Posts Tagged ‘MomAdvice Book Reviews’

March 2019 Must-Reads

Monday, April 1st, 2019

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

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

While you’re here, be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our free online book club! You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here!  You can also friend me on GoodReads for more great book reviews! I love connecting with you there.

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

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections: 

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson

All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger

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

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

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

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

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

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

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

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

5 out of 5 Stars

I’m Fine And Neither Are You by Camille Pagán

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

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

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

The book shares the true story of Maud & Frank Baum. Frank wrote the story of Oz, but the journey to success was a long one. His wife, far ahead of her time as a feminist, leaves behind her education to marry this magical man and start a life together. Their life is what shapes the story of Oz and it is incredibly beautiful.

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

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

5 out of 5 Stars

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

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

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

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

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

There are three rules of Blackheath House:

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

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

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

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

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

This book was a confusing challenge and I loved it.

4 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

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

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

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February 2019 Must-Reads

Friday, March 1st, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While you’re here, be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our free online book club! You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here and proudly wear this shirt like a trophy. You can also friend me on GoodReads for more great book reviews!

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

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections: 

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

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

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

Lot by Bryan Washington

The Municipalists by Seth Fried

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I loved this story for a couple of reasons.

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

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

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

5 out of 5 Stars

The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

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

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

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

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

The problem?

Well, Korede’s broken heart, for one.

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars

 

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

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

*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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June 2018 Must-Reads

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

June 2018 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

There is just something so awesome about curling up with the book in the summer, isn’t there? I got a little treat for myself this week and got a better outdoor chair to park in while tackling my stack. I won’t lie, I have managed to spend the last two days in it for almost the entire day. They happened to have these outdoor chairs on sale and since I have wanted one since middle school, it fulfilled a lot of life goals.

We have a family vacation this month so I am already dreaming of what I can read for July. Is there anything more exciting than picking what you plan to read while you are away from home? Lucky for me, I’ve got several advanced readers that I can’t wait to screen for you. I am also looking forward to this month’s book club pick. Have you read it?

Today I’m excited to share the eight books I read in June and, once again, have a little something for everyone. Since I’m sharing book reviews for this newsletter, I am trying to read more YA so I have a few that might even make your kid’s stack this month.

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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 June) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page.

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

July Book of the Month Selections

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections:

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

The Girl From Blind River by Gale Massey

Beat the heat with these BOTM Summer Reads!

This month’s special:

New members will get a free book with code FIREWORKS. 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 8 must-read books I tackled in June:

A Million Junes by Emily Henry

A Million Junes by Emily Henry

If you love magical realism, I just know that you will adore, A Million JunesThis YA read, is a sweetly satisfying retelling of the old Romeo & Juliet story with a fresh magical spin.

When June runs into Saul Angert (quite literally) she is immediately attracted to him, despite her family’s only rule that she never ever spend any time with an Angert. Each family has its own reasons for their anger, but June and Saul find that they just can’t stay away from each other, no matter how hard they try. As Saul becomes more and more connected with June’s world, they discover that there is a way to actually see and reflect back on the past of each of their families. They are surprised to discover just how layered so many of these stories are.

This is such a moving book that showcases how grief has the ability to change and shape our memories, redefining key moments in our lives. The beauty of June’s relationship with her father, in particular, brought a tear to my eye as you see a little of the behind-the-scenes for many of his actions.

If you don’t like to stretch your imagination, this book is probably not for you. For those of us that still love a little magic in our lives, this book is an achingly beautiful treat!

4 out of 5 Stars

Hey Ladies

Hey Ladies! by Michelle Markowitz & Caroline Moss

Sometimes a book just hits me at the right time and that was the case with, Hey Ladies! This is one of those books that you will either love or hate because the eight women are completely self-absorbed. I was able to put that aside though and just enjoy the hilarity of the all-too-real challenges of female friendships.

The entire book is in email format with a few text threads and hilarious illustrations woven in and the correspondence mostly centers around the planning of one of the gal’s weddings (and all the ridiculous requests that entails). You follow these friends through their correspondence throughout the year as they write back and forth to one another through dates, breakups, vacations, and the hellish wedding planning.

I feel like the writers purposely exaggerate their annoying behavior, yet, you will still find these annoyances relatable on smaller scales with the difficulties of having a large group of friends.

The email sign-offs and correspondences were so funny that I started sending screenshots to my husband.

Is this book life-changing?

Nope.

Is it a hilarious escape?

Yes.

I loved it from start to finish really hope there is a sequel when these women have kids and have to start thinking about someone besides themselves.

Just as a side note, if you are Kindle reader, it is best served up through the app on a Fire or on your iPad because of the illustrations! I found the pictures were really small, but can be clicked to expand and opened into a new window through my Kindle app.

4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

The Cactus

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

If you were a fan of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, I think that you will really enjoy, The Cactus! I really do prefer quirky characters so I was excited to dig into this story about a late bloomer that doesn’t necessarily fit in (or want to) with her peers.

Susan Green, our main character,  is struggling with the loss of her mother and her own news that she will be becoming a mother after her own unplanned pregnancy.

When she discovers that her mother’s will favors her brother over her, her world is sent into even more of a tailspin because Susan is unable to exercise any control on this situation. Since her brother gets the house in the will and refuses to move out anytime soon, she decides to take legal action against him, believing that her mother would have never changed her will if she had been coherent.

All is not as it seems though and Susan discovers that her mother has been keeping a few secrets that will change Susan’s life forever.

Susan is not a particularly likeable character so some readers may find that they struggle with a connection with her.  That said, Haywood’s debut is strong, witty, original, and well-written.

3 out of 5 Stars

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

Described by one reviewer as Charlotte’s Web for grown-ups, my favorite book this month was definitely, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance. I can’t recommend this one enough for a gorgeously written escape, with equal parts myth and relatability.

Weylyn is an orphan and has been raised by a pack of wolves which is just one of many reasons why he can’t seem to fit in with others.  When he finds that he can single-handedly stop a tornado, with his own powers, he realizes just how different he really is.

Weylyn finds a sweet friendship with a girl named Mary and her devotion has never ended, even as they have gotten older. This beautiful relationship is followed as Weylyn brings magic into everything he does, even as an adult trying to hold down a regular job. The gift he has though is a blessing and a curse and we get to hear his story through the eyes of many in this book.

I could not put this one down and would recommend it for anyone who enjoyed, The Snow Child, because it has that fairytale quality to it that makes you never want to stop flipping the pages until you reach the very end of the story.

Although not labeled as a YA, I would confidently pass this one on to my children because it is a clean, sweet, and magical story. In fact, that’s just what I did. It’s the type of book that you just want to share with others, with unforgettable characters and unbelievable storytelling.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Perfect Mother

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

I was on the hunt for an audiobook and asked my book club if they had a favorite and several ladies said that I would enjoy, The Perfect Mother. As always, they were right and this was a wonderful thriller to listen to this summer.

The May Mothers are a local mom’s group that meet twice a week at the park to share their challenges with new motherhood. The ladies have yet to socialize outside of this though so they decide to meet at a hip bar in town for drinks to get to know each other better and get a break from their babies.

Winnie, a single mother, is reluctant to leave her child for the outing, but is convinced that this will be a good move to get away for a bit and relax. Her child is kidnapped though and Winnie, an extremely private person, finds that her whole life has been opened up for the whole world to see.

Though none of the moms are close, they all go to risky lengths to try to help find her son. Told from alternating perspectives, each mother is carrying a few secrets of her own and as the police begin to uncover them, they began to wonder if one of these ladies just might be involved.

I am picky about my thrillers and this one delivered for a light summer thriller that had me guessing the whodunit through a good portion of this story. This is a great one to add to your beach bag this summer. The narrator also was fantastic on the audiobook, if you prefer to listen to your books!

4 out of 5 Stars

Everything Here is Beautiful

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

This month’s book club selection was, Everything Here is Beautiful, and I was really excited to dig into this one for our discussion.

This is the story of two sisters and the mental illness struggles that one of them is facing and how it impacts the other.

When their mother dies, Lucia starts hearing voices and it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. Lucia plows ahead and marries an incredible man, only to leave him and have a baby with a young Latino immigrant.

Once she has her child though, she finds that the voices are beginning again, impacting her ability to care for her child. She moves her new family to Ecuador and back again, but no matter where she is, her mental illness follows her.

If you are on the hunt for a great book to discuss with your own book club, this is such a good one. It really explores what our roles are when someone we love has a mental illness and the blurred lines of caring for them while still allowing them the freedom to make their own decisions about their health.

If you are a fan of Celeste Ng’s work, I have a feeling that this book will resonate with you. Although the story could have been tightened up a bit and trimmed, this is a really incredible debut and you can see that Lee has a true understanding about the complexities of mental illness.

4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

I was such a big fan of, This is Your Life, Harriet Chance (you can see my interview on this one here), so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Evison’s latest novel, Lawn BoyThis YA coming-of-age story is a great one to hand to a teen to help illustrate the struggles of our different social classes and also illustrate some of the hot button topics that are happening right now in politics.

In this story, Mike struggles to keep steady employment after a short stint working as a lawn boy for a landscaping company. His family struggles financially and they rely upon Mike to help provide for their family. Despite living hand to mouth, Mike is determined to pull himself out of the hole no matter what. Unfortunately, he faces hurdle after hurdle after hurdle to just get a good job.

This is such an honest portrait of what it is like to be poor and how every time you get ahead, you find yourself behind again. Evison does an incredible job illustrating these difficulties that helps the reader find a new empathy for what it is like to financially struggle, but he writes this story with heart and humor.

4 out of 5 Stars

Something in the Water

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Something in the Water has been on my summer reading list radar for awhile now and I couldn’t wait to dig into it. This is a REALLY hard one to review because it was such a mixed bag.

This psychological thriller starts strong with a couple on their honeymoon who go scuba diving and end up encountering a plane crash and a bag floating on the water that is filled with money. They are a bit down-on-their-luck financially, and the money in this bag has the ability to completely change their lives.  The reader is left to grapple with what they would do, if given the same scenario.

What unfolds is a wild ride and, since the book opens from the first page with the woman burying her husband, you know that everything and everyone are  not as it seems.

The plot moves along as choppily as the waters in this book (pun intended) and Steadman tries to pull together a lot of plot lines with the main character making a lot of really dumb decisions that have you shaking your head throughout the story.

If you hate an ending where you are like…wait, that’s it?!?…you might want to skip this one. Steadman’s final paragraph was a bit of a let down and the ending left a lot to be desired (for me!).

I say this is hard to review though because I really couldn’t put it down and finished it in a single day.  The plot premise was such a good one, it just could have used some smoothing out of the plot in places. Steadman shows a lot of promise and I’d still love to read her next book, with hopes that the plot will flow a little smoother next time.

3 out of 5 Stars

 

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

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 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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January 2018 Must-Reads

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

January 2018 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I’ve got big plans to tackle another 100 books again and can’t wait to hear what your reading goals are this year too!

I am so excited to be sharing my first month of reviews for 2018.  This month ended up being a slower reading month for me, thanks to tackling some of the bigger books that I have had on my reading agenda. It slowed my roll a bit, but a couple of these larger books ended up being my favorites this month so I’m really glad I invested my time in them.

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.

MomAdvice 2018 Reading Challenge Printable download our free reading challenge worksheet!

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! I can’t believe we have over 1,500 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 February) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page. These will be added in a blog entry for January, but book club participants get the list a little earlier. It’s just one more perk to enjoy with this free club!

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

Before we chat about books, this month’s Book of the Month selections are AWESOME this month and I have to share about them with you!

book of the month

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s special:

Get your first month of BOTM free with code YESPLZ

February Selections

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (I already had this as an advanced reader- everyone is raving about this!)

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (this is the one I got!)

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller (this is the other one I got)

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James—a BOTM exclusive!

GOOD STUFF!!

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

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Fierce Kingdom shares the terrifying story of a mother and child that are visiting the zoo, as it nears closing time, when a shooting occurs and they must hide their to remain safe. Phillips builds the tension quickly as the book opens almost immediately with the shooting. You then follow the two as they try to find safety in the zoo and the story then begins to unfold with other points of views from other people who find themselves trapped there too.

The plot on this one was a bit thin and had a few loose ends with some characters that made this a quick read, but not necessarily a favorite. Had Phillips lead in with a bit more backstory and then moved to the shooting, I think I would have connected with it more with the story. She does craft believable characters and the struggle is real when her son is hungry and tired, but still has to remain quiet.

This wasn’t a thriller favorite, but it was an easily digestible literary escape for the week.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

The Last Mrs. Parrish

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

The Last Mrs. Parrish has been on my radar, after a few glowing reviews, and I couldn’t wait to dig into this fun thriller as my first book for January.  Constantine pens the story of a woman, Amber Patterson, who feels slighted by society and thinks she deserves more recognition than she is receiving in the world. Daphne Parrish has the life she always wanted and she begins to plan how she can steal this glamorous life from Daphne because she deserves it more than she does. #YOLO

Pretending to be her friend, she works her way into Daphne’s home and heart, all while pursuing her husband in some really conniving ways. A predictable Single White Female plot begins to unfold, but there is more to the plot than meets the eye.

Wait for it…PLOT SWITCH.

I’ll admit that the writing felt a bit juvenile in the beginning and I did not love Amber Patterson (or her viewpoint) when the book began.  I had thought about abandoning it, but Constantine develops a really well-crafted twist as I dove deeper into this one. I think you would enjoy this one a lot!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Pachinko

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

So many of my readers said that this book made their top ten and I can see why! This book was beautiful from start to finish and told the sweeping story of several generations of a Korean family in Japan and the cultural struggles that they face over the years.

The book begins in the early 1900’s with the unplanned pregnancy of a Korean girl, named Sunja. Sunja faces a lot of humiliation when she discovers she isn’t the only one who has captured her lover’s eye. When her path crosses with a tubercular minister, he offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life as thanks for helping him through his difficult illness.

The story then unfolds as generation after generation deal with their own cultural challenges, the discrimination they must face, and the poverty that threatens to take everything away from them.

This story is RICH in beauty and detail. Lee’s writing is just gorgeous and she weaves this tapestry of characters so very well.  At almost 500 pages, this one is a bit of a commitment, but I finished it in just a few short days because I had to know what would happen to these characters. I highly recommend adding this one to your stack!

Reading Challenge Completed- A book about refugees or immigrants

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Alias Grace

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Last year I read and loved, The Handmaid’s Tale and couldn’t wait to dive into another Atwood book this year. Our first MomAdvice Book Club selection happened to be Alias Grace and lead to one of our best discussions we have had in the group.

This book is based upon the actual case of Grace Mark, a woman convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper, in 1843. Atwood tells this story effectively through sessions with an up-and-coming expert in the field of mental illness, as many believe she is deserving of a pardon, as he tries to uncover the truth. Told from alternating points of view, from the doctor and from Grace, Atwood builds this story and leaves readers on shaky ground on Grace’s innocence.

This was a slow starter for me and didn’t pick up pace until about halfway through. Once it did though, I felt a bit more vested in the story and spent a lot of time reading about the actual case that inspired Atwood.

Since this has book has become a Netflix series, it would be a fun one to read before catching the series. I’m looking forward to diving into this series soon- I hear it is quite binge-worthy!

Reading Challenge Completed- A MomAdvice Book Club Selection

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon has been on my radar for a long time, but I had a feeling that this true-crime story would be a difficult one to swallow. If you are unfamiliar of what this story is about, this book explores the murders that happened in the Osage Indian Reservation in the 1920s. The Osage people ended up being very wealthy when the land their reservation was located on happened to be rich with oil.

Basically the Osage people ended up rich and lived happily ever after.

Right?

Nope.

You can’t imagine the corruption that occurred to try and rob these people of their land and money. From execution-style shootings to poisonings to exploding homes…it is unreal the amount of suffering these people endured.

The book explores the details behind these murders and the birth of the F.B.I. as they scoured the territory for clues and J. Edgar Hoover’s role in launching this bureau and the prestige and power he gained from this case.

This story reads like fiction, but it is anything BUT fiction. Fans of true-crime thrillers will love this one and won’t be able to put it down.

Reading Challenge Completed- A book based on a true story

5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Year of Less

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

If you are looking for a how-to book on how to live on less, then this would not be the book for you. If you are looking for a surprisingly poignant, raw, and honest account of one woman’s challenge to not spend money for a year and the parallels she began to see in her life to her need for acquisition, you will LOVE this book.

This memoir really showcases our deeply rooted attachments and the emotional reasons why we buy the things we do. As she whittles away at her belongings, she has time to reflect on everything from her childhood to her struggles with her alcohol addiction and see how these purchases intertwine with her habits and items she has acquired.

Fans of The Happiness Project will really love this one- it was deeply honest and highly motivating to rethink your spending mindset this year. I highly recommend this one!

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

5 Out Of 5 Stars

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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

behind-her-eyes

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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