Posts Tagged ‘2017 Book Club Books’

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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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

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