Book of the Month At A Glance – February 2022

Posted February 2, 2022 by stuckint in Book Subscriptions, BOTM / 3 Comments

Hello everyone and welcome to one of our most popular monthly posts: Book of the Month At A Glance. Its a post where we share our breakdown of Book of the Month’s monthly selections and add ons. We pour over countless reviews, read excerpts and explore the themes of each pick in order to help you better decide the right pick(s) for you. That way, you can spend less time researching and more time reading. 

This month’s picks were surprising for a lot of reasons. First of all, there were no romance picks for February. I (Haley) really enjoy when Book of the Month features romance picks so that was kind of disappointing. I also think the picks could have been more diverse in the name of Black History Month. Hopefully next month’s picks are better!

As always, if there is anything we are leaving out of these posts, let us know and we will do our best to include it. Regardless, we hope our post gets you excited for this month’s selections and that you find something you know you’ll love!

Main Picks

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (Thriller)

Book of the Month At A Glance – February 2022The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 8, 2022
Pages: 336
Goodreads

If Avery Chambers can’t fix you in 10 sessions, she won’t take you on as a client. Her successes are phenomenal--she helps people overcome everything from domineering parents to assault--and almost absorb the emptiness she sometimes feels since her husband’s death.
Marissa and Mathew Bishop seem like the golden couple--until Marissa cheats. She wants to repair things, both because she loves her husband and for the sake of their 8-year-old son. After a friend forwards an article about Avery, Marissa takes a chance on this maverick therapist, who lost her license due to controversial methods.
When the Bishops glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.
The Golden Couple is the next electrifying novel from Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, the #1 New York Times bestselling author duo behind You Are Not Alone, An Anonymous Girl, and The Wife Between Us.

The latest novel from the writing duo that brought us The Wife Between Us and You Are Not Alone is an unsurprising pick for Book of the Month, even if it is being featured a month ahead of its release. With nods to their sophomore novel, An Anonymous Girl, The Golden Couple features Avery Chambers, who believes she can fix any couple and their problems in ten sessions. In walks Marissa and Matthew Bishop. Marissa was unfaithful and now she is taking a chance on this controversial therapist who recently lost her license due to her questionable methods. I definitely think if you enjoyed other more psychologically driven picks like The Silent Patient and An Anonymous Girls, you’ll enjoy this one. Told in alternating perspectives between Marissa and Avery, Hendricks and Pekkanen bring readers another engaging, slow burn, and character driven thriller that isn’t necessarily for those who have come for a shocking twist- most reviewers claimed they were able to guess the twist- but I think it will be a solid pick for those who adore Hendricks and Pekkanen or are looking for a page turner to put in their box. 

Vladimir by Julia May Jonas (Literary Fiction)

Book of the Month At A Glance – February 2022Vladimir by Julia May Jonas
on February 1, 2022
Pages: 256
Goodreads

A provocative, razor-sharp, and timely debut novel about a beloved English professor facing a slew of accusations against her professor husband by former students—a situation that becomes more complicated when she herself develops an obsession of her own...
“When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me.”
And so we are introduced to our deliciously incisive narrator: a popular English professor whose charismatic husband at the same small liberal arts college is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. The couple have long had a mutual understanding when it comes to their extra-marital pursuits, but with these new allegations, life has become far less comfortable for them both. And when our narrator becomes increasingly infatuated with Vladimir, a celebrated, married young novelist who’s just arrived on campus, their tinder box world comes dangerously close to exploding.
With this bold, edgy, and uncommonly assured debut, author Julia May Jonas takes us into charged territory, where the boundaries of morality bump up against the impulses of the human heart. Propulsive, darkly funny, and wildly entertaining, Vladimir perfectly captures the personal and political minefield of our current moment, exposing the nuances and the grey area between power and desire.

This one seems like a strange pick even for Book of the Month, but our job here is to talk about the pick, not judge the picks so let’s dive into this one. Vladimir is getting compared to novels like My Dark Vanessa (which really moved me and I gave it 5 stars when I read it a few years ago) and Writers and Lovers. Just to give y’all some insight into comparable selections. This debut contemporary features an older protagonist who must grapple with the sexual assault allegations being brought against her university professor husband while also falling in love with Vladamir, the young novelist that is new to campus. This one is definitely a character driven novel so if you need a gripping plot you might want to look elsewhere. There are no thrills or suspense, it’s just a story and plenty of reviewers appreciated that aspect of the book. I think the 58 year old academic professor who has found herself in an open marriage is a refreshing departure from your typical 20 and 30 something protagonists. Reviewers are pretty evenly divided on this title though, with some praising it for its uniqueness and others complaining about the pacing. Those described most of the book as a “prolonged internal monologue.“ I won’t be adding this one to my box but I’d definitely be curious to hear what y’all think about it. 

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross (Fantasy)

Book of the Month At A Glance – February 2022A River Enchanted (Elements of Cadence, #1) by Rebecca Ross
Published by Harper Voyager on February 15, 2022
Pages: 480
Goodreads

House of Earth and Blood meets The Witch's Heart in Rebecca Ross’s brilliant first adult fantasy, set on the magical isle of Cadence where two childhood enemies must team up to discover why girls are going missing from their clan.
Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.
As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.
With unforgettable characters, a fast-paced plot, and compelling world building, A River Enchanted is a stirring story of duty, love, and the power of true partnership, and marks Rebecca Ross’s brilliant entry on the adult fantasy stage.

This dark fantasy novel is getting comparisons to some of my favorite fantasy authors including that of Katherine Arden (where are my Winternight trilogy lovers at?) and The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. One of our protagonists is Jack, who hasn’t been back to his childhood island home Cadence in a decade, but returns when girls start disappearing and he’s called home to help. The quest brings Jack together with Adaira, the heiress of the east and Jack’s enemy. This gives me serious The Boneless Mercies. A book that I thought was fine, albeit a bit meandering. A River Enchanted is a fantasy novel with wide crossover appeal, as are most of the fantasy novels Book of the Month tends to feature. At its heart burns a mystery coupled with a slow burn romance that will keep readers turning the pages. An enemies to lovers trope with enough world building to transport but not too much to overwhelm. Reviewers describe the prose as lyrical and enthralling. Drawing on Scottish folklore A River Enchanted promises to be a magical read for a cold winter night. The biggest complaint I can find about this one was issues with its slower pace. But if you want a book to sink into and get lost in, A River Enchanted is definitely for you!

Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu (Historical Fiction)

Book of the Month At A Glance – February 2022Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu
on March 15, 2022
Pages: 400
Goodreads

A "beautifully rendered" novel about war, migration, and the power of telling our stories, Peach Blossom Spring follows three generations of a Chinese family on their search for a place to call home (Georgia Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones).
"Within every misfortune there is a blessing and within every blessing, the seeds of misfortune, and so it goes, until the end of time."
It is 1938 in China and, as a young wife, Meilin’s future is bright. But with the Japanese army approaching, Meilin and her four year old son, Renshu, are forced to flee their home. Relying on little but their wits and a beautifully illustrated hand scroll, filled with ancient fables that offer solace and wisdom, they must travel through a ravaged country, seeking refuge.
Years later, Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao. Though his daughter is desperate to understand her heritage, he refuses to talk about his childhood. How can he keep his family safe in this new land when the weight of his history threatens to drag them down? Yet how can Lily learn who she is if she can never know her family’s story?
Spanning continents and generations, Peach Blossom Spring is a bold and moving look at the history of modern China, told through the story of one family. It’s about the power of our past, the hope for a better future, and the haunting question: What would it mean to finally be home?
"Left me pondering how the stories we choose to pass down have the power not only to define us, but to buoy us.” —Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones
"I absolutely adored this novel . . . During moments of deep sadness and loss, there is also beauty.” —Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo
"Inspired by her father’s real-life experiences, Melissa Fu has gifted us with a timely, moving, and universal novel.”―Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, author of The Mountains Sing
“Expansive, atmospheric, and affecting. Peach Blossom Spring shows just how much the human heart can hold.” —Susie Yang, author of White Ivy

 

Reminiscent of the much beloved title of Pachinko and the Night Tiger by Yangzhee Cho, Peach Blossom Spring follows sthree generations of Chinese immigrants, beginning with Melin and her four year old son Reshu who flee China as the Japanese invade in 1938. With nothing but a few scrolls (Library of Legends anyone?) and their wits, they flee their home dreaming of a better life. Fast forward a few decades, Reshu is all grown up and goes by Henry. His daughter Lily is desperate to understand her heritage but its the last thing Reshu wants to talk about. Peach Blossom Spring is about family legacies and how past experiences and traumas shape who we are and the mark we leave on the world. Based on the real history of the author’s father, Peach Blossom Spring is sure to be a favorite of the year with plenty of fodder for book clubs. Many reviewers adored this tragic, poetic story about family, tradition and immigration. Some reviewers were frustrated by the pacing of this title and expressed their love for Melin’s half of the story while voicing reservations about Henry/Reshu’s half. I added this one to my box though and I cannot wait to read it. 

Don’t Cry For Me by Daniel Black (Historical Fiction)

Book of the Month At A Glance – February 2022Don't Cry for Me by Daniel Black
Published by Hanover Square Press on February 1, 2022
Pages: 304
Goodreads

A Black father makes amends with his gay son through letters written on his deathbed in this wise and penetrating novel of empathy and forgiveness, for fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robert Jones Jr. and Alice Walker
As Jacob lies dying, he begins to write a letter to his only son, Isaac. They have not met or spoken in many years, and there are things that Isaac must know. Stories about his ancestral legacy in rural Arkansas that extend back to slavery. Secrets from Jacob's tumultuous relationship with Isaac's mother and the shame he carries from the dissolution of their family. Tragedies that informed Jacob's role as a father and his reaction to Isaac's being gay.
But most of all, Jacob must share with Isaac the unspoken truths that reside in his heart. He must give voice to the trauma that Isaac has inherited. And he must create a space for the two to find peace. 
With piercing insight and profound empathy, acclaimed author Daniel Black illuminates the lived experiences of Black fathers and queer sons, offering an authentic and ultimately hopeful portrait of reckoning and reconciliation. Spare as it is sweeping, poetic as it is compulsively readable, Don't Cry for Me is a monumental novel about one family grappling with love's hard edges and the unexpected places where hope and healing take flight.

With comparisons to previous Book of the Month picks likes The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr and Memorial by Bryan Washington, Don’t Cry For Me tells the story of a dying father writing letters to his gay son from his deathbed. Having been estranged for many years, Jacob epistolates to his only son Isaac the trauma that his son has inherited and the life lessons he wishes to impart to him. Upon a cursory glance it gives me serious Gilead by Marilyn Robinson vibes. Poetic yet compulsively readable, Don’t Cry For Me promises to be a tear jerker. Each chapter is another letter that Jacob writes to his son. Jacob tells the history of their family and how he was raised by his grandparents, how he met his son’s mother and how he viewed his relationship with his son. It was really hard to find negative reviews about this one but from what I could tell, many wanted more information about how the letters were received by Isaac. There were also some qualms expressed about the premise of Jacob being virtually illiterate until his adult life yet he writes these lyrical letters. Complaints aside, it seems to be a moving tale of redemption and forgiveness and a solid read for Black History month.

Add On

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys (Young Adult)

Book of the Month At A Glance – February 2022I 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 was so thrilled to see Sepetys newest book as an add on. I have gotten two of Sepetys’ other books from Book of the Month and I am thrilled for them all to match. Plus I started this one a few days ago and I am absolutely loving it. 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, Christian 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. Reviewers loved the concept of this one more than the execution, but I definitely think everyone should give this one a shot, if for no other reason than to learn about a little studied period in history. 

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont (Historical Fiction)

Book of the Month At A Glance – February 2022The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 1, 2022
Pages: 320
Goodreads

Nina de Gramont's The Christie Affair is a beguiling novel of star-crossed lovers, heartbreak, revenge, and murder—and a brilliant re-imagination of one of the most talked-about unsolved mysteries of the twentieth century.
Every story has its secrets.Every mystery has its motives.
“A long time ago, in another country, I nearly killed a woman. It’s a particular feeling, the urge to murder. It takes over your body so completely, it’s like a divine force, grabbing hold of your will, your limbs, your psyche. There’s a joy to it. In retrospect, it’s frightening, but I daresay in the moment it feels sweet. The way justice feels sweet.”
The greatest mystery wasn’t Agatha Christie’s disappearance in those eleven infamous days, it’s what she discovered.
London, 1925: In a world of townhomes and tennis matches, socialites and shooting parties, Miss Nan O’Dea became Archie Christie’s mistress, luring him away from his devoted and well-known wife, Agatha Christie.
The question is, why? Why destroy another woman’s marriage, why hatch a plot years in the making, and why murder? How was Nan O’Dea so intricately tied to those eleven mysterious days that Agatha Christie went missing?

Honestly an unsurprising add on considering the forthcoming adaptation of Christie’s Death On the Nile coming in February and the ongoing obsession with Christie’s eleven day disappearance. The Christie Affair offers a speculative account of those eleven days. The story is told from the point of view of Nan O’Dea, a fictional character based on a very real person. In 1925, Nan O’Dea became the mistress of Archie Christie- and eventually his second wife. In the world of The Christie Affair, Agatha disappears after receiving the news from her husband that he plans to leave her for Nan. This historical mystery has the same feel of the Agatha Christie novels that so many love. However, I do want to make sure readers go into this one knowing that this one is more about Nan than it is about Agatha and that’s the biggest problem most reviewers had with it. Expectations aside, most reviewers found this one readable and excellently paced. I think if you are wanting a book to shed some light on Christie’s mysterious disappearance, you’ll be disappointed. But if you want something that explores a moment in history that we are still hung up on and has plenty of twists and complex characters, you’ll want to pick this one up!

What The Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris (Literary Fiction)

Book of the Month At A Glance – February 2022What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris
Published by Tiny Reparations Books on February 1, 2022
Pages: 288
Goodreads

In the vein of Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones and Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, a coming-of-age novel told from the perspective of eleven-year-old KB, as she and her sister try, over the course of a summer, to make sense of their new life with their estranged grandfather after the death of their father and disappearance of their mother
After her father dies of an overdose and the debts incurred from his addiction cause the loss of the family home in Detroit, almost-eleven-year-old Kenyatta Bernice (KB) and her teenage sister, Nia, are sent by their overwhelmed mother to live with their estranged grandfather in Lansing.
Over the course of a single, sweltering summer, KB attempts to get her bearings in a world that has turned upside down--a father who is labeled a fiend; a mother whose smile no longer reaches her eyes; a sister, once her best friend, who has crossed the threshold of adolescence and suddenly wants nothing to do with her; a grandfather who is grumpy and silent; the white kids across the street who are friendly, but only sometimes. And all of them are keeping secrets.
Pinballing between resentment, abandonment, and loneliness, KB is forced to carve out a different identity for herself and find her own voice. As she examines the jagged pieces of her recently shattered world, she learns that while some truths cut deep, a new life--and a new KB--can be built from the shards.
Capturing all the vulnerability, perceptiveness, and inquisitiveness of a young Black girl on the cusp of puberty, Harris's prose perfectly inhabits that hazy space between childhood and adolescence, where everything that was once familiar develops a veneer of strangeness when seen through newer, older eyes. Through KB's disillusionment and subsequent discovery of her own power, What the Fireflies Knew poignantly reveals that heartbreaking but necessary component of growing up--the realization that loved ones can be flawed, sometimes significantly so, and that the perfect family we all dream of looks different up close.

This literary novel has been on my radar for a few months and I am so excited to see it as an add on for February. It’s getting comparisons to previous Book of the Month favorites like Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare, Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, and Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward. This coming of age novel is told from the point of view of 11-year old KB, who is sent with her sister Nia to live with her grandfather in Lansing, Michigan after the death of their father. It gives me serious Betty vibes and I’m hoping it’s just as good and just as well received by Book of the Month readers. It is the first fiction work being published by Penguin’s imprint: Tiny Reparations which sets out to publish and promote books by BIPOC authors. It’s a coming of age debut that packs an emotional punch and tackles some difficult issues. Reviewers love KB’s narrative voice and her moving story. Honestly it was difficult to find a negative review and I cannot wait to read it!

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (Mystery)

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All expressed opinions are my own and do not reflect any stance or position held by the author or publisher. This did not affect my rating or review in any way.

Book of the Month At A Glance – February 2022Death on the Nile: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie
Published by William Morrow on September 22, 2020
Pages: 352
Goodreads

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE RELEASING OCTOBER 9, 2020 —DIRECTED BY AND STARRING KENNETH BRANAGH
Following the success of Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh returns to direct and star in this adaptation of the classic Hercule Poirot mystery for the big screen, also starring Gal Gadot.
Beloved detective Hercule Poirot embarks on a journey to Egypt in one of Agatha Christie’s most famous mysteries, Death on the Nile.
The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and beautiful. A girl who had everything . . . until she lost her life.
Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: "I'd like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger." Yet in this exotic setting nothing is ever quite what it seems.

February was a weirdly Agatha Christie heavy month for Book of the Month, but in light of the fact that Death on the Nile is being adapted and said adaptation is releasing in mid-February it is not a surprising choice. I’m not sure how much of an intro this title needs since it’s is deep Agatha Christie backlist. Suffice it to say that it follows the beloved Hercule Poirot as he sets out on a leisurely cruise on the Nile. Someone dies and Poirot must rely on his wits and a few clues to solve the murder. Clocking in at a little over 200 pages it is definitely one you’ll want to pick up if you are craving some shorter fiction. The plus side, you don’t have to read Christie’s other books to enjoy this one. With over 170k reviews on Goodreads there is definitely a lot to unpack! Reviewers who loved Death on the Nile adored it for it’s exquisite setting, rousing dialogue and mysterious characters. However, Death on the Nile was originally published in 1937 and that means it comea with some dated language about certain characters in the book. While it makes sense that Book of the Month picked this title up because of it’s forthcoming adaptation , I do think there were better options out there considering it’s Black History Month.

Diversity Breakdown

Book of the Month continues to shine where female authors are concerned and lack when it comes to LGBTQIA+ representation. I also think the debut stat could be higher, but that’s just me wanting to give new author more of a chance.

  • Authors of Color: 3/9 – 30%
  • Female Authors: 8/9 – 88%
  • LGBTQIA+: 0/9 – 0%
  • Repeat Authors: 3/9 – 30%
  • Debut Novels: 3/9 – 30%

In Our Boxes This Month

Box 1 (Haley)

Box 2 (Haley)

Box 1 (Emily)

Emily remains undecided on her picks and will update once she’s settled on her selection.

What About You?

What did you add to your box this month? What do you think of our picks? What books might you add to your box next month? Let us know in the comments!

3 responses to “Book of the Month At A Glance – February 2022

  1. Claire Talbot

    I also ordered Peach Blossom Spring. I also ordered two older titles that I have not been lucky enough to get at the library – Crying in H Mart and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Are you going to continue doing the posts predicting “What’s in the Box”? I loved those!

    • stuckint

      Those sounds like great picks!

      We will definitely be doing prediction. Haley was just out with COVID the last half of January so we skipped it for February.

      We will definitely be doing predictions for March and every month after that barring unforeseen circumstances. 🤗

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