I know I say this every month—but I cannot believe it is October! While my reading dropped below normal levels in August, in September, I was able to carve out more time for reading. Instead of aimlessly scrolling my phone whenever I have a spare 10-20 minutes, I tried to pick up a book instead. While I am perfectly content with my zero-minute commute right now, one thing that was nice about having a commute to the office was that I had built-in reading time—that will be one silver lining of having to put on work clothes again one day ;).
As is custom on these posts, I wanted to call out that I’m part of a program where Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about any titles I receive, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. I’ve starred the books Random House sent me for free below. I’m so lucky to be sent books and that’s not lost on me.
Happy reading! x
WHAT WE CARRY // MAYA LANG SHANBHAG*
Maya grew up idolizing her brilliant mother, a doctor who immigrated to the United States from India and seemingly was superwoman. When her mother begins to succumb to Alzheimer’s, she reveals long-held family secrets that send Maya reeling and questioning everything.
Would I recommend it? I tore through this one—it was beautifully written, and the chapters were short. I think it’s a great look at how your relationship with your parents changes as you get older.
GOLDEN GIRL // ELIN HILDERBRAND
Vivian Howe, a well-known author and mother of three, is killed in a hit-and-run accident on Nantucket. She ascends to the other side and is assigned a person named Martha, who allows Vivi to watch what happens on earth for one last summer. Vivi is granted three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth. With her daughter Willa on her third miscarriage, her other daughter, Carson on a bender, and her son Leo “off again” with his girlfriend, she will have to think carefully about where she spends these nudges.
While Chief of Police Ed Kapenash investigates her death, her greatest worry is her final book—it contains a secret from her youth that could be disastrous for all involved.
SUMMER OF 79 // ELIN HILDERBRAND
This short story picks up with Exalta, Kate, Blair, Jessie, and Kirby—the characters of Elin Hilderbrand’s Summer of 69—ten years after the summer where everything changed.
Would I recommend it? I read Summer of ‘69 a while ago and I wish I could have read this right after when the plot was fresh!
THE SURFING LESSON // ELIN HILDERBRAND
Margot is falling out of love with her husband. While the family is on vacation in Nantucket, she finds an opportunity to regain her romantic love for her husband in the form of Hadley, his ex. She’s hoping jealousy will be the defibrillator she needs. Will Drum and Hadley spending time together be there spark that reignites her marriage?
Would I recommend it? Another short story, this one is based on a subplot of Elin Hilderbrand’s Beautiful Day — again, I wish I could have read this right after reading that book!
STRANGER CARE // SARAH SENTILLES*
Sarah and her husband decide not to have biological children and determine their best chance at adoption is through the foster care system — a system who’s goal is reunification with the child’s biological parents. Sarah and her husband open their home to a flurry of social workers who question, evaluate, and prepare them to welcome a child into their family — even if it means they most likely will have to give the child back. One day, a phone call finally comes: a three-day old baby is in need of a home, and Sarah and her husband decide to bring this newborn stranger home. A love letter to Coco, and to countless children like her, this is Sarah’s discovery of what it means to mother.
Would I recommend it? This is a beautiful memoir—be forewarned: you will need tissues!
THE ROSE CODE // KATE QUINN
The book follows three women who answer the call to start working at the mysterious English country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds train to break German military codes during WWII. Part of the book is told in the year 1940. Osla is the debutante who seemingly has everything—including Prince Philip. “Queen Mab” is a self-made woman and product of East London poverty. And both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in Beth. But the war and the pressure of secrecy taar these women and friends apart.
The other part of the book flashes forward to 1947, just days before the wedding of Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth. The three friends, turned enemies, are brought back together by an encrypted letter and the trio must reunite and crack one last code together.
Would I recommend it? I am really glad I gave Kate Quinn another try after not liking The Alice Network. I read and loved The Huntress earlier this year and The Rose Code is definitely a close second to that book — this one just felt a little long at points, but man, it was a page turner!
NO CURE FOR BEING HUMAN // KATE BOWER*
I’ve been on a memoir kick, and this was another beautiful, tear-jerking one! Kate thinks life is a series of endless possibility until she was diagnosed with Stage Four cancer at age 35. In No Cure for Being Human, she talks about her cancer journey — and explores the absurdity of today’s “best life now” advice industry that insists on positivity at all times.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely—but again, have tissues close by!
THE CHELSEA GIRLS // FIONA DAVIS
Maxine and Hazel meet during WWII as they’re hired to entertain the troops by the USO. When the war ends, they find themselves reunited at The Chelsea Hotel in NYC, which has long been a haven for artists and progressives alike. As they work on putting on their debut Broadway show, they quickly realize that McCarthyism has real impacts—and may hurt more than their show.
Would I recommend it? This was my least favorite Fiona Davis book I’ve read so far, but mostly because McCarthyism is not one of my favorite historical periods to study. I loved Lions of Fifth Avenue and The Address, though!