Amy Clark

October 2017 Must-Reads

October 2017 Must-Read Books

Well, hello! I hope you guys are having a wonderful week. Can you believe it is NOVEMBER? Yeah, me either! It means the blog will be back in full swing as I prepare for the holidays and hopefully I can squeeze in a few good books. Speaking of good books, I’m excited to share eight great books I enjoyed in October.

A couple of long books slowed my pace this month. That said, I’m happily chugging away at my GoodReads goal of 100 books.

I think I can, I think I can.

How is it going with your reading goal for 2017?

Oh, don’t forget if you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! This month we will be reading this book (you can see the full list over here). It’s totally FREE!

Not enough variety? Print out our Reading Challenge Worksheet! I’m having a blast working my way through it! I have quite a few more that I need to check off, but I’ve made a good dent in these categories.

I’m excited to share a wide variety of books for you to check out this month. I did tackle a couple of big buzz books this year and tried to weave in a few older ones that have been in my to-be-read pile for a LONG TIME!

Here are 8 must-read books that I tackled in October!

Stay With Me

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

This enthralling novel is set in Nigeria and shares the story of a marriage that has been threatened by infertility and polygamy.

Yejide & Akin met, fell in love, and looked forward to welcoming many children in their home. Unfortunately, the couple is heartbroken that after four years of trying, they have been unsuccessful in bringing a child into the world. In their culture, this is of the utmost importance and their entire family is disappointed in this turn of events.

When their family finally loses its patience though, they insist that Akin take another wife. The problem? They both agreed that polygamy would never happen in their marriage. This sends Yejide spiraling into a deep depression and loneliness.

The reader is taken on each heartbreaking turn for Yejide & Akin as they struggle through this difficult chapter in their lives and deal with a third person in their relationship.

Equally heartbreaking and captivating, this is a fantastic debut that you won’t be able to put down.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Tipping the Velvet

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith is one of my all-time favorite reads and had been the only book I had read by Waters.  I was so excited to dive into another story by her and this one did not disappoint. This is Waters debut novel that was published in 1998 and a strong introduction into the love stories that Waters writes for and about women.

This story is about a young girl named Nan who becomes obsessed with a young female performer, named Kitty, who performs in a local show. The thing that makes this woman so very different is her male costuming that intrigues Nan so very much. A relationship blossoms between the two and Nan eventually becomes a part of the act…on and off the stage.

What makes it all so risqué is that this story is set in the 1890’s London when women were really exploring the boundaries of gender roles during this era. Many women bucked the system and challenged these roles in some pretty shocking ways and Waters doesn’t shy away from the scene.

In short, this is a steamy read that should come with a pack of smokes. Waters definitely pushes the envelope in this one. While I found it more shocking in passages, I felt it lacked the story depth as my beloved Fingersmith.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Stolen Marriage

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

I love that Chamberlain has decided to stick with writing in the historical fiction genre. This gifted storyteller is back again with a twisty love story with a few well-developed twists that should keep you up late at night.

Set in 1944, Tess has a promising future with the love of her life and is just getting ready to take her final exams to become a nurse. Frankly, it is a life that any girl would envy.

Unfortunately, after a fun night on the town, she finds herself pregnant with another man’s child. This encounter comes at an even higher cost though when she shares the news with the father and he feels it necessary to marry her to, “protect the family name.”

Guess what?

Terrible family.

Terrible town with terrible people.

Terrible husband.

Yup, terrible life.

Tess and her loveless marriage are the least of the town’s problems though when the polio epidemic strikes and they must provide medical care to the victims. Relationships are challenged and a surprise guest adds a fantastic twist on this riveting story.

Chamberlain always delivers a solid plot and The Stolen Marriage, is another winner. You definitely will want to add this one to your book stack and do a little Googling to read more about the real-life polio epidemic!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Braving the Wilderness

Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.”

I will be honest and share that I have not drank the Brené Brown Kool-Aid until now, but this book made me so excited to dive into her other books. This well-timed piece explores a lot of the disconnection we are feeling thanks to technology and the current political climate.

This was not a feel-good-about-yourself book and that is why it resonated with me. It challenges us to look at our own rhetoric about politics and also at how we are dehumanizing people in the process.

She asks us to explore braving the wilderness alone and what it feels like when we find we don’t belong… even among our own families. She shares her own vulnerable stories of trying to belong and sage advice on what we should be looking for from the people in our lives.

A smart acronym aids in who we should seek to be a part of our life’s story. It is a great checklist on what makes a good friend and how we need to get in a place where we are okay being alone.

At a place in my life where I have felt so much of this, Brown’s words ring true and challenge me to rethink my abilities of being alone in the wilderness.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

All the Ugly & Wonderful Things

All the Ugly & Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

This is, perhaps, one of the most controversial and challenging books I have read. I have very mixed feelings about the story, but marvel in Greenwood’s abilities to write such captivating characters.

Let me be clear, I do not think this book is for everyone- it is an emotionally disturbing read and often felt like an attempt to normalize or empathize with criminal behavior.

This is the story of Wavy who is neglected and unloved by her parents.  Her whole world changes though when her meth-dealing father’s wingman, Kellan, becomes a fixture in her life. Kellan provides the things she and her brother need like food, and helping her with school, and making sure she has shoes…

You know, the stuff your parents are supposed to do.

Lines become quickly blurred though when Wavy develops a crush on Kellan and the two become inseparable. She is a CHILD though and Kellan goes along with Wavy’s story for a while, until it is no longer a story, but the truth.

It is interesting though that I had very strong convictions about it being about pedophilia and my friend called it an unconventional love story. I think it has, perhaps, a lot to do with what you have witnessed or experienced in your own life and your own personal triggers.

If you are looking for a controversial read, this would be it. As a parent though, one can’t help but think of your own children and how heartbreaking Wavy’s story is. This child was robbed of a childhood by everyone in her life and the scenes are brutal to even read.

Overall, a solid story, even with the triggers.

Trigger warnings- pedophilia, child sexual abuse 

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

I finally read, The Things They Carried, since it was selected as a book selection for a local book club.  This book reads like a collection of short stories about the Vietnam War and opens with the captivating story of what each of the soldiers are carrying with them as they go into war (both emotional and physical).

What really captured my attention wasn’t O’Brien’s support of the war, but rather his own grappling with war when he didn’t want to serve or believe in the war. It reminded me that there were many that felt that way and still had to serve. His decision to not participate in the war and heading to Canada, only later to return and serve, made his storytelling even more real for me.

O’Brien shares the soldier’s stories, but points out that no story about the Vietnam War should be a beautiful one with a good ending. The stories are gritty, raw, and real. You can’t help but connect to these men and feel compassion for them. I can see why so many say that this should be required reading. It gave me a lot of food for thought and made this war tangible to someone who has not served.

Trigger Warnings- graphic violence

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book recommended by an author (you can see author recommendations over here! This suggestion was made by Mary Kubica!)

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Heart's Invisible Furies

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

This book was just EVERYTHING and reminded me a lot of one of my all-time favorites , A Little Life. At almost 600 pages, I was worried if this book would hold my attention, but Boyne crafts the perfect boyhood friendship as it sprawls decades of time in this gorgeous and gripping saga.

You may be familiar with Boyne’s work, but I was not.  I picked this book up on a whim and devoured it in just a few days.

A faithful Catholic Irish family casts out their daughter when they discover she is pregnant.  Knowing she is not in a position to raise a child alone, she gives him up for adoption to his new parents…

That love to remind him that he is not their real son.

He is their adopted son.

This dark humor is layered so beautifully as the boy, Cyril, becomes dear friends with a boy named Julian. The problem is, as Cyril gets older, he realizes he has a deep and undying love for his best friend. Cyril must keep his sexuality under wraps and keep his affection for him a secret which ends up costing him a lot.

The book follows these two through the decades, beginning in 1945 and ending in Cyril’s elderly age. It finishes in the present day while tackling everything from being closeted to the AIDS epidemic to what it really means to be family.

I laughed and got a little teary-eyed following Cyril as he goes through this identity crisis and finds love. I was really swept away in this story and Boyne builds a beautiful supportive cast.

I know this one will be going in my top ten list of best books of 2017.  Be sure to add this one to your reading list!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book over 500 pages

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The big buzz book this year is definitely Ward’s latest novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing! This was a MomAdvice book club selection this month so I was really looking forward to reading it. Sing, Unburied, Sing vividly tells the story of  Mississippi’s past and present and shares some of America’s ugly truths that many are not aware of (including myself!).

This story is told in alternating viewpoints  from a thirteen-year-old boy named Jojo, to his unstable mother Leonie, to the ghost of a dead inmate who carries some of these deep and awful truths from the South in haunting prose.

Ward does an excellent job sharing the story of the Parchman Farm (the state’s penitentiary) in heartbreaking and vivid detail through the voice of the prisoner. She also does an excellent job creating family dynamics, particularly, with his imperfect mother’s story.

I enjoyed this book, but struggled to connect with it, in the ways that I had hoped I would. I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t enjoy portions of it because of the narrators of the audiobook or if it is because I’ve been reading so many heart wrenching books like it and couldn’t connect because of that. That said, her writing is poetic and her words felt lavish for the characters they were portraying, not always fitting the voices of the mother & son.

I will say that I learned a lot though, particularly about the dark history of the Parchman Farm and the inmates that were housed there. As I gathered our questions for our discussion, I felt like I connected with the story more through the articles about those true stories and the interviews with Ward about her new novel and why she felt called to tell this story.

Overall, our readers really seemed to love this one!  I definitely think it would be a good one to pick up, but would recommend this one as a book and to skip the audiobook.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

BOTM November Selections

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

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BOTM November Selections

November Selections:

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Artemis by Andy Weir

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

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Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 Must-Reads

July 2017 Must-Reads

August 2017 Must-Reads

September 2017 Must-Reads

October 2017 Must-Read Books from MomAdvice.com

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

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

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Published November 02, 2017 by:

Amy Clark

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

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