Posts Tagged ‘Book Reviews’

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.

June 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

June 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

 

June flew by, didn’t it? I had hoped to tackle a ton of books this month, but we have had so many fun projects going on for the site that I found myself barely able to stay awake for my evening reading routines.  These kids are just wearing me out this summer, I tell you! I have a huge list of books that I would like to work through this summer and I am also trying to read some advanced readers so I can get great new books on your radar before they come out!

Did you see this list I have been working on just for you? After each of our Sundays With Writers interviews, I finish the interview by asking our featured author to share one book that they think everyone should read (other than their own). After a year of responses, I thought it was time to start sharing those answers in one post with you. This list will be updated WEEKLY as we have new writers on for our interview series so be sure to bookmark it for your library visits!

This month I tackled two historical fiction, one incredible YA book, a thriller, and a romance! All of these books are beach bag worthy so let’s dig into my picks for June!

The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

What a fantastic read this was! Macallister writes a beautiful story of a female illusionist, something that was rare and provocative during the turn of the century, in this historical fiction debut. The story shows the reader things are not always as they seem even when it comes to the illusions we create in our own lives.

When a man is killed during her jaw-dropping act of sawing a man in half, The Amazing Arden is arrested and accused of the murder. The thing is, Arden has a story to tell about who that man really is and this murder just might be an illusion too. The story unfolds as she makes her confession to the officer who has arrested her as she confesses to the real crimes that have been committed in her life. There are some great plot twists in this one that kept me flipping the pages until the end and I really enjoyed it- I can’t wait to read more from this author!

If I had one critique on this one, I felt that the ending was a bit rushed and the book could have really benefited from an epilogue. With that tiny tweak, it would have been a really perfect read for me. I am still giving it a high rating for most perfectly written evil character and for tackling the topic of a female illusionist!

I have invited Greer Macallister to join us in our Sundays With Writers series and I look forward to sharing more behind this fantastic story!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Weightless by Sarah Bannan

Weightless by Sarah Bannan

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to preview this month and I have to say, I have been thinking a lot about this book since I finished it. This is an incredible YA book on bullying today and the ramifications of what can happen when a child is pushed too far.

When Carolyn Lessing moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the juniors at Adams High. Gorgeous, stylish, a great student and gifted athlete without a mean girl bone in her body Carolyn is gobbled up right away by the school’s cliques. She even begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival. When a make-out video of Carolyn and Shane makes the rounds, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut in an instant, with Brooke and her best friend responsible for the campaign.
Carolyn is hounded and focused on, and becomes more and more private. Questions about her family and her habits torture her. But a violent confrontation with Shane and Brooke in the student parking lot is the last attack Carolyn can take.

Bannan sheds light on how bullying happens now that kids have access to social media and creatively utilizes an undisclosed narrator who acts as an observer and participant in the bullying of a new girl at their school. Well-written and unflinching, it would be a great read for your older teen or for parents who want to see how bullying occurs today. I highly recommend this one!

I have invited Sarah Bannan to join us in our Sundays With Writers series to discuss cyberbullying and her inspiration for this incredible book.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

I have never read Barbara Delinsky before, but got the opportunity to assist with promotion for this book and so I toted this one back and forth in my beach bag. I didn’t realize how many of my readers do read her books though so I apologize that I haven’t read these books before to share them with you here!

On Caroline MacAfee’s 56th birthday, she is told that she is too old to continue hosting the home improvement show, “Gut It!” that she has been a part of for years. Her replacement doesn’t want to tell her about the switch. I mean, how do you break it to your own mother that her replacement is…well, her very own daughter? There is, of course, conflict knowing that the job that Caroline loves and knows so well is being taken from her and there is sadness as Jamie finds the relationship she has with her mom is slipping away from her in this new role. When a traumatic death happens in their family, not only do these two realize that they will have to work together to pick up the pieces of their loss, but their entire life has went into a different direction than either of them expect.

Since this book tells the story of Caroline, at the age of 56, and Jamie, in her thirties, it is a book that you could share with your own mother and will appeal to women of all ages. The story of friendship between this mother & daughter duo made for a beautiful read and would be a great beach read escape this summer. The story particularly shines as Jamie learns to find herself and finds love for the unexpected family she has been shouldered with. Caroline’s blossoming relationship between her and her longtime pal also builds into a beautiful love story in the golden years of life.

At the heart of it all, this story is all about how the blueprints of our life change over time. We all have plans, but let’s face it… they rarely work out the way we expect them to.

I would recommend this book for fans of Kristen Hannah and Diane Chamberlain, two of my favorite authors for a fun escape from the heavier books.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens (available for pre-order, hits stores on July 7th)

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to preview this month.

Chevy Stevens delivers another fast page-turner that will leave you on the edge of your seat. It’s the type of thriller you devour quickly, flipping pages until the wee hours of the morning, and perfect for your summer beach bag.

The story centers around three sisters growing up in an abusive home who must escape with no food or money to avoid the foster care system. When their car breaks down on the side of the road, two boys pull over and offer to help fix their car in exchange for work at the family ranch. Despite the bad feelings, the girls go along with these two….and their lives will never be the same again. Switching from all different perspectives, this dark thriller is a well-woven game of cat and mouse from start to finish!

I spent two glorious nights with this book and even woke up in the middle of the night to sneak a few more pages in. Now I will have to wait impatiently for Chevy Stevens next twisty thriller!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye

Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to preview this month.

If you have been waiting for the next The Help, friends, this is it. I really want to get this book on your radar because the story is so beautifully told and it is about something that happened in history that I was never aware of. A perfect balance of fact and fiction, you will get swept away in the storm that hits Heron Key in 1935.

It is hard to believe that this was a debut novel- it was so perfectly executed. I love when I am transported into time in a historical fiction novel and learn something I have never known before and that was the case in this one. This well-researched book perfectly combines fact and fiction into an incredible story about a hurricane that ripped through the Florida Keys. The racial tensions of the people combined with a camp of misplaced disturbed war veterans creates an incredible conflict within the town when all of their safety is at risk as a hurricane approaches. I just know you will fall in love with this perfectly woven story (and learn a lot about the 1930’s in the process!

5 Out of 5 Star

 

Amy’s 2015 Bookshelf (join me on GoodReads):

Books I Have Read in 2015

 

June 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Read With Me This Year:

January 2015 Must-Reads

February 2015 Must-Reads

March 2015 Must-Reads

April 2015 Must-Reads

May 2015 Must-Reads

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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What The World’s Top Authors Say You Should Be Reading (Updated WEEKLY!)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

What You Should be Reading According to Today's Top Writers (Updated Weekly)

When I started the Sundays With Writers series, I had no idea how beautifully it would blossom and how happy it would make me.  I decided to have one question that I would always end with when interviewing our authors. It was this…

If you could tell anyone to read one book right now (other than your own) what would that book be?

Since I started asking that, I have discovered and read books that would have never found their way into my book pile. Of course, browsing through the entire series to find their answers can be a bit tedious so I am putting all of these responses into one post that I encourage you to bookmark, pin, and share with others as this will be updated weekly as we feature the gifted writers in our Sundays With Writers interview series.

If you wanted to read more about each of the authors that have shared their recommendations, a link is provided to our interview about their incredible books. There is a reason they have been featured and you will discover why when you open their books. It has been my honor to interview each of these incredible voices.  

What I have discovered is, if I really like a book that they recommend…chances are, that author is going to be a GREAT one to read since there is usually a reason why they are in love with a writer’s words.

Here are the books that the world’s top authors say you should be reading!

Please note, this file will now be updated after each Sundays With Writers. The list will start moving down from now on so the latest book will now be at the top. Keep this bookmarked for your library list!

Please also note, these are affiliate links.  A small portion of your sales goes to support the work we do at MomAdvice.com. Please follow me on GoodReads for more great book recommendations!  xo

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Read It: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Recommended by: Julia Claiborne Johnson

My favorite book in the world is Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett. It’s beautifully-written, wonderfully imagined, and completely heart-breaking. In it, terrorists seize the mansion of the vice-president of an unnamed South American country during a party that’s being thrown for a Japanese industrialist lured there with the promise of a performance by his favorite opera singer. The industrialist comes, the opera singer performs, guests from all over the world are in attendance; but the terrorist’s real target, the country’s president, skips the party to stay home and watch his favorite telenovela. As the standoff stretches from days into weeks, the hostages and captors for a community that you know can’t last. I’ve read this book so many times that I still have to keep a box of tissues at my elbow for the end game.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Read It: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Recommended by: Barbara Claypole White

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It has everything: a spunky heroine, a messed-up sexy hero, a mystery, a dysfunctional family, plus love and madness in the English countryside.  And Jane makes Rochester cry. I aim to make all my heroes cry.

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

Read It: In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

Recommended by: Sharon Guskin

One book that really inspired me recently was Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, a novel about Cambodia. It is both dark and radiant at the same time. She finds meaning and beauty within the horror, which makes the book truly transformative.

Paula by Isabel Allende

Read It: Paula by Isabel Allende

Recommended by Gilly Macmillan

This is such a hard question!  There are so many books I could list, but I’m going to go with Paula by Isabel Allende.  The book tells the true-life story of the author’s daughter’s sudden and unexpected illness, which befalls her when she’s a young adult.  That story is interspersed with the history of their family and the story of Isabel Allende’s own extraordinary life.  It’s a powerful, heart-wrenching account of a mother’s love for her daughter, and one woman’s path through all of the big moments in life: love, motherhood, work, grief, joy and family.  It’s raw and honest, powerful and heart-wrenching, and beautifully told.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by MIchael Chabon

Read It: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Recommended By: Jordanna Max Brodsky

Glad to see another author already posted about The Song of Achilles, which is my favorite novelization of Greek myth.  I recommend it heartily to anyone who enjoys The Immortals!

As for non-myth books, I’d have to pick Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and ClayIt’s one of the few books I’ve read that I immediately told everyone in my life to pick up.  Set primarily in 1940s New York, it tells the story of two Jewish cousins (one of whom escapes from Nazi Europe) who create superheroes for the Golden Age of Comics. Add in a Harry Houdini subplot, love stories both gay and straight, a wealth of historical New York City detail, and the most sublime prose style I’ve ever encountered, and you get an irresistible work of brilliance.

Act One by Moss Hart

Read It: Act One by Moss Hart

Recommended by: Melanie Benjamin

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Read It: David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Recommended by: Sejal Badani

It’s so hard to pick one! I’m a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell and just finished his book David and Goliath so I’m going to go with that. It’s very insightful and made me think differently about the obstacles we face in life and how overcoming them often helps us develop our greatest strengths. I’m also a huge admirer of J.K. Rowling so I have to throw that in there.

 

Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger

Read It: Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger

Recommended by:  David Arnold

I have “Raise High the Roof Beam” tattooed on my forearm. I am unapologetic in my love of J.D. Salinger, specifically the Glass family novellas. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters really struck a chord in me, and of course, the original poem by Sappho is outstanding.

 

The Howling Man by Charles Beaumont

Read It: The Howling Man by Charlies Beaumont

Recommended by: Josh Malerman

The Howling Man(TOR 1988) Charles Beaumont. It’s got about 30 of his short stories and for those who don’t know him… hang on tight; you’re about to feel a tidal wave of wonder wash over you.

Scruples by Judith Krantz

Read It: Scruples by Judith Krantz

Recommended by: Jessica Morgan

One book! That is really a difficult choice to make. I have a degree in English lit, and I’m sure several of my professors will strongly disapprove of this — it’s very tempting to choose a classic, or at least something “literary” —  but I am going to recommend the classic Judith Krantz book, SCRUPLES (and also SCRUPLES II; the first book ends on a real cliffhanger, so be warned).  If you are interested in/enjoy popular woman’s fiction, Krantz is truly the master of the genre. Her books always feature strong women who excel at interesting jobs, and the plots are propulsive and highly readable and deliciously soapy. I personally never feel guilty about anything I read, but if you are into so-called “guilty pleasure reading” — or even if you are a person who only reads highly literary intellectual books but who longs to UNDERSTAND the idea of guilty pleasure reading — Scruples one of the most pleasurable, and, by this point, a classic of that genre. (Her autobiography, which is titled, brilliantly, SEX AND SHOPPING, is also a favorite.)

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Read It: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham (check out her comments below for lots more great suggestions!)

Recommended by: Heather Cocks

HEATHER: Oh, wow, I can’t pick that either. I think it’s because I would never advise anyone to read only ONE book, and I don’t even know HOW to answer this without considering the context. If it’s someone who never reads, I’d say start with the Harry Potter series, because it will invite you into books and then keep you there. If it’s someone who likes stuff that’s tonally similar to The Royal We — funny, with heart — I would hand them Someday, Someday, Maybe, by Lauren Graham, which I promise is a recommendation I would have made before she ever even picked up our book. If you’re into literature and wordplay and quirk, I’d suggest The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (and then read the whole series; they get goofier but no less imaginative and punny). If you want striking prose, read anything by Kate Atkinson. And if you love wartime and friendship and romance, it’s a tie between The FitzOsbournes trilogy and Code Name: Verity, both of which are wonderful examples of books that are technically considered for teens, but offer so much to anyone of any age. How’s THAT for a wishy-washy answer?

 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Read It: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Recommended By: Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I stumbled upon it at the used bookstore attached my library and bought a copy of it for four dollars last December. I have since recommended it to everyone that will listen to me and have bought multiple copies. It is a retelling of the story of Achilles’s life leading up to and through the Trojan War. I can’t tell you what I love most about it because I love everything about it so much. It is stunningly romantic, a pleasure to read, incredibly thought-provoking, and epically tragic, with some of the most wonderful sentences I’ve read in some time. It manages to straddle both classic literature and soap opera in one story. It’s so good (and so juicy) that I would call it a guilty pleasure except that you have nothing to feel guilty about because it’s so very beautiful and keenly smart.

The Street by Ann Petry

Read It: The Street by Ann Petry

Recommended by: Caroline Kepnes

The Street by Anne Petry is brilliant and searing. One of my all time favorites.

 

Kevin Kramer Starts on Monday by Debbie Graber

Read It: Kevin Kramer Starts on Monday by Debbie Graber

Recommended by: J. Ryan Stradal

Debbie Graber’s short story collection Kevin Kramer Starts On Monday isn’t out yet – it comes out next spring – but it’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a very long time. Debbie is just brilliant; her humor, which often sends up the contemporary American workplace, is infused with plenty of heart, pathos, and intelligence. I read it in manuscript form and I can’t wait for it to exist in the world. Please pre-order it the moment it becomes available.

Swimming by Nicola Keegan

Read It: Swimming by Nicola Keegan

Recommended by: Bill Clegg

By my lights one of the most brilliant, moving and devastatingly funny stories about growing up alongside, coping with and surviving the people who raise us.  The voice is so strong, so piercing and so authentic.  I’ve never read anything that conveyed more powerfully how families can be both curse and windfall.  I think about that book all the time.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

After I Do By Taylor Jenkins Reid

Recommended by:  Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Lisa says about Wild- She’s a phenomenal writer and this is a memoir you will think about for years after reading it.
Liz says about After I Do-  It’s an incredibly insightful and refreshing narrative on the challenges of marriage.

 

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Read It: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Recommended by: Elisabeth Egan

 

 

Trampoline by Robert Gipe

Phenomenal by Leigh Ann Henion

Render: An Apocalypse by Rebecca Gayle Howell

 

 

Read It: Trampoline by Robert Gipe, Phenomenal by Leigh Ann Henion, & Render: An Apocalypse by Rebecca Gayle Howell

Recommended by: David Joy

I’m going to stay true to my neck of the woods and give you three recommendations—a novel, a memoir, and a book of poetry—from Appalachia because I think a lot of what comes out of this region is tragically overlooked. As far as a novel, everyone needs to read Robert Gipe’s Trampoline. It’s bar none the best debut released this year and it’s arguably the best debut we’ve seen from this region in decades. With memoir, I was really impressed with Leigh Ann Henion’s book, Phenomenal. I think her storytelling is brave and her insight into our relationship with the natural world is matured and beautiful. Last but certainly not least, everyone needs to be reading Rebecca Gayle Howell, especially the poems in Render: An Apocalypse, which are just gritty and raw and lovely. She’s writing scripture. So there’re three for you to get your hands on!

 

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Read It: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Recommended by: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

It is an incredibly intense book about racial inequality in our criminal justice system, but it is beautifully written and powerful, with just enough hopefulness to help you sit with the discomfort of the truth and think hard about how you can help contribute to a solution.  I recommend it to everyone I know.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Read It: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Recommended by: Jennifer Niven

The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker

Read It: The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker

Recommended by: Vanessa Lafaye

It’s actually 3 books: The Regeneration Trilogy, by Pat Barker.  Is that allowed?  These books were among the first, along with Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, which opened my eyes to the history of WWI.  Before that, like most Americans, I was ignorant of this period, but it’s a huge deal here in England. I finally understood what the veterans had sacrificed in that awful, stupid war.

Geek Love By Katherine Dunn

Read It: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Recommended By: Erika Swyler

I suggest people read it because it may freak them out. It’s also what fearless narration looks like. It’s bold and bizarre in all the right ways and full of incredible visual writing. It’s a book that stays with you long after you’ve finished. It’s the book I dream about writing.

The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett

Read It: The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett

Recommended By: Greer Macallister

My favorite book is almost always the book I’ve read most recently, since it’s fresh in my mind. In this case, that’s The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett. It’s about an Arctic expedition in the 1850s, during a time where men died regularly exploring that area. The story weaves together what happens on a particular ship with the lives of those waiting back at home for the ship to return. Barrett writes so beautifully and precisely about both the emotional and physical dimensions of her characters’ lives. It’s gorgeous and brutal. I loved it.

One by Sarah Crossan

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

 

Read It: One by Sarah Crossan, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, & Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Recommended by: Sarah Bannan

I think that’s almost impossible for me as I read constantly, and I am forever discovering my newest favorite novel…So, I’m going to choose my novel of the moment, which is Sarah Crossan’s ONE, which will be published by Bloomsbury in August. It’s a verse novel for young adults, and it’s a beautiful story about conjoined twins.It’s completely consuming and unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

(I should also say that I reread, every summer, Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS and Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP. Two completely amazing feats of literary fiction and coming of age…I know this is cheating but it’s hard for me!)

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Read It: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Recommended By: Celeste Ng

I’d go with The Bluest Eye, because Toni Morrison is one of my all-time favorite authors and that book says so much about race and culture and identity and love, and it’s beautifully written to boot.

 

Room by Emma Donoghue

Read It: Room by Emma Donoghue

Recommended By: Chris Bohjalian

What makes this novel so remarkable is not merely how authentically Donoghue captures the voice of a five-year-old boy, but the deft way she slowly conveys the horrific reality of a mother and son’s captivity. If you want a poignant, powerful novel about a mother’s desperate love for her child, it doesn’t get better than this.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

 

Read It: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Recommended by: Rene Denfeld & Kristin Harmel

Rene says- Oh, that is a tough one, because there are so many wonderful books. I just read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It was stunning.

Kristin says-  All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I realize that’s sort of a lame response, because the book is so popular right now, but it’s truly one of the most beautifully crafted and beautifully written books I’ve ever read. I recommend it all the time!

americanah-book-cover

Read It: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Recommended by: Maggie Shipstead

I just finished reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I loved. That’s the book I’m talking up to everyone right now.

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Read It: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Recommended by: Suzanne Redfearn

black-and-blue

Read It: Black And Blue by Anna Quindlen

Recommended by: Jillian Cantor

That’s a tough question! I don’t know that I can pick just one book. But my favorite author is Anna Quindlen. I read Black and Blue years ago and it has always stayed with me. Every time she has a new book out, I buy it right away!

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Read It: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Recommended by: Torre DeRoche

I don’t think I can prescribe a cure-all because books are so personal to each individual, but I’ll share with you the most important book I ever read—a book that burst open my imagination and taught me that it’s possible to create an incredible alternate reality on the page.

When I was thirteen, my older sister told me I had to read this book, giving me only the title and a pinch of her fingers to demonstrate its approximate spine width. I went to my school library to look for the book and, having no idea where to start my search, I said to a friend, “I’m looking for a book that’s about this thick.” I extended my finger to poke the spine of a random book. It was Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel: the very book my sister told me I must read. It was a bizarre, serendipitous first encounter. That book rocked my world.

Long Man by Amy Greene

Read It: Long Man by Amy Greene

Recommended by Patry Francis

It’s hard to choose only one, but Amy Greene’s,  Long Man has everything I look for in a novel: a compelling protagonist named Annie Clyde who faces impossible odds with great courage and resilience, an engrossing plot, and a setting so vivid, you really feel as if you are there.

The Stand by Stephen King

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Read It: The Stand by Stephen King, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, & Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Recommended by: Susan Crandall

When I’m asked this question, I always reach way back, looking for a book that has stuck with me so vividly that I can remember the details of the characters very clearly even after a long time. I try to pick something that isn’t a classic, those already stand out and find audiences. I’m a character writer. Suspenseful plots are enjoyable, but it’s the beauty of the character and his/her journey that touches me. So after all that rambling, I always come back to two books, very different genres: Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry and The Stand, by Stephen King. I’m also a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s, Outlander (the first book in the series is my favorite).

father-of-the-rain

Read It: Father of the Rain by Lily King

Recommended by: Michelle Gable

I recommend Father of the Rain by Lily King to everyone. It is the perfect book.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Read It: My Antonia

Recommended by: Heather Gudenkauf

My favorite book of all time is My Antonia by Willa Cather. My parents always had hundreds of books on shelves and in neat stacks around the house and for a long time I passed right over the thick novel with the illustration of a woman standing in a field of tall yellow grass and holding freshly picked wildflowers. I finally pulled it from the shelf when I was eighteen and immediately fell in love with Cather’s beautiful description of turn-of-the-century Nebraska and the lifelong friendship between a farm boy and a young Czech immigrant. I reread My Antonia every single year, each time with new eyes, always finding something new within the pages. Whenever I visit a bookstore I’m always on the search for a different edition of My Antonia to add to my collection.

The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

Read It: The Shadow of the Torturer

Recommended by: M.R. Carey

So many possible answers to that!  You could ask me a couple of dozen times and get a different answer each time.  Today I’m going to say The Shadow Of the Torturer, by Gene Wolfe.  It’s the first volume in a tetralogy, so if you read it and liked it you’d have to read the other three.  But they’re so worth it. It’s a story of a far future Earth where the sun is dying.  Humanity has spread to the stars but that was long ago.  Now there are other galactic empires, other non-human civilisations that call the shots.  What’s left of humankind is back on an old, old planet that hasn’t got much time left to it.  But there’s a Messianic religion that preaches that the New Sun, sometimes known as the Conciliator, will be born on Earth as a man and rekindle all our hopes.  Reborn, rather, since he’s been here once before.  And Severian of the Torturers’ Guild believes this to be true since he’s found a holy relic, the Claw of the Conciliator, that heals all wounds.

It’s a very hard book to describe, and there’s no denying that it goes to some very dark places.  But Wolfe’s imagination is vast.  He creates a world and peoples it.  And he has a very serious purpose which takes in faith, physics and the importance of storytelling.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Read It: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien & Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Recommended by: Mary Kubica

My favorite book of all time is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. This is one that I tell everyone to read. It’s a Vietnam War memoir, but is much more than that. You don’t need to be a history guru to fall in love with this book. When it comes to my own genre though, psychological suspense, Before I Go To Sleep is one I often recommend. I just loved this S.J. Watson novel.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

The Bees by Laline Paull

 

Read It: Room by Emma Donaghue, Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, and The Bees by Laline Paull

Recommended by: Carla Buckley

Emma Donaghue’s Room, Anna Quindlen’s Every Last One and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. Just a few days ago, I finished Laline Paull’s fabulous debut, The Bees; I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Awareness by Anthony DeMello

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Read It: Awareness by Anthony de Mello & The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Recommended by: Rebecca Rotert

IMPOSSIBLE. I NEED TWO AT LEAST, AMY! However, a book I have to read over and over is Anthony de Mello’s Awareness.  It’s not fiction.  It might even be called self-help (choke).  It reminds me of the troublesome human pitfalls that can really muck up our short  little jaunt on earth.  I also return to Duras’ The Lover over and over because it reminds me of longing and waking up to life. These are a few of my favorite things, as the song says.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Read It: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Recommended by: Caroline Leavitt

The Great Gatsby. I hated it in high school, but then years later, I had to teach it in a high school, and I began to realize what a perfectly structured novel it is, how moving, how sad, and how beautiful a book it really is.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Read It: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Recommended by: Anthony Doerr

Oh, gosh, my answer to this question changes all the time, but a novel I’m absolutely in love with right now is Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. It’s about family, siblinghood, memory, storytelling, and particularly about our society’s treatment of animals. It’s also structured in this beautiful, organic, perfect way—I hope a few of your readers will give it a look!

I, Robot by Iasaac Asimov

Read It: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Recommended by: Andy Weir

I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov. In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest sci-fi books of all time.

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

Read It: The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

Recommended by: Kathryn Craft

Ah, the dreaded one book question, asked of a multiple-book lover! Since I know nothing about the reader, including why he or she reads—and given my answers to the question about critical subjectivity—I’ll assume your real question is “What book could someone read that would reveal the most about you?” You said “book,” not “novel,” for which I am grateful, since novels are such delicious slices of life it would be like asking if you could only taste one food what would it be. So I am going to go the nonfiction route and say The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. A brilliant life guide that I’ve read many times, my sensibilities are all over its pages.

Get In Trouble by Kelly Link

Read It: Get In Trouble by Kelly Link

Recommended by: Karen Joy Fowler

I’m not sure I can answer this question.  It would depend on the anyone – I don’t think books are a one-size-fits-all sort of thing.   But a current enthusiasm is Kelly Link’s new short story collection, Get In Trouble.  I will be so happy if you all buy and read it.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Read It: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Recommended by: William Kent Krueger

My all-time favorite novel is To Kill A Mockingbird. Anyone who hasn’t yet read this American classic absolutely must.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Read It: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Recommended by: Cristina Henríquez

That’s so hard. But this one has been very much on my mind lately so I’m going to say Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Read It: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, & The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Recommended by:  Frances Whiting

Oh My! What a hard question! I love books so much, choosing just one is almost impossible. But I’ll bite the bullet and say…no I just can’t do it! So instead I’ll say The Shadow of the Wind, The Great Gatsby, anything by P.J. Wodehouse, The Last Anniversary, anything by Mary Wesley, Nick Hornby, Tony Parsons and Clive James.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Read It: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Recommended by: M.O. Walsh

This answer would likely be different on any day you asked me. There are so many great books out there!  Right now, however, I will say Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I’ve found myself missing that book lately, sort of yearning to go back and re-read it for maybe the 12th time.  Who knows why?  This is the great mystery of beautiful fiction; it speaks to us in fundamental ways that we ourselves don’t always understand. It’s a glorious thing.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Read It: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Recommended by: Mary Louise Kelly

I would tell my brother to read Birdsong, the 1993 novel by Sebastian Faulks. It’s about a British soldier in France during World War I, and it is the most gorgeous epic of love and war and regrets. I’ve been telling my brother to read it for twenty years now, and he keeps refusing, at this point out of sheer orneriness. C.J., consider yourself publicly challenged.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Read It: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Recommended by Annabel Smith

My all-time favourite novel is Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, the incredible story of a prolonged embassy siege and the relationships which form between the hostages and their captors. Patchett has the most incredible insight into human behaviour and her prose is simply gorgeous. I have read this book at least half a dozen times and I get something new from it every time.

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

Read It: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

Recommended By: Amanda Eyre Ward

My favorite book last year was Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. It’s dark, riveting, gorgeous, important.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Read It: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez & To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Recommended by: Jandy Nelson

Two books: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. My all time favorite novels.

Light Years by James Salter

 

Desperate Characters by Paula Fox

Read It: Light Years by James Salter & Desperate Characters by Paula Fox

Recommended by: Molly Ringwald

Light Years by James Salter. It’s just one of those books that I keep picking up again and again. There is not a lot of fiction that I read while writing because I don’t want to be overly influenced. His writing is somebody, of course I write differently, but I just feel like he is a master. I also love, and we were recently talking about Desperate Characters by Paula Fox is a really wonderful book and Jonathan Franzen wrote the forward on it!

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Read It: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Recommended by: Jessica Knoll

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I’ve been tweeting about this book a ton, and I am probably starting to scare the author a little. But it’s a stunning book—gorgeous prose, and an epic and powerful tale about friendship.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Read It: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Recommended by Tamara Ireland Stone

That’s easy. Jandy Nelson’s “I’ll Give You the Sun.”

If you like Every Last Word’s message about the healing power of writing, you’ll love the way this novel celebrates the healing power of art. It’s so brilliantly crafted, told in alternating viewpoints by brother and sister twins—his story tells the past while hers tells the present. I’m simply in awe of Nelson’s ability to weave together different timelines and points of view into a beautifully written, emotionally gripping story.

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Polyvore, Dandy Blend, & Books

Friday, June 19th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you had a wonderful week this week.  I am loving being on summer break with my kids and am really savoring the slowed down days that we have been having together. Today we are looking forward to a pool day (finally!) and I can’t wait to sit poolside with a big stack of books- yay!

St. Margaret's House

Before we jump into the happy, I just want to thank you for all of your love and support of our site. The sponsored content that we share help so many charities and this week we were able to donate an entire month of classes to help the women of St. Margaret’s House (a local women & children’s shelter)  learn a new skill or trade including all those materials they need for class. I can think of no better use of money than empowering women to learn a new skill! Look at these beautiful scarves they have been taught to make and be amazed.  This winter, we were also able to supply a large donation valued at $1,500 in eco-friendly toiletries to assist the shelter through my partnership with ePantry. Your continued support makes donations possible to help those in need and I thank you from the bottom of my heart! I know sponsored content isn’t always your favorite thing, but this is how we can help those in need do big things. 

Today we have Cindy Bokma from Hello Dollface and author of A Thousand Dollars For a Kiss and To Marilyn, With Love  joining us to share her happy list!  Lori has been a longtime reader and loyal MomAdvice friend for many years. I am so lucky to know her and I’m lucky to get to share her favorites today! Please give her a warm welcome! If you are interested in being a guest poster on the 3 little things, send over a list of your 3 favorites and why to amy@momadvice.com and I will share them in the upcoming weeks!

Here are Cindy’s 3 favorites this week!

Polyvore

Polyvore

Between blogging and writing and reading, there’s Polyvore. This is like an  adult version of Paper Dolls which I loved playing with as a child. I pretty much love any activity that allows my imagination to run wild.
On Polyvore.com, you can create collages, outfits, interiors…basically whatever you want.  Its a fantastic stress release for creative people. I have spent hours designing things on here! There is nearly unlimited clothing, housewares, backgrounds, art, and so much more to work with.

Books

The happiest time of my day is the evening when I read. My day is over, chores are done, kids are usually finished with their homework and it’s time to relax. Sometimes I’ll go out at night and I can’t wait to rush home to whatever book I am reading! When I go on vacation I used to pack a bag filled with books, now it’s so easy (and lighter) to pack my Kindle or iPad! I always have several books ready to read and spending hours during the day with a book is the ultimate luxury!
I like real books followed by reading on my kindle, then the ipad. There is no greater joy than being really into a fantastic book! I spend a lot of time perusing new books on amazon and reading reviews on Goodreads. There have been times when I’ve whiled away a few hours just reading about reading!

Dandy Blend

Have you heard of Dandy Blend? When I was cutting back on coffee, I searched high and low for a good replacement to fill the void. I discovered this amazing drink which you can buy in tea or instant powdered form.
Dandy Blend is made from the roasted roots of dandelion, chicory and beets. There are numerous health benefits to this beverage which make it a constant in my daily diet. Its cost effective, contains zero gluten or caffeine and is not acidic or bitter. I have switched from drinking about six cups of coffee to one or two cups in the morning and Dandy Blend if I want a hot drink throughout the day!

How fun was that list this week? I am so excited to share more great ideas from you all in the weeks to come! Thank you, Cindy, for generously sharing the happy today!

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?

January 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, January 30th, 2015

January 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I promised you book reviews in the new year and I am delivering on that on the last Friday of each month. Did you know my dream job is to be a book concierge so that I could select books for other people based on their hobbies and interests? It really is. It thrills me to no end to share my favorite books with you and I try to read a wide range of books so I have something for everyone.  I am hoping that you will enjoy these special selections and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for my Sundays With Writers where I have the unbelievable job of interviewing the authors from my most loved books! I know, PINCH ME.

This month will be longer than most since I took two weeks off this winter to just read and be with my family over the holidays. Two of the books that I read ended up squeaking in on my best books of 2014 list- did you see it?  A few today, I have no doubt, will be on my 2015 best book highlights.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

This was an absolutely beautiful story about what it would be like to come to America as an immigrant. Told from alternating viewpoints all from immigrant neighbors in one apartment complex, it gives the reader the opportunity to see America through an immigrant’s eyes. From struggling to make ends to meet, to the struggle to communicate, to finding a job, to sending your child off to school, to the sacrifices that are made when leaving your own country for something you believe will be better than the life you are leading- it looks at it all through new eyes.

The story hinges around two sets of parents who have sacrificed everything for their kids and the blooming love between their children in a beautiful coming-of-age story. Honest, human, and so moving. A must-read this year.

I have reached out to Cristina to hear more about the story behind the story for our Sundays With Writers. Fingers crossed that you will be reading this interview soon- I can’t recommend this novel enough!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

If you are into vivid storytellers, William Kent Krueger’s novel is a book for you. After I finished it, I emailed Kent to see if he would like to share more about this book and you can read my interview with him on Sunday.

This novel is set in 1961 in New Bremen, Minnesota and is told through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Frank Drum.

When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.

On the surface, ORDINARY GRACE is the story of the murder of a beautiful young woman, a beloved daughter and sister. At heart, it’s the story of what that tragedy does to a boy, his family, and ultimately the fabric of the small town in which he lives.

This is a beautiful coming of age story that reminds us of our youth. While I was able to figure out the killer early on in the story, as this is meant to be a mystery, it did not take away from the beautiful writing that filled the pages. I really enjoyed the book and the author’s carefully crafted characters that made this story read more like a memoir than a piece of fiction.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

I’m not even going to lie, this novel is absolute perfection from start to finish. Never a lag, never a dull moment, audible gasps at shocking plot twists, a steamy sordid love affair…friends, THIS is unbelievable. Now as a disclaimer, the love affair lies between two women so if you don’t want to read that, then continue on with your life. That being said, it is tastefully done and the love affair scene is more Snow Flower & the Secret Fan rather than that cheap stuff in 50 Shades of Grey. I could not put this book down and actually bought it for my Kindle (due to its whopping 596 pages in length), and kind of already want to reread it again. Or just have you all read it so I can talk about it. I mean- it’s THAT good.

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways…But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

As a reader, you are taken on a Dickens-esque roller coaster ride with plot twist after plot twist. I could not put this down and can’t wait to dig into more of her books now that I finally know what all the fuss is about. This book was amazing!

45 Out of 5 Stars (I’m Not Kidding!)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Did you catch my interview with Karen Joy Fowler this week about this amazing book? You must read the book and then read my interview with her.

First, don’t read any reviews on this one. Just read it so you can have fun with the surprise- kind of like the shocking twist in GONE GIRL. It’s got that element of, “WAIT, WHAT?!”

Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind. Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man. And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.

This is one of those books that you want others to read just so you can talk through it. I avoided reading any reviews on this and I am so glad I did because half of the fun in this one was making sense of this unusual family and just what makes them so unusual. So beautifully executed that it reads like a memoir, it was such an enjoyable and believable read that you want to go on a narnia of fact-finding on Wikipedia to discover all of the inspiration behind this novel and read more about how many of these cases featured were true.

Although the execution of delivering the information in a mixed up timeline can be confusing for the reader, the originality of this unique & heartbreaking story made this a book that I just couldn’t put down.

5 Out of 5 Stars

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

First, this was just not my favorite Rainbow Rowell book. If you are wanting to read something by this author, I can’t recommend ELEANOR & PARK enough. It’s YA perfection. This book was cute, but not my favorite. I am apparently in the minority though because this one won the GoodReads Choice Award Winner for the Fiction Category for 2014.

The story is about a troubled marriage where the couple end up being separated for the holidays and Georgie, the wife, discovers that she can communicate with her husband in the past through a landline phone in her childhood room. They chat at night and Georgie wonders if by chatting with him (pre-marriage)  she is changing their future or can repair mistakes from the past.

This had all the signature Rainbow Rowell charm with a touch of magical realism laced in where a relationship is revived through a rotary phone that can take the main character, Georgie, back in time to a pivotal moment in the relationship with her husband. I am always a big fan of books that explore the, “what if?” and this did that in a failing marriage and what could be done differently if given the chance. Although this one lacked the ELEANOR & PARK charm, I still thought it was a great little escape. Fans of Allison Winn Scotch’s, TIME OF MY LIFE,  will fall in love with this one as it builds on such a similar concept.

For me the first half was slow and the second half was cute. I recommend this one if you need a little escape or a lighter read between heavier books.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Wheat Belly by William Davis

Wheat Belly by William Davis

I’m trying to dive into a bit of nonfiction this year and thanks to our m challenge series and the monthly selection, I tackled my first nonfiction book this year.

WHEAT BELLY focuses on the quality of the wheat that we now consume and how removing wheat from your diet can help you to lose weight and live longer. The scientific research that supported this book as well as patient studies showcased not only the difference in the health of our body, but also how eating clean can help you mentally too.

Although every study and patient situation in this book seemed to have remarkable differences in their health without the gluten, I tend to not be an extremist when it comes to diet planning unless you have a health reason (like having celiac disease) that might not benefit from my, “all things in moderation,” planning.

The most interesting part for me about this book though were the studies on mental health, particularly the schizophrenia study, that showcased how much better patients did mentally with a wheat-free diet. I know that I have felt sluggish and out of sorts when I overload on carbs, but I never realized the benefits of wheat-free eating if you were suffering from a mental illness.

Overall, I really did enjoy this book and had the pleasure of listening to this one on audiobook this month thanks to my Scribd membership. I’m thrilled they are now offering an unlimited audiobook offering along with my book selections which has been a great way to absorb another book while tackling knitting or household chores!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls

I read and loved this one as a little girl and this month I read it with my little girl. The circle of life is a beautiful thing.  I think reading this again was even better as an adult. I am reading these with my 9 year-old daughter and am shocked how many scenes I can recall in vivid detail from my childhood. As an adult though, you certainly have more of an appreciation for all the work that Ma & Pa did to keep their household running smoothly. I also have found that Laura is a bit of a Ramona in this story- yup, she’s a little sassy and I love it.

This book really showcases all of the chores that the family must do and how they prepare their food for the long winter. The entertainment resides in Pa’s fiddle playing and making things from scratch.

This book is a treasure, no matter what your age! I look forward to reading the rest in the series this year with her.

5 Out of 5 Stars

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What Is On My Nightstand Now

Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar

Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar

I am over halfway through DEEP DOWN DARK and absolutely loving it. I heard about this book on NPR since it is their first Morning Edition book club selection and we know I am all about anything NPR-related. When a Chilean mine collapsed in August 2010, it trapped thirty-three miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking sixty-nine days. This book is the story of the miners and what they  experienced below the surface. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Hector Tobar gains exclusive access to the miners and their stories and tells these beautifully. It helps to offer an understanding of the families and the personal stories of these miners, as well as adds insight into what it would be like to work in this type of job.

When I read stories like this, much like the beautiful book UNBROKEN, I am reminded that I would die in the first day because I am a very weak, weak person. I could not exist in this kind of tomb-like existence. It is an incredible testimony to the strength of these men and the love they had for their families.

I really recommend this one, even though I haven’t finished it yet!

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside The O’Briens by Lesa Genova

I was lucky enough to score an advanced reader of this book on NetGalley this month. I am a huge fan of Lisa Genova, particularly her novels STILL ALICE (have you seen the flick yet?)  and LEFT NEGLECTED. She truly has a gift for writing about illnesses and diseases that can affect the brain and mind. This novel promises a bit more of the same, but is exploring Huntington’s Disease.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

We are riding along in the wagon with Laura as her family leaves her little house in the big woods. I won’t lie, Emily started sobbing when the wagon found its way into the creek and their dog goes missing. I forgot how brutal this trip was.  Of course, I always loved the most depressing books when I was a kid, so this should come as no surprise that I remembered this one fondly. I also am reminded that I wouldn’t survive (see above for why).

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

My work life has been out of control these past couple of years and this year I really want to scale back.  This book is going to help me say no more to the things that don’t matter and make room for the good stuff. I am really enjoying this one and find myself highlighting the entire book. It’s the kind of book you want to revisit periodically when life feels out of control.  For me, it is like working with a business coach, but it doesn’t cost as much. I see so much of myself and my struggles in this and so much of my husband’s struggle with balance that we are both reading it right now and talking about it.  It is helping me to refocus 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

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

 

 

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13 Great Books to Check Out In 2013

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

13 Great Books to Check Out in 2013 from MomAdvice.com.I admit it, I have fallen VERY behind on book reviewing and I am so sorry about that. I have been reading an awful lot lately so I am excited to share with thirteen books that I have enjoyed this Summer & Fall. I am just highlighting the best of the best on here so I am excited to hopefully offer a few books to your library lists that you might not have read yet this year!

Be sure to connect with me on my  Author Profile on GoodReads and you will find my book is listed there too! I would be ecstatic if you became a fan of my writing and would love to see my book listed as something you might be reading in 2013. 

As always, if you are looking for a little inspiration this year, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another. So far it is a huge success and I have gotten a few new ideas for my own stack!

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 of the month here. If you want to read more, 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.

 

A Hundred Summers

 A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

Although summer is long past, if you want to feel like it is summer again pick up this divine book for a quick and wonderful escape. When the ever-so-handsome football hero Nick Greenwald joins an Ivy League campus in the uncertain days of the Great Depression he falls madly in love with Lily Dane. Lily’s family, however, is not pleased that she has found her suitor in a boy from a Jewish family. Her beautiful best friend, Budgie, ends up marrying Nick shortly after they break off their relationship, leaving Lily brokenhearted and bewildered. Seven years later, the Greenwalds turn up at Seaview, Rhode Island, the same town where Lily’s family vacations and Lily finds all the answers she has been looking for all of these years in a minefield of plot twists and turns!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I always try to tackle one classic each year and  I am so proud that I actually tackled this and Wuthering Heights this year, which was no small feat for me! My husband has been hounding me since high school to read this book and still had his old dog-eared copy for me in our nightstand. I finally relented and read it and I am SO glad that I did. It was definitely one of the best books that I have read this year!

The book takes place in California in the Salinas Valley, a home to two families whose lives are fatefully intertwined in many ways. Over the generations, between the beginning of the twentieth century and the end of the First World War, the Trasks and the Hamiltons replay out two of the Bible’s most memorable stories- the story of Cain & Abel and the story of Adam & Eve.

The story is so beautifully told and shockingly provocative for the time, it is said to be Steinbeck’s greatest work. After reading it, I would say that it is one of the greatest works I have ever read. I really want you to read this one too!
Editor’s Note: Adult Language & Sexuality

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Me Before You

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

It is rare for a book to stick with me as long as this story has, but Me Before You holds a special place in my heart this year. Although I think it falls in the chick-lit vein, the story of the challenges and difficulties of becoming and living as a paraplegic made me think about those living with this challenge in a new way.

Louisa Clark is on the hunt for a job and unable to find work when she stumbles upon a job caring for a paraplegic. Although she has no medical background and feels this job isn’t really a good fit for her, she is simply asked to be a companion and keep Will Traynor company. Will is wheelchair bound after a tragic accident that has altered his entire life. A man who loved extreme sports and travel, he wonders how much longer he can live like this and if a life like this is worth living.
I absolutely loved this story and the reader will find themselves wondering what they would do if they were in these character’s shoes. Beautifully told with emotion and humor,  you just won’t be able to put this one down!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Eleanor & Park

 eleanor & park by rainbow rowell

Eleanor & Park was an Amazon Book of Month in young adult fiction in 2013 and once these characters weave their way into your heart, you will understand just why this book was selected.
Eleanor just doesn’t fit in with her peers, wild hair and patchwork outfits, do not seem to help her blend in better. When she is forced to choose a seat on the bus she ends up sitting next to Park, a quiet kid who is obsessed with comic books and an outsider himself.
When Park notices that Eleanor is reading his comic books over his shoulders, he starts sharing them with her, which later develops into a sharing of great mixed music tapes, and then develops into more than either of them can imagine.
Set in 1986, this book made me laugh out loud and made me cry. Eleanor is one of those quirky characters that you just can’t help rooting for. Although this is written for young adults, anyone who ever survived those awful days of high school will love this book.
Editor’s Note: Adult Language

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

I Couldn't Love You More

I Couldn’t Love You More by Jillian Medoff

This book was, honestly, a tough read for me, but I am so glad that I read it. It has stuck with me long after I closed the pages and was one that I talked about with my husband after I finished it.

Without giving too much of the plot away, Eliot Gordon has two step-daughters and a biological child with her partner Grant. They have never gotten married, but have been together for a long time and feel solid in their commitment with each other. When Eliot’s long-lost first love appears back in her life, a truly shocking chain of events occur that will haunt their family forever. Eliot’s one split second of error is an error that any mother can make, but shadowed by this relationship, it feels almost unforgivable. I am recommending this one for a book club pick because it would lend itself to a great discussion and is one that you just want to talk about after you finish it.

Editor’s Note: Adult Language & Sexuality

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Necessary Lies

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

I absolutely love Diane Chamberlain. Pair a Diane Chamberlain with a period piece? Well, I am there!  Necessary Lies is one of those books you just want to share with a book club because it lends itself to such a great discussion on what role our government should play (if any)  in our lives when they happen to be the system our families need to rely on in financial struggles.

Chamberlain weaves a fictional story about the very real North Carolina’s Eugenics Sterilization Program that was in effect from 1929 to 1975. In this story, 15-year-old Ivy Hart, her mentally slow 17-year-old sister, and young nephew “Baby” William all live with their grandmother who is in failing health. Jane Forrester becomes Ivy’s family’s social worker and she encounters the state program that seeks to sterilize “mental defectives,” among others with supposedly undesirable characteristics. Through every choice she makes from then on, Jane triggers an inescapable series of events that thrusts everything either she or Ivy ever held to be true into a harsh light, binding them together in ways they do not immediately comprehend or appreciate.

Although I felt this one had a slower build for me, it was worth powering through for the incredible discussion and the endearing characters that are told through this story.  I just can’t stop thinking about this one! If you love this book, be sure to check out her prequel!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Orange is the New Black book cover

Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

If the television series on Netflix was too racy for you, this book is surprisingly tamer and a truly interesting read about what it would be like to be a woman prisoner.

Piper Kerman is the girl next door that we all love and admire. She has a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, but Piper also has a past that few people know about. She got herself mixed up with the wrong people  and found herself assisting a drug ring with a suitcase of drug money ten years before. As our pasts often do, her past had a way of creeping up on her and Piper is convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
This book offers a closer look into the prison system and what it would be like as a prisoner and what her life was like over the course of her sentence.

I couldn’t put this book down and read it in just a couple of short days. Although I didn’t feel the story flowed as well as it could have, the content within it was absolutely fascinating to me. The friendships between these women and what a day in the life of a prisoner really would be like, is a far cry from what I had envisioned. This is a very thought-provoking book that would be a great one to share with your book club pals and will have you seeing the whole prison system in a far different light.

Editor’s Note: Adult Language & Sexuality

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Fault In Our Stars The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

There is so much to love about this book from John Green and the characters are just as endearing as that fabulous Eleanor & Park book that I highlighted above. In full disclosure, this is a book that you need a big box of tissues with and one that will stick with you long after you close the pages.
This is the story of an unlikely group of friends that meet through their Cancer Kid Support Group. Hazel has experienced a medical miracle and her tumor has been shrinking, buying her a few more years, but she finds that she is depressed despite the good news. Her doctors encouage her to participate in a support group which permanently alters Hazel’s path. When she meets Augustus, they quickly form a deep bond that neither could have ever anticipated.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away on this one, but it is so beautifully told, with heart-wrenching honesty, that these kids will wedge right into your heart when you read about them.

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

After reading Me Before You, I was dying to pick up this book, especially when I heard that it was historical fiction. I have to say that I loved this one almost as much as I loved Me Before You.

The first part of the story is set in 1916 in France. Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight on the front lines.  When their  town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.

Almost a century later, this same painting is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.

Once I started this book, I just couldn’t put it down. Both stories were equally compelling and the story behind this painting is beautifully told and heartbreaking, especially the lengths that Sophie will go to to reunite with her husband.

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Husband's Secret

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

I am a big fan of Liane Moriarty and have to say that this is one of the best books I have read by her. When I got this book, I expected some typical chick-lit, but this one was so much more than that.  This book was selected as one of the best books of the month by Amazon this year and it is no wonder since it was a gripping page turner that I just could not put down.

Just imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Again, imagine this secret is so big that it could threaten the stability of your own life and the lives of others. But then imagine that you run across this letter when tidying your attic while your husband is still alive.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick  has it all- a successful career, she is well-respected with in her community, and she is one of those women that just seems to have it all together. This secret is about to crumble her perfect world and will forever alter the lives of others around them.

This one is another one that I just couldn’t put down and truly illustrates the point that our past has a way of catching up with us.

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Storyteller

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I will admit that I have given up on the last few Picoult books that I have read. The books just didn’t have the spark that I was looking for anymore and started to feel predictable. Each week though, someone recommended this book to me on our reading thread so I decided to give in and read it. This is nothing like she has ever written before and will likely be one of my top ten books I have read this year. You really MUST read it.

Sage Singer works the night shift as a baker, preparing pastries and breads until the wee hours of the morning. She is scarred physically and emotionally and prefers to work alone, but finds that she is leading a lonely life.. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship that will forever change both of their lives. You see, Josef has a secret that he has been living with his whole life, and he is about to ask Sage for a favor that he hopes she won’t refuse.

I wish I could say more, but this is one that I guarantee you will be thinking about and that would lend itself well to any book club discussion. I dare to say that this is the best book yet by Jodi Picoult!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

If you read one book with your kids this year, let it be this one. Wonder is truly one of the best kid’s books I have read in a long time and Augustus is the most fantastic little boy that you will want your child to emulate and look up to.

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity and thanks to his numerous surgeries he has been homeschooled by his family.  Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. 

The book is told from August’s perspective and then tells it from other kids that are around him, his sister, and even his sister’s boyfriend. When all of these stories are pieced together, it creates the perfect telling of what it is like to be someone who looks different then those around him and what it would be like to love or be friends with someone who is different.

This book is absolutely perfect in every single way from start to finish. It deals with big issues, but truly is captured in the voice of a fifth grade boy. I couldn’t put it down and can’t wait to share this book with my two children.

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Z Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

If there is one lady that I now have mad love for it is Zelda Fitzgerald after reading this fantastic historical fiction account of her life.

Zelda Sayre is anything, but typical. Reckless and a little wild, Zelda  meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918,  when she is just seventeen years old and he is serving as a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama.  Zelda has always been determined to never settle down, but Scott’s charms wear her down despite the fact that he has no wealth to his name, no prominence, and isn’t even Southern. Her family is unimpressed, but through a little trickery of her own, Zelda manages to push Scott into selling his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s.  Days later, Zelda boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, believing that everything will work out in the end.

This wild pair earn the fascination and adoration of the public and become a public spectacle that is reported in the papers. They partake in wild partying and drinking as Scott tries to continue writing with little success and little money coming in. Zelda, a writer in her own right, tries to find herself and who she is when she is oh-so-much-more than just F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife.

I absolutely loved this book and reading about their relationship. You know it is good if you go on an evening of reading on Wikipedia after you are done reading a book. I loved this book from start to finish!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!

 

Tell me, what books you have been enjoying these past few months? Anything I should 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!

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Book Review: The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

The Engagements was a book that I picked up, looking for a quick chick lit escape this summer. What happened instead, was a book that has stuck with me since I put it down and surprised me with its depth and beauty. It was the kind of book that I couldn’t wait for someone else to read and the one that I drove my husband crazy sharing about in the evenings because of the smartly woven plot twists.

Each chapter alternates stories with each story deeply rooted in the engagement ring from the inception of the idea of selling the idea of an engagement ring to women to what this ring signifies to each character in the book.

The stories unfold beginning with Frances Gerety, an advertising copyright who works on the De Beers account and who is the creator of  the, “A Diamond is Forever,” campaign that De Beers is still known for today. She is the one who changes what the diamond ring means to women and, yet, receives very little recognition for her efforts in her career. Fans of Mad Men, in particular, will fall in love with Frances and her struggles to get to the top of her ad agency, much like the beloved Peggy Olson in our favorite television series.

All of the other chapters weave in stories from different decades of what the diamond ring means to the other characters in the book. Evelyn has been married to her husband for 40 years, ever since her husband slipped off her first wedding ring and put his own in its place. Delphine  has seen both the beauty and the awfulness in relationships and finds herself in a love triangle she never expected.  James is a paramedic whose constant struggle to prove to his family and wife that he is good enough when he  feels in his heart he is not,  and the story of Kate who has been with her partner for a decade, but refuses to be married because of her feminist beliefs.

The novel spans nearly a hundred years with these stories and, perhaps, the most surprising thing for me was how utterly enchanted I was with every single story and character. I am guilty of favoring certain characters more than others, yet with this book, every story and every chapter was so great that I enjoyed all of them equally.

Don’t let the slow start on this book discourage you- I promise that it will be worth it to see this one through to the end! This is my favorite book by J. Courtney Sullivan yet and I have a feeling it will be for you too!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Engagements

If you are looking for a little reading inspiration, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another!

You can also follow me on GoodReads & Instagram for more reading inspiration! Don’t forget to check out our list of 20 Great Beach Reads and our Books section for your summer reading!

Disclosure: The link provided is an affiliate link and is provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!

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Book Review: Forever Interrupted

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Forever_Interrupted In the summer I am always looking for a good reading escape and I have found that with, “Forever Interrupted,” by Taylor Jenkins. It is a love story that has been forever interrupted when Elsie Porter meets her soul mate, gets married, and finds herself being widowed… all in six short months?

What complicates the story further though is that Elsie’s husband has never told his family about her and his mother is less-than-happy to find out that Ben had a wife that he had never told her about.

It would be an awfully short story though if it ended there and Reid beautifully weaves together the amazing love story of Elsie & Ben from the very beginning while flashing forward as Elsie struggles to move on and finds comfort in one of the most unlikely of people.

I would recommend this one for fans of Emily Giffin, our readers that loved, “Arranged,” as much as I did,  and for those who appreciated the love story of, “One Day.” I found myself both laughing, crying, and sometimes laughing and crying all at the same time.

I bet you read this one in just a couple of short days- it is a hard one to ever put down! I can’t wait to read more from this author!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Forever_Interrupted_2

If you are looking for a little reading inspiration, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another!

You can also follow me on GoodReads & Instagram for more reading inspiration!

Disclosure: The link provided is an affiliate link and is provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!

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Great Reads for Moms: March ’13 Edition

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

I hope everyone is off to a great reading start this year! If you are looking for more ways to squeeze in quality reading time, be sure to read this month’s article on how I made reading a priority in my own life again. I am off to another great start this year, although at a slower pace than I would like thanks to our busy schedule.

Be sure to connect with me on my  Author Profile on GoodReads and you will find my book is listed there too! I would be ecstatic if you became a fan of my writing and would love to see my book listed as something you might be reading in 2013. 

As always, if you are looking for a little inspiration this new year, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another. So far it is a huge success and I have gotten a few new ideas for my own stack!

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 of the month here. If you want to read more, 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.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

It has been many years since I have read a Stephen King book, but I kept hearing that I should pick up this book from so many people (including my amazing friend Kristen from Dine & Dish) that I thought I would give this book a try. I have to say, that I believe already that this book will be among my top ten for 2013, simply because the concept of the book, the characters, and the beautiful weaving of history throughout it have stuck with me since I read it.

This is not horror fiction, but historical fiction offering up the hypothetical scenario that if you could change something in history, would you alter it and what would the consequences be if history was changed.

Jake Epping  teaches high school English in Lisbon Falls, Maine, and is recently divorced from his wife and going through the everyday minutiae of middle-aged life. When he happens upon an assignment from one of his students, a brain-damaged janitor’s story of a childhood Halloween massacre by their drunken father, it brings him to tears and he finds that he can’t stop thinking about what if his life had worked out differently.

When he has lunch at his favorite diner, the diner owner and friend, Al, shares that he has a secret portal to 1958 that he uses to time travel in the back pantry of his restaurant.  He has been taking notes and following Lee Harvey Oswald to see if he can alter the JFK assassination. His dying wish is that Jake can use his notes and actually complete the mission of killing Lee Oswald Harvey before he kills JFK.

Jake decides to fulfill Al’s dying wish and begins a new life in 1958 under the name of George Amberson. What Jake doesn’t expect is how quickly his life can become settled in this new era or how his life would change if he met his one true love?

I loved absolutely everything about this book and when I finished it, I wanted to read the story all over again. It has a beautiful love story, great suspense, and leads to the ultimate question, “Would you change history if you could?”

I can’t recommend this book enough- I would give it ten stars if I could!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is a book that I have picked up from the library no less than half a dozen times, but never could seem to get around to reading it. I usually abandon popular fiction, but this book kept coming up in conversations with fellow readers and everyone kept encouraging me to read it. I am so glad that you did, I really did enjoy this fresh take on the circus and the magical elements within this book.

Unlike a traditional circus papered with announcements of dates and times of arrival, the night circus arrives without warning. Within the black-and-white striped canvas walls is a circus called Le Cirque des Rêves, that appears out of nowhere and is only open at night. What lies within these black-and-white walls is a circus like no other with room upon room of optical illusions, magical acts, and a behind-the-scenes competition between two young magicians.

Celia & Marco have been both been training as magicians for this competition since they were children, although they never knew who or what they would be up against. Both of them are skilled magicians, each with a specific skill set that they are strongest at, and they are to be pitted against each other in a battle to the death.

What neither  Celia or Marco expects is that they will fall in love. What could the outcome be when only one opponent can remain standing?

This book is imaginative in concept and in its writing. I found myself sucked into a world of vivid imagination and could not put the book down because I needed to know what the fate of Celia & Marco could be. The book has many, many characters, which definitely kept me on my toes, but each character offers a different element to the circus that helps mold this unique story line.

Thank you all for recommending this one! I loved it!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Schroder by Amity Gaige

Schroder is an absolutely riveting read that I finished in a record 24 hours due to the captivating story. The book shares the story of  Erik Schroder. When he was just a boy, he applied to attend a summer camp, where he makes up a fictional name of, “Eric Kennedy,” with a rich East coast background contrary to  his real first generation East German immigrant background. Once he adopts this fictional identity, he severs contact with his father and starts his life free of his German roots, and enjoys what he believes to be the American dream.

Years later, Erik and his wife are going through a divorce and his custody rights are basically taken away from him. In an impulsive decision, Erik finds himself on an urgent escape to Lake Champlain, Vermont with his daughter on a week long journey filled with bad decision after bad decision.  In an explanation to explain his behavior his story is then told to his ex-wife Laura from a correctional facility where Erik confesses why he adopted a different identity, how it felt to not have his daughter in his life, and what he did on those six days on the run with his daughter.

There are so many things I loved about this book. First, Erik is truly one of the most unlikable characters you will ever read, yet the author still manages to pull at your heartstrings and make you feel sorry for Erik and his circumstances.  The second, is hearing this story told form Erik’s point of view makes you wonder what the story would be if told from Laura’s point of view or his daughter’s point of view.

There are some loose strings with this one, like the fact that Erik was able to go his entire life without getting caught with his new identity or how he was able to pull this identity switch over on his wife. Despite the improbability of that though, I really thought the characters were well-developed and the story would lend itself well to a book club discussion!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Each year I make a goal to read a literary classic or two and I was excited to read Wuthering Heights for the first time this year. The Masterpiece Theater adaptation of the book and the classic movie of this book both are among my favorites ever watched, yet I had not read it.

If you are not familiar with the story, Wuthering Heights is a love story of dramatic proportions between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, an adopted child of their family. When Mr. Earnshaw passes away, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley. He ends up leaving Wuthering Heights, believing in his heart that although he loves Catherine, she does not love him back

When he returns years later, successful and wealthy, he exacts his revenge for all of the cruelty invoked on him as a boy and for the love he lost.

Dark, cruel, twisted plot lines, and an unrequited love story are what make this book so darn good. You find yourself loving and then hating Heathcliff.

I am so proud I tackled this classic and am looking forward to reading more great classics this year!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall

Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness amid the chaos of the Civil War. The problem is that Iris is not actually insane, but simply does not agree with the way her husband is managing the slaves that they have on their plantation.  She is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be counseled and restored back into becoming an agreeable wife. Unlike others there though, Iris knows that she did nothing wrong and refuses to change when her husband is the real criminal.

There is a mix of unlikely characters at the Sanibel Asylum, all with varying senses of lunacy. When Iris begins playing checkers with Ambrose Weller, another patient at the asylum, a relationship quickly blossoms and an unlikely love story develops.

Determined to escape the asylum, Iris finds herself conflicted as she falls more and more in love with Ambrose Weller, a man who is dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder after serving in the Civil War. Will she stay to be with Ambrose or will they runaway together and what will be the consequence of taking Ambrose out of his therapy setting?

This is a great, quick read, that historical fiction fans will love for a quick escape!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

 

Not enough great reads for you? Check out our Books section of our site for monthly recommendations and ideas for making reading a priority again in your busy mom life!

Books I have read in 2013 (so far):

Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!

 

What has been in your book stack this winter? Feel free to share your book recommendations or feedback on any of the books that have been mentioned above! I love getting new suggestions for my book pile!

 

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Great Reads for Moms: December ’12 Edition

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Although the reviews have been pretty quiet around here, I have still been slowly getting back to reading now that my own book is finally written! I am so excited to share with you just a few of the gems I have been enjoying these last few months and also excited to hear what you have been working on.

Even more exciting (for me), is that I now have an Author Profile on GoodReads and my book is listed there too! I would be ecstatic if you became a fan of my writing and would love to see my book listed as something you might be wanting to read in 2013. 

I have also listed my second book signing in Goshen, Indiana at Better World Books. Please accept my heartfelt invitation to come to this book signing. I would love to meet you! 

As always, if you are looking for a little inspiration this new year, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another. So far it is a huge success and I have gotten a few new ideas for my own stack!

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 of the month here. If you want to read more, 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.

Heft by Liz Moore

Heft is truly one of the best books that I have read this year and I know that this is a novel that can be appreciated by all. It is a story that leaves you rooting for some of the most unlikely characters and showcases the beauty of unlikely friendships.

Eighteen years ago, Arthur had a promising career as a professor, and loved his work. He is now  a 58 year-old man who cannot leave his home due to his incredible size of 500 pounds. Since 2001 he has managed to stay within the confines of his home relying on services like grocery and food deliveries that can be ordered from his own computer. He has no friends, no family, and the only bit of human contact he receives are letters occasionally sent to him from his old student, Charlene Turner.

When Charlene contacts Arthur, out of the blue, to see if he will help her with her son Kel Keller and offer guidance to him to help him, Arthur hires a cleaning service to help him get his house back in shape. His house is a place that has been grossly neglected because Arthur has lost the will and lacks the energy to clean it, due to his size. When a young 19 year-old Yolanda shows up on his doorstep, he can never know how this will change his life. An unlikely friendship unfolds and brings new purpose to Arthur’s life that he never expects.

The author not only takes you through Arthur’s difficulties in his life, but the story of Kel and his mother Chelsea alternate in these chapters as you see the difficulties that this young man has had to overcome and will leave you begging for the happy ending that this boy so deserves.

Beautifully written and great stories that are woven together in such a way that you can vividly picture each of these characters and feel their stories resonate in your own heart. You will have a hard time putting this one down and I look forward to reading more from Liz Moore in the future!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars


The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

There is a certain richness that comes with great Southern storytelling and this amazing book by Jenny Wingfield is laced with that type of richness I am speaking of and beautiful storytelling that you can picture just like a movie screen.

Samuel Lake, his wife Willadee (Moses), and their three children find themselves back home in Arkansas after Samuel finds himself out of work as a minister. When tragedy strikes, the family bands together in unlikely ways and find their faith is challenged to the core of even God’s most faithful. The book offers the story of spunky Swan Lake (yes, her family did name her that), an unlikely little boy that the family takes in as their own, a town villain that has made it his life’s mission to make their family’s life miserable, and Toy, Swan’s uncle, who becomes her unlikely hero.

Each character is so vividly told with his/her own story line that Wingfield magically weaves together to create an incredible story that will stick with you long after you close the book. I can’t recommend this one enough!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

These Is My Words by Nancy F. Turner

For a long time I have had, “These Is My Words,” in the back of my mind as a great book to tackle this winter and I am so glad that I finally did. This story is inspired by the author’s own family memoirs, and the words belong to Sarah Prine. Sarah is a spunky young woman who finds herself a pioneer as they travel the frontier in search of a place to call home.The story is told in diary format and  records her steps beginning from her childhood to a young adult to becoming a mother. What truly makes the book is the beautiful love story between herself and cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot. It is a love story that rivals great love stories like Gone with the Wind and the Outlander series.

Although I am not typically a fan of writing that is written in diary or letter form, I did truly love this book, mostly, for the beautiful love story it offered. I understand that there are two more books in this series to tackle and I look forward to reading those in the upcoming year!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 Stars

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Wow! It’s been a long time since a thriller kept me up all night, but Into the Darkest Corner is just the book for you if you are looking for a book that you just can’t turn the pages fast enough and causes you to be groggy the next day because you just had to finish it!

Catherine Bailey is a young, single, and beautiful woman that catches the eye of a guy named Lee who is working at a night club one night that she is at one night with her friends. She is quickly taken in by him and she isn’t the only one. All of her friends seem just as smitten with Lee as she is.

While their relationship starts out with a passionate fury and a surprising attentiveness that Catherine has never experience before, she soon realizes that there is also another darker side to Lee that, frankly, scares her. Lee continually is both physically and mentally abusive to Catherine and begins to wedge doubt of her own character by planting seeds in the minds of all of her friends who all begin to question Catherine’s own stability.

Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine, who is now going under the name Cathy, has become a shell of her former self, and is riddled with obsessive compulsive disorder as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. Although she has no friends and no one to lean on, an unlikely relationship blossoms between herself and the her upstairs neighbor, Stuart. Just when she begins she thinks she can find happiness, Lee is released from prison and first on his agenda of people to visit….Cathy. What happens though when everyone believes you just have OCD and there really IS someone after you?

At several points I realized I was holding my breath because the book was so suspenseful as the character, Lee, is in pursuit of her. For those of you left wondering is there any life after, “Gone Girl,” this book is for you.  This book is perfectly timed with a great story build of a woman before and after an abusive relationship came into her life.   This is a fantastic read, but not for the faint of heart due to extreme violence and graphic sex scenes.  This is just as dark and twisted as Gone Girl,  but brings a level of suspense that I have been waiting a long time for in a book.

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

love anthony by Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova is an author that does not disappoint and has become one of the authors I rely upon for a great story. Love Anthony is a heartbreaking and also endearing story that will pull upon your heartstrings as a mother and would lend itself well to any book club discussion.

Olivia had always dreamed of being a mother, but her idea of what life would be like as a mom is changed when her son Anthony is diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Anthony struggles with sounds and crowds and “normal” childhood experiences and Olivia works hard to make sense of what life is like for Anthony when he cannot speak to her. Just when Olivia begins to make sense of what her new life with Anthony will look like, he unexpectedly dies.

She finds herself alone in a cottage on Nantucket, newly separated from her husband, and desperate to understand the meaning of her son’s life when a chance encounter with another woman facing her own loss brings Anthony alive again for Olivia in a most unexpected way.

The two stories of these women is beautifully woven and what I truly appreciated about this story, as heartbreaking as it was, is how Genova seems to get inside the head of what it would be like to live as an autistic child and how she seems to really bring light to the difficulties an autistic child would have to endure.

Beautiful and a sweetly satisfying ending for a heartbreaking tale, Genova continues to weave beautiful stories that linger in my mind long after I close the book.

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Not enough great reads for you? Check out our Books section of our site for monthly recommendations and ideas for making reading a priority again in your busy mom life!

Books I have read in 2012 (so far):


Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!

 

What has been in your book stack this winter? Feel free to share your book recommendations or feedback on any of the books that have been mentioned above! I love getting new suggestions for my book pile!


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