What’s In The Box!- January 2022 Predictions

Posted December 22, 2021 by stuckint in Book Subscriptions, BOTM / 8 Comments

Hey Stackers and welcome back to another Book of the Month Predictions post, the monthly post where I speculate what Book of the Month might be planning for their forthcoming selections. This post also functions as a “monthly preview” of new releases hitting shelves next month. I hope regardless of whether these are picks or not, you find a new read that you end up loving!

For January’s predictions, I included a few extra books in each category because so many of my guesses were carried over from last month. I also didn’t include that many early releases because I feel like January contains within itself a wealth of potential selections. It will make my February guesses a little more involved but I cannot wait to see what Book of the Month has in store for January!

Contemporary Fiction

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson 

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsBlack Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
Published by Ballantine Books on February 1, 2022
Pages: 400
Goodreads


In this moving debut novel, two estranged siblings must set aside their differences to deal with their mother's death and her hidden past--a journey of discovery that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California and ends with her famous black cake.

"At turns delightfully juicy and then stunningly wise, Black Cake is a winner."--Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising
In development as a Hulu original series produced by Marissa Jo Cerar, Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Films), and Kapital Entertainment
We can't choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become?In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett's death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child, challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage, and themselves.
Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor's true history, and fulfill her final request to "share the black cake when the time is right"? Will their mother's revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?
Charmaine Wilkerson's debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names, can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.

With comparisons to tons of previous Book of the Month selections as well as plenty of themes that Book of the Month likes to highlight, Black Cake is one of my early release picks on this list. The publisher has compared this one to novels like The Vanishing Half, The Girl With the Louding Voice, Ask Again Yes, and Searching for Sylvie Lee. It’s a debut, another point in its favor, about two estranged siblings who set aside their differences and come together when their mother dies. Together, they uncover the truth about their deceased parent and set out on a journey that takes them from the Caribbean all the way to London and it all begins with a strange and rather esoteric inheritance: a black cake. Combining themes of family, secrets, love, and identity, Black Cake is novel global in scope and heart warming in its delivery. I was chatting recently with another Book of the Month reader and we were talking about how Book the Month seems to be trending more towards more commercial fiction, which is fine because it narrows my search radius quite a bit when I’m considering titles for my list, but I really hope that they stick to their roots of featuring up and coming authors like Charmaine Wilkerson, whose title has been auctioned as a limited TV series. Beyond all the aforementioned clues, Black Cake is blurbed by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Mary Beth Keane, Naima Coster (What’s Mine and Yours), and Dawnie Walton (The Final Revival of Opal and Nev). Regardless of whether its a pick, if you are looking for book club potential for 2022, Black Cake should definitely be on your radar. 

Joan is Okay by Weike Wang

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsJoan Is Okay by Weike Wang
Published by Random House on January 18, 2022
Pages: 224
Goodreads

A witty, moving, piercingly insightful new novel about a marvelously complicated woman who can’t be anyone but herself, from the award-winning author of Chemistry
Joan is a thirtysomething ICU doctor at a busy New York City hospital. The daughter of Chinese parents who came to the United States to secure the American dream for their children, Joan is intensely devoted to her work, happily solitary, successful. She does look up sometimes and wonder where her true roots lie: at the hospital, where her white coat makes her feel needed, or with her family, who try to shape her life by their own cultural and social expectations.
Once Joan and her brother, Fang, were established in their careers, her parents moved back to China, hoping to spend the rest of their lives in their homeland. But when Joan’s father suddenly dies and her mother returns to America to reconnect with her children, a series of events sends Joan spiraling out of her comfort zone just as her hospital, her city, and the world are forced to reckon with a health crisis more devastating than anyone could have imagined.
Deceptively spare yet quietly powerful, laced with sharp humor, Joan Is Okay touches on matters that feel deeply resonant: being Chinese-American right now; working in medicine at a high-stakes time; finding one’s voice within a dominant culture; being a woman in a male-dominated workplace; and staying independent within a tight-knit family. But above all, it’s a portrait of one remarkable woman so surprising that you can’t get her out of your head.

From the same author as the previous Book of the Month pick Chemistry, I’ll be really surprised if Joan Is Okay isn’t a January pick or add on. Joan is a thirtysomething ICU physician at a busy New York City hospital. She’s a workaholic with little interest in having friends, let alone lovers, and her medical colleagues misread her dedication to work as ambition. The daughter of Chinese parents who immigrated to America to secure the American dream, Joan sometimes looks up and wonders where her true roots lie: at the hospital, where her white coat makes her feel needed, or with her family, who try to shape her life by their own social and cultural expectations. A series of events throw Joan’s life into chaos when her father dies and her work forces her to take a leave of absence in the name of work/life balance. Joan Is Okay introduces us to a marvelously complicated woman who can’t be anyone but herself.nNot only is Weike Wang a repeat author, but her latest novel is blurbed by Angie Kim (Miracle Creek), Lily King (Writers and Lovers), and Rachel Khong (Goodbye, Vitamin). I am excited to read Wang’s newest novel about another strong and independent woman, trying to find her place in the world. I hope you are too. 

Honor by Thrity Umrigar

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsHonor by Thrity Umrigar
Published by Algonquin Books on January 4, 2022
Pages: 336
Goodreads

In this riveting and immersive novel, bestselling author Thrity Umrigar tells the story of two couples and the sometimes dangerous and heartbreaking challenges of love across a cultural divide.
Indian American journalist Smita has returned to India to cover a story, but reluctantly: long ago she and her family left the country with no intention of ever coming back. As she follows the case of Meena—a Hindu woman attacked by members of her own village and her own family for marrying a Muslim man—Smita comes face to face with a society where tradition carries more weight than one’s own heart, and a story that threatens to unearth the painful secrets of Smita’s own past. While Meena’s fate hangs in the balance, Smita tries in every way she can to right the scales. She also finds herself increasingly drawn to Mohan, an Indian man she meets while on assignment. But the dual love stories of Honor are as different as the cultures of Meena and Smita themselves: Smita realizes she has the freedom to enter into a casual affair, knowing she can decide later how much it means to her.
In this tender and evocative novel about love, hope, familial devotion, betrayal, and sacrifice, Thrity Umrigar shows us two courageous women trying to navigate how to be true to their homelands and themselves at the same time.

This contemporary and complex novel just feels like a Book of the Month pick to me. In it, Thrity Umrigar tells the story of two couples and the sometimes dangerous and heartbreaking challenges of love across a cultural divide. There is Indian American journalist Smita, who has reluctantly returned to India to cover a story, having fled the country as a child with her family decades before . As she follows the case of Meena—a Hindu woman attacked by members of her own village and her own family for marrying a Muslim man—Smita comes face to face with a society where tradition reigns supreme and must wrestle with the truths it dregs up related to her own past. As Smita pours more and more of herself into Meena’s story, she also finds herself increasingly drawn to Mohan, an Indian man she meets while on assignment.  In this tender and evocative novel about love, hope, familial devotion, betrayal, and sacrifice, Thrity Umrigar shows readers two courageous women trying to navigate how to be true to their homelands and themselves at the same time. With comparisons to previous Book of the Month picks like The Leavers by Lisa Ko and A Woman Is no Man by Etaf Rum, it is also blurbed by previous Book of the Month author Rebecca Makkai (The Great Believers). It’s a book about two diverging love stories that tackles issues of race, class, and religion and would make a wonderful addition to any reader’s TBR. 

The Divorce Party by Laura Dave

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsThe Divorce Party by Laura Dave
Published by Penguin Books on January 18, 2022
Pages: 272
Goodreads

Sizzle Factor: SPF 50. A secret marriage, lies about affairs . . . even sex on the day of the divorce party (USA Today) a novel by the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller and Reese's Book Club Pick, The Last Thing He Told Me
Set in Hamptons high society, The Divorce Party features two women-one newly engaged and one at the end of her marriage-trying to answer the same question: when should you fight to save a relationship, and when should you let go? An insightful and funny multi-generational story, this deeply moving novel is sure to touch anyone whose heart has weathered an unexpected storm.

The Last Thing He Told Me felt like one of the breakout mysteries of 2021. A celebrity book club pick as well as a Book of the Month selection, I know readers are chomping at the bit to see what’s next. In Dave’s forthcoming novel, two women at the opposite ends of marriages are trying to answer the same question: When should you fight to save a relationship, and when should you begin to let go? On their 35th wedding anniversary, Gwyn Huntington and her husband Thomas invite friends and family over for a most unusual celebration. Their home, Huntington Hall, has been in the family for generations after surviving the Great Hurricane of 1938, which tore Montauk apart. But now, instead of celebrating their life there, Gwyn and Thomas are toasting their divorce. The Divorce Party is a multi-generational story about love, family, and what it means to build a life with someone, through the eyes of Gwyn, at the end of her marriage, and her future-daughter-in-law, Maggie, at the beginning. Though they make very different choices, both women ultimately discover how to create the lives that they most want to lead. The Divorce Party is an insightful, funny and deeply moving novel that fits right in line with recent add ons like: But You Seemed So Happy, tackling a difficult subject with a lighter tone. While its not blurbed by any previous Book of the Month authors, Dave is a two time repeat author, and The Divorce Party is yet another departure from her two previous picks, so fingers crossed!

Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? By Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsYinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
Published by Pamela Dorman Books on January 18, 2022
Pages: 384
Goodreads

Meet Yinka: a thirty-something, Oxford-educated, British Nigerian woman with a well-paid job, good friends, and a mother whose constant refrain is "Yinka, where is your huzband?"
Yinka's Nigerian aunties frequently pray for her delivery from singledom, her work friends think she's too traditional (she's saving herself for marriage!), her girlfriends think she needs to get over her ex already, and the men in her life...well, that's a whole other story. But Yinka herself has always believed that true love will find her when the time is right. Still, when her cousin gets engaged, Yinka commences Operation Find-A-Date for Rachel's Wedding. Aided by a spreadsheet and her best friend, Yinka is determined to succeed. Will Yinka find herself a huzband? And what if the thing she really needs to find is herself?
Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? brilliantly subverts the traditional romantic comedy with an unconventional heroine who bravely asks the questions we all have about love. Wry, acerbic, moving, this is a love story that makes you smile but also makes you think--and explores what it means to find your way between two cultures, both of which are yours.

I debated whether I should put this title in the romance category or contemporary fiction section, but with comparisons to other contemporary selections like Queenie and In Five Years, I thought it fit better as a contemporary with romantic elements. As the title would imply, the novel follows Yinka: a thirty-something, Oxford-educated, British Nigerian woman with a well-paid job, good friends, and a mother whose constant refrain is “Yinka, where is your huzband?” Yinka’s Nigerian aunties frequently pray for her delivery from singledom, her work friends think she’s too traditional (she’s saving herself for marriage!), her girlfriends think she needs to get over her ex already, and the men in her life are in a category all their own.  But Yinka herself has always believed that true love will find her when the time is right. Still, when her cousin gets engaged, Yinka commences Operation Find-A-Date for Rachel’s Wedding. Aided by a spreadsheet and her best friend, Yinka is determined to succeed. Blackburn’s novel brilliantly subverts the traditional romantic comedy with an unconventional heroine who bravely asks the questions we all have about love. Wry, acerbic, moving, this is a love story that makes you smile but also makes you think—and explores what it means to find your way between two very different, but equally relevant cultures. I have been excited about this one since it began popping up on various Most Anticipated lists for 2022. Not only is it a diverse novel featuring an underrepresented heroine, but like Jasmine Guillory and Helen Hoang it features a very capable, goal oriented heroine. I love a competent, independent woman myself! It also blurbed by a handful of previous Book of the Month authors including Emily Henry (what doesn’t she blurb these days?), Josie Silver, and Lọlá Ákínmádé Åkerström (In Every Mirror She’s Black). It sounds both promising as a pick and a heartwarming read, perfect for cold, snowy nights. 

Historical Fiction

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsThe Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis
Published by Dutton on January 25, 2022
Pages: 368
Goodreads

Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue, returns with a tantalizing novel about the secrets, betrayal, and murder within one of New York City’s most impressive Gilded Age mansions.
Eight months since losing her mother in the Spanish flu outbreak of 1919, twenty-one-year-old Lillian Carter’s life has completely fallen apart. For the past six years, under the moniker Angelica, Lillian was one of the most sought-after artists’ models in New York City, with statues based on her figure gracing landmarks from the Plaza Hotel to the Brooklyn Bridge. But with her mother gone, a grieving Lillian is rudderless and desperate—the work has dried up and a looming scandal has left her entirely without a safe haven. So when she stumbles upon an employment opportunity at the Frick mansion—a building that, ironically, bears her own visage—Lillian jumps at the chance. But the longer she works as a private secretary to the imperious and demanding Helen Frick, the daughter and heiress of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, the more deeply her life gets intertwined with that of the family—pulling her into a tangled web of romantic trysts, stolen jewels, and family drama that runs so deep, the stakes just may be life or death.
Nearly fifty years later, mod English model Veronica Weber has her own chance to make her career—and with it, earn the money she needs to support her family back home—within the walls of the former Frick residence, now converted into one of New York City’s most impressive museums. But when she—along with a charming intern/budding art curator named Joshua—is dismissed from the Vogue shoot taking place at the Frick Collection, she chances upon a series of hidden messages in the museum: messages that will lead her and Joshua on a hunt that could not only solve Veronica’s financial woes, but could finally reveal the truth behind a decades-old murder in the infamous Frick family.

This historical fiction novel has Book of the Month vibes written all over it. In the vein of books like As Bright As Heaven, The Magnolia Palace is a nice reprieve from the WWII fiction that saturates the genre.  Eight months since losing her mother in the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1919, twenty-one-year-old Lillian Carter’s life has completely fallen apart. For the past six years, under the moniker Angelica, Lillian was one of the most sought after artists’ models in New York City, with statues based on her figure gracing landmarks from the Plaza Hotel to the Brooklyn Bridge. But with her mother gone, a grieving Lillian is rudderless and desperate. So when she stumbles upon an employment opportunity at the Frick mansion, Lillian jumps at the chance. But the longer she works as a private secretary to Helen Frick, the daughter and heiress of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, the more deeply her life gets intertwined with that of the family. Nearly fifty years later, mod English model Veronica Weber has her own chance to make her career at the former Frick residence, now converted into one of New York City’s most impressive museums. But when she—along with a charming intern/budding art curator named Joshua—is dismissed from the Vogue shoot taking place at the Frick Collection, she chances upon a series of hidden messages in the museum: messages that will lead her and Joshua on a hunt that could solve all their problems and solve a decades old murder committed so long ago. Sounds a bit like The Lost Apothecary to me and its unsurprising that the book’s author, Sarah Penner, blurbs this title. Former Book of the Month author Marie Benedict has also given this one a glowing review and sounds like the perfect pick for any historical fiction lover. 

Literary Fiction

The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsThe School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
Published by Simon Schuster on January 4, 2022
Pages: 336
Goodreads

In this taut and explosive debut novel, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance.
Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. What’s worse is she can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with their angelic daughter Harriet does Frida finally feel she’s attained the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she’s just enough.
Until Frida has a horrible day.
The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida — one’s who check their phones while their kids are on the playground; who let their children walk home alone; in other words, mothers who only have one lapse of judgement. Now, a host of government officials will determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion. Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that she can live up to the standards set for mothers — that she can learn to be good.
This propulsive, witty page-turner explores the perils of “perfect” upper-middle-class parenting, the violence enacted upon women by the state and each other, and the boundless love a mother has for her daughter.

This debut novel with a dystopian/science fiction edge features a young mother who finds herself in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance. Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their adorable daughter, does Frida finally feel she achieves the perfection demanded of her. But one bad day means a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion. Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good. Using dark wit, Chan explores the pains and complexities of motherhood, the unrealistic expectations society places on mothers, and what it means to be a good parent. This book is being compared to a lot of previous Book of the Month picks by the publisher, including: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, White Ivy by Susie Yang, The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, The Leavers by Lisa Ko, The Power by Naomi Alderman, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, The Mothers by Brit Bennett, and Normal People by Sally Rooney. Its also blurbed by Liz Moore (Long Bright River), and Red Clocks by Leni Zumas. I have to admit that at the time of this post I am  over 30% of the way through my early copy and I have to say that I’m enjoying it. I have seen reviewers pretty divided but if you love books like The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984, School for Good Mother is definitely worth picking up. 

Notes on an Execution by Daniel Kukafka

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsNotes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
Published by William Morrow on January 25, 2022
Pages: 272
Goodreads

In the tradition of Long Bright River and The Mars Room, a gripping and atmospheric work of literary suspense that deconstructs the story of a serial killer on death row, told primarily through the eyes of the women in his life—from the bestselling author of Girl in Snow.
Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done, and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood. He hoped it wouldn’t end like this, not for him.
Through a kaleidoscope of women—a mother, a sister, a homicide detective—we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the homicide detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake.
Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes on an Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it simultaneously unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our system of justice and our cultural obsession with crime stories, asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the psyches of violent men.

I still think Notes on an Execution has a chance of being picked and is likely going to be one of the big book club books of 2022. In the tradition of Long Bright River and The Mars Room, Notes on an Execution is a gripping and atmospheric work of literary suspense (Girl A or When the Stars Go Dark anyone?) that deconstructs the story of a serial killer on death row, told primarily through the eyes of the women in his life. Technically taking place over the course of the twelve hours before Amsel’s execution, the reader gets to know Amsel through a kaleidoscope of women—a mother, a sister, a homicide detective—we learn the story of Ansel’s life. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake. Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes on an Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it simultaneously unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our system of justice and our cultural obsession with crime stories, asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the psyches of violent men.Y’all, this book is blurbed by SO MANY Book of the Month authors. They include: Brit Bennett, Megan Abbott, Ashley Audrain, Paula Hawkins, and Paula Maclain. I think this one will be for the literary fiction and true crime lovers alike and will spark important and provocative conversations among individual readers and book clubs alike.

The Stars Are Not Yet Bells by Hannah Lilith Assadi

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsThe Stars Are Not Yet Bells by Hannah Lillith Assadi
Published by Riverhead Books on January 11, 2022
Pages: 240
Goodreads


A story of secrets, loss, and the betrayals of memory: a lyrical novel of an aging woman confronting her romantic past under the mysterious skies of her island home

Off the coast of Georgia, near Savannah, generations have been tempted by strange blue lights in the sky near an island called Lyra. At the height of World War II, impressionable young Elle Ranier comes to the island when her new husband, Simon, is dispatched by his industrialist father to find the source of the mysterious lights. There they will live for decades, raising a family while employing much of the island's population in a quixotic campaign to find and exploit the elusive minerals rumored to lurk offshore.
Fifty years later, as Simon's business is shuttered in disarray, Elle looks back at her life on the mysterious island--and at a secret she herself has guarded for decades. As her memory recedes, her life seems a tangle of questions: How did the business survive so long without ever finding the legendary Lyra stones? How did her own life crumble under treatment for depression? And what became of the other man they brought to the island--handsome, raffish Gabriel, who risked everything to follow the light to its source?
With echoes of We Are Not Ourselves and even Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, The Stars Are Not Yet Bells is a darkly romantic story of the tantalizing, faithless relationship between ourselves and the lives and souls we leave behind.

Honestly this romantic and gothic tale just feels perfect for winter. Off the coast of Georgia, near Savannah, generations have been tempted by strange blue lights in the sky near an island called Lyra. At the height of WWII, impressionable young Elle Ranier comes to the island when her new husband, Simon, is dispatched by his industrialist father to find the source of the mysterious lights. Spanning decades, the reader follows Elle and Simon as they raise a family and attempt to uncover the source of the mysterious blue lights. . Fifty years later, as Simon’s business is shuttered in disarray, Elle looks back at her life on the mysterious island and all that has transpired since they arrived there. As she struggles to remember, her mind slipping away to dementia, This one has serious potential as a book club pick, tackling difficult issues of mental illness, grief and how we as humanity impact the natural world around us. I know a lot of people really enjoyed What Comes After by Joanne Tompkin and so it should please you to know that she has given The Stars Are Not Yet Bells a raving review, describing it as, “a luminous and deeply moving portrait of the end of life” and promises a poignant, through provoking read with just a touch of mystery. I definitely have this one on my winter TBR. 

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsHow High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
Published by William Morrow on January 18, 2022
Pages: 304
Goodreads

For fans of Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven––Follow a cast of intricately linked characters over hundreds of years as humanity struggles to rebuild itself in the aftermath of a climate plague
Beginning in 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.
Once unleashed, the Arctic Plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet.
From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resiliency of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together in the universe.

It’s been a while since Book of the Month has featured a book about a pandemic- with good reason- and I think How High We Go In The Dark might end their streak. The novel beings in 2030 when a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed due to melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus. Once its gets out, it transforms the globe and the world as humanity knows it as people must adapt and society transform, as they learn to live with the virus.  As more and more get infected, a theme park is erected for terminally ill children and it is here that one of its workers falls in love with a mother desperate to save her infected son. There is also a heartbroken scientist  searching for a cure, who finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops the capacity for human speech. In another time, a widowed painter and her teenage granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet. From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resiliency of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together. It sounds beautiful, haunting and heartbreaking and with comparisons to one of my favorite pandemic books- Severance by Ling Ma- and a blurb from previous Book of the Month author Kevin Wilson, How High We Go In The Dark definitely has potential as a pick or add on. 

Mysteries & Thrillers

The Latinist by Mark Prins

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsThe Latinist by Mark Prins
Published by W. W. Norton Company on January 4, 2022
Pages: 352
Goodreads

Iowa Writer's Workshop graduate and Truman Capote Fellow Mark Prins's THE LATINIST, pitched in the vein of A.S. Byatt and Patricia Highsmith, in which a young American doctoral candidate in Classics at Oxford comes to suspect that her distinguished mentor has taken steps to sabotage her career prospects, and a startling discovery about an obscure 2nd-century Latin poet only raises the professional stakes and leads ultimately to a grand showdown between advisor and advisee, to Helen Thomaides at Norton.

In the vein of books like The Maidens and The Secret History, which were both previous Book of the Month picks, The Latinist is a contemporary reimagining of the Daphne and Apollo myth. Book of the Month has sunk hard into the Greek mythology retelling trend with previous picks like Circe by Madeline Miller and Ariadne by Jennifer Saint. This page-turning exploration of power, ambition, and the intertwining of love and obsession follows Tessa Templeton, who has thrived at Oxford University under the tutelage and praise of esteemed classics professor Christopher Eccles. As she prepares for her thesis defense Tessa learns that Chris has sabotaged her career—and realizes their relationship is not at all what she believed. Driven by what he mistakes as love for Tessa, Chris has ensured that no other institution will offer her a position, keeping her at Oxford with him. Then Tessa makes a discovery that could make her career and take her far away from Oxford and Chris’ obsessive tendencies. Not only do the above elements lend itself to being a January pick, but this one is also blurbed by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (Good Company) and Maria Hummel (Still LIves). 

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsReckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 4, 2022
Pages: 320
Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set on an isolated Pacific island with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.
When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.
Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.
But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.
When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.

Book of the Month has once again dropped some hints on their site about what may be selections next month. This time, it’s in the form of three very distinct flowers and Reckless Girls seems to fit one of the pink blooms fairly well. Rachel Hawkins has been featured numerous times by Book of the Month, as herself and under her pseudonym Erin Stirling (The Ex Hex). Set on a remote island in the Pacific ocean, shrouded in rumors and urban legends, six visitors arrive with hopes to escape and plenty of secrets. A locked room mystery in the vein of Ruth Ware and Agatha Christie, people begin to go missing, the friends begin to suspect that there’s more to them being there than just a paradisiacal getaway. A reimagining of Christie’s classic And Then There Were None will transport you to a world of sunny beaches and palm trees. Blurbed by previous Book of the Month author Julie Clark (Her Last Flight) I feel like Reckless Girls has a solid chance of being a January pick and I can’t wait!

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsGreenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner
Published by Gallery Books on January 25, 2022
Pages: 384
Goodreads

A twisty, whip-smart debut thriller, as electrifying as the #1 New York Times bestseller The Girl on the Train, about impending motherhood, unreliable friendship, and the high price of keeping secrets.
Helen’s idyllic life—handsome architect husband, gorgeous Victorian house, and cherished baby on the way (after years of trying)—begins to change the day she attends her first prenatal class and meets Rachel, an unpredictable single mother-to-be. Rachel doesn’t seem very maternal: she smokes, drinks, and professes little interest in parenthood. Still, Helen is drawn to her. Maybe Rachel just needs a friend. And to be honest, Helen’s a bit lonely herself. At least Rachel is fun to be with. She makes Helen laugh, invites her confidences, and distracts her from her fears.
But her increasingly erratic behavior is unsettling. And Helen’s not the only one who’s noticed. Her friends and family begin to suspect that her strange new friend may be linked to their shared history in unexpected ways. When Rachel threatens to expose a past crime that could destroy all of their lives, it becomes clear that there are more than a few secrets laying beneath the broad-leaved trees and warm lamplight of Greenwich Park.

Admittedly, I downloaded the widget of this book on Eidelweiss without looking too closely at it, but I have to say that it sounds right up Book of the Month’s alley and super intriguing! A twisty, whip-smart debut thriller explores  impending motherhood, unreliable friendship, and the high price of keeping secrets. Helen is our main character, she has a handsome husband, her dream house, and her first prenatal class and meets Rachel, an unpredictable single mother-to-be. Helen is drawn to the enigmatic woman who seems entirely uninterested in motherhood or developing her maternal instincts.  As Helen develops a deeper relationship with Rachel, she begins to suspect that there is more to this charismatic and high-spirited woman than meets the eye and when her new friend reveals a potentially damning secret from Helen’s past, the perfect life Helen has built for herself begins to crumble around her. It definitely makes me think of past Book of the Month picks like The Anonymous Girl and The Wife Upstairs and would be right at home in the kinds of thrillers Book of the Month loves to feature. Greenwich Park is also compared to past picks like The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewel and The Other Black Girl as well as blurbs from Zakiya Delilah Harris, Ruth Ware, Abigail Dean (Girl A), and Ashley Audrain; I honestly think it has solid standing as a potential pick or add on. 

Nonfiction, Essays & Short Stories

I Came All This Way To Meet You by Jami Attenberg (Memoir)

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsI Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home by Jami Attenberg
Published by Ecco Press on January 11, 2022
Pages: 272
Goodreads

As the daughter of a travelling salesman in the Midwest, Attenberg was drawn to the road. That wanderlust led her across the country-driving across America by herself on self-funded book tours, researching articles for magazines, or sometimes just crashing on couches when she was broke-and eventually on travels around the globe. All the while Attenberg was wrestling with a deep longing for independence while also searching for community.It was during these adventures that she began to reflect upon the experiences of her youth, the trauma, the challenges, the risks she had taken. Jami Attenberg reveals the defining moments that pushed her to create a life, and voice, she could claim for herself. What does it take to devote oneself to art? What does it mean to own one's ideas? What does the world look like for a woman moving solo through it?Exploring themes of friendship, independence, class, and drive, I Came All This Way to Meet You is an inspiring and singular story of finding one's way home-an examination of art and individuality that will resonate with anyone determined to listen to their own creative calling.

I stumbled across some complaints recently that I do not include enough nonfiction titles in my prediction posts anymore, so here I am including more. I Came All This Way To Meet You made my list mostly because Jami Attenberg has been featured by Book of Month on two previous occasions in the form of Saint Mazie and All Grown Up. In her poignant and enlightening memoir, Attenberg talks about what motivated her to become an author and the experiences that shaped her voice. Exploring themes of friendship, independence, class, and drive, I Came All This Way to Meet You is an inspiring story of finding one’s way home—emotionally, artistically, and physically—and an examination of art and individuality and will resonate with anyone who has ever been determined to pursue their life’s calling. Thematically, this one sounds like a nonfiction title that Book of the Month would feature and they have definitely been a narrative nonfiction and memoir kick lately so we’ll see if that trend continues into next year. Unsurprisingly it is blurbed by two previous Book of the Month authors, Ashley Ford (Somebody’s Daughter) and Liz Moore (Long Bright River). I definitely think if you want a solid memoir to kick off the new year, you can’t go wrong with this title. 

Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho (Short Stories) 

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsFiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho
Published by Viking on January 4, 2022
Pages: 288
Goodreads

NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2022 BY TIME * PARADE * GOOD HOUSEKEEPING * MARIE CLAIRE * THE RUMPUS * DEBUTIFUL * AND MORE!"A knockout of a book." --Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer and The Committed
"Fiona and Jane is the book I did not know I was waiting to be written. . . . Read this remarkable work of fiction and feel the world open up around you." --Angela Flournoy, author of National Book Award finalist The Turner House
"Unsentimental, subtly subversive, and always surprising. . . . I love this book." --Cathy Park Hong, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist Minor Feelings
A witty, warm, and irreverent book that traces the lives of two young Taiwanese American women as they navigate friendship, sexuality, identity, and heartbreak over two decades.
Best friends since second grade, Fiona Lin and Jane Shen explore the lonely freeways and seedy bars of Los Angeles together through their teenage years, surviving unfulfilling romantic encounters, and carrying with them the scars of their families' tumultuous pasts. Fiona was always destined to leave, her effortless beauty burnished by fierce ambition--qualities that Jane admired and feared in equal measure. When Fiona moves to New York and cares for a sick friend through a breakup with an opportunistic boyfriend, Jane remains in California and grieves her estranged father's sudden death, in the process alienating an overzealous girlfriend. Strained by distance and unintended betrayals, the women float in and out of each other's lives, their friendship both a beacon of home and a reminder of all they've lost.
In stories told in alternating voices, Jean Chen Ho's debut collection peels back the layers of female friendship--the intensity, resentment, and boundless love--to probe the beating hearts of young women coming to terms with themselves, and each other, in light of the insecurities and shame that holds them back.
Spanning countries and selves, Fiona and Jane is an intimate portrait of a friendship, a deep dive into the universal perplexities of being young and alive, and a bracingly honest account of two Asian women who dare to stake a claim on joy in a changing, contemporary America.

I have to confess that I had an inside scoop on this one so I’m almost certain this will be a pick. It wasn’t on my radar but the more I read about it the more it sounds like a Book of the Month pick. With comparisons to previous nonfiction selections like The Office of Historical Corrections and Lot, this short story collection peels back the layers of female friendship in the alternating voices of fictional characters Fiona and Jane. Friends since second grade, the girls grow up together in Los Angeles, only to be separated in early adulthood by circumstances and life changes.  Fiona and Jane tells the stories of their lives as they navigate grief, loss and growing up Asian and female a male-dominated and inherently racist world. Not only is this a short story collection by a marginalized author- a favorite pick of Book of the Month lately- but its blurbed by a handful of previous authors Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer), Alexander Chee (The Queen of Night), Lisa Ko (The Leavers), Jade Chang (The Wangs vs. The World), and Laila Lalami (Luster). 

Romance

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsWeather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Published by Berkley on January 11, 2022
Pages: 352
Goodreads

A TV meteorologist and a sports reporter scheme to reunite their divorced bosses with unforecasted results in this charming romantic comedy from the author of The Ex Talk.
Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer.
In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell.
Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies?

I think Weather Girl sounds like a perfect contemporary romance for Book of the Month to choose. In light, breezy prose, it tells the story of a TV meteorologist and a sports reporter’s scheme to reunite their divorced bosses with unsurprisingly romantic results from the author of The Ex Talk. Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, Seattle weather woman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. But Ari, always the optimist, is sick of it. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer. In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell. Blurbed by previous Book of the Month authors Jasmine Guillory, Sophia Cousens, Helen Hoang, and the surprising hit of the year Love Hypothesis’ Ali Hazelwood. 

Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsLove & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly
Published by Forever on January 18, 2022
Pages: 384
Goodreads

The first openly nonbinary contestant on America’s favorite cooking show falls for their clumsy competitor in this delicious romantic comedy debut “that is both fantastically fun and crack your heart wide open vulnerable.” (Rosie Danan, author of The Roommate)
Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she's focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money. 
After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.
As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.

I frequently struggle to nail down what romance guesses to feature every month because there are just so many. Normally I try to do an assortment of sub-genres but there are so many contemporary romance novels coming out in January that I just had to include two of them and Love & Other Disasters probably has me the most excited, with comparisons to authors I adore like Casey McQuiston and Helen Hoang, it promises to be absolutely amazing. Love & Other Disasters features non-binary protagonist London Parker, who has recently announced their pronouns on national television and finds themselves competing opposite, or behind a recently divorced nearly bankrupt woman named Dahlia Woodson. Set on the reality cooking show known as Chef’s Special, the two begin to fall in love, the reality of the reality show they are on- see what I did there?- and the potential for a real world relationship adds the kind of stress that their new relationship might not survive. I have been dying for another solid LGBTQIA+ romance from Book of the Month and while Love & Other Disasters is not blurbed by any previous Book of the Month authors, I have hopes that they will finally deliver another beloved romance like Red White & Royal Blue and One Last Stop. Only time, and maybe spoilers, will tell!

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Light Years from Home by Mike Chen

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsLight Years From Home by Mike Chen
Published by Mira on January 25, 2022
Pages: 352
Goodreads

Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.
Evie Shao and her sister, Kass, aren’t on speaking terms. Fifteen years ago on a family camping trip, their father and brother vanished. Their dad turned up days later, dehydrated and confused—and convinced he'd been abducted by aliens. Their brother, Jakob, remained missing. The women dealt with it very differently. Kass, suspecting her college-dropout twin simply ran off, became the rock of the family. Evie traded academics to pursue alien conspiracy theories, always looking for Jakob.
When Evie's UFO network uncovers a new event, she goes to investigate. And discovers Jakob is back. He's different—older, stranger, and talking of an intergalactic war—but the tensions between the siblings haven't changed at all. If the family is going to come together to help Jakob, then Kass and Evie are going to have to fix their issues, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and if their brother is telling the truth, possibly an entire space armada, too.
The perfect combination of action, imagination and heart, Light Years From Home is a touching drama about a challenge as difficult as saving the galaxy: making peace with your family…and yourself.

Mike Chen’s novel, We Could Be Heroes was an unexpected add on last January so it stands to reason that maybe his newest novel will be a pleasant surprise as a pick or add on exactly a year later. Where We Could Be Heroes was Chen’s unique take on superheroes, Light Years offers a refreshing twist on aliens and alien abduction. Fifteen years ago while on a family camping trip, Jakob Shao and his father vanished. His father turned up a few days later, dehydrated and confused, but convinced that they’d been abducted by aliens. Jakob remained missing. The Shao sisters, Kass and Evie, dealt with the disappearance and ensuing fallout in very different ways. Kass over the years stepped up to be the rock of the family: carving a successful path for herself, looking after the family home, and becoming her mother’s caregiver when she starts to suffer from dementia. Evie took her father’s side, going all in on UFO conspiracy theories, and giving up her other passions to pursue the possible truth of life outside our planet. And always looking for Jakob. When atmospheric readings from Evie’s network of contacts indicate a disturbance event just like the night of the abduction, she heads back home. Because Jakob is back. He’s changed, and the sisters aren’t sure what to think. But one thing is certain — the tensions between the siblings haven’t changed at all. Jakob, Kass and Evie are going to have to grow up and sort out their differences, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and possibly an entire alien armada, too. Book of the Month loves readable sci-fi with mass appeal and book club potential and I think Light Years From Home delivers on all of those fronts. So even though its not blurbed by any previous Book of the Month authors, I think it could definitely be a January pick or add on. I will be purchasing a copy regardless. 

Young Adult

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsI Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Penguin on February 1, 2022
Pages: 336
Goodreads

Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.
Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.
Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?

I would love to see this as an early pick but we shall see. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one has an embargo date on it- meaning it can be sold before its official release date. Regardless, Ruta Sepetys has a solid track record with Book of the Month and her forthcoming title sounds fantastic. Set in Romania in 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Our protagonist is seventeen year old Cristian Florescu, who dreams of becoming a writer, but it might not be in the cards for him. Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is instead blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe. Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. This historical thriller examines the little-known history of a nation defined by silence, pain, and the unwavering conviction of the human spirit. While this title is not blurbed by any previous Book of the Month authors, Sepetys has been featured numerous times by Book of the Month and her historical novels always do well among members. Definitely hoping for an early release, but if not, then my fingers and toes are crossed for February. 

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsThe Kindred by Alechia Dow
Published by Inkyard Press on January 4, 2022
Pages: 400
Goodreads

“Utterly swoony…an endearing reminder that true love can change the world”—J. Elle, New York Times bestselling author of Wings of Ebony
To save a galactic kingdom from revolution, Kindred mind-pairings were created to ensure each and every person would be seen and heard, no matter how rich or poor…
Joy Abara knows her place. A commoner from the lowly planet Hali, she lives a simple life—apart from the notoriety that being Kindred to the nobility’s most infamous playboy brings.
Duke Felix Hamdi has a plan. He will exasperate his noble family to the point that they agree to let him choose his own future and finally meet his Kindred face-to-face.
Then the royal family is assassinated, putting Felix next in line for the throne…and accused of the murders. Someone will stop at nothing until he’s dead, which means they’ll target Joy, too. Meeting in person for the first time as they steal a spacecraft and flee amid chaos might not be ideal…and neither is crash-landing on the strange backward planet called Earth. But hiding might just be the perfect way to discover the true strength of the Kindred bond and expose a scandal—and a love—that may decide the future of a galaxy.

As I mentioned last month, Alechia Dow is a repeat Book of the Month author and it is primarily for that reason alone that I’m including The Kindred on this list.  This romantic science fiction novel is billed as The 100 meets The Sun Is Also A Star- a book that is a previous Book of the Month pick I might add. The novel features Felix, prince of a galactic kingdom who has a telepathic connection to a commoner.  In this world, in order to stave off an imminent revolution, kindred mind-pairings were created to ensure each and every person would be seen and heard, regardless of social class. Things are fine, then the royal family is assassinated, putting Felix next in line for the throne and accused of the murders. Someone will stop at nothing until he’s dead, which means they’ll target Joy, too. Meeting in person for the first time as they steal a spacecraft and flee amid chaos might not be ideal…and neither is crash-landing on the strange backward planet called Earth. But hiding might just be the perfect way to discover the true strength of the Kindred bond and maybe, they’ll discover love in the process. Honestly this sounds like a sweet, unique YA novel and a fun pick for Book of the Month readers. 

Honorable Mentions

No Land to Light On by Yara Zgheib

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsNo Land to Light On by Yara Zgheib
Published by Atria Books on January 4, 2022
Pages: 304
Goodreads


Exit West
meets An American Marriage in this breathtaking and evocative novel about a young Syrian couple in the throes of new love, on the cusp of their bright future…when a travel ban rips them apart on the eve of their son’s birth—from the author of The Girls at 17 Swann Street.
Hadi and Sama are a young Syrian couple flying high on a whirlwind love, dreaming up a life in the country that brought them together. She had come to Boston years before chasing dreams of a bigger life; he’d landed there as a sponsored refugee from a bloody civil war. Now, they are giddily awaiting the birth of their son, a boy whose native language would be freedom and belonging.
When Sama is five months pregnant, Hadi’s father dies suddenly in Jordan, the night before his visa appointment at the embassy. Hadi flies back for the funeral, promising his wife that he’ll only be gone for a few days. On the day his flight is due to arrive in Boston, Sama is waiting for him at the airport, eager to bring him back home. But as the minutes and then hours pass, she continues to wait, unaware that Hadi has been stopped at the border and detained for questioning, trapped in a timeless, nightmarish limbo.
Worlds apart, suspended between hope and disillusion as hours become days become weeks, Sama and Hadi yearn for a way back to each other, and to the life they’d dreamed up together. But does that life exist anymore, or was it only an illusion?
Achingly intimate yet poignantly universal, No Land to Light On is the story of a family caught up in forces beyond their control, fighting for the freedom and home they found in one another.

Anthem by Noah Hawley

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsAnthem by Noah Hawley
Published by Grand Central Publishing on January 4, 2022
Pages: 448
Goodreads

An epic literary thriller set where America is right now, in which a band of unlikely heroes sets out on a quest to save one innocent life—and might end up saving us all.
Something is happening to teenagers across America, spreading through memes only they can parse.  
At the Float Anxiety Abatement Center, in a suburb of Chicago, Simon Oliver is trying to recover from his sister’s tragic passing. He breaks out to join a woman named Louise and a man called The Prophet on a quest as urgent as it is enigmatic. Who lies at the end of the road? A man known as The Wizard, whose past encounter with Louise sparked her own collapse. Their quest becomes a rescue mission when they join up with a man whose sister is being held captive by the Wizard, impregnated and imprisoned in a tower.  
Noah Hawley’s new novel is an adventure that finds unquenchable lights in dark corners.  Unforgettably vivid characters and a plot as fast and bright as pop cinema blend in a Vonnegutian story that is as timeless as a Grimm’s fairy tale.  It is a leap into the idiosyncratic pulse of the American heart, written with the bravado, literary power, and feverish foresight that have made Hawley one of our most essential writers.

The Replacement Wife by Darby Kane

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsThe Replacement Wife by Darby Kane
Published by William Morrow & Company on December 28, 2021
Pages: 416
Goodreads

The #1 International bestselling author of Pretty Little Wife returns with another thrilling domestic suspense novel that asks, how many wives and girlfriends need to disappear before your family notices?
Elisa Wright is a mom and wife, living a nice, quiet life in a nice, quiet town. She's also convinced her brother-in-law is a murderer. Josh has one dead wife and one missing fianc�e, and though he grieved for them he starts dating someone new. Elisa fears for that woman's safety, and she desperately wants to know what happened to her friend, Josh's missing fianc�e.
Searching for clues means investigating her own family. And she doesn't like what she finds. A laptop filled with incriminating information. Other women.
But when Elisa becomes friends with Josh's new girlfriend and starts to question things she thinks are true, Elisa wonders if the memories of a horrible incident a year ago have finally pushed her over the edge and Josh is really innocent. With so much at stake, Elisa fights off panic attacks and a strange illness. Is it a breakdown or something more? The race is on to get to the truth before another disappearance because there's a killer in the family...or is there?

Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsGood Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier
Published by Berkley on January 25, 2022
Pages: 336
Goodreads

Lyla has always believed that life is a game she is destined to win, but her husband, Graham, takes the game to dangerous levels. The wealthy couple invites self-made success stories to live in their guesthouse and then conspires to ruin their lives. After all, there is nothing worse than a bootstrapper.
Demi has always felt like the odds were stacked against her. At the end of her rope, she seizes a risky opportunity to take over another person’s life and unwittingly becomes the subject of the upstairs couple’s wicked entertainment. But Demi has been struggling all her life, and she’s not about to go down without a fight.
In a twist that neither woman sees coming, the game quickly devolves into chaos and rockets toward an explosive conclusion.
Because every good rich person knows: in money and in life, it’s winner take all. Even if you have to leave a few bodies behind.

Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict

What’s In The Box!- January 2022 PredictionsHer Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on January 25, 2022
Pages: 304
Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Mystery of Mrs. Christie and The Only Woman in the Room.
Rosalind Franklin has always been an outsider―brilliant, but different. Whether working at the laboratory she adored in Paris or toiling at a university in London, she feels closest to the science, those unchanging laws of physics and chemistry that guide her experiments. When she is assigned to work on DNA, she believes she can unearth its secrets.
Rosalind knows if she just takes one more X-ray picture―one more after thousands―she can unlock the building blocks of life. Never again will she have to listen to her colleagues complain about her, especially Maurice Wilkins who'd rather conspire about genetics with James Watson and Francis Crick than work alongside her.
Then it finally happens―the double helix structure of DNA reveals itself to her with perfect clarity. But what unfolds next, Rosalind could have never predicted.
Marie Benedict's powerful new novel shines a light on a woman who sacrificed her life to discover the nature of our very DNA, a woman whose world-changing contributions were hidden by the men around her but whose relentless drive advanced our understanding of humankind.

What About You?

What are you hoping to see as picks next month? What do you think of my predictions? Let me know in the comments!

8 responses to “What’s In The Box!- January 2022 Predictions

  1. Ann

    I recently cancelled my BOTM subscription. It was such a hard decision, but I felt guilty buying the books, when they are usually available at my local library & many times my library has a more wide variety of new releases. I had joined at the beginning of the pandemic, when libraries had closed temporarily. I promised myself I would cancel when the library reopened, but then I was hooked. I still think it is a great service. I love reading these predictions though & it is always fun to see what the 5 monthly choices are. Several on this list look good. So many loved The Last Thing He Told Me, by Laura Dave, but it was a DNF for me. So The Divorce Party might give me another chance to try her. I’ve requested Honor, The School for Good Mothers and The Magnolia Palace. These predictions often help me get a jump start on upcoming books so I can be among the first on my local library’s wait list! Side note: my back is on the blink. Disc bulge at L4/5 & having difficulty riding in car/driving. I have a hold at the library & was told I need to come in in person to add additional pick up person to my account. What are the odds?! Maybe BOTM canceling Karma 🤣 And I have jury duty fast approaching next week too. 🙃

  2. Mary C Talbot

    The School for Good Mothers, Black Cake, and No Land to Light On all sound like great pics to me! Hope at least one of them is in “the box”. Happy New Year!

  3. You’ve listed several here that make me think I wish I hadn’t canceled my membership, but since I have only read one of the books over the two years that I did subscribe, I can’t justify continuing it, even just to get pretty books for my TBR shelf. lol But the YA and the romance picks are all ones I’d love to have!

    Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature) recently posted: L-L-L-Little Reviews #37: Last 3 Non-Tour Titles of 2021
    • Ann

      Lisa, we are opposite. I don’t care for the “romances.” And it is not that I do not like romance. Just not into these rom-coms with the forgettable cutsie covers.

      Although I’ll admit to requesting The Love Hypothesis from the library 😬

      And I’ve read some YA. But have decided it is not my thing. I’m old though 🤣

      I got Firekeeper’s Daughter from BOTM. Under the pretense of having my 19 year old read it. I love that cover! And speaking of pretty covers, I have Still Life TBR.

      I did like that BOTM had me reading things that were not always my usual.

      I have about 5 titles sitting after joining back in Spring 2020. Not bad. I bought The Goldfinch and The Secret History (big fat books). I think I had credits and wanted to get more book for my 💵. I also got Killers of The Flower Moon as my birthday book. And Razorblade Tears as my end of year freebie.

      People We Meet on Vacation was a DNF for me. But all in all I read all my BOTM choices and met the Reading Challenge & earned my socks!!

      So it was time. My very first BOTM was Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore. It was the start of the pandemic. Libraries were closed and we were quarantined and that book took forever to arrive. I devoured it. It will always be special.

      I feel like I am cheating bc I can always still see what BOTM has chosen & read the books, just not purchase.

  4. Ann

    Phew! I was relieved when I saw the Jan BOTM selections. I just cancelled & was so worried I would regret it. They are offering to keep my BFF status if I change my mind in 60 days. Also a $4.99 offer popped up on the app.

    None of the 5 are of too much interest to me. I can pass.

    I requested The Magnolia Palace from my local library. Along with Honor, School for Good Mothers & The Maid.

    It was the fact that I could get on wait lists at the library that made it feel okay to cancel.

    Honor is rumored to be Reese’s pick & Good Mothers Jenna’s. I follow both of them. Although I tend to prefer Jenna’s picks. Reese’s Club app is fun to follow/discussions. So it can be nice to be “in the loop.”

    Seeing that these titles are not among the main picks makes me okay with my decision. The Maid is in the add ons.

    I have been getting the bulk of my books from the library for a while now. Sorry if I am being repetitive. I know I am fortunate to have a great County library nearby. We can even suggest titles & they are great at obtaining those. They are often the fastest means to obtaining a new release. There was only a small delay recently/supply issue.

    My initial goal for 2022 is to go back and read some titles I missed or did not get around to. Currently reading The Maidens. And I picked up Landslide yesterday.

    I also want to make a point to read things like The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. Finding it quirky & very Southern, to say the least. The word “yestiddy,” bringing to mind my older Aunts when I was a little girl. Although Mississippi is definitely more hard core South. These stories were recommended in the latest Ann Patchett essay collection: These Precious Days.

    So I want new releases, but want to read lots of other things as well!

    Happy 2022! Happy Reading! Stay well Everyone!!!!!

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