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.
I was surprised by all the genre fiction picks this month- we got a fantasy picck, a romance selection and a cozy mystery all in one month! I enjoy literary novels as much as the next person but I especially appreciate variety above all else. Furthermore, we were all tickled by the the amount of main picks to choose from. I’ll be curious to see how frequently they do more than five main picks.
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!
The Cartographers by Peng Shepard (Fantasy)The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd
Published by William Morrow on March 15, 2022
What is the purpose of a map?
Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Daniel Young, is a legend in the field, and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn't seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her and destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old, cheap gas station highway map.
But when Dr. Young is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable, and also exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence… because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one—along with anyone who gets in the way.
To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey to reveal a dark family secret, and discover the true power that lies in maps...
I am always stoked when Book of the Month features a fantasy novel so I could not be more thrilled for them to pick The Cartographers. Nell Young discovers a seemingly worthless map among her father’s belongings and then finds it again near her father’s body when he is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library. Shepard’s gorgeous prose marries perfectly with a well paced plot and an abundance of twists that will keep readers turning the pages. A lot of reviewers are comparing The Cartographers to The Da Vinci Code- for better and worse. While the title may suggest otherwise, the book doesn’t take the characters out of the state of New York- which some readers found a bit disappointing. This one is definitely for the academically minded among us with a touch of magical realism. I am so excited to read it and plan to pick it up the moment it gets here.
The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James (Thriller / Repeat Author)The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
Published by Berkley on March 15, 2022
A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two cold case slayings in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel.
In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect--a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.
Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases--a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea's surprise, Beth says yes.
They meet regularly at Beth's mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she's not looking, and she could swear she's seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn't right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?
I don’t think anyone is terribly surprised to see Simone St. James’ book as a March pick. In The Book of Cold Cases, James tackles a popular trend in modern thriller: the incorporation of a podcast medium into the novel. I think the most popular selection that did this in recent memory was The Night Swim by Megan Golden. In 1977, Beth Greeer was accused of a double homicide but closed herself off to the world after being acquitted of the crime. Fast forward to 2017, Shea Collins works as a receptionist by day and as a true crime podcast host by night, solving long forgotten cold cases. When she has the chance to interview Beth and potentially get to the bottom of the decades old case and uncover the truths behind the shadows that lurk in the Geer house. One thing I love most about James’ supernatural thrillers is the atmosphere she is able to create amid the mystery and hauntings and The Book of Cold Cases does not disappoint on that front. I will say that Simone St. James can feel a bit formulaic at times, especially if you’ve read a lot of her other ghost stories, and some reviewers started to feel that a little bit. But I’m excited to see how I feel about this one compared to The Broken Girls and The Sundown Motel.
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley (Mystery / Repeat Author)The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Published by William Morrow on February 22, 2022
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest List comes a new locked room mystery, set in a Paris apartment building in which every resident has something to hide…
Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.
The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.
The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge
Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.
Confession time everyone. I have read The Paris Apartment and it was NOT for me. The plot of The Paris Apartment is fairly straightforward. It’s a locked room mystery set in a Paris apartment building. Jess comes to Paris looking for her brother *Jake and is surprised to find that he is not home when arrives. As the hours pass Jess becomes convinced that something terrible has happened. Determined to get to the bottom of things she starts questioning Jake’s neighbors and visiting areas he frequented. What she doesn’t realize is that her snooping will unravel a deeper, darker secret at the building’s heart. At a glance, I should have loved this one. But listen to me when I tell you that this one was SO slow. I think it could have been a hundred pages shorter, trimmed of all the repeat scenes and points and it would have been okay. I think if you liked slow burn, locked room mysteries as part of your regular reading rotation you might have better luck with this one. But don’t believe the marketing that says its a fast paced thriller. It’s not! And there are plenty of Goodreads reviewers who agree with me.
The Verifiers by Jane Pek (Cozy Mystery)The Verifiers by Jane Pek
Published by Vintage on February 22, 2022
Introducing a sharp-witted heroine for the 21st century: a new amateur sleuth exploring the landscape—both physical and virtual—of New York in a debut novel about love, technology, and murder.
Claudia Lin is used to disregarding her fractious family’s model-minority expectations: she has no interest in finding either a conventional career or a nice Chinese boy. She’s also used to keeping secrets from them, such as that she prefers girls—and that she's just been stealth-recruited by Veracity, a referrals-only online-dating detective agency.
A lifelong mystery reader who wrote her senior thesis on Jane Austen, Claudia believes she's landed her ideal job. But when a client goes missing, Claudia breaks protocol to investigate—and uncovers a maelstrom of personal and corporate deceit. Part literary mystery, part family story, The Verifiers is a clever and incisive examination of how technology shapes our choices, and the nature of romantic love in the digital age.
While Book of the Month has listed this title as literary fiction I would definitely categorize it more as a cozy mystery with its comparisons to titles like Dial A For Aunties and The Thursday Murder Club. Our Chinese protagonist is Claudia who has chosen to defy family expectations and pursue a secret career as a detective for Veracity, a referrals-only detective agency. Also, she likes girls. Her job is to verify the truth of client’s online dating profiles but when one of her clients goes missing Claudia decides to take matters into her own hands and crack the case! Armed with a deep love of mystery novels and sharp observations about those around her, Pek introduces readers to a protagonist that could kick off an intriguing new mystery series. Reviewers are loving this one and singing its praises for readers of modern mysteries that feature complex characters and twisty plots. It is refreshing to see Book of the Month feature a book with a queer protagonist. It seems fun and quirky and a perfect mystery read!
The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith (Contemporary Fiction)The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Ballantine Books on March 1, 2022
An indie musician reeling from tragedy reconnects with her estranged father on a week-long cruise in this tale of grief, fame, and love from bestselling author Jennifer E. Smith.
Greta James's meteoric rise to indie stardom was hard-won. Before she graced magazine covers and sold out venues, she spent her girlhood strumming her guitar in the family garage. Her first fan was her mother, Helen, whose face shone bright in the dusty downtown bars where she got her start--but not everyone encouraged Greta to follow her dreams. While many daydream about a crowd chanting their name, her father, Conrad, saw only a precarious life ahead for his daughter.
Greta has spent her life trying to prove him wrong, but three months after Helen's sudden death, and weeks before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta has an onstage meltdown that goes viral. Attempting to outrun the humiliation and heartbreak, she reluctantly agrees to accompany her father on a week-long Alaskan cruise, the very one that her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.
This could be the James family's last chance to heal old wounds and will prove to be a voyage of discovery for them, as well as for Ben Wilder, a historian also struggling with a major upheaval in his life. Ben is on board to lecture about Jack London's The Call of the Wild, the adventure story Greta's mother adored, and he captures Greta's attention after her streak of dating hanger-ons. As Greta works to build up her confidence and heal, and Ben confronts his uncertain future, they must rely on one another to make sense of life’s difficult choices. In the end, Greta must make the most challenging decision of all: to listen to the song within her or make peace with those who love her.
I am realizing that Book of the Month really loves to feature books with music forward elements- thinking The Girl With Stars In Her Eyes and The Final Revival of Opal and Nev. The Unsinkable Greta James almost made my list and I just decided to forego in favor of other titles. Greta is the title’s namesake and decides to set on an Alaskan cruise with her estranged father. Greta James has been trying to make it on the indie rock scene fro years now, but a wrench is thrown into her trajectory towards stardom when her mother passes away unexpectedly. There is also an element of romance in the form of Ben Wilder, who is on the ship lecturing about Greta’s recently deceased mother’s favorite book, The Call of the Wild. Its tragic and heartfelt story about family, music and finding love. It features a strong sense of place and I think if you go into this one with the right expectations- a character driven, thought provoking work of relationship fiction- I think you’ll enjoy it!
Tell Me Everything by Erika Krouse (True Crime)Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation by Erika Krouse
Published by Flatiron Books on March 15, 2022
Part memoir and part literary true crime, Tell Me Everything is the mesmerizing story of a landmark sexual assault investigation and the private investigator who helped crack it open.
Erika Krouse has one of those faces. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this,” people say, spilling confessions. In fall 2002, Krouse accepts a new contract job investigating lawsuits as a private investigator. The role seems perfect for her, but she quickly realizes she has no idea what she’s doing. Then a lawyer named Grayson assigns her to investigate a sexual assault, a college student who was attacked by football players and recruits at a party a year earlier. Krouse knows she should turn the assignment down; her own history with sexual violence makes it all too personal. But she takes the job anyway, inspired by Grayson’s conviction that he could help change things forever--and maybe she could, too.
Over the next five years, Krouse learns everything she can about P. I. technique, tracking down witnesses and investigating a culture of sexual assault and harassment ingrained in the university’s football program. But as the investigation grows into a national scandal and a historic civil rights case, she finds herself increasingly consumed. When the case and her life both implode at the same time, she must figure out how to help win the case without losing herself.
It has been a hot minute since Book of the Month has featured a true crime novel and so I’m sure plenty of members will be adding this one to their box. In 2002 Erika Krouse accepted a job working as a private investigator. When she is assigned a sexual assault case she decides to take it despite her own history with sexual violence. The reader follows Erika over the next five years as she learns the machinations of the PI world, explores the culture of sexual assualt and harrasment in university football programs, But as her investigation and the resuilting court ccase gains national attention Krouse is forced to grapple with how her discoveries will change her life and the texts of history. Krouse’s writing is concise and straightforward while also being sensitive to the difficult subjects she writes about. While early reviews for this ones are sparse but overwhelmingly positive. I’ll be curious to hear what those who add it to their box think of this one!
Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma (Contemporary Romance)Dating Dr. Dil (If Shakespeare was an Auntie #1) by Nisha Sharma
Published by Avon on March 15, 2022
Dating Dr. Dil features a love-phobic TV doctor who must convince a love-obsessed homebody they are destined to be together.
Kareena Mann dreams of having a love story like her parents, but she prefers restoring her classic car to swiping right on dating apps. When her father announces he’s selling her mother’s home, Kareena makes a deal with him: he’ll gift her the house if she can get engaged in four months. Her search for her soulmate becomes impossible when her argument with Dr. Prem Verma, host of The Dr. Dil Show, goes viral. Now the only man in her life is the one she doesn’t want.
Dr. Prem Verma is dedicated to building a local community health center, but he needs to get donors with deep pockets. The Dr. Dil Show was doing just that, until his argument with Kareena went viral, and he’s left short changed. That’s when Kareena’s meddling aunties presented him with a solution: convince Kareena he’s her soulmate and they’ll fund his clinic.
Even though they have conflicting views on love-matches and arranged-matches, the more time Prem spends with Kareena, the more he begins to believe she’s the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. But for Prem and Kareena to find their happily ever after, they must admit that hate has turned into fate.
Like I said in my predictions post, I’m not terribly surprised that I did not correctly guess the romance pick. I think most of us are happy that they have a romance pick this month at all. This diverse romance is a contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. I love a good Shakespeare retelling and am absolutely tickled by this rendition. The characters at its center are Kareena, who is a lawyer and much more interested in restoring her old car than finding a husband until her father promises he’ll buy her a house if she can get engaged in four months. In walks Dr. Prem Verma who ends up having an argument with Kareena live and subsequently the video goes viral. Its an enemies to lovers romance coupled with a fake dating trope complete with plenty of banter and on the page chemistry. The biggest complaint I can find on this one is that a handful of reviewers felt that characters were rather underdeveloped. Reviewers seemed pretty evenly divided on whether the banter helped the story or not. I’m also happy to support romance novels by authors of color when Book of the Month features them. I will be sure to report back what I think of ths one!
One Italian Summer by Rebecca Sarles (Contemporary Fiction / Repeat Author)One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
Published by Atria Books on March 1, 2022
When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.
But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.
And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.
Weirdly, this one would pair nicely with The Unsinkable Greta James and I of course added both to my box! When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: to Positano, the magical town where Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone. Then, while she is adventuring along the Amalfi coast her mother appears, thirty years old and sun tanned. Across a single summer Katy gets to know her mother in a way she never has before. Sarles is known for her poignant, emotional stories with a reflective tone and deep themes and for many readers, One Italian Summer did not disappoint. With its strong sense of place and its provocative premise, One Italian Summer is a transportative novel. The biggest complaint I could find was how intensely Katy loved her mother, which some reviewers considered to be to almost an unhealthy degree. It does sound like the perfect escapist read, if that’s what you’re looking for this time of year.
The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh (Contemporary Fiction)
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.The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh
Published by Pamela Dorman Books on March 1, 2022
GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK
“Rosie Walsh’s The Love of My Life is my favorite kind of thriller—gripping, heartbreaking and impossible to put down.”—Laura Dave
From the New York Times bestselling author of Ghosted comes a love story wrapped in a mystery: an up-all-night page-turner with a dark secret at its core
I have held you at night for ten years and I didn't even know your name. We have a child together. A dog, a house.
Who are you?
Emma loves her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she's told them about herself is a lie.
And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer; Emma a well-known marine biologist. When she suffers a serious illness, Leo copes by doing what he knows best – researching and writing about his wife’s life. But as he starts to unravel the truth, he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t really exist. Even her name isn’t real.
When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was . . .
But first, she must tell him about the other love of her life.
Ghosted was a rather popular pick a few years ago so I’m not terribly surprised that Love of My Life is also making the cut for March selections. This one has been getting a lot of buzz and I have to admit that I have allowed myself to be enticed by some of the hype and added it to one of my boxes this month. At the center of the story is Emma. Emma loves her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she’s told them about herself is a lie. And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer, who copes with his wife’s chronic illness by researching about wife’s life. When he uncovers the truth it is up to Emma to prove to her family that she is the woman she claims to be. A lot of reviewers are comparing The Love Of My Life to previous picks like The Last Thing He Told Me, describing it as emotional, sweet and deep. Still others struggled with keeping the characters straight. I, for one, have never read a Rosie Walsh book and cannot wait to read it!
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter (Thriller)Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
Published by William Morrow on August 21, 2018
The #1 internationally bestselling author returns with a new novel in the vein of her New York Times bestsellers Pretty Girls and The Good Daughter—a story even more electrifying, provocative, and suspenseful than anything she’s written before.
What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all . . . ?
Andrea Cooper knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?
But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.
The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them. . . .
I have never read a Karin Slaughter novel but I have heard amazing things about her books and writing. Book of the Month has really been into featuring backlist titles that are being adapted- if they didn’t snap them up when they were initially released. Andrea is forced to face the reality of who her mother really is when they face an extremely violent situation at a mall. Andrea is left reeling and wondering who her mother really is. Andrea spends most of the slow-burn, relationship centered mystery following a trail of breadcrumbs that she hopes will help her unravel the truth about her mother. Some readers might be thrown off by the slower pace but other reviewers loved its for its reflections on motherhood- maybe Book of the Month is hoping to draw on the popularity of The Push? Regardless, Pieces of Her is now a limited Netflix series, and for those who love to read the book before watching the adaptation, this is your chance!
Booth by Karen Joy Fowler (Historical Fiction)Booth by Karen Joy Fowler
on March 8, 2022
From the Man Booker finalist and bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves comes an epic and intimate novel about the family behind one of the most infamous figures in American history: John Wilkes Booth.
In 1822, a secret family moves into a secret cabin some thirty miles northeast of Baltimore, to farm, to hide, and to bear ten children over the course of the next sixteen years. Junius Booth--breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor, and master of the house in more ways than one--is at once a mesmerizing talent and a man of terrifying instability. One by one the children arrive, as year by year, the country draws frighteningly closer to the boiling point of secession and civil war.
As the tenor of the world shifts, the Booths emerge from their hidden lives to cement their place as one of the country's leading theatrical families. But behind the curtains of the many stages they have graced, multiple scandals, family triumphs, and criminal disasters begin to take their toll, and the solemn siblings of John Wilkes Booth are left to reckon with the truth behind the destructively specious promise of an early prophecy.
Booth is a startling portrait of a country in the throes of change and a vivid exploration of the ties that make, and break, a family.
In hindsight, its kind of crazy that this one did not make my list of predictions. Its getting so much attention, especially in my librarian circles and is the kind of character-driven historical narrative that Book of the Month typically loves. The publisher has compared this one to Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrel and The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. Booth does not focus on the assination of Abraham Lincoln but rather follows the Booth family for the decades leading up to that pivotal moment in US history and Booth’s larger family, especially his siblings and father. Its a literary examination of the circumstances and people who created one of US history’s most well known assassins. Fowler approaches the overall narrative through multiple viewpoints- which some reviewers enjoyed and others found confusing. A novel that the author has said she wrote in reaction to all the school shootings that are tragically prevalent, I would be curious to hear what avid historical fiction readers think of it.
Blacktop Wasteland by SA Cosby (Crime Noir)Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby
Published by Flatiron Books on November 14, 2021
Beauregard "Bug" Montage: husband, father, honest car mechanic. But he was once known - from North Carolina to the beaches of Florida - as the best getaway driver on the East Coast. Just like his father, who disappeared many years ago.
After a series of financial calamities (worsened by the racial prejudices of the small town he lives in) Bug reluctantly takes part in a daring diamond heist to solve his money troubles - and to go straight once and for all. However, when it goes horrifically wrong, he's sucked into a grimy underworld which threatens everything, and everyone, he holds dear . . .
It is unsurprising that Book of the Month would feature Blacktop Wasteland as a backlist pick after featuring Razorblade Tears as a main pick a few months ago. I have now gotten both from Book of the Month and really need to dive into them. Blacktop Wasteland is the book that put SA Cosby on the literary map for a lot of readers. It’s a crime noir thriller about Beauregard Montage, the son of a wheelman, who finds himself involved in a diamond heist in the hopes of easing his and his family’s money troubles. This one decision sends “Bug” into the seedy underbelly of a world that threatens all that he holds dear. Blacktop Wasteland is a character driven thriller that delves deep into Beauregard’s relationships and all that he has done to steer himself straight from his criminal past. Full of engrossing action, gritty violence, humor and beautiful prose. Still, not everyone loved this one and were unhappy with the overly flowery writing and seemingly stereotypical characters. It’s another book on this list that is likely to be adapted, so now is the time to get into this one!
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: 5/12 - 40%
- Female Authors: 11/12- 90%
- LGBTQIA+: 1/12 - 10%
- Repeat Authors: 5/12 - 40%
- Debut Novels: 1/12 - 10%
In Our Boxes This Month
Box 1 (Haley)
Box 2 (Haley)
Box 3 (Haley)
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!