Amy Clark

Great Reads for Moms: December ’10 Edition

While I am still reading away,  I am so incredibly proud to say that I have tackled SIXTY books this year! I am really excited about that considering my goal this past year was to get my reading groove back.  Doing these monthly round-ups has truly been a powerful motivator to get back into the habit of reading again, so thank YOU for helping me accomplish my goal this month!

Be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another. So far it is a huge success and I have gotten a few new ideas for my own stack!

Just as a reminder, I read many more  books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks of the month here. If you want to read more, please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! My username is momadvice and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Fans of, “The Help,” will truly appreciate and enjoy this fantastic novel from Kathleen Grissom that documents a story of slavery told from two perspectives, with enough plot twists and turns to leave the reader on the edge of their seat until the final page.

Orphaned while aboard a ship from Ireland, a seven year-old Lavinia is taken in by the captain and placed in his kitchen to work among the servants. As a white girl, working in the kitchen and serving the master’s family is an unlikely place for her to be, but she is taken in and embraced by Belle, the captain’s illegitimate daughter.  As unlikely as it seems, Lavinia is taken in as part of the family and finds that she truly is loved by all who know her.  Despite being white, she is treated like the rest of the children with the same amount of love and discipline that their own children are shown.

Unfortunately, her white skin sets her apart and she finds herself grappling with difficult situations as she grows older and who she must side with when racial situations arise. At sixteen, under the guidance of the captain’s family, she is sent away to get a proper education and to be among her own race. Through an unlikely turn of events, she finds herself returning to the captain’s home,  now in the unique role as the mistress of the home. Lavinia struggles with her new role and being in charge of instructing the staff (her own former adopted family) on the household maintenance and chores that must be done. Her life takes one sad turn after another, as Lavinia struggles to find her place in a world that is so divided.

Likewise, Belle’s life is filled with sadness as she loves a man that cannot belong to her and is victim of abuse. Being the illegitimate child of the captain comes with no extra perks, and she works the kitchen as the rest of the staff, struggling to decide if she wants her papers to be set free, especially when her freedom  comes with the price of losing the love of her life.

his book is a very sad tale told through the eyes of Lavinia & Belle, both offering a unique perspective on what is happening in the home and around them  It has so many plot twists and turns that you will be up all night reading this one and sheds light on the true issues that faced slaves and the difficulties of the politics that surrounded race in those days.

(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)


The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard

The Good Daughters is a slower paced novel, built around an unlikely relationship that occurs after the Plank & the Dickerson families have daughters that are born on the same day in the same hospital. While the two families could not be more unalike, the Planks seem insistent on keeping up with the Dickerson family and keeping the two “birthday sisters” forever intertwined.

The Planks farm their land while the Dickerson family is artsy and lives hand-to-mouth in a nomadic life.  The Dickerson’s daughter Dana is obsessed with biology, struggling with her sexuality and feels she is as different as her family as she can be. Ruth, on the other hand, loves art and becomes fascinated with that world while trying to find a love to call her own.

The book is told in alternating points of view from Dana and Ruth as they go through Woodstock, love, marriage, divorce, jobs, and what happens when their parents become older.

The slow-moving plot and character build leads to a twist at the end of the story that the reader just might be expecting, but adds another little twist that gives the reader some satisfaction in understanding why these two families will forever be intertwined together.

A solid read with great character build make it a good read to tackle this winter!

(MomAdvice Rating- 3 Stars out of 5 Stars)


Honolulu by Alan Brennert

Honolulu happened to be recommended by two of my readers last month  (thanks Jennifer & Susan!) so I decided to pick this one up and give it a read. I am so glad that I did read it as it was a tiny bit reminiscent of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which was one of my favorite books this year.

This book chronicles the life of Regret, whose name speaks volumes about how her father felt about having a daughter, in 20th century Korea. Regret has a strong desire to read and learn and through some unlikely assistance from her aunt, she makes friends with a prostitute who offers to give Regret lessons in reading.  As Regret learns, she begs her family to allow her to go to school, but her father has no desire to have a learned daughter. When he discovers Regret knows how to read, he raises a hand to her and Regret knows that she cannot stay in their home any longer.

When she hears that prosperous Korean men that have moved to Hawaii are looking for mail-order brides, she decides that this will be the best way to get away from her traditional family. She submits her picture and is accepted as a bride, she looks forward to beginning a new chapter in Hawaii.

Prosperous does not begin to describe the men that meet these mail order brides though. Many are much older and much poorer than the pictures led these brides to believe and Regret finds herself with a field worker who has very little and expects no less than a traditional bride.

The reader gets to go on the journey with Regret as she is in a loveless marriage, as she struggles to make ends meet, as she makes friends with unlikely people, as she finds true love, and as she finds that her best friends and allies just happened to be her fellow mail order brides.

is a beautiful tale filled with the politics and history of 20th century Korea, including well-documented research surrounding court battles and politics that were happening during this era.  I truly was captivated until the last page- a fabulous read for any historical fiction buff!

(MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars)

The Hunger Games Triology by Suzanne Collins

I spent the rest of the month reading The Hunger Games series that everyone has been raving about.  I hate to do a separate review of each of these books, since it would give much of the plot away, but I will say that I was over the moon about the first book, really enjoyed the second one, and the third book was a disappointment to me after experiencing how fantastic the first and second book were. That isn’t to say that the third one is not good, it just is not as strong as the first two books in the series.

The story follows an unlikely heroine, named Katniss, who lives in District 12 with her mother and sister. It is not an easy life as Katniss is responsible for the hunting for her family just to make sure their family has food on the table, especially since the death of her father.

Even tougher for the family though is the annual reaping day where the government chooses two children from each district to compete in a battle to the death, leaving only one winner of their annual Hunger Games. When Katniss’ sister’s name is drawn, Katniss does the only thing she can think of…she volunteers to take her sister’s place to save her life. Paired with the baker’s son, Peeta, whom she has known since she was a child, she is thrown immediately into the ring to begin a battle to the death.

The battle is televised for everyone in the district and it is the stories of those in battle that the audience can find endearing or come to hate. Should they love who is competing, they can gather the proceeds in their district to offer their team’s district team gifts to help sustain them in battle.  The coaches for the District 12 team realize that one way that they can make the audience members truly love Peeta & Katniss is by creating a love story between them.  It is this story that they must continue to act out throughout the battle as alliances are made, broken, and lives are lost.

Lucky for Katniss, she is strong with a bow and arrow and it is her strength that will help carry her through the battle. The series is written for young adults and young girls will definitely find a lot of love for Katniss as a strong female who can measure up to the men in battle.

This series is fabulous and was devoured by both my husband and I. We actually fought over the books because we both were reading through them so quickly. I am so glad that we were able to read it together and I can’t wait until my children are old enough that they can enjoy it too.

The Hunger Games (MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)

Catching Fire (MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars)

Mockingjay (MomAdvice Rating- 3 Stars out of 5 Stars)

Not enough great reads for you? Check out our Books section of our site for monthly recommendations and ideas for making reading a priority again in your busy mom life!

Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!

What has been in your book stack this month? Feel free to share your book recommendations or feedback on any of the books that have been mentioned above! I love getting new suggestions for my book pile!


Published December 07, 2010 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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