Amy Clark

Great Reads for Moms: November ’11 Edition

I hope everyone has been enjoying loads of good reads this year and I hope I have added a little inspiration to your library wish lists this year.  Next month I will share with you my top ten for the year. I had a lofty goal to read 80 books this year, but I don’t think I am going to make it to this goal.  I am seriously short on my goal this year thanks to all the crafting and writing I have been doing this year, but I am sitting pretty at 52 books so far this year so I won’t hang my head in shame.

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! My username is momadvice 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.

Pictured above is my favorite reading corner in our house. I put my feet up on my favorite chair in my office for at least an hour a day and try to make a little me time no matter how crazy life gets.  Snag one of these books on your next trip to the library and find a reading corner in your home this month amid the holiday craziness!

Happy reading, friends!

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

It is rare for me to feel completely transported by a book, but Melanie Benjamin’s latest book swept me off my feet and literally had me searching for corners to read in until I could finish it. Fans of Benjamin’s last book, “Alice I Have Been,” will not be disappointed with this book and the unique perspective that Benjamin adds to sharing the story of Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie Bump.

Vinnie stood at a mere two feet and eight inches tall, but her small stature is the only small element to her big story.  Born in the nineteenth century, most families were encouraged to keep children plagued with genetic abnormalities or disorders hidden away from the public eye. Vinnie always wanted to be in the spotlight though and despite her parent’s longing for her to choose a quiet simple life of being home with them, Vinnie became a school teacher in her town. This wasn’t the path she wanted most in her life though and she felt she was destined for bigger things. When a “cousin” decides to start a traveling show, he reaches out to see if Vinnie might be interested in being a part of it. With Vinnie’s eyes always set on the prize of being on stage, she accepts the job to be in the traveling show, despite her parent’s best judgment.

The show isn’t what Vinnie ever had hoped it would be and she finds she is paraded as a freak rather than the life singing and dancing she thought she was going to have. Ever determined to be and make more of her life, she sends a letter to P.T. Barnum that will forever alter the course of her life and create a friendship with a man that she never dreamed she would have in her life.

Benjamin writes the story of Vinnie in such an honest and raw way that, in parts, I found myself a little teary-eyed. She perfectly captures the challenges of being small, the ridicule from others, the admiration when she finds her place in society, and the continual challenges of believing in your destiny no matter what.  While Vinnie is not always likeable, she is admirable.

I can’t recommend this book enough, if I tried. Vinnie’s story is captivating as are the other amazing characters in this story.   Read this one today!

If you liked this book you might like: Alice I Have Been, Water for Elephants, & Shanghai Girls

(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)


The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Victoria Jones was a child that has been unloved and unwanted by many.  After going from foster care home to foster care home, she finally find someone who loves her whole-heartedly and wants to adopt her as her own.  Elizabeth is a dream mother to this wounded child.  She spends hours teaching Victoria the Victorian names and meanings for flowers and how to care for them. These lessons t later become the tools that she must employ to share her feelings and find work later in her life. Through a traumatic turn of events though, Elizabeth never adopts Victoria and at eighteen she is declared emancipated with no money, nowhere to go, and no one who loves her.

Victoria makes her home in the local park, sleeping in the grass at night, and even begins to plant her own garden in the park. When a local florist happens upon Victoria and her talent for flower arranging, she is hired on the spot to help with her small floral shop. Word soon gets around about Victoria’s talent for arrangements, carefully chosen & arranged based on their Victorian flower names and what they mean for their recipients.

When Victoria runs into a floral vendor who happens to be someone from her & Elizabeth’s past, she must decide if she can ever move forward from the secret that she is harboring in her heart and if she can ever feel and find love again.

The story switches from Victoria’s childhood to her time now as an adult. It never is confusing, but outlines the heartbreaking story of a difficult childhood and why Victoria would have such difficulties as an adult.

It is so surprising that this is Diffenbaugh’s first novel as she writes with experience and description that you rarely find in a debut novel.  I have no doubt you will love this book as much as I did!

If you liked this book you might like: The Last Will of Moira Leahy, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, & The Murderer’s Daughters.

(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

Imagine if your sins were on display for the entire world to see?  Hillary Jordan creates a futuristic spin on how society would look if our skin was colored based on the crime we committed.  The story follows Hannah Payne who has recently been, “chromed,” and is red because she has committed murder.  Hannah knows that this is the cross that she must bear for her crimes, but she has no idea how horrible her life will be now that society knows the sins she has committed.

Hannah was always a good girl and was raised in a very conservative family where it was even frowned up on to wear anything with color or that would draw attention to her natural beauty. The climate of the government also leans towards conservative views and the laws go along with the government views of what is right and wrong in this dystopian society.  She has always been a girl that has done the right thing, but she falls in love with a married man who sweeps her off her feet and causes her to make a decision that she will now spend the remainder of her sentence paying for.  To protect the future of the prominent man that she has fallen in love with, she must bear the burden alone and is now melachromed for her actions for all the world to see.

When an extremist underground group tries to help Hannah and reverse the chroming that has been done to her, the reader is taken on a thrilling journey as Hannah risks her safety and life for the crime she has committed.

Hillary Jordan could not have picked a book concept further from her fantastic debut, “Mudbound.”  This book would lend itself well to book club discussions as it flips every political debate on its head.  From abortion to women’s rights to Christianity to punishment for one’s crimes, no political rock is left unturned.  While one might not agree with Hannah’s viewpoint or those of the extremist views of the underground group, the concept of chroming is rich with discussion and a true modern day take on, “The Scarlet Letter.”

If you liked this book you might like: The Hunger Games, Matched, & Mudbound.

(MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars)

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

I love a good thriller and Chris Bohjalian’s, “Night Strangers,” offers part mystery, part thriller, part horror in this latest book.

Chip & Emily Linton decide to relocate their family of four to a new town in Northern New Hampshire in hopes of a fresh start. Chip was a pilot whose plane had a double engine failure and thirty-nine of his passengers perished.  Chip is weighed down with the burden of all the passengers he has lost and knows that a fresh start is just what they need.

When they find a town filled with neighbors who seem to want to include them in their circle, are constantly running food to them, who want to help care for their twin daughters, and all have a love for gardening… well, who wouldn’t they feel like they picked the perfect place to raise their family?

In a dusty corner of their old Victorian home though lies a secret that threatens to change their lives forever. A door has seemingly been sealed with thirty-nine carriage bolts. Thirty-nine is a very significant number to their family and the irony of that is not lost on Chip.  When he decides to takes his aggression and anguish out on the door and rid it of the carriage bolts, he unlocks a nightmare for their family that they never expected.

The build on this book is slow and the descriptions are labor-intensive. The story did not grab me right away, but when I hit about halfway in this one, I really wanted to solve the mysteries in the town and discover just what these helpful neighbors were up to.  Regardless of the slow build, it did have a great story that just might give you a nightmare or two.

If you liked this book you might like: The Things That Keep Us Here, These Things Hidden, & Never Knowing.

(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!

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!

Published November 29, 2011 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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