Category: Book Recommendations

Book of the Month October 2019 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

September 30, 2019 Book Recommendations 10

Book of the Month October 2019

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.

 

Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month July 2019 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’ve already read one of this month’s picks and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Plus, a bit of a surprise with this month’s judges! 

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Book of the Month September 2019 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

August 29, 2019 Book Recommendations 6

Book of the Month September 2019

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.

 

Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month July 2019 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’ve loved the selections recently, but this month isn’t particularly up my alley. I’ve tried one of them and it didn’t work for me. But, hopefully, one of these will appeal to you!

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Book of the Month August 2019 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

July 31, 2019 Book Recommendations 11

Book of the Month August 2019

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.

 

Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month July 2019 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’ve loved the selections recently, but this month isn’t particularly up my alley. I’ve tried one of them and it didn’t work for me. But, hopefully, one of these will appeal to you!

Read more »

Book of the Month July 2019 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

June 29, 2019 Book Recommendations 13

Book of the Month July 2019 Selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.

 

Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month July 2019 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 haven’t read any of this month’s selections, but I’m very excited about two of them and cautiously intrigued by a third.

Read more »

Book of the Month June 2019 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

May 30, 2019 Book Recommendations 15

Book of the Month June 2019 Selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.

 

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).

After a slight hiccup in May, I’m back to loving this month’s selections! I’ve read two…I 5 star loved one and really liked the second. And, I’m interested in a third. The final two picks are from repeat authors…a topic which I’m dying to get more information about.

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Book of the Month May 2019 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

April 30, 2019 Book Recommendations 12

Book of the Month May 2019 Selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.

 

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).

So, I thought Book of the Month had turned it around with a couple months of great selections…particularly April, which contained two books I rated 5 stars. Sadly, none of this month’s picks look remotely appealing to me. We’ve got two “charming” light novels, a doorstop WWII historical fiction, a doorstop nonfiction about Egypt, and a novel about a toxic friendship that would be appealing to me except I didn’t like the author’s last novel.

Something I’ve been wondering about lately…does Book of the Month have deals with certain authors? They seem to always have repeat books by the same authors. For example, Helen Hoang this month, Jasmine Guillory (also a judge this month), Taylor Jenkins Reid (who has also been a judge), and John Boyne. I’d love to know the answer to this! If you have any insight, leave it in the comments.

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

I’ve just updated my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges to reflect the February 2018 structural changes that significantly changed the judges that appeared regularly. Here’s a free, downloadable template to help you find your go-to BOTM judge!

Book of the Month May 2019 Selections

How Not to Die AloneHow Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper
Light Fiction (Release Date: May 28, 2019)
336 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.92 on 153 ratings
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

A darkly funny and life-affirming debut novel for readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine the story of one man who is offered a second chance at life and love when he develops an unexpected friendship–if he can expose the white lie he told years ago that grew into so much more.

My Thoughts:
This debut novel is being compared to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (my review) and the synopsis sounds like a male version of that (let’s be honest…it’s a copycat…the publisher actually said it was in the “Eleanor Oliphant subgenre,” which I guess is now a thing). It’s about loneliness and finding human connection…and is supposedly funny in a dark way and quirky. Goodreads reviewers said it has humor but also poignancy, the characters grow throughout the book, and that Andrew is weird, but endearing. They also said it’s heart-warming/charming, but the premise stretched believability at times. Many readers also mentioned it caused  them to think about who would be there when they die. Ashley Spivey rated it 4 stars. And, J. Ryan Stradal (author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest) called it “charming, empathetic, witty, emotional, and hopeful.” However, I didn’t love Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and this is not my kind of book at all. 

Bride Test by Helen HoangThe Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Romance (Release Date: May 7, 2019)

320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.14 on 1,312 ratings
Selected By: Jasmine Guillory (Author of The Wedding Date series)

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

My Thoughts:
The publisher is labeling this novel The Kiss Quotient #2…but, it does not follow the same characters from that book (Stella and Michael), so I guess it’s not technically a sequel? It’s an OwnVoices novel…Khai is autistic and Esme is Vietnamese. Goodreads reviewers say it’s definitely steamy, it features cultural differences even though both are Vietnamese (Khai is Vietnamese-American, while Esme is Vietnamese), the characters are empathetic, it’s more realistic and weightier than The Kiss Quotient, but readers are liking it slightly less than The Kiss Quotient. Also, the Author’s Note is not to be missed. Simone and Her Books said it’s “most definitely pick this up if you’re a fan of The Kiss Quotient, but don’t expect them to be the same. It’s different, but in the best way.” However, Carla from Happiest When Reading (one of my most trusted recommendation sources) only gave it 3 stars and said it didn’t hold up as well as The Kiss Quotient for her.

Flight BehaviorThe Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer
Historical Fiction (Release Date: May 7, 2019)
576 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.50 on 20 ratings
Selected By: Brianna Goodman (Book of the Month Editorial Team)

The long-awaited new work from the best-selling author of The Invisible Bridge takes us back to occupied Europe in this gripping historical novel based on the true story of Varian Fry’s extraordinary attempt to save the work, and the lives, of Jewish artists fleeing the Holocaust.

My Thoughts:
The Flight Portfolio is Orringer’s sophomore novel, which is based on real people and events. Fry’s clients included Hannah Arendt, Franz Werfel, André Breton, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Marc Chagall…big-name artists. Goodreads reviewers recommend NOT Googling Varian Fry before reading this novel, so the story can surprise you. It’s a harrowing story and it addresses questions of whether one life is worth saving more than another. There’s a love story element (Fry has a male lover) and many readers noted the gorgeous writing (though some said it was dense), but also said it’s a bit overly long. If you like sweeping WWII historical fiction, it sounds like this one could be for you.

The Buried by Peter HesslerThe Buried: An Archeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler
Nonfiction – History (Release Date: May 7, 2019)
480 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 5.0 on 3 ratings
Selected By: Siobhan Jones (Book of the Month Editorial Director)

From the acclaimed author of River Town and Oracle Bones, an intimate excavation of life in one of the world’s oldest civilizations at a time of convulsive change.

Drawn by a fascination with Egypt’s rich history and culture, Peter Hessler moved with his wife and twin daughters to Cairo in 2011. He wanted to learn Arabic, explore Cairo’s neighborhoods, and visit the legendary archaeological digs of Upper Egypt. After his years of covering China for The New Yorker, friends warned him Egypt would be a much quieter place. But not long before he arrived, the Egyptian Arab Spring had begun, and now the country was in chaos.

In the midst of the revolution, Hessler often traveled to digs at Amarna and Abydos, where locals live beside the tombs of kings and courtiers, a landscape that they call simply al-Madfuna “the Buried.” He and his wife set out to master Arabic, striking up a friendship with their instructor, a cynical political sophisticate. They also befriended Peter’s translator, a gay man struggling to find happiness in Egypt’s homophobic culture. […]

Through the lives of these and other ordinary people in a time of tragedy and heartache, and through connections between contemporary Egypt and its ancient past, Hessler creates an astonishing portrait of a country and its people.

My Thoughts:
Hessler was the National Book Award finalist in 2006 for Oracle Bones. The Buried is narrative nonfiction. There is only one Goodreads review which said that Hessler focuses on the events of the Arab Spring through the eyes of ordinary Egyptians (a garbage man, a teacher, etc) and his visits to archeological digs. It said it’s a dense read and requires concentration. Kirkus gave it a starred review; however, they aren’t a great recommendation source for me. Also, check out this article in Publisher’s Weekly.

Necessary People by Anna PitoniakNecessary People by Anna Pitoniak
Literary Fiction (Release Date: May 21, 2019)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.15 on 62 ratings
Selected By: Cristina Arreola (Bustle Books Editor)

Stella and Violet are best friends, and from the moment they met in college, they knew their roles. Beautiful, privileged, and reckless Stella lives in the spotlight. Hardworking, laser-focused Violet stays behind the scenes, always ready to clean up the mess that Stella inevitably leaves in her wake.
After graduation, Violet moves to New York and lands a job in cable news, where she works her way up from intern to assistant to producer, and to a life where she’s finally free from Stella’s shadow. In this fast-paced world, Violet thrives, and her ambitions grow—but everything is jeopardized when Stella, envious of Violet’s new life, uses her connections, beauty, and charisma to get hired at the same network. Stella soon moves in front of the camera, becoming the public face of the stories that Violet has worked tirelessly to produce—and taking all the credit.

Stella might be the one with the rich family and the right friends, but Violet isn’t giving up so easily. As she and Stella strive for success, each reveals just how far she’ll go to get what she wants–even if it means destroying the other person along the way.

My Thoughts:
Necessary People is Pitoniak’s sophomore novel following her debut, The Futures, which I thought was fairly forgettable brain candy (my review). This one is about a toxic female friendship, a premise I normally enjoy (Social Creature, Tangerine), and is supposedly suspenseful. Goodreads reviewers said the female protagonists are fierce, but would probably considered “villains.” They said it’s fast-paced, reads like a literary thriller, and is edgy. It’s primarily about social status, what people will do to get it, and co-dependency. But, it also gives an inside view of the cable news world. If you need likable characters to like a book, this probably is not the right pick for you.

What Book of the Month May 2019 selection(s) will I choose?

Necessary People has a premise that sounds totally up my alley, but I’m holding off on it since I didn’t love her debut novel (The Futures). Consequently, I’m skipping this month.

Make your Book of the Month selections by Saturday, April 6th.

What book will you choose this month?

This Month’s Special Deals

MOTHER’S DAY DEAL: BOTM has extended the gifting sale ($10 off a 6- or 12-month gift using code MOMKNOWSBEST).

NEW MEMBER DEAL: New members can get a free book when they join. Use code SPRINGFEVER.

ANNUAL PAYMENT DEAL: BOTM is now a monthly subscription service. However, given that some members preferred paying upfront, they are now offering a 12-month option. Members who sign up for 12 months will pay $149.99/year. That’s $12.50/book, instead of the standard price of $14.99/month.

How to Join Book of the Month…

Book of the Month is a subscription service for people who like to try new books from a curated selection and like to read in hardcover format. Through Book of the Month, you can get a hardcover book for generally significantly less than you’d pay in a bookstore or through Amazon. And, you get to try something new that has been vetted by one of Book of the Month’s well-read judges!

Sign up for any of the subscription plans below and you get to choose one of five books selected by Book of the Month’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month will then mail your chosen book to your house with a cute note. You also have the option to purchase additional books for $9.99 each and to skip a month if you want.

Sign up for a Book of the Month membership (NEW pricing below)!

New members will sign up for a membership that renews monthly:

A book of your choice for $14.99 / month
Add extra books to your shipment for $9.99 each
Skip any month you want
Free shipping, always

Pin this post…

 

Book of the Month May 2019

Book of the Month April 2019 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

March 30, 2019 Book Recommendations 7

Book of the Month April 2019 Selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.

 

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).

Way to go, Book of the Month! For the third month in a row, there are multiple selections that I’m interested in! I hadn’t been happy with the picks over the past year or so, but I feel like they’ve turned things around the past few months! I’ve read and loved two of this month’s selections (Normal People and Miracle Creek).

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

I’ve just updated my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges to reflect the February 2018 structural changes that significantly changed the judges that appeared regularly. Here’s a free, downloadable template to help you find your go-to BOTM judge!

Book of the Month April 2019 Selections

Normal PeopleNormal People by Sally Rooney
Literary Fiction (Release Date: April 16, 2019)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.14 on 26,872 ratings
Selected By: Grace Atwood (founder of The Stripe blog and co-host of Bad on Paper Podcast)

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal.

My Thoughts:
Normal People (which has been longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize) was my first experience with Sally Rooney (author of Conversations with Friends) and I adored it! This is the kind of relationship book that is utterly riveting, but also made me feel a little uncomfortable (like White Fur and Tender). Connell and Marianne’s relationship is far from straightforward and is downright maddening at times, but I was rooting hard for them and completely engrossed in their story. I also loved the exploration of social and class dynamics in high school and college and how those can change over time. There’s a bit of a coming of age element to the story as they both wrestle with their identities and they face challenges stemming from Marianne’s family life. This is an unconventional love story and a character-driven novel I couldn’t put down! I should also tell you this story involves a fair amount of sex and also does not use quotation marks for dialogue. Others who loved Normal People: Resh at The Book Satchel, Tyler Goodson, Laura Tremaine, bookseller Pam Cady, and Annie Jones.

Miracle CreekMiracle Creek by Angie Kim
Mystery / Thriller (Release Date: April 16, 2019)

368 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.29 on 258 ratings
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son.

My Thoughts:
This debut novel is a unique spin on the courtroom thriller, bringing in the Korean immigrant perspective and an unconventional treatment for autism among other things. Kim is a former trial lawyer and a mother of a real-life “submarine” patient (the type of “oxygen therapy” explored in the book). It’s been compared Everything I Never Told You, Defending Jacob, and Pachinko (quite an array of read-alikes). Goodreads reviewers said the story is told through different points of view (POVs), that it’s a page-turning thriller with excellent character themes (immigration, parenthood, grief, disability, and caregiving), and that the characters are nuanced…telling lies while still engendering the reader’s sympathy. Overall, the Goodreads reviews are excellent and I had to scroll way down to find less than a 5 star review. PS – I’m about 30% through Miracle Creek and am loving it so far…and, I agree with the general themes of the Goodreads reviews so far!

All That You Leave BehindAll That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr
Nonfiction – Memoir (Release Date: April 9, 2019)
256 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.64 on 25 ratings
Selected By: “Book of the Month” (I’m not sure what this means…it’s the first time I’ve seen it!)

A celebrated journalist, bestselling author, and recovering addict, David Carr was in the prime of his career when he collapsed in the newsroom of The New York Times in 2015. Shattered by his death, his daughter Erin Lee Carr, an up-and-coming documentary filmmaker at age twenty-seven, began combing through the entirety of their shared correspondence–1,936 items in total.

What started as an exercise in grief quickly grew into an active investigation: Did her father’s writings contain the answers to the questions of how to move forward in life and work without your biggest champion by your side? How could she fill the space left behind by a man who had come to embody journalistic integrity, rigor, and hard reporting, whose mentorship meant everything not just to her, but to the many who served alongside him?

My Thoughts:
This memoir is an honest and raw look at Carr’s relationship with her father, a larger than life, but complicated media figure. And, part of the story is told through email exchanges between Erin and her father. Goodreads reviewers said Carr doesn’t try to sugarcoat her story and is honest about her and her dad’s faults. They mention she addresses multi-generational addiction, grief, and navigating Carr’s own media career. They loved hearing David Carr’s voice (through the email exchanges) and readers who aren’t familiar with David or Erin Carr liked it anyway. Carr is being compared to Kelly Corrigan (Glitter & Glue, Tell Me More) and Ariel Levy (The Rules Do Not Apply).

Lost and WantedLost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger
Literary Fiction (Release Date: April 2, 2019)
336 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.90 on 58 ratings
Selected By: Siobhan Jones (Book of the Month Editorial Director)

Helen Clapp is a physics professor. She doesn’t believe in pseudo-science, or time travel and especially not in ghosts. So when she gets a missed call from Charlie, her closest friend from university with whom she hasn’t spoken in over a year, Helen thinks there must be some mistake. Because Charlie died two days ago.

Through the grief of the husband and daughter Charlie left behind, Helen is drawn into the orbit of Charlie’s world, slotting in the missing pieces of her friend’s past. And, as she delves into the web of their shared history, Helen finds herself entangled in the forgotten threads of her own life.

My Thoughts:
Tara from Running N Reading shared this book as her upcoming release she was excited about on shared on Episode 6 of my podcast and she’s now read it and loved it. She says it’s not for everyone and there’s lots of science-y stuff in there (the protagonist is a physicist), but she loves Freudenger’s writing and outlook on the world. She recommends it for fans of Meg Wolitzer and Ann Patchett. Goodreads reviewers said it’s a bit science fiction-y, but with crossover appeal and it’s not a mystery or a ghost story despite appearances. It deals with themes of women in science, women in the workplace, and female friendship, and is a “life’s big questions” type of novel. Some said the story fell flat…not much happened and when something finally did, it was a bit underwhelming. I read an excerpt and loved the writing. Tyler Goodson (one of my best recommendation sources) also rated it 5 stars.

Beyond the PointBeyond the Point by Claire Gibson
Literary Fiction (Release Date: April 2, 2019)
528 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.32 on 63 ratings
Selected By: Etaf Rum (Author of A Woman is No Man)

Duty. Honor. Country. That’s West Point’s motto, and every cadet who passes through its stone gates vows to live it. But on the eve of 9/11, as Dani, Hannah and Avery face four grueling years ahead, they realize they’ll only survive if they do it together.

The world—of business, of love, and of war—awaits Dani, Hannah, and Avery beyond the gates of West Point. These three women know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But soon, that adage no longer rings true—for their future, or their friendship. As they’re pulled in different directions, will their hard-forged bond prevail or shatter?

My Thoughts:
This debut novel of female friendship was blurbed by Kate Quinn (author of The Alice Network and The Huntress). The author grew up at West Point where her dad was a professor and apparently really makes the setting come alive. Goodreads reviewers said the story features female athletes trying to play basketball for West Point and it follows their friendship for a 7 year period (right after high school through a couple years after West Point). It addresses the discrimination they face at West Point and is hard to put down. One reviewer also mentioned faith plays a big role with one of the women. Annie Jones discussed this book in her March Reading Recap podcast episode (I think she liked it, but didn’t give it a star rating because she knows the author). And, the author interviews real female West Point grads in a P.S. section that’s apparently not to be missed.

What Book of the Month April 2019 selection(s) will I choose?

I’m choosing two books this month…Normal People (because I’ve already read and loved it and want a hard copy for my shelves) and Miracle Creek (same situation as Normal People)!

Make your Book of the Month selections by Saturday, April 6th.

What book will you choose this month?

This Month’s Special Deals

NEW MEMBER DEAL: New members can get a free book when they join. Use code APRILSHOWERS.

ANNUAL PAYMENT DEAL: BOTM is now a monthly subscription service. However, given that some members preferred paying upfront, they are now offering a 12-month option. Members who sign up for 12 months will pay $149.99/year. That’s $12.50/book, instead of the standard price of $14.99/month.

How to Join Book of the Month…

Book of the Month is a subscription service for people who like to try new books from a curated selection and like to read in hardcover format. Through Book of the Month, you can get a hardcover book for generally significantly less than you’d pay in a bookstore or through Amazon. And, you get to try something new that has been vetted by one of Book of the Month’s well-read judges!

Sign up for any of the subscription plans below and you get to choose one of five books selected by Book of the Month’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month will then mail your chosen book to your house with a cute note. You also have the option to purchase additional books for $9.99 each and to skip a month if you want.

Sign up for a Book of the Month membership (NEW pricing below)!

New members will sign up for a membership that renews monthly:

A book of your choice for $14.99 / month
Add extra books to your shipment for $9.99 each
Skip any month you want
Free shipping, always

Pin this post…

Book of the Month April 2019 Selections

Book of the Month March 2019 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

March 1, 2019 Book Recommendations 11

Book of the Month March 2019 Selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.

 

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).

Way to go, Book of the Month! For the second month in a row, there are multiple selections that I’m interested in! There’s a hyped novel in a unique format, a psychological thriller from an author I like, a debut Sci-Fi novel from an acclaimed short story writer, a debut short story collection that’s getting critical hype, and debut novel billed as a cross between Bridget Jones Diary and Americanah.

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

I’ve just updated my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges to reflect the February 2018 structural changes that significantly changed the judges that appeared regularly. Here’s a free, downloadable template to help you find your go-to BOTM judge!

Book of the Month March 2019 Selections

Daisy Jones and the SixDaisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Release Date: March 5, 2019

368 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.41 on 1,242 ratings
Selected By: Katherine Center (Author of How to Walk Away and others)

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies.

My Thoughts:
Daisy Jones & The Six is one of the more hyped releases of the year from a beloved author (although, this book is a departure for her). Though the premise sounds like nonfiction, this is a novel. To me, it sounds like a fictional music version of Live from New York since it’s told in an oral history / interview format. Three book sources I trust have read it and landed in slightly different places. Susie from Novel Visits loved the format, the 70’s rock scene setting, and the three very different female characters…and she rated it 5 stars. Gayle from The Readerly Report Podcast and Everyday I Write the Book blog liked it a lot (4 stars), but didn’t loved it as much as she thought she would (the sex/drugs angle got a little tiresome, but the band felt so real she sometimes forgot she was reading fiction). And, Renee from It’s Book Talk (who isn’t a big music lover) also got frustrated with the amount of sex/drugs and felt disconnected from the characters because of the oral history format. Ashley Spivey (a recent podcast guest) loved it. Amazon has ordered a limited series adaptation of Daisy Jones & The Six with Reese Witherspoon producing (source: Variety). If you liked VH1’s Behind the Music back in the day or Live from New York, I think this could be a good pick for you.

Before She Knew HimBefore She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
Release Date: March 5, 2019

320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.01 on 362 ratings
Selected By: Riley Sager (Author of Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied)

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

My Thoughts:
Y’all know how finicky I am about psychological thrillers, but Peter Swanson is an author I’ve actually had a good experience with! I really liked The Kind Worth Killing and it was different than all those thrillers that tend to run together. That being said, I’m always nervous about plots that center around neighborhood drama. Goodreads reviewers said it has a noir feeling and was unputdownable, the twists didn’t feel outlandish, the first half is a lot of setting the stage (but, the second half takes off), and that this is a wild plot that somehow does work. They also recommend you go in blind (I agree…lots was given away in some of the Goodreads reviews I read…and they weren’t “hidden for spoilers”). It was blurbed by Alafair Burke (author of The Wife, another thriller I like).

The MunicipalistsThe Municipalists by Seth Fried
Release Date: March 19, 2019
272 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.05 on 22 ratings
Selected By: Siobhan Jones (Book of the Month Editorial Director)

In Metropolis, the gleaming city of tomorrow, the dream of the great American city has been achieved. But all that is about to change, unless a neurotic, rule-following bureaucrat and an irreverent, freewheeling artificial intelligence can save the city from a mysterious terrorist plot that threatens its very existence.

My Thoughts:
The Municipalists is a debut Sci-Fi novel from an acclaimed short story writer (The Great Frustration). It centers around male friendship and apparently has an optimistic outlook on AI (Artificial Intelligence), which is different from many other books about AI. There is only one meaningful review on Goodreads that describes it as a fun adventure. The reviewer liked the voice and finished it in one night, but wished for more world building. Author Karen Russell (Swamplandia!) has called Fried “a delight to read.”

Lot: StoriesLot: Stories by Bryan Washington
Release Date: March 19, 2019
240 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.53 on 33 ratings
Selected By: Mat Johnson (Author of Pym and Loving Day)

In the city of Houston – a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America – the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, weathering his brother’s blows, resenting his older sister’s absence. And discovering he likes boys.

My Thoughts:
Washington is 24 years old and has written nonfiction and social commentary, but this is his debut story collection. Goodreads reviewers said the stories are interconnected with half following a bi-racial family with a gay son and half following the surrounding neighborhood. They describe these stories as raw and intense, and said they paint a picture of the city of Houston. One reviewer said this collection addresses a lot of issues, but they felt organic to the story. Tyler Goodson (Manager of Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA and one of my best recommendation sources) rated this one 5 stars and said “the light that shines from these stories is almost too much.” Aja Gabel (author of The Ensemble, one of my favorite books of 2018) called it “haunting and powerful.” It’s also been compared to Junot Diaz’s Drown.

QueenieQueenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Release Date: March 19, 2019
320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.93 on 243 ratings
Selected By: JoJo Moyes (Author of Me Before You)

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

My Thoughts:
This debut, part epistolary novel is said to be a mash-up of Bridget Jones Diary and Americanah (quite a pairing!). But, Goodreads reviewers disagreed with the comparison to Bridget Jones Diary…saying it ends at a girl living in London and struggling with dating. They said the story is not light and feel-good, but much deeper than Bridget Jones Diary. They said Queenie is a complex character…funny and raw, but makes a lot of really bad decisions. Some loved Carty-Williams’ handling of mental illness and particularly how it’s viewed in the Caribbean and black communities, while others mentioned the issues didn’t feel fully organic to the story. Jaclyn Crupi (a reviewer I trust) praised the character development, but struggled with Queenie’s “lack of agency in sex” and thought Carty-Williams tried to cram too much into the novel. JoJo Moyes called it “brilliant, timely, funny, heartbreaking.”

What Book of the Month March 2019 selection(s) will I choose?

I’m choosing Daisy Jones & the Six this month…because of all the good reviews I’m seeing from people I trust, my love for the oral history format (however, I am nervous because I’m not a big music person!), and my love for her last book, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (my review).

But, if you’re looking for a psychological thriller, I recommend Before She Knew Him based on my prior experience with Peter Swanson!

Make your Book of the Month selections by Wednesday, March 6th.

What book will you choose this month?

This Month’s Special Deals

NEW MEMBER DEAL: New members can get a free book when they join. Use code SPRINGFLING.

ANNUAL PAYMENT DEAL: BOTM is now a monthly subscription service. However, given that some members preferred paying upfront, they are now offering a 12-month option. Members who sign up for 12 months will pay $149.99/year. That’s $12.50/book, instead of the standard price of $14.99/month.

How to Join Book of the Month…

Book of the Month is a subscription service for people who like to try new books from a curated selection and like to read in hardcover format. Through Book of the Month, you can get a hardcover book for generally significantly less than you’d pay in a bookstore or through Amazon. And, you get to try something new that has been vetted by one of Book of the Month’s well-read judges!

Sign up for any of the subscription plans below and you get to choose one of five books selected by Book of the Month’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month will then mail your chosen book to your house with a cute note. You also have the option to purchase additional books for $9.99 each and to skip a month if you want.

Sign up for a Book of the Month membership (NEW pricing below)!

New members will sign up for a membership that renews monthly:

A book of your choice for $14.99 / month
Add extra books to your shipment for $9.99 each
Skip any month you want
Free shipping, always

Support Sarah’s Book Shelves on Patreon!
(and get personalized book recommendations and access to our private Facebook Group)

Get Bonus Content!

The NEW Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges (plus a free download!)

February 26, 2019 Book Recommendations 25

Book of the Month Judges

 

Every month, I share my commentary on the Book of the Month selections and which ones I’d choose that month (ex: February 2019 selections). Putting these posts together got me thinking about creative ways to help Book of the Month members choose the monthly selection that is right for them

Then, I created The Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges as another way to help members choose the right selection for their reading taste. Many of the judges pop up over and over again, creating a track record of their selections…which you can analyze to figure out what types of books certain judges tend to choose and which judges are most compatible with your personal reading taste.

Last February (2018), Book of the Month announced a change to the structure of their judges (details here). They didn’t specifically say that the Book of the Month judges would change, but I noticed a large shift ever since that announcement. Many recurring judges disappeared and some new judges entered the fold. The types of books chosen as monthly selections also changed. So, this updated Judges Guide reflects this new landscape. 

Changes Since the February 2018 Announcement

  • The number of judges has shrunk drastically (we are looking at a smaller time period, so some decrease makes sense).
  • Judges predominantly focusing on serious literary fiction disappeared entirely.
  • A psychological thriller is featured almost every month.
  • Nonfiction selections have fallen considerably (i.e. there have only been 3 selections in the year since the structural change).
  • Same with Young Adult (i.e. there has only been 1 selection in the year since the structural change).
  • My favorite judges (Kim Hubbard, Sarah Weinman, and Laia Garcia) disappeared.

If you downloaded the template at the bottom of the post when I first released it, I recommend doing it again because you’ll find your results are very different! And, your results from this template will be far more useful. As with my last Judges Guide, I will update the template every month with the new selections and judges.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.

How to Join Book of the Month…

Book of the Month is a subscription service for people who like to try new books from a curated selection and like to read in hardcover format. Through Book of the Month, you can get a hardcover book for generally significantly less than you’d pay in a bookstore or through Amazon. And, you get to try something new that has been vetted by one of Book of the Month’s well-read judges!

Sign up for any of the subscription plans below and you get to choose one of five books selected by Book of the Month’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month will then mail your chosen book to your house with a cute note. You also have the option to purchase additional books for $9.99 each and to skip a month if you want.

Sign up for a Book of the Month membership (NEW pricing below)!

New members will sign up for a membership that renews monthly:

A book of your choice for $14.99 / month
Add extra books to your shipment for $9.99 each
Skip any month you want
Free shipping, always

The Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges

Lighter Literary Fiction

Elizabeth Mitchell (Readers Committee, Author, Editor, Journalist)

  • She’s only had one selection so far, which didn’t work for me.
  • Pick that Didn’t Work for Me: Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

Skye Sherman (Brand Ambassador – Freelance Travel Writer & Blogger)

Thrillers

AJ Finn aka Dan Mallory (Author, Editor)
*Scandal surrounds Finn/Mallory right now (details here), so I’ll be interested to see if he ever reappears as a BOTM judge.

Cristina Arreola (Bustle Books Editor)

  • While she picks mostly thrillers, she did select Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, a literary dystopian novel in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale.
  • Also selected The Child by Fiona Barton (a mystery) and Cross Her Heart, Sarah Pinborough’s sophomore novel. 
  • Pick that Didn’t Work for Me: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (my spoiler discussion

Elizabeth Sile (Judge Emeritas, Features Editor for Real Simple Magazine)

  • She’s only had one selection so far, which I haven’t read.
  • Pick: The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn (see above)

Laura Whitelaw (Readers Committee)

  • She’s only had one selection so far, which I haven’t read.
  • Pick: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Eclectic Judges

Brianna Goodman (Book of the Month Editorial Team)

Etaf Rum (Brand Ambassador, Author, #Bookstagrammer)

Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

Samantha Irby (Author, Blogger)

Siobhan Jones (BOTM Editorial Director)

Steph Opitz (Book Reviewer at Marie Claire)

Taylor Jenkins Reid (Author)

Who are MY go-to Book of the Month judges?

Taylor Jenkins Reid is my #1 judge…I liked two out of three of her picks! I hope she starts appearing more often.

Etaf Rum is in second place…but, I’ll have to keep an eye on this one as she’s only picked two books so far (I liked one of them). 

Who are MY no-go Book of the Month judges?

Elizabeth Mitchell and AJ Finn are my top no-go judges.

Elizabeth Mitchell is based on only one choice, though, so that could change moving forward.

How to find YOUR go-to and no-go Book of the Month judges

  • Download my free template below.
  • In the spreadsheet, look for the genre categories that you generally prefer. You can skip this step if you want to consider every single judge as an option for you.
  • Look for Columns D, E and F (Read?, Liked?, Interested in Reading?). For each book you’ve read, use the dropdown menu change the “No” to “Yes”. Do the same for “Liked?” and “Interested in Reading?”
  • Look in the Total Column (Column G) to find your go-to and no-go judges! The go-to’s are obviously the ones with the highest numerical total and the no-go’s are the ones with the lowest…and preferably negative numerical total (highlighted in yellow).

Using this guide, who are your go-to Book of the Month judges?

Pin this post…

 

Book of the Month Judges

Book of the Month February 2019 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

February 1, 2019 Book Recommendations 19

Book of the Month February 2019

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.

 

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).

It’s been awhile since I’ve loved the Book of the Month selections overall…but, I love this month’s picks! There are lots (3) of debuts this month…two of which I’m really interested in! Plus, the obligatory monthly psychological thriller and a sci-fi / fantasy pick. 

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 February 2019 Selections

Winter SisterThe Winter Sister by Megan Collins
Release Date: February 5, 2019

320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.03 on 267 ratings
Selected By: Brianna Goodman (Book of the Month Editorial Team)

In this spellbinding and suspenseful debut, a young woman haunted by the past returns home to care for her ailing mother and begins to dig deeper into her sister’s unsolved murder.

My Thoughts:
The Winter Sister is this month’s psychological thriller and it’s a debut. It’s about family dynamics, particularly mother / daughter relationships and relationships between sisters. Goodreads reviewers praised the writing (especially for a debut) and the character development, but the overwhelming complaint was that the plot was tired / predictable (almost every review I read said that frequent thriller readers will have seen the plot before). They also said it’s atmospheric and focuses on the effects of guilt. Wendy Walker (author of All is Not Forgotten and Emma in the Night, one of my favorite thrillers) said it has a “gripping, suspenseful plot with a compelling character study of a grieving family.”

Early RiserEarly Riser by Jasper Fforde
Release Date: February 12, 2019

416 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.13 on 1,542 ratings
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

Every Winter, the human population hibernates.

During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness, devoid of human activity.

Well, not quite .

Your name is Charlie Worthing and it’s your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses.

You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact borne of the sleeping mind.

When the dreams start to kill people, it’s unsettling.

When you get the dreams too, it’s weird.

When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity.

My Thoughts:
Fforde is the British bestselling author of The Eyre Affair and the Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes series. Early Riser is a stand-alone sci-fi / fantasy novel and, like with the last sci-fi pick from BOTM, I can’t make heads or tails of the premise of this book other than that it’s something about life going into hibernation every winter. Goodreads reviewers called it quirky and inventive and praised its witty writing and funny footnotes (they warn readers not to skip them!). They also said the plot is original and that it’s a bit slow in the beginning (first third to half of the book) in the name of world-building, but picks up the pace later. And, Fforde fans say it’s not his best book but they enjoyed it nonetheless.

Age of LightThe Age of Light by Whitney Scharer
Release Date: February 5, 2019
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09 on 138 ratings
Selected By: Taylor Jenkins Reid (Author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and more)

A captivating debut about Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her passionate affair with the artist Man Ray in 1930s Paris.

My Thoughts:
This debut historical fiction novel falls into the category of fiction based on real-life epic love affairs (a category I love!), which reminds me of similar books Loving Frank and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (my review). And, even better when the woman is trying to find her own purpose in the midst of these affairs, as is the case with all these books. A murderers’ row of stand-out authors blurbed this book: Madeline Miller, Paula McClain, Celeste Ng, and Georgia Hunter. I’m reading it right now (and loving it so far!), but I’m only six chapters in, so I’m calling on some trusted recommendation sources to share their thoughts. Georgia Hunter recommended it on Episode 1 of the Sarah’s Book Shelves Live podcast (click the timestamp to hear her comments: [38:10])…she talked about it’s strong sense of time and place (I agree based on the first six chapters!), called it “gripping” and “sensual”, and said it made her want to immediately Google everything about Lee Miller and Man Ray. Susie from Novel Visits (one of my top recommendation sources) said it’s her favorite book of the year so far and that she was left hoping for a sequel to learn more about Lee Miller. The more critical Goodreads reviews mostly cite the steamy love scenes and call the book out for being a romance masquerading as historical fiction.

A Woman is No ManA Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
Release Date: March 5, 2019
336 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.5 on 78 ratings
Selected By: Siobhan Jones (Book of the Month Editorial Director)

In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her fragile community.

My Thoughts:
First, the author. Even though this is a debut novel, Rum’s name may sound familiar because she’s a Book of the Month Ambassador and extremely popular Bookstagrammer (@booksandbeans). She’s also the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, but was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. The story is about three generations of Palestinian women and the challenges Muslim women face. It’s a family drama that covers a range of issues…religion, abuse, marriage, mental illness, addiction, etc. And, the Goodreads reviews are outstanding! Many reviewers mention this being the best book they’ve read in awhile. They also call it a feminist book despite focusing on a decidedly un-feminist culture and they mention the cultural and generational clashes facing traditional Muslims who are raised in America (a theme I personally love in my reading). Bonus: I hear the three main characters are all book lovers! Honestly, I hadn’t paid much attention to this book prior to yesterday…but, I’m now super interested.

On the Come UpOn the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Release Date: February 5, 2019
447 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.39 on 518 ratings
Selected By: Helen Hoang (Author of The Kiss Quotient)

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

My Thoughts:
You’ve probably at least heard of The Hate U GiveOn the Come Up is Thomas’s sophomore novel and it has BIG shoes to fill. It’s being called her “homage to hip-hop.” Just in case you don’t know, Thomas is a YA (Young Adult) author, but The Hate U Give had massive crossover appeal, so I expect the same from On the Come Up. Many of the Goodreads reviews were by people who were just excited about the book, but hadn’t actually read it. But, I did find some actual reviews, which were mostly positive. They talked about the gorgeous writing, Bri’s song lyrics and hilarious, yet challenging personality, and the rawness. A few also mentioned they felt less of an emotional connection with Bri than they did with Starr from THUG. Reviewers say it’s a different book from THUG, but takes on some of the same themes (ex: poverty, police brutality) and is written with the same heart and soul. I loved THUG, but am going to wait for some more reviews from trusted sources on this one before I decide to commit.

What Book of the Month February 2019 selection(s) will I choose?

I’m choosing two books this month!

1) The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer – I already have an e-galley, but am liking it so much already that I want a hard copy for my shelves.

2) A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum – This one wasn’t on my radar until yesterday, but the Goodreads reviews are so outstanding that I’m adding it to my list!

Make your Book of the Month selections by Wednesday, February 6th.

What book will you choose this month?

This Month’s Special Deals

NEW MEMBER DEAL: New members can get their first book for just $5. Use code LOVEISLOVE.

ANNUAL PAYMENT DEAL: BOTM is now a monthly subscription service. However, given that some members preferred paying upfront, they are now offering a 12-month option. Members who sign up for 12 months will pay $149.99/year. That’s $12.50/book, instead of the standard price of $14.99/month.

How to Join Book of the Month…

Book of the Month is a subscription service for people who like to try new books from a curated selection and like to read in hardcover format. Through Book of the Month, you can get a hardcover book for generally significantly less than you’d pay in a bookstore or through Amazon. And, you get to try something new that has been vetted by one of Book of the Month’s well-read judges!

Sign up for any of the subscription plans below and you get to choose one of five books selected by Book of the Month’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month will then mail your chosen book to your house with a cute note. You also have the option to purchase additional books for $9.99 each and to skip a month if you want.

Sign up for a Book of the Month membership (NEW pricing below)!

New members will sign up for a membership that renews monthly:

A book of your choice for $14.99 / month
Add extra books to your shipment for $9.99 each
Skip any month you want
Free shipping, always

Support Sarah’s Book Shelves on Patreon!
(and get personalized book recommendations and access to our private Facebook Group)

Get Bonus Content!