Tag Archives: Reading

Tween Booklist for the Reluctant Reader

Oh, you know how we love a good booklist! In fact, our last one was so chock full of good reads that you might want to give it another look.  As Erin is currently teaching middle school, we thought it was time to put together a list for the younger set too. Sometimes, tweens are hard sells on a book, but these reads are so good, their stories so compelling, that even the most reluctant reader will succumb to their charms. So here it is: a tween booklist guaranteed to hit that reading sweet spot for your favorite young reader!

Got a reluctant reader? Great reads for the elementary and middle school crowd. Check out this great tween booklist full of books that are unputdownable! | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Um, an enchanted harmonica. Say what? Trust us on this one. Ryan’s magical tale that spans multiple generations and travels across continents is a new classic. The book dives right into some of the thornier aspects of our history and brings a wide-eyed, open-hearted approach. Sometimes this makes for heart-wrenching reading, but ultimately the story is a triumph and a powerful reminder that we can overcome all with love.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Beautiful and moving, this story set in the shadow of World War II is an inspiration. Our hero Annabelle must withstand the local bully, Betty Glengarry, but her actions set in motion a larger, more important story that one of bullying. This remarkable story is “To Kill a Mockingbird” for the middle school set

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Caveat: please read this one before you hand it to a child younger than middle school. That being said, Park handles what could be a very violent book with grace and care. Told from two vantage points and set in 2008, the book follows Nya, a young girl from Sudan who has to fetch water for her village and Salva, a young Sudanese boy whose village is attacked by the rebels in 1985 and who ends up fleeing across the desert to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. This story has true elements to it and the heartbreak of this African village is certainly real, but it’s also an important beautifully rendered account that kids will read quickly.

roll of thunderRoll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

This book is a true classic and even won the Newbery Award. Set in the South during the Great Depression, this book is hard but hopeful and the characters are bright and entertaining in the face of tragedy and racism. You will appreciate the warm ties and truths as your kids will identify and cheer for the family.

The Wee Free Men  by Terry Pratchett

This book is just a great time. Funny, chocked full of adventure, and filled to the brim with heart, there’s nothing not to love here. But the magic is in our protagonist, Tiffany Aching, who sets out on a mission to become a witch. The six inch high tiny but fierce fighting men who assist her help create the magic here. If funny fantasy were a genre, this book would be at the top of it.

red kayak Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings

Set on our beloved Eastern Shore of Maryland, we would probably have a little love for this book even if it wasn’t so deftly knitted together. Luckily for your young reader, this story of a tragic kayak accident is powerful in and of itself. The moral questions the protagonist Brady must answer as he uncovers the truth behind the accident propel this story past the regret and sadness to another place. As the author steers Brady through some tough moral dilemmas without losing any of the suspense, you are reminded over and over again why the book won the honor of being named a Black Eyed Susan book.

wonderWonder by E. J. Palaccio

This Texas Bluebonnet Award winner is a wonder in and of itself. The central character August Pullman has a facial deformity which has prevented him from attending a regular school. When he does finally become a student at Beecher Prep, this buoyant tale takes off. Augie just wants to be treated like everyone else, but, well, everyone else might not be ready for that. Told from the perspective of Augie, his classmates, and his family, this anti-bullying story never comes off as preachy, but does allow room to talk about fears and prejudices and, ultimately, the power of kindness. Wonder of all wonders. A must read for all middle schoolers!

out of my mindOut of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Wow. Just wow. This book sticks with you. Melody is the smartest kid in school, but she can’t talk or walk, so nobody knows. When she finally finds a way to communicate, she seems on her way to fulfilling her dream of just being a “regular” kid. But, sigh, middle school is hard, yo. Frank and open, this book takes us inside one girl’s journey with cerebral palsy and, even with detours into some heavy stuff, we are all made better from the trip.

the raftThe Raft by S.A. Bodeen

This book reads like Charlotte Rogan’s Lifeboat for the teen set. Poor Robie leaves Hawaii for a trip home to Midway when her plane goes down. Unfortunately, nobody really knows she’s missing or where to look for her. Oh, yeah, and she’s pretty much on her own adrift on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s disaster lit at its best. Your older tween and teen will enjoy this fast-paced easy read.

divergent bookDivergent by Victoria Roth

This series tops the middle school lists. In this dystopian future world, society is divided into five factions named for dedication to five different virtues— (Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). This is the next series for any kid who devoured The Hunger Games and has been hankering for more of the same. This series adds some different elements that make it interesting for sure, but your child should probably have the same level of maturity to really enjoy it. Think of this one as upper middle school.

falconer's knotThe Falconer’s Knot: A Story of Friars, Flirtation and Foul Play by Mary Hoffman

Set during the Middle Ages, Silvano is a guy having kind of a bad streak of luck. Wrongfully accused of murder, he is sent to a Franciscan House for his own protection. Posing as a young friar there, Silvano can’t help falling for the lovely girl in the nearby abbey. But he just can’t catch a break. More murders threaten to take Silvano’s freedom for good and keep him from his love. Unlike Hoffman’s popular Stravanganza series set in an alternate world that looked like Renaissance Italy, this suspenseful tale is actually set in fourteenth century Umbria. The historical element just adds another layer to this already rich story. Your young readers will swoon.

among the hiddenThe Shadow Children, the Complete Series: Among the Hidden; Among the Impostors; Among the Betrayed; Among the Barons; Among the Brave; Among the Enemy; Among the Free by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Ideal for all fluent readers, this series is a runaway hit. Luke is a 12 year old kid who has spent his life in hiding. The Population Police have dictated that each family can only have two kids. As his family’s third child, Luke’s life is in danger so he has never experienced many of the simple joys of childhood. As his world changes, he glimpses others like himself and launches a daring plan to come out of the shadows that gives energy and momentum to the series. Your kids will be so busy trying to keep up with all the plot twists and turns that they won’t even know they just spent their summer reading.

feverFever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

This recommendation cannot come without also calling attention to Anderson’s other wonderful titles Speak and Chains, both National Book Award finalists. Anderson is the master of historical fiction for the Axe and Aero set. This novel takes us to Philadelphia during the yellow fever epidemic is one of her best. Told from the point of view of Mattie Cook, this tale weaves a narrative around the real-life events and characters of the time. Anderson never treats her young readers like unintelligent ones so the language in the book is just as rich and interesting as the story itself. And there’s an appendix at the end with facts about the epidemic. Sqwee! To a certain reader, it’s kind of like getting a birthday cake on Christmas. Score!

WestingGame6THE WESTING GAME by Ellen Raskin

This is an oldie but greatie. Several of us remember this book as one of our favorites from childhood and at least one of us taught this book to our students.  Another Newbery winner, this book has been charming readers for over twenty-five years and it still reads as fresh and inventive as it did back then. Sixteen people show up to the reading of Samuel Westing’s will. Any of them could walk away with his millions. The fun is in the unravelling. An absolute delight to read!

when life gives you OJWhen Life Gives You O.J.  by

Animal-lovers will flock to this book! Zelly is moving to Vermont and she desperately wants a dog. Her grandpa Ace comes up with a crazy scheme to convince her parents that she is ready for one: he makes her a dog out of an old orange juice jug. There is a lot to love about this book. The sweet but complicated relationship Zelly has with her grandpop Ace, her new friend who encourages her to stay true to her convictions even in the face of social pressures, and the subtle themes of responsibility and treating all people (even bullies) with respect woven throughout. The author even inserts some great education about the Jewish faith into the story as Zelly meets two families who are devout Jews in a town that where they are a distinct and noticeable minority. Kids will love the Yiddish glossary at the end!

  11831Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt

So you had to know this book was special once you figured out that this sequel won the Newbery Honor Award, but it’s also pretty apparent from the moment you open the spine (without breaking it, of course) and settle into the pages. Thirteen year old Dicey and her three siblings were abandoned by her mother in a parking lot and she has heralded them safely to her grandmother’s house where this story begins. The truth and beauty of Dicey’s voice and story, the pace and strong characters, and ultimately the honesty that permeates from this fast-paced read are all part of its charm. Oh, and it was one of Erin’s favorite books from when she was on the cusp of teendom.

nerd campNerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman

This funny, tender book about being true to who you are doesn’t ever come across as schmaltzy and boys will be laughing too hard at all the crazy adventures of Gabe and his friends at Nerd Camp to notice all the sweet stuff anyway. Gabe’s dad is getting remarried and he is getting a stepbrother who happens to be the very same age. This is great news for Gabe until he realizes that his new brother Zack is a cool skateboarder while he is, well, not. Gabe desperately wants to hide his geekiness from Zack and the story unfolds. In the end, this is a story about accepting yourself for who you are. It’s such a positive, upbeat story narrated by an engaging young voice that tween boys won’t be able to put this book down.

three Times LuckyThree Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Oh, we love a strong female lead and this book has one in the firecracker protagonist named Mo LeBeau. Big on personality and heart, this book is also a full-blown mystery topped with a little Southern charm. As a read, it goes down like a smooth glass of perfect lemonade. Your kids will be charmed by the quirky cast of characters and the precocious but believable dialogue.

spy schoolSpy School by Stuart Gibbs

Erin’s kids have been known to fall asleep clutching spy goggles and our friend Mary’s son brought his spy watch kayaking, hiking, and camping last year. Boys LOVE spy stuff. So a book about a school for spies? It has Hogwarts for Future Double Agents written all over it. Even the hero Ben is a little Potter reminiscent. Slow to warm up to the spy stuff, Ben wins in the end—making friends, helping to uncover the hidden mole, and getting his spy groove on. This book brings the action, ninja stars, and combat simulation (in the form of paintball—of course) to the CIA Academy and kids who enjoy a witty tale with a side of suspense will be delighted.  This would be a great read-aloud for younger kids too.

Alas, we think all the books on this tween booklist are winners, but we also love it when smarter people with fancy ribbons agree with us too. We have found the Newbery Award winners, the Black Eyed Susan books, the Texas Bluebonnet Award winners, and the National Book Award winners to be great resources for finding even more wonderful reads for our kids.

But if all else fails, ask a librarian. They will usually rain down suggestions with just a little prodding. We have some of the best here in our county, but we bet there is a great one near you too!

Happy reading!

-Erin and Ellen

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

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Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”


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Great Books Grouped by Authors We Love

On the list of things we love, books are definitely near the top. With this in mind, we are always either making booklists like this one or this one or finding great booklists. After writing a bunch of booklists, we notice that there are some authors we can count on to bring great writing, killer story-telling, and compelling characters every time. So here is our latest list of great books grouped by authors we love. You can thank us later.

Reading is our favorite hobby. Here are great books by authors we love! | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Noah Hawley

Currently writing, showrunning, and producing the series “Fargo” while writing killer novels on the side, Noah Hawley can pace a story like the award-winning TV writer that he is. He also populates his books with relatable real characters and sprinkles some crackling dialogue on top. Crack one of these open and enjoy!

1. Before the Fall

Every member of Erin’s family devoured this book this summer. The premise: a plane crashes, and there are only 2 survivors, one of them a young child. The promise: a story that unfolds with a few surprises full of characters you care about and a mystery you are interested in solving. You will stay up late to read the backstories of the people on the plane and find out what happened to the ill-fated flight. Fascinating and entirely unputdownable, this is a book on everybody’s must read lists this summer so move it to the top of yours.

2. The Good Father

Erin remembers reading this book and seeing Hawley’s screenwriter roots bubble up through the pages. Check out the premise: A renowned rheumatologist finds out that his son is accused of murdering a presidential candidate. So very made-for-TV, right? Well, look deeper at the promise: a well-developed story that explores the challenges of modern parenthood and a literary rumination on the extent to which our characters and fates are shaped by nature, nurture, and plain old dumb luck. It’s a knock-out of a book.

Elizabeth Strout

We both love every opportunity to worship at the altar of the inimitable Strout and these two books illustrate perfectly why.

1. My Name Is Lucy Barton

This simple and unassuming story is a powerhouse of story-telling. Lucy is recovering in a hospital bed when her estranged mom comes to visit. However, Lucy is no ordinary protagonist and Strout is now ordinary writer, so the results are literary fireworks. Small but mighty, this slim novel packs a lot of extraordinary into a tight, narrative thread. The perfectly rendered imperfect relationship between Lucy and her mother is a reader’s dream: nuanced, fully realized, and ringing with truth. This one is a keeper.

2. Olive Kitteridge

Sometimes an author creates a character that can actually breathe off the page. Olive Kitteridge is that character and the axis upon which the enchanting little world of Crosby, Maine turns. The thirteen personal narratives that come together to create this story are compelling in themselves, but their power comes from the connection to Olive herself.  Strout, for her part, can animate the ordinariness of life. We aren’t pulled in because this book is so extraordinary, but because it rings with truth and resonates with beauty.

Rainbow Rowell

We share a huge author crush on Rainbow Rowell. Rowell never fails to surprise, entertain, and stun us with her craft and cleverness. She can also give you that rare stomach flip. Here are two of her books we just love.

1. Eleanor & Park

Nothing warms the heart faster than a love story, and this one charmed us both. It’s a story of first love peopled with characters so real they could walk right off the page. Eleanor and Park are high schoolers the way we remember them and know them now. Funny, sweet, vulnerable, flawed, and deeply striving for love, acceptance, and independence, they are characters to cheer for, and you will. Erin walked around like a teen in love while reading it and couldn’t stop shoving it into the hands of any unsuspecting reader she could find. Don’t let the Barnes and Noble sales rack fool you: this is not a teen romance in the same way that War and Peace is not a book that concerns Russia. It IS a 24 hour read. Tops.

2. Carry On

Following the wonderful Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, there were huge expectations for this book, especially because favorite characters from Fangirl show up again in this story. Even in a book about magic, Rowell proves she is still so very much the literary real deal. Before you start to call this book Harry Potter for big kids, you have to know that this book is its own brand of special. How do we know? Over 500 pages disappear in a flash before your very eyes. This is Rowell at her best. The results? Magical.

Christina Baker Kline

1. Orphan Train 

orphanIn a nutshell, this is a tale of two girls who have both been left alone in the world by fate. Their stories are the backbone of the book: one taking place in the here and now, the other in flashback. While this book more solidly belongs to Vivian and her experience on the orphan train, Molly’s modern day tale of abandonment anchors this historical novel and lets us not forget that we still struggle with how to handle the children left behind.

2. Bird in Hand 

Erin gobbled this one right up. She even took it backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. Nothing says “must read” like a willingness to cart those extra ounces up and down a mountain. In any case, the novel opens as stay-at-home mom Allison’s life is about to go off the rails. She goes to her childhood best friend’s book signing one night and has a little too much to drink. Mere hours later, she is involved in a fatal accident in which a child dies. The air you take into your lungs in the big gasp in the beginning takes this whole well-paced novel to be released. This may not be high literature, but it is a captivating read that makes you think. Like we said, you are gonna want to take big bites of this one.

Liane Moriarty

1. Big Little Lies 

Erin laughed, cried, and ignored her kids for three days to finish this piece of book crack in the big, sloppy gulps it demands. You know from the beginning that there has been a terrible tragedy at the local school’s Trivia Night, because Moriarty leaves little crumbs at the end of each chapter. But that’s not the story here. This is NOT another legal thriller. A big, sprawling character study of modern moms, it may be. An ironic, funny take on modern parenting, it definitely is! It’s also a rollicking good time. You’ll laugh and cringe at just how right Moriarty gets all the characters hanging out in the school parking lot. A great read for fall while still reminiscent of that last joyful moment of summer indulgence.

 2. What Alice Forgot

Poor Alice is having a hell of a day: when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital, she discovers that she is not in fact 29, crazy in love with her husband and expecting her child, but actually 39 with three kids in the midst of a divorce. The chasm between where she is and where she was is the story itself. Moriarty asks the question: what happened to our lives while we we were busy living it? Then she lets Alice navigate through the world that attempts to answer it. The journey is a great read that gets you thinking about the nature of marriage and finding one’s own way. Written with humor and warmth, this is a satisfying and enjoyable read.

Barbara Kingsolver

Oh, Barbara Kingsolver, you complete us!  We kind of love everything she writes, but these books delight our book-loving hearts while also giving us thoughtful reads that keep us thinking long after we turn the last pages.

1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

There are other stories like this one about eating locally, about families trying to live on their land, about treating the environment well, but Kingsolver’s gifted narrative skills elevate this book to the next level. Not just a memoir of her family’s year of eating locally, this book is a deeply entertaining and obsessively readable gem full of delectable recipes and equally delicious sidebars. Our science-loving hearts appreciate the sound and deep research that anchors the book, but even more precious and appreciated is the very tone and tenor of this book. Never once does it devolve into smugness or snobbery, a pitfall of the genre.

2. Prodigal Summer

This one will get your pulse racing and the thermostat moving in the right direction.Three interwoven love stories fill out the deeply moving and wildly beating heart at the center of this novel. As always, Kingsolver draws you into the natural world framing the events taking place during this hot, hot summer. As you might expect, the result is less natural history course and more, well, prodigal. Bring a tall glass of cool tea to sip while reading just to bring the temperature down.

Sue Miller

Oh, Sue Miller. We just love her. She brings us stories that don’t just entertain but make us think.

1. The Senator’s Wife

This book about two women on opposite sides of the marital timeline but facing similar issues within them is no exception. Miller can craft a conversation like nobody’s business, but its her adept pacing and characterization that make her novels little living, breathing things. In this case, she has breathed life into the very concept of marriage itself and in turn created a fascinating, fun read. No small feat, but one we will gladly take.

2. The Lake Shore Limited

Sue Miller is so good at creating characters that you forget you’re reading and feel yourself looking around for your new friends. Anyway, this is a story in a story too, and this approach gives you just the distance you need to see these characters clearly.  Billy, the playwright, is grieving the loss of her lover who was killed in the attacks of 9/11, and she works out her feelings in her play about a man waiting to hear if his wife has been killed in a terrorist attack on the famed train, The Lake Shore Limited. These characters will drag you into their world no matter where you may be sipping your drink.

Tana French

We are just gonna come right out and say it: Tana French never disappoints. If you haven’t fallen in love with her books yet, then you are in for a treat. Not only can this Irish writer pace a novel to keep you begging for more, but she is THE master of language. Her beautiful storytelling will keep you mesmerized for hours.

1. In the Woods

Dang, this book has a killer set-up. In 1984, three kids don’t make it home for dinner. One of them is found clinging to a tree with blood-soaked sneakers. Fast-forward to present day and that found child is the lead detective in a copycat crime. French writes the hell out of this story, so there are rich characters, stunning complexity, and likable characters. The  best part? There are three more great novels (with familiar characters) to read right after you finish this one (and you will want to, believe me!)  Lose yourself in her fabulous characters and richly imagined worlds and get ready to buy us a drink for introducing the two of you!

2. The Secret Place 

You will not be disappointed in this detective tale of a teen boy murdered at a prestigious boarding school. But there is a caveat: if you are a true fan (one that has read all her novels and waits with baited breath for each new book), this one won’t take top billing in the special brand of mystery detective thrillers she has created. But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t read it: there is still much to love in this novel. First of all, familiar characters are back in Frank Mackey, his daughter Holly, and detective Stephen Moran. Second, like always, French is the master of this genre in so many ways. She paces her stories so well and her characterizations and her plots are memorable and special.

Curtis Sittenfeld

Right off the bat, Erin has to disclose that she is a huge Sittenfeld fan. Prep , American Wife, The Man of My Dreams —liked ’em all, but this is an author that you love or hate, so read these recommendations with that in mind.

1. American Wife

“It would in retrospect appear to be a stop on a narrative path that was inevitable, but this is only because most events, most paths, feel inevitable in retrospect.” This story of a president’s wife, based on the biography of Laura Bush, is a gem of writing and story-telling. It also feels like something important to read right now in this political climate. The questions asked, the curtains pulled back, the psyches laid bare, the story told—it all fits just right and Sittenfeld is a master wordsmith as well as killer storyteller. You will not be disappointed.

2. Sisterland 

sisterlandIn this novel, Kate (AKA Daisy) and her twin sister Violet have the gift of sight, ESP. It’s a gift that Violet celebrates and Daisy (now known as Kate) hides under a bushel basket. The story centers around Violet’s premonition that an earthquake is coming that is going to devastate the region and the fallout of her announcement for both the media and their relationship. Sittenfeld peppers all of her novels with pop culture references, and this book is no exception. It makes reading a little like finding gems in the sand: a delightful surprise in an already pleasurable experience. Also, CS nails the complexities of the family bond. Her characterization has always been a strong suit, and she reveals in the Violet/Daisy bond why family can not only be great but also grating as well.

So there you have it, a booklist for book and author lovers alike.

Looking for a good book? A great new author to read? Here is a booklist for booklovers everywhere.| Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Our book club pals who vetted most of these pics and keep us honest about our reviews

Read on happily, friends!

-Erin and Ellen

Speaking of great reads, have you seen our new book,

I Just Want to Be Perfect?

With 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect, it is just as great whether you are hanging our poolside, by the beach, or even just the doctor’s office.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”


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20 Must-Read Books Plus a Giveaway

What’s that, friends? You feel that gorgeous sunshine on your back and hear those birds chirping? Yup, it’s officially SUMMER! And to all the readers of the world, that means one very, very important thing: it’s time to dig into that summer reading list. These must-read books will brighten your summer as surely as ours!

Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms
Been a little too distracted by the end-of-school insanity to bone up on what all hot summer reads are? No sweat! We’ve got you covered. Twenty of us blogging gals have teamed up with The Mom of the Year and Normal Level of Crazy virtual monthly book club to create a list of exactly what belongs on your summer reading list. Not only do these books come highly recommended (along with the reason you need to be reading them!), we are giving eleven of them away to one of you, along with a $225 Amazon giftcard. We know, it’s insanely awesome! More details on the giveaway at the end of the post. For now, log into Goodreads, grab a notepad or settle in with however you track your to-read list and start adding these titles. Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

20 Books that Belong on Your Summer Reading List:

Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

  1. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini (Toulouse and Tonic) is a GREAT summer read. Leah Remini doesn’t hold anything back, from her decades-long experience with Scientology to celeb encounters along the way, especially experiences within Scientology. If you want to hear all the dish on Tom Cruise, including his “Scientology arranged and groomed” girlfriend and then his marriage to Katie Holmes, get the book now. Her honesty and lack of pretense is refreshing. I couldn’t put it down!
  2. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (The Not So Super Mom) This is a bit of a quirky book, but it is perfectly quirky without falling into the creepy or just plain confusing. A.J. Fikry is not the most immediately likable character but you find yourself rooting for him (and his bookstore) anyway. I appreciated that he was a bit of an oddball, because who in our lives isn’t without their own idiosyncrasies? I enjoyed the themes in this book–loss, romance, mystery–all peppered with humor and the format–each chapter moves the story forward in time and serves as an ode to one of Fikry’s favorite books–was different but enjoyable to any book lovers who try to find themselves in the stories they read.
  3. Smart Women by Judy Blume (Meraki Lane) I was a huge Judy Blume fan when I was a kid (Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself was my favorite!), so it’s no surprise I jumped with joy when I discovered she writes novels for adults as well, and this book did NOT disappoint. If you like a light read with a little racy romance thrown in, this is the perfect summer pick!
  4. A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan (Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms)  With its light, breezy touch, infinitely likable characters, and easily recognizable tensions, this book will sink its stealthy hooks into you and then spit you out an afternoon later. You will adore Alice, her kids, and her very believable relationship with her husband as much as we do. This may not be ground-breaking fiction, but it is a wholly satisfying, utterly delicious piece of literary pie.Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms
  5. Beyond the Break by Kristen Mae (Kristen Mae) Quoted from Melissa Mowry of One Mother to Another‘s review on Amazon: “This book absolutely crushed me. The writing is hauntingly beautiful and full of depth, with well-rounded characters and gorgeous imagery. As a card-carrying heterosexual, I expected to feel a little squirmy about the girl-on-girl aspect and was just reading because I love this author’s writing. I was SO WRONG. The sex was, in a word, mind-blowing. None of that lazy, euphemistic smut book language (you won’t find talk of anyone’s blossoming flower here) just seriously hot, almost artistic love scenes. Hazel is a flawed but loveable main character with a haunting past and so much dimension. Claire is absolutely magnetic; even I was attracted to her. You owe yourself the pleasure–and I do mean pleasure–of reading this book. It will change everything you thought you knew about love, sexual attraction, and chemistry.”
  6. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume (Herd Management) Summer Sisters provides a fascinating view into the inner workings and dynamics of a close female friendship over the duration of their journey from young teens into adulthood. Many women will be able to relate to the power that female friends have over one another’s hearts, and their ability to shatter them completely sometimes. Riveting, relatable, and emotional.
  7. The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews (Confessions of a Mommyaholic) This summer/beach town set book is the absolute perfect read this summer while you are sitting beach or poolside that is filled with just enough intrigue, suspense, drama, romance and more.
  8. Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher (See Mom Click) This is one of those books that draws you in and won’t let go, even after you’ve put it down. Senna Richard wakes up on her 33rdbirthday, locked in a house in the snow in the middle of nowhere, full of clues she has to piece together to gain her freedom. Not just a mystery, but a rip-your-heart-out love story, the author keeps you guessing while you become totally wrapped up in these characters’ lives.Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms
  9. Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker (Shakespeare’s Mom) In this collection of personal essays, Parker writes beautifully about her encounters and relationships with various men in her life – everyone from her grandfather to ex-boyfriends, to, in an essay that manages to be both brutal and hilarious, a male goat. I read the whole book in one day. I had to ignore my children and personal hygiene to do it, but finding myself sucked into the book’s spellbinding word-webs was totally worth it.
  10. Not Without My Father by Andra Watkins (Andra Watkins) This story is a great summer read because we all struggle with loved ones. It’s an easy, yet poignant, read that changes a lot of people.
  11. Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyangi (Femme Frugality) This true story of alternative education in WWII era Japan serves to inspire. If you’ve ever known a kid that doesn’t seem to fit into a traditional education system, Tetsuko Kuroyangi’s story will warm your heart and give you hope. Kuroyangi, after getting kicked out of a traditional school, grew up to be one of Japan’s media sweethearts and a great, hands-on philanthropist.
  12. A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley (The Whimsy One) will take you on a waltz between present day and the 18th century as Sara (present day) tries to decipher a journal written by Mary during the Jacobites uprising in Paris (1732) what she discovers in the handwritten pages is not at all what she was expecting.Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms
  13. Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos (Jana Says) I fell in love with this author after reading another one of his books but this one, a stunning, sad, sometimes funny, heartbreaking, (mostly) realistic portrayal of a marriage in crisis and its subsequent implosion during a summer long Midwestern heatwave, solidified him in my top 5 favorite authors.
  14. What Alice Forgot By Liane Moriarty (Tamara (Like) Camera) This book gripped me – I felt all the joys and pains. I recommended it to both of my sisters who are still postpartum.
  15. Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Kiss My List) You will not regret spending an afternoon curled up with this smart, funny, and poignant novel about a teenage girl’s bus ride back to her mom in Cleveland. Mim’s journey from Mississippi is filled with people who could be fascinating main characters in their own books.
  16. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (The Golden Spoons) Hawley alternates between perspectives of different characters as well as switches from past to present in this story of 11 people – some connected, some seemingly out of place – whose lives are changed or lost when their private jet goes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard on a foggy August night.Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms
  17. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (The Lieber Family) This second Cormoran Strike novel follows our detective as he investigates the disappearance and later death of a controversial, not-well liked author whose last novel didn’t have anything nice to say about…well, anyone!
  18. You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes (Pulling Taffy) If you love a good, creepy thriller, with an occasional chuckle, this is a great summer read. By the end you will be rooting for the serial killer and hoping his intended victim dies (Please. End. Her. Incessant. Whining.)
  19. The Show by Filip Syta (Normal Level of Crazy) I’m taken by Amazon’s description of the book,Think of the greatest tech company in the world. Imagine getting a job there. Picture the perks: free gourmet food, free booze, a gym, a swimming pool, and a holiday bonus . . . every month. Brilliant coworkers. No dress code. Great parties. More money. Everyone’s admiration.” You know there are inevitably problems that will arise, but it sounds so exotic in comparison to my world, that I can’t wait to dig in!
  20. The Tulip Factory by Kacie Davis Idol (The Mom of the Year) Amazon’s description makes it sound like the perfect dreamy, fun summer book: “Before they exchange even a single word, Corrine knows that James will change everything. And sure enough, their serendipitous meeting in a North Carolina coffee shop sets off a whirlwind of desire and possibilities for the two.”

Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms Now that you’ve got the whole list, we know you’re dying to immediately lose yourself in book pages, but don’t forget to first enter the fantastic giveaway here! Eleven of these books (Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, The Storied Like of A.J. Fikry, The Weekenders, Not Without My Father, Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, Beyond the Break, The Tulip Factory, The Show, A Desperate Fortune, Before the Fall, You: A Novel) are up for grabs in addition to a $225 Amazon giftcard! Delight in the books and use the giftcard to get any others that are on your summer reading list–or for this sweet amount, even snag a new Kindle for reading on-the-go! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to enter the Rafflecopter below. All entries must be received before 7/8/16 at 5:30am ET. Here’s to a summer of great memories, books, and friends! Happy reading!

-Erin and Ellen

Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

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****This post is not sponsored or compensated in any way. We are grateful to the following publishers for providing copies of the books for our giveaway: Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Grand Central Publishing, Kristen Mae, Algonquin Books, Sourcebooks, Andra Watkins, St. Martin’s Press, Kodansha, and Inkshares. We bloggers have all chipped in together to provide the Amazon giftcard–because we love Amazon and we love you 😉 ****

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

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Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”


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5 Books for the Carpool Line

We are logging some impressive hours in the car shuffling our progeny from one edifying experience to another. Pollyanna herself would be hard-pressed to put some positive spin on this eternal carpooling, but we’re nothing if not determined and willing to take on a challenge. Sure, our old lady parts are stiff from car butt and our arms have developed driver’s elbow, but we will find the silver lining in the cloud of fumes we are trailing everywhere we go.

And here it is . . .

Our time idling in neutral in front of high schools, beside soccer fields, and behind gymnasiums might all be for naught if not for the promise of a little “Me” time found in these moments. And what better way to fill those moments than with a good book to keep us company! Forget silver lining. We call this a jackpot!

Now we are sharing our good fortune with you! These five books are as different as the kids we are carting from playing field to playing field, but they are all perfect companions for those quiet moments. Hope you find a little prize hidden inside your busy day too! Enjoy!

5 books


interestings1. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Reason #1 to hijack your kid’s summer reading list next year: You may find a gem like this one. We can all relate to the experience of summer camp, of summers of profound change, of that raw youthful desire to be, well, interesting. Wolitzer takes these experiences and marries them to characters who feel like friends. In her deft writer’s hands, suddenly you have a book you can live in, say for a week of soccer practices.  The protagonist Jules is so profoundly recognizable in her youthful yearnings that later when she knows that she is, like most of us, ordinary, you’ll want to shake her and scream, “That’s not true!” Wolitzer has a gift for characterization that is hard to match and this book is something special.

the chaperone2. The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

If you love historical fiction, start panting and salivating now. This book colors the early twentieth century and draws us into that world.The real-life actress Louise Brooks figures prominently in the story, but it’s the story of her chaperone Cora that moves us. Moriarty’s language transports us as well with gems like this one: “Show me a mother with that much thwarted ambition, and I’ll show you a daughter born for success.” Oh, Moriarty, you complete us.  This book will be a big old lovefest of fun to read and the time period doesn’t, in the end, feel like that long ago. Not too shabby for a trusty car companion.

where'd you go?3. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

In one sense, you can think of this book as bread crumbs in the forest because essentially that is how this smart novel is written. Bee, the daughter, assembles emails, documents, letters et al after her mother Bernadette disappears in an effort to assemble the clues to unravel the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. The structure of the novel is just one intimation that this book is something special. After you read each document in its entirety, the full force and power of this novel is brought to light. Bitterly funny, satirical, and off-kilter in the best sense of the word, this send-up about all the things we mock and fear and revere in our modern society is the equivalent of a literary carnival. Oh, we are certainly having fun now! Dork Alert: Fans of Arrested Development won’t be a bit surprised to learn that the author Maria Semple was also a writer for the series .

wild4. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Loss moves us in lots of ways. For Cheryl Strayed, loss meant literally moving. Away from her broken heart after losing her mother, away from the painful detritus of her failed marriage, away from a life veering off the tracks. She needed to get away in the realest sense possible. So she hit the trail. For her, healing meant lacing up her brand spanking new boots and setting her sights on a trip she honestly was unprepared for in every way. Strayed’s recounting of her time on the Pacific Crest Trail is riveting. Not only is she gifted with a steely resolve worthy of wonder and awe, but she has a wordsmith’s touch and a clear-eyed honesty that will captivate you. Can’t-put-down-able.

engagements5. The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

“A Diamond is Forever.” That famous ad line and a storyline about Frances Gerety, the ad exec that created it,  is the vein that pulses at the heart of this book. We love J. Courtney Sullivan and can honestly recommend any of her books, but this one reminds us WHY we love her so. Sullivan weaves history with fiction so seamlessly and creates characters so compelling that she transports you to whatever time and place she deems worthy of her wicked smart focus. In this case, she is taking on our cultural history with diamonds.  Sullivan shines a light on DeBeers, their famous ad campaigns that made us want what we want, and the diamond industry itself. But she does so by creating four marriages connected over a hundred years, and thus we are reminded of all the gifts she brings to the table. Always quick with a smart turn of phrase, Sullivan is equally deft with her characters and plot development. The result is, as always, a novel with a heart and soul worthy of all your stolen moments.

And a little bonus recommendation. . .

In case you were too busy driving your own kids everywhere last week and missed the big news: Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature! This is pretty huge news, because usually short stories are the black sheep of the literary family. They’re the ones who sit at the kiddie table during the holidays because nobody takes them seriously. They are just not literary enough, but leave it to Alice Munro to shake things up this season.

People have been nodding their heads in agreement for years that Alice Munro is one of the best fiction writers alive. See us doing it too?   Leave it to Nobel to finally say out loud what everyone has been thinking all this time: You rock,  Alice Munro, take this shiny trophy and our accolades and let us shower you with all the praise and plaudits you deserve. Finally.

Now we have heard that all of Munro’s story collections are great, but Erin’s sister is a college professor and she highly recommends Runaway. We pretty much read what she tells us to, so you might want to consider doing the same. But we acknowledge that reading a book might just be too much for you right now, so we wanted to remind you that Sarah Polley wrote a seriously wonderful movie Away from Her based on one of her stories. We are certain the humble, brilliant Munro would be honored if you checked out any of her work.

Happy Reading!

-Erin and Ellen

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Giant Summer Reading Giveaway

Friends are the most valuable assets you can have and you all are about to reap some value from the friends we have. Sound like a cryptic fortune cookie to you? It’s really simpler than that. We, and about 20+ blogger friends, are having a massive giveaway organized by the truly talented Robyn of Hollow Tree Ventures. Go check her out after you enter to win your loot. It’s the friendly thing to do.

giant summer reading giveaway

So on with the giveaway. Picture yourself poolside, or lounging on the beach. It’s nice, right? But it could be better. What you need are some great books to make you laugh, and some seriously stylish summer accessories. Well, we have you covered.

First up, we’re giving away six (count ’em, SIX) funny books that you probably already own because you have such great taste. But if, by chance, you’ve been busy reading the dictionary cover to cover or you tried to buy these and Amazon was all like, “Sorry, too slow, sucker. Sold out!” today’s your lucky day!


At Least My Belly Hides My Cankles: Mostly-True Tales of an Impending Miracle is the debut novel of the amazing Paige Kellerman, of There’s More Where That Came From. In it, she props her cankles up on the coffee table of your heart and tells the tale of her pregnancy with twins, from the reluctant announcement of the pregnancy test results to the experience of being hoisted awkwardly (is there any other way?) onto the delivery table. You’ll be able to relate to every word, and Paige’s unique storytelling style will keep you laughing, guaranteed.

abby has issues

Abby Still Has Issues is the second book by Abby Heugel of the award-winning blog, Abby Has Issues. It features a ton of laugh-out-loud essays that could only be plucked from that wonderfully neurotic head full of issues we all love so well. Laugh along as she admits to being smelly (it’s not what you think), converses with her pants, and reveals why other countries hate us (hint: it’s our eyelashes). Intrigued? YOU SHOULD BE. Because it’s full of awesome.


I Just Want To Pee Alone, a hilarious collection of hilarious essays about motherhood by 37 hilarious mothers, covers every parenting topic from planning for your baby, to being driven insane by your children, to… wait, are there other parenting topics? Yes, don’t be silly, of course there are. There’s something for everyone in this #1 best selling humor anthology which, I don’t mind saying, at one point ranked ahead of Tina Fey’s Bossypants – a fact that many of the co-authors plan to have engraved on their tombstones.


Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves by Robin O’Bryant of Robin’s Chicks is full of funny stories about motherhood, sex talks, the terror of car trips, and all those eye-roll inducing, forehead-vein popping, laugh-out-loud things that bond parents together under the flag of Oh Thank Heavens, It Isn’t Just Me.

dad or alive

Also win a copy of Adrian Kulp’s hilarious book Dad or Alive: Confessions of an Unexpected Stay-at-Home Dad, which is based on his popular blog DadorAlive.com. With chapters like “She’s Gonna Have Daddy Issues” you know this book will be funny, relatable and just a little bit twisted (in the best possible way).

anna luther
And we understand that you’ll need to keep the kids occupied if you’re hoping to get enough time to yourself to read a book with more than eight syllables per page. That’s why we’re also giving away 75 Ways To Have More Fun At Home, a fantastic e-book by Anna of My Life and Kids that’s absolutely bursting with activities for your kids. These are cheap-to-free, unique, realistic ideas for things that real people could and would actually do. You don’t want another summer day to go by without it!

I can say, without fear of hyperbole, that you’re entire summer will be a complete waste of time if you don’t read these books – so in the event that you don’t win this amazing prize package, check out the links and buy your own copies. You’ll be glad you did.

Now, while you’re enjoying these fabulous books, you want to look fabulous too, don’t you? Never fear, we have that covered, too!

headbandsTo keep the hair out of your face while you’re reading (or while you’re serving up a wicked ace on the beach volleyball court), you’ll need headbands and hair ties from A Girl and Her Band. These suckers are nonslip, moisture wicking, antimicrobial and machine washable, not to mention cute as all getout. A Girl and Her Band is a company started by regular (but fantastic) mamas who support and empower active girls, and give back to the community by donating a portion of all website sales to a different charity each month. They’ve generously offered up three headbands of your choosing, and they’re throwing in a 5-pack of matching hair ties, too! Their company makes your heart feel as good as your hair will with this essential set of accessories.

As if that weren’t enough to make you look like a million bucks while you’re enjoying your summer reading, you’ll also get a Vera Bradley Summer Pack, which includes a Vera Bradley sarong, a small mesh tote, and a beach towel in the gorgeous Go Wild pattern.

vera bradley

AND, just in case we missed anything, we’re throwing in a $125.00 Amazon gift card so you can treat yourself to something special (I don’t know if Amazon sells fruity drinks in coconuts with little umbrellas in bulk quantities, but I’d look into that if I were you).

ENOUGH ALREADY, you say! I’m interested, so how do I enter?!?

To qualify: You must be able to read, or know someone who is willing to read to you, and live in the United States.

Recommended: Tissues, for laughter-induced tear blotting. Large-rimmed Jackie O sunglasses for increased mysterious cool factor. A few seconds of free time here and there for reading.

Required: Do the little Rafflecopter thingy. Winner will be chosen at random and notified after the giveaway closes on Sunday, July 21. If there’s no response from the winner within 24 hours, another winner will be chosen and so on until we decide just to keep everything for ourselves. (We’re kidding, of course. OR ARE WE? Yes, we’re kidding.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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10 Books For Your Summer Reading List

We love summer’s languorous pace. The relaxed pace, the warm breeze, the easy outfits, and the time to really dig into some good books. We love to read, so the thought of days to just curl up by the pool with a cocktail and a great book is our idea of time well spent.

If you are like us, you love suggestions for what to read. Here are a few books that delighted us this past year. Read on, friends!




light1. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

This book was a perfect piece of lite lit. A lighthouse keeper and his wife find a baby in a boat and, rather than call the authorities, raise her as their own. Despite such a dramatic set-up, the book never crosses over into schmaltzy cheese. In fact, the author deftly balances their sense of isolation and longing with their understanding that they have done the wrong thing. Nobody in this book can help themselves and the author makes each character sympathetic and understandable. This is not a look at crazy, but a reflection of just how far we will all go for what we love. Not bad for a page-turner.

vow2. The Vow by Wendy Plump

Wendy Plump is a cheater. She is also a completely open, honest, almost uncomfortably real writer who talks candidly about her broken marriage and all of the ways she and her husband failed each other.  Plump is exceptionally good at rendering images and drawing you into a world you hope you never have to enter. Her heartbreak becomes a mesmerizing read with each clever turn of phrase. In the end, you are left with hope for the age-old institution of marriage even in light of all of the ways it didn’t work for her. Unputdownable.

rules3. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

This is a book for those who want to get lost between the pages. Towles evokes a time and place in his portrayal of 1930s Manhattan that would be fun to visit in and of itself, but he adds the wonderful character Katey Content to this tale and we are transported. Katey is the plucky, lucky every-girl who is trying to make something of herself. When random events change the course and temper of her future, we recognize Katey and root for her.  We all have been that girl on the cusp of possibility. A wonderful, buoyant novel about coming of age.

emperor of all4. The Emperor of Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Yep. We are recommending a non-fiction book about cancer. Don’t hate us or ignore us. This book is a behemoth, but so infinitely readable, you’ll forget you are reading the history of cancer and get wrapped up in the stories between the pages. If you love a little non-fiction with your beachside cabana, this might be the one for you.

hypnotist5. The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

We devoured The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books one summer. If you thought those books were literary crack too, this is definitely a book for you.  If not, we’ll try not to judge you for that, but you should move on to #6. Kepler opens this book with the grisly murder of a family. There’s only one surviving witness, a little boy. Erik Maria Bark, the hypnotist, is called in to help find out what happened. His intervention unleashes a terrible chain of events that makes for an intense but satisfying read.

good news6. When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

Oh, man, this book is chock full of crappy, crappy things that happened to people. There is murder, a terrible train crash, a drowning, and some domestic violence thrown in here too. But don’t let that stop you.  Atkinson has created some unforgettable characters here in this pseudo crime drama/pseudo thriller. She controls the pace of the novel so well that you have time to really get to know all the characters and marvel at the ways each story touches each other.

pee alone7. I Just Want to Pee Alone by Kick-Ass Bloggers

A compilation of essays on motherhood from some of our most favorite bloggers on the web, this book made us wish this had been around when we were new moms.  How great it would have been to have these stories not only for commiseration, but to lighten us up so that we could find the funny in the sheer ridiculousness that is parenting small children. Hilarious, tender, and true, this book is a reassurance that imperfection is normal. And it goes great with cocktails. Or so we have heard.

beautiful ruins8. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Absorbing, interwoven stories and beautifully drawn characters help you travel back and forth over 50 years in this tale. You won’t mind the trip a bit. In fact, you will be drawn into this world. From the lovely actress to the soulless movie producer, from the novelist to the innkeeper, each character dreams deeply improbable dreams and you can’t help but be carried away with them. Summer is the perfect time for day dreaming and this book fits the bill.


seating arrangement9. Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Poor Winn. His daughter is getting married at the Kennedy-esque family compound, and his world of privilege is unravelling. He’s a man with everything but true happiness, and the three day extravaganza is primed to turn into a spectacle rather than the refined affair he desires. A lesser author might have made this story into a tragedy, but this book is laugh out loud funny. Even as Shipstead takes on the world of the well-bred with a sharp, biting wit, you will be swayed by her sidesteps into the heart of desire, the obligations of love, and what we must never surrender for fame, fortune, or a seat at the country club. This is funny with a super sized helping of smart, and it goes down smooth.

moms who drink and swear10. Moms Who Drink and Swear: True Tales of Loving My Kids While Losing My Mind by Nicole Knepper

When we stumbled upon the blog, Moms Who Drink and Swear, we kind of pictured a gang of moms tossing back beers and yo-ho-hoing like merry wenches à la Pirates of the Caribbean. When we delved deeper, we found a sharp-witted, hilarious writer who refuses to worship at the altar of perfection. Nicole Knepper, a smart, educated woman who is a girlfriend’s girlfriend, serves up a heaping dose of “this is the real motherhood” in her new book. Chapters such as “Making New McFriends” and “Dinner is Like Herpes” will have you nodding along while laughing to the point that people will feel obliged to ask, “Are you okay?”

Here’s to a summer full of good books, cold drinks, and happy memories!

-Erin and Ellen  

After we published this, we found out that two of our favorite bloggers  Michele at Old Dog, New Tits and Mel at According to Mags were grooving on the same wavelength. They have a super-fun link-up called Ketchup with Us and this week their prompt is “What book is on your bedside table?”. If you need even more great suggestions or have a few of your own, check them out! You won’t be sorry!


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Better Books for the Bottom of Your Beach Bag

It’s that time again when the weather warms and our thoughts turn to summer.

Blogging has leveled a serious hit at our reading lists. While time on the old laptops has done wonders for the creative juices, we could use some time away to really unwind and catch up on some good reads. With this in mind, there is only one thing our husbands should do (really, really, really, pretty please) for us this summer: Lifeguard the kids on the beach so we can get some ever-loving reading done.  With this miracle day in mind, here are some books that hit that perfect note. These books are kind of like the perfect beach snack—not complete crap, but nothing too fancy either. Bon appetit!

beach bag

1. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan— Fans of  The Hunger Games or Margaret Atwood will appreciate the dystopia of this not-too-far-off future. But there is more to this tale than just a society in freefall—this is The Scarlet Letter for the new millennium, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s got nothing on Jordan. The central heroine Hannah Payne is a rock-solid reimagining of Hester Prynne—sweet, innocent—a little naive—but brave and smart too. You will be cheering for Hannah as she travels from disgraced social pariah to embattled but empowered woman. This novel will get you thinking, and you will have a better summer because of it.

2. The Cure for Modern life by Lisa Tucker— This is a story of love thwarted by ambition and greed. Amelia and Matthew were college sweethearts who now stand not just apart but on opposite sides of the Big Pharma issue. One day someone walks into their lives who offers a chance for them to re-examine the choices they have made and even, maybe, a way back to the future they had once imagined together. This book’s romantic heart and Tucker’s steady hand in bringing these characters to life make it perfect for a day at the beach.

3. In the Woods by Tana French—If you haven’t fallen in love with her books yet, then you are in for a treat. Not only can this Irish writer pace a novel to keep you begging for more, but she is THE master of language. Her beautiful storytelling will keep you mesmerized for hours. This book is a murder mystery where the lead detective was also the  victim of a copycat crime years before. The  best part? There are two more great novels (with familiar characters) to read right after you finish this one (and you will want to, believe me!) and another coming out this summer. Lose yourself in her fabulous characters and richly imagined worlds and get ready to buy me a drink for introducing the two of you!

4. One Day by David Nichols—There is a cheesy movie that came after this novel, but this novel is the REAL deal—a romance of the highest order. I loved the characters (Emma and Dexter with their infinite charms and charming neuroses) and their drawn-out love story (the story takes place over twenty years on the same date). Put away those 50 Shades and fall in love with romance again with all the passion you can muster. Funny, sassy, and fun, this love story will make you laugh and break your heart. As Nick Hornby said, this book is “the perfect beach read for people who are normally repelled by the very idea of beach reads.”

5.  The Good Father by Noah Hawley—This good father’s son is in trouble BIG TIME. But Dad can’t believe it’s true. This story reads a little like a mystery  and although you pretty much know what’s coming, you just can’t bring yourself to put it down. It examines the guilt and blind love all parents experience in the context of an interesting and quick-moving story. Without crossing the line into “too much”, this book tackles modern parenting—the good, the bad, and the out-of-our-hands of it. In addition to a compelling story, it might give you something to talk about other than which brand of sunscreen works best.

6.  Family History by Dani Shapiro— You are definitely going to need a reliable babysitter for this one,  because you will not be able to put it down. This book is about a family’s unravelling, but there is just enough hint of redemption to balance the careening off the rails. Shapiro makes these characters real in the best possible way, so you can explore questions of how great kids go bad, how you can carry on in carpool line as your world collapses, and how ultimately we can find our way back to one another in the wake of betrayal. Come to think of it, you are going to want to buy me another drink.

7. Fly Away Home  by Jennifer Weiner— Any book by Jennifer Weiner is sure to hit the mark, but this one is my favorite. Sylvie’s life has transformed her from her wilder, former self into the quintessential politician’s wife. After her husband’s affair becomes national news, we watch her wrestle with the question of whether it was all worth it. To make the story even more interesting, her daughters have similar journeys as they work through their father’s betrayal. It all makes for a great read worthy of some ocean breezes.

8. Lone Wolf by Jodi Piccoult— Piccoult is our go-to girl for great characters, interesting plots, and topical discussions. She is a known entity which makes her great for this list. Her latest novel is one of her best.  Questions of family loyalty are interspersed with the larger questions about euthanasia and end-of-life decision-making.  Piccoult always draws her characters convincingly, and this novel is no exception. You can always pack some Piccoult in the old beach bag and be a happier reader for it.

9. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides— I already reviewed Eugenides’ newer book, The Marriage Plot , but this book was our book club’s favorite read one summer and deserves to be on this list (and honestly every other list—it’s THAT good!). Spanning 80 years of family history to bring us the transformative story of Calliope/Cal, this is a big, honking book, but you will lose yourself in the story. If you are someone who loves a good, sweeping epic (and come on, who doesn’t?), then this book is for you. The fact that Eugenides is such a wordsmith only compliments this story. We ALL loved it and still speak of it as the perfect summer book club read.

10. State of Wonder— Ann Patchett is a great writer who has only gotten better with time.  In this book, she gives us a woman on a mission. Literally. Dr. Marina Singh needs to find her mentor Dr. Annika Swenson who has disappeared into the jungle of Brazil. But, of course, this book wouldn’t be such a great read if that were all it had to offer. Marina’s journey takes her into her past, her future, and even makes her start looking at her work with new eyes. Nothing better than a mission that brings us to ourselves and this one does not disappoint.

So get a lifeguard, get a beach chair, get a cold drink, and get reading!

And I thought of another thing our husbands should do, open a line of credit at Amazon or Barnes and Noble for us. No time like summer time to get our read on! Erin


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