Archive for May, 2023

The Best Escapist Island Books (Podcast)

Friday, May 26th, 2023
The Best Escapist Books Set on Islands

Escape real life with these island books. Learn why The Wishing Game is just the book escape you need with our interview with Meg Shaffer.

Let’s head to a fictional island with this Meg Shaffer interview as we discuss her magical debut, The Wishing Game.  

About Meg Shaffer’s Book

The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

In this Willy Wonka-style adventure, we follow the story of Lucy Hart, a 26-year-old teacher’s aide who has always found solace in the pages of the Clock Island series by Jack Masterson. Lucy’s financial life is problematic, but mostly because it has become a hurdle to adoption. 

A public letter begins to go viral, sharing that a new book- A Wish for Clock Island– has been written and only one copy exists. Jack has plans to give it away to someone courageous, clever, and who knows how to make wishes.

This invitation also says that you should check your mailbox if you know the answer to the riddle “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”  

And Lucy just so happens to know the answer to this mysterious package’s question, as do a few other longtime readers that have had beautiful interceptions throughout their lives with Jack. 

Based on the true story of a boy who ran away and showed up on the doorstep of his favorite fantasy author, we learn more about Meg’s writing process and why she wanted to write this love letter to our childhood reading. We also discuss a few other islands to escape to when you need a literary vacation. 

Don’t miss today’s bonus book list with 22 more books set on islands for the best armchair travel escapes. 

Meg Shaffer

Meet Meg Shaffer

Meg Shaffer is a part-time creative writing instructor and a full-time MFA candidate in TV and Screenwriting at Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri. Find her online or at home, watching Hitchcock films and/or writing Star Trek fan fiction when she should be doing her homework.

The Best Escapist Books Set on Islands (Podcast)

Listen to the Book Gang Podcast:

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Mentioned in this episode:

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The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

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22 Enthralling Books Set on Islands to Read Now

Friday, May 26th, 2023
22 Enthralling Books Set on Islands to Read Now

Escape real life with these 22 books set on islands. Whether you crave adventure, a love story, a small town, or historical fiction, this list has you covered.

In today’s Book Gang episode, Meg Shaffer discussed her magical fantasy debut, The Wishing Game.

The Wishing Game takes readers on an extraordinary adventure to a realm where wishes become a reality.

Meg Shaffer masterfully weaves a tale that captures the imagination and transports readers to a hope-filled fantasy world of childhood reading. During our podcast episode, Meg shared her inspiration behind this captivating story and how she brought her Clock Island fantasy to life.

Listen to the full episode (the show notes are located here) below and subscribe to the Book Gang podcast for more episodes like this one.

This isn’t our only island escape! Each podcast episode in our summer series offers an accompanying bonus book list to expand your summer stack. In addition, our authors have been assigned their show topic around elements of their own stories.

This week’s island book list includes Meg’s favorite books, my favorite books, and even some beautiful suggestions from my fellow MomAdvice Book Club members.

YOU are the real experts, friends!

Whatever you are craving, today’s island book list will satisfy your cravings for wanderlust. This list offers fantasy adventures, romance, and even thriller escapes.

22 Enthralling Books Set on Islands to Read Now

22 Enthralling Books Set on Islands to Read Now

Escape to captivating worlds with these 22 island-based books. Discover thrilling tales and immerse yourself in the allure of secluded paradises and small island towns.

This post contains affiliate links.

Looking for more island escapes? Here is a short list from the MomAdvice Book Club community.

Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher
Float Plan by Trish Doller
Shipped by Angie Hockman
Moti on the Water
by Leylah Attar
Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

What is your favorite island book escape? Let us know in the comments below what this list is missing!

love this post? don’t miss our FREE 2023 Summer Reading Guide!

2023 Summer Reading Guide from

2023 Summer Reading Guide (37 New Books)

Thursday, May 11th, 2023
2023 Summer Reading Guide (37 New Books)

Discover your perfect summer read with our ultimate summer reading guide! Explore 37 handpicked books across romance, historical fiction, thriller, and more.

It’s summer reading season, and I am so excited to share this year’s SUPER-SIZE guide with you with the best books to read this summer.

This year’s guide is more robust than any other year I’ve offered it, with 37 carefully screened books. 

I have read and reviewed each book, ensuring that only the best and most engaging titles make it to your summer reading list. These aren’t just the beach reads this year but an eclectic collection of literary fiction, nonfiction, contemporary, and nonfiction. 

But that’s not all!

We will share exclusive conversations with many talented authors featured in this guide throughout the summer. I hope you’ll connect more deeply with the books and the person who penned them through this summer author series.

Each author has also been assigned a fun summer topic (dates and topics are listed at the end of the guide).

The honest truth, though, is that there will never be a time when I feel like I am done with this guide. Many books will miss the list, but they will be beautiful discoveries for later. 

You can listen to today’s Book Gang podcast with a few highlights from this year’s selections.

Please Support My Small Business

If you love the guide, I would be SO GRATEFUL if you would consider making a small one-time donation through our new Buy Me a Coffee page! It will help keep the lights on at MomAdvice and fund our future author conversations.

If you are feeling generous, join my Patreon community and unlock a printable guide along with over 200 bookish benefits, including a guide like this EVERY MONTH.

The Best Beach Reads for 2023 from

2023 Summer Reading Guide (37 New Books)

2023 Summer Reading Guide (37 New Books)

Let’s dive into this year’s incredible selections! Here are my 37 picks for the best year of summer reading! Thank you to the publishing houses that submitted advanced copies for this year’s guide.

Best Romance Books for 2023

Best Romance Books for 2023

Discover the best romance books to curl up with and lose yourself in a world of love, passion, and happily ever afters. From steamy contemporary romances to heartwarming closed-door romance, I've got you covered!

Best Historical Fiction Books for Summer

Best Historical Fiction Books for Summer

Step back in time with these handpicked selections of the best historical fiction books for summer. From epic sagas set to intimate portraits of everyday people in times of significant change, these gripping tales will transport you to another era. If you love these, don't miss our historical fiction book list with the most-anticipated books for summer.

Best Contemporary Fiction Books for 2023

Best Contemporary Fiction Books for 2023

Discover a world of captivating storytelling this summer with the best contemporary fiction books and women's fiction books. Whether you're a fan of immersive family sagas, coming-of-age journeys, or even time travel, this curated page-turning book list is for you.

Best Literary Fiction Books for 2023

Best Literary Fiction Books for 2023

This list of captivating stories offers thought-provoking narratives with my collection of the best literary fiction for your summer.

Best Books in 2023

Best Fantasy Books in 2023

I know this fantasy book list for 2023 is short, but I promise to expand this later throughout our summer! Please leave a comment and let me know what YOUR favorites were this year.

Best Nonfiction Books of 2023

Discover the captivating world of nonfiction with this curated selections of the best books of 2023. These nonfiction books are as compulsively readable as any fiction read, including memoirs and narrative nonfiction.

Best Thriller Books in 2023 (Mystery and Suspense Novels)

Best Thriller Books in 2023 (Mystery and Suspense Novels)

Experience spine-chilling suspense and heart-pounding thrills with our curated selection of the best thriller books in 2023. We also will delve into the captivating world of mystery and suspense novels that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

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Meet the Authors on the Book Gang Podcast

You can stream Book Gang wherever you get podcasts or check this page for all the past episodes. Please see above for the descriptions and links to purchase these books!

Best Book Club Books to Spark Conversation (Meagan Church, Author of The Last Carolina GirlSTREAMING NOW)

The Spectacular Life Lessons from Books About Road Trips (Colleen Oakley, Author of The Mostly True Story of Tanner and LouiseSTREAMING NOW)

The Best Historical Fiction Books for Summer (Crystal Smith Paul, Author of Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?STREAMING NOW)

The Best Escapist Books Set on Islands (Meg Shaffer, Author of The Wishing Game, airing on May 26th )

The Best Wedding Rom-Com Books (Byron Lane, Author of Big Gay Wedding, airing on June 9th)

The Best Debut Novels of 2023 (Thao Thai, Author of Banyan Moon, airing on June 23rd)

The Best Con Artist Queens in Literature (Wendy Heard, Author of You Can Trust Me, airing on July 7th )

The Best Old Hollywood Books for Summer (Molly Fader, Author of The Sunshine Girls, airing on July 21st )

2023 MomAdvice Summer Book Club (see the full list)

Please note, you must be a member of the FREE MomAdvice Book on Facebook to join these discussions. To interact with our book club bonuses (author interviews, playlists, and extra podcast episodes), join the Patreon!

May Book Club: (Magic Season by Wade Rouse, meeting on 05/26 at 8 PM, RSVP!)

June Book Club: (The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain, meeting on 06/30 at 8 PM, RSVP!)

July Book Club: (Breathe & Count Back from Ten by Natalia Sylvester, on 7/28 at 8 PM RSVP!)

TELL ME: What book are you most excited to read this summer?

Loved the guide? We are grateful for your support through the Buy Me a Coffee page or Patreon! We can’t fund this space without you- xx

Exclusive Crystal Smith Paul Interview- Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023
Exclusive Crystal Smith Paul Interview- Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?

Crystal Smith Paul discusses her debut novel, “Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?” (a May 2023 Reese’s Book Club pick) and her decade-long journey to publishing.

Last week, we recorded an interview with debut novelist Crystal Smith Paul for the Book Gang podcast. She shared some beautiful, insightful details about her new historical fiction book, Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?, including the complex themes and inspiration behind it.

May 2023 Reese's Book Club Pick


We’re also thrilled to share today that Crystal Smith Paul’s debut novel “Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?” has been selected as the May Book of the Month and the May Reese Book Club pick! Join us in congratulating Crystal on this well-deserved recognition, and don’t miss your chance to read this powerful and thought-provoking novel.

Listen to this Book Gang show filled with the best historical fiction books for summer, including Crystal’s riveting debut:

Exclusive Crystal Smith Paul Interview- Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?

Crystal Smith Paul Interview (Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?)

Crystal Smith Paul’s debut novel delves into the effects of racism on American families through the story of a multigenerational celebrity family.

Drawing inspiration from her own diverse family, Smith’s book explores themes of race, colorism, and social justice.

She holds degrees from Spelman College, UCLA, and NYU. Currently, she resides in Los Angeles and is working on her second novel.

In your book, colorism and the generational trauma of racism in the U.S. are significant themes. Can you speak to why you chose to explore these particular themes and what message you hope readers take away from your portrayal of them in your story?

Tackling these themes truthfully came very naturally. 

Being a black woman, I have seen a lot of things throughout the years, and I’ve heard many things, you know, from my parents, my grandparents, and even my great-grandparents, who I was fortunate enough to know on one side of my family anyway. 

So they say, write what you know, and these themes are inherent to who I am. I couldn’t be separated from them. 

And that’s really, what I want readers to take away from this is how these structures and these systems have permeated all of our lives in America and how interconnected we all are because of the way that this country was founded. 

We don’t really like to talk about and dive into it, but slavery had a significant impact. And not just slavery, but reconstruction, then Jim Crow, and so on. Just two days ago, a teen was shot twice for ringing a doorbell

So, it goes into every layer of our life. And I think that if readers can be more empathetic, not just to the struggles of black people, but how other races relate to these issues, then we can start to have a more meaningful dialogue and hopefully get past some of this trauma.

The novel features a dual-timeline narrative. How did you approach weaving together the different periods and storylines?

I love this question. The three sisters was a theme I’ve been writing about truthfully since my first short story in high school. My mom has all these sisters, and I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of having sisters. 

And that narrative changed a lot through the years because it didn’t have an anchor to me. 

When Kitty Karr came on the scene, that entire story really just like poured out of me. And it was the easiest part to write. She had so much to say.

When did you write this book and how long did it take you? 

I’ve been writing this book for about 10 years.

Wow! How do you stay the course after 10 years of working on this book? How do you not get discouraged, or were there points where you were ready to put it aside?

Amy, this is just something that has been in me for as long as I can remember, and I knew that I had to keep going because I wasn’t going to be like happy in life if this didn’t come to fruition and not in terms of, oh, it’s published, but it just needed to be finished. 

I had to finish it. 

And what kept me going truthfully is the narrative because the inspiration does come not only from myself for my own personal healing. But then also, my family. This book is dedicated to my mom’s mom, my dad’s mom, and then my father’s grandmother.

So, thinking of their memory is, truthfully, what kept me going. 

Crystal, you have such a diverse career. Like you have done so many different things, and I know that you know, at least for me, so many things that I do are informed by my various jobs. What do you think your past careers have done for the scope of what Kitty Karr is living?

I love that question. I will start with the most interesting career I’ve had, which informed a big part of this book. I worked as a paralegal at the DOJ in major frauds, otherwise known as white-collar crime. 

It was fascinating to me to be around all of these brilliant, analytical lawyers daily. I found out that they were also storytellers, actually watching them in court, and the way that they weaved the narrative of the crime was really interesting to me.

I also have a master’s in journalism, which played a role because I realized I don’t like journalism and research, but I loved the creative license. Through that, I realized I want to create, and I still want to come from a place of interconnectedness versus an outside reinterpretation of someone’s life. 4

So, then, of course, I attended UCLA for film school, so when I was not working in screenwriting, I was doing a lot of education in screenwriting and realized this is the type of writing I want to do. That element has informed my novel writing process because I still think in scenes and in pictures.

I’ve also made sure that no matter what, I’ve always had jobs that didn’t take too much away from me and allowed me to write when I came home on the weekends.  

 So everything, all of your experiences, if you can learn to appreciate everywhere your life takes you, you can use anything for inspiration.

Crystal Smith Paul Books

Crystal Smith Paul is a debut novelist known for her gripping family saga that delves into complex issues of race, identity, and family secrets.

The Best New Historical Fiction Books of 2023

Don’t miss the bonus book list that included Crystal’s favorites in our list of the best new historical fiction books of 2023.

This post contains affiliate links.

Have you read Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? What did you think of this historical fiction novel?

Amazon First Reads for May (Get Your FREE Book)

Monday, May 1st, 2023
Amazon First Reads for May (Get Your FREE Book)

Discover the best Amazon First Reads for May and get your FREE book now. Choose from a selection of Kindle book titles- a limited-time Prime member offer.

Are you looking for your next great read? Amazon has got you covered this May with a diverse range of genres to choose from. Whether you’re into thrillers, historical fiction, short stories, or psychological suspense, there’s something for everyone.

For those who love to be on the edge of their seat, the thriller and suspense categories have some great options this month.

As a Prime member, you have the opportunity to download a free Kindle book every month.

What is Amazon First Reads?

If you need to familiarize yourself with the Amazon First Reads program (previously known as Kindle First), check out this post for all the details on this Prime member perk.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Amazon First Reads

For my new readers, each month you have access to a free Kindle book just for being a Prime member

Be sure to scroll down to see what I picked for this month.

Make sure that when you add these to your cart, it shows the BUY IT NOW FOR FREE!

If it does not, you are not signed into your family’s Prime account.

To help you choose your selection, each month this post offers a brief synopsis on the books with early reviews and feedback. If you want to head straight to the landing page for these selections, head here.

Amazon First Reads for May Get Your FREE Book)

This month's selections offer a diverse range of genres to choose from.

Whether you're into thrillers, historical fiction, short stories, or psychological suspense, there's something for everyone. For those who love to be on the edge of their seat, this month's thriller and suspense categories have some great options.

Select one FREE Amazon First Reads book for May. Follow today's post's instructions to ensure your free book is activated.


I love women’s fiction selections with older protagonists right now- The Road Towards Home ended up being my pick for this month.

SOUND OFF: Have you read any of this month’s selections? Tell me what you plan to pick this month!

looking for more great resources for your reading life? try these!

how to use the libby app (with the libby team)

how to get free books on kindle