Tag: Book Recommendations

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.


 

How to Ask for Book Recommendations…So You Find Books You’ll Love

April 11, 2017 Book Recommendations 14

How to Ask for Book Recommendations


Last week, I announced that I would be trying out a personalized book recommendations service for a limited time.

While creating this service, I’ve thought a lot about how to give the best book recommendations possible…which in turn got me thinking about how to ask for book recommendations so you’ll have the best chance of finding a book that fits your personal taste. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts!

Most importantly, know yourself and your reading taste.

The clearer you can be about your reading tastes and preferences, the better book recommendations you will get!

Beyond what books and authors you like and don’t like, pay attention to why you like (or don’t like) a particular book or author. You’ll be surprised at the patterns you’ll find! Beyond knowing you like a certain genre, think about what you like or don’t like about books in that genre. These revelations can then be applied across all genres and help you expand your reading horizons in a more purposeful way.

For example, I’ve had trouble with mysteries and thrillers lately. I’ve figured out it’s because they can seem formulaic after awhile, rely more on plot than writing or style, and generally have “shocking” twists and/or endings that are either A) not surprising or B) so surprising that I roll my eyes at the ridiculousness.

Consider how you feel about key literary elements.

I’ve found that certain characteristics of books are much more important than a book’s topic in determining the right fit.

  • Length
    Are you open to chunky books (more than 400 pages) or do you prefer something short?
  • Plot vs. Style
    Do you need a propulsive plot to love a book or can you also enjoy quieter books that have gorgeous writing? Obviously, it’s ideal to have both, but many books don’t.
  • Likable / Relatable Characters
    Can you enjoy a book that has predominantly dislikable characters or do dislikable characters kill a book for you? Do you have to relate to at least one character to love the book?
  • The Happiness Factor
    Do you like to read books that are light and happy? Or at least end up that way? Do you mind emotional gut-wrenchers and/or books with dark storylines?
  • Humor
    Humor is a tough one, as it’s such a personal thing. Everyone finds different things funny and what one person finds funny, another could find offensive. How do you feel about inappropriate humor? Morbid humor? Gross-out humor? Snarky humor?
  • Endings
    Do you like your endings to resolve all the big questions (or, as I like to call it, “tied up neatly with a bow”)? Or, can you still be satisfied with an ending that leaves things somewhat unresolved?

Figure out what types of “outside of your comfort zone” books you might be willing to try.

I’ve had some good luck venturing outside of my literary fiction comfort zone lately. I’ve read a couple fascinating Science Fiction books and some gorgeous short story collections, both of which are outside of my wheelhouse. I know that I can carefully venture into these two genres for books that come recommended from trusted sources.

I’m also pretty comfortable in the fact that romance novels, fantasy series, and cozy mysteries are probably not going to work for me.

And, the answer to this question for you could very well be none, which is completely fine. But, at least you’ll know the answer!

Keep a record of your reading.

Some readers may know exactly what types of books they like and how they feel about the key literary elements I mentioned above. But, it’s perfectly fine if you don’t!

To get a handle on your personal reading taste, try keeping a record (spreadsheet, journal, scrap paper, whatever works for you!) of the books you like and why you liked them (and do the same for books you don’t like) for a month or two. Look for patterns in your likes and dislikes across books.

Now it’s time to put this to the test!
Participate in a limited time, free trial of my
new PERSONALIZED BOOK RECOMMENDATION service!

 

Coming Soon: Personalized Book Recommendations

April 4, 2017 Book Recommendations 26

Personalized Book Recommendations


UPDATE: PERSONALIZED BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS ARE NOW HERE!
Click HERE to submit a recommendation request.

My regular readers might remember a few months back when I got introspective about where I wanted to take this blog (you can get a refresher here and here if you’re interested). I mentioned that I was planning to test run a small book recommendations project around Mother’s / Father’s Days.

Personalized book recommendations are what I was referring to.

After reading the book reviews and lists on my blog, people frequently reach out to me asking for a particular type of book recommendation. Which got me thinking about about book recommendation services…

There are many book recommendation services available at the moment:

  • Amazon and Goodreads use computer algorithms to tell you what you might enjoy based on what you’ve previously purchased (Amazon) and added to your various lists (Goodreads). 
  • Book of the Month Club allows members to choose from five curated selections each month and mails you a hardcover book (incidentally, this is a great service if you like reading hardcover books and aren’t looking for personalized recommendations).
  • Some independent bookstores (i.e. Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA) also have personalized recommendation services where they mail you either a hardcover or paperback of the book they recommend for you. 

But, I keep thinking, why aren’t there more book recommendation services…

  • For people who prefer to e-read or listen to audiobooks?
  • Where humans give you a recommendation based on your personal tastes? Like the internet version of your neighborhood independent bookseller?
  • That pair personalized book recommendations with the freedom to choose your format and retailer?

So, I’m excited to announce a test run for a personalized book recommendations service from Sarah’s Book Shelves!

It will be a limited (and free) trial for the Mother’s / Father’s Day holidays (mid-April through mid-June) to gauge interest and gather your valuable feedback (via a follow-up survey).

 

Bonus! If you participate in the Mother’s / Father’s Day trial, you will receive a special discount if you sign-up for the paid service when it officially launches.

How Will the Trial Work?

  • Click on the Get Personalized Book Recommendations option on the Sarah’s Book Shelves menu (this option isn’t there right now, I will add it when I launch in mid-April).
  • Complete a short questionnaire about the kind of recommendation you’re looking for, and whether it’s for you or a gift.
  • I will email you 2-3 book recommendations that fit your criteria within a few days.
  • If your recommendations are for a gift, I can 1) email them directly to you so you can purchase the book(s) in whatever format you prefer OR 2) I can email the recommendations directly to your gift recipient!
  • After you receive your recommendations, I will send you a brief survey to complete. Everyone who completes a survey will be entered to win a $15 gift certificate to Amazon (which will generally cover at least one e-book or paperback).

After the test run…

I’ll review the survey and hope to launch the paid service in one of the following formats:  

  • A simple personalized book recommendation service where you can either buy one-time recommendations or a monthly subscription.
  • A premium level of Sarah’s Book Shelves content with a monthly personalized book recommendation as its key element, in addition to a few other features.

I’d love your feedback on this new endeavor. Please feel free to leave a comment or email me directly at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com.

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

April 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 8

Book of the Month Club April 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 selections before making your choice(s) each month?

Welcome to my new monthly feature “Book of the Month Club Selections: What Would I Choose?”! Every month, I’ll 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.

This month, the Book of the Month Club selections are jam-packed with sneak peeks (i.e. books that haven’t been released to the public yet)! And if you’re considering adding on one of last month’s selections, check out my thoughts on those. I can also now say that I’ve listened to The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (one of last month’s selections) and it’s a captivating story that would be perfect for fans of Jon Krakauer (and it’s my favorite audiobook of 2017 so far).

Book of the Month Club April 2017 Selections

Impossible Fortress, Jason RekulakThe Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak (Released: February 7, 2017)
285 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.75
Selected By: Tyler Coates (Culture Editor at GQ)

A dazzling debut novel—at once a charming romance and a moving coming-of-age story—about what happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate.

My Thoughts:
I’ve had The Impossible Fortress on my TBR list for a little while now…potentially as a candidate for my 2017 Summer Reading Guide (coming in mid-May). Kathy at Kathy Reads said it was “fun, fast, and original.  It’s that book that will warm your heart and keep you smiling.” However, Katie at Words for Worms found it an “enjoyable” book that was “based in nostalgia and not a literary heavy hitter.” Katie also didn’t think it lived up to the marketing dollars that Simon & Schuster put behind it. I’ve also heard discussions on at least one literary podcast about the fact that it’s so jam-packed with 1980’s nostalgia that it overpowers the overall story. I’ve also heard it’s a book that will appeal to gaming nerds…I’m definitely a nerd in many ways, but gaming isn’t one of them. So, my interest is wavering ever so slightly.

Startup, Doree ShafrirStartup by Doree Shafrir (Released: April 25, 2017)
304 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.03
Selected By: Glory Edim (owner of book club and newsletter Well Read Black Girl)

From veteran online journalist and BuzzFeed writer Doree Shafrir comes a hilarious debut novel that proves there are some dilemmas that no app can solve.

Mack McAllister has a $600 million dollar idea. His mindfulness app, TakeOff, is already the hottest thing in tech and he’s about to launch a new and improved version […]. Katya Pasternack is hungry for a scoop that will drive traffic. Sabrina Choe Blum just wants to stay afloat. When Mack’s bad behavior collides with Katya’s search for a salacious post, Sabrina gets caught in the middle as TakeOff goes viral for all the wrong reasons.

My Thoughts:
This debut novel caught my eye when I reviewed the spring 2017 publisher’s catalogs. Joanna Rakoff, author of one of my favorite memoirs (My Salinger Year, my review), said “if you have ever lived in New York or worked in an office, you will love this novel.” I’ve done both, so I’m thinking I’ll appreciate this book! And, it’s been compared to Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. (another NYC novel I loved) and was included in The Millions Great 2017 Book Preview. If you’re considering this one, check out some of Shafrir’s writing for Buzzfeed. Also note that Startup is not coming out until April 25, so this is a chance to get your hands on it early!

Killers of the Flower Moon, David GrannKillers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (Release Date: April 18, 2017)
320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.43
Selected By: Sarah Weinman (writer, editor and “Crime Lady”)

From New Yorker staff writer David Grann, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z, a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.

[…] David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. […] it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward Native Americans that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly riveting, but also emotionally devastating.

My Thoughts:
I hadn’t heard of this book before seeing the Book of the Month Club April selections, but I love some good true crime, so my interest is now piqued! It’s been blurbed by Jon Krakauer and Erik Larson (whose The Devil in the White City is one of my all-time favorite nonfiction books) and Le Monde (Paris) called Grann “a worthy heir to Truman Capote.” High praise to be compared to the author of one of the first true crime books ever published, In Cold Blood. I thought I had my top 2 choices for this month all locked up until I saw this book!

American War, Omar El ArkadAmerican War by Omar El Akkad (Released: April 4, 2017)
407 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.07
Selected By: Maris Kreizman (Book of the Month Club Editorial Director)

An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

My Thoughts:
American War is a dystopian war novel set in 2074, which is not really in my wheelhouse. It’s been compared to Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (which I did love) and Corman McCarthy’s The Road. El Akkad is a Canadian journalist who has covered the Afghanistan war, the Guantànamo Bay military trials, and the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt. This novel portrays a world where the red states and blue states are at war and is likely to spark political debate. Publisher’s Weekly called it “a very dark read.”

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi KoulOne Day We’ll All Be Dead by Scaachi Koul (Released: May 2, 2017)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.19
Selected By: Kevin Nguyen (Digital Deputy Editor, GQ Magazine)

For readers of Mindy Kaling, Jenny Lawson and Roxane Gay, a debut collection of fierce and funny essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, “a land of ice and casual racism,” by the irreverent, hilarious cultural observer and incomparable rising star, Scaachi Koul.

My Thoughts:
Though she is a culture writer for Buzzfeed, One Day We’ll All Be Dead is Scaachi Koul’s first book. I don’t know anyone who has personally read this book yet, but I do know of some who are excited about it (Shannon at River City Reading). It was included in The Millions Great 2017 Book Preview and received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, which called it “simultaneously uproarious and affecting.” I’ve had great luck with this publisher, especially with books having to do with immigrant culture (i.e. Shelter, my review). But, I also have a hit and miss relationship with essay collections that are supposed to be funny, so while I’m definitely interested in this book, I’m going to let some other readers I trust vet it first.

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

My choices this month would be Startup and Killers of the Flower Moon!

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Thursday, April 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 March Deal: get a free BOTM tote when you sign up for a 3 month membership)


*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

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

March 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 27

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


Do you want help choosing from the five Book of the Month Club selections each month?

Welcome to my new monthly feature “Book of the Month Club Selections: What Would I Choose?”! Every month, I’ll 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.

This month, I’ve already read (and loved) two of the selections! And if you’re considering adding on one of last month’s selections, check out my thoughts on those.

Book of the Month Club March 2017 Selections

Exit West, Mohsin HamidExit West by Mohsin Hamid (Release Date: March 7, 2017)
240 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.29
Selected By: Leigh Haber (Books Editor, O Magazine)

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.

My Thoughts:
Amanda Nelson from Book Riot has been excited about this “important” book about a refugee crisis and Derek Attig (also from Book Riot) said it was “a beautiful, humane, strange book about refugees.” Kirkus gave it a starred review and it snagged a New York Times review as well. This book seems to contain some magical realism, which tends to be a turn-off for me. I’ve also had trouble lately with the super heavy “issue” books…just haven’t had the headspace for them. So, I probably wouldn’t go this route.

Update: Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best just posted her her full review and was underwhelmed by Exit West.

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (Released: February 21, 2017)Dead Letters, Caite Dolan-Leach
353 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.79
Selected By: Sarah Weinman (writer, editor and “Crime Lady”)

A missing woman leads her twin sister on a twisted scavenger hunt in this clever debut novel of suspense for readers of Luckiest Girl Alive and Reconstructing Amelia.

Featuring a colorful, raucous cast of characters, Caite Dolan-Leach’s debut thriller takes readers on a literary scavenger hunt for clues concealed throughout the seemingly idyllic wine country, hidden in plain sight on social media, and buried at the heart of one tremendously dysfunctional, utterly unforgettable family.

My Thoughts:
I’ve read this book already! And it’s absolutely fantastic…unquestionably 5 stars for me and one of my favorites of 2017 so far. It has everything – a great plot, a dysfunctional family, a mystery, great writing, and depth. It’s one of those rare novels that I can see myself recommending to absolutely everyone…and could satisfy a “literary” urge AND be at home in your beach bag. I’ll also say this book is far better than Reconstructing Amelia (mentioned above). If you’re planning to read it, I’d avoid reading the full publisher’s blurb…it gives away far too many details.

I haven’t posted my review yet, but check out Catherine at Gilmore Guide‘s (whose reading taste I trust implicitly) review. I’ll also add that this book deserves far more hype than its been getting, so I’m thrilled to see it’s a Book of the Month Club selection!

Marlena, Julie BuntinMarlena by Julie Buntin (Release Date: April 4, 2017)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.36
Selected By: Steph Opitz (Book Reviewer at Marie Claire)

An electric debut novel about love, addiction, and loss; the story of two girls and the feral year that will cost one her life, and define the other’s for decades.

Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter, until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena.

Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past.

My Thoughts:
This novel caught my eye when I reviewed the Henry Holt Spring Catalog and The Millions called it “an important story about addiction and poverty in middle America” in their 2017 Great Book Preview. But, the fact that Stephanie Danler (author of Sweetbitter, one of my favorite books of 2016) said this about it sealed the deal:

I binge-read Marlena – sick to my stomach, with equal parts fear and nostalgia- stunned that any of us made it out of our adolescence alive.

I’m pretty excited about this one, but I did recently see Gabby from 500 Books say it was similar to, but not quite as effective as, The Girls by Emma Cline (my review). Special bonus: this is a sneak peek since Marlena doesn’t officially come out until April.

All Grown Up, Jami AttenbergAll Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (Released: March 7, 2017)
208 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.21
Selected By: Laia Garcia (Deputy Editor, Lenny Letter)

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Middlesteins comes a wickedly funny novel about a thirty-nine-year-old single, childfree woman (Andrea) who defies convention as she seeks connection.

My Thoughts:
I’ve also read All Grown Up! It’s a style book through and through…the story is told through snapshots of Andrea’s life and doesn’t have a super propulsive plot. What made me love it (I rated it 5 stars) is the “yes, that’s exactly how it is” commentary about how society treats single ladies in their thirties, the unexpectedly funny writing (it’s snarky and filled with the type of dry, morbid humor that’s not for everyone, but is for me), and the book’s brutal honesty. If style/writing can carry a book for you and you like snarky humor, I highly recommend this one. If you need a high powered plot, I’d choose Dead Letters instead.

The Stranger in the Woods, David FinkelThe Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (Released: March 7, 2017)
224 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.19
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality–not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.

My Thoughts:
At first glance this book did not interest me at all (and I hadn’t heard of it before it was chosen for Book of the Month Club), but now that I’ve researched it a little, I think I’ll be adding it to my TBR list! It’s been compared to Wild and Born to Run, both books I loved. It’s been reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly and it was a Bookpage Nonfiction Top Pick. If you think you might be interested in this one, read Michael Finkel’s article (The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit) in GQ Magazine to get a taste of the story.

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

My choice for any reader would be Dead Letters, hands down!

But, if you like style books and snarky humor, I recommend trying All Grown Up.

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Monday, March 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 March Deal: get a free BOTM tote when you sign up for a 3 month membership)



*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

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

February 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 25

Book of the Month Club February 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 help choosing from the five Book of the Month Club selections each month?

Welcome to my new monthly feature “Book of the Month Club Selections: What Would I Choose?”! Every month, I’ll 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.

Book of the Month Club February 2017 Selections

Pachinko, Min Jin LeePachinko by Min Jin Lee (Release Date: February 7, 2017)
496 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.32
Selected By: Alexander Chee (author of  The Queen of the Night)

For readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone.

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

My Thoughts:
I’ve seen this book around (by around, I mean I’ve seen other bloggers I follow mention that they’re interested in reading it), but I haven’t seen that any of them have actually read it yet. It doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, mainly due to its length and heavy subject matter (just not what I have the mental space for at the moment).

Update: A little more information about Pachinko from Beth Fish Reads.

The Animators, Kayla Rae WhitakerThe Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker (Released: January 31, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.18
Selected By: Cynthia Sweeney D’Aprix (author of The Nest)

At a private East Coast college, two young women meet in art class. […] A decade later, Sharon and Mel are an award-winning animation duo, and with the release of their first full-length feature, a fearless look at Mel’s childhood, they stand at the cusp of success. […] When unexpected tragedy strikes, long-buried resentments rise to the surface, threatening their partnership—and hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

My Thoughts:
Susie at Novel Visits, a blogger who has similar taste to mine, said this debut novel was her favorite book of the year so far and wrote this glowing review. Consequently, I added it to my “must at least try before the end of the year” TBR list.

Update: Here’s one more review from a blogger I follow (52 Books or Bust)…it’s not as positive as Susie’s and will give you a different perspective. Also, Liberty Hardy mentioned on today’s All the Books podcast that this book has a chance to be one of her favorites of the year.

Behind Her Eyes, Sarah PinboroughBehind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (Released: January 31, 2017)
320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.06
Selected By: Cristina Arreola (Bustle Books Editor)

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. […] As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

My Thoughts:
This twisty psychological thriller has been compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train (seriously, when will publishers get sick of these comparisons?!) and apparently has a controversial ending that people will be talking about. Beth Fish Reads, a blogger I follow, shared these thoughts on it. If you like psychological thrillers and/or want to be a part of the conversation about that ending, this one might be a good choice for you.

Perfect Little World, Kevin WilsonPerfect Little World by Kevin Wilson (Released: January 24, 2017)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.81
Selected By: Maris Kreizman (Book of the Month Club Editorial Director)

When Isabelle Poole meets Dr. Preston Grind, she’s just about out of options. […] So when Dr. Grind offers her a space in The Infinite Family Project, she accepts. Housed in a spacious compound in Tennessee, she joins nine other couples, all with children the same age as her newborn son, to raise their children as one extended family. Grind’s theory is that the more parental love a child receives, the better off they are.

My Thoughts:
Perfect Little World has gotten starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist and the premise sounds intriguing. Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books, a blogger whose taste I trust implicitly, thinks I would like it. So, it’s joined The Animators on my “must at least try before the end of the year” TBR list.

The Possessions, Sara Flannery MurphyThe Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy (Released: February 7, 2017)
368 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.82
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

In this electrifying literary debut, a young woman who channels the dead for a living crosses a dangerous line when she falls in love with one of her clients, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances.

My Thoughts:
This is another psychological thriller with the obligatory comparisons to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, BUT is also being compared to Station Eleven (review) and Margaret Atwood, which is definitely a combination I’ve never seen before. Another blogger I follow (Michelle at That’s What She Read) shared her brief thoughts about it on Monday. I’m sort of burned out on psychological thrillers and am generally skeptical of comparisons to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, so I probably wouldn’t choose this one.

Update: Michelle at That’s What She Read has now posted her full review.

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

My choices this month would be The Animators and Perfect Little World!

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

For anyone unfamiliar with 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 $9.99, which is 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) for $9.99 per month. 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 1-month, 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month Book of the Month membership!
(Special February Deal: get a free BOTM tote when you sign up for a 3 month membership)

Book of the Month Club


*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

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Bloggers vs. Non-Bloggers: Do They Love Similar Books?

May 7, 2015 Bookish Posts 28

2015 has been an unusual year for my reading. I’ve absolutely loved only a small number of books and some of them are books that I haven’t necessarily pushed to lots of my non-blogger friends. So, when my non-blogger friends have asked me for recommendations, I’ve been at a bit of a loss! This unusual situation got me thinking…

For my fellow bloggers, do you find totally different books catching on within the blogging community than with your non-blogger friends?

Consequently, do you end up tailoring your recommendations differently to non-bloggers?

Let me completely generalize for a minute here…

Blogger Darlings

I think of these as the tougher (emotionally or structurally) or just more “out there” books. I’d also throw in books that depend on gorgeous writing, but don’t necessarily have a lot of action and books with unlikable characters. Some recent examples…

A Little Life, An Untamed State, The Shore, The Wife

A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara
This one will definitely make my Best Books of 2015 List, yet I’ve been able to convince exactly one non-blogger friend to read it. For some reason, “emotionally gut-wrenching, gorgeously written 800 page book” hasn’t been a huge draw…

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
I think the sensitivity of An Untamed State‘s topic and the graphic nature of how she handled it (i.e. unflinchingly) could turn some people off.

The Shore by Sara Taylor
It remains to be seen how this one will do outside the blogger community since it’s so new on the horizon. But, I suspect the intricacy of the structure and the necessity of working through it (by taking lots of notes) might frustrate some people enough to put it down.

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
This one falls into the “gorgeously written, but not a ton happens” bucket. I recommended it to a couple of my friends and I don’t think any of them actually read it. My mother-in-law did read it (I gifted it to her, so she kind of had to!) and I think she liked it, but not nearly as much as I did.

Non-Blogger Stars

These books have been the most loved by my non-blogger friends recently. I loved them too, but they didn’t get much play in the blogger world.

A Hundred Summers, Bittersweet, Black Chalk

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
This one has been a big beach read hit among my non-blogger friends.  

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
This twisty, turny tale of wealthy people behaving badly was my top seller through affiliate links last year. My non-blogger friends told me they couldn’t put it down. I saw only a precious few mentions of it among bloggers, but maybe it will resurface with its recent paperback release.

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
I would’ve expected this one to get more blogger attention (it’s well-written and a bit dark), but I never saw it around much. My brother, who has read approximately 5 books since he graduated from college (over 5 years ago) actually read and liked this one.

“Crossover” Hits

There are few things that get me more excited than a book that bloggers love that I’m also confident will be a hit with my non-blogger friends. A book that hits the sweet spot between highbrow and lowbrow…accessible, but not too fluffy. Throw in some gorgeous writing and you really have me! These are my favorite kinds of books to trumpet.

My Sunshine Away, Station Eleven, The Interestings, The Wife The Maid The Mistress, Where'd you go bernadette

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh
My favorite book to recommend to non-blogger friends this year (and loved by many bloggers).

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My book club unanimously loved it…

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
I still hear this one talked about a lot among my non-blogger and blogger friends…

The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
This was the first book I absolutely loved last year and recommended it to tons of non-blogger friends.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
I actually read this one on a non-blogger friend’s recommendation and I still hear bloggers talk about it fondly even though it’s three years old.

Which books have been hits with your non-blogger friends? Are they the same ones bloggers love?