Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

June 2020 Must-Reads

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

Looking for your next great read? Today I’m sharing 8 incredible books I read in June. I have loads of beach reads, some incredible historical fiction, and an absolutely gorgeous memoir to share with you today. Be sure to bookmark this post for your next library day!

I am slowly trying to dip my toes back into blogging again.  

In case you missed it, last week I shared 33 things that were bringing me joy (many low or no cost) as we brave these pandemic days. 

One of those joyful things is, definitely, reading.

I have really appreciated escaping with good books this month, even if my attention span isn’t what I want it to be right now.

Can you relate? 

Before I share my stack, here are a few additional way to connect with books this summer.

Join Us for Our July MomAdvice Book Club Discussion

The Warehouse by Rob Hart snag this month’s incredible book club book

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

This month we will be discussing one of my new favorite science fiction novels. If you are a fan of Blake Crouch, this book is for you.

Read it before it comes to the big screen.

This is one of my favorite reads this year and I really don’t want you to miss this phenomenal book OR participating in our discussion.

You can check out the 2020 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here

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

here is what is on sale today- don’t miss it!

Check Our Daily Book Deals List– HUGE DEAL DAY TODAY!!!

I try to post a daily book deal list for you to keep your Kindle fully stocked while we wait for all of our libraries to reopen.

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

July Kindle First 2020 Books pick your free book for june

Get a Free Book Just for Being a Prime Member

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

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

Grab TWO FREE BOOKS FOR JULY over here.

June 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the July Book of the Month Club Selections:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper.

The Shadows by Alex North.

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein.

Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman.

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

June 2020 Must-Reads

Here are 8 must-read books I tackled in June!

As Bright As Heaven

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

Some people want to avoid thinking about the pandemic, but I am finding myself drawn to books that explore past pandemics right now. 

This historical fiction novel, set in 1918, shares a hauntingly beautiful story of one family’s fight for survival during the Spanish Flu. 

I think it is important to note that this novel came out PRIOR to COVID19 because one could really go into this book thinking that she was attempting to make important parallels. 

I found myself highlighting passage after passage because it sounded just like many of the same obstacles we are facing today.

Sometimes I think that many of these things wouldn’t be happening, if we didn’t live in such a polarized world so, in a weird way, it was comforting to read that they too struggled with the, “we are all in this together,” comradery that I wish we possessed.

Telling this story, through the point of view of a family that owns a funeral home, really illustrates how destructive the pandemic was and what type of emotional toll it would take on them. 

I could not put this book down because, in many ways, it was like reading what might come in America again and how we will ever get to a successful resolution.

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like As Bright as Heaven you might like these titles:

The Things We Cannot Say

We Were the Lucky Ones

Before We Were Yours

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen

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

This timely Young Adult read is one that I would HIGHLY recommend for your kids (and for yourself), as it explores the topic of racism in 1955.

Ethan is sent to a small town in Alabama, to spend his summer with his aunt and uncle. As a bi-racial kid, he lives in a bigger city where his differences are not as on display and some progress has been made. 

In their small town though, racism is open and runs freely in all of the townspeople. He struggles to adapt to new situations like separate bathrooms, separate water fountains, separate seating at the movies, and the way people treat him with complete disregard.

Luckily, he forms a fast friendship with another girl in town, the oh-so-quirky Juniper Jones. 

Juniper’s goal is to have the most invincible summer and she begs Ethan to join her as she crosses adventures off her to-do list. 

These two outcasts form a friendship that will shape the rest of Ethan’s life, in some really beautiful and surprising ways.

Get out your tissues.

I can’t recommend this sweet read enough. It would be a wonderful selection for a book club date, with your kids, this summer.

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones you might like these titles:

The Serpent King

Dreamland Burning

The Hate U Give

The Last Flight

 

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

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

Looking for a satisfying thriller that doesn’t lean into the trope of the unreliable narrator? This satisfying thriller offers the narrative of two smart women who are both fighting for their own survival.

It’s the kind of thriller that you finish the final page and just say, “Damn, that was a good one.”

One of these women is in an abusive relationship with her well-known husband and there is no way to get out. After securing documentation for a fresh identity, she’s decided that leaving is her only choice.

The problem? 

The flight she was supposed to take has been unexpectedly canceled and she is being rerouted elsewhere.  

Oh, and her husband found out about her plans.

At the airport though, she meets a women who also is looking to escape her troubles, after the unexpected death of her husband.

Enter a Freaky Friday switch of identities and watch each of them try to foster new paths. Of course, not all is as it seems and one just might find themselves in just as much danger.

This fast page-turner should be at the tip top of your list, especially if you are in a summer reading slump.

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Last Flight you might like these titles:

Pretty Things

Dear Wife

An Anonymous Girl

One to Watch

 

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

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

Need a reality television fix? This novel just might be for you. 

Bea is a plus-sized influencer who ends up getting the surprising invitation to be on a dating show where she is the star. 

Bea, of course, doesn’t fit the show’s past narrative and the they decide to position a lot of “surprise” reveal elements in an effort to get the most reaction out of the contestants.

As readers, you get to watch her confidence begin to diminish, the vulnerability that is required as people dissect her every move, and learn the motivations for each of the contestants. 

This is one of those breezy beach bag reads that I found to be quite charming, even if there was some predictability to the plot. 

I don’t know about you, but predictability is something I’m REALLY craving right now so that works for me.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like One to Watch you might like these titles:

Followers

Dumplin’

Nine Women, One Dress

The Prettiest Star

 

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

I can tell you right now that this book will be on my best books of 2020 list because it BLEW ME AWAY. 

Brian has been living a full life, in New York, but his days are now numbered. Diagnosed with AIDS, he now has to return to his hometown, in Appalachia where he had to hide who he was.

Set in the ’80’s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, there is so much fear with this disease and Brian is finding very few are welcoming. 

Living his life out loud also has fractured and strained his family, but this is the only place he has to go. 

This haunting story is told in shifting viewpoints and each of them add their own element of process towards acceptance and understanding of Brian’s life.

From the opening sentence, I was moved by this thoughtful novel that addresses the cruelty of this era, the misunderstanding that comes with living in a small town, and the hope that one can change their viewpoints and come to welcome their family members again. 

I do think it also humanizes the struggles of these parents in a way that I thought was thoughtful and done with a lot of care. 

I did this one on audiobook and the narration was exquisite. If you can do it in this format, I highly recommend it.

Along with the shifting viewpoints, it is also narrated by different voices, which really added to the experience and made each character really stand out.

Make sure you put this one at the top of your stack. You won’t regret a single minute of it.

 10 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Prettiest Star you might like these titles:

The Great Believers

Life After Life

I’ll Give You the Sun

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

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

A Riley Sager novel is one of my favorite summer pastimes so I couldn’t wait to dig into this latest release. 

This one is VERY different than the usual Sager thriller and, personally, it felt more like the horror genre than a thriller. 

If you liked the Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House, then this book is for you!! 

It works off of a pretty similar premise. Maggie’s family owned an estate called Baneberry Hill that inspired her father to write a book detailing the horrors within the house.

When Maggie inherits the home, she isn’t worried because she was too young to remember the true stories and, frankly,  she’s not a big believer in ghosts. 

Too bad the ghosts don’t care what you believe in because her presence has secured her ride on another round of horrible hauntings and has reminded Maggie that maybe she *does* remember a few things.

This was as satisfying as any horror film although I did feel like the ending was a bit of a fizzle.

If you go into it knowing that though, I think you will really enjoy this one.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like Home Before Dark you might like these titles:

The Sun Down Motel

The Family Upstairs

The Chain

There I Am

 

There I Am by Ruthie Lindsey

I cannot recall how I stumbled upon Ruthie’s Instagram account, but I was so thankful when I did. Ruthie was one of the first accounts that I found that talked about living with chronic pain in an authentic way. I have always felt like she has shared the beautiful up and down balance of this daily struggle in a relatable way. 

If you are unfamiliar with Ruthie’s story, she was in a horrible car accident at 17 (that should have killed her), recovered, began experiencing pain again, discovered that one of those wires (used to fuse her spine) had been piercing her brain stem, and struggled with residual chronic pain. 

She documents the isolation and depression that comes with chronic pain, as well as the struggles with being overly medicated, the strain on her marriage, and the loss of confidence. 

While the journey to acceptance and managing her pain is a difficult one, it is also the kind of journey that makes you feel hopeful. 

I listened to this one on my morning walks and realized that tears were streaming down my face through parts of this. 

I don’t think people can understand what a struggle it is and the emotional toll this takes on you (and your partner) so I felt “seen” when hearing her hope-filled journey. 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like There I Am you might like these titles:

Sick

Open Book

 

The Lies That Bind

The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin

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

Emily Giffin’s books have become my go-to, over the years, for a great escape, and her latest novel was such a treat. 

Cecily & Grant meet at a local pub and immediately hit it off.  As Cecily is just rebounding from a prior relationship, she dismisses her instincts to not fall head over heels for this new relationship. Grant is charming, seems to have life figured out, and is easy to love.

Although Cecily feels like she knows Grant, she realizes just how little she knows about him after 9/11 happens and Grant goes missing.

As she tries to piece together the clues from their relationship, she starts to recognize that the Grant she knew might not be the real Grant after all.

Emily’s love stories are real and relatable and that is why they are so dang enjoyable. This one is just as enjoyable as her prior books and I couldn’t put it down.

If you are looking for a good mystery, with a romance weaved in, you will definitely want in your summer stack.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Lies That Bind you might like these titles:

The Light We Lost

Ghosted

What You Wish For

Read With Me This Year

January 2020 Must-Reads

February 2020 Must-Reads

March- SKIPPED (pandemic brain)

April 2020 Must-Reads

May 2020 Must-Reads

Sign up for the MomAdvice Daily Book Deals Newsletter

Join Our FREE Book Club

Visit ALL my Book Reviews

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

The Best Books of 2019 from MomAdvice.com the best books of 2019

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

19 thrillers to keep you up all night 19 thrillers to keep you up all night

Happy Reading!

 

May 2020 Must-Reads

Monday, June 1st, 2020

May 2020 Must-Reads

Looking for your next great read? Today I’m sharing 8 incredible books I read in May. In this stack you will find romance, a dark thriller, historical fiction that will sweep you away in another world, and a haunting #metoo story that I can’t stop talking about. Be sure to bookmark this post for your next library day!

Somehow, in the face of one of the most difficult months, I have found the best place to escape is still tucked within the pages of a book.

As always, I look forward to sharing these books with you today and I hope it provides another way to keep your mind occupied as we all face these daily challenges. 

Sending loads of virtual hugs to you today from Indiana. 

Before I share my stack, here are a few additional way to connect with books this summer.

Join Us for Our June MomAdvice Book Club Discussion

Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie snag this month’s incredible book club book

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

This month we will be discussing this incredible #metoo memoir that you just won’t want to miss

This is one of my favorite reads this year and I really don’t want you to miss this phenomenal book OR participating in our discussion.

You can check out the 2020 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here

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

//bit.ly/kindlebooksteals

here is what is on sale today- don’t miss it!

Check Our Daily Book Deals List– HUGE DEAL DAY TODAY!!!

I try to post a daily book deal list for you to keep your Kindle fully stocked while we wait for our libraries to reopen.

This list is curated with only the best books and nothing will ever be over $4.99. 

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

June 2020 Kindle First Reads pick your free book for june

Get a Free Book Just for Being a Prime Member

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

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

Grab your FREE books over here.

June 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the June Book of the Month Club Selections:

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

June Coupon Codes:
 
Get your first book for just $9.99 with code SUN5 at checkout.
 
Now let’s talk about this month’s stack!

June 2020 Must-Reads

Here are 8 must-read books I tackled in April!

Conjure Women

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

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

This debut novel, from Afia Atakora, needs to be on the top of your stack this month. I really am not sure why more people aren’t talking about this stunning novel because it will be on my top ten this year, for sure.

With vivid storytelling, that is written so beautifully that it reads like a classic. It is a Southern historical fiction novel, spanning generations of women, before and after the war.

The story is of three women- May Belle (a midwife and healer in their community), Rue (who discovers she has some of her mother’s gifts for healing), and Varina (the master’s daughter). 

Being the town healers means that May Belle & Rue know many of the secrets, both of the slaves and their owners. Knowing this information has life-altering consequences, especially when it comes to their unforgiving master. 

Afia Atakora’s historical novel moves forward and backward in time in episodes labeled Slaverytime, Wartime, Freedomtime, or the Ravaging. While shifting timelines can feel confusing, in the beginning, you soon start to fall into the rhythm and crave each section in this phenomenal book. 

The writing is masterful, evocative, and beautifully researched. I just know you will fall in love with this one from the first page.

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Conjure Women  you might like these titles:

Kindred

The Kitchen House

The Book of Harlan

 

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

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

I love darker thrillers and Jennifer Hillier is one of the absolute best! If you haven’t read her work before, you are in for a treat! I was REALLY hoping her latest wouldn’t let me down and I’m thrilled to share that this one is just as solid as her previous novels.

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

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

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

As a last ditch attempt to find Sebastian, she hires a private investigator to reexamine the case. 

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

This is one of those addictive little thrillers that are sure to pull you out of your reading slump. I could not turn the pages fast enough and would recommend this for your summer stack!

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Little Secrets you might like these titles:

Watch Me Disappear

My Lovely Wife

Fierce Kingdom

I Was Told It Would Get Easier

I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman (hits store shelves on June 16th!)

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

It’s no secret that parenting teenagers is hard, but it is not something I see addressed a lot in fictional motherhood stories. Perhaps that is why I felt so SEEN when reading this mother and daughter story. Waxman is one of those charming women’s fiction writers that writes her stories with such relatable humor that I always find myself laughing out loud.

In her latest novel, Jessica and Emily Burnstein have decided to embark on a college tour together. Jessica is looking forward to bonding with her daughter, but Emily is less focused on the bonding experience and more on getting a preview of freedom. 

As the college tour bus takes them from campus to campus, both begin to discover new details about each other. Emily’s surprised to discover that her single mom might be attractive to men (for example) and Jessica begins to discover that her daughter’s idea of the future might look a heck of a lot different than what she expected. 

Waxman rounds out the story with a bus full of well-written characters and fun side plots that make this a great little summer adventure story. 

This story is sure to hit the right notes for parents of teens, in particular. 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like I Was Told It Would Get Easier you might like these titles:

Class Mom

Standard Deviation

Dear Fang With Love

Mosquitoland

The Knockout Queen

The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

Rufi Thorpe is such a gifted storyteller and I was thrilled to see that her book was selected as one of the Book of the Month options, for May. I am such a sucker for a coming-of-age story and couldn’t wait to dig into this one. 

This book is dark and felt very different than Thorpe’s previous novels. I don’t think is going to be the kind of story for everyone, as it ventures into explorations of sexuality and has a very Mean Girls feel to it. 

Bunny & Michael are next door neighbors that lead very different lives. Michael lives with his aunt in a cramped cottage and struggles to make ends meet, while Bunny is leading a very princess-like existence next door. 

The pair make unlikely friends, but they both are facing struggles. While Michael is pretending to be straight, Bunny struggles with her body and height. More than anything, they both want to be loved and to fit in. 

When Michael falls in love, his sexuality secrets are leaked and he becomes the victim of brutal gossip at school. Bunny is by his side though and commits a shocking act, in his defense, that alters her life permanently.

This was so wildly different than I had expected and went into much darker terrain than I would have imagined. At its heart though, this is an unflinching portrait of adolescence that reminded me what a talented writer Thorpe is.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Knockout Queen you might like these titles:

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Indecent

I’ll Give You the Sun

My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This book comes with some major trigger warnings- pedophilia, rape, and repeated sexual abuse. I just want to make sure that I put that out there first. 

Russell’s novel is one that has had everyone talking this year and I, honestly, could not put this brutal read down. I polished this one off in a single day and will be thinking about this for years. 

This story alternates between the years of 2000 and 2017, examining Vanessa’s complicated abusive relationship with Jacob Strane.

At just fifteen, she is groomed by her forty-two-year-old English teacher and finds herself entangled in her first sexual relationship. Although she is confused by Jacob’s advances, she is flattered that he finds her to be both smart and pretty.

Seventeen years later, the #metoo allegations are flying and female students began coming forward and make allegations about their teacher. They accuse him of unwanted advances and that he is a sexual predator. 

Vanessa is blindsided because Jacob has always acted as though she is the only student that he has ever had a relationship 

Alternating between Vanessa’s past and present really showcases the complications of sexual abuse as Vanessa has to come to terms with the fact that her story wasn’t a love story and that she is also a sexual abuse survivor.

It is astounding to me that this is Russell’s first book because the emotions she layered in these characters was so beautifully and believably done. 

The scenes in this are devastating, horrifying, and unapologetically written.

Although Vanessa interprets their time together as a love story, it is not a love story.

It is important to know that this does not glamorize pedophilia, but showcases the confusion of an adolescent who has never experienced a truly loving relationship. 

This haunting novel will, definitely, be in my top ten this year. If you can handle the plot, I encourage you to read it.

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like My Dark Vanessa you might like these titles:

Rust & Stardust

A Little Life

All the Ugly & Wonderful Things

Tweet Cute

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Looking for something a little lighter for your summer book stack? I have a feeling you find this YA rom-com absolutely adorable.

Pepper & Jack both have parents that own family restaurants. When the two end up getting in a Twitter war, over a grilled cheese recipe, the sparks don’t just fly online, but IRL too. 

If you are a fan of Wendy’s savage tweets, you will appreciate how perfectly Lord captures the meme generation.

The back-and-forth in their Twitter streams is perfection and builds into an adorably awkward love story for these teens.

More important than that though, it is the self-discoveries that they each make about how they see their roles playing out in these family restaurants that make it a, truly, satisfying read.

I listened to this one on audiobook and it was beautifully narrated. This is the perfect book to pop in your earbuds this summer and laugh along with in this meet-cute-tweet-cute story.

If you are looking for a clean rom-com for your teen, this would also be a great one for them.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like Tweet Cute you might like these titles:

The Hating Game

Emergency Contact

What If It’s Us

Red, White, & Royal Blue

Beach Read by Emily Henry

If you are looking for a great love story with lots of depth, I just know you will fall in love with this beautiful read. 

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

While January works hard to pen a perfectly romantic happily ever after, Augustus writes well-researched stories intent on killing off his entire cast of characters.

When they both find out they are suffering from writer’s block, they decide to strike a deal that’s designed to get their creative juices flowing. 

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

As each of them learns more about each other’s process, they discover how challenging each of their writing styles is and find mutual respect for their craft.

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

This love story is charming and the kind that you can easily hand off to anyone and know that they will appreciate it too. 

I had a silly grin on my face through this one and found it as satisfying as the love stories that I’ve come to appreciate from Katherine Center. 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Beach Read you might like these titles:

Evvie Drake Starts Over

Things You Save in a Fire

The Unhoneymooners

Glorious Boy by Amy Liu

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

Looking for a historical fiction book to sink your teeth into? You will definitely want to add this incredibly well-researched novel to your stack.

This story takes place just prior to World War II, in the Andaman Islands (in the Bay of Bengal). Claire is an aspiring anthropologist and her husband, Shep, is a physician and they decide to head to the Andaman Islands for their work.

They arrive in archipelago in 1937, where Claire documents and studies the Andamans’ indigenous tribe and Shep practices as a surgeon.

Shortly upon arriving, Claire becomes pregnant and ends up giving birth to her son, Ty. Ty doesn’t meet the typical milestones and is unable to communicate with her. Luckily, he finds a special friend on the island who he finds a deep friendship with.

Unfortunately, the approach of Japanese forces means that they must evacuate the island and their world is dramatically changed. Tragic consequences begin to unfold and beg us to examine these ramifications of the separation of this family.

This story is absolutely fascinating and grapples with such big issues that will keep you flipping the pages until way past your bedtime.  

If you are looking for a pandemic escape into a different world, you will find it tucked in this phenomenally told story.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like Glorious Boy you might like these titles:

Lucky Boy

Green Island

Shtum

 

Read With Me This Year

January 2020 Must-Reads

February 2020 Must-Reads

March- SKIPPED (pandemic brain)

April 2020 Must-Reads

Sign up for the MomAdvice Daily Book Deals Newsletter

Join Our FREE Book Club

Visit ALL my Book Reviews

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

The Best Books of 2019 from MomAdvice.com the best books of 2019

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

19 thrillers to keep you up all night 19 thrillers to keep you up all night

Happy Reading!

May 2020 Must-Reads

April 2020 Must-Reads

Monday, May 4th, 2020

April 2020 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Looking for your next great read? Today I’m sharing 11 incredible books I read in April. In this stack you will find great mysteries, thrillers, romance, and contemporary fiction with plenty of great book selections for your next book club discussion. Be sure to bookmark this post for your next library day!

Have you been struggling to get into reading lately? I just want you to know that you are not alone. 

In case you didn’t notice, I was struggling so much that I did not have book reviews for you, in the month of March.

I, honestly, can’t remember a time where I have ever missed a month of reading for you.

I have been referring to my lack of reading as my, “pandemic brain,” and it has really disrupted my concentration for books. Instead, I have found myself gravitating towards fluffy television shows and horrific headline news for my escape.

It’s all about balance, right?

I can’t tell you what finally flipped the switch, but I do know that slowing down on my news consumption, trying to get back to some form of consistent routines (did you see how we are managing the household chores over here), and getting back to a regular work day seem to be key for my brain. 

If you aren’t there yet, it is completely normal.

There is no right way to handle all of this and your books will always be there when you are ready to come back.

Before we start, here are a few things that might help you out of your reading rut!

Join Us for Our May MomAdvice Book Club Discussion

Dominicana by Angie Cruz snag the incredible may book club book for just $2.99 today!

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

This month we will be discussing, “Dominicana,” by Angie Cruz!  You can get this month’s book for just, $2.99!! 

This is one of my favorite reads this year and I really don’t want you to miss this phenomenal book OR participating in our discussion.

You can check out the 2020 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here

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

here is what is on sale today- don’t miss it!

Check Our Daily Book Deals List– HUGE DEAL DAY TODAY!!!

I try to post a daily book deal list for you to keep your Kindle fully stocked while we wait for our libraries to reopen.

This list is curated with only the best books and nothing will ever be over $4.99. 

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

May Amazon First Reads pick your free book for may

Get a Free Book Just for Being a Prime Member

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

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

Grab your FREE books over here.

May 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the May Book of the Month Club Selections:

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin
A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe
 
May Coupon Codes:

Mother’s Day is right around the corner! Use promo code, MDAY10, which gives you $10 off a 6 or 12-month gift card!

Get your first hardback book for just $9.99 with code MAY5 at checkout.
 
Personally, I snagged The Knockout Queen this month- Rupi Thorpe is one of my faves! 
 
Now let’s talk about this month’s stack!

April 2020 Must-Reads

Here are 11 must-read books I tackled in April!

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

This is one of those times where I went into something expecting a thriller, but I felt like the book had been categorized incorrectly and should have been labeled a mystery.

Sarah meets Eddie and they seem to, almost instantly, fall madly in love with each other. Although the relationship is fast and fierce (they have only been together for a week), they both know that they were destined to be together.

When Eddie heads off, on a previously planned vacation, he promises to call her from the airport and says that he can’t wait to get back to her.

This is why she is so surprised when he never calls and seems to just disappear.

She calls, contacts his friends, gets a bit stalker-y, and is completely hung up on why he would exit her life when they were just getting started.

Sarah knows that Eddie wouldn’t just ghost her after they have found each other, but other people in her life feel like maybe that is just what has happened.

Dating right now is tricky and they think it is quite possible that he has moved onto someone else. 

Sarah is determined to find out where Eddie has gone and this is where they both begin to realize that they each have been keeping secrets from each other.

The secrets they each hold complicate their relationship and they learn their lives overlap in some challenging and surprising ways.

I found this to be a really great mystery even if some of the plot twists seemed a bit too coincidental and contrived.

The first half had a really strong start, but this one requires the reader to suspend reality when it comes to the planned twists. 

As a book idea though, in the age of online dating, I think this was such a creative concept.

For that reason alone, I can see why at it was a Book of the Month selection.

I look forward to seeing what Walsh comes up with next, even if her debut didn’t hit all the marks.

3 out of 5 Stars

If you like Ghosted,  you might like these titles:

The Wives

Speaking of Summer

Lies

The Other Family

 

The Other Family by Loretta Nyhan (priced at just $4.99!!)

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

Ally’s young daughter is struggling with some health problems that her doctors just can’t seem to identify. 

Typically, in cases like these, an exploration in her genetics would provide the clues, but Ally happens to be adopted and doesn’t have any information for her.

Since Ally grew up in a happy home, she has never felt the need to look for her birth mother or had the desire to learn more about her family tree.

To better understand Kylie’s health issues though, she’s encouraged to take a DNA test to find out more so that they can fill in the holes on her medical case.

It is when she receives the results that she finds she has a biological aunt that she has never known. 

Since Ally’s adopted mom seems hurt that Ally is curious about her family roots, she decides to keep her out of the loop and see if she can learn more about her mom, on her own.

What she doesn’t realize though is that opening this box helps them discover information that can help her daughter AND can help her in ways that she never knew she needed. 

This is a quick and adorable read that I ended up really enjoying. Nyhan’s exploration of what it means to be family and how complicated families can come together was a fun escape that would be great for your summer stack.

3 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Other Family  you might like these titles:

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

Matchmaking for Beginners

Where the Forest Meets the Stars

The Sun Down Motel

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

I selected this as a Book of the Month selection and I’m so glad that I did. If you are looking for a spooky ghost story, you will love this latest novel from Simone St. James. 

What could be creepier than a rundown motel?

Carly Kirk finds herself applying for a position there because this is exactly where her Aunt Viv had worked and then suddenly disappeared.

Carly wants to find out what happened to her and she has a feelings that the answers just might lie in this motel.

In 1982, Viv moved to New York and snagged a job as a night clerk at a motel.

She soon discovers that there are regular guests visiting, but she isn’t always sure if these guests are real or ghosts. 

As if being a night clerk wasn’t scary enough, amiright?

As Viv battles these creepy visitors, she disappears and her family never hears from her again. 

Carly is intent on finding out what happened to her aunt so it is seems fitting that she snags the same position at this rundown motel that her aunt did. Not much as changed since 1982 and Carly soon discovers just what might have scared her aunt off all those years ago. 

This mystery had a very Hitchcock feel to it and I loved the layering of all the guests stories and how they intertwined with Carly & Viv’s story.  This ghost story isn’t too scary, but has just the right kind of creepy vibes that made it a perfect escape this month. 

I really loved this one and have a feeling you will too!

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Sun Down Motel you might like these titles:

Bird Box

Things in Jars

All Things Cease to Appear

How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (pre-order for just $3.99)

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This book will be available on July 14th!

As a treat to myself, I thought it would be fun to read a couple of the advanced readers that I have received to share for your summer stacks. 

Over the years, I’ve grown really fond of Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke and what they have crafted together. 

In fact, I loved this duo so much that I did an interview with them to learn more about their writing process.

Magical realism is something that I absolutely love, especially if it is done right. In this fun Groundhog Day novel, the reader is asked to explore just how far you would be willing to go to save the life of someone you love.

When Dom bumps into Mia, his ex-fiancée whom he hasn’t seen in almost a decade, he believes that he has been gifted a second chance to ask her out.

Sadly, the evening ends when Mia tragically dies on their date.

More than anything, Dom wishes that they could give this second chance…well, a second chance. 

Lucky for him (or unlucky for him), when he wakes up the next day he realizes that he is reliving the day again and will get that opportunity.

Over and over and over, Dom tries to change the fate of Mia by changing their date and what happens that day.

Helplessly, the scenario keeps repeating itself, but he just can’t seem to escape her fate or reliving the day again. 

It is only when Dom starts to confront his own truth that he realizes that he finds that he really can change his own fate.

Done wrong, this type of story can feel tedious because so many elements have to be repeated and I worried that this novel was going to fall into that trap.

Fortunately, Fenton & Steinke find a way to deliver a repeated day in such beautiful ways that you can’t help but root for Mia & Dom to be able to have a different kind of day together.

This has all the right ingredients for the perfect summer read- a great romance, a dash of magic, and truth bombs that are easy to devour.

Priced at just $3.99, you can’t go wrong with this one for a great summer escape…even if you might feel like you are trapped in a Groundhog Day plot yourself in quarantine.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like How to Save a Life you might like these titles:

The Life Intended

Time of My Life

I Liked My Life

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

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 a, “feel good,” read right now, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

If you are looking for a layered family drama that tries to take on big book club themes, then this book would be for you! 

Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her biracial son, Xavier, and is so proud of the young man is becoming.

Xavier is destined for great things and is headed to college in the fall.

Their life has been fairly idyllic, but all of that changes when the Whitmans move next door. 

I am sure we all can roll our eyes at people with, “new money,” that flaunt their wealth excessively.

The father,  in this family, is as obnoxious as they come.

As a self-made man, he is flashy and over-the-top with everything in his life. 

The conflict starts when the two are at odds over a historic oak tree that is on the property line of their house.

Valerie is a professor of forestry and ecology so the tree has great importance to her.

When the family begins making renovations to their property, the tree starts to suffer and Valerie can’t let it go. 

Brad Whitman uses this dispute to fuel his anger and it is amplified when Xavier and his daughter fall in love. 

This is a Romeo & Juliet story where neither parent is thrilled with the relationship and this dispute ends in a tragedy that neither family would expect.

The neighbors, in this novel, observe the happenings within the neighborhood and narrate the tale. Fowler uses their voice to help foreshadow what is happening and to guide the reader through each moment of the drama.

This would be a meaty pick for any book club, even if the ending might not lead where the reader wants the story to go.

It has big themes that explore race, entitlement, and wealth. 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like A Good Neighborhood you might like these titles:

Little Fires Everywhere

Ask Again, Yes

Did You Ever Have a Family?

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

If you would have told me that I would have found Jessica Simpson’s memoir to be one of the most compelling reads this month, I don’t know if I would have believed you.  

Well, guess what?

This memoir is incredible! 

I do think memoirs are best savored in audiobook format, especially when they are read by their author.

This memoir, in particular, lends itself well to this format because there is so much emotion behind so many of these passages that allow you to connect with her writing so much more. 

Simpson’s title says it all because she unashamedly shares her story from the beginning of her career to her current successes. 

Her life has definitely not been all roses and sunshine and this book is quite dishy.

The meat of this doesn’t lie in learning about her past marriage with Nick Lachey though.

It lies within her own internal struggles.

Originally slated to write a self-help book, she realized that the way that she could people more is by being open and honest about what she has had to overcome to reach success and happiness. She was not prepared to give advice, but she could share the challenges within her own story.

Within these pages is the power struggle with her parents, the tragic death in her family, the sexual abuse she endured, her struggles with healthy body acceptance, the toxic relationships she gravitated towards, her struggles with addiction, and her continued body dysmorphic disorder after having kids.

I think many people will come to hear Jessica Simpson spill the tea, but I was surprised to find so much more within this story than I had expected.

While often thought of as a dumb blonde, she now runs a successful billion-dollar global fashion brand that proves she has more brains than Hollywood had ever expected. 

I really enjoyed this one for its refreshing honesty and smartly layered truth bombs within its pages. 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Open Book you might like these titles:

Wild Game

High Achiever

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni (priced at just $1.99 today!!)

I had a feeling that this was going to be my favorite read this month and it, absolutely, was!

This coming-of-age story is GORGEOUS and just what you need to escape with this month.

In fact, I would say that this is my favorite book (so far) this year.

Sam Hill is born with a rare condition called ocular albinism that make him look different from his peers. His red pupils are the subject of ridicule, at his Catholic school, and his classmates refer to him as the, “Devil Boy.” Although his last name is Hill, the bullies at school refer to him as, “Sam Hell,” instead.

Despite his differences, his mother believes that this is God’s will and that this difference is what makes Sam so extraordinary. 

She will stop at nothing to help Sam pave his path in the world and is thrilled when Sam finds his first friend in Ernie, the only African American kid at his school. The two form a fast friendship and both find the same magnificent friendship in a little girl, named Mickie, who his willing to stand up for Sam more than anyone. 

The book is told from Sam’s adult perspective, now working as an opthamologist, and his boyhood journey towards acceptance. Dugoni, masterfully, brings this coming-of-age story together so beautifully that I was enchanted from the very first page.

In fact, I found myself NOT wanting to finish this because I didn’t want it to be over. 

Dugoni’s inspiration came from his own brother, who had Down Syndrome, and his mother’s tireless fight to make sure he was always cared for. He paired this inspiration with a newspaper story he read about a little boy who couldn’t get into a Catholic school because of a condition called, ocular albinism. 

I can’t rave enough about this beautiful read and how much it touched my heart. It is everything that a satisfying read should be and would be a fantastic pick for any book club. 

Add this one to your stack today! 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell you might like these titles:

Ordinary Grace

Setting Free the Kites

The Book of Harlan

What You Wish For

What You Wish For by Katherine Center (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.

Katherine Center has become my go-to comfort food, for literature, and I needed that a lot this month. This novel will hit store shelves on July 14th and I highly recommend pre-ordering this phenomenal little escape. 

Did I mention that it stars a school librarian? 

What more do I need to say?

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

When she discovers that a guy she used to have a crush on, Duncan Carpenter, is the next principal she is thrilled for her school… and maybe, a little secretly thrilled for herself too.

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

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

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

He eliminates their school’s fun traditions, implements strict school rules and guidelines, and even strips color from the walls of every room. 

Sam is bewildered and dismayed by Duncan’s behavior, as is the rest of the staff at school. 

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like What You Wish For you might like these titles:

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Girl He Used to Know

The Unhoneymooners

High Achiever

High Achiever by Tiffany Jenkins

Fun fact, Tiffany Jenkins shows up in my Facebook feed selling FabFitFun boxes all the time and one day I bought her book.

These two facts are, remarkably, unrelated because I had no clue who she was or ever made the connection until I read her bio at the end of the book.

If you are looking for a really compelling memoir and loved, Orange is the New Black memoir, you won’t be able to put this one down! 

Tiffany was an opioid addict who ended up getting caught and heading to jail. What makes her story so compelling though is that her boyfriend was a Deputy Sheriff and unaware that she had been buying and selling drugs while they were living together. 

No addict’s story is as straightforward as that though, is it?

Although Jenkins was struggling with addiction, lying, and stealing from those around her, she never intended to sell drugs.

She ended up being blackmailed and forced into selling drugs because someone had threatened to tell her boyfriend. 

As we all know, being an addict isn’t ideal if you are trying to sell drugs and she ends up getting high on her own supply. 

When she gets caught, her experience in jail is far different than anyone else because everyone works with her boyfriend and is angry about what she has done to him. She becomes the target of abuse and mistreatment until she is able to enter a recovery program, trying to begin the next chapter of her life.

Tiffany’s story reads like fiction and is as good as any movie that I’ve watched. She owns up to her mistakes, even when they are are embarassing and hurtful to those around her. She does not gloss over a single moment of what it would be like to be an addict or the journey towards her new start. 

Who knew that the lady’s ads that made me LOL (and stopped me in my scroll) were connected to someone who lived such an incredibly difficult life story?

I guarantee that you won’t be able to put this one down! Check out Tiffany’s blog to follow more of her story!

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like High Achiever you might like these titles:

Orange is the New Black (the memoir)

The Mars Room

Memoir

Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

If you are looking for a steamy escape this month, I think this pick just might be for you!

This romance is the first in a series of love stories told from the different sister’s perspectives in the Brown family.

It makes a great one to read if you want to keep following along with their Brown family story or can just be read as a standalone.

As someone who deals with chronic pain, there might be a reason why I adored this a little more than the average reader.

Chloe Brown has fibromyalgia and struggles daily with pain that have sidelined her from a lot of the activities in her life. 

She has decided though that she’s tired of letting her illness stop her from doing everything she wants to do in life and that’s why she has made a, “get a life” bucket list that will motivate her to try new experiences that are out of her comfort zone.

She realizes that if she wants to accomplish these things on her list though that she needs someone to help do them with her. 

It turns out, Redford ‘Red’ Morgan just might be the ticket.

The fact that he is obnoxious has to be put aside so that she can accomplish her list.

You see, Chloe has observed that her apartment’s handyman is more than meets the eye because he also happens to be an artist who paints at night. 

How would she know this?

Oh, maybe because she spies on him a little and just might find him a *teeny* bit attractive.

When I say this is steamy, it is like reading a bit of soft porn so I’m just putting that out there before you pick it up.

I adored it because I love a love-hate romance and because it was refreshing to read about a sexy heroine who is battling a chronic illness.  

I would love to see more books like this in the future because, let’s be honest, chronic illness warriors are sexy as heck! 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you liked Get a Life, Chloe Brown, you might like these titles:

The Hating Game

The Kiss Quotient

Red, White, & Royal Blue

Pretty Things

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

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

Want a thriller that you will not be able to put down?

Add this to your stack TODAY- it is INCREDIBLE!

First of all, Nicole Kidman & Amazon will be adapting this so you will want to read it before you watch it.

Secondly, who couldn’t use an escape from reality right now?

I loved Watch Me Disappear so I was anxious to get my hands on this one. Brown is such a gifted thriller writer and I had heard a lot of early buzz on this being the next thriller must-read.

The story is told from alternating perspectives of two women whose lives are intertwined in ways that they would never expect.

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

When Nina finds friendship with a wealthy boy at school, they find comfort in being outcasts together. They spend afternoons hanging out, smoking weed, and feeling a deep freindship with one another.

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

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

It’s okay though- she’s doing it to pay for her mom’s cancer treatment.

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

They discover there is a cottage they can rent, on the old family property, and try to become fast friends with Vanessa (the sister) who now owns the place.

Vanessa is a bit of a “con” herself because she has been leading a fake heiress Instagram life online. 

The question is, who is going to con who?

This is SO TWISTY and SO DELICIOUS that I stayed up hours and hours past by bedtime to finish it. 

The best part?

A GOOD ENDING!

The endings in thrillers often are disappointing, but this one does not disappoint in a single way.

I was captivated from start to finish, loved the intricacy that Brown was weaved, and her dialogue is smart and addictive.

Move this one ot the top of your stack and I can’t wait to hear how much you loved it too! 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you liked Pretty Things, you might like these titles:

The Other Mrs.

Necessary People

The Turn of the Key

Read With Me This Year

January 2020 Must-Reads

February 2020 Must-Reads

March- SKIPPED (pandemic brain)

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

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19 thrillers to keep you up all night 19 thrillers to keep you up all night

Happy Reading!

 

February 2020 Must-Reads

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

February 2020 Must-Reads Header

If you are looking for a good book to read, I have you covered with my February book reviews! From twisty thrillers to fascinating memoirs, this book list has something for everyone!

Are you ready to talk about books to check out for March?

Today I’m sharing what I read in February and can’t wait to hear what you have been reading too.

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

Be sure to join our FREE online book club! You can check out the 2020 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.

Check out the March Book of the Month Club Selections:

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler (Contemporary)

Hour of the Assassin by Matthew Quirk (Political Thriller)

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver (Romance)- read my review today!

The Splendid and The Vile by Erik Larson (History)

Writers & Lovers by Lily King (Literary Fiction)

February 2020 Must-Reads

Here are 6 must-read books I tackled in February!

The Reckless Oath We Made

The Reckless Oath We Made by  Bryn Greenwood

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

Greenwood has a knack for writing unique love stories and this one was just exquisite.

Zee is down on her luck with medical bills, chronic pain, and a hoarding mom.

Although she is no princess, she ends up meeting her knight in shining armor. 

Gentry, who is doing his best to be a real knight, hears the call that he is meant to be Zee’s champion. Gentry decides to keep a close eye on Zee and he landed in her life at just the right time.

When an abduction occurs, in Zee’s family, Gentry comes to her aid.

What neither of them could have ever expected is how these consequences could cause change the course of both of their lives.

Honestly, I had very conflicted feelings about Greenwood’s first novel, because I felt like the love story normalized having a romantic relationship with a child. 

This love story though was beautifully written and so unique.

Gentry’s viewpoints capture his world and are written from his “knightly” point of view.

At first I found this confusing, but then you begin to understand Gentry more and more as the chapters unfold.

I love stories with shifting viewpoints and this one has many.  You would think that the inclusion of so many voices would make it a confusing reader experience, but that just isn’t the case. Greenwood pulls all of these stories together almost seamlessly.

I have a feeling that you won’t be able to put this one down.

While I found it to be a heartbreaking read, it delivered on building gorgeously flawed characters and a love story you could root for.

I am so glad I took a chance on this one and highly recommend it for your book stack.

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Reckless Oath We Take,  you might like these titles:

Where the Forest Meets the Stars (currently free on Prime)

Where All Light Tends to Go

Nothing More Dangerous

Wild Game

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

If you on the hunt for a captivating memoir, this is the book you need in your stack. 

One night, as an adolescent, Adrienne is awakened by her mother confessing that she has kissed another man. The husband (and his wife) happen to be their oldest friends and she needs a confidant to spill her secrets to and assist with coordination of her secret rendezvous. 

Adrienne loves having the attention of her mother and lends her ear, tirelessly, to hear the stories of her mother’s infidelity. She also becomes the decoy for many of their secret meetings. Adrienne loves feeling like and being chosen to be part of her mother’s other world.

The affair goes on for years and what was once exciting starts to cause strain on Adrienne. She is forced to constantly lie and her guilt starts to infiltrate her daily life.

It is when Adrienne begans confiding in others that she realizes how inappropriate her involvement is and how this secret than begins to threaten her own relationships.

I could not put this one down and was captivated from page one.

If you have a challenging relationship with your mother, this might be a difficult one to read.

That said, Adrienne’s lessons learned through this experience contain so much wisdom, as she begins processing the actions of her narcissistic mother.

I would put this one at the top of your book stacks. This memoir is gorgeous, haunting, and a beautiful coming-of-age story.

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Wild Game,  you might like these titles:

The Sound of Gravel

Three Women

The Electric Woman, $1.99

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

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

This fantastic love story happens to be available as a Book of the Month this month! After enjoying her first novel so immensely, I couldn’t wait to see what romance Silver cooked up for us next.

Longtime readers know that I’m a big fan of two things- time travel and anything with a Sliding Doors theme. This novel falls into the Sliding Doors camp beautifully and is perfect for anyone who ever wonders, what if?

The story opens with a tragic accident that takes the life of Lydia’s future husband and soulmate. 

Emotionally devastated, Lydia’s doctor prescribes sleeping pills to help her through this difficult time. 

What Lydia discovers though is that Freddie’s life continues on in her dreams. In this sleeping world, she is still preparing for her wedding and savoring every continued moment with Freddie. It is everything she could ever hope for.

Lydia’s life begins to fracture into two quickly- her awake life and her sleeping life. 

It is in the fissures of these cracks that Silver builds such a beautiful love story.

After all, we do have the ability to immortalize people and erase faults when they pass away.

As Lydia heals, her time in her sleeping life really begins to separate and Lydia discovers that her waking life might be just as beautiful.

I really enjoyed this one and it ended up being a perfect Valentine’s Day read this year.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Two Lives of Lydia Bird,  you might like these titles:

The Life Intended

I Liked My Life

Time of My Life

The Wives

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

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

This novel is one of those buzzy thrillers that ended up being picked as a, “best book of the month,” by many syndicates. As you know, that can be a hit or (often) a miss.

Thursday is married, but only really married for one day out of the week. The rest of her husband’s week is spent commuting back and forth to visit his two other wives. 

Thursday is curious about the other women, but Scott thinks it is important to keep these worlds separate. In her head, she is the sexy adventure-seeking wife that he needs to visit to get away from his boring wives. She begins to wonder though, what if that isn’t actually the case?

When Thursday stumbles upon a scrap of information, about one of his other wives, she can’t help but try to find out more information about them on social media. 

She, in fact, becomes obsessed with finding these women and hearing more of their stories.

As her curiosity grows, she decides to schedule some in-person meetings so she can learn more about why Scott insists on keeping them in his life.

It is when she travels down this rabbit hole that the stories frayed ends really begin displaying and Thursday realizes that Scott might not be who he says he is.

This started with tons of promise and I flipped through the first half rapidly. The ending promised a “bumpy, twisty, exhilarating ride,” but I found it more of a fizzle. 

Honestly, this might not be a reflection on the writer and just the tired theme of the unreliable narrator.  When executed well, it can be so fun.  When it doesn’t though, it can be a bit chaotic and confusing.

For me, this felt a tad too disjointed, although the first half was a blast. 

3 out of 5 Stars

If you are looking for an unreliable narrator story that really delivers,  you might like these titles:

The Other Mrs.

My Lovely Wife

The Wife Between Us

This Terrible Beauty

This Terrible Beauty by Katrin Schumann (this one is priced at just $4.99!!)

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

If you are looking for a historical fiction novel that you can really sink your teeth into, this is the one! 

Set on the shores of an East German Island, Bettina is struggling to figure out her new life, now that World War II has ended.

She ends up marrying an older bureaucrat, Werner, who seems to adore her.

Shortly after their marriage though, he joins the secret police, a role he never expected to receive.

This task force is on a dark mission though and the power and notoriety quickly go to Werner’s head. 

He begins to see Battina as a belonging and is increasingly disappointed that she can’t be like other wives. Battina’s passion for photography and flightiness are things that anger Werner and he becomes more unhappy and controlling through the years.

This is when Battina finds love, with a pastor’s son, and discovers what being truly happy looks like. 

This affair is dangerous though because Werner holds the power in town and isn’t afraid to use it.

As the two fall more and more in love, they know that they have to do everything they can to escape Werner.

Not only do we get to see what Battina’s life is like then, we also see her as celebrated photographer now living in Chicago. 

Despite her success, she can’ stop thinking about what (and who) she wants to reclaim back in Germany.

This was such a beautiful read with all the right elements mixed in.

Usually my historical fiction reading is centered around World War II books so it was incredibly fascinating to read about the time following the war and the realities of what it was like in Germany.

Since this one is just $4.99, it is a no brainer to pick it up for your stack.  I hope you love it as much as me!

5 out of 5 Stars

If you liked This Terrible Beauty,  you might like these titles:

Those Who Save Us

The Things We Cannot Say

All the Lights We Cannot See

How to Do Nothing

How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

I always love to peek at Obama’s book lists and this book ended up making his list of 2019 favorites. 

Looking for a digital detox book? 

This isn’t it.

Rather, this is a well-developed set of essays that explore how our attention continues to become fractured as more tech is available to us. 

Odell challenges us to think about how we are dividing ourselves online and how these divisions make us less productive, limiting us from building real human connections.

A big focus of this books is spent on valuing our time better. In it she says, “I suggest that we reimagine #FOMO as #NOMO, the necessity of missing out,”

I could use a little more #NOMO in my life, how about you?

Odell stresses that it is necessary to have time alone to build relationships, creativity, and space in our lives.

If you need any motivation, in this department, definitely check this book out.

Not only is this a well-developed reminder of the disservice we do to ourselves and others, by not building real connections, it also has loads of fascinating historical information too.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you liked How to Do Nothing, you might like these titles:

Essentialism

Big Magic

Braving the Wilderness

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February 2020 Must-Reads Book Covers

January 2020 Must-Reads

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

Looking for your next great read? Here are 19 fast page-turners you should add to your book stacks this month! Read my book reviews and also get ideas for similar books to check out if you enjoy something from this list. There is a book for every kind of reader this month!

 

It’s time for my first book reviews of 2020 and, BOY, do I have quite the stack for you today! 

I did manage to meet my 2019 goal to read 100 books, but I BARELY squeaked them all in. The last two weeks of December found me curled up with a book almost nonstop to reach that goal.

Did that stop me from committing to another 100 for this year?

Of course not.

I’m no quitter! 

If you would like to take a look at my year of reading, you can check them all out over here. You can also see my top 20 books of 2019 which was incredibly hard to narrow down.

This really was such an incredible year of reading and I can’t wait to share another year of reading with you. 

Before I get to my reviews, here are some books that you can be snagging for February! 

Book of the Month Selections Announced!

Book of the Month February 2020

February Book of the Month Selections:

Anna K by Jenny Lee (Young Adult)

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré (Contemporary Fiction)

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (Suspense)

The Holdout by Graham Moore (Legal Thriller)

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Contemporary Fiction)

Book of the Month February Coupon Codeuse the code HEART to get your first box for $9.99. 

 

February Young Adult Book of the Month Selections:

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace (Fantasy)

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed (Romance)

Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal (Fantasy)

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (Thriller)

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow (Sci-Fi)

Young Adult Book of the Month February Coupon Codeuse the code SWOON to get your first box for $9.99. 

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. 

 

January 2020 Must-Reads

Here are 19 must-read books I tackled in January

Red At the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Red at The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

This sparse read is beautifully written and I love how Woodson is able to take you on a journey with only 200 pages.

Told from alternating perspectives, Woodson seamlessly builds an intergenerational story that explores race, identity, and the differences between the decades. 

This is the second book I’ve read by this author and I recommend her writing for people who appreciate character development over plot development.  The characters really come alive in these pages and Woodson always amazes me with her words.

If you are looking for a powerful audiobook that doesn’t require a huge time commitment, I recommend this beauty for your virtual stack. 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like Red at the Bone, you might like these titles:

An American Marriage

My Sister the Serial Killer

Fruit of the Drunken Tree

 

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

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

This is one of those books that you just can’t put down. 

Twelve-year-old Edward Adler is the sole survivor in a tragic plane crash. His aunt and uncle take him in and Edward has to figure out who he is without his brother and parents.

Luckily, he finds a wonderful friend, Shay, who is his new neighbor.

When they discover a bag of letters, addressed to him, he realizes that many of these passenger’s families have been writing to him for answers on those final moments.

As Edward battles the mental consequences of this trauma, he begins to find healing through replying to these letters. 

Lucky for him, he has a faithful sidekick (Shay) that helps encourage him through these difficult moments and wants to help Edward find closure and peace again.

Honestly, this coming-of-age story is just beautiful.

Alternating perspectives between the passengers and the crew really help the reader understand how this tragedy happened and what the passengers were feeling and thinking in those final moments.

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Dear Edward, you might like these titles:

The One-in-a-Million Boy

In Sight of Stars

Tell Me Three Things

 

Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

(currently available for free on Prime)

I have been a big fan of Taylor Jenkins books ever since I read her very first novel. She writes authentic love stories that have so many beautiful layers and writes with an honesty that is, often, indescribable. 

This short story is told, in its entirety, through letters. 

For me, this is always risky business because I very rarely will connect with a story in a letter format. 

I should not have been worried though because Reid does an incredible job telling the story in this format. 

Not only do you get to read the love letters between the people having the extramarital affair, we also get to read the letters of the two spouses who have uncovered the affair.

The consequences of this happening are believable and gorgeously written.

This short story was, surprisingly, as satisfying as a longer book.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like Evidence of the Affair, you might like these titles:

Life Drawing

All This Could Be Yours

After I Do

The Pasengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs

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

As we begin to really push the boundaries with technology, Marrs continues to dream up incredible science fiction plots that rival the best in those Black Mirrors episodes. 

The idea of a self-driving car is awfully appealing to me, but Marrs terrifies us by creating a world where the self-driving car is in full control of the passenger.

Say what? 

Eight cars have been equipped with camera equipment and they are told that they are driving towards certain death. Televising the ordeal, really drives home the point that people see these situations as completely delightful reality television.

Heck, even the passengers think it is a stunt.

Unfortunately, for them, it really isn’t. 

This science fiction thriller is twisty, fast paced, and the kind of book that you have to finish in a day.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Passengers, you might like these titles:

Recursion

The Warehouse

The One

The Nickel Boys The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

This novel has been on just about every 2019 best books of the year list. Whitehead’s first book was so inventive and thought provoking that I could not wait to dig into this one.

This novel is based on the true story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and robbed children of their childhood innocence. 

Elwood is sent to, The Nickel Academy,  after he has allegedly stolen a car.  

He is sent to this reform school to help him become more disciplined and to pay for his crimes.

Unfortunately, Elwood quickly realizes that the punishments given don’t fit the crimes and Whitehead takes us along on the brutal journey with him. 

I listened to this one on audiobook and found myself needing to detach from the story because of the disturbing violence inflicted on these boys. 

It may have been a mistaken to rely on an audiobook for this one.

Whitehead’s novel jumps to different timelines and most of the second half left me confused because of the disjointed timeline. 

I will continue to read anything Whitehead writes. He is a powerful storyteller and I can’t wait to see what he teaches me next.

Want to learn more about the school this book was inspired by? Check out this piece.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Nickel Boys, you might like these titles:

The Book of Harlan

Girls Burn Brighter

Darktown

Nothing More Dangerous

Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens

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

“You put enough like-minded idiots in a room, and pretty soon their backward way of thinking starts to take on an air of legitimacy.”

This coming-of-age story is set in the ’70’s and takes on the challenges of race and identity in some really beautiful ways. 

Boady lives in an all white neighborhood with his single mother. When a wealthy black family become their neighbors, they could never imagine what fast friendships they would have. 

A white supremacist group is really unhappy that a black man is in charge of the town’s manufacturing plant though.  This anger fuels and torments the family and anyone who might associate with them.

The entire story is layered within a disappearance of Lida Poe, who was the secretary at the town’s manufacturing plant. According to rumors, she left town along with a hundred thousand dollars of company money. As more about the white supremacist group becomes known, Boady begins to wonder if she really did commit this crime.

Boady begins trying to uncover clues and soon realizes that everything is not as it seems.

I couldn’t put this book down and highly recommend it if you are looking for a mystery to escape with.

This coming-of-age story would be perfect for a book club discussion and is the kind of read that really sticks with you.

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Nothing More Dangerous, you might like these titles:

Ordinary Grace

Where All Light Tends to Go

Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Florence Adler Swims Forever

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland (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.

Set in Atlantic City, in 1934, this gorgeous book captured my heart from page one. 

Florence has a plan to spend her summer training to swim the English Channel. A gifted swimmer, she is focused and determined to reach her goal.

When the family faces an unexpected tragedy though, they make a decision to protect their daughter (Fannie) from knowing the truth about what had happened.

The secrecy comes from a good place though because Fannie’s in the hospital to help her stay calm and quiet for the risky birth of their child. With numerous complications, the last thing that they want to do is to put Fannie into early labor.

The thing is, this secret is too big to keep, especially for Fannie’s young daughter. 

This book is so beautifully written that I was shocked that this was Beanland’s debut. 

I hung on every word of this story and think it would be amazing for a book club discussion.

My only regret is to tell you that this one won’t hit the shelves until July, but can assure you that this is the perfect historical fiction escape for summer. 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Florence Adler Swims Forever, you might like these titles:

The Two-Family House

Saints for All Occasions

Manhattan Beach

The Poison Garden

The Poison Garden by A.J. Banner

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

This  brisk thriller manages to weave in a lot of twists in just a couple of hundred pages. 

Elise’s life seems pretty perfect. She has a wonderful marriage, a stunning home, a beautiful garden, and she gets to do a job she loves every day. 

When she comes home early, to surprise her husband, she ends up makes a shocking discovery that she would have never guessed. This discovery ruins her idyllic world and she becomes increasingly paranoid that someone is out to get her. 

To make matters worse, she has been sleep walking and has woken up in some very strange places that lead her to believe that maybe she isn’t completely sane anymore.

I zoomed through this thriller. The reader has to suspend belief, at times, to achieve these twists, but it managed to hold my attention until the last page.

3 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Poison Garden, you might like these titles:

The Woman in the Window

A Stranger in the House

The Other Mrs.

This Won't End Well

This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagan (available for pre-order)

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

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of quirky characters and this book delivers with some laugh-out-loud moments. 

Annie Mercer has no desire to add any new people to her life. Despite her best efforts on a project, she is dismissed and loses her entire career in chemistry.

Not only that, her fiancé has decided that he needs space from her and heads to Paris to work it all out.

When Harper moves next door, she can’t help but become sucked into her story. Not only that, but a local detective, Mo, is trying to keep Harper safe and has decided to loop Annie in on the case. As the two begin working on Harper’s case, Annie begins to realize how important Mo is in her life.

Honestly, this was an adorable read and a light escape from the heavier reads. This was such a sweet story and had so many funny moments that I found myself reading portions out loud to my husband. Annie is such a fun character.

If you need a fun escape, be sure to pre-order this one! 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like This Won’t End Well,  you might like these titles:

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

How Not to Die Alone

Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown

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

I am such a sucker for a novel that has a dual narrative and this novel was one I loved and where I fell in love with both of these women’s stories.

When Alice moves to the New York suburbs, she finds a vintage cookbook in her basement, from the previous owner. As she struggles to fill her days in her new town, she begins cooking the dishes that Nellie Murdoch, the 1950’s housewife that had owned the book had cooked. It is within these pages that she begins to learn more and more about Nellie and realizes her life wasn’t as idyllic as it may seem.

When she stumbles on a stack of mysterious unsent letters to her mother, Alice can’t stop thinking about Nellie and begins to uncover more secrets about the difficult life that Nellie led. With the help of her next door neighbor, Alice learns more about Nellie’s true story.

The writing is captivating and I enjoyed each of the narratives equally.

This fast page-turner reminds us of how far we have come, as women, and just how much work we still need to do. 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like Recipe for a Perfect Wife you might like these titles:

Big Lies in a Small Town

The Perfume Collector

The Masterpiece

Followers

Followers by Megan Angelo

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

Do you ever open a book and find yourself hooked from the very first page?  That was the case with this one. This futuristic book that was just as satisfying as any episode of Black Mirror

Orla is stuck in a job writing clickbait articles about movie-star hookups and about the latest influencers. 

When Orla meets Floss, someone striving to make it in this weird online world, they hatch a plan to launch them both into the high-profile lives they have always dreamt about.

Thirty-five years later, a woman named Marlow is discovering secrets about her own past. Despite her online popularity (with twelve million loyal followers) she dreams of escaping it all and regaining her own life and privacy. These discoveries, about her past, help give her the courage to run in search of the truth. 

I can’t rave enough about the depth of the plot on this one. As someone who lives a life online (on a very small scale), I found this plot far too relatable. 

This book is thought-provoking, wildly imaginative, and so beautifully imagined. I could not turn the pages fast enough and I have a good feeling you will feel the same way. 

Put this novel on the top of your stack and suggest this for your book clubs too!

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Followers you might like these titles:

Vox

The Passengers

The Grace Year

No Exit

No Exit by Taylor Adams

So many of our book club members have raved about this thriller so I had a good feeling I would love this book. Honestly, it turned out to be the PERFECT winter escape.

Four strangers find themselves stranded at a rest stop when a blizzard hits and forces everyone off the road. 

When Darby pulls over, she discovers that there is a kidnapped child in the back of someone’s van and she immediately suspects one of these strangers as the culprit. 

Determined to save the child, she involves one of the other people there to help her save the child.

What she doesn’t expect is how many people are involved and how intent they will be to stop her from saving the little girl. 

This dark thriller ended up being such a wild ride that had so many smart plot twists that, even this seasoned reader, could have never guessed.

If you are in a reading slump, this one should pull you right out of it! 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like No Exit you might like these titles:

The Chain

Pretty Girls

Then She Was Gone

The Idea of You

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

This steamy romance was SO DANG GOOD!

The concept of this one sounded a bit far fetched, but the story ended up being surprisingly thoughtful and meatier than I had expected.

Recently divorced, Solène runs an art gallery and is longing for a closer relationship with her tween daughter.

When she takes her to her favorite boy band’s concert, they attend a meet-and-greet after to meet the band. 

What she could have never expected was catching the eye of one of the boys in the band and their attraction is immediate and intoxicating.

They begin having a secret affair that complicates every element of her life- mortifying and breaking her daughter’s heart, being the source of scrutiny by the paparazzi, and creating complications within her work relationships.

Despite it all, she is head over heels in love with this man and is willing to do anything to keep this relationship.

Basically, it is One Direction fan fiction and an imagined relationship between a middle-aged woman and Harry Styles and I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT.

I also have a not-so-secret crush on Harry Styles so that *may* have made this read even better for me.

I tweeted the author to beg for a sequel and it seems, from her past tweets, that this just might be in the works. 

If you need a sexy book escape, read this one immediately! 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Idea of You, you might like these titles:

The Royal We

Arranged

The Kiss Quotient

Big Lies in a Small Town

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

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

I will read anything that Diane Chamberlain writes so I was thrilled to be a recipient of her book and these gorgeous chocolates to celebrate her book launch. 

This dual narrative mystery is about a woman, named Morgan, who has been serving time for a drunk driving accident. 

She is surprised when she is offered the opportunity to not finish out her sentence, in exchange for restoring a post office mural for a gallery opening.

Morgan attended art school, but has no knowledge of art restoration. As she muddles her way through the piece, she begins uncovering a mural that has some very disturbing elements within it. 

The artist that made it has quite a story too and the reader discovers just why these elements are added. 

As the reader learns more about this story, Chamberlain expertly weaves these stories together in some really beautiful ways.

She’s quite the master at pulling narratives together, in a way that only a seasoned writer could achieve. 

This was another beautiful read from one of my favorite writers.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like Big Lies in a Small Town you might like these titles:

Recipe for a Perfect Wife

The Lying Woods

Little Fires Everywhere

The Productivity Project The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey

Each year, I like to start my year out with a book on productivity. 

I am also a sucker for books that devote a year to experimenting with technique and reporting results.

Chris Bailey turned down a lucrative job offer and devoted a year to trying all the productivity hacks and reports on if these techniques were successful or not.

From earlier morning start times, to giving up booze and caffeine,  to list-making, to time management strategies, Chris deep dives into different methods and shares his best takeaways and how they impacted his day-to-day routines.

I listened to this one on audiobook and really wished I had a paper copy so that I could highlight it. The audiobook was enjoyable to listen to, but the meat in this one would be working through these challenges by having a physical copy of the book. 

I, honestly, learned a lot about better list-making techniques, how to free up headspace for better productivity, and always need the reminders for better structure to my day.

If you need a little motivation in 2020, get this book! It is a gem!

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Productivity Project you might like these titles:

The Happiness Project

Atomic Habits

Essentialism

Lights All Night Long

 

Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick

This coming-of-age debut is gorgeous, haunting, and beautifully layered.

Fifteen-year-old Ilya arrives in Louisiana from his native Russia to study as an American exchange student. This should be a happy time for him, but his mind is completely consumed by the fate of his older brother, Vladimir.

Just before Ilya moved, his brother was sent to prison for the murders of three local young women. Although Vladimir was involved with drugs, he knows that his brother could never have murdered these women and he is determined to solve the case. 

With the help of his friend Sadie, he begins the mission of trying to prove his brother’s innocence. What he doesn’t expect though is that he will discover the lengths that Vladimir has gone to to protect him and secure his future in America.

I can’t rave enough about how beautiful this read is. This book is incredibly thought-provoking and the reader can’t help but wish for happiness for these two characters.

If this is Fitzpatrick’s debut, I can’t wait to read more from her. 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Lights All Night Long you might like these titles:

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

We Came Here to Forget

A River of Stars

Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I have been anticipating this buzz book for months and couldn’t wait to read it. 

This was, honestly, a disappointing read and left me wondering what I was supposed to get out of this story.

The plot sounded really promising. A rich white family hires a young black nanny to care for their daughter.  After an unexpected emergency happens,  they call the nanny to see if she can take their daughter out while they resolve it.

She takes the little girl to the grocery store and is approached by an employee because they think she has kidnapped the little girl. The incident is filmed, by another shopper, who offers to send it to her so she can take legal action.

The guy who records the incident asks her out and they  begin a relationship.  What she doesn’t know is how this man is linked to the family she works for. 

Instead of, what could be a thought-provoking discussion on race and privilege, each of these characters are written so outrageously that they seem like caricatures and end up being cringe-worthy stereotypes.  It, honestly, bordered on comedic because of how superficial each of them were. The plot started promising, but ended up being as shallow as these characters.

Overall, this one fell really flat, as most buzz books seem to do. I did flip the pages quickly, but the story didn’t yield the lessons I thought I would discover.

2 out of 5 Stars

If you like Such a Fun Age you might like these titles:

Queenie

The Mothers

A Window Opens

American Predator

American Predator by Maureen Callahan

I have been on a true crime kick with my Netflix-watching so I thought it might be fun to add a couple of true crime books to my stack this month. 

If you are looking for a nonfiction book that reads like fiction, this is one of those unbelievable kinds of stories that you won’t be able to put down.

Israel Keyes is one of the most notorious serial killers of the 21st century, yet few of us even know his name. 

Callahan presents the chilling story of a man who had been killing people for years, but had never even been on anyone’s radar. When he is finally connected to a crime, Keyes admits that he has been living a double life for 14 years. 

On the same day, he could attend his child’s parent teacher conference and have murdered someone.

His ability to compartmentalize, his system for finding people to kill, and his ability to leave no trace behind kept his crimes hidden for years.

I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough in this one and highly recommend it if you are looking for a true crime book for your stack. 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like American Predator you might like these titles:

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

The Stranger Beside Me

My Friend Anna My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams

This memoir has been on my radar ever since I read the story of Anna Delvey and heard that this would be coming to Netflix as a series (produced by Shonda Rhimes!!)

If you are unfamiliar with this story, Anna claimed to be a rich heiress and was leading a life of luxury that included living in a New York hotel, dining at the top restaurants, jetting off on luxury vacations, and working out with a celebrity trainer several times a week. 

After recruiting a few pals to go on a trip with her, the hotel seems “unable to process,” her credit card. Her best friend offers to put it on her card with Anna promising that she will pay her back.

The problem?

This girl is no heiress and she also has no intentions of paying her back.

The reader gets to follow along on Rachel’s nightmare of being unable to pay her own bills, daily requests pleading with Anna to give her the money back, and the creeping depression that sets in when she realizes that Anna has no intention of paying her back.

Rachel isn’t the only victim though and her case and documentation inevitably help Anna to be charged with a crime.

This is a fast page-turner and Rachel’s vulnerability feels real, raw, and relatable. 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like My Friend Anna you might like these titles:

American Predator

Three Women

The Stranger Beside Me

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January 2020 Must-Reads

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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! 

follow me on instagram for more great book recommendations

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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