Posts Tagged ‘2017 Must Reads’

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

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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  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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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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