Amy Clark

March 2016 Must-Reads

March 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I am so excited to share eight books that I read this month with you.  It was a really incredible month of reading and we have even got to feature a couple of these authors in our Sundays With Writers series before revealing this month’s list. Sometimes I just can’t wait for a monthly round-up to connect you with a good book!

Regardless of your taste, I have something for everyone this month. Selections range from true crime to fantasy to historical fiction to contemporary to a memoir-type advice column.  I am hoping one of these books finds its way into your stack since I try to add a lot of variety to each month’s round-up!

As my daughter & I embark on a Spring Break trip together (just us two!!), I am sure I will have many more books to share with you while we are on our break.  Let me know if there is anything that you think I should read while we are on vacation. I’d love to hear your recommendations.

Let’s not waste any more time! Here are 8 new books that I indulged in this month! 

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

If you are a regular reader on the blog, you know I have talked, and talked, and talked about this book. What I want to say is that you should only read my brief description below and go into this one without knowing anything. It will make the book so much more enjoyable- I promise.

This book reads a bit like a mystery as you try to solve the puzzle of a child’s unusual first years of life. The story intertwines with a doctor nearing the end of his career due to a deadly diagnosis and he could be the only one who could make Noah and his mother’s life better. What Noah is suffering from is beyond what any parent could comprehend.

Gripping, thought provoking, and and an excellent pick for any book club!

After you are done reading it, you can read my interview with Sharon Guskin as we discuss her debut novel. It’s a REALLY interesting interview and it gave me a lot to think about! 

5 Out of 5 Stars

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Good grief, Be Frank With Me, was just adorable from start to finish- I can’t recommend it enough!

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy-Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.

As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

Frank is one one of the sweetest characters that is so perfectly formed that you just want to give this sweet little boy a hug when you get done with this book. I found myself giggling through some of Frank’s antics and well up when he just couldn’t fit in with his peers. I can’t imagine the research that went into forming all of Frank’s numerous thoughts about actors, movies, and all the fun facts that he had gathered over the years that seemed to consume him. The supporting characters were just as fascinating especially Frank’s eccentric mother.

The only criticism with this one is the ending felt unresolved and wasn’t wrapped up very tidy- it just left me dangling. I am wondering if that is because the author plans a sequel. If so, I can’t wait to read it because I already miss Frank.

I am so excited that Julia will be joining us this week for our Sundays With Writers series. You won’t want to miss it- she’s absolutely charming! Be sure to check back on Sunday! 

5 Out of 5 Stars

Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

This book was selected by my local book club and was, admittedly, a book that I probably would not have picked up on my own. I am so incredibly glad I read it though and I think you will be too.

I just love when a book educates you on a time in history that you have been completely unaware of. Ryan pulls off a magnificent literary feat by tackling six decades set in Taiwan over the course of the twentieth century. It is horrific what so many endured during this time and begins with the story of the unnamed narrator’s father being captured because he is suspected of Communist activities. He is kept for over a decade in brutal and inhumane conditions. It then follows his return home, the unkindness of others, the stress of feeling watched, and the other generations that continue to struggle through the decades with their own issues. It’s far too much to go into in a quick review, but you will learn a lot along the way!

Things I would note with this one. First, I wish I would have educated myself a bit before diving into it. I knew nothing about the Chinese nationalists or the history of Taiwan and the author offers no real introduction into the history of that, assuming the reader can follow along. After a browse through Wikipedia, I was able to understand better, but it was a confusing time in politics and reading that first would have helped me through the book.

Secondly, the book did lag for me in parts, but the good parts in this far outweigh the slow parts. Power through and I hope this time in history is as eye-opening for you as it was me. She is a masterful storyteller and I’m glad I read this!

I am also so very honored that Shawna will be joining us this next month for Sundays With Writers. While researching for this interview, I am astonished at the level of commitment she had to this book. I can’t wait to share that with you! 

Editor’s Note- This book does contain graphic violence that was inflicted on these prisoners. 

4 Out of 5 Stars

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Columbine by Dave Cullen

I have been wanting to read this one since Laura, from Hollywood Housewife, shared her list of best true crime novels.

It is impossible to read this book and not learn something new about the devastating Columbine tragedy. Cullen dedicated a decade of his life compiling the real facts around this case and the lives impacted by this senseless tragedy. Working from what is happening currently and flashing back to the preparations for this crime, we are able to get a clearer understanding of motive in a very eye-opening way.

Cullen also opens our eyes to the fictionalized stories that were shared by the media and the true psychological problems that these shooters had, their motives behind the shooting, and those dealing with the aftermath of these tragedies as students, teachers, parents, and community members. After you read how the media botched the reporting up on so much of this, I guarantee it will make you feel differently about what is reported in the world.

The psychological research on these two killers and how so many of these victims reclaimed their lives again makes for a truly compelling read.

Editor’s Note- This book does contain graphic violence and language. 

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White

The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White

I have loved reading the GoodReads Choice Award nominations this year. If you haven’t taken a peek at the list, I have gathered the nominees for you!

The Perfect Son is a beautiful story of a struggling father and son relationship and the mother that holds them together. When Ella has an unexpected heart attack, the result of a heart condition, and must be hospitalized the men in the family must come together to help her and themselves. As a strained relationship between a father and son becomes further strained Felix finds himself suddenly in charge of his son who has Tourette’s and needs more assistance than most teenage boys. Forced to reconcile their differences, they find comfort in unlikely friends and in each other.

It was such an honor to chat with Barbara about her book and about parenting a child with an invisible disability.  Even if you don’t grab her book (which you should), I gained so much wisdom from asking her about the letting go process as you see your kids off to college. It’s a really good read! 

I hope you love her book as much as I did!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I am one of those people that has a hard time committing to series books. Are you that way too? When I was asked to help promote the new movie though, I thought I better get familiar with the series.

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences.

I loved this book even more than I thought I would, although I know I am a bit behind on the times embracing this one. I had been avoiding it because so many had compared it to the Hunger Games series and I doubted much could live up to that. Although there were similarities, I loved the world that Roth created, the factions that divide society and limitations they create in relationships, and the love story. I’m really happy I read this one!

Should I keep continuing through this book series? Let me know!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

Have you joined our book club yet? I hope you can join in on the fun this year!

This past month our book club selection was Tiny Little Thing. I was so excited to dive in since I enjoyed A Hundred Summers so much!

In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November.

But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.

This was a fantastic historical fiction escape as the curtain is pulled back on a high society couple striving for power as a politician. You need not read William’s’ first books to follow along with this plot. I really appreciated the final plot twists in this one and the author ended it in a completely unexpected way. A wonderful escape with juicy secrets!

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

Joshilyn Jackson delivers another solid read with her latest novel, The Opposite of Everyone.  I was such a big fan of Someone Else’s Love Story that I was anxious to dive into this new one.  With this one though, I admit , it took awhile for me to connect with the characters in the beginning of this story.
I blame it a little on the set-up of her book.
Rather than alternating past and present in chapter format, Jackson weaves the two stories of past and present into one chapter smoothly without transition. At first, this can be confusing, but it is worth the confusion as she weaves her reader through plot twist after plot twist of a girl growing up in a group home due to her mother’s incarceration to her powerful role as a lawyer finding out that her mother has kept a big life-changing secret from her.Follow the story of a broken little girl who feels she made the one mistake that cost her a relationship with her mother into a grown woman seeking desperately to connect with family members she never knew, with many surprises along the way.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Once again, our book club pushes me to try another new book.  This month’s read was, Tiny Beautiful Things

I, honestly, would have never picked this book up if it had not been selected as a book club pick. Dear Sugar was an anonymous online advice column that Stray answered letters she received online under the name of Sugar. This book is a collection of some of her greatest answers to life’s questions.

The thing that made it so different is typically advice columnist do not interject their own stories and opinions into their advice, while Strayed wrote honestly about her own struggles in a way that was raw, gritty, and real. Shocking at times were her own struggles that spilled on the pages, but beauty & truth was weaved into these answers too. It would be impossible to not a get a nugget out of each answer, even if the situation didn’t relate to you. Her advice to her younger self, a letter written to graduates, and the struggles of when someone should start a family were three of the pieces that really stood out to me. Not for the faint of heart if vulgarity isn’t your thing. If you can handle it though, it’s worth the read!

I still have not picked up her book, Wildyet. What did you think of it? Please let me know if it is worth the read!

Editor’s Note: REALLY graphic and graphic descriptions of sexual abuse.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Read With Me

Read With Me This Year:

My 2016 Book Stack

March 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What should I be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

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Published March 31, 2016 by:

Amy Clark

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

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