#BookRecommendations 2010s in Review

The 2010s was a rough decade for me, I won’t lie!

  1. I had to put my childhood pets (my dog and cat) down.
  2. My Father lost his battle to cancer.
  3. I dropped out of university.
  4. I completed a different diploma but couldn’t get a job.

But I also had some pretty amazing things happen too!

  1. I went back to school to get the degree I always wanted to.
  2. I started a book blog and discovered Goodreads.
  3. I met Kevin Smith, Jay Mewes, John Ratzenburger and Billy Dee Williams!
  4. I got my three beautiful fur babies (my kitties <3).

 

Since a new decade is coming into play, here’s 20 books (and series) from the last ten years that helped in my reading addiction!

Best of the 2010s Decade:

1. Kevin Miller’s Milligan Creek Series
If you haven’t read this mind blowing middle grade series, what are you even doing?! Matt, Chat, Andrew and Dean get into many shenanigans in the great west, Saskatchewan. Canoe trips, epic radio shows, an excessive water war and saving the town are just some of the wild adventures this group gets into. I’d highly recommend this book because it is absolutely my BEST of the decade. Kevin Miller is proving to be one of the best Canadian authors I’ve ever come across!
Check out this marvelous series: https://www.goodreads.com/series/247750

 

2. Rachel Vincent’s Menagerie Series
Holy moly! Rachel Vincent has been one of my fave authors from the last decade. I discovered her Soul Seekers series in high school and I’ve been hooked to her writing ever since. When I discovered the Menagerie series, I was glued to every page and was absolutely heart broken that it ended! This book follows Delilah when she’s captured and put into a magical creature Menagerie. This fantasy series is packed full of drama, political shadows and a dash of romance.
Pick up this series A.S.A.P.: https://www.goodreads.com/series/110345

 

3. Drug Gang series by Neil Walker
Holy heck, this book series is WILD! If you love Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and the Godfather, you’ll love this series. While I wanted to include the last book in my 2019 summary, I couldn’t leave out the other two books in this series. So, I decided to give this series it’s own place in the 2010s best of list! Drugs and sex, blood and guts, and crazy gangs are littered throughout this series. It’s a hard R novel that is an absolute guilty pleasure – think the craziness of John Wick plus the insanity of Pulp Fiction. Neil has such a great collection here it’d be a shame to not introduce you to it! It was definitely one of the series I was anxiously waiting to read during the 2010s!
Takedown this series: https://www.goodreads.com/series/216836

 

4. Ready Research Series by Mindy M. Shelton
Mindy M. Shelton was introduced to me years ago, but man am I still thinking about her books! She has one excellent series that follows different types of murderers. With Making a Murderer being so intriguing, seeing a series like this pop up and come into my radar was awesome! If you like true crime and non-fiction, this series would be right up your alleyway! It’s horrifying and intriguing all at the same time.
Go down the rabbit hole: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30375247-from-birth-to-death

 

5. How To Make White People Laugh by Negin Farsad
I love Negin Farsad’s comedy. I was introduced to her by my friends (via the dreaded Facebook) and I even won a copy of this book from Goodreads! This book is laugh out loud funny and is one of the few books that actually made me laugh. Negin’s sense of humour and collection of jokes make this book a must read. It’s blunt, sarcastic and sometimes just too much! This super smart comedy book is definitely one of my best books of the decade!
How to Make Readers Laugh: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27170153-how-to-make-white-people-laugh

 

6. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
I relate WAY TOO MUCH to Hope. Hope Jahren is a scientist who studies nature – trees, soil, seeds, flowers, etc. She wrote this absolutely intelligent autobiography that made me feel like I found my place in the world. If only I would have discovered this in high school! Hope presents this book with intelligence, comedy and realism and paints one beautiful picture. It felt like I was meant to read this book! I’d highly recommend it, especially if you love science and non-fiction.
Stop procrastinating and pick up this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25733890-lab-girl

 

7. Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
In 2019 I told myself I would read more middle grade and YA books, and that promise brought me many beautiful novels. Peter Green and the Unliving Academy is definitely in my top list for the year. I was floored by how magical this book was and surprised me by how much I needed a book like this in my life. In my personal, humble opinion it’s better than Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and a Series of Unfortunate Events. It tops my list with the amazing themes (friendship, family and growing up) and the fun fantasy it paints throughout the book. This book barely has 40 reviews on Goodreads, so help that book get its share of reviews! Pimp this book out my readers!
Find life in this Middle Grade Novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41824802-peter-green-and-the-unliving-academy

 

8. Snow and Ice Games by Tamsen Parker
Heck, I could put all of Tamsen Parker’s books here. In this last decade I discovered one of my favourite authors and I had to pimp her out in the 2010s list. These erotic romances (and sometimes just romances) are some of my favourite novels. They push boundaries, are packed with romance and just make me feel good! I specifically chose the Snow and Ice Games series because I LOVE sport romances and I can rarely find them. On top of that, it’s winter sports and since I’m Canadian they are pretty much all we see. So, pick up some Tamsen books and see why I’m utterly OBSESSED!
Get Hot in the Winter: https://www.goodreads.com/series/215930-snow-ice-games

 

9. Life Seemed Good, But… by Richard Bell
If you’re looking for some comedy, pick up this marvelous anthology collection of funny stories by Richard Bell. Sometimes you just need a good laugh, and Richard Bell knows all about that! This incredible collection is great for teenagers and adults – there are some darker themes, but they all end up in some form of hilarity. I can’t recommend this book enough, especially since this indie bookdoes not have enough attention! Help this indie author out because this book is worth the read!
Get Laughing: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11107599-life-seemed-good-buhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11107599-life-seemed-good-but

 

10. Twisted Trilogy by Geza Tatrallyay
This was another epic series that was introduced to me by the author. Geza’s series is a Russian thriller that echoes James Bond, the Man from U.N.C.L.E and Mission Impossible, but a little more romance and a pinch of comedy. This book series is dark and definitely R rated, but it’s suspense and thrills will keep you hooked regardless. Travel across the world as mysteries are unfoiled! I can’t recommend this series enough, especially from a truly remarkable author like Geza.
Join the mission: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23618187-twisted-reasons

 

11. Mountain Man series by Gary Corbin
Great authors just keep seeking me out! It was an absolute delight to read The Mountain Man series by Gary Corbin! The thrilling, crime and mystery series is packed full of action, fun and a wee bit of romance (you know, that’s how you get me – with the romance). Gary is such an incredible author that I could barely stop binging these books. Lehigh is also such an intriguing character that I just couldn’t put these books down. I’d highly recommend picking up this epic thriller, especially if you want something that’s not R rated.
Lehigh has a dog, you should meet him!: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29953081-the-mountain-man-s-dog

 

12. Second Guessing by Gail Ward Olmsted
Ah, romance. Gail Ward Olmstead’s book should all be included here because I pretty much binged every book I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, her books aren’t all in one series so this will have to do. Jeep Tour, Driving on the Left, Guessing at Normal and Second Guessing are all fabulous romance novels that you shouldn’t bat an eyelash at. They are addicting, sweet and binge worthy! I absolutely loved them and they made my heart flutter in the 2010s!
Sweet Dreams: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37482720-second-guessing

 

13. Chalkboard Outlines by Kelley Kaye
Mystery time! I love cozy mysteries but I just don’t read enough of them! In walks Kelley Kaye with her school themed series. Emma is a high school teaching and bad things just keep happening to her! Lucky for her, the kooky cast of characters are all pretty good at solving mysteries (and deaths and murders… eek). If you want a cozy mystery with a pinch of romance, this series will do you some good!
It’s no mystery that you should read this series: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26809659-death-by-diploma

 

14. People Who Need to Die by Victor Rook
This book is absolutely hilarious! If you want some dark but twisted stories packed full of comedy then this book is for you! It’s a real shame that more people haven’t picked this book up because I laughed my way through it. Like Negin’s novel, this book is one of the few I can say actually made me laugh out loud. I looked like a psychopath laughing at this book, but it was so worth it. This book is hilarious and oh too true!
People Who Need to Read This Book (a.k.a. YOU): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23629805-people-who-need-to-die

 

15. So Near the Horizin by Jessica Koch
I love Jessica Koch’s novel and I can honestly say it’s one of the best I’ve ever read (not just for the 2010s). I’m somewhat sad I haven’t been able to get any more books by her, since this book is a must read. I would shout it from the hills! So many of my friends picked up this book after me because I couldn’t STOP recommending it. This book is heart breaking but such a worthwhile book. And… it’s all true! It reads like a romantic fiction, but in the end… it’s all real. Pick this book up, review it and share the story!
Be still my beating heart: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36482886-so-near-the-horizon

 

16. Something Like Love by Sara Richardson
More romance! I read a lot of romance, what can I say? Sara Ricahrdson writes amazing contemporary romance that leaves me feeling bubbly and happy. Ben and Paige continue with the absolute loveliness in this amazing series. Pick it up, become addicted and join me in my contemporary romance support group.
Love, love, love: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24820182-something-like-love

 

17. Cowboy Boots for Christmas by Carolyn Brown
I love Carolyn Brown’s books! I have a few on my shelf now and I just keep collecting them. This is yet another series that makes me feel warm, fuzzy and bubbly all over. Finn and Callie are just too cute and will perfectly fill up your romance shelf! Plus… cowboys! They are super sexy!
I do, I do, I do: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18509671-cowboy-boots-for-christmas

 

18. Return to You by Samantha Chase
Whoops! More romance?! What am I thinking?! The 2010s was packed full of romance for me so I just have to include the best ones! The Montegomery Brothers series is one I absolutely loved, and this time around it’s Jame and Selena making me swoon. More contemporary drama and romance for you lovely readers! Feel all loved up in 2020 my friends!
Super Sweet: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23167025-return-to-you

 

19. Playing the Game by M.Q. Barber
Okay, so this is “kind of” romance… it’s erotica! I won’t lie, I love erotica and this book is just wild. Alice meets Henry and Jay, and they start a little threesome relationship… and man is it hot! I’m stuck at book two of this series because no where has book three in physical form, so I will let you guys catch up to me before I finish out this SUPER HOT series. This book is one of the few that introduced me into erotica and man it is hot. I can’t get enough of this book!
Play the Game: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20912368-playing-the-game

 

20. The Trap by Melanie Raabe
Last, but not least, is a wonderful translated thriller that will leave you breathless. My copy of this book is worn out because I’ve loaned it out to twenty friends at this point (another reason why I love physical copies. I lend my books to my friends and we all gush over them!). Linda’s little sister Anna was murdered years ago, and now Linda sees the murderer… is she crazy? Will she kill him? Is any of this real?! Oh man, this book is wild! AND SO GOOD.
Don’t be insane, read this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30282261-the-trap

 

 

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! The 2010s were wild! So many good books were littered throughout my decade and I’m sure I will only read more good books in the next decade. Hopefully I finish a few more series, grab some more classics and have WAY MORE indie authors hit me up!

What books have you read from my list? What should I read next? Help me fill up my never ending TBR list for the 2020s!

#BookReview Second Guessing by Gail Ward Olmsted

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Second Guessing by Gail Ward Olmsted is a lovely sequel to Guessing at Normal that shouldn’t be missed!

I thought this book was a fantastic addition to this series – this time with Jill falling for Ben (a much younger guy). It was a nice twist on the story of older woman, younger man with lots of sweet romance scenes in between the dramatic bits. Add in another boy band, Lynsey and teenage drama with Jill’s daughter Carly and you’ve got a soap opera-esque women’s fiction novel!

One thing that really hit me was that Carly accurately described how I feel about the loss of my own Father. Sometimes you forget they are gone, or you just forget – it’s tough! I totally bonded with Carly over feeling like everything is okay, and then one day you wake up and realize (again) that he’s gone. It was right on the nose!

I also really enjoyed the final newspaper/magazine articles that worked better than an epilogue (if I’m being honest). It was a nice change and was a fun glimpse into life right after the novel finishes.

One ‘con’ for this book was that having the names of actual recent bands and singers could potentially age the story. It wasn’t a bad thing to have, because right now it’s recent and makes sense. But for me, thinking about this book ending up in someone’s hand in the future… will they know Maroon 5 or Nick Jonas? Will they be just as big then as they were now? The rest of this story felt like it could have aged well (maybe not the texting, but who knows where that will go in the future), but the name dropping of recent bands worries me. Older bands I can understand (I mean, they have become legends) but will those recent singers and bands be legends? That’s more of a psychological question I had about this book that didn’t ruin it by any means.

This was by no means an R rated novel – it’s a fun, sweet yet sassy PG-13 novel. I could easily see teenagers going into this book even if it is intended to be read by adults.

Overall, this book was another fun women’s fiction novel packed with romance and drama. Gail Ward Olmsted has hit it out of the park with another sweet hit! I highly recommend this novel to those who want romance (but no erotica), women’s fiction or some soap opera-esque story lines.

Four out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this novel from the author Gail Ward Olmsted in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this novel, Second Guessing, on:

Goodreads: Goodreads – Second Guessing

Amazon.com: Amazon.com – Second Guessing

Amazon.ca: Amazon.ca – Second Guessing

 

Check out Guessing at Normal (the first book!) on Amazon:

Amazon.com: Amazon.com – Guessing at Normal

Amazon.ca : Amazon.ca – Guessing at Normal

 

Find out more about Gail Ward Olmsted on:

Her website: http://www.gailolmsted.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/gwolmsted

 

Comment below – what is your favourite romance novel?

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter using the hashtag #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

 

Photo from Goodreads.

#BookReview Jeep Tour by Gail Ward Olmsted

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Jeep Tour is another stunning women’s fiction novel by Gail Ward Olmsted.

Seriously, this lady KNOWS what I’m feeling and thinking! Just the quote alone “A series of unrelated and seemingly random events that can singularly cause stress and anxiety” is my life right now – college, working, life, EVERYTHING! Within this sweet, women’s fiction are words of wisdom I never would have appreciated until I became an adult and finally understood what “adulting” meant! The metaphor comparing whack-a-mole made it even better, to be brutally honest. That’s is how life feels sometime!

This novel is the first in the “series”, but like the rebel I am – I read Jackie’s daughter’s story first! So, it was only necessary to read Jackie’s story as well! The two books can easily be read apart, but if you want a little more sanity and understanding, reading them in order would be helpful. I do have to say, you can tell that Gail has improved in her writing (not that she was bad to begin with, but you can see the growth and I LOVE when that happens! I’m a nerdy little birdie for seeing authors grow and change into sophisticated and more talented authors!).

Now, back to the story!

Middle-aged Jackie is divorced from her husband and decided to go on an adventure and hop on a Jeep Tour. She ended up meeting uber sexy tour guide Rick, and he gave her his number! Rick is young, hot, and flirty!

I related to Jackie in many ways – troubles with her job, a “Linda” in their life, troubles with relationship and wanting to just run away. But the one thing I really liked about Jackie was her ridiculous sense of humor! “Waa-mbulance” was one of the best comments I’ve ever seen, and I will definitely be entering that into my verbal thesaurus for the next time life gets tough. The accounting metaphors also had me chuckling, since I’ve taken some accounting classes (and the comments really fit how I see some of my accounting friends…).

Even the relationships in this novel felt real, which was shocking! I don’t know many people who got divorced and started sleeping with their ex when the papers were signed, but Gail made me feel like I did! I felt like Jackie and Robbie could have been my neighbors or friends of mine! It was weird, but incredible. But that’s raw talent for you! Although, sometimes I felt like this relationship was a little bit… tumultuous, or not healthy. Knowing the contents of the second book made me feel better about it, but there was still this ache in the back of my head going “NOOOO JACKIE NOOOO YOU DESERVE BETTER – NICE GUY AND GOOD SEX! YOU CAN HAVE BOTH! DON’T SETTLE FOR ONE!”

The journey Jackie embarks on is definitely a beautiful story. The ups, the downs and everything in between will make you feel! It was a beautiful story to sit down, admire the summer air and fall into. It was a relaxing read, something that women’s fiction definitely needs!

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a soft, simple read with a little splash of drama and romance. It’s a PG rated, flirty and fun book that will whisk you away into the life of a of truly incredible character. It’s a must read that will be added to my shelf!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy from the author Gail Ward Olmsted in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads: Goodreads – Jeep Tour

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Jeep Tour

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Jeep Tour

 

 

Check out the sequel with Jackie, Robbie and their daughter in Driving on the Left!

Goodreads – Goodreads – Driving on the Left

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Driving on the Left

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Driving on the Left

 

Find out more about Gail Ward Olmsted on her website: http://www.gailolmsted.com/

Or give us both a shout out on Twitter! @GWOlmsted & @ReviewAlholic

 

Comment below – have you read any novels by Gail Ward Olmsted?

 

Photo from Goodreads.

#BookReview Guessing at Normal by Gail Ward Olmsted

guessing at normal

 

Guessing at Normal is a roller coaster ride of emotions from the ever-fantastic author Gail Ward Olmsted.

Gail’s writing just clicks with me – it pulls at my emotions, it keeps me hooked and has me addicted to every word on the page! Picking up this novel, which follows a rock star and his girlfriend, was a true delight that I have to share with everyone!

Jill Griffin is your everyday, normal girl working the hotel night shift. Then one day, in walks a rock star – James Sheridan. Everyone knows his name and his band Nomad, including Jill. These two fall in love, and their lives unravel throughout this soap opera-like story. This book isn’t your Harlequin, perfect romance – it follows the ups and downs of relationships and the rock star life. Relationships aren’t perfect, and this book highlights the true insanity that relationships can be.

The character arcs and development are to die for! Seriously, these characters go through so much throughout this novel. And on top of that, they aren’t perfect (which is a good thing)! The characters have flaws, there’s bumpy roads and fights that happen, and sometimes they aren’t squeaky clean Plain Janes. As the novel progresses, you can see Jill changing and learning to deal with the life she has chosen to live, and you can see how James embraces his rock star life. The book is mostly focused on Jill’s side of the story, but we do venture into other character’s lives briefly as well.

This book is an easy read, and has lots of drama to keep you busy. You’ll be guessing what will happen next, and Gail’s epic plot twists will keep you on edge. I find Gail’s writing to be descriptive yet soft – it’s not a book that you will struggle to understand. She picks the perfect words to describe the situation, but nothing so difficult that you are dragging out the Webster’s dictionary to understand the book.

I’d say this book is PG-13. There isn’t any hard romance scenes or erotica mixed in. It’s a fun book that even teenagers could enjoy. There are some drug and alcohol comments, but nothing too brutal that most teens haven’t heard about already.

Forewarning: bring a box of tissues if you are the light of heart! There are some sad scenes in this story, but it’s worth it in the end!

Overall, this is another gem that I’m putting on my must read romance pile! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good romance novel, some juicy drama, or celebrity/rock star based plots! It’s a fun book for a fantastic summer day!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this novel from the author Gail Ward Olmsted in exchange for an honest review.

 

Purchase this book on:

Amazon.com: Amazon.com – Guessing at Normal

Amazon.ca : Amazon.ca – Guessing at Normal

 

Find out more about Gail Ward Olmsted on:

Her website: http://www.gailolmsted.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/gwolmsted

 

Comment below – have you read any novels by Gail Ward Olmsted?

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter using the hashtag #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

 

Photo from Goodreads.

#BookReview Driving on the Left by Gail Ward Olmsted

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Driving on the Left is a beautiful character drama following a mother and a daughter on their trip in Ireland.

This beautiful story really blew my socks off – I wasn’t expecting this fantastic story in what sounded like a cheesey romance novel. Following Jackie and Becca and their somewhat parallel stories was breathtaking and addicting! Seeing two women develop over this novel and how their lives are intertwined was a real treat that I highly recommend!

When reading the book, I drew parallels to Big Little Lies in the character development aspect (not the murder or soap opera like story lines), and the elegance of The Crown. While the book was more heavily focused on growth and development (with a splash of romance) over action, this book was still fast paced and kept me hooked. Having Jackie and Becca switch point of views also gave unique perspectives into the same situations (both past and present). And seeing these characters make big, life changing decisions along the way was also so incredibly moving. It was a book I’d love to bring to a book club and digest with an entire group of women!

The background of Ireland was also incredible. I’ve never been to Ireland, so I had to do some research online to see what Gail was talking about, but I felt like she gave the right descriptions to set the tone. Her descriptions were breath taking enough that I want to go to Ireland now and have my own little adventure!

This book was easily read as a stand alone (but apparently it’s a part of a series!), and would be a great book to devour in one sitting. I want a sequel to see how these characters grow and develop more, since Gail did a tremendous job of making me fall in love and feel for these characters. She does it so flawlessly, and I didn’t even notice myself yearning to know these characters and relating to them.

My only con for the book is that I want more! I want more of these characters as soon as possible! This book tells a lovely tale of reminiscing and life changes through the ages. With the addition of a Mother-Daughter story on top of the drama and romance… yeah, it’s a real hit!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Gail Ward Olmsted in exchange of an honest review.

 

About Driving on the Left:

Jeep Tour

myBook.to/JEEPTOUR

To move forward, you need to let go of the past…. Jackie Sullivan decides it’s time for a fresh start, after her marriage falls apart and she loses her job. Meeting a sexy tour guide inspires her to build a new life for herself among the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. But Jackie is looking for more than just romance. Fueled by an unflagging sense of humor and lots of caffeine, she sets out on a journey of self-discovery and she plans to get it right this time. Jackie’s had her happy, now she wants her ever after!
Purchase the book on Amazon:

Amazon.com – Driving on the Left

Amazon.ca – Driving on the Left

 

Find Gail Ward Olmsted on her website: http://www.gailolmsted.com/

Or give us both a shout out on Twitter! @GWOlmsted & @ReviewAlholic

 

Comment below – what is your favourite romance novel?