Has your library bag been overflowing like mine? I have embarrassingly taken out far too many books than I could ever read, but love being able to have a tiny little library of my own at home. Summer reading is my favorite kind of reading and I have been enjoying lots of great books in the sunshine while the kids play.
As I have mentioned before, 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!
I hope you are continuing to enjoy these reviews as much as I have enjoyed putting them together. It is so fun to indulge in my bookworm ways and can’t wait to hear about your own summer reading.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
All children mythologize their birth… Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won’t be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story.” So begins the beautiful debut novel of Diane Setterfield, a book that took me on an adventure that I did not want to end. It was a book that interweaves two stories together seamlessly with some of the most beautiful writing I have had the pleasure of reading.
Margaret Lea has led a quiet little life, working in her father’s bookshop, and being proud of a few small autobiography write ups that she has done. She has a difficult relationship with her own mother and harbors a secret of her birth that has caused her to not be able to be close to the people she loves and has always left her feeling incomplete in her life.
When a surprising letter comes from the world-famous and reclusive author, Vida Winter, she is shocked to discover that Vida has requested her presence at her home to write the untold story of her life. She is famed for the surprising volume of books she has written in her life and is well-known the world over for her beautiful prose. Her most famous includes the book of thirteen fairy tales, that only held twelve, a mystery that has never been solved.
Even more famous though is Vida’s gift for the storytelling she has weaved for other past reporters about her life story. She has never truly told the real story to anyone, but it is her dying wish to have Margaret write her life story for the first time. She promises to tell Margaret the real story, provided she allows her to tell it in her own way at her own pace. There will be no jumping ahead in this story, but it is a story that she promises will surprise Margaret and that she will tell as truthfully to her as possible.
The story is unlike anything ever told and Margaret becomes enchanted with the life of Vida and how, in many ways, it has reflected her own life story and who she is. The story is about her mother, a set of feral twins named Adeline & Emmeline, a beautiful topiary garden that holds deep secrets, and a tragic fire that changes her life forever.
To tell the story would take away the gift of reading it, but what I can tell you is that it is every bit of suspense with each shocking and creepy turn. It is written beautifully, has references to so much literature and loveliness, and is the perfect book for any true book lover. Enjoy this book with a big cup of tea on a rainy day and you will be transported on an incredible journey.
If I could have given this book ten stars, I would. Thank you all for recommending it for my reading list!
(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a book that will stick with you for a long time after you have closed the pages. To me, the book encompassed my favorite scene in the movie Ratatouille when the food critic takes a bite of food and it sends him spiraling back in time. He is a child and his mother made him the dish and remembering the feeling of being young and what that dish symbolized to him. This book is a moment like that, but deeper and more magical as Aimee Bender captures this instance and takes it further into a more magical place.
It begins with Rose’s ninth birthday. Her mother has decided to make her favorite lemon cake to celebrate the occasion and Rose is so excited to eat it. As Rose eagerly dives into the cake, hot from the oven, and takes a bite, this bite changes her life forever. For within that bite, she is able to feel an aching sadness and sorrow in her mother that she never knew her mom possessed. It makes the cake taste horrible to her and forces her to realize that her mother is very unhappy.
The gift is not much of a gift for her as she struggles to eat foods that she normally liked that are filled with emotions that a nine year-old child is unaware that people experience. Relying heavily on prepackaged foods and one sad woman at her school cafeteria whose foods don’t taste bad to her, Rose has been forced to rethink everything about everyone.
Rose isn’t the only one with a secret though and as you read the book, you discover that each member in her family is living with their own complex secrets. To say more than that, would give the surprising plot away, but know that the secrets add much beauty and depth to the story.
Not a single word is wasted in this book. The story is beautifully told, magical, and unlike anything I have ever read. I can’t wait to read more from this author. This was definitely one of the best books of 2010!
(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)
the one that i want by Allison Winn Scotch
I am a huge fan of Allison Winn Scotch and still count her, “Time of My Life,” as one of my favorite reads and a great book to recommend to just about anyone. Her books are filled with women who have come to a crossroads at their life and must make a decision on what path to choose.
The One That I Want explores another crossroad of a woman who seems to have it all. Tilly is living the life that she has always dreamed of. She loved where she grew up and has a career as a guidance counselor and is married to her high school sweetheart. They live in a tidy little home that was purchased for them with the help of her father and, in her eyes, she has everything that she could ever want.
At a local carnival she runs into an old high school friend who has now become a fortune teller. Her old friend, Susie, decides to give Tilly a gift that she think that Tilly has never had…the gift of clarity. With the gift, if Tilly sees any pictures of the people she loves, she immediately passes out and can see visions of the future and what is to come.
What Tilly sees shocks her and she soon realizes that the life of perfection she has always thought she lived might not have been perfect. Her father is heading down a road towards alcoholism again, her husband isn’t really happy anymore, and Tilly is forced to decide if this “perfect life” is what she really wanted.
You will find yourself rooting for Tilly as the character is learning to rediscover who she really is. Her exploration comes through the help of her friends and family as Tilly rediscovers what a perfect life really is.
I love Allison’s magical spin on stories and loved this book a lot. I related much more to the characters in, “Time of My Life,” but still felt this was a strong book from the author. I was, once again, immediately sucked in and now will be drumming my fingers on the table awaiting another fantastic read from her.
PS- Allison is also on Twitter and very engaging with her fans! I spoke to her a few times and she is just as lovely as can be. I wish her all the luck in the world with this fantastic new release from her! Congrats to Allison!
(MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars)
The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlain
I have been a huge fan of Diane Chamberlain since reading, “The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes.” I was contacted by her publicist to see if I would be interested in reading her latest book, “Lies We Told,” and sharing my thoughts on it with my readers.
This story is about two sisters who are both hardworking doctors, but that is where their similarities end. Maya & Rebecca are as different as night and day and both harboring secret about the murder of their parents that have shaped them as adults.
Maya is married to a wonderful husband, but suffers from infertility that has caused a strain in her relationship with her spouse. Rebecca, on the other hand, is a free spirited woman who works for a disaster aid program where her job changes from day to day. The sisters are close and Rebecca acts as Maya’s fill-in mother since their mother has passed away.
After two hurricanes hit the state of North Carolina, Maya and her husband, Adam, decide to join the relief effort and help the organization care for those who are sick and injured since the devastating hurricanes came through. When Maya is sent to care for a group of patients being airlifted to the hospital, her helicopter crashes and Maya is thought to not have survived the crash.
While Rebecca and Adam continue to work for the disaster aid organization, they are both left devastated without Maya. They turn to one another for comfort as they cling to the small piece of hope that Maya may have survived.
Maya, meanwhile, awakens to find she is being cared for on an isolated island by a very pregnant Tully and her husband. They work hard to nurse her back to health and care for her until she can be rescued, while her family never knows that she is still alive and is planning her memorial service.
I loved this book, but hated the improbable and tidy ending of the book. I wished that the author went a little further after all of the character development. The ending left me shaking my head and wishing that it hadn’t ended the way it did. If you can look past the ending, the book was a good summer read.
(MomAdvice Rating- 3 Stars out of 5 Stars)
Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff
I took a gamble on reading this book because it is nothing like anything I would normally pick up. I am not a big fan of the romance genre though so my thoughts on this book come from that place.
This book was a cross between The Notebook and Bridges of Madison County… a beautiful story of unrequited love that will leave you a tad frustrated and rooting for true love in the end. I read about it in a magazine and considering the author’s credits (producing shows like The Wonder Years, Dawson’s Creek, & Sisters) thought it would be a great book to add to my beach bag.
The story takes place during WWII and Lily Davis is awaiting the return of her husband, Paul, from the war. The two married too soon and had only been together two weeks before Paul was shipped off to war. Lily is left for three years on her own waiting for the man she hardly knows to return so they can begin their life together. During that three years though, Lily has changed so much and her fiery, independent spirit has grown even more fiery and independent.
As the town prepares for the soldiers’ return, Italian firework expert, Jake Russo, is hired to put together a welcome home firework show for the town. A chance encounter, brings Lily and Jake together and Lily finds herself falling deeply in love with Jake…a love like she has never experienced before.
Within a few short days, Lily begins to question who she is and who she would be if she stayed with her husband Paul. She is left with the tough decision of honoring her soldier husband and family’s wishes or following her heart and leaving with Jake.
The author captures their love beautifully in this short book with a surprising twist at the end that will leave your heart aching for Lily and the decisions she had to make.
A quick read that is perfect for the romance-loving reader and Nicholas Sparks die-hards. This is definitely chick flick material!
(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!