Top Books of the Decade

To celebrate a new decade starting I thought it would be fun to look at each year of the past decade and pick my favorite book that I read for that year. In all but two years I didn’t read the book the year it came out because I wasn’t reading much at the start of the last decade since I was a new mom and still working full time. Also while putting this list together I found so many good books that are still sitting on my shelves that I need to try to get to soon. It was also interesting to see in 2017 the rise of more contemporary and dark romances start to hit the most popular lists.

I picked books that have left an impact on me or that I thought were really well done and not necessarily ones that were the best written or the most important. Although, there definitely a few books on this list that are both those things.

2010

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IT HAPPENED FAST.
THIRTY-TWO MINUTES FOR ONE WORLD TO DIE, ANOTHER TO BE BORN.

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear–of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. Wolgast is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors, but for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey–spanning miles and decades–toward the time an place where she must finish what should never have begun.

With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterly prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.

2011

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IN THE YEAR 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

2012

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Marriage can be a real killer.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

2013

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It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

2014

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Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

2015

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A devious tale of psychological suspense involving sex, deception, and an accidental encounter that leads to murder. Fans of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train will love this modern reimagining of Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Trainfrom the author of the acclaimed The Girl with a Clock for a Heart—which the Washington Post said “should be a contender for crime fiction’s best first novel of 2014.”

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.

But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .

Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda’s demise. But there are a few things about Lily’s past that she hasn’t shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.

Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive . . . with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

2016

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Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up
— she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

2017

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

2018

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From New York Times Bestselling author Penelope Douglascomes a new forbidden love story…

JORDAN

He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.

He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.

He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.

I have to stop this. It can’t happen.

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.

Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.

I am.

PIKE

I took her in, because I thought I was helping.

She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.

As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.

The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.

And her boyfriend’s father.

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.

*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.

2019

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Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band’s album Aurora came to define the rock ‘n’ roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group’s split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ‘n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

~Cassie

2019 Reading Survey

I had prepped this post before the new year started but I am just now getting around to typing it up. I had starting writing down questions to answer to wrap up my reading year and then I saw BooksandLala’s video called 2019 reading survey. So I decided to piggyback off of her video idea and answer the same questions that she did. I know at one point I was going to add in some of my own questions but honestly I can’t remember if I ever did. So full credit for this post goes to Lala and her always original video ideas.

Total Books Read: 141

Fave Book

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I LOVE THIS BOOK! I plan on reading this book every single year of my life. I have yet to read a book that felt so completely real to me.

Worst Book

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The story behind the famous author Anne Perry’s shocking childhood crime is interesting. She and her friend plotted and killed her friends mother. This book chronicles the girls lives, the crime, and the trial. This book spent way too much time on the author’s bias and his off putting fascination with Perry’s mother.

Overhyped

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I completely understand why people love this book so much. I also am so in love with Evelyn Hugo and her story. But the interviewer that Hugo is telling her life story to was so pointless to me. Her only purpose was for a plot device that I don’t think we needed at all. Daisy Jones and the Six was a much improved upon way of telling this kind of story.

Disappointing

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I started this Agatha Christie and could barely get through the 18% I read. This felt like it was written by a completely different author. Which is so sad for me because I have read my fair share of Christie and I think I have given them all a five star.

Most Read Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Most Surprising

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I don’t read too much YA contemporary anymore but when I do I usually like it and occasionally love. This book totally blew me away by how amazing it is. This book is absolute perfection and is another one that I can see myself rereading. This book also cemented to me that I really connect with magical realism stories.

Longest Book Read

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766 pages

Shortest Book Read

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52 pages

Biggest Accomplishment

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I have wanted to read this book for so long and I finally did it! And I loved this gothic dark romance. This was so great and I know that it is getting repetitive but I also will be rereading this one as well.

Favorite Characters

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Since I want to answer each question with a different answer I didn’t pick Daisy Jones and the Six. Jordan and Pike are characters that I also adore so much and I was so into their love story. I already having reading plans for this book this year (surprise surprise).

Book That Made You Cry

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This book broke me so hard. I was in an almost month long book hangover because of how hard this book hit me.

Book That Made You Laugh

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I haven’t read a Becky Bloomwood book in so many years and I honestly forgot how funny they are. I think I only ever read the first three books in this series and I want to start collecting and reading them all. I do have a couple of Sophie Kinsella’s stand alone books on my shelves and I want to try to get to those this year.

Favorite Author

I read my first two Kate Atkinson books in 2019 and I am so captivated by the way she tells a story. She is such a strong storyteller and I want to read everything she has ever written or will ever write. Atkinson has a way with words that speaks to me so strongly that I get so caught up in the characters and the story.

~Cassie

 

Romanceopoly 2020

I was fully planning on joining Romanceopoly at the start of the year but obviously my year didn’t begin the way I wanted it to. I was going to just skip it because I have a lot going on but because of my fatigue I spend a lot of time everyday reading (hello 16 books read). So even though I just posted my 2020 Bookish and Blog Goals where I said that I want to streamline my monthly TBR I’m still going to go for it. I will try to pick books already on my TBR (which worked out pretty well this month) but these are bonus books where if I get a chance to read them I will. If you want to join in on the fun here is the website.

I am sort of making up my own rules to play. The first half of the year I’m going to do the sun challenges and the second half I will do the moon challenges. I’m also rolling the dice and I’m just going to read anything I land on. That means if I make it around the board multiple times and land on a prompt I have already done I will just pick a different book for the challenge. I decided to do three rolls this month plus I added in the Winter challenge.

WINTER CHALLENGE

This is a book already on my TBR.

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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?

FATED FOLLY (sun)

Another book already on my TBR.

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The only purebred vampire left on the planet and the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who killed his parents centuries ago. But when his most trusted fighter is killed—orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate—Wrath must put down his dagger and usher the beautiful female into another world.

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger—one that threatens to consume them both…

PASSION PLACE (sun)

Not on my TBR but it is a KU book. It is also a book and an author I have wanted to read for awhile.

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It was the biggest day of my life.
I know most people say that about something joyous; a graduation, a wedding ceremony, the birth of their first child. My situation was a little different.
Sure, it was my eighteenth birthday, but it was also the day that I was sold.
Sold to a man with hair like a crown of gold and eyes blacker than the darkest pits of Hell.
He bought me to own me, to control me, and to use me as a means to an end.
I was his tool and his weapon.
And through it all, somehow, I also became his salvation.

THE BAR

I borrowed this book from my brother either last year or the year before so it is about time that I finally read it.

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L.A. Confidential is epic “noir”, a crime novel of astonishing detail and scope written by the bestselling author of The Black Dahlia. A horrific mass murder invades the lives of victims and victimizers on both sides of the law. And three lawmen are caught in a deadly spiral, a nightmare that tests loyalty and courage, and offers no mercy, grants no survivors.

~Cassie

 

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

Blog Tour: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

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I’m back today with a super cute YA romance that I think so many of you will love. Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for including me in this blog tour!

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Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. 

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time. 

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built. 

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Early Praise


Tweet Cute delivers in every possible way: a perfect enemies-to-lovers romance, a whip-smart plotline, and endearingly real characters. I devoured it.” – Francesca Zappia, author of Eliza and Her Monsters

“Sweet and fun! An adorable debut that updates a classic romantic trope with a buzzy twist.” – Jenn Bennett, author of Alex, Approximately and Serious Moonlight

“A witty rom-com reinvention for the Twitter age, Tweet Cute pairs delicious online rivalry with deeply relatable insights on family pressure and growing up. This fresh, funny read had us hitting ‘favorite’ from page one.” – Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, authors of Always Never Yours and If I’m Being Honest 

Buy Link

https://read.macmillan.com/lp/tweet-cute/

Review

This is an adorable YA contemporary romance. It feels so fresh and relevant and I am in awe that this a debut novel. Pepper and Jack are both characters that I immediately connected to and was rooting for. They are both going through a lot with trying to figure out what they are going to do with their lives since they are Seniors and also trying to  navigate some family drama.

The is a classic slow burn romance where I was dying for Pepper and Jack to finally get together. I really love how their relationship started out and how they navigated all the drama surrounding them together. They really became friends first and then we saw their feelings for each other start to grow. I really appreciated that the author, Lord, chose to do this because it made it feel much more realistic. Especially because YA tends to have more insta love and I think this book is a great example of a relationship between teens.

Family dynamics and conflict was very heavily woven throughout this book. As a parent it made it a little difficult to read at times because I was so irritated by the parents and their actions or inactions. Teenage me would have related so much to what Jack and Pepper are dealing with that I know I would have appreciated and related to them so much.

Also, I have to just mention all the amazing baking that happens in this book. Wow, was I so jealous of the characters for getting to eat all the delicious sounding baked goods. I wish there had been a part at the end with recipes for some of the goodies. There are also a few bits dealing with a baking blog which I obviously loved as well.

I do feel though that this book had a lot going on and the ending still had some strings of story still left undone. I wish this book had been more focused on the romance and just one or two other of the side conflicts/dramas that happened. By having so much in the story it made it almost impossible for Lord to wrap it all up in a cohesive way.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves YA and also to any romance fan. Emma Lord has done an incredible job with this story and I can’t wait to read more from her in the future. If you want to check out a small excerpt from the book then don’t forget to keep scrolling and enjoy!

Emma Lord

Social Links

@dilemmalord (Twitter/Instagram)

Excerpt

JACK

“Look.” I glance into the classroom, where Ethan is thoroughly distracted by Stephen and no longer keeping an eye on us. “I may have . . . overreacted.”

Pepper shakes her head. “I told you. I get it. It’s your family.”

“Yeah. But it’s also—well, to be honest, this has been kind of good for business.”

Pepper’s brow furrows, that one little crease returning. “What, the tweets?”

“Yeah.” I scratch the back of my neck, sheepish. “Actually, we had a line out the door yesterday. It was kind of intense.”

“That’s . . . that’s good, right?”

The tone of my voice is clearly not matching up with the words I’m saying, but if I’m being honest, I’m still wary of this whole overnight business boom. And if I’m being honest, I’m even more wary of Pepper. If this really is as much of a family business as she claims it is—to the point where she’s helping run the Twitter handle, when even I know enough about corporate Twitter accounts to know entire teams of experienced people get paid to do that—then she might have had more of a hand in this whole recipe theft thing than she’s letting on.

The fact of the matter is, I can’t trust her. To the point of not knowing whether I can even trust her knowing how our business is doing, or just how badly we need it.

“Yeah, um, I guess.” I try to make it sound noncommittal. My acting skills, much like my breakfast-packing skills, leave much to be desired.

“So . . .”

“So.”

Pepper presses her lips into a thin line, a question in her eyes.

“So, I guess—if your mom really wants you to keep tweeting . . .”

“Wait. Yesterday you were pissed. Two minutes ago you were pissed.”

“I am pissed. You stole from us,” I reiterate. “You stole from an eighty-five-year-old woman.”

“I didn’t—”

“Yeah, yeah, but still. You’re them, and I’m . . . her. It’s like a choose your fighter situation, and we just happen to be the ones up to bat.”

“So you’re saying—you don’t not want me to keep this up?”

“The way I see it, you don’t have to make your mom mad, and we get a few more customers in the door too.”

Pepper takes a breath like she’s going to say something, like she’s going to correct me, but after a moment, she lets it go. Her face can’t quite settle on an expression, toeing the line between dread and relief.

“You’re sure?”

I answer by opening the container she handed me. The smell that immediately wafts out of it should honestly be illegal; it stops kids I’ve never even spoken to in their tracks.

“Are you a witch?” I ask, reaching in and taking a bite of one. It’s like Monster Cake, the Sequel—freaking Christmas in my mouth. I already want more before I’ve even managed to chew. My eyes close as if I’m experiencing an actual drug high—and maybe I am, because I forget myself entirely and say, “This might even be better than our Kitchen Sink Macaroons.”

“Kitchen Sink Macaroons?”

Eyes open again. Yikes. Note to self: dessert is the greatest weapon in Pepper’s arsenal. I swallow my bite so I can answer her.

“It’s kind of well-known, at least in the East Village. It even got in some Hub Seed roundup once. I’d tell you to try some, but you might steal the recipe, so.”

Pepper smiles, then—actually smiles, instead of the little smirk she usually does. It’s not startling, but what it does to me in that moment kind of is.

Before I can examine the unfamiliar lurch in my stomach, the bell rings and knocks the smile right off her face. I follow just behind her, wondering why it suddenly seems too hot in here, like they cranked the air up for December instead of October. I dismiss it by the time I get to my desk—probably just all the Twitter drama and the glory of So Sorry Blondies getting to my head.

“One rule,” she says, as we sit in the last two desks in the back of the room.

I raise my eyebrows at her.

“We don’t take any of it personally.” She leans forward on her desk, leveling with me, her bangs falling into her face. “No more getting mad at each other. Cheese and state.”

“What happens on Twitter stays on Twitter,” I say with a nod of agreement. “Okay, then, second rule: no kid gloves.”

Mrs. Fairchild is giving that stern look over the room that never quite successfully quiets anyone down. Pepper frowns, waiting for me to elaborate.

“I mean—no going easy on each other. If we’re going to play at this, we’re both going to give it our A game, okay? No holding back because we’re . . .”

Friends, I almost say. No, I’m going to say. But then—

“I’d appreciate it if even one of you acknowledged the bell with your silence,” Mrs. Fairchild grumbles.

I turn to Pepper, expecting to find her snapping to attention the way she always does when an adult comes within a hundred feet of disciplining her. But her eyes are still intent on me, like she is sizing something up—like she’s looking forward to something I haven’t anticipated yet.

“All right. No taking it personally. And no holding back.”

She holds her hand out for me to shake again, under the desk so Mrs. Fairchild won’t see it. I smile and shake my head, wondering how someone can be so aggressively seventeen and seventy-five at the same time, and then I take it. Her hand is warm and small in mine, but her grip is surprisingly firm, with a pressure that almost feels like she’s still got her fingers wrapped around mine even after we let go.

I turn back to the whiteboard, a ghost of a smirk on my face. “Let the games begin.”

~Cassie

 

 

December Wrap Up + Stats

It may be the 20th of January but I decided that I wanted to put together my December stats and share my wrap up of the month with you. I don’t think I did this for every month last year but it is definitely one of my goals for this year. The majority of what I read last month was Christmas romances but maybe if you see one you like you can add it to your list to read at the end of this year.

Wrap Up

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This is a Nordic crime novel that won the best Swedish Crime Novel award in 2016. It has also been adapted into a Netflix show that I haven’t yet watched. However, I absolutely loved this story and the way Giolito told the story. It is a book where the timeline ebbs and flows which enhanced the suspense of what was going to come to such a high degree. This is a dark story about a girl who is in jail because she is accused of helping her boyfriend kill their fellow classmates in a school shooting. The book does not shy away from the darkness and is an absolute masterpiece of storytelling. The build up to the shooting and the aftermath with the trial taking place are told in such an impactful way that I know I will think about this book for the rest of my life. I also feel like I learned a substantial amount about about Swedish culture, politics and economics which I thought was incredibly fascinating.

Rating: 5/5

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Holiday Romance: All Wrapped Up for the Holidays

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Holiday Blog Tour: Christmas in Silver Springs by Brenda Novak

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Holiday Blog Tour: Cowboy Christmas Redemption by Maisey Yates

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Holiday Blog Tour: Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

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Holiday Romance: Santa’s on His Way

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I absolutely LOVE Clue so when I saw that this book had recently come out I immediately bought it and read it. I am so happy that this is the first in a series because I loved this book. It is a modernized version of the classic game/movie/books but still keeps the heart of Clue at the center. The only downside to the story was how long it took for things to actually start happening. I can’t find anything online about when the second book is coming but I hope it is sometime this year!

Rating: 4.5/5

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I only read the first few books in the Shopaholic series (well, the first book I have reread a few times) and I forgot just how amazing Becky Bloomwood is. She will forever be one of my favorite characters to ever grace the pages of a book. This book had me laughing out loud, it had me cringing in embarrassment, it had me crying and basically it just gave me everything you could want in a book. Add all the Christmas hijinks to it and this just might be a book that I reread every holiday time. I love the message the story leaves us with as well and it could not have come at a better time for me. This Christmas was a struggle for me because the symptoms of my disease started roughly two weeks before actual Christmas and this book was definitely cathartic to me. I aim to read more of Becky this year and more of Sophie Kinsella in general.

Rating: 5/5

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I won this ebook from the authors Instagram and I’m so happy because this was a great small town holiday romance novella. Although the hero in this book is no longer a solider so that was a little off putting but the romance between the two main characters was very sweet. While it was sweet it also at times felt juvenile because they are in an intimate relationship and yet they never seemed to talk to each other about anything important regarding their relationship. They just never felt as serious as they kept proclaiming they were.

Rating: 4/5

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Blog Tour: Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

Kindle Unlimited Readathon Wrap Up

Stats

Author                                                               Pages

Anthology: 2                                                     1-299: 3

Female: 10                                                        300-499: 8

Rating                                                               500+: 1

1*: 0                                                                  Total Pages: 4,240

2*: 0                                                                  137/day

3*: 2

4*: 4

5*: 6

Genre

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Crime: 2

Romance: 8                                                               Year Published

YA Thriller/Mystery: 1                                             ARC/Publiser sent: 4

Adult Contemporary: 1                                           Older Release: 4

Book Format                                                            2019: 4

Owned ebook: 8

Library ebook: 1

Owned Physical: 2

Library Physical: 1

~Cassie

Barnes and Noble Book Haul

Today my oldest son, Connor, and I went to Barnes and Noble to spend some time together doing something we both love. It makes me so happy (and proud) to have a kid who loves books and reading just as much as me. We can literally spend hours browsing and talking about books together. We were both thrilled when we got there to find out that Barnes and Nobles is doing some amazing sales right now. I really restrained myself and we only got five books but man it was hard. Especially when they rang up to only be $30!

*All links are to Goodreads

Connor Picks

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This paperback was only $4.99 and after my membership discount it was only $4.49!!

A cursed girl escapes death and finds herself in a magical world – but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart – an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

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A fresh and fun graphic novel series spin-off of The Baby-sitters Club, featuring Kristy’s little stepsister!
Karen Brewer lives next door to Mrs. Porter, who wears long robes and has wild gray hair. Mrs. Porter has a black cat named Midnight and always seems to be working in her garden. Karen isn’t supposed to spy on her neighbor, but she’s determined to prove that Mrs. Porter is a witch named Morbidda Destiny!

Mrs. Porter is getting ready to have a special meeting at her house, and Karen is sure the meeting is for witches. Are they going to cast a spell on Karen? Or will she be brave enough to send them away — once and for all?

Karen’s Witch by Katy Farina

My Picks

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This book and the next were both in the front in the bargain book section. When I got to the register they were marked down to 2 for $4 and then with my discount they were $3.60 each. 

Written with the narrative tension of The Road and the exquisite terror of classic Stephen King, Bird Box is a propulsive, edge-of-your-seat horror thriller, set in an apocalyptic near-future world—a masterpiece of suspense from the brilliantly imaginative Josh Malerman.

Something is out there . . .

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now, that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motely group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

Interweaving past and present, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking debut is a horrific and gripping snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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I wanted to lose myself in the small town of Pelion, Maine. To forget everything I had left behind. The sound of rain. The blood. The coldness of a gun against my skin. For six months, each breath has been a reminder that I survived — and my dad didn’t. I’m almost safe again. But the moment I meet Archer Hale, my entire world tilts on its axis . . . and never rights itself again.

Until I trespass into his strange, silent, and isolated world, Archer communicates with no one. Yet in his whiskey-colored eyes, something intangible happens between us. There’s so much more to him than just his beauty, his presence, or the ways his hands communicate with me. On me. But this town is mired in secrets and betrayals, and Archer is the explosive center of it all.

So much passion. And so much hurt. But it’s only in Archer’s silence that we might just find what we need to heal . . . and live.

THIS IS A STANDALONE SIGN OF LOVE NOVEL, INSPIRED BY SAGITTARIUS.

Fall in love with this emotional New York Times bestselling romance between two tortured souls who find their chance at happiness in the most unexpected way.

Named one of the “Top Romance Novels of All Time” by Goodreads!
A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller!

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

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This hardcover was 50% off! They had a ton more hardcovers that were half off as well but this is the first one that I saw that has been on my TBR for awhile. 

On the run from the FBI.
Targeted by a murderous cult.
Labeled a cyber-terrorist by the media.
Irritated texts from his best friend.
Eye contact with a nice-looking guy on the train.
Aidan has a lot to deal with, and he’s not quite sure which takes top priority.

Finding himself alone in a posh New York City hotel room for the night, Aidan does what any red-blooded seventeen-year-old would do—he tries to hook up with someone new. But that lapse in judgement leads to him waking up next to a dead guy, which sparks an epic case of mistaken identity that puts Aidan on the run from everyone—faceless federal agents, his eccentric family, and, naturally, a cyber-terrorist group who will stop at nothing to find him.

He soon realizes the only way to stop the chase is to deliver the object everyone wants, before he gets caught or killed. But for Aidan, the hardest part is knowing who he can trust not to betray him—including himself.

Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman

~Cassie

Most Anticipated 2020

We are already half way through January but I still want to share the books that I am most looking forward to this year. Of course, since I’m doing this late, a couple of them have already come out but I am going to include them anyways since I have been greatly anticipating them. I’m not going to organize them an any sort of way other than books that don’t have covers will be listed at the end. I read and enjoy a variety of genres so I hope that you will find something that interests you on this list!

*All books will be linked to Goodreads

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Malorie by Josh Malerman

Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

He Started It by Samantha Downing

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks

Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Dilemma by B.A. Paris

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hiller

Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

My Maddie by Tillie Cole

Other People by C.J. Tudor

Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

Return by Rachel Harrison

Hearts and Thorns by Ella Fields

Bad Penny by Staci Hart

Credence by Penelope Douglas

No Cover

Fall Boys by Penelope Douglas

The Hunter and the Prey by L.J. Shen

~Cassie

Hades Hangmen by Tillie Cole

I mentioned in my last post that I read the entire Hades Hangmen series by Tillie Cole in the span of a week. 7 books and three novellas and I absolutely loved the entire series. I am so excited that book number 8 comes out next month because I am dying to know what is going to happen next.

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Here is the link for the Valentine’s novella that takes place between books 2 and 3. It is no longer canon but it is still a fun read for the first two couples in the series.

Hades Hangmen is a DARK romance series based on a motorcycle club (MC) and a horrific cult that they become entangled with. The world of the MC is so fascinating and I loved how complex and fleshed out it was. There is so much history to the characters and the club which is slowly revealed throughout the entire series. It is one part of what makes these books so compelling. The other big part of that is the men who are so not good people at all but at the same time totally swoon worthy and amazing. Cole is an thrilling author because I fell in love with almost every character in this series and I am rooting for all of them to get their happy endings.

These books are extremely emotional reads and all the characters felt so realistic that my heart bled for them. There were a couple of characters that I didn’t connect to as strongly but almost everyone else had such brutal backstories that I shed many tears over them. I usually don’t do trigger warnings because I think they tend to spoil the story but one I want to mention is rape. Please do not read these books if you are at all sensitive to this topic because it is on page, at times frequent, and difficult to read. There are many other trigger warnings for this series so if you like to know what you are getting into with a book I highly suggest you check out each books Goodreads page.

The women in these stories are so incredible. They are strong and broken. Fragile and loyal. I admire these women so much for what they have gone through and how fierce each one is in their own way. All the women in this series have been sheltered in some way and to see them find their own freedom was beautiful. I am in awe of Tillie Cole and how she was able to write a series that has me so utterly invested in the characters. I cried with them, laughed with them, hurt for them and at the end of the day they are just words on paper. Yet when you read these books you are transported to their world and it feels so real.

As amazing as everything I just gushed about is, hands down the best part of this series is the romance. WOW. I cannot get over how amazing, perfect, and absolutely beautiful these love stories are. The connection between the hero and heroine are some of the best that I have ever read. Each character has gone through some dark stuff and the way they are able to heal together and love each other is remarkable. All of the terrible things that happen and all of the darkest things that are done to them just made the love and devotion they have for each other that much sweeter and more intense.

If you are a fan of romance and think you can handle the darkness I cannot recommend these books enough. They are definitely not for the causal fan of romance. For that I would suggest Cole’s A Thousand Boy Kisses which is a tear jerker YA romance. I recently watched an IGtv that the author did and she said that she is also planning on coming out with the ninth book in this series toward the end of this year. So if you read these and become obsessed with them like  me at least know that the story isn’t ending anytime soon!

~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