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Southern Fried Reads

Fighting Dirty

Fighting Dirty (An Ultimate Novel) - Lori Foster

I'll admit, I'm addicted to Lori Foster books right now. I didn't think I'd enjoy romance novels, but here we are! 


After reading Hard Justice with A Monster Called Me, I'm hooked to the fighting world that Lori Foster has made for all of her characters. After reading Hard Justice, I automatically wanted to read into Armie Jacobson's tale. And Foster did not disappoint. 


Armie's bad boy persona wasn't the first thing I was expecting, seeing that when we meet him in Hard Justice, he already has a daughter. But it was a luring detail to him. It had me wondering right off the bat, what made Armie become such a player?


Rissy, in the description, was supposed to come off as a sweet little goody two shoes gal. However, that wasn't the case with her. Sure she was a good girl, but the girl had bite to her when pushed in the right direction. I admired that Foster didn't completely make her a helpless damsel (even though that does happen a lot.) I at least admire Rissy's courage to say no and to fight back as best as she can.


The build up to Armie and Rissy's night together is drool worthy. Foster did a great job at teasing the reader that they were finally going to get together. By the time they do, you're almost as happy as the two are.


Steve, Rissy's ex is a little over dramatic in the book. I loved his part in it. But he's pretty psychotic for a typical ex. I enjoyed his antagonistic ways but hiring hit man to rough up your ex so you can get her back? It's a bit of a stretch for me.


Armie's secret and his dysfunctional family paint a deeper image of who he is, and what he's become. The addition of his father really developed him as a dimensional character. I think that compared to Justice in Hard Justice, he has a much more intense and well crafted back story. A Monster Called Me called Foster's choice for Armie's secret ballsy, and I agree! This book came out in 2016 and it was and still is a gutsy time to add that characteristic to your main guy.


The ending of this book was awesome. I love how it all wrapped up and Rissy's final realization. It left me so happy for the two. I almost felt like the ending was a little rushed. After all, we spend the ENTIRE book building up to Armie's fight. And it was barely a portion of this book. I would have loved a little more with that part, but overall, I loved this book and I'm ready to read her next!

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

I love "do better" books. Malcom Gladwell's "Outliers" changed my life. I live for books that change my perspective! The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*uck by Mark Manson seemed like an obvious choice to read.


This book was a love/hate relationship for me. I can't say I really enjoyed the first half of this book. Advice like "quit your job" isn't exactly the most helpful. Manson explains in his book how quitting his job, sleeping on a couch, and blogging began a new career for him. And while that's great for him, it's not exactly the best advice for everyone. And I'm guaranteed to bet that most normal people can't just quit their jobs. 


Most of this book follows Manson's unapologetic life and what worked for him. Instead of being a self-help book, this book really could have been an autobiography. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed listening to his personal stories. But I felt like it wasn't something I could exactly relate to or carry out on my own.


However, the second half of this book is incredible. Manson goes deep in on the culture of being "victim chic" and how it's become a way of making excuses or a cop out. Manson explains so greatly how everyone in this world has scars. Just because you're going through shit doesn't mean no one else is. The last two chapters of this book can suck the air out of the room. Manson finally uses his personal experiences to communicate how YOU can change your life. And it wasn't done in a weird autobiographical way like the beginning. 


Overall, it was a good read. Some of the advice is very unrealistic and tailored only to one person's experiences. And some of it is truly perspective changing. 



Buddy Read Complete!

Reblogged from Let's Talk About Books:
Hard Justice (Body Armor) - Lori Foster

As mentioned, Southern Fried Reads and I chose this one for a buddy read. As if by design, we both finished tonight. 


Hard Justice is a reread for me and honestly, I'm really glad we chose it. I appreciate it even more than I did the first time I read it. Is it campy and cheesy and over the top? Of course. But that's kind of the appeal of romance novels, isn't it? Indulging in some fantasy? Plus, I really think Foster is a solid writer. The story follows a good progression, has its tense moments, and a satisfying ending. I'm not expert of the genre, but I find Foster's books some of the better romance novels I've read. 


Final rating: 5 out of 5 this time. It's delectably indulgent and I will not apologize. 

A Delicious Romance

Hard Justice (Body Armor) - Lori Foster

I've officially finished my buddy read with A Monster Called Me and we wanted to read something romantic for the month of February. So a Lori Foster book fit the bill!


I'll be honest, I was skeptical of this book in the very beginning. I listen to all of my books through Audible because it allows me to multitask. The narrator for Hard Justice does a phenomenal job of providing a voice for Justice. It's a masculine laid back New Yorker drawl. But good lord, the voice he provided for Fallon and the other women in the book was awful. It was an overly lispy high pitched voice that sounded terrible. It came off as a bad memory of drunk gals in the club whining, "I just wanna dance!" after their fifth vodka cranberry. I wish the narrator would have just kept his voice normal for the female parts of this book. It would have been way better.


Beside the audio aspect, the book started off rough for me. I had to take a step back and remind myself I was reading a sappy romantic novel that isn't exactly supposed to be held to high class literary works (Not like that's my cup of tea either, but you get the point). Fallon's mega naive ways come off as a little over the top in the beginning. But once the first few chapters were out of the way, I started to adore this book.


Foster paints each detail so perfectly that it does become very immersive. She doesn't sacrifice any of her characters to just being stand ins. They all have their own side stories (which I later found out there are books for!). I'm the kind of person who LOVES the side stories of books. I find myself enjoying side characters more than the main characters sometimes. So you can bet I'm going to be reading the rest of the characters books. 


By the time the book ended, I was left wanting more. I wanted to see Justice and Fallon get married, have kids, take vacations, grow old. This book was a deliciously cheesy and savory book to read for fun. If you don't take it seriously, you'll love it.

To Shake the Sleeping Self

I don’t know how I began following Jedidiah Jenkins on Instagram. One day his travel photos began flooding my feed and I continued to see his book “To Shake the Sleeping Self” over and over. A biking story? That seemed like the last thing I would read. But after collecting so many audible credits, I decided what the heck and bought it.


The story of monotony in the workforce automatically had me nodding my head. As someone in their mid 20’s I too often wonder, where is the time going? Days and weeks and months fly by relentlessly. The fact that 30 is creeping up so quickly and I’ve still yet to do so many things I wanted to do, freaks me out! But I digress…


Jed’s decision to do this journey at age 30 gives him the time and money to save and plan for this trip. I had a friend walk across the USA a few months ago. It took her six months. And the whole time I couldn’t stop saying, “How can you afford to just take off life for six months?!” Jed takes off about a year and a half for this journey. Maybe it’s simpler than I think if you just plan wisely?


Jed’s riding partner Weston ultimately became my favorite part of this book. His carefree spirit, constant pondering on random topics, and scenes where he gets lost or makes friends with strangers became the best parts of this book. You can only imagine how crushed I was when he didn’t return to South America.


Jed’s relationship with Weston is bittersweet. The two are complete opposites yet balance each other out so well. I didn’t enjoy how Jed portrayed Weston’s character towards the end. After searching through Instagram, I found Weston’s (or should I say Phillip’s) profile. After reading through comments, it seems as if Jed created Weston as a poor caricature. Jed explains how Weston talks about never having money, but always finds some for weed. While that maybe how Jed saw this, Weston explained on Instagram that his relationship with cannabis was never as dramatic as Jed portrayed it. Jed also remains ultimately jealous over Weston throughout the book. Whether it be his attitude, his body, or his opinions. Like a marriage, I do think them being close for so many months, caused this. But whenever Weston seemed to be enjoying himself or having fun, Jed was off to the side shaking his head in weird envy.


Jed seems to struggle with his privilege throughout this book. He has a lofty job working at a nonprofit-esque international group. He could afford to take off for a year and a half without repercussions. He felt safe to bike alone across the globe. He snaps at Weston for calling him privileged without understanding Weston’s background of struggling for money and stability in life. He notices his whiteness in these countries, but seems to use it as an advantage at times without much thought. He also leaves to go back to the United States halfway through his trip. And finally, he describes some of the rural parts of these countries as “wow people actually LIVE like this everyday,” and peddles along without much more thought to simmer on. None of this is inherently bad, but for a book titled “To Shake the Sleeping Self” it doesn’t come off as awake to these moments.


This book heavily discusses the themes of Evangelion and being a gay Christian from Tennessee. Jed’s struggle with his sexuality and faith is raw. He doesn’t get any of the answers he asks on this trip, but he does think he has a better understanding. While I enjoyed the pondering and questions about his faith, I eventually became exhausted with it. How many times could you ask the same questions over and over? Am I a Christian? Am I sinning? Do I believe? Once Weston breaks away in Peru, the rest of the book felt as if a long drawn out discussion what it means to be a Christian. I so badly wanted to jump in and say, “dude you don’t have to have all the answers to this! It’s okay! Look around!”


The final hike of Jed’s journey is shared with his mother and two friends. Jed’s 67 year old mother is hell bent on doing this walk. Jed, doesn’t think she should. While I do agree with Jed on this, the way he treated his mother in the long cold descent had me feeling terrible for his mother. All she wanted to do was share this life changing walk with her son as a reward. I understand Jed was tired, cold, wet, and hungry. But the way he snaps at his mother for putting them in that situation ticked me off some. Dude, that’s your 67 year old mother who adores you. Cut her some slack. I could never imagine shouting at my mother like that, even if she made me that mad. I also was confused to why Jed’s friends never alerted any authorities that Jed and his mother weren’t back yet. Jed says they finally get back to the lodge at midnight. I don’t think I would twiddle my thumbs waiting for their return at that point.


The ending of this book felt slightly abrupt and left me feeling unsure. Jed did it. He finished this incredible adventure. It didn’t have to end with a victory dance, but a spat with his mother didn’t feel right either.