Posts Tagged ‘Book Reviews’

Great Reads for Moms: Summer ’12 Edition

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

I hope you all are enjoying some fabulous eading this summer. I have had my nose in a book almost every day this summer and I have gotten to read some really great summer reads. I am excited to share with you a few of my favorites from the past two months.

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.

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

I have to say that this book is one of my favorite reads this summer, simply because it is deliciously fast-paced chick-lit at its finest.

Anne Blythe seems to have everything. She has sold her first book, has a fabulous life, and fabulous friends. When it comes to being lucky in love though, she can’t seem to ever find the right guy. novel. After her best friend announces her engagement and her latest relationship ends, she decides to take a risk and contact a dating service in hopes of finding the perfect match. Upon her first appointment with the dating service though, she realizes that it is not a dating service at all, but a matchmaking service for an arranged marriage.

Once she starts the process, there is no turning back and Anne finds herself traveling to a Mexican resort where she will meet and marry (all in the same weekend) her “perfect,” guy.

This book has great twists and turns that you will really enjoy and after devouring this book in a mere day, I can’t recommend it enough for a fun reading escape!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

 

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

If you are looking for another great chick-lit escape, Wife 22 offers a fresh and modern-day perspective on finding love that I think you will really enjoy.

Alice Buckle is a typical middle aged mother who has found herself in a funk in her marriage. While Googling the search term, “happy marriage,” she suddenly receives an opportunity in her email to take part in a marriage survey. Since she is struggling in her marriage, she find this to be a fun and anonymous way to share about her marriage without judgement. She takes on the anonymous survey as, “Wife 22,” and finds herself completely engrossed in taking the survey and writing the answers to the questions. As she engages daily in the interaction with the researcher, their playful banter starts to turn into something that Alice never expected.

This modern day love story of love lost and love found again is one that you will really love. What adds to the charm of this book is the social media thread of viewing Alice’s friend’s Facebook status updates at the beginning of the chapters, the Facebook chats she engages in, and of course the emails back and forth between herself and the Researcher.

A solid ending to this story really pulls all the layers together beautifully. As an aside, there is an Appendix at the very end of the book that provides the questions that were asked of Alice when completing the survey. I wished I would have had those to help me pull the answers together more fully.

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I love when I read a book and feel my real life slipping away from me. Gone Girl was a book that sucked me from the very first page and offered one of those amazing journeys as a reader.

Without giving the plot away the story begins with  Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Amy has carefully wrapped gifts and is making the perfect breakfast for her husband when she suddenly disappears one seemingly ordinary morning. Nick is quickly under suspicion since he appears completely unemotional with the news of his wife’s disappearance and has no real explanation for his whereabouts when Amy has disappeared. Clue after clue points to Nick and the police begin building a case against him. It leaves the entire town and those closest to Amy wondering what Nick has done to Amy.

Of course, with all good stories, things aren’t always as they appear and this story will take the reader on great plot twists that they will never suspect coming. Although, I found the ending of this book to be a bit flat and it didn’t wrap up the way I had hoped, I still believe this is one of the best thrillers I have read this year.

Editor’s Note- This book contains graphic scenes, language, & violence.

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

 Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson

Stephanie Nielson began sharing her family’s story on her blog NieNie Dialogues in 2005. She quickly attracted a loyal following that was captivated by the upbeat mother happily raising her young children, madly in love with her husband, Christian (Mr. Nielson to her readers), and filled with gratitude for her blessed life.

Everything changed in an instant in August of 2008 when Stephanie and Christian were involved in a horrific plane crash. Christian was burned over 40 percent of his body, and Stephanie was near death, with burns on over 80 percent of her body. She would remain in a coma for four months.

Stephanie shares her journey from the very beginning of her courtship to her perfect soul mate, the beautiful life they were able to build together, her own struggles with motherhood, the accident, and then the aftermath of recovering from the accident and rebuilding her life again.

Stephanie’s faith and the family that she has created through her church and in her own family are what help sustain her through her recovery. Her story is heart-wrenching and inspiring. It left me feeling inspired and gave me a new appreciation for my health and my family.

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 summer? 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: February ’12 Edition

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

I hope everyone has been enjoying a lot of great reads this month.  The book reviews section of our site has become one of my favorite elements of our site and I just love sharing new books that I read with all of you. If you missed my top ten of 2011 post, be sure to head right over and get the scoop on a few of my personal favorites from last year.

I was determined to start 2012 with some incredible books and I tried to be a little ambitious this year and start with a few of those, “You really should read this…” books. You know, those books that people keep dropping in conversations, but you never make the time to read them. This is the year for that for me.

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.

The Other Life by Ellen Miester

I love books that explore the, “what if’s,” in life and Ellen Miester’s novel explores what I am sure each of us wonders at times, “What if I had chosen another path for my life?” This book tells the story of Quinn Braverman who is living a happy and idyllic life with her husband and son. Quinn’s life is anything but ordinary though because she has discovered a portal in her basement that can take her into a parallel life where she has chosen to live her life with her boyfriend instead of the one that she is living with her husband & son.  She knows that the portal is there, but stays away from it until a routine ultrasound shows that there is something wrong with the child she is expecting. Suddenly she is drawn into the portal to escape the sadness of her own reality.

The best part about the portal for Quinn is being with her mom in this parallel universe because her mom is no longer with her after taking her own life. Quinn has the mother she has been missing in this life, but her husband and child reside in the other life.  Quinn must decide which life she wants to lead as the portal begins to shrink and she must choose which world she wants to live in.

This book is thought-provoking, beautiful, and delivers honest writing about mother-daughter relationships as well as how differently our lives could have worked out if we had chosen a different path. This would make a fabulous book club discussion!

If you liked this you might like Time of My Life, The Time Traveler’s Wife, or The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

(MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars)

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

On a stormy night an unlikely couple knocks on an unlikely stranger’s door, when they come to seek shelter from the storm. Lynnie, a woman with an intellectual disability and Homan, a deaf man, have run away from a brutal institution where they have been placed because of their disabilities.

A friendly schoolteacher answers her door and finds that she has opened the door to a journey she never could have anticipated. Because the couple have ran away from the institution, the police begin to bang on the door looking for them and Lynnie hands to her a brand new baby and utters just two words to the teacher, “Hide her.”

Lynnie is returned to the school, Homan runs away and is thought to have been dead, and Martha is left in charge of a child when she has never had a child of her own. The story chronicles forty years following each of these characters as their lives take an unlikely path.

The premise of the story is captivating and the love story between Lynnie & Homan is beautifully told. The challenges faced by each of these characters with disabilities is told with sensitivity and offers unique insight into what it would be like to be deaf or intellectually handicapped. I found myself tearing up in parts and rooting for each of these characters.

Although the book is slow in parts, the story is worth pushing through and would also lend itself well to book club discussions since it is the kind of book you just want to talk about when you are finished with it.  Definitely add this one to your to-be-read piles!

(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I am trying to tackle a few of those books that people say to me, “I can’t believe you haven’t read that yet.” Outlander has been recommended to me time and time again so I decided I would start this year out with a few of the books that I have been intending to read.  At over 600 pages, I can see why I have not attempted to tackle this before, but after reading it I can honestly say that it was an amazing story and I can’t wait to read more in this series. A book of this size has never been devoured so quickly and I don’t think my family saw me for three weeks while I worked on this one.

This story follows Claire Randall, a young combat nurse in WWII who recently moved to Scotland with her husband. While they are out hiking one day, Claire accidentally passes through the stones of an ancient stone circle and awakens to find herself in 16th century Scotland. Confused as to what has happened to her Claire’s path crosses with a Highland warrior named James Fraser that forever alters Claire’s path and begins a love story that rivals any other that you may have read.

This book is definitely not for the faint of heart it is violent and sexually charged throughout. At times I felt like I was reading a Harlequin romance novel as some of the love scenes were a little fluffy for my usual taste, but the good in this book definitely outweighs the bad.

This is historical fiction at some of its finest and I felt like I was transported while I read this. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and be transported once again.

(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Nothing about, “The Pillars of the Earth,” sounded interesting to me and, to be honest, the sheer size of this book scared me to death. Our book club selected this book though and as others in our book club read it, they shared how amazing it was. I just knew I had to take the plunge despite my misgivings that it was going to be a boring read. I am so, so glad that I did. It is a book filled with amazingly developed characters, fabulous plot twists, and historical fiction at its finest. I could not put it down, I had to know how it would all work out, and I was captivated from the opening paragraph until the very last page.

Tom Builder has lost commission on a home that he was to build and begins to roam England seeking work.  As he is turned away from each job they find, their family begins to starve and his pregnant wife dies during childbirth in the woods.  Without food to give the baby, they abandon the child in the woods and Tom immediately comes into a relationship with a resourceful woman named Ellen and their son Jack who become a part of their family and help them navigate the forest life.

When Tom seeks shelter at a church his life never becomes the same again as he finds work through an unlikely fire that damages the church and then finds that his life is interwoven with the church in more ways than he could ever imagine. The building of a new church brings together unlikely characters and a determined character who threatens to destroy it all.

A story of good and evil that riveted me and one that will truly captivate you from start to finish, this book moved me and will probably reside firmly in my top ten books I have ever read.

Editor’s Note: This contains sexually graphic scenes. 

(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)

As an aside, I read, “The Pillars of the Earth,” on my Kindle. After lugging, “Outlander,” around town and the sheer girth of that book, I thought it might be easier to just read it on my Kindle so I could pop the book in my purse. I have the original old school Kindle though so I only had the progression bar to go on to figure out how far I was. Those dots never moved more slowly and every week I thought I was done, I realized I was nowhere near done. Perhaps, this can be my campaign to upgrade my reader at some point. For now, I was happy to see the dots finally coming to a close so I knew that I had actually completed it.

After reading two books of this magnitude back-to-back though, I feel like I should receive some type of badge or at the very least a personal pan pizza just like I did when I was a kid in the Book-It program.

I guess I will just have to settle with the smugness I now possess and getting to finally say, “Oh, you haven’t read that yet! You really must!”

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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!

 

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 month? 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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