Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

13 Coming of Age Books That Any Adult Will Love

Friday, February 3rd, 2023
13 Coming of Age Stories Any Adult Will Love from

You don’t need to be in high school to appreciate these coming of age books celebrating young adults. From falling in love to finding yourself- these are the best books about growing up!

Do you love coming-of-age stories as much as me? When I was a kid, I loved the discoveries made by my favorite literary characters, especially as they transformed their viewpoints on the world.

In many ways, reading stories that look so different from mine felt escapist. Growing up in a conservative faith and small town, books expanded a worldview that didn’t always inhabit my own.  

Now coming-of-age stories serve a different purpose.

They remind me of being a kid again. If you want to relive those coming-of-age moments and feel like a kid again this week’s podcast and booklist filled with 13 stories on growing up are for you.

The Best Coming of Age Books (Podcast)

Today on the podcast, we are sharing a few of our favorites along with some trivia on a few of these backlist books we all love. The show notes are in a separate post today.

Listen to the full episode below and subscribe to the Book Gang podcast for more episodes like this one.

As promised, I wanted to expand beyond our show and bring 13 more stories that I think you will love. I’ve also included a short list of classics to check out if you want to continue your journey through the decades.

13 Coming of Age Books That Any Adult Will Love

13 Coming of Age Books That Any Adult Will Love

These 13 coming-of-age books celebrate the wonders of being a young adult. From falling in love to self-discovery, they remind us of the challenges growing up. But, thankfully, the rewards are just as good!

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Not enough? Try These Coming of Age Classics!

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

What coming of age stories do you recommend?

Love this post? Don’t miss these book lists for more great ideas!

Try this list of the best friendship stories for Galentine’s Day

2023 MomAdvice Book Club Books

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Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Friday, January 6th, 2023

Celebrate the best books of 2022 & my favorite books of the year with these new selections including contemporary fiction, young adult, romance, and thrillers.

Best Books of 2022 to Read Now from

If you love to read books, today’s post is FOR YOU.

I know I love a good end of the year reading recap, but it took me some time to sort through all my feelings on the 109 books I read over 2022. For those curious about my reading life, I would love to share what I discovered from charting my reading year through the Storygraph this year.

The Storygraph Stats

My 2022 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

As you can see from my Storygraph chart (learn how to use The Storygraph for tracking your reading year), my reading mood this year was emotional, reflective, dark, and mysterious.

For me, this was not unusual at all- I love a dark escape in my literature and have renewed my affection for those kinds of books that I had began to escape from when things were particularly challenging in 2020.

This year 41 of my books fell into the contemporary fiction category, and the rest of the best were literary, thriller, romance, mystery, historical fiction, young adult, and then memoir.

I loved seeing a renewed return to my love for contemporary and literary fiction this year, but I feel challenged to add more science fiction and horror novels back into my reading life.

When I compare this to 2022 though, my top category was contemporary, but my next two were thriller then romance and then mystery. I mention this because I was really in the thick of my health problems then and I could not focus and a large chunk of my reading matched my concentration levels.

While I would love to read more science fiction, fantasy, short stories, and spooky books, I think it is important to recognize that our circumstances can be a powerful part of what we lean into and that it is okay to adjust based on where we are at right now.

Listen to Book Gang Podcast

Many of these books have been included in today’s Book Gang episode. You can listen to the this wherever you get podcasts or stream it in the embedded player below. The show notes for this show (that include Larry’s reads ) are over here.

We have also made our top 25 selections into printables as a bonus perk for patrons. Joining the MomAdvice Book Club Patreon community is just $5 a month and gives you instant access to these digital downloads.


Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Let’s kick things off with my most well-read category this month!

Best Literary Fiction & Contemporary Fiction of 2022

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt 

The title originates from this charming line, “Humans. For the most part, you are dull and blundering. But occasionally, you can be remarkably bright creatures.” 

The audiobook narration may have added to my charm with this experience, and I highly recommend it if you need a soothing escape. Performed by two narrators, Marin Ireland & Michael Urie, it was a standout performance that brought me immense joy. 

I can’t say that I’ve read novels with the unique eye of an octopus, but this adds to this debut’s uniqueness and charm.  The story explores the unlikely friendship between a giant Pacific octopus, Marcellus, and a 70-year-old woman, Tova.

Marcellus, nearing the end of his expected lifespan, is held in captivity at the aquarium where Tova works as a cleaner.

As she struggles with the loss of her husband and her son’s disappearance, Tova forms a special bond with Marcellus, who may hold the key to solving the mystery of her son’s disappearance. 

This literary fiction novel is a magnificent debut that is both charming and compulsively readable.

The book’s thematic of friendship, redemption and hope resonated with me. I also love the exploration that sometimes we must confront our past to move forward.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry is no stranger to the best books of the year lists, but I still have to co-sign my adoration for the fictional journey of Elizabeth Zott.  Plus, this book will surely win you over with an endearing cast of supporting characters and an adorable dog.

Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind read because it is a soon-to-be upcoming TV series on Apple+ starring Brie Larson.

It is the early 1960s, and our main character, Elizabeth Zott wants to do her job and get credit for it. Unfortunately, as a chemist, her work environment is less than desirable, with a boy’s club mentality among her coworker at the Hastings Research Institute.

As you can imagine, young women did not get the respect they deserved.

One man, though, treats Elizabeth the way she’s always desired, and their relationship evolves into a mutually beneficial exchange that brings them both unexpected joy. 

In a pivotal plot point, Elizabeth has unexpectedly become a single mother and an incredible television star on a cooking show called Supper at Six.

What makes the show such a success is Elizabeth’s refusal to see women as just housewives and to see them as aspiring chemists too. 

The leading lady isn’t the only notable character because Garmus has made an entire beloved cast of characters to adore, including an adorable dog (named Six-Thirty)  that has imprinted on my heart since I finished the final pages of this quirky and delightful story.

Notes On An Execution- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

With breathtaking suspense and astonishing empathy, this atmospheric thriller offers a thought-provoking exploration of womanhood, the justice system, and the search for meaning in the actions of violent men.

This gripping work of literary suspense that tells the story of a serial killer on death row through the perspectives of the women in his life. 

Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours.

He’s awaiting his execution, the consequences of what he did to girls years ago. Yet, Kukafka paints a portrait of Ansel that is far from one-dimensional as we learn about his troubling childhood and what begins to trigger Ansel to commit acts of violence. 

We grow to learn about him through his own mother, a sister, and a homicide detective.

With each paint stroke, we discover a beautifully fleshed-out character that yields motivation and is ripe with intent to build a story that has you flipping those pages quickly.

Will you find sympathy in this character? 

One quote that really stood out to me that I think explains what made this such a compulsive read is this one- “She had known from a young age that everyone had darkness inside-some just controlled it better than others. Very few people believed that they were bad, and this was the scariest part. Human nature could be so hideous, but it persisted in this ugliness by insisting it was good.”

As the reader is drawn into this complex character’s backstory, we are forced to consider our feelings about his actions.

This novel would be an excellent choice for a book club. However, it should be noted that the book contains trigger warnings for violence against humans and animals and may not be suitable for highly sensitive readers. 

If you like this one, you will fall in love with The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld. It’s one of those rare books that tackle similar themes but that I don’t hear as many people talking about.

One's Company by Ashley Hutson- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

One’s Company by Ashley Hutson

This fearless debut won for the most inventive storyline as it explores a world of obsessive imagination. 

Bonnie Lincoln just wants to be left alone and watch her favorite TV show, Three’s Company, in peace. But when she wins the lottery, she decides to broaden this idea: escape her old life and move to a mountain retreat where she can recreate the apartment set from Three’s Company and live out the lives of its main characters.

There is, of course, a deeper-rooted reason for Bonnie’s escape that lies within her pain and trauma.

But when reality starts to intrude, Bonnie’s carefully constructed world is threatened. 

I appreciated this book’s immersive and unique experience Bonnie constructed that mimicked many storytelling elements of Wandavision

Bonnie is an unlikable character; her minimal evolution might turn some readers off. But if you’re willing to go on this weird and strange journey with her, you might find it worth it. 

If there ever was a book to buddy-read with a friend, it is this one. I can’t wait to discuss it next month in our Patreon community. 

Cleopatra and Frankenstein- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

Are you looking for a hilarious and poignant novel that will have you laughing and crying all at once?

You can look no further than this debut gem that grabbed me from its first page. 

This love story chronicles a relationship between Cleo, a young British painter, and Frank, a self-made man twenty years her senior, as they navigate their impulsive marriage and the challenges it brings.

As the story unfolds, Cleo and Frank’s relationship’s highs and lows begin to impact the people around them. This book covers everything from the beginning of their unlikely love affair to the monotony of married life and the struggles of mental illness. And with plenty of humor to lighten the load, you won’t be able to put it down.

This great read has been polarizing with readers. Some reviewers (like me) found it a quirky and poignant love story, while others dismissed it as shallow and pretentious. 

While this book may not be for everyone, I loved it from start to finish and can see why it draws comparisons to Sally Rooney’s writing. The dry humor and memorable characters make it a standout and an alluring debut that I had difficulty putting down.

It’s a great addition to the millennial fiction genre and a perfect pick for anyone who loves relatable characters with compulsively readable chapters.

We All Want Impossible Things- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

“A Funny Book About Dying,” was not on my Reading BINGO card this year, but that’s exactly the kind of book that you will get in this book had me laughing and crying simultaneously. 

This short and compelling novel ticked every box. It was an incredibly memorable audiobook experience if you are on the hunt for your next outstanding audio performance. 

This tear-jerker of a line says it all:  “Everyone dies, and yet it’s unendurable. There is so much love inside of us. How do we become worthy of it? And, then, where does it go? A worldwide crescendo of grief, sustained day after day, and only one tiny note of it is mine.”

Edith and Ashley have been best friends for over forty-two years and shared many of life’s joys and challenges. When Edi is diagnosed with ovarian cancer and begins living in a hospice, Ash is there by her side, struggling to be the best friend, wife, and parent she can be. 

With a rotating cast of hospice characters and “Fiddler on the Roof” as their soundtrack,  Edi and Ash spend these last days together, reminiscing with hilarity over all their years of friendship. The scenes are painted so vividly as they create their own shenanigans to pass the time and find inventive ways to keep the pain at bay while they near their last day together. 

Described as both “devastatingly humorous and humorously devastating” (by one of my favorite authors, Katherine Heiny), this book celebrates the beauty of enduring relationships. It is a must-read for anyone seeking hope and healing in the face of loss. 

In just 217 short pages, Newman achieves what few could do in several hundred, writing a story of friendship that I will remember forever. 

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

The One Hundred Years of Lenni & Margot by Marianne Crouch

Sometimes, our Reader’s Choice book club selections end up making my Best Books of the Year lists and this story was the surprise hit of my reading year. 

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is a charming, funny, and heartwarming debut novel about an extraordinary friendship between Lenni, a seventeen-year-old girl living in the Terminal Ward at a hospital in Glasgow, and Margot, an 83-year-old rebel who is also staying there. 

Despite being told that she is dying, Lenni joins the hospital’s arts and crafts class and meets Margot, who transforms her life unexpectedly. 

The two decide to take advantage of the arts and crafts room and begin a unique project together when they discover their combined age is one hundred years.

They will create one hundred paintings that tell the story of their lives and find joy and comfort in sharing the stories they have never spoken aloud. With the help of a nurse and a chaplain, they share tales of love, loss, courage, kindness, and joy. 

Though their time is running out, Lenni and Margot are determined to leave a lasting legacy and enjoy their remaining days to the fullest. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is a poignant reminder of the power of friendship, the beauty of life, and the importance of positively impacting others.

Margot’s story, in particular, is so beautiful as she reveals these deeply hidden truths that truly, brought tears to my eyes. Yet, Lenni’s storyline shines as she questions faith and strikes another unlikely friendship with the hospital’s patient chaplain. 

This book is a perfect book club selection and reminds me how vital these reader’s choice selections are for our group. This story is life-affirming and uplifting, even in its sad moments. This book is cinematic in nature and yielded one of my favorite discussions in 2022. 

Carrie Soto is Back- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In this thrilling novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells the story of Carrie Soto, a fierce and determined tennis player who is considered past her prime when she decides to make a comeback. This is a captivating and unforgettable tale of one athlete’s epic journey to prove herself once again.

At thirty-seven, Carrie retires from the sport after becoming the best player the world has ever seen, with twenty Slam titles under her belt.  Her nickname, Battle Axe, was hardwon through her years playing a ruthless game. 

Six years later, she finds herself watching from the stands as a young British player takes her record. Determined to reclaim her record, Carrie comes out of retirement and is coached by her father for one final year.

This training challenges her body beyond its capabilities, but that is not the only challenge. She also discovers that it is okay to be loved and needed by others along the way.

As Carrie faces her own limitations, she must overcome the doubts of the sports media and work with Bowe Huntley, a man she almost opened her heart to once before.

The cinematic nature that this story is written left me breathless, particularly, the way that Reid captures these tennis matches. 

Reid has written another fully fleshed character that makes this book feel like a memoir. Was Carie real? Is there a Wikipedia page on her?

Since her debut, I have followed her career and have read her entire backlist in real-time. You can even find an interview with the author on our site, a moment that I’m thankful for as she has found such success in her writing career. 

Bitingly feminist-forward, it is equal parts an escape and a social commentary on women athletes. Why must we be likable? Why are men held to different standards? What does it mean to age out? How can we find joy in the later years? 

This concludes Taylor’s writing journey with famous historical fiction women, and she ended it on a strong note. I can’t wait to see what she writes for us next and loved this final love letter to tennis.

Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

This adult debut novel from Nina LaCour is a gentle and quiet Sapphic romance that I adored. While this had many romantic elements, it firmly sat in the literary fiction space for me, as a reader.

When Sara Foster runs away from home as a teenager, she leaves behind her ability to trust and to be truly loved.  Now a successful bartender in Los Angeles, she is known for her cocktails and the air of mystery that surrounds her. Across the city, 

Emilie Dubois struggles to find her place in the world, longing for the sense of community and beauty that her Creole grandparents cultivated. When she takes a job arranging flowers at a luxurious restaurant named Yerba Buena, she begins an affair with the married owner. 

When Sara and Emilie meet at the restaurant for the first time, they feel an instant connection, but their pasts and choices keep pulling them apart.  LaCour takes us on a beautiful journey as the two must find themselves before they can find each other. 

This novel has evocative storytelling that made me hungry and craving a well-made drink as it descriptively shares the meals and beverages made in this restaurant setting. 

The attention to detail and the overall moodiness of the writing transported me as a reader. It encompassed all my senses and described loneliness and longing in ways I rarely see written so clearly in black and white. 

I loved how these two characters must decide if their love is strong enough to overcome their pasts and how to create a home together with one another. 

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller 

The top pick for my favorite book of the year goes to this memorable read that I can’t wait to discuss with our book club this year. 

Hailed as “briskly entertaining” by the New York Times Book Review and “transporting and wholly original” by People Magazine, this sweeping historical fiction story follows the story of a man who retreats to a solitary life in the Arctic Circle. He finds he is never alone as he finds unexpected companionship in good friends, a loyal dog, and a visit that upends his world. 

In this poignant debut, a mining accident leaves Sven Ormson disfigured, and he retreats to an uninhabited fjord in the Arctic circle to escape society’s reactions. 

He struggles to survive in the brutal conditions with the help of a Finnish trapper and a Scottish geologist. As the years pass, the arrival of a relative force Sven to confront the possibility of a different kind of life.

If you love introverted, bookish, and surprisingly funny characters, this book will be for you. Sven is richly imagined and described beautifully, and I found myself highlighting my entire book. The bond between Sven and his dog is one of this story’s most magical elements.

What more could a reader want? 

Miller’s turn of phrases and descriptive language made an already uniquely written plot even more unique. It is just the book you want to share with a friend. 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

This book was my favorite of the year until The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven knocked it out of position. Zevin does not need my stamp of approval as this novel has received enormous commercial success. 

In Gabrielle Zevin’s latest novel “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” readers are taken on an epic journey through the lives of two friends, Sam and Sadie, who meet in a children’s hospital and bond over their shared love of video games.

Their friendship is short-lived, however, when Sam feels used by Sadie. 

Later in life though, they reconnect in college and decide to develop a game together, leading to enormous success in the gaming industry. However, their success also causes tension between them as one partner is given more credit and resentment grows.

Marx, a friend, and colleague, becomes both a crucial part of their newly formed company and their lives, acting as a mediator and helping to keep their business together. Unfortunately, a tragic turn of events from their virtual world-building leads to unexpected violence and the end of their partnership. 

The book chronicles Sam and Sadie’s journey over three decades and the intricacies of the games they create. Zevin’s writing is beautiful, and the portrayal of Sam’s chronic pain is particularly poignant. 

I think you may need to have a small passion for gaming or coding to appreciate all of the intricacies of this one. As someone who lives with a family of gamers, this book not only brought a new appreciation for my family members’ gaming pastime, it encouraged me to pick up a virtual life of my own in Stardew Valley

Best Thriller Book of 2022

These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham

“These Silent Woods” by Kimi Cunningham Grant is a must-read for anyone who loves a captivating and suspenseful story. I know this book will not be new to our listeners as it has appeared on our best audiobook podcast episode with Meg Tietz (from Sorta Awesome).

This atmospheric novel is set in the remote Appalachian mountains and follows the tale of Cooper and his daughter Finch, who have been living in isolation for eight years. 

The turning point for Finch and Cooper’s existence is in what doesn’t happen that particular winter; the delivery of their food and supplies needed. Each year this annual delivery of supplies comes from an old friend named Jake. When Jake doesn’t arrive, the two are forced to go out and get these supplies themselves, risking being discovered and opened the door on an old case. 

As it turns out, it also opens the doors for an unexpected visitor, reminding Cooper of the beauty of companionship and what he has been missing for many years. 

Grant’s writing is beautifully crafted, weaving in themes of forgiveness and trust that will leave you deeply moved. This memorable read has been one of my top recommendations since I read it this year. 

 If you have the opportunity, the audiobook narrator is Bronson Pinchot (from Perfect Strangers), and came highly recommended by Meg. 

Not only will Pinchot’s narration add to the atmospheric and suspenseful tone of the story, but it’s an excellent opportunity to discover a beloved narrator. 

 Grant’s writing is beautifully crafted and will leave you enthralled from beginning to end. This book was haunting, suspenseful, and thoroughly engrossing.

Best Horror Book of 2022

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

The novel was originally published in Spanish in 2017 and became available in English translation in 2020 ended up packing a powerful dystopian punch.

This disturbing story explores the complex relationship between humans and their food sources. 

Set in a dystopian world where a virus has made animals unsafe for consumption, the government introduces a program called “Transition,” in which human meat becomes the new source of meat. 

Marcos works at a plant that processes this human meat, known as “special meat,” in a world where an infectious virus has made animal meat poisonous to humans. His personal life is in turmoil, with his wife leaving him and his father, who has dementia, and he tries not to think too deeply about his job. 

However, when he is given a “specimen” as a gift, he begins a intimate relationship that could have dangerous consequences. Despite the dangers of developing personal relationships with the specimens, Marcos finds solace in this relationship as he grapples with the loss of humanity in the world.

The story also touches on themes of disassociation from food production and the role of social class in access to food. Based on real-life factory conditions, the processing scenes are disturbing to read about when humans are the food source. 

However, the author does not shy away from these difficult themes; the result is a thought-provoking and impactful novel. Instead, she uses gore and violence to make a point rather than for gratuitous shock value. 

The twist at the end of the story was surprising and stayed with me long after reading the book. 

This short dystopian novel is now being used in schools, similar to classics like The Handmaid’s Tale and Fahrenheit 451!

Best Romance Books of 2022

Before I Let Go- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Before I Let Go (Skyland #1) by Kennedy Ryan

This grown-up romance novel did not shy away from complex themes and explored them with such maturity that  I found myself highlighting passage after passage in this evocatively moving second-chance romance.

When Yasmen and Josiah’s marriage falls apart, they struggle to navigate their new dynamic as co-parents and business partners at their family-owned restaurant.

The dissolution of their marriage partnership is rooted in a deep loss of not only a close family member but in the loss of their child. 

Despite their best efforts to move on, their attraction to one another remains strong. As they begin to rekindle their romance, they must confront the wounds of the past and decide if they are truly ready to love each other for a lifetime. 

What I appreciated the most about this book was the dialogue as they navigated this with their children and also how they navigated discussions around sex 

Also, what could be more steamy than a MAN GOING TO THERAPY to deepen his relationship with his kids and former partner? 

As this rekindled affair must be done with some secrecy, in the beginning, it multiplied the steamy factor for this reader. 

Please note this does explore pregnancy loss, and I would read through content warnings before engaging with this selection. 

Although this was my first book by the author, it won’t be my last.

This book was also notably selected as a Book of the Month Club selection, NPR Best Book of 2022, Washington Post’s 10 Best Romances of the Year, Women’s Health’s Best Books of the Year, and as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Romance Books of 2022.

Seven Days in June- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

“Seven days to fall in love, fifteen years to forget, and seven days to get it all back again…”

This book made my Best Books of the Year list, and this second-chance romance has also made my ALL-TIME favorite romance list.

Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer living in Brooklyn, and Shane Hall is a reclusive and award-winning author. 

When the two authors meet at a literary event, their chemistry is undeniable, but they pretend not to know each other.

What the reader discovers is these two childhood friends had a steamy love affair as teens and have been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since. 

As they reconnect for a week in the middle of a hot Brooklyn summer, Eva has to decide whether she can trust Shane after his track record of breaking her heart. 

A Reese Witherspoon book club selection rarely ticks the right boxes for me, but this storyline did.

There is so much to unbox with this captivating story, with surprising depth from difficult childhoods to their more grown-up challenges as Black authors.

I love that you feel like you get a peek behind the curtain at both the writing process and the creative challenges of creation. 

As someone with chronic pain, I welcome storylines with personal experiences like mine. As so many books focus on opioid addiction and the crisis surrounding that, it is refreshing to see conversation around the daily realities of pain management.

This book tackles Eva’s journey with debilitating migraines and chronic pain, and I loved that this character was still so sexy and confident while battling these health issues.

The Dead Romantics- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

In Ashley Poston’s sparkling adult debut, a disillusioned millennial ghostwriter must confront her own ghosts when she returns home for the first time in a decade was, by far, one of my favorite romances this year. 

Florence Day writes for one of the most successful romance authors in the industry, but a recent breakup has left her believing in love’s demise. When her editor refuses to grant her an extension on a book deadline, Florence faces the end of her career. 

However, a call from home forces her to confront the past she’s been running from for a decade, returning to her eccentric family and their funeral parlor in the Southern town where she grew up.

There, she discovers a ghost standing at the front door, just as broad and handsome as her editor, who is also deceased.

As she navigates the unfinished business of her new editor, Florence begins to question everything she thought she knew about love stories. 

As most of you know, magical realism is one element that I adore in my fiction. Poston writes this beautifully with some sweet plot twists that make this so beautifully moving without slipping into sappy waters. 

Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2022

Legends & Lattes- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

Be warned; this cozy book brought my blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Legends & Lattes was the book I didn’t know I needed, and I couldn’t be more thankful to have discovered it. The book is high fantasy with low stakes, and what one GoodReads reviewer  billed it as, “Dungeons & Dragons if it had a baby with Animal Crossing.” 

In our story, we have Viv, an orc that has spent decades as a swordfighter but has decided to start a new chapter for herself. More than anything, she wants to open a coffee shop in the City of Thune. 

The thing is that this is the first time anyone has experienced coffee, and it is going to take a village to get people on board with this new feature. 

Viv finds an unexpected partner in her quest to establish the coffeehouse. Tandri is a succubus who has come to work at the cafe and helps Viv as she makes the necessary changes to lure in customers and turn her space into a community hub. 

That isn’t the only side character to love, though- the town is FILLED WITH THEM. Of course, some low-stakes bad guys threaten to shut down the establishment, but it will all be okay. 

This cozy town is written in a way that envelopes all of your senses. I loved the descriptions of their baked goods, the aromatic nature of coffee descriptors, and the way we feel transported to these cobbled streets. This book was immersive in every way. 

As each discovery about coffee habits is made, the coffee shop’s chalkboard is changed to reflect the new decisions. This menu board ended up adding a satisfying rhythm to my chapter reading. 

If you are unfamiliar with Baldree’s publishing story, he is a Booktok self-published sensation who later acquired a deal with Macmillan. I’m thrilled to see that the second book in this series, Bookshops & Bonedust (a prequel or sequel of sorts), will be available on November 7, 2023! 

The House by the Cerulean Sea fans will adore this relaxing fantasy escape that embraces the found family trope with heart and humor. 

Best Memoirs of 2022

Glorious Rock Bottom- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Glorious Rock Bottom by Bryony Gordon

This profoundly moving memoir inspired me so much that it changed my relationship with alcohol, an admittedly easier journey than the one the author endured. 

 Bryony Gordon’s powerful and inspiring memoir explores her journey to recovery from a twenty-year addiction to drugs and alcohol. 

As a respected journalist and bestselling author, Gordon’s struggles with addiction were unknown to many, but her recovery story is one of the best I have ever read. Bryony was a journalist at The Telegraph, a bestselling author, and launched an award-winning mental health campaign.

She’s so well-known that when I found her podcast, I discovered her first episode on mental health was with Prince Harry. 

This memorable one expanded beyond the rehabilitation process and followed her journey after leaving the treatment facility- much longer than most.  We discover what it was like to navigate sober holidays and the dangers of replacing one addiction with another, even ones that may seem healthy. Her addiction to running, for example, reeled her into unhealthy waters as she took her addictive nature into less extreme waters, but with damaging results. 

This expanded look at recovery makes the book compelling and challenging to put down. I highly recommend this memoir to anyone seeking inspiration or a greater understanding of recovery. Its beautiful transformation makes it a must-read for anyone looking to transform their relationship with alcohol or for more empathy towards others on this journey.

I cannot say what clicked with my brain, but I knew I wanted more of the “after” part of Bryony’s journey for my own life.

This Will Be Funny Later - Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

This Will Be Funny Later by Jenny Pentland

It was a joy to interview Jenny Pentland this year on the Book Gang podcast, and it might have further solidified my deep love for her storytelling to learn her story behind this magnificent laugh-out-loud debut. 

The clever cover immediately caught my attention, but the fascinating tale of Jenny Pentland’s childhood truly won me over.

Imagine if your real life became the storylines for a sitcom – that was the reality for Pentland and her siblings, as their experiences were used as inspiration for the hit show “Roseanne.”

Pentland’s mother, Roseanne Arnold, is a compassionate side note in her journey. Still, the focus is mainly on Pentland’s struggles with anxiety and obesity and her journey through various programs like wilderness camps and fat camps in an attempt to address these challenges. 

Pentland’s story has some surprisingly heart-wrenching moments, but even sad and difficult moments are infused with signature humor that makes this a book you can’t put down. 

Pentland, who is now happily married and raising five sons on a farm, has dedicated herself to building the stable family she always wanted and finding peace with her longstanding anxiety.

This deeply moving and entertaining memoir is now one of my all-time favorite memoirs. 

Best Young Adult Books of 2022

Better Than the Movies- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

I thought I had discovered an under-the-radar book gem this year…that is, until I discovered that this adorable YA read had over 84K reviews on GoodReads and is a New York Times bestseller.

If you are looking for a read to share with your teen daughter, I can think of no better book club night than to read and discuss this book that takes our deep affection for rom-com movies to this adorable love story. 

Liz Buxbaum has always known that her next-door neighbor, Wes Bennett, is not the type of guy she should be interested in. Wes has been a pain in the butt, causing trouble since they were kids.

However, when Liz’s senior year of high school arrives and her crush, Michael, returns to town and starts hitting it off with Wes, Liz realizes that she needs Wes’s help if she wants to finally get noticed by Michael and possibly be her prom date.

As these two work together to make Liz’s prom dreams come true, she realizes that she actually enjoys being around Wes and begins questioning everything she thought she knew about love and what a happy ending should look like. 

This had Tell Me Three Things Things charm with an equally heartwarming story between Liz and her stepmom. It explores the meaningful loss of Liz’s mother and how she navigates these milestones with the bittersweetness and beauty required.

Each chapter has a quote from a familiar rom-com, and it also embraces music moments that you can find on a Spotify playlist that Painter has created.

It inspired my daughter to jot down all the titles and kick off the movie marathon of my dreams with my girl. 

We both agreed that this storyline was predictable, and we loved that about it.

In an unbelievable twist for my reading life, it turns out that this story brings me immeasurable joy this year.

This is now one of my top gift ideas to share with your teen!

 Big Buzzy Books I Can’t Wait Read In the New Year

I know that I missed many buzzy books this year and these are just a few that I’m excited to read in 2023.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Fairy Tale by Stephen King (I am halfway through and loving it)

Candy House by Jennifer Egan ( a sequel to Goon Squad that is also on my list this year)

Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng (another that I’m just at the halfway point)

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

The Heartstopper Graphic Novels Series

Jessie Klein’s Short Story Collections

Invisible Kingdom

 Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City, by Andrea Elliott (a Pulitzer Prize-Winning novel this year)

What were your favorite books this year? Do we share any favorites this year? I’d love to hear about them!

Love this post? Be sure to check out these other great lists!

Best Books of 2021
Best Books of 2020
Best Books of 2019
Best Books of 2018
Best Books of 2017
My Top Ten Books of 2016
My Top Ten Books of 2015
My Top Ten Books of 2014
My Top Ten Books of 2013
The Best Books Read in 2012
My Top Ten Books in 2011

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The Best Memoirs to Read for Nonfiction November

Tuesday, November 1st, 2022

Nonfiction November is here, and we want to arm you with the BEST memoir recommendations for fast page-turners that are just as compelling as fiction. 

This week’s podcast guest, Olive Fellows from the BookTube Channel “A Book Olive,” will join the show to share her Nonfiction November challenge that encourages readers to embrace nonfiction books through beautifully assigned prompts.  Listen to the episode below or here.

Listen to the show:

In the spirit of this month’s challenge, I wanted to share a few of my favorite memoir discoveries.

Although I have included a couple of great celebrity memoirs, today’s focus is also on a few under-the-radar gems that will fascinate, surprise, and inspire you. 

These people have all lived extraordinary lives and I found these to be difficult to put down.

The Best Memoirs to Read for Nonfiction November

Rough Draft by Katy Tur

I can say with great confidence that this book will be on the best books of the year list.

Katy Tur is an MSNBC anchor who became more notable during her coverage of the Trump presidency as she followed and documented his campaign trail.

This book is NOT about that time, though, and offers no particular lens on the campaign other than some general reflections on our distrust in journalism and the growing challenges of this polarizing season.

This is Tur’s coming-of-age story growing up as the child of pioneering helicopter journalist parents. 

To clarify, I’m not talking about helicopter parenting with parents who hover too much over their children.

Instead, I am talking about commercial pilots that captured some of the most significant moments in history, like the Los Angeles riots of 1992 and the white Bronco footage when O.J. Simpson was on the run.

When she was just a toddler, she would ride in her parents’ helicopter as they reported on these stories as they were happening. 

As you can imagine, being bold enough to take on this task came with significant risks and rewards. Her father never shied away from these opportunities but embraced them, leading them to fame and fortune of their own. 

Unfortunately, this ambition came with a price, including death threats to their family and a chaotic existence for every family member. His temper proved to be the perfect stomping ground for what she would later deal with in her journalism career covering the presidential campaign of 2016. 

Later, in adulthood,  Katy’s father makes a surprising transition to a woman. Katy shares these passages with honesty and vulnerability, along with the mourning process she goes through.

However, the more significant issues she grapples with are less rooted in this gender decision and more in their complicated past.

We also follow Tur’s journalism career as she becomes a mother through this challenging season as a journalist and the pandemic. 

I can’t think of a memoir that deserves to be turned into a film more than this.

It is larger than life while still feeling so grounded that I could not stop listening.

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

Ruth is the 39th child in her polygamist family of 42 children. Ruth’s father is brutally murdered by his brother, and Ruth’s mother later marries another polygamist who cares little for these children or provides for his family.

He is the epitome of a deadbeat dad with little to offer to his family.

This is also a true survivor story as Ruth becomes sexually abused, and the people who should love and believe in her the most are not there for her in her life. It is about what it is like to grow up in poverty, the challenges of being just one of many wives, the challenges of disability, and how Ruth has had to learn to stand up for herself.

Well-written and hard to put down, the tragedy that unfolds left me stunned and in awe of Wariner’s strength and resilience.

Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie

This was one of the first memoirs we had the opportunity to read together in the MomAdvice Book Club and a memorable and compelling story from Ryan Leigh Dostie.  

Ryan’s journey begins when she strikes up a conversation with an Army recruiter (who visits her high school), that leads her to sign up to join the troops.

It’s an opportunity for her to grow her own wings as she has grown up in a sheltered Christian community.

For her role, Ryan is hired as a linguist and finds the environment challenging as a woman and as someone who has been sheltered so lovingly by her family. 

One awful night Ryan is raped by a fellow soldier, and this story, HER story, is about the aftermath of reporting the soldier and how this begins to impact her career and reputation.

While the story of the assault is just a couple of pages, it is powerful, raw, and honest.

What makes this one more compelling is the journey Ryan takes as she learns to love herself again and find peace within her body.

It’s such a journey too and I’m thankful she shared it in such an honest way.

I also learned SO MUCH about what it would be like to serve in the Army as a woman.  There are so many aspects to this complicated role that I never knew about.

I, truly, have even more respect for our women soldiers and the obstacles they face daily. 

We asked Ryan to join us for a book club chat and it was a powerful evening of reflection and frustration on how far we still need to go on believing women.

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

One night, as an adolescent, Adrienne is awakened by her mother confessing that she has kissed another man.

The husband (and his wife) are their oldest friends, and she needs a confidant to spill her secrets to and assist with coordinating her secret rendezvous.

Adrienne loves having her mother’s attention and tirelessly lends her ear to hear the stories of her mother’s infidelity. She also becomes the decoy for many of their secret meetings. Adrienne loves feel chosen to be part of her mother’s other world.

The affair goes on for years and what was once exciting starts to cause strain on Adrienne. She is forced to lie constantly and her guilt starts to infiltrate her daily life.

When Adrienne begans confiding in others, she realizes how inappropriate her involvement is and how this secret then begins to threaten her relationships.

I could not put this one down and be captivated from page one.
If you have a challenging relationship with your mother, this might be difficult to read.

That said, Adrienne’s lessons learned through this experience contain so much wisdom as she begins processing the actions of her narcissistic mother.

Rabbit by Patricia Williams

This memoir shares the story of Patricia Williams (aka Ms. Pat) and her life growing up in Atlanta at the height of the crack epidemic.

Williams is one of five children and witnessed how her mother was able to work the system to help her family survive and how her children were used just for these purposes.

Patricia becomes a mom of two children at fifteen and must learn strategies for her family to survive when she is only a child too. She becomes a master at hustling and dealing crack to keep her family fed.

This book is unflinching in its honesty about how quickly Patricia had to grow up and the unbelievably difficult situations she survived, from being sexually abused to even being shot.

She survived it all, though, and shared her story with equal parts heart and humor, even in the face of her adversities.

Leaving the Witness by Amber Scorah

Moving to Shanghai and being newly married, Amber finds herself thrown into a new world.

A third-generation Jehovah’s Witness, Amber has devoted her entire life to the ministry.

Although she had freedom in the states to share about God, in Shanghai, she finds herself in a secret society where her preaching is illegal and punishable.

There is nothing like moving away to help you discover yourself, is there?

This is a coming-of-age story to realize that there were so many ways to see the world and its people. A blossoming friendship with someone outside the faith leads her to an awareness of how many different ways one can find God.

The decision to explore this comes with severe consequences, including being shunned by her church community, the one place where she finds her identity.

I learned so much about China’s customs and culture, and could not put this down. Amber’s story of finding herself was gorgeous and forced me to reflect on my time growing up in church in a completely different way.

Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

Do you love a good meet cute story?

This sweeping love story was a MomAdvice Book Club selection that will give you the chance to travel the world with the most unlikely tour guide.

City girl, Torre DeRoche, isn’t looking for love, but a chance encounter in a San Francisco bar sparks an instant connection with a soulful Argentinean man who unexpectedly sweeps her off her feet.

The problem?

He’s about to cast the dock lines and voyage around the world on his small sailboat, and Torre is terrified of deep water. However, lovesick Torre determines that to keep the man of her dreams, she must embark on the voyage of her nightmares, so she waves goodbye to dry land and braces for a life-changing journey that’s as exhilarating as it is terrifying.

It is hilarious, harrowing, and a true story of what it would be like to sail around the world.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

In this heartwarming coming-of-age story, Zauner returns home to care for her mother as she battles an arduous journey with cancer.

As with all mother-and-daughter relationships, this relationship has much complexity, and Zauner struggles with not meeting her mother’s expectations.

It becomes quite the role reversal when Michelle must care for her mother’s basic needs, including feeding her.

To bring comfort to her mother, she longs to recreate all of the Korean dishes she grew up with to comfort her mother (and herself) through this time.

Zauner brings much humor to the beginning of this book as she shares her childhood memories of her mother’s younger days.

Later in the book, she writes of her grief with raw and heartbreaking honesty that left a lump in my throat.

Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett 

This haunting memoir that delivers on gorgeous narration and bits of music within the audiobook.

Jollett was born into one of the country’s most infamous cults and lived a life thick with poverty, abuse, and so unpredictable that it is pretty stunning that he survived.

It is evident that he is an incredibly gifted child and finds ways to weather narcissistic parenting and abuse in ways that most children would be unable to endure. 

However, despite it all, his path finds him on the way to Stanford. It then blossoms into working professionally as a musician and writer.

It might be challenging to read if you are feeling blue. Jollett’s sweetness and poetic writing, though, makes going on the journey with him worthwhile, even amid unbelievable heartache. 

The Electric Woman by Tessa Fontaine

Tessa Fontaine shares two death-defying stories…her own and the incredible story of her mother, who defied all predictions of death for many years after suffering a series of strokes.

Many of us dream of escaping it all, but Tessa does this and applies for a job working with the World of Wonders, America’s last traveling sideshow.

Bravely, she tries all sorts of incredible acts within this company, like sword swallowing, snake charming, and even performing as an electric woman!

Surrounding herself with some of the world’s most unusual people, she shares their stories with kindness and love for this misfit family and her time with them.

Layered between these captivating moments, she weaves in the parallel life of her mother and her death-defying act of traveling the world amid health struggles that should have killed her.

She reflects poetically on the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship and how we grow to understand our parents more and more as we age.

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

If you had told me that I would have found Jessica Simpson’s memoir to be one of the most compelling memoirs I’ve read, I would have chuckled.

While often thought of as a dumb blonde, Jessica now runs a successful billion-dollar global fashion brand that proves she has more brains than Hollywood had ever expected.

Originally slated to write a self-help book, she realized she could help people more by being open and honest about what she had to overcome to reach success and happiness. She wasn’t prepared to offer advice, but she could share the challenges within her own story.

Simpson’s title says it all because she unashamedly shares her story from the beginning of her career to her current successes.

Her life has not been all roses and sunshine, and this book is quite dishy.

The meat of this doesn’t lie in learning about her past marriage with Nick Lachey, though.

It lies within her internal struggles.

Within these pages is the power struggle with her parents, her family’s tragic death, the sexual abuse she endured, and her addiction issues.

She also candidly documents her struggles with healthy body acceptance and her continued body dysmorphic disorder after having kids.

I really enjoyed this one for its refreshing honesty and smartly layered truth bombs within its pages.

Memoirs are best savored in audiobook format, especially when their author reads them.

This memoir, in particular, lends itself well to this format because so much emotion is behind so many of these passages that allow you to connect with her writing.

The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey

If you have struggled to get answers to your chronic illness or had moments where you felt disbelieved by physicians, this one will hit some tender spots in your heart. 

As with many “secret lady clubs” she discovered that many other women had faced similar circumstances when sharing her story. So why was this such a common theme, and why do we have to work so hard to be believed?

Sarah is a powerhouse for many reasons, this book is just one of them.

Not only is she a gifted writer, but she’s a gifted musician and also was a part of the writing team for Obama’s campaign in 2008.

I had the chance to sit down with her for an afternoon and talk through her story, and I have to say that this is one of the most powerful interviews that I’ve ever got to be part of.

This conversation can be listened to in our Book Gang Patreon community.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Not only can you immerse yourself in this memoir, you can watch the HBO documentary series when you finish.

This memoir details the obsessive search for McNamara to uncover the identity of a serial rapist turned murderer. NcNamara’s tireless investigation to pinpoint the source of terror that haunted California for over a decade.

McNamara, tragically, passed away while researching this book, and those that worked on the case with her (her lead researcher and a close colleague) pieced together all of the incredible research that she did to try to solve this case.

Over ten years, a violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California and then headed South, only to achieve an additional ten sadistic murders.

He got away with the terror he caused by disappearing and eluded his capture despite the best detectives in the area being on the case.

Three decades later, Mcnamara (a true crime journalist) was determined to discover his identity and spent the last portion of her career searching for answers for these victims.

Her research is so expansive and McNamara leaves no stone unturned, becoming a trusted confidant of many lead investigators in this case.

McNamara remains grounded throughout her account while offering compassion and hope for justice for these victims.

She was a gifted writer that, sadly, died too soon.

Bookending this story is an intro by Gillian Flynn and a touching afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, completing this as a captivating read that will keep you up until the wee hours.

Glorious Rock Bottom by Bryony Gordon

Although Bryony was not someone I knew, she’s a respected journalist (working at The Telegraph), was a bestselling author, and launched an award-winning mental health campaign.

She’s so well-known that when I found her podcast, I discovered her first episode on mental health was with…wait for it… PRINCE HARRY. 

People did not know that secretly Bryon was battling a twenty-year addiction to drugs and alcohol that had spiraled out of control, threatening her own life, her marriage, and her motherhood journey.

This memoir documents her recovery process, and it is, honestly, the best memoir on recovery I have ever read.

Often our recovery stories end with just the rehabilitation process. This story documents some critical lessons from the challenges of sober holidays to replacing these addictions with different addictions (yes, even ones that feel healthy).

It expands beyond the scope of the traditional recovery program that make it compelling and hard to put down.

A Few Well-Known Memoirs You Could Also Read

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Maid by Stephanie Land

What memoir would you recommend for Nonfiction November? Please share your recommendations below!

Looking for more books to read? Check out these posts for more book recommendations!

The Best Psychological Thriller Books to Read

The Best Psychological Thrillers to Check Out

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, & Libraries

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries

2022 MomAdvice Book Club Selections

Join the MomAdvice Book Club (and read with me ALL YEAR!)

19 New Books to Read This Fall (PRINTABLE GUIDE)

Friday, September 16th, 2022

Looking for your next great book to read? We share our favorite new-release books for fall (and a few backlist faves). Print this fall reading guide for your next library day! 

Hey, book lovers!

Today we are giving YOU a sneak peek at the FULLY BOOKED Patreon podcast series you might be missing behind the paywall.

This is our Season 2 kickoff episode of the new Book Gang podcast.

The Book Gang podcast celebrates debuts, backlist, and under-the-radar book selections. Expand your book stack with my recommendations and look at the book industry behind the scenes.

On each epsiode I share the microphone with my favorite writers and bookstagrammers to help you have your best reading year ever.

This project is completely crowd-funded through our patrons through Patreon. A membership costs only FIVE DOLLARS a month!

As a thank you, we offer offer loads of reader perks including this monthly podcast with the latest book reviews, book news, and what hits your bookstore shelves every month.

Fully Booked is available as a podcast and we share a printable newsletter so you can read, screenshot, or print what you need for your next library day.

Patrons also get access to the spreadsheet of every book that is mentioned on our show so you can plan your best reading month.

This show is hosted with Larry Hoffer, one of my favorite people in the world and trusted book reviewer.

For those just tuning in, Larry was featured in a past episode to learn how he became one of the world’s top reviewers on GoodReads.

He reads HUNDREDS of books and then tells our patrons his favorites from his stack.

He is my best friend forever, and I’m honored to share his voice.

This month’s stack highlights two 2023 book club selections, stories that catch those fall vibes, small-town love stories,  and the magical realism book that ended up being a surprise hit. 

We also have lots of romance spice to pair with your pumpkin spice this year! 

Due to the length of our show, this has been uploaded as a two-part podcast today. 

The player is embedded or you can subscribe to Book Gang wherever you get podcasts!

19 New Books to Read This Fall (PRINTABLE GUIDE)


Listen to the Show

Book Gang Podcast Episode 42 (PART 1)

Book Gang Podcast Episode 42 (PART 2)

Show Notes:

MomAdvice on Patreon

MomAdvice Book Club

The Book of Harlan by Bernice McFadden

Book Club Online The Book of Harlan Chat

*** September Patreon Newsletter ***

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens

Carolina by Taylor Swift

Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Canter

Girls with Bright Futures by Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman

My Government Means to Kill Me by Rasheed Newson

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books Podcast

Just Another Love Song by Kerry Winfrey

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey

Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey

Hurricane Girl by Marcy Dermansky

One’s Company by Ashley Hutson

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Magic Season: A Son’s Story by Wade Rouse

Kathleen Carter’s Podcast Episode – A Day in the Life of a Book Publicist

Mean Baby by Selma Blair

The Last White Man by Moshin Hamid

Exit West by Moshin Hamid

The Reluctant Fundamentalist  by Moshin Hamid

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki

Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Smells Like Tween Spirit by Laurie Gelman

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

You’ve Been Volunteered by Laurie Gelman

Yoga Pant Nation by Laurie Gelman

A Quiet Life by Ethan Joella

Ethan Joella’s podcast episode – Lessons for Writing Your First Book

Archie Bunker’s Place

When We Were Bright and Beautiful by Jillian Medoff

American Fever by Dur e Aziz Amna


Mr. Perfect on Paper by Jean Meltzer

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

The Perfect Find by Tia Williams

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Keya Das’s Second Act by Sopan Dev

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Trees by Percival Everett

Less is Lost by Andrew Sean Grier

A Very Typical Family by Sierra Godfrey

Always the First to Die by RJ Jacobs

How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz

I’m the Girl by Courtney Summers

I Walk Between the Raindrops by TC Boyle

All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

Lucy on the Wild Side by  Kerry Rea

Like a Rolling Stone by Jann Wenner

Dinners with Ruth by Nina Totenberg

The House Party by Rita Cameron

The Make-Up Test by Jenny L Howe

The Winter Orphans by Kristin Beck

Typecast by Andrea J Stein

Bliss Montage: Stories – Ling Ma

The Epic Story of Every Living Thing by Deb Caletti

Forsaken Country by Allen Eskens

Drunk on Love by Jasmine Guillory

Something in the Heir by Suzanne Enoch

The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling

Dreamland by Nicholas Sparks

The Old Place by Bobby Finker

The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Winners by Fredrik Backman

Jacqueline in Paris by Ann Mah

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss

Connect With Us:

Amy is @momadvice on Instagram
Larry H. on
Larry H. on Instagram


Looking for great books to add to your stack? Check out these posts!

What books have you been loving lately?

How to Use the Scribd App for Your Reading Life

Monday, June 13th, 2022
How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from

Learn my tricks to maximize your experience with the Scribd app. Get unlimited access to books and audiobooks at one flat rate and how this reading app works.

In 2013, I got the opportunity to work with a new eBook and audiobook membership service called Scribd.

What I didn’t expect was that I would convert into one of their most loyal customers who has been a paid member ever since.

A Scribd subscription is BY FAR one of the best book and audiobook subscriptions for your money and is my most used subscription. However, there is a reason I continue to stay with them, and it isn’t just because they have great books (even though that is the most significant part).

Today I want to talk about why I think this is TRULY the best audiobook service for readers and how I make the most of my membership EVERY MONTH.

I want to explore your biggest burning questions like if authors get paid, what the significant differences are between this kind of access versus Kindle Unlimited membership and some particular things that *I* use this membership for (that might be helpful to you too).  

Even if you have been a subscriber for years, today’s tutorial will also offer some hidden benefits to membership.

Let’s get every dollar out of your experience with today’s tutorial.

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life 

Scribd (it sounds like RIBBED) is, basically, the Netflix membership for book lovers. 

For one monthly fee (currently $11.99 per month), you can have access to their entire catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, sheet music, and uploaded documents.

I want to clarify that this is a digital lending library, much like our experience with online tv streaming services. 

You do not own the materials.

You own membership to stream the books you want to read or listen to in their membership catalog. 

As long as you are a member, you can stream these materials.

At this time, Scribd offers these notable items (plus rotating perks)-

  • Over TWO MILLION audiobooks and ebooks in one app (they work with 5 of the biggest publishing houses).
  • Unlimited sheet music and documents (They have over 70,000+ pieces of sheet music available. This catalog includes the classics and contemporary artists). 
  • Unlimited access to podcasts, magazines, and news (including Time Magazine, The Atlantic, Cook’s Illustrated, & Newsweek).
  • Rotating Membership Perks (more details below on some of my past favorite bonuses).

The monthly subscription includes fiction, nonfiction books (like cookbooks), young adult books, and children’s books.

So your entire family can benefit from this service, all with the cost of just one membership.

How to Find and Add Books to Your Library

Well, the BEST place to check would be the Book Gang Podcast (stream wherever you get podcasts) since it celebrates under-the-radar books, debuts, and backlist selections.

Scribd makes it easier too by offering recommendations based on other books you are reading or have on your library list, much like your experience with other online book purchases. 

You can add books by searching the specific title or browse the incredibly curated selections from Scribd’s editors.

These editors’ picks are where I start when I need a little guidance on book selection.

Bookmark the books that you want to save in your library.

Once you decide what you might like to add to your library, you open up the book and read or listen to it. 

That’s it!

Now let’s talk about those hidden features on the app and some of those faqs.

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from

The Best Hidden Scribd Features and Frequently Asked Questions

What Device Can I Read My Scribd Books Through?

These books are available across many ebook reading devices, including iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire tablet, Android & the Barnes & Noble Nook tablet.

At this time, the Kindle Paperwhite is not a supported device. 

Is it Unlimited? Sort of! 

Regarding reading, there’s no limit on the number of books or audiobooks you can read or listen to each month. 

You may sometimes notice that a title you have saved indicates it will be “Available Soon.” 

Once your subscription renews for the next month, your library will refresh, and you’ll be able to select from the entire library.

The reason for this is because they can “adjust availability” of books based on contracts with these publishing houses.

In their defense, they claim it is to pay authors fairly based on the contract distribution terms.

It can be frustrating so if there is a book you are, particularly excited to read that month, prioritize it just in case it becomes unavailable until the next month.

I would say that this is my only issue with this platform.

How Do I Download Content When I’m Traveling?

To store content on your device for offline reading, tap on the cover of the book you wish to save, and you’ll be dropped into the book’s summary page.

To download the book, tap the “Download” button on the summary page.

Again, it is up to each publisher what they want to make available to its users. Some publishers disable downloading for specific titles, and the ‘Download’ option won’t be shown for those titles.

You’ll still be able to enjoy them on Scribd, but they won’t be directly downloadable.

Do Authors Get Paid When You Read on Scribd?

As I hinted earilier, Scribd does pay authors for their work.

I am quoting them directly when I share this statement, “Scribd has deals with our authors and publishing partners concerning payment for all membership content.

Basically, every time you read a premium title or listen to an audiobook, we pay the author the full price of their work!

Revenue that Scribd earns from monthly membership fees is paid to the original publishers or authors every time you read their work on Scribd.”

What is the Difference Between Scribd and Kindle Unlimited?

Scribd is a better value and they offer a completely different catalog.

Kindle Unlimited is a library of (primarily) self-published authors.

On the other hand, Scribd works with five big publishing houses- Simon and Schuster, Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, & Macmillan. 

The catalog is updated so well that I can often secure my new release books the week they come out. 

I find with Scribd that their audiobook selection is more robust though than their book selection. 

What is the Difference Between Scribd and Audible?

The most significant difference between these two is the pricing.

Scribd is an unlimited service, while Audible offers a single credit for $14.95 a month. 

Audible may offer a more extensive selection but comes at a higher price.

You can read about their different plan offerings for more specific pricing.

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from

What Are Some of My Favorite Hidden Features on Scribd?

Although I wouldn’t consider this first element to be “hidden,” I want to remind you that access to ebooks means you have access to cookbooks and books on health. 

If you are on a specific diet or diagnosed with a health condition, this resource is INVALUABLE for your family.

When my daughter played guitar, we used the catalog of sheet music for her lessons. 

My kids also have benefitted from my membership when assigned summer literature. (Be sure to read how to enable parental controls if you share your account as a family).

I also want to discuss two lesser-known features you might have missed with your membership. 

Let’s start with your Member Perks! 

Scribd keeps a rotating catalog of member bonuses through various partnerships that, in the past, have included NYT subscriber bundles and Pandora Premium memberships. 

Check this page for the included perks for this month

Another fun feature is that Scribd offers a sleep timer on audiobooks. So if you want to listen to a book to fall asleep, try using this feature! 

Just click the icon in the upper left-hand corner, and you can select any chapter immediately!

Select the moon icon on the lower right side of the audio page to use the Sleep Timer. The menu will appear, and select the length of time you wish for the book to play. The playback will automatically turn off once the timer counts down to zero.

Try Scribd for FREE for 60 Days with my Referral Code

This referral code doesn’t give you a 30-day trial- it provides you SIXTY days of reading to try the platform. Activate it HERE

Sound off: What has been your experience with Scribd? Do you have any other questions about this platform?

Looking for more great reading resources? Don’t miss these posts!

Join the 2023 MomAdvice Book Club

How to Use Storygraph For a Better Reading Life

Learn how to use The StoryGraph App to Track Your Reading

Learn How to Use the Libby App (WITH LIBBY) In This Tutorial

What is Amazon First Reads?

Learn how to get free books through the Kindle First Reads program

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The Best Beach Reads For Your Summer Stack

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

Beach reads are required reading in the warmer months. These summer books deliver on page-turners filled with family drama, steamy love stories, and small-town feelings. Bookmark this summer reading list for your next library day.

The Best Beach Reads For Your Summer Stack from

Beach books have been a hot top request in our book club and today I wanted to share a few of my top recommendations for this summer’s reading.

After all, summers should be filled with good books, fun drinks, and fictional escapes. I also have one REALLY compelling memoir that reads as fast as fiction.

Escape real life with a few of my favorite reads this year.

The Best Beach Reads For Your Summer

The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements & Onjuli Datta

Vogue described this as “a perfect summer read,” and I have to co-sign this comment. This book is now my go-to summer recommendation for a sophisticated romance with enough dimension for a thoughtful book club discussion.

The fake dating trope rarely works for me, but this debut examines the media and public’s obsession with Hollywood figures.

Whitman (“Win) Tagore is a well-known actress making headlines with a jet-setting playboy named Leo Milanowski.

The two have made headlines for a decade with their on-again, off-again romance. The public doesn’t know that the entire relationship is staged.

The two manipulate the press for necessary coverage and to gain favor and attention when necessary. All these situations are carefully orchestrated events between two friends.

As you might guess, this gets complicated but in all the best ways. Rather than leaning into the stereotypical plotlines, this goes into smart places like examining what it is like to be a woman of color in Hollywood.

This wife writing duo truly crafted one of my new favorite romances. I can’t wait to see what they write together next! (P.S.- Stay tuned for a summer interview with this fantastic writing duo on the Book Gang Podcast)

Cover Story

Cover Story by Susan Rigetti

This buzzy novel has been making its rounds on bookstagram, and that’s how it landed in my stack. Described as Inventing Anna meets Catch Me If You Can, get ready to meet the next prominent con artist. 

While the novel clocks in at 362 pages, the page count is quite deceptive and can easily be read in a day. Told in diary entries, emails, and text messages, the reader can observe a naive aspiring writer get conned in real-time. 

Lora can’t believe she has landed a summer internship at ELLE Magazine, where she meets Cat Wolff, a contributing editor and heir to a clean-energy mogul. The two begin a side project crafting a short story for a potential magazine submission.

Cat has story ideas, but they aren’t fleshed out well. Lora is a great writer but struggling to make rent. Why not solve both issues at once? 

Cat’s brilliant plan is that Lora can move into the Plaza Hotel with her, and the two can work on the story together.  Lora’s name won’t be on the work, but she can earn a salary and get her start as a ghostwriter. 

Lora grapples with this decision but loves the lifestyle that Cat provides and the ability to do what she loves. It becomes more difficult as she awaits those precious paychecks and as her work begins to gain notoriety. Lora doesn’t know that Cat is being investigated by the FBI, and she may be the next victim.

What makes this story the perfect reading slump buster is that it moves SO FAST by including these different documents and diary entries.

I have been immersed in both Inventing Anna and the memoir that it helped to inspire (My Friend Anna). If you are familiar with this story, it borrows most of its plot from that experience. 

It wasn’t until the 58% mark that the plot switches. 

What makes it the reason you want to finish it is that the last fifteen pages will give you the best plot twist whiplash that you will, FOR SURE, never see coming.

The book is worth the read for the ending alone.

Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

It is the early 1960s, and Elizabeth Zott wants to do her job and get credit for it. As a chemist, her work environment is less than desirable, with a boy’s club mentality among her coworkers at the Hastings Research Institute.

One man, though, treats Elizabeth with the respect she’s always desired, and their relationship evolves into a mutually beneficial exchange that brings them both unexpected joy. 

In a pivotal plot point, Elizabeth has unexpectedly become a single mother and an incredible television star on a cooking show called Supper at Six.

What makes the show such a success is Elizabeth’s refusal to see women as just housewives and to see them as aspiring chemists too. 

The leading lady isn’t the only notable character because Garmus has made an entire beloved cast of characters for the reader to adore, including an adorable dog that the reader will fall in love with. 

This novel is quirky, heartwarming, and feminist-forward in all the right ways.

This will be on my best books of the year list and would be the perfect selection for any book club. Read this before the TV series on Apple+.


Deconstructed by Liz Talley

Finlay Donovan fans will devour this fun Southern story that blends heart and humor into a perfectly satisfying story.  

An antique-shop owner overhears a gossipy conversation about her husband that draws into question whether her husband has been unfaithful to her or not.

If her husband has been cheating, she will not let him get away with it, and she decides to hire a private investigator to look into this affair and what else he could be hiding. 

What she doesn’t expect is that her new assistant is the perfect accomplice to help her uncover his hidden secrets.

Not only is Ruby a wildly talented seamstress, turning her store’s trash into treasures, but she also knows all the right people to get any job done in town. 

These two women become unlikely friends, and there are some lovely layers to this story with checkered pasts and town secrets. 

What the Fireflies Knew

What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris

It is no secret that I am a sucker for coming-of-age stories, and this debut delivered on so much beauty. If you enjoyed our book club book, The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones, this novel would hit all the sweet spots. 

Almost-eleven-year-old Kenyatta Bernice (KB) has undergone some challenging changes in her life.

Not only has her father died, but her mother also has left.

She and Nia (her sister) are dropped off at her estranged grandfather’s home for an indefinite amount of time with no explained reasons. 

Told through KB’s eyes, this story is beautifully told as she learns more about what tore her mother and grandfather apart.

It’s a big summer of discovery for many reasons.

Still, one of the most powerful is the transition between the two sisters as Nia begins to separate herself from her sister and move away from the things of her youth to embark on the big girlhood journey of self-discovery (and boys).

I have never read this stage so beautifully captured- it reminded me a lot of the transition between my sister and me at that stage.

If you want a book that you want to hug when you finish, this is the book to add to your stack.

Harris writes vividly and beautifully with turns of phrases that are a delight to read.

It also layers in more significant themes like mental illness, race, and identity that add depth to this sweet summer adventure story.  

Described as an ode to “black girlhood and adolescence,” this was one of my favorite library discoveries.

Cleopatra and Frankenstein

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

The book opens with a young painter (Cleo) meeting an older successful businessman (Frank). They could not be more opposite but immediately are drawn to one another’s company.

They find a deep appreciation for one another and also acquire their nicknames, Cleopatra and Frankenstein, yielding the book’s unique title. 

Cleo requires a Green Card, and Frank offers her both the steadiness that her artistic life lacks and a permanent residence in the states. 

We follow the two as their marriage goes through the highs of new love to the monotony in the middle and then what it feels like to fall out of love. 

Each chapter is a month, and the observations of family and friends round out the story as they too observe this relationship and try to forge their own in different ways. 

There is so much humor throughout these pages, even in heartbreaking moments in their marriage.

Their brief stint as parents of a sugar glider (go ahead and look that up on Tik Tok and tell me you aren’t intrigued) may be some of the most memorable chapters I’ve read in a long time.  

Mellors writing draws Salley Rooney comparisons. Comparatively, I thought this delivered on Katherine Heiney writing joy.

It’s not just the unlikely love story though, for me. It is the dry humor where this one shined and made it such a wildly memorable debut. 

If you are looking for really readable literary fiction, this is it.

Book Lovers

Book Lovers Emily Henry

Beach Read was my favorite book by this author until this latest contemporary romance dropped.

When a New York City literary agent goes on a small-town getaway with her sister, the two work through a checklist of adventures that you would appreciate in any Hallmark movie. 

Expecting to find romance with a hunky local in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, is just what Nora believe is destined to happen. 

She couldn’t expect that a difficult editor she worked with from the city just might be living there too. 

In Henry’s signature writing style, this has heart, humor, and loads of bookish moments.

This love story also loves to poke a little fun at the romance tropes while leaning into a few of them in its own story.

Fans of Elin Hilderbrand or Jennifer Weiner should definitely get acquainted with Emily Henry’s backlist selections as well as this fantastic new release.

This Will Be Funny Later

This Will Be Funny Later by Jenny Pentland

This fascinating memoir of Jenny Pentland’s childhood is the book that you won’t be able to put down.

Imagine your real-life becomes episodes for a sitcom. Most of us can’t fathom this existence, but the life of Jenny (and her siblings) became the show we know as “Roseanne. “

Jenny’s mom, Roseanne Arnold, is more of a compassionate side note, while the meat of this story focuses on Jenny’s anxieties from paparazzi encounters and struggles with obesity.

In response to these trials, she goes through various programs, including those infamous wilderness camps and fat camps. 

A couple of truth bombs about Pentland’s journey (both in these programs and with the paparazzi) may have yielded an audible gasp. I was also unfamiliar with Roseanne’s backstory, so the captured moments are pretty surprising.

Through even these sad and challenging moments, Pentland embraces the funny.

I, indeed, will count this among my favorite memoirs.   (P.S.- Stay tuned for a summer interview with Jenny on my podcast)

The Kaiju Preservation Society

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

Craving a summer blockbuster film in a book? This lighthearted science fiction book is just what your beach bag needs.

The timing for this is just as the pandemic is descending on the world, but there is no need to stick around to see the devastation when you get to go to another world.


Jamie is a driver for an Uber Eats competitor although he never expected his corporate job to take such a turn.

Stuck in the rat race of trying to make ends meet, he ends up making a life-changing series of food deliveries to someone that promises him a job that can get him away from what’s happening in the world.

AND pay him far better too.

Jamie joins a team of scientists in an alternate world intent on the preservation of Kaijus (giant dinosaur monsters).

This book is filled with laughs and “boy humor” that I couldn’t wait to pass on to my husband, from laugh-out-loud mating rituals to heart-pounding danger.

I love that Scalzi never takes things too seriously and isn’t afraid to poke a little fun at some of the more predictable themes.

Stick around for the author’s note on this one- it includes a tale of a double-saved manuscript that was lost and how this book came to be.

Fool Me Once

Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead

I fell in love with Ashley Winstead’s thrilling debut and was so surprised to see that her next book was a romance.

This gigantic genre leap shouldn’t have worked so well, but Winstead delivered on a laugh-out-loud plot that has made me a believer that she can write anything.

Lee works as a communications director at a women-run electric car company.

While serious and successful at work, Lee definitely leans into the “work hard play hard” mindset. She’s not afraid to throw back a few or call a guy for a one night stand. 

Her carefree attitude isn’t because she’s so easygoing.

There have been many heartbreaks in her life (both in her childhood and as she is older), which is why she keeps so many at a distance.

This jumping to conclusions and mistrust is exactly what ends an important relationship in her life with some of her signature sabotage.

It is also why, five years later, she is stunned to discover that she must reunite with this old boyfriend when the two are both working towards getting a clean energy bill rolling. 

With a political backdrop that doesn’t lean into the negativity, lots of chemistry between old flames, and loads of LOLs, this is destined to be a favorite in this summer’s book stack.

The Truth About Ben And June

The Truth About Ben and June by Alex Kiester

Thank you to the publishing house for the complimentary copy. 

The story opens with the disappearance of a young mother, and Kiester builds a beautifully believable mystery layered with big book club themes. 

Ben never expected to be at a police station inquiring about the procedure for filing a missing person case, but that is precisely where he has found himself.

The juggle of work and family without his wife takes its toll quickly and he would do anything to have June back.

Ben discovers that he doesn’t really know his wife at all and, frankly, neither do her friends.

Kiester takes the reader on a journey to understand June’s motives and a rarely explored topic in literature. To tell you what this is, though, would rob you of the beauty in this read. 

CW: suicide ideation

The Best Psychological Thriller Books to Read

Looking for a few thrillers to add to this stack? Be sure to check out this list of the best psychological thriller books to check out!

What beach reads would you add to today’s stack? Let me know what I’m missing in the comments below!

The Best Beach Reads For Your Summer Stack from

The Best Psychological Thriller Books To Read

Monday, April 18th, 2022
The Best Psychological Thriller Books to Read from

Looking for great psychological thriller books? This list offers mystery, unreliable narrators, and creepy serial killers. 5-star thrillers guaranteed!

I’ll lead with an unpopular book opinion- The Woman in the Window & The Silent Patient are not my favorite thrillers.

Embracing the unreliable narrator trope requires more than replicating the next Gillian Flynn Gone Girl experience. It must come with a good backstory and the writing chops to lead me down the wrong path.

Do these books exist? 

You bet they do! 

Today I’m sharing 12 thrillers to get your book stack started. 

The Best Psychological Thriller Books To Read

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

Mary Kubica is a MomAdvice favorite and for a good reason. She writes some of the best psychological thrillers, and I’ve been sharing about her work since her debut (read my exclusive interview on that one). 

In fact, I am such a fan that Mary graciously agreed to co-host the podcast with me to share about HER favorite psychological thrillers, so definitely give this episode a listen to learn more about her writing process and the books she loves. 


Did you know that Local Woman Missing won the Audie Award? If you are looking for an audiobook to devour, I would recommend adding this to your listening stack.

Kubica builds a great twisty story that has the just right amount of suspense and whodunit fun that had me flipping the pages as fast as I could.

It is unusual for more than one person to go missing in a neighborhood, but that’s what happens in this story leaving one to wonder if these cases could be related. Not only do two women disappear, but a six-year-old little girl has also vanished.

Eleven years later, though, the child is found, and everyone wants to know where she could have been and how this is connected to the other disappearances.

This book is fast-paced, has inventive twists, and reads like a suspenseful film.  I, truly, had zero idea where this was going and that made it a pleasure to read from start to finish. 

The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Meaty enough to be a book club pick, shocking enough to have you holding your breath, and twisty enough to keep you guessing until the final pages. What more could a girl want in a thriller?

Motherhood doesn’t come naturally to everyone and Audrain shows how this can make connections with our children difficult, especially if we don’t have any example of what that looks like.

This is the case for Blythe who ends up having a child that is unusually difficult and where she struggles to find connection.

Is it because she hasn’t had the right example or is it because there really is something disturbing about her child?

The book shares Blythe’s story, but also shares the story of generations of women before her that have all had disturbing relationships with their children.

When a tragedy happens, the reader is left wondering if this is really brought on by the child or if Blythe’s past is just catching up to her.

White Smoke by Tiffany Jackson

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

Marigold struggles with anxiety after a bedbug situation in her home caused significant stress, among other difficult situations she has had to face.

Her newly blended family is embarking on a new journey, though it is just the change they all need. Her mom has accepted a new job, and one of these fun perks is rent-free living. 

When they pull up to their newly renovated home, they realize that the neighborhood is unexpectedly creepy. All the houses are rundown, and the neighbors are less than welcoming.

But that isn’t the only thing that’s unwelcoming.

The house has a vibe to it that is deeply unsettling. 

Jackson’s love for the Goosebumps series inspired this fast-paced YA psychological thriller. If you need a further endorsement, R.L. Stine said: “The creeps come on slowly, then start to build. I wanted to scream, but I was too busy to turn pages. I had to know.”

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

Marin seems to be leading the perfect life- a fantastic husband, a beautiful son, and a successful career. 

Her life comes to a crashing halt when she is out shopping and her son is taken.  In this split second of her looking away, her son goes missing, and her entire world is shattered.

One year later, Marin’s marriage is struggling, they still have been unable to find her son, and she is in a spiraling depression. 

She hires a private investigator to reexamine the case as a last-ditch attempt. 

What she digs up, though, isn’t information about Sebastian but surprising information about her husband that changes everything. 

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

This thriller doesn’t lean into the intoxicated woman trope or a therapist who suddenly has become the love interest in the couple’s story. For that, we are thankful. 

Marissa and Matthew Bishop are the title’s “golden couple” who surprisingly found their perfect marriage in trouble. Who better get their marriage on track than Avery Chambers, whose controversial therapy methods have gotten her kicked out of traditional therapy settings and featured in headline news. 

Her program guarantees results even if it explores beyond the boundaries of the traditional settings. As each viewpoint is revealed, the reader is led on a wild goose hunt on who offers the most reliable view since they ALL harbor a few secrets. 

This writing duo delivers again on a fast-paced thriller with solid twists. 

I love that they wrote in a few red herrings that had me fixating that I knew the endings or twists, but I was wrong.

We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth

We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth

Eliza is one of only two women who are hired as a programmer at a gaming company. Unfortunately, her presence isn’t welcomed, particularly in the programming department, where Eliza becomes a source of ridicule and is harassed.

When the incident is reported, her boss doesn’t take the necessary next steps and goes along with the “boys will be boys” toxic dialogue instead of addressing the issue correctly. 

When Eliza takes the incident to a journalist, all hell breaks loose as people begin to demonize, target, and dangerously harass her. One user, in particular, has made it his mission to destroy Eliza for her actions.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Need a thriller you can finish in a single day? This novel from Lisa Jewell is just the ticket!

I am, admittedly, fascinated by cults and the power of charismatic leaders to manipulate people to do unthinkable things. I’m reading another cult thriller RIGHT NOW.

In this story, Libby returns home from work to find a letter written to her on her 25th birthday. 

It is the letter that she has been waiting for all her life.

Within the note, she learns the identity of her birth parents and that she is the sole inheritor of an abandoned mansion in one of London’s most fashionable neighborhoods that are worth millions.

This house has a dark history that makes it less desirable than one might expect. 

Twenty-five years ago, the police were called to this house because there were reports of a baby crying. 

This baby, healthy and happy, was found in her crib- safe and sound.

Downstairs though, were three dead bodies, all dressed in black, and the other four children had mysteriously disappeared.

Get the surprising backstory in this twisty thriller.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Told from the husband’s perspective, we are quickly enveloped in how much he adores his wife. They seem like the perfect couple, and she does all the things any good wife would do. She’s beautiful, she keeps track of everyone’s activities, she makes incredible dinners, and they have a great romantic life. 

It’s just that their new favorite hobby is working as a team to seduce and murder 

This web of lies affects everyone in their house, like their poor unsuspecting children, and it becomes more and more difficult to keep anyone from finding out, especially when people turn up dead.

This added and believable suspense is what I loved about this story and kept me engaged until those final pages.

Too Good To Be True by Carola Lovering

Too Good to Be True by Carola Lovering

While Skye is over the moon to find her soulmate, her family and friends remain skeptical about Burke because she knows so little about him. 

It doesn’t help that Burke doesn’t have a lot of friends or family to back up the story of his past.

Burke’s real story is deeply twisted with another woman, and Skye is about to find out why she has become the target of Burke’s affection and how deep his lies go.

This is one of those books that you should read as little as possible about and enjoy one of those crazy 24-hour stay-up-way-too-late thriller vibes.

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

Nina’s mom is a con artist who does her best to keep Nina in a good school and has given her the best childhood she can, despite her profession.

When Nina finds friendship with a wealthy boy at school, they find comfort in being outcasts together. 

As their friendship blossoms into something more, they get busted by his father, and Nina is removed from the school and taken away from him.

Now Nina works as a high-end con artist herself; she scopes social media accounts for the fabulously wealthy, drugs them up, and then takes all she can from their home.

When she hits a rough financial patch, she remembers the boy she fell in love with…oh, and the passcode to the family safe that holds millions.

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

Lucy knows that she is not the wife that Diana has envisioned for her son.  Lucy struggles with the distance Diana seems to create within them, despite her charitable spirit and working tirelessly for others as an advocate for female refugees.

When Diana unexpectedly dies of suicide, her family is surprised and realizes that her cancer diagnosis may have just been too much for her.

The problem?

The autopsy shows that she never had cancer, but the body does show traces of poison and evidence of suffocation.

Diana’s complex relationships come into play as you try to piece together what has happened. Told in alternating points of view, through past and present, you realize just how many people had a motive in Diana’s death and how many layers she did have to her own story.

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

Trigger warnings galore- proceed with caution.

Leigh has been running from her past for twenty years, and the only one who knows the truth is her estranged sister. Callie hasn’t been a part of Leigh’s life as she battles a lifetime of addiction. Yet, the sisters must come together because time is running out, and life as they both know it could end.

I would suggest reading the letter to the reader BEFORE reading this one, which you will find tucked in at the back of this book. 

Slaughter chose to set this story during pandemic times, and it is laced with all the daily dilemmas we are finding ourselves in with our current pandemic and why she felt it was important for this story.

This book is so gripping and has so many layers to it. The dynamics between how these two sisters weather the pandemic and the big moral dilemmas these two face make this an incredibly captivating read.

Looking for more thriller fun?

19 thrillers to keep you up all night
19 more thrillers to keep you up all night
read my exclusive interview with Ruth Ware

QUESTION: What’s the latest thriller you read that kept you up past your bedtime? Comment below!

How to Use the Storygraph App For a Better Reading Life

Friday, March 11th, 2022
How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from

The Storygraph app picks books based on your mood? This tutorial will teach you how to use this user-friendly reading app to get personalized book recommendations!

Nadia Odunayo
Nadia Odunayo

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with the CEO and Founder of The Storygraph, Nadia Odunayo, on my podcast (MomAdvice Book Gang). 

Our partnered bookshop, Fables Books, had started a reading challenge, and we planned to work through their challenge with our listeners. The problem was that I didn’t know anything about the app, and I had a feeling that I couldn’t be the only one. 

As a new user, I wanted to document my year with the app and thought, who better to explain this than Nadia? 

You can listen to the show (read the show notes) on the embedded player or follow along in today’s tutorial that includes some of my favorite excerpts from our discussion.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from

How to Use the Storygraph App

What is Storygraph?

This reading app offers personalized recommendations with simple tracking and insightful stats. The thing that sets this app apart from its competitor is that it can offer suggestions based on your mood through machine learning AI.

The real question for many of us (including myself) is the most significant difference between GoodReads vs. Storygraph?

According to Nadia…A LOT.

Nadia said, “There are a lot of differences between our app and Goodreads, and I think it does come from a place of rather than me starting from I’m going to build a different Goodreads. It was, what do readers want and need?

You have this dashboard where we show you everything from the moods of the books you’ve read, the pace, the book size, most read authors, pages, and books read throughout the year.

So there’s a graph where you can see each month, how many books and pages did you read? But also, within a month, you can see each day how many pages you read.

So there’s a lot more detail within the tracking and the analytics that you can get just in the stats dashboard already.

Even when you come on board, even when you just import your Goodreads, I think you get to see your reading history in a completely different way to how you’ve never seen it before.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from

How To Import GoodReads to StoryGraph?

If you are scared to import your data, Nadia offers this assurance. 

“We always say, import your Goodreads data, have a look at the stats, and then click around a bit. If you don’t like it in three clicks about, you can delete all of your account, all of your data, and that’s it. It doesn’t affect your Goodreads account.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from

Under Manage Account: 

Step 1- Visit the Import/Export Page on Goodreads and Click the Export Library Button

Step 2- Upload (or drag and drop) the file you downloaded in Step 1.

Step 3- Kick off the import by clicking the button, and you will receive an email once your import is complete. 

Personally, I was surprised how quickly this processed all my data! Even as a seasoned GoodReads user, this took just a few minutes! 

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from

How Can StoryGraph Personalize Your Reading?

The differences aren’t just in reading a book based on your current mood. You can also discover curated reading lists of book discoveries based on your other reading preferences.

Nadia shared, “We give you space to tell us what you’re interested in. So not only can you tell us your favorite genres and characteristics you like in a book, whether it’s strong world-building or good quality writing, there’s also a free text box where you can say, I want to read about found family or enemies to lovers, whatever kind of tropes you like, whatever themes you like.

So maybe you want to learn about a particular part of history or a particular country. You can put that stuff in there, and we will serve the best books for you.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from
where to locate a buddy read option on the app

How Do You Do A Buddy Read on Storygraph?

If you have always wanted to do a Buddy Read, this app can help you and its intelligent design capabilities.

First, it is essential to note you do need to change your settings to participate in a buddy read.

Nadia shared, “Buddy Reads is something where the default for everybody is “nobody.” You can go in there and toggle it to where friends can invite me or the people I’m following can invite me, or anybody can invite me. You can toggle it to that.”


The app is designed with a user’s privacy in mind. So, for example, you get to decide who can invite you to a buddy read.

To change this, go into Preferences and update the Community section with your preferred privacy settings.

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Let’s try a PRETEND buddy read with our most anticipated book- Carrie Soto Is Back to show you the experience.

Once you have this updated, you can select the book you want to read, start a buddy read and invite up to 4 people to join on the read.

Don’t have a buddy to do a read with? They can even build suggestions through their machine-learning-powered reading buddy recommendations.

This feature launched in December 2021, and Nadia is particularly proud of this.

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this is the screen you will see once you both join a buddy read

“I think the thing that people love the most about our Buddy Read feature is you often have to have a checkpoint. You often have to say, okay, we’re all going to regroup end of chapter four and discuss.

Whereas now, if something happens that you want to remark on or you have a question, you can leave the comment at that specific point, and the comment is locked until each participant gets to that part.

So if I leave a comment at 27 pages and we’re doing a Buddy Read, and you’re on 24 pages, you won’t even get a notification because there’s no point.”

Basically, it blocks the Buddy Read from spoilers and yields a more fluid conversation.

The best part about this is that Nadia reassures us that she is only on Version 1, which means we have many more things to look forward to.

How Is Their Book Rating System is Different from GoodReads?

The biggest frustration for most GoodReads users is the inability to do half or quarter-star rankings.

With Storygraph, you no longer have to round up or down on your reviews because this is built into their design.

This is based on user feedback, in particular, bookstagrammers shared their desire to have this option in place, and Storygraph delivered.

How Do I Do a Reading Challenge on StoryGraph?

Nadia walked us through the entire process of joining a challenge on Storygraph.

“Go to the Reading Challenges page, which you can get to from either the top bar (on Desktop) or click for the menu on the three horizontal black lines on the top right (if you’re on mobile).

On the top right, there is a button that says Browse. If you click there, what you’ll see is you’ll see a page with the Storygraph’s hosted challenges at the top. We host three challenges each year.

And then there’s a filter menu where you can search for different keywords with nine categories, and you can basically go through the categories and see what you might be interested in.

So things people might be doing like a New York Review of Books Challenge, Read the World Challenge or Pop Culture (Taylor Swift) Challenge, or some popular TV show. (for example)

So you can either click through and browse the categories or filter the keywords and go from there.

Or you can also do a rainbow challenge or actually beat the TBR categories for people who are like, ‘I just want to get through the books in my house.'”

Does anyone else need a “Beat the TBR Challenge,” or is it just me?

How Do You Mark DNF (Did Not Finish) Books?

In GoodReads, you need custom tags to DNF your books.

StoryGraph builds this feature right into their app.

Nadia understood that GoodReads users had to add these books to a special shelf and that it was challenging to track WHY a user didn’t finish a book. So her response was to build it right into the product.

She said, “To mark a book as DNF is equivalent to marking it as to-read or read.

You just toggle over and mark it with DNF rather than adding a review with a star rating.

Storygraph gives you a space to add your reasoning or your reason for why you didn’t finish this book.”

What Feature Might Be Helpful For Empathetic Readers?

When writing and leaving book reviews on Storygraph, you can add your own content warnings. These content warnings don’t come just from users- they also come from authors and publishers.

Nadia shared, “When you submit a review, you can list what you think the graphic, moderate, and minor content warnings are.

And then what we do is we collate what everybody says, and we show like a smart summary of the likely content warnings.

So you can click through and see every single content warning tagged in the book, then click through and see the review.

But we also have author-approved content warnings, so authors can officially submit their own warnings. And then you can also see them side by side as well.

So we give space for readers to express what they found triggering in the book or what they think someone else may find triggering.

Because not all the time, the authors and the publishers will spot everything. But we also have a space for authors to say officially, these are the warnings.”

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from
join my book club

How Can I Use The Storygraph For My Book Club?

I asked Nadia about hosting our book club on the Storygraph, and she said that the app is designed to offer Reading Challenges and that participants can also split off into buddy reads.

She also hinted that new book club features are in the works too. I’m very excited to see what develops for the MomAdvice Book Club.

Will The App Always Be This Clutter-Free?

I did ask this question right out of the gate, and I loved Nadia’s response. 

Nadia shared, “So our number one goal and aim is to keep it clean and clutter-free. And the number one person that we’re serving is the reader, and we want to keep it that way for as long as it’s possible. 

And that means that we have proceeds from our Plus plan (see below for more details), which means we don’t have to have ads. If we ever had to have ads, we would ask the community about it. 

If you’re involved with the Storygraph on our social media, you’ll notice that we ask; we have regular polls or comment boxes because we’re essentially always getting feedback from the community before we deliver a feature. 

But, right now, we’re not thinking of ads, and we want to just focus on the product and keeping it clean and streamlined, and making sure the user experience is excellent.”

Why Are They Offering Pro Accounts & Why Should You Upgrade?

Everything is free in an ideal world, but Plus accounts are the key to keeping the app clutter-free and funding their company.

Nadia shared, “The reason Plus exists is because we’re trying to see can we stay independent and sustainable and just continuing to grow for several, several years to come.”

You can unlock many features with a Storygraph Plus membership, and readers can try this FREE without even putting in a credit card.

What features does Nadia think are the best features about Pro?

In our interview, she shared, “One of the most awesome features that we have is the Up Next Suggestions feature.

And so that essentially is a page of recommendations curated just for you from books on your to-read pile, suggesting what you should read next and giving you the reason why it changes as your reading changes….

So, for example, one of the prompts might be you’re doing really well in your reading goal, so you can go for a longer book here’s, a long book on your to-read.

Or you’re falling behind on your pages goal, here is a fast-paced book for you to read.

The other thing that people love is advanced Stats. As part of Advanced Stats, there’s a Compare Stats Page where you can compare any two time periods. So you can compare any two months in your reading history.

The other cool thing is if you are going to do a buddy read. One of the really cool Plus features is I can put your username in, and it will look at both of our readings and both of our series piles and suggest perfect books for us to read together, which I think is (if I do say so myself) pretty cool.

And there’s a bunch more, including commenting and voting on the reading roadmap.”

What Is the Storygraph Roadmap?

Perhaps the thing that makes Storygraph so unique is that you can see and suggest updates to the app in the company’s roadmap.

The transparency is refreshing, and it’s so exciting to be a part of the building process as a user.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from

Did I Make the Switch To Storygraph This Year?

I have been a loyal GoodReads user for many, many years. However, I will admit that many of the things that I wish were offered all happen to live on the Storygraph app.

Not only did I make the switch to Storygraph, but I also plan to document my journey for you based on the curated lists and to-be-read piles that Storygraph has prioritized for me.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from
this perspective made me realize why I’m burnt out on romance

It IMMEDIATELY changed my reading life to see these charts, to know the pages I’ve read, and just what kind of reader I am.

How to Use the StoryGraph App For a Better Reading Life from
another capture from my stats

For the record, I mainly read fiction books that are emotional, reflective, and mysterious. I typically choose medium-paced books that clock in at 300-499 pages long.

I signed up for their Pro account because I’m so excited to support this woman-owned start-up business (and her team). I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve learned.

It was such an honor to do this interview, and I hope you will make space to listen to Nadia’s journey. She also shares the genre that took her by surprise, how a pages reading challenge is changing her reading life, and how she reads as a busy entrepreneur.

Do you use The Storygraph app? If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them here!

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries

Thursday, February 17th, 2022

What could be more fun than reading books about books and reading? So today, we have gathered fifteen of our favorite reads that embrace these bookish themes and book-filled settings for book-lovers. Of course, true bibliophiles know that plotlines related to books offer comfort to readers, and today’s book list embraces many of my favorite literary treasures that have brought me joy over the years.

Today’s post expands on some of my recent suggestions on the MomAdvice Book Gang podcast (listen below or check out the show notes here). In this episode, we discussed our favorite books that embraced fictional bookstore settings and libraries. This episode has you covered whether you are looking for a love story or that perfect true crime nonfiction book escape with. 

Book Gang Podcast Episode 22: Books About Books 

Listen to the Show:

Listen below or listen on your favorite podcast listening platform! Thank you to our guest, Fables Books, for joining me as my guest- join their reading challenge

Let’s expand on this show with some of my favorite literary gems including some of the best backlist books with this theme today.

15 Books About Books, Bookstores, and Libraries


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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

This book was charming and a book for a true book lover.

A.J. Fikry’s wife has died, his bookstore is failing, and a prized possession has been stolen from his book collection.

Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island. He even begins to find that the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him.

These days A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore that changes his life forever…


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The Library Book by Susan Orlean

This book shares the story of a mysterious 1986 fire in the Los Angeles Public Library. The fire was so great that it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours.

By the time the fire was extinguished, it had consumed over four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more.

Orlean is a big fan of the library, and she weaves in a lot of fun library trivia for the reader. She also showcases the bigger story about the role the library plays in our lives. 

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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This book interweaves two stories together seamlessly with some of the most beautiful writing I have had the pleasure of reading.

Margaret Lea has led a quiet life, working in her father’s bookshop and doing small autobiography write-ups. When a surprising letter comes, from a world-famous reclusive author, she is shocked to discover that her presence has been requested. Vida asks that Margaret write the untold story of her life.

The story is unlike anything ever told and Margaret becomes enchanted. More than that Vidas’s life, in many ways, mirrors her own life story.

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The story is told through the unique perspective of Death, which adds a certain darkness to this book. Death shares the story of taking souls and the increase in unnecessary and cruel deaths during the terrifying reign of Hitler.

A poor German girl is taken in by a foster family enduring poverty and the heartache of losing her family members. 

Her moments of joy come when her adopted father teaches her how to read. She becomes, truly, engrossed in learning and reading the written word.

In a time of great poverty and where books were scarce, this little girl becomes a “book thief” stealing books for reading. The books serve as treasures of hope during a time of aching heartbreak in her life.

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Beach Read by Emily Henry

If you are looking for a surprisingly deep love story, I know you will fall in love with this beautiful read. 

January and Augustus are both writers that end up living next door to each other.

While January works hard to pen a perfectly romantic happily ever after, Augustus writes well-researched stories that kill off his characters.

When they find out they both have writer’s block, the two strike a deal designed to get them out of their writing slump.

Augustus will have to spend his summer writing something happy while January writes something that might rival the next Great American Novel.

As they learn more about each other’s process, they find mutual respect for their craft.

Oh, and they also find that love can develop OFF the pages.

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The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

Amy Byler’s husband unexpectedly left her, and for three years, she has been raising her kids alone.

When Amy’s husband takes the kids for the summer, she decides to escape her suburban life to head to New York City. Why not make the most of this single time by heading to a conference and visiting an old friend.

Her friend is impossibly stylish and works for a magazine. She thinks Amy’s getaway would make for an excellent piece.

Amy receives a makeover and is encouraged to try dating again.

She finds herself quite at home in the city and grapples with the blissful absence of responsibility.

This book is perfect. It is filled with literary references, nerd humor, a wonderful friendship, and a Nora Ephron-worthy love story.

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The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

I love a meta reading experience, and that’s what you will find in this book of comfort food literature.

A local library has a reading list that can be found tucked in books encouraging readers to check out certain books.  Within the list are several modern-day classics and older classics that will bring so much to the reader’s life.

Although he can’t remember what she read, Widow Mukesh remembers how much his wife loved reading. Aleisha, the librarian, uses this list to make her recommendations, and a beautiful friendship blossoms between the two.

There is something so comforting about how books bring people together. I think this book showcases the magic of that experience in a memorable way.

Join the MomAdvice Book Club and read this delightful book with me. 

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A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

This deeply satisfying read tackles the struggles of every working mother who is trying to balance it all.

Egan creates the perfect balance of humor and heartbreak as Alice tries to navigate life’s tricky middle-aged terrains. 

Alice Pearse is a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed age.

Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act.” The routine works well until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter quits, and her job takes an unexpected turn. 

This book got me in all the feels.

I found Alice one of the most relatable characters I have read. I related so well to the struggles of being in the trenches as a working parent.

You can read our interview with Elisabeth Egan in our Sundays With Writers series!  I can’t recommend this book enough!

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The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

I knew I would love this book because it had all the perfect theme ingredients-  librarians, old books, magic, and carnivals.

Simon, a young librarian, receives a unique gift. This gifted book turns out to be a travel log for a carnival in the 1700s.  He discovers that the drowning death of a circus mermaid is eerily coincidental to his own mother’s drowning. It just so happens that his mother is also a former circus mermaid and these occurrences happened on the same day.

If their family is cursed, his sister could be the next victim, and he will do anything to save her.

The chapters alternate between the travel log (complete with unique sketch drawings) and the present day. More than anything, Simon wants to stop the curse on his family.

The author manages to bring these stories together beautifully with a satisfying conclusion to these mysterious drownings.

We also have a Sunday with Writers interview with Erika Swyler about this fabulous book. Read the interview. 

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What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Samantha loves her job as a school librarian and is devastated when their beloved principal passes away.

Samantha’s old crush though turns out to be her school’s next principal.  She is thrilled for her school… and awfully thrilled for herself too. 

She remembers Duncan as a hilarious jokester that any kid would love, and any woman would find charming. 

The Duncan Carpenter that arrives at their school is nothing like the man she remembered. 

This guy is the opposite of fun, and he seems determined to remove any element of fun in their school.

Sam doesn’t know how Duncan has gotten to this point and that, folks, is where the meat of the story lies. 

Center delivers another pull-at-your-heartstrings story with quirky characters, believable depth, and a focus on finding strength in community.

Her love stories are always solid and this is another winner that I think you are going to love!

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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

This extraordinary novel is the perfect love letter to a bookworm.

Nina has her day arranged exactly as she likes it. Her carefully scheduled routine includes working at the bookstore, leading book clubs, participating in a trivia team, and scheduled reading time

Nina doesn’t have a relationship with her father, so it is a complete surprise when she discovers he has included her in his will.

She also finds out she has MULTIPLE siblings from his different marriages. For someone introverted, the overwhelm is enormous.

Not only that, her trivia nemesis is turning out to be the guy of her dreams.

Unfortunately, her life is just too busy to squeeze him in.

Nina’s struggle to evolve and open up to others is what makes Nina so endearing and relatable.

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The Editor by Steven Rowley

Set in the 1990s, James Smale sells his first book to a major publishing house and is assigned his first editor.

He could have never guessed that his editor would be Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis!

Mrs. Onassis had fallen in love with his autobiographical novel that tells the stories of his own dysfunctional family.

Many notes of his story end up falling short in his draft, and his editor knows it is because James hasn’t truly embraced his family’s story.

She encourages him to return home and to make the necessary edits his readers deserve.

Rowley treats her legacy with the kindness and beauty it deserves without speculation, but with stunning observation.

As she helps this writer, you can’t help to fall in love with her even more.

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The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Imagine a book club for men that read romance novels to figure out new ways to woo their women.

This is the adorable concept Adams has concocted for her series, and I enjoyed every minute of this first read.

This had some fun laugh-out-loud parts, and the characters are pretty endearing.

It is a good thing they are as Adams uses a different bromance club member for each book.

I’ve happily followed this series on its many adventures. 


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The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess

This beautiful summer romance explores the concept of self-discovery and finding love in unlikely places.

The story takes place in Cape Cod in the summer of 1987. Eve is an aspiring writer who has been dissatisfied with her current job.

When the opportunity arises to work as an assistant to a famous New Yorker writer, Eve jumps at the chance. Not only does she get to act as his research assistant, she also gets to live there and immerse herself in their lives.

With this job, she also receives a coveted invitation to attend their annual “Book Party.” Attendees are encouraged to dress like their favorite literary characters, a fun annual costume tradition.

Much drama unfolds in this short bookish read.

Dukess does a great job creating Eve’s story and the struggles people face to break into the literary world.

Her difficulties and her discoveries are beautifully fleshed out in this gorgeous little page-turner.

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Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Need a perfectly perfect young adult read?

This is the story of two friends, Rachel & Henry, that ended up growing apart.  Rachel moved away, but before her move she left a love letter to Henry that never received a response.

She has complicated feelings against Henry when she moves back for never responding to her letter. Rachel also ends up getting a job at the local bookshop which just so happens to be owned and run by Henry’s family.

This brings the two together once again. 

Here, amid the books, secrets are revealed between the pages as Rachel & Henry find friendship and love again in one another.

It is a bookworm’s dream and gives you lots of great book ideas to dive into once you finish reading it.

Looking for more great book suggestions? Be sure to check out the MomAdvice Book Gang podcast or visit our books section for more great book ideas!

What is your favorite book about books, bookstores or libraries?

December 2021 Must-Reads

Monday, December 27th, 2021

Are you ready for winter reading? I’m sharing a stack of 14 new books to check out this month. Be sure to pin today’s post for your next library day and stock up on all of the best winter reads.

What a year of reading, friends! I have to say that this year was unlike any other year with our book club, blog, and brand new book podcast. Sharing books with you through all these avenues has challenged me as a reader and reviewer. Thank you for this gift and funny job.

I have one more stack to share with you before the year closes. Today’s post rounds out the last of my reading for this month and I’ll be back next month with another big stack of books for you. 

You will also get a special podcast on Friday (along with a blog post) that shares the Best Books of 2021. I will be sharing this episode with Larry, the fabulous GoodReads Top Reviewer, and he is generously sharing his best in books stack with us. Trust me when I say that is going to be one of your favorite episodes of the year.

In the meantime, give him a follow on Instagram and Goodreads.

We are so lucky to have him on the show. 

What’s Happening on the Book Gang Podcast

Even though the blog has been quieter, I’m still talking books every week on our podcast. The MomAdvice Book Gang Podcast has been so much fun to work on, and I’ve loved hearing your feedback on these episodes.

This month’s episodes were all about prepping your winter stacks! We talked about the best holiday romance novels and we put together a comforting winter stack that included how to set the winter mood in your favorite reading nook. 

I’m busy booking up our guests for 2022 and I can’t wait to introduce you to more of the bookstagram world, authors that deserve a lot more love this year, and a few familiar podcasting voices that I know so many of you enjoy hearing. 

You can listen to all of the episodes of MomAdvice Book Gang on Apple or wherever you stream your favorite podcasts. If you enjoy it, please consider subscribing, liking, and sharing it with your favorite bookworm friends!

click here for the momadvice 2022 book club books

In case you missed the announcement, your 2022 MomAdvice Book Club selections have been announced. I am so, so proud of this beautiful stack and would love to read with you this year. It would be an honor to be your reading tour guide for next year. I promise, these books will be among your favorites next year. Click here to Support My Patreon Community

Join the MomAdvice Book Gang Patreon Today (10% Off Annual Memberships!)

The time is NOW to join the MomAdvice Book Gang. January will begin our brand new book club together and this year is an exciting one because we will be offering our Patreon members exclusive access to an author interview series, playlists of music curated for each selection, and bonus digital downloads. 

You can join the MomAdvice Book Gang for just $5 for an exclusive one-of-a-kind reading experience, and let me be your tour guide. I have selected 12 phenomenal books to read together that were picked just for you.  These are thought-provoking stories that deserve discussion, and many are hidden literary treasures. Your $5 membership will grant you access to the following exclusive features.

Monthly in-depth video interviews with each of our chosen authors. Learn the stories behind each of their stories and what they hope you will walk away from each of their books.

Exclusive Bookstore Coupon Discounts. Our Fables Bookstore partnership will give Patreon members 15% off ALL the book club selections for our year. This can be applied to both paperback and hardback selections. 

Exclusive MomAdvice Book Gang Podcast Episodes & Early Access Book Reviews. Your stack will be toppling over with my real-time reviews each month. These reviews are available in both audio and printable formats.  

Monthly Themed Playlists & Digital Downloads. Pair your favorite thriller with my spooky playlist. Brew some tea and listen to an instrumental mix with your favorite classic. Embrace short story songs with my favorite storytellers. The playlists are endless and digital downloads are available for your reading journals.

Sneak Peek Upcoming Content. You will know before anyone else what to expect in upcoming podcast episodes and what I’m researching for our next shows. Be bookishly curious with me and give your input for these MomAdvice Book Gang podcast shows.

Get a FREE Book Just for Being a Prime Member

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? 

Yup, I always try to remind you of this fantastic little Prime perk!

Grab YOUR FREE BOOK FOR December over here. (please note: this will load tomorrow for you!)

June 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the December Book of the Month Club Selections:

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
Somebody’s Daughter by Ahsley C. Ford
A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw (HIGHLY recommend, read review below)


Now let’s talk about this month’s stack!

December 2021 Must-Reads

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

5 out of 5 Stars

The best part about doing this podcast is getting book recommendations from our guests. In our episode with GoodReads superstar Larry, he shared five books that we should read this year, and one of those was The Charm Offensive, and I’m just so glad he recommended it. This is now one of my favorite romances, and, as he promised, it delivered on a meatier plotline than expected. 

Dev is charged with scripting love stories for a reality series called Ever After in this story. 

In this year’s season, he is given one of his biggest writing challenges ever because his lead is only doing the job to rehabilitate his image, and he happens to be one of the most awkward men ever. 

Charlie is dashing and intelligent but doesn’t know how to navigate the dating world. Worse yet, he’s awful on camera too. 

This is a beautiful romance that left me with a goofy grin on my face.

This is a feel-good romance that also delivers on smartly written witty banter and surprisingly deep emotional heartstring pulling too.

Chocrun also delivers on exposing the hidden underbelly of reality television that is meant to toy with the dating contestants’ emotions and the viewer.

In short, this is charming and should be read immediately. Thank you, Larry for this gem. Lucky for us, Larry will be back later this month to share his best books of 2021. I couldn’t think of anyone better to dissect the year of reading with than him. 

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

3 out of 5 Stars

So many friends have recommended this romance to me and have loved it.

First of all, I have to say that I didn’t realize that “grumpy meets sunshine” is a category for romance, but I told my husband that I think this might be the category of romance we fall under, and it might be why I find it so fun.

Olive is a third-year Ph.D. candidate and doesn’t subscribe to the idea that lasting romantic relationships can be found. But, using her scientific mind, she wants to convince her best friend just how accurate her hypothesis is, so she decides to kiss the first man she sees to prove she won’t feel anything.

It turns out, though, that the man that she randomly selected for her experiment is one of the top professors and known, in general, as an absolute jerk. It’s why she is surprised when he agrees to keep her experiment a secret and be a fake boyfriend.

I’m sure you can see where this is going, and it does follow this predictable romance formula as the relationship blossoms between the two.

This has a lot of steam, and I would add this to your pile, mainly if you are a fan of The Kiss Quotient because it embraces similar themes.

Overall, it was an enjoyable escape, and I can’t wait to see what Hazelwood writes next.

A Little Hope by Ethan Joella (on sale today for just $5.99!!)

5 out of 5 Stars

My Book of the Month selection this past month was this lovely little story that I can’t recommend enough. This story is set in a tiny city in Connecticut, and all are built around an interlinking tale of one couple, Freddie and Greg Tyler.

Our story opens with Greg, diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer, struggling with this diagnosis and how this will impact his wife and daughter. This news has a ripple effect through this small town, and the reader gets to know many of the residents through each chapter. The story circles back to Greg’s family in the end, but this is a short story exploration through chapter-form as the stories weave together through this unique narration.

The way that this narration is set up reminded me a lot of Bill Clegg’s, Did You Ever Have a Family, which is equally stunning and heart wrenching (P.S.- read my interview with Bill and read about the astounding process for creating these characters in his story). If you like this novel as much as I do, I would recommend this book as your next book pick.

I was completely enveloped in this story and loved how it tied together in the end. As promised in the title, it is a hopeful and hope-filled story that I think you will devour. If you need a book, you can put it down and pick it up quickly through the chapters; this is one I would recommend too. It’s a surprisingly strong debut that hit all the right notes.

Ethan will be joining the podcast to share about writing his debut and I can’t wait to hear more of his story. If you want to read ahead before our episode, be sure to put this book in your stack.

The Collective by Alison Gaylin

4 out of 5 Stars

f you need a fast-paced thriller for your stack, this was one that I couldn’t put down this month. I love thrillers with profound moral dilemmas that allow you to embrace the gray in situations where things should seem more black-and-white.

Camille’s tragic death haunts her mother, and Camille’s life has spiraled out of control ever since this happened.

Unfortunately, the person responsible for her death is a privileged white guy who has been able to dodge the accusations and live his best life. It’s unfair and cruel, but what if Camille could do something about it?

Camille has openly bashed this guy to the point that she attracts the attention of a secret group of women who have all been involved in situations where the guilty get away with a crime.

They have formed a dark web community that makes these people pay for their crimes.

When Camille is invited into the fold, she is offered the exact resolution to her daughter’s case, but she also has to participate in helping others pay for their crimes.

As you can imagine, this story goes into really dark places as Camille learns more truths about the collective organization she has joined. What happens when innocent people are involved and at what point is making someone pay too much?

This kept me up way past my bedtime and came with some enormous trigger warnings, particularly for anyone who has experienced sexual assault or is the highly sensitive reader.

In this month’s stack is also False Witness and I did see some strong overlapping themes in these two. If you loved that one, definitely adds this to your stack too.

The Lady’s Handbook For Her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey

5 out of 5 Stars

As you know, I announced this one as our memoir selection for 2022 and I can’t wait to read it with you.

It’s a memoir about one woman’s fight to be heard and believed about her illness and the unbelievable journey she went through to receive her diagnosis. 

I read this entire book with a lump in my throat and, admittedly, had to put it down at times. If you have struggled to get answers to your chronic illness or had moments where you felt disbelieved by physicians, this one will hit some tender spots in your heart. 

As with many “secret lady clubs”, she discovered that many other women had faced similar circumstances when sharing her story. So why was this such a common theme, and why do we have to work so hard to be believed?

Sarah is a powerhouse for many reasons, this book is just one of them.

Not only is she a gifted writer, but she’s a gifted musician and also was a part of the writing team for Obama’s campaign in 2008.

I had the chance to sit down with her for an afternoon and talk through her story, and I have to say that this is one of the most powerful interviews that I’ve ever got to be part of. I’m so excited to share that with our Patreon community this year, and I hope you will read this with me!


A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

5 out of 5 Stars

This slim novella was chosen for our December 2022 book club selection, and I know that this one will touch so many of your hearts.

It’s everything I didn’t think I needed in a book, particularly in the world’s challenging times that we have been facing.

This is a science fiction novel, and it would be great to dip your toes into science fiction if you have never read this genre before.

In this story, the robots of Panga have decided to leave their jobs and put down their tools, never to be seen again.

One day, a tea monk’s life is upended by the arrival of a robot that has returned, and he won’t leave until he can answer this single question, “What Do People Need?”

I listened to this novel on audiobook, and I want to say that I was admittedly a little confused at first because this is the first book I’ve read with a “they” pronoun for a character. I know we will see this used in literature so much more, but it did feel notable as a reader. 

In book format, this would have had more context for the reader and would not have been less confusing as it was in the beginning as an audiobook listener.

This story is hopeful and like a comforting cup of tea on a cold day. If you enjoy this odd-couple story as much as I do, you will also be pleased to know that the second adventure with these characters will hit store shelves this summer.

Doctors and Friends by Kimmery Martin

4 out of 5 Stars

Last month, I read The Antidote for Everything as I was screening books for our book club.

It turns out; I’m happy that I did that because characters from that book are brought into this latest novel by Kimmerly Martin. You will find, in the beginning, that Kimmerly creates a cast of physician characters gathered from this novel and The Queen of Hearts.

You do not need to read these to understand the story, but some backstories are referenced (on occasion) where that might be helpful to understand the backgrounds of these relationships.

If you are unfamiliar with Kimmery Martin’s work, the author uses her background as an emergency physician in these stories, and she’s using her medical background, again, in this story.

I want to lead with that Martin was writing this story before the pandemic, which makes it even eerier and ambitious because this is Martin’s interpretation about what would happen if a pandemic hit our world. She also notes, in the end, that she tried to avoid making a lot of edits based on COVID but only added in some more minor details like our reliance on Zoom for meetings. She also shares that she ended up battling COVID herself and plans to write about “world peace” next since this ended up overlapping too much with reality.

In this story, three friends from medical school reunite in Spain for a much-needed vacation. Unfortunately, just as they arrive for their vacation, a fast-spreading virus starts to throw the world into chaos. Martin builds thoughtful hints of what is to come as they go on a tour of the town and then the excruciating dilemma if they should wait it out or travel back home, potentially exposing others to the virus.

The characters each are in different medical specialties, so it impacts each of their practices in different ways. Although they are all challenging, the scenes in the E.R. are, in particular, brutal to read about.

Martin also builds in a Sophie’s Choice type of scenario with one of the doctors and her children. This scene, in particular, caused me to step away from the story and was so hard to read, especially since we are still in the thick of the mess of this pandemic.

There was, honestly, a lot of thought and research that went into this book and if you are the type of person immersing yourself in pandemic reads as a coping strategy, add this one to your stack.

This fictional virus does give it some distance with some of the symptoms she has crafted around it. That said, it did hit a little too close to home at times, and some of the scenarios prepared are extremely difficult to read.

This novel is powerful and a tribute to Martin’s extensive research and background that it felt so challenging to read.

Last Night At The Telegraph Hotel by Malinda Lo 

4 out of 5 Stars

Booktok delivers AGAIN with this fantastic Y.A. historical fiction read that I just could not put down this month.

Have you ever read a book and you loved it and then read the author’s notes at the end, and the research makes you fall for it even more?

That’s what happened to me when I read this one.

This book won the National Book Award in 2021 and is a coming-of-age story about a seventeen-year-old girl named Lily Hu growing up in the 1950s in San Francisco.

If you have read Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters, this reminded me of this exploration, but this story is geared more to the younger reader.

Lily has always felt a little different than her peers and family. When she begins to develop feelings for a classmate, Kathleen, she realizes why that is.

Their relationship blossoms when Katheleen takes her to a lesbian bar called The Telegraph Club, where she finds a secret world where people live more freely in who they are.

This isn’t an era where any acceptance is given though, in fact, you can be arrested for indecency and male impersonation.

Lo’s research, in particular, really shines in this story because clubs like this existed back then, and she utilizes tricky political dynamics, particularly with the risk of deportation for this family and the challenges that women faced that didn’t fit the mold.

Imagine if your father could be deported for your “infractions” and what that would mean for your family.

It’s these big moral dilemmas layered on a coming-of-age story of finding your first love that makes this such a rich story.

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill (on sale today for just $4.99!!)

5 out of 5 Stars

This book is one of the most unusual and inventive stories I’ve ever read. It opens with this line that immediately grabs you, “I started collecting my sister Eunice’s suicide notes when I was seven years old.”

Although categorically Horror, this is what some might describe as “gentle horror,” and the book has also been described as “If John Irving ever wrote a horror novel, it would be something like this,” by the gifted Stephen King.

You get the picture.

This rich story is about a family that all see monsters but deal with them in decidedly different ways.

The mother ignores them and pretends they don’t exist.

The father chooses to build a shrine in an immersive horror exhibit that he hopes to open to their community.

No one has co-existed in the way Noah decides to though when he meets the monster and lets the monster in.

It’s this relationship that spans Noah’s life that the reader gets to go on a journey with, and it is wildly unusual, beautiful, and strange.

This book will hit all the right notes, particularly with The Shape of Water fans.

Hamill’s novel was a GoodReads Choice nominee for Horror in 2019, but it isn’t one that I’ve heard anything about until it was chosen for Fables Books October Book Club. I’m so glad that I read this because it ended up being the perfect spooky book for our reading year.

The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers

5 out of 5 Stars

This debut novel is available for pre-order, and I feel it will be a big hit in 2022, not just with our book club readers but with EVERYONE.

If you were a big fan of The Gown or The Help, in particular, I think you will love this historical fiction pick.

Bright Leaf, North Carolina, is the tobacco capital of the South, and one woman has spent her days dressing these “tobacco wives” for all the significant events in town. When she unexpectedly falls ill, her niece must finish her projects for the party of the year.

The thing is, Maddie is new to town, and she sees the…wait for it…seams of these people a little more clearly than her aunt.

So as she uncovers a document that could change the industry, as the town knows it, she becomes desperate to find the truth about big tobacco and all its hidden secrets.

Next month, I am interviewing Adele for our author interview series on Patreon.

I am excited to hear more about the family member who worked as a beautician for these tobacco wives. I can’t wait to share that with you and talk about this fabulous debut.

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

3 out of 5 Stars

This thriller sounded promising and reminiscent of Teen Killers Club (which I absolutely loved- add it to your stack immediately) so I couldn’t wait to dig into this one. 

In the first half of our story, the reader is set up for an unusual clinical study of psychopaths conducted on a DC-based college campus. This study lead by a renowned psychologist who utilizes a smartwatch to track the study participant’s moods and movements throughout campus. 

Having so many psychopathic students on one campus leads to what seems an inevitable murder on the campus grounds. The question is, which one of these study participants is responsible? Although they all carry this label, some have more potent psychopathic behaviors than others. 

Chloe, for example, exhibits low impulse control and has credible reasons for playing cat-and-mouse with a boy on campus. Korian twists the plot by changing the cat-and-mouse game a few times on the reader. 

The second half of this book dragged and didn’t hold the promise of the first half. As a result, I didn’t feel fully vested in the outcome and found the ending underwhelming.

For me, this one fell flat, despite the original and unique story promised.

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

5 out of 5 Stars

This has been in my stack forever, but I have been a little worried that themes may have overlapped a bit too much with People We Keep, and I wanted a little space between these books. 

I admit, the themes between these two are very similar- chosen families, coming-of-age, and a solid musical backdrop. That said, I loved them both so very much and was completely swept away in this story. Don’t let the overlap discourage you from reading these two books. 

In this story, Mary Jane grows up in a conservative disciplined religious household in the 1970s. It’s a home that is always tidy, where the President is admired and loved, and where going to church is your top priority. 

Mary Jane’s first exposure to a world unlike her own is when she gets a summer nanny job for a neighbor. The neighbor is a psychiatrist specializing in addiction and has decided to do an intensive treatment program for one of his patients who happens to be a rock star, and the care extends to his actress wife. 

Mary Jane becomes the person who brings order to a cluttered and chaotic home. The people under this roof, though teach Mary Jane about a world where people disagree with the politics of their leader, where wardrobe can be a little scandalous, and where boundaries look so much more different than her own home. 

This book just made my heart so damn happy and reminded me of my own coming-of-age story. I loved seeing the world through Mary Jane’s eyes, and each of these characters is so wildly entertaining and endearing. 

I couldn’t put this beautiful book down- I can’t recommend it enough.

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

5 out of 5 Stars

I would suggest reading the letter to the reader BEFORE reading this one, which you will find tucked in at the back of this book. Slaughter chose to set this story during pandemic times, and it is laced with all the daily dilemmas we are finding ourselves in with our current pandemic and why she felt it was important for this story.

This story is very darkly disturbing, and every kind of trigger warning should be listed on this. Fans of Pretty Girls, though, will love this story, and I found it captivating.

A thriller with 448 pages should have dragged and had lulled, but this held my attention from the first page until the last one, a true testament to her solid standing as a dynamic thriller writer.

Leigh has recently separated from her husband and juggles co-parenting a teenager and her job as a defense attorney.
One night, while attending her daughter’s play, she is contacted by one of her firm’s partners that a high-profile client has requested that she represent his case. The name is unfamiliar to her, but when she meets him, she is reminded immediately of the secret she has been keeping and what could be compromised if she doesn’t represent him.

Leigh has been running from her past for twenty years, and the only one who knows the truth is her estranged sister.
Callie hasn’t been a part of Leigh’s life for quite some time as she battles a lifetime of addiction. The two sisters must come together, though, because time is running out, and life as they both know it could end.

This book is so gripping and has so many layers to it. The dynamics between how these two sisters weather the pandemic, the sympathy you find for Callie and her life’s journey, and the big moral dilemmas these two faces make this an incredibly captivating read.

The bits about the pandemic, at times, did distract from the plot and would be my only complaint with this book. That might be, though, because I didn’t want to be reminded so often of our current predicament and less a testament to Slaughter’s writing.

Make sure you clear your calendar if you plan to start this one. You will not want to put this down.

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

5 out of 5 Stars

Were you looking for your next Bird Box? This highly original and profoundly imagined world is just what you need to escape with this month. I happened to snag this as my Book of the Month for December, and I’m SO GLAD because this is one of my favorite reads this year. 

Our story opens with a new assignment for Travis Wren, who has a unique talent for finding missing people. He’s been hired by a family who has been missing their daughter. This woman, Maggie St. James, is a well-known author of dark children’s books. But, unfortunately, it has to lead him to a place where many people believe to be only a legend. 

Years later, Theo, a member of the Pastoral commune, stumbles upon Travis’s abandoned vehicle beyond the borders of their community. It’s notable for several reasons, but one of those reasons is that the commune members are unable to go past the border because it could bring disease to their community. They believe that there is a disease that people can get and spread if they leave their community, and Theo has been testing this theory for some time. 

When Theo admits what he’s been doing, it threatens the world of his wife and her sister. But, they don’t know that this forest holds many secrets, including the ones that unlock their very own pasts. 

This story just blew me away, and I could see this one becoming a movie due to the cinematic qualities of the writing and the beautifully written twists. I wish I could say more about those twists, but the absolute joy is in discovering those for yourself.

Add this one to your stack IMMEDIATELY.