Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

November 2016 Must-Reads

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

November 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that there wasn’t a lot of time for reading this month with all the holiday preparations going on. Being a part of a local book club and our online book club is what pushed me to keep reading this month. I will also admit, this month’s books were a bit of a mixed bag. I am not sure if it was because I was tired all the time or if they just weren’t books that would normally grab me. That said, I do have a few solid recommendations for you for this month!

For upcoming reading, I did just purchase this book for my audiobook listening while tackling my holiday wrapping. I also, once again, believe those cheap bluetooth headphones are my secret to reading success while getting stuff done. I actually loved them so much, we bought four pairs to give as gifts for the holidays this year. I think everyone should have a pair!

Also, because I can’t wait until next month to tell you about it, this book is EVERYTHING right now. I have laughed out loud until tears streamed down my face and have read entire chapters aloud to my husband. It’s a brilliantly told coming-of-age novel that I recommend you grab ASAP for your holiday reading. It’s a BIG book, but each chapter feels like its own individual story.

Here is what I tackled this month!

 5 Must-Read Books from November 2016

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

If you are in a reading slump, this should pull you right on out. Behind Closed Doors will go down as my top thriller this year because of this tightly woven and finely crafted story.  I read this one in almost a single sitting and the author does not waste a single page from start to finish while building a plot that will send chills down your spine. This twisted tale is so vividly told that it is as though you are reading a movie with characters that are incredibly well-developed they practically lift off the pages.

I don’t want to give very much away because half of the fun is the discovery of what is actually going on behind these closed doors. A perfect marriage though is rarely what it seems and Jack & Grace are the perfect example of a marriage that looks beautiful on the outside, but is far different on the inside. From page one, you realize the cat-and-mouse game that Grace is in and the reader is pulled along from the first day that they met, giving you a chance to witness a rather unique marriage in a chilling way.

Just know that if you pick this one up, you are going to have a very hard time putting it down. I would recommend a weekend of binge-reading with this for a fantastic holiday escape! Please know that this one is DARK so if you prefer to keep your thrillers in the lighter mystery category, you might need to skip this intense read.

5 Out of 5 Stars

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To the Bright Edge of the World by Eoywn Ivey

The Snow Child remains one of my all-time favorite reads (a perfect winter escape if you are looking for one!) and I was so excited to see that Eowyn Ivey had written a new book that has already gotten so much buzz this year. To the Bright Edge of the World could not be more different than her first book and is told uniquely through letters, photographs, and excerpts of other books to build a unique telling of an Alaskan expedition in the late 18oo’s. When a family member comes across journals and letters from his great-uncle and great-aunt from this time, he feels compelled to submit them to an Alaskan museum. The reader then gets to read the story of Colonel Allen as he leads a group through Alaska and the story of his wife, Sophie, who is newly pregnant and left behind while her husband makes this harrowing expedition.

The amount of research that Ivey would have to do to establish this story, I am sure, would astound us. The dialect and nailing down a historically accurate account of that era alone would be insane, but she also carves a hobby for Sophie that involves photography of birds that is incredibly detailed and astoundingly well told as well.

If you are into historical fiction, definitely pick this one up. Although letter format is always a struggle for me, this book is the first book I have read about Alaska during this era, and it really gave me a lot to think about after I finished this beautiful book.

4.5 Out of 5 Stars

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

Arrowood  was this month’s MomAdvice Book Club selection and since I was leading it, I had high hopes this would be a good one. Luckily for me, this one turned out to be a solid gothic mystery about twin girls who go missing and their sister who is haunted and filled with guilt because their disappearance happened when she was supposed to be watching them.

When a true crime writer decides he wants to figure out the answer to this unsolved case for a book, we begin to realize that Arden’s memories of that fateful day may not be entirely accurate. McHugh then takes the reader down a winding path of suspects to answer where these children could have gone in a classic mystery format.

I will say, the ending was not as conclusive as I would have liked and if you prefer a clearly defined ending, this might be an unsatisfactory ending for you. It did serve as an excellent book for discussion as you think about your own childhood memories and what it would be like as a family to have old wounds reopened for the sake of true crime writing.

I really enjoyed this one and would recommend it for our mystery reader fans!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

This book, for me, is a hard one to review. Swing Time was one of the most anticipated books this year and I put my name on the hold list as soon as I heard about it. As a theater nerd and dancer, I could not wait to dig into this story of the friendship formed by two dancers.  The book started solid and beautifully, Smith’s turn of phrasing was so beautiful and unique that it was unlike any other book I had read before.

This is the story of two girls who begin dancing, but only one of them ends up having the talent. Tracey begins a career working in the chorus line of Broadway shows and Aimee falls into an assistant position to an iconic pop singer, getting the chance to observe how the one percent live. The tale swings from past to present as Smith builds layer upon layer in this friendship and, ultimately, if leaving home really does help to define our success.

There are profound moments in this book. An observation on race that had went unnoticed as a child, in her very opening chapter, moved me. There were moments where the writing was just brilliant and I wanted to read more. Yet, there was a lot of lag in this story where I felt if the novel had been trimmed in half, it would have been a more solid read for me. The swinging between decades, at times, also felt confusing and did not flow. I may be in the minority on those observations, but thought I would share that anyway!

I am still glad I read it and I want to read White Teeth next month since that seems to be the book that everyone loved from her.  Have you read it? For me, the brilliant moments made it worth the read, but I am not sure if this would be a good book for everyone.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner

Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner

Missing Presumed came out at the same time as All the Missing Girls and I decided I could only handle one missing girl story in the summer so I went with All the Missing Girls. This book was selected for our local book club and it also had received a lot of buzz from critics. I would not say this was a bad book, but I will say that I discovered that I do not enjoy police procedural books very much at all. The reason I am including it though is that I know many of you do so this might be a perfect pick for you especially if you are a fan of British mysteries.

This explores the case of a wealthy college girl who goes missing and the 72-hours that are spent trying to find where this girl went. With no signs of struggle and no real evidence left behind, the police have a case that seems almost impossible to solve. They begin with her closest friends and boyfriend, looking for any information that they can to find Edith. The reader gets to go through the case from start to finish, interview by interview, leading up to the discovery of what happened to Edith.

If you love a good British mystery, this book just might be for you! For me, not my favorite!

3 Out of 5 Stars

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Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May Must-Reads

June 2016 Must-Reads

July 2016 Must-Reads

August 2016 Must-Reads

September 2016 Must-Reads

October 2016 Must-Reads

November 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What should I be adding to my library bag? Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

October 2016 Must-Reads

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

October 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

This was one of those reading months that really flew by for me and I didn’t even have time to sit down and really jot down my thoughts on all the books I read this month until today. I did some traveling this month and spent a couple of days curled up with some really great books on our little Michigan getaway so it gave some time to dive into some books that have been on my radar for awhile.

I also discovered that I really enjoy listening to audiobooks on flights which is something that I haven’t tried before. My eyes were so tired on my flight home, but I wanted to read so bad that I decided to download a book to listen to while flying. Once again those cheap bluetooth headphones pulled through for me and I enjoyed listening to a book on my flight. What a great way to sneak in another book!

I’m really excited to share with you this month’s list because I got in some REALLY incredible reads that I think you should check out. I tried to add a little variety to my stack this month so I read a couple of great memoirs along with some excellent fiction. 

7 Must-Read Books from October 2016

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

I heard about Hillbilly Elegy when I got the chance to share about my favorite summer reads on Sorta Awesome awhile back. Laura, who will always be Hollywood Housewife to me, mentioned that this was one of the best reads she read over the summer so I knew I needed to add this to my stack. This book is incredibly compelling and gave me so much to think about as it explores Vance’s life growing up in a hillbilly family. He writes in a very real and unflinching way about the difficulties growing up in poverty and how the hillbilly mentality seems to force people to continue living in poverty even when opportunities are presented that could enable them to finally get ahead.

There are many moments in this book that helped illustrate a few of my own life moments that helped me understand my own Southern family better. Vance’s life was far more extreme, but I still could identify with a few of his stories that I hope help me feel more compassion for my own roots.

I would highly recommend this one for a book club because you would have so much to discuss and I think anyone who reads it will be able to understand this pocket of America better.

5 Out of 5 Stars

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

I am always thankful for historical fiction because of how much it teaches me about times in history I was not aware of. I Will Send Rain was an absolutely phenomenal book on one family’s survival when the Dust Bowl storms hit their community in the 1930’s. Through alternating viewpoints, Meadows dives deep into what it would be like to live through these storms from eating, to farming, to raising your children, to growing up as a child, to the impact of a marriage during this difficult time in history.  My hard days pale in comparison to the survival of this poor family’s daily existence as this dust covers their land and home, impacting their lives forever.

This book is so well-researched and so beautifully told that I have been thinking about it ever since I finished it. It is heartbreakingly sad, haunting, and achingly beautiful. I know you will be thinking about this one as much as I do when you finish it. If you are looking for a good historical fiction escape with a great coming-of-age story, make sure you add this one to your book stack. If you like this one as much as I did, be sure to read Mudbound. It reminded me so much of that beautiful read!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

I absolutely LOVED What She Knew and I even had Gilly join me for our Sundays With Writers series. I was so excited to read her next book, The Perfect Girl, after enjoying her first novel so much. This thriller is about a teenage girl, named Zoe, that is involved in a tragic car accident that kills three of her classmates. They relocate their family, her mother marries a wealthy guy, and they try to start a brand new life.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to escape a past like that and Zoe’s secret comes to life in a very public way at a piano concert she is doing. That same evening, her mother is murdered after the secret is revealed to the family, and everyone looks like a suspect. The reader gets the chance to try to solve who killed her and what other secrets this family might be carrying as the story unfolds.

This was a solid thriller, but the big reveal of who killed the mother was a bit of a let down after the length and build-up of the story. It just didn’t seem to have the same magic for me as I found with What She Knew, but I still enjoyed the story. Macmillan is a gifted storyteller and I can’t wait to read what she brings to the thriller table next!

3 Out of 5 Stars

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

One of the most buzzed about books this year is, The Mothers. The author, Brit Bennett,  is only 25 years old and was named to the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 this year so I have been anxiously awaiting this book’s appearance.

“The Mothers,” refer to the elderly women in a conservative congregation and their observations about their fellow church members, including observations about a girl named Nadia who is the main character in this story.

Nadia falls into a romantic relationship with the pastor’s son and their relationship ends when a secret that they carry becomes the primary focus of their relationship. Nadia continues to hide the secret, even from her dearest friend Aubrey, and ends up moving away to start fresh elsewhere. When she comes home though, she discovers that her feelings are still there for the man she left, but he has moved on with her best friend who has never known the secret past they carry.

This was a great read if you go into it knowing that this is more of a character piece than anything else. I really enjoyed Bennett’s writing and the unique viewpoint that, “the mothers,” offered to this.

I was excited to find this at the library, but if the wait list is too long, this was one of this month’s selections from the Book of the Month Club which is a great way to get great selections for a great price on books! Take 30% off 3 months plus a free BOTM tote with this coupon code: 30TOTE.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

I’m not a big fan of books about animals so as soon as I see if a book is about an animal, I promptly dismiss it. I asked Sasha, from Pathologically Literate, to lead our book club discussion this month though and she selected, Lily and the Octopus, as her pick for us to read because she loved it so much she wanted to read it again.

I can’t tell you how much I love book clubs for this VERY reason because it pushed me to pick up this book, a book I would have dismissed,  and it is one of my new favorite books. I just can’t stop thinking about this sweet story that had SO MUCH humor and heart.

Teddy is a single gay man who has found the love of his life in his sweet little dog, Lily. Sounds basic, right? It isn’t though, it is rich and laugh-out-loud funny and heartfelt and gorgeous from start to finish. Rowley writes from Lily’s perspective in the most wildly unique way that it makes your heart hurt with its sweetness. When the two of them face a big challenge together, the story really begins to build.

The ending? Sheer perfection.

If a book moves me to tears, it’s a treasure. Get those tissues ready because it’s a tearjerker!

As soon as I finished it, I wanted to pick it right back up and read it again. I’m so thankful for this gentle nudge from our book club hostess to read this beautiful book. It was, truly, my favorite read of the month!

5 Out of 5 Stars

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

I read about, It Was Me All Along, ages ago when Kristen from Dine & Dish recommended it on one of her reading round-ups. I was not familiar with Andie’s blog and this was not a memoir I would have typically grabbed, but Kristen never leads me astray. It also happened to be chosen as one of Amazon’s Top 100 Books of 2015, picked as People Magazine’s Book of the Week, one of Amazon’s Best New Books of January 2015, and a finalist in the 2015 GoodReads Choice Awards.

It Was Me All Along chronicles Andie’s lifelong difficulties with healthy eating and her transformative journey of losing 135 pounds and finally finding the balance she was missing with food.

Andie really illustrates what so many struggle with and how often our best memories and our greatest comfort comes from food. She writes in a raw and honest way about how difficult it was to have a healthy perspective on eating and why so many of her hurdles with her food addiction were deeply rooted in her childhood.

I have had issues of my own with food and my weight and recognize how difficult it is to not fall back into bad behaviors. Andie’s honesty with her journey makes this a compelling read and I look forward to now being a follower of her beautiful blog too.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

I received an advanced reader copy from NetGalley- all thoughts and opinions are my own!

I have always enjoyed Leavitt’s books (you can read an interview that I did with her over here), but this book…this book is EXCEPTIONAL and, I believe, her best book yet. The Girls had a lot of hype (I still need to read this one), but I think this is the book that should have received the hype as Leavitt explores this era in such a beautiful and compelling way.

When I interviewed Caroline she was working on this book and she had said, “Cruel Beautiful World was sold on the basis of a first chapter and a thirty page synopsis. It’s set in the 60s and early 70s, the time when all the free love movement was starting to turn ugly, with the Manson murders and Altamont. It’s about a 16 year-old girl who runs off with her 30 year-old hippy teacher to join the “back to the land” movement that began in the 70s, a so-called-paradise that turns into a nightmare for her.”

Who better to describe it than the author herself? What I would like to say about it is that she carves such incredible dynamics between the sisters and the fear that she creates in Lucy, as she worries for her safety during the Manson murders, is so poignant as she is being held captive herself by the man she thought she was in love with. These characters are written in a way that they feel so real and you can’t help but worry for each of them after Lucy disappears from their family.

If you are wanting to step back into that crazy time in history, this book is a perfect way to do it!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Sundays With Writers

Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May Must-Reads

June 2016 Must-Reads

July 2016 Must-Reads

August 2016 Must-Reads

September 2016 Must-Reads

October 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What should I be adding to my library bag? Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

The Reading Life of an Entrepreneur: September Must-Reads

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

The Reading Life of an Entrepreneur: September Must-Reads

So in the first installment of what hopefully can be a regular thing (Seriously, I think Amy got a little concerned that you guys might like me more than her. Make sure you give her a <virtual> pat on the back and remind her that she is good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like her) we laid important ground in my self-directed addiction recovery program.

Todd Greer

Todd Greer, Chief Catalyst of The Exchange

I laid out how I like books (another insight, that made me drop into “I Like Big Books and I Can Not Lie”. I have been known to fall for “weaponized song lyrics.”), lots of books. Outside of romance and a few other genres, I pretty much like anything that is well-written and has something that I can take away from it (even if that is just amusement – I see you Evanovich and Goldberg and your Fox and O’Hare series. I have books 4 and 5 on standby right now).

So, without further ado, here is the list of just finished (or at least mostly finished).

Coup D'Etat by Ben Coes

Coup D’Etat by Ben Coes

My take: So the first book in this series, Power Down, sat on my “to read” slot in my Audible files for quite some time. Only after I had demolished a number of other genres and was looking for a break that I finally tapped into what I learned was an entire series on Dewey Andreas.

In the second book in the series, Coup D’Etat, we follow our hero (the aforementioned Dewey Andreas – seriously, I had a hard time with a uber-manly, former Special Forces, hero named Dewey. Seriously, no disrespect to anyone with that name, but I don’t envision you as the guy that can kill me 40 different ways with your bare hands) deeper on his adventures that lead him both to flee America again and once again defend her (and her ally’s) honor when confronted by violence perpetrated by a regime or terrorist network.

The author, Ben Coes, has created a fast-moving series that doesn’t ask for a lot of deep thinking. We have a family (the Fortunas) that has become more wealthy than the gods, who is funding any form of violent jihad they can stand behind, Dewey – the quintessential wrongly disgraced military hero who has to balance love for country with a desire to escape to places that he is neither known, nor needed for his military capabilities. Beyond the battle between these two families (and the network of agents the Fortunas are funding to bring down the United States), we have an interesting affair between Dewey and a National Security Advisor (who somehow is in every important meeting with the President and is able to largely dictate the President’s decision making – yeah, that seems like a stretch), and we have a few other ancillary characters thrown in for good measure.

Summary: The series is (relatively) fast-paced, the storylines feel very post-9/11-ie, and the character development (so far) is weak. That said, if you like beat-em-up, blow-em-up action particularly in the (para)military style you will probably find this series to be worth a look.

3 Out of 5 Stars

The Misfit Economy

 

The Misfit Economy by Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips

So this is a book that had my attention well over a year ago before it was even released. I had the pleasure of getting to know one of the co-authors, Alexa Clay, through the BLK SHP network and even was able to spend a few days getting to know her talent for asking great questions and framing intriguing (and often overlooked) vignettes.

One of the things that bothers me, as an entrepreneur, is the concept that every startup or idea is based around technology and will suddenly become this massive success (seriously people, we need to understand what survivorship bias is…). Clay and Phillips drive conversation around camel milkers (yep, it’s a thing), Somali pirates (imprisoned ones), hackers, and other non-traditional economic models.

Within the frame of the book, they recognize five things that these misfits seem to bring to light that we can actually be useful for anyone that is seeking to be more creative in their approach to business: hustle, copy, hack, provoke, and pivot. All the while, we begin to recognize that there are real human stories at play that can’t be overlooked.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

 

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

This was the Daily Deal on Audible.com one day and I will admit it both intrigued and confused me. Frankly like a lot of audiobooks when the author is new to me and the narrator is not a voice I am familiar with, this one got a shot as part of my bedtime routine. After a few nights, I was able to get enough of a feel for the book that I decided to keep going with it (which isn’t always the case – seriously I tried SOOOO hard to like the No. 1 Women’s Detective Agency, but it just never caught me).

The premise of this otherworldly affair, is that cryptics (imagine hybrid creatures like Minotaurs, Warewolves, and the like) are a reality in the world that we know and love. These shapeshifters, changelings, and (previously only) mythological creatures are living amongst the rest of us.

In the 1980s an event occurs in which human babies are switched out for “surrogates” thus leading to a massive slaughter. From this point on, cryptics are no longer part of the general population but are instead confined to circus’ tents and carnival runways.

This is an interesting tale that caused me to ask some deep questions about how we treat others, particularly those that are different than us. I am not sure that is what the author was driving at, but frankly the power dynamics at play between the staff and the caged performers makes me think about what people are forced to resort to when they are powerless.

(Note: I had no idea going into this, that it was a planned trilogy. I am not certain that I will pick up the 2nd book in the series when it comes out in 2017, but this certainly was a worthwhile read.)

4 Out of 5 Stars

Building the Future by Amy Edmondson

Building the Future: Big Teaming for Audacious Innovation by Amy Edmondson and Susan Reynolds

I kinda have an academic crush on Dr. Amy Edmondson. We follow each other on Twitter and I have been working to try and schedule an interview program with her, on and off, for about a year and a half. Edmondson’s research is on “teaming” (the idea that instead of permanent teams, the future is built on working arrangements that are both shorter term and adaptive), and frankly it is so spot-on to the changing landscape that I see in the world of the new economy. Due to my previous interest in her first book, I didn’t even hesitate when I pulled the trigger on this one.

This one is a little different and frankly I wasn’t always thrilled with the book at first, given I was expecting more conversation around teaming and how the Living Planet group was developed, how it worked, what it looked like in the trenches with major lessons from prior research and examination of it in practice.

Once I came around to the fact that this ultimately was a book about a company’s journey with more of an anthropologists’ framing, I settled in to enjoy the book (I do really enjoy “out there” concepts like building the city of the future, so this gave me some pretty amazing ideas).

I wouldn’t recommend this book to individuals who don’t have a high interest in the way that innovation occurs, or doesn’t, within the fabric of truly city/community development. I was struck often by just how hard it is to truly upend the way that we do much of our building in both this country and throughout the world. While the technology is present now to allow us to do audacious things, this book illustrates that many municipalities and organizations still are unready to bring it to bear.

3 Out of 5 Stars

The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell

 

The Pale Horseman and Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell

What can I say, other than that I am hooked? Honestly, this series is right up there with the Game of Thrones pantheon of books (though this one is a little easier to follow, given the consistent narrator, and the manageable band of characters). These books allow the reader to travel back to an England of the 9th Century. A time in which war was the norm, kingdoms were fluid, and very few people could read (seriously, outside of priests, monks, and a few elites no one could read…so sad).

Uhtred, is like the Steve Austin of the dark ages (ok, if you don’t understand this, you obviously weren’t a teenage male in the 1990s). He is the preferred sword of King Alfred, yet the two rightly can’t actually stand each other. On one hand, King Alfred is an extremely pious Christian who is as cerebral as they come, on the other hand, Uhtred is a pagan (his amulet of Thor’s hammer is the ever present reminder of this) who is both emotional and headstrong. The two, while at odds with each other find themselves pulled together by the need for the other to reach their desired outcomes.

Look, I don’t want to waste any more of your time or my time so, if you like Historical Fantasy in the least bit (e.g. you watched or read Game of Thrones), READ THESE BOOKS!

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New Books on My Shelf

In other news, due to the backlog of books that one compiles when they are addicted to books (both the collection of, and the reading of), I thought I would provide a glimpse of what got added to my shelves (both physical and virtual) recently. I hope to be able to share on these in the weeks to come.

The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

Smart People Should Build Things by Andrew Yang

The Leader’s Guide by Eric Ries

The rest of the Saxon Series by Bernard Cornwell

House of Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge by Lenny Dykstra

Oh, and last but not least – I have 56 posted books being completed on Goodreads. That means that the Editor of this blog is feeling me getting close on her heels (she tries to tell me she has a bunch on standby that she is going to review soon…but I think that might just be her coping mechanism).

Editor’s Note: As you can see, Todd is VERY good at trash-talking. As someone who loves trash-talking, I find it to be one of his best qualities. Unfortunately for him, I’m off to log in 8 more books on my GoodReads account. Oh, snap!  I hope you didn’t miss those reviews this week. You might need to pick up your pace, Todd! 

  The Reading Life of an Entrepreneur: September Must-Reads

Do you have any suggestions for Todd on books he should check out? Please leave them here for his next book stack!

September 2016 Must-Reads

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

September 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I am running a bit behind on sharing my September reads. It was a pretty eclectic pile of books from dystopian apocalyptic fun to time travel (always a favorite of mine) to coming-of-age to dark comedies. I am guessing there is something for everyone this month and hope you enjoy this stack as much as I did!

Later this week, Todd is joining us again with his best picks for the month too! I can’t wait to share those with you on Thursday! Please keep your eyes peeled too for more incredible interviews with authors in our Sundays With Writers series! Yay!

8 Must-Read Books from September 2016

Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

I received a copy for review from Netgalley- all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wife 22 happened to be one of my past favorite vacation reads so I was thrilled to see that Gideon had a new novel out. Time travel is always such a fun escape and this story was a delight from start to finish.

Set in 1975, Valley of the Moon chronicles the story of a single mother who takes a camping adventure on her own to find herself again. What she doesn’t expect to find is that just beyond this thick fog is a community frozen in time in the year 1906.

The community welcomes her into their community and she finally feels a sense of purpose, worth, and love… all that have been missing as she tries to raise her son alone.

The reader gets to follow Lux as she travels back and forth through time, finding love in a different era, and learning many consequences of trying to live in parallel worlds.

Lots of lovely plot twists and the ending Gideon carves for the end is movie-worthy. Although the idea of this portal might feel a little cheesy at first, you can’t help but fall in love with both worlds and eras that the author has crafted. Time travel fans will love this one!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

One of my friends is a librarian (Hi, Pam!) and she said Eight Hundred Grapes had been one of her favorite summer reads. I listened to this book on audiobook and it would make the perfect vacation read.

The book opens with Georgia sitting in her brother’s bar in a wedding gown. She hasn’t gotten married, but witnesses her fiancée in a moment on the street that rocks her world. Returning home to figure things out, she is shocked to discover that, not only did her fiancée have a big secret, but her entire family has been keeping secrets from her. Her parent’s marriage is failing, her mother is dating, her brothers are involved in a love triangle, and their family winery is in the process of being sold. Yeah, a lot has changed.

This story is part storytelling of how these relationships began, part understanding how wine is really made, and part family drama.

This was a fun little escape and I really enjoyed the audiobook of this one!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss Jr.

Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss Jr.

Carousel Court had received rave reviews so I suggested this book as a pick for our local book club. Here is the thing, I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I would say that McGinniss is a gifted writer that made me loathe the characters in his book. I can see why some people enjoyed it, but the characters were so unlikable that it made it difficult to connect emotionally with the story.

This story is about a failing marriage and the true sinking of their marriage ship when they are no longer financially stable. Set in California during the recession, the couple finds themselves in foreclosure alley when no one can afford to stay in their houses. Nick, the husband, works to help clean out the houses when the bank kicks them out of their home. Witnessing all these homes that have remained dormant, he takes advantage of this shaky ground and begins operating a month-to-month leasing company on properties he doesn’t own, using the funds to try to financially recover his own family. Meanwhile, his wife picks up a relationship with an old flame, in hopes that he can pull her out of a life she hates. It can’t, unfortunately, help with her abuse of prescription drugs and lack of any motherly bone in her body. The reader gets to watch the train wreck unfold chapter by painful chapter.

I will remember this, not as a favorite, but the themes from it made it one of our better book club discussions.

If you enjoy stories of failing marriages, twisted soulless characters, and a book filled with literary tension…this one is for you!

3 Out of 5 Stars

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

I received an ARC of Small Great Things from Netgalley and have been waiting to share my review for so long that I forgot to add this to the post when I originally posted it- oops! This book actually goes on sale TODAY!

Jodi, with the exception of The Storyteller, hasn’t been a go-to for me in a long time for reading, but when I read about the premise of this story, I couldn’t resist giving her another spin. Honestly, I was REALLY glad I did.

The story focuses on a nurse, named Ruth Jefferson, that has been working in labor and delivery for over twenty years. When a couple requests that Ruth not care for their family, following the birth of their child, she is stunned to find out that she has been removed from their care because of the color of her skin.

When the baby goes into cardiac arrest while Ruth is on duty, she finds herself in the middle of a grueling murder trial and without a job to support her. Kennedy is the lawyer that is assigned to this tough case and the reader gets to go along on this journey with Ruth as she agonizes over a split second decision that may have cost her the job she has loved for so many years.

In a predictable Picoult fashion, there is a twist at the end that you may or may not see coming. That said, it was a solid read all the way through, even though it may have felt a little predictable at times.

4 Out of 5 Stars

 

Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

This book was provided to me by the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Lost Stars was based upon a Modern Love essay that was expanded into a fictional story about a teen that is falling apart after the death of her sister. Carrie is making poor decisions from the company she keeps to the habits she has formed, but so much of that is in response to the death of her sister, her mother’s decision to leave their family, and the feeling of disconnection from her father. When she pushes things too far, her father makes her join a summer work camp at a local state park to help her develop better habits and hopefully improve her behavior. Her secret is that she has never fit in with the rough crowd and has always been passionate about astrophysics. When she meets a guy that loves her, nerdy habits and all, Carrie begins to become the girl she was always destined to be.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it for you or your favorite YA reader. Please note, language, mild PG sex, and drug/alcohol use if sharing this with your teen!

3 Out of 5 Stars

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven is a reread for me and actually made my top ten list in 2014 as one of my favorites. I got the opportunity to hear Emily speak and so I wanted to refresh my memory on this beautiful book.

If you haven’t read it yet, it is an absolutely incredible novel and offers a new take on a pandemic world captured through the storytelling of a Hollywood actor and a band of traveling actors that risk it all to perform their art during a flu apocalypse. The storytelling jumps and weaves through time making it a treat to read from start to finish about what life was like before and after a fatal flu strikes the country.

Masterfully woven characters, particularly with the use of the three wives in Arthur’s life, the author brings these stories together in a way that makes you feel like you know each character.

I listened to this one and was curious, when I went to purchase the audiobook, why two versions of the audiobook were offered. I asked Emily about it and she said the UK wanted their own version so that is why there are two versions of it. How funny is that? It was a treat to listen to (I went with the US version) and I am so glad I got to enjoy this one a second time!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach

The Fault in Our Stars meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is how the publisher describes this dark comedy. In The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko, seventeen-year-old Ivan is a resident at the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus and is quite the handful for the staff at the hospital. He fakes comas (it’s pretty hilarious!), needs lots of vodka to get through his day, an observer of all his fellow patients, and bored out of his mind. When Polina arrives, a beautiful resident suffering from terminal cancer, everything in Ivan’s world changes as they form an unlikely friendship.

I laughed through parts of this and got misty-eyed through others. It’s a beautiful story with a few well-placed plot twists and an unforgettable friendship, not only between these two patients, but an even lovelier one between Ivan and his nurse.

This was a slow starter for me, but I really enjoyed this beautiful story and recommend it for fans of One in a Million Boy!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This month’s MomAdvice Book Club selection was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a timely pick with the movie coming out this month! I have picked this one up several times and never could get into it, but decided to listen to this one on audiobook and browse the PDF later to look at all of the pictures.

When a horrific family tragedy happens to sixteen-year-old Jacob, his father takes him on a journey to a remote island to help give Jacob peace with his grandfather’s death. His grandfather always talked fondly of his time at Miss Peregrine’s so he sets out to see if the woman is still alive. Not only is she alive, but so are all his old peculiar friends. What unfolds is a beautifully dark story of discovery, first love, and what you would do to save those you love.

I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would and look forward to passing on to my daughter to listen to before we see the film. The book does contain some adult language in it for those that are screening their children’s books!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Read With Me

Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May Must-Reads

June 2016 Must-Reads

July 2016 Must-Reads

August 2016 Must-Reads

September 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What should I be adding to my library bag? Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

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The Reading Life of an Entrepreneur

Monday, September 12th, 2016

The Reading Life of an Entrepreneur from MomAdvice.com

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

Todd Greer

 

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

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

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

Yep.

I have done a lot of stuff.

Oh, and I have a PhD.

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

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

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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

The Aviators by Winston Groom

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

The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

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

Accused by Lisa Scottoline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

around-the-house-2

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

 

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August 2016 Must-Reads

Friday, September 9th, 2016

August Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

My reading time was limited this month with the whole getting everyone back to school, buying all the things, filling out all the things, driving to all the things. I am finding that audiobooks are my jam again as I run my kids back and forth to activities and school. If I have to be driving, it is so nice to take advantage of those pockets of time in the car!  I have so many must-read picks for you for August and am already working on my next stack for reviewing.

There are lots of projects going on over here (I can’t wait to show you)  and my cheap bluetooth headphones are the next best thing to sliced bread.

NO CORDS?

A game changer for this busy reader!

I am hoping to get back to Sundays With Writers again so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new posts or sign up for our newsletter to get the scoop!

Sorta Awesome Show

I also had the opportunity to join the Sorta Awesome Show and share the best (and worst) in my summer reading. When I tallied up how much I read this summer it totaled 28 (!!!) books. Laura, also known as the Hollywood Housewife, is one of my own go-to resources for books so I couldn’t wait to hear what she had been reading. As soon as we got done, I put everything she mentioned on hold. She’s that good!

One thing we talked about was how the heck do I read so much. This post might be a good one to read if you want to consume more books this year!

If you want to geek out over books too, you won’t want to miss this episode! I’ll be excited to hear if you agree and disagree with our opinions.

6 Must-Read Books from August 2016

The Longest Night by Andria Williams

The Longest Night by Andria Williams

I love historical fiction, especially when that historical fiction involves a story that I had never been aware of. Williams shares the true story of the SN-L Nuclear Reactor and the only fatal nuclear attack to occur in America in her beautiful novel, The Longest Night.

When Nat & Paul Collier move to the town, Paul is not only frustrated with his immoral boss, but he has a growing concern with the safety at the plant. When an altercation sends Paul away, Nat becomes friends with a man in town and lines between friendship and attraction for one another becomes blurred.

Set in Iowa in 1959, Williams builds a beautiful tension between her characters. It reminded me a lot of Mad Men and Masters of Sex. Once you finish the book, you will be running to look up the facts of this little known tragedy to learn more.

I know I was.

4 Out of 5 Stars

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Fans of Defending Jacob will appreciate Walker’s novel,  All Is Not Forgottenas it focuses on what parents will do to keep their children safe.

The book opens with a teenage girl, named Jenny Kramer, who attends a party and is brutally raped. The graphic and shocking nature of the rape is laid out in detail in this story so highly sensitive readers may need to steer clear.

After the rape, Jenny is given a drug that suppresses the memory of this horrific event, in hopes that Jenny can move forward in life. Unfortunately, Jenny just can’t move forward because she has to know what happened to her.  There is one problem through.  What if the person that is supposed to be guiding her to the answers has his own ulterior motive?

It has been a long time since I have read a book told in first person minor and Walker chooses to narrate her story through the psychologist’s eyes. Unfortunately, for lack of better words, this guy is an absolute douchebag. This can be a turn off and, at times, distracts the reader from the plot. The book held my interest, but I was hoping to know more from Jenny’s perspective.

Can you believe MomAdvice called someone a douchebag on here?

Oh, you bet I did!

That said, I always love to read the books before the movies and this one will be hitting the big screen.  I will be curious what Jessica Knoll and Reese Witherspoon’s production team come up with when writing and producing this one for film.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

The Assistants by Camille Perri

The Assistants by Camille Perri

I used this month’s Scribd audio credit on The Assistants, and I am SO glad I did. This book was such a treat from start to finish and a really enjoyable listen, should you be sitting on a little credit too.

Tina Fontana works for the head honcho at her company who is swimming in money. When a technical error occurs with an expense report, Tina uses it to her advantage to pay off her student loan debt…to the tune of $20K.

Only one problem though… other people in the office have been noticing and want their loans paid off too.  More people become involved, more money is funneled, more loans paid, and more stress that Tina will get busted.

Imagine a Robin Hood story, but with a modern twist. This book is just the medicine for anyone who has struggled with student loan debt (raises hand high!). I love this book so much and found the ending to be pure perfection. It certainly was the sweetest literary escape this month for me!

5 Out of 5 Stars

You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

Few books have brought me to tears of laughter the way that Tina Fey’s, Bossypants, book did. Lucky for me, You’ll Grow Out of It just so happens to be the kind of book that makes your sides hurt with laughter and has some of that Fey magic that I have been missing in my life.

Klein is a tomboy through and through so her book focuses a lot on the silliness of expectations on women, the unbelievable things we must do to maintain our good looks, the ridiculousness of wedding dress shopping, and even the expectations we feel deciding how we give birth to our children. From her rants about barre classes to the rudeness of being called ma’am, it made me laugh SO MUCH. There are a couple of raunchy chapters I could have done without, but the majority of the book was just incredibly honest and hilarious. I’m so glad I read this one!

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña

I am a sucker for a good thriller and The Couple Next Door was a really incredible keep-you-up-past-your-bedtime read. The story revolves around parents that are invited to a birthday celebration party with requests that children not attend. When their babysitter cancels, they decide to still attend the party at the neighboring brownstone, leave the baby sleeping in the crib, with an agreement to take turns checking on the baby every half hour. When they check in, later in the evening though, they find the crib empty and the baby is nowhere to be found. The reader is taken on twist after twist as the couple tries to find their baby and the motive behind it.

I was surprised the book opens right away with the baby going missing and wondered how the story would ever build out from there when such a big part of the plot happens in the opening chapter. The author crafts plausible (and not so plausible) twists though that takes you on a wild rollercoaster ride with these parents. Just the discussion alone of whether or not the couple should have left their baby would make a great one for book club discussions.

This one brings all the twists and builds great tension. This one is worthy of a reading binge-and I consumed it in a mere 24 hours!  I just loved it!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall has been on my summer reading bucket list so I was excited to finally make time to dive into this one. The story revolves around a plane crash and the aftermath that happens following the accident.

Many chapters are like individual short stories, sharing the real story of these eleven passengers. The main story though is focused on a down-on-his-luck painter who becomes a hero when he brings one of the plane’s smallest passengers to safety.

In many ways, these stories reminded me of Did You Ever Have a Family, with all of the individual story threads being woven together. There were many moments in the book that I enjoyed and some that dragged a bit for me. The ending, for me, was abrupt and a little disappointing.

I’m glad I read this one, but it read like a slow read for me.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

Read With Me

Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May Must-Reads

June 2016 Must-Reads

July 2016 Must-Reads

August Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What should I be adding to my library bag? Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

July 2016 Must-Reads

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

July 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Going on vacation after a jam-packed busy month was just what I needed to tackle a big stack of books for July. I had a few hits and a few misses this month so I thought I would share those with you. I will be curious to hear if some of these books hit you in a different way than they did for me. Let’s talk about it!

I also usually tend to shy away from popular books, but this month I wanted some quick escapes while we were on holiday. I picked several that I know everyone will be talking about this month as well as a couple of gems I discovered that I had not heard about before. I’ve got time traveling, sci-fi, YA goodness, chick lit, and a thriller this month- hopefully, there is something for everyone!

TBR Mug

(You can get a cute mug like this for $5 with my $10 coupon!! Support an artist and acknowledge your mountain!)

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

8 Must-Read Books I Read In June

Fellside by M.R. Carey

Fellside by M.R. Carey

I was so excited to dig into M.R. Carey’s latest book since The Girl With All the Gifts is one of my favorite reads. This book was interesting, but very different than his last one. I don’t know how to explain it except by saying that it is Orange is the New Black meets The Sixth Sense.

Jess Moulson finds herself in a maximum security prison, called Fellside, after a tragic fire that not only deforms her, but kills the little boy in her apartment complex. As she deals with the grief of the crime she has committed, she is visited by the ghost of the little boy who helps her to make peace with the tragedy, but also allows her to exit her mind and body, giving her the chance to jump into the minds of the other prisoners and see what they are dreaming of.

Killing a child makes her a target at the prison, but even with the little boy’s help, it can’t protect her from the crooked system.

At almost 500 pages, the story dragged for me in the beginning and then I finally hit my pace about halfway through. It was worth reading just for the court scene and the creative twist at the end, but it requires a lot of commitment to power through the first half of this one.  If you have the time, add it to your stack!

Be sure to read my interview with M.R. Carey where we discussed his first INCREDIBLE book. That one was definitely a must-read for me! 

4 Out of 5 Stars

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

It is difficult to find thrillers that are solid all the way through, but All the Missing Girls, truly delivers a strong thriller from start to finish. This is Miranda’s first novel for adults (she had previously been writing just for young adults) and shines as one of the best thrillers I have read this summer.

This story is told backwards from Day 15 to Day 1 as the mystery of a missing girl, named Annaleise, is trying to be solved by local police.  As luck would have it, the main character (Nic) has been through a missing person case before when her best friend Corinne went missing, a decade ago, and no one ever heard from her again. Her family goes under scrutiny once again as they try to figure out where Annaleise has gone.

You are taken down a bumpy road as these two cases collide in shocking ways and everyone is suspect. Reading in reverse chronological order is a challenge for a reader and reading it digitally made it more difficult to page back to figure out where these sections came together. I would recommend reading this one as a good old-fashioned book to really pull the storyline together in a way that you can really grasp.

If you enjoyed, In a Dark, Dark Wood or Luckiest Girl Alive, I have a feeling you will really enjoy this twisty book and trying to solve the case of these missing girls. If you are like me, you really won’t know until the final pages what these family secrets hold.

5 Out of 5 Stars

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Described as Cloud Atlas meets Orphan BlackA Thousand Pieces of You is the first in the planned trilogy (the third book releases in November!) from Claudia Gray. This book is EVERYTHING that you may have felt like you have been missing since the Hunger Games trilogy.

Marguerite is the daughter of two scientists that have found a way to unlock different dimensions through a high-tech necklace, called the Firebird, which gives you a chance to step into alternate worlds (past & present).

Marguerite’s father is murdered and the murderer turns out to be a trusted lab assistant who has used the Firebird to leave and hop in another dimension. Hot on his heels though are Marguerite and Theo, another research assistant on the team to try to avenge his death.

What unfolds is time travel magic as Marguerite plays a game of cat and mouse from one dimension to another. Stepping back in time and then moving through the future, the reader is taken through each dimension as Marguerite tries to find Paul. What she doesn’t expect is the awaiting love triangle or the truth behind her father’s death in a surprising little twist.

I DEVOURED this story and fell in love with each of these characters- I can’t rave enough.

If you are screening YA books for a teen, there is a sex scene in this one (mildly done), language (mildly done), and references to the struggle-is-real about periods.

I read this one through Scribd (if you happen to use that service too). I can’t recommend this one enough for a sweet YA escape and have already reserved the second book at my library!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Ware’s debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood, was so fantastic that I couldn’t wait to dig into her second thriller. The Woman in Cabin 10 feels a bit like a Hitchcock film or a finely crafted Agatha Christie murder mystery. Playing into the unreliable narrator theme, that seems to be so popular these days, Lo Blacklock is dealing with anxiety following a break in at her home. Assigned to cover a boutique cruise ship for a travel magazine, Lo believes she witnesses a murder in the cabin next to hers.

When she reports it and starts investigating what has happened, someone is not too happy about it, creating an already unhinged woman into a state of even more heightened anxiety. As a reader, this whodunit murder mystery was solid all the way through and kept me guessing until the final pages.

Be sure to check out my interview with Ruth Ware as we discuss her debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Truly Madly Guilty

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

I was so excited when this book came into our library since I enjoyed Big Little Lies so much. Moriarty follows the same formula as she did with her last book, setting up a tragic event that happens at a neighborhood cookout and the implications that happen from the tragedy. Perhaps it is because she uses the exact same setup as Big Little Lies, this one felt a little too formulaic and I felt like I knew what to anticipate from the very beginning.

I feel bad saying this, while this tragedy was sad, the build-up of the first half of the book makes it feel much larger than it was and just wasn’t worth all the suspense of over two hundred pages of setting you up. Although the first half moved swiftly for me, the second half REALLY dragged as the author tries to pull all the loose strings together in a fairly predictable way. The only good parts were some of the layers added to some of the characters (a daughter of a hoarder, a grumpy neighbor with a sad past, the stripper who changed her life due to a generous client).

This would be an enjoyable beach read, but was not my favorite read from her.  I wouldn’t qualify this one as a must-read, but I did want to include it for the Moriarty fans!

3 Out of 5 Stars

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

I was so excited to dig into Giffin’s latest book even though her last one was one that I had abandoned. First Comes Love really brings the charm that Something Borrowed had captured in her writing as she explores the complexities of a relationship between sisters.

When their brother is tragically taken from them, Meredith & Josie’s lives pull into two different paths following his death. Meredith seems to have it all with the perfect marriage, a great career, and a child. Josie remains single, after her first love has moved on, and decides to take her life down a different path to raise a child in a less conventional way. Of course, neither story is as it fully seems and Josie carries around a secret that threatens her (already) failing relationship with her sister about the night of her brother’s accident.

This one is a satisfying read from start to finish and a pleasure to read! I absolutely loved it!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

I enjoyed Dark Matter so much last month that I couldn’t wait to dive into another sci-fi thriller. Sleeping Giants sounded like an interesting premise for a book and had comparisons to, The Martian, which I had really enjoyed. Unfortunately, I think this one lacked the charm that The Martian had, making the comparison a little bit of a stretch for me.

This book opens with a girl riding her new bike and happens to fall into a hole on her ride. When the firemen come to rescue her, she is being held in the palm of a steel hand in a square-shaped hole. Seventeen years later, the mystery of where this artifact is from is still unknown. This girl, now a doctor,  decides to pull together a team to figure out the mystery and what it could potentially mean for humanity. Told mostly in interview format, with an unnamed interrogator, it is a quick novel to breeze through for a sci-fi escape.

I have to say though that this was not a captivating read for me. I didn’t enjoy reading the story through interviews and the writing felt a little cheesy at times. I was hoping for an action-packed book with this robot, but it seemed to focus more on the political angle than the fact that these people possessed a killer robot that could wipe out humanity. Some of the motives of these characters felt forced (I won’t give anything away), but didn’t make sense for me as a reader. I am wondering if the action is going to happen in the second book, due to be released in April of next year.

That said, it is the first book that my husband, son, and I ALL read (appropriate for a 14 year-old boy, for sure!) and so it gave us something fun to talk about. The guys seemed to enjoy it more than me so if you are looking to do a mother & son book club (how fun would that be?), this is definitely one you could read together!

3 Out of 5 Stars

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

A small town is filled with gaps where the world looks differently and even the corn has a voice. When a kidnapping happens and the only witness can’t give descriptions to what the kidnapper looked like, the town’s whispers taint his reputation. He is determined to redeem himself (and the taken girl) and sets out on an adventure to get her back. He must fall into these mystical gaps to find her and the truth is revealed on why he could never fully see her captor.

I am such a big fan of magical realism in literature and this book delivers that so beautifully. The imagery that the author creates through words is astounding!  I really enjoyed this unique story and I think you will too if you are looking for a magical escape!

4 Out of 5 Stars

 

July 2016 Must-Reads

Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May Must-Reads

June Must-Reads

July 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What should I be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

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June 2016 Must-Reads

Friday, July 8th, 2016

June 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

8 Must-Read Books I Read In June

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

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

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

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

4 Out of 5 Stars

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

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

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

5 Out of 5 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

4 Out of 5 Stars

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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

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

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

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

5 Out of 5 Stars

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (available for preorder!)

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

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

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

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

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

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

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

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

4 Out of 5 Stars

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

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

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

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

3 Out of 5 Stars

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

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

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

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

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

5 Out of 5 Stars

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Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May Must-Reads

June-2016-Must-Read-Books

What should I be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

May 2016 Must-Reads

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

May 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I’m excited to share what I have been reading this month with you. I have 8 great recommendations that would be be perfect for indulging in this summer. This month I tackled everything from historical fiction to thrillers to self-help to memoirs. I can’t wait to dig into another stack for June and share those with you too and I hope this post will inspire you to run out and get some fresh books too!

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

8 Must-Read Books for May 2016

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I love when books introduce me to a time in history that I am unaware of. Set in 1945, Sepetys explores the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. This ship had promised safety to over 10,000 people, even more than the well-known Titanic. Uniquely told through the voices of four characters, all with different ethnic backgrounds, she explores a hidden time in history in a beautiful and heartbreaking way. This is, perhaps, one of the most researched books I have read as the author traveled to over a half dozen countries to take accounts from passengers, their families, and even deep sea divers to round out her story.  Fans of The Book Thief will appreciate this tragic YA story.

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

I received an ARC of this book- all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Outliers is the first book in a YA trilogy that begins with a single text, “Please, Wylie, I need your help.” When Wylie’s estranged best friend goes missing, she is led on a wild goose chase, with Cassie’s boyfriend, to bring Cassie to safety. The duo has no idea where they are going and the reader is led through over the half of the book to a surprising adventure that bends the genre from thriller to science fiction. Read the book before you see the film because this one has been optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s production team!

Be sure to read my interview this week with Kimberly and check out the 3 books she recommends we read!

4 Out of 5 Stars

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Leonora, a reclusive writer, receives a surprise invitation from an old friend inviting to her to a weekend away as one last hurrah before she gets married. Set in a glass house in the woods, the four acquaintances share revelations and begin to realize their party is not alone. Forty-eight hours later, Leonora (Nora) awakes in a hospital bed knowing that someone is dead. Nora desperately tries to piece together what happened, forcing her to revisit times in her past that she would rather leave buried.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to thrillers and this one delivers beautifully.  The pacing is perfect and reads like a great whodunit mystery. Enjoy the ride and then get ready to see this one brought to life on the big screen by Reese Witherspoon’s production team.

Ruth will be joining me this month in our Sundays With Writers series so be sure to watch for that one!

5 Out of 5 Stars

A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

If I could make a required reading list for parents, this book would top it. Klebold painfully writes openly about her son Dylan and his involvement in the Columbine shooting. A family, not unlike our family, that offered love and support to their son, becomes part of one of biggest tragedies in history, in part, because they were unaware of their son’s depression. Klebold has devoted her life to helping in the advance of mental health awareness and intervention, even donating all proceeds to organizations that focus on mental health issues.

This was one of the most difficult books I have ever read, but eye-opening that this could happen in ANY family and that it is our job as parents to keep our children’s mental health in check just like we would their physical health. I would recommend reading Columbine before diving in to really get familiar with the story and the inaccurate media portrayal before reading this one!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro

Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro

Set in Depression-era Boston, the book follows Maeve Fanning, a first generation Irish girl, being raised by her widow mother. Maeve engages in risky behavior that lead her to a psychiatric hospital where she strikes up an unlikely friendship with an unstable woman named Diana. Diana runs in an elite crowd, thanks to her wealth, and Maeve begins changing herself to fit in. Dying her red hair to blonde, she begins a job working in a shop selling rare artifacts, being romanced by Diana’s brother, and continuing to engage in her risky behaviors.  As Diana pulls Maeve more and more into her fold, Maeve begins to realize how dangerous it all really is.

Rare Objects was a fantastic exploration of social issues that I would not have considered (like being an alcoholic during the Prohibition, for example) and the dramatic differences in social classes. This was another solid read from Tessaro that could have only benefitted from a bit of trimming in length for a tighter storyline.

Kathleen will be joining us this month for our Sundays With Writers series- stay tuned!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Tuesday Nights in 1980

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

Welcome to the art scene in SoHo in the 1980’s. Prentiss, much like an artist herself, vividly paints the art scene during this time and the story of two unlikely men whose lives become intertwined in surprising ways. The book follows James Bennett, an art critic whose writing is made more beautiful because he has Synthesia, and the rise and fall of that gift when it disappears. Raul Engales is an Argentinian painter running away from his past and the Dirty War who finds that he can use an art studio on a college campus just by pretending he is a student there. When tragedy strikes, Raul & James become friends as Raul’s paintings bring back the gift of Synthesia that James had when seeing his work. They both make tragic missteps along the way though and that is where the depth to the story is truly added.

There is a lot of meat in this story, but there is a feeling that Prentiss could have expanded so much on the storyline of Raul’s sister and what the Dirty War was all about. That said, it would be impossible to not learn something new and fans of art and the Manhattan scenes in the ‘80’s will definitely find plenty to love in this ambitious debut novel. Her descriptions are like paintings themselves, vivid and full of life!

I am so excited that Molly will be joining me this month for Sundays With Writers too! I can’t wait to interview her!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Fans of Masters of Sex will appreciate this fictional exploration of Dr. John Watson and his research that was revered by so many to not spoil children based on his research that he developed during his time at Johns Hopkins. Disturbingly, tests are performed on infants to yield responses from them, all being assisted by Rosalie Rayner. An affair develops between the two that taints their reputation in the medical community and adds strain to an already difficult marriage. When they have children of their own, Dr. Watson uses his own research as a basis for how they are to parent which creates squeamish moments for the reader. Despite it being an uncomfortable storyline, it held my interest all the way through, even when the characters were most unlikable.

Andromeda will be joining me this month for our Sundays With Writers series so be sure to check back for that one!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you work in the creative field OR if your heart has always desired to make room for creativity, you will truly appreciate the messaging of Big Magic. I listened to this one on audiobook, with Gilbert reading her book, and it was like listening to an incredible life coach about not giving up on your creative dreams, doing creativity for YOU and not just for the glory of it, and being okay with making mistakes. It is the gentle nudge (and sometimes in-your-face nudge) that you need to hear to get moving on projects that have been pushed away because of risk of failure or lack of time. It’s one I would listen to again, particularly if faced with a slump in my creative life.

Although, self-help books aren’t usually my cup of tea, Gilbert’s no bullshit mantras, are inspiring rather than cheesy.

5 Out of 5 Stars

 

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Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What should I be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

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April 2016 Must-Reads

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

April 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Just in case you follow me on GoodReads and started to worry that I’m not reading anymore, I want to reassure you that I’m flipping the pages just as frantically as before. I started to realize that it is anticlimactic to share all my reviews there first and then round them up at the end of the month so I am hoping to add a little element of surprise to these monthly round-ups.

If you are a regular reader, you may have suspected what I have been reading thanks to our Sundays With Writers (SWW) series. It’s been so fun to interview these authors and you can expect lots more interviews in the upcoming weeks. I’m so excited to share those with you.

As you can see, April has a little something for everyone when it comes to my must-reads list. I took advantage of a few advanced readers from authors, read some of the most buzzed about books this year, and rediscovered an author I have loved for many years who released her first YA book.

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

7 Must-Read Books for April 2016

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

What starts as a mother’s collection of her child’s artwork and memories that people find enchanting & homey in the beginning of this family saga, we later discover it quickly balloons into a hoard of unlivable proportions for one woman and those who love her.

Hoarding is something that intrigues many, but few want to go into the trenches with a family and discover why someone feels compelled to keep things. This book dives into the dysfunction that grows from the loss of a child, the leaving of grown children, and the filling of a loneliness that only these objects seem to provide. There were some shocking secrets that came into play at the end of the book although you got the sense that things weren’t right from the beginning. A solid read with a lot of meat for a book club discussion.  Read More…

4 Out of 5 Stars

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

Try Not to Breathe By Holly Seddon

I received an ARC from Netgalley- all thoughts & opinions are my own!

Fans of The Girl on the Train will enjoy another unreliable narrator in this strong debut. Alex is an alcoholic who has watched her career dwindle away due to her inability to stop drinking. She is assigned a story and comes to research the topic of people in comas and recognizes Amy, a case that she remembers all too well. Amy was assaulted in the 90’s as a teen and has remained in a coma since then. Alex becomes obsessed with uncovering who hurt Amy and wants to try to find  who did this to her. But someone doesn’t want her to find out and will do whatever it takes to stop her.

I was really excited about this one because I love a good thriller. I found it enjoyable and a nice escape- this would be a good one to pack in your beach bag. I was disappointed to read that much of information about brain activity in comas was actually created by the author and not actually factual, but I still found it to be a nice break from heavy books. Read more…

3 Out of 5 Stars

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (deal alert- this one is on sale for just $1.99!!!)

If I had to pick a favorite this month, it would be this one. Please, please, please read it and come back and tell me what you think! This book is about three unlikely friends growing up in the rural South that are all fighting demons of their own. Dill’s father is a Pentecostal preacher, known for his snake charming church, that becomes part of a town scandal that has left his family open to scrutiny and struggling financially. Travis is obsessed with a book series called Bloodfall that helps him escape into another reality away from his abusive father. And Lydia is a blogger ready to start a new life in New York while struggling to leave behind what is familiar and those she loves. These three unlikely people bond together and end up facing a struggle none of them could have ever predicted.  This friendship is beautifully woven with humor and heart. I could not put this book down and read it in a single day.

Be sure to check out my interview with Jeff about this book. Want a fun fact? He wrote the book on his iPhone! Read More…

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

If there is one buzz book this year, this is it! As a debut novelist, Cynthia signed a one million dollar contract for this book and it has already been optioned for film. I don’t want to give too much more away on all of that though because Cynthia joins me this week in our interview series! Be sure to check back on Sunday for the scoop on this incredible novelist.

Do you love dysfunctional family stories? I know I do! This book reminded me a lot of Jonathan Tropper’s, This is Where I Leave You. This book centers around four grown children and the inheritance (AKA- The Nest!) that they are supposed to be inheriting. Leo, the unreliable alcoholic sibling in the story, ends up getting in a terrible car accident and has to pay the accompanying passenger a large sum to keep the story quiet. His mother gives him the majority of the inheritance as hush money for the car accident, unbeknownst to his siblings.

The story then really unfolds with all of the siblings and what this inheritance would have meant to them is uncovered. As a reader you see what life looks like without the money they always planned on. No spoilers, but imagine that you had made financial mistakes, but always knew you would have a large sum to bail you out and find out that the money doesn’t exist. Awful, isn’t it?

I think some people will find the ending a little dissatisfying, but I also know that most dysfunctional family stories don’t have tidy endings. I loved it- laughed a lot and sympathized with many characters. This was a great escape! Read More…

4 Out of 5 Stars

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

I love being part of a local book club and this past month we read, All Things Cease to Appear. I think it is important to set expectations with this one. Do you remember Everything I Never Told You (I interviewed the author too!)? Well, I felt like the setup of this book is similar. We are opening with someone being accused of murdering their wife and then working our way out from there. Some people get disappointed when things work in this direction (maybe thinking it takes away from the mystery of it all?), but I really loved that it opened this way and then the reader discovers more and more of the motive as the story unfolds.

The book opens with the murder of Catherine as the police began questioning the most obvious of suspects… her husband. The book builds out the story of this couple from the purchase of this farmhouse filled with secrets, the failing marriage, and George’s strange double life.

This book is a really deep character study into a sociopath. Brundage writes this book so well that things like the home, for example, become a character unto itself. This is slow, but worthy of the pacing with rich characters. I couldn’t put it down.

That said, I think readers may be unhappy with how the story works out. I know I was a little too. That is not to discredit Brundage or her incredible writing, it’s just not the big bang ending I had hoped for. She also does not use quotations around the words people are speaking. It took awhile for me to get the hang of that and you don’t want to space out when you are reading it when there is a lot of dialogue because you will forget who is talking.

If you are looking for a book with strong characters and a good ghost story, you’ll love it. Bonus!! Elizabeth will be joining me for a Sundays With Writers this month! She has a crazy real ghost story and a house that inspired this book. Don’t miss it! Read More…

4 Out of 5 Stars

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Have you read any books by Julie Buxbaum? She was one of my absolute favorite writers and then many years have passed with no books from her. Eternal sadness. I was so thrilled to see a book from her back on the bookshelves and with a surprise…it’s her YA book! Don’t worry, I am pursuing her for the scoop on this one and will be featuring her in our interview series this month.

This is the story of a teenager named Jessie, the loss of her incredible mom, and the abrupt new marriage of her father that relocates them to Los Angeles. When her father meets a woman from his support group, he elopes and moves them into the wealthy woman’s home, switching Jessie into the wealthy prep school that her new stepbrother attends. Of course, Jessie doesn’t fit in at all.

When she starts receiving emails from SN (shortened from Somebody Nobody) offering her help and support in these uncharted waters, a relationship blooms and becomes a huge support for Jessie. The reader gets to read this beautiful, hilarious, and always sweet exchange. When Jessie wants to meet SN in person though, the reader is led on the journey with Jessie. Is SN her soulmate? Is SN even real? I guess you will have to read to find out! This is a great one to pack in your beach bag this summer. Delightfully sweet and everything I love about Buxbaum’s writing! Read More…

4 Out of 5 Stars

Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

I received an ARC from Netgalley- all thoughts & opinions are my own!

I am a huge fan of Mary Kubica- her thrillers never disappoint me (read my interview with Mary here- it is one of our most pinned posts!!).  The Good Girl remains one of my favorite books from her! Don’t You Cry is about the disappearance of Quinn’s roommate, Esther. As Quinn tries to piece together why Esther has disappeared, she begins to suspect that Esther is targeting her and plotting Quinn’s own death. Meanwhile, Alex is growing up with an alcoholic father and working as a dishwasher, when a mysterious woman appears in the coffee shop he works at and he finds himself drawn to her. The two storylines inevitably pull together as deep family secrets are revealed in this twisty book. Read more…

4 Out of 5 Stars

What should I be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

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