Amy Clark

May 2018 Must-Reads

May 2018 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

If you have been wondering what I’ve been reading this month, I have quite the stack for you today.

JAZZ HANDS.

I won’t even lie.

I’m feeling PRETTY smug that I read ten books in the crazy mom month of May. There were just SO many incredible books that came out this month and I’ve been so inspired to get reading thanks to all of these summer book reading lists that are coming out now. Looking for a few for your beach bag too? Stay tuned for next week’s post where I break down exactly what I think you should pack in your beach bag for 2018.

If you can’t get enough of my reviews (and missed my announcement last week!) be sure to subscribe to The Pickup Line newsletter to get weekly advice on your book reading. I am teaming up with these ladies to share one book selection for moms and one book selection for your teens every single Wednesday. Plus, you can get caught up on all of the latest headline news, grab a meal idea, and even get some cool new tunes for your car too. Score!

My Usual Reminders

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! 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.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! I can’t believe we have over 1,600 bookworms in this group. Our discussion this month was AMAZING and it is so much fun to have so many participating (and enjoying) the books that I selected to share. I announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in June) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page.

Need another challenge to push you out of your reading comfort zone? Be sure to download this year’s Reading Challenge Worksheet.

Book of the Month

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections:

❃ The Anomaly by Michael Rutger—recommended by BOTM Editorial Director Siobhan Jones

❃ The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir—recommended by Guest Judge Troian Bellisario

❃ Calypso by David Sedaris—recommended by BOTM Judge Liberty Hardy

❃ The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang—recommended by BOTM Readers Committee member Celestine Williams

❃ When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri—recommended by BOTM Judge Samantha Irby

We’re also excited to offer Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl this month. Members can add this book to their box for just $9.99.

This month’s special:

New members will get a free book with code USESPF. How it works: Members will pay $14.99 when they sign up for a subscription that will renew monthly. They’ll also receive a credit for a free book at the time of this transaction (redeemable at any time). Then they’ll be renewed at the end of their second month (unless they cancel).

Here are 10 must-read books I tackled in May:

All We Ever Wanted

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

I received a copy of this book from the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have come to rely upon Emily Giffin as a great summer escape and was surprised by the meat and depth that I found in her latest novel, All We Ever WantedHot off the trails of the #metoo movement, Giffin explores a fictional story of an inappropriate image that is passed around a prep school of a teen girl, passed out and scantily dressed, captioned with a racist caption below the image. At the center of the controversy is one of the most prominent families and their well-respected son who took the picture that could cost him his coveted college acceptance to Princeton. The case must be brought to trial at the school and there are more twists and turns than either of them could ever expect.

This book is EXCELLENT and I finished it in just a day. It would lend itself so well to a book club discussion as we grapple with social media and the sexualization of teen girls. Giffin crafts characters that are believable and layered. She also creates a smart and unexpected ending for this story that I think you will really appreciate.

Although I’ve appreciated Giffin’s books in the past, I have to say that this one is, by far, my favorite!

Reading Challenge Completed- A book you can read in a day

5 out of 5 Stars

The Mars Room

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Are you a fan of Orange is the New Black? If so, I have a feeling that you will really enjoy, The Mars Room, a bleak and unflinchingly real look at today’s prison system. Set in 2003, Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Romy worked as a stripper at a nightclub, called The Mars Room, and has one client who ends up stalking her. To protect herself and her child, she kills the man, has a rather unfair trial, and is sent to prison.

The story that unfolds though goes way beyond Romy’s story and explores the path of many of her fellow prisoners and how they got there. With dark and unsentimental humor, Kushner develops these incredible stories of each prisoner in such a way that you can really tell that she has done her research as a writer. The stories are often brutal, sad, and laced with truth about our broken prison system.

I listened to this one on audiobook and enjoyed Kushner’s own narration of her book. Although the material was dark and depressing, Kushner does an incredible job illustrating what prison life is like and writes these stories with such raw honesty that you can’t help but feel sympathy for so many that are trapped in the prison system.

4 out of 5 Stars

Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties

Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagan

I received a copy of this book from the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties is a great book to add to your beach bag this summer and priced perfectly at just $3.99! I admit, the story is not a unique one. A woman is feeling great with her basic middle-age life, when her husband tells her that he wants a divorce and is involved in a relationship with another woman. What makes this book unique though is that Maggie refuses to give into drinking and wallowing away in her sorrows and instead decides to take that trip to Rome, that she had planned to do with her husband, and do it as a single woman. Her response is what makes the book so great.

Women can find themselves at any age and this story shows that life, for sure, does not need to be over if your marriage fails. In fact, your life can be even better than before.

Let’s read more stories like these!

Reading Challenge Completed- a book with a strong female character

4 out of 5 Stars

The Good Liar

The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

I received a copy of this book from the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Over the years, McKenzie has become one of my most reliable and well-loved chick lit authors. That’s why I was excited to dig into, The Good Liar, a  decidedly different kind of book. This thriller explores the story of a Chicago building explosion and the lives that have been altered for three women.

A year has passed and these women are taking part in a documentary series telling their very different stories. Cecily, for example, becomes the poster child, of sorts, for this explosion when an image of her running away from the building is leaked to the media. It is this photographer who decides to dive in deeper and there are A LOT of secrets surrounding this explosion. Kate, her best friend, has fled since the accident and is harboring some big secrets of her own.  Meanwhile, Franny, happened to catch this horror unfold on television and knows that her birth mom, that she hoped to one day meet, is killed in this explosion.

Nothing is at it seems though and these women are all protecting an element of themselves that they hope the world never knows. Some of these characters, like Cecily, are relatable and easy to love. Others, like Kate, gave me a bit of a struggle because her motivations were out of my own realms of understanding.

This is a captivating read that kept me guessing until the final pages about who would have started such a horrific turn of events. McKenzie’s own background in the law field (she still practices while writing books- what a powerhouse!) really rounds out this story in a believable and twisted way.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Little Clan

The Little Clan by Iris Martin Cohen

By far, one of my favorite books this month was, The Little Clan, and I would recommend it for a fantastic bookish escape this summer. This debut novel is about two old friends who decide to open a Victorian-inspired literary salon at an aging Manhattan arts club.

While Ava is quiet and bookish, her friend Stephanie is in the scheme for the fame and parties. This coming-of-age story really drives home the challenges of female friendships and the struggles of finding yourself in your twenties.

This  has great humor and Cohen’s sentences really shine, thanks to her exquisite storytelling. I enjoyed the pacing in this book and the smart nods to the great classics that Ava loves.  This book definitely does not read like a debut novel and it makes me excited to read more from her in the future.

Reading Challenge Completed- A book that takes place in a library

5 out of 5 Stars

Our Kind of Cruelty

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

I love a good dark thriller and Our Kind of Cruelty definitely delivers with a psychologically dark story. From the first page, you realize that the main character, Mike Hayes, is quite unstable.  Scarred by a difficult childhood, it is clear that he doesn’t really know how relationships work and he becomes obsessed with repairing and pursuing his old girlfriend, Verity.

Unfortunately, the mental instability is crippled further because Verity likes to play games with Mike where she flirts and pursues other people. These games end when she gives the signal for Mike to intercept for an evening of fun together. That is why these games cause Mike to question if Verity’s new relationship is real or if she is continuing to play games with him.

He is definitely in to win it so the reader is taken on each cringe-worthy moment with Mike as he tries to coerce Verity back into his life, ultimately costing everyone everything.

I am struggling with the review on this one because I did finish it in a day, thanks to the great writing, but I found the plot to be really thin.  I also would read another book from this author, but I would have trouble recommending this one unless you are just looking for a quick thriller escape that doesn’t require a big investment.

3 out of 5 Stars

Rainbirds

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Rainbirds explores the idea of finding out that someone in your family is murdered and then the process of discovering who they really were. Ren Ishida was not close to his sister when he receives news that she has been violently stabbed and killed one night on the way home. She has been living in Akakawa and he decides to see if he can understand more about who she had become and figure out the puzzling mystery of her death.

He is quickly offered her teaching position at a prestigious school and even takes over the same lodging situation that his sister had, allowing him to really immerse himself into her life. Haunted by dreams of a young girl who is trying to tell him something, Ren has the chance to really delve into both their childhoods and who they have become. Goenawan’s prose is gorgeous, haunting, and beautiful. If you were a fan of Everything I Never Told You I think you will appreciate this book in the same way. The plot is not necessarily moving at a quick pace, it is just an achingly beautiful story.

Reading Challenge Completed- A book that is set in a country that’s exotic to you

4 out of 5 Stars

The Music Shop

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

I had a really good feeling that I would love this month’s MomAdvice Book Club selection and I wasn’t disappointed. The Music Shopis a fun story set in the late 80’s and centers around an old record store  and it’s quirky shop owner, Frank. Frank is known for his gift of connecting the right people with the right piece of music, just when they need it most.

When a beautiful young woman, named Ilse, comes to his store asking for music lessons, Frank must put down his self-imposed thick wall and share parts of his heart with her.

In between these sweet chapters are the stories of Frank’s childhood where his mother would share the stories behind the music with him. As a reader, it pulls back the curtain on why Frank is the way he is and why he has been alone for so long.

The story is pulled together with some really adorable townspeople as they all love and support Frank and his shop. Although the ending is a bit cheesy and the plot unrealistic at times, I loved it in the same ways that I loved, A Man Called Ove, and the beauty in the storytelling of adorably quirky old men.

4 out of 5 Stars

laura-and-emma

Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead

I listened to, Laura & Emma, and I do think that maybe this just might be the reason why I enjoyed this one so much. This story, to me, read like a series of short stories and not necessarily as one cohesive piece. I also will say, that if the characters are quirky, nine times out of ten I will adore them, and  I found Laura to be oddly interesting.

Laura is the daughter of a wealthy Manhattan couple and finds herself in the family-way after a very odd one-night stand. She decides to keep the baby and raise her as a single mother with the help of her family and friends.

Greathead bounces around through this story going back and forth from the plot of these complex mother and daughter relationships to the thoughts that consume Laura regarding social class, sex, motherhood, friendship, and everything else in between.

If I read this one, I might not have enjoyed it as much as I did, but it was through listening to this and approaching it in short story format that I really begin to appreciate Greathead’s writing. If you liked Dept. of Speculation, I think you will enjoy this debut.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Electric Woman The Electric Woman by Tessa Fontaine

I’m such a sucker for a great memoir and can’t rave enough about, The Electric Woman. Tessa Fontaine shares two death-defying stories…her own and the incredible story of her mother who defied all predictions of death for many years after suffering a series of strokes.

Many of us dream of escaping it all, but Tessa actually does this and applies for a job working with the World of Wonders, America’s last traveling side show. Bravely, she tries all sorts of incredible acts within this company like sword swallowing, snake charming, and even performing as an electric woman. Surrounding herself with some of the world’s most unusual people, she shares their stories with kindness and love for this misfit family and her time with them.

Layered between these captivating moments, she weaves in the parallel life of her mother and her own death-defying act of traveling the world in the midst of health struggles that should have killed her. She reflects poetically on the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship and how we grow to understand our parents more and more as we age.

5 out of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2018 Must-Reads

February 2018 Must-Reads

March 2018 Must-Reads

April 2018 Must-Reads

May 2018 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What did you read this month? 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 June 01, 2018 by:

Amy Clark

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

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