September 2019 Must-Reads

September Must-Reads from

Looking for your next great read? I’ve got you covered with 8 reviews on new releases to help you decide if one of the latest fall releases could be for you. As you head into your fall reading, check out my suggestions from the month of September.

This has been quite the week, in MomAdvice land. We moved servers and transferring sixteen years of fun,it turns out,  is NO JOKE. I am hoping that the efforts will yield a much faster site for you and a better user experience. 

I know you aren’t here to talk about my technical challenges though so I’m excited to share my next stack of books with you! 

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Before we start, here are a few things you might have missed:

Did you download your summer reading guide? It’s not too late to snag it (by signing up for my happy list newsletter) because it contains plenty of my all-time favorite reads to enjoy. This season is a great time to get back to reading while your kiddos are back in school. 

While you’re here, be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our FREE online book club! You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. 

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

Also, did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? 

Grab your FREE books over here. 

Book of the Month October 2019 

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Also Out!!

Here is what is available for October!

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade

This month’s deal: New members can get their first book for $9.99 when they join using this month’s code: BIG5 and can cancel at any time. 

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

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

I hate to pick favorites, this early in the year, but my favorite book (so far) is this beautiful book. This is the kind of novel that could be shared with anyone in your life and, I just know, they would love it too. 

Although this story deals a lot with faith in God, I don’t think you need to be religious (or even believe) to appreciate the themes. 

In 1963, two men are jointly hired to steward at a Presbyterian congregation.

Unfortunately, they happen to be taking the reigns during a challenging and turbulent time, when the world is thick with racism and limiting women’s rights. 

One of the men, Charles, is a devout believer whose faith seems unwavering. In a weird twist of fate, he falls in love with a woman (Lily) who has no faith in God at all.

The other man, Charles, had a difficult childhood and grew up with a lot of instability. He feels passionately about social issues and sees injustice all around him.  He falls in love with a woman though who has had a, “silver platter kind of life,”  and is the daughter of a minister. 

The contrast in these homes and between these men is what feeds the story. 

Imagine being an atheist feminist who is tasked with being a minister’s wife?

Imagine being the “perfect minister’s wife,” yet your husband is intent on shaking up the church with sermons on social injustice and racial inequality?

This story follows these two couples, over decades, as they must learn to love and respect one another. The themes on faith, what the role is of the church through turbulent political times, women’s roles (as wives and as mothers), are all phenomenally done.

If you asked me which book I think you should share with your book clubs this year, this is what I would recommend.

I, truly, did not want this story to end.

5 out of 5 Stars

Permanent Record

Permanent Record by H.K. Choi

I was such a fan of H.K. Choi’s first book that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on, Permanent Record.

Pablo is a college dropout who now regularly works the graveyard shift at a twenty-four hour deli. He made numerous financial mistakes including falling for all those credit card offers, that happen on college campuses, and signing up for student loans he can never repay.

When Leanna Smart swings by the deli, Pablo can’t believe his luck. They have, it seems, immediate chemistry and he misses her as soon as she leaves. 

Leanna isn’t a regular girl though, she is a social media sensation and well-known pop star. 

This is why it is such a surprise when she reaches out to Pablo and suggests he join her for a couple of days on tour.  Pablo knows that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance so he leaves with Leanna and they begin the first of many days together.

This was an adorable story from start to finish. 

As soon as I finished it, I handed it off to my daughter (she is 13- fyi)  because I knew she would appreciate it too.

Although the love story was sweet, I appreciated this coming-of-age story more for its honesty about identity and taking ownership of the things that are going wrong (or right) in our lives. 

I didn’t love this one quite as much as her first novel, but I’m still really glad I read it. 

Screening for your kid? There is language in this one (probably nothing different than they hear at school) and there is some glossed over sex scenes. I would give it to them, specifically, for the exploration in student debt and how teens handle social media. 

4 out of 5 Stars

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

Can I just say how much I love J. Ryan Stradal? I know his stories hold a special fondness, for me, because he writes about the Midwest in such beautiful ways. I loved his first book so much that I had him join me to share about his first book. 

As much as I loved his first book, I have to say that this one is even more incredible. 

In this story, a father dies and does not split the inheritance evenly between his daughters.

Instead he gives his entire inheritance to his youngest daughter, Helen. 

Edith is stunned that her father would do this to her and has found herself struggling to make a living, after her husband passes away.  She finds herself working in a nursing home, preparing her award-winning pies for the residents.

Helen, meanwhile, has used her inheritance to open one of the most successful light breweries in the country. She has been doing well with her business for many years, but as the craft beer industry moves in, she finds that she is desperate for help. 

When Edith’s granddaughter, Diana, decides to learn the IPA business, Diana’s path ends up crossing with Helen. Diana is determined to forge the same path and her new business just might be the glue needed to bring these two sisters back together again.

Stradal’s storytelling is exquisite and the different viewpoints really bring it all together. This book would also make a fun book club discussion (at a brewery, perhaps?) because it has so many great themes about what it means to be family.

It has heart, humor, and beautifully written characters.

I enjoyed it start to finish.

5 out of 5 Stars


Dominicana by Angie Cruz

I can’t begin to describe just how incredible Dominicana is. 

In fact, I want you to pick it up IMMEDIATELY so we can talk about it!

In 1965, Ana Cancion is just fifteen when Juan Ruiz proposes marriage. Juan is twice Ana’s age, but he is making it big in New York City and is willing to take Ana to America with him. Ana knows that if she can get to America, she can also help her family immigrate there too.

When she arrives in New York City, she quickly realizes that Juan isn’t anything like he seemed. He lives in a dirty walk-up apartment in Washington Heights and is broke. He’s also extremely abusive and will not allow Ana any freedoms, confining her to the apartment to wait for his return.

Ana is lonely and broken, but she still seems to find these beautiful joy-filled glimmers that make her time in NYC bearable. 

With the Dominican Republic in political turmoil, Juan is forced to leave Ana to try to protect his family’s assets. Juan entrusts his brother, Cesar, to take care of Ana in his absence. Suddenly, Ana is able to actually see New York and the possibility of a different type of life.

It is when she finds love in Cesar and must make a difficult decision.

Should she follow her heart or should she continue her relationship to secure her parent’s trip to America?

I couldn’t put this book down as I rooted for Ana to find joy again. Cruz does an incredible job writing beautifully broken characters.

I won’t be surprised if this one gets optioned for film because it is that good! 

I would highly recommend adding this one to your stack this month and I can’t wait to hear what you think about it too.

5 out of 5 Stars

There Will Be No Miracles Here

There Will Be No Miracles Here by Casey Gerald

I selected There Will Be No Miracles Here for our book club discussion because so many publications put it on their recommended reading lists. 

This memoir opens on New Year’s Eve, 1999, when so many believed it was the end of the world. His grandfather is an evangelical minister who has gathered his flock together for their last day on earth and as the clock strikes midnight, they all go to heaven.

Or not.

This immediately sets the tone for the kind of realistic humor that peppers Casey’s life. Casey’s life is difficult with a mentally ill mother and the abandonment of his father. He is forced to grow up quickly, simply for survival.

When Casey is recruited to play football at Yale, he is brought into a world he could never even fathom. It is here where he is invited into the folds of elite secret societies and the success of Wall Street.

He is also plagued with guilt that he is living this success story.

He has all he needs at his fingertips, but he sees how these acts are crushing those that are left in the margins.

How can many have so much while others are barely surviving?

I listened to this selection, read by the author, and thought it had so many beautiful and valid points. His storytelling shines best when he reflects on his lack of faith, his struggles with sexual identity, and the morality of privilege. 

Unfortunately, this was not edited properly, and could have benefited from a great deal of trimming. The plot of Gerald’s stories often went into lengthy tangents that took away from the meat of the story. Had this been tightened up, these moments would have felt more impactful. 

As a whole, this memoir felt disjointed and unnecessarily lengthy. 

3 out of 5 Stars

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

I love books that seem to be orchestrated just for the pleasure of reading. The Ten Thousand Doors of January seems to pull off just that, with imaginative writing and a story-within-a-story plot concept. 

January Scaller grows up in a beautiful mansion filled with loads of odd treasures. Her father travels a lot for work and January is the ward of a wealthy man, named Mr. Locke, and often left to her own devices. 

January has been carrying around a secret that she has never shared with anyone. When she was just seven, she found a magical door that lead her to a beautiful city. In a moment of bravery, she shared this with Mr. Locke, who grounded her for sharing such ridiculous tales.

When January stumbles upon a book, hidden away in a chest, she begins to find herself immediately connected to the story.

It is about a young woman, named Adelaide, who has also found doors. As January begins to read this story, she stumbles again upon more and more doors that help her understand her own story and the story of her parents. 

This is the type of writing where you want to underline passages or read these imaginative sentences out loud.  Harrow builds these incredible worlds within each of these doors that lead the reader on adventure after adventure. 

If you are looking for a fantasy escape, this is such a good one.

Honestly, it reads like a modern day classic and is just the kind of magic we need to escape with right now.

Add this one to your stack, even if you aren’t a fantasy lit lover. I have a feeling you will fall in love with this story too!

5 out of 5 Stars

No One Can Pronounce My Name

No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal

Satyal decided to write this novel because he noticed that so many novels about Indian culture are rooted in sadness. He wanted to craft an Indian story that had joy and humor in it, and did just that, with his novel, No One Can Pronounce My Name

Set in Cleveland, Harit is in his mid-forties and living with his mother. After the death of his sister, his mother needed support, and Harit provides that to her. He also quietly struggles with his identity,  feeling like a foreigner and understanding his sexuality.

Meanwhile, Ranjana is struggling to find her identity, after her son has left for college. She is consumed with worry that her husband is cheating on her and isn’t sure what her role is now. To channel her feelings, Ranjana has begun writing paranormal romances in secret.

When Harit & Ranjana meet, they soon realize that they both are weathering similar struggles with identity and loneliness. This unlikely friendship is the love and support they both need and they each flourish under the care of one another.

I listened to this MomAdvice Book Club selection on audiobook and absolutely loved the narration.

This story had me giggling out loud and also mixed in some achingly bittersweet moments that made my heart ache.

The ending may have been a tad too tidy, but I think I’m craving those kinds of endings right now.

I loved the development of these two characters and related so well to Ranjana’s struggles to identity as your children grow and leave home. 

I really enjoyed this book a lot and can see why it has been so highly rated by others. It was refreshing to read an Indian midwest story and I appreciated Satyal’s humor and heart in his writing!

4 out of 5 Stars

Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about the “sober curious,” movement and thought I’d do a little dive into a book on it too. I listened to this one on audiobook and was excited to learn better habits for unwinding and more about Warrington’s own journey to sobriety.

Warrington writes very honestly about her struggles with alcohol that lead her to the decision to cut it out of her life. She shares some of her favorite side effects from quitting booze, like better sleep, more energy, and deeper connections with those around her. 

The idea of sober curiosity is, certainly, a different avenue of sobriety than committing to an AA program. I think it is a great exploration for people that don’t necessarily have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, but want to live a mindful life. I can see how the movement can feel a bit controversial for people who struggle with alcohol addiction because abstaining is the best solution.

Overall, it was an interesting read, but I thought the book would offer more takeaways or a step-by-step process. This seems to focus more on Warrington’s own benefits that she experienced rather than giving readers an actionable plan for curiously seeking sobriety.

3 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

June 2019 Must-Reads

July 2019 Must-Reads

August 2019 Must-Reads

September Must-Reads from

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

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Published October 02, 2019 by:

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

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