Friday, August 7, 2015

Finish up Your Summer Reading with a BANG! #Review and #Giveaway

As summer is winding down, I am lamenting that I didn't get to read as many books as I would have liked. The time for lounging around the pool with a cold drink and a good book just never seems to come around. Life in general always seems to get in the way! No matter, though, I did get to read a few good ones, and I'm excited to bring you a whole list of other choices that you may or may not have heard about yet. Stay tuned for the whole post for a chance at a great giveaway too!

Nora Roberts has long been one of my favorite authors. When I see that I'm going to have a chance to do some reading, her name is always one of the first that I search for. I was pleasantly surprised to see that she has recently added a new title to the over 200 she has already penned, The Liar.

Shelby Pomeroy is thrown for a real loop. First her husband dies in a tragic boating accident, leaving her a single mother to a three-year old girl. Soon after she discovers that her husband was not the man she thought him to be. Not only was he a liar and a thief, but he has left her in debt up to her eyeballs and homeless to boot!

Shelby swallows her pride and heads home to the family she cast off when her husband swept her off her feet. She prepares to reclaim her former life while trying to dig out from the debt and lies left behind by her husband. Unfortunately, he still has a few more surprises up his sleeve! This is just the right mix of romance and suspense; perfect for a summer read!

Keep reading for some more book ideas and an amazing giveaway!

It's here, friends. The end of summer is upon us. I know. But that doesn't mean you need to put your beloved books down! In fact, just the opposite. No time like the present to dig into your reading and escape the hassles and woes of Back to School prep and fuss. There is something solid to be said for hanging on to these last days of summer and making the most of them.

To embrace the end of our summer months, I teamed up with a bunch of my blogging buddies and asked the uber-important question: what book would you recommend for a last-blast at summer reading? What book would you love to share with others? Every month, The Mom of the Year and Normal Level of Crazy meet through a virtual book club* to allow moms to come together and chat about fab books while still rocking their pj pants in the cozy-comfort of their own homes. It doesn't get any better, really.

This month, we've blown the skies wide open and are coming to you with an entire list of great reads that you need to check out! Even better, we are giving one of you a $215 Amazon gift card along with a bunch of the titles on this list to read! Use the gift card to snatch up your reading wish list and dig into the books sent to your door. In short, you will be in a reader's heaven. It's sweet deal!  

Enter to score the gift card and the hard copies of the books before 8/14/15 at 5:30am ET through the Rafflecopter below. As long as you are resident of the continental U.S. and 18 yrs. or older, you are eligible to win!  

What's on the list of recommended reads?  

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks (Jessica of Herd Management)--Possibly the best Sparks' book I've ever read. Two couples in completely different time periods paths cross and the end result is amazing. Tear-jerking romance is enfolded within the pages of the characters' captivating challenges. Plus, I can't resist a cowboy. Read this before you see the movie!

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Courtney of Our Small Moments)-- How would you feel if the one you loved turned out to be from one of the richest families? Crazy Rich Asians shows the complexity of that situation.

The Liar by Nora Roberts (MamaRabia of The Lieber Family)--What would you do if you found out that your recently deceased husband was not only a liar and a thief, but possibly worse? Shelby Pomeroy decides to take back her life by clearing her name and fighting to make a better life for herself and her young daughter. But her dead husband still has some surprises in store for her!

Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro (Meredith of The Mom of the Year)--With raw and heartwarming honesty, Fierro’s debut captures the sacrifices we make in order to seek understanding, compassion, and love.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (Carrie of Normal Level of Crazy)--The immensely talented Erika Swyler sweeps seamlessly through generations and centuries, moving deftly back and forth and weaving the strands into an exquisite tapestry. I was immediately swept up in this quirky, raucous, and bewitching family saga.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (Jennifer of Real Life Parenting)--The primary female characters in this historical fiction are strong, feisty, and full of heart and personality. The way their lives in time are so far apart, their connections are close and poignant. I loved the blending of history with modern day happenings! A quick read because you just don't want to put it down.

Child, Please, How Mama's Old-School Lessons Helped Me Check Myself Before I Wrecked Myself by Ylonda Gault Caviness (Stacey of One Funny Motha)--Maybe I like this book because I'm old-school myself. Or it could be the author's funny, lively, entirely personable voice that makes reading it feel as though you're talking to a friend. Or it could be that I write about similar issues myself and found much to agree with in the author's perspective. Whatever the case, this memoir is a thoroughly enjoyable read of one woman's straight-talking journey through motherhood and was selected by Ebony as 1 of the top 4 must-reads of the summer.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Alyson of The Shitastrophy)--Was the most amazing read for me. After having walked away from reading for pleasure for some time due to work commitments I selected this book to read on an airplane. I couldn't put the book down and finished it within 2 days. The story winds and weaves through three friends' lives together. The ending was something I didn't see coming and was suiting to see how justice can come to fruition, even when not done judicially. I have gone on to read the rest of her books available and none have disappointed.

Now the Hell Will Start by Brendan I. Koerner (Femme of FemmeFrugality)--Part history, part thriller, all non-fiction. Now the Hell Will Start is the story of Herman Perry, a WWII American soldier on the run in Burma after shooting his commanding officer. Not only does it expose a massive part of WWII history we never learn about in school, it also follows his incredible run from the law, including marrying into a local, headhunting tribe.

The Reluctant Tuscan by Phil Doran (Alicia of Sadler House)--Many writers have extolled the virtues of Italy's countryside, but no other story of Italian transplants is quite like this one. This witty memoir recounts how an award-winning Hollywood comedy producer finds himself renovating a 300-year-old house in Tuscany, where escapism gives way to real-life hilarity.

The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman (Janene of More than Mommies)--We all have those reader friends who we want to be like. You know . . . the ones who are always reading WAY cooler books than we are reading? Well, this book came HIGHLY recommended by my reader friend who I have reader envy of, so, I think we should ALL read it and discuss! (I'm planning on reading it in August . . . so if you pick this one to read I'd love to hear your thoughts!)

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives by Josie Brown (Dani of Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine)--My BFF sent me Secrets of Husbands and Wives by Josie Brown for my birthday in March and I absolutely COULD NOT put it down. I only ever trust her book recommendations, and she was spot on with this one. It's the perfect late summer / back-to-school read, and will not disappoint!

House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (Norine of Science of Parenthood)--Though it reads like a Downton Abbey-esque drawing room drama, behind the mansions and manners and horse-drawn carriages, Edith Wharton's House of Mirth is a fierce social commentary on the proscribed roles for American women in the 1880s. Wharton is a social commentator bar none. And Lily Bart, whose story this is, is my favorite tragic heroine. Every time I read this book, I root for Lily to emerge victorious ... and am heartbroken all over again when she falters.

On Borrowed Wings by Chandra Prasad (Amy of Funny is Family)--On Borrowed Wings is the story of a girl who disguises herself as a boy to attend Yale University in the 1930s, before women were allowed to enroll. It's a fantastic read that weaves well-researched historical details and the strong desire of a girl to break away from her predetermined life path.

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner (Meredith of Meredith to Mommy)--This book really struck me. Well-off, suburban, mom blogger who is trying to do it all winds up addicted to pain meds. This constant monologue of "I can fix this myself. I have a plan. I don't REALLY have a problem." as she falls deeper and deeper into addiction made me choke up at how easy it is to lose control and wind up in a hole that you have no hope of clawing yourself out of alone, while still keeping up a strong facade as someone who has it all. I've read it multiple times, and find myself just as drawn in as I was the first.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe (Kimberly of Red Shutters)--Did you love Rob Lowe in "The Outsiders" and "St. Elmo's Fire" as much as I did? Then, you'd love this memoir in which Lowe pulls back the curtain on his life in Hollywood, from 19-year-old heartthrob to award-winning actor, sharing life wisdom along the way. I enjoyed the audio version of this book, which Lowe narrates himself, complete with impressions of Christopher Walken, Francis Ford Coppola, and other film industry luminaries.

The Martian by Andy Weir (Kim of Let Me Start By Saying)--A man gets left on Mars by accident and his personality, smarts, creativity, and sense of humor carve a place in your heart for him as he tries to figure a way to survive--and eventually leave--his new home in space. What is happening back on Earth and in the ship that left him will have you cranking through the pages, itching to know what will happen next, because this book is full of surprises, laughs, details that make you feel right there.

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (Stephanie of When Crazy Meets Exhaustion)--A thought-provoking punch to the gut that, unfortunately, mimics reality a little too closely. I read it before I had kids, then again after I had my three, and I think a parent's perspective is far more frightening. In the novel, a sociopath "kid" commits the darkest of sins and turns a town--and his family--upside down. *Shivers*

Finding Zoe by Brandi Rarus (Stephanie of Binkies and Briefcases)--the story of a deaf mother and how she came to find herself raising an adopted daughter who is also deaf, as well as her biological children. As an adoptive mom myself, it can be hard to find other stories that relate to my own journey mothering a child with special needs who joined us out of foster care, and this book certainly does that. More than that, Finding Zoe also gave me a glimpse into deaf culture (which was neat for me because before my grandmother passed away she volunteered as a sign language interpreter) and was full of cool trivia, like the author being cast as Marlee Matlin's understudy in a play, but it was also real and relatable on a human level. I think any mom will be able to relate to this memoir.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (Melanie of Not So Super Mom)-- I like it for summer reading because it's not too heavy of a story but it does make us think a bit about our own lives, the expectations we had when we were younger and how changing priorities can set our lives on a different course than we imagined. What a difference a decade makes, right?

Now that you have the whole list of fab recommendations, it's time to get reading, friends! Grab up these titles and make sure to enter in the Rafflecopter below for a super sweet $215 Amazon gift card and a bunch of these books for your very own! We are thrilled to have you reading with us in this last blast to summertime!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway  

* Note to our dedicated book club fans: We WILL be discussing Judy Blume's In the Unlikely Event as promised, but in the interest of this ginormous giveaway and recommendation list post, we've decided to table this discussion until September. Check in on the first Friday of the month, 9/4/15 to catch our thoughts on this book and snag our pick for the next month! We love having you read with us!  

Second image credit:, Image ID:7214753, Copyright:mac_sim  
Third image credit:, Image ID:1884440, copyright:phodopus    

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