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.
I absolutely adored this month’s picks. They just look like spring with their bright covers and feel like sunshine with their meandering plots, humorours tones (not applicable to all the picks), and deep characters that you can’t help but root for. I honestly think there is something for everyone in this selection and hopefully my run down helps you find the perfect pick(s)- no judgment here- for you!
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.
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People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry (Romance)People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Published by Berkley Books on May 11, 2021
Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She's a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart--she's in New York City, and he's in their small hometown--but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven't spoken since.
Poppy has everything she should want, but she's stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together--lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?
I feel like out of all the books on this list, People We Meet on Vacation was the most longed for. I for one, love getting romances through Book of the Month. Not only because it gives me the opportunity to get a hardcover copy of what would otherwise be a paperback book, but I feel like Book of the Month helps me navigate a genre that I’m still developing a taste for. This opposites attract romance, features Poppy and Alex who were once best friends and have since had a falling out. The novel opens with them setting out on one final vacation together. nois ripe with plenty of tension, witty banter and “will they won’t theys”. Reviewers loved Henry’s latest, many of them said more than Beach Read. So if you enjoyed Beach Read, or perhaps especially if you didn’t, I would give this one a shot. People We Meet On Vacatiom is perfect for those who enjoyed past authors like Christina Lauren, Katherine Center and Helen Hoang.
What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins (Contemporary Fiction)What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins
Published by Riverhead Books on April 13, 2021
After the shocking death of two teenage boys tears apart a community in the Pacific Northwest, a mysterious pregnant girl emerges out of the woods and into the lives of those same boys' families--a moving and hopeful novel about forgiveness and human connection.
In misty, coastal Washington State, Isaac lives alone with his dog, grieving the recent death of his teenage son, Daniel. Next door, Lorrie, a working single mother, struggles with a heinous act committed by her own teenage son. Separated by only a silvery stretch of trees, the two parents are emotionally stranded, isolated by their great losses--until an unfamiliar sixteen-year-old girl shows up, bridges the gap, and changes everything.
Evangeline's arrival at first feels like a blessing, but she is also clearly hiding something. When Isaac, who has retreated into his Quaker faith, isn't equipped to handle her alone, Lorrie forges her own relationship with the girl. Soon all three characters are forced to examine what really happened in their overlapping pasts, and what it all possibly means for a shared future.
With a propulsive mystery at its core, What Comes After offers an unforgettable story of loss and anger, but also of kindness and hope, courage and forgiveness. It is a deeply moving account of strangers and friends not only helping each other forward after tragedy, but inspiring a new kind of family.
This contemporary novel is a literary mystery as well as a character study which plunges the depths of loss and grief. It’s a slow burn examination of trauma and how it shapes individuals and their communities. It also includes elements of the author’s experience with the Quaker faith and a mysterious, pregnant woman who develops relationships with the two families at the center of the story. Set in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, this quiet yet gritty debut is reminiscent of books like Where The Crawdads Sing and My Absolute Darling. What Comes After is an apt title for this slow building, literary story because it explore what would come after a page turning thriller, when the media loses interest and the cops close the case. It sits with the grieving families as they gather to process and mourn, it fills the glasses of bereaved fathers and carries out the necessary housework, mechanically, like the heartbroken mother. It fills in the gaps of the day to day, vacated by the life of the lost. It is not loud, sensationalized or twisted like a domestic thriller or a police procedural. It is at once tragic and hopeful and is perfect for those who enjoyed past selections like Long Bright River and Girl A.
Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala (Mystery)Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
Published by Berkley Books on May 4, 2021
The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer….
When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.
With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…
Alright everyone, sit down, it’s confession time. I have never read a cozy mystery. I know, I know. As a librarian who frequently aspires to becoming one of those old ladies who checks out a dozen cozy mysteries every week and reads them all, I am definitely behind. But, whether this is your first foray into the genre, or you are one of those old ladies- always a pleasure I assure you- this is a great starting point. Arsenic and Adobo kicks of a fun, culinary themed cozy mystery series, whose first book features a loveable Filipino family, a charming small town, and a spunky heroine. Oh and let’s not forget the dauchsand Longganissa. Plus, I for one love food in books that makes my mouth water and the pages of Arsenic and Adobo are brimming with delicious descriptions- yes I went there. Its positively delightful and I honestly could find zero negatives reviews about this one, unless you want some thing genre defying. It is definitely not that. Otherwise, come for the cover and stay for the substance.
Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge (Historical Fiction)Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Published by Algonquin Books on March 30, 2021
The critically acclaimed and Whiting Award–winning author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman returns with an unforgettable story about the meaning of freedom. Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson was all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practicing physician, had a vision for their future together: Libertie would go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, feels stifled by her mother’s choices and is hungry for something else—is there really only one way to have an autonomous life? And she is constantly reminded that, unlike her mother, who can pass, Libertie has skin that is too dark.
When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it—for herself and for generations to come. Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States and rich with historical detail, Kaitlyn Greenidge’s new novel resonates in our times and is perfect for readers of Brit Bennett, Min Jin Lee, and Yaa Gyasi.
I am halfway through this one on audio and I feel obligated to say that the narrator is phenomenal. If you have the opportunity to listen to it, you should definitely take it. This is a historical fiction novel set during the Reconstruction era and follows Libertie from when she is a young girl, helping her doctor mother, until she is a married woman living in Haiti. The authors writing is lyrical and engaging and the book tackles issues of race, class and freedom. Those who love character driven stories, that tackle difficult issues and immerse you in a different world and a different time definitely should not pass this one by.
The Hunting Wives by May Cobb (Thriller)The Hunting Wives by May Cobb
Published by Berkley on May 18, 2021
The Hunting Wives share more than target practice, martinis, and bad behavior in this novel of obsession, seduction, and murder.
Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless.
Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers.
When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.
Hunting Wives is the thriller pick for the month and is packed full of female friendship turned obsessions, an intriguing clique of women, and a rather inconvenient murder. It’s basically a book of grown women behaving very badly and if you like that kind of thing, or are looking for a good popcorn read, The Hunting Wives is definitely worth a shot- pun entirely intended. The narrator is Sophie O’Neil who gets sucked into this elite clique of women whose activities of choice are gossiping, drinking, and shooting guns. There are plenty of twists and turns to this one. Reviewers are fairly mixed on The Hunting Wives. I get the sense that you either you really love it, in all its salacious, naughty and bourbon soaked glory; or you find the writing solid but the characters underdeveloped and the twists too predictable. If you are at all on the fence about it, I would say try it for yourself. While it’s not my cup of tea, I would love to know what you think!
When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McClain (Mystery)When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
Published by Ballantine Books on April 13, 2021
A detective hiding away from the world. A series of disappearances that reach into her past. Can solving them help her heal?
Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When overwhelming tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns a local teenage girl has gone missing. The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna's childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.
Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives--and our faith in one another.
This is another literary mystery, with a character driven plot and tons of atmosphere. Set in the woods of the pacific northwest, it follows Annna, who flees to the small northern California town of her youth, hoping to escape the trauma of her job as a missing children’s detective. But when a kidnapping occurs in the town she is forced to reckon not only with the atrocities of the crime, but the traumas of her own childhood. I also heard in an interview recently that the author has worked on missing children’s cases and draws on the knowledge she’s gained and experiences she’s had over the years. A lot of reviewers also point out that if you loved the nature elements of Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and The River by Peter Heller, you will love the atmospheric environment of When The Stars Go Dark. It is noteable that despite the dark content, there are no graphic depictions of abuse or violence towards children on the page and yes- before you ask- even the dog lives. Reviewers are gushing about this one, it’s honestly hard to find anything negative. I would recommend it to those who enjoyed past literaty-leaning selections like The Push and Girl A.
Love in Color by Bola Babalola (Short Stories)Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola
Published by William Morrow on April 13, 2021
A high-born Nigerian goddess, who has been beaten down and unappreciated by her gregarious lover, longs to be truly seen.
A young businesswoman attempts a great leap in her company, and an even greater one in her love life.
A powerful Ghanaian spokeswoman is forced to decide whether she should uphold her family’s politics or be true to her heart.
In her debut collection, internationally acclaimed writer Bolu Babalola retells the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology with incredible new detail and vivacity. Focusing on the magical folktales of West Africa, Babalola also reimagines Greek myths, ancient legends from the Middle East, and stories from long-erased places.
With an eye towards decolonizing tropes inherent in our favorite tales of love, Babalola has created captivating stories that traverse across perspectives, continents, and genres.
Babalola’s debut essay collection is a compilation of retellings and remimaginings of the greatest love stories from history and mythology, with a special emphasis on west-African folktales. Bola’s writing is praised as being lush and lyrical. The author divides the book into two halves. The first half consists of retellings of myths and legends and the second half is comprised of original stories by the author. Reviewers are pretty evenly split on whether they love this essay collection or not. It appears that everyone who reviewed the book enjoyed at least a handful of stories, which is pretty par the course for short story collections. The biggest complaint from reviewers was that the modern stories felt a little out of place with all the pop culture references in them. Regardless, I think if you are looking for an essay collection by an author of color, Love in Color is a good one to pick up.
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Young Adult)Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley
on March 16, 2021
Debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.
As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother.
The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.
Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.
Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she'll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Boulley’s debut as an add on. This ownvoices YA contemporary is getting all the buzz from every corner of the bookish community. It’s already been optioned for Netflix by the Obama’s production company and Reese chose it as her YA pick for the month of March. While I haven’t read it, I get the sense that it deserves all the buzz. The novel follows Duanis, a biracial girl who does not seem to fit anywhere. When she witnesses a murder, she goes undercover for the FBI to help get to the bottom of it. While Firekeeper’s Daughter is being billed as a thriller, some trusted reviewers describe it as a character driven contemporary with a dash of mystery. That doesn’t mean you should pass this one by, I just think it’s really important that everyone knows- Firekeeper’s Daughter contains a mystery, but it is in no way, a thriller. While most reviewers are raving about this one, the few negatives simply argue that there is too much going on and that all that is great about the novel becomes muddled. Regardless, I think this debut worth picking up, be it from Book of the Month or elsewhere.
Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix-Sweeney (Contemporary Fiction)Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Published by Ecco on April 6, 2021
A warm, incisive new novel about the enduring bonds of marriage and friendship from Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Nest
Flora Mancini has been happily married for more than twenty years. But everything she thought she knew about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with her best friend, Margot, is upended when she stumbles upon an envelope containing her husband’s wedding ring—the one he claimed he lost one summer when their daughter, Ruby, was five.
Flora and Julian struggled for years, scraping together just enough acting work to raise Ruby in Manhattan and keep Julian’s small theater company—Good Company—afloat. A move to Los Angeles brought their first real career successes, a chance to breathe easier, and a reunion with Margot, now a bona fide television star. But has their new life been built on lies? What happened that summer all those years ago? And what happens now?
With Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s signature tenderness, humor, and insight, Good Company tells a bighearted story of the lifelong relationships that both wound and heal us.
I feel like crying victory over this add on. I was shocked when it didn’t appear at all for April but then apparently Book of the Month added it to their site yesterday. By the same author as The Nest, Good Company is a contemporary novel that examines the complexities of marriage and how well we truly know the ones we love the most. This character driven story jumps back and forth between past and present. The biggest complaint I could find from reviewers is that the characters did not change enough through the course of the novel. Others found the pacing and world building of the novel to be sub- par because of the lack of a hook. But those who enjoy meandering novels, or loved Sweeney’s debut, The Nest, will definitely want to pick this one up or add it to their May box.
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. Again. I think they are doing better with featuring debuts and books by BIPOC author. I hope they keep it up.
- Authors of Color: 5/9 - 55%
- Female Authors: 9/9 - 100%
- LGBTQIA+: 0/9 - 0%
- Repeat Authors: 3/9 - 33%
- Debut Novels: 4/9 - 44%
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!