Book of the Month At A Glance- June 2021

Posted June 4, 2021 by stuckint in Book Subscriptions, BOTM / 9 Comments

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 was pleasantly surprised by the picks this month. I know some were hoping for more literary picks, but I love when Book of the Month surprises us and with all the genre fiction, the picks were definitely unexpected.

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.

*People have been asking me lately what they can do to support me and the work I do here. The biggest thing you can do right now, is subscribe and share my blog with your reader friends. Thank you everyone for all you do to make Stuck in the Stacks happen.

Main Picks

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides (Thriller)

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
Published by Celadon Books on June 15, 2021
Pages: 352

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.
Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.
Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?
When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.

The Maidens is dark academia novel and murder mystery wrapped into one. Many will recognize the author from one of the biggest books of last year, The Silent Patient. However, The Maidens is quite the departure from the author’s debut and readers should know that going in. The purveyor of the story is Marianna, a group psycho-therapy specialist, who comes in response to a call from her niece Zoe, whose best friend has gone missing. Set on the campus of Cambridge, Michaelides weaves a story that features a strong sense of place and provides a refreshing take on a gothic thriller. Some readers might be a bit wary about this title because of the mixed reviews. Those who have loved The Maidens praise it for its creepy vibe, strong sense of place, and a well developed protagonist. Those who have disliked it say that the plotting is superficial, the dialogue quite unbelievable in some instances, and even found aspects of Michaelides’ discussion of psychotherapy- done through his characters- to be troubling. I’m not going to tell you whether you should read it or not. It seems to me that you’ll  just have to decide for yourself. If you must know, I will be listening to this one on audio. Frequently, such divisive opinions compel to pick up a title rather than to avoid it.

Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie (Contemporary Fiction)

Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie
Published by Random House on June 22, 2021
Pages: 320

A woman who's used to going solo discovers that there's one relationship she can't run away from in this buoyant novel from the Lambda Literary Award-winning author of The Summer We Got Free
Twenty-six and broke, Skye didn't think twice before selling her eggs and happily pocketing the cash. Now approaching forty, Skye moves through life entirely--and unrepentantly--on her own terms, living out of a suitcase and avoiding all manner of serious relationships. Her personal life might be a mess, and no one would be surprised if she died alone in a hotel room, but at least she's free to do as she pleases. But then a twelve-year-old girl shows up during one of Skye's brief visits to her hometown of Philadelphia, and tells Skye that she's "her egg." Skye's life is thrown into sharp relief and she decides that it might be time to actually try to have a meaningful relationship with another human being. Spoiler alert: It's not easy.
Things gets even more complicated when Skye realizes that the woman she tried and failed to pick up the other day is the girl's aunt and now it's awkward. All the while, her brother is trying to get in touch, her problematic mother is being bewilderingly kind, and the West Philly pool halls and hoagie shops of her youth have been replaced by hipster cafes.
Told in a fresh, lively voice, this novel is a relentlessly clever, deeply moving portrait of a woman and the relationships she thought she could li

This funny, hilarious contemporary is an ode to what it’s like to figure out who you are and the relationships you can’t live without. The writing is witty and full of snarky, caustic jokes that will keep readers laughing and turning the pages. As someone who realized that this sort of dark humor is 100% my cup of tea, I am excited to see this queer, ownvoices novel as a June pick. Skye is a queer, black woman in her 30s who, at first glance might come off as incredibly unlikeable, but reviewers who loved this book say that they grew to adore Skye and all her quirkiness. When Skye was 26 she was paid good money to donate her eggs, now almost forty, a twelve year old girl comes into her life claiming to be her daughter and the result of this egg donation. As you can imagine, hijinks and plenty of drama ensue. For non BiPOC readers, Skye Falling is what I, and other reviewers, would call a window book. A story that give you a glimpse into the life and culture of another person. In this case, Skye Falling provides the reader a look into Black communities in Philadelphia. Its a stellar book for Pride Month with plenty of LGBTQIA+ representation. Praise for Skye Falling is overwhelmingly positive with the biggest complaint centering on Skye and her tendency to be ridiculously unlikeable. I would say if you enjoyed novels such as How Not To Die Alone and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely fine, the probability is high that you will enjoy Mckenzie’s latest offering.. 

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon (YA Romance)

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on June 1, 2021
Pages: 304

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon is back with her eagerly anticipated third novel. With all the heart and hope of her last two books, this is an utterly unique romance.
Evie Thomas doesn't believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.
As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything--including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he's only just met.
Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it's that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

I was tickled to see this one as a pick. I’m on a blog tour for the novel at the end of June and have had it on my radar for months now. This YA rom com is perfect for summer reading. The protagonist is Yvette, who, after checking out a particular library book,  starts having visions of the tragic ends of  random couples she sees on the street. Honestly, it gives me major Instant Karma vibes and I loved Meyer’s rom com debut. On top of these bizarre glimpses, Evie finds herself spending the summer learning to dance opposite the very sexy and adventurous X. There are so many elements of this book to love, including: Yvette’s budding and complicated relationship with X (Xavier), her father’s impending remarriage, this strange gift she suddenly finds herself dealing with, and the dance competition that she and X have been entered into. Yoon’s prose is easy, light and romantic as she tackles themes of young love and major life changes; dusting everything with just a touch of magical realism to finish it off. If you are looking for a fresh take on a romance novel, Instructions for Dancing should definitely be in your box!

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Literary Fiction)

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Ballantine Books on June 1, 2021
Pages: 384

Malibu: August 1983. It's the day of Nina Riva's annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over--especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud--because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he's been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can't stop thinking about promised she'll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own--including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family's generations will all come bubbling to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

i don’t think that this one needs much hype or introduction, but this is a breakdown post of the picks and add ons so here we go. The novel follows the Riva siblings leading up to and during a chaotic and sweltering summer party that results in the airing of family secrets and the burning down of the family estate. Running parallel to this storyline, is the story of how the Riva’s parents met and fell in love and how that contributed to the single fateful night. If you enjoy stories of dysfunctional families, books spanning a very brief time frame, or novels that just feel like summer, Malibu Rising should be on your radar. Some have expressed concerns that it might be too similar to Little Fires Everywhere, but I’m here to tell you that the connection of a fire burning down a home is really the only parallel. Instead, I would compare it more to titles like The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo and After Dark by Haruki Mirakami. Critical reviewers have complained about the uneven pacing and the hard to connect with third person omniscient narrator. Malibu Rising is definitely a book about rich people dealings with rich people problems, but if that’s your cup of tea, Malibu Rising might be the perfect summer read for you. 

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian (Adult Fantasy)

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian
Published by Ace on July 6, 2021
Pages: 448

The Lady of Shalott reclaims her story in this bold feminist reimagining of the Arthurian myth from the New York Times bestselling author of Ash Princess.
Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come--for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.
On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends--countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.
When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.
As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate--and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.

I was especially excited to see this one as a pick. I feel like Book of the Month is exploring a new subgenre of feminist retellings of classic stories and I am here for it. Half Sick of Shadows is being compared to the works of Madeline Miller and Megan Abbot and should not be passed up. Readers who adore feminist fantasy and the myths of King Arthur and Camelot should definitely have Half Sick on their TBRs. This early release is the Arthurian legend told through the eyes of Elaine of Shallot. The book is told in alternating timelines of past, present and future events with the verb tenses to match, which some readers found jarring and others absolutely adored. If you are a reader who loves to be thrown in the middle of stories with little world building, Half Sick of Shadows is the fantasy story you need on your shelf. Trigger Warnings for suicidal ideation, emotional abuse, graphic violence and death.

Add Ons

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 1, 2021
Pages: 432

From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that will stop readers in their tracks...
For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.
But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.
Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.
Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.

Okay. You guys if you want a queer novel to read for Pride Month- or any month of the year really, you need to pick up One Last Stop. Our protagonist is down on her luck August, who is just trying to find herself and how she fits in the world. It might be a strange comparison, but August’s quirky group of friends seriously reminded me of the show New Girl: a too large group of people living in a tiny New York apartment that August finds herself coming to love and call home. Then August meets Jane, a beautiful punk rocker girl that she starts to see on her regular subway commute. in some recent interviews, McQuiston has said that she wanted to create a love story that could not possibly have a happy ending, and thys One Last Stop was born. It’s sweet, and dreamy and sexy and I loved every bit of it. Plus, every character is absolutely adorable and endearing. With themes of found family, time travel and plenty of chemistry, romance lovers will not want to miss it. If you have the chance to listen to it on audio that is the method of consumption I would recommend.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Published by Atria Books on June 1, 2021
Pages: 368

Get Out
The Stepford Wives
in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.
Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.
Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.
It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.
A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

This literary suspense novel is taking the publishing world by storm and for good reason. Out tenacious and struggling protagonist is Nella, who has worked at Wagner Books for over two years and more often than not, has been the only black girl in the room. Despite the occasional, subtle, racist remarks from her coworkers, she is mostly content and getting by, one day at a time. Until, of course, Hazel arrives and she is everything Nella s not. She makes friends with everyone in the office, from Nella’s boss to the mail room workers. Everyone loves Hazel. Except Nella. To make things worse, Nella starts receiving ominous, anonymous notes telling her to leave her job. Certain they are coming from Hazel, she begins to dig, unprepared for the truths she uncovers. While I don’t love that every thriller about a Black character, written by a black author is being compared to Get Out, I do think the comparison fits here. With it’s slow but tense pace and crisp, clean prose, Harris tackles issues of racism societally and especially workplace, examining the pressures to change oneself to fit a certain mold. Though some reviewers disliked the slower pace, I absolutely loved it and all the little behind the scenes publishing Easter eggs. I think it’s going to be one of the hottest titles of the summer. Get in early on the conversation by adding it to your box!

The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer (Thriller)

The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer
Published by Pamela Dorman Books on June 15, 2021
Pages: 400

When a small-town family is pushed to the brink, how far will they go to protect one of their own? An edgy, propulsive read about what we will do in the name of love and blood
Tony has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when he's called to a hospital bed where Nick is lying battered and bruised after a violent sexual assault, his protective instincts flare, and a white-hot rage begins to build.
As a small-town New England lawyer, Tony's wife, Julia, has cases involving kids all the time. When Detective Rice gets assigned to this one, Julia feels they're in good hands. Especially because she senses that Rice, too, understands how things can quickly get complicated. Very complicated.
After all, one moment Nick was having a drink with a handsome stranger; the next, he was at the center of an investigation threatening to tear not only him, but his entire family, apart. And now his attacker, out on bail, is disputing Nick's version of what happened.
As Julia tries to help her brother-in-law, she sees Tony's desire for revenge, to fix things for Nick, getting out of control. Tony is starting to scare her. And before long, she finds herself asking: does she really know what her husband is capable of? Or of what she herself is?
Exploring elements of doubt, tragedy, suspense, and justice, The Damage is an all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

I almost added this one to my box and then decided not to at the last minute. In hindsight, I have regrets and might get it next month, we shall see. Anyway, The Damage is a thriller that centers on sexual assault and is the authors debut novel. It’s a slower novel that examines how sexual assault rocks a family and how far that family is willing to go to protect their own. Many have described is as a police procedural with the twists of a thriller, both for good and ill. The detective element of the book envelops the trauma shared by the Hall family. Its a style choice that created plenty of tension for some and just felt clunky for others. The Damage tackles issues of male rape, suicidal ideation, and self harm. The author handles all of these issues respectfully but readers should be aware of these triggers. I think if you are looking for a thought provoking, gritty psychological drama in the vein of What Comes After and Long Bright River, The Damage would be worth picking up.

Diversity Breakdown

I felt like in some instances Book of the Month improved on their stats. Though I think it would have been nice to see them include even more LGBTQIA+ stories for Pride Month.

  • Authors of Color: 3/8- 38%
  • Female Authors: 7/8- 86%
  • LGBTQIA+: 3/8- 38%
  • Repeat Authors: 4/8 - 50%
  • Debut Novels: 2/8 - 25%

In My Box This Month:

Box 1

Box 2

Box 3

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!

9 responses to “Book of the Month At A Glance- June 2021

  1. Lisa Bell

    I got Instructions For Dancing and Betty in Box 1, Malibu Rising and The Maidens in Box 2, Skey Falling in Box 3, The Damage and The Other Black Girl in Box 4… they all look sooo good !!

  2. I was SUPER excited to read the description of Half Sick of Shadows. I love Arthurian legend and I’d never heard of this one, so it took me by surprise. I made that my primary pick and then I added One Last Stop and Last Summer at the Golden Hotel. Since Malibu Rising is set at the end of summer, I have that one sitting in my cart for a July add-on too.

  3. Ann

    I got Malibu Rising and my box has shipped. Lots to read before it arrives. I am currently reading Margreete’s Harbor by Eleanor Morse, which is a total surprise for me. A character has dementia and I thought it would mainly be about that, but it is so much more. All about the rest of the family & set in Maine in the 50s & 60s. One of those books you immediately fall into!

    I have Black Buck, that I’ve already extended library time on; so need to get back to it. I told my husband that he should read it. He is always busy rereading things. Something I only seldom do.

    I have library copies of We Begin At The End & The Venice Sketchbook sitting on my bedside table.

    So, lots to keep me busy before my BOTM arrives! Hoping Malibu Rising will live up to all the hype. I sometimes get burned with these “popular” reads. I read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s other book & it was okay.

    I wasted a lot of my precious reading time last night binge watching Mare of Easttown. We had such a rainy day here, that I succumbed to the boob tube! I admit, it was good though!!!!!

  4. I was so excited about this months picks! The last couple of months have felt a little lackluster to me. I was actually thinking of canceling, but then they came out with some hard hitters this month! I got The Maidens and Malibu Rising. I can’t wait to get my hands on them!

    • Ann

      I skipped last month too. BOTM can be addictive. I joined at the start of the Pandemic & must admit BOTM was a lifesaver. I had traveled to Phoenix for spring break, when everyone decided to quarantine. I had debated about packing books for the trip. I think I learned my lesson on that one! Having debated whether I would actually read, I made what turned out to be the dire mistake of not packing a book. Since I ended up staying there longer than expected, I joined a local Phoenix branch library & as an out of state visitor, I was allowed 3 books. Let me tell you, I was never so grateful for books in my life!! Then the library was abruptly closed due to Covid. I saw a $9.99 introductory offer for BOTM & was able to get a ReadwithJenna pick: Valentine. The price was too tempting to pass up. Shipping included. I researched & it was the best price around. I joined, ordered the book and waited patiently as the book made a very circuitous journey to Phoenix. I’ll always remember that book because of the circumstances. So, my plan was to cancel BOTM once I was back home near my local library in Texas. I just hit the one year mark recently and have not canceled yet. Hard to justify when I can get all titles on loan from my library. They are about to re-open up this month. I’ve enjoyed their curbside pick up service all these months. The thrill up the predictions and then the monthly picks is hard to let go of!!!!! And now my birthday hits over the summer and I’ll get a freebie, not to mention being able to pick from the year’s favorites. I am beginning to reap the benefits of being a BFF!!!!!!!

  5. Sarah Catt

    I got The Maidens and added The Guest List and The Survivors as add-ons. It’s my birthday month so I only had to pay for one of my add-ons? I picked my books Tuesday and they arrived today (Friday!) can’t wait to dive in!

  6. Maureen

    I got the Silent Patient and The Maidens and Malibu Rising for box #2. I ended up trying Literatis book box and went a little crazy with them 😡

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