Amy Clark

July 2019 Must-Reads

Are you looking for your next great read? I’m sharing eight AMAZING reads with you and why I think you should read them. From twisty thrillers to gorgeous historical fiction, there is something for everyone in this month’s stack! 

I can’t believe that our summer is coming to a close already. I don’t know about you, but I feel like it was just beginning and now I have to prepare for the back-to-school craziness. 

You can picture me crying in a corner and begging that I don’t have to start the schedules, the school supplies ordering, the check-ups, the uniform shopping ALL OVER AGAIN. 

read all about the reading retreat

It has been quite the bookish month! Not only did I host my first reading retreat (and it was just as magical as I had hoped), but I also spent this week writing all about how you can get your books for FREE on you Kindle. It’s more than just a post about the library though. It’s about allll the app options and Amazon benefits you should be taking advantage of. 

I also hope you didn’t miss my FREE Summer Reading Guide I made for you. This guide should keep you very busy, as summer comes to a close, with loads of beautiful reads. 

While you’re here, be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our FREE online book club! 

You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. 

Don’t forget to send me a friend request over on GoodReads for more great book reviews!

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? Grab your FREE book over here.  

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Also Out!!

Here is what is available for July! 

The Whisper Man by Alex North

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

This month’s special: New members can get their first book for $9.99 when they join using this month’s code CHASE and can cancel at any time. 

Still somehow in all the craziness, I managed to read so many incredible books this month.

Here are 8 must-read books I tackled in July:

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

I devoured this gothic historical fiction novel from debut author, Sara Collins.  This murder mystery follows the life of a slave named Frannie Langton and her difficult life as a slave for two different couples. 

The novel opens with the trial of Frannie Langton and the accusations that she pulled off a brutal double murder of her employers. The couple, whose deaths are in question, are wildly eccentric and Frannie finds herself entrapped by both the husband and the wife.

The thing is, she cannot recall what happened the night of the murder, even though this information could save her from certain death. Found to be covered in blood and laying next to one of the victims, she doesn’t even have the memories to help her remember her role that evening.

The novel winds through Frannie’s journey from her Jamaican plantation upbringing to her time serving a couple in London. This woman’s story is very dark and very twisted with a forbidden relationship that no one could have ever predicted. 

If you were tempted by the forbidden fruits of V.C. Andrews, love a good Sarah Waters novel, or found yourself entranced by Alias Grace…you must pick up this book. 

Although it had a slow start and, honestly, far too many loose ends to wrap up, it was still worth every minute of my reading time. 

Please note, this novel is graphic/brutal in nature. I would not recommend for the highly sensitive reader! 

4 out of 5 Stars

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Let’s just admit that most buzz books do not deliver. I am so thrilled to say though that Ask Again, Yes, was one of the first summer buzz books that REALLY delivered on its promise to be an incredible 2019 read. 

If you haven’t gotten to this one yet, let me fill you in a bit on the plot.

The story chronicles the lives of two rookie cops, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, who also happen to be neighbors. Set in the 1970’s, the two wives (Lena and Anne) should be close friends, but they are both battling their own demons at home.  Lena is very lonely and could use a friend, but Anne is emotionally unstable and not the kind of person that can support Anne through this chapter in her life.

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The two neighbor kids, born just six months apart, have found a forever friendship with one another that trumps all of their parent’s difficulties and struggles.

In a very shocking twist of events though, one moment changes everything for these two families in a way that the reader would never expect.  This event causes their loyalties to divide and their bonds to be tested. 

Keane chronicles the next 40 years so beautifully that it made my heart hurt. The storytelling is exquisite and I hung on every last word.

When I ended this book, I looked at my husband and said, “FINALLY. A BUZZ BOOK WORTH READING.” 

I guarantee that this one will be going on my best books of 2019 list. 

5 out of 5 Stars

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

I used my Book of the Month credit on this intimate nonfiction exploration of real women and their secret sex lives

If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, please carry on! 

I, honestly, cracked the book open in the morning with coffee and ended the book THE SAME DAY with wine. 

I then handed it off to a girlfriend and begged her to read it too, just so I had someone to talk about it with.

Perhaps, it is my conservative Midwest upbringing, but I found this book to be eye-opening, especially because women so rarely discuss their own sexual desires openly. The author, in fact, had many people bail on her, midway through this project, because people began to worry about the anonymity factor. 

As the title suggests, this profiles three different women and what is happening behind closed doors.

One Midwest woman is struggling to get her husband to even kiss her, let alone be intimate with her. It is because of this rejection that she rekindles an old flame and begins having an affair.

Another woman starts a relationship with her English teacher, at the tender age of seventeen. What begins as something innocent begins to slowly evolve into an inappropriate relationship. Just as she begins to be fully vested into this relationship, her teacher completely cuts her off from his life.

To her surprise, now as an adult, he is nominated as, “Teacher of the Year,” and no one in her town believes her story of her affair.

The third is the raciest of the storylines and features a woman who is happily married and her husband is also happily open to them having other people in the bedroom (*ahem*).

The book reads like fiction, but Taddeo has spent years on this book to make sure that she tells their story as truthfully and honestly as possible. It has seemed to struck a chord with many and now has been picked up for a Showtime television series too

My inability to put this one down makes it a winner, at least in my book.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

If you gravitate towards the darker thrillers, I have a feeling that you will enjoy this new novel, The Chain

The plot revolves around a mother, named Rachel, who is on her way to an oncology appointment, when she receives a panicked message from a woman who tells her that the caller’s child has been kidnapped.

She is desperate for Rachel to help her get her child back.

The only way the caller could get her child back though is to kidnap ANOTHER child…and Rachel’s daughter has been chosen. 

This crazy woman has her child. 

Say what?

To release Kylie, Rachel’s kidnapped daughter, she is required to send a ridiculous amount of money and KIDNAP ANOTHER CHILD to complete the chain.

What is the consequence of breaking this chain? If she breaks the link, her child will be killed.

Rachel is down on her luck financially, is divorced, and has been beaten down with cancer. She would do or sacrifice anything though to get her child back… including taking someone else’s kid. With the help of her ex-brother-in-law (a Special Forces veteran), she goes against everything she is to get her daughter back. 

McKinty adds a lot of layers to Rachel that include both her difficult life and her background as a professor of philosophy. He also adds layers to her accomplice that make him unreliable and put the reader on edge. 

This is another book that I polished off in a single day and ended up being a fantastic little summer escape. 

4 out of 5 Stars

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Are you tired of every thriller saying that they are the next, Gone Girl

Me too! 

The thing is,  this is probably the closest thing I’ve read to that novel that really delivered on great thriller plot twists.

That’s why, I’m actually going to give this one the Gone Girl Award (trademarked) for 2019.

Sabine Hardison has went missing, but this isn’t the first time that she has done this. Her husband, Jeffrey, is concerned that this time is different though and reports her missing to the police.

When her car turns up abandoned, the only evidence they have is that all signs are pointing to foul play. 

Sabine’s sister knows that Jeffrey isn’t the supportive husband that he is sharing with the police though and thinks that Sabine may have disappeared just to escape the abusive relationship. When you learn more about Sabine’s story, you know you would have to leave too.

Now known as Beth Murphy, she has cut off her hair, dyed it in a new shade, and is doing everything she can to escape the cycle of abuse she was part of.  “Beth” has to keep moving though, and keep an emotional distance from everyone, because the last thing that can happen is being found by her husband. 

One detective is unwilling to end this case until these answers are found and he will stop at nothing to figure out where Sabine is hiding or who could have murdered her. This game of cat-and-mouse is on! 

I loved, loved, loved this thriller and highly recommend this one if you are looking for a solid plot to really sink your teeth into. The twists were so well-played that it took me, even as a seasoned thriller reader, by surprise. 

5 out of 5 Stars

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

A thriller without GIRL or WIFE in the title AND focuses on a twisted friendship instead? 

Sign. Me. Up.

I used one of my summer Book of the Month credits to snag this fun thriller and really enjoyed it. 

Stella and Violet have been best friends since college, but could not be more opposite. Stella is the beautiful and reckless one who oozes privilege. Violet, on the other hand, has had to work really hard to get where she is and seems to be available to clean up any mess that Stella might be making.

Violet ends up scoring her dream job, after graduation, and finds herself working for cable news. Due to her dedication and focus to detail, she is quickly moved up the ranks from intern all the way up to assistant producer. She loves having her own thing, separate from Stella, and feels like she is finally on a path that hasn’t been clouded by her taking up the spotlight. 

When Stella becomes jealous of her new life, she works her family’s connections to score a job at the same news center. She begins infiltrating herself into Violet’s relationships and wins the coveted role as a news anchor. 

Just as Stella is to begin her dream job as an anchor, she disappears. It’s not the first time she’s left though so no one is suspicious that there could be foul play.

Ah, but Violet has had enough with Stella moving on her turf and she just might know where Stella is.

This was another fun summer thriller that I really enjoyed this month.

Pitoniak does a great job showcasing the love-hate relationship between these two and creates the right amount of sympathy in Violet, along with the right amount of narcissism in Stella. 

I would definitely add this one to your reading list this summer!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

Thank you to the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

I selected, The Masterpiece, as our book for discussion on our MomAdvice Reading Retreat. It ended up being a really charming historical fiction novel that made me want to dive into more of the offerings from Fiona Davis. 

If you are unfamiliar with Fiona Davis, she tells stories, that are set in New York, at famous historic landmark locations. This novel goes back and forth through time and the setting this time is in the Grand Central Terminal. 

Did you know that the Grand Central Terminal used to house an art school? 

Well, it did and this story shares about that time in history and the artistry that was developed through this school.

Fifty years later, Virginia is working the information booth at the Grand Central Terminal and the building has a planned renovation that may remove beautiful portions of its history. When Virginia stumbles upon the art school, now boarded up and abandoned, she finds a beautiful watercolor that might be worth something. Virginia takes it upon herself to find out who that artist is and to learn more about the history of this school.

This is a PERFECT book club discussion book because two of these fictional characters are based on real people in history and it also was so fun to discover that there was an art school tucked away in this building. 

We had an excellent discussion and it is the kind of book you could pass on to ANYONE and they will enjoy it too. 

I’m really glad we got a chance to talk about this one, especially since this was our first time talking about a book in person. 

4 out of 5 Stars

In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

If you are looking for an incredible young adult novel, be sure to pick up, “In Sight of Stars.” 

The MomAdvice Book Club was lucky enough to not only have a video chat with Gae, at our MomAdvice Reading Retreat, but she also joined us for our online book chat as well. Gae is one of those generous kinds of authors that is so giving of her time time and talks openly and honestly about her books.

If you are looking for an interactive book chat, this is YOUR GIRL.

Don’t have a book club? You can join mine for free and find the chat with Gae under our Events tab.

This story explores the life of seventeen-year-old Klee (pronounced Clay) and the aching grief of losing his father. Klee’s father was his world and was the one who introduced him to art by taking him to the MoMA and sharing his stories about the artists that hung on those walls.

When his father dies, a little part of Klee has died too and he can’t help to think his mom might be partly to blame for his death. 

Klee needs a little happiness in his life and when he meets Sarah, in his art class, he believes that she is just the ticket to bring him back out of his shell. She is everything he is not- wild, carefree, and lighthearted. 

When Sarah betrays him though, Klee finds himself in a psychiatric hospital for teens where he is forced to deal with the emotions of his father’s death, his anger with his mother, and losing the one person who brought him joy again. 

Luckily, this boy is surrounded by a staff of helpers who help Klee come to terms with ALL OF IT and his role in these stories. 

Polisner really opens this story in a way that makes it confusing to the reader and she does so purposefully. She wants her reader to understand what it is like in Klee’s head and how hard it is for him.

More importantly, she confronts how the things we think we know about our parents aren’t always the real story. She challenges her reader to look at their stories in a different light and with a little more grace than they might have before.

What teen doesn’t need to hear that?

I really loved this novel and so many of our readers did too.

I would also recommend this one for older teens due to language, sex, and adult themes.

I encourage you to add this one to your stack!

5 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

June 2019 Must-Reads

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

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

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Published August 01, 2019 by:

Amy Clark

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

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