What’s In The Box!– July 2021 Predictions

Posted June 21, 2021 by stuckint in Book Subscriptions, BOTM / 16 Comments

Hello everyone and welcome back to another What’s In The Box post, where I make predictions for next month’s Book of the Month picks.

Sorry to everyone for getting this up so late. June has been crazy with a changed work schedule- that will hopefully stay this way for the foreseeable future. Not to mention my husband’s thirtieth birthday and some health issues within the family that have left me quite distracted. All that is to say, I am so happy to finally be getting this post up and am still planning on sharing the Book of the Month summer reading guide very soon.

Keep in mind that these are simply guesses and I could get most or all of them wrong. Be that as it may, I hope my guesses get you excited for July and bring some under the radar titles to your attention.

Contemporary Fiction

Shoulder Season by Christina Clancy

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsShoulder Season by Christina Clancy
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 6, 2021
Pages: 336
Goodreads

The small town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is an unlikely location for a Playboy Resort, and nineteen-year old Sherri Taylor is an unlikely bunny. Growing up in neighboring East Troy, Sherri plays the organ at the local church and has never felt comfortable in her own skin. But when her parents die in quick succession, she leaves the only home she’s ever known for the chance to be part of a glamorous slice of history. In the winter of 1981, in a costume two sizes too small, her toes pinched by towering stilettos, Sherri joins the daughters of dairy farmers and factory workers for the defining experience of her life.
Living in the “bunny hutch”—Playboy’s version of a college dorm, surrounded by a twelve-foot high barbed-wire fence (to keep the men out, and the girls in)—Sherri gets her education in the joys of sisterhood, the thrill of financial independence, the magic of first love, and the heady effects of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. But as spring gives way to summer, Sherri finds herself caught up in a romantic triangle––and the tragedy that ensues will haunt her for the next forty years of her life.
Shoulder Season follows Sherri from her fledgling days as a bunny, when she tries to reinvent herself before she even knows who she is, to the woman she becomes years later. From the Midwestern prairie to the California desert, from Wisconsin lakes to the Pacific Ocean, this is a story of what happens when small town life is sprinkled with stardust, and what we lose—and gain—when we leave home. It’s about the brief but intoxicating experiences of our youth, and how they have the power to shape the rest of our lives. With a heroine to root for and a narrative to get lost in, Shoulder Season is a sexy, evocative tale, drenched in longing and desire, that captures a fleeting moment in American history with nostalgia and heart.

This contemporary novel is what I would like to call, “relationship fiction” through a coming of age lense. It follows 19-year old Sherri, who lives in a small Wisconsin town and is just trying to figure out who she is and define her place in the world. Sherri goes about it a little differently though as she finds work and found family at a Playboy resort. There are numerous reasons why I think this could be a pick next month including the fact that Shoulder Season is a new adult novel, which Book of the Month has been making an effort to pick once in a while- think One Last Stop and Firekeeper’s Daughter. It is being pitched as City of Girls meets Daisy Jones and the Six (a beloved previous Book of the Month pick). With it’s strong sense of place, love triangle, and a tragedy that drives the plot it promises to be an engrossing and provocative read. It also blurbed by previous Book of the author Lauren Fox (Don’t Send For Me) which only ups it’s chances of being picked.

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsNightbitch by Rachel Yoder
Published by Doubleday Books on July 20, 2021
Pages: 256
Goodreads

In this blazingly smart and voracious debut, an artist turned stay-at-home mom becomes convinced she's turning into a dog.
An ambitious mother puts her art career on hold to stay at home with her newborn son, but the experience does not match her imagination. Two years later, she steps into the bathroom for a break from her toddler's demands, only to discover a dense patch of hair on the back of her neck. In the mirror, her canines suddenly look sharper than she remembers. Her husband, who travels for work five days a week, casually dismisses her fears from faraway hotel rooms.
As the mother's symptoms intensify, and her temptation to give in to her new dog impulses peak, she struggles to keep her alter-canine-identity secret. Seeking a cure at the library, she discovers the mysterious academic tome which becomes her bible, A Field Guide to Magical Women: A Mythical Ethnography, and meets a group of mothers involved in a multilevel-marketing scheme who may also be more than what they seem.
An outrageously original novel of ideas about art, power, and womanhood wrapped in a satirical fairy tale, Nightbitch will make you want to howl in laughter and recognition. And you should. You should howl as much as you want.

Blurbed by previous Book of the Month author Kevin Wilson (Nothing To See Here), Nightbitch is about a woman who believes she is turning into a dog and the crazy things she does as a result of her transformation. The premise sounds incredibly quirky and a a lot of fun in my opinion, while also examining the lived experience of early motherhood. If you are someone who enjoys weird or absurd fiction you should definitely have Nightbitch on your radar. Aside from Kevin Wilson’s blurb, the novel examines themes common to Book of the Month selections. Yoder uses the strange and the weird to explore the realities of motherhood and some women’s struggles with being mothers (think The Push or Little Darlings). She also tackles issues like what it means to have power over oneself and those around you and how that is shaped by public perception and societal expectations. It’s simultaneously funny and dark and sounds like an absolute gem.

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsThe Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam
Published by Scribner on July 13, 2021
Pages: 304
Goodreads

Newlyweds Asha and Cyrus build an app that replaces religious rituals and soon find themselves running one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.
Meet Asha Ray.
Brilliant coder and possessor of a Pi tattoo, Asha is poised to revolutionize artificial intelligence when she is reunited with her high school crush, Cyrus Jones.
Cyrus inspires Asha to write a new algorithm. Before she knows it, she’s abandoned her PhD program, they’ve exchanged vows, and gone to work at an exclusive tech incubator called Utopia.
The platform creates a sensation, with millions of users seeking personalized rituals every day. Will Cyrus and Asha’s marriage survive the pressures of sudden fame, or will she become overshadowed by the man everyone is calling the new messiah?
In this gripping, blistering novel, award-winning author Tahmima Anam takes on faith and the future with a gimlet eye and a deft touch. Come for the radical vision of human connection, stay for the wickedly funny feminist look at startup culture and modern partnership. Can technology—with all its limits and possibilities—disrupt love?

I’ll admit that The Startup Wife might be on here more for me than for Book of the Month, but I think it should be on everyone’s radar regardless. It’s essentially about a couple who creates an app which is meant to replace religious rituals in the lives of everyday people. It’s a novel that’s as much about the tech world as it is about modern marriage- themes that Book of the Month has gravitated towards in recent months. Recall Imposter Syndrome and Honey Girl respectively. Some are referring to it as a rom com but I definitely think it’s more contemporary where newly married couple  Cyrus and Asha must navigate the complexities of a tech start up and the fame that comes with it. Not only is it blurbed by previous Book of the Month authors Susie Yang (White Ivy) and Rumaan Alam (Leave the World Behind), it would be a perfect pick for book clubs with its exploration of what its like to run a startup, gender issues in tech and personal relationships. You should definitely check this one out, Book of the Month pick or not.

Historical Fiction

Island Queen by Vanessa Riley

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsIsland Queen by Vanessa Riley
Published by William Morrow on July 6, 2021
Pages: 592
Goodreads

A remarkable, sweeping historical novel based on the incredible true life story of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, a free woman of color who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies. 
Born into slavery on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, Doll bought her freedom—and that of her sister and her mother—from her Irish planter father and built a legacy of wealth and power as an entrepreneur, merchant, hotelier, and planter that extended from the marketplaces and sugar plantations of Dominica and Barbados to a glittering luxury hotel in Demerara on the South American continent.
Vanessa Riley’s novel brings Doll to vivid life as she rises above the harsh realities of slavery and colonialism by working the system and leveraging the competing attentions of the men in her life: a restless shipping merchant, Joseph Thomas; a wealthy planter hiding a secret, John Coseveldt Cells; and a roguish naval captain who will later become King William IV of England.
From the bustling port cities of the West Indies to the forbidding drawing rooms of London’s elite, Island Queen is a sweeping epic of an adventurer and a survivor who answered to no one but herself as she rose to power and autonomy against all odds, defying rigid eighteenth-century morality and the oppression of women as well as people of color. It is an unforgettable portrait of a true larger-than-life woman who made her mark on history.

This beautiful and epic historical fiction does not come out until the beginning of July, but I think it has potential as an early release. Vanessa Riley is known for her romance novels, especially her historical romance, but in Island Queen, Riley dives deep in a sweeping historical fiction that I think should be on everyone’s radar. Set in the 18th century, Riley’s masterpiece follows the very real historical figure, Dorthy Kirwan Thomas, a former slave in the Caribbean, she went on to become an entrepreneur and business woman who worked for nearly two decades to free her immediate and extended family members. In that sense, it reminds me of recent Book of the Month selections such as Libertie by Kailyn Greenidge and The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare. Richly detailed and well researched, Island Queen brings to life a woman of history that fought for her autonomy and made a name for herself in a world that tried to force her into obscurity.

Literary Fiction

Dear Miss Metropolitan by Carolyn Ferrel

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsDear Miss Metropolitan by Carolyn Ferrell
Published by Henry Holt & Company on July 6, 2021
Pages: 432
Goodreads

Introducing an extraordinary and original writer whose first novel explores the intersections of grief and rage, personal strength and healing--and what we owe one another.
Fern seeks refuge from her mother's pill-popping and boyfriends via Soul Train; Gwin finds salvation in the music of Prince much to her congregation's dismay and Jesenia, miles ahead of her classmates at her gifted and talented high school, is a brainy and precocious enigma. None of this matters to Boss Man, the monster who abducts them and holds them captive in a dilapidated house in Queens.
On the night they are finally rescued, throngs line the block gawking and claiming ignorance. Among them is lifetime resident Miss Metropolitan, advice columnist for the local weekly, but how could anyone who fancies herself a "newspaperwoman" have missed a horror story unfolding right across the street? And why is it that only two of the three girls--now women--were found? The mystery haunts the two remaining "victim girls" who are subjected to the further trauma of becoming symbols as they continuously adapt to their present and their unrelenting past.
Like Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys, Ferrell's Dear Miss Metropolitan gives voice to characters surviving unimaginable tragedy. The story is inventively revealed before, during, and after the ordeal in this singular and urgent novel.

Thia dark, gritty, literary novel is reminiscent of books like Girl A and What Comes After, examining the experience of three abducted women and the aftermath of their escape. Drawing on the very real, Ariel Castro kidnappings in Cleveland, the author takes true events and manipulates them into a fictional story set in New York that explores the struggles of recovering from trauma, how the media sensationalizes harrowing experiences, and the rolea race and racism play in all of it. Carolyn Ferrell draws on her own experience of being black in America to analyze issues of class, race and sexism. A notable aspect of the story is it’s stream of consciousness style writing, that some early readers have found jarring and difficult to follow in places. Regardless, I think Miss Metropolitan should be on the radar of any true crime lover, with it’s bleak tone and stylistically complex prose. Roxanne Gay has provided it a ringing endorsement, which gives it an honest shot at being a July Book of the Month pick.

Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsEveryone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily R. Austin
Published by Atria Books on July 6, 2021
Pages: 256
Goodreads

This hilarious and profound debut for fans of Mostly Dead Things and Goodbye, Vitamin follows a morbidly anxious young woman who stumbles into a job as a receptionist at a Catholic church and becomes obsessed with her predecessor’s mysterious death.
Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.
In between trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass, hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, and erecting a dirty dish tower in her crumbling apartment, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend. She can’t bear to ignore the kindly old woman, who has been trying to reach her friend through the church inbox, but she also can’t bring herself to break the bad news. Desperate, she begins impersonating Grace via email. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace’s death, Gilda may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.
A delightful blend of warmth, deadpan humor, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration—and the expiration of those you love—is the only certainty.

In the same vein of darkly satirical novels such as Severance and How Not To Die Alone, Austin’s debut transforms a rather grim story into a humor-filled and almost heartwarming tale. Our protagonist is Gilda, an atheist and a lesbian who felt inadequate at her last job as a bookseller and definitely feels even more out of place when a string of coincides land her a job as a receptionist at a Catholic church. Struggling with mental illness Gilda is surrounded by a loveable cast of characters and might even find a place to belong. Austin’s darkly humorous prose combined with a character driven, intricately plotted style promises to propel her debut to the top of many summer reading lists. As an atheist who struggles with anxiety myself, I for one, cannot wait to read it and maybe, with its blurb from Andrew David MacDonald (We Were Vikings), we just might see it as a July pick. 

Mystery/Thrillers

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsSurvive the Night by Riley Sager
Published by Dutton Books on June 29, 2021
Pages: 336
Goodreads

It's November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana's in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.
Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it's guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it's to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she's named after, Charlie has her doubts. There's something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn't seem to want Charlie to see inside the car's trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she's sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie's suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there's nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing--survive the night.

I don’t know that Riley Sager’s forthcoming novel will be a main pick, but I would be really surprised if it was not an add on. The last couple of months we have seen popular repeat authors offered as adds ons; think: Ready Player Two, Project Hail Mary, and Good Company, to name a few. In his latest novel, Sager continues his dive into the tropes of thriller novels with Survive the Night is Sager’s take on the classic trope of “woman trapped in a car with a complete stranger” with a slight twist of course! Some might worry that because the book does not release until the end of June that is won’t be a June pick, but Home Before Dark was not released to the world until June 30th last year and it was a June Book of the Month pick so chance are high I think. Featuring an unreliable narrator, a compressed twenty-four hour timeline and plenty turns, having read this one already I will say that lovers of books like A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin will love this one. Furthermore, not only is Sager a Book of the Month favorite but his book is also blurbed by various past authors including: Taylor Adams (No Exit), May Cobb (The Hunting Wives), and Erin A. Craig (House of Salt and Sorrow). Fear not to those who ache for a matching set of Sager novels, I think it will be a Jun or July pick for sure.

Falling by TJ Newman

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsFalling by T.J. Newman
Published by Avid Reader Press / Simon Schuster on July 6, 2021
Pages: 304
Goodreads

You just boarded a flight to New York.
There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.
What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.
For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.
The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.
Enjoy the flight.

This debut is being hailed as the thriller of the summer and for good reason. When a pilot is given the choice between saving his family or saving the 149 people aboard the plane he is piloting. It’s a straightforward premise and I for one enjoy thrillers that feature impossible choices, with consequences regardless of what the outcome is. Featuring well developed characters, multiple POVs, and well crafted dialogue- this is one you don’t want to pass up. Falling is getting so much attention in all corners of bookish social media as one of the most anticipated releases of July. While Falling is not blurbed by any previous Book of the Month authors, it has been receiving rave reviews from the likes of Publisher Weekly and Library Journal. Personally, I cannot wait to read it and would love to see it as a Book of the Month pick. 

For Your Own Good by Smanatha Downing

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsFor Your Own Good by Samantha Downing
Published by Berkley on July 20, 2021
Pages: 384
Goodreads

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest.
He says his wife couldn't be more proud—though no one has seen her in a while.
Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on pushing these kids to their full academic potential.
All he wants is for his colleagues—and the endlessly meddlesome parents—to stay out of his way.
It's really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost.
USA Today bestselling author Samantha Downing is back with her latest sneaky thriller set at a prestigious private school—complete with interfering parents, overeager students, and one teacher who just wants to teach them all a lesson…

I have seen this one on quite a few prediction posts and by all accounts, it makes sense. Downing’s latest is a dive into dark academia, a popular sub-genre for Book of the MOnth lately in the form of books like The Maidens and The Secret HIstory. At the center of the story is Teddy Crutcher who has received the award for Belmont Academy’s Teacher of the Year. When his parents and colleagues start digging into his personal life after the death of an academy parent and the alleged disappearance of his wife. For Your Own Good features a large cast of characters, dark humor, and plenty of twists and turns. It is also blurbed by a handful of previously chosen Book of the Month authors including: Sarah Pekannen (The Wife Between Us) and Sarah Pinborough (Behind Her Eyes). If you are looking for a solid thriller this summer, you definitely need to pick this one up. 

Romance

The Devil and the Heiress by Harper St. George

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsThe Devil and the Heiress (The Gilded Age Heiresses, #2) by Harper St. George
Published by Berkley Books on June 29, 2021
Pages: 304
Goodreads


Sparks fly when a runaway heiress bargains with a devilish rogue to escape a marriage of convenience.

No one would guess that beneath Violet Crenshaw's ladylike demeanor lies the heart of a rebel. American heiresses looking to secure English lords must be on their best behavior, but Violet has other plans. She intends to flee London and the marriage her parents have arranged to become a published author--if only the wickedly handsome earl who inspired her most outrageously sinful character didn't insist on coming with her.
Christian Halston, Earl of Leigh, has a scheme of his own: escort the surprisingly spirited dollar princess north and use every delicious moment in close quarters to convince Violet to marry him. Christian needs an heiress to rebuild his Scottish estate but the more time he spends with Violet, the more he realizes what he really needs is her--by his side, near his heart, in his bed.
Though Christian's burning glances offer unholy temptation, Violet has no intention of surrendering herself or her newfound freedom in a permanent deal with the devil. It's going to take more than pretty words to prove this fortune hunter's love is true....

I still have hopes of this one being a pick either as an add on or as the main romance pick for July. It doesn’t come out until the end of June and my sense is The Heiress Gets A Duke sold out quickly enough that Book of the Month could reasonably expect George’s companion novel to do just as well. The Devil and Heiress follows August’s sister Violet in her efforts to escape her overbearing parents and the arranged marriage they’ve planned for her. Then there is Christian, who desperate for money to save his manor and that’s when fate drops in. Christian agrees to escort Victoria to a writing retreat, with plans to stop at his manor for a quick wedding. While I don’t love a kidnapping trope, from what I can tell George handles it well. While this one is not blurbed by previous Book of the Month authors, I have hope that because the first book was so we’ll received, the second one might make an appearance as an add on for June.

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsWhile We Were Dating (The Wedding Date, #6) by Jasmine Guillory
Published by Berkley Books on July 13, 2021
Pages: 336
Goodreads

Two people realize that it's no longer an act when they veer off-script in this sizzling romantic comedy by New York Times bestselling author Jasmine Guillory.
Ben Stephens has never bothered with serious relationships. He has plenty of casual dates to keep him busy, family drama he's trying to ignore and his advertising job to focus on. When Ben lands a huge ad campaign featuring movie star Anna Gardiner, however, it's hard to keep it purely professional. Anna is not just gorgeous and sexy, she's also down to earth and considerate, and he can't help flirting a little...
Anna Gardiner is on a mission: to make herself a household name, and this ad campaign will be a great distraction while she waits to hear if she's booked her next movie. However, she didn't expect Ben Stephens to be her biggest distraction. She knows mixing business with pleasure never works out, but why not indulge in a harmless flirtation?
But their lighthearted banter takes a turn for the serious when Ben helps Anna in a family emergency, and they reveal truths about themselves to each other, truths they've barely shared with those closest to them.
When the opportunity comes to turn their real-life fling into something more for the Hollywood spotlight, will Ben be content to play the background role in Anna's life and leave when the cameras stop rolling? Or could he be the leading man she needs to craft their own Hollywood ending?

Following Ben Stephens, who readers will recognize as Theo’s brother from The Wedding Party, Guillory’s latest rom com is as much for dedicated fans as it is for those looking to give Guillory a try. While it is the sixth installment of Guillory’s Wedding Date series, it can be read as a standalone without too much trouble. Heartwarming, steamy and upbeat, While We Were Dating tackles issues of mental health and parental abandonment and features a believable romance. Its part road trip, which inevitably leads to forced proximity as well a fake relationship which results in very real feelings. There is a lot to love from Guillory’s latest romance. Not only is it culturally diverse but it also features differently abled characters and plenty of chemistry. While it might seem like a long shot that While We Were Dating is a pick because the other books in the series, other than The Proposal, haven’t been selections, I think in light of past selections like Queen of Nothing by Holly Black and Still Me by Jojo Moyes, its not impossible.

Sci Fi/Fantasy

She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsShe Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor, #1) by Shelley Parker-Chan
Published by Tor Books on July 20, 2021
Pages: 416
Goodreads

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother's identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu uses takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother's abandoned greatness.
Mulan meets The Song of Achilles; an accomplished, poetic debut of war and destiny, sweeping across an epic alternate China.

Book of the Month has been picking more genre fiction lately, which makes me think that an epic, historical fantasy could be a pick in the coming months. For July, I think She Who Became The Sun is a strong candidate. The start of a thrilling new duology, She Who Became the Sun follows the unnamed second daughter of the Zhu family who takes on her brother’s identity to pursue his opportunities and renown in a patriarchal society set in the time of the Red Turban Rebellion of 1345 China. The novel is described as grimdark historical fantasy, think books like The Poppy War and Black Leopard, Red Wolf. Chan gracefully ruminates on the concept of gender identity and autonomy within her bleak narrative. It also features strong world building, atmospheric and lyrical writing, and compelling characters. As far as Book of the Month is concerned, Chan’s debut is blurbed by Alix E. Harrow (Ten Thousand Doors of January) and S.A. Chakraborty (City of Brass). She Who Became the Sun is a historical fantasy not to be missed, regardless of whether it makes the cut for Book of the Month.

Young Adult

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsSmall Favors by Erin A. Craig
Published by Delacorte Press on July 27, 2021
Pages: 480
Goodreads

Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range--five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.
As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents' deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.

Many will recognize this YA author from her debut, House of Salt and Sorrows which was a dark reimagining of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Well Craig is at it again with another fairytale-like story that has been described as The Village meets Needful Things- yes please! Set in the cloistered town of Amity surrounded by a potentially haunted forest, Small Favors promises plenty of tension, atmosphere and just the right amount of creepiness. Aside from Craig being a repeat author for Book of the Month, it tackles themes of how our deepest desires shape us and asks if we really know the people that we love. As beautiful as it is haunting, Small Favors has the strong sense of place of books like When the Stars Go Dark by Paul McClain and The Whisper Man by Alex North. I know Book of the Month doesn’t always pick YA books as add ons or main picks, but I think this is a good option both in subject matter and thematically.

Honorable Mentions

I’m trying a new thing this month where I include books that I had on my list but that I ultimately decided to cut because the more I researched them, the less likely it seemed Book of the Month would pick them. However, I still think they should be on your radar. Let me know what you think of this new addition and if you want short blurbs of these as well in the future!

The Husbands by Chandler Baker (Thriller

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsThe Husbands by Chandler Baker
Published by Flatiron Books on August 3, 2021
Pages: 352
Goodreads

"Chandler Baker, queen of the feminist thriller, has delivered once again! The Husbands is a poignant exploration of what it would take for women to have it all. --Sally Hepworth, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Sister
Chandler Baker, the New York Times bestselling author of Whisper Network, is back with The Husbands, a novel that asks: to what lengths will a woman go for a little more help from her husband?
Nora Spangler is a successful attorney but when it comes to domestic life, she packs the lunches, schedules the doctor appointments, knows where the extra paper towel rolls are, and designs and orders the holiday cards. Her husband works hard, too... but why does it seem like she is always working so much harder?
When the Spanglers go house hunting in Dynasty Ranch, an exclusive suburban neighborhood, Nora meets a group of high-powered women--a tech CEO, a neurosurgeon, an award-winning therapist, a bestselling author--with enviably supportive husbands. When she agrees to help with a resident's wrongful death case, she is pulled into the lives of the women there. She finds the air is different in Dynasty Ranch. The women aren't hanging on by a thread.
But as the case unravels, Nora uncovers a plot that may explain the secret to having-it-all. One that's worth killing for. Calling to mind a Stepford Wives gender-swap, The Husbands imagines a world where the burden of the "second shift" is equally shared--and what it may take to get there.

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad (Political Fiction)

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsWhat Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad
Published by Knopf Publishing Group on July 20, 2021
Pages: 256
Goodreads


From the widely acclaimed, best-selling author of American War, a new novel--beautifully written, unrelentingly dramatic, and profoundly moving--that looks at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child.

"It is one thing to put a human face on a migrant crisis and another to do so in so compelling a way that a reader simply cannot put your book down. --Gish Jen, author of The Resisters

More bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island. Another overfilled, ill-equipped, dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of its too many passengers: Syrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, all of them desperate to escape untenable lives back in their homelands. But miraculously, someone has survived the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who is soon rescued by V�nna. V�nna is a teenage girl, who, despite being native to the island, experiences her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain. And though V�nna and Amir are complete strangers, though they don't speak a common language, V�nna is determined to do whatever it takes to save the boy.
In alternating chapters, we learn about Amir's life and how he came to be on the boat, and we follow him and the girl as they make their way toward safety. What Strange Paradise is the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world. But it is also a story of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair--and about the way each of those things can blind us to reality.

The Rehearsals by Annette Christie (Romane)

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsThe Rehearsals by Annette Christie
on July 13, 2021
Pages: 320
Goodreads

In this delightful and romantic debut novel―with a Groundhog Day twista couple calls off their wedding after a disastrous rehearsal dinner, only to wake up the next morning trapped in a time loop. Together.

Two people. One wedding. No end in sight.

“Irresistible . . . A fun, yet thought-provoking, rom-com.” —Elin Hilderbrand, author of Golden Girl
"A clever, enchanting story about finding our way back to ourselves and to those we truly love." —Sarah Haywood, author of The Cactus
"Christie writes with honesty, heart, and a great deal of charm." —Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient
Megan Givens and Tom Prescott are heading into what is supposed to be their magical wedding weekend on beautiful San Juan Island. But with two difficult families, ten years of history, and all too many secrets, things quickly go wrong. After a disastrous rehearsal dinner they vow to call the whole thing off—only to wake up the next morning stuck together in a time loop. Are they really destined to relive the worst day of their lives, over and over? And what happens if their wedding day does arrive?
A funny, romantic, and big-hearted debut novel, The Rehearsals imagines what we might do if given a second chance at life and at love—and what it means to finally get both right.

Razorblade Tears by SA Cosby

What’s In The Box!– July 2021 PredictionsRazorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
Published by Flatiron Books on July 6, 2021
Pages: 336
Goodreads

A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance.
Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid.
The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss.
Derek’s father Buddy Lee was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed his father was a criminal. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.
Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.
Provocative and fast-paced, S.A. Cosby's Razorblade Tears is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change - and maybe even redemption.

What About You?

What do you think of my predictions? If any of these are picks what will you be adding to your box? Let me know in the comments!

16 responses to “What’s In The Box!– July 2021 Predictions

  1. Sarah Catt

    I REALLY hope Survive the Night is an add-on. I can’t wait to read it. But I need it to be a main pick because I’ve already got two add-ons picked out?

  2. Beth

    I’ve never really thought of myself as a “diverse” reader: I read more for plot and characters than diversity points. That being said, of your list, thanks for calling my attention to Dear Miss Metropolitan, which sounds fantastic, as does Everyone In This Room Will One Day Be Dead. I had also not been aware of Shoulder Season, which I would MOST DEFINITELY pick up. I think Night Bitch is still a little too whack for BOTM, but it’s on my radar. And of course, I’d like both the new Sager and Downing thrillers. I have pre-ordered a special edition of Small Favors because I was so in love with The House of Salt and Sorrows. While the rest of the books you have mentioned don’t appeal to me AT ALL, I am now optimistic that perhaps July won’t necessarily be a skip month for me, either.

  3. Ann

    Sorry to say, none of these are doing it for me.

    I have so many good titles I just picked up at my local library. Currently reading: Daisy Jones & The Six. I have When The Stars Go Dark, Seven Days In June, Great Circle, Same Kind of Different As Me & Olympus, Texas in a TBR pile on a bedside table.

    I was used to slower library service with the Pandemic. We had curbside service. Now the library is fully open again and I am happy to report service is back to normal, which means all my requests came pouring in at once. It was fun to browse the stacks again.

    As you can see, I am a little behind on some of these. But some are brand new! So I may skip BOTM for July.

    I love reading the predictions though!!!

    • stuckint

      So exciting to hear your library is open. As a librarian myself, I can attest to the fact that your librarians are probably just as excited!

  4. lindsey

    I love the honorable mentions – the more books, the better! I would appreciate ‘short blurbs’ to go with them as I don’t really trust summaries from publishers anymore and I usually just read your summaries anyway!

    • stuckint

      Well that’s flattering! I’m happy to include a few sentences about each book! Thanks for the suggestion!

  5. Hannah M Wallace

    Always love reading your predictions. Great idea to add the honorable mentions category — I’m so excited for The Husbands!

  6. Terre Max

    I am new to reading What’s In The Box predictions but am already interested in so many of the books you have listed above. Razor blade Tears and Survive The Night would be my choices.

    • stuckint

      Welcome! It’s definitely my favorite post to do and takes up a lot of time but it’s so fun exploring all the possibilities and really diving into what’s coming out each month.

  7. Really wishing for The Forest of Vanishing Stars, and She Who Became the Sun.

    Other books I would get or immediately add to my TBR would be:
    Shoulder Season
    The Husbands
    Everyone in This Room Will Someday be Dead
    Miss Metropolitan

  8. Samantha

    Falling is fantastic! I was able to get an ARC and devoured it. Definitely a must-read for the summer!

    Quite a few sound good, but I’m really interested in Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead! It sounds very intriguing!

    • stuckint

      I recently finished Falling- you can read my review on the blog. It was really good.

      I’m also excited for Everyone In This Room Will Some Be Dead as well. It sounds hilarious.

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