Category: Book Recommendations

Book of the Month Club December 2017 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

December 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 14

Book of the Month Club December 2017 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 Club 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 Club 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 Club Judges with free, downloadable template (below).

December is traditionally a desert for new book releases. So, it’s not surprising this month’s selections don’t contain a single December release. Instead, we have a mid-2017 release, two November releases, and three January 2018 releases. This month’s picks are also thriller heavy…so, page-turner lovers, this is your month! Sadly, none of my go-to judges made an appearance this month.

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

If you missed it, check out my fun new tool to help you pick the best Book of the Month Club selection for your taste: my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Club Judges and free, downloadable template (below) to help you find your go-to BOTM judge!

I’ve updated the template since last month to make it even better and added in the most recent judge’s selections, so download the new version even if you grabbed it last month!

Book of the Month Club December 2017 Selections

Chalk Man by C.J. TudorThe Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (Release Date: January 9, 2018)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.24 on 380 ratings
Selected By: Kristen Iversen (Author)

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

My Thoughts:
The Chalk Man is a British debut and was inspired by Tudor’s daughter’s sidewalk chalk (creepy!!). The publisher is calling The Chalk Man the “must-read thriller of 2018,” and said the twists “manage to be simultaneously totally shocking, as well as completely grounded in the clues laid along the way.” This criteria for plot twists is a must-have for me to love a psychological thriller and Goodreads readers are (mostly) backing up the publisher’s claims. They also said Tudor’s writing and character development are top notch, which are sometimes lacking in thrillers. There’s apparently some 80’s nostalgia and I’ve seen comparisons to a couple different Stephen King works (The Stand, It, and The Body, which became the movie Stand By Me). Chelsea at The Suspense is Thrilling Me loved it just a tad. I’ve gotta say, as skeptical as I normally am of psychological thrillers, this one piques my interest.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Release Date: May 9, 2017)
327 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.33 on 41,808 ratings
Selected By: Guest Judge Gabrielle Union (Actress and Author of her memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine)

Meet Eleanor Oliphant. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully time-tabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

Then everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. […] it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

My Thoughts:
Lots of people love this book, including some bloggers I trust (Susie at Novel Visits and Tara at Running N Reading), but I just didn’t. It’s a feel-good, heart-warming story that’s neatly tied up at the end and this kind of book generally doesn’t appeal to me. I found it too cliche in a rom-com type of way. I loved that Eleanor is a quirky, endearing character who goes on hilarious, salty rants about things that annoy her in everyday life. And, I was very curious about the dark backstory with her Mom, but was disappointed the book didn’t delve into this further. Check out my full review. Though I didn’t love it, you might if you like feel-good stories with endearing characters and neat, tidy endings.

City of Brass by S.A. ChakrabortyThe City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (Release Date: November 14, 2017)
528 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.31 on 553 ratings
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real.

My Thoughts:
The City of Brass is the first novel in a debut series that “combines the tropes of epic fantasy with a rich Middle Eastern setting, an exploration of the classical Islamic world, and elements of Arab, Persian, and South Asian history and folklore in a fast-paced novel that will cast its spell on both genre and general readers, as well as fans of YA fantasy.” Whew! That’s a lot to swallow…and none of it is in my wheelhouse. It apparently has fantasy, romance, paranormal – all elements that have me running for the hills. But, Goodreads readers seem to love it and so did Kirkus.

English Wife by Lauren WilligThe English Wife by Lauren Willig (Release Date: January 9, 2018)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.11 on 130 ratings
Selected By: Dana Schwartz (Author and Correspondent at Entertainment Weekly)

From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

My Thoughts:
The English Wife is historical fiction, but the dark, twisted, “wealthy people behaving badly” kind. I haven’t been loving much historical fiction lately, but this kind could be an exception. Goodreads reviewers say it’s gothic, has a bit of romance, starts a bit slowly but soon turns unputdownable, has an intricate plot, and leaves some questions open at the end (a good or bad thing depending on what type of reader you are, but Goodreads reviewers viewed it as mostly bad). Pam Jenoff (author of The Orphan’s Tale) called it a “scintillating tale of betrayal, secrets and a marriage gone wrong.”

Wife Between Us by Greer HendricksThe Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (Release Date: January 9, 2018)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.27 on 1,248 ratings
Selected By: Nina Sankovitch (Bestselling Author)

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

My Thoughts:
How about that blurb?! The Wife Between Us is yet another psychological thriller about marriage, which have become ubiquitous since the success of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. I’m always a little skeptical of them because the copycats rarely live up to the original. Goodreads reviewers said this one is certainly addictive and unputdownable, but that the ending could be over the top for some and that the twisty plot had been done before. Kirkus called it “easy to read” and “a good airport book,” while Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review. Nina Sankovitch is not a go-to judge for me, so I’m going to wait for more reports from readers I trust on this one.

What Book of the Month Club December 2017 selection(s) will I choose?

Honestly, I’m going to skip this month.

But, if I wasn’t, I’d choose The Chalk Man because of the 80’s nostalgia and reports of Tudor’s stellar character development. I might end up picking this up later if I hear good reports from readers I trust.

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

What book will you choose this month?

This Month’s Special Deals

In addition to the five December selections, Book of the Month Club is offering one extra this month (which Book of the Month Club members can add to their boxes for only $9.99 each):

NEW MEMBER DEAL: Anyone who purchases a 1-month BOTM subscription will get 1 month free! That’s two months for the price of one––two brand new hardcover books for only $14.99!

HOLIDAY OFFER: 

How to Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club 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 Club, 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 Club’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 Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club 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 Club 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

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Book of the Month Club November 2017 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

November 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 16

Book of the Month Club November 2017 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 Club 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 Club 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 Club Judges with free, downloadable template (below).

Another month where I’m not super excited about the selections. We have two famous actors writing fiction, which always makes me nervous. Call me cynical, but I wonder about the behind-the-scenes arrangements to get those two books included in this month’s selections. Regardless, you’ll hopefully be able to find a selection that’s right for your taste…or skip this month if not.

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

If you missed it last month, check out my fun new tool to help you pick the best Book of the Month Club selection for your taste: my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Club Judges and free, downloadable template (below) to help you find your go-to BOTM judge!

I’ve updated the template since last month to make it even better and added in the most recent judge’s selections, so download the new version even if you grabbed it last month!

…by using this easy template to find your personal, go-to Book of the Month Club judge!

Book of the Month Club November 2017 Selections

Bonfire by Krysten RitterBonfire by Krysten Ritter (Release Date: November 7, 2017)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.89 on 381 ratings
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

My Thoughts:
Bonfire is a mystery/thriller and has been blurbed by some big names in that genre (Ruth Ware, Blake Crouch, and Mary Kubica). Although, I imagine it’s not hard to get big names to blurb your book when you’re a famous actress. The story sounds like Erin Brockovich crossed with your standard fast-paced thriller. General themes I heard from regular readers on Goodreads are that the writing is great, the story is a total mindf*ck, and that the main character is dislikable (take note if this tends to bother you). Kirkus’s review was decently positive, though not starred. Publisher’s Weekly did give it a starred review. I probably won’t choose this one because of my dicey relationship with thrillers and, when it comes to BOTM thrillers, I’m more of a Judge Sarah Weinman girl than a Judge Liberty girl (see Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Club Judges for details).

Future Home of the Living God by Louise ErdrichFuture Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich (Release Date: November 14, 2017)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.9 on 97 ratings
Selected By: Guest Judge Tavi Gevinson (Editor in Chief of Rookie Magazine)

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

My Thoughts:
Future Home of the Living God is feminist, dystopian fiction in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and, from what I understand, is somewhat of a departure from Erdrich’s previous work (which focused on her Native American heritage). Erdrich is usually a fairly political writer and this book sounds like it will continue that trend. Michelle at That’s What She Read (a blogger I trust) is currently reading it and said, “it’s definitely different, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it.” General themes from Goodreads reviews include that it’s grim, has gorgeous writing, has great characters, and poses interesting ideas, but some aren’t satisfied with the ending (lots of unanswered questions) and mentioned an unfinished quality to her world-building. I didn’t love Erdrich’s National Book Award Winner, The Round House (my review), so I wouldn’t choose this one for myself.

Rules of Magic by Alice HoffmanThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman (Release Date: October 10, 2017)
369 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.25 on 1,952 ratings
Selected By: Guest Judge Mae Whitman (Actress – Amber on Parenthood)

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

My Thoughts:
The Rules of Magic is the prequel to Hoffman’s 1995 novel, Practical Magic (later made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman), but I hear it can absolutely stand on its own. I haven’t read any Alice Hoffman, but I know she’s beloved by many. I’m generally not big on magical realism and there is some in this book (although I hear it’s not heavy-handed), so I haven’t jumped on it yet. However, I hear it’s ultimately the story of a family, so I’m considering changing my mind. The Rules of Magic got great reviews from two of the bloggers I trust most (Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books and Susie at Novel Visits) and Goodreads readers (they’re raving about Hoffman’s storytelling, the book’s magical quality, the writing, and the straight-up great story about a family). Kirkus gave it a positive (though not starred) review while Publisher’s Weekly gave it the star, saying “the spellbinding story, focusing on the strength of family bonds through joy and sorrow, will appeal to a broad range of readers.”

Uncommon Type by Tom HanksUncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (Release Date: October 17, 2017)
405 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.52 on 341 ratings
Selected By: Maris Kreizman (Book of the Month Club Editorial Director)

Seventeen short stories, each somehow involving a typewriter, which Tom Hanks collects.

My Thoughts:
The second fiction by an actor/ress in this month’s selections…hmm. I’m generally skeptical of actors writing fiction, because I figure it’s not hard for them to get a publishing contract (their names will sell books regardless of the book’s quality). But, I’m hearing people are pleasantly surprised by Hanks’s writing abilities. Goodreads readers said this collection was warm, engaging, had an everyman vibe, but was also unremarkable. Eva at Paperback Princess said Hanks was a good storyteller and managed to do a lot in a small space. Kathy at Bermuda Onion thought the collection was uneven (often a risk with short story collections), but could tell Hanks is a capable writer. Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly both gave it a positive (though not starred) reviews. I’ve had decent luck with Kreizman’s past picks (The Girls and Dark Matter), but she’s not one of my go-to BOTM judges

Artemis by Andy WeirArtemis by Andy Weir (Release Date: November 14, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.88 on 1,057 ratings
Selected By: No judge was listed. This is odd.

[…] Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

My Thoughts:
Artemis is Weir’s sophomore novel following his smash hit debut, The Martian. It’s a fun, adventure story and I hear it’s pretty different from The Martian. However, I tried Artemis last week and only made it through 5% before giving up. The dialogue and jokey banter was not endearing like it was in The Martian; it was just flat out annoying. I don’t think I could stand reading a whole 384 pages of it. Goodreads readers commended Weir on his excellent world-building, but said there were too many corny jokes and Jazz was like a female version of Mark Watney (which readers generally weren’t happy about). Kirkus pretty much skewered Artemis, while Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review, saying “the independent, wisecracking lead could easily sustain a series.” There’s some consistency for ya…

What Book of the Month Club November 2017 selection(s) will I choose?

I wasn’t super high on this month’s selections, but I’m going to choose The Rules of Magic since the reviews are outstanding and I hear the magical realism isn’t too heavy-handed.

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Monday, November 6th.

This Month’s Special Deals

In addition to the five November selections, Book of the Month Club is offering two extras this month (which Book of the Month Club members can add to their boxes for only $9.99 each):

  • The Martian (Andy Weir’s smash hit debut novel)
  • And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie’s classic mystery…some say the best mystery ever written)

NEW MEMBER DEAL: Anyone who purchases a 1-month BOTM subscription will get 1 month free! That’s two months for the price of one––two brand new hardcover books for only $14.99!

HOLIDAY OFFER: 
Buy a Book of the Month gift and get a free book for yourself. (NEW GIFT PRICING: 3 Months for $44.99, 6 months for $79.99, 12 months for $149.99)

FREEBIE DEAL: new members who use this code can get Bonfire, Artemis, or The Rules of Magic free when they join!

How to Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club 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 Club, 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 Club’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 Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club 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 Club 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


Get Weekly Email Updates!

Book of the Month Club October 2017 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

October 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 10

Book of the Month Club October 2017 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.


Do you want to know more about the five Book of the Month Club October 2017 selections before making your choice(s)? Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month Club 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 Club selections that will hopefully help you choose your pick, and tell you which book(s) I’m going to choose.

Some of this month’s selections are head-scratchers. Usually, Book of the Month Club focuses on new releases (books that are either coming out in the current month or came out at the end of the previous month), but this month contains a November release and a book that came out all the way back in 2016. Odd. I’m not nearly as excited about the October crop as I was about last month’s selections.

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

Book of the Month Club October 2017 Selections

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie LangBeasts Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang (Release Date: November 7, 2017)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.35 on 131 ratings
Selected By: Steph Opitz (Book Reviewer at Marie Claire)

Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

Beasts Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell. Stories about a boy who lives with wolves, great storms that evaporate into thin air, fireflies that make phosphorescent honey, and a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

My Thoughts:
This debut novel  has been described as warm and charming. From what I can tell, there could be some elements of magical realism and a memorable main character. Solely based on the publisher’s blurb, Weylyn made me think of Owen Meany, but that’s 100% my speculation. Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave said it was “Charlotte’s Web for grown-ups.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like any of the usual sources (Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly) reviewed this one in advance of publication. On the surface, this novel seems a bit too weird for me without significant vetting by others first and magical realism always makes me nervous.

The Power by Naomi AldermanThe Power by Naomi Alderman (Released: October 27, 2016)
320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.95 on 10,704 ratings
Selected By: Laia Garcia (Deputy Editor, Lenny Letter)

In The Power the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

My Thoughts:
This novel won the 2017 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction and is a story of “how the world would change if power was in the hands of women.” It’s been described as dystopian, speculative fiction and feminist science fiction…and been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale. Alderman was apparently mentored and inspired by Margaret Atwood and the book is dedicated to her. Kirkus gave it a starred review, calling it “fast-paced, thrilling, and even funny” and Publisher’s Weekly called it “a stirring and mind-bending vision.” But regular readers (i.e. not awards committees or big media outlets) haven’t been quite as universally enamored. This was a recurring theme in the Goodreads reviews: the book is well done, but people had a hard time connecting with the story and becoming invested in the characters.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer EganManhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (Release Date: October 3, 2017)
448 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.78 on 298 ratings
Selected By: Kristen Iversen (Author)

Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. […] At a night club, she chances to meet Styles, the man she visited with her father before he vanished, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life.

My Thoughts:
The author of the hit A Visit from the Goon Squad is back with historical fiction. Manhattan Beach has been described by the publisher as a “noir thriller” and has already been long-listed for the 2017 National Book Award. Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus also gave it starred reviews. However, I read the first 10% and, despite really good writing, I thought the story was slow and too many characters were introduced too quickly, causing me to glaze over. A couple of book bloggers I trust read much farther than I did, but ended up abandoning it as well. I also saw some mediocre Goodreads reviews that said it was slow and hard to get engaged with the characters and the story. Sounds like this could be one of those critical darlings that doesn’t quite connect with regular readers.

After the Eclipse by Sarah PerryAfter the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, A Daughter’s Search by Sarah Perry (Release Date: September 26, 2017)
368 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.57 on 30 ratings
Selected By: Guest Judge Gabby Sidibe (Actress and Author)

A fierce memoir of a mother’s murder, a daughter’s coming-of-age in the wake of immense loss, and her mission to know the woman who gave her life.

My Thoughts:
After the Eclipse is a debut, true crime memoir, but also the story of a girl trying to get to know her mother after she was murdered. It’s also been described as a fascinating small-town mystery. The Goodreads reviews are outstanding and highlight the gorgeous writing and the way Perry addresses “issues” (i.e. violence against women) without letting them dominating the story. It got a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and a good (though not starred) review from Kirkus. It was also on Entertainment Weekly‘s Must Read Books of Fall and Bustle‘s September Nonfiction Books to Add to Your TBR lists. It was also named a Favorite Read of September by Read it Forward, a monthly list that tends to align with my reading taste.

Dark Lake by Sarah BaileyThe Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey (Release Date: October 3, 2017)
400 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.76 on 495 ratings
Selected By: Nina Sankovitch (Bestselling Author)

In a suspense thriller to rival Paula Hawkins and Tana French, a detective with secrets of her own (Gemma) hunts the killer of a woman who was the glamorous star of their high school (Rose).

My Thoughts:
The Dark Lake is a psychological thriller, a debut novel, and the first in a new series (the Gemma Woodstock series). The Goodreads reviews mention it’s character-driven for a psychological thriller and that lots of the story is about Gemma rather than who killed Rose. The Dark Lake seems to be one of those “hook you immediately” (says author Lisa Gardner), “race through in one sitting” (says author Douglas Preston) kinds of books. Kirkus, in a non-starred review, called it a “satisfying mystery novel with a relatable heroine, if not a revelatory one.” Publisher’s Weekly was higher on it than Kirkus, giving it a starred review.

In addition to the five October selections, Book of the Month Club is offering four extras this month (which Book of the Month Club members can add to their boxes for only $9.99 each):

What Book of the Month Club October 2017 selection(s) will I choose?

After my terrible run with Fall fiction and the hard-to-ignore Goodreads reviews, I’m going with the true crime memoir, After the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, A Daughter’s Search!

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Friday, October 6th.

How to Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club 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 Club, 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 Club’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 Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club 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 Club 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

Special Deals
New members get a FREE copy of John Green’s new novel, Turtles All the Way Down (use code GREEN), OR Stephen and Owen King’s new novel, Sleeping Beauties (use code KING).

Get Weekly Email Updates!


*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

The Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Club Judges (including a free download!)

September 29, 2017 Book Recommendations 12

Ultimate Guide to Book of the Month Club Judges


This year, I started a monthly feature sharing my commentary on all the Book of the Month Club selections and which ones I’d choose that month. Putting these posts together got me thinking about creative ways to help Book of the Month Club members choose the monthly selection that is right for them.

In my monthly commentary feature, I focus on the books. I research each selection, tap into chatter from the book community, and sometimes I’ll get lucky and have already read one or more of the selections, enabling me to share my personal thoughts on those books. Hopefully, enabling Book of the Month Club members to choose the right book for their personal taste.

But, I recently started focusing on the Book of the Month Club judges in addition to the books. 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 taste.

So, I analyzed every Book of the Month Club selection from the club’s inception and created The Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Club Judges showing the tastes and track record of every recurring judge that has appeared somewhat recently, which you can use to find your personal, go-to Book of the Month Club judges…and your personal no-go judges!

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

How to Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club 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 Club, 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 Club’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 Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club 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 Club 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 Club Judges

Lighter Literary Fiction

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (author of The Nest)

Rachel Syme (Writer)

  • Not overly heavy fiction
  • Also picked Lucky You by Erika Carter
  • Pick that Didn’t Work for Me: The Windfall

Serious Literary Fiction

Alexander Chee (author of The Queen of the Night)

Elizabeth Kiefer (Books & Senior Features Editor, Refinery 29)

  • Mostly serious literary fiction
  • Seems to focus on diverse fiction
  • Pick I Liked: American Fire (my review, only nonfiction book she’s picked)
  • Pick that Didn’t Work for Me: The Leavers

Isaac Fitzgerald (Books Editor at Buzzfeed Books)

Laia Garcia (Deputy Editor, Lenny Letter)

Leigh Haber (Books Editor, O Magazine)

Maris Kreizman (Book of the Month Club Editorial Director)

Nina Sankovitch (Bestselling Author)

Morgan Jerkins (Writer)

Thrillers

Cristina Arreola (Bustle Books Editor)

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

Sarah Weinman (writer, editor and “Crime Lady”)

Young Adult (YA)

Dana Schwartz (Author)

Katie Cotugno (Bestselling Author)

Eclectic Judges

Kevin Nguyen (Digital Deputy Editor, GQ Magazine)

Kim Hubbard (Books Editor for People Magazine)

Steph Opitz (Book Reviewer at Marie Claire)

Stacey Armand (“You Be the Judge” Contest Winner)

Tyler Coates (Culture Editor at GQ)

Kristen Iversen (Author)

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

Kim Hubbard is my number one, go-to judge!

Sarah Weinman is in second place…she also picks books in genres that don’t normally work for me, but her picks in those genres do work for me!

Finally, Laia Garcia has only appeared on the judges panel three times and I’m 2 for 3 on her picks (I haven’t read her third pick yet). I hope she pops up more frequently!

If you generally like books I recommend on my blog, focusing on these three judges’ picks is probably a good idea!

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

Rachel Syme, Alexander Chee, and Elizabeth Kiefer are my top no-go judges.

Cristina Arreola is in second place…not surprising since she focuses on a genre I tend to have trouble with in general (thrillers).

I have liked one of these judge’s picks here and there, but if I’m on the fence about a book, I’m likely to decide against it if it was chosen by one of these judges.

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

Book of the Month Club September 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose?

September 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 17

Book of the Month Club September 2017 Selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


Do you want to know more about the five Book of the Month Club September 2017 selections before making your choice(s)? 
Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month Club Selections: What Would I Choose?”! Every month, I provide commentary on the books that are chosen as that month’s Book of the Month Club selections and tell you which book(s) I would choose. In addition to the five September selections, Book of the Month Club is offering three extras this month (which Book of the Month Club members can add to their boxes for only $9.99 each):

Y’all, this month’s selections are AWESOME! Totally makes up for last month. I’ve read and loved two of them, just started a third, and have heard great things about a fourth. If you’ve been toying with joining (details at the end of this post), you’ve got some great choices this month!

And one announcement: I’m working on an additional tool to help you make the best Book of the Month Club selection for you! Look for that in the coming month or so…

Book of the Month Club September 2017 Selections

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Release Date: September 12, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.4 on 538 ratings
Selected By: Kim Hubbard (Books Editor for People Magazine)

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned […]. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

My Thoughts:
Following Ng’s award-winning debut (Everything I Never Told You, my review), Little Fires Everywhere is one of the most anticipated new releases this year. I’ve read it and it’s NOT a sophomore slump! It’s premise didn’t really jump out at me, yet the way Ng told this story had me engrossed immediately. It’s the kind of story where you sink into the community and the characters’ lives…and, I think it has the potential for even broader appeal than Everything I Never Told You. Michelle at That’s What She Read (a blogger who has steered me in the right direction on a couple key books this year – The Wanderers and Emma in the Night!) loved it too. And, not surprisingly, Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly both gave it starred reviews.

Emma in the Night by Wendy WalkerEmma in the Night by Wendy Walker (Released: August 8, 2017)
320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.9 on 1,338 ratings
Selected By: Guest Judge Krysten Ritter (actress and soon-to-be published author)

From the bestselling author of All is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

My Thoughts:
My regular readers know I’ve recently had a hard time finding thrillers I love. Well, I 5 star-loved Emma in the Night! It’s the most satisfying psychological thriller I’ve read since Gone Girl! No lie…here’s my review. What made it so satisfying? I questioned who was telling the truth the entire time I was reading and, best of all, the ending was surprising, yet absolutely made sense with the story (which is my number one criteria for a successful thriller). I’m not saying Emma in the Night is one of those ubiquitous Gone Girl copycats…it just left me feeling equally as satisfied. Don’t believe me? Here are some other reviews from sources I trust: Novel Visits, Running N ReadingDoing Dewey, Kirkus Reviews, and Publisher’s Weekly

Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn WardSing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Release Date: September 5, 2017)
304 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.32 on 325 ratings
Selected By: Elizabeth Kiefer (Books & Senior Features Editor, Refinery 29)

In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle.

My Thoughts:
Sing, Unburied, Sing is Ward’s sophomore effort following her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones. Tara at Running N Reading says it’s “definitely an emotional, somewhat heavy, read and entirely worth the time and effort.” She also said the “publisher’s description thankfully doesn’t give away too much and there is so much more in store for readers.” Susie at Novel Visits called it “raw” and said the writing was “beautiful.” Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus both gave it starred reviews. If you like a good emotional gut-wrencher, this one is your pick! Though I DNF’d Salvage the Bones, I do plan to give this one a try once my life calms down a bit (for me, the timing isn’t right for a heavy, emotional gut-wrencher).

Lies She Told by Cate HolahanLies She Told by Cate Holahan (Release Date: September 12, 2017)
304 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.96 on 213 ratings
Selected By: Stacey Armand (“You Be the Judge” Contest Winner)

Liza Jones has thirty days to write the thriller that could put her back on the bestseller list. In the meantime, she’s struggling to start a family with her husband, who is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick.

Beth is a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home alone providing for their newborn. […] But before she realizes it, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the river.

Then the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur.

My Thoughts:
Lies She Told is the only September selection that I hadn’t heard of…but, I now know it’s a psychological thriller. It’s gotten a lot of blurbs, but this one from Library Journal jumped out at me: “Recommended for anyone who enjoys Paula Hawkins or Gillian Flynn, primarily because it’s better.” You know I’m super skeptical of the ubiquitous The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl comparisons, so there’s also that. It got a starred review from Kirkus and a good, but not starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. And, Crime by the Book said this “book within a book” mystery is “pure, binge-worthy entertainment.”

Sourdough by Robin SloanSourdough by Robin Sloan (Release Date: September 5, 2017)
272 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09 on 151 ratings
Selected By: Dana Schwartz (Author)

Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her—feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?

My Thoughts:
I adored Sloan’s quirky debut about a bookstore mixed in with a bunch of technology (odd, but it worked!), Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (my review). So, I expected a ton of quirk in his take on food…and the technology in this one takes the form of robotics. I’m about 20% through so far and am enjoying it…it’s definitely quirky, a bit funny, and has a main character that I’m rooting for (however, the tech talk has gone a bit far a few times). Kirkus wasn’t a fan, calling it “Fluffy but overbaked.” Hmm. Publisher’s Weekly also said it “overreaches.” Double hmm. We’ll see how I end up feeling as I read farther.

What Book of the Month Club September 2017 selection(s) would I choose?

This is a tough one for me because I’m not over the moon about any of the choices. There’s a chance I would skip this month.

If you’re looking for a page turner that you won’t be able to put down, Emma in the Night is the ticket!

If you want something a bit more literary, you can’t go wrong with Little Fires Everywhere.

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

How to Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club 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 Club, 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 Club’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 Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club 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 Club 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

Special Deal:
Try 1, 2, or 3 months for just $9.99 each! 


*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Book of the Month Club August 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose?

August 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 17

Book of the Month Club August 2017 Selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


Do you want to know more about the five Book of the Month Club May 2017 selections before making your choice(s)?

Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month Club Selections: What Would I Choose?”! Every month, I provide commentary on the books that are chosen as that month’s Book of the Month Club selections and tell you which book(s) I would choose.

In addition to the five August selections, Book of the Month Club is offering three extras this month (which Book of the Month Club members can add to their boxes for only $9.99 each):

I have to admit that I hadn’t even heard of a single one of the August 2017 selections! This might be the first time that’s ever happened. 

And one announcement: I’m working on an additional tool to help you make the best Book of the Month Club selection for you! Look for that in the coming weeks…

Book of the Month Club August 2017 Selections

Little and Lion by Brandy ColbertLittle & Lion by Brandy Colbert (Release Date: August 8, 2017)
336 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.45
Selected By: Katie Cotugno (Bestselling Author)

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). 

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

My Thoughts:
Little & Lion is a diverse (author and characters) Young Adult novel that’s been getting a fair amount of hype (which I totally missed because I don’t follow the YA world closely). Nicola Yoon (author of smash hit Everything, Everything) said “Brandy’s ability to find larger meaning in small moments is nothing short of dazzling.” In a starred review, Kirkus said “readers will empathize with Suzette as she explores both her sexuality and the tricky line between honesty and betrayal.” I don’t particularly gravitate towards the YA genre, so this one is not for me, but it might be for you!

Fierce Kingdom by Gin PhillipsFierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips (Release Date: July 25, 2017)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.83
Selected By: Sarah Weinman (writer, editor and “Crime Lady”)

An electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she’ll go to protect him.

My Thoughts:
Fierce Kingdom is set entirely in a suburban zoo over the course of three hours. It’s supposedly very fast-paced and is a “read in one sitting” type book. In fact, Liberty Hardy called it “the most stressful book she’s ever read” on the July 25th episode of All the Books podcast. It’s being compared to The Couple Next Door and Reconstructing Amelia. Fiona Barton (author of The Widow and July Book of the Month Club selection The Child) said “it tore at every maternal fiber in my body. I couldn’t put it down.” It got a review in the New York Times (which is hard to come by!) and Kirkus gave it a starred review. Though I’ve bombed on thrillers lately, the zoo setting and condensed timeline have me intrigued about this one! 

Heart's Invisible Furies by John BoyneThe Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (Released: August 22, 2017)
592 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.47
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

[…] a sweeping, heartfelt saga about the course of one man’s life, beginning and ending in post-war Ireland.

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?

My Thoughts:
The author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (hit YA novel that was made into an award-winning movie) is back with his 10th novel for adults…and it’s supposedly a tear-jerker. In its starred review, Kirkus said the novel “examines one man’s life over the course of 70 years to reveal the personal and societal toll of Ireland’s repression of homosexuality.” Boyne dedicated the book to John Irving, who called it “a heartbreaker” and “an amazing novel.” Despite the heavy topic and emotion of this novel, it’s also supposedly funny…and I absolutely adore tear-jerkers that also make me laugh.

Eat Only When You're Hungry by Lindsay HunterEat Only When You’re Hungry by Lindsay Hunter (Released: August 8, 2017)
304 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.29
Selected By: Nina Sankovitch (Bestselling Author)

A father searches for his addict son while grappling with his own choices as a parent (and as a user of sorts).

My Thoughts:
This novel is supposed to be dark and sounds like it could be pretty depressing (not surprising, given it’s about addiction). But, it’s getting some pretty eye-opening praise: Roxane Gay said “the frailties of the human body and the human heart are laid bare in Lindsay Hunter’s utterly superb novel.” Kirkus calls it “a savage tale of parenthood” (but, not in a starred review). I am a little skeptical of this one because, according to her Twitter feed, she is obsessed with Stephen Florida, which I couldn’t even get through the sample of.

The Blinds by Adam SternberghThe Blinds by Adam Sternbergh (Release Date: August 1, 2017)
400 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.00
Selected By: Tyler Coates (Culture Editor at GQ)

Imagine a place populated by criminals-people plucked from their lives, with their memories altered, who’ve been granted new identities and a second chance. Welcome to The Blinds, a dusty town in rural Texas populated by misfits who don’t know if they’ve perpetrated a crime, or just witnessed one. What’s clear to them is that if they leave, they will end up dead. 

My Thoughts:
The Blinds is a “speculative Western thriller” (I’m not even sure what that means?!) that’s supposedly really different and darkly funny. And, it’s supposedly a “grab you immediately and not let you go until it’s over” type of book. Sternbergh’s debut novel (Shovel Ready) was nominated for an Edgar Award and this follow-up is being turned into a TV show. Publisher’s Weekly said “it’s a clever premise, but the many contrivances that support the plot don’t hold up as the novel moves briskly toward its conclusion, whose twists are telegraphed a little too clearly to preserve the element of surprise.” Kirkus had a more positive view of it, saying it moves “like a championship stock car toward a climax that, however shattering, implies there’s more to come” in its starred review. Check out Sternbergh on Twitter…he has a huge following!

What Book of the Month Club August 2017 selection(s) would I choose?

This is a tough one for me because I’m not over the moon about any of the choices. There’s a chance I would skip this month.

But, if I’m going to make a choice, it would be The Heart’s Invisible Furies…it’s kind of hard to ignore a John Irving endorsement!

And, if you’re looking for a page turner, I’d go with Fierce Kingdom.

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

How to Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club 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 Club, 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 Club’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 Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club 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 Club membership (BRAND 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

Special August Deal:
Try your first month for just $9.99! 


*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Book of the Month Club July 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose?

July 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 8

Book of the Month Club July 2017 selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

 

Do you want to know more about the five Book of the Month Club May 2017 selections before making your choice(s)?

Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month Club Selections: What Would I Choose?”! Every month, I provide commentary on the books that are chosen as that month’s Book of the Month Club selections and tell you which book(s) I would choose.

In addition to the five July selections, Book of the Month Club is offering two extras this month (which Book of the Month Club members can add to their boxes for only $9.99 each):

Unlike last month, I’m excited about a number of the July selections! I’ve already read two and really liked one of those! Plus, two other picks are on my TBR list.

Book of the Month Club July 2017 Selections

Final Girls by Riley SagerFinal Girls by Riley Sager (Release Date: July 11, 2017)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls.

My Thoughts:
Stephen King called this “the first great thriller of 2017,” but he also compared it to Gone Girl, which is somewhat irritating (because this comparison is egregiously overused). I just finished it and thought it was kind of “meh” (2 stars). Renee at It’s Book Talk (a blogger whose taste I often agree with) had trouble believing in the story and I agree. It was one of those endings that jumped the shark and I had some issues with Quincy’s decision-making along the way. On the flip side, the generally tough Kirkus gave it a starred review and called Sager “a fresh voice in psychological suspense.” I should also probably note that I tend to have trouble with thrillers in general. 

American Fire by Monica HesseAmerican Fire by Monica Hesse (Release Date: July 11, 2017)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09
Selected By: Elizabeth Kiefer (Books & Senior Features Editor, Refinery 29)

Though it’s hard to believe today, one hundred years ago Accomack was the richest rural county in the nation. Slowly it’s been drained of its industry—agriculture—as well as its wealth and population. In an already remote region, limited employment options offer little in the way of opportunity. A mesmerizing and crucial panorama with nationwide implications, American Fire asks what happens when a community gets left behind. Hesse brings to life the Eastern Shore and its inhabitants, battling a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. The result evokes the soul of rural America—a land half gutted before the fires even began.

My Thoughts:
I’ve had this nonfiction on my TBR list ever since Annie Jones from From the Front Porch podcast recommended it and called it a combination of In Cold Blood and Hillbilly Elegy, both of which are completely up my alley. Plus, Annie has steered me right twice recently with Rabbit Cake and Standard Deviation. I’m also hearing American Fire has a page-turner feel, which is somewhat rare for nonfiction. Kirkus gave it a starred review and called it a “true crime saga that works in every respect.” I’ll definitely be reading American Fire this month!

The Child by Fiona BartonThe Child by Fiona Barton (Released: June 27, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.05
Selected By: Cristina Arreola (Bustle Books Editor)

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

My Thoughts:
The Child is a psychological thriller by the author of The Widow (a New York Times bestseller). As you may know, this is not my go-to genre. But, if it is yours, The Child has been getting some good reviews. Author Lee Child said it is “tense, tantalizing, and ultimately very satisfying…definitely one of the year’s must-reads.” Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review and cautioned readers that they would be rewarded for patience with the early slow pace with “a stunning, emotionally satisfying conclusion.” And, it’s received the obligatory comparisons to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train that get applied to virtually every psychological thriller published over the last few years. My tip to you: take these comparisons with a grain of salt. 

The Windfall by Diksha BasuThe Windfall by Diksha Basu (Released: June 27, 2017)
304 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.76
Selected By: Rachel Syme (Writer, Editor, soon to be Random House-published author)

A heartfelt comedy of manners for readers of Seating Arrangements and Crazy Rich Asians, Diksha Basu’s debut novel unfolds the story of a family discovering what it means to be nouveau riche in modern India. 

My Thoughts:
The Windfall is a unique spin on the fun “wealthy people behaving badly” category. Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books (who I trust implicitly about these types of books) gave it 4 stars and called it the “Indian version of the Clampetts as they head to Beverly Hills with their oil money.” She also said it “strikes the perfect balance between humor and tenderness, blending compassion with comedy.” I’ve read the first 20 pages and am intrigued so far! This one should be your pick if you’re looking for a fun beach read!

Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel KhongGoodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (Release Date: July 11, 2017)
208 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.15
Selected By: Isaac Fitzgerald (Books Editor at Buzzfeed Books)

A young woman (Ruth) returns home to care for her failing father in this fine, funny, and inescapably touching debut, from an affecting and wonderfully original new literary voice.

My Thoughts:
I’ve read this book and really liked it (4 stars)…it’s sweet, heart-warming, honest, and funny! Though it’s about a sad and serious topic, it has a lightness to it. The story is told through Ruth’s journal entries that read like little vignettes. And, I absolutely adored Ruth’s endearing, witty, and relatable voice. This is a book that could possibly get overlooked (but shouldn’t!) because it’s appeal is in the intangibles. It was also one of Buzzfeed‘s 22 Exciting New Books You Need to Read This Summer.

What Book of the Month Club July 2017 selection(s) would I choose?

I’m going to take the easy way out this month because I truly am really excited about multiple selections…and they’re so different from each other!

My choice(s) this month would be:

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Thursday, July 6th.

Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club 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 Club, 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 Club’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 Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club 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 Club membership (pricing below)!

1-month: $10
2-month: $10 per month, then $15 per month
3-month: $10 per month, then $15 per month

Special July Deal:
Finally, we’re giving away our sturdy canvas tote to anyone who signs up for two months (or more) and uses code: TOTALLY at checkout. 


*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

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Book of the Month Club June 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose?

June 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 15

Book of the Month Club June 2017 Selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


Do you want to know more about the five Book of the Month Club May 2017 selections before making your choice(s)?

Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month Club Selections: What Would I Choose?”! Every month, I provide commentary on the books that are chosen as that month’s Book of the Month Club selections and tell you which book(s) I would choose.

I’ve read (and loved!) one of the Book of the Month Club June 2017 selections and there are two books you can get before their official release dates! 

Book of the Month Club May 2017 Selections

Sisters Chase by Sarah HealyThe Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy (Release Date: June 27, 2017)
304 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.29
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

A gripping novel about two sisters who are left homeless by their mother’s death and the lengths the fierce older sister will go to protect her beloved young charge.

My Thoughts:
I hadn’t heard of The Sisters Chase prior to seeing it as a Book of the Month Club selection, despite the fact that it’s apparently been getting a fair amount of buzz. It’s been described as book club fiction with some psychological suspense crossover and supposedly has some family secrets. The publisher also compared it to Liane Moriarty (Big Little Lies) and Diane Chamberlain (The Silent SisterThe Keeper of the Light trilogy). Bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson called it “wise and fierce and bittersweet” and Diane Chamberlain said “each chapter ends on a note of suspense and surprise that demands you turn the page.” So, it sounds like this one is for readers who love a twisty, suspenseful novel filled with family secrets. 

White Fur by Jardine LibaireWhite Fur by Jardine Libaire (Released: May 30, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.74
Selected By: Laia Garcia (Deputy Editor, Lenny Letter)

A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City.

My Thoughts:
I’ve already read this one! I’m not normally a fan of love stories, but this one is raw, gritty, edgy, and uncomfortable…while also managing to be a study of class in America. It features the most gorgeous writing I’ve seen in months and perfectly worded social commentary about the wealthy. Though the ending left a little to be desired for me, but it’s still one of my favorite books of the year so far! And, it’s not just me: Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea and Susie at Novel Visits loved it too.

Chemistry by Weike WangChemistry by Weike Wang (Released: May 23, 2017)
224 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.01
Selected By: Leigh Haber (Books Editor, O Magazine)

A luminous coming-of-age novel about a young female scientist who must recalibrate her life when her academic career goes off track.

My Thoughts:
This debut novel covers a young woman’s big quarter life crisis question: what do you really want to do with your life? And, it’s said to be funny and provide perspective on the Chinese immigrant experience. Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books (one of my most trusted book blogger friends) said the unnamed narrator is “very unusual and a bit endearing.” The Millions said, “A traditional family, a can’t-miss fiancé, and a research project in meltdown provide sufficient catalyst to launch the protagonist off in search of that which cannot be cooked up in the lab” in its Great 2017 Book Preview. And, Ann Patchett (author of Commonwealth) loved it. I read the sample (which, admittedly was not very long) and found the writing style a bit odd. 

A Million Junes by Emily HenryA Million Junes by Emily Henry (Released: May 16, 2017)
350 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.37
Selected By: Katie Cotugno (Bestselling Author)

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.

My Thoughts:
A Million Junes is Henry’s follow-up to her successful debut, The Love That Split the World. It’s a YA (Young Adult) romance and has magical realism, both of which are totally not up my alley. The premise sounds a bit like the Hatfields/McCoys situation of the 1800’s. It was generally positively reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus (though it did not get a starred Kirkus review). Jeff Zentner (author of YA hit The Serpent King) said “this book is utterly spellbinding in every way.”

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins ReidThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Release Date: June 13, 2017)
400 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.29
Selected By: Steph Opitz (Book Reviewer at Marie Claire)

An unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

My Thoughts:
Believe it or not, I’ve never read Taylor Jenkins Reid. I know that her work generally falls into the “women’s fiction/chick lit/beach read/whatever your favorite term is” bucket. Modern Mrs Darcy said she wished she’d included it on her list of 17 Books Everyone Will Be Talking About This Summer and also said this book is a bit of a departure for Reid. Novelist Emily Giffin (author of the Something Borrowed series) called it “a spellbinding novel about love, glamour and the price of fame.” Kirkus compares Evelyn to Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor (though does not give it a starred review). If you think this one might be for you, you can check out the excerpt at Entertainment Weekly!

What Book of the Month Club June 2017 selection(s) would I choose?

My choice this month would be White Fur, especially if you love gritty stories and gorgeous writing!

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Tuesday, June 6th.

Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club 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 Club, 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 Club’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 Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club 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 Club membership (pricing below)!

1-month: $10
2-month: $10 per month, then $15 per month
3-month: $10 per month, then $15 per month


*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

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Book of the Month Club May 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose? (Plus a Paula Hawkins Freebie!)

May 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 16

Book of the Month Club May 2017 Selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


Do you want to know more about the five Book of the Month Club May 2017 selections before making your choice(s)?

Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month Club Selections: What Would I Choose?”! Every month, I provide commentary on the books that are chosen as that month’s Book of the Month Club selections and tell you which book(s) I would choose.

If you loved The Girl on the Train, May is the month to join Book of the Month Club! New members will get a free copy of Paula Hawkins’s new novel, Into the Water, which I’ve heard is even better than The Girl on the Train! Use Promo Code WATER.

This month, I’ve *kind of* read two of the Book of the Month Club May 2017 selections, yet I’d recommend selecting a different book. 

Book of the Month Club April 2017 Selections

Woman No 17 by Edan LepuckiWoman No. 7 by Edan Lepucki (Released: May 9, 2017)
320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.72
Selected By: Kim Hubbard (Books Editor for People Magazine)

A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles, from the New York Times bestselling author of California.

My Thoughts:
I’m about 60% through this novel and it’s not what I expected. I’m not seeing the “sinister, sexy noir” or the “female friendship” elements. And, I’m still unclear what the book is truly about. I do love the character of Lady’s older son (Seth), but that’s only one of a number of muddled storylines. A fellow book blogger who is already reading it right now has similar thoughts. Kirkus Reviews seemed lukewarm about it, while Publisher’s Weekly and Shelf Awareness are more generous.

Love Interest by Cale DietrichThe Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (Released: May 16, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.02
Selected By: Stacey Armand (“You Be the Judge” Winner)

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

My Thoughts:
Yikes! This novel definitely does not sound like my cup of tea. I’d never heard of it until the May selections came out, but I’ve since learned it’s a YA debut. If you like YA, this one supposedly features a love triangle and some thriller elements. Publisher’s Weekly warned the reader is left with “dangling threads” and “unanswered questions,” so make sure you’re okay with open endings.

The Leavers by Lisa KoThe Leavers by Lisa Ko (Release Date: May 2, 2017)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.01
Selected By: Elizabeth Kiefer (Refinery 29)

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. […] He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

My Thoughts:
This novel is one of the most highly anticipated debuts of this year. It’s already won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. And, Ann Patchett (one of my favorite authors) called it “beautifully written, ambitious, and moving.” I thought I would enjoy it because I love stories about immigrants’ experience trying to fit into American culture.

However, I had a hard time connecting with the characters and kept zoning out, so I put it down at the 13% mark. Since then, Gabby at 500 Books said this about it:

[…] while I won’t rave about it because I didn’t love it, it got much, much better when you started to get the mom’s side of the story. I wish the whole book had been about the mom, honestly, because Deming/Daniel’s story was a struggle for me. 

Priestdaddy by Patricia LockwoodPriestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood (Released: May 2, 2017)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.54
Selected By: Nina Sankovitch (Bestselling Author)

From Patricia Lockwood—a writer acclaimed for her wildly original voice—a vivid, heartbreakingly funny memoir about having a married Catholic priest for a father.

My Thoughts:
This memoir has been billed as great for fans of dysfunctional family memoirs (sign me up!) and just prior to learning what this month’s Book of the Month Club selections would be, I’d added it to my TBR list! It was on Publisher’s Weekly Best Summer Books 2017 List and has Lockwood has been compared to Jenny Lawson (Let’s Pretend This Never Happened) and Carrie Brownstein (Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl). It’s supposedly funny and serious and her priest father is apparently quite the eccentric character.

Warning: I hear her humor is raunchy and sexually explicit, so steer clear if that stuff bothers you. Maybe check out her Twitter feed to get a sense of her voice and style of humor.

Since We Fell by Dennis LehaneSince We Fell by Dennis Lehane (Released: May 9, 2017)
432 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.70
Selected By: Sarah Weinman (writer, editor and “Crime Lady”)

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself.

My Thoughts:
I have never read Dennis Lehane before, but he also wrote bestsellers Mystic River and Shutter Island, among others.  Since We Fell strikes me as somewhat of a psychological thriller and is this month’s fiction selection that is most appealing to me. Library Reads included Since We Fell on their May 2017 list of books librarians across the country love. Kirkus gave it a starred review and Publisher’s Weekly praised its character development, calling it an “expertly wrought character study masquerading as a thriller.”

What Book of the Month Club May 2017 selection(s) would I choose?

My choices this month would be Priestdaddy or, if you’re in the mood for fiction, Since We Fell!

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

Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club 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 Club, 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 Club’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 Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club 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 Club membership (pricing below)!

1-month: $5 for first month, $14.99/month if you choose to continue
3-month: $9.99 for first 3 months, $14.99/month if you choose to continue
6-month: only available as a gift
12-month: $11.99/month

Special May Deals:
1) NEW members get a FREE copy of The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins’s new novel, Into the Water, with the purchase of a 3 month subscription.
2) Anyone who gifts a BOTM membership will get 1 month free for him/herself! Gifts are available in 3, 6 or 12 month plans. This offer runs through May 14th. The free month can be redeemed at any time after the gift is purchased.


*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

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Get Free Personalized Book Recommendations For A Limited Time Only!

April 20, 2017 Book Recommendations 3

Personalized Book Recommendations

Get free personalized book recommendations from an actual human. 
Read however you want (i.e. e-books, audiobooks, etc).
Purchase or borrow from any store or library you want.
Save time.

Are you looking for the perfect book to give as a Mother’s or Father’s Day gift? Or just the perfect book for yourself?

Do you want personalized book recommendations, but don’t have the time to visit an independent bookstore, the library or browse the bookish Internet/social media?

I’ve got you covered!

I’ve been an avid reader for most of my life and have been writing about books for over four years. I’ve read hundreds of books that are just waiting to be recommended to the right people.

Sarah’s Book Shelves is offering free personalized book recommendations for a limited time.

How does it work?

I provide book recommendations (not the actual books) based on your personal taste. You purchase or borrow the book(s) in whatever format (e-book, audiobook, hardcover, etc) you choose from the store of your choice.

All you need to do is fill out a brief questionnaire to submit your recommendation request and I’ll get back to with 2-3 fantastic books that fit your criteria!

Full Disclosure

I’m offering this service at no charge as a trial for a paid personalized book recommendation service. 

Anyone who participates in this free trial will receive a special discount if you sign-up for the eventual paid service.