Book of the Month May 2018 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

book of the month May 2018
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Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month Selections: What Book Should You Choose?”! Every month, I provide commentary on the books that are chosen as that month’s Book of the Month selections that will hopefully help you choose your pick, and tell you which book(s) I’m going to choose. AND, I provide you with the most up to date version of my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges with free, downloadable template (below).

I’m not over the moon about this month’s selections, but am hesitantly interested in two of them. As a follow-up to last month’s selections, I’m over halfway through The Girl Who Smiled Beads (one of my April choices) and it’s powerful as predicted. 

Choose the best Book of the Month selection for you every time!

Check out my fun new tool to help you pick the best Book of the Month selection for your taste: my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges and free, downloadable template to help you find your go-to BOTM judge!

Book of the Month April 2018 Selections

book of the month May 2018 SelectionsSmall Country by Gael Faye (Release Date: June 5, 2018)
224 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.37 on 2,101 ratings
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

A prize-winning bestseller in its native France, a vivid and evocative coming-of-age tale, set against the backdrop of the Rwandan genocide and the civil war in Burundi, of a young boy’s childhood innocence shattered by the brutal tides of history.

In 1992, Gabriel, ten years old, lives in Burundi in a comfortable expatriate neighborhood with his French father, his Rwandan mother and his little sister, Ana. In this joyful idyll, Gabriel spends the better part of his time with his mischievous band of friends, in a tiny cul-de-sac they have turned into their kingdom. But their peaceful existence will suddenly shatter when this small African country is brutally battered by history.

My Thoughts:
Faye grew up in Burundi and fled with his family to France when the Rwandan genocide broke out. Small Country is his debut novel and it sounds like this novel could be somewhat autobiographical. It’s already caused a sensation in France, becoming a bestseller and winning multiple literary awards. Goodreads reviews (most of which were in French, so I’m pulling from the English ones) said it’s beautiful, moving, powerful, emotional, and heart-wrenching. One reviewer said it was the best debut novel she’d read in years. Some also said the writing got a little overly poetic at times. Sounds like this one is emotionally tough to read, but the payoff is big if you can handle it. Fun fact: Faye is also a rapper and songwriter. PS – I’m in the middle of The Girl Who Smiled Beads (an April Book of the Month selection) right now and it also deals with being a refugee from the Rwandan genocide, but from a nonfiction perspective.

book of the month may 2018How To Walk Away by Katherine Center (Release Date: May 15, 2018)
320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.38 on 459 ratings
Selected By: Taylor Jenkins Reid (Author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and more)

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

My Thoughts:
By the author of Happiness for BeginnersHow To Walk Away is that rare heart-warming novel (which, to be honest, is not usually my jam). Jan B. (a blog reader and Goodreads reviewer whose taste I generally agree with) says, “the focus of this heartwarming novel is how Margaret copes with the hand she’s been dealt” and she recommends it for readers who “enjoy humorous character-driven feel-good novels.” Renee at It’s Book Talk (one of my favorite book bloggers, though she’s currently on hiatus) said it was a page-turner and had an interesting cast of supporting characters; however, she thought the ending went off the rails. Other Goodreads reviewers called it a palate cleanser and emphasized that it’s not a depressing book at all despite the tragic premise…many called it inspirational. It’s also been blurbed by Emily Giffin and Jenny Lawson, but I’m always a little skeptical of author blurbs. I peeked at the first few pages and liked the writing style and was drawn into the story…I’m looking forward to continuing  with it soon!

book of the month may 2018The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy (Release Date: May 1, 2018)
336 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.92 on 262 ratings
Selected By: Guest Judge Jaime King (Actress)

An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. […]

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. […]

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

My Thoughts:
The Perfect Mother is this month’s obligatory psychological thriller (it’s also a debut) and it’s going to be a movie starring Scandal‘s Kerry Washington. Goodreads reviewers called it addictive, unputdownable, and a “popcorn” read. They mentioned it has multiple perspectives (apparently LOTS of perspectives in this case), which gets a bit confusing at times. Some said the ending came as a complete surprise, while others said they saw it coming. It’s a May Library Reads pick (which I usually have good luck with) and was blurbed by B.A. Paris (author of Behind Closed Doors) and Kimberly McCreight (author of Reconstructing Amelia). Andrea at Born and Read in Chicago (a blogger I follow) said it was a fluffy domestic thriller and reminded her of The Couple Next Door. She also said it had an “interesting take on the hard work that is motherhood: with equal parts satire and seriousness.” Here’s her full review.

Mars RoomThe Mars Room by Rachel Kushner (Released: May 1, 2018)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.61 on 178 ratings
Selected By: Siobhan Jones (Book of the Month Editorial Director)

It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.

My Thoughts:
I’ve gotten completely conflicting opinions about The Mars Room from two of my most trusted recommendation sources (go figure!). Susie at Novel Visits thought it was “way overhyped” and said it “felt like a mishmash of stories with no real core” because “Kushner spent a lot of time on the background/crimes/life of other inmates, a tutor at the prison, and male inmates in another prisons.” On the other hand, Tyler Goodson called it “masterful and unforgettable” and said it was one of the best books of 2018 for sure. Goodreads reviews tend to mirror Susie and Tyler…either 4 or 5 stars or 2 stars without much in between. Some said it was disjointed, aloof, and lacked connection, while others said it was candid and raw. Not surprisingly, The Mars Room comes with considerable commentary on social justice and the prison system.

Still Lives Still Lives by Maria Hummel (Release Date: June 5, 2018)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.28 on 36 ratings
Selected By: Book of the Month Readers Committee member Sarah Bedwell

A young editor at a Los Angeles art museum finds herself pulled into the disturbing and dangerous world of a famous artist who goes missing on the opening night of her exhibition. […]

Suspicion falls upon the up-and-coming gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, who happens to be Maggie’s ex. A rogue’s gallery of eccentric art world figures could also have motive for the act, and as Maggie gets drawn into her own investigation of Lord’s disappearance, she’ll come to suspect all of those closest to her.

Set against a culture that too often fetishizes violence against women, Still Lives is a page-turning exodus into the art world’s hall of mirrors, and one woman’s journey into the belly of an industry flooded with money and secrets.

My Thoughts:
Still Lives is a literary crime novel set in the Los Angeles art world. It’s recommended for readers of Donna Tartt, Emma Cline, and Tana French…authors you don’t see together too often on read-alike lists, which is intriguing. Goodreads reviewers said it’s a bit slow in the first half, but picks up to be a thrilling page turner. They said it’s smart and has a pleasantly surprising ending. However, they also said there are too many characters to keep track of. I’m intrigued by this one, but would like to hear from some trusted recommendation sources before picking it up.

What Book of the Month Club May 2018 selection(s) will I choose?

If I didn’t already have an ARC of How To Walk Away, I’d choose that one since it’s been recommended by two trusted sources. However, I’m going to skip this month since I already have the ARC.

I’m also interested in Still Lives, but would like to hear from some trusted recommendation sources before jumping on it.

Make your Book of the Month selections by Sunday, May 6th.

What book will you choose this month?

This Month’s Special Deals

MOTHER’S DAY DEAL: Give a gift and get a free month for yourself! And, check out their Best Books for Mom list for some ideas. 

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  1. renee wrote:

    Thanks for the mention and link up Sarah! I’ve been dying to talk with someone about How to Walk Away so I’ll be waiting whenever you finish it. I was so surprised to see that I’m a little bit in the minority on Goodreads with my thoughts on the ending so I’m curious to find out how you fall. Hope you’re doing well and finding some great reads for your summer reading list…can’t wait for it!!

    Posted 5.1.18 Reply
    • Jan wrote:

      Renee, I liked the book but I also agree with you! I was also a little put off at first by the light treatment of her very serious injuries, but in the end I took into account the genre she was writing and just went with it as acceptable for a lighter feel-good book. But I hear what you’re saying. I have to be in the right mood for a book like this

      Posted 5.1.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I’ll email you when I finish! Hope I’ll start it soon, but we’ll see how library holds shake out.

      Posted 5.1.18 Reply
  2. I went with Still Lives and The Perfect Mother’s this month, but looking forward to seeing what you think of How to walk Away, it looks like the perfect summer book!

    Posted 5.1.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Let me know how Still Lives is…I’m so curious!

      Posted 5.1.18 Reply
  3. I think this is a good month to skip, Sarah! Small Country holds the most interest for me because its subject matter overlaps with The Girl Who Smiled Beads. Their two reviews could make a good pairing.

    I’m looking forward to reading a few more reviews on The Mars Room. Since looking into it more, I’ve read that it was originally a short story and that makes sense to me. Maybe all the loosely connected characters were added to plump up Romy’s story?

    Posted 5.1.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Yeah – I didn’t want both those books b/c they seemed to overlap too much. I’ll give it a try later this year if lots of people love it.

      Interesting about Mars Room!

      Posted 5.1.18 Reply
  4. Sherie wrote:

    I went with How to Walk Away and The Perfect Mother for May. Interesting that we seem to be on the same selection path a lot of months. I also have The Girl Who Smiled Beads from last month still to dig into. I was intrigued by another Rwandan story, but felt I might need a little break. I can always pick it up as an add-on next month. I got a little distracted with a review copy of Sometimes I Lie, which was a little slow start due to the different perspectives, but now that I’m almost done, im really enjoying it.

    Posted 5.1.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I felt the same way about Small Country – not jumping on it now b/c already reading Girl Who Smiled Beads. Actually, I’m kind of surprised BOTM picked 2 book about the same event in back to back months.

      Posted 5.1.18 Reply
  5. Tara wrote:

    I, too, have an ARC of How To Walk Away; I decided to go with Still Lives, because I’ve heard some good things about it, and I’m excited to find out how it goes!

    Posted 5.1.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Yay – you’ll have to tell me how it is!

      Posted 5.1.18 Reply
  6. Jan wrote:

    Sarah, thanks for the mention I have The Perfect Mother from EW (starting today!) and already read How To Walk Away. I was interested in Small Country but after reading The Girl Who Smiled Beads, a book I loved, I think I’ll pass. Still Lives looks good too, but, like you, I want to hear from someone I know who read it and loved it before taking a chance. I think I may skip this month too.

    As always, thanks for your breakdown of the picks!

    Posted 5.1.18 Reply
  7. I don’t think I’d choose any of them :). Small Country sounds the most interesting to me because of the hype it’s gotten.

    Posted 5.1.18 Reply
  8. I don’t do BOTM. Sometimes I’m tempted, but I have a feeling it would make be feel guilty instead of happy when they books pile up on my shelf unread!
    If I did belong, I’d say How to Walk Away or The Perfect Mother are the ones I’d be tempted by.

    Posted 5.1.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Totally understandable! I see people on Instagram all the time with tall stacks of BOTM books they haven’t read yet!

      Posted 5.12.18 Reply
  9. Gabby wrote:

    I skipped this month. Some things sounded mildly interesting, but nothing really hooked me, so I’ll hope for picks that call my name in the future!

    Posted 5.1.18 Reply
  10. Taryn wrote:

    I just finished Small Country and didn’t love it. It’s a very quick read though! I really want to pick up The Girl Who Smiled Beads after reading all the positive comments.

    Posted 5.2.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Good to know about Small Country – thanks for sharing!

      Posted 5.12.18 Reply
  11. Allison wrote:

    My BOTM subscription lapsed and I haven’t renewed yet because I’m trying to slow down adding books to my shelf. I think I’m waiting for a month that I can’t resist to start up again–but I’m not sure this is the month. I do want to add Circe after all the raves, though, so I’m sure I’ll start up again soon!

    Posted 5.2.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Well…I’ve now read Circe. Not my thing AT ALL. But, I could see it was well done.

      Posted 5.12.18 Reply
  12. Angela wrote:

    How To Walk Away has a lot of glowing reviews, but unfortunately I wasn’t wowed by it. I really wanted to like it, it seemed like something I would normally love, but like Renee, I thought the ending was really weird, and I had other issues as well. But judging by its popularity, I seem to be in the minority!

    Posted 5.3.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I ended up really liking it….even though the ending was admittedly ridiculous. But, somehow it kind of fit with the rom-com theme of the whole book. It’s an ending I would normally hate, but it didn’t bother me too much in this case. No idea why!

      Posted 5.12.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I really liked it despite it containing so many things I normally hate in my reading. I can’t explain why they worked for me here!

      Posted 5.16.18 Reply
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