October 1st, 2019 Book Releases {New Book Publications}

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October Book Releases:

It’s October 1st which means we are starting a great month of new book releases! If I were a book, I would like to be published in October because not only is it the best month ever but it is my very favorite time of the year to read! There are so many awesome books coming out during the next few weeks and before the holidays when new book releases tend to slow down a bit until the new year.

Now that we are back into regular routines because of the school year, I am trying to get back into some of my weekly blog series too. I always love sharing new book publications and so here are some I am excited about today!

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Fair Play by Eve Rodsky

Fair Play by Eve Rodsky was released today and Reese’s Book Club just announced it is their October 2019 book selection! I love that it is going to get so much attention now because this topic is so important.

While we have learned a lot as the years have gone by, figuring out the daily logistics of life with work, marriage, kids and household tasks is a constant juggling act. Fair Play both takes on and tackles the topics of the mental load, second shift, emotional labor and invisible work that in the 21st century still cause a great imbalance in many families ‘ home lives.

Fair Play was a 5-star book for me and was such an awesome conversation starter in our own marriage. The book is relatable while also having a proactive approach to managing household/family/life tasks while also balancing your own goals and desires.

You can read my full review of Fair Play HERE.

It is also one of the upcoming book choices for our Better Together Book Club and I can’t wait to discuss it more then.

Gen The Bookworm

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

Can you believe I just read The Tattooist of Auschwitz two months ago?! It was on my TBR list for a while but when an ARC of Cilka’s Journey arrived in my mailbox I knew I needed to prioritize it ASAP.

Cilka was one of the characters in The Tattooist of Auschwitz and I was interested to learn more about her. Cilka’s Journey is a powerful story that was inspired by the true to life experiences of Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor Cilka who ends up in a Siberian work camp after being charged as a collaborator for “sleeping with the enemy”. This novel is not an easy read as it confronts the issue of rape during wartime.

While this story does focus on the atrocities that happened to Cilka(and many others), it also shares the heroic efforts she was a part of. Cilka has a compassion for others that guides her through the toughest of times and this part of the story was both heartbreaking and utterly compelling. How Cilka chose to use the gifts she was given to help others was so powerful and a reminder of the beacon of light in humanity even in the most horrific of times.

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Your Turn by Dr. Tyra Manning

“Writing my stories helps me remember the good times and the worst of times, and offers me the opportunity to understand them. Writing and celebrating my stories helps me heal. Hindsight gives me many gifts: clarity, acceptance, forgiveness, and new perspectives on past experiences. I am not unique in having lovely and sometimes sad stories in my repertoire. Sharing our life stories teaches us that we have more commonalities than differences. It brings us closer.”

-Dr. Tyra Manning

I love anything that helps remind us that we are more alike than different. I have always been a big fan of sharing our stories because it can help us connect and also help us feel less alone.

Your Turn is a guide and collection of personal essays that demonstrates how to share more effectively and find meaning in the ups and downs of our lives. Manning shares her own personal stories while also providing writing prompts to encourage you to start sharing too.

Thank you to Book Sparks for sharing an advanced copy with me. 

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer | Graydon House Books {Book Review}

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

Book Summary:

In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate.

Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.

Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.

Publication Date:

March 19th, 2019

Genre:

World War II Historical Fiction

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

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The Things We Cannot Say came highly recommended to me by some of my favorite Bookstagram friends. I enjoy the historical fiction genre but it can be a hard one to really wow me as a reader. I went into this one with a little trepidation because it is quite long and while the summary was intriguing I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for this kind of book during this more hectic time of year. I ended up choosing it as an audiobook and it was a perfect choice. My worries were completely unnecessary because I ended up becoming completely engrossed in this storyline.

This book ending up checking all the boxes of a memorable historical fiction reading experience. Told in a dual narrative format, we meet Alina, a girl who is growing up in Poland during World War II and Alice, a mom who lives in present-day Florida with her husband and two children. We quickly realized that these two storylines are connected and the story unfolds beautifully over these 400+ pages.

“Not for the first time, I wish just once when I asked my grandmother about the war, instead of her telling me “that was a terrible time, I don’t want to talk about it,” she’d been able to say something more. Anything more. Maybe if she could have shared some of her story, I could have learned from it, I could have taught my children from it—we could have built a better world from the hard lessons she surely learned.”

― Kelly Rimmer, The  Things We Cannot Say

This was my first book by Kelly Rimmer and I was blown away by her ability to share multi-faceted characters that felt so real and raw while also diving into a heartbreaking part of our not so distant history.  I love the dual storylines and how they wove together and kept me guessing until the end. Rimmer captured the power of sharing our stories while also reminding us that so many people have a history we might know nothing about.

As well as being completely enthralled by Alina’s harrowing and heartbreaking time in Poland, I connected so much with present-day Alice and her struggles to find herself amidst the daily challenges of family life.

“I can’t wait to tell him how much of a revelation it has been to do something like this – standing on a mountaintop for no reason other than the sake of the experience. This moment is an investment in myself. I’m giving myself permission to make a memory that benefits no one but me. I love being a mother, and I love being a wife. I even love being a daughter and a granddaughter. But as I stand here on the mountaintop, I’m not any of those things. I am simply Alice, and for one breathtaking moment, I’m completely present.”

This book captures heartbreak, resilience, persistence and the power for standing up for what is right, not only for yourself but for those around you. This is definitely one of my favorite books of 2019 and I highly recommend it.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead | Doubleday Books {Book Review}

book review of The Nickel Boys

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Book Summary:

As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble.

The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.
Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.

Publication Date:

July 16th, 2019

Genre:

Literary/Historical Fiction

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

The Nickel Boys is a powerful story that takes on important American history. Colson Whitehead uses rich metaphors and ornate descriptions in this haunting tale based on true events at The Dozier School for boys in Florida. The Nickel Boys is a historical fiction coming of age story centering around a young black man named Elwood Curtis at the beginning of the civil rights movement. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time when he was then sentenced to time at a “reform school in Florida.

Curtis and many other young black boys were sent to the Nickel Academy, and the mistreatment and abuse they encountered is just heartbreaking. This is absolutely an important story to tell but the book felt lacking for me at many points. While the story was impactful, I feel a lack of connection with the characters and felt wanting more. The ending, while definitely having the “wow” factor, did not feel satisfying to me as a reader because of my lack of connection with the characters.

Many will appreciate the shorter length of this book but for me, I feel that I missed something and wished I could have been given more details. His writing is powerful and filled with beautiful prose but I just didn’t feel as engaged as I had hoped with such an important subject matter. The book didn’t flow easily for me and I would have loved to get more inside the heads of these characters that while they were described with great detail, I never felt I really knew. I so respect how Whitehead brought this important history to life and the inequality that existed in this country much too recently the execution just didn’t totally work for me.

Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum | St. Martin’s Press | Book Review

Gen The Bookworm book review

Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum

Book Summary:

“Like Swans of Fifth Avenue and Truman Capote’s Answered Prayers, Richard Kirshenbaum’s Rouge gives readers a rare front-row seat into the world of high society and business through the rivalry of two beauty industry icons, by the master marketer and chronicler of the over-moneyed.

Rouge is a sexy, glamorous journey into the rivalry of the pioneers of powder, mascara, and rouge.

This fast-paced novel examines the lives, loves, and sacrifices of the visionaries who invented the modern cosmetics industry: Josiah Herzenstein, born in a Polish Jewish Shtlel, the entrepreneur who transforms herself into a global style icon and the richest woman in the world, Josephine Herz; Constance Gardiner, her rival, the ultimate society woman who invents the door-to-door business and its female workforce but whose deepest secret threatens everything; CeeCee Lopez, the bi-racial beauty and founder of the first African American woman’s hair relaxer business, who overcomes prejudice and heartbreak to become her community’s first female millionaire. The cast of characters is rounded out by Mickey Heron, a dashing, sexy ladies’ man whose cosmetics business is founded in a Hollywood brothel. All are bound in a struggle to be number one, doing anything to get there…including murder.”

Genre:

Historical Fiction

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

Rouge is a historical fiction novel that introduces you to two women who are competing against each other in the beauty industry starting in the 1920s. Kirshenbaum delivers an entertaining read that gives us a look at high society, business tactics, betrayal and the power of beauty.

I found that the story was engaging but that the characters lacked a depth that would help me understand them more as people and not just as business rivals. Women running businesses at this time was not common and I would have loved to see more behind the scenes details of this important and powerful topic. Because of this I had trouble really connected with the characters are anything but a more superficial level. I would have loved to hear more of the “real story” and less of the rivalry and antics that took over during the storytelling.

*I was gifted a copy of this book to review and all opinion are my own.

Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood | St. Martin’s Press | Book Review

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Keeping Lucy by  T. Greenwood

Book Summary:

“From the author of Rust & Stardust comes this heartbreaking story, inspired by true events, of how far one mother must go to protect her daughter. 

Dover, Massachusetts, 1969. Ginny Richardson’s heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded.” Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on. 

But two years later, when Ginny’s best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth–its squalid hallways filled with neglected children–she knows she can’t leave her daughter there. With Ginny’s six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.

For the first time, Ginny must test her own strength and face the world head-on as she fights Ab and his domineering father for the right to keep Lucy. Racing from Massachusetts to the beaches of Atlantic City, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to a roadside mermaid show in Florida, Keeping Lucy is a searing portrait of just how far a mother’s love can take her.”

Publication Date:

August 6th, 2019

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

My Review:

Wow! After reading a few books that were just “okay” I was feeling like I was in a little bit of a reading rut during these last few weeks. I started Keeping Lucy with high hopes and it was everything I hoped it would be. It was my first book by T. Greenwood and certainly won’t be my last.

I was immediately drawn into this story and the characters. Greenwood’s storytelling was wonderful and her attention to detail made me easily picture the scenes and the amazingly well-developed characters that were based in the 1960s and early 1970s. I have been wanting to read a book that just captivated me and this one did from the start.

I felt emotionally connected to the characters and was rooting for them all in different ways. Within the very powerful main storyline (that was based on real events) were smaller ones that also were very timely and powerful in their own right. Although it doesn’t seem that long ago, the last 1960s were shockingly different in many ways and I was impressed at how Greenwood could bring me there with such vividness in her writing.

This book was filled with themes of fear, persistence, friendship, hope and the most wonderful thing of all, the power that we can all learn and change. The ending of the book all came together for me in a very satisfying way and I was sad it was over which is a sign of a book you really loved.

Thanks to NetGalley, T. Greenwood, and St. Martin’s Press for sharing a copy of this book with me in exchange for my honest opinions.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne | Random House | Book Review

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The Heart's Invisible Furies

Book Summary:

“Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamorous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.

At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.”

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

This book. I am sometimes hesitant to read books that come so highly recommended because I worry that I will have unrealistic expectations for them. I didn’t need to worry about that with The Heart’s Invisible Furies. It truly was everything the reviews said it was, and more. It is a long book, almost 600 pages and is one that comes together over time but is also hard to put down.

“I remember a friend of mine once telling me that we hate what we fear in ourselves,” 
― John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies

It is the story of Cyril who is a gay man born into extremely conservative Ireland in the 1940s. It is a powerful and moving story that intertwines Cyril’s life with the backdrop of Ireland in the 20th century and the long and difficult history of LGBT rights. It covers so much…friendship, family, loss, violence, politics, religion, and prejudice. It follows Cyril from conception through old age in seven-year intervals. Boyne is able to share this sometimes overwhelmingly sad story with humor which I found to be the most wonderful balance as a reader. It had many moments of wit intertwined with some pretty horrific life events for Cyril and those who became his family.

“You’re a bit of an oddball, Jonathan,’ I said. ‘Has anyone ever told you that?’
‘Nineteen people this year alone,’ he said. ‘And it’s only May.” 
― John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies

The characters were perfectly imperfect and the flaws made the story what it was. There were times of mourning and grief and there were many lessons learned along the way.

“Maybe there were no villains in my mother’s story at all. Just men and women, trying to do their best by each other. And failing.” 
― John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies

Cyril is an ordinary man with a very unordinary life and I loved watching the process of him finding not only who he was all along but also the road to self-love and acceptance. This book, even with its time of heartbreak, is about love, all kinds of love. It’s about what makes a family and how circumstances that are sometimes out of our own control can totally change our lives.

This book was thought-provoking and truly one of a kind. I will remember it forever and although at times it was hard to read, I am so happy I did.