Favorite Reads of the Decade

2010-2019 really flew by, but had some truly amazing debuts for novels, authors, and now we all have our specific favorites! To see the book’s Goodreads page, please click on the picture. Here are my favorite reads of the decade:

Ain't He Precious? (Sex and Sweet Tea, #1)

The Sex & Sweet Tea Series by Juliette Poe
Ain’t He Precious (Book #1) Published: April 11, 2017

This is the pseudonym of popular romance author Sawyer Bennett. This series has five books and takes place in a little town of Whynot, North Carolina. Learning about all of the characters, who they are, who their siblings are, what’s happening around them and who they become in this books were absolutely astounding and I’d recommend this series to anyone who loves romance!
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Room by Emma Donoghue
Published: August 20, 2010

Obviously, this is a favorite for a lot of people. I loved the story, the writing and just the emotions that Room put me through. This book was made into a movie because of the attention that it received and Brie Larson did such a fantastic job portraying one of the main characters. If you haven’t yet, this is one of my favorite fiction reads and I’d recommend any adult to read it. The story is so moving and emotional.

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The Prenup by Lauren Layne
Published: July 11, 2019

The Prenup was the first Lauren Layne novel that I read. After I read this book, I began reading all of her books. I read I want to say… 6 of them back to back, whether in a series or not. Lauren has a spectacular writing style where you get sucked into the angst and romance that she delivers. Romance lovers, pick up Lauren Layne, you will not regret it!

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Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
Published: January 1, 2011

Skipping a Beat ripped my heart out of my chest. This book was so powerful and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The synopsis is enough to have you curious, but when you pick it up and read it, the unexpected things that happen make you cry uncontrollably. I love when a book can make me feel emotion like that and Skipping a Beat really gets you.

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No Exit by Taylor Adams
Published: June 25, 2017

When I picked up No Exit, it was after a bookish friend of mine told me that I needed to stop what I was doing and read it. She was very adamant that it wouldn’t take me more than a day to read and I held her to that. When I tell you I read this book in a few hours, I mean it. I couldn’t put it down and it turned out to be one of my favorites in the thriller/mystery category now.

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Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews
Published: June 5, 2012

When I found myself starting to enjoy reading, I was unsure of what genre I’d really get in to. I took a chance with the romance genre and thought that maybe I’d like it, but maybe not because sometimes I think it’s too far fetched. I picked this book up because a woman at the library recommended it to me after looking around for a little while. I wanted something romantic but with a good story. The first few sentences of this book really grabbed me to the point where I needed to know what was going to happen. After reading this, I went on to read most of Mary Kay Andrews’ books because she just has a way with words.

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From Italy with Love Series by Tilly Tennant
Rome is where the Heart is (Book #1) Published: March 9, 2017

If you are a fan of a romantic travel stories, read this series. The first book was adorable and the second book was even better. Tilly Tennant really transports you to Rome and shows the beautiful details about the city. It’s like you can close your eyes and you’re in Rome with the characters. This series hasn’t been read that much according to Goodreads, but I will say that you should really pick this up!

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Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
Published: August 5, 2014

Ugly Love was put in my top five books of all time. I read her book It’s Ends with Us and immediately was hooked. This book made me just speechless. The journey that Colleen Hoover takes us on throughout this novel is absolutely astonishing and you sit there hoping for the ending you want. You sit there and cry and laugh along with the beautifully developed characters and just wait for the best part. Here’s the catch – the whole book is the best part.

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Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Published: April 14, 2011

This book had a very, very lovable story. I love the premise because it is something I’ve never heard of before. It was extremely creative. I loved the characters especially. The friendships and how they withstand some weird things that go on take the priority in this book. Rainbow Rowell has written quite a bit of adult fiction, but writes young adult as well. I’d recommend Rainbow Rowell and her books to anyone!

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Red, White & Royal Blue
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston
Published: May 14, 2019

Okay, but Red, White & Royal Blue was a debut novel for Casey McQuiston in 2019. Casey  came out of absolutely nowhere with this beauty of a book and won two categories of the Goodreads Best of 2019 Awards! It really was a book that you would’ve never expected. The story was unlike any other young adult LGBTQ+ novel I’ve ever read. It was steamy, angsty, enemies-to-lovers and one of my favorite books not only of the year, but of all time.

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The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: May 17, 2016

The Problem with Forever was extremely emotional. The characters were written perfectly for the story. As an acknowledgement to group homes, these two main characters were portrayed in such a way that made me more curious about what they are like. It had me wondering about what group homes are really like and how they work. I would reread this 100 times over just for the characters.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Published: May 9, 2017

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Eleanor Oliphant’s quirkiness and awkwardness was funny and depressing at the same time. Her story, which you will read about because I don’t want to give any spoilers, was absolutely disturbing, but amazing to read. The struggles that she endures were so heartbreaking, but extremely realistic. Gail Honeyman really did a phenomenal job.

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Simon Snow Series by Rainbow Rowell
Carry On (Book #1) Published: October 6, 2015

Everything about this series is perfect. I didn’t want it to end. At all. When I closed the books, I definitely pouted for a good while. This is a fantasy genre which I never would’ve expected myself to like. I usually don’t even like it, but Carry On really was the exception. It’s pure magic and so was its sequel. The third and final book (as far as we know) in the series, Any Way the Wind Blows, will be out hopefully within the next year.

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published: August 9, 2016

The Hating Game was full of chemistry. Sally Thorne has this specific writing style that really makes you feel their chemistry and how well Lucy and Josh actually work together. Their friendship was angsty, and I am a sucker for some harsh love. Josh and Lucy are one of my favorite book couples of all time. There were so, so many things with this book that made me absolutely swoon.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Published: February 28, 2017

Astonishing. Riveting. Shocking. Stunning. Breathtaking.

I took my time with this book because I am a very emotional person. If you are a very emotional person like me, I suggest that you have tissues ready because I’m not sure where there was a chapter where I didn’t at least tear up. I full on ugly cried through a few of them. There were so many different emotions displayed through this novel that I felt like I was losing someone myself. The author did a WONDERFUL job showing the seven stages of grief. Prepare yourself for the reality of this book and give it a read if you haven’t already.

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published: May 14, 2019

The Unhoneymooners was my third Christina Lauren book that I have read. After finishing this new release, I can surely say that the dynamic duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings is becoming one of my favorite authors. My favorite things in all of the books I’ve read by them is the fact that they write love so well. Do not wait to read this one.

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Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
Published: February 6, 2018

Girl, Wash Your Face was the amazing debut novel of Rachel Hollis. This nonfiction was definitely unlike anything I had ever read before. The personal development and self-help in this book was outstanding to say the least. If you’re kind of in a rut or experiencing some doubt, I’d sincerely recommend this book and her other popular novel, Girl, Stop Apologizing.

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Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Published: July 18, 2017

This book definitely shows heartbreak. I resonate with these kind of books because I’ve seen love fall apart and mend back together. This book is so great because it would stand out to a lot of people for the same reason.  I could go on and on about the main character, Arthur Less. This was  wonderful to read. It was comforting because it shows that in the end, it will all work out the way that it is supposed to, not necessarily the way that you want it to.

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How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
Published: May 15, 2018

When I started How to Walk Away, I was sucked right in. The characters were so wonderful to read. I felt like I was included in there and was watching everything unfold right in front of my eyes. I could really feel their pain and heartache and felt the inspiration that they all had to achieve their new goals after such a traumatic event. I was tearing up one second and busting out laughing the next. The writing was spectacular and I read Katherine Center’s newest book right after this one because I wanted to see how amazing both were. Katherine really, really has a way with words.

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Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
Published: December 10, 2019

Last but certainly not least. Regretting You was just… I feel almost speechless about it. I started it and from those first few sentences (as always), I was intrigued on how this story was going to turn out. I read and read until I finished it. Within hours. Simply because Colleen Hoover has a way with her words unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The tears that I had, the laughs I had, I felt like I was sharing my own little journey with the characters.

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow
Rating: ★★

Two people. One house. A year that changes everything. 

Twenty-nine-year-old Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling, but grand, Notting Hill house-share with four virtual strangers. On her first night, Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor, at a Christmas dinner hosted by her landlord. They don’t kiss, but as far as Jess is concerned the connection is clear. She starts planning how they will knock down the wall between them to spend more time together.

But when Jess returns from a two-week Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else—beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams…and the woman of his.

Review:

I feel gypped.

I picked this book up because I wanted a book to put me in the holiday mood. I had been seeing this one all over my Instagram and was hoping that it would be the one to put me in the spirit. Well, like I said, I feel gypped. This wasn’t really a Christmas read, at all.

There was a lot about this that could’ve had potential, but fell so flat for me. First things first, I wish that this was even a little bit wintery or Christmasy because that’s what the cover shows me. The synopsis advertises “December”, “Christmas vacation” and “Notting Hill” so I thought that I was picking up a Christmas book. However, it’s barely mentioned at all.

Next, the characters seemed almost unlikable to me to the point where I wanted to skip through and get to the end. I felt like their romance did not show any chemistry and I had a hard time looking at them together. The mutual pining was too much and I wish something was done sooner. I am all for a slow burn, but this was almost ridiculous. I wanted to grab them and shake them and just get it over with already (since we all know how these books end anyway!).

I feel like there was too much going on, almost like there were different stories thrown into one book with one premise. There were a lot of different characters and a lot of different things going on to the point where I was confused at some parts.

Finally, I am someone who is obsessive over roommate novels. I love them so much to the point where I’ve started a Goodreads shelf devoted just to that specific genre. But when the roommates are intimate with other people for nearly the entire book, it’s just overkill at that point.

The only thing that I really enjoyed out of this novel was the details of Notting Hill and London. Being from the United States and never having been “across the Pond”, it was nice to read and feel like it would be an enjoyable experience to go visit there one day.

Overall, I would skip this one if you’re looking for a book to get you in the holiday mood.

November 2019 Reads

Number of Books Read: 10
Avg. Rating of the 10 books: 3.8/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 2/10
*five star ratings are bold

  • Blurred Lines by Lauren Layne (Love Unexpectedly #1)
  • Good Girl by Lauren Layne (Love Unexpectedly #2)
  • Love Story by Lauren Layne (Love Unexpectedly #3)
  • To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne (The Wedding Belles #1)
  • For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne (The Wedding Belles #2)
  • To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne (The Wedding Belles #3)
  • Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
  • Well Met by Jen DeLuca (Well Met #1)
  • Day Zero by Kelly deVos (Day Zero Duology #1)
  • Disney’s Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World by Richard Snow

 

I found a new love of Lauren Layne. If you are a romance lover, stop what you’re currently reading to pick up a Lauren Layne novel!

Well Met by Jen Deluca

Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ★★★

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

Review:

“I didn’t choose the wench life. The wench life chose me.”

Well Met started out so strong for me. I loved the learning about the characters, what their situations were and where they came from. I especially loved Emily and her sister because it showed their relationship and how eager she was to help her after her accident. It gave me a warm feeling that I would do for my sister as well.

Now, I picked this up because:
1) I was seeing it everywhere on Goodreads & Instagram.
2) I saw that it was a debut author which I love to read because it’s something fresh and usually has a new type of story which I haven’t ever read. (YAY for Renaissance Faires!)
3) I am a SUCKER for enemies-to-lovers romances.
4) It was nominated for the Goodreads Best of 2019 Awards!

I am someone who likes some steam in a romance novel, but this book didn’t have that much in it and I still found it to be adorable and a great story. The only issue that I noticed with this book is that it took a little too long to get started for me.

As I was reading, I thought that the book was progressing alright. I kept reading and then realized I was a little bit past the halfway point where things finally started to progress. If it started maybe 10-15% earlier, I think that this book would’ve kept my attention to the point where I would’ve finished this book right away. I am someone who loves a good slow burn novel, ESPECIALLY when it comes to friends-to-lovers and enemies-to-lovers books, but this burn was just a littletoo slow for me.

Overall, I think that Jen DeLuca did a great job in her debut novel. I loved the beginning of this story and the ending was very sweet as well. I am very excited to see what will come from her in the future!

Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★

1. Daniel Mayrock loves his wife Jill…more than anything.
2. Dan quit his job and opened a bookshop.
3. Jill is ready to have a baby.
4. Dan is scared; the bookshop isn’t doing well. Financial crisis is imminent.
5. Dan hasn’t told Jill about their financial trouble. He’s ashamed.
6. Then Jill gets pregnant.

This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances—he wants to become someone.

1. Dan wants to do something special.
2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary.
3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure.
4. Of living in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.

Dan is also an obsessive list maker, and his story unfolds entirely in his lists, which are brimming with Dan’s hilarious sense of humor, unique world-view, and deeply personal thoughts. When read in full, his lists paint a picture of a man struggling to be a man, a man who has reached a point where he’s willing to anything for the love (and soon-to-be new love) of his life.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press & Matthew Dicks for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Twenty-one Truths About Love is about a man named Daniel who quit his teaching career to open a bookstore. He’s going through a lot with his marriage, losing money and more when he finds out that his wife is pregnant. To help him cope with his life, he makes lists in a diary that displays all different types of areas in life. He figures out what he needs to do and his finances and how he will make it all work. Things are rough for Daniel, but you see just how his mind is working through the lists he creates.

There was a lot to love about this book. Daniel, as a character, was hilarious and had a lot of funny moments in his lists. With this character, you could see the changes in him. He tried to be funny when his life was “falling apart” and it was easy to see that. It reminded me of how we really are as humans. We put on this show of how we are alright on the outside when we are struggling on the inside. I think this is an important reminder for the author to point out, and I’m appreciative of Matthew Dicks doing so.

The book itself got a little tiring in the list format. It’s unique and I was definitely interested in the list aspect of it, but after a while, I got a little bored of it. It was a lot of numbers and titles and it was kind of hard to get through by the end.

The other issue that I had with this book was that I began reading this book because of the synopsis that Daniel was the owner of a bookstore. I feel as though the author only referenced books a couple of times and barely talked about Daniel’s bookish side of life a handful of times.

I think that this novel would be very promising if there were some paragraphs thrown into the mix with the lists. As someone who worked in a library for 10 years, I would’ve liked to see more of Daniel’s bookstore life. However, I understand that this was about Daniel and the journey he had on becoming a father, etc. If you are a lover of general fiction, I’d pick this one up!

 

Husband Material by Emily Belden

Publication Date: December 30, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Rating: ★★★

Sometimes love is unpredictable…

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Emily Belden & Graydon House for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The first couple sentences of Husband Material will get you. It has that immediate shock value and you’re left thinking “excuse me?!“.

Charlotte Rosen is a coder with a hot social media analytics company. She works hard and it shows an idea of what it might be like to be in a field that has a predominantly different gender. She has a roommate that has really no idea of her past. Within the first few sentences, you find out a lot about Charlotte and the biggest thing is that she was married, and that her husband had passed away. When her late husband’s ashes show up at her front door five years after his passing, Charlotte’s entire life gets uprooted, so you think. When a major secret comes out to Charlotte about her late husband, things really get crazy for her. While dealing with all of these things, will she find love along the way?

This book had a lot of promising qualities. The interest of what was going to happen was definitely there for me. I think that the premise was something that I had never read before and that had me interested. The synopsis was why I requested it in the first place. There were a lot of good things that had me excited for this publication, but as I read on, there were a lot of things that I couldn’t really grasp either.

I think one problem that I had was that this novel was classified as a contemporary romance. I live for contemporary romances, so I was excited to see where the romance was going to be from this synopsis. In my opinion, the romance fell a little flat for me. I think there were sweet moments with angst mixed in which is one of my favorites. However, my heart felt as though things were a little rushed and crunched in towards the end. I am someone all for a slow burn, but this was extremely slow. I would’ve liked it more if things happened a little sooner. Also, I feel as though the romance was a little off. It felt a little stilted and made me question what was going on. There was zero steam, which I usually don’t mind, but with the romance-o-meter off, it didn’t make me feel my best about this novel.

I also had a problem connecting with Charlotte. I understand that I have never been through such a situation, but I feel like I had a hard time understanding her actions. There were some things that Charlotte did that frustrates me, and in some circumstances this might be good, but I didn’t find it giving me any positive, stimulating feelings. She was pretty unreliable with her actions. You definitely want to go through the pages and grab her by the shoulders to shake her.

Lastly, I will say that I found the author to be hilarious. There were some parts of this book that had me laughing out loud. It’s rare that a romance novel would be so funny, but I’d definitely consider this as a romantic comedy with some drama!

If you are a clean comedy, chick-lit lover, I’d recommend this book to you! I’m definitely interested in more Emily Belden novels just from the laughs!

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway

Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Rating: ★★★★★

Swipe right for love. Swipe left for disaster.

By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers—”Hatchlings”—who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.

But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.

Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez—the only non-douchey guy at Hatch—has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Kristin Rockaway, and Graydon House for a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

How to Hack a Heartbreak was my most anticipated book this year so far. I am so ecstatic to say that it definitely did not disappoint!

This book was a reminder why I never tried or would try online dating. There is a stigma now surrounded by online dating that it’s all just for hookups. Kristin Rockaway wrote this story hilariously, like she herself has used online dating (apps, etc.) and had some of these problems arise personally. This book felt overall personal in a way, like a testament to not deal with this stuff!

The amount of time I spent laughing in this book is why I loved it so much. She made the characters very likable and able to be laughed at. When it got serious, it really felt it, but a lot of this book was upbeat and I think it really made a difference. I could connect them on a lighthearted level as well as a deeper level when things got a little angsty.

This book was also a testament to how women feel in a “male-dominated industry”. Melanie, the main character, was a coder for a company. There were many times in this book where individuals made Melanie feel like she wasn’t capable of doing her job. It happens so often in this society that I’m really glad Kristin Rockaway talked about how hard some women have to deal with it. I felt this on a personal level because I see it quite often.

I absolutely loved the friendships in this novel. It’s so refreshing to see a character have some friends to rely on during a hard time in her life. A lot of the time in novels, it’s “whoa is me”, “I’m so alone”…, but I feel like this book really showcased the importance of friendship and being there for each other.

Finally, I think that the overall story is so good in this book that you just can’t put it down. Melanie creates a website for women to write about their horror stories that they experienced on a dating app. Jerk Alert was a hilarious and amazing idea. I wish it was a real thing so I could sit, read, laugh and enjoy the stories!

Before I Ever Met You by Karina Halle

Published: April 25th, 2017
Publisher: Metal Blonde Books

“I first met William McAlister when I was just a teenager.

He was handsome, had a beautiful wife and was on the verge of success, having just joined my father as his business partner. Mr. McAlister was full of smooth charm, but back then he was barely a blip on my radar. Just a family friend.

Fast forward ten years: I’m 25 years old and a single mom trying to make things right for her seven-year old son. I’ve made some mistakes, grappled with my demons and now I’m back in the city of Vancouver, getting a second chance at a better life.

I’ve started by working for my father’s production company as an executive assistant. My first day on the job and I already know I could have a promising career there.
That is until I see Will McAlister for the first time in a decade.

Now recently divorced and as sophisticated as always, Will has gone from being my father’s friend and business partner to something so much more.

We’re both older, for one thing, and he just oozes this worldly confidence and stark sexuality. Combined with his tall, muscular build and sharp suits, strong jaw and bedroom eyes, Will has turned into one hell of a distraction.

A distraction I’m having a hard time staying away from, considering his office is right across from my desk and I work with him in such close proximity.

But it’s just a harmless crush, right?

It’s just an innocent fantasy of screwing him on his desk, right?

It can’t ever be more because he’s my father’s best friend, business partner, and my boss.

Right?

Wrong.”

Review:

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. I have yet to have a bad Karina Halle read, and this one didn’t fail me either. 

This story was amazing from start to finish. There were so many things I could say about this book and how wonderful it was. Let’s name a few so I don’t get carried away.

First, the characters were written so well that I felt like they were real people in a situation like this. Jackie is a single mom with an awful ex and had to move home with her parents. Will is a partner in Jackie’s father’s company and just got over a messy divorce. These things seem very real and could happen to anyone. Karina Halle has a way with words that makes everything sound so legitimate and sincere.

Next, the story was amazing. There was so much chemistry and love within this book, I wanted to be put in it. Jackie and Will made the perfect couple. They’ve both had a horrible past, and they understood that about each other. I think that’s what I liked the best about the characters. Their individual stories brought them together.

Lastly, the setting is the best. I am a sucker for office romances and Karina Halle did such a wonderful job with the descriptions. The book told the story of how they started working together, and they’ve known each other, but have never seen each other in such a light. This book had it’s each individual promises and rolled it in to one beautiful book.

I love this book and I love Karina Halle. She is an author I recommend to those who love contemporary romance and beautiful stories. This one was particularly great for me because of the setting. Can’t wait for my next Karina!

Rating: ★★★★★

 

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Publication Date: August 1st, 2017
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press

“In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.”

Review:

We all know the story of Lizzie Borden:

“Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.”

This debut novel from Sarah Schmidt describes what seems like what happened the day of the murders of Mr. and Mrs. Borden. This book is told by four people: Lizzie, Emma, Bridget, and Benjamin. Going through each individual part, they each have their own story to tell. There are some things I actually learned from this book. I never knew that Mrs. Borden was their stepmother, for example. I liked this book, but it didn’t do spectacular things for me.

I think that Sarah Schmidt did a great job for her debut novel. This story was pretty interesting, and how she wrote it was pretty cool too. This is what she posted on her Goodreads page:

“I met Lizzie Borden in a second hand bookstore when a pamphlet about the Borden case fell off a shelf and landed at my feet. I wasn’t interested in the case whatsoever. I put it back and left the shop. That night I dreamt of Lizzie sitting at the end of my bed and she told me, ‘I have something to tell you about my father. He has a lot to answer for.’ It was one of the creepiest and most unsettling dreams I’d ever had but I ignored it, tried to go back to sleep. I had the same dream every night for a week. So I decided to write the dream down hoping it would go away. That was the very beginning of See What I Have Done. I had no idea it would take me 11 years to write it.”

This response, the synopsis, and the cover are what interested me in this book in the first place. This seems like she really thought about this book a lot, especially if it took 11 years to write.

First, the characters were all very good. I think Lizzie was the best in my opinion (as she should be). Sarah Schmidt made Lizzie come to life as a young girl who’s living with the explosive personality of her father and the spite of her stepmother. Sarah Schmidt really writes Lizzie like she is crazy, and I appreciate that so much. Emma moved out and receives the news that her father has been murdered. It seems like there is sadness there, but not too much. Benjamin is just a weird, weird guy. Every time I read his parts I thought the same thing over and over again.

I thought that the story was brilliant, but it just didn’t have the pizzazz for me. It didn’t shine like I expected it to. The writing style seemed a little slow at times, especially during the middle section of the book. There were some parts where I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again. It definitely felt repetitive at times, but towards the end, it really picked up for me. I was very happy about that because I didn’t have a problem finishing the book. The ending was very, very good and I love the way Sarah Schmidt wrote it.

The last thing that I was confused on were the flashbacks and taking the reader to a different time. I feel like they were a bit out of place, and made me have to stop and go back. It stopped flowing for me a few times, unfortunately.

Overall, I think this book had a lot of potential and was good, but it definitely had it’s flaws. It’s expected from a debut novelist that it will have flaws, but I think Sarah Schmidt did very well. I love the story of how this ended up being written, and the cover makes me have heart eyes. I think this book is a job well done, and Sarah Schmidt should continue writing her dreams into reality!

Rating: 3.75/5