Book of the Month At A Glance- October 2020

Posted September 30, 2020 by stuckint in BOTM / 4 Comments

Hello all! It’s that time again when we use our sources to “spoil” what choices there will be for Book of the Month next month! To be fair, my guess is these get posted tomorrow (I really thought today, honestly!) and so this isn’t much of a spoiler alert.

Overall, even though we didn’t have too many ANY clues to go off of, we did pretty well on our guesses! Five of our predicted books are either add-ons or main selections! We aren’t 100% sure yet which ones are the main selections this month, but we will make our best guesses for this post and come back and edit tomorrow if we are wrong.

Main Selections

Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo
Published by Berkley on September 29, 2020
Pages: 336

When a Nigerian woman falls for a man she knows will break her mother’s heart, she must choose between love and her family.
At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture even after emigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping--forcing--her to stay well within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and white.
When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her growing feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother who will never accept a relationship that threatens to dilute Azere's Nigerian heritage.
Azere can't help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness or continue as the compliant daughter.

One of only two books on this list written by an author of color, Ties That Tether deals with issues of race and identity, both culturally and familiarly from a educated and sensitive place- according to most reviewers. It should also be noted that this book deals with surprise pregnancy and loss of a child, so those who are sensitive to that might want to skip this one. If those aren’t issues for you, this book is getting rave reviews.

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Magic Lessons (Practical Magic, #0) by Alice Hoffman
Published by Simon Schuster on October 6, 2020
Pages: 416

In an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.
Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.
When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.
Magic Lessons is a celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling.

A few years ago, Book of the Month included Rule Of Magic which was a prequel to Practical Magic. Well, Magic Lessons is the prequel to the prequel. Readers should go into this one with the knowledge that it is darker, grittier, and more terrifying than the other two books in the “series”. Honestly this book has little to no negative reviews, so if you enjoy witchy books this sounds like a must read.

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Published by Ecco on October 6, 2020
Pages: 256

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong
Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.
Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another? 
Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam’s third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis. 

Some reviewers have described this book as “every thought I ever had in quarantine”. This is the other book on the list written by an author of color. This novel also deals with racial issues and interpersonal connections. Many reviewers are gushing about this prescient suspenseful and intelligent novel. It is literary suspense at its finest and I’m sure this one will end up in my box this month!

The Girl In The Mirror by Rose Carlyle

The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle
Published by William Morrow on October 20, 2020
Pages: 304

Written with the chilling, twisty suspense of The Wife Between Us and Something in the Water, a seductive debut thriller about greed, lust, secrets, and deadly lies involving identical twin sisters.
Twin sisters Iris and Summer are startlingly alike, but beyond what the eye can see lies a darkness that sets them apart. Cynical and insecure, Iris has long been envious of Summer’s seemingly never-ending good fortune, including her perfect husband Adam.
Called to Thailand to help her sister sail the family yacht to the Seychelles, Iris nurtures her own secret hopes for what might happen on the journey. But when she unexpectedly finds herself alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean, everything changes. When she makes it to land, Iris allows herself to be swept up by Adam, who assumes that she is Summer.
Iris recklessly goes along with his mistake. Not only does she finally have the golden life she’s always envied, with her sister gone, she’s one step closer to the hundred-million-dollar inheritance left by her manipulative father. All Iris has to do is be the first of his seven children to produce an heir.
Iris’s “new” life lurches between glamorous dream and paranoid nightmare. On the edge of being exposed, how far will she go to ensure no one discovers the truth?
And just what did happen to Summer on the yacht?
Only Iris knows . . .

We might be showing our hands on how we feel about this pick, but in hindsight it’s kind of embarrassing we didn’t guess that this would be a choice. This debut is being compared to titles like The Wife Between Us and is blurbed by a handful of previous BOTM authors. This novel is also firmly grounded in the domestic suspense camp. This is a very divisive book — those who love it praise it for it’s atmosphere and twists, while those who disliked it decried it for being predictable and unbelievable. Definitely things to keep in mind

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Published by Tor Books on October 6, 2020
Pages: 448

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

This pick surprised us. So many book boxes are doing Addie, and it kind of feels like Book of the Month got sucked up in the hype. Quite honestly, this book had so much hype surrounding that that we think most die-hard fans have already preordered it (ourselves included!) so it feels like a strange pick to us. That said, we like to see BOTM working with Tor and are happy for Schwab to find even more readers. I don’t think either of us will get it from BOTM, but given the frustration with last year’s Not-So-Scary October picks, it makes sense that BOTM would add in a perfectly magical book for this month’s picks.


Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

A Deadly Education (Scholomance, #1) by Naomi Novik
Published by Del Rey Books on September 29, 2020
Pages: 336

Lesson One of the Scholomance
Learning has never been this deadly
A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.

We both thought this one would be a pick, both because Novik is a repeat-author and because it just sounds so dang good! Another perfect October read, this one is getting rave reviews everywhere. I am really hoping it will fill the wizard-school hole in my heart after all the Potter drama lately. I can’t wait to dig in! As a side note, BOTM has confirmed that there will NOT be gold foiling on the cover as there will on the book elsewhere.

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell
Published by Atria Books on October 13, 2020
Pages: 368

The author of the “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) The Family Upstairs returns with another taut and white-knuckled thriller following a group of people whose lives shockingly intersect when a young woman disappears.
Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.
In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.
Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.
Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.
With evocative, vivid, and unputdownable prose and plenty of disturbing twists and turns, Jewell’s latest thriller is another “haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author).

Another one we were pretty sure of, this is Jewell’s fourth pick with BOTM. This sounds like a really interesting novel that explores toxic masculinity, and it might just be a perfect October read.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic (Practical Magic #1) by Alice Hoffman
Published by Penguin on August 5, 2003
Pages: 286

The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.
For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.
One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic...

This is a pretty surprising pick, but we think that it has to do with readers wanting matching sets and Practical Magic being the only one in this series not available, given this month’s Magic Lessons pick. This is Hoffman’s fourth book with BOTM and is another great October selection.

Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
on October 6, 2020
Pages: 352

What happened in Paradise? At last all will be revealed about the secrets and lies that led Irene and her sons to St. John -- and to new lives that transformed them all.

We completely understand that BOTM is kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place with the repeat author situation — readers complain if all their books don’t match and also complain if there are too many repeats. But it seems like the authors of color aren’t the ones getting the repeat-author treatment and that’s frustrating. That said, this is Hilderbrand’s fifth pick with BOTM and is the end of the Paradise trilogy. All three are available with BOTM and I’m sure it will be a must-pick for Hilderbrand fans.

Overall Diversity Rating

After just some quick research, this wasn’t BOTM’s best month for diversity, particularly for amplifying the voices of Black authors. As we highlighted in our guesses post, there were a TON of great BIPOC-authored books coming out this month, but this mostly seems to be a bunch of white women, repeat authors, and bestsellers.

That said, at least two of the authors identify as queer. Rumaan Alam is Bangladeshi and Jane Igharo is Nigerian-Canadian. Both of their novels explore issues of race and class. Otherwise, the overall picks are definitely less diverse than we would prefer and with a seeming over-focus on repeat authors rather than helping us find new things that we love.

  • Authors of Color- 2/9 - 22%
  • Female Authors- 8/9 - 88%
  • LGBTQIA+- 2/9- 22%
  • Repeat Authors- 5/9- 55%
  • Mainstream Authors- 6/9- 66%
  • Debut- 2/9- 22%

What About You?

What did you think of this month’s picks? What will you be picking, if anything? And how do you feel BOTM is doing on their commitment to diversity? We can’t wait to chat about it in the comments with you!

4 responses to “Book of the Month At A Glance- October 2020

  1. Liz

    I agree that this wasn’t BOTM’s *best* month for diversity, but 2 of the 5 picks that are main picks are authors of color, which is excellent. I am disappointed that Memorial wasn’t a choice, even as an add-on. But, last month was especially good, with BOTM offering both Transcendent Kingdom AND Caste — I never thought they’d offer Caste, particularly as a main pick. Not only did they have a black author’s novel, but they had a nonfiction book by a black author that was exclusively about race. They get major kudos for last month’s picks.

    So, I can’t really be too upset with them for this month’s picks. I couldn’t care less about Elin Hilderbrand, and I’m not that excited that BOTM picked her book, since she has a million books that will be available almost literally, everywhere, and certainly they’ll be available inexpensively in the not too distant future for anyone who wants them. But, she does have a lot of fans, and a lot of people are excited to have her new book available. BOTM isn’t exclusively focused on diverse authors, so for a mainstream book site, that only offers a limited number of books, I think they’re doing pretty well, especially the last few months. If there is a book by an author of color, that is most frequently what I select, not just because the author is a POC, but because the book interests me most (and often it’s bringing a viewpoint that I don’t already know — I am already very familiar with the standard white woman American view, so it’s more interesting to read other viewpoints).

  2. Ashleigh

    So excited for Invisible Girl!! I’ve loved all of Lisa Newell’s books! I got The Girl in the Mirror as my main pick.

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