Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

The Best Books of 2017

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

top-ten-books-of-2017-from-momadvice

I am so excited to share my selections for best books of 2017. It is always incredibly difficult to narrow down my favorites and this year, in particular, is a tough one because of all the incredible books that came out this year. After reading 100 books this year (!!!), I am looking forward to sharing the books that I can’t stop talking about.

A Few Quick Reflections on My Year in Reading

GoodReads Goals

Joining GoodReads has been an incredible motivator to keep on track with my reading goals.  As you can see, I am reading more and more each year and trying to keep reading a priority and goal. I doubled the amount of books I read from 2014 to 2017.  How do I read so much? You might find this article helpful!

GoodReads Goals

It is also no surprise that this was my highest amount of pages read. GoodReads offers a great end-of-year report to reflect back on your reading which gives you an opportunity to reflect on your favorite books of the year.

Traditionally, I move my goals up for the next year, but I have decided to stick to 100 again for 2018. I felt a little rushed at the end and it impacted my book choices and enjoyment of the books because I wanted to just hurry up and read so I could make it across the finish line.  If I’m on a faster pace than I expect, that will just be a bonus next year!

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! I announced our selections (starting with this one) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page. These will be added in a blog entry for January, but book club participants get the list a little earlier. It’s just one more perk to enjoy with this free club!

PS- I know I have had MULTIPLE requests that we offer another reading challenge sheet for the year. I am working on that for you so please stay tuned! I’m so happy to hear you found the 2017 reading challenge printable to be so much fun to work through! The feedback has been that it was challenging, but maybe a little TOO challenging so it will be a shorter one for next year with categories provided by our book club members- woohoo! 

Let’s get to it-

The Best Books of 2017:

The Heart's Invisible Furies

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

This book was just EVERYTHING and reminded me a lot of one of my all-time favorites , A Little Life. At almost 600 pages, I was worried if this book would hold my attention, but Boyne crafts the perfect boyhood friendship as it sprawls decades of time in this gorgeous and gripping saga.

You may be familiar with Boyne’s work, but I was not.  I picked this book up on a whim and devoured it in just a few days.

A faithful Catholic Irish family casts out their daughter when they discover she is pregnant.  Knowing she is not in a position to raise a child alone, she gives him up for adoption to his new parents…

That love to remind him that he is not their real son.

He is their adopted son.

This dark humor is layered so beautifully as the boy, Cyril, becomes dear friends with a boy named Julian. The problem is, as Cyril gets older, he realizes he has a deep and undying love for his best friend. Cyril must keep his sexuality under wraps and keep his affection for him a secret which ends up costing him a lot.

The book follows these two through the decades, beginning in 1945 and ending in Cyril’s elderly age. It finishes in the present day while tackling everything from being closeted to the AIDS epidemic to what it really means to be family.

I laughed and got a little teary-eyed following Cyril as he goes through this identity crisis and finds love. I was really swept away in this story and Boyne builds a beautiful supportive cast.

Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about Goodbye,Vitamin, but I noticed it had made its way on so many best-of lists this year that I just had to read it.

I am not a big fan of correspondence or diary entry books, but it works SO well in this smart, funny, and heartwarming story of a 30-year-old daughter who returns to live at home and care for her father with Alzheimer’s, following a break-up with her fiancée.

Told in sparse quips, Khong breathes fresh air into new ways to think about life and love lost. Sentences like, “You know what else is unfair, about Joel? That I loosened the jar lid, so somebody else could open him up,” or, “It was grotesque, the way I kept trying to save that relationship. Like trying to tuck an elephant into pants,” beg you to read them twice.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself laughing out loud and getting teary-eyed simultaneously through this one.  It’s an achingly beautiful read about growing up, seeing your parent’s struggles with health challenges, and the ability to find humor in even the worst situations. I loved it!

Castle of Water

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

I’m a sucker for a good love story and I can’t rave enough about the beauty of, Castle of Water. I knew that this would be on the top ten list of 2017 and I have a feeling, if you read it, it will be on yours too.

A small plane crashes in the middle of the South Pacific leaving two of the passengers stranded as they both washed ashore on a small island.  If you think this sounds a bit predictable, I did too, but Huckelbridge writes a story that is anything BUT predictable as the two castaways work together to try to remain alive in the face of numerous hurdles.

The writing is surprisingly witty and laugh-out-loud funny, while still giving you that ache in your heart at all they have lost. Being stranded on an island requires a writer to really drive this story with strong characters. This character development is the heart of the story as these two seem to lift off the pages.

While the ending didn’t bring all that I had hoped, it felt truthful to the storytelling and didn’t overshadow this beautiful story! Run, run, run and get this one!

Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours absolutely blew me away and is a book that brings ALL THE FEELINGS, if you are looking for a historical fiction escape that will absolutely crush you.

Wingate shares the story of two little girls who become a part of one of America’s most notorious real life scandals of children being kidnapped and sold to wealthy families by Georgia Tann, a director of a Memphis-based adoption organization in the late 1930’s.

I was unfamiliar with the scandal or the heartbreaking stories of children being separated from their families and the tragic things they had to endure while under Tann’s horrific care.

This fictional story is built around the stories of real-life orphans and will just rip your heart to shreds.  Moving backward and forward through time, the reader gets to solve the mystery of two unlikely women with a bond that could never be broken and the granddaughter that must unravel it all, even at the expense of her family’s high society position.

I predicted that this would be in my top ten reads this year. Beautifully written and researched, it pulled all the right heartstrings.

Note- triggers include physical and sexual abuse.

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You was Celeste Ng’s gorgeous debut (you can read my interview with her over here) and I couldn’t wait to see what she had next in store for us.  I was thrilled when the publishing house reached out to see if I would like to take a peek at her next book and this one did not disappoint.

This novel is a perfect read for Jodi Picoult fans as it explores the intertwining stories of a picture-perfect family and a single mother & child who end up disrupting what has always seemed ideal.

The book is set in a suburban bubble where a wealthy family, The Richardsons, reside. Always with good intentions, they love to help others and one of the ways they help them is by offering a rental home to deserving recipients at an affordable cost so that they can get back on their feet again.

Mia Warren is the lucky recipient of this rental, where she can make rent doing odd jobs so she can pursue her true passion for photography and art. When the Richardson family also happens to have an opening for a housekeeper, they bring Mia further into their lives as Pearl & Mia become fixtures in their home. Everything seems ideal about this family and Pearl, her daughter, immediately is drawn to them and their idyllic life.

Yet, when close friends of the wealthy family decides to adopt a Chinese American baby, sides are quickly drawn leaving Mia & Pearl on the opposing side. It is when the battle becomes fierce that secrets began to unravel and true feelings begin to erupt. And there are secrets….a LOT of secrets.

This is a heartstring puller that I devoured in a little over a day. It would lend itself really well to a lively book club discussion if you are looking for something fresh to add to your group that is guaranteed to get your book club members chatting!

The Book of Polly

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall

I love quirky stories that are big on humor and The Book of Polly was everything a good read should be. Beautifully developed characters, loads of hilarity, and Hepinstall’s choice of words and phrasing make these characters, truly, come to life.

Polly has an unexpected surprise in her late fifties and gives birth to her daughter, Willow. Polly is not like any mother that Willow knows at school and the reader experiences her pride and shame at just how little she does fit in. One of Willow’s biggest worries is Polly dying and when she ends up being diagnosed with cancer, it is like her worst fears coming true.

Polly’s not going to exit this world quietly though and Willow decides she wants to know more about Polly’s life from her younger years which lead them on an epic road trip.

I laughed out loud through this book and kept reading passages to my husband who laughed alongside me.  Fans of Be Frank With Me and Whistling Past the Graveyard are FOR SURE going to love this hilarious read! I just knew that this would be on the top ten list this year!

Saints for All Occasions

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

I have read a couple of Sullivan’s books and enjoyed them, but this book is unlike anything she has written before and is an exquisite escape that I think most readers will love. This story reads like Brooklyn had a baby with The Two-Family House so if you enjoyed those, don’t miss this one!

This story explores the lives of two sisters who come to America in the late fifties. One sister is wildly enjoying her newfound freedom while the other is promised to marry a boy she doesn’t love, but finds the responsible sister role to be an easier one. When Theresa, the “fun” sister, ends up pregnant, her sister comes up with a plan to save her reputation while making sure her son is loved and safe.

The book explores the past and present as each sister makes life-altering decisions that lead them down very different paths.  When Nora’s son dies, it brings the two sisters back together again while unleashing a load of family secrets in the process.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I have read every single book that Taylor Jenkins Reid has written and I have loved each of them in their own way. This book is markedly different than anything she has ever written and is an absolutely spellbinding book filled with old Hollywood glamour, celebrity secrets, and the power of real and true love.

Evelyn Hugo is an aging starlet who has decided to hire a magazine reporter to write her biography. As someone who has been very private, it is the chance of a lifetime for a virtually unknown writer to be given the story that is worth millions of dollars.

Evelyn’s love life has been something that Hollywood has often been speculated on, but no one could ever guess who captured Evelyn’s heart and how she was able, at times, to make her relationship work with the love of her life. Unfortunately, living in the spotlight often gets in the way of real living. This couldn’t be truer in Evelyn’s life and she is ready to divulge all of her secrets to Monique, in exchange for her writing her biography and publishing it upon her death.

I cannot rave enough about Reid’s ability to write real and relatable love stories. Each of her love stories has connected with me in some way and this book is no exception. I was swept away in Evelyn’s retelling of her life and Reid weaves smart plot twists in the end that I have a feeling you will really enjoy. In fact, I’m still thinking about them.

You must add this book to your book stacks stat!

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George

If you haven’t read Alex George’s first book, please do add it to your reading list- it’s beautiful! In his second novel, George weaves a gorgeous coming-of-age story, set in the late 70’s, that chronicles the life and friendship of two boys that find each other in their eighth grade year. This friendship blossoms as a tragic event unfolds in each family’s life and brings them closer together.

It’s hard to say more about this so you can be surprised by these tragic twists, but the setting and characters are so beautifully written that your heart will quickly be wrapped up in this sweet story.

This book reminded me a lot of Ordinary Grace, in what appears to be a simple story, but is told with such beauty, heart, and soul that you can’t help but fall in love with this book . Be sure to have a box of tissues as you read this one as this book dives deep into heartbreak and loss.

born-a-crime

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Although I have been a big fan of his work on The Daily Show, I have an entirely new respect for Trevor Noah and the survival skills he used during his youth in apartheid South Africa, thanks to his incredible memoir, Born a Crime.”

Noah is truly, “born a crime,” because his birth is seen as a criminal act since he was born to a white father and black mother. To keep him from not being rounded up for an orphanage, he often was sidelined indoors instead of playing outside with his peers. His mother also employed survival techniques, like pretending to be his maid instead of his mother, to just be able to play at the park with her son.

The reader is taken through the story of his childhood that, even in its darker moments,  Noah manages to add heart and humor to each and every story. This brave little mischievous boy’s story will pull at every heartstring and illustrates why he is now so passionate about politics and the world.

DO get this one on audiobook to appreciate every nuance and accent that Noah can bring to the table. It’s like listening to the most polished standup comedy routine to hear him read this out loud.

As soon as I finished it, I just wanted to listen to it all over again.

2017 Honorable Mentions (you know I can’t just narrow my list down to ten, right?)

Words in Deep Blue

The Animators

This is How it Always Is

I Liked My Life

The Sound of Gravel

The Hate U Give

Ginny Moon

All Our Wrong Todays

When Dimple Met Rishi

The Child Finder

Amy Allen Clark

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

My Top Ten Books of 2016

My Top Ten Books of 2015

My Top Ten Books of 2014

My Top Ten Books of 2013

The Best Books Read in 2012

My Top Ten Books in 2011

The Top Ten of 2010

Top Ten Books of 2017 from MomAdvice.com

For more great suggestions, check out the NPR Book Concierge– swoon! It is heavenly stuff!

Tell me, what your favorite books were in 2017 or share your links to your own round-ups!

Anything I should be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads or on IG or hang out with me in the book club!

This post contains affiliate links. I promise to only recommend what I truly love!

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December 2017 Must-Reads

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

December 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and are getting some time to relax the rest of this week! I had to read eight books this month to stay on my pace for my 100 book goal for 2017 and, YOU GUYS, I DID IT!! I’m feeling really proud of myself this year! Don’t mind me while I toot my own horn!!

Stay tuned for my top ten of the year, happening later this week! I’m excited to hear what your favorite books were in 2017 too.

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! I announced our selections (starting with this one) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page. These will be added in a blog entry for January, but book club participants get the list a little earlier. It’s just one more perk to enjoy with this free club!

Here are 8 must-read books that I tackled in December!

Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about Goodbye,Vitamin, but I noticed it had made its way on so many best-of lists this year that I just had to read it.

I am not a big fan of correspondence or diary entry books, but it works SO well in this smart, funny, and heartwarming story of a 30-year-old daughter who returns to live at home and care for her father with Alzheimer’s, following a break-up with her fiancée.

Told in sparse quips, Khong breathes fresh air into new ways to think about life and love lost. Sentences like, “You know what else is unfair, about Joel? That I loosened the jar lid, so somebody else could open him up,” or, “It was grotesque, the way I kept trying to save that relationship. Like trying to tuck an elephant into pants,” beg you to read them twice.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself laughing out loud and getting teary-eyed simultaneously through this one.  It’s an achingly beautiful read about growing up, seeing your parent’s struggles with health challenges, and the ability to find humor in even the worst situations. I loved it!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

A Stranger in the House

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

If you have read, The Breakdown, you might not enjoy this thriller as much since I felt like the two had such similar plotlines. That said, this one was a great reprieve during my heavier reads that I appreciated this month.

The story starts quickly with a husband (Tom)  coming home for dinner and finding that his wife appears to have left abruptly from their home, leaving behind her purse, phone, and identification. When he gets a knock at the door, he is horrified to find the police are there to take him to his wife who has been in a car accident.

His wife, Karen, has suffered a concussion and has no recollection of where or why she had left her home that evening. Charged with reckless driving, the police suspect there is more to the story and begin an investigation into Karen’s life that lead them to uncover deep secrets about her past.

This one wasn’t as satisfying as, The Couple Next Door, but it still kept a great pace and held my interest!

3 Out Of 5 Stars

When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

If you are looking for a sweetly satisfying YA book, When Dimple Met Rishi, was such a good one. This quirky love story is about a girl, Dimple, who is interested in computer programming and not interested in pursuing the ideal Indian husband (much to her mother’s disappointment).

When she enrolls in a summer program, created for aspiring web developers, she discovers that there is a boy enrolled in the program, named Rishi that has been the arranged marriage prospect that her family has secretly been plotting.

Say what?

It is through this unlikely connection that the two find each other and a deep friendship blossoms between the two that bring them together in unexpected ways. Fans of Eleanor & Park are guaranteed to love this sweet love story between Dimple and Rishi. This book was a treat on audiobook with the beautiful accents and two incredible narrators.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Manhattan Beach has been on almost every top book of 2017 list ever created and now I see why. If you are looking for a compelling historical fiction read, I would highly recommend this one.

This is the first historical fiction novel from Egan, but reads almost like a thriller as you piece together the disappearance of a father. Anna Kerrigan, on the cusp of twelve years old, accompanies her father for a visit to see Dexter Styles. It is a mysterious relationship and visit that she is encouraged not to share with her family.

Later her father disappears and Anna finds herself working for the Brooklyn Naval Yard. She becomes their first female diver and is breaking the mold of what roles women have in assisting in the war. One evening she finds herself at a nightclub where she sees Dexter Styles again and begins to wonder if he might be the key to understanding her father’s disappearance.

If you enjoyed Saints for All Occasions, I think you would enjoy this one too. It surprised me as much as Sullivan’s book as Egan weaves together this compelling plot so vividly that you will have trouble putting it down.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Soulful Simplicity

Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver

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

Soulful Simplicity embraces the power in simplicity and it is done effectively through Carver’s own journey towards a simpler life.

If you aren’t familiar with Courtney, she is the creator of the Project 333, the capsule wardrobe project that I began embracing a few years ago. Her journey towards this simpler life began with her MS diagnosis and the need to scale down her life, home, and belongings in order to make her health a priority.  Through this journey she discovered how wonderful the practice of minimalism is and how powerful it can be for everyone, even if you haven’t been faced with health issues.

Carver tackles the art of saying no, the rejection of busy, the whittling of clutter, the beauty in a smaller wardrobe, and so much more.  Her lifestyle and message speaks loudly during this time of resolutions and serves as a great reminder, to those that are already pursuing a minimalist life, that there is always an opportunity to do better with what we have.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Something Like Happy

Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

Fans of Firefly Lane and Me Before You, will love this story of unlikely friendship so beautifully captured in, Something Like Happy.

Annie has been mourning a terrible loss and is in a negative place where she just feels stuck. When she meets Polly, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, she finds that this woman just won’t take no for an answer to friendship and is determined to make the most of every day.

With the given diagnosis, she believes she has one hundred days left where she wants to pursue one hundred new ways to be happy… and she wants Annie to help her with this mission. What Polly doesn’t know is that Annie needs it as much as she does.

This book is the feel-good kind of book that you need in your stack to remind you that we all could use a little happy in our life, the power of forgiveness, and the beauty in the healing of old relationships. Equally parts charming and, at times, a little cheesy, I loved this fictional escape.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Idaho

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

This was one of the big buzz books this year that I had been looking forward to diving into. There is so much to love in Idaho. The book has a very poetic feel with well-developed characters as it explores a horrific family tragedy and all that are left in the aftermath of this event.

Ruskovich has such a beautiful way with words that you find yourself quickly swept up into the story of these characters as you try to understand the motive behind the tragic death of a child. Unfortunately, the nonlinear narrative made it difficult to follow along with the story and the conclusion of the story was unsatisfying. Although I don’t need my endings neat and tidy, I hoped for a resolution that made the reading journey worth it. It isn’t that kind of read though and Ruskovich shares that most endings in real life are rarely neat and tidy.

I would recommend reading this one for the beauty of the storytelling,  while keeping in mind that the conclusion won’t necessarily be the satisfying ending you probably had hoped for.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Class Mom

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

Class Mom ended up being a great way to end my reading year thanks to its quick wit and humor. When Jen Dixon is recruited to be the kindergarten class mom, she takes the bull by the horns with hilarity as she corresponds with the parents about what is needed each week. This isn’t her first rodeo, with two college-aged children, and she doesn’t mind being blunt and to the point about what people need to be volunteering for.

Anyone who has volunteered at school and dealt with the pettiness of the helicopter parents is sure to appreciate this hilarious book.  Big Little Lies fans will appreciate the classroom parent drama and are sure to laugh out loud at the correspondence between these parents!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 Must-Reads

July 2017 Must-Reads

August 2017 Must-Reads

September 2017 Must-Reads

October 2017 Must-Reads

November 2017 Must-Reads

December 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

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November 2017 Must-Reads

Monday, December 4th, 2017

November 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I hope your week is off to a great start! I just got back in town and realized that I’m a bit behind on our monthly book reviews. Forgive me! This time of year is as crazy for me as I’m sure it is for you. I am hoping this list will be worth the wait and give you some fun new books to pick up for the upcoming holiday break! I can’t wait to hear what you are reading too.

Oh, don’t forget if you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club!

Not enough variety? Print out our Reading Challenge Worksheet to finish out your year!

As always, I’m looking forward to sharing what I enjoyed in my stack this month. Unfortunately, the holiday season slowed my roll a bit so I’m excited to hop back in it this evening with a big mug of tea in front of our Christmas lights. I hope you have lots of evenings planned like this too!

Here are 6 must-read books that I tackled in November!

When We Were Worthy

When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

PSSSTTT- This one is on sale today for $1.99!!

Chamberlain & Picoult fans are sure to be captivated by this heartbreaking novel.

Worthy is a claustrophobic town that only seems to care about football and winning. When three cheerleaders are involved in a fatal car accident, the town wants someone to pay…no matter what.

Of course, nothing is exactly at what it seems and every character holds a few secrets of their own that could send the whole town into a tailspin. These views are all played out by the various viewpoints in the story from the mothers of the victims to the girl who should have been in the car with her friends. The numerous viewpoints can be a bit confusing at first, but I hit my pace after a few chapters. Whalen’s creative use of wordplay and language makes this an enjoyable read, even in the thick of my confusion.

If you want to feel a little lazy about not reaching your goals, Whalen states in her acknowledgement that she lost the use of her right hand, after an accident, and had to struggle to finish this since this happened to be her writing-hand. Basically, we all have NO excuses now!

When We Were Worthy was a solid escape! Thank you to Lake Union Publishing for sending a copy to me to review!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Green’s next novel was the one that I had looked forward to the most this month. For me, this wasn’t my favorite and I found myself struggling to finish this one.

Tackling the subject of mental illness is, of course, very brave. Green crafts a character whose OCD tendencies and spiraling thought process really are beautifully done with a very raw glimpse into what it would be like to have these thoughts controlling you.

Unfortunately, this was the strongest glimmer and the YA mystery adventure, as the characters try to pursue a fugitive billionaire for cash reward, ended up being weak and didn’t hold my attention.

As a YA read, it is a great one for your kids. As an adult (not the intended audience, I can acknowledge this), it was a bit too YA for me!

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Castle of Water

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

I’m a sucker for a good love story and I can’t rave enough about the beauty of, Castle of Water. I know that this will be on the top ten list of 2017 and I have a feeling, if you read it, it will be on yours too.

A small plane crashes in the middle of the South Pacific leaving two of the passengers stranded as they both washed ashore on a small island.  If you think this sounds a bit predictable, I did too, but Huckelbridge writes a story that is anything BUT predictable as the two castaways work together to try to remain alive in the face of numerous hurdles.

The writing is surprisingly witting and laugh-out-loud funny, while still giving you that ache in your heart at all they have lost. Being stranded on an island requires a writer to really drive this story with strong characters. This character development is the heart of the story as these two seem to lift off the pages.

While the ending didn’t bring all that I had hoped, it felt truthful to the storytelling and didn’t overshadow this beautiful story! Run, run, run and get this one!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Bonfire

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

I do love a good thriller and Bonfire is an excellent debut novel from actress, producer, and writer Krysten Ritter.

This follows the story of an environmental lawyer, Abby Williams, who has been assigned a case in her hometown of Barrens, Indiana.  She has been tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the company that supports and has its hand in every pie in town, to discover if any of their business practices have been causing health problems for the town’s residents.

Returning home is never easy and Abby has left behind a lot of secrets of her own and many stories of the bitchy mean girls that seemed to have it out for her. With loads of suspense the past and the present come full circle, as Abby becomes more and more unhinged and unreliable as the book’s narrator.

Fans of dark thrillers will love this gritty suspenseful page-turner. Don’t discredit this writer for her Hollywood creds,  it’s definitely worth your time!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Seven Days of Us

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

If you are craving an escape from the holiday crazy, I can think of no better suggestion than an evening with, Seven Days of Us.

The entire Birch family must come together for seven long days to be locked down into quarantine for the holidays. Olivia, their daughter, is a doctor and has been treating an epidemic abroad and they need to insure that no germs are spread. The family hasn’t been together this long in years and, as we all do, everyone falls back into their old roles. Children become children again, parents resume fighting, and they all must learn to live with one another again.

Each of these family members is carrying a secret that holds detrimental consequences for the entire family. Told from their alternating perspectives, the chapters begin to twist together as these secrets are revealed.

Even in the predictable moments, this made for a highly entertaining read and is a great way to unwind over the holiday weekend. It made me smile in many of the same ways of some of my favorite holiday films. I think you will love this one!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Last Ballad

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

This new novel, from Wiley Cash, was inspired by true and heroic events of the first union and all that the crusade leaders had sacrificed to be a part of the movement. The main character, Ella May, is unable to keep her children clothed and fed on the wages she is given. With no man to help her, she receives a union flier that changes the path of her life. Within the first organized event, Ella May is asked to share her experience and becomes a poster child, of sorts, for the movement. Unfortunately, there are consequences for anyone who does not follow the protocol and Cash takes us through this difficult time in history through several different character’s eyes.

This one moved a little slower for me, but I blame the timing more than the writing. I had not paused to consider what this would look like, in the late twenties, and the heroic measures taken by those seeking fair wages. If you are looking to dive into a historical fiction book with some meat, this is a solid one!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

 

 

Book of the Month December Selections

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s special:

Gift a subscription to Book of the Month and get a free book for yourself (!!!)

December Selections:

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

We’re Going To Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 Must-Reads

July 2017 Must-Reads

August 2017 Must-Reads

September 2017 Must-Reads

October 2017 Must-Reads

November 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

This blog was sponsored by Simon & Schuster. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

It feels so strange to be talking about our baby hitting the tween years, but we recently hit this milestone age and all that comes with it. Today I am partnering with Simon & Schuster to celebrate girl power with the launch of the incredible series, “The Littlest Bigfoot,” written by Jennifer Weiner. If you are an avid reader like me, you may know Weiner from her fun chick lit novels and now she is penning a trilogy for girls that encourage self-love, positive body image, and friendship between girls.

DIY Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

“The Littlest Bigfoot,” and “Little Bigfoot, Big City,” are the first two books that are out in the planned trilogy. These books explore the good old-fashioned themes of friendship and belonging through this modern day fairytale.

The lead character, Alice Mayfair, twelve years old, is ignored by her family and is being shipped off to her eighth boarding school. She longs to have a friend and when she rescues Millie Maximus from drowning in the lake one day, she finds the friend she has always been looking for.

Millie happens to be a Bigfoot though, a part of a clan who dwells deep in the woods. Most Bigfoots believe that people—NoFurs—are dangerous, but Millie is fascinated with this human world and feels that they understand her own dreams and aspirations better. Alice protects Millie’s secret, but they must face a league of Bigfoot hunters who are trailing them.

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

The story then continues into the next novel where the friends sneak off to the Big Apple in search of Millie’s stardom. Unfortunately, they end up getting trailed by a shadowy government organization and are finding cryptic clues that force them to confront their history, choices, and find out what it means to be a true hero and friend.

At this in-between stage of life, I love finding books like this that are filled with positive messaging and heartwarming dialogue about inclusion and belonging. Definitely pick up these two books for your tween and keep your eyes peeled for the third book, coming in 2018! This series is just perfect for your middle grade readers, between the ages of 8-12!

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

I remember how much I struggled with self-confidence at this age and also remember all the new territory that came with all of these changes. My parents wanted to encourage me to embrace good hygiene habits and to help me understand all the upcoming changes that would be happening in my body. As the oldest of three children, I felt that I had to share everything with my siblings so anything that I got that was just for me (not for them!) was really special. It could have been something as simple as not sharing my french fries or as grand as getting a date with just one of my parents, these simple moments made me feel special because they were mine alone.

Instead of just talking about good hygiene and caring for my body, my mom put together a pail of items that I would need to start implementing good habits of self-care and explained why and how to use these items. This pink pail housed my new face washes, a loofah with body soap, and deodorant. All I could think about though was that all this stuff was JUST FOR ME and I didn’t have to share it.

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

This week I gave my daughter a Tween Confidence Kit of her own and I could see that sheer delight she had to have items that were just for her. Truth be told, many of my own items were starting to magically disappear from our bathroom, and after this came up, she explained how she wanted to wear or add some of these things to her own routines.

This kit of supplies had everything she needed to get started implementing her own big girl routines! We talked about implementing a good skincare routine (daily wash and moisturizer, weekly exfoliation scrub), the importance of washing our body and deodorant, and dry shampoo for days when we need fresh locks, but don’t have the time. A few things to make the routines more fun included her own little scrubber, a shower cap for busy days, and a quick absorbing towel to wrap her hair in after she hopped out of the shower.

We also dipped our toes into some of the things that might be coming up and how to prepare for those circumstances too. She had lots of great questions and this was a great way to open up the dialogue about what we might need to know for the future.

She also expressed a desire to start wearing makeup and I gave her a set of her own blush, lip gloss, and a little concealer as her first starter kit into that. I worked with her to apply the makeup and shared the importance of keeping her face natural and just enhancing the beautiful girl she already is. I loved working with her on this together and hope that she feels confident coming to me in the future because it means a lot to me to get to be a part of these new stages with her.

I hope that these ideas to help build tween self-confidence too. Each stage has been such a gift and I love being a part of the process with her.

To learn more about these incredible books, follow Simon Kids on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram or visit them on their website!

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

This blog was sponsored by Simon & Schuster. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

 

September 2017 Must-Reads

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

September 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

September was a GREAT reading month for me and I have loads of 5-star recommendations for your stacks. This month I tackled 11 books, thanks to quite a few quiet days in my little she shed. If you are a reader, that place is MAGICAL for quiet reading.

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club!

Not enough variety? Print out our Reading Challenge Worksheet! I’m having a blast working my way through it!

Here are 11 must-read books that I tackled in September!

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

If you are looking for an absorbing story, you definitely will want to dive into, Watch Me Disappear.

The story centers on a mother who goes on a solo hike in the Desolation Wilderness and vanishes from the trail. Although her body is never found, they conclude that she fell to her death, never returning again to her husband and daughter.

When her daughter begins having visions of her mother, she starts to believe that she is still alive and guiding her to where she is. When she reveals her mother’s secrets to her father, her husband also becomes convinced that there is more to this story.

Prepare for a very twisted and unpredictable plot right up until those final pages. Brown captures her reader in this clever thriller and won’t let go until you have made your way through the entire spider web of mystery.

If you are looking for a fresh book club pick, I would highly recommend this one as it explores the subject of finding and sometimes the losing of our identities as mothers.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

I was not a big fan of All is Not Forgotten, but I wanted to give this author another try with her latest novel (and BOTM selection), Emma in the Night. I am so glad that I did because this was a another highly enjoyable thriller this month.

One night fifteen-year-old Cass and her seventeen-year-old sister, Emma disappear without a trace, other than a deserted car. Three years later, Cass returns alone and must share her story of being kidnapped and isolated on a mysterious island.

The story that Cass shares though, doesn’t add up. On the case is forensic psychologist (and expert in narcissistic personality disorder) Dr. Abby Winter. As she starts trying to make sense of the holes in the story, she discovers some shocking twists.

Fans of The Roanoke Girls will enjoy this twisted family story that will keep you page flipping until the wee hours of the morning.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

I became a fan of Denfeld’s writing after reading , The Enchanted (you can read my interview with Rene over here) and couldn’t wait to see what she had in store for us next. Denfeld weaves a shocking and disturbing story of a little girl that has gone missing in a rural part of an Oregon forest and the one person who believes she can change this girl’s story.

Naomi is a private investigator that has a knack for finding missing children. Her knack for this is partly based on her own mysterious disappearance from her family and her inability to remember her own story.

When Madison Culver goes missing, the family reaches out to her and believes that she may be their last hope. Madison has been missing for over three years and authorities have given up on finding the girl, believing she may have died under a blanket of snow.

Madison is alive though and being held captive, made to live her life as a wife, despite being a child. Her circumstances are horrific and the only relief she feels is through the fairytale she has created, allowing her the separation from herself to endure these moments.

These two stories are interwoven together in an incredible page-turner that I was unable to put down. I read this in a single afternoon and couldn’t wait to see how Denfeld pulled all of this together. The story is haunting, raw, and so very real.

Warning: this book contains physical and sexual abuse towards a child.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

I read a lot of thrillers this month so I was looking for a more lighthearted escape and I found it perfectly in Robin Sloan’s latest novel, Sourdough. If magical realism isn’t your thing though, you may not enjoy it as much as I did.

The story centers around a woman who works in the tech field, specializing in robotics, and ends up being gifted a sourdough starter…even though she has never made bread before.  Lois begins exploring the world of bread making and begins cooking beautiful loaves of sourdough bread, thanks to this magical starter. What she doesn’t know is how much this new creative outlet is going to change the path of her entire life.

This book was enjoyable from start to finish, even in those farfetched bits of the story. I will say, however, as a gluten-free girl, the cravings for bread became unbearable at times.

If you are looking for a little magic and just great old-fashioned storytelling, I think you will appreciate Sloan’s latest novel a lot! In fact, I passed this one on to my eleven-year-old and she’s been enjoying it as much as me!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud

There is a line in The Burning Girl, which basically summed up exactly how I felt about this book. Messud writes, “Everybody wanted a story, a story with an arc, with motives and a climax and a resolution.” That is exactly what I had hoped to get out of this novel, but it seemed to be missing all of these key elements for me.

If you are looking for a coming-of-age story that shares the beauty and innocence of childhood or the way that friendships between girls can be so quickly and easily intertwined, then you might enjoy this one for that. In those elements, much like Walking on Trampolines, that is where this story truly shines. Messud captures this beautifully and made me think about my own childhood friendships and how quickly innocence can be lost.

If you are looking for a thriller though with a great plot and twisty turns, this won’t be the book for you. If you go into it with a mindset in place that this is just about childhood friendships, you might enjoy it more.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

The Empath's Survival Guide

The Empath’s Survival Guide by Judith Orloff

Empaths are people who take on other people’s emotions, energies, and even physical symptoms of others because they feel things so deeply. I recently became aware that this has been contributing to a lot of my own health issues (both mentally and physically) and I needed guidance on how to feel empathy towards others without compromising my own well-being. The Empath’s Survival Guide is an incredible book on learning ways to manage these gifts, but also your ability to create space and boundaries in your life so that you don’t compromise yourself in the process.

There were so many good things that I got out of this book from visualizations to honoring the ways that I’m wired and also how to deflect negative people and energy. It helps establish better routines for unwinding and learning what does and does not work for empaths.

Not sure if you are one? This test might help! In the meantime, I can’t recommend it enough if you are struggling. This would also be a great read for the HSP (highly sensitive person) club too!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

I have a deep affection for great Young Adult literature and this month’s book club pick was absolute YA perfection. I guarantee that you won’t be able to put this one down.

This is the story of two friends, Rachel & Henry, that ended up growing apart for two reasons- Rachel moved and she left a love letter to Henry that never received a response.

Rachel moves back though and has hard feelings against Henry for never responding to her letter. She also is battling a personal battle that no one in town knows about. As luck would have it, she ends up getting a job at the local bookshop, owned and run by Henry’s family.

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

I’m surprised I’m not hearing more about this fantastic book! It is a bookworm’s dream and gives you lots of great book ideas to dive into once you finish reading it.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A story that takes place in a bookstore

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Rabbit by Patricia Williams

Rabbit by Patricia Williams

If you read only one memoir this year, please let it be this one. Rabbit is the true story of Patricia Williams (aka Ms. Pat) and her life growing up in Atlanta at the height of the crack epidemic. Williams is one of five children and witnessed how her mother was able to work the system to help her family survive…and how her children were used  just for these purposes.

Patricia becomes a mom of two children at fifteen and must learn strategies for her family to survive when she is only a child too. She becomes a master at hustling and dealing crack to keep her family fed.

This book is unflinching in its honesty about how quickly Patricia had to grow up and the unbelievably difficult situations she survived from being sexually abused to even being shot. She survived it all though and shares her story with equal parts heart and humor, even in the face of all of her adversities.

I read this book in a single sitting and can’t recommend it enough!

Warning: this book contains physical and sexual abuse towards a child.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book written by a comedian

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Put Tell Me Three Things with I’ll Give You the Sun and you, basically, have the formula for an unbelievably good read…which is EXACTLY why I loved this book so very much.

Sixteen-year-old Simon is gay, but hasn’t told anyone yet. He has found love though through an email correspondence with another guy that has helped him talk out some of his feelings. If only he knew whose heart he had captured…

When these emails get in the wrong hands though, he has to step out of his comfort zone and share about who he really is with those he loves.

This book is absolutely charming and Simon is a guy that you end up rooting for throughout the book. With a lot of wit and humor, Simon’s story is a heartwarming tale of acceptance, even in an unaccepting world.

I’m so excited to hear that this one will be coming to the big screen so be sure to read it before you catch the film! It is a really beautiful coming-of-age story!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

I’m a huge fan of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry  (if you haven’t read it- just do it right now!). Young Jane Young is a fun and timely departure into the world of politics and would make a perfect book club selection.

In this story, a politician becomes involved with a young intern who has been keeping an “anonymous blog” with juicy details of her scandalous affair. When the affair is brought to light, Aviva must move and try to start fresh with a new identity. She changes states, her name, and even steps out of politics to become a wedding planner. She is constantly dodging her past though because the story became national news.

You might think this one doesn’t sound that interesting (we’ve heard this story before, right?), but Zevin smartly plays it out from many viewpoints (her mother, the wife, the daughter, and Jane’s own view). With this unique perspective we are able to see the story in a different way and the slut-shaming that can occur when political scandals happen.

This book examines the many different roles of women and the double standards that occur in the political arena.

I really loved it and I think you will too. It is a quick page-turner with a lot of meat for discussion!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

My Absolute Darling is THE BOOK that everyone has been talking about so I snagged the audiobook to dive in. Had I known more about the story, I might have skipped the audio version of this one because it was about the sexual and physical abuse of a teenage girl at the hands of father.

Almost sixteen hours of abuse, to be exact, if you are listening to the audiobook.

Turtle (nickname) has been living alone with her father for years. He is a survivalist and teaches Turtle many skills she might need to survive in the wilderness. Her childhood is anything BUT normal, particularly the sexual relationship she has with her father.

When Jacob becomes her friend at school, Turtle gets to peek into Jacob’s normal life (clean house, dinner around the table, two parents, etc..) and she finally is able to see how dysfunctional her own life is. Thanks to her survival skills, taught by her abusive father, she begins to dream of an escape and of a very different kind of future.

When the storytelling is on it is ON. Tallent’s writing has been compared to many great writers and received a lot of accolades and praise from some of my favorite authors. When the writing was off though it was OFF. This book was lengthy and the torture of this girl goes on, and on, and on, and on. I don’t want to discredit Tallent’s writing, but I do think the subject matter just made this a difficult book to read.

That said, it was kind of like watching a train wreck and I kept wanting the safety for this girl so I kept listening and listening.

I would classify this one in the horror genre- it was an absolutely brutal story. Keep that in mind if you decide to pick this one up!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out

If you are a BOTM member, this month looks AH-MAZING!! You can use this link though, if you aren’t, to get 1, 2, or 3 months for just $9.99.

October 2017 Book of the Month Selections

October BOTM Selections & Deals

Try 1, 2, or 3 months for just $9.99 each

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Get John Green’s new novel FREE when you join Book of the Month

Get Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King FREE when you join Book of the Month

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 Must-Reads

July 2017 Must-Reads

August 2017 Must-Reads

September 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

 

 

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August 2017 Must-Reads

Friday, September 1st, 2017

August 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

There is nothing like the kids heading back to school to get your reading habits back on track, amiright?  I’ve been trying to get up an hour early each day to get in my quiet reading time, although I can fully admit that this is quite the challenge.

I know a question we frequently get asked, especially as are looking to reset and refine our habits in the new school year, is how to get in more time to read. I encourage you to read these tips on how to consume more books, if this happens to be your goal this year. If you are looking for something you can jump into quickly, this list of books is a great start.

Hello Sunshine Book

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If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! This month we will be reading this book (you can see the full list over here).

Not enough variety? Print out our Reading Challenge Worksheet! I’m having a blast working my way through it!

Here are 9 must-read books that I tackled in August!

See What I Have Done

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

I received an advanced reader from NetGalley- all thoughts and opinions are my own!

See What I Have Done explores one of the most infamous murder cases of all time- the Lizzie Borden murders. I was familiar with the general story, but Schmidt fills in the gaps from one creepy detail to the next, utilizing the timeline that is known about the time leading up to the murders and the aftermath.

The author crafts a twisted and dark story, creating the insecure world of the Borden sisters and their angry and awful parents. Using four points of view (the housemaid, an observing stranger, and the two sisters), Schmidt brings the story together through very different points of view.

It is a claustrophobic type of read and no one is really likable at all, with the exception of Lizzie’s sister. It can be confusing, at times, as Schmidt jumps through the timeline, instead of ending with the trial, which seem to interrupt the flow.

That said, I learned a lot more about the Borden family and the circumstances surrounding this gory murder!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book with an unlikable narrator

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Well, dang! This was such a charming read from start to finish.

Ginny Moon is a beautiful story from debut novelist, Benjamin Ludwig. Ludwig shares in his bio that he is the foster parent of a teen with autism and it is through his own experience (and fellow parents of autistic children) that helped him carve out his character, Ginny Moon.

Ginny Moon had been taken from her neglectful mother and has been living with her new Forever Mother and Forever Father. When her birth mother starts creeping back into her life, Ginny will stop at nothing to get back to her mom and goes to shocking lengths to make that happen. When a new baby then is added to her Forever Family, Ginny becomes increasingly more of a burden to her strained foster parents and they must decide if this is the forever family THEY want. Ginny will stop at nothing though to get back to where she believes she really belongs and there is a pretty surprising reason why. It’s a real page-turner!

Ludwig really sheds light on the difficulties of finding adoptive families for teens of special needs and your heart just breaks for Ginny over the confusion of who her real “forever family,” is.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

This thriller writer proves she is no one hit wonder with her second thriller, The Breakdown. I love an unreliable narrator and Paris crafts an unreliable one in a pretty brilliant way.

This book, as the title says, is about a woman who witnesses a breakdown of a vehicle during a storm and is scared to pull over to help, for fear that it is some type of trap. When she finds out the woman has been murdered, she feels enormous guilt, especially when she realizes she is an acquaintance.

Someone knows she did nothing and wants to make her pay.  The worst part though is that she is experiencing memory loss that mimics her own mother’s early dementia. Strange things begin happening and Cass begins losing pockets of time. The reader is then left to fill in the holes to try to figure out just who is harassing her.

Call me gullible, but even as a seasoned thriller reader, I had no idea what the heck was going on through most of the book. I couldn’t put this one down and enjoyed it as much (if not more) than, Behind Closed Doors.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

All Our Wrong Todays

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

If Dark Matter was your jam, you will absolutely love this fantastic debut novel that is filled with humor, heart, and adventure. It is no secret that I am time travel obsessed so I couldn’t wait to dig into All Our Wrong Todays. Mastai is a screenwriter and this book plays out like a movie (it is no surprise the movie rights were quickly sold) as Tom Barrens time travels from the 2016 we *thought* we would be living in and then must time travel into the 2016 we really live in.

Remember The Jetsons and the futuristic cars and ways of living we believed we would be experiencing? Yeah, so that is the reality that Tom is living in, where everything is automated and easy as people rely on incredible technology to live. When he loses the girl of his dreams and has a time machine at his  disposal, he decides to time travel to find her again. This 2016 is the world we inhabit now and Tom is annoyed and baffled at our slow progression. It is there though that he finds his family life in a very different place, a flourishing career, and he has captured the heart of a wonderful girl.

What’s a guy to do?

Prepare for the adventure! Smartly written, finely crafted, and laugh-out-loud funny- I couldn’t put this one down. It will definitely be one of my favorites this year!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Option B

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant

This nonfiction book is about Sandberg’s sudden loss of her husband and her struggles to find joy again in her life, after this devastating loss. Sandberg shares her own personal struggles and Grant helps to fill in the research behind our ability to cope with adversity in our lives.

Option B is an incredible book for anyone who has experienced  hardship from an unexpected detour in life. I think this one would be particularly helpful for anyone who is dealing with a difficult medical journey or the loss of a loved one.

The passage on what and what not to say to someone who is grieving was particularly helpful to me. As someone who finds herself unexpectedly on a Plan B in life, I found a lot of solace in her words and encouragement.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

If We Were Villains

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

If We Were Villains happened to be our book club selection this month and I was excited to dig into the mysterious death of a Shakespearean actor that happens to mimic the same type of themes that Shakespeare explored in his own work.

The opening to this one didn’t grab me and  I blame a lot of that on my unfamiliarity with Shakespeare’s work and the dialogue being so heavily crafted around lines from his plays. When it hit the Second Act section, it moved more into the strange dynamics between these friendships and the villain that no one liked, but had to deal with. Since he was so unlikable, anyone could have killed the guy and the book shifts from the man who was accused of the crime and served time to the decade long mystery that surrounded his unlikely confession.

In the end, this was a great whodunit that I’m glad I read, even if I had to skip over a lot of the Shakespearean themes that had been so finely crafted for the reader.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave

Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave

Eight Hundred Grapes happened to be one of my very favorite chick lit reads so I could not wait to see what Dave would write next. While this one was cute, the themes of coming home after a breakup are similar to her previous book and lacked that depth and charm that I had hoped for.

Sunshine (yes, her name!) is a culinary star that becomes victim to a smear campaign that leaks all her dirty little secrets. The destructive nature of the tweets end up shedding some light on a lot of missteps and a few Hollywood secrets that cause her to lose her career and jeopardize her marriage.

Facing your demons is always a challenge and the reader gets to follow along and think upon our own inauthentic photos and the nature of living in the social media age.

This is a great one for the beach bag if you are looking for something lighter to read.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

The Reason You're Alive

The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick

Best known for his novel, The Silver Linings Playbook, Quick takes a sharp detour with his new novel that can really challenge a reader’s viewpoint.

Told from the perspective of  a sixty-eight-year-old veteran, we see a very sharply opinionated view on the world and from someone who has sacrificed it all. Unlike many books though, Quick doesn’t gloss it over and his character repeatedly says inflammatory, racist, and controversial things OUT LOUD and often. It is absolutely cringe worthy and will probably remind you of every offensive racist older person you have ever met.

What it did though was show you how he has come to this viewpoint and what veterans must overcome just to exist in society after serving. It challenges you to look beyond the comments and see that David’s heart is often in the right place, even if his words aren’t always there.

Was this a tough read? Absolutely! As a bleeding heart liberal, there was so much in here that I could not always swallow. It did though make me think of the challenges that face those that serve and how this viewpoint could even exist. I’m thankful for books that challenge me and Quick does this quite effectively.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours absolutely blew me away and is a book that brings ALL THE FEELINGS, if you are looking for a historical fiction escape that will absolutely crush you.

Wingate shares the story of two little girls who become a part of one of America’s most notorious real life scandals of children being kidnapped and sold to wealthy families by Georgia Tann, a director of a Memphis-based adoption organization in the late 1930’s.

I was unfamiliar with the scandal or the heartbreaking stories of children being separated from their families and the tragic things they had to endure while under Tann’s horrific care.

This fictional story is built around the stories of real-life orphans and will just rip your heart to shreds.  Moving backward and forward through time, the reader gets to solve the mystery of two unlikely women with a bond that could never be broken and the granddaughter that must unravel it all, even at the expense of her family’s high society position.

This will definitely be in my top ten reads this year. Beautifully written and researched, it pulled all the right heartstrings.

Note- triggers include physical and sexual abuse.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out

September 2017 BOTM Selections

If you are a BOTM member, this month looks AH-MAZING!! You can use this link though, if you aren’t, to get 1, 2, or 3 months for just $9.99.

September BOTM Selections

Lies She Told by Cate Holohan – Judge Stacey Armand

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker – Guest Judge Krysten Ritter

Sourdough by Robin Sloan – Judge Dana Schwartz

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – Judge Kim Hubbard (loved this one- read my review HERE!)

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward – Judge Elizabeth Kiefer

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 Must-Reads

July 2017 Must-Reads

August 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

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July 2017 Must-Reads

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

July 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Summer reading has been in full swing as I start wrapping up the last of my lovely quiet days before school starts. We were fortunate enough to have two getaways this month that gave me a little extra reading time so I’m excited to share 9 great must-read books with you! I had some really great stuff in my stack this month including a few 5-star reads that I think you will enjoy.

Summer Books

follow me on IG to see what I’m reading!

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! This month we will be reading this book (you can see the full list over here).

Not enough variety? Print out our Reading Challenge Worksheet! I’m having a blast working my way through it!

Here are  must-read books that I tackled in July!

Nine Women, One Dress

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen

Nine Women, One Dress came recommended to me by a local librarian as a fantastic summer read and I couldn’t agree more with her pick.  This type of book is like a big bowl of chick lit comfort food and reminds me of my obsession with the ol’ rom com films that I loved so much growing up. If you loved Meg Ryan films, I bet you will find this to be a light and easy book escape for your summer stack.

The title pretty much explains what this cute read is about. A famous designer, who is soon retiring, makes a beautiful black dress that ends up being THE dress of the season. The dress then finds its way into many hands (some deserving, some not) and the book explores these touching and humorous stories of how this dress came into their possession and what happened after they wore it out.

If it sounds a little cheesy, it is.

I loved every minute of it and grinned from ear to ear right up until the final pages.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book recommended by a librarian

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Book of Polly

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall

I love quirky stories that are big on humor and The Book of Polly was everything a good read should be. Beautifully developed characters, loads of hilarity, and Hepinstall’s choice of words and phrasing make these characters, truly, come to life.

Polly has an unexpected surprise in her late fifties and gives birth to her daughter, Willow. Polly is not like any mother that Willow knows at school and the reader experiences her pride and shame at just how little she does fit in. One of Willow’s biggest worries is Polly dying and when she ends up being diagnosed with cancer, it is like her worst fears coming true.

Polly’s not going to exit this world quietly though and Willow decides she wants to know more about Polly’s life from her younger years which lead them on an epic road trip.

I laughed out loud through this book and kept reading passages to my husband who laughed alongside me.  Fans of Be Frank With Me and Whistling Past the Graveyard are FOR SURE going to love this hilarious read! This one will definitely be on my top ten list of the year!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Saints for All Occasions

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

I have read a couple of Sullivan’s books and enjoyed them, but this book is unlike anything she has written before and is an exquisite escape that I think most readers will love. This story reads like Brooklyn had a baby with The Two-Family House so if you enjoyed those, don’t miss this one!

This story explores the lives of two sisters who come to America in the late fifties. One sister is wildly enjoying her newfound freedom while the other is promised to marry a boy she doesn’t love, but finds the responsible sister role to be an easier one. When Theresa, the “fun” sister, ends up pregnant, her sister comes up with a plan to save her reputation while making sure her son is loved and safe.

The book explores the past and present as each sister makes life-altering decisions that lead them down very different paths.  When Nora’s son dies, it brings the two sisters back together again while unleashing a load of family secrets in the process.

As far as criticism goes, I did think it went on just a tad too long in the building of the story, while the ending felt abrupt to me. I wanted more of the conclusion fleshed out, after the long journey, but I understand Sullivan had to end it at some point. Regardless, this will be one of my favorite reads this summer and I highly recommend it, even if you haven’t connected with her books in the past.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Arrangement

The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

The Arrangement was on this summer’s guilty pleasure reading bucket list and this one did not disappoint. I expected a lot of predictability with this book and Dunn surprised me with some really witty dialogue, twists I didn’t see coming and a town of characters that rivaled the infamous folks in Big Little Lies.

Owen & Lucy have a dinner party where friends share with them about an “arrangement,” a couple they know is having in an open marriage (no questions, no guilt) where they can explore having relationships with other people while keeping their marriage happy and healthy.

They feel inspired to devise their own six-month arrangement where they can explore relationships with other people, but it must end after six months. What follows is anything but predictable for either of them and the reader gets to go on one tryst to another,  then concluding their days by coming home to raise their autistic son together.

There are loads of laugh-out-loud moments and some heartfelt ones that resonated with me since we experienced many similar parenting moments to this couple. It also solidified that open marriage, while fun reading in a book, is definitely not for me! I do admit, the husband getting “chored” by his mistress was a treat that brought all the LOL’s.

Seriously, I really enjoyed the wild ride with these two and the book ended up being a lot less fluff and more satisfying than I expected.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Dreamland Burning

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Dreamland Burning was a selection that I discovered on the MMD Summer Reading Guide. This YA historical fiction novel sheds light on a little known time in history, examining the Tulsa race riot of 1921 and what it might have looked like for the town’s residents.

I had never heard of these race riots, but it is horrific to learn that historians put the death toll at around 300 black lives lost to white rioters. The author notes that some people refer to this as the, “black holocaust,” because of this. Since it is a YA book though, I thought Latham did a great job of giving you an eye-opening amount of violence and dialogue, while staying true to her genre.

The book explores the case of a skeleton that has been buried and found on a family’s property when their family begins to renovate their home.  Rowan, the teen daughter, decides she wants to do some sleuthing to find out who these bones belong to and it sends her hunting for answers that are over a hundred years old.

The chapter alternates between her viewpoint and the viewpoint of William, a white teen growing up in this historical era and struggling to understand his own viewpoint on race.  The reader gets to watch the evolution of William from racist to helper of minorities.

Latham weaves a smart final twist that gives the reader a satisfying conclusion. She also provides resources where you can discover more about this horrific time in history.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (available for preorder!)

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

Everything I Never Told You was Celeste Ng’s gorgeous debut (you can read my interview with her over here) and I couldn’t wait to see what she had next in store for us.  I was thrilled when the publishing house reached out to see if I would like to take a peek at her next book and this one did not disappoint.

This novel is a perfect read for Jodi Picoult fans as it explores the intertwining stories of a picture-perfect family and a single mother & child who end up disrupting what has always seemed ideal.

The book is set in a suburban bubble where a wealthy family, The Richardson’s, reside. Always with good intentions, they love to help others and one of the ways they help them is by offering a rental home to deserving recipients at an affordable cost so that they can get back on their feet again.

Mia Warren is the lucky recipient of this rental, where she can make rent doing odd jobs so she can pursue her true passion for photography and art. When the Richardson family also happens to have an opening for a housekeeper, they bring Mia further into their lives as Pearl & Mia become fixtures in their home. Everything seems ideal about this family and Pearl, her daughter, immediately is drawn to them and their idyllic life.

Yet, when close friends of the wealthy family decides to adopt a Chinese American baby, sides are quickly drawn leaving Mia & Pearl on the opposing side. It is when the battle becomes fierce that secrets began to unravel and true feelings begin to erupt. And there are secrets….a LOT of secrets.

This is a heartstring puller that I devoured in a little over a day. It would lend itself really well to a lively book club discussion if you are looking for something fresh to add to your group that is guaranteed to get your book club members chatting!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Shtum

Shtum by Jem Lester

Shtum is a Yiddish word that means silence and this beautiful story is inspired by Jem Lester’s own struggles and triumphs with his autistic son who is trapped in a silence of his own. It is, truly, the most accurate portrayal of what it would be like to parent a profoundly autistic child and a read that many of us can learn a lot from.

In this story, Jonah and his autistic son Ben find themselves under Jonah’s father’s roof to help with the application process for a school for autism that could help Jonah. They don’t have the funds to do it and Ben’s wife encourages a separation in their marriage to help Jonah because being a single parent will lend them favor on the application process and offer more scholarship money.

Residing under one roof with a child who requires 24-hour supervision and a grumpy father isn’t Ben’s idea of a great time and alcohol is Ben’s escape. It is a downward spiral at times and Lester doesn’t let you escape it. The day-to-day grind becomes overwhelming, even as a reader, and it made me REALLY understand more about the challenges that these family’s face every single day.

Yet, as heart wrenching as this read is, it has sparks of dark comedy that had me chuckle out loud many times, particularly with Ben’s father, Georg. This debut novel is raw and unapologetic in the challenges that come with love and sacrifice. I highly recommend this read!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Everyone has been talking about Eleanor Oliphant so I knew I needed to dig into this one.

Eleanor is certainly one of the most unusual characters I have read because she lacks social skills and avoids all unnecessary human contact. She keeps a rigid schedule with herself that involves a lot of frozen pizza, vodka, and a routine call with her mother.

A persistent I.T. guy, named Raymond, comes into Eleanor’s life though when they help save an elderly man on the street who had fallen. Raymond is also the kind of guy that won’t take no for an answer and begins infiltrating into Eleanor’s life.

Eleanor has her eye on someone else though and he doesn’t even know it. Lunches with Raymond give her a chance to practice for the big moment when she can confess to her true love how she feels about him.

Too bad the guy has never heard of her!

This novel is quirky and the reader gets to go on every cringe worthy moment as the true story of Eleanor unfolds. Honeyman ends the book with a really smart little twist that adds to the beauty of Eleanor’s healing process to find love in her life and readers discover why Eleanor struggles so much in society. It’s a solid read and a promising debut from Honeyman!

P.S.- Look who bought the movie rights to this one? Yay!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Almost Sisters

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

A tequila-soaked night at a comic book convention leaves Leia Birch Briggs, a graphic novel artist, pregnant after a rendezvous with a guy that she only knows as Batman.

Yup, how is that for a starter?

Before she can break the news to her family though, her sister’s marriage implodes and they discover their grandmother has been hiding her rapidly progressing dementia from them. In efforts to help, Leia heads home to start making arrangements for her grandmother and to clear out the home of anything unnecessary…

Like, a skeleton in the trunk of the attic.

This really isn’t a typical Jackson novel, is it?

Jackson has built great dynamics between the two sisters and comical horror as Birchie, their grandmother, lets loose all the town secrets that she knows, thanks to her dementia. It seems there are quite a lot of secrets, especially just who might be residing in the trunk of this house.

This is one of Jackson’s best books, in my opinion, and a treat to read from start to finish. I could see this one being made into a film- it has great charm and heart.

You can read my past interview with Joshilyn as we discussed her writing process on her last great read!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 Must-Reads

July 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

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June 2017 Must-Reads

Friday, June 30th, 2017

June 2017 Must-Reads

I hope your book stacks have been high and your coffee cups overflowing this summer. We are looking forward to a family holiday this week so I will be turning off the phone for the week and soaking in loads of unplugged time with my family. You can guess that if I’m not grabbing my phone, I’m grabbing a book so I am hoping I will have lots more recommendations to share with you next month.

Sorry to miss your messages, comments, and emails, but when this girl vacations, she does it unplugged! This request was also made of my kids! We have a stock-up trip to make to the library today, but we did just get the first three books in the Serafina series in the mail, for my daughter, so I’m hoping that she gets sucked into those the same way I did into my series books when I was a kid.

she-shed-2

catch my stack on IG! 

It was just three weeks ago I was chatting about what I read in May so I was a little nervous I wouldn’t have very much to talk about this month. As luck would have it, the rainy and cooler weather lead to loads of reading in my little she shed. Yup, it’s my favorite place to be!  This reading gadget (the stand that I use to pair it with is over here) has been SO wonderful too for enjoying books outside on windy days, completely hands-free.

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks.  If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Today I will be announcing our next selections for our MomAdvice Book Club so please stay tuned for that!  You can join our FREE book club to discuss what you are reading, ask opinions on books, and join in a monthly discussion of a really great read! It’s so awesome!

Here are 7 must-read books that I tackled in June!

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

I’m a big fan of Lisa See and have read every single one of her books. I have to admit, her earlier books were among my favorites, but I felt like her latest novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane had some of that old magic and sparkle that drew me to her writing when I first discovered her.

This novel is set in a remote Chinese mountain village where Li-Yan and her family work as farmers of tea. Li-Yan is unlike most girls because her parents do encourage her to go to school and believe that she is smart enough to concentrate on her education rather than farming. When Li-Yan becomes pregnant with a child, out of wedlock, she decides to give her child up for adoption because it is tradition in their culture to kill these children. Li-Yan now finds the course of her life has changed so much and the love of her life is not as he has appeared. She courageously must forge a new path for herself and continues to buck tradition by becoming educated and cultivating her own business while never giving up hope on finding her daughter again.

I learned a lot about how tea is farmed and, in particular, a lot about the Akha people and their traditions. See always has a way of storytelling that is both informative and captivating. I enjoyed this one start to finish and think it would be a great intro book to her writing if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading her books before.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book about a culture/religion you are unfamiliar with

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry is a well-crafted debut mystery that kept me guessing from start to finish. I have shared before that police procedural books are rarely a favorite of mine, but every so often I will pick one of these up and be sucked in to the story enough to plow my through the investigative aspect of these books.

This fast page-turner did just that as it explores the shocking murder of a mother, father, and child in a small town. Federal Agent Aaron Falk grew up in the town, returns for the funeral, and then finds himself helping on the case by the request of the victim’s family. The problem is that Falk has been harboring a few secrets of his own on another death that happened in the town and he is not welcome or trusted by most of its residents.

The reader is left to wonder how these two cases may be intertwined as Harper takes you down the whodunit path that will leave you guessing up until the last few pages.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

White Fur by Jardine Libaire

White Fur by Jardine Libaire

The first thought that popped into my head when reading White Fur is… well, this was unexpected.  Turn up that A/C and plan on steaming up the room with this dark and gritty love story.

Jamey is the stereotypical rich white kid with a large trust fund, Elsie is a rough uneducated girl from the wrong side of the tracks which basically means, never the twain shall meet…

Until they do.

And then they fall in love.

It’s an unsettling love story as though each person is pushing the boundaries to try and prove their love for one another. They constantly test the limits with each other and with their family and it leaves the reader questioning if it is love or their own path of self-destruction that bring these two together.

This will not be a book for everyone. Many passages are graphic, the sex scenes are disturbing, and it pushes the envelope A LOT.

Yet, when the writing is on it is ON.

It is promising, interesting, and is all the glam and glitz of NYC in the 1980’s.  If you enjoy this one, consider this book option for a slightly tamer selection with the same feel.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Good Widow

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Liz & Lisa joined me for our Sundays With Writers series when launching their book, The Status of All Things. I am always intrigued by writing duos and how that process works, and these longtime chums seem to really have a knack writing together.

The Good Widow is the first thriller from the dynamic duo and it was a fun 24-hour escape reading about a wife who has lost her husband in a car crash and then discovers this crash happened with another woman in the passenger seat.  Yup, this guy has been leading a double life and she never even knew it.

Nick, the fiancée of the other passenger, reaches out to the widow (Jacks) to try to replicate the couple’s trip and final days to see where this accident happened, and get clues from locals on their behavior together as they try to understand how they both could have been so in the dark.

The Good Widow

As a seasoned thriller reader, it was a nice escape that held my interest all the way through. Liz & Lisa deliver on a light & twisty beach read that is perfect to read poolside!

Bonus, snag the Kindle version for just $3.99!!

3.5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Light We Lost

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

The Light We Lost is the first book club selection for the Skimm #skimmreads partnership with Target stores. I know I have mentioned it before, but I love this 5-minute newsletter to keep in tune with headline news. My favorite element though, is their Friday newsletter that shares a great book to read. I couldn’t wait to dig into this one after reading the synopsis.

If you are looking for a beautiful love story, this is definitely the book you should be reading this summer. Lucy & Gabe fall in love in college after witnessing the aftermath of 9/11 in NYC. This tragedy is the start of their relationship and the reader gets to hear all of the ups and downs of this relationship through Lucy’s eyes. When Gabe gets a job in the Middle East, the two go their separate ways and find love in other places.

The Light We Lost

The thing about real and true love though is that you always wonder what your life would have looked like if you had stayed together. Santopolo takes you on this thirteen-year odyssey that is filled full of beauty and the exploration of fate. Fans of One Day will really embrace this love story!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

A Piece of the World

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

I got a little burnt out on historical fiction, but A Piece of the World is a book that I kept hearing such good things about that I thought I would try to dive back into this genre. You may know Kline from her #1 New York Bestseller, Orphan Train.

One of the author’s favorite paintings is Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth. In this book she explores the story of Christina, Wyeth’s muse in many of his paintings, and what Christina’s life might have been like since the painting is so haunting. This well-researched account of Christina and the disability she lived with was so beautifully told. The reader gets a full portrait of this woman from her childhood until her older years and many of the hurdles she went through in her life.

While, perhaps, not as heart-tugging as her first book, Kline’s astounding amount of research on the true story of Christina makes this a captivating read. Be sure to read the author’s notes because it really showcases the effort that Kline took to capture Christina.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Darktown

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

Darktown is the book that was selected this month for the MomAdvice Book Club because I had heard such great things about it. Mullen’s book builds upon the true story of the first eight African American police officers that served in the late 1940’s in Atlanta. I was completely oblivious to their stories and trials that they faced in these roles and Mullen’s tells an unflinching portrait of the daily challenges that these men faced, racially and in their roles at work.

When a black woman is murdered in their town, the white officers start covering up their involvement while the black officers are limited in how they are able to investigate the case. The book is told from alternating perspectives from the officers on each racial side as the book builds a story of corruption and racism that will leave the reader guessing until the final pages.

Thomas Mullen happens to be a white male author and, apparently, submitted this manuscript without his name or picture attached. When it crossed the desk of one of the top black editors in publishing history, it was selected for publication. The acclaim has been so great that it has now been optioned for a television series. Fans of True Detective, are sure to love this one AND learn a lot about this time in history.

Join our free book club OVER HERE!!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 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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May 2017 Must-Reads

Monday, June 5th, 2017

May 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

We are in the final week of our school year which means this month has been CRAZY and my reading time has felt limited.  I am looking forward to camping out in a lounge chair at our community pool with a big stack of books and nothing to do this summer. I have so many advanced readers coming in to share with you and can’t wait to work through my stack and share some more reviews with you on what is hitting the shelves this summer.  For today, I have seven more recommendations to share with you of must-read books that I tackled in May.

Are you working through our MomAdvice Reading Challenge? I am loving the added challenge it is bringing to add more diversity to my book stacks. I managed to tackle a few more categories this month again and love checking those little boxes off as I finish my books.

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks.  If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

PS- Don’t forget to join our FREE book club! It’s so awesome!

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I fell in love with this wildly original novel that explores a work partnership between two women animators that are trying to be successful in a male-dominated industry. The two best friends, Mel & Sharon, bond in college and then decide to work together on an adult animated movie.

The yin and yang in this partnership is what makes it work so well. Sharon is steady and reliable while Mel brings a chaotic wildness to her work. When Sharon becomes ill though, they find their roles must be reversed and work has to be on pause until Sharon can return. It is through Sharon’s private journal that their next animated film takes shape and brings them back to Sharon’s hometown for answers.

Will everyone love this? Probably not! It’s crass and dark and, perhaps, the story goes on just a tad too long. However, all readers should have an appreciation for such an ambitious debut as Whitaker not only writes the book, but the animated movie plots that unfold for these animators. It is unlike anything I’ve read and I love the exploration of a female partnership carving their place in this artistic field.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book about art

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Bandit by Molly Brodak

Bandit by Molly Brodak

I have been trying to add more memoirs to my stack and I have a feeling that if you were a fan of The Sound of Gravel you will find this book to be similar in nature and the emotions it brings.

Brodak’s father is a convicted bank robber and was arrested for robbing eleven banks when she was just thirteen. He served time for seven years, was released, and began robbing more banks just a few years later.

His daughter documents the two sides of her father as she tries to understand his motives and habits. His charisma is so charming that he easily manipulates those around him, including his children. With raw honesty, Brodak just wants to make sense of her childhood and what qualities she has that are her father’s.

The story is raw and real. This isn’t someone who has necessarily made peace, but it is the story of someone trying to heal.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A memoir from someone you have never heard of

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Into the water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Let’s just say that Into the Water was the book I was most excited to read and was my least favorite in this month’s stack. I feel bad saying this, but this book will be easily forgotten by me. I should say that it REALLY will be forgotten since Hawkins tries to incorporate a million characters into a rather weak plot about a river that has killed many of the town’s residents. I am including it in today’s round-up though because I know many of you were curious about it.

Here is what I will say. The mystery does get solved, but Hawkins lost me in the process.  I plowed through hoping that the plot would pick up, that there might be a dramatic twist and big reveal…yeah, nope.  Police procedural books aren’t usually my favorite, but I had hopes she could weave a compelling story that would hook me.

I will still give Hawkins another try on her next book, but this one just didn’t do it for me. Reviews seem to be pretty mixed on this- people love it or they hate it so you might not want to take my word for it especially if you are a fan of police procedural books. I would love to hear your thoughts though either way on this one!

3 Out Of 5 Stars

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

If you are looking for the next The Snow Child, then I’d love to suggest this book as something you might enjoy. Arden’s debut novel is a Russian fairytale that about a little girl named Vasilisa and her family. They live in the wilderness where the winters are cold and she loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears to claim unware souls.

When Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father brings home a bride who forbids their family to continue honoring the household spirits. This lapse causes many bad things to happen and Vasilisa must defy everyone she loves and use the gifts she has long concealed.

This book is a beautiful escape for any fairytale lover.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Beartown is one of the most anticipated books this year from Fredrik Backman. If you are looking for another Ove novel, this one is not it and is very different than anything Backman has written before. I love it when a novelist take risks and Backman does just that with this new novel.

Beartown is set in a small forest town obsessed with hockey.  The Bears of Beartown win and they have their strongest team yet and a true possibility of winning the national semi—finals. Just as they approach their biggest game of the season, a violent act occurs that threatens the reputation of the strongest player on the team. To make matters worse, the family involved in this act also happens to be in charge of the hockey team. A father is then placed in a position he could have never conceived especially when an entire town is ready to demonize anyone who would ever speak against their star player.

Much like Into the Water, Backman has taken on a large cast of characters and the first half of the book feels mostly like introductions to each person to set the stage for the turning point in the plot. Although I love Backman’s writing, the first half felt sluggish. As so many other readers had promised, when reading other reviews, the second half was much better once the plot actually got moving.

This is still a solid read, but you have to have the patience to power through the first half to get to the meat of the plot.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have read every single book that Taylor Jenkins Reid has written and I have loved each of them in their own way. This book is markedly different than anything she has ever written and is an absolutely spellbinding book filled with old Hollywood glamour, celebrity secrets, and the power of real and true love.

Evelyn Hugo is an aging starlet who has decided to hire a magazine reporter to write her biography. As someone who has been very private, it is the chance of a lifetime for a virtually unknown writer to be given the story that is worth millions of dollars.

Evelyn’s love life has been something that Hollywood has often been speculated on, but no one could ever guess who captured Evelyn’s heart and how she was able, at times, to make her relationship work with the love of her life. Unfortunately, living in the spotlight often gets in the way of real living. This couldn’t be truer in Evelyn’s life and she is ready to divulge all of her secrets to Monique, in exchange for her writing her biography and publishing it upon her death.

I cannot rave enough about Reid’s ability to write real and relatable love stories. Each of her love stories has connected with me in some way and this book is no exception. I was swept away in Evelyn’s retelling of her life and Reid weaves smart plot twists in the end that I have a feeling you will really enjoy. In fact, I’m still thinking about them.

You must add this book to your book stacks stat!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Want to snag this one for a steal? This one was one of the incredible selections available in the Book of the Month Club! You can join for just $10 a month for the first three months and then cancel at anytime! 

The only disappointment, for me, is the fact that I have to wait for her next book.

Be sure to read my interview with Taylor in our Sundays With Writers series to learn more about how she crafts her beautiful love stories.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Many moons ago, my husband and I watched an incredible documentary on PBS called The Poisoner’s Handbook. Radium was one of those things that we discovered that had been an additive to many household products because people thought radium had health benefits. In this book, Kate Moore does an incredible exploration of the women who were most affected by the use of radium in a radium-dial factory and how corporate greed became more important than the safety of its employees.

Women often had to start working in their teen years, since educating women wasn’t a worthy investment in the 1920’s, and many soon discovered that the job that was paying the most was working in a radium-dial factory. These women were in charge of painting the faces of watches with this glow-in-the-dark paint and the quicker and more they could produce the work, the more valued they were as an employee. They found by licking the tips of the paintbrushes (as was even encouraged by their supervisors) they could paint much quicker and do a better job in the details of these watches. Since radium was heralded as being healthy, the girls had no problems ingesting it and even were known to paint their teeth, lips, and eyes with it for a fun night on the town.

When the girls began becoming ill and dying, doctors could not figure out why their patients were dying in such horrific and painful ways. When they began to suspect that their factory jobs may have something to do with it, the corporations continued to ignore their concerns and did not change their safety standards, putting more women at risk every single day.

This story documents these girls and their stories as well as the court battle that they endured after they were convinced that radium was to blame. It is a heartbreaking read that I had a difficult time with, but am so thankful I read. These women were true heroes and Moore’s writing is captivating and compassionate as she tells their stories.

If you are planning on reading just one nonfiction book this year, let it be this one!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A nonfiction book

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

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April 2017 Must-Reads

Monday, May 1st, 2017

April 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Can you believe it is already May? This past month really flew by and I’m so excited to share ten books that I read in April. As a book reviewer, this tends to be a really busy season so I have a large stack of advanced readers to still get through in preparation for all that summer reading that will be happening. Summer, to me, means thriller season so I’ll be sure to add a few of those to my stack for next month.

I’m still working my way through the MomAdvice Reading Challenge and tackled six categories this month! It has, truly, diversified my reading this year. This month, in particular, I read some books that I would have not normally have picked up in order to complete certain categories.

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks.  If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

PS- Don’t forget to join our FREE book club! It’s so awesome!

10 Must-Read Books from April 2017

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George

If you haven’t read Alex George’s first book, please do add it to your reading list- it’s beautiful! In his second novel, George weaves a gorgeous coming-of-age story, set in the late 70’s, that chronicles the life and friendship of two boys that find each other in their eighth grade year. This friendship blossoms as a tragic event unfolds in each family’s life and brings them closer together.

It’s hard to say more about this so you can be surprised by these tragic twists, but the setting and characters are so beautifully written that your heart will quickly be wrapped up in this sweet story.

This book reminded me a lot of Ordinary Grace, in what appears to be a simple story, but is told with such beauty, heart, and soul that you can’t help but fall in love with this book . Be sure to have a box of tissues as you read this one as this book dives deep into heartbreak and loss.

5 Out of 5 Stars

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

I don’t read as much chick lit as I used to, but Sophie Kinsella books are always like curling up with an old friend. In My Not So Perfect Life, Katie Brenner looks upon the life of everyone else with a lot of envy as she is broke, sharing a flat with some terrible roommates, and struggling at her job. When she is fired, she has to return home, but can’t bear to tell her parents the truth about her failure  so she tells them that she is on sabbatical instead.

What unfolds is adorably sweet as Katie helps her family launch a glamping bed and breakfast and secretly hunts for a new job on the side. The only problem is, her former boss shows up as a guest and Katie decides to teach her a lesson or two, but ends up getting a lot of lessons of her own.

In a social media obsessed world, Kinsella showcases how those Instagram photos aren’t always the reality of life and few lives are as perfect as they seem. Written with some really smart characters, it was a fun escape this month and, truly, made me laugh out loud.

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is one of those books that everyone has been talking about this year. This YA novel was riveting and a definite must-read this year.

Starr Chase has a double life at a mostly white prep school while living in a poor neighborhood. On the way home from a party, her friend is pulled over and fatally shot by a white officer.

The death becomes a national headline and Starr has to decide where her loyalty lies especially when it means risking her safety and the safety of her family.

This is a book that has made me feel ALL THE FEELINGS and this story has so many great lessons in it that it would be impossible to not have your viewpoint shift as you see the story from Starr’s perspective.  I can’t recommend this one enough.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book that challenges a viewpoint

5 Out of 5 Stars

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zetner

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

I became a huge fan of Jeff Zentner after reading his incredible book, The Serpent King (check out my interview with him on that one!) so I couldn’t wait to dive into his next book.

Goodbye Days opens with a tragic accident that claims the lives of three teens when their best friend, Carver, texts to ask if they are on their way. When the driver tries to answer the text, they are killed in a collision with another vehicle leaving Carver without his dearest friends.  An investigation unfolds as the families decide if they will be pressing charges against him and Carver must forge a new life without three of the people that have been such a big part of him.

In an effort to bring closure to the families, he has a Goodbye Day where they share a day to share memories of the person they lost. The Goodbye Days don’t go always as expected as feelings of anger and blame are placed upon Carver’s role in the accident and Carver must work through these guilt-filled days with his therapist.

Zentner has a way of writing friendships that feel authentically real. As an adult,  I truly appreciate the message from this book and think it would be a great one to share with your teen to warn of the dangers of texting and driving.

More than that though, it showcases the power of forgiveness over our lives.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia

Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

If you are looking for another solid thriller, I have to say that Everything You Want Me To Be was excellent and had me guessing up until the final pages!

Hattie Hoffman has always spent her life dutifully doing exactly what she is supposed to.  That is why it shocks the town when Hattie is found brutally stabbed to death since no one could ever imagine something like that would happen to someone who is so perfect.

Ah, but things aren’t what they seem and Hattie has a few secrets up her sleeve that include a scandalous relationship that leave the reader guessing just who would have wanted Hattie dead more.

I really enjoyed this one and Mejia carves a few smart twists that I think you will really enjoy. I couldn’t put this one down and finished it in a single day!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Kindred by Octavia Butler

I have always been a fan of time travel novels and selected Kindred as my time travel book for the MomAdvice Reading Challenge.  I can’t believe this book had never been on my radar before because it completely blew me away.

Dana is a black woman married to a white man in the late sixties. After becoming dizzy one day, she finds herself transported to the South in 1815 when a little boy, named Rufus, is drowning in a river. Dana saves him and this begins the first of many visits where he risks his life and Dana is pulled back into the 1800’s. Her role as a black woman is not a free one though and she must work as a slave at the house and witnesses the true brutalities of an unkind slave owner.

Butler layers a great dimension by giving Dana a white husband and when they are transported together, he must act as her slave owner in order to keep her safe. The dynamics in these roles causes stress and doubts between the two.

If you are highly sensitive, this book is brutal in the telling of the treatment of slaves. It unsettled me a lot to read these horrific accounts, yet I know that I need to know them too.

The ending was a little strange to me, but reading through the reader guide helped me understand better the dimensions that Butler was hoping to achieve through this ending.

Overall, this was a riveting read that I could not put down!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book about time travel

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

Thank you to the publisher for sending an ARC of this novel- all thoughts and opinions are my own! 

I finished Anita Shreve’s latest book in less than a day and really enjoyed this story of a marriage set in the late ‘40’s.  Shreve uses Maine as her backdrop and in October of 1947, a summer-long drought caused fires to breakout all along the Maine coast that killed many and destroyed their homes.

The book opens with the telling of a really loveless marriage. When the fires break in Maine, Grace is able to save herself and her two children, but has no idea what has happened to her husband. Without money, a home, a husband, or even clothing on her back, she takes her children back to her deceased mother-in-law’s home and waits for her husband to return.

It’s through this experience of independence that Grace must find herself from getting a job to learning to drive to managing money. Of course, as she finds her footing, she knows that her husband may return at any moment to take it all away from her.

It was a really great escape and would be an ideal one for your beach bag this summer!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book about marriage

4 Out of 5 Stars

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

This sparse novel, mostly set in the 1970’s, documents the story of a friendship as they grow up in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn they know is a dangerous place where these girls can quickly lose their innocence and Woodson paints her story in almost a stream of consciousness that makes you feel as though you are in the mind of these characters, from past to present, presented in a lyrical prose format.

Despite its short length, this book packs a powerful punch as it examines coming-of-age in a dark place and the realities of poverty without a mother.  This quote says it all about this book-

“Everywhere we looked, we saw the people trying to dream themselves out. As though there was someplace other than this place. As though there was another Brooklyn.”

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book written by a woman

3 Out of 5 Star

How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

I picked up Cat’s memoir on a whim not knowing anything about her or her work. Marnell had a promising career working as a beauty editor for Lucky magazine, but struggled with many addictions that prevented her from delivering on that promise.

Her addictions started with a prescription for ADHD medication, as a teen, and it spiraled out from there. The reader is taken on each cringe-worthy moment as she self-destructs on pills, binges on food, and gets involved with some shady people sabotaging relationships and her various writing gigs.

She chronicles the realities of rehab and the differences between treatments when treated at a higher end facility and then what a real rehab experience looked like. She also shares her own confusion over being celebrated for her raw honesty in writing about her addictions, yet being chastised for her drug abuse by her coworkers.

This book circles and circles repeating the same abuse cycles again and again. The writing feels manic at times and you just want Marnell to get her crap together.

But, it isn’t that kind of book

And it isn’t that kind of ending.

It’s real, unflinching, and showcases the truly ugly side of drug addiction.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book on mental illness

3 Out of 5 Stars

Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

I’m surprised that I haven’t heard a lot of buzz about Desperation Road, a beautiful Southern Gothic novel that is gorgeously written from start to finish. Fans of Ron Rash are sure to love this haunting story of redemption and the unlikely companionship that blossoms, particularly when they realize the way that their two lives intertwine.

Maben & her young daughter are trying to escape their life and the mother must use her last dollars to provide shelter for them through the night at a hotel. In order to earn money to get them through the next day, Maben finds herself involved in the murder of a police deputy and they must flee before she is caught.

She pulls over Russell, a man who has just finished his prison term for a crime he committed,  by gunpoint. When he picks up Mabel & her daughter he finds that he is now involved in a crime he did not commit.

Michael Farris Smith certainly has a way with words and I was sucked into this book from page one. If you are just in the mood for a good story, this book is beautiful and satisfying!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- Southern Gothic

4 Out of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

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