am really looking forward to knowing all of these characters better.
As with Dating-ish, I also started the Winston Brothers series with the latest book, Beard Science, and had similar longings of wishing I'd started from the beginning but was also able to enjoy
the book without feeling lost or that I was missing any vital information. This book was the book that originally hooked me on Penny Reid and with characters like Jennifer and Cletus, how could anyone not be hooked? Both characters surprised me. Cletus just flat out made me laugh, constantly. He was wily and clever and adorably grumpy. Jennifer was so quiet and strong and the way she flourished throughout the novel was so rewarding. I was rooting for her success from page one and I loved how self aware she was--that she used all of her quiet observations and what people thought they knew about her and put those things to work to be freed from her lunatic family was gratifying. This introduction into the world of Penny Reid was perfect--it gave me a taste of her smart and funny dialogue, her quirky characters, balanced with sweet and steamy romance, and it deepened my curiosity about what I was missing out on with all of her other books.
Want to know more about these books? Try these links:
Dating-ish Amazon: http://amzn.to/2sESGQA
Beard Science Amazon: http://amzn.to/2rluHlX
Penny Reid: http://pennyreid.ninja/