October 2018 Must-Reads

Check out this incredible list of 7 great books to add to your book stack. From historical fiction to dystopian, this list has you covered for your next night in!

Did we blink and head right into November? I apologize I’m a bit a late with this month’s reviews, but excited to share 7 incredible books I read in October with you.

I am hoping there are a few on this list that you haven’t tackled yet and these might be added to your book stacks this month.

I am happily chugging away at my GoodReads Challenge of reading 100 books this year. According to GoodReads, I’m just one book off pace, which I am hoping I will fix this month.

How are you guys doing on your goals?

My Usual Reminders

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!

I can’t believe we have almost 1,900 bookworms in this group now. Each month we chat about a book, but the real beauty is getting to talk 24/7 about books with people who love them as much as you.

announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in November) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page.

Need another challenge to push you out of your reading comfort zone?

Be sure to download this year’s Reading Challenge Worksheet.

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections:

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

This month’s special:

New members will get a free book with code FRIENDSGIVING.

How it works: Members will pay $14.99 when they sign up for a subscription that will renew monthly.

They’ll also receive a credit for a free book at the time of this transaction (redeemable at any time). Then they’ll be renewed at the end of their second month (unless they cancel).

Here are 7 must-read books I tackled in October:

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The first book I read this month was, The Great Believers, after hearing that it would be a great selection for, A Little Life fans.  As you guys know, I am a huge fan of this book and even scored this amazing tee from a friend after we talked about our undying love for these characters.

Shortlisted for the National Book Award, this is a beautiful story of friendship during the height of the AIDS epidemic and offers similar themes of beautiful male friendships during the thick of a crisis in the gay community.

There are two intertwining stories being told in this story. Yale Tishman is a development director for an art gallery in Chicago and, as his career begins to really flourish, his friends are dying around him, one by one.

Meanwhile, thirty years later, Yale’s younger sister is in Paris desperately trying to reconnect with her daughter who has joined a cult. While staying in Paris with an old friend, she also is forced to deal with what AIDS has robbed of her and how it affected her relationship with her estranged daughter.

While many of us can never fully understand what the AIDS epidemic looked like during this time in history, particularly for gay men, Makkai does an incredible job bringing humanity and compassion to these devastating stories. The friendships that are weaved are beautiful and believable. I loved these characters and the gorgeous writing that Makkai brings to the table. She is definitely deserving of the National Book Award and I am so glad I got to read it this month.

If you are looking for something to fill your, A Little Life void, I highly recommend this touching read. It would be an excellent book for discussion for book clubs too!

5 out of 5 Stars

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

I can tell you now that, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, will be on my favorite reads of 2018. I was so swept away by the vivid storytelling and the poetic descriptive language in this book.

The author uses elements of her own life story (a discovery I made after reading the author’s notes at the end) to create this incredible coming-of-age story from two markedly different Columbian girls, growing up during the time that Pablo Escobar has captured the nation’s attention.

Chula & Cassandra are sisters that grow up in a more protected gated community, although they are still surrounded my unsafe elements outside of their neighborhood walls. They are well-cared for, adored by their mother, and given everything they need.

While Chula & Cassandra are carefree and curious, Petrona (who is around their same age) is folding under the burden of being the breadwinner for her family. She ends up finding a job, working as a live-in maid for Chula & Cassandra’s mother.  Living in their home is a true blessing since she has grown up in the guerrilla-occupied slums.

When Petrona meets her first love though, she finds herself in the middle of a horrible situation that threatens her safety, the safety of her family, and the safety of the family she is working for. This relationship really sets the plot in motion as you worry for each of these girls and their safety.

I am not sure why I’m not hearing more about this novel because it is a powerful and devastating read. While I have read a lot of historical fiction, this is an era and country that I have not read a lot about so it made the story even more impactful for me.

If you love a good coming-of-age story, I have a feeling you will really connect with this incredible read.

5 out of 5 Stars

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Our story opens with eighty-four-year-old Florence who has fallen and is awaiting help in her room at the assisted living facility, where she resides.  She has kept many secrets that have been buried, but with her dementia, she is unable to always recall the exact details or why she feels a certain way about things.

Thankfully, her lifelong best friend, Elsie has retained her memory and is able to help Florence fill in those gaps where Florence needs it.

When a new resident arrives, Flo immediately becomes distressed, even though she can’t remember why. She is convinced that this man is there to punish her and has been doing things that make Flo look unstable. Flo is already on thin ice with the nursing home director and she can’t afford to look unfit because she will be shipped off to a facility for people who cannot care for themselves anymore.

Flo makes it her mission to try to remember just why this man’s presence is causing her so much distress and Elsie will be with her every step of the way.

Cannon does an incredible job showing the true struggle of dementia and  the beauty in having someone by our side who is able to fill in the gaps on our life.

Flo is an unreliable narrator and that unreliability makes the plot more interesting, especially as they go on a wild adventure to figure out more about this mystery man.

Be sure to have a tissue handy, this story is a beautiful one and worthy of being Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction this year.  It’s a gentle reminder of how we all would love to leave the world with our dignity intact.

Fans of, A Man Called Ove, are sure to love this sweet read.

4 out of 5 Stars

A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua

Debut novelists are my favorite and Vanessa Hua comes into the writing arena with, A River of Stars, like a seasoned pro.

It goes without saying, but if Celeste Ng puts her stamp of approval on it, I will be adding that book to my book stacks.

I have loved reading so many books about immigrants this year and Hua tells a gorgeous story of Scarlett Chen, a scared girl who has been taken far from her home in China.

Scarlett worked in a factory where she met and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. When Boss discovers she is pregnant with his first son, he sends her away to America where she can be cared for by the top doctors and kept on the right diet and regime to insure he will have the healthy son he has always wanted.

Oh, and he needs her to leave too because he is already married with three daughters of his own.

Unfortunately, this place that Boss has sent her to is nothing like it had been described in the brochures. The conditions are horrible, the caretaker is evil, and Scarlett would do anything to escape.

In the end, that is exactly what she does, with a surprise stowaway in the back of the stolen van she hijacked.

What Scarlett doesn’t know is that Boss needs her baby in his life to fight a battle of his own. He will stop at nothing to find Scarlett and his child, because it means life or death for him. His unrelenting hunt for her terrifies Scarlett because she knows she will be punished for running away.

Scarlett will stop at nothing to keep them both safe and Boss will stop at nothing to make sure they are found.

This book is just INCREDIBLE and, again, you will see this one on my top ten list, FOR SURE. Hua’s writing has the rich qualities of Lisa See where she is able to see a story through with these characters from beginning to end.

She also told a story that I just did not want to end.

I really hope there is a sequel in the works because it is that good.

This novel is gripping and perfectly timed for understanding more of what it is like to be an immigrant. Hua dives deep in exploring the definition of home, family, and belonging.

Add this to your stack ASAP!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

I always love to read a spooky book for October and selected, The Hunger, for our October Book Club selection. This novel has been listed as one of NPR’s Top 100 Horror Novels and was endorsed heartily by Stephen King.

Many of us are familiar with The Donner Party and their infamous trek across the trails that ended in death.

Katsu decides to use this story as the framework for exploring this story deeper and adding a supernatural twist to it.

What if these people were actually being pursued by something that inevitably caused the death and destruction of these families? How would this change the story?

Katsu didn’t just put together a supernatural telling of this story, but she dived deep into reading as much as she could get her hands on to fill out this story with facts about this journey. These elements really help round out the story, along with some fictionalized motives and characters that make the story more interesting.

If you love a good dystopian theme, I have a feeling you will enjoy, The Hunger. Fans of darker suspense novels, like Bird Box, will really enjoy this story!

4 out of 5 Stars

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

A coming-of-age story combined with a murder mystery, Where the Crawdads Sing, has the framework for a book that anyone would love.

Kya Clark is a little girl who has found herself abandoned by her family and will do anything to keep anyone from finding out, knowing she would be taken from her home. Resourcefully, Kya finds ways to secure food and clothing, with help from a shop owner who takes mercy on her. Thanks to her love of nature, Kya never feels entirely abandoned because the animals and world around her make her feel like she is surrounded by friends.

As she grows up, her beauty and the mystery around her intrigues two local boys, that both make a way into her heart.

Years later though, one of those boys is found dead and the locals immediately suspect that Kya is the suspect. Known as the, “Marsh Girl,” no one in town likes or trusts her. How could they possibly trust her though because they don’t even know her?

The story goes back and forth through time as Kya goes from a frightened young girl to a more confident author to becoming the main suspect in a murder investigation. This story begs the question, can we ever escape our past?

If you are looking for an audiobook to enjoy this month, this one is BEAUTIFULLY narrated and should be savored. The writing is exquisite, the story is heartbreaking, and the characters are so well-developed that they lift off the pages.

Each year I get asked what book someone could confidently share for the holidays. I would put this book at the top of the list this year because it is one that I could hand to my mom, grandmother, or sister and know that they would be just as swept away as me. Buy this one in multiples for all the people you want to share a book with this year.

This book has had a lot of buzz already, thanks to being picked up by the Hello Sunshine book club, but I just had to add my stamp of approval too!  This is a buzz book that REALLY delivers and I think you will love it too.

5 out of 5 Stars

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I won a copy of this book in a GoodReads giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors and I was so psyched when I won a copy of her next novel, Daisy Jones & the Six (releasing March 5th, available for pre-order). I have to say, timing this book with catching, A Star is Born, this week really could not have been more perfect. Reid has crafted a fictional band story set in the 1970’s that was so beautifully rendered that you can’t believe it is even fiction.

Daisy is the girl that every girl wants to be. She is stunning and has the ability to capture any man’s attention, sneaking out to clubs when she is just a kid, and capturing the heart of anyone her heart desires. She finds she has a knack for singing, a knack that people spend years trying to train their voices to achieve.

The Six is lead by Billy Dunne and is also getting noticed in the music world. Billy is an addict who has just discovered that he is going to be a father and he feels he needs to sow his wild oats before settling down.

When Billy & Daisy cross paths, a producer realizes that putting these two voices together could be just the ticket to make them all successful.

Told in interview format, the reader uncovers the story of Daisy Jones & the Six from their humble beginnings to their explosive endings. It’s the stuff of legends, as all good rock and roll stories are.

As a reader, don’t be surprised if you don’t find yourself thinking of these people as real people. Reid is such a wildly talented writer that it should come as no surprise that this book is just as wildy fabulous as she is.

Be sure to pre-order and read this one before you see it!

5 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year:

January 2018 Must-Reads

February 2018 Must-Reads

March 2018 Must-Reads

April 2018 Must-Reads

May 2018 Must-Reads

June 2018 Must-Reads

July 2018 Must-Reads

August 2018 Must-Reads

September 2018 Must-Reads

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.

Published November 05, 2018 by:

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

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