Posts Tagged ‘2017 Book Club Picks’

May 2017 Must-Reads

Monday, June 5th, 2017

May 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

We are in the final week of our school year which means this month has been CRAZY and my reading time has felt limited.  I am looking forward to camping out in a lounge chair at our community pool with a big stack of books and nothing to do this summer. I have so many advanced readers coming in to share with you and can’t wait to work through my stack and share some more reviews with you on what is hitting the shelves this summer.  For today, I have seven more recommendations to share with you of must-read books that I tackled in May.

Are you working through our MomAdvice Reading Challenge? I am loving the added challenge it is bringing to add more diversity to my book stacks. I managed to tackle a few more categories this month again and love checking those little boxes off as I finish my books.

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks.  If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

PS- Don’t forget to join our FREE book club! It’s so awesome!

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I fell in love with this wildly original novel that explores a work partnership between two women animators that are trying to be successful in a male-dominated industry. The two best friends, Mel & Sharon, bond in college and then decide to work together on an adult animated movie.

The yin and yang in this partnership is what makes it work so well. Sharon is steady and reliable while Mel brings a chaotic wildness to her work. When Sharon becomes ill though, they find their roles must be reversed and work has to be on pause until Sharon can return. It is through Sharon’s private journal that their next animated film takes shape and brings them back to Sharon’s hometown for answers.

Will everyone love this? Probably not! It’s crass and dark and, perhaps, the story goes on just a tad too long. However, all readers should have an appreciation for such an ambitious debut as Whitaker not only writes the book, but the animated movie plots that unfold for these animators. It is unlike anything I’ve read and I love the exploration of a female partnership carving their place in this artistic field.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book about art

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Bandit by Molly Brodak

Bandit by Molly Brodak

I have been trying to add more memoirs to my stack and I have a feeling that if you were a fan of The Sound of Gravel you will find this book to be similar in nature and the emotions it brings.

Brodak’s father is a convicted bank robber and was arrested for robbing eleven banks when she was just thirteen. He served time for seven years, was released, and began robbing more banks just a few years later.

His daughter documents the two sides of her father as she tries to understand his motives and habits. His charisma is so charming that he easily manipulates those around him, including his children. With raw honesty, Brodak just wants to make sense of her childhood and what qualities she has that are her father’s.

The story is raw and real. This isn’t someone who has necessarily made peace, but it is the story of someone trying to heal.

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

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Into the water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Let’s just say that Into the Water was the book I was most excited to read and was my least favorite in this month’s stack. I feel bad saying this, but this book will be easily forgotten by me. I should say that it REALLY will be forgotten since Hawkins tries to incorporate a million characters into a rather weak plot about a river that has killed many of the town’s residents. I am including it in today’s round-up though because I know many of you were curious about it.

Here is what I will say. The mystery does get solved, but Hawkins lost me in the process.  I plowed through hoping that the plot would pick up, that there might be a dramatic twist and big reveal…yeah, nope.  Police procedural books aren’t usually my favorite, but I had hopes she could weave a compelling story that would hook me.

I will still give Hawkins another try on her next book, but this one just didn’t do it for me. Reviews seem to be pretty mixed on this- people love it or they hate it so you might not want to take my word for it especially if you are a fan of police procedural books. I would love to hear your thoughts though either way on this one!

3 Out Of 5 Stars

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

If you are looking for the next The Snow Child, then I’d love to suggest this book as something you might enjoy. Arden’s debut novel is a Russian fairytale that about a little girl named Vasilisa and her family. They live in the wilderness where the winters are cold and she loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears to claim unware souls.

When Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father brings home a bride who forbids their family to continue honoring the household spirits. This lapse causes many bad things to happen and Vasilisa must defy everyone she loves and use the gifts she has long concealed.

This book is a beautiful escape for any fairytale lover.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Beartown is one of the most anticipated books this year from Fredrik Backman. If you are looking for another Ove novel, this one is not it and is very different than anything Backman has written before. I love it when a novelist take risks and Backman does just that with this new novel.

Beartown is set in a small forest town obsessed with hockey.  The Bears of Beartown win and they have their strongest team yet and a true possibility of winning the national semi—finals. Just as they approach their biggest game of the season, a violent act occurs that threatens the reputation of the strongest player on the team. To make matters worse, the family involved in this act also happens to be in charge of the hockey team. A father is then placed in a position he could have never conceived especially when an entire town is ready to demonize anyone who would ever speak against their star player.

Much like Into the Water, Backman has taken on a large cast of characters and the first half of the book feels mostly like introductions to each person to set the stage for the turning point in the plot. Although I love Backman’s writing, the first half felt sluggish. As so many other readers had promised, when reading other reviews, the second half was much better once the plot actually got moving.

This is still a solid read, but you have to have the patience to power through the first half to get to the meat of the plot.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have read every single book that Taylor Jenkins Reid has written and I have loved each of them in their own way. This book is markedly different than anything she has ever written and is an absolutely spellbinding book filled with old Hollywood glamour, celebrity secrets, and the power of real and true love.

Evelyn Hugo is an aging starlet who has decided to hire a magazine reporter to write her biography. As someone who has been very private, it is the chance of a lifetime for a virtually unknown writer to be given the story that is worth millions of dollars.

Evelyn’s love life has been something that Hollywood has often been speculated on, but no one could ever guess who captured Evelyn’s heart and how she was able, at times, to make her relationship work with the love of her life. Unfortunately, living in the spotlight often gets in the way of real living. This couldn’t be truer in Evelyn’s life and she is ready to divulge all of her secrets to Monique, in exchange for her writing her biography and publishing it upon her death.

I cannot rave enough about Reid’s ability to write real and relatable love stories. Each of her love stories has connected with me in some way and this book is no exception. I was swept away in Evelyn’s retelling of her life and Reid weaves smart plot twists in the end that I have a feeling you will really enjoy. In fact, I’m still thinking about them.

You must add this book to your book stacks stat!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Want to snag this one for a steal? This one was one of the incredible selections available in the Book of the Month Club! You can join for just $10 a month for the first three months and then cancel at anytime! 

The only disappointment, for me, is the fact that I have to wait for her next book.

Be sure to read my interview with Taylor in our Sundays With Writers series to learn more about how she crafts her beautiful love stories.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Many moons ago, my husband and I watched an incredible documentary on PBS called The Poisoner’s Handbook. Radium was one of those things that we discovered that had been an additive to many household products because people thought radium had health benefits. In this book, Kate Moore does an incredible exploration of the women who were most affected by the use of radium in a radium-dial factory and how corporate greed became more important than the safety of its employees.

Women often had to start working in their teen years, since educating women wasn’t a worthy investment in the 1920’s, and many soon discovered that the job that was paying the most was working in a radium-dial factory. These women were in charge of painting the faces of watches with this glow-in-the-dark paint and the quicker and more they could produce the work, the more valued they were as an employee. They found by licking the tips of the paintbrushes (as was even encouraged by their supervisors) they could paint much quicker and do a better job in the details of these watches. Since radium was heralded as being healthy, the girls had no problems ingesting it and even were known to paint their teeth, lips, and eyes with it for a fun night on the town.

When the girls began becoming ill and dying, doctors could not figure out why their patients were dying in such horrific and painful ways. When they began to suspect that their factory jobs may have something to do with it, the corporations continued to ignore their concerns and did not change their safety standards, putting more women at risk every single day.

This story documents these girls and their stories as well as the court battle that they endured after they were convinced that radium was to blame. It is a heartbreaking read that I had a difficult time with, but am so thankful I read. These women were true heroes and Moore’s writing is captivating and compassionate as she tells their stories.

If you are planning on reading just one nonfiction book this year, let it be this one!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A nonfiction book

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

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March 2017 Must-Reads

Friday, March 31st, 2017

March 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I think I am setting a record for most pages read this month thanks, in part, to my commitment to give up social media and email checking after 5PM for Lent.  This month I managed to consume 11 (!!) books to share with you today for our March Must-Reads list. As always, I like a little variety in my stack so today’s list should have something for everyone and several 5-star books that you must, must read!

As I know many of my friends are leaving on Spring Break this week, I am hoping this list arrives just in time for a little vacation reading!

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

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks.  If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

11 Must-Read Books from March 2017

 

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Set in the summer of 1965, Flint’s novel reads like a true crime story as the author weaves the story of two missing children in Queens, New York and the story of their single mother who doesn’t fit the typical mother mold.

Ruth Malone, their mother, raises her children alone and doesn’t conform to the idea of what a good mother and wife should be. Working as a cocktail waitress, she is gorgeous with an overly done face and wardrobe. Ruth instantly becomes the suspect worth scrutinizing by the cops, the neighbors, and the press. When a tabloid reporter, intent on getting his first big story, begins covering the story of these missing children, he just can’t help but to become obsessed with her.

Much of the story is told through a series of interviews as Pete Wonicke tries to get the scoop and the reader is taken through this heart wrenching story from lost children, to found, to the agonizing building of the case.

Well-crafted and developed with a dramatic conclusion, Flint paints Ruth in such a way that she practically lifts off the pages. Although the conclusion was a bit too swift for me, I found this to be a solid read that left me guessing through much of it. I would recommend this one for fans of crime fiction, especially if you are a big fan of police procedural books since this book takes you through the case from start to finish.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a MomAdvice Book Club selection this year and I can’t wait to discuss this with our readers. This YA novel packs a coming-of-age punch as it examines the story of a rape and the aftermath for its victim.

Hermione is a flyer on her cheer squad and proud to be their captain. While away at cheer camp, she attends a party where someone  puts something in her drink and she is brutally raped and assaulted. When she awakes, she has no recollection of what has happened to her, but must deal with the devastating consequences of this assault.

I love that this book focuses less on being a victim and more about continuing to fight through the pain, not allowing this horrible situation to continue to define your life. Hermione is a true hero as she picks up the pieces of her life and is determined to carry on.

Heavier than a typical YA read and filled with a supportive cast of characters, Johnston deserves all the accolades she has received for this one including being listed as a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize.

Brave and unflinching, it’s a beautiful, beautiful read! Join our book club to discuss! You can also check my exclusive interview with the author this month!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

Dead Letters is a cleverly structured mystery that I devoured in a single day. Ava and Zelda are estranged twin sisters and their names happen to be the bookends to the alphabet. Ava is summoned to come home to her wildly dysfunctional family when Zelda is said to have possibly perished in a fire.

Zelda just might not be dead, however, and decides to send her sister Ava on a scavenger hunt to unwind the mystery of where she is. This craftily drawn goose chase will remind readers of a well-developed Agatha Christie novel.

The authors turn-of-phrase and creatively written characters make this book a treat from start to finish.

Do not miss this debut and have a wonderful time trying to piece together whatever happened to Zelda.

Reading Challenge Category Completed-A book by a debut author

5 Out of 5 Stars

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime was our MomAdvice Book Club selection this month and I am quite confident this book will be on my top ten list for 2017. Although I have been a big fan of his work on The Daily Show, I have an entirely new respect for this man and the survival skills he used during his youth in apartheid South Africa.

Noah is truly, “born a crime,” because his birth is seen as a criminal act since he was born to a white father and black mother. To keep him from not being rounded up for an orphanage, he often was sidelined indoors instead of playing outside with his peers. His mother also employed survival techniques, like pretending to be his maid instead of his mother, to just be able to play at the park with her son.

The reader is taken through the story of his childhood that, even in its darker moments,  Noah manages to add heart and humor to each and every story. This brave little mischievous boy’s story will pull at every heartstring and illustrates why he is now so passionate about politics and the world.

DO get this one on audiobook to appreciate every nuance and accent that Noah can bring to the table. It’s like listening to the most polished standup comedy routine to hear him read this out loud.

As soon as I finished it, I just wanted to listen to it all over again.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book on race

5 Out of 5 Stars

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow was chosen by my local book club for our selection this month. This one happened to be on my list from last year so I definitely looked forward to reading it. I will admit though, this book was a slow burn for me.

Set in 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in Metropol, a grand hotel that happens to be across the street from the Kremlin. Due to the sentence, the entire book’s plot centers on this hotel and the unlikely friends, lover, and even child that become a part of the Count’s life.

While I appreciated the glimmers of stories throughout and the relationships that help sustain him in his time in Metropol, I really slogged through the book as this book really didn’t necessarily move plot, but was more of a study of character.  The Count was certainly a charming guy and I can see why so many are enamored with this book, but I was craving a little more action in this story.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A historical fiction novel

3 Out of 5 Stars

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale has been on my reading bucket list forever and with the upcoming Hulu series soon to be released (watch the trailer here!), I knew I wanted to get this one under my belt before I watched it. Since the election season,  this book has seen resurgence in popularity and Atwood even shared about what her book means during the Trump era with the New York Times,  as it rocks the bestseller list once again.

This timeless dystopian novel, written all the way back in 1984, explores what the world looks like when women lose power over their own bodies and a religious totalitarian government dictates how and when they can reproduce. Women are given roles and seen as objects limiting them to roles like wives, Marthas, Handmaids, Aunts and Unwomen and everyone’s main focus is on procreation.

This book is disturbing in many ways, but I couldn’t put it down. I’m glad I waited to read this because it hit me at just the right time and gave me a lot to chew on, even if I found the ending to be an unsatisfying one.

I highlighted almost the entire book because there are so many beautifully written passages. Atwood certainly has a way with words! One line in particular has stuck with me…“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”

I couldn’t put this one down- be sure to add it to your stack in preparation for a Hulu-binge session!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A Dystopian novel

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

The Stranger in the Woods shares the remarkable true story of the last true hermit. Christopher Knight, at the mere age of 20, decided to leave his home in Massachusetts, drive to Maine, and disappear into a forest to not return for almost three decades.

Yup, I said TRUE story.

Knight relied upon the neighboring homes for stealing the items he needed to survive and upon his capture, Finkel reached out to write him and to learn more of his own personal story.  Through those initial letters, Finkel formed as much of a friendship as one could with a hermit, and learned of Knight’s survival skills through brutal Maine winters and why he preferred the isolation.

With commentary from many experts, it’s a fascinating read on why some people flourish better in isolation and why humans crave relationships in the way that we do. The amount of effort Finkel goes through to carve an accurate story of Knight is admirable, but at times uncomfortable because a hermit doesn’t necessarily want to share his life story with the world. That’s kind of why he disappeared…

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

4 Out of 5 Stars

 

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls gave me flashbacks of the days of shoving V.C. Andrews books under my mattress for guilty consumption. It is that kind of twisted, dirty, and weird familial experiences that you are going to have if you decide to crack open this thriller.

This book is about a dirty family secret that has had great power over the wealthy Roanoke Girls and the power is so strong that many of them die. When one of the girls goes missing, her cousin returns to face the demons that have always haunted her.

Do a little research if you have issues with triggers because this one might not be for you.  I found the audiobook to be a great escape this week and would recommend it for people who like their thrillers dark and dirty.

Oh, you know who you are! Shame on you!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

I adored Jennifer Niven’s YA debut novel, All the Bright Places (read my interview with the author on that one over here!), so I was thrilled to hear she had a new book out called,  Holding Up the Universe. In this book, she alternates chapters between Jack, a popular teenage boy who has prosopagnosia (a neurological condition that causes facial blindness) and Libby, who enters high school after an astounding 300 pound weight loss that caused her to be a social media sensation in her town.

These two are both placed into an after-school detention program where they find solace in one another and their shared difficulties. These difficulties are just the tip of the iceberg though as they each struggle, in different ways, with the loss of a parent.

I knew very little about prosopagnosia and Niven develops the most advanced case of it in Jack where he cannot even recognize his family. It definitely sent me down a rabbit trail especially after discovering that Brad Pitt is believed to have this too (who knew?).

Written in short chapters, this is a sweet YA novel with a lot of heart and would be a great one for teens as she writes about the importance that all people feel and be seen.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears is one of those books that I think you are really going to love and appreciate the genius of the writing or you will just be left utterly confused by the trip that Kunzru takes you on.

It is described as a ghost story, but I don’t really think that this describes it at all. This book is a deep reflection on race and what white privilege affords us and how white people often take what doesn’t belong to us.

It opens with two kids, one privileged and the other riding on his coattails, who are fascinated by recorded sound and music. When the narrator happens to pick up a blues song of a street musician, they try to pass it off as an early blues recording, adding the pops and hiss of vinyl to make this song feel authentic. Naming the unknown musician as Charlie Shaw, they set out to share and sell this music that doesn’t belong to them.

Of course the music wasn’t theirs to begin with and when they discover that there really is a Charlie Shaw out in the world, bad things begin to happen for the credit they took for music they never owned.

The second half of the novel took me awhile to really understand what was happening and I can’t even really say that I *got* it all, but I will say that the message that pulls through is brilliant and gave me a lot to think about after I finished the book.

This is a thought-provoking read and would be a good one to dive into with a book club!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book published this year

4 Out of 5 Stars

 

The Body Doesn't Lie by Vicky Vlachonis

The Body Doesn’t Lie by Vicky Vlachonis

Vicky Vlachonis is an osteopath and musculoskeletal specialist that works with a lot of celebrities and dancers. Her holistic approach to pain management is what has made her famous among these celebrity circles and she believes that chronic pain can be managed through better habits.

The big focus on pain is, of course, on sleep. Of course, most habits in this book do feel intuitive, but I needed reminding. From creating sleeping rituals that help your body to fall into better sleep to understanding the trigger points on your body to help relieve pain to food choices that can improve digestion. These tips make you think about where your pain stems from and help you find better ways to repair it.

Intuitive, perhaps, but a year of broken sleep makes me so thankful for this book and finally getting restorative sleep. If you have broken sleep or suffer from chronic pain, this is a book worth checking out.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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