What’s In The Box!- September 2021 Predictions

Posted August 22, 2021 by stuckint in Book Subscriptions, BOTM / 17 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.

A few observations about my list: First, there are a lot of repeat authors on this list. September is a HUGE publishing month every year as we gear up for Fall and November awards season. Second, there is no YA or nonfiction on this list. This was mostly because Book of the Month has moved away from picking these genres regularly. Finally, you’ll notice that my honorable mentions don’t have explanations again this month. All I can say is that its incredibly smoky here and it. is. exhausting! So here we are. Next month will definitely have short explanations, but I needed to take it easy this go around.

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 September and bring some under the radar titles to your attention.

Contemporary Fiction

LA Weather by María Amparo Escandón

L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón
Published by Flatiron Books Pages: 336

FORECAST: Storm clouds are on the horizon in this fun, fast-paced novel of an affluent Mexican-American family from the author of the #1 Los Angeles Times bestseller Esperanza’s Box of Saints.
L.A. is parched, dry as a bone, and all Oscar, the weather-obsessed patriarch of the Alvarado family, desperately wants is a little rain. He’s harboring a costly secret that distracts him from everything else. His wife, Keila, desperate for a life with a little more intimacy and a little less Weather Channel, feels she has no choice but to end their marriage. Their three daughters—Claudia, a television chef with a hard-hearted attitude; Olivia, a successful architect who suffers from gentrification guilt; and Patricia, a social media wizard who has an uncanny knack for connecting with audiences but not with her lovers—are blindsided and left questioning everything they know. Each will have to take a critical look at her own relationships and make some tough decisions along the way.
With quick wit and humor, Maria Amparo Escandón follows the Alvarado family as they wrestle with impending evacuations, secrets, deception, and betrayal, and their toughest decision yet: whether to stick together or burn it all down.

I included this title last month as a potential early release but still think it has potential as a September pick. LA Weather follows a Mexican-American family, the Alvarados, as they hope for rain and are rocked by the revelation that Kellia wants a divorce from her husband Oscar. Now everyone, including Oscar and Kellia’s three daughters must wrestle with the paradigm shattering news. It’s a story about family and how major events force us to examine so many aspects of our personal lives. It’s also a story about environmentalism, how our personal and professional relationships shape us, and what it means to be family when everything feels like it’s falling apart. While LA Weather is not blurbed by any previous Book of the Month author, it’s caustic wit and loveable characters make it a strong contender for an early August release or September pick. Let’s not forget that it has rave reviews from a plethora of ownvoices reviewers and from major review sources like Publisher Weekly and Kirkus.

The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo

The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo
Published by Berkley Books Pages: 320

When a woman travels to Nigeria to attend the funeral of the father she never knew, she meets her extravagant family for the first time, a new and inspiring love interest, and discovers parts of herself she didn't know were missing, from Jane Igharo, the acclaimed author of Ties That Tether.
Hannah Bailey has never known her father, the Nigerian entrepreneur who had a brief relationship with her white mother. Because of this, Hannah has always felt uncertain about part of her identity. When her father dies, she's invited to Nigeria for the funeral. Though she wants to hate the man who abandoned her, she's curious about who he was and where he was from. Searching for answers, Hannah boards a plane to Lagos, Nigeria.
In Banana Island, one of Nigeria's most affluent areas, Hannah meets the Jolades, her late father's prestigious family--some who accept her and some who think she doesn't belong. The days leading up to the funeral are chaotic, but Hannah is soon shaped by secrets that unfold, a culture she never thought she would understand or appreciate, and a man who steals her heart and helps her to see herself in a new light.

From the same author of the previous Book of the Month pick, The Ties That Tether, comes another heartfelt contemporary novel about identity and belonging. The story features Hannah, who travels to Lagos, Nigeria for the funeral of the father she never knew. During this journey of discovery, she meets a family she never knew, finds love in the least likely of places and learns about a culture she never thought she could relate to. Not only is Jane Igharo a repeat author, but Sweet Remedy is blurbed by previous Book of the Month authors Helen Hoang (The Kiss Quotient series) and Kaia Alderson (Sister in Arms). The Sweetest Remedy promises more of what made Igharo’s debut so beloved including: strong, audacious, and capable female protagonists and brings in elements of much beloved culturally diverse contemporaries like Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asian series.

Historical Fiction

Matrix by Lauren Groff

Matrix by Lauren Groff
Published by Riverhead Books Pages: 272

One of our best American writers, Lauren Groff returns with her exhilarating first new novel since the groundbreaking Fates and Furies.
Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease.
At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions. Marie, born the last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, is determined to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. But in a world that is shifting and corroding in frightening ways, one that can never reconcile itself with her existence, will the sheer force of Marie's vision be bulwark enough?
Equally alive to the sacred and the profane, Matrix gathers currents of violence, sensuality, and religious ecstasy in a mesmerizing portrait of consuming passion, aberrant faith, and a woman that history moves both through and around. Lauren Groff's new novel, her first since Fates and Furies, is a defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world.

I have never read a novel by Lauren Groff, but given the success of her previous works like Fate and Furies as well as Florida, Matrix seems like a strong potential pick. Set in 12th century England, Groff’s fist novel since Fates and Furies follows Marie de France. After being deemed unfit for life at court she is essentially exiled to a crumbling English abby full of starving and impoverished nuns. Throughout the course of the novel, Groff tackles prescient issues such as feminism, poverty, obsession and what it means to be human. With comps to other Book of the Month selections like Unsheltered by Barabara Kingsolver and Circe by Madeline Miller (more for the feminist angle than anything to do with mythology), I think it has a strong chance of being a Book of the Month pick, even though some might argue that Groff may just be a little too big for Book of the Month these days. Not only is Groff a repeat author, but Matrix is blurbed by past Book of the Month authors Brit Bennett (The Mothers, The Vanishing Half) and Emma Donoghue (The Wonder).

Palmares by Gayl Jones

Palmares by Gayl Jones
Published by Beacon Press Pages: 504

Gayl Jones' long-awaited novel about the last of the seven fugitive slave settlements in colonial Brazil in the 17th century.
This extraordinarily powerful narrative is Gayl Jones' long-awaited fifth novel. Intricate and compelling, Palmares is set in the 17th century on the last of the seven fugitive slave settlements in colonial Brazil. Combining her mastery of language with her unique brand of mythology and magical realism, Jones reimagines the historical novel.
Gayl Jones has been described as one of the great literary writers of the 20th century; the best American novelist whose name you may not know. Originally discovered & championed by Toni Morrison, Jones published several novels in the 1980s and 1990s before personal tragedy caused her to close herself off from the world. Now, for the first time in 21 years, Jones is ready to publish again.

So there I was one day, browsing through some galley lists and I saw Palmares come up. Jones’ first novel in twenty two years follows a slave girl who comes of age on a Portuguese plantation in 17th century Brazil. Especially due to Book of the Month’s ongoing effort to highlight diverse voices, with its exploration of slavery, racism, and what it means to truly be free, it seems quite possible as a selection. It is getting compared to some amazing titles including How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang, The Mercies by Kiran Milwood Hargrave, and The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. While it’s not blurbed by any previous Book of the Month authors it has the same feeling as other BIPOC stories that Book of the Month has featured recently. Specifically, I’m thinking of novels like The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. and Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge. Regardless, Palmares is at the top of my TBR, whether Book of the Month selects it or not.

Literary Fiction

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Pages: 368

Beautiful World, Where Are You is a new novel by Sally Rooney, the bestselling author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends.
Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

I would be rather surprised if Sally Rooney’s newest novel isn’t a pick. Her last novel, Normal People was a main pick and quite popular when it was offered. However, the sense that I get from early reviews and marketing is that, upon closer inspection, it is quite the departure from her previous two novels. Beautiful World Where Are You focuses more on the relationships among a group of four friends and how they experience the world and one another; rather than zeroing in on one or two characters and how they grow throughout the novel. It is getting comps to various works by amazing authors, including: Brit Bennett and Hillary Mantel. While Sally Rooney has never been my thing, I know a lot of people are excited for it, so hopefully it makes the cut!

Fault Lines by Emily Itami

Fault Lines by Emily Itami
Published by Custom House Pages: 224

Combining the incisive intimacy of Sally Rooney with the sharp wit of Helen Fielding, a compulsively readable and astonishingly relatable debut novel about marriage, motherhood, love, self and the vibrant, surprising city that is modern Tokyo
Mizuki is a Japanese housewife. She has a hardworking husband, two adorable children, and a beautiful Tokyo apartment. It’s everything a woman could want, yet sometimes she wonders whether she would rather throw herself off the high-rise balcony than spend another evening not talking to her husband and hanging up laundry.
Then, one rainy night, she meets Kiyoshi, a successful restaurateur. In him, she rediscovers freedom, friendship, and the neon, electric pulse of the city she has always loved. But the further she falls into their relationship, the clearer it becomes that she is living two lives—and in the end, we can choose only one.
Funny, provocative, and startlingly honest, Fault Lines is for anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and asked, who am I and how did I get here? A bittersweet love story and a piercing portrait of female identity, it introduces Emily Itami as a debut novelist with astounding resonance and wit.

Itami’s debut is a literary examination of marriage, family, and truly knowing oneself. It follows Mizuki, a wife and mother of two living in Tokyo. On the outside, it appears that she has everything that she could ever want. But looks can be deceiving and the reality is, Mizuki is profoundly unhappy. Then she meets Kiyoshi, who reignites in her a passion and zest for life. But as she falls harder for Kiyoshi she careens towards a life altering choice. Kathy Wang, author of the Book of the Month selection Imposter Syndrome has described the novel as a mix of Sally Rooney and Murikami, commenting on familial and cultural expectations through the lense of impossible choices and heartbreak. It is also getting comparisons to previous Book of the Month titles like Grown Ups by Emma Jane Upsworth and All Adults Here by Emma Straub.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
Published by Scribner Pages: 640

Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.
Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.

All the Light We Cannot See was offered as an add on some time ago, so I am not sure how confident I am about Doerr’s newest being a pick, but its on my list anyway because it sounds very Book of the Month-ish. Feel free to use the adjective as needed. Doerr’s newest novel is a sweeping epic, following three characters in three very different and distinct time periods. All three characters are joined together by the Greek play of Aethon. The first thread follows young Anna, who lives just inside the city walls of Constantinople walls and reads the story of Aethon to her ailing sister during the famous siege of the great city. Fast forward five hundred years to Zeno who, in an Idaho library, directs a play of Athenon with five young children while a bomb is hidden in the stacks by a troubled young man. Finally, fast forward to the future where Konstance is copying down the story of Aethon based on the memories of how her father told it to her. With comps to epics like Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, readers are in store for a lush, vivid and immersive novel that will leave you thinking long after you have turned the last page.


The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell
Published by Atria Books Pages: 416

2017: 19 year old Tallulah is going out on a date, leaving her baby with her mother, Kim.
Kim watches her daughter leave and, as late evening turns into night, which turns into early morning, she waits for her return. And waits.
The next morning, Kim phones Tallulah's friends who tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a party at a house in the nearby woods called Dark Place.
She never returns.
2019: Sophie is walking in the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started work as a head-teacher when she sees a note fixed to a tree.
'DIG HERE' . . .
A cold case, an abandoned mansion, family trauma and dark secrets lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell's remarkable new novel.

Jewel has been a selection numerous times and her novels are generally popular. Her latest features a missing young couple and the young writer who might just be able to find them after discovering a note in the creepy woods behind her cabin. As someone who loves eerie, wooded locales, the premise of this one intrigues me. Told through three alternating timelines, the mystery is amped up by the constantly shifting viewpoints, as the reader tries to make sense of exactly what’s happening. Featuring ameteur sleuths, rich atmosphere, and a missing persons case, Jewel’s latest offering feels right at home with Book of the Month’s other mysteries like The Turn of Key and The Broken Girls. Not only is Jewel a favorite of Book of the Month, but her newest novel is blurbed by Book of the Month author Megan Collins (The Winter Sister), Sarah Pekkanen, and Lucey Foley.

Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan

Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Published by Forge Books Pages: 336

The next thrilling standalone novel by USA Today bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan.
Everyone knows Lily Atwood—and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all—fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret.
Her own.
Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips—but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he—or she—know the truth?
Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world—and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.
How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?

Secrets, the threat of losing everything, someone knowing just a little too much all characterize Her Perfect LIfe, a thriller that  seems like a solid Book of the Month pick. Ryan’s forthcoming novel follows television reporter Lily Atwood, who relies on a particular source for many of her stories. But when her soure starts feeding her information about her own life things start unraveling. With comparisons to previous Book of the Month selections like The Night Swim by Megan Goldin, it has plenty of twists and turns as the reader attempts to unravel the mystery. Her Perfect Life is blurbed by previous Book of the Month authors Caitlin Warher (The Damage) and Julie Clark (Her Last Flight). While I don’t know that Her Perfect Life contributes anything new to the genre, it looks to be a solid page turner, if that’s what you’re looking for.  

My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jaytissa

My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa
Published by Berkley Publishing Pages: 384

Paloma thought her perfect life would begin once she was adopted and made it to America, but she’s about to find out that no matter how far you run, your past always catches up to you…
Ever since she was adopted from a Sri Lankan orphanage, Paloma has had the best of everything—schools, money, and parents so perfect that she fears she'll never live up to them.
Now at thirty years old and recently cut off from her parents’ funds, she decides to sublet the second bedroom of her overpriced San Francisco apartment to Arun, who recently moved from India. Paloma has to admit, it feels good helping someone find their way in America—that is until Arun discovers Paloma's darkest secret, one that could jeopardize her own fragile place in this country.
Before Paloma can pay Arun off, she finds him face down in a pool of blood. She flees the apartment but by the time the police arrive, there's no body—and no evidence that Arun ever even existed in the first place.
Paloma is terrified this is all somehow tangled up in the desperate actions she took to escape Sri Lanka so many years ago. Did Paloma’s secret die with Arun or is she now in greater danger than ever before?

Part immigration story and part psychological thriller, My Sweet Girl follows Paloma, adopted from Sri Lanka as a young girl, she never wanted for anything. Now over thirty years later, Paloma is trying to make her way in the world when she decides to sublet her apartment. Arun is an immigrant from India and Paloma is only trying to help. But then, Arun learns Paloma’s darkest secret. She has every intention of paying him off, only to come home and find him dead. Jayatissa weaves serious subjects into a fun plot, ranging from: Sri Lankin culture to the “white saviour complex” and what it was like for Paloma as an adoptee to live in a white and privileged world. Jayatissa is a fresh voice in the thriller genre and with Book of the Month trying to include plenty of debuts in their monthly selection, My Sweet Girl is a solid candidate. It is also blurbed by previous Book of the Month authors Riley Sager and Megan Collins (The Winter Sister)

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
Published by Henry Holt and Co. Pages: 480

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Liane Moriarty comes a novel that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest
The Delaney family love one another dearly—it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .
If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?
This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.
The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?
The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.
One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.
Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.

Moriarty’s latest novel, Apples Never Fall is a domestic thriller following the Delaney family. A mysterious woman named Savannah arrives on their doorstep after being assaulted by her boyfriend. When Joy Delaney goes missing, along with Savannah, the four Delaney siblings suspect their father but must decide how far they are willing to go in order to solve the mystery. Each has their own motives to protect their individual reputations and their family’s standing in the larger community. It gives me serious Not A Happy Family vibes, which for some will be a major selling point. In her signature, Moriarty interweaves into her engrossing prose, sharp and keen observations about family life and what it means to be human. It’s a story of the expectations that we place on ourselves and how we permit others to shape our dreams. For those who love Moriarty’s earlier work, Apples Never Fall is for you! Not only is Moriarty a repeat Book of the Month author, but Apples Never Fall is blurbed by previous Book of the Month author Jane Harper (The Survivors).


Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore

Portrait of a Scotsman (A League of Extraordinary Women, #3) by Evie Dunmore
Published by Jove Pages: 448

Going toe-to-toe with a brooding Scotsman is rather bold for a respectable suffragist, but when he happens to be one's unexpected husband, what else is an unwilling bride to do?
London banking heiress Hattie Greenfield wanted "just" three things in life:
1. Acclaim as an artist.2. A noble cause.3. Marriage to a young lord who puts the gentle in gentleman.
Why then does this Oxford scholar find herself at the altar with the darkly attractive financier Lucian Blackstone, whose murky past and ruthless business practices strike fear in the hearts of Britain's peerage? Trust Hattie to take an invigorating little adventure too far. Now she's stuck with a churlish Scot who just might be the end of her ambitions....
When the daughter of his business rival all but falls into his lap, Lucian sees opportunity. As a self-made man, he has vast wealth but holds little power, and Hattie might be the key to finally setting long-harbored political plans in motion. Driven by an old revenge, he has no room for his new wife's apprehensions or romantic notions, bewitching as he finds her.
But a sudden journey to Scotland paints everything in a different light. Hattie slowly sees the real Lucian and realizes she could win everything—as long as she is prepared to lose her heart.

The third installment in Dunmore’s League of Extraordinary Women, Portrait of a Scotman follows London heiress Hattie Greenfield who finds herself wedded to the dark and alluring Lucien Blackstone. Each has their own expectations for the other in their marriage and what it should be. When the couple takes an unexpected trip to Scotland things start to heat up between them and they both realize that they just might have feelings for the other. With Book of the Month picking Dunmore’s two previous novels in the series, I think it’s likely that the third installment will be a selection. It helps that Portrait of a Scotsman is blurbed by Emily Henry (Beach Read and The People We Meet On Vacation). If you haven’t picked up this series yet, I think those who adored The Heiress Gets A Duke by Harper St. George or The Bridgerton series will love Dunmore’s latest novel as well as the entire series. 

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
Published by Tordotcom Pages: 384

Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.
As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble, letting in the phantom that hungers for him.

I included three sci fi/fantasy picks on this list because I think they all should be on your radar. Summer Sons is one that I have been thinking about since receiving an advanced review copy some months ago. Mandelo’s debut is a sweltering southern gothic novel that appears to be a Frankenstein of a novel, getting comps to Fast and the Furious as well as The Secret History by Donna Tart. Our main character is Andrew, who is preparing to move in with his Vanderbeilt-matriculated graduate student boyfriend Eddie. However, before that can happen, Eddie dies by what most consider to be suicide. But Andrew isn’t convinced and sets out to uncover the truth of what happened. HIs search takes him into the dark world of academia as well as the drug riddled parties and street races that Eddie frequented. With LGBTQIA+ themes, a solid mystery, and enough gothic atmosphere to keep you up at night, Summer Sons needs to be on your radar. Furthermore, where Book of the Month is concerned, Mandelo’s debut is blurbed by past Book of the Month author Alix E. Harrow (The Ten Thousand Doors of January) and promises to be the perfect autumn read.

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik

The Last Graduate (The Scholomance, #2) by Naomi Novik
Published by Del Rey Books Pages: 400

A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik's groundbreaking crossover series.
At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year--and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules . . .
Praise for A Deadly Education
"The scholomance is the dark school of magic I've been waiting for, and its wise, witty, and monstrous heroine is one I'd happily follow anywhere--even into a school full of monsters."--Katherine Arden, New York Times bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale "Novik deliciously undoes expectations about magic schools, destined heroes, and family legacies. A gorgeous book about monsters and monstrousness, chockablock with action, cleverness, and wit."--#1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black
"A must-read . . . Novik puts a refreshingly dark, adult spin on the magical boarding school. . . . Readers will delight in the push-and-pull of El and Orion's relationship, the fantastically detailed world, the clever magic system, and the matter-of-fact diversity of the student body."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

I know there is some speculation about whether this will be a pick or not due to the controversy surrounding A Deadly Education and the author’s decision to do some revisions. However, I still think it has potential as a September pick. The Last Graduate kicks off where A Deadly Education left off and follows El Orion as she enters her final year at Scholomance and prepares for a ritual that only half her cohort will survive. The series on a whole is a gritty coming of age tale- a favorite among Book of the Month picks- and examines issues of sexism and inequality from the point of view of a strong female lead. Book of the Month has also been making an effort to include more genre fiction lately and, as a genre reader, I really appreciate it. While The Last Graduate is not blurbed by any previous Book of the Month authors, I could see them picking this title simply because of Novik’s popularity alone.

The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Book of Magic (Practical Magic, #2) by Alice Hoffman
Published by Simon Schuster Pages: 400

Master storyteller Alice Hoffman brings us the conclusion of the Practical Magic series in a spellbinding and enchanting final Owens novel brimming with lyric beauty and vivid characters.
The Owens family has been cursed in matters of love for over three-hundred years but all of that is about to change. The novel begins in a library, the best place for a story to be conjured, when beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the deathwatch beetle and knows she has only seven days to live. Jet is not the only one in danger—the curse is already at work.
A frantic attempt to save a young man’s life spurs three generations of the Owens women, and one long-lost brother, to use their unusual gifts to break the curse as they travel from Paris to London to the English countryside where their ancestor Maria Owens first practiced the Unnamed Art. The younger generation discovers secrets that have been hidden from them in matters of both magic and love by Sally, their fiercely protective mother. As Kylie Owens uncovers the truth about who she is and what her own dark powers are, her aunt Franny comes to understand that she is ready to sacrifice everything for her family, and Sally Owens realizes that she is willing to give up everything for love.
The Book of Magic is a breathtaking conclusion that celebrates mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, and anyone who has ever been in love.

I’m not sure Alice Hoffman’s final book in her Practical Magic series will be an early release as a September pick or be available as a pick in October, but I’m fairly certain that Book of the Month will offer it, especially because they have featured the other three books in the series either as main picks or add ons. Where Magic Lessons and Rules of Magic were prequels, The Book of Magic is a sequel to the original Practical Magic. When aunt Jet Owens hears the death beetle in a library, it’s clear that she only has a matter of days to live. Consequently, the Owen family sets out to break the curse that has haunted their family for centuries. Bringing together characters from previous books, as well as some new ones. Unlike some of the books on this list, I would recommend reading Hoffman’s other novels in the series before reading The Book of Magic. At the very least, I would recommend reading Practical Magic. In the conclusion to her much loved series, Hoffman explores issues of love, family, and what truly connects us. While it’s not blurbed by any previous Book of the Month authors, I’m confident that it will be available through Book of the Month just in time for Halloween.

Honorable Mentions

Harlem Shuffle by Colton Whitehead (Literary Fiction)

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
Published by Doubleday Pages: 336

"Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked..." To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parentsdon't approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it's still home.
Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time. Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn't ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn't askquestions, either.
Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa -- the "Waldorf of Harlem" -- and volunteers Ray's services as the fence. The heist doesn't go as planned. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.
Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he begins to see who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his shareof the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source forall your quality home furniture needs?

Assembly by Natasha Brown (Contemporary Fiction)

Assembly by Natasha Brown
Pages: 112

Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Go to college, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy an apartment. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.
The narrator of Assembly is a black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?
Assembly is a story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers.And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life. With a steely, unfaltering gaze, Natasha Brown dismantles the mythology of whiteness, lining up the debris in a neat row and walking away.

Summer Lights And Then Comes The Night by Jon Kalman Stefansson (Magical Realism)

Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night: A Novel by Jón Kalman Stefánsson
Published by HarperVia Pages: 320

From the “Icelandic Dickens (Irish Examiner),” a writer who “shares the elemental grandeur of Cormac McCarthy” (Times Literary Supplement), comes this profound and playful masterwork of literature—winner of the Icelandic Literature Prize and longlisted for France’s Prix Medicis Étrangere—that ponders the beauty and mystery of life and our deepest existential questions.
In small places, life becomes bigger.
Sometimes distance from the world’s tumult can open our hearts and our dreams. In a village of four hundred souls, the infinite light of an Icelandic summer makes its inhabitants want to explore, and the eternal night of winter lights up the magic of the stars.
The village becomes a microcosm of the age-old conflict between human desire and destiny, between the limits of reality and the wings of the imagination. With humor, poetry, and a tenderness for human weaknesses, Jon Kalman Stefánsson explores the question of why we live at all.

The Magician by Colm Toibin

The Magician by Colm Tóibín
Published by Scribner Pages: 512

Colm Tóibín’s new novel opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth century, where the boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable. Young Mann hides his artistic aspirations from his father and his homosexual desires from everyone. He is infatuated with one of the richest, most cultured Jewish families in Munich, and marries the daughter Katia. They have six children. On a holiday in Italy, he longs for a boy he sees on a beach and writes the story Death in Venice. He is the most successful novelist of his time, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, a public man whose private life remains secret. He is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler, whom he underestimates. His oldest daughter and son, leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement, share lovers. He flees Germany for Switzerland, France and, ultimately, America, living first in Princeton and then in Los Angeles.
The Magician is an intimate, astonishingly complex portrait of Mann, his magnificent and complex wife Katia, and the times in which they lived—the first world war, the rise of Hitler, World War II, the Cold War, and exile.

Dark Things I Adore by Katie Latarri

Dark Things I Adore by Katie Lattari
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark Pages: 416

"This vengeful tale that pits artistic genius against mental health and happiness will captivate fans of dark suspense." —Library Journal, STARRED review
A psychological thriller for fans of Lucy Foley and Liz Moore, Dark Things I Adore is a stunning Gone Girl-esque tale of atonement that proves that in the grasp of manipulative men, women may momentarily fall. But in the hands of fierce women, men will be brought to their knees.
Three campfire secrets. Two witnesses. One dead in the trees. And the woman, thirty years later, bent on making the guilty finally pay.
1988. A group of outcasts gather at a small, prestigious arts camp nestled in the Maine woods. They're the painters: bright, hopeful, teeming with potential. But secrets and dark ambitions rise like smoke from a campfire, and the truths they tell will come back to haunt them in ways more deadly than they dreamed.
2018. Esteemed art professor Max Durant arrives at his protégé's remote home to view her graduate thesis collection. He knows Audra is beautiful and brilliant. He knows being invited into her private world is a rare gift. But he doesn't know that Audra has engineered every aspect of their weekend together. Every detail, every conversation. Audra has woven the perfect web.
Only Audra knows what happened that summer in 1988. Max's secret, and the dark things that followed. And even though it won't be easy, Audra knows someone must pay.
A searing thriller of trauma, dark academia, complicity, and revenge, Dark Things I Adore unravels the realities behind campfire legends―the horrors that happen in the dark, the girls who become cautionary tales, and the guilty who go unpunished. Until now.

What About You?

What do you think of my list? What will you be picking if my guesses are correct? Did I forget any that you are hoping will be picks? Let me know in the comments!

17 responses to “What’s In The Box!- September 2021 Predictions

  1. Ann

    Wow!!!!! This is the first predictions list that has made me stand up and literally take note in a while.

    I have skipped 3 months of BOTM & even let my birthday coupon go in the process (I think they will allow me to use it next month). Nothing was speaking to me. I almost got Once There Were Wolves & will most likely read it at some point. I even read a book the author recommended: The Bass Rock, by Evie Wyld, that I really liked.

    So for September ?? ?? ?? I recently read Lauren Groff for the first time & really loved her writing. I read Florida, which was more a series of stories. I still need to read Fates and Furies. So Matrix seems like a good choice.

    Palmares intrigues me because my husband is Brazilian. So anything related is of interest. Colonial Brazil sounds fascinating and the country’s slaves history is of special interest because his grandfather was a descendant of a slave.

    Fault Line just sounds like an interesting story. I’ll check into the other further.

    Cloud Cuckoo Land is worth looking into. I never read All The Light We Cannot See, although I started it years ago. My daughter traveled recently to Normandy with her German family. That was interesting: her German husband and children and my grandson bought a D-Day cap, and D-Day is my daughter’s birthday. She loved the region so much, then she read the book and liked it. Also I like the cover (just saying!!).

    I’ve read most of the Alice Hoffman’s, but let’s face it, they are what I like to call “Bubble Gum” reads. And no offense to that; they have their place and can be a nice break from more serious books. I may pass on this one. I think I prefer Anne Rice type witches.

    Summer Light & Then Comes The Night looks so good. As does The Magician (& I see a Brazilian mother in the description!). These do not look like something BOTM would carry, but you never know. Their choices have tended to be lighter reads lately. Or thrillers.

    Love the Dark Things I Adore cover. And it feels more like BOTM.

    Thanks so much for this list!!!!!!!! I love it and really needed it this morning. I just dropped my youngest off for Fall semester UT Austin. It is the biggest enrollment in years and the Delta variant is rampant there (as it is everywhere). So lots to worry about. I NEED TO READ to take my mind off it all now that my nest is empty.

    I have 11 library books checked out. Many good titles. My mind is all over the place. Reading helps ground me!!!!!!! Or at least try.

  2. Jacqueline

    Alice Hoffman is not a “bubble gum” read. Try reading The World That We Knew, about a mother who sacrifices her own safety to get her daughter out of Germany during the Holocaust.

    • Ann

      Thanks, that sounds good. I read all genres, but especially love historical fiction. Along those lines, We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter was very good and Send For Me by Lauren Fox. My daughter lives in Rio & met some of Georgia Hunter’s relatives who told her about the book.

      What did you think of the movie of Practical Magic? I love Aidan Quinn. I most likely will read the latest, it just may not be my BOTM pick. Will order from the library.

      Again, no offense meant by “bubble gum,” just a lighter read among other books I tend to read. I recently read The Whispering House and enjoyed it. A lighter read as well.

  3. Kelly James

    Just a quick comment - I received an ARC of L.A. Weather and really disliked it. I gave it 2 stars out of 5. I’m posting my review on NetGalley and Goodreads today. Just one readers’ opinion, but the story was dull, the humor was invisible and I felt no connection with the characters. I guess the only thing laughable was the big secret the husband was hiding- which didn’t seem like much of a secret at all!

  4. Brianna

    I paused my account and I am supposed to be paring down my collection, but now I have a feeling I’ll be taking things off pause and filling a box, depending what the selections actually end up being. It would be nice to have the new Lauren Groff for a trip I’m taking in mid-September.

      • Brianna

        It’s under Account, then Membership. There should be an option to pause for three months. There’s a phone number if you want to cancel: 1-888-784-2670. Don’t quote because I never have leftover credits when I’m active, but I think your credits stay put when you pause and you have a set amount of time to use them when you cancel.

          • Ann

            Thank you. I am BFF too!

            The selections just haven’t grabbed me lately. Although sometimes I find I end up enjoying something outside my usual. I’m finding of late that the more popular books are not great. I missed completing last year’s reading challenge by one piece of a pie ?This time I am determined to complete it. 4 books to go, but the trick is, I still need a debut author!

      • Brianna Soloski

        As far as books that will grab you:

        Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
        The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Huge by Taylor Jenkins Reid (really, anything she writes is a winner)
        The Push by Ashley Audrain (this will check your debut box for 2021)
        Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

        • Ann

          The Push was great! What a surprise.

          Mexican Gothic a “boo” from me. The only thing good about that one was the cover.

          Evelyn Hugo was good. I love the way Reid weaves Easter Eggs into the other novels. Her books are fast reads.

  5. Cassandra

    I hope you’re doing okay and are in a safe place where the fire causing all the smoke cannot get to you!

    I’m not really feeling any of these books…except the Alice Hoffman sequel. I definitely expect it to be a BotM option in either September, as an early release, or October. I can’t wait to get it!

  6. Lesa

    Fingers crossed that some of these are September picks. Also would like Vera Kurian’s Never Saw Me Coming to be an add-on.

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