Hello everyone and welcome to another At A Glance post, a monthly post where I try to provide insight into Book of the Month’s monthly book selections so you can spend less time deciding and more time reading.
Overall, I thought Book of the Month did a decent job of diversifying their selection. It seems fitting that every book is written by a female author considering it is Women’s History Month in March. I, like so many, were disappointed that there are no new add ons for March. Hopefully this doesn’t become a regular thing because I like my options.
As always, if there is some thing I am not including in these posts that you would love to see just reach out and let me know! I do this post for all of you and want it to be as helpful as possible.
What’s Mine And Yours by Naima Coster (Literary Fiction)What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster
Published by Grand Central Publishing on March 2, 2021
From the author of Halsey Street, a sweeping novel of legacy, identity, the American family-and the ways that race affects even our most intimate relationships.
A community in the Piedmont of North Carolina rises in outrage as a county initiative draws students from the largely Black east side of town into predominantly white high schools on the west. For two students, Gee and Noelle, the integration sets off a chain of events that will tie their two families together in unexpected ways over the span of the next twenty years.
On one side of the integration debate is Jade, Gee's steely, ambitious mother. In the aftermath of a harrowing loss, she is determined to give her son the tools he'll need to survive in America as a sensitive, anxious, young Black man. On the other side is Noelle's headstrong mother, Lacey May, a white woman who refuses to see her half-Latina daughters as anything but white. She strives to protect them as she couldn't protect herself from the influence of their charming but unreliable father, Robbie.
When Gee and Noelle join the school play meant to bridge the divide between new and old students, their paths collide, and their two seemingly disconnected families begin to form deeply knotted, messy ties that will shape the trajectory of their adult lives. And their mothers-each determined to see her child inherit a better life-will make choices that will haunt them for decades to come.
As love is built and lost, and the past never too far behind, What's Mine and Yours is an expansive, vibrant tapestry that moves between the years, from the foothills of North Carolina, to Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Paris. It explores the unique organism that is every family: what breaks them apart and how they come back together.
This literary novel covers a host of issues through the eyes of different individuals in the community. While the synopsis might lead some to believe that the story solely follows two families as they navigate the complex process of desegregating a school, there is so much more to this book. The author takes her time developing characters and establishing the immersive and vivid North Carolina setting in a story that spans decades. In fact, the desegregation only shows up after the first third of the book. Also, some have expressed concern that Coster’s novel will feel too much like Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and, even though I absolutely adore Ng’s novel, I get the sense from reviews that What’s Mine and Yours is much broader in scope. If you like solidly character driven stories, this one’s for you.
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner (Historical Fiction/Fantasy)The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Published by Park Row on March 2, 2021
A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course
Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.
One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.
In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.
This dual timeline story with fantastical elements features a mysterious apothecary where women seek remedies to cure then of the oppressive men in their lives. The first timeline follows the apothecary owner Nella in the 1700s and the second focuses on a historian in present day trying to understanding the apothecary and the murders traced back to it. Reviewers gush about the pacing as well as both narrator’s voices and actions. They are relatable and interesting. Those who dislike the present day timeline seem to be in the minority. I also think it is worth noting that Book of the Month does the book a disservice labeling it as fantasy when it is much closer to historical fiction. Readers should go into the Lost Apothecary expecting a suspenseful, feminist tale that examines the lengths women will go to reclaim their voices.
In A Book Club Far Away by Tif Marcelo (Contemporary Fiction)In a Book Club Far Away by Tif Marcelo
Published by Gallery Books on April 6, 2021
From the author of Once Upon a Sunset and The Key to Happily Ever After comes a heartwarming and moving novel following three Army wives—estranged friends—who must overcome their differences when one of them is desperate for help.
Regina Castro, Adelaide Wilson-Chang, and Sophie Walden used to be best friends. As Army wives at Fort East, they bonded during their book club and soon became inseparable. But when an unimaginable betrayal happened amongst the group, the friendship abruptly ended, and they haven’t spoken since.
That’s why, eight years later, Regina and Sophie are shocked when they get a call for help from Adelaide. Adelaide’s husband is stationed abroad, and without any friends or family near her new home of Alexandria, Virginia, she has no one to help take care of her young daughter when she has to undergo emergency surgery. For the sake of an innocent child, Regina and Sophie reluctantly put their differences aside to help an old friend.
As the three women reunite, they must overcome past hurts and see if there’s any future for their friendship. Featuring Tif Marcelo’s signature “enchanting prose” (Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake) and the books that brought them together in the first place, In a Book Club Far Away honors the immense power of female friendship and how love can defy time, distance, and all old wounds.
Okay, confession time. When I initially saw this would be a pick I was a bit disappointed. I know, I know, I jumped the gun on my judgement and I want to tell you why I’ve changed my mind and added it to my box. In A Book Club Far Away is written by a Fillipina-American author who is also a military veteran. The book follows three military wives who were once best friends but have since grown apart. The story is told between alternating perspectives of the present day– when the estranged friends reunite to help one of their own; and ten years ago when the fallout occured. Many reviewers are calling this one adorable and heartwarming. It’s a novel that shows the importance of friendship and provides a glimpse into the lives of military spouses.
Too Good To Be True by Carola Lovering (Thriller)Too Good to Be True by Carola Lovering
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 2, 2021
ONE LOVE STORY. TWO MARRIAGES. THREE VERSIONS OF THE TRUTH.
Skye Starling is overjoyed when her boyfriend, Burke Michaels, proposes after a whirlwind courtship. Though Skye seems to have the world at her fingertips―she’s smart, beautiful, and from a well-off family―she’s also battled crippling OCD ever since her mother’s death when she was eleven, and her romantic relationships have suffered as a result.
But now Burke―handsome, older, and more emotionally mature than any man she’s met before―says he wants her. Forever. Except, Burke isn’t who he claims to be. And interspersed letters to his therapist reveal the truth: he’s happily married, and using Skye for his own, deceptive ends.
In a third perspective, set thirty years earlier, a scrappy seventeen-year-old named Heather is determined to end things with Burke, a local bad boy, and make a better life for herself in New York City. But can her adolescent love stay firmly in her past―or will he find his way into her future?
On a collision course she doesn’t see coming, Skye throws herself into wedding planning, as Burke’s scheme grows ever more twisted. But of course, even the best laid plans can go astray. And just when you think you know where this story is going, you’ll discover that there’s more than one way to spin the truth.
At first glance, Too Good To Be True looks like every other domestic thriller that Book of the Month has offered and, in many ways, you would be right. There is a marriage and three different narrators. Not everything is at it seems. You get the gist. Reviewers are quite ambiguous regarding the intricacies of the plot and I’m not going to flesh it out too much because my sense is that it’s better to go in as blind as possible. With that said, many reviews have complained that the book’s synopsis gives away far too much. Some reviewers also complained that the major twist comes fairly early in the story takes a lot of tension out of the second half of the novel. However, if you are looking for a domestic thriller with plenty of twists and turns, you’ll definitely want to add this to your box.
The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton (Historical Fiction)The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
Published by 37 Ink on March 30, 2021
A poignant fictional oral history of the beloved rock ‘n’ roll duo who shot to fame in the 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.
Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.
In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.
Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.
Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.
This is historical fiction written as an oral history of a fictional rock band. It’s an ownvoices novel that tackles issues of racism, sexism and explores the darker side of the music industry. I want to warn readers that those going into this expecting too many similarities to Daisy Jones and the Six will be disappointed. This book is so much darker and deals with heavier topics. It is told from Opal’s POV as well as her younger sister Pearl and Sunny Curtis, the daughter of Jimmy Curtis who was murdered in the 70s after a concert as part of a hate crime. When the novel opens, Sunny is writing a book about her father and the band he was a part of. The story essentially details the meeting of Opal and Nev, their rise to fame and their potential reunion years later. The characters are complex, the pacing is spot on and the story is smart, prescient, intense and thought provoking. If you enjoy oral histories, you don’t want to pass this one up.
Book of the Month has confirmed that there will be no add ons this month, which is unfortunate. So I thought I would share some of my favorite Book of the Month picks that are in stock and that would be perfect for March, which is women’s history month.
Overall, Book of the Month did fairly well this month, except for the fact that they did not choose a single book by an LGBTQIA+ author.
- Authors of Color: 3/5 – 60%
- Female Authors: 5/5 – 100%
- LGBTQIA+: 0/5 – 0%
- Repeat Authors: 0/5 – 0%
- Debut Novels: 2/5 – 40%
In My Box This Month:
What About You?
What did you add to your box this month? What do you think of my picks? Let me know in the comments!