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Why hello there, and thanks for stopping by my blog! I’m about to make it very worth your while. Because yes, everyone’s doing the whole Top 10 of 2013 thing, but, with the help of some truly epic authors, I’m dragging out my book love for an entire week.

Welcome to Dahlia’s Top 10 of 2013: Two books a day for five days, a number of which are featured with a little something special – an interview with the author of said book that will hopefully help give a little bit fuller an experience of reading them.

Today, I’m gonna open the miniseries with two of my favorite love stories of the year, but it’s not only the romances that have me putting these two books together. Actually, HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno and THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US by Kasie West have the distinct honor of being the two books this year that raised a very, very specific anxiety in me while reading:

I knew, as soon as I was a couple of chapters deep into each, that I wasn’t going to think they were long enough. Not because of an abrupt ending, or poor pacing, or anything like that – simply because I knew I wasn’t going to be ready to leave these voices and characters at whatever point these authors respectively declared The End.

I was right, about both. But I loved them both anyway 😉

So, here are the books!

HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno 

Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

*Available via Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and Amazon*

So, this was actually one of my last reads of 2013, and though it was on my TBR for months, I rushed to buy and read it thanks to the lovely Katy Upperman, who gave me the feeling it might be a contender for my top 10. It absolutely, no-brainer-ly was, and I e-mailed Katie ASAP to see if she’d participate and share a little more about one of my favorite reads of the year, and she super-graciously and super-speedily obliged!

(I’ll skip my gushing about the book itself, because it’s probably my longest Goodreads review of the year; just check that out instead!)

What scene from HOW TO LOVE would/do you read at signings, and why? I actually haven’t done a reading yet, but I’m super excited about the idea! I think I’d do the Beforescene where Sawyer takes Reena out for ice cream–it’s one of their first big scenes together, and it ends with the book’s first real twist. Plus: kissing.

I want to enjoy HOW TO LOVE as part of a full sensory experience – where am I reading it, and what am I eating/smelling/listening to? Music plays a huge role in HOW TO LOVE–the Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis that Leo and Sawyer listen to, the Sam Cooke that plays in the restaurant. Beach smells, pomegranates, the rush of the highway outside the car window–all those things will always remind me of this book.

My book dream is to spot a stranger reading it on the subway – what’s yours? I actually had a friend tell me she spotted somebody reading HOW TO LOVE on the subway, and I died a little of happiness and glee–but what I think I want most is to write somebody’s favorite novel, the one they come back to over and over again.

What’s the best/coolest thing anyone’s said about your book? I actually just got an email from a teen reader who told me that reading about Reena’s struggles is helping her get through some crappy times of her own–you always wish and hope for that kind of thing as an author, but to have it actually happen knocked me back a bit in the best possible way.

From where would you most ideally want people to purchase your book?You know, I’m lucky enough to have a super amazing indie bookstore a five-minute walk from my office (what up, Brookline Booksmith!) but I totally get that not everyone does–not to mention the fact that I love Barnes and Noble so much that when I was homesick my freshman year of college I used to go there specifically to smell the book-air. Basically: be free! Live your book-buying dreams! Whatever blows your hair back! etc. etc.



Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

*Available via Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and Amazon*

I have a Kasie West confession: I haven’t yet read PIVOT POINT. I will, obviously, but until I read THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, I had no idea how desperately I’d be salivating for anything else ever penned by her hand, even if it (gasp!) isn’t Contemporary. I say this here to make the point that there is another book out there from 2013 by the same author that is apparently at least as good, which is a scary, crazy thing.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US is a straight-up romance, and it’s one between two characters I just wanted to hang out with constantly. Sometimes, that’s just the best thing you can ask for. But if you want the full experience of it, voila, here’s Kasie West herself to tell you how to get it:

What scene from THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US would/do you read at signings, and why? I do not like to read from my own book at signings. It makes me super nervous. But, since this is a hypothetical question, one of my very favorite scenes (that doesn’t give too much away) that I’d like to do at a signing comes at the end of chapter 4 and goes like this:

He pockets his phone. “Caymen.”
“Does this mean I won the game?”
“I didn’t realize we were playing a game.”
He picks up the doll and backs away with his lower-lip-biting smile. “I think you did.”

I love this scene because it’s their first hint of obvious flirting. It’s the scene where we know Xander is interested and that he’s in it.

I want to enjoy THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US as part of a full sensory experience – where am I reading it, and what am I eating/smelling/listening to? Well, to get the full experience, you’d read it in a porcelain doll store, with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. It’d be fall and the leaves outside the window would be changing colors and providing that crisp cold scent of fall. In the background your friend would be playing some acoustic guitar. That would definitely give you the feel of this book.

My book dream is to spot a stranger reading it on the subway – what’s yours? That’s a pretty awesome book dream that I share with you. I love to see my book in airport bookstores too. It makes me happy. Really, my book dream has already come true, my book is in the world and people are reading it. That is more than I ever thought possible.

What’s the best/coolest thing anyone’s said about your book? I love it when people tell me they relate to it or that it helped them out of a book slump or that it helped them somehow in their own lives. It makes me feel good to hear that. Really, just hearing from readers in general is the coolest experience ever.

From where would you most ideally want people to purchase your book? You know, I like people to purchase a book from wherever they feel best about purchasing a book. Some people don’t have a convenient bookstore close and have to purchase online. As long as people are reading, that makes me happy.


Are either of these books on your top 10 of 2013? If you haven’t read them yet, have they made it to your TBR? Tell us in the comments!