Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

The Best Beach Reads For Your Summer Stack

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

Beach reads are required reading in the warmer months. These summer books deliver on page-turners filled with family drama, steamy love stories, and small-town feelings. Bookmark this summer reading list for your next library day.

The Best Beach Reads For Your Summer Stack from MomAdvice.com

Beach books have been a hot top request in our book club and today I wanted to share a few of my top recommendations for this summer’s reading.

After all, summers should be filled with good books, fun drinks, and fictional escapes. I also have one REALLY compelling memoir that reads as fast as fiction.

Escape real life with a few of my favorite reads this year.

The Best Beach Reads For Your Summer

The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements & Onjuli Datta

Vogue described this as “a perfect summer read,” and I have to co-sign this comment. This book is now my go-to summer recommendation for a sophisticated romance with enough dimension for a thoughtful book club discussion.


The fake dating trope rarely works for me, but this debut examines the media and public’s obsession with Hollywood figures.

Whitman (“Win) Tagore is a well-known actress making headlines with a jet-setting playboy named Leo Milanowski.

The two have made headlines for a decade with their on-again, off-again romance. The public doesn’t know that the entire relationship is staged.


The two manipulate the press for necessary coverage and to gain favor and attention when necessary. All these situations are carefully orchestrated events between two friends.


As you might guess, this gets complicated but in all the best ways. Rather than leaning into the stereotypical plotlines, this goes into smart places like examining what it is like to be a woman of color in Hollywood.


This wife writing duo truly crafted one of my new favorite romances. I can’t wait to see what they write together next! (P.S.- Stay tuned for a summer interview with this fantastic writing duo on the Book Gang Podcast)

Cover Story

Cover Story by Susan Rigetti

This buzzy novel has been making its rounds on bookstagram, and that’s how it landed in my stack. Described as Inventing Anna meets Catch Me If You Can, get ready to meet the next prominent con artist. 

While the novel clocks in at 362 pages, the page count is quite deceptive and can easily be read in a day. Told in diary entries, emails, and text messages, the reader can observe a naive aspiring writer get conned in real-time. 

Lora can’t believe she has landed a summer internship at ELLE Magazine, where she meets Cat Wolff, a contributing editor and heir to a clean-energy mogul. The two begin a side project crafting a short story for a potential magazine submission.

Cat has story ideas, but they aren’t fleshed out well. Lora is a great writer but struggling to make rent. Why not solve both issues at once? 

Cat’s brilliant plan is that Lora can move into the Plaza Hotel with her, and the two can work on the story together.  Lora’s name won’t be on the work, but she can earn a salary and get her start as a ghostwriter. 

Lora grapples with this decision but loves the lifestyle that Cat provides and the ability to do what she loves. It becomes more difficult as she awaits those precious paychecks and as her work begins to gain notoriety. Lora doesn’t know that Cat is being investigated by the FBI, and she may be the next victim.

What makes this story the perfect reading slump buster is that it moves SO FAST by including these different documents and diary entries.

I have been immersed in both Inventing Anna and the memoir that it helped to inspire (My Friend Anna). If you are familiar with this story, it borrows most of its plot from that experience. 

It wasn’t until the 58% mark that the plot switches. 

What makes it the reason you want to finish it is that the last fifteen pages will give you the best plot twist whiplash that you will, FOR SURE, never see coming.

The book is worth the read for the ending alone.

Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

It is the early 1960s, and Elizabeth Zott wants to do her job and get credit for it. As a chemist, her work environment is less than desirable, with a boy’s club mentality among her coworkers at the Hastings Research Institute.

One man, though, treats Elizabeth with the respect she’s always desired, and their relationship evolves into a mutually beneficial exchange that brings them both unexpected joy. 

In a pivotal plot point, Elizabeth has unexpectedly become a single mother and an incredible television star on a cooking show called Supper at Six.

What makes the show such a success is Elizabeth’s refusal to see women as just housewives and to see them as aspiring chemists too. 

The leading lady isn’t the only notable character because Garmus has made an entire beloved cast of characters for the reader to adore, including an adorable dog that the reader will fall in love with. 

This novel is quirky, heartwarming, and feminist-forward in all the right ways.

This will be on my best books of the year list and would be the perfect selection for any book club. Read this before the TV series on Apple+.

Deconstructed

Deconstructed by Liz Talley

Finlay Donovan fans will devour this fun Southern story that blends heart and humor into a perfectly satisfying story.  

An antique-shop owner overhears a gossipy conversation about her husband that draws into question whether her husband has been unfaithful to her or not.

If her husband has been cheating, she will not let him get away with it, and she decides to hire a private investigator to look into this affair and what else he could be hiding. 

What she doesn’t expect is that her new assistant is the perfect accomplice to help her uncover his hidden secrets.

Not only is Ruby a wildly talented seamstress, turning her store’s trash into treasures, but she also knows all the right people to get any job done in town. 

These two women become unlikely friends, and there are some lovely layers to this story with checkered pasts and town secrets. 

What the Fireflies Knew

What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris

It is no secret that I am a sucker for coming-of-age stories, and this debut delivered on so much beauty. If you enjoyed our book club book, The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones, this novel would hit all the sweet spots. 

Almost-eleven-year-old Kenyatta Bernice (KB) has undergone some challenging changes in her life.

Not only has her father died, but her mother also has left.

She and Nia (her sister) are dropped off at her estranged grandfather’s home for an indefinite amount of time with no explained reasons. 

Told through KB’s eyes, this story is beautifully told as she learns more about what tore her mother and grandfather apart.

It’s a big summer of discovery for many reasons.

Still, one of the most powerful is the transition between the two sisters as Nia begins to separate herself from her sister and move away from the things of her youth to embark on the big girlhood journey of self-discovery (and boys).

I have never read this stage so beautifully captured- it reminded me a lot of the transition between my sister and me at that stage.

If you want a book that you want to hug when you finish, this is the book to add to your stack.

Harris writes vividly and beautifully with turns of phrases that are a delight to read.

It also layers in more significant themes like mental illness, race, and identity that add depth to this sweet summer adventure story.  

Described as an ode to “black girlhood and adolescence,” this was one of my favorite library discoveries.

Cleopatra and Frankenstein

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

The book opens with a young painter (Cleo) meeting an older successful businessman (Frank). They could not be more opposite but immediately are drawn to one another’s company.

They find a deep appreciation for one another and also acquire their nicknames, Cleopatra and Frankenstein, yielding the book’s unique title. 

Cleo requires a Green Card, and Frank offers her both the steadiness that her artistic life lacks and a permanent residence in the states. 

We follow the two as their marriage goes through the highs of new love to the monotony in the middle and then what it feels like to fall out of love. 

Each chapter is a month, and the observations of family and friends round out the story as they too observe this relationship and try to forge their own in different ways. 

There is so much humor throughout these pages, even in heartbreaking moments in their marriage.

Their brief stint as parents of a sugar glider (go ahead and look that up on Tik Tok and tell me you aren’t intrigued) may be some of the most memorable chapters I’ve read in a long time.  

Mellors writing draws Salley Rooney comparisons. Comparatively, I thought this delivered on Katherine Heiney writing joy.

It’s not just the unlikely love story though, for me. It is the dry humor where this one shined and made it such a wildly memorable debut. 

If you are looking for really readable literary fiction, this is it.

Book Lovers

Book Lovers Emily Henry

Beach Read was my favorite book by this author until this latest contemporary romance dropped.

When a New York City literary agent goes on a small-town getaway with her sister, the two work through a checklist of adventures that you would appreciate in any Hallmark movie. 

Expecting to find romance with a hunky local in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, is just what Nora believe is destined to happen. 

She couldn’t expect that a difficult editor she worked with from the city just might be living there too. 

In Henry’s signature writing style, this has heart, humor, and loads of bookish moments.

This love story also loves to poke a little fun at the romance tropes while leaning into a few of them in its own story.

Fans of Elin Hilderbrand or Jennifer Weiner should definitely get acquainted with Emily Henry’s backlist selections as well as this fantastic new release.

This Will Be Funny Later

This Will Be Funny Later by Jenny Pentland

This fascinating memoir of Jenny Pentland’s childhood is the book that you won’t be able to put down.

Imagine your real-life becomes episodes for a sitcom. Most of us can’t fathom this existence, but the life of Jenny (and her siblings) became the show we know as “Roseanne. “

Jenny’s mom, Roseanne Arnold, is more of a compassionate side note, while the meat of this story focuses on Jenny’s anxieties from paparazzi encounters and struggles with obesity.

In response to these trials, she goes through various programs, including those infamous wilderness camps and fat camps. 

A couple of truth bombs about Pentland’s journey (both in these programs and with the paparazzi) may have yielded an audible gasp. I was also unfamiliar with Roseanne’s backstory, so the captured moments are pretty surprising.

Through even these sad and challenging moments, Pentland embraces the funny.

I, indeed, will count this among my favorite memoirs.   (P.S.- Stay tuned for a summer interview with Jenny on my podcast)

The Kaiju Preservation Society

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

Craving a summer blockbuster film in a book? This lighthearted science fiction book is just what your beach bag needs.

The timing for this is just as the pandemic is descending on the world, but there is no need to stick around to see the devastation when you get to go to another world.

THANK GOD!

Jamie is a driver for an Uber Eats competitor although he never expected his corporate job to take such a turn.

Stuck in the rat race of trying to make ends meet, he ends up making a life-changing series of food deliveries to someone that promises him a job that can get him away from what’s happening in the world.

AND pay him far better too.

Jamie joins a team of scientists in an alternate world intent on the preservation of Kaijus (giant dinosaur monsters).

This book is filled with laughs and “boy humor” that I couldn’t wait to pass on to my husband, from laugh-out-loud mating rituals to heart-pounding danger.

I love that Scalzi never takes things too seriously and isn’t afraid to poke a little fun at some of the more predictable themes.

Stick around for the author’s note on this one- it includes a tale of a double-saved manuscript that was lost and how this book came to be.

Fool Me Once

Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead

I fell in love with Ashley Winstead’s thrilling debut and was so surprised to see that her next book was a romance.

This gigantic genre leap shouldn’t have worked so well, but Winstead delivered on a laugh-out-loud plot that has made me a believer that she can write anything.

Lee works as a communications director at a women-run electric car company.

While serious and successful at work, Lee definitely leans into the “work hard play hard” mindset. She’s not afraid to throw back a few or call a guy for a one night stand. 

Her carefree attitude isn’t because she’s so easygoing.

There have been many heartbreaks in her life (both in her childhood and as she is older), which is why she keeps so many at a distance.

This jumping to conclusions and mistrust is exactly what ends an important relationship in her life with some of her signature sabotage.

It is also why, five years later, she is stunned to discover that she must reunite with this old boyfriend when the two are both working towards getting a clean energy bill rolling. 

With a political backdrop that doesn’t lean into the negativity, lots of chemistry between old flames, and loads of LOLs, this is destined to be a favorite in this summer’s book stack.

The Truth About Ben And June

The Truth About Ben and June by Alex Kiester

Thank you to the publishing house for the complimentary copy. 

The story opens with the disappearance of a young mother, and Kiester builds a beautifully believable mystery layered with big book club themes. 

Ben never expected to be at a police station inquiring about the procedure for filing a missing person case, but that is precisely where he has found himself.

The juggle of work and family without his wife takes its toll quickly and he would do anything to have June back.

Ben discovers that he doesn’t really know his wife at all and, frankly, neither do her friends.

Kiester takes the reader on a journey to understand June’s motives and a rarely explored topic in literature. To tell you what this is, though, would rob you of the beauty in this read. 

CW: suicide ideation

The Best Psychological Thriller Books to Read

Looking for a few thrillers to add to this stack? Be sure to check out this list of the best psychological thriller books to check out!

What beach reads would you add to today’s stack? Let me know what I’m missing in the comments below!

The Best Beach Reads For Your Summer Stack from MomAdvice.com

13 Books By AAPI Authors to Read Right Now

Friday, May 6th, 2022
13 Books By AAPI Authors to Read Right Now from MomAdvice.com

Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month with these 11 AAPI authors.

May is AAPI Heritage Month, and we want to celebrate these voices with a well-curated book stack. In case you didn’t know, the month of May was chosen for AAPI Heritage Month because it commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843. .

In honor of this month, Kristin from Fables Books joins the show to talk about the bookstore’s StoryGraph reading challenge and share some of their best picks for a memorable reading month.

Listen to the show (the show notes are here) or scroll below for some of our favorite recommendations!

13 Books By AAPI Authors to Read Right Now

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

In this award-winning coming-of-age memoir, Zauner returns home to care for her mother as she battles an arduous journey with cancer.

As with all mother and daughter relationships, this relationship has a lot of complexity, and Zauner struggles with not meeting her mother’s expectations. 

To bring comfort to her mother, she longs to recreate all of the Korean dishes she grew up with to comfort her mother (and herself) through this time.

Zauner brings much humor to the beginning of this book, as she shares her childhood memories of her mother’s younger days.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

I’ve read all of Choi’s books and this book remains my favorite.

If you are looking for a YA read that is just as sweet and adorable as Eleanor & Park you are going to be madly in love with this unlikely love story.

Penny and Sam both have complex relationships with their mothers  and have had their own share of struggles in love.

It is when Sam is having a panic attack over the news that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant that Penny enters his life and goes from becoming an acquaintance to his, “emergency contact.”

The two begin texting and it is through these texts that their relationship grows and blossoms.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan 

I was craving a fantasy escape and Scribd editors recommended this audiobook. This is the first book in a new fantasy series called the Celestial Kingdom.

Their blur said, “This dazzling debut whisks readers away to a beautiful world full of mythological creatures and magic as a girl attempts to free her imprisoned mother, the moon goddess, and is forced to choose between family and the fate of the world. A new imagining of Chinese folklore, Tan’s epic adventure, and a coming-of-age tale will leave fantasy lovers eager for more.” 

This novel is not a young adult read but could be shared with a young adult in your life. This year, I could see this being added as an Alex Award nominee because it would appeal to a younger audience. The allegiance to your family also makes this a great pick for a family book club or a fun road trip audiobook. 

If The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was one of your book club favorites, I think you will fall in love with this magical story too. The themes of family, loyalty, and love really resonated with me.  

A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua

A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua 

Craving an adventure story? If you are a fan of Lisa See’s writing, you will fall in love with this gorgeous debut. SPOILER ALERT: this one has “big backlist book club” potential for our 2023 year!

Scarlett works in a factory where she meets and falls in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. When Boss discovers she is pregnant with his first son, he sends her away to America, where she can be cared for by the top doctors and kept on the proper diet and regime to ensure he will have the healthy son he has always wanted.

Unfortunately, this place that Boss has sent her to is nothing like it had been described in the brochures. The conditions are horrible, the caretaker is evil, and Scarlett would do anything to escape.

Follow along as Scarlett escapes this life in a story you will be unable to put down.

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

This book is for you if the world feels positively dystopian around women’s rights.

Being a good mother is challenging, but this dystopian nightmare acts as a social commentary on the unrelenting demands of motherhood.

In this story, Frida Liu struggles to keep afloat at her job and balance the challenges of parenting a toddler as a single mother. As Frida tries to keep up with these daily demands, she decides to run out to grab a file while her daughter is at home napping. This grave error doesn’t go unnoticed because the state has eyes on mothers who aren’t doing a good job. 

The consequences of this action require her to go to school to learn how to be a good mother, and it is BRUTAL. Chan uncovers all of our tender spots as mothers and lays them bear on how they don’t measure up. 

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

A beautiful book from start to finish, this is a sweeping, intergenerational Korean family story set in Japan and the cultural struggles that they face over the years.

The book begins in the early 1900’s with the unplanned pregnancy of a Korean girl, named Sunja. Sunja faces a lot of humiliation when she discovers she isn’t the only one who has captured her lover’s eye. When her path crosses with a tubercular minister, he offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life as thanks for helping him through his difficult illness.

The story then unfolds as generation after generation deal with their own cultural challenges, the discrimination they must face, and the poverty that threatens to take everything away from them.

At almost 500 pages, this one is a bit of a commitment, but I finished it in just a few short days because I had to know what would happen to these characters. 

Read this and then watch the Apple+ series to further immerse yourself!

A Good Family by A.H. Kim

A Good Family by A.H. Kim

Need a soapy beach bag read for the summer? This domestic drama should fit the bill perfectly.

ADHD medication sure would be a lot easier to give if it was created into gummies, wouldn’t it?  

What if the messaging of the drug could allow for a wider range of customers with a better (and more deceptive) marketing message too?

One successful pharmaceutical agent moves up the corporate ladder with these “savvy” marketing ideas and ends up behind bars, thanks to a whistleblower.

Who would want to see her behind bars so badly and what was to gain?

This mystery, told in alternating perspectives, made this into one fantastic novel that was just as good as any Netflix drama.

Fans of, Inventing Anna will also appreciate all the details of this prison scene and how she makes the most of every minute behind bars.

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

When their mother dies, Lucia starts hearing voices and it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. Lucia plows ahead and marries an incredible man, only to leave him and have a baby with a young Latino immigrant.

Once she has her child though, she finds that the voices are beginning again, impacting her ability to care for her child. She moves her new family to Ecuador and back again, but no matter where she is, her mental illness follows her.

If you are on the hunt for a great book to discuss with your own book club, this is such a good one.

It really explores what our roles are when someone we love has a mental illness and the blurred lines of caring for them while still allowing them the freedom to make their own decisions about their health.

Need more ideas? Here is what is on my AAPI reading wish list this year!

Four Treasures of the Sky

The Fortunes of Jaded Women

Nuclear Family

Siren Queen

Fables Books Recommends:

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Park Chan

The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu

The Tangleroot Palace: Stories by Marjorie Liu

Monstress

Monstress by Marjorie Liu 

Sari Not Sari by Sonya Singh

Sari Not Sari by Sonya Singh

Blue Skinned Gods by SJ Sindu

Blue Skinned Gods by SJ Sindu

What book would you recommend for AAPI Heritage Month?

13 Books By AAPI Authors to Read Right Now from MomAdvice.com

The Best Psychological Thriller Books To Read

Monday, April 18th, 2022
The Best Psychological Thriller Books to Read from MomAdvice.com

Looking for great psychological thriller books? This list offers mystery, unreliable narrators, and creepy serial killers. 5-star thrillers guaranteed!

I’ll lead with an unpopular book opinion- The Woman in the Window & The Silent Patient are not my favorite thrillers.

Embracing the unreliable narrator trope requires more than replicating the next Gillian Flynn Gone Girl experience. It must come with a good backstory and the writing chops to lead me down the wrong path.

Do these books exist? 

You bet they do! 

Today I’m sharing 12 thrillers to get your book stack started. 

The Best Psychological Thriller Books To Read

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

Mary Kubica is a MomAdvice favorite and for a good reason. She writes some of the best psychological thrillers, and I’ve been sharing about her work since her debut (read my exclusive interview on that one). 

In fact, I am such a fan that Mary graciously agreed to co-host the podcast with me to share about HER favorite psychological thrillers, so definitely give this episode a listen to learn more about her writing process and the books she loves. 

LISTEN HERE:

Did you know that Local Woman Missing won the Audie Award? If you are looking for an audiobook to devour, I would recommend adding this to your listening stack.

Kubica builds a great twisty story that has the just right amount of suspense and whodunit fun that had me flipping the pages as fast as I could.

It is unusual for more than one person to go missing in a neighborhood, but that’s what happens in this story leaving one to wonder if these cases could be related. Not only do two women disappear, but a six-year-old little girl has also vanished.

Eleven years later, though, the child is found, and everyone wants to know where she could have been and how this is connected to the other disappearances.

This book is fast-paced, has inventive twists, and reads like a suspenseful film.  I, truly, had zero idea where this was going and that made it a pleasure to read from start to finish. 

The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Meaty enough to be a book club pick, shocking enough to have you holding your breath, and twisty enough to keep you guessing until the final pages. What more could a girl want in a thriller?

Motherhood doesn’t come naturally to everyone and Audrain shows how this can make connections with our children difficult, especially if we don’t have any example of what that looks like.

This is the case for Blythe who ends up having a child that is unusually difficult and where she struggles to find connection.

Is it because she hasn’t had the right example or is it because there really is something disturbing about her child?

The book shares Blythe’s story, but also shares the story of generations of women before her that have all had disturbing relationships with their children.

When a tragedy happens, the reader is left wondering if this is really brought on by the child or if Blythe’s past is just catching up to her.

White Smoke by Tiffany Jackson

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

Marigold struggles with anxiety after a bedbug situation in her home caused significant stress, among other difficult situations she has had to face.

Her newly blended family is embarking on a new journey, though it is just the change they all need. Her mom has accepted a new job, and one of these fun perks is rent-free living. 

When they pull up to their newly renovated home, they realize that the neighborhood is unexpectedly creepy. All the houses are rundown, and the neighbors are less than welcoming.

But that isn’t the only thing that’s unwelcoming.

The house has a vibe to it that is deeply unsettling. 

Jackson’s love for the Goosebumps series inspired this fast-paced YA psychological thriller. If you need a further endorsement, R.L. Stine said: “The creeps come on slowly, then start to build. I wanted to scream, but I was too busy to turn pages. I had to know.”

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

Marin seems to be leading the perfect life- a fantastic husband, a beautiful son, and a successful career. 

Her life comes to a crashing halt when she is out shopping and her son is taken.  In this split second of her looking away, her son goes missing, and her entire world is shattered.

One year later, Marin’s marriage is struggling, they still have been unable to find her son, and she is in a spiraling depression. 

She hires a private investigator to reexamine the case as a last-ditch attempt. 

What she digs up, though, isn’t information about Sebastian but surprising information about her husband that changes everything. 

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

This thriller doesn’t lean into the intoxicated woman trope or a therapist who suddenly has become the love interest in the couple’s story. For that, we are thankful. 

Marissa and Matthew Bishop are the title’s “golden couple” who surprisingly found their perfect marriage in trouble. Who better get their marriage on track than Avery Chambers, whose controversial therapy methods have gotten her kicked out of traditional therapy settings and featured in headline news. 

Her program guarantees results even if it explores beyond the boundaries of the traditional settings. As each viewpoint is revealed, the reader is led on a wild goose hunt on who offers the most reliable view since they ALL harbor a few secrets. 

This writing duo delivers again on a fast-paced thriller with solid twists. 

I love that they wrote in a few red herrings that had me fixating that I knew the endings or twists, but I was wrong.

We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth

We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth

Eliza is one of only two women who are hired as a programmer at a gaming company. Unfortunately, her presence isn’t welcomed, particularly in the programming department, where Eliza becomes a source of ridicule and is harassed.

When the incident is reported, her boss doesn’t take the necessary next steps and goes along with the “boys will be boys” toxic dialogue instead of addressing the issue correctly. 

When Eliza takes the incident to a journalist, all hell breaks loose as people begin to demonize, target, and dangerously harass her. One user, in particular, has made it his mission to destroy Eliza for her actions.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Need a thriller you can finish in a single day? This novel from Lisa Jewell is just the ticket!

I am, admittedly, fascinated by cults and the power of charismatic leaders to manipulate people to do unthinkable things. I’m reading another cult thriller RIGHT NOW.

In this story, Libby returns home from work to find a letter written to her on her 25th birthday. 

It is the letter that she has been waiting for all her life.

Within the note, she learns the identity of her birth parents and that she is the sole inheritor of an abandoned mansion in one of London’s most fashionable neighborhoods that are worth millions.

This house has a dark history that makes it less desirable than one might expect. 

Twenty-five years ago, the police were called to this house because there were reports of a baby crying. 

This baby, healthy and happy, was found in her crib- safe and sound.

Downstairs though, were three dead bodies, all dressed in black, and the other four children had mysteriously disappeared.

Get the surprising backstory in this twisty thriller.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Told from the husband’s perspective, we are quickly enveloped in how much he adores his wife. They seem like the perfect couple, and she does all the things any good wife would do. She’s beautiful, she keeps track of everyone’s activities, she makes incredible dinners, and they have a great romantic life. 

It’s just that their new favorite hobby is working as a team to seduce and murder 

This web of lies affects everyone in their house, like their poor unsuspecting children, and it becomes more and more difficult to keep anyone from finding out, especially when people turn up dead.

This added and believable suspense is what I loved about this story and kept me engaged until those final pages.

Too Good To Be True by Carola Lovering

Too Good to Be True by Carola Lovering

While Skye is over the moon to find her soulmate, her family and friends remain skeptical about Burke because she knows so little about him. 

It doesn’t help that Burke doesn’t have a lot of friends or family to back up the story of his past.

Burke’s real story is deeply twisted with another woman, and Skye is about to find out why she has become the target of Burke’s affection and how deep his lies go.

This is one of those books that you should read as little as possible about and enjoy one of those crazy 24-hour stay-up-way-too-late thriller vibes.

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

Nina’s mom is a con artist who does her best to keep Nina in a good school and has given her the best childhood she can, despite her profession.

When Nina finds friendship with a wealthy boy at school, they find comfort in being outcasts together. 

As their friendship blossoms into something more, they get busted by his father, and Nina is removed from the school and taken away from him.

Now Nina works as a high-end con artist herself; she scopes social media accounts for the fabulously wealthy, drugs them up, and then takes all she can from their home.

When she hits a rough financial patch, she remembers the boy she fell in love with…oh, and the passcode to the family safe that holds millions.

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

Lucy knows that she is not the wife that Diana has envisioned for her son.  Lucy struggles with the distance Diana seems to create within them, despite her charitable spirit and working tirelessly for others as an advocate for female refugees.

When Diana unexpectedly dies of suicide, her family is surprised and realizes that her cancer diagnosis may have just been too much for her.

The problem?

The autopsy shows that she never had cancer, but the body does show traces of poison and evidence of suffocation.

Diana’s complex relationships come into play as you try to piece together what has happened. Told in alternating points of view, through past and present, you realize just how many people had a motive in Diana’s death and how many layers she did have to her own story.

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

Trigger warnings galore- proceed with caution.

Leigh has been running from her past for twenty years, and the only one who knows the truth is her estranged sister. Callie hasn’t been a part of Leigh’s life as she battles a lifetime of addiction. Yet, the sisters must come together because time is running out, and life as they both know it could end.

I would suggest reading the letter to the reader BEFORE reading this one, which you will find tucked in at the back of this book. 

Slaughter chose to set this story during pandemic times, and it is laced with all the daily dilemmas we are finding ourselves in with our current pandemic and why she felt it was important for this story.

This book is so gripping and has so many layers to it. The dynamics between how these two sisters weather the pandemic and the big moral dilemmas these two face make this an incredibly captivating read.

Looking for more thriller fun?

19 thrillers to keep you up all night
19 more thrillers to keep you up all night
read my exclusive interview with Ruth Ware

QUESTION: What’s the latest thriller you read that kept you up past your bedtime? Comment below!

How to Use the Storygraph App For a Better Reading Life

Friday, March 11th, 2022
How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

Discover books based on your mood? This tutorial will teach you how to use this user-friendly reading app to get personalized book recommendations!

Nadia Odunayo
Nadia Odunayo

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with the CEO and Founder of The Storygraph, Nadia Odunayo, on my podcast (MomAdvice Book Gang). 

Our partnered bookshop, Fables Books, had started a reading challenge, and we planned to work through their challenge with our listeners. The problem was that I didn’t know anything about the app, and I had a feeling that I couldn’t be the only one. 

As a new user, I wanted to document my year with the app and thought, who better to explain this than Nadia? 

You can listen to the show (read the show notes) on the embedded player or follow along in today’s tutorial that includes some of my favorite excerpts from our discussion.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

How to Use the Storygraph App

What is Storygraph?

This reading app offers personalized recommendations with simple tracking and insightful stats. The thing that sets this app apart from its competitor is that it can offer suggestions based on your mood through machine learning AI.

The real question for many of us (including myself) is the most significant difference between GoodReads vs. Storygraph?

According to Nadia…A LOT.

Nadia said, “There are a lot of differences between our app and Goodreads, and I think it does come from a place of rather than me starting from I’m going to build a different Goodreads. It was, what do readers want and need?

You have this dashboard where we show you everything from the moods of the books you’ve read, the pace, the book size, most read authors, pages, and books read throughout the year.

So there’s a graph where you can see each month, how many books and pages did you read? But also, within a month, you can see each day how many pages you read.

So there’s a lot more detail within the tracking and the analytics that you can get just in the stats dashboard already.

Even when you come on board, even when you just import your Goodreads, I think you get to see your reading history in a completely different way to how you’ve never seen it before.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

How To Import GoodReads to StoryGraph?

If you are scared to import your data, Nadia offers this assurance. 

“We always say, import your Goodreads data, have a look at the stats, and then click around a bit. If you don’t like it in three clicks about, you can delete all of your account, all of your data, and that’s it. It doesn’t affect your Goodreads account.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

Under Manage Account: 

Step 1- Visit the Import/Export Page on Goodreads and Click the Export Library Button

Step 2- Upload (or drag and drop) the file you downloaded in Step 1.

Step 3- Kick off the import by clicking the button, and you will receive an email once your import is complete. 

Personally, I was surprised how quickly this processed all my data! Even as a seasoned GoodReads user, this took just a few minutes! 

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

How Can StoryGraph Personalize Your Reading?

The differences aren’t just in reading a book based on your current mood. You can also discover curated reading lists of book discoveries based on your other reading preferences.

Nadia shared, “We give you space to tell us what you’re interested in. So not only can you tell us your favorite genres and characteristics you like in a book, whether it’s strong world-building or good quality writing, there’s also a free text box where you can say, I want to read about found family or enemies to lovers, whatever kind of tropes you like, whatever themes you like.

So maybe you want to learn about a particular part of history or a particular country. You can put that stuff in there, and we will serve the best books for you.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com
where to locate a buddy read option on the app

How Do You Do A Buddy Read on Storygraph?

If you have always wanted to do a Buddy Read, this app can help you and its intelligent design capabilities.

First, it is essential to note you do need to change your settings to participate in a buddy read.

Nadia shared, “Buddy Reads is something where the default for everybody is “nobody.” You can go in there and toggle it to where friends can invite me or the people I’m following can invite me, or anybody can invite me. You can toggle it to that.”

Why?

The app is designed with a user’s privacy in mind. So, for example, you get to decide who can invite you to a buddy read.

To change this, go into Preferences and update the Community section with your preferred privacy settings.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

Let’s try a PRETEND buddy read with our most anticipated book- Carrie Soto Is Back to show you the experience.

Once you have this updated, you can select the book you want to read, start a buddy read and invite up to 4 people to join on the read.

Don’t have a buddy to do a read with? They can even build suggestions through their machine-learning-powered reading buddy recommendations.

This feature launched in December 2021, and Nadia is particularly proud of this.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com
this is the screen you will see once you both join a buddy read

“I think the thing that people love the most about our Buddy Read feature is you often have to have a checkpoint. You often have to say, okay, we’re all going to regroup end of chapter four and discuss.

Whereas now, if something happens that you want to remark on or you have a question, you can leave the comment at that specific point, and the comment is locked until each participant gets to that part.

So if I leave a comment at 27 pages and we’re doing a Buddy Read, and you’re on 24 pages, you won’t even get a notification because there’s no point.”

Basically, it blocks the Buddy Read from spoilers and yields a more fluid conversation.

The best part about this is that Nadia reassures us that she is only on Version 1, which means we have many more things to look forward to.

How Is Their Book Rating System is Different from GoodReads?

The biggest frustration for most GoodReads users is the inability to do half or quarter-star rankings.

With Storygraph, you no longer have to round up or down on your reviews because this is built into their design.

This is based on user feedback, in particular, bookstagrammers shared their desire to have this option in place, and Storygraph delivered.

How Do I Do a Reading Challenge on StoryGraph?

Nadia walked us through the entire process of joining a challenge on Storygraph.

“Go to the Reading Challenges page, which you can get to from either the top bar (on Desktop) or click for the menu on the three horizontal black lines on the top right (if you’re on mobile).

On the top right, there is a button that says Browse. If you click there, what you’ll see is you’ll see a page with the Storygraph’s hosted challenges at the top. We host three challenges each year.

And then there’s a filter menu where you can search for different keywords with nine categories, and you can basically go through the categories and see what you might be interested in.

So things people might be doing like a New York Review of Books Challenge, Read the World Challenge or Pop Culture (Taylor Swift) Challenge, or some popular TV show. (for example)

So you can either click through and browse the categories or filter the keywords and go from there.

Or you can also do a rainbow challenge or actually beat the TBR categories for people who are like, ‘I just want to get through the books in my house.'”

Does anyone else need a “Beat the TBR Challenge,” or is it just me?

How Do You Mark DNF (Did Not Finish) Books?

In GoodReads, you need custom tags to DNF your books.

StoryGraph builds this feature right into their app.

Nadia understood that GoodReads users had to add these books to a special shelf and that it was challenging to track WHY a user didn’t finish a book. So her response was to build it right into the product.

She said, “To mark a book as DNF is equivalent to marking it as to-read or read.

You just toggle over and mark it with DNF rather than adding a review with a star rating.

Storygraph gives you a space to add your reasoning or your reason for why you didn’t finish this book.”

What Feature Might Be Helpful For Empathetic Readers?

When writing and leaving book reviews on Storygraph, you can add your own content warnings. These content warnings don’t come just from users- they also come from authors and publishers.

Nadia shared, “When you submit a review, you can list what you think the graphic, moderate, and minor content warnings are.

And then what we do is we collate what everybody says, and we show like a smart summary of the likely content warnings.

So you can click through and see every single content warning tagged in the book, then click through and see the review.

But we also have author-approved content warnings, so authors can officially submit their own warnings. And then you can also see them side by side as well.

So we give space for readers to express what they found triggering in the book or what they think someone else may find triggering.

Because not all the time, the authors and the publishers will spot everything. But we also have a space for authors to say officially, these are the warnings.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com
join my book club

How Can I Use The Storygraph For My Book Club?

I asked Nadia about hosting our book club on the Storygraph, and she said that the app is designed to offer Reading Challenges and that participants can also split off into buddy reads.

She also hinted that new book club features are in the works too. I’m very excited to see what develops for the MomAdvice Book Club.

Will The App Always Be This Clutter-Free?

I did ask this question right out of the gate, and I loved Nadia’s response. 

Nadia shared, “So our number one goal and aim is to keep it clean and clutter-free. And the number one person that we’re serving is the reader, and we want to keep it that way for as long as it’s possible. 

And that means that we have proceeds from our Plus plan (see below for more details), which means we don’t have to have ads. If we ever had to have ads, we would ask the community about it. 

If you’re involved with the Storygraph on our social media, you’ll notice that we ask; we have regular polls or comment boxes because we’re essentially always getting feedback from the community before we deliver a feature. 

But, right now, we’re not thinking of ads, and we want to just focus on the product and keeping it clean and streamlined, and making sure the user experience is excellent.”

Why Are They Offering Pro Accounts & Why Should You Upgrade?

Everything is free in an ideal world, but Plus accounts are the key to keeping the app clutter-free and funding their company.

Nadia shared, “The reason Plus exists is because we’re trying to see can we stay independent and sustainable and just continuing to grow for several, several years to come.”

You can unlock many features with a Storygraph Plus membership, and readers can try this FREE without even putting in a credit card.

What features does Nadia think are the best features about Pro?

In our interview, she shared, “One of the most awesome features that we have is the Up Next Suggestions feature.

And so that essentially is a page of recommendations curated just for you from books on your to-read pile, suggesting what you should read next and giving you the reason why it changes as your reading changes….

So, for example, one of the prompts might be you’re doing really well in your reading goal, so you can go for a longer book here’s, a long book on your to-read.

Or you’re falling behind on your pages goal, here is a fast-paced book for you to read.

The other thing that people love is advanced Stats. As part of Advanced Stats, there’s a Compare Stats Page where you can compare any two time periods. So you can compare any two months in your reading history.

The other cool thing is if you are going to do a buddy read. One of the really cool Plus features is I can put your username in, and it will look at both of our readings and both of our series piles and suggest perfect books for us to read together, which I think is (if I do say so myself) pretty cool.

And there’s a bunch more, including commenting and voting on the reading roadmap.”

What Is the Storygraph Roadmap?

Perhaps the thing that makes Storygraph so unique is that you can see and suggest updates to the app in the company’s roadmap.

The transparency is refreshing, and it’s so exciting to be a part of the building process as a user.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com

Did I Make the Switch To Storygraph This Year?

I have been a loyal GoodReads user for many, many years. However, I will admit that many of the things that I wish were offered all happen to live on the Storygraph app.

Not only did I make the switch to Storygraph, but I also plan to document my journey for you based on the curated lists and to-be-read piles that Storygraph has prioritized for me.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com
this perspective made me realize why I’m burnt out on romance

It IMMEDIATELY changed my reading life to see these charts, to know the pages I’ve read, and just what kind of reader I am.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from MomAdvice.com
another capture from my stats

For the record, I mainly read fiction books that are emotional, reflective, and mysterious. I typically choose medium-paced books that clock in at 300-499 pages long.

I signed up for their Pro account because I’m so excited to support this woman-owned start-up business (and her team). I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve learned.

It was such an honor to do this interview, and I hope you will make space to listen to Nadia’s journey. She also shares the genre that took her by surprise, how a pages reading challenge is changing her reading life, and how she reads as a busy entrepreneur.

Do you use The Storygraph app? If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them here!

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries

Thursday, February 17th, 2022

What could be more fun than reading books about books and reading? So today, we have gathered fifteen of our favorite reads that embrace these bookish themes and book-filled settings for book-lovers. Of course, true bibliophiles know that plotlines related to books offer comfort to readers, and today’s book list embraces many of my favorite literary treasures that have brought me joy over the years.

Today’s post expands on some of my recent suggestions on the MomAdvice Book Gang podcast (listen below or check out the show notes here). In this episode, we discussed our favorite books that embraced fictional bookstore settings and libraries. This episode has you covered whether you are looking for a love story or that perfect true crime nonfiction book escape with. 

Book Gang Podcast Episode 22: Books About Books 

Listen to the Show:

Listen below or listen on your favorite podcast listening platform! Thank you to our guest, Fables Books, for joining me as my guest- join their reading challenge

Let’s expand on this show with some of my favorite literary gems including some of the best backlist books with this theme today.

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries

 

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

 

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

This book was charming and a book for a true book lover.

A.J. Fikry’s wife has died, his bookstore is failing, and a prized possession has been stolen from his book collection.

Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island. He even begins to find that the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him.

These days A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore that changes his life forever…

 

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

This book shares the story of a mysterious 1986 fire in the Los Angeles Public Library. The fire was so great that it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours.

By the time the fire was extinguished, it had consumed over four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more.

Orlean is a big fan of the library, and she weaves in a lot of fun library trivia for the reader. She also showcases the bigger story about the role the library plays in our lives. 

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

 

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This book 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 life, working in her father’s bookshop and doing small autobiography write-ups. When a surprising letter comes, from a world-famous reclusive author, she is shocked to discover that her presence has been requested. Vida asks that Margaret write the untold story of her life.

The story is unlike anything ever told and Margaret becomes enchanted. More than that Vidas’s life, in many ways, mirrors her own life story.

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The story is told through the unique perspective of Death, which adds a certain darkness to this book. Death shares the story of taking souls and the increase in unnecessary and cruel deaths during the terrifying reign of Hitler.

A poor German girl is taken in by a foster family enduring poverty and the heartache of losing her family members. 

Her moments of joy come when her adopted father teaches her how to read. She becomes, truly, engrossed in learning and reading the written word.

In a time of great poverty and where books were scarce, this little girl becomes a “book thief” stealing books for reading. The books serve as treasures of hope during a time of aching heartbreak in her life.

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

 

Beach Read by Emily Henry

If you are looking for a surprisingly deep love story, I know you will fall in love with this beautiful read. 

January and Augustus are both writers that end up living next door to each other.

While January works hard to pen a perfectly romantic happily ever after, Augustus writes well-researched stories that kill off his characters.

When they find out they both have writer’s block, the two strike a deal designed to get them out of their writing slump.

Augustus will have to spend his summer writing something happy while January writes something that might rival the next Great American Novel.

As they learn more about each other’s process, they find mutual respect for their craft.

Oh, and they also find that love can develop OFF the pages.

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

Amy Byler’s husband unexpectedly left her, and for three years, she has been raising her kids alone.

When Amy’s husband takes the kids for the summer, she decides to escape her suburban life to head to New York City. Why not make the most of this single time by heading to a conference and visiting an old friend.

Her friend is impossibly stylish and works for a magazine. She thinks Amy’s getaway would make for an excellent piece.

Amy receives a makeover and is encouraged to try dating again.

She finds herself quite at home in the city and grapples with the blissful absence of responsibility.

This book is perfect. It is filled with literary references, nerd humor, a wonderful friendship, and a Nora Ephron-worthy love story.

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

I love a meta reading experience, and that’s what you will find in this book of comfort food literature.

A local library has a reading list that can be found tucked in books encouraging readers to check out certain books.  Within the list are several modern-day classics and older classics that will bring so much to the reader’s life.

Although he can’t remember what she read, Widow Mukesh remembers how much his wife loved reading. Aleisha, the librarian, uses this list to make her recommendations, and a beautiful friendship blossoms between the two.

There is something so comforting about how books bring people together. I think this book showcases the magic of that experience in a memorable way.

Join the MomAdvice Book Club and read this delightful book with me. 

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

 

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

This deeply satisfying read tackles the struggles of every working mother who is trying to balance it all.

Egan creates the perfect balance of humor and heartbreak as Alice tries to navigate life’s tricky middle-aged terrains. 

Alice Pearse is a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed age.

Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act.” The routine works well until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter quits, and her job takes an unexpected turn. 

This book got me in all the feels.

I found Alice one of the most relatable characters I have read. I related so well to the struggles of being in the trenches as a working parent.

You can read our interview with Elisabeth Egan in our Sundays With Writers series!  I can’t recommend this book enough!

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

I knew I would love this book because it had all the perfect theme ingredients-  librarians, old books, magic, and carnivals.

Simon, a young librarian, receives a unique gift. This gifted book turns out to be a travel log for a carnival in the 1700s.  He discovers that the drowning death of a circus mermaid is eerily coincidental to his own mother’s drowning. It just so happens that his mother is also a former circus mermaid and these occurrences happened on the same day.

If their family is cursed, his sister could be the next victim, and he will do anything to save her.

The chapters alternate between the travel log (complete with unique sketch drawings) and the present day. More than anything, Simon wants to stop the curse on his family.

The author manages to bring these stories together beautifully with a satisfying conclusion to these mysterious drownings.

We also have a Sunday with Writers interview with Erika Swyler about this fabulous book. Read the interview. 

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Samantha loves her job as a school librarian and is devastated when their beloved principal passes away.

Samantha’s old crush though turns out to be her school’s next principal.  She is thrilled for her school… and awfully thrilled for herself too. 

She remembers Duncan as a hilarious jokester that any kid would love, and any woman would find charming. 

The Duncan Carpenter that arrives at their school is nothing like the man she remembered. 

This guy is the opposite of fun, and he seems determined to remove any element of fun in their school.

Sam doesn’t know how Duncan has gotten to this point and that, folks, is where the meat of the story lies. 

Center delivers another pull-at-your-heartstrings story with quirky characters, believable depth, and a focus on finding strength in community.

Her love stories are always solid and this is another winner that I think you are going to love!

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

This extraordinary novel is the perfect love letter to a bookworm.

Nina has her day arranged exactly as she likes it. Her carefully scheduled routine includes working at the bookstore, leading book clubs, participating in a trivia team, and scheduled reading time

Nina doesn’t have a relationship with her father, so it is a complete surprise when she discovers he has included her in his will.

She also finds out she has MULTIPLE siblings from his different marriages. For someone introverted, the overwhelm is enormous.

Not only that, her trivia nemesis is turning out to be the guy of her dreams.

Unfortunately, her life is just too busy to squeeze him in.

Nina’s struggle to evolve and open up to others is what makes Nina so endearing and relatable.

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

The Editor by Steven Rowley

Set in the 1990s, James Smale sells his first book to a major publishing house and is assigned his first editor.

He could have never guessed that his editor would be Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis!

Mrs. Onassis had fallen in love with his autobiographical novel that tells the stories of his own dysfunctional family.

Many notes of his story end up falling short in his draft, and his editor knows it is because James hasn’t truly embraced his family’s story.

She encourages him to return home and to make the necessary edits his readers deserve.

Rowley treats her legacy with the kindness and beauty it deserves without speculation, but with stunning observation.

As she helps this writer, you can’t help to fall in love with her even more.

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Imagine a book club for men that read romance novels to figure out new ways to woo their women.

This is the adorable concept Adams has concocted for her series, and I enjoyed every minute of this first read.

This had some fun laugh-out-loud parts, and the characters are pretty endearing.

It is a good thing they are as Adams uses a different bromance club member for each book.

I’ve happily followed this series on its many adventures. 

 

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

 

The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess

This beautiful summer romance explores the concept of self-discovery and finding love in unlikely places.

The story takes place in Cape Cod in the summer of 1987. Eve is an aspiring writer who has been dissatisfied with her current job.

When the opportunity arises to work as an assistant to a famous New Yorker writer, Eve jumps at the chance. Not only does she get to act as his research assistant, she also gets to live there and immerse herself in their lives.

With this job, she also receives a coveted invitation to attend their annual “Book Party.” Attendees are encouraged to dress like their favorite literary characters, a fun annual costume tradition.

Much drama unfolds in this short bookish read.

Dukess does a great job creating Eve’s story and the struggles people face to break into the literary world.

Her difficulties and her discoveries are beautifully fleshed out in this gorgeous little page-turner.

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries from MomAdvice.com

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Need a perfectly perfect young adult read?

This is the story of two friends, Rachel & Henry, that ended up growing apart.  Rachel moved away, but before her move she left a love letter to Henry that never received a response.

She has complicated feelings against Henry when she moves back for never responding to her letter. Rachel also ends up getting a job at the local bookshop which just so happens to be owned and run by Henry’s family.

This brings the two together once again. 

Here, amid the books, secrets are revealed between the pages as Rachel & Henry find friendship and love again in one another.

It is a bookworm’s dream and gives you lots of great book ideas to dive into once you finish reading it.

Looking for more great book suggestions? Be sure to check out the MomAdvice Book Gang podcast or visit our books section for more great book ideas!

What is your favorite book about books, bookstores or libraries?

December 2021 Must-Reads

Monday, December 27th, 2021

Are you ready for winter reading? I’m sharing a stack of 14 new books to check out this month. Be sure to pin today’s post for your next library day and stock up on all of the best winter reads.

What a year of reading, friends! I have to say that this year was unlike any other year with our book club, blog, and brand new book podcast. Sharing books with you through all these avenues has challenged me as a reader and reviewer. Thank you for this gift and funny job.

I have one more stack to share with you before the year closes. Today’s post rounds out the last of my reading for this month and I’ll be back next month with another big stack of books for you. 

You will also get a special podcast on Friday (along with a blog post) that shares the Best Books of 2021. I will be sharing this episode with Larry, the fabulous GoodReads Top Reviewer, and he is generously sharing his best in books stack with us. Trust me when I say that is going to be one of your favorite episodes of the year.

In the meantime, give him a follow on Instagram and Goodreads.

We are so lucky to have him on the show. 

What’s Happening on the Book Gang Podcast

Even though the blog has been quieter, I’m still talking books every week on our podcast. The MomAdvice Book Gang Podcast has been so much fun to work on, and I’ve loved hearing your feedback on these episodes.

This month’s episodes were all about prepping your winter stacks! We talked about the best holiday romance novels and we put together a comforting winter stack that included how to set the winter mood in your favorite reading nook. 

I’m busy booking up our guests for 2022 and I can’t wait to introduce you to more of the bookstagram world, authors that deserve a lot more love this year, and a few familiar podcasting voices that I know so many of you enjoy hearing. 

You can listen to all of the episodes of MomAdvice Book Gang on Apple or wherever you stream your favorite podcasts. If you enjoy it, please consider subscribing, liking, and sharing it with your favorite bookworm friends!

click here for the momadvice 2022 book club books

In case you missed the announcement, your 2022 MomAdvice Book Club selections have been announced. I am so, so proud of this beautiful stack and would love to read with you this year. It would be an honor to be your reading tour guide for next year. I promise, these books will be among your favorites next year. 

https://www.patreon.com/momadvice Click here to Support My Patreon Community

Join the MomAdvice Book Gang Patreon Today (10% Off Annual Memberships!)

The time is NOW to join the MomAdvice Book Gang. January will begin our brand new book club together and this year is an exciting one because we will be offering our Patreon members exclusive access to an author interview series, playlists of music curated for each selection, and bonus digital downloads. 

You can join the MomAdvice Book Gang for just $5 for an exclusive one-of-a-kind reading experience, and let me be your tour guide. I have selected 12 phenomenal books to read together that were picked just for you.  These are thought-provoking stories that deserve discussion, and many are hidden literary treasures. Your $5 membership will grant you access to the following exclusive features.

Monthly in-depth video interviews with each of our chosen authors. Learn the stories behind each of their stories and what they hope you will walk away from each of their books.

Exclusive Bookstore Coupon Discounts. Our Fables Bookstore partnership will give Patreon members 15% off ALL the book club selections for our year. This can be applied to both paperback and hardback selections. 

Exclusive MomAdvice Book Gang Podcast Episodes & Early Access Book Reviews. Your stack will be toppling over with my real-time reviews each month. These reviews are available in both audio and printable formats.  

Monthly Themed Playlists & Digital Downloads. Pair your favorite thriller with my spooky playlist. Brew some tea and listen to an instrumental mix with your favorite classic. Embrace short story songs with my favorite storytellers. The playlists are endless and digital downloads are available for your reading journals.

Sneak Peek Upcoming Content. You will know before anyone else what to expect in upcoming podcast episodes and what I’m researching for our next shows. Be bookishly curious with me and give your input for these MomAdvice Book Gang podcast shows.

Get a FREE Book Just for Being a Prime Member

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? 

Yup, I always try to remind you of this fantastic little Prime perk!

Grab YOUR FREE BOOK FOR December over here. (please note: this will load tomorrow for you!)

June 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the December Book of the Month Club Selections:

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
Somebody’s Daughter by Ahsley C. Ford
A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw (HIGHLY recommend, read review below)

 

Now let’s talk about this month’s stack!

December 2021 Must-Reads

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

5 out of 5 Stars

The best part about doing this podcast is getting book recommendations from our guests. In our episode with GoodReads superstar Larry, he shared five books that we should read this year, and one of those was The Charm Offensive, and I’m just so glad he recommended it. This is now one of my favorite romances, and, as he promised, it delivered on a meatier plotline than expected. 

Dev is charged with scripting love stories for a reality series called Ever After in this story. 

In this year’s season, he is given one of his biggest writing challenges ever because his lead is only doing the job to rehabilitate his image, and he happens to be one of the most awkward men ever. 

Charlie is dashing and intelligent but doesn’t know how to navigate the dating world. Worse yet, he’s awful on camera too. 

This is a beautiful romance that left me with a goofy grin on my face.

This is a feel-good romance that also delivers on smartly written witty banter and surprisingly deep emotional heartstring pulling too.

Chocrun also delivers on exposing the hidden underbelly of reality television that is meant to toy with the dating contestants’ emotions and the viewer.

In short, this is charming and should be read immediately. Thank you, Larry for this gem. Lucky for us, Larry will be back later this month to share his best books of 2021. I couldn’t think of anyone better to dissect the year of reading with than him. 

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

3 out of 5 Stars

So many friends have recommended this romance to me and have loved it.

First of all, I have to say that I didn’t realize that “grumpy meets sunshine” is a category for romance, but I told my husband that I think this might be the category of romance we fall under, and it might be why I find it so fun.

Olive is a third-year Ph.D. candidate and doesn’t subscribe to the idea that lasting romantic relationships can be found. But, using her scientific mind, she wants to convince her best friend just how accurate her hypothesis is, so she decides to kiss the first man she sees to prove she won’t feel anything.

It turns out, though, that the man that she randomly selected for her experiment is one of the top professors and known, in general, as an absolute jerk. It’s why she is surprised when he agrees to keep her experiment a secret and be a fake boyfriend.

I’m sure you can see where this is going, and it does follow this predictable romance formula as the relationship blossoms between the two.

This has a lot of steam, and I would add this to your pile, mainly if you are a fan of The Kiss Quotient because it embraces similar themes.

Overall, it was an enjoyable escape, and I can’t wait to see what Hazelwood writes next.

A Little Hope by Ethan Joella (on sale today for just $5.99!!)

5 out of 5 Stars

My Book of the Month selection this past month was this lovely little story that I can’t recommend enough. This story is set in a tiny city in Connecticut, and all are built around an interlinking tale of one couple, Freddie and Greg Tyler.

Our story opens with Greg, diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer, struggling with this diagnosis and how this will impact his wife and daughter. This news has a ripple effect through this small town, and the reader gets to know many of the residents through each chapter. The story circles back to Greg’s family in the end, but this is a short story exploration through chapter-form as the stories weave together through this unique narration.

The way that this narration is set up reminded me a lot of Bill Clegg’s, Did You Ever Have a Family, which is equally stunning and heart wrenching (P.S.- read my interview with Bill and read about the astounding process for creating these characters in his story). If you like this novel as much as I do, I would recommend this book as your next book pick.

I was completely enveloped in this story and loved how it tied together in the end. As promised in the title, it is a hopeful and hope-filled story that I think you will devour. If you need a book, you can put it down and pick it up quickly through the chapters; this is one I would recommend too. It’s a surprisingly strong debut that hit all the right notes.

Ethan will be joining the podcast to share about writing his debut and I can’t wait to hear more of his story. If you want to read ahead before our episode, be sure to put this book in your stack.

The Collective by Alison Gaylin

4 out of 5 Stars

f you need a fast-paced thriller for your stack, this was one that I couldn’t put down this month. I love thrillers with profound moral dilemmas that allow you to embrace the gray in situations where things should seem more black-and-white.

Camille’s tragic death haunts her mother, and Camille’s life has spiraled out of control ever since this happened.

Unfortunately, the person responsible for her death is a privileged white guy who has been able to dodge the accusations and live his best life. It’s unfair and cruel, but what if Camille could do something about it?

Camille has openly bashed this guy to the point that she attracts the attention of a secret group of women who have all been involved in situations where the guilty get away with a crime.

They have formed a dark web community that makes these people pay for their crimes.

When Camille is invited into the fold, she is offered the exact resolution to her daughter’s case, but she also has to participate in helping others pay for their crimes.

As you can imagine, this story goes into really dark places as Camille learns more truths about the collective organization she has joined. What happens when innocent people are involved and at what point is making someone pay too much?

This kept me up way past my bedtime and came with some enormous trigger warnings, particularly for anyone who has experienced sexual assault or is the highly sensitive reader.

In this month’s stack is also False Witness and I did see some strong overlapping themes in these two. If you loved that one, definitely adds this to your stack too.

The Lady’s Handbook For Her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey

5 out of 5 Stars

As you know, I announced this one as our memoir selection for 2022 and I can’t wait to read it with you.

It’s a memoir about one woman’s fight to be heard and believed about her illness and the unbelievable journey she went through to receive her diagnosis. 

I read this entire book with a lump in my throat and, admittedly, had to put it down at times. If you have struggled to get answers to your chronic illness or had moments where you felt disbelieved by physicians, this one will hit some tender spots in your heart. 

As with many “secret lady clubs”, she discovered that many other women had faced similar circumstances when sharing her story. So why was this such a common theme, and why do we have to work so hard to be believed?

Sarah is a powerhouse for many reasons, this book is just one of them.

Not only is she a gifted writer, but she’s a gifted musician and also was a part of the writing team for Obama’s campaign in 2008.

I had the chance to sit down with her for an afternoon and talk through her story, and I have to say that this is one of the most powerful interviews that I’ve ever got to be part of. I’m so excited to share that with our Patreon community this year, and I hope you will read this with me!

 

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

5 out of 5 Stars

This slim novella was chosen for our December 2022 book club selection, and I know that this one will touch so many of your hearts.

It’s everything I didn’t think I needed in a book, particularly in the world’s challenging times that we have been facing.

This is a science fiction novel, and it would be great to dip your toes into science fiction if you have never read this genre before.

In this story, the robots of Panga have decided to leave their jobs and put down their tools, never to be seen again.

One day, a tea monk’s life is upended by the arrival of a robot that has returned, and he won’t leave until he can answer this single question, “What Do People Need?”

I listened to this novel on audiobook, and I want to say that I was admittedly a little confused at first because this is the first book I’ve read with a “they” pronoun for a character. I know we will see this used in literature so much more, but it did feel notable as a reader. 

In book format, this would have had more context for the reader and would not have been less confusing as it was in the beginning as an audiobook listener.

This story is hopeful and like a comforting cup of tea on a cold day. If you enjoy this odd-couple story as much as I do, you will also be pleased to know that the second adventure with these characters will hit store shelves this summer.

Doctors and Friends by Kimmery Martin

4 out of 5 Stars

Last month, I read The Antidote for Everything as I was screening books for our book club.

It turns out; I’m happy that I did that because characters from that book are brought into this latest novel by Kimmerly Martin. You will find, in the beginning, that Kimmerly creates a cast of physician characters gathered from this novel and The Queen of Hearts.

You do not need to read these to understand the story, but some backstories are referenced (on occasion) where that might be helpful to understand the backgrounds of these relationships.

If you are unfamiliar with Kimmery Martin’s work, the author uses her background as an emergency physician in these stories, and she’s using her medical background, again, in this story.

I want to lead with that Martin was writing this story before the pandemic, which makes it even eerier and ambitious because this is Martin’s interpretation about what would happen if a pandemic hit our world. She also notes, in the end, that she tried to avoid making a lot of edits based on COVID but only added in some more minor details like our reliance on Zoom for meetings. She also shares that she ended up battling COVID herself and plans to write about “world peace” next since this ended up overlapping too much with reality.

In this story, three friends from medical school reunite in Spain for a much-needed vacation. Unfortunately, just as they arrive for their vacation, a fast-spreading virus starts to throw the world into chaos. Martin builds thoughtful hints of what is to come as they go on a tour of the town and then the excruciating dilemma if they should wait it out or travel back home, potentially exposing others to the virus.

The characters each are in different medical specialties, so it impacts each of their practices in different ways. Although they are all challenging, the scenes in the E.R. are, in particular, brutal to read about.

Martin also builds in a Sophie’s Choice type of scenario with one of the doctors and her children. This scene, in particular, caused me to step away from the story and was so hard to read, especially since we are still in the thick of the mess of this pandemic.

There was, honestly, a lot of thought and research that went into this book and if you are the type of person immersing yourself in pandemic reads as a coping strategy, add this one to your stack.

This fictional virus does give it some distance with some of the symptoms she has crafted around it. That said, it did hit a little too close to home at times, and some of the scenarios prepared are extremely difficult to read.

This novel is powerful and a tribute to Martin’s extensive research and background that it felt so challenging to read.

Last Night At The Telegraph Hotel by Malinda Lo 

4 out of 5 Stars

Booktok delivers AGAIN with this fantastic Y.A. historical fiction read that I just could not put down this month.

Have you ever read a book and you loved it and then read the author’s notes at the end, and the research makes you fall for it even more?

That’s what happened to me when I read this one.

This book won the National Book Award in 2021 and is a coming-of-age story about a seventeen-year-old girl named Lily Hu growing up in the 1950s in San Francisco.

If you have read Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters, this reminded me of this exploration, but this story is geared more to the younger reader.

Lily has always felt a little different than her peers and family. When she begins to develop feelings for a classmate, Kathleen, she realizes why that is.

Their relationship blossoms when Katheleen takes her to a lesbian bar called The Telegraph Club, where she finds a secret world where people live more freely in who they are.

This isn’t an era where any acceptance is given though, in fact, you can be arrested for indecency and male impersonation.

Lo’s research, in particular, really shines in this story because clubs like this existed back then, and she utilizes tricky political dynamics, particularly with the risk of deportation for this family and the challenges that women faced that didn’t fit the mold.

Imagine if your father could be deported for your “infractions” and what that would mean for your family.

It’s these big moral dilemmas layered on a coming-of-age story of finding your first love that makes this such a rich story.

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill (on sale today for just $4.99!!)

5 out of 5 Stars

This book is one of the most unusual and inventive stories I’ve ever read. It opens with this line that immediately grabs you, “I started collecting my sister Eunice’s suicide notes when I was seven years old.”

Although categorically Horror, this is what some might describe as “gentle horror,” and the book has also been described as “If John Irving ever wrote a horror novel, it would be something like this,” by the gifted Stephen King.

You get the picture.

This rich story is about a family that all see monsters but deal with them in decidedly different ways.

The mother ignores them and pretends they don’t exist.

The father chooses to build a shrine in an immersive horror exhibit that he hopes to open to their community.

No one has co-existed in the way Noah decides to though when he meets the monster and lets the monster in.

It’s this relationship that spans Noah’s life that the reader gets to go on a journey with, and it is wildly unusual, beautiful, and strange.

This book will hit all the right notes, particularly with The Shape of Water fans.

Hamill’s novel was a GoodReads Choice nominee for Horror in 2019, but it isn’t one that I’ve heard anything about until it was chosen for Fables Books October Book Club. I’m so glad that I read this because it ended up being the perfect spooky book for our reading year.

The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers

5 out of 5 Stars

This debut novel is available for pre-order, and I feel it will be a big hit in 2022, not just with our book club readers but with EVERYONE.

If you were a big fan of The Gown or The Help, in particular, I think you will love this historical fiction pick.

Bright Leaf, North Carolina, is the tobacco capital of the South, and one woman has spent her days dressing these “tobacco wives” for all the significant events in town. When she unexpectedly falls ill, her niece must finish her projects for the party of the year.

The thing is, Maddie is new to town, and she sees the…wait for it…seams of these people a little more clearly than her aunt.

So as she uncovers a document that could change the industry, as the town knows it, she becomes desperate to find the truth about big tobacco and all its hidden secrets.

Next month, I am interviewing Adele for our author interview series on Patreon.

I am excited to hear more about the family member who worked as a beautician for these tobacco wives. I can’t wait to share that with you and talk about this fabulous debut.

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

3 out of 5 Stars

This thriller sounded promising and reminiscent of Teen Killers Club (which I absolutely loved- add it to your stack immediately) so I couldn’t wait to dig into this one. 

In the first half of our story, the reader is set up for an unusual clinical study of psychopaths conducted on a DC-based college campus. This study lead by a renowned psychologist who utilizes a smartwatch to track the study participant’s moods and movements throughout campus. 

Having so many psychopathic students on one campus leads to what seems an inevitable murder on the campus grounds. The question is, which one of these study participants is responsible? Although they all carry this label, some have more potent psychopathic behaviors than others. 

Chloe, for example, exhibits low impulse control and has credible reasons for playing cat-and-mouse with a boy on campus. Korian twists the plot by changing the cat-and-mouse game a few times on the reader. 

The second half of this book dragged and didn’t hold the promise of the first half. As a result, I didn’t feel fully vested in the outcome and found the ending underwhelming.

For me, this one fell flat, despite the original and unique story promised.

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

5 out of 5 Stars

This has been in my stack forever, but I have been a little worried that themes may have overlapped a bit too much with People We Keep, and I wanted a little space between these books. 

I admit, the themes between these two are very similar- chosen families, coming-of-age, and a solid musical backdrop. That said, I loved them both so very much and was completely swept away in this story. Don’t let the overlap discourage you from reading these two books. 

In this story, Mary Jane grows up in a conservative disciplined religious household in the 1970s. It’s a home that is always tidy, where the President is admired and loved, and where going to church is your top priority. 

Mary Jane’s first exposure to a world unlike her own is when she gets a summer nanny job for a neighbor. The neighbor is a psychiatrist specializing in addiction and has decided to do an intensive treatment program for one of his patients who happens to be a rock star, and the care extends to his actress wife. 

Mary Jane becomes the person who brings order to a cluttered and chaotic home. The people under this roof, though teach Mary Jane about a world where people disagree with the politics of their leader, where wardrobe can be a little scandalous, and where boundaries look so much more different than her own home. 

This book just made my heart so damn happy and reminded me of my own coming-of-age story. I loved seeing the world through Mary Jane’s eyes, and each of these characters is so wildly entertaining and endearing. 

I couldn’t put this beautiful book down- I can’t recommend it enough.

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

5 out of 5 Stars

I would suggest reading the letter to the reader BEFORE reading this one, which you will find tucked in at the back of this book. Slaughter chose to set this story during pandemic times, and it is laced with all the daily dilemmas we are finding ourselves in with our current pandemic and why she felt it was important for this story.

This story is very darkly disturbing, and every kind of trigger warning should be listed on this. Fans of Pretty Girls, though, will love this story, and I found it captivating.

A thriller with 448 pages should have dragged and had lulled, but this held my attention from the first page until the last one, a true testament to her solid standing as a dynamic thriller writer.

Leigh has recently separated from her husband and juggles co-parenting a teenager and her job as a defense attorney.
One night, while attending her daughter’s play, she is contacted by one of her firm’s partners that a high-profile client has requested that she represent his case. The name is unfamiliar to her, but when she meets him, she is reminded immediately of the secret she has been keeping and what could be compromised if she doesn’t represent him.

Leigh has been running from her past for twenty years, and the only one who knows the truth is her estranged sister.
Callie hasn’t been a part of Leigh’s life for quite some time as she battles a lifetime of addiction. The two sisters must come together, though, because time is running out, and life as they both know it could end.

This book is so gripping and has so many layers to it. The dynamics between how these two sisters weather the pandemic, the sympathy you find for Callie and her life’s journey, and the big moral dilemmas these two faces make this an incredibly captivating read.

The bits about the pandemic, at times, did distract from the plot and would be my only complaint with this book. That might be, though, because I didn’t want to be reminded so often of our current predicament and less a testament to Slaughter’s writing.

Make sure you clear your calendar if you plan to start this one. You will not want to put this down.

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

5 out of 5 Stars

Were you looking for your next Bird Box? This highly original and profoundly imagined world is just what you need to escape with this month. I happened to snag this as my Book of the Month for December, and I’m SO GLAD because this is one of my favorite reads this year. 

Our story opens with a new assignment for Travis Wren, who has a unique talent for finding missing people. He’s been hired by a family who has been missing their daughter. This woman, Maggie St. James, is a well-known author of dark children’s books. But, unfortunately, it has to lead him to a place where many people believe to be only a legend. 

Years later, Theo, a member of the Pastoral commune, stumbles upon Travis’s abandoned vehicle beyond the borders of their community. It’s notable for several reasons, but one of those reasons is that the commune members are unable to go past the border because it could bring disease to their community. They believe that there is a disease that people can get and spread if they leave their community, and Theo has been testing this theory for some time. 

When Theo admits what he’s been doing, it threatens the world of his wife and her sister. But, they don’t know that this forest holds many secrets, including the ones that unlock their very own pasts. 

This story just blew me away, and I could see this one becoming a movie due to the cinematic qualities of the writing and the beautifully written twists. I wish I could say more about those twists, but the absolute joy is in discovering those for yourself.

Add this one to your stack IMMEDIATELY.

 

November 2021 Must-Reads

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Are you ready for winter reading? I’m sharing a stack of SEVENTEEN books to check out this month. Be sure to pin today’s post for your next library day. 

It’s time to discuss another massive stack of books with you today. I have seventeen books to share today and so many more to talk about for next month. As you can imagine, this is the busiest time of year as I prepare for next year’s book club year.

Be sure to check back on December 1st for my big announcement for our reading year together.

You don’t want to miss our year of reading together.

What’s Happening on the Book Gang Podcast

Even though the blog has been quieter, I’m still talking books every week on our podcast. The MomAdvice Book Gang Podcast has been so much fun to work on, and I’ve loved hearing your feedback on these episodes.

These past two months, we have talked about under-the-radar thrillers for your stack (with Mary Kubica!), heard from a top GoodReads reviewer on how he holds his top standing on this platform (along with some incredible book suggestions), and found the best fantasy escapes to escape reality in hard times. I also learned a lot about the book world by researching for a reader’s backlist reading challenge and what the book shortage experience is like for a bookseller.

You can listen to all of the episodes of MomAdvice Book Gang on Apple or wherever you stream your favorite podcasts. If you enjoy it, please consider subscribing, liking, and sharing it with your favorite bookworm friends!

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I’ve also been in the thick of recording our author interviews, which has been the best thing for this reader. I can’t tell you how beautiful it is to hear about these books’ writing process from the authors themselves! 

You can join the MomAdvice Book Gang for just $5 for an exclusive one-of-a-kind reading experience, and let me be your tour guide. I have selected 12 phenomenal books to read together that were picked just for you.  These are thought-provoking stories that deserve discussion, and many are hidden literary treasures. The official 2022 MomAdvice Book Club selection announcement will happen on December 1st. Your $5 membership will grant you access to the following exclusive features.

Monthly in-depth video interviews with each of our chosen authors. Learn the stories behind each of their stories and what they hope you will walk away from each of their books.

Exclusive Bookstore Coupon Discounts. Our Fables Bookstore partnership will give Patreon members 15% off ALL the book club selections for our year. This can be applied to both paperback and hardback selections. 

Exclusive MomAdvice Book Gang Podcast Episodes & Early Access Book Reviews. Your stack will be toppling over with my real-time reviews each month. These reviews are available in both audio and printable formats.  

Monthly Themed Playlists & Digital Downloads. Pair your favorite thriller with my spooky playlist. Brew some tea and listen to an instrumental mix with your favorite classic. Embrace short story songs with my favorite storytellers. The playlists are endless and digital downloads are available for your reading journals.

Sneak Peek Upcoming Content. You will know before anyone else what to expect in upcoming podcast episodes and what I’m researching for our next shows. Be bookishly curious with me and give your input for these MomAdvice Book Gang podcast shows.

Join Us for Our November MomAdvice Book Club Discussion 

Wunderland snag this month’s incredible book club book

Did you know that I offer a free virtual book club too? Be sure to join the MomAdvice Book Club, and you will never be without a book again!

You can check out the complete list of 2021 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. 

Don’t forget to send me a friend request over on GoodReads for more great book reviews.

So many incredible books steals this week- don’t miss it!

Check Our Daily Book Deals List

I try to post a daily book deal list for you to keep your Kindle fully stocked!

Check this list daily here, or you can sign up for my daily deal newsletter, and I will send them right to your inbox!

Get a FREE Book Just for Being a Prime Member

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? 

Yup, I always try to remind you of this fantastic little Prime perk!

Grab YOUR FREE BOOK FOR September over here. (please note: this will load tomorrow for you!)

June 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the November Book of the Month Club Selections:

A Little Hope- Ethan Joella
The Keeper of the Night- Kylie Lee Baker
The Collective- Alison Gaylin
The Family- Naomi Krupitsky
How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days- K.M. Jackson

 

Now let’s talk about this month’s stack!

November 2021 Must-Reads

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

4 out of 5 Stars

I love how historical fiction can take us down a rabbit hole, and that’s just what this book did.

This story was inspired by those who assisted with forged documents that helped children escape from Nazi concentration camps. 

Told from alternating timelines, we are introduced to Eva, a librarian, shelving books when she locks eyes with a story and photograph of a book she has not seen in more than sixty years. This book holds the names and secrets of Eva’s time assisting children to safety through the documents she fabricated for them. 

Eva must travel to claim the book and explain the story, but that’s not all that might be hidden in the book.

She’s been waiting for many years for a correspondence that could give her closure and peace to her own love story. 

This book is one of those universal book recommendations that I think any reader could appreciate and share as a gift. It incorporates all the necessary ingredients for a solid historical fiction read- a well-researched backstory, a great love interest, innovative twists, and some clever creative liberties crafted by the author for this book. This lent itself well to our book club discussion and, overall, seemed to be liked by all our book club members. 

After you finish this one, be sure to go back to our MomAdvice Book Club Events to see the discussion with links to the story of Adolfo Kaminsky and the work he did to bring these children to safety.

Once you read it, you won’t ever forget the incredible bravery and sacrifice that was made to ensure the safety of these kids. 

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

How Lucky by Will Leitch

5 out of 5 Stars

I found this story to be charming, laugh-out-loud funny, with memorable characters that made it difficult to put down.  

Our main character, Daniel, considers himself a lucky guy even though he’s suffered from a debilitating disease since he was a small child. This disease leaves him unable to speak or move without a wheelchair and requires constant care to help him lead as normal of a life as possible. 

When a local girl goes missing, Daniel realizes that he may have been the last person to see the girl and the person who may have kidnapped her that day.

He decides to take his story to Reddit, and it is there where he begins a conversation with the captor. As he discloses more and more, Daniel is convinced he might be the one to help solve the case, but it is tough to convince the police that you have valuable information when you can’t speak or move. 

I’m thrilled I made space for this one in my stack and highly recommend it if you look for memorable characters with laugh-out-loud plotlines. 

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin

5 out of 5 Stars

This captivating coming-of-age story pulled at every heartstring as you follow one girl’s journey towards finding love in her chosen family.

April has always had a difficult life, so it isn’t hard for her to pack her things and leave behind her father. The problem is that she is completely broke and must figure out a way to survive once she’s gone.

In Ithica, she finds a job as a waitress and an unexpected support system that can finally bring her the peace she needs. But, unfortunately, April is unaccustomed to love and doesn’t know how to accept the peace she’s found. 

As a reader, this journey can be a difficult one to take because you long for April to settle into these spaces where she has captured people’s love and hearts.

What makes it worth continuing along with April is that these people just won’t give up on her, bringing these big heartwarming moments that remind us that chosen families can be just as good as the ones we are given. I couldn’t put this one down and am adding this to my list of top books for 2021. 

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

5 out of 5 Stars

I have been raving a lot about Jeff Zentner on the podcast, and his latest release solidifies his standing as one of my favorite YA authors and solidifies his holding in our 2022 Book Club year. 

Cash and Delaney are dear friends that have the shared experience of being children of addicts and growing up in a small Appalachian town. So when Delaney receives a scholarship offer to an elite school, she accepts only because she can bring Cash with her on the same scholarship acceptance. 

Cash should be thrilled to get this offer but feels conflicted because his grandfather is raising him and battling emphysema. With their encouragement, though, he takes the coveted spot at the school. It’s through the support of one teacher; Cash begins to find his voice, people, and someone to call his own. 

The audiobook narration is just gorgeous and brings Zentner’s story to life even more.

I would highly recommend doing it in this format if you can make the space for it.

Zentner does coming-of-age stories SO WELL, and the storytelling in this one is superb. I couldn’t stop listening to this gorgeous read and loved how Cash evolved through this story.

This is, absolutely, my favorite YA book of the year. 

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

5 out of 5 Stars

This captivating read comes with many trigger warnings, especially if you are a highly sensitive reader (rape, incest, sexual assault). I found it worth the journey, though, and finished this haunting book in a single day. 

This fast page-turner opens with Elle and her oldest friend Jona sneaking out the back door and having sex with each other while their spouses chat away in the kitchen.

They are on vacation at the summer home, nicknamed the Paper Palace, where she has spent every summer of her life.

Over the next twenty-four hours, Elle is faced with deciding to stay with her husband or leave him for the boy she has always loved. But, unfortunately, that boy also happens to hold the biggest secret of her life.

If Elle’s affair makes you immediately dislike her, your reaction will be a lot like mine. However, what makes it compelling is Elle’s backstory and the trauma she had endured to get to where she is. 

As I described, it’s a lot of trauma, and the reader gets to go through each devastating moment with Elle. I found myself unable to stop listening to this audiobook, though, because you wanted to see how Elle would escape her tragic circumstances. 

If you prefer likable characters, this book might not be for you. I don’t think they evolved significantly, but I felt like this mesmerizing read delivered on the book hype. 

Again, I did this one on audiobook and thought the narration was fantastic on this too. 

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin

3 out of 5 Stars

Georgia is a urologist with a struggling love life. Luckily, she has a great support system with her best friend. Also, a physician named Jonah.

While on a trip, Georgia meets the guy of her dreams but comes home to a rather startling scenario at the hospital she works for. The hospital has asked that doctors now refuse medical care for transgender patients. Jonah, a gay man, is the first to be fired when he refuses to abandon his patients. 

In defense of her friend, Georgia decides to fight this change in the only way she knows how and ultimately makes a decision that has profound consequences for all involved. 

This book is perfect if you gravitate towards a book with rich character development and need big book club themes for discussion. But, ultimately, the meat of the story seemed overshadowed by Georgia’s relationship, and the build to get to it took longer than expected.

If you pick up the author’s latest book, you will discover that these characters live on in a pandemic world. She brings together the doctor characters from three different books, and it’s quite compelling.  I have been swept away in this story and would recommend it if you are curious how Martin wrote this fictional pandemic in 2019 that later became all too real.

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin

3 out of 5 Stars

In this story, a woman is reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. Her struggles have now amplified into painful panic attacks whenever she thinks about how differently her life has turned out. Her one escape, tending to honeybees, has not even offered her the escape that it used to. 

In the grips of one of these episodes, she nearly collides with Jake, a local teen who has recently become a paraplegic. Her pickup truck happens to be filled with 120,000 honeybees, and Jake instantly wants to learn about the bees and their story. Alice invites him into her home, surprising Jake and herself, and finds an unlikely friendship with him.

She also invites a young man, Harry, desperate for work, to join her team. This unlikely trio bond over their shared love of these bees and the bond is strengthened further when their colony is at risk of dying due to a local pesticide company.

The friendship is charming between these three, and the author weaves many parallels about the world of beekeeping into this very human story of chosen families.

This is a great one to add to your stack if you are looking for a sweet escape filled with second chances and how we can find purpose again after loss.

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper 

3 out of 5 Stars

This true crime pick combines coming-of-age and a deep dive into a Harvard campus murder in 1969.

In 1969 twenty-three-year-old graduate student Jane Britton was bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment. 

When Becky Cooper starts studying as an undergraduate, she learns of Jane’s story, but a more sinister gossipy layer is shared among students. In this layer, Jane was a student who had an affair with her professor, and he murdered her because she threatened to go public about this relationship. Unfortunately, that professor still works for Harvard, and Cooper wants to know more about Jane’s story and devotes a decade of her life to uncovering the truth. 

Cooper feels discomfort with the true-crime world, and the true victims yet are consumed by this true crime case. As a reader, we feel that in those pages. 

I do not want to discredit the hard work you can see in Becky Cooper’s pages and how she devoted so much time to learn more about the murder- there is a lot in these pages to admire. However, at over 500 pages, this one could have greatly benefited from editing because the story felt disjointed in many moments. 

The DNA evidence that has now been found, and added at the end, certainly could be challenging to that bookending you had been working towards.

Had Cooper not led us down so many rabbit trails and had more substantial editing, this had the potential to be a 5-star read.

Overall, it just missed the mark for me. 

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

In My Dreams, I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

4 out of 5 Stars

If you are in for a fictional campus murder mystery, then I would recommend this psychological thriller for your stack.

In this story, six friends reunite on their university campus and are reminded of the unsolved murder of their closest friend Heather. Someone is determined to get to the bottom of this case, and that means uncovering and confronting each of their secrets one by one. 

It feels a bit like a one-room play as these secrets are revealed, and Winstead keeps the plot moving with clever well-developed twists and a solid ending. 

This story is told in dual timelines from their beginning days on campus and is a perfect spooky, not scary story for the Halloween season. I think you will really like this tightly woven plot and the secret motives of each of these characters. I can say, without a doubt, this was one of the most solid thrillers I’ve read in a long time. 

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

5 out of 5 Stars

I got to dip my toes into the climate-fiction waters with this phenomenal read. This MomAdvice Book Club selection was a reader’s choice and ended up being a hauntingly beautiful audiobook escape. McConaghy imagines a dystopian world where the oceans have been emptied of most life by climate change, acidic water, and overfishing. 

The Artic terns will soon be extinct in this novel, and Franny Stone is determined to follow their final migration to Antarctica. Getting there is a hurdle, but she manages to talk her way onto a fishing boat that happens to be sailing out that way. However, Franny doesn’t want to board these birds because she is running from many things. Franny’s tragic life spills out in haunting memories that leave the reader breathless and let us know that Franny is boarding this boat for some profound reasons we will soon get to discover through her flashbacks. 

I found this story to be uniquely told, enthralling, and disturbing. The themes of a world left behind by the devastation of climate change feel altogether too close, and that might be why this storyline was so compelling.

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth

4 out of 5 Stars

This dark thriller was as satisfying as any horror film and won all the stars for plot originality. 

Eliza is one of only two women who are hired as a programmer at a gaming company. Unfortunately, her presence isn’t welcomed, particularly in the programming department, where Eliza becomes a source of ridicule and is harassed.

When the incident is reported, her boss doesn’t take the necessary next steps and goes along with the “boys will be boys” toxic dialogue instead of addressing the issue correctly. 

When Eliza takes the incident to a journalist, all hell breaks loose as people begin to demonize, target, and dangerously harass her. One user, in particular, has made it his mission to destroy Eliza for her actions.

The narration is told through users of 4chan & Reddit, which is highly original and can be agonizingly brutal as they discuss Eliza’s motives and destroy her character. Osworth uniquely explores this story through speculation and the viewpoint of tainted lenses.

It’s masterful and darkly entertaining. 

This one won’t be for the highly sensitive reader, but I would recommend it if you like darker themes that aren’t afraid to go into the awful corners of the internet.

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

My Policeman by Bethan Roberts

4 out of 5 Stars

I’ve chosen the British cover for our website because this book, for sure, has been mismarketed with its U.S. book cover! Take a peek, and you will see why.

This historical fiction novel is a slow-burn romance with fade-to-black bedroom scenes that hardly represent the kind of plot you might expect from that cover choice. 

Harry Styles fans, for sure, will want to get their hands on this book before it is adapted for the big screen. The book was inspired by the life of E.M. Forester and his relationship with a police officer named Bob Buckingham

Set in 1950s Brighton, this love triangle is about two people who love one policeman- his wife and his secret lover. This tragic story explores the quiet love shared between these two men and what it would be like if speaking your truth resulted in your arrest and the destruction of your life.

The story utilizes journal entries (from his lover) and a manuscript (from his wife) that outline confession, allowing the reader to explore this story from different points of view and to varying timelines in this love story. 

Overall, this was a good read and led me to read more about E.M. Forester after finishing this book.

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

How to Save a Life by Eva Carter

4 out of 5 Stars

I talked about this novel in The Great Book Escape episode that just aired for our podcast and in a free sample of my one-book podcast reviews, I offer on Patreon

The author’s personal experience resuscitating her partner inspired this contemporary fiction novel’s themes of one young man’s struggles after his heart stops for eighteen minutes and how this incident changes his life in ways he could not imagine. 

This novel is a cross between Normal People and One Day, so if you have loved either of these books, I feel you will really appreciate this novel’s themes and Carter’s storytelling. 

The novel has a very satisfying love triangle with beautiful backstories for each character as they struggle with their demons and brokenness in different ways. 

The only dissatisfaction, for me, was a rather abrupt conclusion and lack of epilogue after over four hundred pages building out these relationships into finally a delightful place as a reader. Overall, I found this book to be gorgeous, and this journey after a near-death experience has layers that speak to Carter’s personal history with this scenario.

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

4 out of 5 Stars

This thriller was described as Gossip Girl meets Get Out, which, honestly, delivers on this perfect description.

Set at an elite prep academy, two students, Devon and Chiamaka Adebayo are selected to be part of the school’s senior class prefects. This coveted spot holds notoriety in their school and puts them in the running for its valedictorian. 

After this announcement, the two start to receive threatening messages from someone who identifies themselves only as Aces. What begins as a harmless prank evolves into dangerous threats that lead the two to realize that these pranks are rooted in a dark history at their school that they could have never expected. 

The first half, for me, took some time to build into our plot, but once this story picks up steam, it delivers on the meaty social commentary that is so reflective of the Jordan Peele film that it had promised the reader.

This is a thought-provoking debut that has me looking forward to the author’s next book. 

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Bath Haus by P.J. Vernon

4 out of 5 Stars

Oliver is a recovering addict that finds love and commitment with his partner Nathan. Despite finding love and financial security, he is drawn to apps that promise one-night stands and rendezvous.

One of these encounters leads him to a place called Bath Haus, where a hookup goes horribly wrong, and he is nearly strangled to death.

Oliver manages to get away, but he is left with a hand-shaped bruise on his neck. He is forced to file a police report and make up a story of being mugged so that Nathan never knows about his infidelity.

The problem is that the man he escaped from isn’t done with him yet, and he will stop at nothing to destroy Oliver’s life. 

Get ready for plot twist whiplash, particularly in those big final reveals when our story all comes together. In this story, nobody is trustworthy, and Vernon does a phenomenal job throwing the reader off the path multiple times. 

This book is highly original and was an excellent escape for Spooky Season.

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

5 out of 5 Stars

This selection just may have been influenced by the world of #booktok this year.

If you didn’t know, Booktok is one of the strongest influencers in the publishing space right now. Publishing houses are scrambling to print backlisted books that become bestsellers for the first time or find a brand new audience to love them.

So this is one trend I can get behind fully and how this beautiful book made it into my pile.

In this fictional world, Death-Cast is a service that lets you know the date of your death.

Two lonely boys find one another through the Last Friend app that gives them one magical day and company together as they finish out their final day.

Silvera invents special touches for these two, like amusement park activities if you knew you only had one day. There is often special significance, too, in the idea of how you might treat others if you knew you wouldn’t have to live with the consequences. 

The ending is a total gut-punch and worthy of all the stars. ⁠ 

November 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa

4 out of 5 Stars

My dear friend is going to do an episode with me on South Asian Voices for our podcast, and I wanted to bring more books to the table, so I picked up this debut thriller and, have to say, it did not disappoint. 

Do you like your narrators to be in the unreliable camp?

That’s what you will find with our main character, Paloma, who happens to be taking a lot of pills that don’t play nice with her booze habit.

She also turns to this combination whenever she is struggling, a scenario that her therapist keeps reminding her is a combination she should not be indulging in. 

Paloma is struggling a lot, though, and it stems from her early days at an orphanage in Sri Lanka. You see, Paloma was chosen for adoption that let her leave her complicated past behind and start a new life in the U.S. However, in haunting memories and nightmares, she is reminded about all the girls she left behind.

Paloma, now thirty, has been carrying a secret about her past, and when her roommate finds out, she fears her cover will be blown, and people will finally know the truth. The thing is, she comes home to find him dead, blacks out, and then discovers his body has disappeared. 

The reader is left to wonder if Paloma might have been involved and what other secrets Paloma may be hiding. 

This book had some lagging in the middle where the story could have benefitted from some trimming. But, in the end, I enjoyed this thriller and thought it had some clever twists, especially as it pulls all those strings together at the end. 

 

September 2021 Must-Reads

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

Are you ready for Fall reading? Here are nine incredible books to read in September. Be sure to pin today’s post for your next library day.

I do believe I have something for everyone in this month’s stack, including a riveting nonfiction selection, a great science fiction escape, a campy horror novel, and some contemporary fiction picks that I can’t stop thinking about. 

If you are intrigued, definitely scroll down for another great stack of books. I’m proud of most this month to discover a few under-the-radar reads that deserve your attention. 

I also launched my Book Gang Podcast this month, and I can’t wait to share it with you. The first episode is all about Spooky (Not Scary) Books that I think you should check out for Fall. You can listen to this episode for FREE today. 

Patreon subscribers receive my monthly reviews ten days early, and I’m now offering them ad-free in audio format, just for you. I am so thankful that over one hundred of you have decided to join me on this platform. 

A Book Gang membership is just $5 a month and gives you access to all the bonus material after each episode and what I’m reading in real-time. To top it off, our members receive a monthly bookish digital download, a themed Spotify playlist, and a printable newsletter with the latest book news and reviews.

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Join Us for Our September MomAdvice Book Club Discussion and Get Your Book Club Shirt Today!

snag this month’s incredible book club book

Did you know that I offer a free virtual book club too? Be sure to join the MomAdvice Book Club, and you will never be without a book again!

You can check out the complete list of 2021 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. 

Don’t forget to send me a friend request over on GoodReads for more great book reviews.

So many incredible books steals this week- don’t miss it!

Check Our Daily Book Deals List

I try to post a daily book deal list for you to keep your Kindle fully stocked!

Check this list daily here, or you can sign up for my daily deal newsletter, and I will send them right to your inbox!

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Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? 

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June 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the September Book of the Month Club Selections:

The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo

Beautiful Country by  Qian Julie Wang

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

The Neighbor’s Secret by L. Alison Heller

 

Now let’s talk about this month’s stack!

September 2021 Must-Reads

The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas

5 Out of 5 Stars

There are two themes that I can always get on board with: time travel and alternate lives.

This novel explores nine variations of one woman’s life, and it all is spurred by the fact that Rose Napolitano does not want to have children. She’s an academic who loves her career, but her husband’s one request is that she give that up to pursue having a child with him.

The reader then goes on different paths with Rose to explore what a motherhood journey might look like or what the course might look like if she declines.

I devoured this in one satisfying gulp and thought it would make a phenomenal feminist book club selection that would give you plenty to talk about.

I appreciated how all of Rose’s lives seem to lead her to the same unexpected path that I think any reader would understand.

I will count this book among my favorites for 2021 and recommend you run out and grab a copy for yourself.

Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe

5 Out of 5 Stars

This nonfiction book explores the opioid crisis in a new way by getting to the roots of Purdue Pharma and the owner’s role in the OxyContin epidemic.

Keefe approaches his story through three sections, outlining the motives of three generations in the Sackler family. It showcases how the reasons and greed switch through the generations and how the ad campaigns and distribution get slicker and slicker over time.

What may see as well-intentioned in the beginning becomes quickly burred as Keefe shares internal emails and financial motives that caused people to abuse the system and then the pill.

I have watched documentaries and big-think pieces on the scandal. That said, none have covered this as well as this riveting read.

This could have been a dense and dry read, but Steele keeps it moving through shifting viewpoints and explanations on the drug industry that had me flipping the pages quickly.

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

4 Out of 5 Stars

The author of “My Lovely Wife” is back again with a new thriller and it’s a good one.

Set in an elite private school, Teddy is someone who appreciates the teaching accolades he’s received but is continually annoyed by the students and staff he is forced to work with. That’s why it isn’t so distressing when his coworkers start to fall ill and even die.

He’s got enough on his plate dealing with the entitled kids…oh, and slowly poisoning the staff.

Teddy ends each day victorious with a big glass of milk and absorbing the day’s headlines with the havoc he’s unleashed on his school community.

When other deaths start to happen, though, Teddy has to face the fact that he’s made a few enemies on the way and that someone else might be wreaking a little havoc of their own.

Dark, biting, satirical, and a few laugh-out-loud moments are peppered throughout this thriller, making it a fun and fast read.

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

4 Out of 5 Stars

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I love a meta reading experience, and that’s what you will find in this book of comfort food literature, perfect for escaping the pandemic craziness.

A local library has a reading list that can be found tucked in books that encourage readers to read certain books if they need them. Within the list are several modern-day classics (Kite Runner, Life of Pi, Time Traveler’s Wife) and older classics (Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird) that are sure to bring so much to the reader’s life.

One librarian has struggled with reading until she discovers this list, and now she’s got the perfect reading recommendations for a frequent patron of the library.

Widower Mukesh remembers how much his wife loved reading, although he can’t remember what she read. Aleisha, the librarian, uses this list to make her recommendations and beautiful friendship blossoms between the two.

The mystery is, who has made this list that brings so much joy and vibrance to the library community?

If you love hearing about other people experiencing the books you love, you will adore this story.

There is something so comforting about how books bring us together, and I think this book really showcases the magic of that experience in a memorable way.

Annie and the Wolves by Andromeda Romano-Lax

3 Out of 5 Stars

I didn’t know very much about Annie Oakley before reading this historical fiction book, but I was on quite the fact-finding mission after this one. This is one of the reasons I adore historical fiction so much.

Ruth McClintock has been researching Annie Oakley’s life for a decade. In particular, she is convinced that a traumatic childhood event may have been why Annie was on a mission to arm every woman in America.

In fact, Ruth’s obsession with Annie has cost her a doctorate, a book deal, and a marriage that could have been.

Ruth ends up getting a lead on a journal that may validate her research, and it’s through quite the unlikely research companion- a local tech-savvy high schoolboy.

As Ruth takes down Annie’s demons, she must confront her own. It’s here with the genre-bending really happens, and Romano-Lax leans more into science fiction than historical fiction.

Overall, I was hoping for more meat to Annie’s story that would have grounded it more for me, but I still found the premise unique, and it yielded a day of fun on Google that gave me a newfound appreciation for Annie Oakley’s life.

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

4 Out of 5 Stars

The book of the summer, for sure, seems to be this one! I listened to this story on audiobook and appreciated the beautiful narration on this brutal book journey.

Ike never expected to hear the news that his son has been murdered, along with his son’s husband. Ike never accepted his son’s sexuality, but the grief he is experiencing is undeniable.

Ike and Buddy Lee are two grieving dads that also happen to be ex-cons. They have little in common except for this loss, but vengeance can really bring people together, can’t it?

This book is very graphic, gory, and brutal.

My criticism is that I was hoping for more evolution with Ike & Buddy’s characters as they understand more about their sons and their community.

They seemed to fail to evolve, although I appreciated the unlikely nature of the duo and their shared mission.

Overall, this was really solid, and I can’t wait to read the author’s first book now.

The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade

10 Out of 5 Stars

There is storytelling, and then there is STORYTELLING.

This novel is so exquisite, the characters are perfectly broken, and the setting is just so rich that I could not put it down.

I am moving this book up into my all-time favorites, and I just can’t believe that I haven’t heard more people talking about it.

Don’t you love those under-the-radar books that end up being your favorite in the stack?

This multigenerational story wrecked me, left me holding my breath in sections, and had me rereading passage after passage. But I really didn’t want my time with these characters to end, and I think you will too.

The three main characters in this story all are facing their own enormous battles. The father struggles with alcoholism, the daughter with the new role of motherhood, and the grandmother faces a terminal illness diagnosis that she’s kept from her family. Set in New Mexico, the author builds a fictional town that the reader can see unfold on each page.

It is hard to do this review justice to the writing, but how these characters evolve and grow makes this a journey experience for the reader.

I can’t say enough good things about this writer’s descriptive nature to make every ordinary moment feel extraordinary.

So many sections left me on the verge of tears because there was so much honesty in every word.

I discovered later that this novel was a short story that the writer expanded, so I will definitely have to go back and read what had inspired this original idea.

You don’t need to read this, though, to appreciate the beauty of this book.

Don’t let this book pass you by- it’s incredible.

We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker

4 Out of 5 Stars

When the real world starts to become too much, I love to escape with a good science fiction novel, and this one delivered.

The Pilot is the latest tech craze, and who wouldn’t want one? This device allows your brain to process more and multi-task with ease improving both work performance and school grades.

Although little is really understood about this device, David’s parents reluctantly allow their son to get one to help him fit in at school. Their daughter, Sophie though is unable to get one because of a seizure disorder.

However, David’s device doesn’t seem to be operating the way it should, and instead of streamlining his life, it ends up causing him chaos and noise inside of his head. Unable to cope, he decides to enlist instead of attending college.

Unfortunately, he’s successful enough that the company that manufactures the device wants to use his image in their ads.

His sister, however, is helping to lead the Anti-Pilot movement and is working tirelessly to try to destroy the Pilot company.

This book explores big themes like our dependence on technology, our need to multi-task to succeed, and what happens when access to tech creates societal hurdles.

Pinsker really makes some beautiful plot twists that add a lot of depth to these characters, and I always love a fresh exploration on tech gone bad.

Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks

5 Out of 5 Stars

This YA thriller is the kind of read you schedule a day out on your calendar because you won’t want to put it down once you start it.

Class A felons are the ones that have the most dangerous and manipulative criminal profiles.

That is why these teen killers are recruited for a unique secret program to learn to become trained assassins.

First, they are removed from the prison population and are relocated to a sleep-away camp to prepare for their designated mission.

Our main character was accused of murdering her best friend, but she does not recall what happened that night. However, she knows she was framed for this murder, and one of her friends at the teen killers club believes her and wants to help her uncover who the real killer is. 

The reader gets to go on this fun journey as Signal Deere uncovers the real murderer, and, boy, does this have some clever twists.

As a seasoned thriller reader, it’s hard to pull a fast one on me, but I had NO idea where this story was going, and it was so much fun.

This has all the necessary ingredients for a great YA read- a misfit cast of characters that bond together, a great romance, a fun mystery, and (for me) lots of outstanding horror movie elements.

I can see this one becoming a movie or series because it was just so fun.

The author has written pilots for MTV, FX & Amazon, and CW’s Reign and Paramount’s Heathers. I think her background really adds a cinematic quality to this book that is guaranteed to pull you out of any book slump.

If you have a reluctant teen reader, this would also be a great one to share with them! I can’t wait to read what Sparks writes next!

August 2021 Must-Reads

Monday, August 2nd, 2021

If you need a 5-star read, I’ve got four this month! Get ten new recommendations for your book stack and try our book club Patreon community for FREE this month! Pin this post for your next library day! 

Are you ready for another fun stack of books? I am so excited to share ten excellent books that I read this month and guarantee that there is something for everyone in this stack.

Did I mention that I’m also giving you a chance to try out the MomAdvice Book Gang membership for free?

This month I’m offering all my Patreon subscriber bonuses FOR FREE for you to get to experience what I offer each month to my incredible community.

When the pandemic hit, I lost a substantial amount of income. I knew that I would have to think creatively, strategically, and (most importantly) authentically about how I grew my business during this time.

So I decided to start a Patreon community, and it costs just $5 a month to expand your reading experience with me. Each month I create an ad-free newsletter with all of my book recommendations plus all the book news you need for your month. In addition, you get the reviews in a vlog that you can watch/to listen to, a bookish digital download, and a themed playlist of music for your month. I am so, so proud of this pivot and want to share it with you.

I wanted to offer our readers a special treat this month, in addition to our reviews, and this month you can sample my Patreon community for FREE. 

https://www.patreon.com/momadvice

Click here to try our Patreon Community for FREE this month

 

Join Us for Our August MomAdvice Book Club Discussion and Get Your Book Club Shirt Today!

snag this month’s incredible book club book

Did you know that I offer a free virtual book club too? Be sure to join the MomAdvice Book Club, and you will never be without a book again!

You can check out the complete list of 2021 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. 

Don’t forget to send me a friend request over on GoodReads for more great book reviews.

So many incredible books steals this week- don’t miss it!

Check Our Daily Book Deals List

I try to post a daily book deal list for you to keep your Kindle fully stocked!

Check this list daily here, or you can sign up for my daily deal newsletter, and I will send them right to your inbox!

Get a FREE Book Just for Being a Prime Member

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? 

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Grab YOUR FREE BOOK FOR August over here.

June 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the August Book of the Month Club Selections:

Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena
Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

 

Now let’s talk about this month’s stack!

August 2021 Must-Reads

August 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

5 Out of 5 Stars

This laugh-out-loud novel is just the escape you need right now.

Not only is it the first in a new series, but it is also coming to Netflix.

When Meddelin ends up accidentally killing her blind date, she enlists her mother and aunties to help her cover up the crime and dispose of the body.

However, disposing of the body ends up being more complicated than they could ever imagine.

The hilarity intensifies as they attempt to do the dirty working of ridding the body at a wedding they are also scheduled to work.

The twists and turns just keep on coming, and the rivalry between these aunties shines in their adorable banter and love for one another.

Add in a great little love story, and you have all the ingredients you need for the perfect summer read. Fans of “Finlay Donavan is Killing It” will absolutely love this fun read. 

August 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

3 Out of 5 Stars

I haven’t met a book by Choi that I haven’t liked, and Yolk is another solid YA story from this author.

Of course, it only helps that the book’s exterior is beautiful, including one of the most creative uses on the edge of pages that I’ve seen.

But, seriously, try to read this one in hardback format, if you can. 

This story is about two sisters (Jayne & June) that have a very complicated and challenging relationship.

The two do not want anything to do with each other until June gets a cancer diagnosis and finds herself at the mercy of her sister because of her lack of health insurance. Using her sister’s identification, she can get the care she needs, but her reliance complicates their dynamic, especially as Jayne battles her own issues with an eating disorder. 

Emergency Contact” still remains my favorite by Choi and is one that I would highly recommend.

For me, this one lagged a bit in the second half, and it may have been too bogged down by trying to weave in so many big themes.

If you struggle with disordered eating, I would avoid this one because it is filled with triggers.

I remain committed to reading anything this author writes and look forward to more of her books in the future. 

August 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

4 Out of 5 Stars

This romance could be read as a standalone, or you can consider it the first in a series as it branches out into the love stories of other characters. 

A disastrous first blind date should have ended the relationship, but Elle pretends that it went well to get her brother off her back about dating someone. The date is such an epic disaster, in fact, that Darcy couldn’t be more stunned that Elle’s brother tells her just how thrilled he is to hear that Elle is completely smitten with her. 

It’s why the two conspire to pretend that their relationship really IS a success so that they can survive the many upcoming family and friend gatherings that they have coming up.

The two set an end date for the fake relationship, but sparks between these opposites start bringing into question just how much they might be falling for one another. 

This was a satisfyingly sweet romance with lots of steamy love scenes. I always love the opposites attract dynamic, and Bellefleur really makes it work with these two characters.

August 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The Guncle by Stephen Rowley

5 Out of 5 Stars

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I could gush about my love for Stephen Rowley all day, and his latest novel continues to embrace the sweet themes of love and family that I’ve grown to love about his work. 

Gay Uncle Patrick loves his niece and nephew, but he has never desired to be their caretaker.

When they lose their mother to cancer, Patrick’s brother is left in charge but unable to manage things due to his own health crisis.

He calls upon Patrick to step up while he is away at rehab and care for Maisie & Grant in his absence. 

Patrick’s single lifestyle is not conducive to children, and he is deeply overwhelmed with the commitment.  Rowley’s humor shines on every page in the hilarious miscommunications and dialogue between Patrick and these children.

The first half, in particular, offers big belly laughs, and then it evolves into the sweetest story as their relationship grows. 

The good news is that all three of Rowley’s beautiful books are being written for the screen, and this one should translate beautifully cinematically.

Definitely add this book to your summer bucket list, and now I’ll have to impatiently wait for my next Rowley fix.

August 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

5 Out of 5 Stars

I have only read a handful of science fiction novels, but I attribute part of my openness to this genre to incredible writers like Andy Weir.

I was even lucky enough to get to interview him about his first novel “The Martian.”

His latest book, “Project Hail Mary,” is another epic space adventure that builds in a seemingly impossible mission to save Earth from certain destruction. 

Our unlikely hero that’s been tasked with this mission is a middle school science teacher, but he can’t remember that in the opening pages of our story.

The only thing he knows is that he is far from home and his two crewmates are now corpses.

As Ryland Grace pieces together what has to lead him to this moment, the reader gets to go back and forth through the beginning of this mission and witness Grace’s discoveries right along with him. 

What holds this all together is an unlikely bond and friendship Ryland could have never expected in this interstellar adventure.

It is this relationship that adds warmth and heart to a profoundly intense science fiction read. 

Weir’s genius shines as he crafts up so much science that it did slow my pace down a bit.

I was told by many that the first 200 pages might not grab me because the story was so rooted in these elements, but that it would be worth the wait. I completely agree with this statement and found myself enchanted, once again, by Weir’s storytelling.

Believe the hype on this one; it’s so worth the journey.

August 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

3 Out of 5 Stars

Sally Thorne’s debut novel “The Hating Game” is one of my all-time favorite chick-lit books, and that’s why I couldn’t wait to dive into her latest book. 

Thorne’s story is set in a retirement community where Ruthie Midona has worked, at the front desk, for the last six years.

Ruthie keeps to a strict routine that includes caring for the wealthy residents, the rare tortoises that wander the property and keeping a tight ship in the office.

Although she’s thinking about dipping her toes back into dating, she enjoys her solitary life, including hanging out on a forum with friends that adore the same show.

Her predictable life is about to get really unpredictable when the owner’s son of the retirement villa comes to stay there.

When Teddy mistakes her for a “little old lady” resident, she exacts revenge on him and puts him in charge of the most challenging residents. 

The reader gets to watch each of these characters grow, just as their chemistry grows too.

This sweet little romance is a delightful little pick-me-up between your heavier reads.

August 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

One Two Three Laurie Frankel

5 Out of 5 Stars

I always like to offer up one solid audiobook for your stack each month, and I cannot recommend enough “One, Two Three” as your choice for next month.  

(Curious to learn more about this author- check out my exclusive interview over here about her novel, “This is How It Always Is”).

Frankel decided to write this story after reading about the real-life consequences of a small town’s polluted water by a local factory. She wanted to explore this concept with a fictional city dealing with these health consequences decades later and tells this story through the eyes of three sisters. 

Triplets (Mirabel, Monday, and Mab) have faced numerous challenges due to the town’s water crisis.

Unfortunately, they are just three of many residents who have faced health and personal difficulties due to this tragedy.

Their town’s story, in fact, made national news when the water turned green, was declared unfit for use, and caused detrimental harm to the residents. 

That’s why it is so surprising when a moving truck arrives with a new family to take up residence there. The town’s residents discover that there is quite a history with this particular family and a shocking reason they have decided to return. Their presence could change everything and stirs up the past in significant ways that affect all three sisters. 

As an audiobook, this is a magnificent treat that really sucks you into the story.

The producer utilized three narrators to tell the story, and, notably, one of these sisters uses voice software that adds such a unique element to this story that I’ll be surprised if we don’t see this one winning an Audie this year.

In addition, Frankel has such strong writing chops that this would be an outstanding selection for any book club.

I can’t say enough good things about this story and know that it will be making my “best reads of 2021,” for sure! 

August 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

5 Out of 5 Stars

If you are looking for a heartwarming memoir to add to your stack, Michelle Zauner’s book is just what you need this year.

In this coming-of-age story, Zauner returns home to care for her mother as she battles an arduous journey with cancer.

As with all mother and daughter relationships, it seems this relationship has a lot of complexity, and Zauner struggles with not meeting her mother’s expectations.

It becomes quite the role reversal when Michelle must care for her mother’s most basic needs, including feeding her. 

To bring comfort to her mother, she longs to recreate all of the Korean dishes she grew up with to comfort her mother (and herself) through this time.

Zauner brings much humor to the beginning of this book, as she shares her childhood memories of her mother’s younger days.

Later in the book, she writes of her grief with raw and heartbreaking honesty that left a lump in my throat.

I am so glad I read this one this month and would definitely add this to my list of all-time favorite memoirs.

August 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West

4 Out of 5 Stars

West’s second novel will appeal to parents navigating the tween and teen years in the thick of the dumpster fire of social media.

This novel is told from alternate perspectives as the drama unfolds in a middle school. 

Alice Sullivan thought she had hit her pace with her career and family. That’s why it is so devastating to find out that her son has been bullying another boy at school.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, though, as she uncovers his fake Instagram account and his mean commentary to other students.

Her son’s behavior isn’t just destroying him and his classmates, though, because these difficulties begin to have a ripple effect on her own career and relationships.

Then, to top it off, her mom unleashes a bomb that changes Alice’s life forever. 

West does an excellent job sharing the trials and tribulations of parenting teens, especially the challenges of constant monitoring and the exhaustion that comes with protecting your children online.

I can honestly say that I loved this one just as much as her debut novel.

August 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The XX Brain by Lisa Mosconi, Ph.D.

5 Out of 5 Stars

If you are feeling lost navigating the perimenopause and/or menopause stage, you are not alone.

I happened to stumble upon this phenomenal book, and I wish I could recommend it to every woman I know who is on the struggle bus with all of this hormone nonsense.

Mosconi is the Director of the Women’s Brain Initiative and brings her incredible knowledge base to this book to teach women how to maximize their cognitive health and prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the biggest threats to women’s health, and there is so much that we *can* do to minimize our risks, especially during these hormone rollercoaster years. 

Mosconi covers everything from brain fog, memory lapses, depression, stress, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, and your increased risk of dementia.

In addition, she crafts a livable diet and exercise plan that will help you reduce stress and return to restorative sleep, helping to manage these hormonal swings. 

I’ve started implementing many of the strategies she has outlined and am already seeing improved sleep and stress levels. This goes beyond blanket advice and is the guidebook we all need to navigate this difficult patch in life.

August 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

July 2021 Must-Reads

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

I’ve got ten great books to share with you this month that include a legal thriller, a fun fantasy novel that our book club adored, loads of romance reads, and a couple of excellent thrillers that kept me up way past my bedtime. Let’s stay up way too late with good books. Bookmark this list for your next beach read stack! 

Can you believe it is already time to discuss our next book stack today? I have been working through so many advanced readers for you and have several just-released beach reads that I think will be perfect for adding to your tote this month.

A couple of these books kept me up way past my bedtime, and I am NOT complaining.

Is there anything better than a book that keeps you up too late?

I think not.

Get a BRAND NEW Summer Reading Guide from MomAdvice! Connect With Me In Our NEW Book Gang Patreon Community?

If you haven’t joined the Patreon community yet, you are in for some fun surprises! This month, I offer a fun summer reading guide and the new “chilling by the blow-up pool” playlist. Don’t miss this month’s fun.

I am so thankful to have so many of you in the MomAdvice Book Club. Not only do I love finding the book deals for you & sharing in our monthly discussions, but I’m also even more thankful for the community and friendships we have created there.

Why We Need Your Financial Support

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There is so much that goes into our community, and that will always be there for you. I don’t want to bore you with the minutiae of all the required things to run our community. Still, I know that they are numerous (web hosting, digital memberships for creation, newsletter services, administrative help, graphic designers, etc..).  The financial support will allow me more time to devote to continue cultivating the kind of community that you want to be part of. 

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Join Us for Our June MomAdvice Book Club Discussion and Get Your Book Club Shirt Today!

snag this month’s incredible book club book

Did you know that I offer a free virtual book club? Be sure to join the MomAdvice Book Club, and you will never be without a book again!

You can check out the complete list of 2021 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. 

Don’t forget to send me a friend request over on GoodReads for more great book reviews.

So many incredible books steals this week- don’t miss it!

Check Our Daily Book Deals List

I try to post a daily book deal list for you to keep your Kindle fully stocked!

Check this list daily here, or you can sign up for my daily deal newsletter, and I will send them right to your inbox!

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Yup, I always try to remind you of this fantastic little Prime perk!

Grab YOUR FREE BOOK FOR June over here.

June 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the June Book of the Month Club Selections:

Sisters in Arms

Razorblade Tears

The People We Keep

56 Days

We Are The Brennans

 

Now let’s talk about this month’s stack!

July 2021 Must-Reads

July 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

4 Out of 5 Stars

This novel gives us a peek behind the curtains of a high-powered law firm and the story of one woman who will risk it all to move up the ranks in the boys’ club at her job.

Alex accepts a dream offer to work for a prestigious Manhattan law firm and can’t wait to make her mark on the company.

What she discovers, though, is that this job requires entertaining clients at all hours of the night, that workdays never really end, and that she is expected to be available at the drop of a hat for just about anything.

She doesn’t believe she will have to compromise anything to have it all, but she soon discovers that it isn’t that easy, and the speed required to keep pace also requires drugs, alcohol, and turning a blind eye to bad behavior.

The spiral is swift, but Alex realizes just how high the cost is when she uncovers a very darkly kept secret held by her firm that compromises women’s safety.

This story is a train wreck journey watching Alex spiral as she tries to keep her head above water, and it asks the reader to consider just how far they might go for their success and what they would do when faced with these cringe-worthy situations.

I found this book difficult to put down and a fascinating glimpse into this world.

It’s the kind of book that could lead to a great book club discussion as it explores the double standards of women and men working their way up that corporate ladder.

July 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

5 Out of 5 Stars

I devoured Emily Henry’s “Beach Read” last summer and could not wait to dive into another summer read from this author.

This fun novel is about two best friends, ten summer trips together, and how their relationship evolves over these getaways.

Poppy and Alex are unlikely friends, and this banter and differences bring so much charm and laugh-out-loud humor to the story. The two live in different towns, but every summer, for a decade, they take a vacation together.

They vacationed together every year until about two years ago when they ruined everything and have not spoken since.

Poppy decides, though, that enough time has passed and that she wants to reach out to Alex to see if he will join her for one last trip where they can, hopefully, repair the damage that’s been done.

This novel is such a perfect summer read, and I loved the relationship that Henry built between these two.

I read many a passage aloud to my husband, who cracked up just as much as me.

I enjoyed seeing the evolution of this relationship and how Henry utilizes these flashback trips to help build deeper connections with these characters.

July 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The House by the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

5 Out of 5 Stars

“The House by the Cerulean Sea” was selected as a MomAdvice Book Club pick, and I’m, once again, deeply grateful that our readers shared this selection with me.

If you are looking for an audiobook that you can enjoy as a whole family, I can’t recommend this one enough.

The audiobook narration was charming and had me completely swept away on the Cerulean Sea with these adorable characters.

This story follows Linus Baker, a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He is assigned an orphanage to determine whether these six magical children could be dangerous to society and if they could bring the end of the world.

The master of the orphanage, Arthur Parnassus, will do anything to ensure that he can keep these children safe, even if it means compromising his safety to make it happen.

Linus discovers that he never knew he was looking for a misfit family with which he feels an immediate connection.

The story explores big themes in beautiful ways like tolerance, acceptance, and finding love in unlikely places.

The messages in this one make it an impactful read that solidify it as a favorite book of 2021.

July 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

4 Out of 5 Stars

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Midwestern food, a blossoming romance, and a little magical realism are just a few of the great themes you will find in this fun summer novel that deserves a little space in your beach tote this year.

Sabrina is forced to move back home and struggles with the same anxieties we all have about returning to our hometowns.

The thing is, Sabrina’s fears are multiplied because of her family’s curse and the ability to see spirits who come to them to deal with their unfinished business.

Ray is a new local restaurateur that is determined to revive a retro supper club where he can perfect foods inspired by the flavors of Wisconsin and bring back the nostalgia of old-fashioned cocktails and bites. 

As soon as he meets Sabrina, there is an immediate attraction, and the two find their paths crossing repeatedly.

Sabrina’s paranoia about the spirits that follow her, though, could prevent her from a lifetime of happiness, and Ray might be the one to help her get to that place of joy.

This is the sweetest little read and requires the reader to indulge in a cheese tray and an old-fashioned while reading about all these delicious dishes and watch this blossoming romance unfold.

July 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley

4 Out of 5 Stars

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Want to get swept away in the island life? Well, I have got the perfect book for you. 

You will love heading to the fictional Frick Island, a remote town nestled in the Chesapeake Bay that embraces living in the moment and not getting too wrapped up in technology.

The town is relatively unknown until Anders Caldwell is assigned the annual Cake Walk fundraiser to cover a journalism piece.

While there, he realizes a much bigger story that is just the material he needs to breakout success in the podcast world.

You see, the entire town has been pretending that a resident’s husband, who died at sea, is still alive and that they all can see him. 

Everyone deals with grief differently, and Piper has chosen to embrace not letting her husband go.

Anders becomes captivated by Piper and her story, but the town doesn’t know that his podcast has become about Piper. 

As the two begin to find deep companionship with one another, Anders must make a difficult decision- fame or love.

This is a sweetly satisfying read that does a great job making each townsperson its great standalone character that adds to the charm of Frick Island. 

I loved this unique concept for a story and found it to be just the kind of summer book you can escape with.

July 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Other People’s Children by R.J. Hoffman

4 Out of 5 Stars

Anyone who has gone through infertility and miscarriage understands the excruciating and never-ending heartbreaks that come along the journey. 

Hoffman explores this theme through the story of three mothers and one baby that changes all of their lives.

After a series of miscarriages, Gail and Jon turn to adoption to try to expand their family.

Carli is a pregnant teenager who has decided to put her child up for adoption and chooses Gail and Jon to raise her baby.

The problem is that her mother, Marla, has very different plans for her grandbaby.

Honestly, what unfolds is entirely unexpected, and the desperation escalates to levels that I was not expecting as a reader. The plot went somewhere unexpected is a bit of an understatement and made the story much more compelling.

This is meaty enough for a book club chat, but I would not advise adding this to your stack if you face fertility struggles.

As someone who has been through my share of fertility struggles, Hoffman writes these chapters with such raw honesty that this, honestly, pulled at my heartstrings.

July 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

4 Out of 5 Stars

I became a fan of Elyssa Friedland’s writing after reading “The Floating Feldmans” and couldn’t wait to dig into her latest summer novel.

With a setting like the Catskills and a giant dose of family dysfunction, this is just the kind of book I love to read.

In this novel, The Golden Hotel is a family-owned Catskills resort that hasn’t weathered well.

For more than sixty years, the Goldman and Weingold families- best friends and business partners- have entertained many guests and celebrities over their years.

When they receive an offer to purchase The Golden Hotel, they decide to bring the families together to determine whether they should revive the property or sell it off to be turned into a casino.

The grandchildren begin to scheme how they can revive the old hotel, and the more senior family members find themselves reflecting on all the nostalgia of the good old days at the hotel.

This difficult decision is why they have come together one last time, and it’s family dysfunction at its best.

This book is adorable, and I enjoyed this just as much as I enjoyed her first book.

If you can’t afford a trip to the Catskills, you can do it via this fun novel for the summer.

July 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

4 Out of 5 Stars

I’m sure we can all agree that there is nothing better than a thriller that you can devour in a day, and “The Good Sister” is just that kind of story.

Rose is protective of her twin sister, Fern, especially because Fern struggles with things that might not bother other people. She must keep a consistent routine and avoid crowds, bright lights, and loud noises to create as much peace for herself as possible. 

Rose has always been her protector and helps maintain that environment because she knows how dangerous Rose can be if things don’t remain consistent.

When Rose finds out she can’t get pregnant; Fern realizes that she has the chance to finally pay back her sister because she can give Rose the baby she always wanted.

But, lucky for her, she finds a guy very quickly, and this “transaction” soon blossoms into a relationship that Fern didn’t bank on.

Not only that, but this new situation could disrupt the careful balance between these twin sisters in some shocking ways.

This was a solid mystery with some great twists and solidified Hepworth as a dependable go-to thriller writer when I need to add one to my stack.

July 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

4 Out of 5 Stars

Azere promised her dying father that she would marry a Nigerian man, even after their family has immigrated to Canada, to preserve their family’s culture.

Her mother has worked tirelessly as a matchmaker, but Azere has yet to meet the man that could capture her heart.

After another lousy date, Azere ends up in a bar and meets Rafael Castellano, and they share a drink…and then a bed.

She could never expect Rafael to be her new coworker and that their lives will be forever intertwined after one night together. 

Azere knows it will never work, though, because Rafael is white and someone her Nigerian mother will never accept.

This novel explores big themes of culture, identity, and family in some beautiful ways. 

This is a perfect little romance that offers some added depth with the explorations of compromise and culture in our modern ways of finding love.

July 2021 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

4 Out of 5 Stars

I want to begin with, every character in this thriller is morally bankrupt, so this was a guilty-pleasure read for my stack.

Sophie has left behind a stressful career to become a blogger learning to pursue the simple things in life and a slowed-down pace.

The problem is that this new lifestyle is leaving her quite bored.

When she meets Margot Banks, she is immediately attracted to her and her group of friends. It is why it is such an honor to be included on a group invite to one of their secret meetings of the “Hunting Wives.”

In this elite club, they do a little target practice shooting (while drunk) and then continue the party for their hunting portion to find men to flirt and hook up with.

As the evenings become more dangerous and more layered, Sophie finds that these meetings begin to destroy her life slowly, but she could never expect the lengths it will go to and what could be at stake, mainly when a local girl was shot to death.

Were these people terrible?

Yes.

Was I here for every minute of the awfulness?

You bet.

I finished this one in a day, and it fulfilled all the reality television cravings I needed, just in book format.