Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

The Best Books of 2019

Friday, December 20th, 2019

The Best Books of 2019 from MomAdvice.com

 

Looking for a book that you just won’t be able to put down? Each year I read 100 books and I’m sharing the 20 best books I read in 2019. Bookmark this list and be sure to check out all the previous best books of the year lists that we linked to below.

This has been a really incredible year of reading and I have enjoyed SO MUCH how this section of the site seems to continue to grow and evolve. 

The MomAdvice Book Club has grown to over 3,000 members and I even got to host our first MomAdvice Reading Retreat

Of course, reading is my favorite hobby and I read some REALLY phenomenal books this year. 

To inspire you even more, I have created a 2020 Reading Challenge Worksheet that you can print out. 

Maybe some of my favorite picks will be the perfect challenge books for you too! 

This year’s list was incredibly challenging to narrow down, but these are the 20 books that, I think, are The Best Books of 2019.

The Best Books of 2019

Ask Again, Yes Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Buzz books seem to rarely deliver, but this buzz book completely blew me away. The lives of two families are forever changed after a shocking incident occurs that alters the course for both of them. Set in the 1970’s, Keane chronicles their story, over the course of forty years. This story of love and forgiveness, after the unthinkable, was so moving. It is storytelling at its finest. (full review here)

The Book of Harlan The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden

I have read so many books about the Holocaust, but never a story like this. McFadden uses her own ancestor’s stories to share how people of color were also sent to concentration camps. I felt naive and embarrassed that I did not know this and am incredibly thankful that I read this. It broke me in a million pieces and Harlan will now hold a special place in my heart forever. (full review here)

The Last True Poets of the Sea The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

Typically, I connect deeply with one YA book a year. This year, it is is this one. A retelling of the Twelfth Night, the story contains adventure, beautiful friendships, the uncertainty of first loves, and explores the topic of what it means to be family. Violet is the quirky heroine that every girl can get behind. I laughed out loud, I got teary-eyed, and I just didn’t want Violet’s story to end. I loved it so much, in fact, that my daughter will be receiving this one as a holiday gift. (full review here)

The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

This gorgeous love story moved me to tears. Set in Tehran, Roya & Bahman discover love and connection in a stationery shop. On the eve of their marriage, they lose each other in the midst of political upheaval in their country. Sixty years later, fate leads Roya back to Bahman to finally get answers about what happened that tragic day. Be sure to have a tissue (or ten) handy for this read. (full review here)

The Dearly Beloved The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

You don’t have to be a believer to appreciate this exploration of faith in God. Two men are assigned to be pastors at a church and the reader discovers what faith looks like to these men and their wives. The sharp contrast between a minister’s wife, who has been groomed for this role, and a minister’s wife,  who is a feminist atheist, adds incredible dynamics to these shared roles. We know faith looks differently for everyone, but examining it from leading in a pulpit is what really makes this a compelling read. (full review here)

Miracle Creek Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

This page-turner was one courtroom thriller that I just could not put down. The story centers around a family, who have immigrated to the states, and open an experimental medical treatment facility to treat autism.  This forward-thinking therapeutic device they use though ends up malfunctioning, causing an explosion that kills two people. Getting to the heart of the explosion is what made it so compelling and you can’t help but to feel empathy for each of these characters. (full review here)

The Things We Cannot Say The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

Any books about the Holocaust are heavy reads and I’m thankful that Rimmel wrote this one with alternating chapters between present day and the past, at the height of Nazi-occupied Poland. Alina and Tomaz are best friends who plan to marry, until everything changes in their country. This beautiful love story weaves in these past struggles with relatable present day struggles of being a modern day woman. What is done so well is how incredibly these secrets are slowly revealed in the story. The shifting viewpoints, the haunting love story, and another viewpoint on the Holocaust is what made this historical fiction read so special. (full review here)

A Ladder to the Sky A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

Only an incredibly talented author could write the most unlikeable character in the world and make it so damn entertaining.  Maurice is a talentless writer who will stop at nothing to become an author, including stepping on everyone on his way to the top. His narcissism knows no bounds and Maurice’s career certainly becomes legendary in the literary world.  This character is so absolutely awful that you may find yourself chuckling through portions of this book.  Pop some popcorn and enjoy a terrible day with narcissistic Maurice. You won’t regret it. (full review here

Dominicana by Angie Cruz Dominicana by Angie Cruz

This coming-of-age survival story was beautiful because it showcases how one can still find joy, even in the worst of circumstances. In 1965, Ana Cancion is just fifteen when Juan Ruiz proposes marriage. Juan is twice Ana’s age, but he is making it big in New York City and is willing to take Ana to America with him. Ana knows that if she can get to America, she can also help her family immigrate there too. What she doesn’t know is that Juan isn’t who he seems at all. Instead of roaming America, she is locked in their the sparse apartment, to cook, and to clean for him. It is only when he has to go out of the country, for business,  that she gets to finally explore America and a forbidden relationship.  (full review here)

 

Finding Dorothy Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

As a Wizard of Oz fan, I couldn’t be more thrilled with this historical fiction story about the author of the Oz book and his incredible family. Frank may have wrote the story of Oz, but the journey to success was a long one. His wife, far ahead of her time as a feminist, leaves behind her education to marry this magical man and start a life together. Their life is what shapes the story of Oz and it is incredibly beautiful. Alternating chapters allow you to step in time with Frank and also learn more about Maud (his wife), as she visits the set of the Wizard of Oz movie. (full review here)

The Ten Thousand Doors of January The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

This inventive story-within-a-story ended up being my favorite fantasy escape this year.  I wanted to underline passages and read these imaginative sentences out loud.  January grows up in an old mansion and discovers she has a special gift for finding hidden doors. These doors have the ability to take January into different worlds.  When she finds an old book, she reads about a woman who could also access these door too. This discovery leads January on many adventures and she finds out how important this story really is to her own. Complete magic! (full review here)


The Warehouse by Rob Hart The Warehouse by Rob Hart

This is one of those cases where a science fiction book starts hitting a little too close to home. Hart’s imaginative novel explores what would happen if one company ruled the world. Told from the perspective of the man who started the company,  and from those who are now forced to rely on this single company for EVERYTHING.  It gives us a peek behind the curtains of what it might look like if, say, Amazon ruled the world. (full review here)

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

My bookworm heart found this novel absolutely charming. Nina keeps a rigid schedule and her entire world starts to turn upside down when she discovers her father has fathered multiple children that she never knew about. This introverted soul is overwhelmed with all these siblings and a love interest she has, absolutely, no time for. Waxman, cleverly, uses Nina’s to-do list to help the reader understand the fraying of Nina’s solitude. Oh, Nina, I couldn’t get you more. (full review here)

The Lager Queen of Minnesota The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

Stradal has such a gift for writing stories that are set in the Midwest. As a Midwestern girl, I always find a character that feels like family. In this story, a father dies and does not split the inheritance evenly between his daughters. The one with money goes on to open one of the most successful brewing companies in the country.  The sister without, struggles and has to learn to make do. When the struggling sister’s granddaughter decides she wants to brew beer, these two sister’s paths cross and collide. A story of family, forgiveness, and beer. What’s not to love? (full review here)

Where the Forest Meets the Stars Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

Don’t underestimate the power of those free monthly Kindle First Reads because this free book ended up making my best-of list. This starts like a fantasy book, but soon evolves into a grounded mystery, so stick with it!  A little girl, claiming to be an alien, shows up in a woman’s backyard and says she has arrived on Earth to witness five miracles. Trying to figure out where she’s from, Joanna recruits her reclusive neighbor to help this little girl to get back to her family. This book is about three broken people and the miraculous healing power of belonging and being loved. It’s such a heartwarming story that I couldn’t put it down. (full review here)

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

A practicing therapist shares a behind-the-scenes look at some of her most challenging clients and the psychological reasons on why we do the the things we do. This memoir goes deeper than that though and shares her own private difficulties and what going to therapy is like when you are a therapist too. I loved the insights that Gottlieb shared, but I loved her vulnerability most of all. (full review here)

The Editor The Editor by Steven Rowley

Did you know that Jacqueline Kennedy worked at a publishing house as an editor?  Set in the 1990’s, 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, when he walked into that office, but who could ever prepare a writer for that? This book takes you into this fictional friendship and it is BEAUTIFUL. Rowley is a gifted storyteller and it really shows in the quiet and beautiful ways he writes her story. (full review here)

The Night Olivia Fell The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

I read a lot of incredible thrillers, but this is one that really stuck with me. Abi’s daughter is involved in a freak accident where she has fallen from a bridge and is now brain dead. Abi knows that there is more to this story though and is determined to find out the truth. The relationships between our children though is so layered and that’s what makes it compelling. Much of the book focuses on her own reflections and guilt for not being enough to her daughter, despite being an incredible and protective mom. It is hard to not attach yourself to these themes.  I was completely swept away in this story and McDonald builds believable motives that leave a reader guessing right up until the very end. (full review here)

The Girl He Used to Know The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

This contemporary romance was so beautifully done and Graves crafted the most endearing characters. Annika struggles socially and has a hard time with changes in her routines. Going to college isn’t easy, but she finds solace in joining the chess club. It is here that she meets Jonathan, who loves these quirky qualities in this unique girl. Their first love story doesn’t work out, but thankfully, we get a second round later in life.  Sweet, sexy, and likable supporting characters made this book a fantastic escape. (full review here)

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

I love a good feminist read and Liggett nails a dystopian world that deserves all the Margaret Atwood comparisons. In Garner County, girls are told that they have extreme powers that can lure men when they are on the edge of womanhood. The girls are banished from the safety of their homes and into the woods, when they turn sixteen, so they can release these magical powers into the wild before being married. Unfortunately, many girls don’t survive the trip. Combine The Handmaid’s Tale with The Lord of the Flies and add a splash of, The Hunger Games and enjoy this book cocktail that really got me fired up. (full review here)

Need More Book Ideas? Here are my top ten lists from the past eight years!!

Best Books of 2018

Best Books of 2017

My Top Ten Books of 2016

My Top Ten Books of 2015

My Top Ten Books of 2014

My Top Ten Books of 2013

The Best Books Read in 2012

My Top Ten Books in 2011

The Top Ten of 2010

 

Thank you for reading with me this year and I hope you have discovered a few new favorite books for your own stacks! This is my last post for 2019.  I will see you in 2020 for another year of good living on a small budget and LOADS more book fun. 

Happy Holidays! xo

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Don’t miss these other great reads on MomAdvice:

MomAdvice 2020 Book Club Selections 2020 MomAdvice Book Club Selections (join our free club!)

9 cozy books for winter reading

19 thrillers to keep you up all night

quick reads to reach those reading goals quick reads to reach those reading goals

53 historical fiction novels to escape with 53 historical fiction novels to escape with

The Best Books of 2019 from MomAdvice.com

 

December 2019 Must-Reads

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

December Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Looking for your next great read? MomAdvice has 16 new books you can check out and cozy up with this winter. This book list has a phenomenal thriller, women’s fiction escapes, a riveting memoir, and several filled with exquisite storytelling.  Be sure to bookmark this list for your next library visit!

I hope everyone is cruising through those GoodReads goals and in the home stretch. 

I am, in fact, hobbling to the finish. 

holiday dress was only $20 and shoes for $35 thanks to thredUP

I am WAY behind this year and have been starting to get worried that I won’t hit my goals.

I also started to panic that I wouldn’t remember all the great books I have read. 

I am hitting that age… (*ahem*)

Between a busy season of fa-la-la-ing and a slowed pace, as I selected our book club selections, I am sweating my way to my 100 book goal this year. 

I am still reading and will add the next stack to my January reviews, but DID want to share SIXTEEN incredible reads that I read with you.

I am hoping that will keep you a *little* busy while you wait for my final wrap up.

By the way, did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? The Kindle First Reads program is so much fun and a great way to sample a book before it hits the store shelves. Grab your FREE book over here. 

Here are 16 must-read books I tackled in December (and reading for our book club selections!)

Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie

Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie

If you are looking for a fantastic coming-of-age memoir that will give you SO much to think about, I have the book for you. Formation is the incredible true story of a woman joining the army and leaving behind all that is familiar. 

Growing up in a sheltered Christian community, Ryan strikes up a conversation with an Army recruiter (who visits her high school), that leads her to sign up to join the troops.

Ryan is hired as a linguist and finds the environment challenging, as a woman and as someone who has been sheltered so lovingly by her family. 

One night Ryan is raped by a fellow soldier and this story, HER story, is about the aftermath of reporting the soldier and how this begins to impact her career and reputation.

While the story of the assault is just a couple of pages, it is powerful, raw, and honest.

What makes this one more compelling though is the journey that Ryan takes as she learns to love herself again and find peace within her body.

It’s such a journey too and I’m thankful she shared it in such an honest way.

I also learned SO MUCH about what it would be like to be serving in the Army as a woman.  There are so many aspects to this complicated role that I never knew about.

I, truly, have even more respect for our women soldiers and the obstacles they face daily. 

I reached out to Ryan to share how thankful I was to read her story and she has agreed to join us for our book chat this year.  I can’t wait to talk about her story with you and I know that EVERYONE will learn something new after reading this one.

You can learn more about this year’s book club here.

5 out of 5 Stars Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

Does anyone else love a quirky story? 

If you do, you will LOVE, Nothing to See Here.

Lillian & Madison were roommates, when they attend their elite boarding school. Unfortunately, Lillian left abruptly, after a school scandal, and they now do not speak.

This is why Lillian is so surprised when Madison sends her a letter, begging for help.

She needs Lillian to act as the caretaker, for her twins, but it does come with some unusual problems.

You see, the girl can spontaneously combust when they get agitated. 

No big deal, right? Kids are catching fire all the time!

While the premise is unusual, this is a beautiful story of how Lillian finds her place and peace caring for these girls.

This story is charming, heartwarming, and a fantastic quick read.

The audiobook was done really well, if you prefer to listen to your novels.

This book was also selected for the MomAdvice Book Club. You can learn more about this year’s book club here.

5 out of 5 Stars

Minor Drama & Other Catastrophes

Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West (pre-order for February 4, 2020)

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

Fans of, The Gifted School, will get a big kick out the latest parenting dramas in, Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes.

This story pits a teacher with a very progressive curriculum up against the school’s #1 helicopter parent. 

Julia Abbott demands a lot from her kids, their teacher, and their school. As big donors, she feels that her “charitable gift,” to the drama department should yield a great role for her son in the play.

When her son doesn’t answer his phone, to tell her the casting, she takes it upon herself to plow all the kids down to see the posted cast list.

While bullying her way to the top, she accidentally hurts a student and the whole incident is captured on social media.

Both these women’s stories are amplified by the secret Facebook group, where parents complain about the staff, other parents, and anything else they feel they deserve.

This was a fun one if love those “rich parents behaving badly,” stories. 

It also showcases how teens can assist in making their schools better, if we just give them a chance to do it.

4 out of 5 Stars

The News from the End of the World

The News from the End of the World by Emily Jeanne Miller

This layered family story takes place in a short four day time span. The News from the End of the World is about twin brothers who both carry new secrets, old secrets, and their own unique viewpoints on how they remember these stories.

Vance Lake comes to stay with his twin brother, after losing his job and his girlfriend.  He knows that he doesn’t have the money to keep doing this on his own and decides Craig’s house would be the perfect refuge.

When he arrives though, he discovers that his niece, Amanda (17), is pregnant. Craig is heartbroken and full of rage, towards his wife and his daughter.

When he takes off, Vance must decide who he will side with on how they will handle this unexpected pregnancy.

This story is told in alternating viewpoints and, with each section, the reader discovers how layered these old resentments are.  The novel does a great job showing the challenges of returning home, in a very real and honest way.  Each of the characters are endearing and I love how they rally together for Amanda.

If you have a book club, this would be a great one to chat about!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica (pre-order for February 18, 2020)

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

I am a HUGE Mary Kubica fan and could not wait to get my hands on her next thriller, The Other Mrs

Since I am such a big fan, I am delighted to tell you that this (in my opinion) is her best book yet. 

I try to keep my thriller reviews vague, so I don’t take away from these smart plot twists, but I will share the basic premise. 

Sadie & Will Foust move from Chicago to a small-town in Maine. They have barely moved in though when their neighbor, Morgan Baines, is found dead. 

Who else could have done it except the new family in town?

This murder case is all that anyone can talk about. Sadie, in particular, becomes obsessed with what has happened.

She is intent on uncovering what happened to Morgan, even if it puts her own safety at risk. 

Lucky for you, she takes on you every twisted turn.

As a seasoned thriller writer, it takes a lot to surprise me, but this one delivered some REALLY incredible twists that will have you flipping pages until the wee hours of the morning.

This thriller was so good, in fact, that I thought it would be perfect for discussing in our book club. The plot is a bit more layered than I can fully disclose.

I am so excited that Mary will be joining us for an author chat this year and can’t wait to hear how she came up with these smart twists. 

You can learn more about this year’s book club here.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

Each year, I discover one YA book that becomes a beloved favorite. This year, that book was, The Last True Poets of the Sea

Even if you aren’t a YA reader, this book is a beautifully written coming-of-age adventure story that I doubt you could forget.

I loved it so much, I ordered my daughter a copy as a gift. 

The legendary story that Sam and Violet are told is that their great-great-great-grandmother was the only surviving passenger in a shipwreck. Fidelia not only survived, but she swam to shore, found the love of her life, and founded Lyric, Maine.

It is, just one reason why,  Sam and Violet love to spend their summers there. 

When Violet’s brother, Sam, attempts to take his own life, he is sent to a treatment facility.

Violet finds herself missing her brother and begins to fixate on finding this shipwrecked boat and learning more about her family’s past. Could this hold the keys to understanding her family better?

She isn’t the only one who would love to crack the case, and the local historian (Liv Stone) is interested too. They partner up with their pal, Orion, to try to crack the case…and find love and acceptance in the promise.

This is such a beautiful read. I laughed, I cried, and I didn’t want Violet’s story to end.

Drake did an incredible job writing flawed characters and combines it beautifully with a fantastic adventure story. 

ALL. THE. FEELS.

I am so excited to be discussing this one in the MomAdvice Book Club and I KNOW you will love it as much as me. 

You can learn more about this year’s book club here.

5 out of 5 Stars

All This Could Be Yours

All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg (currently on sale for just $2.99!!)

I was intrigued by the premise of, All This Could Be Yours, when I read that it was the perfect book for fans of, Big Little Lies.

Honestly, I would not categorize the two as being similar because this read like a great episode of, The Sopranos.

The subtitle to this dysfunctional family novel should be, “It’s complicated.”

Victor, a real estate developer is on his deathbed, but few people seem that sad about it.

In fact, everyone seems pretty angry and bitter about Victor. 

The truth is, the guy is a terrible, toxic, cheating, abusive person and his family seemed to be his top target for his frustrations. 

Told through alternating points of view, we get to see Victor’s life through his children’s eyes, his wife, and the woman he had an affair with. 

The meatiest layer to this story is identity and how we fit in our family’s story when they are terrible people. 

Lots of self-discoveries are made (including why Barbara would have stayed married to him) and much is uncovered as they congregate at Victor’s bedside.

Victor has no redeeming qualities, but the reader can appreciate how the others have evolved in spite of it all.

4 out of 5 Stars

We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop

I can’t remember how I stumbled on, We Came Here to Forget, but I am so thankful I did. 

This novel is about a young Olympic skier, Katie Cleary, who decides to head to Buenos Aires when a family tragedy strikes.

Determined to be anonymous, she changes her name (to Liz Sullivan) and finds a colorful group of ex-pats who all seem to be escaping their own demons.

Katie feels that if these people knew her family secret, that they would want no part of her life.

There are just so many layers to this story, and Dunlop leads you through alternating chapters (the past and the current situation) that builds to a shocking discovery of why Katie left (and what she lost). 

I refuse to give anything away, but the tragedy that Dunlop choses made me think about certain situations in a very different way and allowed me to extend more empathy to others. 

It is very thoughtfully done, the minor characters are just compelling, and she challenges you to think about these scenarios in fresh ways.

The narration is also beautiful, if you are on the hunt for an audiobook. 

Best of all, we get to discuss this one with Andrea in our book club- yay!

You can learn more about this year’s book club here.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Warehouse by Rob Hart The Warehouse by Rob Hart

I know many have dipped their toes into science fiction, thanks to Blake Crouch and his incredible books.

Well, I have to say, if you are a fan of Blake’s books, The Warehouse is the book for you! 

Cloud is the giant tech company that has taken over the entire American economy. 

Cloud’s warehouse is what the world relies on for food, shelter, communication, currency, and anything else you might need. 

Told in different perspectives, you are lead down a clever path with Cloud’s founder, who is sick with cancer, and through the viewpoints of those who now have to rely upon Cloud to survive. 

When a woman (Zinnia) decides to go undercover, she is determined to figure out all of the company’s secrets and how they rose to power. She uses Paxton, who works in security, to help her get to the bottom of Cloud’s corporate greed and what they are hiding from the world. 

I love, love, love the themes in this book. As we become increasingly reliant on the corporate giants (like Amazon or Walmart), do we face a similar economy? In the same way that Black Mirror brings me discomfort, this one strikes a little too close to home. 

The narration, on audiobook, is just genius. I couldn’t stop listening because it was so cleverly done.

Told from these alternating viewpoints, you begin to see why decisions are made and why the world might not always understand those decisions.

In the same regard, you see what is asked of us if we become too reliant on one source.

I could talk about this one all day and that’s why I’m thrilled to talk about it in our book club. 

I’m so happy that Rob has agreed to be a part of our interview series and I know you will love it as much as I did.

You can learn more about this year’s book club here.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Book of Harlan The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden

I cannot begin to explain how beautiful and heartbreaking this book was. 

I admit, I have developed a thick skin because I read so much, and sometimes that means books don’t always emotionally overwhelm me the way they should.

This was NOT the case with, The Book of Harlan.

I, originally, had this as a book club selection, but then felt like this was too heavy to expect everyone to jump into this one for a book chat. 

The honest truth is that I weeped through a good portion of this book and there are images that can’t leave my mind. 

I also learned a different side of the Holocaust that I didn’t realize existed.

I apologize if this was naive, but I did not know that other people of color were also rounded up, on the streets, and sent to concentration camps. 

Harlan’s experience, as a concentration camp survivor, is harrowing and ripped my heart to shreds.

I have read so much literature on this era and McFadden opened my eyes by using her own research into this (and her own ancestor’s stories), to bring to light something that I didn’t know. 

This is one reason I am so grateful for historical fiction.

Starting with the marriage of his parents, we are taken on a journey  through Harlan’s life and how difficult it was (and still is) to be a black man, growing up in such a bigoted world.  Spanning six decades, Harlan’s story from beginning to end is beautifully told. 

This book is graphic, as McFadden pulls back the curtain on the concentration camp. I really did have to take a break through this section, in particular. In the same way, A Little Lifemoved and wrecked me, this story captured my heart and made Harlan one of the most special characters I’ve read.

I’m thankful that I read this one this year.

10 out of 5 Stars

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

If you combined, The Handmaid’s Tale with The Lord of the Flies and added a splash of, The Hunger Games, you have this incredible novel that you just won’t want to put down.

In Garner County, girls are told that they have extreme powers that lure men and drive other women crazy with jealousy. These girls are told that their skin takes on a scent, when they are on the edge of their womanhood.

It is why the girls are banished from the safety of their homes and into the woods, when they turn sixteen, so they can release their crazy powers into the wild before being married. 

Unfortunately, many girls don’t survive the trip. 

Tierny isn’t like other girls though and dreams of a different kind of life. She is willing to test these boundaries, even as she becomes increasingly aware of what is at stake.

This YA read is FANTASTIC and I loved all of the creative elements that Liggett brought to create this dystopian world.

I listened to this one on audiobook and was thankful that I did not turn off my headphones at the end because they interview Kim about this novel.

Her overwhelming emotional response to the story, and seeing it out in the world, made me love it even more. 

Catch this one before it comes to the big screen with Universal Studios and is directed by Elizabeth Banks!

I’m so excited that Kim has agreed to join us for our interview series and look forward to discussing this one in our book club. 

You can learn more about this year’s book club here.

5 out of 5 Stars

Wolfpack by Abby Wambach

When I asked our book club for recommendations on short books to read (to nail that GoodReads goal), several members recommended, Wolfpack

At just 112 pages, I wasn’t expecting such a powerful punch, but that’s what Abby delivers in this book.

This book is based on a viral commencement speech she delivered in 2018 to Barnard College graduates.

Abby, a U.S.  Soccer Olympic Gold Medalist, challenges women to not compare and pit themselves against other women, but to come together. The pack mentality allows us to use our powers for good and help facilitate change in our world. 

She challenges women to not be Little Red Riding Hood and follow the path, but to be curious and open to going off the beaten path…even if we fail.

Wambach uses elements in her career in ways that are, truly, inspiring. Even when benched, due to injury, she finds a way to love and support her team so that she still feels part of everything.

I am continually wowed by her work and this was no exception.

If you have a daughter, no matter your side in politics, share this one with her.

When women come together, beautiful things really do happen! 

5 out of 5 Stars

November Road by Lou Berney

November Road by Lou Berney

If Stephen King says a novel is, “exceptional,” you better believe that I will read it. November Road was not on my radar until I started researching the best books for discussion.

This one is very different than anything I’ve chosen before and I am so glad that I discovered it.

The story takes place during the assassination of JFK and centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across America, to hunt down someone who might have the key to discovering what happened to JFK.

A street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned how quickly one’s luck can change. When the mob thinks he knows too much about this crime of the century, he immediately becomes a target. 

One by one, people that are tied to Marcello end up dead.

To try to escape his certain demise, he heads to Las Vegas to try to vanish from the mob scene. 

On his way, he sees a beautiful housewife on the side of the road with a broken down vehicle. She has a dog and two girls.. and he thinks this family might help his disguise be even more believable.

Posing as an insurance agent, he offers to help her reach her destination. 

What he doesn’t know is that she happens to be on the run too. 

This is a REALLY great story. Berney builds believable suspense and a great little love story in the process.

Fans of, Labor Day, are sure to love this one.

Fittingly, this has become our November Book Club selection. I am so excited to talk to you about this one! Berney is an incredible storyteller and I was completely sucked into this wild adventure that he created for these characters.

You can learn more about this year’s book club here.

5 out of 5 Stars

Beside Herself

Beside Herself by Elizabeth LaBan

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

Lately, I have been reading a lot of Women’s Fiction books that surround infidelity and open marriages. 

What can I say?

Sometimes women want to fictionally escape (or at least watch the train wreck when fictional people do it).

Beside Herself, is another exploration of a marriage that has gone off the rails, thanks to infidelity.

Hannah is desperate to find out what her husband has planned for her surprise birthday party.

When she hacks into his phone, the surprise isn’t what she expected at all.

She finds numerous texts between her husband and another women, who have been meeting at a hotel together.

When confronted, he shares that he had been cheating, but that he would never do it again.

Now that the secret is out he wants them to put the pieces back together with a marriage counselor.

In retaliation, Hannah decides that she will explore online dating and cheat on Joel, to even the score. 

As readers, we get to go on one awful date after another with Hannah.

We also get the opportunity to see what brought Joel & Hannah together in the first place. 

Guess what? It is absolutely heartwarming!

LaBan builds a realistic plot with a father in the nursing home, a friendship that can’t withstand the situation, and an unlikely support person that helps her through this difficult patch in her life. 

Fans of, The Arrangement, will love this escape with Hannah as she searches for love in unlikely places.

4 out of 5 Stars

When All Is Said by Anne Giffin When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

When All is Said has a very unique premise for a novel. The narrator lifts a glass five times for a toast to five different people that impacted his life.

Griffin immediately envelopes you into Maurice’s story. At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town, this 84-year-old man has decided to share his REAL life story with you. We are lead to believe that this will be his final night.

I will admit, at first I wasn’t completely enraptured with Maurice and feared that I wouldn’t connect with his story. As he reveals his soul deeply and truthfully, I began to feel more and more connected to Maurice.

His unspoken joys and regrets are mixed with a secret tragedy that he has always kept hidden. 

I was a little teary-eyed through this one because Maurice is so beautifully layered and his confessions will give you pause and reflection on your own life.

Anne will be joining us for our interview series, as we discuss her beautiful book. 

You can learn more about this year’s book club here.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

Let me be honest, it is the cover of this book that initially sucked me into picking it up. You can’t always judge a book by its cover, but in this case you can! 

I adore a good love story and that’s just what you will get in, The Stationary Shop

In 1953, Roya is a teenager who happens to be growing up in the midst of political upheaval.

This is why Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood book and stationery shop is such a beautiful respite from the chaos. 

Bahman is one of Mr. Fakhri’s favorite customers and ends up catching Roya’s eye. He is a passionate young man who has a deep passion for justice..and soon discovers a deep passion for Roya. 

Falling in love when the world is in turmoil proves to be awfully challenging.

The reader is taken along each treacherous turn as Royal and Bahman try to find one another again. 

This story is BEAUTIFUL! I had a few local women (MomAdvice Beta Book Club Testers) read it and everyone was so moved by this passionate romance.

And, yes, there were tears.

I can’t say enough good things and I can’t wait to talk about it with you in book club.

You can learn more about this year’s book club here.

5 out of 5 Stars

Virgil Wander Virgil Wander by Leif Enger

Our final discussion, for the MomAdvice Book Club, was for Virgil Wander and I was so excited to read this one.

This is one of those cases where I felt like it was me, and not the book, that was the problem. Trying to read a slower build story in the middle of December made it really challenging around the holiday chaos.

Although this one took awhile for me to warm up to, Enger creates a beautiful Midwest town and shapes a beautiful little community, in his story.

Virgil is involved in a car accident where he drives off the road and right into the lake. 

Miraculously, he is saved, but he isn’t the same man he was before the accident. He has trouble finding words and forming sentences, something he used to be quite good at. 

With difficulty retaining his old memories, he decides to change his life. Where he used to be more quiet and highly productive, he finds that he wants to approach his life differently after the accident. 

Virgil’s new identity allows space for unlikely friends and relationships. Enger builds this small town up beautifully and anyone who has a deep appreciation for character-driven books will enjoy this one. 

It is gorgeously written, but slowly paced. 

That said, sometimes that is just what your stack needs.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

June 2019 Must-Reads

July 2019 Must-Reads

August 2019 Must-Reads

September 2019 Must-Reads

October & November Must-Reads

Sign up for the MomAdvice Daily Book Deals Newsletter

Join Our FREE Book Club

enjoy these reviews? here are a few other reads you’ll enjoy this year!

 

9 cozy books for winter reading

19 thrillers to keep you up all night

quick reads to reach those reading goals quick reads to reach those reading goals

53 historical fiction novels to escape with 53 historical fiction novels to escape with

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

December Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

 

 

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October and November 2019 Must-Reads

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

November 2019 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Looking for your next great read? MomAdvice has 6 new books you can check out and cozy up with this winter. This fall book list has everything you could ever want- a mystery, a fascinating thriller, an Irish ghost story, a nonfiction exploration on books, and so much more! Be sure to bookmark this list for your next library visit!

I hope you all had an incredible holiday and are enjoying some much needed R&R after all the festivities.  We had a very laid back holiday this year which was just what we needed. 

This past month I’ve been plowing through as many book as I can and selecting our next 12 selections for our MomAdvice Book Club. I am unbelievably excited about what I have picked for you and I am hoping that I may have found a new favorite book for you too!

I want these selections to be a surprise so you will see all the book reviews appear next month, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging for another month.

How awful would be?

For you, but also for my poor brain to remember everything.

Instead, I’m sharing some of the books that I *CAN* share about today! 

MomAdvice Book Club 2020

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Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? The Kindle First Reads program is so much fun and a great way to sample a book before it hits the store shelves. Grab your FREE book over here. 

 

Book of the Month Selections Announced!

December 2019 Book of the Month Selections

December Book of the Month Selections!

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher (Domestic Suspense)

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano (Contemporary Fiction)

Long Bright River by Liz Moore (Mystery)

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey (Historical Fiction)

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Romance)- this was a 5-star read (for me!!)

This month’s deal: Use coupon code FAM5 to get your first box for $5, and code PERFECT10 to get $10 off a 6 or 12 month gift! SHOP HERE!

Prefer YA? Here are this month’s YA Book of the Month Selections!

December YA Book of the Month Selections!

Reverie by Ryan La Sala (Fantasy)

Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen (Historical Romance)

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black (Fantasy)

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean (Historical Fiction)

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins (Romance)

This month’s deal: Use coupon code YES5 to get your first box for $5, and code PERFECT10 to get $10 off a 6 or 12 month gift. SHOP HERE!

Here are 6 must-read books I tackled in October & November:

Speaking of Summer

 

Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon

I will admit that I was attracted to this book because of its vibrant and creative cover, but I was also intrigued by the description of the mystery within its pages.

Autumn’s twin sister, Summer, walks to the rooftop of their shared Harlem brownstone and is never seen from again. 

As a woman of color, she knows how many women go missing and society and police can be complacent in these missing person cases. She meets often with the detective to talk through the clues and concerns, in Summer’s case, hoping that she can help find her sister.

As time progresses, Autumn does her best to hold it all together, but begins to unravel as her obsession grows to try to solve the disappearance. What happens though when no one seems to care about a woman of color?

This started out so strong and the answer to the mystery was done incredibly well. Buckhanon uses this book to shed light on bigger themes like race, mental health, and addiction. It, truly, sucks the reader in.  I was stunned by the twist and talked about it for days afterwards.

This one missed the mark, for me, at times with consistency and keeping the plot moving once Summer’s whereabouts are revealed. 

Despite the inconsistency, I really loved the creativity that went into this novel and Buckhanon’s beautiful writing.

I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

4 out of 5 Stars

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd (available for pre-order)

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

I fell in love with Jess Kidd’s writing after listen to, “Himself,” on audiobook (full review here) last year. There was something so unique about her storytelling that blended a great Irish ghost story with an incredible amount of heart and humor.  This is why I knew that I was in for something good when I snagged an advanced reader of, “Things in Jars.”

Kidd takes a darker turn with a female detective, Bridie Devine, who is trying to solve the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, the secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick. 

The child has been kept away in secret from society because of her peculiarities and supernatural powers. At this time, in Victorian London, peculiarities are displayed as marvels in traveling circuses (or worse) children are killed to display these oddities in jars for collectors and for profit. 

Bridie is determined to find this girl even if it means putting her own past at risk. 

She isn’t alone though, she is aided through this story by a tattooed ghost who doesn’t leave her side as she investigates. 

Kidd does a great job adding her signature humor into this dark story and weaves in history and folklore that anyone can appreciate. Fans of magical realism will love this Dickensesque story that finds great beauty in the oddities.

This is much darker than her previous work and is a very macabre telling of our curiosities with collecting and displaying the peculiarities of others for profit.

For me, this one leaned a little too heavy into the magical elements that made the story feel a lot less grounded toward the end.

Overall, I was still completely swept away and would still recommend this one for your stack! 

4 out of 5 Stars

The Family Upstairs

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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

If you are looking for an excellent thriller, I can’t recommend, “The Family Upstairs,” enough. The only reason this wasn’t selected for our book club is because there is already SO much buzz around it that I had a feeling that many of you may have already read it. 

In this story, Libby returns home from work to find a letter written to her on her 25th birthday. Truth be told, 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 is worth millions.

Twenty-five years ago, the police were called to this very 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 all had mysteriously disappeared.

I am, admittedly, fascinated by cults and the power of charismatic leaders to manipulate people to do to unthinkable things.

The man that lives with this family ends up taking complete control over their lives requiring strict exercise, changing their attire, restricting food, manipulating people, abusing them, and alienating them from everyone in their lives.

It is especially impactful on the children who are witnessing all of this in their house and we get to see this story through their eyes too. 

I was sucked into the story from the very first page and finished it in a single day. 

If you were a fan of, “The Haunting of Hill House,” I have a feeling you will love this one too. 

This was another Lisa Jewell home run for me!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Lying Woods The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston

Our October MomAdvice Book Club selection was, “The Lying Woods,” and I have to say that this one exceeded all of our expectations this year.

Owen Foster grew up wealthy and has never wanted for anything in his life.

That is why it is so surprising when his mother shows up to his boarding school and tells him that his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. 

Owen’s father had been embezzling millions and had been draining his employees’ retirement accounts for years. When his father vanishes, he leaves behind Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout in their town. 

No longer able to afford the pricey school he attends, Owen is forced to come back to his small town and deal with the aftermath at his high school.

Even though this has nothing to do with Owen, it is hard to not be resentful of the fancy life he had lead and how angry everyone is about their money being stolen from them. 

What’s worse is that someone is desperate to get revenge on them.

Owen’s only refuge is the pecan orchard he works at, with Gus, who seems to know an awful lot about Owen’s family.

It is here that he begins to unravel the mystery of his dad, his mom, and the secrets that were covered up to protect him so many years ago.

This was such a solid novel and yielded such a great discussion too. I listened to this one, on audiobook, and thought the narration was just incredibly done.

If you are looking for a satisfying YA mystery, I highly recommend checking this one out! 

4 out of 5 Stars

The Age of Light

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

The Age of Light,” was on my historical fiction reading bucket list this year after discovering that is was about a female photographer making her mark on the world in the 1930’s.

As a person who is fascinated by photography and by the hidden women of our history, I had a feeling that this would be a favorite of mine. 

Lee Miller was an accomplished model before she made her way to Paris in the 1930’s. 

She wasn’t content just being in front of the camera though, she aimed to be behind it instead. 

Lucky for her, she met a famed Surrealist photographer, Man Ray, who gives her the opportunity to assist him. This role soon shifts though when the two fall in love.

What happens when your work and your love collide? 

Well, it’s complicated and Man Ray, for sure, doesn’t like being showed up in his own field.

Lee’s life in photography (and as Man Ray’s partner) end up taking her from the cabarets of bohemian Paris to the battlefields of war-torn Europe during WWI. 

As a war correspondent, she begins documenting the liberation of the concentration camps as one of the first female war correspondents, utilizing radical new photography techniques to document the liberation of the concentration camps as one of the first female war correspondents. 

Overall, Lee’s life was fascinating and Scharer builds a believable strength and curiosity in Lee. 

This was a strong debut from Scharer, although the story would have benefited from some trimming (at 485 pages!). 

I am so glad to have learned about Lee Miller’s life and am thankful historical fiction has been a great avenue for learning about stories like these.

Want to see some of Lee’s war photos? Look at these amazing images!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Library Book The Library Book by Susan Orlean

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

The Library Book was chosen as our MomAdvice Book Club selection for November. As someone who is crazy about the library, I thought this would be a great nonfiction pick as it explores the history of the establishment and a mystery surround the 1986 fire in the Los Angeles Public Library.

Didn’t know there was a fire there?

Neither did most people! 

Orlean shares the story of a library fire that 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.

For thirty years, investigators have been baffled by how this fire started and the mysterious reason why it happened.

Orlean is, clearly, a big fan of the library and she weaves in a lot of fun facts and a bigger story about the role that the library plays in our lives. 

There is a wide cast of characters as she shares the stories of people from libraries past and present.

Overall, this should have been a really enthralling read. The fire and how the community rallied together was, definitely, the most fascinating part.

No one can understand the aftermath of what that looked like or, frankly, how it would impact the people who worked there. 

This is one of those cases though where I felt like the author could have benefited from an editor. I listened to this one on audiobook and found myself zoning in and out as Orlean tried to pack in every detail about libraries past.

While well-researched, it was a little dry and I found myself wanting to fast forward to the bits about the the Los Angeles Public Library.

3 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

June 2019 Must-Reads

July 2019 Must-Reads

August 2019 Must-Reads

 

Sign up for the MomAdvice Daily Book Deals Newsletter

Join Our FREE Book Club

 

Don’t miss these other great reads on MomAdvice:

9 cozy books for winter reading

19 thrillers to keep you up all night

quick reads to reach those reading goals quick reads to reach those reading goals

53 historical fiction novels to escape with 53 historical fiction novels to escape with

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

November 2019 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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September 2019 Must-Reads

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

September Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Looking for your next great read? I’ve got you covered with 8 reviews on new releases to help you decide if one of the latest fall releases could be for you. As you head into your fall reading, check out my suggestions from the month of September.

This has been quite the week, in MomAdvice land. We moved servers and transferring sixteen years of fun,it turns out,  is NO JOKE. I am hoping that the efforts will yield a much faster site for you and a better user experience. 

I know you aren’t here to talk about my technical challenges though so I’m excited to share my next stack of books with you! 

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Before we start, here are a few things you might have missed:

Did you download your summer reading guide? It’s not too late to snag it (by signing up for my happy list newsletter) because it contains plenty of my all-time favorite reads to enjoy. This season is a great time to get back to reading while your kiddos are back in school. 

While you’re here, be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our FREE online book club! You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. 

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

Also, did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? 

Grab your FREE books over here. 

Book of the Month October 2019  

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Also Out!!

Here is what is available for October!

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade

This month’s deal: New members can get their first book for $9.99 when they join using this month’s code: BIG5 and can cancel at any time. 

Here are 8 must-read books I tackled in September:

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

I hate to pick favorites, this early in the year, but my favorite book (so far) is this beautiful book. This is the kind of novel that could be shared with anyone in your life and, I just know, they would love it too. 

Although this story deals a lot with faith in God, I don’t think you need to be religious (or even believe) to appreciate the themes. 

In 1963, two men are jointly hired to steward at a Presbyterian congregation.

Unfortunately, they happen to be taking the reigns during a challenging and turbulent time, when the world is thick with racism and limiting women’s rights. 

One of the men, Charles, is a devout believer whose faith seems unwavering. In a weird twist of fate, he falls in love with a woman (Lily) who has no faith in God at all.

The other man, Charles, had a difficult childhood and grew up with a lot of instability. He feels passionately about social issues and sees injustice all around him.  He falls in love with a woman though who has had a, “silver platter kind of life,”  and is the daughter of a minister. 

The contrast in these homes and between these men is what feeds the story. 

Imagine being an atheist feminist who is tasked with being a minister’s wife?

Imagine being the “perfect minister’s wife,” yet your husband is intent on shaking up the church with sermons on social injustice and racial inequality?

This story follows these two couples, over decades, as they must learn to love and respect one another. The themes on faith, what the role is of the church through turbulent political times, women’s roles (as wives and as mothers), are all phenomenally done.

If you asked me which book I think you should share with your book clubs this year, this is what I would recommend.

I, truly, did not want this story to end.

5 out of 5 Stars

Permanent Record

Permanent Record by H.K. Choi

I was such a fan of H.K. Choi’s first book that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on, Permanent Record.

Pablo is a college dropout who now regularly works the graveyard shift at a twenty-four hour deli. He made numerous financial mistakes including falling for all those credit card offers, that happen on college campuses, and signing up for student loans he can never repay.

When Leanna Smart swings by the deli, Pablo can’t believe his luck. They have, it seems, immediate chemistry and he misses her as soon as she leaves. 

Leanna isn’t a regular girl though, she is a social media sensation and well-known pop star. 

This is why it is such a surprise when she reaches out to Pablo and suggests he join her for a couple of days on tour.  Pablo knows that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance so he leaves with Leanna and they begin the first of many days together.

This was an adorable story from start to finish. 

As soon as I finished it, I handed it off to my daughter (she is 13- fyi)  because I knew she would appreciate it too.

Although the love story was sweet, I appreciated this coming-of-age story more for its honesty about identity and taking ownership of the things that are going wrong (or right) in our lives. 

I didn’t love this one quite as much as her first novel, but I’m still really glad I read it. 

Screening for your kid? There is language in this one (probably nothing different than they hear at school) and there is some glossed over sex scenes. I would give it to them, specifically, for the exploration in student debt and how teens handle social media. 

4 out of 5 Stars

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

Can I just say how much I love J. Ryan Stradal? I know his stories hold a special fondness, for me, because he writes about the Midwest in such beautiful ways. I loved his first book so much that I had him join me to share about his first book. 

As much as I loved his first book, I have to say that this one is even more incredible. 

In this story, a father dies and does not split the inheritance evenly between his daughters.

Instead he gives his entire inheritance to his youngest daughter, Helen. 

Edith is stunned that her father would do this to her and has found herself struggling to make a living, after her husband passes away.  She finds herself working in a nursing home, preparing her award-winning pies for the residents.

Helen, meanwhile, has used her inheritance to open one of the most successful light breweries in the country. She has been doing well with her business for many years, but as the craft beer industry moves in, she finds that she is desperate for help. 

When Edith’s granddaughter, Diana, decides to learn the IPA business, Diana’s path ends up crossing with Helen. Diana is determined to forge the same path and her new business just might be the glue needed to bring these two sisters back together again.

Stradal’s storytelling is exquisite and the different viewpoints really bring it all together. This book would also make a fun book club discussion (at a brewery, perhaps?) because it has so many great themes about what it means to be family.

It has heart, humor, and beautifully written characters.

I enjoyed it start to finish.

5 out of 5 Stars

Dominicana

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

I can’t begin to describe just how incredible Dominicana is. 

In fact, I want you to pick it up IMMEDIATELY so we can talk about it!

In 1965, Ana Cancion is just fifteen when Juan Ruiz proposes marriage. Juan is twice Ana’s age, but he is making it big in New York City and is willing to take Ana to America with him. Ana knows that if she can get to America, she can also help her family immigrate there too.

When she arrives in New York City, she quickly realizes that Juan isn’t anything like he seemed. He lives in a dirty walk-up apartment in Washington Heights and is broke. He’s also extremely abusive and will not allow Ana any freedoms, confining her to the apartment to wait for his return.

Ana is lonely and broken, but she still seems to find these beautiful joy-filled glimmers that make her time in NYC bearable. 

With the Dominican Republic in political turmoil, Juan is forced to leave Ana to try to protect his family’s assets. Juan entrusts his brother, Cesar, to take care of Ana in his absence. Suddenly, Ana is able to actually see New York and the possibility of a different type of life.

It is when she finds love in Cesar and must make a difficult decision.

Should she follow her heart or should she continue her relationship to secure her parent’s trip to America?

I couldn’t put this book down as I rooted for Ana to find joy again. Cruz does an incredible job writing beautifully broken characters.

I won’t be surprised if this one gets optioned for film because it is that good! 

I would highly recommend adding this one to your stack this month and I can’t wait to hear what you think about it too.

5 out of 5 Stars

There Will Be No Miracles Here

There Will Be No Miracles Here by Casey Gerald

I selected There Will Be No Miracles Here for our book club discussion because so many publications put it on their recommended reading lists. 

This memoir opens on New Year’s Eve, 1999, when so many believed it was the end of the world. His grandfather is an evangelical minister who has gathered his flock together for their last day on earth and as the clock strikes midnight, they all go to heaven.

Or not.

This immediately sets the tone for the kind of realistic humor that peppers Casey’s life. Casey’s life is difficult with a mentally ill mother and the abandonment of his father. He is forced to grow up quickly, simply for survival.

When Casey is recruited to play football at Yale, he is brought into a world he could never even fathom. It is here where he is invited into the folds of elite secret societies and the success of Wall Street.

He is also plagued with guilt that he is living this success story.

He has all he needs at his fingertips, but he sees how these acts are crushing those that are left in the margins.

How can many have so much while others are barely surviving?

I listened to this selection, read by the author, and thought it had so many beautiful and valid points. His storytelling shines best when he reflects on his lack of faith, his struggles with sexual identity, and the morality of privilege. 

Unfortunately, this was not edited properly, and could have benefited from a great deal of trimming. The plot of Gerald’s stories often went into lengthy tangents that took away from the meat of the story. Had this been tightened up, these moments would have felt more impactful. 

As a whole, this memoir felt disjointed and unnecessarily lengthy. 

3 out of 5 Stars

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

I love books that seem to be orchestrated just for the pleasure of reading. The Ten Thousand Doors of January seems to pull off just that, with imaginative writing and a story-within-a-story plot concept. 

January Scaller grows up in a beautiful mansion filled with loads of odd treasures. Her father travels a lot for work and January is the ward of a wealthy man, named Mr. Locke, and often left to her own devices. 

January has been carrying around a secret that she has never shared with anyone. When she was just seven, she found a magical door that lead her to a beautiful city. In a moment of bravery, she shared this with Mr. Locke, who grounded her for sharing such ridiculous tales.

When January stumbles upon a book, hidden away in a chest, she begins to find herself immediately connected to the story.

It is about a young woman, named Adelaide, who has also found doors. As January begins to read this story, she stumbles again upon more and more doors that help her understand her own story and the story of her parents. 

This is the type of writing where you want to underline passages or read these imaginative sentences out loud.  Harrow builds these incredible worlds within each of these doors that lead the reader on adventure after adventure. 

If you are looking for a fantasy escape, this is such a good one.

Honestly, it reads like a modern day classic and is just the kind of magic we need to escape with right now.

Add this one to your stack, even if you aren’t a fantasy lit lover. I have a feeling you will fall in love with this story too!

5 out of 5 Stars

No One Can Pronounce My Name

No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal

Satyal decided to write this novel because he noticed that so many novels about Indian culture are rooted in sadness. He wanted to craft an Indian story that had joy and humor in it, and did just that, with his novel, No One Can Pronounce My Name

Set in Cleveland, Harit is in his mid-forties and living with his mother. After the death of his sister, his mother needed support, and Harit provides that to her. He also quietly struggles with his identity,  feeling like a foreigner and understanding his sexuality.

Meanwhile, Ranjana is struggling to find her identity, after her son has left for college. She is consumed with worry that her husband is cheating on her and isn’t sure what her role is now. To channel her feelings, Ranjana has begun writing paranormal romances in secret.

When Harit & Ranjana meet, they soon realize that they both are weathering similar struggles with identity and loneliness. This unlikely friendship is the love and support they both need and they each flourish under the care of one another.

I listened to this MomAdvice Book Club selection on audiobook and absolutely loved the narration.

This story had me giggling out loud and also mixed in some achingly bittersweet moments that made my heart ache.

The ending may have been a tad too tidy, but I think I’m craving those kinds of endings right now.

I loved the development of these two characters and related so well to Ranjana’s struggles to identity as your children grow and leave home. 

I really enjoyed this book a lot and can see why it has been so highly rated by others. It was refreshing to read an Indian midwest story and I appreciated Satyal’s humor and heart in his writing!

4 out of 5 Stars

Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about the “sober curious,” movement and thought I’d do a little dive into a book on it too. I listened to this one on audiobook and was excited to learn better habits for unwinding and more about Warrington’s own journey to sobriety.

Warrington writes very honestly about her struggles with alcohol that lead her to the decision to cut it out of her life. She shares some of her favorite side effects from quitting booze, like better sleep, more energy, and deeper connections with those around her. 

The idea of sober curiosity is, certainly, a different avenue of sobriety than committing to an AA program. I think it is a great exploration for people that don’t necessarily have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, but want to live a mindful life. I can see how the movement can feel a bit controversial for people who struggle with alcohol addiction because abstaining is the best solution.

Overall, it was an interesting read, but I thought the book would offer more takeaways or a step-by-step process. This seems to focus more on Warrington’s own benefits that she experienced rather than giving readers an actionable plan for curiously seeking sobriety.

3 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

June 2019 Must-Reads

July 2019 Must-Reads

August 2019 Must-Reads

September Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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August 2019 Must-Reads

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

 

Looking for your next great read? I’ve got you covered with 7 reviews on new releases to help you decide if one of the latest summer releases could be for you. As you head into your fall reading, check out my suggestions from the month of August!

I am a little overdue with sharing the last of my summer reads with you. As always, it is always a bit of a struggle to squeeze in that last bit of summer, get back on a consistent schedule, AND get my work life back in order too. 

Please forgive me! 

I hope you all had a wonderful summer of reading and that my summer reading guide was helpful to you. 

It was such a great success that I’m hoping to do that for you again next summer. 

It’s not too late to snag it though because it contains plenty of my all-time favorite reads to enjoy. This season is a great time to get back to reading while your kiddos are back in school. 

While you’re here, be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our FREE online book club! You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. Don’t forget to send me a friend request over on GoodReads for more great book reviews!

 

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Also, did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? This is a bonus month though because you get to pick TWO for September  Grab your FREE books over here.  

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Also Out!!

Here is what is available for September!

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (read my interview with the author– he’s amazing!)

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

This month’s deal: New members can get their first book for $9.99 when they join using this month’s code: ROOTED and can cancel at any time. 

Here are 7 must-read books I tackled in August:

American Spy

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

I’m, admittedly, not big on books about spies, but I had heard such good things about American Spy that I just had to pick it up.

This title may also sound familiar to you if you caught Obama’s recent book list because he happened to recommend it too. #booktwins

This novel is set in 1986 and our protagonist is a young black woman working as an intelligence officer with the F.B.I.  Since she is both black and female, she often feels excluded from promotions and as part of the team. Instead of working on exciting cases like she would love to do, she has to sit at a desk and do the paperwork. 

That is why it is so exciting when she is tasked with a new case. She’s given the opportunity to investigate the president of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara. She’s been tasked to find a way to undermine his authority because of his Communist ideology.

The thing is, Marie has a deep appreciation for Thomas and the work he is doing. Seducing him is the easy part because her affection for him is so sincere, especially as she discovers more about him. What happens though when she has to actually use his intimate secrets against him?

I really enjoyed this one even though it was outside of my typical genres. Wilkinson creates a beautiful and believable relationship between the two. She also shows just how hard it is to move up in this world, as a black woman, and how the character is manipulated to work against Sankara’s agenda.

4 out of 5 Stars

the last romantics

 

 

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

If you are looking for an incredibly compelling piece of contemporary literature, I can’t recommend The Last Romantics enough. I was so caught up in this beautiful book and the story of these family members that I couldn’t put it down. 

The story opens with Fiona Skinner, a well-known poet, sharing her own story on one of her most recognized pieces of work.  Fiona’s work happened to be inspired by her own family and a betrayal that had lasting consequences for them all. 

Fiona is one of four siblings (three girls and one boy) and their family has suffered the tragic loss of their father, after he had suffered an early heart attack. As a result, their mother goes into a deep depression and almost exits their life altogether by no longer caring for their most basic needs. In her grief, she takes to her bed and refuses to care for herself or for her children. The death has also come with some devastating financial consequences and force the children to be resourceful and learn to lean on one another to survive.

This difficult season shapes the rest of their lives as they enter adulthood. It is here where Conklin really pulls together the tragic repercussions of feeling abandoned by both parents.

I could not put this book down and felt fully vested in each of their stories. I did feel the first half was the strongest half because their survival story kept me on the edge of my seat. The second half though is just as important because it really shows how the things that happen to us when we are small can be so life-altering as we age.

If I was going to select the best literary fiction books I read this summer, this book and this book would top my list this year.

5 out of 5 Stars

My Lovely Wife

 

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Do you love dark thrillers like me?

If you do, you will DEFINITELY want to read, My Lovely Wife.

As a seasoned thriller reader, it is hard to find a book that catches me off guard or a writer that can craft an ending I never saw coming, but Downing managed to achieve both of those things with this debut novel.

Well played, 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 women.

Yeah, that’s not exactly the extra curricular activity you would expect from this power duo, but do we REALLY know our friends?

What I appreciate about this story wasn’t the suspense of the killings, but the devastating consequences that begin to happen because of these murders.

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.

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

I can’t wait to read more from this author and I hope you enjoy these twisty plot turns as much as I did. Fans of Dexter, in particular, will REALLY love this book. 

5 out of 5 Stars

I Miss You When I Blink

I Miss You When You Blink by Mary Laura Philpott

I’m not sure I have ever read a book of essays, but when 10 Things to Tell You (Laura) raved about it, I knew that I just had to read it.

Honestly, I can’t begin to tell you how enjoyable this read was.

At some points, I was misty-eyed.

At others, I couldn’t stop laughing.

It was just so darn relatable that it was uncanny.

Mary is a Type-A, go-getter, and perfectionist who has worked SO HARD to do everything right. She thought that by doing her best and  by “following the rules,” she would be rewarded, but instead she’s found herself feeling lost.

This reflection on her life really showcases the real struggles of the modern woman and our identities and roles as we age. We have so many demands on us that we can get stuck in our own heads on if we are good enough or have done enough each day.

Philpott embraces and shares about the power of reinvention and that you always have the power to makeover what your life looks like.

It’s one of those charming books that I would put in a friend’s hand who just needs that reassurance that she is okay and that all of this is perfectly normal.

I loved this so much that I read several of the essays out loud to my husband and he laughed right along with me or just looked plain shocked at how relatable her stories were.

I can’t recommend it enough and I’m so thankful that Laura recommended it! 

5 out of 5 Stars

The Last Book Party

The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess

I’ve been on a bookish book reading kick this summer (is that even a thing?).  Bookish themes seemed to be in abundance this year and I am HERE FOR IT. Be sure to send me your recommendations if you have them for more bookish books to explore. 

This book, for example, was one of my summer favorites and this one was absolutely adorable too.

I’m such a sucker for a book theme.

That is why I came in with such high hopes for this coming-of-age story.  Dukess did not disappoint either with this beautiful summer romance that 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 a 25-year-old aspiring writer who has been working as a low-level assistance and is very dissatisfied with her job.

When the opportunity arises to work as an assistant to a famous New Yorker writer, Eve jumps at the chance to work as his research assistant and live with him and his poet wife. 

With this job, she also receives a coveted invitation to attend their annual, “Book Party,” where attendees dress like their favorite literary characters hosted by the couple each year. 

Eve is enchanted by Henry and the world that he lives in. She wants so badly to participate that she finds herself intercepting, this couple’s relationship, in ways she would have never guessed. 

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

 

Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky

Sometimes you just need a steamy summer escape and Very Nice was, well, very nice. It leans heavily into dark satire and the a weird love triangle between a daughter, mother, and man. 

Rachel attends college and ends up kissing and then sleeping with her writing professor. Zahid knows quickly that he has made a big mistake, but this comes at a time when he is a little down on his luck and could use a warm body.

When he finds himself without a home, Rachel offers him a room at her mom’s house, in hopes the two can continue the relationship they started.

As soon as Zahid walks in though, the chemistry between Rachel’s mom (Becca) and Zahid is thick.

Becca never thought she’d jump so soon into a relationship, after her divorce, but she has so much in common with the professor that they quickly find a connection.

Zahid is caught in a pretty awful predicament and it causes tension between the mother and daughter.

Becca believes that Rachel has a crush on Zahid so she tries to keep their affair secret, to spare her feelings. It isn’t too long before Rachel catches on though and uses her tryst as blackmail against Zahid.

This one is like a soap opera that leans pretty heavy into dark satire.

With the narrative shifting between these characters, it made it a quick page-turner that you couldn’t wait to see how it resolves.

I wouldn’t say this book is for everyone. The characters are unlikeable, as are their motives. A lot of times when I read books with unlikable characters, I get feedback that you struggled to connect. That’s why it might be one of those kinds of books that you really need to be in the mood for.

That said, I couldn’t put it down, even if the ending wasn’t where I hoped the story would travel.

3 out of 5 Stars

The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

Although this is a departure from my usual reading, we are approaching an age where we really need to get our ducks in a row with our retirement savings. 

I have heard great things about Bach’s book and thought I would spend a day reading this to make sure we were on the right path with our savings. 

This book tells the story of a couple, that David was providing financial consulting to, and their journey to becoming millionaires. David is completely astounded that they have saved this much because the couple seemed like the typical middle-class family who didn’t seem like they had a lot to save.

Their story, he reflects, is the template we all need to achieve the same financial freedoms.

The idea of automating things is an easy one to implement, especially in this era of technology. His template to remove the “latte factor,” pay off your vehicles, pay off your house, possibly do another property ownership, pay down debts, and then save are pretty straightforward.

The idea of being aggressive with retiring and how to make your savings work for you is where the meat of these lessons worked for me.

One of my tasks this week is to do some of these ideas for automation and we upped our retirement contributions since we have worked hard to put a safety net in place.

If you are trying to pay things down and looking for a strategy to begin, I think this is a great one for learning beginner skills to grow your savings and retire comfortably.

Although I hate to plug my own book, I do think there are some additional lessons you could discover in my book. Bonus, it’s priced at just $4.99 on Kindle.

4 out of 5 Stars

 

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

June 2019 Must-Reads

July 2019 Must-Reads

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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July 2019 Must-Reads

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

Are you looking for your next great read? I’m sharing eight AMAZING reads with you and why I think you should read them. From twisty thrillers to gorgeous historical fiction, there is something for everyone in this month’s stack! 

I can’t believe that our summer is coming to a close already. I don’t know about you, but I feel like it was just beginning and now I have to prepare for the back-to-school craziness. 

You can picture me crying in a corner and begging that I don’t have to start the schedules, the school supplies ordering, the check-ups, the uniform shopping ALL OVER AGAIN. 

read all about the reading retreat

It has been quite the bookish month! Not only did I host my first reading retreat (and it was just as magical as I had hoped), but I also spent this week writing all about how you can get your books for FREE on you Kindle. It’s more than just a post about the library though. It’s about allll the app options and Amazon benefits you should be taking advantage of. 

I also hope you didn’t miss my FREE Summer Reading Guide I made for you. This guide should keep you very busy, as summer comes to a close, with loads of beautiful reads. 

While you’re here, be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our FREE online book club! 

You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. 

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

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? Grab your FREE book over here.  

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Also Out!!

Here is what is available for July! 

The Whisper Man by Alex North

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

This month’s special: New members can get their first book for $9.99 when they join using this month’s code CHASE and can cancel at any time. 

Still somehow in all the craziness, I managed to read so many incredible books this month.

Here are 8 must-read books I tackled in July:

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

I devoured this gothic historical fiction novel from debut author, Sara Collins.  This murder mystery follows the life of a slave named Frannie Langton and her difficult life as a slave for two different couples. 

The novel opens with the trial of Frannie Langton and the accusations that she pulled off a brutal double murder of her employers. The couple, whose deaths are in question, are wildly eccentric and Frannie finds herself entrapped by both the husband and the wife.

The thing is, she cannot recall what happened the night of the murder, even though this information could save her from certain death. Found to be covered in blood and laying next to one of the victims, she doesn’t even have the memories to help her remember her role that evening.

The novel winds through Frannie’s journey from her Jamaican plantation upbringing to her time serving a couple in London. This woman’s story is very dark and very twisted with a forbidden relationship that no one could have ever predicted. 

If you were tempted by the forbidden fruits of V.C. Andrews, love a good Sarah Waters novel, or found yourself entranced by Alias Grace…you must pick up this book. 

Although it had a slow start and, honestly, far too many loose ends to wrap up, it was still worth every minute of my reading time. 

Please note, this novel is graphic/brutal in nature. I would not recommend for the highly sensitive reader! 

4 out of 5 Stars

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Let’s just admit that most buzz books do not deliver. I am so thrilled to say though that Ask Again, Yes, was one of the first summer buzz books that REALLY delivered on its promise to be an incredible 2019 read. 

If you haven’t gotten to this one yet, let me fill you in a bit on the plot.

The story chronicles the lives of two rookie cops, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, who also happen to be neighbors. Set in the 1970’s, the two wives (Lena and Anne) should be close friends, but they are both battling their own demons at home.  Lena is very lonely and could use a friend, but Anne is emotionally unstable and not the kind of person that can support Anne through this chapter in her life.

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The two neighbor kids, born just six months apart, have found a forever friendship with one another that trumps all of their parent’s difficulties and struggles.

In a very shocking twist of events though, one moment changes everything for these two families in a way that the reader would never expect.  This event causes their loyalties to divide and their bonds to be tested. 

Keane chronicles the next 40 years so beautifully that it made my heart hurt. The storytelling is exquisite and I hung on every last word.

When I ended this book, I looked at my husband and said, “FINALLY. A BUZZ BOOK WORTH READING.” 

I guarantee that this one will be going on my best books of 2019 list. 

5 out of 5 Stars

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

I used my Book of the Month credit on this intimate nonfiction exploration of real women and their secret sex lives

If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, please carry on! 

I, honestly, cracked the book open in the morning with coffee and ended the book THE SAME DAY with wine. 

I then handed it off to a girlfriend and begged her to read it too, just so I had someone to talk about it with.

Perhaps, it is my conservative Midwest upbringing, but I found this book to be eye-opening, especially because women so rarely discuss their own sexual desires openly. The author, in fact, had many people bail on her, midway through this project, because people began to worry about the anonymity factor. 

As the title suggests, this profiles three different women and what is happening behind closed doors.

One Midwest woman is struggling to get her husband to even kiss her, let alone be intimate with her. It is because of this rejection that she rekindles an old flame and begins having an affair.

Another woman starts a relationship with her English teacher, at the tender age of seventeen. What begins as something innocent begins to slowly evolve into an inappropriate relationship. Just as she begins to be fully vested into this relationship, her teacher completely cuts her off from his life.

To her surprise, now as an adult, he is nominated as, “Teacher of the Year,” and no one in her town believes her story of her affair.

The third is the raciest of the storylines and features a woman who is happily married and her husband is also happily open to them having other people in the bedroom (*ahem*).

The book reads like fiction, but Taddeo has spent years on this book to make sure that she tells their story as truthfully and honestly as possible. It has seemed to struck a chord with many and now has been picked up for a Showtime television series too

My inability to put this one down makes it a winner, at least in my book.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

If you gravitate towards the darker thrillers, I have a feeling that you will enjoy this new novel, The Chain

The plot revolves around a mother, named Rachel, who is on her way to an oncology appointment, when she receives a panicked message from a woman who tells her that the caller’s child has been kidnapped.

She is desperate for Rachel to help her get her child back.

The only way the caller could get her child back though is to kidnap ANOTHER child…and Rachel’s daughter has been chosen. 

This crazy woman has her child. 

Say what?

To release Kylie, Rachel’s kidnapped daughter, she is required to send a ridiculous amount of money and KIDNAP ANOTHER CHILD to complete the chain.

What is the consequence of breaking this chain? If she breaks the link, her child will be killed.

Rachel is down on her luck financially, is divorced, and has been beaten down with cancer. She would do or sacrifice anything though to get her child back… including taking someone else’s kid. With the help of her ex-brother-in-law (a Special Forces veteran), she goes against everything she is to get her daughter back. 

McKinty adds a lot of layers to Rachel that include both her difficult life and her background as a professor of philosophy. He also adds layers to her accomplice that make him unreliable and put the reader on edge. 

This is another book that I polished off in a single day and ended up being a fantastic little summer escape. 

4 out of 5 Stars

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Are you tired of every thriller saying that they are the next, Gone Girl

Me too! 

The thing is,  this is probably the closest thing I’ve read to that novel that really delivered on great thriller plot twists.

That’s why, I’m actually going to give this one the Gone Girl Award (trademarked) for 2019.

Sabine Hardison has went missing, but this isn’t the first time that she has done this. Her husband, Jeffrey, is concerned that this time is different though and reports her missing to the police.

When her car turns up abandoned, the only evidence they have is that all signs are pointing to foul play. 

Sabine’s sister knows that Jeffrey isn’t the supportive husband that he is sharing with the police though and thinks that Sabine may have disappeared just to escape the abusive relationship. When you learn more about Sabine’s story, you know you would have to leave too.

Now known as Beth Murphy, she has cut off her hair, dyed it in a new shade, and is doing everything she can to escape the cycle of abuse she was part of.  “Beth” has to keep moving though, and keep an emotional distance from everyone, because the last thing that can happen is being found by her husband. 

One detective is unwilling to end this case until these answers are found and he will stop at nothing to figure out where Sabine is hiding or who could have murdered her. This game of cat-and-mouse is on! 

I loved, loved, loved this thriller and highly recommend this one if you are looking for a solid plot to really sink your teeth into. The twists were so well-played that it took me, even as a seasoned thriller reader, by surprise. 

5 out of 5 Stars

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

A thriller without GIRL or WIFE in the title AND focuses on a twisted friendship instead? 

Sign. Me. Up.

I used one of my summer Book of the Month credits to snag this fun thriller and really enjoyed it. 

Stella and Violet have been best friends since college, but could not be more opposite. Stella is the beautiful and reckless one who oozes privilege. Violet, on the other hand, has had to work really hard to get where she is and seems to be available to clean up any mess that Stella might be making.

Violet ends up scoring her dream job, after graduation, and finds herself working for cable news. Due to her dedication and focus to detail, she is quickly moved up the ranks from intern all the way up to assistant producer. She loves having her own thing, separate from Stella, and feels like she is finally on a path that hasn’t been clouded by her taking up the spotlight. 

When Stella becomes jealous of her new life, she works her family’s connections to score a job at the same news center. She begins infiltrating herself into Violet’s relationships and wins the coveted role as a news anchor. 

Just as Stella is to begin her dream job as an anchor, she disappears. It’s not the first time she’s left though so no one is suspicious that there could be foul play.

Ah, but Violet has had enough with Stella moving on her turf and she just might know where Stella is.

This was another fun summer thriller that I really enjoyed this month.

Pitoniak does a great job showcasing the love-hate relationship between these two and creates the right amount of sympathy in Violet, along with the right amount of narcissism in Stella. 

I would definitely add this one to your reading list this summer!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

Thank you to the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

I selected, The Masterpiece, as our book for discussion on our MomAdvice Reading Retreat. It ended up being a really charming historical fiction novel that made me want to dive into more of the offerings from Fiona Davis. 

If you are unfamiliar with Fiona Davis, she tells stories, that are set in New York, at famous historic landmark locations. This novel goes back and forth through time and the setting this time is in the Grand Central Terminal. 

Did you know that the Grand Central Terminal used to house an art school? 

Well, it did and this story shares about that time in history and the artistry that was developed through this school.

Fifty years later, Virginia is working the information booth at the Grand Central Terminal and the building has a planned renovation that may remove beautiful portions of its history. When Virginia stumbles upon the art school, now boarded up and abandoned, she finds a beautiful watercolor that might be worth something. Virginia takes it upon herself to find out who that artist is and to learn more about the history of this school.

This is a PERFECT book club discussion book because two of these fictional characters are based on real people in history and it also was so fun to discover that there was an art school tucked away in this building. 

We had an excellent discussion and it is the kind of book you could pass on to ANYONE and they will enjoy it too. 

I’m really glad we got a chance to talk about this one, especially since this was our first time talking about a book in person. 

4 out of 5 Stars

In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

If you are looking for an incredible young adult novel, be sure to pick up, “In Sight of Stars.” 

The MomAdvice Book Club was lucky enough to not only have a video chat with Gae, at our MomAdvice Reading Retreat, but she also joined us for our online book chat as well. Gae is one of those generous kinds of authors that is so giving of her time time and talks openly and honestly about her books.

If you are looking for an interactive book chat, this is YOUR GIRL.

Don’t have a book club? You can join mine for free and find the chat with Gae under our Events tab.

This story explores the life of seventeen-year-old Klee (pronounced Clay) and the aching grief of losing his father. Klee’s father was his world and was the one who introduced him to art by taking him to the MoMA and sharing his stories about the artists that hung on those walls.

When his father dies, a little part of Klee has died too and he can’t help to think his mom might be partly to blame for his death. 

Klee needs a little happiness in his life and when he meets Sarah, in his art class, he believes that she is just the ticket to bring him back out of his shell. She is everything he is not- wild, carefree, and lighthearted. 

When Sarah betrays him though, Klee finds himself in a psychiatric hospital for teens where he is forced to deal with the emotions of his father’s death, his anger with his mother, and losing the one person who brought him joy again. 

Luckily, this boy is surrounded by a staff of helpers who help Klee come to terms with ALL OF IT and his role in these stories. 

Polisner really opens this story in a way that makes it confusing to the reader and she does so purposefully. She wants her reader to understand what it is like in Klee’s head and how hard it is for him.

More importantly, she confronts how the things we think we know about our parents aren’t always the real story. She challenges her reader to look at their stories in a different light and with a little more grace than they might have before.

What teen doesn’t need to hear that?

I really loved this novel and so many of our readers did too.

I would also recommend this one for older teens due to language, sex, and adult themes.

I encourage you to add this one to your stack!

5 out of 5 Stars

 

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

June 2019 Must-Reads

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

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How to Check Out Library Books on Your Kindle for Free

Monday, July 29th, 2019

 

Did you know that you can check out books for free just using your library card? Today I wanted to share a quick tutorial on how to borrow Kindle ebooks through your public library for free. 

Don’t have a Kindle device? 

That’s okay! 

You can also get books for free using a simple Kindle reading app on your phone or tablet. 

The reason I wanted to share this is because when I bought my Kindle Paperwhite (this is what I read on!), I had the hardest time figuring out how to borrow these books from their lending library and how to get those books that I ordered to move over to my Kindle device.

To me, it just wasn’t an intuitive process so today’s post is for anyone else who has struggled borrowing books on their Amazon Kindle or Fire tablet.

Step One: Get a Library Card

If you want to begin checking out Kindle books, you will need to begin with getting a library card from your local library. This card number is what you will use to access your account and allows you to get these free Kindle library books and audiobooks for free. 

When you get this card, you are typically assigned a pin that you will then use to access the Overdrive app that allows you to search for the books that you are interested in. If you have trouble figuring out a great library pin number, a local librarian offered the tip to make your pin the last four digits of your library card so you never forget it.

This is a great time to just confirm that your library is participating in Overdrive and also to ask about any other apps that might be available to you for digital lending. It is HIGHLY likely that your library is participating since over 11,000 libraries now offer this option. 

Step Two: Download the Overdrive Library App

Once you have confirmed that your library is participating, you will need to download the Overdrive Library App to your phone or tablet. If you do not want to use a mobile device, you can also access it online through your desktop. 

My library homepage, for example, is linked to Overdrive so I can just search directly on my desktop. 

Step Three: Sign Into Your Overdrive App

Once you have installed the app, you will select Sign Up Using Library Card  (or sign in using library card).

At this point, you will be able to search for your local library name or location. Select this library once you find it. You will want to search for the overall local library system (the county name) versus just the local branch you use.

You will then be prompted to add your library card information and pin number that you were assigned. Once you are signed in, it is time to start searching for digital books and audiobooks.

Step Four: Select and Check Out Your Books

I wanted to walk you through the step-by-step process of checking out the books, once you have the Overdrive app installed. This is where I got confused because I didn’t understand how the book was supposed to magically appear on my Kindle Paperwhite. 

Begin by searching for the book that you would like to borrow. You can search by title or author. Be sure that you are searching for the Kindle format and not the ePub because the Kindle format is what you will be reading on your Kindle device or through the Kindle app. 

Once you find your book, click BORROW to borrow this book.  Once you borrow it, you will be prompted for the timespan you would like to borrow this book for.

Make sure that you adjust this, especially if you need more time to read so you aren’t at risk of giving it up if it can’t be renewed. I always adjust my time to 21 days so I can enjoy the maximum length for borrowing times. 

Step Five: Sign Into Your Amazon Account and Borrow the Book

Once you have clicked that you want to borrow a book on the Overdrive app, it will automatically redirect you to your Amazon account to sign in. Sign into your account and then this screen will appear where it says, “Get Library Book.”  

As you can see in my screenshot, it is defaulting to the device that I use most (Amy’s 5th Kindle)…yes, we do own five in our house. 

Don’t you judge me. 

Once this has been clicked, you will find the book on your Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire, or in your Kindle app on your phone or tablet. 

Step Six: Complete the Book Download

Now that you can see the book on your chosen destination, click on it to download it. You will need to have wifi to complete this step so be sure you do this at home, if you might be traveling.

Once the download is complete, you can begin reading your book. 

Step Seven: Return Your Book When You Finish 

The other thing that often confuses people is how to return your book through the library reading apps. Honestly, you don’t need to necessarily return them when you finish because once your book expires, it will automatically remove itself from your Kindle. 

Overdrive does have book limits though so if you want to check out more, you might need to return your book to do that. 

Head to your Amazon account and then to the, “Manage Your Content and Devices,” page. You will see the book(s) you have borrowed and you can click the Actions tab next to it.

As shown in this screenshot, “Return This Book,” is one of these options.

Select that to return the book to the library. 

That’s it, you have successfully borrowed a book from the Kindle store and added it to your own personal library. 

Other FAQ About Borrowing Digitally

How do I renew my library books?

Is your Kindle (Paperwhite) library book expiring? Check this page for a step-by-step tutorial on how to renew that book

What other free reading apps might the library be connected with?

Looking for more free reading apps? 

Check your local library website or ask a librarian! Our library, for example, offers Libby, Hoopla, and Flipster

We can also checkout independent documentaries and films through the Kanopy app. 

This frugal girl loves a freebie so you know that I’m using ALL THE APPS.

What about free audiobooks from the library?

Did you know you can get audio books from the library for free? Borrowing audiobooks will differ depending on the type of device you are using to listen to them. The best resource for that will be this page that explains it step-by-step depending on your digital device you are using.

I usually just listen to them on my phone through the Overdrive app directly, but you might have other options depending on the device you are using. 

Where else can I read free books through my Kindle app or device?

First of all, if you are a Prime member, you can get a FREE book every single month!

Amazon Prime has a great program called, “Amazon First Reads,” that allows Prime members to shop for a book for free before it is released to the public. 

How cool is that? 

You can check this page each month for a free book

They also generously give you two books on certain months too. These aren’t throwaway books either. Some of my favorite novels have been from this Kindle First program.

Also, as a Prime member, you have access to the Kindle Lending Library where you can borrow books for free through Amazon. 

FYI- This is NOT the same as the Kindle Unlimited paid program (another confusing element to the Amazon services). 

You can access thousands of books for free through Prime and the offerings do change monthly. 

I would suggest signing up for their newsletters to stay up-to-date on the book offerings. They often send emails that warn you if a book is going to be removed from their Kindle Lending Library program and also lets you know when new books become available.

Project Gutenberg also offers over 59,000 books for free that you also can check out! 

I borrowed a book, but I’d love to have someone read it to me. How do I do that without buying or borrowing the audiobook version?

Did you know that Alexa can read your books to you?

NO JOKE. 

Keep in mind, this won’t be the beautifully narrated audiobook version, it will be Alexa reading to you. 

Get the scoop on what Alexa can read to you over here.

Why does my library not have new releases available to me?

This article might explain the issue better and the hurdles you may face securing a new release.

I want new books though. Where can I get them for cheap?

Check my deals page A.S.A.P. Bookmark this page and check back daily for the best Amazon steals and deals.

What Kindle book should I checkout next?

You will NEVER be bored again with reading because I’m here to guide you through every second of the way. Visit my book reviews section for the best reading material or join my FREE book club so you can find and discuss books with other bookworms! I even hosted an IN REAL LIFE reading retreat for our book club members

Still not enough book ideas? This MomAdvice Summer Reading Guide has you covered!

Have any questions about reading for free on your Kindle device or app? Leave them below and I will be happy to answer them. Happy FREE reading, everyone! 

Please note, this post contains affiliate links.

How To Host or Join a Reading Retreat

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

Have you ever dreamed of going on a reading retreat? Check out this post for reading retreat ideas and discover how you can participate in one!

This past week was a whirlwind of excitement as I hosted my very first MomAdvice Reading Retreat.

I, honestly, still can’t believe that this actually happened. 

The first time I uttered the words, “reading retreat,” I was met with a lot of confusion. 

As soon as I began to explain my idea for this though, almost everyone said that they could use a retreat like this in their life.

Let’s be honest, it seems that there has been a retreat for everything including writing retreats, yoga retreats, retreat centers for wellness, and even social media retreats.

With all these types of retreats offered, I began to wonder why I couldn’t find a reading retreat for bookish people or an introvert retreat that catered to people like me.

Today I wanted to share some book club retreat ideas and strategies for how to host a retreat. More importantly, I would love to invite you to join the next one. The quickest way to stay in the loop is to join our book club and retreat mailing list. Please note, the retreat mailing list is separate from your weekly happy newsletter.

Should history repeat itself these spots go REALLY fast and that just might be one reason why I think the bookish retreat is going to be the next big thing for our community. 

I could not have done it without these two ladies- thank you, Meg & Symbol!!!

Personally, I have felt like blogging is just not filling my cup the way it used to. I have missed the feelings of connectedness that we used to have through comments and interactions.

The book club has been my way of coping with these changes and figuring out how my path might look moving forward.

The idea for a reading retreat really was hatched when I read about retreats happening in other parts of the country.  Although they were hosted much differently than mine, I began to brainstorm a different type of reading retreat that would build better connections within our book club community.  Keep in mind, I began the research and planning in January to execute this in the summer.

We also surveyed our book club members to see if they were even interested in the retreat, what part of the country they were in, what the best price point would be, and also what months worked best.


Once that data was collected, I scouted midwest retreat rentals, set an attendee amount, and established an application process for these spots. I read through all of the responses and tried to gather a group that I thought would mesh well together,  as well as support the most active members in our community. 

Catering to introverts (not to say that ALL readers are introverts, but many are) helped me make the decision to keep the group more intimate.

Each of our attendees received a copy of, “The Masterpiece,” by Fiona Davis,  for our discussion, in the mail.

Have you read it?

I am pretty sure that every person walked away with a brand new impression of the Grand Central Terminal.  For example, not many of us knew that an art school was tucked away in this historic building or the woman who made history streamlining the interior design of the Studebaker. 

You’ll have to read this one to get the scoop on these exciting times in history.  

thank you, gae, for joining our book club- check out her books here

I also encouraged everyone to dig into, “In Sight of Stars,” so that we could have a great chat with this month’s author, Gae Polisner. It was so fun to chat with our author this month and to better understand her writing process.  

As expected, Gae was amazing and we all loved being able to connect with her in this way.  I am hoping that we can offer more chats like these in the future!

Out of Print shared these adorable book totes for our reading retreat. 

Aren’t these the cutest? They even have a library card holder!  I put my Cricut to work and made name tags for each of these bags so the ladies could pick these up on the way to their room. 

Thank you, Out of Print, for making these bags so darn special!

I designed another custom shirt with Bonfire (you can view our book club shirt here too!) and had these camp shirts made with our retreat name and date on the back! 

I wanted each of the retreat attendees to feel special and for this to feel like a true getaway experience so I requested the women share their favorite drinks, dietary restrictions, shirt sizing, and morning beverage choice before they arrived.

It was so fun to surprise them with a fridge full of their favorite things. 

I also reached out to many authors and publishing houses to see if they had any books they might want to share with our retreat attendees. We had so many generous authors who shared their work with our group. 

Want to see who shared their books? Here are a few pictures of what books the reading retreat attendees received. Thank you to ALL who donated!! 

evvie drake starts over by linda holmes

keeping lucy by t. greenwood

the buddha at my table by tammy letherer

i’m fine and neither are you by camille pagan

i’ll never tell by catherine mckenzie

bare by susan hyatt

We spent the entire weekend doing loads of bookish things like talking about books, book swapping, movies based on books, and reading time. 

I just loved coming into a room and seeing everyone curled up with their books and Kindles.

Is there anything better than being surrounded by YOUR people?

thank you to Best Hair Days With Carolyn for providing our hair care products for the event- what a treat!

look how cute Dine & Dish and Good Life Eats are!

These incredible women came from all over the United States and Canada to spend a weekend with me. I could not be more grateful.

On a personal (and selfish) level, it was an incredible experience to meet people who have been reading the site for years and years. I was so honored that they would make this trip to connect with me and with each other IN REAL LIFE.

We did our best to spoil all these special ladies with homemade meals and snacks (all day and all night long!), lots of wine, quiet time for reading, and EVERYTHING BOOKS.

Organizing a retreat came with some important lessons for the next gathering.

Here’s the thing, no one becomes an expert by doing something only once and I have lots to learn.

I do plan to extend the retreat by a day so people have a quiet day of reading when they arrive (and to hopefully weather those flight delays better), I have a better grasp of retreat expenses now that I have done this, and I need to continue working on solidifying great partnerships for our attendees for the future to keep the expenses down.

All in all, I couldn’t be prouder how this event turned out!

If you are interested in connecting with our book club, I’d love to have you!

What would you like to know about the MomAdvice Reading Retreat? I am happy to answer any questions!

This post contains affiliate links

 

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June 2019 Must-Reads

Monday, July 1st, 2019

If you have been feeling like you are in a reading slump, I hope you are ready to get pulled out of that! I read 9 really incredible books this month and I’m excited to share them with you.

I really doubt you could see these reviews today and NOT be inspired to start loading up your reader or putting in a few requests at your local library. If that wasn’t enough,  did you see my FREE Summer Reading Guide I made for you? This guide should keep you very busy this summer with loads of beautiful reads.

While you’re here, be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our FREE online book club! You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. Don’t forget to send me a friend request over on GoodReads for more great book reviews!

follow me on instagram to see what’s in my stack

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? Grab your FREE book over here. Lucky for you, July is TWO free books this month. Woohoo!

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Also Out!!

This month’s deal: New members can get their first book for $9.99 when they join using this month’s code: RIDE and can cancel at any time.

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center (READ MY REVIEW HERE)

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger (READ MY REVIEW BELOW)

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Here are 9 must-read books I tackled in June:

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Red, White, & Royal Blue was such a fun YA summer romance novel as McQuiston crafts a beautiful love story between the son of the U.S. President and the the Prince of Wales. This is a sweet coming-of-age story that grapples with sexuality, the perceived image of children of well-known families, and the beauty of our first love.

Alex and Henry start out as rivals, in our story. When tabloids end up securing a photo of them, in a particular moment of rivalry, their handlers must devise a way for them to forge a truce for the media. What begins as a fake friendship evolves into deep attraction for each other.

The thing is, this relationship threatens both of their worlds.

This journey requires bravery and it also requires Alex to address his own sexuality in the process.

I went into this one as a bit of a fairy tale because McQuiston requires us to suspend our own reality about how these two can go to places without being recognized or photographed. Much of these moments don’t seem plausible, but you can’t help but wish for a world that looks just like that.

The romance and connection between these two characters though seems to outweigh some of the less grounded parts in our story. While many novels tend to fade-to-black with bedroom scenes, this one leaves the light on for you.

Fans of The Royal We and What If It’s Us will DEFINITELY love this one!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (available on August 6th!!)

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

I know many of us have been excitedly anticipating the new novel from Ruth Ware so I wanted to be sure to screen this one for you. I think it is important to know that I would categorize this one as more in the horror realm than as a typical Ware thriller novel. Fans of The Haunting of Hill House will love how this home has a dark past, filled with terrible secrets.

The book opens with a prisoner writing to her lawyer, as she attempts to explain how she has been set up for her crimes. She takes her reader down the twisted path of applying for a too-good-to-be-believed nanny job and the horrors that unfold in this infamous Heatherbrae House.

The house has had a lot of revamping under the new owners and is outfitted with all the latest smart home technology. Just as soon as the complicated house has been explained, the parents decide to head off for weeks, leaving their new nanny in charge of three little girls (and a bonus teenager), two wild dogs, and a couple of weird people working for the family.

Of course, everything with the smart technology starts backfiring on Rowan and she becomes increasingly paranoid that something is going to happen to her or these children. Not only that, but she hears someone above her room walking back and forth and keeping her up throughout the night. As Rowan becomes more and more unhinged, the naughty daughters get naughtier and encourage pushing their nanny right on over the edge.

I was on the EDGE OF MY SEAT through this whole book. Ware beautifully develops misleading clues, a sense of distrust with everyone, and a plausible reason for Rowan’s sudden career shift to nanny.

I loved it all the way through…until the last few pages.

Ware’s cleverly crafted twists unfold, but the last sections feels jumbled and rushed. The big reveal is shared in letter format with an abrupt conclusion that begs to have an epilogue. It doesn’t have an epilogue though so it left me feeling dissatisfied, knowing how incredibly satisfying the rest of the novel was.

I still loved it, but wish the ending was less rushed and as supported as much as the development of the story.

4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

 

 

How to Not Die Alone by Richard Roper

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

This novel promised a quirky character that you would grow to love, especially if you are a fan of Eleanor Oliphant and it really delivered on that promise.

Andrew’s job consists of going to a home of someone who has recently been deceased and to search for clues of a friendship or next of kin who can foot the bill for their funeral.

To his co-workers, Andrew is living his best life with a successful wife and two children in a beautiful home. What they don’t know though is that Andrew fabricated this family during his job interview and has felt compelled to carry on this fictional family.

When Andrew meets Peggy, a new hire that will be helping him handle these cases, he could never imagine how wonderful it would be to have a friend in his life. As he grows more and more attracted to her, he realizes how his lies have created an additional hurdle for him to build on this relationship.

This book is certainly a little dark, but I would say that it is dark with a lot of hope. Roper shapes compelling reasons for Andrew’s fictional relationships and his own challenges to open up to others. Andrew must acknowledge that if he doesn’t branch out more, he could be just like these lonely people that didn’t have anyone to love them at the end of their life.

I fell in love with this sweet character as he branches out into the world and learns how beautiful life is when you find friends and someone to love.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (available on July 9th!!)

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

I am calling this wonderful novel, the perfect love letter to a bookworm. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, is all about Nina’s book-filled existence and what happens when major life events began to interfere with her carefully scheduled day.

Nina has her day arranged exactly as she likes it from working at the bookstore during the day, to leading multiple book clubs for readers of all ages, to participating in her local trivia team, and her blocks of times reserved just for reading.

Her mother has never told her about her father so it is a complete surprise when she gets a call that her father has passed away and included her in his will. Not only does she find out that she had a father, but she also finds out she has MULTIPLE siblings from his different marriages. For someone who is introverted, the overwhelm is huge.

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.

Waxman cleverly leads chapters with Nina’s handwritten daily agendas and to-do list, which gives you a little snapshot into how much these major life events are sending her world into a spin.  Nina’s struggle to evolve and open up to others is addressed with so much heart and humor that you will find yourself smiling a lot through these pages.

I am a bit of a Nina and, truly, have never felt more understood.

This one will definitely be making my top ten list of 2019 and is worthy of a little book splurge for your summer!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Editor by Steven Rowley

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

I have had such a hard time waiting to read this second novel from Steven Rowley, but I wanted to save it to prepare for our MomAdvice Book Club chat this month. Rowley’s first novel, in fact, is one that I recommend so much that I added it to my top ten favorites in my Summer Reading Guide.

To say he had a lot of hype to live up to, it would be an absolute understatement.

Guess what? He managed to do it again!

Set in the 1990’s, 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, when he walked into that office, but who could ever prepare a writer for that?

Mrs. Onassis had fallen in love with this autobiographical novel that tells the stories of his own dysfunctional family. Many notes of his story end up falling short and his editor knows it is because Smale hasn’t truly owned his family story. She encourages him to make his way back home again and make the necessary resolutions needed to his real story to give it the conclusion his readers deserve.

As James returns home, he begins to realize that sometimes the way we interpret our own stories are, simply, the stories we tell about ourselves. His strained relationship with his mother challenges James to look at her in a new light…changing the entire scope of the book.

I really can’t believe that I never knew that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had ever really been an editor so I was surprised to read that this was absolutely true (although not as a well-documented portion of her life).

Rowley treats her legacy with the kindness and beauty it deserves without speculation, but with stunning observation. As she mothers this writer, to get conclusions for his own life, you can’t help to fall in love with her even more.

It’s a beautiful fictional friendship that I didn’t want to end.

I loved this one start to finish!

5 out of 5 Stars

 

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger (This month’s BOTM selection– available on July 2nd)

Thank you to the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

Big Little Lies fans won’t want to miss, The Gifted School which promises to be the next juicy summer drama to love! I read this in a weekend and loved the way Holsinger challenges us to exam our role as parents of gifted children as well as the difficulties of being a gifted child.

This read also couldn’t be more appropriately timed to the current admissions scandal that is making headline news.

When an exclusive new charter school is introduced to a fictional suburban Colorado town, all the parents want to give their gifted child a chance to test into this school. With very limited spots available though, parents begin putting pressure on their children to succeed and begin to go to unnecessary lengths to secure these coveted positions in the charter school.

This highly addictive story, examines how this competition begins to interfere, in particular, with four couples and their decade-long friendships. We begin to see these friendships in a new light and how these behaviors contribute to the way kids feel about and present themselves to their peers.

The book is told from multiple perspectives so it took me awhile to remember how these characters were linked to one another. Pretty soon though, I started to hit my pace and could not wait to see how this was all going to play out for these families. This is one of those can’t-put-down reads of parents behaving badly that I didn’t want to end.

I highly recommend this one for a great summer book club discussion about privilege, standardized testing, and the challenges with raising a gifted child.

5 out of 5 Stars

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

I used my Book of the Month credit for, A Woman is No Man, and was excited to dig into one of this summer’s biggest buzz books!

The story floats between two timelines and two very different countries. In 1990, seventeen-year-old Isra is growing in up in Palestine and is already facing the prospector of her father selecting a suitor for her. In just the course of a week, Isra finds herself to be betrothed, married, and facing a move to Brooklyn with her husband. The husband (and family) are looking forward to a son in their family, to take over the family name. As Isra births daughter after daughter though, she finds that her family and husband’s reception to her become colder and abusive.

In 2008, eighteen-year-old Deya is supposed to meeting with potential husbands and is preparing to be married. Deya really wants to go to college though and is hoping to convince her grandmother to go along with her decision. In a shocking twist though, Deya discovers truths about her family, the past and her future. It is through an unlikely source, but she is the one person that can help Deya make sense of the death of her parents.

I have to admit that I am feeling a bit conflicted with this one because I was hoping that it would be a bit more layered.  Within these two timelines, everything felt identical which, I believe, Rum may have wanted to use to drive home how little has changed.  With the two identical stories, though it created times where I felt like I may have read the same section twice and I found a struggle connecting with these characters, except through their shared love of reading.

I had to look up the ending because I found it caught me off guard, confusing the timeline a bit again. When I read the meaning behind the ending, it did tie it up beautifully, I just needed a minute to understand where we were at in the story.

All in all, it was a good debut and was another one I wouldn’t have picked up if I wasn’t a BOTM subscriber.

4 out of 5 Stars

Lie With Me by Philippe Besson

I can admit that I picked up Lie With Me because I noticed that the book had been translated by Molly Ringwald. You may recall that I did an interview with her about her writing and I have always been drawn to her projects because of all the layers this talented woman has.

This sparse novel was an award-winning French novel that documents the love story between two teenage boys, set in 1984 France. Now that they are grown, Philippe happens to run into a man bearing a striking resemblance to Thomas, a boy he once loved. When he realizes who his father is, Phillipe is reminded of the love he once had for Thomas and their moments together.

In his senior year of high school, Phillipe and Thomas begin a secret affair at school. Thomas demands the highest level of secrecy from Phillipe that confuses the experience for Phillipe as one that is shameful. Dismissed and ignored at school, yet contacted through secret notes and meet-ups, Philippe wishes that he could love him more openly. When Thomas abruptly decides to move away, never saying goodbye to Philippe, it devastates him, leaving him with many questions.

Meeting the son of Thomas, all these years later, allows his son to unfold his story and some letters that give Philippe some closure to their time together.

I am not sure why I didn’t seem to connect with this one. It may have been, perhaps, too sparse. The book, for me, was at its best while exploring the coming-of-age and discovering sexual identity, but it left me longing for a little something more.

3 out of 5 Stars

Atomic Habits by James Clear

I love productivity books and first was intrigued by books on better habit building after reading, The Power of Habit. If you struggle with habit building (or breaking), you will appreciate Clear’s easy approach to establishing better habit routines.

The big takeaway with this one is that very small shifts, as low as 1%, can still build incredibly over time. Clear encourages you to start implementing these smaller shifts to begin breaking down those larger goals. These goals are achieved through establishing better programming of our habits and then reinforced through your own habit tracking.

If you are a fan of Essentialism (a book I try to read yearly!), then I think you will appreciate this simple guide on establishing good habits and how to get back on course if you find yourself unmotivated.

5 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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The 2019 MomAdvice Summer Reads Guide

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

For many years, I have wanted to do a reading guide for you all, but each year the days would slip away and I would think, “Maybe next year!”

Well, not today, Satan!

I am thrilled to share my first Summer Reading Guide with you! This has been a true labor of love and I’m incredibly proud how this turned out.

Within this 15 page guide you will find:

  • A huge list of great books to read over the summer. I have included some new (and upcoming) novels, but I also weaved in some older favorites that might be easier to snag at your local library.
  • Tips for reading more this summer including a few of my own tried-and-true formulas for reading.
  • A bookworm gift guide filled with fun finds from Etsy sellers.
  • 10 of my all-time favorite books
  • 5 summer selections curated by the Currently Reading Podcast.

All you need to do to access the free guide is be an email subscriber! Upon signing up for our mailing list, you will receive a link to the reading guide.

If you decide to read any of these selections, I’d be honored if you used the #momadvicesummerreading hashtag and tag me on Instagram!

Happy reading, bookworms! xo

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