Amy Clark

September 2018 Must-Reads

What have you been reading lately? I’m excited to hear what was in your stack this month and hoping you have a few good recommendations for October!

This month I squeezed in 7 great reads that I think you will enjoy and was excited, in particular, to share my thoughts on two buzz books that will hit store shelves tomorrow- A Spark of Light & The Dream Daughter.

You can scroll on down to read those reviews today!

I can’t tell you how much I am loving my Paperwhite this year. I am astounded at the battery life, love how much it is has helped with my eye strain, and have the best time loading it up with books from my library and those inexpensive Kindle steals.

Since it is so lightweight, I carry it around everywhere with me now!

In fact, this is the first month I don’t have a big stack of actual library books in our book bin to return.

What a time saver!

And, also…

WEIRD.

Let’s get chatting about this month’s books!

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 almost 1,900 bookworms in this group now. Each month we chat about a book, but the real beauty is getting to talk 24/7 about books with people who love them as much as you.

announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in October) 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.

join here

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections:

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

In the Hurricane’s Eye by Nathaniel Philbrick

This month’s special:

New members will get a free book with code SUGARHIGH.

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 7 must-read books I tackled in September:

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

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

You know that magical question you get asked about who you would pick, living or dead, to share a dream dinner with? Serle decides to actually explore that in her charming novel, The Dinner List, laced with just the right amount of magical realism as she crafts a dream dinner for her main character.

If you are expecting a light read though, this one had a bit more weight to it than I had thought it would.

Sabrina arrives for her thirtieth birthday dinner and is greeted by her dream dinner attendees, all arranged by her best friend.  When we think of who would we ask to our table though, we rarely think of the dynamic that might happen between the guests and the tension that people from different sections of our past can bring with them.

Sabrina’s list includes several important people from her past…

Oh, and Audrey Hepburn.

I mean, why not?

We are talking about our dream dinner, right?

Through the alternating chapters, we really learn more about Sabrina’s love of her life, Tobias, and the struggles of staying together through the for better or worse of our relationships.

In particular, Serle does a great job exploring the resentment and difficulties that can be had when sacrifices must be made to stay together.

4 out of 5 Stars

Lies by T.M. Logan

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

It was an honor to get to partner up with St. Martin’s Press to share about this fun new thriller this month. Be sure to check out that post (along with a delicious Candy Apple Martini to pair this one with)!

If you haven’t yet heard of T.M. Logan it is because he is making his debut this month with, “Lies.”

Logan is a seasoned writer who has worked as a national newspaper journalist.

This is why, perhaps, this book does not seem like a debut at all.

In this story, our lead character, Joe Lynch, is driving home from work with his young son. He happens to see his wife’s car ahead of him and decides to follow her and ends up witnessing a secret rendezvous with another man.

This encounter threatens to tear the two families apart and Joe finds that he is being set up for a murder that he never committed.

If you are a fan of Peter Swanson’s writing, I have a feeling you are going to absolutely love this thriller.

Logan expertly weaves the plot of this story so well that you will find yourself questioning just who is innocent and who is guilty.

Even more than that though, we all know that a satisfying thriller has a twisty conclusion that we don’t see coming and Logan not only keeps the reader on their toes throughout the story, but he also manages to add smart twists that even a seasoned thriller reader just won’t expect.

The author really goes to great lengths to help us explore the question, can we ever really trust those closest to us?

I absolutely loved this thriller and finished it in a single day.

4 out of 5 Stars

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

I received an advanced reader of this novel from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Picoult’s latest is definitely one of those buzz books that many people have been looking forward to, including myself. I wanted to be sure to read this one early so I could share my thoughts with you on it!

In this novel, patients and staff are held hostage in an abortion clinic by a distraught gunman. As a hostage negotiator struggles to negotiate with this man, he later discovers that his daughter also happens to be one of the hostages. This situation becomes all-too-personal, but he refuses to allow anyone else to take the case over, especially after building trust and dialogue with the shooter.

As is her signature, the story is told through all the different viewpoints from someone who is protesting the clinic, someone who has just undergone an abortion, a doctor who performs the abortions, and a girl who just picked the wrong day to get birth control. With eight different viewpoints, the topic of pro-life and pro-choice is addressed from all different angles.

Picoult decides to tell this story in reverse chronological order which sometimes works (like this book, for example), but  can also sometimes create a bit of confusion and disconnection to characters for their readers. Since we open with the conclusion, I felt less vested in this story than I had hoped to be.

I  have no problem with the topics of pro-life or pro-choice, but in order to create a less biased slant on the topic, I felt a bit preached to, in certain sections, for Picoult to drive home that both sides have reasons for their viewpoints.

As we have come to expect with Picoult, she does weave a trademark twist, but it wasn’t enough to redeem the confusion and disconnection I had with these characters.

Even though this book was a miss, for me, I will still read anything Picoult serves up and hope to connect more with her next novel. Regardless, I appreciate and am always intrigued by her research when writing her novels and she did a lot of research, on both sides of the table, to create this story.

I can see how this one might spark a lively book club discussion though, but with such a hot button topic, you probably want to reserve it for a group that you can engage in that kind of dialogue with and still do life with later.

Curious who Picoult wishes would read this novel? You might appreciate her answer, especially after this month.

Although I find this topic a tired one, if you are looking for a fresh take on this controversial topic, I found this documentary a bit more compelling than this novel this month.

3 out of 5 Stars

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

Dear Mrs. Bird, is, truly, one of the most charming novels I’ve read in a long time.

Set in 1940, Emmeline Lake discovers a help wanted ad for a job with the newspaper in town and can’t believer her luck to secure a job as a reporter as she dreams of all the important stories she is going to be able to cover during the war.

When she arrives for her first day though, she realizes she is greatly mistaken about her war correspondent duties and discovers that her job is really just a typist and the person who must screen all of the letters that the advice columnist, Mrs. Henrietta Bird, receives, to be answered in a tired woman’s publication.

Mrs. Bird has a verrryyyy long list of topics she refuses to cover (referred to as UNPLEASANTNESS)  and Emmeline is required to tear these “racy” letters up into tiny pieces as soon as she realizes what unladylike topics are being asked of her.

Emmeline knows that these topics deserve responses though, although she feels too young and unqualified to always give the best responses.  She secretly begins responding to the letters under Mrs. Bird’s name and, as she becomes braver, she begins publishing  her responses too.

Emmeline quickly discovers why giving advice isn’t always what it is cracked up to be, especially as her own life begins to unravel and the consequences of war hit too close to home.

Pearce was inspired by real letter submissions from this era and topics that were explored in women’s publications around the time of World War II and, cleverly, crafted these elements into her own witty debut.

If you are a fan of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I just know you will adore this read too.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

I won a copy of this novel on GoodReads from the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you haven’t read Diane Chamberlain before, you really must! She is, truly, one of the most gifted writers.

Time travel is MY JAM so I was REALLY excited to see that her newest historical fiction novel had a science fiction spin that would be focused on time travel.

Diane Chamberlain AND time travel?

SIGN.

ME.

UP.

Set in the 1960’s, Carly’s husband has passed away in the Vietnam War before she can even share with him the news that she is pregnant.

At her routine doctor’s visit, they discover that this baby has a heart condition that cannot be treated and that her baby will die.

It is when she gets this news that her brother-in-law, a gifted physicist, shares with her that there is actually a surgery that can be done, but this surgery won’t be available until 2001.

How could he know this?

Well, let’s just say that he has time traveled a bit…

With his help, Carly time travels so her child can be part of this experimental surgery. Nothing is guaranteed, but Carly will do anything to save her daughter.

Chamberlain creates such suspense with this story that I could not put it down. This could have quickly turned corny, given the time travel aspect, but she does it with such beauty and believability, even crafting strain on the relationships of those left behind.

I hate to pick favorites, since I have loved so many of her books, but this is definitely one of my top 5 from this author!

Fans of, The Time Traveler’s Wife, will really embrace this one and the clever plot twists that surprised even me!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I’m not much of a romance reader, but this one came highly recommended by our online book club so I thought I would give it a spin.

I’m SO glad I did because this was an absolutely adorable read! If you can get the audiobook of it, you really should. The narration was absolute perfection and my husband found me snickering around the house a few times while I was listening to it.  I tell you, these headphones and my fanny pack are the perfect combo for listening to great books while tackling stuff around the house.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Unfortunately, their publishing house merged and they now must work together as executive assistants to the two CEO’s of the company. Since they find each other intolerable, the two engage in passive aggressive behavior towards one another, playing mean games to pass their time.

Now up for the same promotion, the hating game has elevated…as has their frustrations with each other.

As the tension mounts, so does their attraction for one another.

The thing is, neither knows if it is still a game or if these feelings are real.

If you loved this novel, I have a feeling that you are going to be completely charmed by, The Hating Game.

Thorne really lays on the humor and creates great sexual tension in this fun debut. I giggled through so many of these two and their antics, making it the perfect little romantic comedy for any reader.

5 out of 5 Stars

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

YA isn’t for everyone, but sometimes you find that YA novel that really works for adults and for young adults. Far From the Tree is one of those kinds of books. Benway tackles the broad topic of what it means to be family through different adoption stories.

Grace was adopted and now finds herself pregnant and putting her own daughter up for adoption. After going through this heartbreaking experience, she decides that she wants to know more about her own adoption story.

It is when she begins to search for her own family  that she discovers she has both a sister AND a brother. Each of them have had very, very different upbringings and experiences with their families and Benway tells these stories with so much heart and beauty.

I don’t typically get very weepy in books, but each of these stories really pulled at my heartstrings. Grace giving her baby up for adoption and Joaquin’s struggles to find his forever family really made my heart hurt.

I loved this book and just know that you will too! I can’t wait to read more from this author!

4 out of 5 Stars

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

June 2018 Must-Reads

July 2018 Must-Reads

August 2018 Must-Reads

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 October 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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