2020 Bookish and Blog Goals

Before we get too far into the month I want to share what some of my goals are for this year. My aim in sharing this is so you can see the direction I’m going in for the year especially with the books I am picking to read. I also share just a few blog goals that I have and I think are realistic for me to achieve.

Bookish Goals

  1. Read 120 books this year.
  2. Read more big books. I was doing ok with this last year but then I dropped off toward the end of the year. I don’t have a specific number in mind for how many books I want to read, instead I just want to stay consistent with it and not shy away from reading them just to hit my target number of books.
  3. Keep reading a variety of genres. I genuinely enjoy so many different types of books and I want to make sure that I’m not getting stuck in only one or two genres.
  4. Going along with the one above I want to read more plays and poetry this year. I have never read a play for pleasure and I am interested to see how I like it. I obviously read some in school and I didn’t mind it but that was more than a decade ago. Also, I really do like poetry when I do happen to read it but I want to make it more of a priority.
  5. Part of the #ClassicsCommunity 2020 challenge is to read at least one classic per month and I definitely want to make sure that I’m doing that. More than one per month would be a bonus.
  6. I really want to read all the books that I pick for my monthly TBR’s. I have so many books and I get sidetracked but I would love to accomplish my monthly to read list every month. I already started this with the books I picked in my January + Magical Readathon TBR by only choosing six books per month.
  7. Kindle Unlimited is obviously something that I pay for every month but last year I was not good at all about using it every month. Which is beyond ridiculous because I have a huge running list on my phone of all the KU books I want to read. I hope to read at least one per month but I would love to be able to read more than one if I can fit it into the month.
  8. Hand in hand with the one above is I want to try to read more books that I have bought on my Kindle. I have so many amazing books that I buy on there and then never prioritize them. This is definitely something that needs to change this year.

Blog Goals

  1. Update my blog consistently. My goal is to always post on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays but I don’t always do that. I want to get back to doing that every week plus adding in more content as I can.
  2. I would really like to do a full review for every book that I read. While I know that doing that 100% isn’t completely feasible I do feel confident that I can do this 80-90% of the time.
  3. This will probably be a forever goal but there are always things that I want to tweak and add to my website so I hope to implement more of those during the year.

~Cassie

Life Update + Giveaway Winner

Hey! I have been thinking about updating this space the past couple of days because I know that I went radio silent once the new year started. I had so many posts planned with my end of the year/start of the year content but unfortunately life has gone not according to plan. Last month I starting experiencing some symptoms regarding my legs and they got worse and then stayed relatively the same so I went to a walk in clinic (there is surprisingly no Urgent Care in my small town) who referred me to the hospital for tests. I ended up spending a couple of days in the hospital at the start of the new year where they ran a lot of tests. One of which is a lumbar puncture, which I hope none of you have experienced, but that by itself had me in my in bed for days recovering. I have found out that I have an autoimmune disease and we are working on confirming exactly which one. I feel fairly confident I know what it is but without an official diagnosis I don’t feel comfortable sharing what it is. My main goal right now is just to get that diagnosis so treatment can start. I wanted to share what I have been going though so that if this space goes quiet you will have an idea of what is going on.

Going forward I am not sure how much of my content that I missed I will be posting. It is getting further into January and at some point that content will be outdated. I will try to get some of it out in a timely manner but I also have a lot of current content that I am excited about. Like an entire series that I read (Hades Hangmen) starting while I was in the hospital and finished a few days after I got home. I have read 12 books so far this year which is incredible even if it is for a not great reason. Once I recovered from that horrid lumbar puncture I picked up my first physical book of the year, Little Women, and I have been really enjoying that.

Before I leave you here I just wanted to let wanderingsofabookbird know that she won my Holiday Giveaway. Please email me at bookswithcassieblog@gmail.com so I can get your book sent to you!

I will try to be back next week with my normal Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday posting. And maybe some bonus days with some content I missed. ❤

~Cassie

Kindle Unlimited Readathon Wrap Up

The past weekend was the Kindle Unlimited Readathon and I had a lot of fun participating. I was only able to read two books which was a bit of a bummer because I was hoping for at least three. I loved the two books that I did read though so overall it was a great readathon. If you are interested in what other books I have on my KU library I will leave that here.

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I freaking LOVED this book. It is a DARK romance though so if that is not your thing then I don’t think you will like this at all. I however really enjoyed all the emotions I felt reading this. It surprised me how much I connected with these characters considering how they are not good people. I especially felt this way about Preppy. He is a guy that I consider so disgusting but wow did my heart bleed for him and his story. I can’t wait to get to the three books later on in the series that are centered around him. This book does a fabulous job of showing so clearly how people can have both good and bad sides. I also really loved King and Doe’s love story. It was dark, twisted, sexy, sweet and heartbreaking at times. This book left off on a crazy cliffhanger so I immediately returned this book and “checked out” the second book in the series. I hope that I am able to get to it in January!

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This is book features a bad guy who has put a wall up due to different circumstances in his life so he treats everyone horribly. I love the character arc that Vicious had during the book and how he still was him but with his darker side tamed just a tiny bit. I also really appreciated how Emilia didn’t make excuses for her feelings for Vicious. She knows better than anyone how cruel he can be but she also knows him better than anyone else and we didn’t have long drawn out explantations of her defending her love for him. Which is not to say that she was meek because she is definitely able to hold her own against him. Their connection and interactions were amazing and I love them together. I hope that we get to see more of them as the series goes on. I gave this one four and half stars but I feel like if I hadn’t read this right after King that I would have given it five stars.

~Cassie

Best Books of the Year

I have read a little more than 130 books this year and I really wanted to put this post together to share what I consider my top books of the year. I will have a post coming up soon where I share my best, worst, surprising etc but today I really wanted to share my love of these books with you. My goal was to come up with a list of 20 but I actually came up with 30. So I went back through and picked my top 20 of the 30. I then attempted to rank the twenty but that was impossible for me, so they will be in no particular order. I do have a favorite book but that will be in the post I was referring to earlier.

*All links are to Goodreads

Honorable Mentions

Top 20

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King by T.M. Frazier

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Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

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Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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The Stranger by Albert Camus

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The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

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My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

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The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

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Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

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The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

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Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

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Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

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The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

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All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I couldn’t choose between the two Riley Sager books that I read so I added them both. The Last Time I Lied is still my favorite of his three books but I absolutely love all of them.

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

~Cassie

#ClassicsCommunity 2020

Lucy from the booktube channel Lucy The Reader has set a reading challenge for 2020 to read classics. It is set up to be a personal challenge where you can try to read more classics, so if you have never read any, then your aim for the year could just be to read one! You can also try to read one a month, which is what I plan on doing, or you can read certain sub genres. Really whatever you want to do is perfectly acceptable for this challenge. Click this link to be taken to the official Goodreads group page if you are interested in knowing more about this challenge. There is also a list on the group page of more classics based booktubers if you want to check any of them out.

I already listed a couple of classics that I want to read in one of my previous posts 20 Five Star Predictions for 2020 but I thought I would list here a few more that are on my mind to read or reread in 2020.

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Little Women is recognized as one of the best-loved classic children’s stories, transcending the boundaries of time and age, making it as popular with adults as it is with young readers. The beloved story of the March girls is a classic American feminist novel, reflecting the tension between cultural obligation and artistic and personal freedom. But which of the four March sisters to love best? For every reader must have their favorite. Independent, tomboyish Jo; delicate, loving Beth; pretty, kind Meg; or precocious and artistic Amy, the baby of the family? The charming story of these four “little women” and their wise and patient mother Marmee enduring hardships and enjoying adventures in Civil War New England was an instant success when first published in 1868 and has been adored for generations.

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The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

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The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

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The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes such as the friendship of a shared vision, and giving voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men has proved one of Steinbeck’s most popular works, achieving success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

~Cassie

Also, don’t forget to check out my giveaway that I am currently running!

Happy Holidays Giveaway

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In the spirit of the holidays I wanted to do a giveaway to show my gratitude for this amazing community! There will be one winner who I will buy any book up to $25 in value from Book Depository (please make sure before entering that Book Depository ships to your country). The only thing you need to do to enter is follow my blog either by email or through WordPress and leave a comment below. You can leave as many comments as you want and this giveaway will run until the end of December 31. I will randomly pick and announce the winner in a separate blog post on January 1 (the post will be titled Most Anticipated 2020). You will have 48 hours to respond or I will pick a new winner. You can leave me a comment of whatever you want but I would love to hear what your favorite or worst book of 2019 is. Also, I’m pretty sure everyone who reads my blog is over the age of 18 but if you are not please make sure that it is ok with your parents before you enter. Best of luck to you all and I hope you are all having an amazing holiday season!

~Cassie

20 Five Star Predictions for 2020

One of my goals for the new year is to read a lot of my backlist books. I have an entire bookcase that is dedicated purely to unread books. And it is not a pretty bookshelf… it’s a use all the free space kind of a situation. My kids tell people that I have my own library and while I am proud of that fact, I also want to have read the books that I own. So I went through my shelves and picked out the first twenty books I saw that I think I will read and give five stars too.

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The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeny

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The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

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In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever.

Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

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In Life After Life Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

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With all the fire and fury fans have come to expect from internationally bestselling author George R. R. Martin, this is the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros.

Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.

What really happened during the Dance of the Dragons? Why did it become so deadly to visit Valyria after the Doom? What is the origin of Daenerys’s three dragon eggs? These are but a few of the questions answered in this essential chronicle, as related by a learned maester of the Citadel and featuring more than eighty all-new black-and-white illustrations by artist Doug Wheatley. Readers have glimpsed small parts of this narrative in such volumes as The World of Ice & Fire, but now, for the first time, the full tapestry of Targaryen history is revealed.

With all the scope and grandeur of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Fire and Blood is the ultimate game of thrones, giving readers a whole new appreciation for the dynamic, often bloody, and always fascinating history of Westeros.

Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin

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Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude. A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers and one night, Jude’s worst fears are confirmed: there is an accident. In an instant, her idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People—and Jude—demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill. In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her—the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had—while Jude loses even more.

When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi…and herself.

Night Road is a vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, loss, identity, and forgiveness. It is an exquisite, heartbreaking novel that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most.

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

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From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction.

In North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell skillfully fuses individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale creates one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

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To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered, a good place to live. It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, It lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each person’s deepest dread. Sometimes It reached up, seizing, tearing, killing…

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing. Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of It was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until the grown-up children were called back, once more to confront It as It stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

Frightening, epic, and brilliant, Stephen King’s It is one of the greatest works of a true storytelling master.

It by Stephen King

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Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve.

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. 

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

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His Scandal
Her Secret

From New York Times bestselling author Alafair Burke, a stunning domestic thriller in the vein of Behind Closed Doors and The Woman in Cabin 10—in which a woman must make the impossible choice between defending her husband and saving herself.

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look—at both the man she married and the women she chose not to believe.

This much-anticipated follow-up to Burke’s Edgar-nominated The Ex asks how far a wife will go to protect the man she loves: Will she stand by his side, even if he drags her down with him?

The Wife by Alafair Burke

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To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating–a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.

Room by Emma Donoghue

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Hardy tells the story of Tess Durbeyfield, a beautiful young woman living with her impoverished family in Wessex, the southwestern English county immortalized by Hardy. After the family learns of their connection to the wealthy d’Urbervilles, they send Tess to claim a portion of their fortune.

Tess of the D’ubervilles by Thomas Hardy

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How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A powerful showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Chapter by chapter, we shift alliances and gather evidence: Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

Miracle Creek uncovers the worst prejudice and best intentions, tense rivalries and the challenges of parenting a child with special needs. It carefully pieces together the tense atmosphere of a courtroom drama and the complexities of life as an immigrant family. Drawing on the author’s own experiences as a Korean-American, former trial lawyer, and mother of a “miracle submarine” patient, this is a novel steeped in suspense and igniting discussion. Recommended by Erin Morgenstern, Jean Kwok, Jennifer Weiner, Scott Turow, Laura Lippman, and more– Miracle Creek is a brave, moving debut from an unforgettable new voice.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

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On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

No Exit by Taylor Adams

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In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Circe by Madeline Miller

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Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.

When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”

Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.

And someone is hunting him.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

~Cassie

Holiday Romance: Santa’s on His Way

Today is the last book for my themed holiday romance week. I hope I was able to put some books or authors that you didn’t know about on your radar. Thanks so much for being a part of this week of fun with me!

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Publisher: Zebra

Publication Date: September 25, 2018

Pages: 

Open your heart to the holidays with these stories of unexpected love . . .
 
A BABY FOR CHRISTMAS * Lisa Jackson
The uneventful Christmas Annie McFarlane expected is suddenly anything but. First, there’s the adorable baby left on the snowy doorstep of her Oregon cabin. Second, there’s the extremely attractive, yet extremely angry man claiming to be the father. Liam O’Shaughnessy may be intimidating, but this is one precious gift Annie isn’t giving up so easily . . .
 
WHAT THE COWBOY WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS * Maisey Yates
When Meg O’Neill’s longtime boyfriend lets her down, again, on Christmas no less, she braves an Oregon blizzard to get to her best friend Noah’s comforting arms. But this time Noah’s not telling her what she wants to hear—he’s telling her the truth, from his heart. And his words just might be the gift Meg’s been wishing for all along.
 
SNOWED IN * Stacy Finz
Rachel Johnson has found the perfect spot for her second Tart Me Up bakery in Glory Junction, California. Except she’s in fierce competition with hunky bar owner Boden Farmer. Worse, while the icy rivals await the city’s decision, they end up catering the same Christmas Eve mountaintop wedding—and getting snowed in. But sometimes a loss of electricity generates a different kind of heat . . .
 
A COWBOY WEDDING FOR CHRISTMAS * Nicole Helm
Big city art teacher Lindsay Tyler isn’t just back home in Colorado for her brother’s wedding at the Barton Christmas Tree Farm and Ranch. She’s back for good. She just hasn’t told anyone yet—including Cal Barton, the ex-boyfriend she left behind. Will it take a Christmas miracle for him to welcome her back with open arms? . . .

Review

A BABY FOR CHRISTMAS

This story really disappointed me because I liked the premise of it but it didn’t work on any level for me. The book is set in the 90’s and it very much reads like a 90’s book so I did some research and it was first published in 1997. Which explains a lot including why there was such a disconnect for me when reading the “sexy” scenes. There was a questionable consent scene that I really didn’t like and unprotected sex which I don’t appreciate in any book no matter when it was written. The whole idea of the story was great though so I definitely want to read some of Jackson’s recent work.

WHAT THE COWBOY WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS

This is a friends to lover romance between two foster siblings. I really liked the element that the foster home brought to the story even if it was difficult at times to read about their terrible childhoods. Meg and Noah have such a sweet romance and I really enjoyed the way their story ended.

SNOWED IN

One of my favorite tropes is a book centered around a bakery and this book did not disappoint. So much of the story was based on Rachel’s bakery and Boden’s bar and it served as the perfect backdrop to their romance. This book is based on a fictional town near where I actually live so it was really easy to picture everything. The snowed in aspect was great and I love how it forced them to get to know each other better. The ending was predictable but still very cute. Stacey Finz has a few books set in this same small town and they are definitely on my radar.

A COWBOY WEDDING FOR CHRISTMAS

This is a second chance romance with a group of characters that I really enjoyed. Cal and Lindsay have a great connection that I was rooting for but unfortunately this story didn’t quite work for me. The introduction to all the characters was good but then things started to unravel. Everything felt rushed to me and not quite authentic. Which is an obvious risk of reading a short story so I do understand that she had some constraints on telling the story. I wish Helm had saved this idea for a full length novel though so things could have have better pacing.

~Cassie

Holiday Romance: All Wrapped Up for the Holidays

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Get your free copy here: Book Funnel

Six standalone holiday short stories!

The Merry Mistake by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

Note to self: Ask Santa for glasses this year. When I accidentally mistook a gorgeous man resting outside my building for a homeless person in need of lunch, we got into it. I’d only been trying to do a good deed around the holidays, but he called me righteous. I called him something far worse. If only I didn’t have to see him again. But fate had other plans.

Finding Perfect by Colleen Hoover

A short story that brings back several of Colleen’s most beloved characters. Told from the point of view of Daniel from Finding Cinderella, readers will finally get the story they’ve been begging for more of. For the best reading experience, make sure you’ve read all three books that come together to make up this heartwarming and fun holiday short story; Finding Cinderella, Hopeless and All Your Perfects.

A Rock Chick Christmas by Kristen Ashley

What’s Christmas with the Starks like? Get a peek into the Rock Chick world and how Luke copes with Ava going Christmas gaga and just what he will, and won’t, do for his girls during the holidays.

Just Say When by Jill Shalvis

When the one you want …

Is the one you can’t seem to have…

Can love conquer all?

The Pact by Elle Kennedy

Thanks to my hectic schedule as a pro hockey player, my girl and I are spending more time apart than together. Luckily, I have a solution—a romantic New Year’s Eve getaway in the mountains, just me and Grace and plenty of sexytimes. Except this blizzard has other ideas…

The Package by K. Bromberg

Christmas week can’t get any worse for Jules Jilliland. Dumped by her boyfriend, rear-ended on the freeway, and fired from her job, she finds herself stuck in an elevator with a handsome stranger. When their packages are accidentally swapped, will it end up being a misfortunate accident that suddenly brightens her holidays?

Review

I saw Colleen Hoover talking about this book on Instagram (you can follow me here) and I instantly went to download it. This is also the first book that I started reading when I was coming out of the terrible flu that hit my house and it really helped get me out of my funk and back in the holiday spirit. I will be doing mini reviews for all the stories because my feelings were all over the place when it came to this collection of stories.

The Merry Mistake

This was a really cute heartwarming romance. I love the way Piper and Mason met. It was such a fun introduction to the two of them and the rest of the story was just as cute.

Finding Perfect

I was the most excited to read this story because Colleen Hoover took two of her stories and wove them together in this short story. Graham and Quinn are my favorite of her couples and their book, All Your Perfects put me into a month long book hangover earlier this year. I was so excited to read about what they are doing now and this book did not disappoint. I have never read any of Hoover’s YA books and I don’t think I will in the future. I felt for Daniel and Six and the heartbreak they were going through but I don’t think I would connect to either of them if there wasn’t this huge trauma they were dealing with.

Rock Chick Christmas

I didn’t really like this story at all. Of course I have never read any of her previous books in this series so I’m sure that is why. If I was already familiar with these characters going in then I would have had a stronger connection to them. Without that background this story just fell flat and I felt nothing for anyone. I am the kind of romance reader that needs to be invested in the romance to enjoy he payoff of the spicer scenes and I ended up just flipping though that part. Maybe in the future I will have a chance to read some Kristen Ashley and have a better appreciation for her work.

Just Say When

This story didn’t work for me purely because it has the miscommunication trope in it which is my least favorite thing to read. Well, it’s mostly not clarifying statements they made when they were first dating, but still with only two chapters it ended up just being an ok romance to me. The ending was very cute though and I’m happy I’m read it for that.

The Pact

This was a sweet and sexy hockey holiday romance (say that five times fast!). Grace and Logan are in two different places in life since Grace is still in school and Logan is a rookie pro hockey player. The story centers around them trying to figure out how to make time for their relationship and making sure that they stay a priority to each other. This was seriously so cute and I love Grace and Logan a lot which speaks to how great of an author Elle Kennedy is. I will for sure be making Elle Kennedy’s books a priority in 2020. I can’t believe I have been sleeping on this author for so long!

The Package

I love the premise of this story. It was such a fun idea that worked really well. Archer and Jules were both great characters and I liked seeing them get to know each other better. The story was a little predictable but for a holiday feel good romance this hit all the boxes.

~Cassie

 

 

Holiday Blog Tour: Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

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I’m back today with my last post for the HQN Trade Publishing holiday blog tour. Which makes me sad because I had such a good time reading all these books and finding some new authors that I love. You can check out Day OneDay Two and Day Three by clicking the links. Don’t forget that the fun doesn’t stop here because this weekend I will be reviewing a couple of holiday romance short story collections. I’m also planning on reading more holiday romances during the lead up to Christmas because why stop the fun here when there are so many amazing books out there. All pictures and promotional material in this post is courtesy of HQN Trade Publishing but my review is 100% my own.

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AN ALASKAN CHRISTMAS

Author: Jennifer Snow

ISBN: 9781335041500

Publication Date: 9/24/2019

Publisher: HQN Books

Book Summary

In Alaska, it’s always a white Christmas—but the sparks flying between two reunited friends could turn it red-hot…

If there’s one gift Erika Sheraton does not want for Christmas, it’s a vacation. Ordered to take time off, the workaholic surgeon reluctantly trades in her scrubs for a ski suit and heads to Wild River, Alaska. Her friend Cassie owns a tour company that offers adventures to fit every visitor. But nothing compares to the adrenaline rush Erika feels on being reunited with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds.

Gone is the buttoned-up girl Reed remembers. His sister’s best friend has blossomed into a strong, skilled, confident woman. She’s exactly what his search-and-rescue team needs—and everything he didn’t know he craved. The gulf between his life in Wild River and her big-city career is wide. But it’s no match for a desire powerful enough to melt two stubborn hearts…

Review

This was such a fun sexy romance. Erika and Reed have a sort of friends, kind of enemies vibe going on and I loved that instant connection they had with one another. As Erika and Reed are falling in love with each other they have some fun (and harrowing at times) adventures together and I think that just added up to me rooting for them even more.

They seem to live such different lives but the more they got to know each other the more they realized how much they had in common. Figuring this out about each other led them to falling love with each even faster and it was the sweetest thing to see. I love how strong their feelings were for each and how much the other person meant to the other. This story went in lots of different directions and I loved how they navigated all the twists and turns that came there way.

This is also the first book in a new series and I could definitely see some future stories being developed which makes me excited to see where the author goes from here. Of course the bonus to that is that we will hopefully get to see glimpses of Reed and Erika through other people’s stories. If you want to get a small taste of who Erika is then keep scrolling to read a first chapter excerpt of this awesome holiday romance.

 

Jennifer Snow

Author Bio

Jennifer Snow lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and four year old son. She is a member of the RWA, the Alberta Writers Guild, Canadian Authors Association and SheWrites.org. Her first Brookhollow book was a finalist in the Heart of Denver Aspen Gold contest and the Golden Quill Award. More information can be found at http://www.jennifersnowauthor.com.

Social Links

Author Website

Twitter: @JenniferSnow18

Facebook: @jennifersnowbooks

Instagram: @jensnowauthor

Goodreads

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Her arms full of patient files, Dr. Erika Sheraton tipped her head back as Darren, her premed intern, poured a double shot of espresso down her throat. The hot liquid delivered the instant adrenaline boost she needed to get through the rest of her fourteen-hour shift.

Dinner? A quick glance at the clock on the wall above the nurses’ triage station revealed it was almost nine. A late dinner.

“How are you not vibrating? That’s your third in two hours.” Darren crumpled the paper cup and tossed it into a recycle bin as they walked.

“Caffeine stopped affecting me a long time ago. Now’s it’s about the taste,” she said, only half kidding. Double course loads and all-nighters in college and then med school had prepared her for the long hours she put in now as a general surgeon and caffeine had been her best friend.

The twentysomething looked like he could use a cup himself, as he stifled a yawn. His sandy blond hair poked up in the back as though he’d crawled out of bed at the last possible minute and his hazel eyes were bloodshot. If he was tired now after only eight hours on shift, he’d be reconsidering this particular profession by midnight. The staff at Alaska General Hospital never rested. The revolving doors at emergency constantly rotated with broken bones, heart attacks and bleeding patients filing in. No day was ever the same. Unpredictability kept Erika alert and on her toes.

“After these rounds, I’m going to need you to check in on Mr. Franklin—he’s in recovery. His family is wondering when they can see him.” The man’s entire extended family was camped out in the surgical ward waiting room—fifteen or sixteen of them at least. They couldn’t see the man, but they all refused to leave. Each one took turns driving the nurses on duty crazy. “Make sure they know only immediate family can go in. He needs his rest.”

Darren nodded, but a look of hesitation appeared behind his dark-rimmed glasses.

“What?” She checked her watch.

“I just… Well, shouldn’t you talk to them? I know his wife wanted to thank you…”

Erika shook her head. “Keeping him on the low-cholesterol, low-sodium diet I’ve prescribed—and off my operating table—will be thanks enough,” she said, scanning the top folder on her stack.

“Okay, but…”

She shot him a look.

“No problem. I’ll check in on him.”

“Thank you.” She continued down the hall toward the next high-priority patient.

“Don’t forget, your dad still wants to see you,” Darren said, struggling to keep up to her half sprint.

“I know.” And she could do without the hourly reminders. Her father rarely requested her presence during her rounds, so whatever it was wouldn’t be good. If she put him off long enough, maybe he’d forget. 

 “Top chart—Mr. Grayson. He’s scheduled for an appendectomy in a few hours,” she said, approaching the man’s hospital room.

Darren nodded as he smiled. “This old guy is hilarious. Did you know he was a stunt motorcycle driver in the circus in the ’80s?”

“No.” She knew he had an inflamed appendix and had waited far too long to come in. She knew his vitals and that in an hour, they’d be prepping him for surgery. Knowing personal details of a patient’s life didn’t make her job any easier or guarantee a better outcome. She juggled the files on one arm as she reached into her pocket for a new set of sterile gloves.

“Hey, before we go in there, can I talk to you?” Darren asked, stopping her outside the room. He stared at the checked patterned floor tiles.

Damn. “You’re requesting a transfer to a different physician.” He wasn’t the first medical student who’d gotten reassigned. She’d made it a month with Darren—a new record.

Another intern bites the dust.

He nodded, obviously relieved that he hadn’t had to vocalize it himself. “You’re amazing, Dr. Sheraton, and I feel so fortunate for the opportunity to work with you, but you’re also very busy and unavailable…”

The sharp sting of the words was familiar. She’d heard the same speech from interns and boyfriends alike. She’d successfully eliminated the problem in one group right after her first year of residency…interns were hospital assigned and therefore out of her control.

“I mean I just need all the training I can get and between patients and your research work…”

She didn’t need an explanation. She was busy. Too busy to have someone following her around in fact. This was totally fine with her. “I understand.”

“You’re not upset?”

“Only about having to get my own coffee from now on,” she said.

The joke missed its mark and the intern’s eyes widened. “I can still do that…”

Wow, was she really that scary? She was demanding and expected the students to put in the hours she did. She may not be the friendliest doctor on staff, socializing after work and remembering birthdays and such, but she gave these interns a real picture of their future in medicine. Wasn’t that what they were there for? “I was kidding, Darren.”

“Oh…right.”

“Dr. Sheraton, please report to emergency. Stat.”

The call over the hospital intercom had her handing Darren the stack of folders. “Please take his heart rate and blood pressure,” she said, practically running to the elevators. “And don’t forget Mr. Franklin.”

“Got it,” he called after her.

The quiet twenty-six-second elevator ride to the first floor was the closest thing she got to a spa day. It was the only time she was forced to slow to a pace other than her own usual breakneck speed. But even that half a minute was too long. It gave her time to think. Think about her previous surgeries and replay the details—what went right, what went wrong, what she could do better next time. Constantly reevaluating herself made her a better surgeon, but too often it left her feeling like she was coming up slightly short of her potential. Her type A personality left little room for failure or complacency. 

Checking her phone in her lab coat pocket, she scanned her schedule for the rest of the evening, evaluating what she could push back if this emergency demanded her immediate attention. The number of things marked urgent made her will the elevator to move quicker. She’d be lucky to get out of there by 2:00 a.m.

A text popped up from Darren.

If you change your mind about Mrs. Franklin…

She wouldn’t. She ignored the text from her intern—former intern—and put the phone away.

As the elevator stopped, she took a deep breath, expecting to see a flurry of organized chaos as the doors opened. Stretchers, ambulance lights flashing and sirens wailing outside, paramedics and nurses… Instead, she ran square into her father.

No emergency, just his six-foot-three frame and his usual neutral expression. It was impossible to read her father, as his face gave nothing away. His emotions were never too high or too low, just infuriatingly balanced no matter the circumstance. His calm presence and rational thinking made him fantastic at his profession, but sometimes he was irritating as shit as a father.

“Hi. I was just coming to see you.” Eventually.

“Walk with me,” he said, turning on his heel and nodding.

Her jaw clenched so tight her teeth might snap. This was so like him—assuming she could drop everything at his command. He may run the hospital, but he often had no idea how hectic her schedule was. “Can we talk as I do my rounds, Darren is…” 

 

“More than capable,” he said, leading the way to his first-floor corner office. “And requesting to be transferred, I see.”

His tone made her palms sweat. He should be happy that she was pushing these interns to their limits. What awaited them once they graduated wasn’t for the faint of heart. Better to get used to grueling days and nights now, performing on little to no sleep, living on caffeine and leftover Halloween chocolate bars, than to realize they couldn’t cut it when lives were in their hands.

Unfortunately, he didn’t always agree with her beliefs . He wanted the interns to feel at home at Alaska General so they’d apply here once they graduated. The hospital was short staffed and more doctors would benefit everyone, but Erika preferred to work alongside the best.

Her father had an open-door policy—literally—so when he closed the office door behind her, she knew the head of General Surgery hadn’t called her in to discuss Thanksgiving dinner plans.

She glanced at his wall calendar as she sat. Especially since Thanksgiving was a week ago.

“Dad, this intern thing is just ridiculous…”

He held up a hand. “This isn’t about your inability to effectively manage others.”

Kick to the gut delivered and received. She clamped her lips together.

He opened his desk drawer and handed her a letter as he sat in the plush, leather chair behind his oversize mahogany desk.

Her eyes widened, seeing the Hospital Foundation logo on the top of the page. “Is this the final approval from the board for the clinical trials?” They’d submitted the application six months ago to start trials on a new antirejection drug after years of research, and they were waiting on the formal go-ahead to start with a test group.

Would Darren reconsider staying with her if he knew he could be part of a medical breakthrough? He’d been a lot of help in the past month.

“Just read it,” her father said.

She scanned the letter from the board of directors, feeling her excitement fade and anxiety rise with each word. “Recommended vacation? What is this?”

“I don’t like it either, but the board is reviewing policies and making sure we are following them,” he said, the edge indicating he’d been outvoted in this decision. He certainly didn’t believe in time off and had never encouraged her to take any. Her life was her career, just like him.

“But any day now we will be starting clinical trials on the new drug.” It had taken her father and his team almost three years to get the experimental antirejection product approved for testing on organ transplant patients and they’d finally gotten it. They’d worked around the clock for a year to make sure they did. Subjects were undergoing assessment right now to be ready for the trials.

Now was not the time to take a break.

Her father looked as though he’d made the same argument to the hospital board. “The team will have to handle it.”

So recommended actually meant forced. “Why now? I’m fine. I don’t need a break.” At twenty-nine, she was eager to prove herself as one of the top general surgeons in the state. Between her surgical success record and the research time she’d invested in this new drug, she was close. Helping her father get one step closer to winning the Lister Medal was high on her priority list. “Come on, Dad, you know I’m good. My last two operations were impossible surgeries…”

Improbable surgeries.”

Erika clamped her lips together again, forcing her argument to stay put. It wouldn’t do any good. Three years working alongside her father and she’d yet to prove herself. Despite two back-to-back improbable surgeries that she’d performed successfully, he still doubted her abilities. His micromanagement over her research team had driven her insane, but he’d reluctantly agreed to let her run her own set of clinical trials on the antirejection drug, and she’d foolishly believed she was making progress with him.

Now she was being forced into taking a break.

What the hell was a break? She hadn’t had one since starting university. She’d graduated with her bachelor’s in three years instead of four by doubling up on courses and then had applied directly to med school. She’d interned at Alaska General and secured a position there shortly after graduation. She couldn’t remember the last day she had off, let alone…she glanced at the letter. Two weeks?

What the hell would she do with all that free time?

Excerpted from An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow, Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Snow. Published by HQN Books.

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~Cassie