I hope you guys had a great month of reading this month! I am excited to share with you my favorite reads from the month of August! I think this is the first month that the Sundays With Writers interviews have been ahead of my round-up, but with the back-to-school craziness, I was falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and couldn’t even get in a few pages in the evening. Has anyone else been doing this too?
I have been trying to read one book off of the What the World’s Top Authors Say You Should Be Reading list and I am discovering that these are often meatier and lengthier than the ones that are usually in my stack. I can admit that I find it is stretching me a bit out of my usual genre, but in really good ways!
This month I tackled a book that was over 500 pages of the world’s tiniest font.
Magnifying glass font.
I am pretty proud that I still snuck in a few other books to share this month despite all that tiny font!
A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts & opinions.
I am going to start with this one because I have still been thinking about this storyline and how good it was. I could not put this book down! This was such a deeply satisfying read that tackles the struggles of every working mother who is trying to balance it all. Egan creates the perfect balance of humor and heartbreak as Alice tries to navigate the tricky terrain of being an employee, wife, mother, and daughter to her ill father.
In A Window Opens, beloved books editor at Glamour magazine, Elisabeth Egan, brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age.
Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers―an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life―seems suddenly within reach.
Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up and her work takes an unexpected turn. Readers will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she―Alice Pearse―really want?
This book got me in the all the feels. I highlighted many a passage in this sweet story of Alice and found her to be one of the most relatable characters I have read this year. I also teared up at many of the moments in this story because the struggles of being in the trenches as a working parent were ones that I have experienced myself. Alice tries hard, but it’s an impossible juggle and you feel like you are spiraling a bit with her as the story unfolds.
Fans of Where’d You Go Bernadette & Wife 22 (thanks to the hilarious correspondence between colleagues & family) will really love this one!
You can read our interview with Elisabeth Egan this month in our Sundays With Writers series! I can’t recommend this book enough!
5 Out of 5 Stars
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
I selected this book to read this month from our recommended reads list from our weekly author interviews. This book was over 500 pages so it was definitely a commitment for me to sit down with, but I closed the book and felt so inspired by it that I can see why everyone recommends this one as a must-read!
There is so much good in this book about the power one person can have over another. Peekay endures terrible cruelty from his peers that most children would never pull through bravely. It is through the influence of one great man after another that his life is transformed from a victim to a fighter and we are reminded how with one small gesture or a few words of motivation, you have the ability to transform someone’s entire path. Lots of big life lessons in this novel that are so inspiring. I doubt you could read it and not feel transformed yourself by Peekay’s beautiful journey!
You get to witness the heartbreaks and triumphs of boyhood in this beautiful coming-of-age story. It would lend itself well to a book club discussion and would be an incredible book to read with your teen!
5 Out of 5 Stars
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions.
The Good Girl made my top ten this past year and was one of the best thrillers I have read in a long time. I’m so happy to say that Pretty Baby delivers the perfect punch, once again, that made me fall in love with Mary Kubica.
Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family’s objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.
Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow’s past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated!
This author has an incredible gift for creating an unstable environment where you never feel like you can trust any character in the book. The storyline kept me up into the wee hours of the night and guessing until the final page. On a personal note, I have also discovered the author is as genuine as they come and I’m so thankful to have watched this book unfold through social media as she has created it! I hope you can snag this one soon- it’s a good one!
5 Out of 5 Stars
Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy
Where All Light Tends to Go is Southern Grit at its finest in this dark debut novel! Joy creates a compelling coming-of-age story about a teen boy growing up in the Appalachian Mountains whose father deals meth in their small town.
The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually. The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.
Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when he botches a murder and sets off a trail of escalating violence, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his kingpin father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.
If only life were that simple. This story is beautifully told and the ending was a strong one, despite the feeling of hopelessness for these people.
You can read my interview with David Joy on the blog this month! I particularly loved how immersed he was in his own genre of writers and the recommendations he offered for books!
4 Out of 5 Stars
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
It has been such a treat this summer to read the Little House books with my own little girl. Little House on the Prairie follows Laura and her family as they leave their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin and set out for Kansas. They travel for many days in their covered wagon until they find the best spot to build their little house on the prairie. Soon they are planting and plowing, hunting wild ducks and turkeys, and gathering grass for their cows. Pioneer life and the daily struggles of food, farming, and the dynamics between Laura’s family and the Indians were powerful themes to talk about together.
Now we are moving along and started On the Banks of Plum Creek together where the family moves into town and learns about what is like to live in a community and go to school! We are pretty excited to dive into this next book together.
5 Out of 5 Stars
Amy’s 2015 Bookshelf (join me on GoodReads):
Read With Me This Year:
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
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