Posts Tagged ‘MomAdvice Must Reads’

July 2019 Must-Reads

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

Are you looking for your next great read? I’m sharing eight AMAZING reads with you and why I think you should read them. From twisty thrillers to gorgeous historical fiction, there is something for everyone in this month’s stack! 

I can’t believe that our summer is coming to a close already. I don’t know about you, but I feel like it was just beginning and now I have to prepare for the back-to-school craziness. 

You can picture me crying in a corner and begging that I don’t have to start the schedules, the school supplies ordering, the check-ups, the uniform shopping ALL OVER AGAIN. 

read all about the reading retreat

It has been quite the bookish month! Not only did I host my first reading retreat (and it was just as magical as I had hoped), but I also spent this week writing all about how you can get your books for FREE on you Kindle. It’s more than just a post about the library though. It’s about allll the app options and Amazon benefits you should be taking advantage of. 

I also hope you didn’t miss my FREE Summer Reading Guide I made for you. This guide should keep you very busy, as summer comes to a close, with loads of beautiful reads. 

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. 

Don’t forget to send me a friend request over 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 Also Out!!

Here is what is available for July! 

The Whisper Man by Alex North

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

This month’s special: New members can get their first book for $9.99 when they join using this month’s code CHASE and can cancel at any time. 

Still somehow in all the craziness, I managed to read so many incredible books this month.

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

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

I devoured this gothic historical fiction novel from debut author, Sara Collins.  This murder mystery follows the life of a slave named Frannie Langton and her difficult life as a slave for two different couples. 

The novel opens with the trial of Frannie Langton and the accusations that she pulled off a brutal double murder of her employers. The couple, whose deaths are in question, are wildly eccentric and Frannie finds herself entrapped by both the husband and the wife.

The thing is, she cannot recall what happened the night of the murder, even though this information could save her from certain death. Found to be covered in blood and laying next to one of the victims, she doesn’t even have the memories to help her remember her role that evening.

The novel winds through Frannie’s journey from her Jamaican plantation upbringing to her time serving a couple in London. This woman’s story is very dark and very twisted with a forbidden relationship that no one could have ever predicted. 

If you were tempted by the forbidden fruits of V.C. Andrews, love a good Sarah Waters novel, or found yourself entranced by Alias Grace…you must pick up this book. 

Although it had a slow start and, honestly, far too many loose ends to wrap up, it was still worth every minute of my reading time. 

Please note, this novel is graphic/brutal in nature. I would not recommend for the highly sensitive reader! 

4 out of 5 Stars

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

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

Let’s just admit that most buzz books do not deliver. I am so thrilled to say though that Ask Again, Yes, was one of the first summer buzz books that REALLY delivered on its promise to be an incredible 2019 read. 

If you haven’t gotten to this one yet, let me fill you in a bit on the plot.

The story chronicles the lives of two rookie cops, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, who also happen to be neighbors. Set in the 1970’s, the two wives (Lena and Anne) should be close friends, but they are both battling their own demons at home.  Lena is very lonely and could use a friend, but Anne is emotionally unstable and not the kind of person that can support Anne through this chapter in her life.

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The two neighbor kids, born just six months apart, have found a forever friendship with one another that trumps all of their parent’s difficulties and struggles.

In a very shocking twist of events though, one moment changes everything for these two families in a way that the reader would never expect.  This event causes their loyalties to divide and their bonds to be tested. 

Keane chronicles the next 40 years so beautifully that it made my heart hurt. The storytelling is exquisite and I hung on every last word.

When I ended this book, I looked at my husband and said, “FINALLY. A BUZZ BOOK WORTH READING.” 

I guarantee that this one will be going on my best books of 2019 list. 

5 out of 5 Stars

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

I used my Book of the Month credit on this intimate nonfiction exploration of real women and their secret sex lives

If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, please carry on! 

I, honestly, cracked the book open in the morning with coffee and ended the book THE SAME DAY with wine. 

I then handed it off to a girlfriend and begged her to read it too, just so I had someone to talk about it with.

Perhaps, it is my conservative Midwest upbringing, but I found this book to be eye-opening, especially because women so rarely discuss their own sexual desires openly. The author, in fact, had many people bail on her, midway through this project, because people began to worry about the anonymity factor. 

As the title suggests, this profiles three different women and what is happening behind closed doors.

One Midwest woman is struggling to get her husband to even kiss her, let alone be intimate with her. It is because of this rejection that she rekindles an old flame and begins having an affair.

Another woman starts a relationship with her English teacher, at the tender age of seventeen. What begins as something innocent begins to slowly evolve into an inappropriate relationship. Just as she begins to be fully vested into this relationship, her teacher completely cuts her off from his life.

To her surprise, now as an adult, he is nominated as, “Teacher of the Year,” and no one in her town believes her story of her affair.

The third is the raciest of the storylines and features a woman who is happily married and her husband is also happily open to them having other people in the bedroom (*ahem*).

The book reads like fiction, but Taddeo has spent years on this book to make sure that she tells their story as truthfully and honestly as possible. It has seemed to struck a chord with many and now has been picked up for a Showtime television series too

My inability to put this one down makes it a winner, at least in my book.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

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

If you gravitate towards the darker thrillers, I have a feeling that you will enjoy this new novel, The Chain

The plot revolves around a mother, named Rachel, who is on her way to an oncology appointment, when she receives a panicked message from a woman who tells her that the caller’s child has been kidnapped.

She is desperate for Rachel to help her get her child back.

The only way the caller could get her child back though is to kidnap ANOTHER child…and Rachel’s daughter has been chosen. 

This crazy woman has her child. 

Say what?

To release Kylie, Rachel’s kidnapped daughter, she is required to send a ridiculous amount of money and KIDNAP ANOTHER CHILD to complete the chain.

What is the consequence of breaking this chain? If she breaks the link, her child will be killed.

Rachel is down on her luck financially, is divorced, and has been beaten down with cancer. She would do or sacrifice anything though to get her child back… including taking someone else’s kid. With the help of her ex-brother-in-law (a Special Forces veteran), she goes against everything she is to get her daughter back. 

McKinty adds a lot of layers to Rachel that include both her difficult life and her background as a professor of philosophy. He also adds layers to her accomplice that make him unreliable and put the reader on edge. 

This is another book that I polished off in a single day and ended up being a fantastic little summer escape. 

4 out of 5 Stars

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

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

Are you tired of every thriller saying that they are the next, Gone Girl

Me too! 

The thing is,  this is probably the closest thing I’ve read to that novel that really delivered on great thriller plot twists.

That’s why, I’m actually going to give this one the Gone Girl Award (trademarked) for 2019.

Sabine Hardison has went missing, but this isn’t the first time that she has done this. Her husband, Jeffrey, is concerned that this time is different though and reports her missing to the police.

When her car turns up abandoned, the only evidence they have is that all signs are pointing to foul play. 

Sabine’s sister knows that Jeffrey isn’t the supportive husband that he is sharing with the police though and thinks that Sabine may have disappeared just to escape the abusive relationship. When you learn more about Sabine’s story, you know you would have to leave too.

Now known as Beth Murphy, she has cut off her hair, dyed it in a new shade, and is doing everything she can to escape the cycle of abuse she was part of.  “Beth” has to keep moving though, and keep an emotional distance from everyone, because the last thing that can happen is being found by her husband. 

One detective is unwilling to end this case until these answers are found and he will stop at nothing to figure out where Sabine is hiding or who could have murdered her. This game of cat-and-mouse is on! 

I loved, loved, loved this thriller and highly recommend this one if you are looking for a solid plot to really sink your teeth into. The twists were so well-played that it took me, even as a seasoned thriller reader, by surprise. 

5 out of 5 Stars

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

A thriller without GIRL or WIFE in the title AND focuses on a twisted friendship instead? 

Sign. Me. Up.

I used one of my summer Book of the Month credits to snag this fun thriller and really enjoyed it. 

Stella and Violet have been best friends since college, but could not be more opposite. Stella is the beautiful and reckless one who oozes privilege. Violet, on the other hand, has had to work really hard to get where she is and seems to be available to clean up any mess that Stella might be making.

Violet ends up scoring her dream job, after graduation, and finds herself working for cable news. Due to her dedication and focus to detail, she is quickly moved up the ranks from intern all the way up to assistant producer. She loves having her own thing, separate from Stella, and feels like she is finally on a path that hasn’t been clouded by her taking up the spotlight. 

When Stella becomes jealous of her new life, she works her family’s connections to score a job at the same news center. She begins infiltrating herself into Violet’s relationships and wins the coveted role as a news anchor. 

Just as Stella is to begin her dream job as an anchor, she disappears. It’s not the first time she’s left though so no one is suspicious that there could be foul play.

Ah, but Violet has had enough with Stella moving on her turf and she just might know where Stella is.

This was another fun summer thriller that I really enjoyed this month.

Pitoniak does a great job showcasing the love-hate relationship between these two and creates the right amount of sympathy in Violet, along with the right amount of narcissism in Stella. 

I would definitely add this one to your reading list this summer!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

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

I selected, The Masterpiece, as our book for discussion on our MomAdvice Reading Retreat. It ended up being a really charming historical fiction novel that made me want to dive into more of the offerings from Fiona Davis. 

If you are unfamiliar with Fiona Davis, she tells stories, that are set in New York, at famous historic landmark locations. This novel goes back and forth through time and the setting this time is in the Grand Central Terminal. 

Did you know that the Grand Central Terminal used to house an art school? 

Well, it did and this story shares about that time in history and the artistry that was developed through this school.

Fifty years later, Virginia is working the information booth at the Grand Central Terminal and the building has a planned renovation that may remove beautiful portions of its history. When Virginia stumbles upon the art school, now boarded up and abandoned, she finds a beautiful watercolor that might be worth something. Virginia takes it upon herself to find out who that artist is and to learn more about the history of this school.

This is a PERFECT book club discussion book because two of these fictional characters are based on real people in history and it also was so fun to discover that there was an art school tucked away in this building. 

We had an excellent discussion and it is the kind of book you could pass on to ANYONE and they will enjoy it too. 

I’m really glad we got a chance to talk about this one, especially since this was our first time talking about a book in person. 

4 out of 5 Stars

In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

If you are looking for an incredible young adult novel, be sure to pick up, “In Sight of Stars.” 

The MomAdvice Book Club was lucky enough to not only have a video chat with Gae, at our MomAdvice Reading Retreat, but she also joined us for our online book chat as well. Gae is one of those generous kinds of authors that is so giving of her time time and talks openly and honestly about her books.

If you are looking for an interactive book chat, this is YOUR GIRL.

Don’t have a book club? You can join mine for free and find the chat with Gae under our Events tab.

This story explores the life of seventeen-year-old Klee (pronounced Clay) and the aching grief of losing his father. Klee’s father was his world and was the one who introduced him to art by taking him to the MoMA and sharing his stories about the artists that hung on those walls.

When his father dies, a little part of Klee has died too and he can’t help to think his mom might be partly to blame for his death. 

Klee needs a little happiness in his life and when he meets Sarah, in his art class, he believes that she is just the ticket to bring him back out of his shell. She is everything he is not- wild, carefree, and lighthearted. 

When Sarah betrays him though, Klee finds himself in a psychiatric hospital for teens where he is forced to deal with the emotions of his father’s death, his anger with his mother, and losing the one person who brought him joy again. 

Luckily, this boy is surrounded by a staff of helpers who help Klee come to terms with ALL OF IT and his role in these stories. 

Polisner really opens this story in a way that makes it confusing to the reader and she does so purposefully. She wants her reader to understand what it is like in Klee’s head and how hard it is for him.

More importantly, she confronts how the things we think we know about our parents aren’t always the real story. She challenges her reader to look at their stories in a different light and with a little more grace than they might have before.

What teen doesn’t need to hear that?

I really loved this novel and so many of our readers did too.

I would also recommend this one for older teens due to language, sex, and adult themes.

I encourage you to add this one to your stack!

5 out of 5 Stars

 

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

June 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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April 2019 Must-Reads

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

April 2019 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

It is getting to that fun time of year where I start trickling out some of my thoughts on the BIG summer reads this year! This summer you can expect an OVERWHELMING amount of incredible books to enjoy poolside or with your feet up in the backyard!

Today I’m here to share about SEVEN amazing reads that you can pick up now (or start pre-ordering for your summer beach reading)!

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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. Don’t forget to send me a friend request over 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 Also Out!!

This month’s special: Check them ALL out HERE!

Book of the Month has a new coupon code to get a FREE book credit when you use code SPRINGFEVER at checkout!

OR For a limited time only, use the coupon code MOMKNOWSBEST to save $10 on a 6+ month gift subscription + a free book for you! Perfect time to buy Mom a gift for Mother’s Day!

What will you be picking?? I decided to go with Necessary People this month!

Here are 7 must-read books I tackled in April:

 

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

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

Looking for a novel that you just won’t be able to put down this month? The Girl He Used to Know is a beautiful contemporary fiction escape that features a really incredible love story with characters that seem to lift off the pages.

Annika is an English major at the University of Illinois. She struggles to make sense of social situations and college, in particular, is a very scary time.

When she joins the chess club, she immediately beats Jonathan Hoffman, who can’t help to be captured by Annika. She is different than any girl he has ever been with, a worthy chess opponent, and she’s stunning (without even being aware of it!). They begin a beautiful relationship together, but an unforeseen tragedy forces them apart and ends their relationship.

One decade later, Annika and Jonathan are reunited and happen to be living in the same town. The two begin rekindling what was lost, but must also address why they lost each other in the first place.

Annika is a character that you can’t help but to fall in love with and you also can’t help rooting for these two to work their relationship out. Graves rounds out her story with beautiful supporting characters that help Annika navigate the world in really incredible ways. I can fully admit that I may have teared up in a few places in this sweet read.

Definitely add this one to your book bags this summer! I have a feeling you will love Annika & Jonathan as much as me!

I’m recommending this one for fans of The Light We Lost!

5 out of 5 Stars

 

Recursion by Blake Crouch (pre-order for June 11th!!)

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

Dark Matter is one of my favorite science fiction book recommendations to give and ended up making my top ten books list in 2016. To say that I had HIGH expectations for the next Blake Crouch novel would be putting it mildly.

I am so happy to say that this book DID NOT disappoint!

In this story, Barry Sutton is an NYC cop who has been investigating the phenomenon the media has called, “False Memory Syndrome.” It is a mysterious affliction that makes its victims mad with memories of a life that they never lived.

Helena Smith is also trying to understand memory and wants to find a way that it can be captured, through her work as a neuroscientist. Inspired by her mother’s struggles with dementia, she has decided to study memory and focus on a piece of technology that will allow people to preserve their most precious memories.

As Barry begins searching for the truth, he discovers what happens when we play God with memory and how Helena’s technology has helped to create this False Memory Syndrome. While sheltering ourselves from our most devastating memories, by rewriting our history, Barry & Helena begin to realize how altering memories can change our identity, our relationships, and how altering circumstances doesn’t always yield the results we are after.

When the technology gets into the wrong hands, they realize how it can destroy the world, as they know it, and they will stop at nothing to get it back, forced to repeat their lives over and over again, to try to change their circumstance.

Once again, Crouch blends science fiction with a thriller pace and a beautiful love story.  His storytelling is masterful and the suspense is so incredibly good in this one.

I immediately passed this book on to my husband who loved it just as much as me. I am so glad I got to screen this and feel confident recommending this one to our Dark Matter fans.

If you haven’t dipped your toes yet into the science fiction world, I have a feeling you will find this to be a compelling read that will pull you right out of your literary comfort zone.

What are you waiting for?

Be sure to pre-order this for June!

5 out of 5 Stars

Chronicles of a Radical Hag by Lorna Landvik

A couple of the ladies in our book club were RAVING about, Chronicles of a Radical Hag, and managed to convince me to order this for my trip.

I read a lot of Landvik’s earlier books so I knew she approaches stories with a lot of heart and humor, something she does well again in this latest novel.

Haze Evans is a local legend, writing as a columnist for over fifty years, for the Granite Creek Gazette. Her past columns were filled with liberal ideas and her column was nicknamed the “Chronicles of a Radical Hag,” by conservative readers.  She lived without censorship and would reply to her naysayers with tongue-in-cheek recipes to help them melt away their misdirected anger, unafraid to speak her mind about anything and everything.

Haze is unexpectedly hospitalized though and unable to write her column. This is when Susan, who works for the paper, has her son (Sam) help work at the paper for the summer and Sam begins discovering that this older lady’s stories are brave, hilarious, and her political struggles are not too different than today. He finds these columns so fascinating, in fact, that he begins sharing them in class and other kids begin to look forward to Haze’s storytelling AND the hilarious and heartfelt replies from people who read her column.

I am recommending this one for fans of Dear Mrs. Bird or anyone who needs a little bit of humor mixed in with the heaviness of the political world.

Landviks’ trademark humor really shines in this book and you can’t help reading these columns and responses with a smile, especially when a younger generation is discovering how history is repeating itself today.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland (pre-order for July 23rd!!)

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

I’m such a sucker for dysfunctional family stories and The Floating Feldmans is a fun one, if those are your cup of tea too!

The premise of this one is that Annette Feldman has decided that she is going to book a cruise for her entire family, in honor of her 70th birthday! It has been over a decade since they have all been together and getting them all on a boat has them trapped into oodles of family time together.

Each of these siblings has come on their boat with an extra set of baggage though (sorry, I can’t resist a good pun!) and this luggage harbors a lot of old secrets and the terrible kinds of hurts that only a family member can seem to hold against you.

Some have grown up for the better, some have secrets that threaten their future, and the grandkids just might have a couple secrets of their own.

Told from alternating perspectives, this is over-the-top fun and had me laughing out loud at various points.

If you just want a fun escape, add this one to your beach bag. I’m recommending this one for fans of, This is Where I Leave You.

4 out of 5 Stars

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center (pre-order for August 13th!!)

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

I never thought I would be such a sucker for a good love story, but I was completely head-over-heels for, How to Walk Away, and Center’s beautiful writing. The author is now back with another beautiful love story, perfectly named, Things You Save in a Fire

Center’s uses her husband’s firefighter background to craft the story of Cassie Hanwell. In this fictional story, she is the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse and is respected by her colleagues and boss. After a public incident though, that taints Hanwell’s image, she finds the timing of her estranged and ailing mother’s request to move to Boston lines up with when she needs to step down.

She joins the Boston firehouse and finds the environment to be a bit of a “boy’s club.” Her ability to separate her work from her personal life has never been an issue, but Cassie has never seen a guy like the rookie that she must train with on her new job. Cassie has built up walls for a reason and the rookie seems to be disregarding them, no matter how hard she tries.

This is a later coming-of-age story where Cassie must resolve her old hurts with her mother, confront the issue of aging parents, and admit why she has been unable to be close to anyone because of a traumatic incident in her past.

That’s not all though…she also must fight off someone who is stalking her and doesn’t want to see her succeed at the fire station.

These characters are deeply flawed, just like we are, and Center’s does an incredible job making them feel real and relatable.

The love story, I have to say, is FIRE and you can’t help but root for these two brokenly beautiful people to love each other.

Definitely, pre-order this one for your summer stack!

I’m recommending this beautiful read for anyone who is a Taylor Jenkins Reid fan! I know you will love it too!

5 out of 5 Stars

Little by Edward Carey

Have you joined our free book club yet? Even if you aren’t looking for a discussion, it is such a great place to connect with your fellow bookworms. This month we dove into Little , a historical fiction novel about Marie Tussaud. Marie was an orphan in the 1700’s who ended up being taken in by an eccentric wax sculpture and develops a growing curiosity and fondness for the art.

To pay for her food and shelter she begins as an apprentice and later tutors a princess on the art of creating wax sculptures.

Does Tussaud and wax figurines bring to mind any famous tourist attraction?

Carey writes AND illustrates this unusual novel that reminded many of our book club participants of a good old-fashioned Dickens novel.

Learning about the craftsmanship that went into these wax figures, particularly back in those days, was equally fascinating and horrifying.

As someone who appreciates the wildly weird, I was really taken into this element of the story.

Admittedly, this was a slow starter and took awhile for me to get into and I can’t say this book would be for everyone. For me, the beauty in historical fiction is always the rabbit trails it leads me on and this one was a fun find for exploring the art of wax sculpture, a subject that I would have never really thought to explore.

Our chat ended up being an excellent one so I would definitely recommend this for any of your own upcoming book club chats.

4 out of 5 Stars

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

Not many of you could probably guess that I’m an old-fashioned theater nerd….well, maybe you could?

This is one reason why I was so excited to dive into the contemporary novel, Trust Exercise, this month. This was a big buzz book for Spring and has gotten a lot of positive press, in particular, about it’s exploration of the #metoo movement, told through these reflective stories.

I am having a hard time reviewing this one because the concept was brilliant, but I felt like the entire plot could have been tightened up entirely. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. The writing, while excellent, didn’t always have a story that I felt entirely connected to.

This novel is set in the 1980’s at a highly competitive arts high school. Along with the talent and greed to get ahead, hormones are raging and relationships between students began to splinter and friendships are tested.

In a spiral of events, Choi begins to flip the plot on its head that makes everything flip upside down for the reader. What you think may be happening, isn’t happening, and a new perspective on the story changes the plot entirely.

It is these new glimmers of truth that allow the reader to see that everything is not as it seems and the power that comes to play in the arts world.

I can see this leading to heated discussions in book clubs about our own past experiences with adults and teachers, in particular, in the arts community. The changing narrative, in itself, becomes a trust exercise into itself.

Not only are the kids doing these trust exercise in their classroom, but Choi is giving us an exercise in who to believe.

Had the plot been tighter, I could see this being a 5-star read, simply for the value of the discussion and the smart twists Choi uses. I struggled to connect though as the chapters felt a bit clunky at times and I found myself having difficulty to keep attention through it.

For reference though, I listened to this one on audiobook! It might lend itself better in print format and I still found the topic and plot twists to be solid. I can’t wait to see what Choi writes next.

3.5 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 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.

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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October 2018 Must-Reads

Monday, November 5th, 2018

Check out this incredible list of 7 great books to add to your book stack. From historical fiction to dystopian, this list has you covered for your next night in!

Did we blink and head right into November? I apologize I’m a bit a late with this month’s reviews, but excited to share 7 incredible books I read in October with you.

I am hoping there are a few on this list that you haven’t tackled yet and these might be added to your book stacks this month.

I am happily chugging away at my GoodReads Challenge of reading 100 books this year. According to GoodReads, I’m just one book off pace, which I am hoping I will fix this month.

How are you guys doing on your goals?

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 almost 1,900 bookworms in this group now. Each month we chat about a book, but the real beauty is getting to talk 24/7 about books with people who love them as much as you.

announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in November) 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.

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections:

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

This month’s special:

New members will get a free book with code FRIENDSGIVING.

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 7 must-read books I tackled in October:

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The first book I read this month was, The Great Believers, after hearing that it would be a great selection for, A Little Life fans.  As you guys know, I am a huge fan of this book and even scored this amazing tee from a friend after we talked about our undying love for these characters.

Shortlisted for the National Book Award, this is a beautiful story of friendship during the height of the AIDS epidemic and offers similar themes of beautiful male friendships during the thick of a crisis in the gay community.

There are two intertwining stories being told in this story. Yale Tishman is a development director for an art gallery in Chicago and, as his career begins to really flourish, his friends are dying around him, one by one.

Meanwhile, thirty years later, Yale’s younger sister is in Paris desperately trying to reconnect with her daughter who has joined a cult. While staying in Paris with an old friend, she also is forced to deal with what AIDS has robbed of her and how it affected her relationship with her estranged daughter.

While many of us can never fully understand what the AIDS epidemic looked like during this time in history, particularly for gay men, Makkai does an incredible job bringing humanity and compassion to these devastating stories. The friendships that are weaved are beautiful and believable. I loved these characters and the gorgeous writing that Makkai brings to the table. She is definitely deserving of the National Book Award and I am so glad I got to read it this month.

If you are looking for something to fill your, A Little Life void, I highly recommend this touching read. It would be an excellent book for discussion for book clubs too!

5 out of 5 Stars

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

I can tell you now that, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, will be on my favorite reads of 2018. I was so swept away by the vivid storytelling and the poetic descriptive language in this book.

The author uses elements of her own life story (a discovery I made after reading the author’s notes at the end) to create this incredible coming-of-age story from two markedly different Columbian girls, growing up during the time that Pablo Escobar has captured the nation’s attention.

Chula & Cassandra are sisters that grow up in a more protected gated community, although they are still surrounded my unsafe elements outside of their neighborhood walls. They are well-cared for, adored by their mother, and given everything they need.

While Chula & Cassandra are carefree and curious, Petrona (who is around their same age) is folding under the burden of being the breadwinner for her family. She ends up finding a job, working as a live-in maid for Chula & Cassandra’s mother.  Living in their home is a true blessing since she has grown up in the guerrilla-occupied slums.

When Petrona meets her first love though, she finds herself in the middle of a horrible situation that threatens her safety, the safety of her family, and the safety of the family she is working for. This relationship really sets the plot in motion as you worry for each of these girls and their safety.

I am not sure why I’m not hearing more about this novel because it is a powerful and devastating read. While I have read a lot of historical fiction, this is an era and country that I have not read a lot about so it made the story even more impactful for me.

If you love a good coming-of-age story, I have a feeling you will really connect with this incredible read.

5 out of 5 Stars

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Our story opens with eighty-four-year-old Florence who has fallen and is awaiting help in her room at the assisted living facility, where she resides.  She has kept many secrets that have been buried, but with her dementia, she is unable to always recall the exact details or why she feels a certain way about things.

Thankfully, her lifelong best friend, Elsie has retained her memory and is able to help Florence fill in those gaps where Florence needs it.

When a new resident arrives, Flo immediately becomes distressed, even though she can’t remember why. She is convinced that this man is there to punish her and has been doing things that make Flo look unstable. Flo is already on thin ice with the nursing home director and she can’t afford to look unfit because she will be shipped off to a facility for people who cannot care for themselves anymore.

Flo makes it her mission to try to remember just why this man’s presence is causing her so much distress and Elsie will be with her every step of the way.

Cannon does an incredible job showing the true struggle of dementia and  the beauty in having someone by our side who is able to fill in the gaps on our life.

Flo is an unreliable narrator and that unreliability makes the plot more interesting, especially as they go on a wild adventure to figure out more about this mystery man.

Be sure to have a tissue handy, this story is a beautiful one and worthy of being Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction this year.  It’s a gentle reminder of how we all would love to leave the world with our dignity intact.

Fans of, A Man Called Ove, are sure to love this sweet read.

4 out of 5 Stars

A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua

Debut novelists are my favorite and Vanessa Hua comes into the writing arena with, A River of Stars, like a seasoned pro.

It goes without saying, but if Celeste Ng puts her stamp of approval on it, I will be adding that book to my book stacks.

I have loved reading so many books about immigrants this year and Hua tells a gorgeous story of Scarlett Chen, a scared girl who has been taken far from her home in China.

Scarlett worked in a factory where she met and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. When Boss discovers she is pregnant with his first son, he sends her away to America where she can be cared for by the top doctors and kept on the right diet and regime to insure he will have the healthy son he has always wanted.

Oh, and he needs her to leave too because he is already married with three daughters of his own.

Unfortunately, this place that Boss has sent her to is nothing like it had been described in the brochures. The conditions are horrible, the caretaker is evil, and Scarlett would do anything to escape.

In the end, that is exactly what she does, with a surprise stowaway in the back of the stolen van she hijacked.

What Scarlett doesn’t know is that Boss needs her baby in his life to fight a battle of his own. He will stop at nothing to find Scarlett and his child, because it means life or death for him. His unrelenting hunt for her terrifies Scarlett because she knows she will be punished for running away.

Scarlett will stop at nothing to keep them both safe and Boss will stop at nothing to make sure they are found.

This book is just INCREDIBLE and, again, you will see this one on my top ten list, FOR SURE. Hua’s writing has the rich qualities of Lisa See where she is able to see a story through with these characters from beginning to end.

She also told a story that I just did not want to end.

I really hope there is a sequel in the works because it is that good.

This novel is gripping and perfectly timed for understanding more of what it is like to be an immigrant. Hua dives deep in exploring the definition of home, family, and belonging.

Add this to your stack ASAP!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

I always love to read a spooky book for October and selected, The Hunger, for our October Book Club selection. This novel has been listed as one of NPR’s Top 100 Horror Novels and was endorsed heartily by Stephen King.

Many of us are familiar with The Donner Party and their infamous trek across the trails that ended in death.

Katsu decides to use this story as the framework for exploring this story deeper and adding a supernatural twist to it.

What if these people were actually being pursued by something that inevitably caused the death and destruction of these families? How would this change the story?

Katsu didn’t just put together a supernatural telling of this story, but she dived deep into reading as much as she could get her hands on to fill out this story with facts about this journey. These elements really help round out the story, along with some fictionalized motives and characters that make the story more interesting.

If you love a good dystopian theme, I have a feeling you will enjoy, The Hunger. Fans of darker suspense novels, like Bird Box, will really enjoy this story!

4 out of 5 Stars

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

A coming-of-age story combined with a murder mystery, Where the Crawdads Sing, has the framework for a book that anyone would love.

Kya Clark is a little girl who has found herself abandoned by her family and will do anything to keep anyone from finding out, knowing she would be taken from her home. Resourcefully, Kya finds ways to secure food and clothing, with help from a shop owner who takes mercy on her. Thanks to her love of nature, Kya never feels entirely abandoned because the animals and world around her make her feel like she is surrounded by friends.

As she grows up, her beauty and the mystery around her intrigues two local boys, that both make a way into her heart.

Years later though, one of those boys is found dead and the locals immediately suspect that Kya is the suspect. Known as the, “Marsh Girl,” no one in town likes or trusts her. How could they possibly trust her though because they don’t even know her?

The story goes back and forth through time as Kya goes from a frightened young girl to a more confident author to becoming the main suspect in a murder investigation. This story begs the question, can we ever escape our past?

If you are looking for an audiobook to enjoy this month, this one is BEAUTIFULLY narrated and should be savored. The writing is exquisite, the story is heartbreaking, and the characters are so well-developed that they lift off the pages.

Each year I get asked what book someone could confidently share for the holidays. I would put this book at the top of the list this year because it is one that I could hand to my mom, grandmother, or sister and know that they would be just as swept away as me. Buy this one in multiples for all the people you want to share a book with this year.

This book has had a lot of buzz already, thanks to being picked up by the Hello Sunshine book club, but I just had to add my stamp of approval too!  This is a buzz book that REALLY delivers and I think you will love it too.

5 out of 5 Stars

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I won a copy of this book in a GoodReads giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors and I was so psyched when I won a copy of her next novel, Daisy Jones & the Six (releasing March 5th, available for pre-order). I have to say, timing this book with catching, A Star is Born, this week really could not have been more perfect. Reid has crafted a fictional band story set in the 1970’s that was so beautifully rendered that you can’t believe it is even fiction.

Daisy is the girl that every girl wants to be. She is stunning and has the ability to capture any man’s attention, sneaking out to clubs when she is just a kid, and capturing the heart of anyone her heart desires. She finds she has a knack for singing, a knack that people spend years trying to train their voices to achieve.

The Six is lead by Billy Dunne and is also getting noticed in the music world. Billy is an addict who has just discovered that he is going to be a father and he feels he needs to sow his wild oats before settling down.

When Billy & Daisy cross paths, a producer realizes that putting these two voices together could be just the ticket to make them all successful.

Told in interview format, the reader uncovers the story of Daisy Jones & the Six from their humble beginnings to their explosive endings. It’s the stuff of legends, as all good rock and roll stories are.

As a reader, don’t be surprised if you don’t find yourself thinking of these people as real people. Reid is such a wildly talented writer that it should come as no surprise that this book is just as wildy fabulous as she is.

Be sure to pre-order and read this one before you see it!

5 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

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.

April 2018 Must-Reads

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

April 2018 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com I hope you all are having a wonderful week! Today I’m blogging to you from Pasadena at the Mom 2.0 conference. I realize that I’m a few days behind on sharing the April Must-Reads so I wanted to be sure to get these out to you and (hopefully!!) inspire you with a few new reads for your book stacks.

I have SO many 5-star reads for you this month and tried to add a lot of variety instead of just my typical book selections. I’m talking about memoirs, true crime, chick lit, historical fiction, and a little bit of steamy indulgence that you will definitely want to add to your book wish list.

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 May) 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.

Book of the Month

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s special:

❃ The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy—recommended by Guest Judge Jaime King

❃ The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner—recommended by BOTM Editorial Director Siobhan Jones

❃ How to Walk Away by Katherine Center—recommended by author Taylor Jenkins Reid

(READ MY REVIEW BELOW!!!)

❃ Small Country by Gaël Faye—recommended by BOTM Judge Liberty Hardy

❃ Still Lives by Maria Hummel—recommended by BOTM Readers Committee member Sarah Bedwell

This month’s special:

New members get a free book with code: YESPLZ.

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 7 must-read books I tackled in April:

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Doesn’t everyone bring a book about a serial killer on their vacation… or is that just me?

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark ended up being an incredible read about McNamara’s obsessive search to uncover the identity of a serial rapist turned murderer and her tireless investigation to try to pinpoint the source of terror that haunted California for over a decade. McNamara, tragically,  passed away while researching this book and those that worked on the case with her (her lead researcher and a close colleague)  pieced together all of her incredible research that she did to try to solve this case.

Over the course of ten years, a violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California and then headed South, only to commit an additional  ten sadistic murders. He got away with the terror that he caused by disappearing and eluded his capture despite the best detectives in the area being on the case.

Three decades later, Mcnamara (a true crime journalist) was determined to discover his identity and spent the last portion of her career searching for answers for these victims. Her research is so expansive and McNamara leaves no stone unturned, becoming a trusted confidant of many lead investigators in this case.

If you are a true crime reader or became a big fan of the true crime podcast, Serial, this book is a definite must-read. McNamara remains grounded throughout her account while offering compassion and hope for justice for these victims. She was a gifted writer that, sadly, died too soon.

Bookending this story is an intro by Gillian Flynn and a touching afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, completing this as a captivating read that will keep you up until the wee hours.

Oh, and just in case you missed the news, he finally was captured, finally securing justice for these families.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Let Me Lie

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

I devoured I Let You Go when it debuted (you can read my interview with Clare over here) and was excited to hear that there was a lot of great buzz around her latest novel, Let Me Lie Mackintosh is proving to be quite the twist-maker, in the thriller genre, and this book is almost as twisty as her first.

In this novel, Anna has lost both her parents to an unexpected and unexplainable suicide. First, her father commits suicide and then, in an act of devotion, her mother also jumps form the same spot because she cannot go on without her husband.

It is only when Anna has a child of her own that she begins to really miss and wonder what the true motivations might have been for her mother. As she starts to explore the theory that there might be more to the story, she begins receiving threatening messages that she should stop.

As in her earlier novel, Mackintosh explores the story through may different points of view, including a retired detective who becomes intrigued by Anna’s case. Since Clare’s background is in the police field, she does a great job of creating a plausible story with just enough twists to make it fun for her readers.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Educated

Educated by Tara Westover

If you are looking for a gripping memoir to add to your book stacks this year, you MUST, MUST, MUST read this book. I polished this one off in a day because I had to know how Westover’s story would end.

If you haven’t heard about this one, I will try to briefly fill you in. Educated is the story of Tara Westover who was seventeen before she had ever stepped into a classroom. Born to Mormon survivalists, her parents spent their days stockpiling for the end-of-days, salvaging metal from the junkyard, and stewing herbs for the healing and midwifery that her mother did as her job.

Tara’s father is mentally ill and and has a strong distrust for the medical establishment and government. She grows up never seeing a doctor, never going to school, and doesn’t even have a birth certificate. If you lived a rather normal existence, this might work, but it doesn’t work in the treacherous world that Tara must live in.

My heart was in my throat almost this entire story as Tara is physically abused by a sibling, neglected by her parents, and mentally abused through her father’s version of God and the church.

Tara decides to teach herself math, grammar, and science so she can take the ACT. It is through this act that she finds her own salvation, while trying to navigate a secular world that is foreign to her.

Fans of, The Sound of Gravel and The Glass Castleare sure to love this achingly beautiful story.

Move this one to the top of your book pile!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

We Were the Lucky Ones

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

We Were the Lucky Ones, has been on my reading radar for awhile and I’m so glad that I finally got to it this month. Going into this one, I had no idea that this is based on the author’s own family’s Holocaust survival story. She was determined to share their story in this haunting debut, told from multiple viewpoints.

The cast of characters is vast and it took me a bit to get into my rhythm with each character, but once you get the voices down, you grow attached to each of their stories.

The story takes place in the spring of 1939 and follows three generations of the Kurc family as the shadow of the war grows closer. When the horrors of the war overtake Europe, each of these family members are thrown into different corners of the world, as they strive for survival in the only ways that they know how.

Hunter does a great job with the contrast between each of these stories. Some family members have been dealt an easier road than others, but it doesn’t mean that the easier road doesn’t bring guilt and worry over the rest of their family. Other family members must endure the horrors of the war and find a way to survive in treacherous living conditions and without food. It’s impossible to not be moved by these stories.

Although I have read so many books about this era, it never fails to surprise me how much I am still unaware of.

Hunter tells these stories with beauty, compassion, and a lot of heart. You will find yourself attached to each of them, as though they are your own family.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Indecent

Indecent by Corinne Sullivan

After so many heavy books with equally heavy topics, I was looking for a fun escape this month.  If you are looking for a steamy beach read this summer, I think you will find that Indecent fits the bill perfectly.

With some Fatal Attraction elements, Sullivan crafts a story of a young teacher hired for a boarding school and her fascination with the popular boy at school. When he becomes interested in her, the affair escalates quickly and she will do anything to keep their relationship going with him, including risking her job and reputation.

Sullivan is able to capture these insecurities and the emotional instability of her character perfectly. The obsessive nature of this indecent affair escalates quickly and the reader gets to follow along from one juicy page to the next.

Appropriately named, this book was a fun escape if you are looking to add a steamy book to your beach bag this summer.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

How to Walk Away

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

I received an advanced reader copy from the publishing house. 

If you are a Me Before You fan, you won’t want to miss this gorgeous read this summer. As I mentioned above, this one is one of the Book of the Month selections this month and would be a worthy investment with your book credit.

Imagine you were terrified of flying and, just as you always suspected, you are in a tragic accident. This is exactly what unfolds from the opening chapters of How to Walk Away, and the reader is taken along the journey as Kit’s life, as she knows it, is forever changed.

Also, imagine that the person you love walks away from the experience unscathed.

The book centers around the difficult recovery, the surprises of those who step up in tragedies, the sadness around those that walk away, and how to find love again.

I devoured this book in a single day and can’t say enough good things. Fans of Emily Giffin or Taylor Jenkins Reid are sure to fall in love with this book.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Lilli De Jong

Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton

If you haven’t joined the book club yet, you really missed out this month. Benton joined us to discuss her beautiful book, Lilli de Jong, and it was such a fantastic chat.

Set in the late 1800’s, Lilli becomes pregnant out of wedlock and is banished from her Quaker home. She gives birth to her daughter in an institution for unwed mothers and will stop at nothing to keep her.

In order to provide for her daughter, she must work as a wet nurse, nursing a child that is not her own, to pay her bills.

Told in diary format, it is an achingly beautiful read about the unbelievable challenges of motherhood and the sacrifices that must be made to keep your child safe.

I learned so much about what the role of a wet nurse really looked like and what these institutions really looked like for children during this time. Lilli is ahead of her time and this book shows just what an early feminist might look like.

You can’t help but marvel at the bravery of this character as she does all she can to save her baby. You also can’t help but marvel that this is Benton’s debut novel because the writing is so confident and eloquent.

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 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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March 2018 Must-Reads

Friday, March 30th, 2018

March 2018 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I have been a little out of my reading groove this year, but I read so many great books this month that I’m feeling back in the game again.

My biggest challenge?

Beating my readers to books and getting to share about them before they have read them.

I am really hopeful though that I have made a few discoveries that you haven’t explored yet and I have several 5-star reads in this month’s stack that I think you will love.

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I’m looking forward to enjoying our Spring Break in the sunshine this year and I’m, perhaps, a little TOO ambitious with how many books that I’m hoping to tackle. I’m guessing next month you will definitely want to stop by to see what I enjoyed over the break.

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 1,500 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 March) 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.

April BOTM

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s special:

Get your first month of BOTM free with code YESPLZ

April Selections:

From a Gillian Flynn-approved thriller (trust her: it’s nasty) to a showdown on Mount Olympus, the selections this month are fast, fun, and full of adventure. Get excited.

❃ Circe by Madeline Miller—recommended by BOTM Judge Liberty Hardy

❃ The Oracle Year by Charles Soule—recommended by author and blogger Samantha Irby

❃ Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall—recommended by BOTM Editorial Director Siobhan Jones

❃ The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya—recommended by BOTM Brand Ambassador Etaf Rum

❃ Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell—recommended by BOTM Readers Committee member Laura Whitelaw

Here are 9 must-read books I tackled in March:

Brass

Brass by Xhenet Aliu

Brass explores a beautifully complex mother and daughter story as the duo go on their own parallel journeys. Elise, our mother in the story, is working as a waitress when she meets and falls in love with the diner’s line cook, Bashkim.

What Bashkim failed to share with her is that he was already a married man.

He promises her the moon, but delivers on nothing and Elise must make the difficult decision to stay and raise their child together or leave.

Seventeen years later, Luljeta has a very complex relationship with her mother. She has never understood why she has left and she decides to go find the answers herself and the father she never knew.

This story is told in parallel narrative and Aliu does such a great job weaving the complexities of mother daughter relationships into these two characters. If you like your family stories a little messy, like me, I have a feeling that you will really enjoy this read.

3.5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Immortalists

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The Immortalists has been on many must-read lists this year and I was absolutely engrossed in this incredible book, told from four sibling’s perspectives.

The premise of this book is that the four children visit a fortune-teller who is able to tell them the exact date of their death. Each sibling keeps this information a secret from one another and the story explores how knowing when you will die (young or old) impacts your decision-making. Do you engage in risky behaviors because you know you know when you will die anyway? How does knowing your final date shape your own patterns of behavior?

The book is broken into four sections following each of their lives and how they live them with this forecasted information. Each of the characters was so well-written that I found myself escaping into each story easily.

I, honestly, couldn’t put this one down. I highly recommend it for yourself or to share with your book club!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Every Note Played

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

If you are looking for a tear-jerker to add to your book stack this month, then be sure to add Genova’s latest novel, Every Note Played.

I have read everything that Genova has written and this has been my favorite of all her incredible books.  This story explores the disease ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and the swift decline that occurs when someone is faced with this illness.

Richard is a world-renowned pianist that has chosen to make playing music the focus of his life, even over his family. Divorced and estranged from his daughter, he bounces from one relationship to the next. When he begins having difficulties playing piano, particularly with his right hand, he sees a doctor and is faced with the devastating news that he has ALS and will soon see paralysis throughout the rest of his body.

Unable to afford the care that he needs, he must ask his ex-wife to help care for him, someone he had cast aside and cheated on during their marriage. This dynamic is quite toxic as Richard and Karina must learn to live together again and face the horrific and heartbreaking decline of Richard’s health.

Richard is an unlikable character from beginning to end and I do think that this makes Karina’s sacrifice even greater because he is so ungrateful. Some readers may struggle with a connection to him, but you definitely won’t struggle to sympathize as you see the gravity of this illness and how quickly it takes over the body.

I cry about once a year over a book, thanks to a hardened soul and reading so much.

This book WRECKED ME.

I was crying reading it and then two days later I was still crying about it. It moved me emotionally, in ways that books rarely do.

Once I came to the end and saw all of the people that Genova lovingly mentions that shared their journey with ALS with her, you see how much thought and research went into this project. Genova’s compassion in telling this story is, truly, a gift.

Be sure to add this one to the top of your book stack this month!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Himself

Himself by Jess Kidd

(ON SALE right now for just $1.99!!)

It is hard to categorize this read, but I found myself moved and completely laughing-out-loud through this beautifully told story.

Mahony was abandoned at an orphanage as a baby and has always assumed his mother did not want to be a part of his life. When he receives an anonymous note though, it implies that she might have been forced to give him up and that there might be more to this story. Mahony sets off to his hometown to try to find out what exactly happened to his mother.

The whole town starts talking the minute that Mahony shows up. The ladies want him, the people who never liked his mother want him to leave, and he also happens to have a gift for talking to ghosts who would love to tell him a few stories of their own.

If you love a good Irish accent, be sure to listen to this one on audiobook because it really is a treat. Even with such a potentially heavy topic, this book is thick with humor and heart. All the villagers practically lift off the page. Kidd definitely has a knack for storytelling and I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more from her in the future.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

American Fire

American Fire by Monica Hesse

American Fire was this month’s MomAdvice Book Club pick so I really got to dive deep into this one as I prepared for our monthly discussion.

This is a fast and easy-to-read true crime novel about a series of 70+ fires that happened in Virginia’s Accomack County. The love affair of Charlie Smith and Tonya Bundick apparently needed a little more spark (I had to do it-sorry!) and they decided that setting fires to local abandoned buildings would be a great way to spend their time together.

This isn’t a whodunit story, it is a whydunit story. If you prefer your true crime with some mystery, you won’t get that in this one. Hesse reveals exactly who set these from the start and then unfolds their motivations for attention. You follow these two all the way to the courtroom and also, as a reader, get to understand the unbelievable time and effort that were involved in putting these fires out.

I listened to this one on audiobook and thought it was very well-written. Hesse really did her research and I enjoyed hearing more about this twisted love story and how these arsons brought the town together in some really unlikely ways.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Mrs. Fletcher

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Looking for a little spice in your book stack? Mrs. Fletcher explores sex, love, and identity in America through the story of Eve, lonely and divorced, and her college-aged son.

Eve begins exploring her sexuality through porn because her life has felt boring and mediocre, inspired by an anonymous text calling her a MILF. When she joins a Gender Studies course, she finds an openness in her co-workers and also discovers that the message has become a fixation for her that she just can’t let go.

Meanwhile, her son lacks the smooth charm with the ladies and embarrassingly embraces his frat-bro style in his relationships (*cringe*). When he takes things a bit too far with a girl, he is forced to see the confusion he has had with what he thinks girls want and what they really do want.

I told ya, this book has some spice and it won’t be for everyone. It was like watching two train wrecks unfold and definitely examines today’s culture and how we explore our sexuality. What’s okay now? What’s not?  It held my attention, even when I felt the plot took some strange and disturbing turns.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Dear Fang With Love

Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

I always like to walk around the library and pick up one book that isn’t being talked about and that is no longer on the new releases table. Dear Fang, With Love had such a gorgeous cover that it immediately grabbed my attention and I enjoyed this book so very much that I’m surprised that I haven’t heard more about it.

Vera is seventeen and has recently suffered a psychotic breakdown and is being treated for bipolar disorder. She has been estranged from her father her whole life, but he decides to take her on a trip to the city of Vilnius, his grandmother’s homeland, after her recent diagnosis. The two go on a group tour where they make unlikely friendships, learn about the Holocaust, explore a mystery around their grandmother being granted an escape from the Nazis, and begin finding beauty in rekindled relationships with those we love.

Vera writes to her boyfriend, nicknamed Fang, with some laugh-out-loud letters about what has been happening as she mentally feels better and better being in this new environment. Thorpe explores the tricky terrain of mental illness through very beautiful writing and I have a feeling you will fall in love with Vera and her father as much as I did.

This coming-of-age story was a wonderful surprise this month. I hope you can snag it at your library too!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Losing Brave

Losing Brave by Bailee Madison & Stefne Miller

Losing Brave is a haunting YA novel about a year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of Payton’s twin sister, Dylan. Payton was there when Dylan disappeared, but has holes in her memory about what has happened. Although the case is still open, she knows that she might be the one to hold the key into uncovering Dylan’s reasoning for her absence in their family.

When another missing girl’s body is discovered by the lake, with similar features to Dylan, the police begin to believe that these two disappearances may be linked. As Payton begins to uncover some of her memories around this moment, she has no idea the danger she is putting herself in. To make matters worse, she has begun to have feelings for Dylan’s boyfriend as the two become closer and closer through their mutual sadness over the loss of Dylan.

This mystery is well-paced and kept me guessing throughout. Madison builds believable motives and adds a real rawness to Payton’s character. Better yet, the story takes some really shocking twists that I don’t think you will see coming at all… at least, I didn’t.

The audiobook is beautifully narrated and really adds another layer to the story that I think you will appreciate. This was another beautiful surprise in my book stack this month that I think even people who aren’t as into YA will really love because of the maturity of these characters, the writing, and the thriller-style mystery!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Allegedly

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Looking for a really quick page-turner that you won’t be able to put down? Allegedly had me up until waayyyy past my bedtime because I was so wrapped up into this story.  Described as, Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster, this story is about a teen who had been accused of killing a baby when she was just nine-years-old….allegedly.

Mary B. Madison has been written about in many, many books as people tried to understand the motivation behind this child-murderer. Now that Mary is pregnant with her own baby, she has decided to come clean with what really happened that night and has begged her mother to tell the true story so her baby is not taken away from her. Living in a scary group home and without money,  she decides to see an attorney, who has volunteered her time to this intriguing case,  and has asked that the case be reopened so she can keep her child.

The story unfolds for the reader through newspaper and book clippings of speculations and through Mary’s own eyes as she slowly shares about her heartbreaking childhood and her mentally ill mother.

Get ready for a BUMPY ride, folks. I don’t want to reveal too much more beyond this because half the fun is your own discoveries as a reader.

I’m so thankful for our book club and the recommendations that they make. This book came highly recommended and I would have never picked it up on my own. It’s free to join in on the fun- I think you’d love the recommendations too.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2018 Must-Reads

February 2018 Must-Reads

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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.

March 2018 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

November 2017 Must-Reads

Monday, December 4th, 2017

November 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

When We Were Worthy

When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

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

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

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

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

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Castle of Water

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

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

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

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

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

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Bonfire

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

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

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

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

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

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Seven Days of Us

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

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

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

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

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

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Last Ballad

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

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

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

4 Out Of 5 Stars

 

 

Book of the Month December Selections

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s special:

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

December Selections:

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

We’re Going To Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 Must-Reads

July 2017 Must-Reads

August 2017 Must-Reads

September 2017 Must-Reads

October 2017 Must-Reads

November 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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