Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

July 2019 Must-Reads

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

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

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

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

read all about the reading retreat

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Also Out!!

Here is what is available for July! 

The Whisper Man by Alex North

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

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

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

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

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 out of 5 Stars

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 out of 5 Stars

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

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

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

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

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

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

This crazy woman has her child. 

Say what?

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

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

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

Me too! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 out of 5 Stars

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

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

Sign. Me. Up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What teen doesn’t need to hear that?

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

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

I encourage you to add this one to your stack!

5 out of 5 Stars


Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

June 2019 Must-Reads

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

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

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How to Check Out Library Books on Your Kindle for Free

Monday, July 29th, 2019


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

Don’t have a Kindle device? 

That’s okay! 

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

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

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

Step One: Get a Library Card

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

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

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

Step Two: Download the Overdrive Library App

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

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

Step Three: Sign Into Your Overdrive App

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

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

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

Step Four: Select and Check Out Your Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t you judge me. 

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

Step Six: Complete the Book Download

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

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

Step Seven: Return Your Book When You Finish 

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

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

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

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

Select that to return the book to the library. 

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

Other FAQ About Borrowing Digitally

How do I renew my library books?

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

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

Looking for more free reading apps? 

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

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

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

What about free audiobooks from the library?

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

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

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

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

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

How cool is that? 

You can check this page each month for a free book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

What Kindle book should I checkout next?

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

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

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

Please note, this post contains affiliate links.

How To Host or Join a Reading Retreat

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you read it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

evvie drake starts over by linda holmes

keeping lucy by t. greenwood

the buddha at my table by tammy letherer

i’m fine and neither are you by camille pagan

i’ll never tell by catherine mckenzie

bare by susan hyatt

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

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

Is there anything better than being surrounded by YOUR people?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This post contains affiliate links


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June 2019 Must-Reads

Monday, July 1st, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Also Out!!

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

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

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

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 out of 5 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars





How to Not Die Alone by Richard Roper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 out of 5 Stars

The Editor by Steven Rowley

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

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

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

Guess what? He managed to do it again!

Set in the 1990’s, James Smale sells his first book to a major publishing house and is assigned his first editor. He could have never guessed that his editor would be Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, when he walked into that office, but who could ever prepare a writer for that?

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

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

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

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

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

I loved this one start to finish!

5 out of 5 Stars


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 out of 5 Stars

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

Lie With Me by Philippe Besson

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

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

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

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

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

3 out of 5 Stars

Atomic Habits by James Clear

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

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

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

5 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

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

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

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The 2019 MomAdvice Summer Reads Guide

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

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

Well, not today, Satan!

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

Within this 15 page guide you will find:

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

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

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

Happy reading, bookworms! xo

Sign up for the MomAdvice Newsletter and receive your FREE Summer Reading Guide!

May 2019 Must-Reads

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

Who is ready for all that summer reading? Today I’m sharing 8 books that I enjoyed this month and think you will too! This month’s stack includes a couple of incredible thrillers, a courtroom drama, a memoir, and some really fun women’s fiction novels that are begging to be added to your beach bag.

BTW- Did you see my FREE Summer Reading Guide I made for you? This guide should keep you very busy this summer with loads of beautiful reads.

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

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

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Also Out!!

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

A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

Recursion by Blake Crouch (read my review on this one HERE)

Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

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

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review- it allowed me to toggle between my hardback and Kindle this month. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

I do not typically turn to courtroom dramas for reading, but the premise for this one was so intriguing that I decided to make Miracle Creek my Book of the Month in April. Don’t worry, if you missed that one, you can probably still add this one to your box this month! Honestly, this book really blew me away with it’s smart twists that it surprised me that such seasoned writing could be found in a debut novelist.

If courtroom thrillers aren’t your cup of tea or if you haven’t picked up one since the Grisham days, I encourage you to give this one a spin!

The book opens with the court case so it is one of those right-out-of-the-gates kind of books that I tend to gravitate towards these days. The story centers around a family who have immigrated to the states and decided to open an experimental medical treatment facility that utilizes a pressurized oxygen chamber as a therapeutic device to treat complex medical cases like autism and infertility.

When the device, known as the Miracle Submarine, explodes, killing two people, everyone becomes a suspect and each have their own motives that could throw their innocence into question.

Told from alternating perspectives, Kim really builds layered characters that are real and relatable. I found the mother, who comes under scrutiny, to be among the most compelling because she is dealing with the heaviness of the day-to-day grind of appointments and struggles with her son and her need to escape from these burdens.

If you are a fan of Celeste Ng or loved Defending Jacob, I have a feeling you will love this book as much as I did. Kim really uses her own complex background in a way that makes you feel sympathy in the Yoo’s family struggles of trying to make their life in America and not always feeling welcomed or at home.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

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

Don’t you love a deliciously good thriller in the summer months? I have a feeling if you are a Liane Moriarty fan that you will adore The Mother-In-Law this year.

It’s no secret that the mother-in-law gets a bad rap sometimes in literature.  Hepworth though carves a marvelously complex character for her mother-in-law and builds all of these twists and tensions, among her family members, in a way that garners empathy for her role in the family.

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

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

The problem?

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

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

I couldn’t put this one down and would recommend it for a strong thriller that genuinely delivers on those complex thriller plot twists. Fans of The Other Woman, in particular, are sure to enjoy this one!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

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

I hope you are snagging those free Kindle First Reads that you are being offered up as a Prime member! The Overdue Life of Amy Byler happened to be one of those free selections and I can’t tell you what a welcome escape it was for this mom!

Amy Byler’s husband unexpectedly left her and for three years she has been raising her teen daughter and tween son all on her own.

When her husband comes back he offers to care for their kids for the summer, to make up for lost time. It’s why Amy decides to escape her suburban life to head to New York for a conference and to visit an old friend in New York City.

Her old friend is impossibly stylish and working for a magazine and thinks Amy’s getaway would make for an excellent piece. Nicknamed her Momspringa, to mimic the Amish teenage passage of Rumspringa, Amy receives a makeover and is encouraged to try dating again. Amy finds herself quite at home in the city and grapples with the blissful absence of responsibility and the welcome joy of having New York City all to herself.

Do I want to leave my family?

Absolutely not!

I will say though that Amy’s fictional escape was just what this Amy needed. Escaping the day-to-day grind sounds pretty flipping amazing when I’m in the thick of end-of-school-year commitments. It also, equally, made me sweet on my kids and hubby again to be reminded of just how beautiful it is to be home and loved unconditionally.

I laughed out loud, there are loads of bookish references and nerd humor, an incredibly beautiful friendship,  and a Nora Ephron-worthy love story all in one delicious little read. It is the perfect palate cleanser between some heavier reads. I have a feeling you will adore this as much as I did, especially if you loved Matchmaking for Beginners.

5 out of 5 Stars

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes (available for pre-order, available on June 25th)

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

NPR Pop Culture fans definitely won’t want to miss this heartfelt debut novel from Linda Holmes, hitting store shelves on June 25th! I’m a big fan of Linda Holmes and her thoughts on pop culture and couldn’t wait to get my hands on her first novel.

Evvie is recently widowed and has decided that taking in a tenant will be a great way to help her pay her bills. Dean, a former Yankees pitcher, happens to be on the hunt for a new place and is looking for a quiet place to escape from his own reality. Dean’s career is now struggling, as he has lost his ability to throw straight, and this apartment is a place for him to escape both the big city life and the media circus that follows.

What the two didn’t realize though is how these holes in their life can be filled with their friendship and how this friendship will lead them back to themselves and to each other.

Holmes has such a way with words and has created a perfectly charming story that will have you rooting for each of these sweet characters. If you appreciate a good comeback story or happen to be looking for a little rom-com for your beach bag, this book is it.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

If you are on the hunt for an audiobook for the summer, I highly recommend adding, The Night Olivia Fell, to your earbuds. This isn’t your typical shallow thriller, it has a deep and compelling storyline that really builds believable twists and is filled with rich character development.

Abi Knight receives a call in the middle of the night that her daughter, Olivia, has fallen off a bridge. Upon her arrival, she is informed that Olivia is brain dead and, as an enormous surprise to her mother, she is also pregnant. The doctor believes that they *may* be able to keep her baby alive if they keep Olivia on life support and want to do their best to give her child a fighting chance by keeping the baby in her womb as long as possible.

The police rule her death as an accident, but Abi is troubled by the bruising around Olivia’s wrists and begins to stumble upon a web of secrets that Olivia has been keeping from her. With the help of a detective, she has to confront her own troubled past, find out who the father of Olivia’s baby is, and figure out who would have a motive to kill her daughter.

McDonald writes Abi’s journey with such raw honesty that it brought tears to my eyes. The relationships between our children is so layered and 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.  I was completely swept away in this story and McDonald builds believable motives that leave a reader guessing right up until the very end.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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

There are good summer reads and then there are PERFECT summer reads and I have to say that, The Unhoneymooners, fell into the PERFECT camp.

Twin sisters Ami & Olive couldn’t be more different. Ami seems to always have the absolute best luck and Olive is her poor unlucky sister. When the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, at Ami’s wedding, Ami decides to forfeit her honeymoon to Olive and Ethan (the brother-of-the-groom) to both go in their place. After all, Ami won the honeymoon free of charge (of course she did!) and this vacation is nonrefundable.

Unfortunately, Olive & Ethan have never gotten along, but decide to form a temporary truce to take advantage of the free vacation. Being together in such close quarters definitely muddies the waters and they begin to uncover hidden layers to each other…and their siblings.

If you have been struggling to get back on the reading bandwagon or if you are just looking for something light and funny for your bag, I can’t recommend this one enough. This is my first Christina Lauren novel, but it won’t be my last. I was laughing out loud through the entire book at the antics of Olive & Ethan. It is, truly, what summer reading is all about!

5 out of 5 Stars

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

I decided to use my Book-of-the-Month credit on, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone,” and I’m so glad that I did. Although I am not a big nonfiction reader (and maybe you aren’t too?), I found this book to read as easy as fiction while being incredibly compelling and thought-provoking. It is the type of book that you read and then immediately hand off to someone who might need the sage advice and wisdom of a good therapist too.

What makes this story unique is that the therapist, Lori, is now in a difficult break-up with a boyfriend and finds herself needing a therapist of her own. With the blurred boundaries of working in the very profession you need, Lori finds herself seated in Wendell’s office. Wendell is a therapist she discovered through a colleague by pitching to her an imaginary client that she was searching for the right person for him to talk to. Everything in his office is different than Lori’s, including some of his tactics to understand her better, and Lori is both equally bewildered and admiring of Wendell’s abilities to get to her own hidden truths.

Weaved in, Lori shares about some of her most compelling clients and a bit of the psychology of our own actions and how we can learn to understand the motives of others.  Honestly, the insights are worthy of a good highlighter and a revisit through the tougher times in our lives. I found myself to be quite teary-eyed, particularly through a difficult case of a woman facing cancer. Lori shares her most difficult cases and how to love people even when they seem unworthy of it.

I doubt you could read this and not take away something that would make your life a little better. We also can look forward to this one coming to television, telling Lori’s stories through an ABC series.  I would definitely encourage you to read this one and to also pass it on to someone who could benefit from these lessons too.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

We read The Friend for this month’s book club chat. This one was selected because it won the 2018 National Book Award and I was really excited to read something that had garnered this award.

The story is about a woman who unexpectedly loses her friend and finds herself burdened with the unwanted elderly dog he has left behind. Although she initially doesn’t want to connect with this animal, they both find companionship with one another as each of them deal with the grief and loss. Unfortunately, she is threatened with her own potential eviction because dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

The story of this narrator and the dog was what I connected most with and I think that is where the story, truly, shined. There were gorgeous passages and the idea of these two finding one another through this grief was really beautiful.

Where it didn’t shine, for me, was the rambling rants that the story would trail into that felt as though you were reading someone’s stream of thought. It felt more like a memoir of Nunez and how frustrated she is with the craft of writing and literature. At just 212 pages, I had a hard time concentrating amidst her stream of consciousness and it pulled me away from the story I really wanted to hear.

Our book club seemed pretty divided on this one- they either REALLY loved it or they REALLY hated it.

This was definitely not my favorite in the stack, but I do think it can connect with people who crave a meatier piece of literature.

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

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

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

April 2019 Must-Reads

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

April 2019 Must-Reads from

It is getting to that fun time of year where I start trickling out some of my thoughts on the BIG summer reads this year! This summer you can expect an OVERWHELMING amount of incredible books to enjoy poolside or with your feet up in the backyard!

Today I’m here to share about SEVEN amazing reads that you can pick up now (or start pre-ordering for your summer beach reading)!

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

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

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Also Out!!

This month’s special: Check them ALL out HERE!

Book of the Month has a new coupon code to get a FREE book credit when you use code SPRINGFEVER at checkout!

OR For a limited time only, use the coupon code MOMKNOWSBEST to save $10 on a 6+ month gift subscription + a free book for you! Perfect time to buy Mom a gift for Mother’s Day!

What will you be picking?? I decided to go with Necessary People this month!

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


The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

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

Looking for a novel that you just won’t be able to put down this month? The Girl He Used to Know is a beautiful contemporary fiction escape that features a really incredible love story with characters that seem to lift off the pages.

Annika is an English major at the University of Illinois. She struggles to make sense of social situations and college, in particular, is a very scary time.

When she joins the chess club, she immediately beats Jonathan Hoffman, who can’t help to be captured by Annika. She is different than any girl he has ever been with, a worthy chess opponent, and she’s stunning (without even being aware of it!). They begin a beautiful relationship together, but an unforeseen tragedy forces them apart and ends their relationship.

One decade later, Annika and Jonathan are reunited and happen to be living in the same town. The two begin rekindling what was lost, but must also address why they lost each other in the first place.

Annika is a character that you can’t help but to fall in love with and you also can’t help rooting for these two to work their relationship out. Graves rounds out her story with beautiful supporting characters that help Annika navigate the world in really incredible ways. I can fully admit that I may have teared up in a few places in this sweet read.

Definitely add this one to your book bags this summer! I have a feeling you will love Annika & Jonathan as much as me!

I’m recommending this one for fans of The Light We Lost!

5 out of 5 Stars


Recursion by Blake Crouch (pre-order for June 11th!!)

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

Dark Matter is one of my favorite science fiction book recommendations to give and ended up making my top ten books list in 2016. To say that I had HIGH expectations for the next Blake Crouch novel would be putting it mildly.

I am so happy to say that this book DID NOT disappoint!

In this story, Barry Sutton is an NYC cop who has been investigating the phenomenon the media has called, “False Memory Syndrome.” It is a mysterious affliction that makes its victims mad with memories of a life that they never lived.

Helena Smith is also trying to understand memory and wants to find a way that it can be captured, through her work as a neuroscientist. Inspired by her mother’s struggles with dementia, she has decided to study memory and focus on a piece of technology that will allow people to preserve their most precious memories.

As Barry begins searching for the truth, he discovers what happens when we play God with memory and how Helena’s technology has helped to create this False Memory Syndrome. While sheltering ourselves from our most devastating memories, by rewriting our history, Barry & Helena begin to realize how altering memories can change our identity, our relationships, and how altering circumstances doesn’t always yield the results we are after.

When the technology gets into the wrong hands, they realize how it can destroy the world, as they know it, and they will stop at nothing to get it back, forced to repeat their lives over and over again, to try to change their circumstance.

Once again, Crouch blends science fiction with a thriller pace and a beautiful love story.  His storytelling is masterful and the suspense is so incredibly good in this one.

I immediately passed this book on to my husband who loved it just as much as me. I am so glad I got to screen this and feel confident recommending this one to our Dark Matter fans.

If you haven’t dipped your toes yet into the science fiction world, I have a feeling you will find this to be a compelling read that will pull you right out of your literary comfort zone.

What are you waiting for?

Be sure to pre-order this for June!

5 out of 5 Stars

Chronicles of a Radical Hag by Lorna Landvik

A couple of the ladies in our book club were RAVING about, Chronicles of a Radical Hag, and managed to convince me to order this for my trip.

I read a lot of Landvik’s earlier books so I knew she approaches stories with a lot of heart and humor, something she does well again in this latest novel.

Haze Evans is a local legend, writing as a columnist for over fifty years, for the Granite Creek Gazette. Her past columns were filled with liberal ideas and her column was nicknamed the “Chronicles of a Radical Hag,” by conservative readers.  She lived without censorship and would reply to her naysayers with tongue-in-cheek recipes to help them melt away their misdirected anger, unafraid to speak her mind about anything and everything.

Haze is unexpectedly hospitalized though and unable to write her column. This is when Susan, who works for the paper, has her son (Sam) help work at the paper for the summer and Sam begins discovering that this older lady’s stories are brave, hilarious, and her political struggles are not too different than today. He finds these columns so fascinating, in fact, that he begins sharing them in class and other kids begin to look forward to Haze’s storytelling AND the hilarious and heartfelt replies from people who read her column.

I am recommending this one for fans of Dear Mrs. Bird or anyone who needs a little bit of humor mixed in with the heaviness of the political world.

Landviks’ trademark humor really shines in this book and you can’t help reading these columns and responses with a smile, especially when a younger generation is discovering how history is repeating itself today.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland (pre-order for July 23rd!!)

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

I’m such a sucker for dysfunctional family stories and The Floating Feldmans is a fun one, if those are your cup of tea too!

The premise of this one is that Annette Feldman has decided that she is going to book a cruise for her entire family, in honor of her 70th birthday! It has been over a decade since they have all been together and getting them all on a boat has them trapped into oodles of family time together.

Each of these siblings has come on their boat with an extra set of baggage though (sorry, I can’t resist a good pun!) and this luggage harbors a lot of old secrets and the terrible kinds of hurts that only a family member can seem to hold against you.

Some have grown up for the better, some have secrets that threaten their future, and the grandkids just might have a couple secrets of their own.

Told from alternating perspectives, this is over-the-top fun and had me laughing out loud at various points.

If you just want a fun escape, add this one to your beach bag. I’m recommending this one for fans of, This is Where I Leave You.

4 out of 5 Stars

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center (pre-order for August 13th!!)

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

I never thought I would be such a sucker for a good love story, but I was completely head-over-heels for, How to Walk Away, and Center’s beautiful writing. The author is now back with another beautiful love story, perfectly named, Things You Save in a Fire

Center’s uses her husband’s firefighter background to craft the story of Cassie Hanwell. In this fictional story, she is the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse and is respected by her colleagues and boss. After a public incident though, that taints Hanwell’s image, she finds the timing of her estranged and ailing mother’s request to move to Boston lines up with when she needs to step down.

She joins the Boston firehouse and finds the environment to be a bit of a “boy’s club.” Her ability to separate her work from her personal life has never been an issue, but Cassie has never seen a guy like the rookie that she must train with on her new job. Cassie has built up walls for a reason and the rookie seems to be disregarding them, no matter how hard she tries.

This is a later coming-of-age story where Cassie must resolve her old hurts with her mother, confront the issue of aging parents, and admit why she has been unable to be close to anyone because of a traumatic incident in her past.

That’s not all though…she also must fight off someone who is stalking her and doesn’t want to see her succeed at the fire station.

These characters are deeply flawed, just like we are, and Center’s does an incredible job making them feel real and relatable.

The love story, I have to say, is FIRE and you can’t help but root for these two brokenly beautiful people to love each other.

Definitely, pre-order this one for your summer stack!

I’m recommending this beautiful read for anyone who is a Taylor Jenkins Reid fan! I know you will love it too!

5 out of 5 Stars

Little by Edward Carey

Have you joined our free book club yet? Even if you aren’t looking for a discussion, it is such a great place to connect with your fellow bookworms. This month we dove into Little , a historical fiction novel about Marie Tussaud. Marie was an orphan in the 1700’s who ended up being taken in by an eccentric wax sculpture and develops a growing curiosity and fondness for the art.

To pay for her food and shelter she begins as an apprentice and later tutors a princess on the art of creating wax sculptures.

Does Tussaud and wax figurines bring to mind any famous tourist attraction?

Carey writes AND illustrates this unusual novel that reminded many of our book club participants of a good old-fashioned Dickens novel.

Learning about the craftsmanship that went into these wax figures, particularly back in those days, was equally fascinating and horrifying.

As someone who appreciates the wildly weird, I was really taken into this element of the story.

Admittedly, this was a slow starter and took awhile for me to get into and I can’t say this book would be for everyone. For me, the beauty in historical fiction is always the rabbit trails it leads me on and this one was a fun find for exploring the art of wax sculpture, a subject that I would have never really thought to explore.

Our chat ended up being an excellent one so I would definitely recommend this for any of your own upcoming book club chats.

4 out of 5 Stars

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

Not many of you could probably guess that I’m an old-fashioned theater nerd….well, maybe you could?

This is one reason why I was so excited to dive into the contemporary novel, Trust Exercise, this month. This was a big buzz book for Spring and has gotten a lot of positive press, in particular, about it’s exploration of the #metoo movement, told through these reflective stories.

I am having a hard time reviewing this one because the concept was brilliant, but I felt like the entire plot could have been tightened up entirely. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. The writing, while excellent, didn’t always have a story that I felt entirely connected to.

This novel is set in the 1980’s at a highly competitive arts high school. Along with the talent and greed to get ahead, hormones are raging and relationships between students began to splinter and friendships are tested.

In a spiral of events, Choi begins to flip the plot on its head that makes everything flip upside down for the reader. What you think may be happening, isn’t happening, and a new perspective on the story changes the plot entirely.

It is these new glimmers of truth that allow the reader to see that everything is not as it seems and the power that comes to play in the arts world.

I can see this leading to heated discussions in book clubs about our own past experiences with adults and teachers, in particular, in the arts community. The changing narrative, in itself, becomes a trust exercise into itself.

Not only are the kids doing these trust exercise in their classroom, but Choi is giving us an exercise in who to believe.

Had the plot been tighter, I could see this being a 5-star read, simply for the value of the discussion and the smart twists Choi uses. I struggled to connect though as the chapters felt a bit clunky at times and I found myself having difficulty to keep attention through it.

For reference though, I listened to this one on audiobook! It might lend itself better in print format and I still found the topic and plot twists to be solid. I can’t wait to see what Choi writes next.

3.5 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

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

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

Let’s Talk About Books and TV!

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

I had the honor of being a guest on The Couch Podcast with Mary Carver this week! Mary asked if I would join her to talk about TV and books and it was such a blast. My homework to prepare was to take a list of great television shows people are loving and share them a couple of books I think they would like, based on their taste in television.

When I got done piecing together my notes, I sent them off to Mary so she could create a giant reading guide for you that you can take to your local library for some books you just won’t want to put down!

We chatted about Arrested Development (bring on the quirky characters), Outlander (you know I love a good time travel story!), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (I love female characters that buck the system), Friends (specifically, Ross & Rachel), The Handmaid’s Tale (fight the power!), & Stranger Things (the weirder the better).

We ran out of time to talk about The Crown, but I managed to squeeze in my recommendations in today’s reading guide. Phew!

Head HERE to grab your free reading guide and to listen to this fun podcast! 

Thank you, Mary, for giving me a space to share about my favorite books!


Looking for more great books? Here are some posts you might want to visit!

53 historical fiction novels to escape with

19 thrillers to keep you up all night

the best books of 2018

join our FREE MomAdvice Book Club

grab you free reading challenge worksheet

I hope these posts inspire you to curl up with a great book this week! Happy reading!


March 2019 Must-Reads

Monday, April 1st, 2019

How are you? I am so excited to hear about what YOU read this past month since I didn’t get to as many book as I had hoped. March was a slow month of reading, for me, but yielded a couple of books that I can definitely see on my top ten list for 2019. Between preparations for an upcoming trip and taking some coursework for my job, I didn’t have as much free time to read as I hoped.

Next month should be a lot more fruitful now that life will be slowing down a bit after the spring break holiday. I have big plans to share about some of the most anticipated summer novels so you can start thinking about all those wonderful lazy days of summer filled with gorgeous new reads. I don’t know about you, but this Midwest girl can’t wait for that summer weather and iced tea sipping in the sunshine.

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!  You can also friend me on GoodReads for more great book reviews! I love connecting with you there.

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

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections: 

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson

All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger

This month’s special: Using code APRILSHOWERS, new members can get a free book when they join today.

Here are 5 must-read books I tackled in March:

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

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

It has been a long time since I have read a historical fiction book that I was this swept away in, but The Things We Cannot Say, was incredible from start to finish. If you like your historical fiction to jump from past to present, told through alternating viewpoints, I have a feeling you will appreciate the format of this beautiful story.

Since Alina Dziak was nine, she knew that she would marry her best friend, Tomaz. At fifteen she is engaged and unconcerned about the reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing that they are her neighbors and not a threat.  She instead fills her head with dreams of the day that Tomasz will return from college so they can be married. Alina could never know though how the Nazi occupation would take over her rural village and how it had the power to destroy her relationship with her one true love.

Presently, Alice is struggling with the challenges of her special needs child, a husband who doesn’t get the work that goes into keeping their family floating, and her grandmother who is hospitalized. When her grandmother begs her to return to her childhood hometown, Alice begins to realize there is more to her grandmother’s story than meets the eye. Leaving is never easy, especially with her juggle, but she makes the promise and heads to find out more about her grandmother and the secrets she has been keeping.

This is a beautiful love story weaved in with the all-too-relatable struggle of being a modern day woman. Rimmel finds ways to weave this story very creatively that allows the slow unveiling of secrets to the reader.  This time in history is a heavy one and the shifting viewpoints really benefit in helping create a story that you can connect with in a myriad of ways. You can help but root for Alina and Tomaz through this haunting read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

5 out of 5 Stars

I’m Fine And Neither Are You by Camille Pagán

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

This is just a friendly reminder to always check for those free Prime books. Lucky readers were able to score I’m Fine and Neither Are You for free this past month. Since I really loved the author’s last book so much, I was excited to dig into this next read.

Penelope Ruiz-Kar is a relatable character as she is constantly treading water at her job and with all of her duties in the family.  Meanwhile, her best friend, Jenny Sweet, seems to have everything together. She writes a popular lifestyle blog, keeps a tidy home, has a child with impeccable manners, and a perfect marriage.

It is why Penelope is genuinely floored when a shocking tragedy reveals that Jenny’s life is far from what Penelope believed. In light of this turn of events, Penelope and her husband (Sanjay) agree to each write a list of changes they want to each other to make and then commit them with honestly. The plan quickly begins to backfire though as secrets and resentment are revealed and the couple must deal with them.  This experiment changes the landscape of their relationship entirely, making Penelope question if honesty really IS the best policy.

I won’t reveal the tragedy that happens, but the narcissist in me wishes that the story was focused more on Jenny and her struggles because I think it could have been a deeper discussion to be shared in a book club than what it was. The tragedy, to me, was the most compelling part of the story, despite it being a bit controversial. The truth is, Jenny’s life is where many of our Pinterest-filled heads are and it is important people see that online life a little differently.

The marriage challenges though and Penelope’s “just keeping swimming,” life are equally relatable for many. I found a lot of vulnerability in these characters and this experiment to be one that all marriages could benefit from, in some way. I have a feeling you will love this read as much as I did!

4 out of 5 Stars

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

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

Once in a blue moon I run across a book that I think I could put in just about anyone’s hands and they would love it. The book this year is, FOR SURE, Finding Dorothy. I did musical theatre for years and one of my favorites is The Wizard of Oz. That said, I didn’t know a lot about the history of the book it was based upon or the behind-the-scenes events that had happened during the filming of the movie. I think that is why this book was such a treat because of the meticulous research by Letts to create this story.

The book shares the true story of Maud & Frank Baum. Frank 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.

Later in life, Maud learns that M-G-M is adapting her late husband’s masterpiece for the screen. Somehow this seventy-seven-year-old firecracker finds a way to make it into the studio for the filming, something she really feels tasked to do. It is of the utmost importance that Frank’s story is held in the same spirit that it was written. As Maud hears Judy Garland rehearsing, she recognizes the yearning that was her own yearnings as a girl. This yearning is why Maud decides she must protect Dorothy at all costs, just like she did so many years ago.

I can assure you that this book will be in my top ten of 2019. It is magical and is recommended, in particular, for fans of The Greatest Showman. I couldn’t put it down and now see the story of Oz in such a different way than I did before.

5 out of 5 Stars

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up was a fantastic audiobook treat this month and powerfully narrated by Bahni Turpin. I had high expectations after devouring The Hate U Give, and Thomas delivers once again with this beautiful coming-of-age story.

Bri’s family is always desperately struggling to make ends meet, but they seem to face one hurdle after another, especially after the loss of her mother’s job. Bri decides to pour her frustrations into songwriting and writes a powerful anthem about her struggle called On the Come Up. The lyrics are a lot harder than the way she actually lives her life and when her song goes viral, she is encouraged to be the things she is not to keep riding the success.

With an eviction notice on their door, Bri has no choice but to lean into the image people have of her.  She also feels an additional pressure to be legendary because of her father and his rap career legacy. This mounting pressure is a major theme in Bri’s life and in this story’s pages.

While I don’t think the lessons were as hard hitting as the ones in her first book, Thomas still gives us a true coming-of-age story that will really make you root for Bri.

I just have to say, once again, Turpin as a narrator is just GENIUS because the girl can RAP. The rap battles that Thomas writes are unreal good and Turpin handles them like a pro. They were so good, in fact, that I had my husband grab an earbud to listen to a few of these with me.

Fans of old school rap will really dig this ode to hip hop that Thomas has crafted.  The author proves that she is no one-hit-wonder and I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next!

4 out of 5 Stars

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

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

One thing I’m REALLY proud of us this year is really pushing people (myself included!) outside of our comfort genres through our book club. I am not a mystery reader, but when I heard about the plot of The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, I thought this might be just the plot ticket to get me reading one.

First of all, put your wine glasses down for this one because you will need ALL those brain cells to help solve this murder mystery!

There are three rules of Blackheath House:

  1. Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
  2. There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
  3. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.

Agatha Christie fun meets Groundhog Day in this wildly inventive debut that will keep the reader guessing from start to finish. The reader knows that Evelyn Hardcastle will die. In fact, she will die every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. Aiden finds himself waking up in a different body and repeating the day over and over again, armed with new information when he wakes.  Some of his hosts help him while others make his job very hard. Leaving clues for himself to find, he must win the game in order to leave the property…but that’s just what everyone else wants to do to. It will be a fight to the surprising finish.

Turton crafts some unlikable characters and creates beautiful tension when Aiden has to fight the impulses of the body he inhabits. His confusion though is the reader’s confusion too so that is why the story keeps the reader on their toes throughout.

Read on Kindle, I missed one of the most important elements to the story…the map and cast of characters to flip to. Although they are there, they are not easy to read on the Paperwhite so be sure to print out the pages from the sneak peek so you can keep everyone straight.

This felt a bit like Clue in book form and I would highly recommend it, in particular, for Agatha Christie fans. We had one reader who has read her entire body of work and said this is the first book she’s read that actually delivered on the Christie hype.

This book was a confusing challenge and I loved it.

4 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

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

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

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February 2019 Must-Reads

Friday, March 1st, 2019

Isn’t it crazy how January was the neverending story and we, basically, blinked through February? We had a lot going on this month including a couple of crazy winter storms, a couple of power outages, launching a new product (see below), and a bug that has had me crawling to my bed all week. It definitely made my stack this month a little smaller than usual, but I promise to make up for it next month.

Did I mention we are heading to Iceland to celebrate my husband’s 40th???

Someone please pinch me because I still don’t believe it myself.

If you have any tips for our travels next month, we are ALL EARS. I am hoping to get in a lot of vacation reading on our flights and between our excursions.

Vacation reading, to me, is always the best kind of reading.

As for that product I launched, here is the scoop on that!

This has been a big year of trying new things in my business and I’m so excited to share that we have created a tee especially for our MomAdvice readers that features all 12 of the beautiful covers of our MomAdvice Book Club this year.

My hope is to offer a shirt for you each year that you can collect as you read these books.

This shirt comes in a women’s cut, unisex, a sweatshirt, and a hoodie. I picked a rainbow of hues that you can choose from as your base.

10% of the proceeds will go to the Little Free Library to help get books in the hands of ALL the people. This shirt is available through March 20th! Your purchase is greatly appreciated and helps us keep our book club free and paying it forward to the reading community! Shop it HERE!

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 and proudly wear this shirt like a trophy. You can also friend me on GoodReads for more great book reviews!

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

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections: 

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (read my review HERE!!)

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (read my review to this one BELOW!!)

Lot by Bryan Washington

The Municipalists by Seth Fried

This month’s special: Using code SPRINGFLING, new members can get a free book when they join today.

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

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (snag it for free from Book of the Month using coupon code SPRINGFLING)

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

Queenie is one of the year’s most anticipated novels and I have to say that I enjoyed this story immensely. Described as Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah, I felt it really delivered in sharing about what it would be like to be a Jamaican British woman who is navigating the world of dating today.

Queenie is a 25-year-old woman living in London and straddling two cultures while fitting into neither. After breaking up with her white boyfriend, she begins to seek comfort in all the wrong places and puts herself into terrible situations that don’t, ultimately, validate her self-worth.

Queenie is surrounded by women who do their best to help Queenie overcome her breakup, but she can’t seem to stop chasing after the wrong things. The reader is lead down each cringe-worthy scenario from unexpectedly awful sexual encounters,  to discovering that a man who seemed like he was Mr. Right was actually married,  to even the embarrassment of having to live with your grandparents because you can’t pay your rent .

Queenie begins the long journey towards healing when she begins to see a counselor and must learn to love herself, even in her brokenness.

I loved this story for a couple of reasons.

One, I think that Carty-Williams really showcases the difficulties of dating today and how many people treat dating sites like meaningless hookups instead of striving to find one’s match. As someone out of the game, I really felt for Queenie and these terrible scenarios she found herself in.

Secondly, I love seeing characters evolve and I think Queenie really grew through this experience and it helped propel our story as she finds love within and through surrounding herself with the right people.

Carty-Williams writes with heartfelt honesty, humor, and with vulnerability. I hope we can follow more of Queenie’s adventures in the future.  I highly recommend this one for fans of Insecure. It helped me get my fix until the next season comes!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann

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

I have to say that, The Forgotten Hourswas this month’s surprise debut that I just could not put down. We all know that I’m a sucker for a good coming-of-age story and this was a compelling mystery that was perfectly timed for the #metoo movement.

At twenty-four, Katie feels like her life is really looking up. She has a great job, a supportive partner, and she is finally in a place where she can put her traumatic past to rest.

You see, a decade earlier, her idyllic summer days with friends came to a shocking conclusion when her best friend accused her father of sexual assault. Katie stood by her father throughout the entire ordeal and his imprisonment. With his release in sight, reporters have been opening up this case, once again, for reinvestigation and Katie is forced to relive this difficult portion of her past.

Told beautifully through reflection of on her friendship during that summer as well as the current state of affairs, Katie must grapple with her own conviction that her father was not guilty of the crime, as she sees her dad now through adult eyes. She also must acknowledge the glaring truth as she reexamines this adolescent summer.

This would be an EXCELLENT book for a book club discussion because it is so beautifully told and because Schumann really builds mystery around this case. I think the biggest takeaway, for me, was how we all begin to see parents are human and flawed, as we get older, and how this new viewpoint can make us question the things in our past.

This story is timely and a promising debut of good things to come from Schumann.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

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

If you love lyrical writing, The Girls at 17 Swann Street is one you will not want to miss.

This debut novel shares the haunting story of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia and her struggle to reclaim her life.

Anne Roux was a professional dancer that followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. Upon relocating she faces her own glaring imperfections, failures, and loneliness, and she must find a way to cope. Her disordered eating habits and depression bring her down to a mere eighty-eight pounds and she is forced to seek treatment.

She is admitted to 17 Swann Street, a location where women with life-threatening eating disorders live. This unlikely community of women all must tackle their own individual demons and offer a surprising amount of support to one another as they recognize those demons in each other. Zgheib writes with raw honesty about what it is like to be consumed by this disease. Never glamorized, this really gives an eye-opening account of what it is like when each day is a struggle and when each bite feels like an affliction and loss of control.

People who have never struggled with disordered eating may be able to better understand how hard it is to overcome an eating disorder. If you have ever struggled, you will find pieces of yourself in this story.  One can’t help but root for Anne as she struggles to find her way to back to herself and to the man she loves. The poetic writing adds a gorgeously lyrical layer to this surprisingly hopeful story.

4 out of 5 Stars

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

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

Looking for a quick escape from reality? Big Little Lies fans will absolutely love Not That I Could TellPour yourself a glass of wine and get to know this cozy neighborhood and all their dirty little secrets.

The story opens with a neighborhood gathering, centered around the neighbor’s new fire pit, a heavy pour of wine, and the opportunity to catch up on what’s been happening around the ‘hood. On a rare kid-free evening, the wine flows and the women begin to loosen their guards and share more intimately about their lives.

By Monday morning though, one of the women has disappeared.

Despite feeling like they all know each other well, none of them can make sense of this disappearance. Kristin has always seemed happy, sociable, career-driven, and has weathered her impending divorce well. When the police come to investigate though, they find her soon-to-be ex-husband at the center of this case and have questions about what was really happening in their home.

Frankly, no one REALLY knows what goes on behind closed doors and, as a reader, you don’t know if Paul warrants sympathy or more scrutiny.

I don’t want to say anymore about the plot on this because half of the fun is finding out just what happened to this neighborhood mom. Strawser fleshes out each character vividly and all of their own emotions and guilt surrounding this woman’s disappearance.

I really enjoyed this one as a great escape, but also appreciated the reminder that many of our relationships are surface ones and just how important it is to build real relationships with the people we call our friends.

I couldn’t put this one down and I doubt you could too.

4 out of 5 Stars

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This month’s book club selection was, My Sister the Serial Killer, and our bookworms really seemed to enjoy this pick. I selected it because it was a book that could be read in a day (a modest page count of just 240 pages) and because the plot was so intriguing. Lucky for us, this one will be coming to the big screen and I will be excited to see how they interpret this interesting story into film.

Korede and Ayoola are two sisters that could not be more different from each other. Korede is the eldest and is a hard worker and disciplined. Ayoola, on the other hand, is gorgeous and a serial killer.

As I said, these two couldn’t be more different except that Korede is getting tired of cleaning up after her sister’s messes. Each time she kills someone, Korede must help Ayoola dispose of the body and help with clean-up on the case.

The plot thickens though when Ayoola sets her eyes on the wrong guy. At the hospital, where Korede works, she has been harboring a secret crush on a doctor that she works with. When Ayoola comes to visit Korede at work though, the doctor can’t help but be completely captivated by Ayoola’s beauty and falls head over heels for her.

The problem?

Well, Korede’s broken heart, for one.

More importantly though, his life is now at risk because Ayoola is a sociopath and he just might be her next victim.

It’s hard to pinpoint what genre this unique book falls under, but I read it as dark satire. If you were worried about the title or weren’t on board for the gruesome world of serial killing, I think you will find that this doesn’t lean too darkly into that element and more into the complex relationships of sisters.

Overall, people seemed to enjoy this one a lot, especially for such a sparse book. She tells the story effectively without putting the reader through numerous killings or making them wade through filler to get to the meat of the story. Braithwaite also builds enough of a backstory for Ayoola that you understand where she’s coming from, even if you don’t always know where she’s going.

4 out of 5 Stars

Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

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

I received an advanced copy of Woman 99 and couldn’t wait to dive in. I’m a big fan of Greer Macallister (you can read an interview we did with her over here) and found the premise for her new novel to be so intriguing.

Charlotte’s wealthy parents commit her beloved sister Phoebe to the infamous Goldengrove Asylum, and Charlotte just knows that there is more to the story than what her parents have revealed to her. In an effort to save her sister, she fakes an attempted suicide and surrenders her real identity, as a privileged young woman, to become a nameless inmate. Within the asylum Charlotte is now known only as Woman 99.

The majority of our story is Charlotte trying to befriend people who can get her a step closer to her sister and to try to figure out a way that she can actually get to her within this asylum. She discovers that many of these women aren’t insane, but merely inconvenient- and they are able to become some of her most powerful allies as she discovers just why Phoebe has been locked away.

Macallister weaves a rich historical tapestry, but this is a slow burn at 368 pages. The first half felt very slow, but if you can hang with it, Macallister weaves a great mystery and has definitely done her research on what women would have been committed for, in this time period.

Overall, she weaves a believable and satisfying ending that I think any reader would appreciate. Once you read through the Q&A with Greer, you really discover what an undertaking the research was to really bring this fictional asylum to life. While pacing was an issue for me, I appreciate the work that went into creating this beautiful sister story.

4 out of 5 Stars


Read With Me This Year

January 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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