Posts Tagged ‘Book Reviews’

December 2018 Must-Reads

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Can you believe that we are coming to my last month of reviews for 2018? I BARELY made it to my 100 book goal, but spent the last week and a half reading as many books as I could, amidst the holiday craziness, so that I could say that I NAILED IT!

This reading month was SO GOOD though that I am rethinking my top ten book list for 2018 because so many great books made it just under the radar. You can catch my best-of list on the blog tomorrow.

The good news is that MANY of these are priced in the $2.99-$5.99 on Kindle so many of this month’s selections are awesome AND affordable.

This week I will be plowing through two books for this month’s upcoming book club chats. I hope you will join me as we discuss this one and this one this month.

Typically, we only discuss a book each month, but the holidays were just too crazy to try to weave in a book chat there.

In case you missed it, did you see that our 2019 selections have been announced?

Let’s Be BFFs on GoodReads

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.

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections:

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Golden State by Ben H. Winters

Maid by Stephanie Land

Golden Child by Claire Adam

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Plus our extra book, available for add-on by members:

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

This month’s special:

Using code FRESHSTART, new members can get a free book when they join today.

Here are 10 must-read books I tackled in December:

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

I wanted to get Dumplin under my belt before the movie came to Netflix and I’m SO glad I did. If you are looking for a satisfyingly sweet feel-good message, this YA novel delivers.

Willowdean Dickson (nicknamed Dumplin’) is the daughter of a local former beauty queen and has always felt at peace in her own body,  in spite of her self-proclaimed fat girl status.

The beauty queens all look the same around her town though and she decides to submit her own application to join in the beauty queen fun. Seeing Willowdean’s bravery, peers that normally would never enter decide to also participate in this year’s contest.

Where does a girl learn some show-stopping skills and nail her stage walk down though? Well, Willowdean finds out that her aunt had a secret spot she loved to visit where some of the best showstoppers can show her and her friends the ropes.

I loved this book so much and the beautiful message in body positivity that this character embraces.

After you read this, be sure to stream the film because it captures all of the magic that this book embraces. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series after enjoying this one so much this month!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman

I received an advanced reader copy from the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was a huge fan of Loigman’s debut novel, The Two-Family House, and so excited to see that she was continuing down the path of historical fiction with her second novel.

Loigman shines when exploring complicated family relationships, and one of the most complicated is the love of two sisters. In this story, two estranged sisters find themselves reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII.

Ruth & Millie could not be more different and their contrasts are often brought front and center by their mother who seems to find favor with Millie. Her need to pit them against each other causes them each to carry secrets from one another and to grow apart.

When Millie loses her husband and finds herself penniless though, she comes to stay with Ruth to find a job and shelter. Ruth’s bitterness has not gone away, especially as Millie seems to attract attention, just as she did when they were young.

Secrets can’t stay buried forever though and the reader is taken along the very strained journey to the twisted conclusion where each sister must own their part in the story.

Loigman weaves the chapters together flawlessly and utilizes many voices to help round out the story. It is evident that she has done a lot of research on the Springfield Armory and the types of jobs the women would have held while their husbands were at war.

Just like her first book, the story seems straightforward, but Loigman is so gifted with building a character-driven story that would give a book club a lot to chat about.

Be sure to add this one to your stack this month, it does not disappoint!

5 out of 5 Stars

Between Me & You by Allison Winn Scotch

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

Wow, wow, wow, this book was INCREDIBLE. If you are looking for a book that you can really escape with, Between Me & You was a fantastic read that I savored this month.

If you were a fan of, A Star is Born, this is a similar love story of two people on the search for fame and what happens when one person moves forward in their career while the other is struggling.

Ben has all the cards stacked in his favor in Hollywood. He comes from a privileged family and seems to have the right connections. Tatum, however, is a struggling actress who is working as a bartender at an NYC dive bar. When the two meet, they fall in love and get married.

The thing is, Tatum’s career takes off and Ben finds his own career is fading.

This touching love story is told from two perspectives with one rewinding history and one moving their story forward, both laced with their own bias and regret.

Told from their unique perspectives and with this shifting timeline, the raw honesty in each of their stories really pulls through in a really unique way.

Usually, I find I gravitate toward one perspective, but this wasn’t the case with this one. I loved seeing each of these viewpoints and Scotch does an incredible job fleshing these out.

I must admit, I have read all of Scotch’s books and her debut has always been my favorite…

That is, until I read this one.

This is a love story that really delivers and will definitely be on my top ten this year!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Impossible Girl by Lydia Y. Kang

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

If you are looking for a historical fiction pick that you won’t be able to put down, The Impossible Girl is a book I would HIGHLY recommend. Kang uses her own background in medicine, working as a practicing physician on the side, and crafts the incredible story of a girl born with two hearts in 1850.

Cora, born out of wedlock to a wealthy socialite and nameless immigrant, is the stuff that legends are made of. At a time in history where grave robbers would dig up freshly buried bodies for profit, she knows that her own body would garner a fine wage for a resurrectionist and builds her own business as a trusted resurrectionist to protect her identity and her own phenomenal medical miracle.

Acting as herself and posing as a brother, she is able to both administer the deals and help with the digging.

She isn’t the only one though looking for bodies that can serve as specimens for dissection and display. A series of murders has begun, beating Cora to her profits and worrying her that she could be the next victim.

Well-written and beautifully researched, I devoured this book and can’t wait to dig into Kang’s debut novel next.

If you are a fan of Fingersmith (please say you are!!), you are going to flip for this incredible read!

5 out of 5 Stars

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

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

Each time I think, “NO MORE THRILLERS,” I stumble upon another amazing one that just sucks me in! Despite my thriller burnout, I couldn’t have loved, Jane Doe more! If you are having Joe withdrawal, this thriller gave me all the same sociopathic fun feelings as I got with my addiction to the Caroline Kepnes series.

Jane is probably the most unremarkable woman ever. She secures a day job at a mid level insurance company, has zero fashion sense, and has a cheap apartment filled with cheap furniture. A girl like this might not catch everyone’s eye, but it does catch the eye of the middle manager, at her insurance agency, and Steven Hepsworth won’t take no for an answer.

Jane is hiding something though. The only person that her sociopathic heart has ever loved was her best friend, Meg. Meg commits suicide though, all because of her relationship with Steven.

Now it is time for Steven to pay.

If you love a good game of cat & mouse in your thrillers, this one is wickedly sadistic and, at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious. Steven is a character you will love to hate and Stone builds a great complexity and layering to Jane that makes her highly intriguing.

If you need a quick page-turner with a sadistic spin (come on, I know I’m not alone!!), snag this fantastic thriller today.

4 out of 5 Stars

Looking for Alaska by John Green

I think I enjoyed this book a ton, simply for the reason that I went into this one knowing nothing about it. In our last blind book club exchange, I won this book from a friend and decided this would be the perfect month to read it. Admittedly, I wasn’t a huge fan of Green’s last book, but found his earlier work to be some of my favorite YA reads.

In this story, Miles “Pudge” Halter heads to the Culver Creek Boarding School where he meets a rather hodge podge group of pals, including a beautifully mysterious girl named, Alaska Young. Alaska & Pudge bond over the holidays, when they are the only two students to roam the halls of the boarding school corridors and dig up dirt on their fellow students.

It is through this moment of bonding that Pudge realizes he would do just about anything for Alaska, including being a part of their series of infamous pranks that they are intent on pulling off on each other. What Pudge doesn’t know though is how Alaska is going to forever alter his world and separate his life into two sections: the before and the after.

If you like quirky characters with a good friendship storyline, I just know you will love this one. I thought it had the sweetness of, The Serpent King with a bit of the Eleanor & Park quirkiness thrown in, for good measure. I really enjoyed this one, mostly for this book’s humor and heart.

This book proves, once again, just how much I have enjoyed Green’s earlier works.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Waiting Room by Emily Bleeker

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

Veronica has been struggling with postpartum depression ever since the death of her husband collided with the birth of her daughter. Her depression is so deeply rooted that she is unable to even touch her beautiful baby girl and knows that her daughter would be so much better without her.

That is why she is horrified when her home is broken into, while her mother is caring for her daughter, and she discovers that her daughter has gone missing. Due to her fragile mental state though, she soon realizes that she is the primary suspect in this disappearance and she will now stop at nothing to be reunited with her baby girl and finally be the mother she has always known she could be.

Ah, but nothing is ever as it seems when it comes to unreliable narrators, is it? Veronica is a mentally unstable guide in our story and there is soooo much more than the reader could ever guess.

I loved the smart plot twists that Bleeker has woven into this story and found it to be a quick page turner that delivered on an ending that I could have never guessed.

Anyone who has ever struggled with postpartum depression or the guilt of not measuring up as a mom will find Veronica to be very relatable character with flaws that seem fitting for her circumstance.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Gown by Jennifer Robson

I received an advanced reader copy from the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Gown is going to be one of those buzz books this winter that everyone will be talking about, I guarantee it.

Instead of exploring the story of the royal family and all of its mystery, Robson decides to explore a royal wedding through a different set of eyes. These eyes she chooses to tell her story through are those of the women that made and embroidered the dress of Princess Elizabeth when she wedded Lieutenant Philip.

Set in 1947, Ann Hughes & Miriam Dassin are talented embroiderers that have been tasked with the intricate stitching that will adorn the royal bride’s priceless wedding gown. Following the royal wedding though, Ann moves and never tells her family of her life in London and the work she did for this famous gown.

It is only in 2016, when Ann’s granddaughter stumbles upon a box of her late grandmother’s belongings that she finds a set of hand-stitched flowers with no background information on them. What she discovers though is that these motifs are the same that decorated the Queen Elizabeth II’s gown and she begins to wonder if there was more to her grandmother’s story than she realizes.

Heather travels to London to unravel the past that Ann never shared with her family and her secret friendship with Miriam Dassin, a celebrated artist and Holocaust survivor.

Robson discusses, rather frankly, her struggles with finding information on the real women behind the real gown. It was through a chance meeting that she got in touch with Betty Foster, a woman who aided in the actual embroidery of the dress, that she was able to use this interview to flesh out these characters, along with her own independent research at another embroidery house.

An excerpt of the interview with Betty appears at the end of the book and showcases how much her voice shaped Robson’s writing and these gorgeous characters that she has crafted.

Fans of, Secrets of a Charmed Life and the show, The Crown, will DEFINITELY be swept away in this gorgeous book.

I absolutely loved it!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani

If there has been one Kindle book that has consistently been top of the charts these past few months, it has been, The Storyteller’s Secret. Badani graciously joined me for an interview, after releasing her debut novel, so I had a feeling that this book was going to be another incredible treat and I wasn’t wrong. This book is GORGEOUS start to finish and, as the title suggests, if you just love beautiful storytelling, this book is one I would hand to you.

Jaya is a New York journalist who has suffered her third miscarriage and has found herself in a struggling marriage and emotionally drained. Desperate to relieve her anguish, she goes to India to uncover the answers of her family’s past.

When she arrives, she is greeted by Ravi, a trusted former servant of her family, and he has been waiting for Jaya to share the beautiful stories of her grandmother’s life. Growing up in the traditional Indian culture, her grandmother is a gifted storyteller with a big heart and strong spirit. Her husband dislikes these glimmers of independence, but also gives her the space she so desperately craves.

When a school is opened in the village, she is given the generous offer of being a teacher at the school and in exchange Amisha will be gifted English lessons. This generous offer is gifted to her by a handsome soldier who is stationed there during the British occupation. He can never know what a joyful gift it is and the heartache that will, in turn, come from that gift.

Badani writes again with kindness and wisdom for Indian customs and the religious beliefs they have built upon. I always learn so much from her writing and she does a phenomenal job of showing the beauty of India while also acknowledging the harder to swallow truths of the caste system and superstitious punishments that have been gifted within the family.

More importantly, given tasked to write the poetic stories of Amisha AND the task of telling Amisha’s story…well, that would take a talented storyteller to pull off. It comes as no surprise, Badani delivers the storytelling magic with abundance.

I would recommend this beautiful read to fans of, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats.

5 out of 5 Stars

Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman

Some books just devastate you and, Waiting for Eden, wrecked me with each word.

Like, gutted me.

At under 200 pages, Ackerman shows you that you need not make your stories long for them to be emotionally impactful.

Eden Malcom is in a hospital bed, unable to speak or move.  His wife spends each day with him in the hospital with their daughter… a daughter that he has never met. You see, Eden is a very wounded soldier who was injured in a Humvee explosion, an explosion that killed his best friend.

Eden’s wife, Mary, sits with him everyday, and turns away all attempts to cause her to end Eden’s suffering. His best friend waits for Eden in a comfortable limbo-like state – ready to ease his transition.

On Christmas Day, Mary is not at his bedside and Eden’s consciousness comes flicker back to life. He is determined to communicate his wishes to his family.

Eden’s best friend, who has died, is our narrator and through his eye we can see more of these fractures in these relationships and what his part was in them. He also is able to illustrate about what has happened to Eden and which soldiers are left unattended while he is cared for .

I listened to his one on audiobook and I found myself with tears in my eyes through almost every page. You are left, as a reader, to wonder what you would do if the tables were turned and to look at the complexities of this marriage and friendship.

The ending left me unsatisfied, but I have to acknowledge that this was such a messy story that I would never have got the ending I wanted. It definitely gave me so much to think about and Ackerman has gained one more big fan of his writing.

4 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year:

January 2018 Must-Reads

February 2018 Must-Reads

March 2018 Must-Reads

April 2018 Must-Reads

May 2018 Must-Reads

June 2018 Must-Reads

July 2018 Must-Reads

August 2018 Must-Reads

September 2018 Must-Reads

October 2018 Must-Reads

November 2018 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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July 2018 Must-Reads

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

  July 2018 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Well, get ready for a major brag session because I read THIRTEEN books in July.  This is a personal record for me and I attribute the acceleration on my new purchase.

I didn’t realize how motivating reading electronically would be for me, but seeing that amount of time in the corner of my reader really pushes me to keep going.

I mean, how hard is it to read just one more hour? And now that I did that, I might as well read another thirty minutes. Well, now I’m only two hours away from finishing a book. What is two hours in the grand scheme of things?

Seriously, the house is a disaster and I haven’t been making it out of my workout clothes, but look at how many books I read!

Also, that night light?

Geesh, is sleep really even *that* important?

Let me bask in my unwashed, barely dressed, dirty house smugness today.

Did I mention I read REALLY incredible stuff? I can’t wait to fill you in! This stack is, seriously, chat-worthy!

My Usual Reminders

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 can’t believe we have over 1,600 bookworms in this group. Our discussion this month was AMAZING and it is so much fun to have so many participating (and enjoying) the books that I selected to share. I announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in July) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page. I understand that if you enjoyed, Big Little Lies, you probably enjoy this month’s selection.

Need another challenge to push you out of your reading comfort zone? Be sure to download this year’s Reading Challenge Worksheet.

Book of the Month

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections:

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles

The Line That Held Us by David Joy

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

Goodbye, Paris by Anstey Harris

This month’s special:

New members will get a free book with code HEATWAVE. How it works: Members will pay $14.99 when they sign up for a subscription that will renew monthly. They’ll also receive a credit for a free book at the time of this transaction (redeemable at any time). Then they’ll be renewed at the end of their second month (unless they cancel).

Here are 13 must-read books I tackled in July:

Other People's Houses

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

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

Other People’s Houses had been selected a couple of months ago as a Book of the Month selection so it had been on my radar for awhile. If you are a fan of mama drama, than I think you will appreciate Waxman’s exploration of one woman’s affair and how it impacts the people around her.

The characters are quirky and her writing is laugh-out-loud funny. As a mom, I found the book relatable as Waxman creates a lot of dynamics between the characters in this story. She also writes very frankly about the difficulties of parenting teens, which I don’t think is explored often enough in fiction.

If you just want a quick escape, pick this one up. Although the story itself was shallow, the humor outweighs the plot holes. I have a feeling fans of, Big Little Lies, will embrace this read.

3 out of 5 Stars

Limelight

Limelight by Amy Poeppel

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

Perhaps one of the best book surprises this month was Poeppel’sLimelightIf you struggled to connect with her first book (*raises hand*), I doubt you will struggle with this dishy fictional celebrity story.

When Allison Brinkley moves to Manhattan, she finds that she struggles to find her place in the big city. She can’t seem to fit in with the other parents, not to mention that she can’t fit their belongings in their very tiny apartment.

When she gets in an embarrassing fender bender at school, she ends up in an unlikely role as a personal assistant to a spoiled teen celebrity that gives her purpose (and a headache). The reader gets to follow along as Allison puts out one fire after another with a kid that is headed down the wrong path. The one fire that might consume his career though is preparing for a show on Broadway, Limelight, and Allison ventures on a quest to get him to fulfill his commitment… no matter what.

Fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing will connect with this fun escape and the peek into the difficulties of personal assistant work that just might be happening behind-the-scenes of today’s celebrities.

4 out of 5 Stars

Girl's Night Out

Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

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

Following up the success of, The Good Widow, proved to be a challenge and an inspiration to this dynamic writing duo. The writers confess that they felt pressured to deliver as successful of a book and that, in the end, it even ended up threatening their own friendship.

This is exactly what they decided to explore in this fictional friendship of three estranged friends who have some wounds to heal. The three head to Mexico to try to get past some of their difficulties and address the current decision of two of them needing to decide if they want to continue in their business together or sell it.

When one of the girls goes missing, the other two must piece together what happened to her and the mystery surrounding a local man who had decided to befriend the missing girl.

Each of them carries secrets that also cloud whether their involvement could also have been linked to the disappearance and each of these secrets is explored through their own viewpoint.

This is a fun read to pack in your beach bag and a testament to two friends who overcame their own hurdles to put another thriller out into the world.

3 out of 5 Stars

Matchmaking for Beginners

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson

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

I am not much of a chick lit reader, but Matchmaking for Beginners was absolutely adorable and a fantastic summer escape.

Marnie just wants an ordinary life and she thinks she will get it when she becomes engaged to the man of her dreams. She quickly discovers though that she just can’t seem to fit in with his posh family and, at a family gathering, she finds solace in a quickly blossoming friendship with a great-aunt who refuses to fit in.

When the marriage ends, just two weeks later, Marnie is shocked to receive a letter that she has inherited the brownstone apartment from great-aunt, Blix, …on the condition she reside in the property for three months.

You see, Blix is a bit of a matchmaker and she has seen the sparkle in Marnie and the partner that she just must meet to seal her fated happiness.

I loved these dynamic characters and Dawson’s writing seems to sparkle off each of the pages. This is my first book that I have read by this author and now I can’t wait to dig into more!

5 out of 5 Stars

The One

The One by John Marrs

I think I have been reading too many thrillers because they just haven’t been grabbing me in the same way. I can’t say that though about, The One, which will be my top thriller recommendation this year.

Black Mirror fans may recall an episode of the show where potential mates are matched in a very science-fiction type of way. This thriller explores the concept of DNA matching in a similar fashion, but goes much deeper into the complexities of love and lust that happen when we are told that someone is scientifically matched to you.

There are several amazing stories going on- a straight man who finds out he is matched to a man, a woman who discovers her match has died before she has connected with him, a woman who finds out that her match is terminally ill, the founder of the profiling system and the relationship with her match…oh, and a serial killer who is out on the loose and pursuing a few matches of his own.

I listened to this one on audiobook and the narration is absolutely fantastic. There wasn’t a dud in the stories and I loved, loved, loved the plot twists in this one.

If you want a thriller you can’t put down, this is better than any of the summer buzz book thrillers I have read. I think you will love it!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Kiss Quotient

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Looking for a steamy summer read? The Kiss Quotient is just the ticket!  Hoang was diagnosed in 2016 with Autism Spectrum Disorder and her own journey inspired this incredibly fun romance that is the first in a series.

Stella has Aspergers, but that doesn’t stop her parents from pressuring her to get married. Stella doesn’t know the first thing about dating, choosing to focus her time on algorithms to predict customer purchases, so she decides to hire someone to help her navigate the romance waters.

She hires Michael Phan, a professional escort, to help guide her through a lesson plan she had devised to teach her everything from kissing to…Well, you get the picture.

Before long, Stella has overcome her intimacy issues and the professional relationship starts blurring into a real one.

This reverse, “Pretty Woman,” story is wildly witty and wildly steamy.

If you shy away from romance novels (*raising my hand*) I think you will find this romantic novel a lot more satisfying than, “50 Shades,” could ever be!

Reading Challenge Completed- The first book in a new series.

4 out of 5 Stars

When Katie Met Cassidy

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

I was such a huge fan of, The Assistants, that I absolutely could not wait to read Perri’s latest nove, When Katie Met Cassidy.”

When Katie finds herself sitting across from the negotiating table from Cassidy, during a business meeting, she could never imagine how it will turn her life upside down.  In a perfectly tailored suit and with an unflappable attitude, she couldn’t be further from Katie’s traditional Southern world.

After being dumped by her fiancée, Katie finds herself heading out to have a drink alone, desperate to project her own self-assuredness in her new single life. It is there that she finds herself outside of the boardroom, and in front of the very intriguing Cassidy.

What unfolds is a beautiful love story between these two women and Katie’s own self-discovery of a secret world that she has never understood or had ever wanted to be part of.  This charming romance novel showcases, once again, Perri’s humor and heart that had me laughing out loud and loving her writing all over again.

4 out of 5 Stars

Baby Teeth

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

It is no secret that I am a huge horror movie fan and, Baby Teeth,” was as incredible as any horror flick I’ve seen this summer.

Suzette has a chronic and debilitating illness and knew that if she ever had children that it would be difficult on her body. She knows though that her husband would love to have a child and that is how she finds herself with their daughter, Hanna.

Hanna isn’t like other children though and has not spoken yet, even at seven-years-old. What Suzette had discovered though is that Hanna doesn’t need words to manipulate her father and to pit her against her husband. Hanna has been kicked out of her school for her defiant behavior and Suzette has been given the impossible task of parenting a child that she tries to love, but doesn’t really like.

When Hanna begins to talk to Suzette, it is with an accent and she claims to have been a witch. As Suzette uncovers the disturbing story, that Hanna claims as her own, Suzette doesn’t know if this possession is real or if Hanna is just a remarkably manipulative child.

I could not put this book down and read it in a single day. Stage delivers a book that should be seen on the big screen and it was just as satisfying and fun as I had hoped. If you are looking for a great book escape, add this one to your reading wish list!

Reading Challenge Completed- A book you can read in a day.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Last Time I Lied

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Camp was where I spent many of my own summer days so I couldn’t wait to read Sager’s latest novel, The Last Time I Lied,” and dive into this twisted thriller about the disappearance of three girls from a summer camp.

Emma is now a successful artist who has made her fame on selling paintings of the three girls who disappeared from her cabin fifteen years ago at a summer camp for girls. She is haunted by her cabinmates disappearance so when the camp’s founder reaches out to see if she will be involved in the camp’s reopening, she just can’t stay away. While there, she is hoping to uncover more clues about the mysterious disappearances and figure out who could have been involved and taken these girls from the camp.

Ironically, she finds herself in the same cabin and begins to sense that she is being watched.  As clues begin to unfold and Emma grows closer to the answers, the girls in her own cabin go missing again and she is the number one suspect.

It is hard to craft an ending that I can’t guess, after reading so many thrillers, but Sager’s plot twists are smart and kept me guessing until those final pages. I couldn’t have enjoyed this thriller more and recommend it if you are looking for a well-written mystery!

5 out of 5 Stars

Vox

Vox by Christina Dalcher

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am going to guess that, Vox,” is going to be a book that a lot of people are going to be talking about this month. Hot off the heels of the success of the Handmaid’s Hulu series, Dalcher explores this same topic with a bit of a dystopian slant.

Imagine you live in a world where women are only allowed 100 words per day.  Dr. Jean Mcclellan could have never imagined that the political officials would have ever been able to pass such a law, but she now finds herself wearing an electronic bracelet where each word is counted and each word overage is punished. When the president needs her expertise to help his brother recover from an accident, where his brain speech center has suffered from disruption, she decides to leverage this to have her word count bracelet removed and utilize this opportunity to help herself and her family.

Dalcher uses her background as a linguist in a really clever way through this story. This story is a really uncomfortable one and questions our own role as women and our silence during political times. What are we doing now with our voices and what would we do if our ability to use them was taken away from us?

If you are not angry about what is happening in the #metoo world, you will be after reading this book.

This controversial story would yield a passionate, and perhaps, uncomfortable book club discussion about what is happening in politics today.

5 out of 5 Stars

Salt Houses

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

I can’t believe that we are already halfway through the year on the MomAdvice Book Club! This month’s selection, Salt Houses,” was an excellent example of another book that pushed me out of my normal reading comfort zones.

On the eve of her daughter Alia’s wedding, Salma reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children, along with much travel and luck.  She decides not to share these predictions with her daughter, but finds that this all comes to pass when their family is uprooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967.

Alyan ambitiously writes the story of three generations, within one Palestinian family, and how each of them views different times in history, their own displacement, and what home means to them. Her background as a poet really brings a lyrical quality to this story and challenges the reader to think about these different times in history through the eyes of this Palestinian family.

I had never even heard of the Six-Day War before, and it is stories like these that make me thankful that historical fiction exists. These stories challenge my viewpoints on many times in history and also allow the reader to see the story differently as it is told through the generations.

While I enjoyed this one, the constant shifting in narrative made it difficult to follow this story. Alyan provides a family tree at the beginning of the book and you will need it to constantly reference who each of these characters are. The story would have been more effective, for me, if it had been told through just a couple of viewpoints so I could better get into the rhythm of what was happening.

4 out of 5 Stars

Sick Sick by Porochista Khakpour

I listened to the audiobook of, Sick,” and had a lump in my throat for a good portion of this story. Khakpour narrates her own story of struggling with a chronic illness and her difficulties with getting answers on her failing body while fighting the racism of others during our tumultuous political years.

The author is an Iranian-American, a writer, and a lifelong sufferer of undiagnosed health problems. After spending over $100,000 on medical bills, she finally receives her answer that she has Lyme disease. In this tell-all, she shares about her own physical illness as well as her mental illness that is uncovered as she struggles with getting the answers and treatment she needs to move forward.

Unflinchingly, Porochista writes honestly about her addiction to prescribed benzodiazepines and how her illness strips her of  her own identity as a writer as well as her difficulties in maintaining relationships with others when she is so sick.

If you struggle with a chronic illness (or have someone in your life who does), you will nod your head through large portions of this book and how your struggles often don’t feel validated by others and the encouragements to, “just get over,” your illness. Khakpour self-destructs through large portions of this book, which can be frustrating to hear as a reader, but those times of self-destruction are often warranted when you hear her raw and difficult journey to diagnosis.

4 out of 5 Stars

Emergency Contact

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi

If you are looking for a YA read that is just as sweet and adorable as, Eleanor & Park, you are going to be madly in love with this charming read.  Choi’s unlikely love story between two broken people captured my heart and didn’t let me go until the final page.

Penny and Sam both have complex relationships with their mothers  and have had their own share of struggles in love. It is when Sam is having a panic attack over the news that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant that Penny enters his life and goes from becoming an acquaintance to his, “emergency contact.” The two begin texting and it is through these texts that their relationship grows and blossoms.

The world feels against them though and they have much to go through before they can meet in person. Not to mention, Sam happens to be known as Penny’s roommate’s uncle and is the one person that is deemed off-limits.

Penny is unlike any girl Sam as ever met though…crazy about science fiction, comics, black clothing, and emergency preparedness. Sam is a down-on-his-luck barista who dreams of producing his first documentary. The two couldn’t be more alike or more different, but their humor for life is what really brings them together.

Penny is a character that a girl can get behind and she makes perfect literary sense after reading that Choi has been a writer for the Marvel comics.

This debut is absolutely adorable and a YA read that even non-YA readers will love.

5 out of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2018 Must-Reads

February 2018 Must-Reads

March 2018 Must-Reads

April 2018 Must-Reads

May 2018 Must-Reads

June 2018 Must-Reads

July 2018 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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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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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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February 2017 Must-Reads

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

February 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

How are you? I hope you guys had another great month of reading. It’s such a pleasure to connect with so many of you through our online book club and hear what is in your book stacks. I managed to get in seven great reads during the month of February in a variety of genres this month. This month I’m sharing a great fictional memoir, a genre-bending thriller, science fiction, young adult, a nonfiction memoir, and some good old-fashioned literary fiction. I am hoping you find a book or two in this month’s stack that can make its way over into yours.

I’m still working my way through the MomAdvice Reading Challenge and tackled four categories for this month. It has really helped me to broaden a bit outside my normal genres. I hope you are enjoying working your way through it too.

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.

7 Must-Read Books from February 2017

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

Carrying Albert Home happened to be our selection this month for the MomAdvice Book Club so it was the first one I wanted to tackle in preparation for our discussion.

Described as Big Fish meets The Notebook, this was one of the strangest, funniest, endearing reads I’ve read. This is the “mostly true,” story of Hickam’s own parents who went on a wild road trip with an alligator.

I told you it is unlike anything I’ve ever read.

Elsie isn’t sure that being a coalminer’s wife is all that it is cracked up to be and she longs for a different kind of life. After a whirlwind romance though, she finds herself married and the proud owner of an alligator that was gifted to her by an old flame.

Baby alligators are cute, giant alligators are a lot of trouble…especially when your husband isn’t so fond of him. Elsie & Homer decide it is time to take Albert somewhere warmer and the three go on an epic road trip that is both bizarre and wildly charming.

I doubt you won’t be swept away in this unlikely love story of a pretty girl, a simple coalminer, and their adorable alligator.

If you want something highly original, add this one to your book stack!

Reading Challenge Category Completed-MomAdvice Book Club selection

4 Out of 5 Stars

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

I love a good storyteller and Kimmel delivers classic storytelling magic with her memoir, A Girl Named Zippy. Set in a small town in Indiana, Kimmel shares stories of her childhood with humorous storytelling that rivals some of my favorite David Sedaris reads.

I had picked this one up numerous times at the library, but each time I seemed to have a trouble connecting with it. The audiobook on this though, is perfection and a great one if you prefer short story escapes with your dishes like me!

If you are a child of the ‘70’s you will relate to the parenting and antics of this fun family. As a girl growing up in a small town in Indiana, I found this one highly relatable in so many ways.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book that takes place in your state or town

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

In anticipation of the upcoming film, I wanted to make sure to read the true story of the Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski who saved over 300 Jews from the Nazi’s.

There is SO MUCH to learn about in this book as Ackerman jams this story to the brim with the habits of its animal inhabitants as well as the survival techniques that were used to survive during this horrific time in history.

If you want to be inspired by a truly resourceful woman, Antonina is a powerhouse who was able to tap into basic animal instincts, even when it came to the Nazi soldiers, to protect those who were hiding secretly in her zoo.

Although the waters of storytelling are a bit choppy in this one, Ackerman delivered a story that I doubt I could ever forget of beauty and survival even in our history’s darkest moments. The author could have benefited from a bit of finessing in her storytelling instead of, at times, what felt like a book report.

Do read this one before seeing the film though. I highly doubt they can capture the animal magic as beautifully as it is told through this story and you will have loads of fun facts for your kids over dinner!

Reading Challenge Category Completed-A book that’s becoming a film

4 Out of 5 Stars

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This Is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel

I devoured This Is How it Always Is in less than 24 hours and found it to be a compelling read as a parent. This fictional story is about a little boy named Claude who knows that, more than anything, he wants to grow up to be a girl.

Lucky for Claude, he has two parents who deeply desire for him to be happy and it is with his happiness in mind that they work together to help Claude be who he is. When they feel Claude’s happiness is at stake, they decide to move to a town who will be more open to who he is and Claude becomes Poppy.

Their new friends and neighbors do not know about Claude and it is a secret that they keep to protect her. The question becomes, what happens when people find out and what’s next for Poppy.

Frankel shares that she is the mother of a little boy who is now a girl, but reassures readers this is not their story, but a fictional story to discuss more of a broader social issue that roads are not always clearly defined for each child.

If you are looking for a book club book that will lead to a good discussion, you will find a lot to talk about in this beautiful story.

Read our interview with Frankel this month as we discuss this beautiful book!

5 Out of 5 Stars

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Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

The latest big buzz thriller is called, Behind Her Eyes, and is a fun and highly imaginative psychological thriller. Her marketing team started the hashtag #wtfthatending that you can tweet when you finish. As a seasoned thriller reader, I thought I had it solved and then I didn’t… And then I REALLY didn’t.

It’s impossible to talk about this book without a big reveal so let’s focus on the generic plot points and say that this is a love triangle between a gorgeous wife, her dashing husband, and the slightly frumpy secretary. When the wife decides to pursue a secretive friendship with her husband’s secretary, a game of cat and mouse begins.

Here’s the thing, the reader will never guess the cat or the mouse and I told my husband, bewildered, that I was almost finished with the novel and still clueless where it is going. And then…well, #wtfthatending.

You’ll love it or you’ll hate it. I sat in the middle for a bit, not sure what to think about it. I will say, in the end, I appreciate that this wasn’t the same old, same old, BUT a reader must set aside a bit of reality for this genre-bender.

I’m excited to have Pinborough join us this Sunday to share more about her writing process for this book and what else we should read from her 20 (!!!) published works. Stay tuned and don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Oh, I am a sucker for a good YA novel and this one did not disappoint AT ALL.  Immigration is a hot button topic and it is addressed through this book through the children of two immigrants who find each other one fateful day and fall in love.

Natasha is from Jamaica, but does not consider it to be her home after growing up in the states. When her father gets pulled over, they discover their family is living in the states illegally and they are to be deported. Grounded and a head full of science, she couldn’t be more of an opposite of Daniel, when they meet.

Daniel is Asian-American and is working hard to fulfill his parent’s destiny for him to become a doctor. He wants to be a poet though and has always been a dreamer and a romantic.

12 hours before Natasha is to be deported, they meet and a beautiful relationship develops between the two. Although this sounds like a simple love story, it’s beautifully woven with many supporting characters that all have found their way in the threads of Daniel & Natasha’s destiny.

If you are a big fan of Eleanor & Park, I just know that you will love this sweet story that Yoon has developed. It’s no surprise that this one has been a National Book Award Finalist and a #1 New York Times bestseller.

Meaty enough for a book club or sweet enough for an escape this month, I can’t recommend it enough!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A YA Novel

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky was selected by our local book club this month and also happens to be a book club selection for MomAdvice this year too. I was really excited to read this one because it was a coming-of-age story and is a science fiction/fantasy novel so it was a bit out of my usual comfort zone for reading. This is a highly quirky story of two kids that both have unusual special abilities. Patricia is magically gifted and Laurence is a scientific genius. They lean upon each other through the early years of not fitting in and then. Later, they go their separate ways when Patricia is selected to attend an academy for magic while Laurence focuses on inventing things like a machine for a billionaire that will allow for intergalactic travel to save humans after they have destroyed their own world. When technology brings them back together they think it is forever except for the whole world coming to an end thing.

This was quirky and had some laugh-out-loud moments, but I wasn’t in love with this one. The first half of the book was highly enjoyable and the second half hit a bit of a lull for me. This is one of those books that you have to truly appreciate quirk and fantasy to enjoy it. While it held my attention, it definitely did not end up being a favorite like I had hoped this year. Too many random elements and disjointed storylines made this one a difficult one for me to pick up and get into.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A sci-fi/fantasy book

3 Out of 5 Stars

February 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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The Reading Life of an Entrepreneur

Monday, September 12th, 2016

The Reading Life of an Entrepreneur from MomAdvice.com

I am so excited to introduce you to my friend, Todd Greer. Todd is a ferocious reader and an incredibly gifted entrepreneur.  I recently reached out to see if he could share some of his favorite books with us and he graciously offered to share his perspective on some of the best reads this year. How lucky are we? I will go ahead and let Todd share with you today about his background and why reading is so important to him. 

Todd Greer

 

So, let me get this out there. Reading is my alcohol. It’s my partying. It’s my binge watching. It’s the addiction that I live with daily. I sneak books. I hide my book purchases. I subscribe to multiple book services.

It’s Brokeback Mountain, “I can’t quit you” serious. That is how I feel about books.

So since I have let you in on my little secret now we can chat. I am an entrepreneur. I started a business in Mobile, AL called The Exchange. We are a coworking company, helping our community to “reimagine work.” Before that I was a Non Profit Executive, a Minister, a Team Building Facilitator, a Volleyball Coach, a College Recruiter, a Political Operative, a Communications and Events staffer, a Hardware Store clerk, and a Paperboy.

Yep.

I have done a lot of stuff.

Oh, and I have a PhD.

I like to do stuff, and collect knowledge, and connect people. That’s what I do.

So, when it comes to books, I am the guy that is simultaneously reading four books. No. Not an exaggeration. And I have a pile of other books that I am regularly pining over just waiting to be able to taste and enjoy.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

*Right now I am reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown (seriously, this is one of those open your eyes reads about how easy it is to hold on to crap you don’t need and say yes to things you really don’t want to do),

The Aviators by Winston Groom

The Aviators” by Winston Groom (Not sure that there is enough here to hold me. We are jumping around a little too much between the different pilots and the storytelling just isn’t drawing me deeper),

The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

The Pale Horseman” by Bernard Cornwell (ok, if you have watched the series on Netflix you know just how much of a [email protected]$$ Uhtred is! This series has me hooked – if you don’t know Bernard Cornwell and you like the Game of Thrones, you need to read his work),

Accused by Lisa Scottoline

and “Accused” by Lisa Scottoline (I want to like it, but this first book in the series has some seriously played out stereotypes as it is working to develop the characters. Frankly, it’s still a wait and see).

Well, more accurately, I listen to a lot of books (and read a few). Last year, I read 78 books. This year, I already have 50 down.

Seriously, very few people I know read at the rate that I do. Well, except our dear friend at MomAdvice.com (she is only two ahead of me and I think I can catch her. Oh yea, and last year I beat her by ten books – so take that, Amy). 

Editor’s Note: Please note that I consider these words to be fightin’ words. I will be regaining top position this year.

Each of us reads (or doesn’t read) for a variety of reasons. Here are mine: to fall asleep, for a short drive (audio), for a long ride (audio or reading), to prep for a presentation, to be current in research or current affairs, to do yardwork, to de-stress, to learn, to get lost.

Much like my music taste, I have an eclectic palette with books. I read mystery, autobiographies, history, historical fiction, religion, social science, business, and fiction. If you can engage me, inform me, amuse me – I will read your work!

In the days and weeks to come, I will actually talk a little more about the actual books. Till then, my bookshelf is calling me!

around-the-house-2

Thank you, Todd, for sharing with MomAdvice! We look forward to sharing some of Todd’s favorites in a future post!

 

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June 2016 Must-Reads

Friday, July 8th, 2016

June 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

There is nothing better than a good book…except when that good book is read poolside! Am I right? I’m so excited to share with you this month’s reading list which includes everything from a mystery to science fiction to an epic love story. I can’t wait to hear what books you were enjoying this past month.

Want the inside scoop on what I’m reading each week? Join our online book club where we talk about books all day every day. This is not an exaggeration! Join me!

8 Must-Read Books I Read In June

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

The first adult book from Robin Wasserman and it is ADULT so, readers, be warned! Follow down the path of Dex & Lacey, two social outcasts who find comfort and friendship in one another through a mutual dislike for the high school queen bee. When one of the popular kids commits suicide in their small town, we are quick to see that things are often not as they seem as Lacey’s dangerous interactions start coming to light. Set in the ‘90’s with plenty of nostalgic flashbacks, it also laces in the beginning of the twilight of the satanic panic that plagued this era.

Due to the language, sex, and violence in this one, this will be a pretty polarizing book that you will either really love or really hate. I found it to be a great summer escape and a well-woven plot although, as a reader, I often wondered if some of the scenes were set up to shock you rather than to move the story forward.

Catch my interview with Robin Wasserman as she discusses why she made the leap to writing for adults and reminisce a bit about the ’90’s with us!

4 Out of 5 Stars

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You Go will be the psychological thriller you need to pull you out of a reading slump. The book opens with a mother crossing the street with her child. She lets go for just a moment and that child is hit by a car. This hit-and-run case leaves little clues to the killer and the reader follows this grief-stricken survivor as she tries to form a new life in a new town, far from the reminders of the accident. Hold onto your hats though because nothing is as it seems and the reader is taken on plot twists that will leave you gasping. This is, truly, the next Gone Girl, friends, don’t miss it!

Check out my interview with Clare Mackintosh and hear about the case that inspired her book and the life experience that shaped the raw grief of the mother in her story!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood

The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood

Ona is 104 and develops a fast friendship with a Scout who is obsessed with the Guinness Book of World Records. He believes Ona has a chance of winning, thanks to her age. Unfortunately, the boy tragically dies and his father is left to fulfill his son’s duties. Quinn has never been much of a father though, but it is through Ona that he discovers just how special his boy is.

The book flashes back to the special conversations the boy had with Ona around her kitchen table, is laced with true Guinness Book of World record holders, and a road trip adventure that brings the boy’s parents closer to Ona as she tries to seal the deal on her very own world record. This story is touching, heartfelt, and beautifully told. My only complaint would be that it could have been trimmed down a bit to create a tighter storyline.

Stay tuned, Monica will be joining my Sundays With Writers series this month to share more about her story behind the story!

4 Out of 5 Stars

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions.

I find Reid’s writing to be just the right amount of heart with just the right amount of reality and her storytelling truly shines in this beautiful story of loves found and lost. When Emma’s husband dies in a helicopter crash, she is left to rebuild her life without her high school sweetheart and you feel that devastation through Reid’s words. After years of sadness though, she finds love again with an old high school friend and begins to find that happiness she has been missing. Just before her wedding though she receives a call that her husband, Jesse, is still alive and coming home to be with her again.

A heart aching love triangle is formed and Emma must choose between the man she loved and lost or the new love of her life. I couldn’t put this one down and read it in less than a day. Reid’s latest book does not disappoint and would be the perfect addition to any beach bag this summer!

Check out an interview I did with Taylor in our Sundays With Writers series as she discusses her ability to write such believable and beautiful love stories!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (available for preorder!)

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions.

I am not much of a science fiction reader, but there are those exceptions that have lead me to embrace a little sci-fi in my life. If you enjoyed The Girl With All the Gifts, Ready Player One, or The Martian, do NOT miss Dark Matter.

It’s very hard to review this book without giving away some of the reader surprises. Crouch creates a fictional exploration that allows his character, Jason Desson, to explore different paths that his life could have taken if he had made different choices. When he is abducted on his way to the grocery store, he awakens and discovers that his wife is not his wife, his house is not his house, and nothing in his life is the way it seems. You are then lead through adventure after adventure as Jason tries to find his old life again in a rather unique way.

Equal parts science fiction adventure and equal parts a beautiful love story, there is SO MUCH to love in this book. The reader can’t help but root for Jason to be reunited with his family and there is never a dull moment with a hefty duty delivery of smart plot twists. The screenplay is already in the works so read this one before you catch it on the big screen!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions.

The Two-Family House is a sweet literary escape telling the story of brothers living in a two-family house in Brooklyn in the ‘40’s. While the men are away to work, in the midst of a winter storm, both of their wives go into labor and end up delivering their babies at home, thanks to one determined midwife. It’s the birth of these two babies that begins to threaten and unravel the two families, particularly their mothers, as they carry around a family secret that begins to impact them all.

A strong debut novel rich with characters and the raw emotional impact of family secrets, it is one that you will be unable to put down, and a storyline rich with lots to chat about for book clubs. If you prefer character-driven stories, this book is for you!

4 Out of 5 Stars

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions.

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a home together and formed a fast friendship that they thought would have forever. When Bea, one of their most faithful friends, passes away, her dying wish is to see them reunited once again twenty years later, on the eve of what would have been her 40th birthday. Of course, each of these friends is carrying their own demons and as time passes, secrets are revealed and the true nature of each of them is uncovered.

I have always been a big fan of Scotch’s books (Time of My Life still remains one of my all-time favorites) and have appreciated her storylines, particularly with love stories. Perhaps, that is why I struggled a bit because there wasn’t a strong love story for me in this one.  The book could have benefited from a bit of trimming to carve out a tighter storyline, but I still think this is a fun addition to your beach bag this summer if you are looking for a fun escape.

3 Out of 5 Stars

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

I am not big into series books, but I have heard from many of that you really love to sink your teeth into a new series. A Murder in Time is the first in the Kendra Donovan mysteries series and is a promising start for time travel and historical fiction lovers. It was this month’s selection for the Global Book Club (check to see if your library is participating in the Global Read to snag a free download of it).

The story follows an FBI agent, Kendra Donovan, that is involved in a case that goes horribly wrong and claims the life of her colleagues. When she finds out that they are using the murderer as an informant, she decides to take revenge at a period piece party he is attending at a castle. Hiding from him when her revenge takes an unexpected turn, she goes into a corridor and then comes out in the same castle, but in an entirely different era- the 1800’s. Her ability to sleuth out cases comes in handy though when a serial killer is on the loose and no one else can solve it. Without her modern day tools though, this case isn’t an easy one.

Oh, and she’s a woman and a low level employee at the castle so she’s not respected either.

Although far-fetched, as most time travel books are, this is a fun escape. I actually learned a lot about that era that I had never been before. Twist in a fun love story, and you have a great escape that fans of the Outlander series will enjoy with this fun modern spin!

5 Out of 5 Stars

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Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May Must-Reads

June-2016-Must-Read-Books

What should I 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! xo

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

June 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

June 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

 

June flew by, didn’t it? I had hoped to tackle a ton of books this month, but we have had so many fun projects going on for the site that I found myself barely able to stay awake for my evening reading routines.  These kids are just wearing me out this summer, I tell you! I have a huge list of books that I would like to work through this summer and I am also trying to read some advanced readers so I can get great new books on your radar before they come out!

Did you see this list I have been working on just for you? After each of our Sundays With Writers interviews, I finish the interview by asking our featured author to share one book that they think everyone should read (other than their own). After a year of responses, I thought it was time to start sharing those answers in one post with you. This list will be updated WEEKLY as we have new writers on for our interview series so be sure to bookmark it for your library visits!

This month I tackled two historical fiction, one incredible YA book, a thriller, and a romance! All of these books are beach bag worthy so let’s dig into my picks for June!

The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

What a fantastic read this was! Macallister writes a beautiful story of a female illusionist, something that was rare and provocative during the turn of the century, in this historical fiction debut. The story shows the reader things are not always as they seem even when it comes to the illusions we create in our own lives.

When a man is killed during her jaw-dropping act of sawing a man in half, The Amazing Arden is arrested and accused of the murder. The thing is, Arden has a story to tell about who that man really is and this murder just might be an illusion too. The story unfolds as she makes her confession to the officer who has arrested her as she confesses to the real crimes that have been committed in her life. There are some great plot twists in this one that kept me flipping the pages until the end and I really enjoyed it- I can’t wait to read more from this author!

If I had one critique on this one, I felt that the ending was a bit rushed and the book could have really benefited from an epilogue. With that tiny tweak, it would have been a really perfect read for me. I am still giving it a high rating for most perfectly written evil character and for tackling the topic of a female illusionist!

I have invited Greer Macallister to join us in our Sundays With Writers series and I look forward to sharing more behind this fantastic story!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Weightless by Sarah Bannan

Weightless by Sarah Bannan

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to preview this month and I have to say, I have been thinking a lot about this book since I finished it. This is an incredible YA book on bullying today and the ramifications of what can happen when a child is pushed too far.

When Carolyn Lessing moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the juniors at Adams High. Gorgeous, stylish, a great student and gifted athlete without a mean girl bone in her body Carolyn is gobbled up right away by the school’s cliques. She even begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival. When a make-out video of Carolyn and Shane makes the rounds, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut in an instant, with Brooke and her best friend responsible for the campaign.
Carolyn is hounded and focused on, and becomes more and more private. Questions about her family and her habits torture her. But a violent confrontation with Shane and Brooke in the student parking lot is the last attack Carolyn can take.

Bannan sheds light on how bullying happens now that kids have access to social media and creatively utilizes an undisclosed narrator who acts as an observer and participant in the bullying of a new girl at their school. Well-written and unflinching, it would be a great read for your older teen or for parents who want to see how bullying occurs today. I highly recommend this one!

I have invited Sarah Bannan to join us in our Sundays With Writers series to discuss cyberbullying and her inspiration for this incredible book.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

I have never read Barbara Delinsky before, but got the opportunity to assist with promotion for this book and so I toted this one back and forth in my beach bag. I didn’t realize how many of my readers do read her books though so I apologize that I haven’t read these books before to share them with you here!

On Caroline MacAfee’s 56th birthday, she is told that she is too old to continue hosting the home improvement show, “Gut It!” that she has been a part of for years. Her replacement doesn’t want to tell her about the switch. I mean, how do you break it to your own mother that her replacement is…well, her very own daughter? There is, of course, conflict knowing that the job that Caroline loves and knows so well is being taken from her and there is sadness as Jamie finds the relationship she has with her mom is slipping away from her in this new role. When a traumatic death happens in their family, not only do these two realize that they will have to work together to pick up the pieces of their loss, but their entire life has went into a different direction than either of them expect.

Since this book tells the story of Caroline, at the age of 56, and Jamie, in her thirties, it is a book that you could share with your own mother and will appeal to women of all ages. The story of friendship between this mother & daughter duo made for a beautiful read and would be a great beach read escape this summer. The story particularly shines as Jamie learns to find herself and finds love for the unexpected family she has been shouldered with. Caroline’s blossoming relationship between her and her longtime pal also builds into a beautiful love story in the golden years of life.

At the heart of it all, this story is all about how the blueprints of our life change over time. We all have plans, but let’s face it… they rarely work out the way we expect them to.

I would recommend this book for fans of Kristen Hannah and Diane Chamberlain, two of my favorite authors for a fun escape from the heavier books.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens (available for pre-order, hits stores on July 7th)

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to preview this month.

Chevy Stevens delivers another fast page-turner that will leave you on the edge of your seat. It’s the type of thriller you devour quickly, flipping pages until the wee hours of the morning, and perfect for your summer beach bag.

The story centers around three sisters growing up in an abusive home who must escape with no food or money to avoid the foster care system. When their car breaks down on the side of the road, two boys pull over and offer to help fix their car in exchange for work at the family ranch. Despite the bad feelings, the girls go along with these two….and their lives will never be the same again. Switching from all different perspectives, this dark thriller is a well-woven game of cat and mouse from start to finish!

I spent two glorious nights with this book and even woke up in the middle of the night to sneak a few more pages in. Now I will have to wait impatiently for Chevy Stevens next twisty thriller!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye

Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to preview this month.

If you have been waiting for the next The Help, friends, this is it. I really want to get this book on your radar because the story is so beautifully told and it is about something that happened in history that I was never aware of. A perfect balance of fact and fiction, you will get swept away in the storm that hits Heron Key in 1935.

It is hard to believe that this was a debut novel- it was so perfectly executed. I love when I am transported into time in a historical fiction novel and learn something I have never known before and that was the case in this one. This well-researched book perfectly combines fact and fiction into an incredible story about a hurricane that ripped through the Florida Keys. The racial tensions of the people combined with a camp of misplaced disturbed war veterans creates an incredible conflict within the town when all of their safety is at risk as a hurricane approaches. I just know you will fall in love with this perfectly woven story (and learn a lot about the 1930’s in the process!

5 Out of 5 Star

 

Amy’s 2015 Bookshelf (join me on GoodReads):

Books I Have Read in 2015

 

June 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Read With Me This Year:

January 2015 Must-Reads

February 2015 Must-Reads

March 2015 Must-Reads

April 2015 Must-Reads

May 2015 Must-Reads

What should I 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! xo

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

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What The World’s Top Authors Say You Should Be Reading (Updated WEEKLY!)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

What You Should be Reading According to Today's Top Writers (Updated Weekly)

When I started the Sundays With Writers series, I had no idea how beautifully it would blossom and how happy it would make me.  I decided to have one question that I would always end with when interviewing our authors. It was this…

If you could tell anyone to read one book right now (other than your own) what would that book be?

Since I started asking that, I have discovered and read books that would have never found their way into my book pile. Of course, browsing through the entire series to find their answers can be a bit tedious so I am putting all of these responses into one post that I encourage you to bookmark, pin, and share with others as this will be updated weekly as we feature the gifted writers in our Sundays With Writers interview series.

If you wanted to read more about each of the authors that have shared their recommendations, a link is provided to our interview about their incredible books. There is a reason they have been featured and you will discover why when you open their books. It has been my honor to interview each of these incredible voices.  

What I have discovered is, if I really like a book that they recommend…chances are, that author is going to be a GREAT one to read since there is usually a reason why they are in love with a writer’s words.

Here are the books that the world’s top authors say you should be reading!

Please note, this file will now be updated after each Sundays With Writers. The list will start moving down from now on so the latest book will now be at the top. Keep this bookmarked for your library list!

Please also note, these are affiliate links.  A small portion of your sales goes to support the work we do at MomAdvice.com. Please follow me on GoodReads for more great book recommendations!  xo

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Read It: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Recommended by: Julia Claiborne Johnson

My favorite book in the world is Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett. It’s beautifully-written, wonderfully imagined, and completely heart-breaking. In it, terrorists seize the mansion of the vice-president of an unnamed South American country during a party that’s being thrown for a Japanese industrialist lured there with the promise of a performance by his favorite opera singer. The industrialist comes, the opera singer performs, guests from all over the world are in attendance; but the terrorist’s real target, the country’s president, skips the party to stay home and watch his favorite telenovela. As the standoff stretches from days into weeks, the hostages and captors for a community that you know can’t last. I’ve read this book so many times that I still have to keep a box of tissues at my elbow for the end game.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Read It: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Recommended by: Barbara Claypole White

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It has everything: a spunky heroine, a messed-up sexy hero, a mystery, a dysfunctional family, plus love and madness in the English countryside.  And Jane makes Rochester cry. I aim to make all my heroes cry.

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

Read It: In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

Recommended by: Sharon Guskin

One book that really inspired me recently was Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, a novel about Cambodia. It is both dark and radiant at the same time. She finds meaning and beauty within the horror, which makes the book truly transformative.

Paula by Isabel Allende

Read It: Paula by Isabel Allende

Recommended by Gilly Macmillan

This is such a hard question!  There are so many books I could list, but I’m going to go with Paula by Isabel Allende.  The book tells the true-life story of the author’s daughter’s sudden and unexpected illness, which befalls her when she’s a young adult.  That story is interspersed with the history of their family and the story of Isabel Allende’s own extraordinary life.  It’s a powerful, heart-wrenching account of a mother’s love for her daughter, and one woman’s path through all of the big moments in life: love, motherhood, work, grief, joy and family.  It’s raw and honest, powerful and heart-wrenching, and beautifully told.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by MIchael Chabon

Read It: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Recommended By: Jordanna Max Brodsky

Glad to see another author already posted about The Song of Achilles, which is my favorite novelization of Greek myth.  I recommend it heartily to anyone who enjoys The Immortals!

As for non-myth books, I’d have to pick Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and ClayIt’s one of the few books I’ve read that I immediately told everyone in my life to pick up.  Set primarily in 1940s New York, it tells the story of two Jewish cousins (one of whom escapes from Nazi Europe) who create superheroes for the Golden Age of Comics. Add in a Harry Houdini subplot, love stories both gay and straight, a wealth of historical New York City detail, and the most sublime prose style I’ve ever encountered, and you get an irresistible work of brilliance.

Act One by Moss Hart

Read It: Act One by Moss Hart

Recommended by: Melanie Benjamin

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Read It: David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Recommended by: Sejal Badani

It’s so hard to pick one! I’m a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell and just finished his book David and Goliath so I’m going to go with that. It’s very insightful and made me think differently about the obstacles we face in life and how overcoming them often helps us develop our greatest strengths. I’m also a huge admirer of J.K. Rowling so I have to throw that in there.

 

Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger

Read It: Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger

Recommended by:  David Arnold

I have “Raise High the Roof Beam” tattooed on my forearm. I am unapologetic in my love of J.D. Salinger, specifically the Glass family novellas. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters really struck a chord in me, and of course, the original poem by Sappho is outstanding.

 

The Howling Man by Charles Beaumont

Read It: The Howling Man by Charlies Beaumont

Recommended by: Josh Malerman

The Howling Man(TOR 1988) Charles Beaumont. It’s got about 30 of his short stories and for those who don’t know him… hang on tight; you’re about to feel a tidal wave of wonder wash over you.

Scruples by Judith Krantz

Read It: Scruples by Judith Krantz

Recommended by: Jessica Morgan

One book! That is really a difficult choice to make. I have a degree in English lit, and I’m sure several of my professors will strongly disapprove of this — it’s very tempting to choose a classic, or at least something “literary” —  but I am going to recommend the classic Judith Krantz book, SCRUPLES (and also SCRUPLES II; the first book ends on a real cliffhanger, so be warned).  If you are interested in/enjoy popular woman’s fiction, Krantz is truly the master of the genre. Her books always feature strong women who excel at interesting jobs, and the plots are propulsive and highly readable and deliciously soapy. I personally never feel guilty about anything I read, but if you are into so-called “guilty pleasure reading” — or even if you are a person who only reads highly literary intellectual books but who longs to UNDERSTAND the idea of guilty pleasure reading — Scruples one of the most pleasurable, and, by this point, a classic of that genre. (Her autobiography, which is titled, brilliantly, SEX AND SHOPPING, is also a favorite.)

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Read It: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham (check out her comments below for lots more great suggestions!)

Recommended by: Heather Cocks

HEATHER: Oh, wow, I can’t pick that either. I think it’s because I would never advise anyone to read only ONE book, and I don’t even know HOW to answer this without considering the context. If it’s someone who never reads, I’d say start with the Harry Potter series, because it will invite you into books and then keep you there. If it’s someone who likes stuff that’s tonally similar to The Royal We — funny, with heart — I would hand them Someday, Someday, Maybe, by Lauren Graham, which I promise is a recommendation I would have made before she ever even picked up our book. If you’re into literature and wordplay and quirk, I’d suggest The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (and then read the whole series; they get goofier but no less imaginative and punny). If you want striking prose, read anything by Kate Atkinson. And if you love wartime and friendship and romance, it’s a tie between The FitzOsbournes trilogy and Code Name: Verity, both of which are wonderful examples of books that are technically considered for teens, but offer so much to anyone of any age. How’s THAT for a wishy-washy answer?

 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Read It: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Recommended By: Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I stumbled upon it at the used bookstore attached my library and bought a copy of it for four dollars last December. I have since recommended it to everyone that will listen to me and have bought multiple copies. It is a retelling of the story of Achilles’s life leading up to and through the Trojan War. I can’t tell you what I love most about it because I love everything about it so much. It is stunningly romantic, a pleasure to read, incredibly thought-provoking, and epically tragic, with some of the most wonderful sentences I’ve read in some time. It manages to straddle both classic literature and soap opera in one story. It’s so good (and so juicy) that I would call it a guilty pleasure except that you have nothing to feel guilty about because it’s so very beautiful and keenly smart.

The Street by Ann Petry

Read It: The Street by Ann Petry

Recommended by: Caroline Kepnes

The Street by Anne Petry is brilliant and searing. One of my all time favorites.

 

Kevin Kramer Starts on Monday by Debbie Graber

Read It: Kevin Kramer Starts on Monday by Debbie Graber

Recommended by: J. Ryan Stradal

Debbie Graber’s short story collection Kevin Kramer Starts On Monday isn’t out yet – it comes out next spring – but it’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a very long time. Debbie is just brilliant; her humor, which often sends up the contemporary American workplace, is infused with plenty of heart, pathos, and intelligence. I read it in manuscript form and I can’t wait for it to exist in the world. Please pre-order it the moment it becomes available.

Swimming by Nicola Keegan

Read It: Swimming by Nicola Keegan

Recommended by: Bill Clegg

By my lights one of the most brilliant, moving and devastatingly funny stories about growing up alongside, coping with and surviving the people who raise us.  The voice is so strong, so piercing and so authentic.  I’ve never read anything that conveyed more powerfully how families can be both curse and windfall.  I think about that book all the time.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

After I Do By Taylor Jenkins Reid

Recommended by:  Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Lisa says about Wild- She’s a phenomenal writer and this is a memoir you will think about for years after reading it.
Liz says about After I Do-  It’s an incredibly insightful and refreshing narrative on the challenges of marriage.

 

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Read It: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Recommended by: Elisabeth Egan

 

 

Trampoline by Robert Gipe

Phenomenal by Leigh Ann Henion

Render: An Apocalypse by Rebecca Gayle Howell

 

 

Read It: Trampoline by Robert Gipe, Phenomenal by Leigh Ann Henion, & Render: An Apocalypse by Rebecca Gayle Howell

Recommended by: David Joy

I’m going to stay true to my neck of the woods and give you three recommendations—a novel, a memoir, and a book of poetry—from Appalachia because I think a lot of what comes out of this region is tragically overlooked. As far as a novel, everyone needs to read Robert Gipe’s Trampoline. It’s bar none the best debut released this year and it’s arguably the best debut we’ve seen from this region in decades. With memoir, I was really impressed with Leigh Ann Henion’s book, Phenomenal. I think her storytelling is brave and her insight into our relationship with the natural world is matured and beautiful. Last but certainly not least, everyone needs to be reading Rebecca Gayle Howell, especially the poems in Render: An Apocalypse, which are just gritty and raw and lovely. She’s writing scripture. So there’re three for you to get your hands on!

 

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Read It: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Recommended by: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

It is an incredibly intense book about racial inequality in our criminal justice system, but it is beautifully written and powerful, with just enough hopefulness to help you sit with the discomfort of the truth and think hard about how you can help contribute to a solution.  I recommend it to everyone I know.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Read It: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Recommended by: Jennifer Niven

The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker

Read It: The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker

Recommended by: Vanessa Lafaye

It’s actually 3 books: The Regeneration Trilogy, by Pat Barker.  Is that allowed?  These books were among the first, along with Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, which opened my eyes to the history of WWI.  Before that, like most Americans, I was ignorant of this period, but it’s a huge deal here in England. I finally understood what the veterans had sacrificed in that awful, stupid war.

Geek Love By Katherine Dunn

Read It: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Recommended By: Erika Swyler

I suggest people read it because it may freak them out. It’s also what fearless narration looks like. It’s bold and bizarre in all the right ways and full of incredible visual writing. It’s a book that stays with you long after you’ve finished. It’s the book I dream about writing.

The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett

Read It: The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett

Recommended By: Greer Macallister

My favorite book is almost always the book I’ve read most recently, since it’s fresh in my mind. In this case, that’s The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett. It’s about an Arctic expedition in the 1850s, during a time where men died regularly exploring that area. The story weaves together what happens on a particular ship with the lives of those waiting back at home for the ship to return. Barrett writes so beautifully and precisely about both the emotional and physical dimensions of her characters’ lives. It’s gorgeous and brutal. I loved it.

One by Sarah Crossan

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

 

Read It: One by Sarah Crossan, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, & Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Recommended by: Sarah Bannan

I think that’s almost impossible for me as I read constantly, and I am forever discovering my newest favorite novel…So, I’m going to choose my novel of the moment, which is Sarah Crossan’s ONE, which will be published by Bloomsbury in August. It’s a verse novel for young adults, and it’s a beautiful story about conjoined twins.It’s completely consuming and unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

(I should also say that I reread, every summer, Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS and Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP. Two completely amazing feats of literary fiction and coming of age…I know this is cheating but it’s hard for me!)

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Read It: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Recommended By: Celeste Ng

I’d go with The Bluest Eye, because Toni Morrison is one of my all-time favorite authors and that book says so much about race and culture and identity and love, and it’s beautifully written to boot.

 

Room by Emma Donoghue

Read It: Room by Emma Donoghue

Recommended By: Chris Bohjalian

What makes this novel so remarkable is not merely how authentically Donoghue captures the voice of a five-year-old boy, but the deft way she slowly conveys the horrific reality of a mother and son’s captivity. If you want a poignant, powerful novel about a mother’s desperate love for her child, it doesn’t get better than this.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

 

Read It: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Recommended by: Rene Denfeld & Kristin Harmel

Rene says- Oh, that is a tough one, because there are so many wonderful books. I just read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It was stunning.

Kristin says-  All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I realize that’s sort of a lame response, because the book is so popular right now, but it’s truly one of the most beautifully crafted and beautifully written books I’ve ever read. I recommend it all the time!

americanah-book-cover

Read It: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Recommended by: Maggie Shipstead

I just finished reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I loved. That’s the book I’m talking up to everyone right now.

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Read It: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Recommended by: Suzanne Redfearn

black-and-blue

Read It: Black And Blue by Anna Quindlen

Recommended by: Jillian Cantor

That’s a tough question! I don’t know that I can pick just one book. But my favorite author is Anna Quindlen. I read Black and Blue years ago and it has always stayed with me. Every time she has a new book out, I buy it right away!

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Read It: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Recommended by: Torre DeRoche

I don’t think I can prescribe a cure-all because books are so personal to each individual, but I’ll share with you the most important book I ever read—a book that burst open my imagination and taught me that it’s possible to create an incredible alternate reality on the page.

When I was thirteen, my older sister told me I had to read this book, giving me only the title and a pinch of her fingers to demonstrate its approximate spine width. I went to my school library to look for the book and, having no idea where to start my search, I said to a friend, “I’m looking for a book that’s about this thick.” I extended my finger to poke the spine of a random book. It was Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel: the very book my sister told me I must read. It was a bizarre, serendipitous first encounter. That book rocked my world.

Long Man by Amy Greene

Read It: Long Man by Amy Greene

Recommended by Patry Francis

It’s hard to choose only one, but Amy Greene’s,  Long Man has everything I look for in a novel: a compelling protagonist named Annie Clyde who faces impossible odds with great courage and resilience, an engrossing plot, and a setting so vivid, you really feel as if you are there.

The Stand by Stephen King

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Read It: The Stand by Stephen King, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, & Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Recommended by: Susan Crandall

When I’m asked this question, I always reach way back, looking for a book that has stuck with me so vividly that I can remember the details of the characters very clearly even after a long time. I try to pick something that isn’t a classic, those already stand out and find audiences. I’m a character writer. Suspenseful plots are enjoyable, but it’s the beauty of the character and his/her journey that touches me. So after all that rambling, I always come back to two books, very different genres: Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry and The Stand, by Stephen King. I’m also a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s, Outlander (the first book in the series is my favorite).

father-of-the-rain

Read It: Father of the Rain by Lily King

Recommended by: Michelle Gable

I recommend Father of the Rain by Lily King to everyone. It is the perfect book.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Read It: My Antonia

Recommended by: Heather Gudenkauf

My favorite book of all time is My Antonia by Willa Cather. My parents always had hundreds of books on shelves and in neat stacks around the house and for a long time I passed right over the thick novel with the illustration of a woman standing in a field of tall yellow grass and holding freshly picked wildflowers. I finally pulled it from the shelf when I was eighteen and immediately fell in love with Cather’s beautiful description of turn-of-the-century Nebraska and the lifelong friendship between a farm boy and a young Czech immigrant. I reread My Antonia every single year, each time with new eyes, always finding something new within the pages. Whenever I visit a bookstore I’m always on the search for a different edition of My Antonia to add to my collection.

The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

Read It: The Shadow of the Torturer

Recommended by: M.R. Carey

So many possible answers to that!  You could ask me a couple of dozen times and get a different answer each time.  Today I’m going to say The Shadow Of the Torturer, by Gene Wolfe.  It’s the first volume in a tetralogy, so if you read it and liked it you’d have to read the other three.  But they’re so worth it. It’s a story of a far future Earth where the sun is dying.  Humanity has spread to the stars but that was long ago.  Now there are other galactic empires, other non-human civilisations that call the shots.  What’s left of humankind is back on an old, old planet that hasn’t got much time left to it.  But there’s a Messianic religion that preaches that the New Sun, sometimes known as the Conciliator, will be born on Earth as a man and rekindle all our hopes.  Reborn, rather, since he’s been here once before.  And Severian of the Torturers’ Guild believes this to be true since he’s found a holy relic, the Claw of the Conciliator, that heals all wounds.

It’s a very hard book to describe, and there’s no denying that it goes to some very dark places.  But Wolfe’s imagination is vast.  He creates a world and peoples it.  And he has a very serious purpose which takes in faith, physics and the importance of storytelling.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Read It: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien & Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Recommended by: Mary Kubica

My favorite book of all time is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. This is one that I tell everyone to read. It’s a Vietnam War memoir, but is much more than that. You don’t need to be a history guru to fall in love with this book. When it comes to my own genre though, psychological suspense, Before I Go To Sleep is one I often recommend. I just loved this S.J. Watson novel.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

The Bees by Laline Paull

 

Read It: Room by Emma Donaghue, Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, and The Bees by Laline Paull

Recommended by: Carla Buckley

Emma Donaghue’s Room, Anna Quindlen’s Every Last One and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. Just a few days ago, I finished Laline Paull’s fabulous debut, The Bees; I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Awareness by Anthony DeMello

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Read It: Awareness by Anthony de Mello & The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Recommended by: Rebecca Rotert

IMPOSSIBLE. I NEED TWO AT LEAST, AMY! However, a book I have to read over and over is Anthony de Mello’s Awareness.  It’s not fiction.  It might even be called self-help (choke).  It reminds me of the troublesome human pitfalls that can really muck up our short  little jaunt on earth.  I also return to Duras’ The Lover over and over because it reminds me of longing and waking up to life. These are a few of my favorite things, as the song says.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Read It: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Recommended by: Caroline Leavitt

The Great Gatsby. I hated it in high school, but then years later, I had to teach it in a high school, and I began to realize what a perfectly structured novel it is, how moving, how sad, and how beautiful a book it really is.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Read It: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Recommended by: Anthony Doerr

Oh, gosh, my answer to this question changes all the time, but a novel I’m absolutely in love with right now is Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. It’s about family, siblinghood, memory, storytelling, and particularly about our society’s treatment of animals. It’s also structured in this beautiful, organic, perfect way—I hope a few of your readers will give it a look!

I, Robot by Iasaac Asimov

Read It: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Recommended by: Andy Weir

I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov. In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest sci-fi books of all time.

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

Read It: The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

Recommended by: Kathryn Craft

Ah, the dreaded one book question, asked of a multiple-book lover! Since I know nothing about the reader, including why he or she reads—and given my answers to the question about critical subjectivity—I’ll assume your real question is “What book could someone read that would reveal the most about you?” You said “book,” not “novel,” for which I am grateful, since novels are such delicious slices of life it would be like asking if you could only taste one food what would it be. So I am going to go the nonfiction route and say The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. A brilliant life guide that I’ve read many times, my sensibilities are all over its pages.

Get In Trouble by Kelly Link

Read It: Get In Trouble by Kelly Link

Recommended by: Karen Joy Fowler

I’m not sure I can answer this question.  It would depend on the anyone – I don’t think books are a one-size-fits-all sort of thing.   But a current enthusiasm is Kelly Link’s new short story collection, Get In Trouble.  I will be so happy if you all buy and read it.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Read It: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Recommended by: William Kent Krueger

My all-time favorite novel is To Kill A Mockingbird. Anyone who hasn’t yet read this American classic absolutely must.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Read It: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Recommended by: Cristina Henríquez

That’s so hard. But this one has been very much on my mind lately so I’m going to say Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Read It: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, & The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Recommended by:  Frances Whiting

Oh My! What a hard question! I love books so much, choosing just one is almost impossible. But I’ll bite the bullet and say…no I just can’t do it! So instead I’ll say The Shadow of the Wind, The Great Gatsby, anything by P.J. Wodehouse, The Last Anniversary, anything by Mary Wesley, Nick Hornby, Tony Parsons and Clive James.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Read It: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Recommended by: M.O. Walsh

This answer would likely be different on any day you asked me. There are so many great books out there!  Right now, however, I will say Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I’ve found myself missing that book lately, sort of yearning to go back and re-read it for maybe the 12th time.  Who knows why?  This is the great mystery of beautiful fiction; it speaks to us in fundamental ways that we ourselves don’t always understand. It’s a glorious thing.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Read It: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Recommended by: Mary Louise Kelly

I would tell my brother to read Birdsong, the 1993 novel by Sebastian Faulks. It’s about a British soldier in France during World War I, and it is the most gorgeous epic of love and war and regrets. I’ve been telling my brother to read it for twenty years now, and he keeps refusing, at this point out of sheer orneriness. C.J., consider yourself publicly challenged.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Read It: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Recommended by Annabel Smith

My all-time favourite novel is Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, the incredible story of a prolonged embassy siege and the relationships which form between the hostages and their captors. Patchett has the most incredible insight into human behaviour and her prose is simply gorgeous. I have read this book at least half a dozen times and I get something new from it every time.

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

Read It: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

Recommended By: Amanda Eyre Ward

My favorite book last year was Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. It’s dark, riveting, gorgeous, important.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Read It: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez & To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Recommended by: Jandy Nelson

Two books: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. My all time favorite novels.

Light Years by James Salter

 

Desperate Characters by Paula Fox

Read It: Light Years by James Salter & Desperate Characters by Paula Fox

Recommended by: Molly Ringwald

Light Years by James Salter. It’s just one of those books that I keep picking up again and again. There is not a lot of fiction that I read while writing because I don’t want to be overly influenced. His writing is somebody, of course I write differently, but I just feel like he is a master. I also love, and we were recently talking about Desperate Characters by Paula Fox is a really wonderful book and Jonathan Franzen wrote the forward on it!

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Read It: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Recommended by: Jessica Knoll

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I’ve been tweeting about this book a ton, and I am probably starting to scare the author a little. But it’s a stunning book—gorgeous prose, and an epic and powerful tale about friendship.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Read It: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Recommended by Tamara Ireland Stone

That’s easy. Jandy Nelson’s “I’ll Give You the Sun.”

If you like Every Last Word’s message about the healing power of writing, you’ll love the way this novel celebrates the healing power of art. It’s so brilliantly crafted, told in alternating viewpoints by brother and sister twins—his story tells the past while hers tells the present. I’m simply in awe of Nelson’s ability to weave together different timelines and points of view into a beautifully written, emotionally gripping story.

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Polyvore, Dandy Blend, & Books

Friday, June 19th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you had a wonderful week this week.  I am loving being on summer break with my kids and am really savoring the slowed down days that we have been having together. Today we are looking forward to a pool day (finally!) and I can’t wait to sit poolside with a big stack of books- yay!

St. Margaret's House

Before we jump into the happy, I just want to thank you for all of your love and support of our site. The sponsored content that we share help so many charities and this week we were able to donate an entire month of classes to help the women of St. Margaret’s House (a local women & children’s shelter)  learn a new skill or trade including all those materials they need for class. I can think of no better use of money than empowering women to learn a new skill! Look at these beautiful scarves they have been taught to make and be amazed.  This winter, we were also able to supply a large donation valued at $1,500 in eco-friendly toiletries to assist the shelter through my partnership with ePantry. Your continued support makes donations possible to help those in need and I thank you from the bottom of my heart! I know sponsored content isn’t always your favorite thing, but this is how we can help those in need do big things. 

Today we have Cindy Bokma from Hello Dollface and author of A Thousand Dollars For a Kiss and To Marilyn, With Love  joining us to share her happy list!  Lori has been a longtime reader and loyal MomAdvice friend for many years. I am so lucky to know her and I’m lucky to get to share her favorites today! Please give her a warm welcome! If you are interested in being a guest poster on the 3 little things, send over a list of your 3 favorites and why to [email protected]momadvice.com and I will share them in the upcoming weeks!

Here are Cindy’s 3 favorites this week!

Polyvore

Polyvore

Between blogging and writing and reading, there’s Polyvore. This is like an  adult version of Paper Dolls which I loved playing with as a child. I pretty much love any activity that allows my imagination to run wild.
On Polyvore.com, you can create collages, outfits, interiors…basically whatever you want.  Its a fantastic stress release for creative people. I have spent hours designing things on here! There is nearly unlimited clothing, housewares, backgrounds, art, and so much more to work with.

Books

The happiest time of my day is the evening when I read. My day is over, chores are done, kids are usually finished with their homework and it’s time to relax. Sometimes I’ll go out at night and I can’t wait to rush home to whatever book I am reading! When I go on vacation I used to pack a bag filled with books, now it’s so easy (and lighter) to pack my Kindle or iPad! I always have several books ready to read and spending hours during the day with a book is the ultimate luxury!
I like real books followed by reading on my kindle, then the ipad. There is no greater joy than being really into a fantastic book! I spend a lot of time perusing new books on amazon and reading reviews on Goodreads. There have been times when I’ve whiled away a few hours just reading about reading!

Dandy Blend

Have you heard of Dandy Blend? When I was cutting back on coffee, I searched high and low for a good replacement to fill the void. I discovered this amazing drink which you can buy in tea or instant powdered form.
Dandy Blend is made from the roasted roots of dandelion, chicory and beets. There are numerous health benefits to this beverage which make it a constant in my daily diet. Its cost effective, contains zero gluten or caffeine and is not acidic or bitter. I have switched from drinking about six cups of coffee to one or two cups in the morning and Dandy Blend if I want a hot drink throughout the day!

How fun was that list this week? I am so excited to share more great ideas from you all in the weeks to come! Thank you, Cindy, for generously sharing the happy today!

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?