Book of the Month At A Glance- December 2022

Posted December 2, 2022 by stuckint in Book Subscriptions, BOTM / 0 Comments

Book of the Month surprised everyone with an unexpected Sunday release.

We were thrilled to guess 6 of the 8 selections correctly. We really thought that The Last Invitation would be a selection byt we were stoked to see Willingham’s sophomore novel.

We appreciated the variety of the December selections both between debuts and repeats as well as across genres.Overall, we were quite pleased with the picks!

Main Picks

Kiss Her Once For Me by Alison Cochrun (Holiday Romance)

Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun
Published by Atria Books on November 1, 2022
Pages: 368

The author of The Charm Offensive returns with a festive romantic comedy about a woman who fakes an engagement with her landlord…only to fall for his sister.
One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.
Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.
Perfect for fans of Written in the Stars and One Day in December, Kiss Her Once for Me is the queer holiday rom-com that you’ll want to cozy up with next to the fire.

A Brief Synopsis: One fateful Christmas, Ellie meets Jack. Over the course of a single, romantic and chemistry filled day, Ellie falls head over heals. But circumstances drive Ellie to leave Jack without explanation. Still Ellie pines for that mysterious girl. Fast forward a year where Ellie finds herself unemployed and nearly evicted from her depressing apartment. When a near stranger Andrew proposes that she pretend to be his fiancee for Christmas- and maybe marry him for a few short months to make it convincing- in exchange for a percentage of his marriage-contingent inheritance. Down on her luck, Ellie agrees, only to arrive and Andrew’s family cabin to discover that his sister is none other than Jack. What follows is a delightful combination of holiday coziness and will-they-won’t-they chemistry.

What Reviewers Are Saying: Readers of holiday romances rejoice because reviewers are falling head over heels for this swoony holiday romcom. Told in first person from the POV of Ellie. The characters are relateable and lovealbe and Ellie’s flaws, while present, are understandable and are not overdone. Cochrun’s writing is striking and cohesive. The biggest complaint we could find about this one is the insta-love trope and some reviewers complained about the believability of Ellie’s demisexuality. While Haley is bisexual, she isn’t demisexual and we would love to hear from people who can speak to this experience.

Readalikes: In A Hollidaze by Christina Lauren, The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox, Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

Babel by RF Kuang (Historical Fantasy)

Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang
Published by Harper Voyager on August 23, 2022
Pages: 545

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.
1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he'll enroll in Oxford University's prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.
Babel is the world's center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel's research in foreign languages serves the Empire's quest to colonize everything it encounters.
Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down?
Babel — a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal response to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of translation as a tool of empire.

A Brief Synopsis: A departure from Kuang’s violent fantasy series The Poppy Wars, Babel is a lyrical, cozy novel that explores the sacrifices of education and the haunting consequences of colonization. We think there is no better way to describe this novel than as The Secret History with a touch of magic and much more diverse. Set at Oxford in a partially fictional program that focuses on translation and using language to create magic. Our protagonist is orphaned and adopted Robin Swift, who attends Babel- a translation institution who weaves words into silver bars, with magical results. Babel is a dense novel, at almost 600 pages but the beautiful thing about Kuang’s work is their page turning quality.

What Reviewers Are Saying: Ambitious and Intelligent, Babel is a lyrical novel that tackles issues of education and colonialism. Haley adored this one and felt that the characters were deep and profound and Kuang handled difficult issues expertly. It’s a great genre defying historical fantasy because we think that plenty of people who don’t typically read fantasy will enjoy this one since the magical elements are largely secondary to Robin’s coming of age tale that is painted with strokes of revolution and longing to find one’s place in the world. The reviewers who didn’t like this book are those who found it too long and dense and a little blatant in it’s condemnation of racism and colonialism. But those reviews are in the minority and both Emily and Haley have loved this book.

Readalikes: The Secret History by Donn Tart, Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, The Cloisters by Katy Hays

All The Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham (Thriller/Repeat)

All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham
Published by Minotaur Books on January 10, 2023
Pages: 336

One year ago, Isabelle Drake's life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally.
Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.
Isabelle's entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle's past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust... including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.

A Brief Synopsis: All The Dangerous Things features mother Isabelle Drake, who hasn’t slept since her toddler son Mason was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband slept in the other room. Now all she does is look for him. In the hopes of finding a new lead, she agrees to be interviewed by a true crime podcaster. For those among us who are sensitive readers when it comes to missing children, you might want to skip this one. As dark and haunting as her debut, Willingham delivers another atmospheric, fever dream of a thriller that will have you reading late into the night.

What Reviewers Are Saying: With Isabelle as the sole narrator, the book alternates between the past and present. The pacing is on the slower side but readers who loves A Flicker In The Dark will devour All The Dangerous Things. Some reviewers found the book too slow and a but predictable but our overall sense is that Thriller lovers will adore this one and it’s a solid sophomore novel from Stacy Willingham.

Readalikes: The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy, Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser, The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Circus Train by Amita Parikh (Historical Fiction)

The Circus Train by Amita Parikh
on December 6, 2022
Pages: 416

Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus in this World War II debut about a magnificent travelling circus, a star-crossed romance, and one girl's coming-of-age during the darkest of times.
"A powerful reminder that to live is not just to survive, but to be seen and known for ourselves." --Pam Jenoff, author of The Orphan's Tale
When all is lost, how do you find the courage to keep moving forward?

1938. Lena Papadopoulos has never quite found her place within the circus, even as the daughter of the extraordinary headlining illusionist, Theo. Brilliant and curious, Lena yearns for the real-world magic of science and medicine, despite the limitations of her wheelchair. Then her unconventional life takes an exciting turn when she rescues Alexandre, an orphan with his own secrets and a mysterious past.
As World War II escalates around them over the years, their friendship blossoms into something deeper while Alexandre trains as the illusionist's apprentice. But when Theo and Alexandre are arrested and contracted to perform in a model town for Jews set up by the Nazis, Lena is separated from everything she knows. Forced to make her own way, Lena must confront her doubts and dare to believe in the impossible--herself.

A Brief Synopsis: Parikh’s debut novel features the World Of Wonder’s, Europe’s most magnificent traveling circus that is full magic. Lena Papodopolous has grown up moving around with the circus, but yearns for the stable world of medicine and science. Set in the years before and during WWII. Lena finds solace a Jewish orphan a few years older than her. As the years pass, the reader follows these characters as they face challenges and triumphs that irrevocably change their lives.

What Reviewers Are Saying: Reviewers are hailing The Circus Train a beautiful, inspiration work of historical fiction with just a hint of magic. Heartwarming and real, Parikh’s characters jump off the page. Each POV is equally compelling and thought provoking. Some reviewers felt that the book lacked description and that a lot of themes needed to be explored more thoroughly. We think that if you are looking for a well researched WWII novel with romance, you’ll want to pick this one up.

Readalikes: The Star Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nielsen Spielman, The Nightengale by Kristen Hannah, Send For Me by Lauren Fox

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton (Literary Fiction)

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Published by Grand Central Publishing on December 6, 2022
Pages: 336

Florida is slipping away. As devastating weather patterns and rising sea levels gradually wreak havoc on the state’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches a small town on the southeastern coast. Kirby Lowe, an electrical line worker; his pregnant wife, Frida; and their two sons, Flip and Lucas, prepare for the worst. When the boys go missing just before the hurricane hits, Kirby heads out into the high winds to search for them. Left alone, Frida goes into premature labor and gives birth to an unusual child, Wanda, whom she names after the catastrophic storm that ushers her into a society closer to collapse than ever before.
As Florida continues to unravel, Wanda grows. Moving from childhood to adulthood, adapting not only to the changing landscape, but also to the people who stayed behind in a place abandoned by civilization, Wanda loses family, gains community, and ultimately, seeks adventure, love, and purpose in a place remade by nature.
Told in four parts—power, water, light, and time—The Light Pirate mirrors the rhythms of the elements and the sometimes quick, sometimes slow dissolution of the world as we know it. It is a meditation on the changes we would rather not see, the future we would rather not greet, and a call back to the beauty and violence of an untamable wilderness.

A Brief Synopsis: The Light Pirate is a sweeping story of survival and resilience spanning one woman’s lifetime as she navigates a world ravaged by climate change and the shifting landscape that results from it. Insightful and eerily prescient, It tackles difficult themes with flowery writing and dynamic characters. Told in four parts, The Light Pirate is a meditation on the consequences of climate change and the beauty of the untamed world.

What Reviewers Are Saying: Many readers are calling the Light Pirate a pleasant story set in a dystopian world. It’s a character driven story and while some readers enjoyed the depth of the story while others found the pacing to be a bit slow. Even readers who didn’t love the book, described the first half as “gripping and compelling” and the second half as much slower. Think Where The Crawdads Sing with a dystopian flair. We cannot wait to sink into this one!

Readalikes: What Storm What Thunder by Myriam J. A. Chancy, The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang, Inifinite Country by Patricia Engel

Add Ons

A Quiet Life by Ethan Joella (Contemporary/Repeat)

A Quiet Life by Ethan Joella
Published by Scribner on November 29, 2022
Pages: 304

From the author of A Little Hopea Read with Jenna Bonus Pick—comes an enormously powerful and life-affirming novel about three individuals whose lives intersect in unforeseen ways.
Set in a close-knit Pennsylvania suburb in the grip of winter, A Quiet Life follows three people grappling with loss and finding a tender wisdom in their grief.
Chuck Ayers used to look forward to nothing so much as his annual trip to Hilton Head with his wife, Cat—that yearly taste of relaxation they’d become accustomed to in retirement, after a lifetime of working and raising two children. Now, just months after Cat’s death, Chuck finds that he can’t let go of her things—her favorite towel, the sketchbooks in her desk drawer—as he struggles to pack for a trip he can’t imagine taking without her.
Ella Burke delivers morning newspapers and works at a bridal shop to fill her days while she anxiously awaits news—any piece of information—about her missing daughter. Ella adjusts to life in a new apartment and answers every call on her phone, hoping her daughter will reach out one day.
After the sudden death of her father, Kirsten Bonato set aside her veterinary school aspirations, finding comfort in the steady routine of working at an animal shelter. But as time passes, old dreams and new romantic interests begin to surface—and Kirsten finds herself at another crossroads.
In this beautifully crafted and profoundly moving novel, three parallel narratives converge in poignant and unexpected ways, as each character bravely presses onward, trying to recover something they have lost. Emotionally riveting and infused with hope, A Quiet Life celebrates humanity in the midst of uncertainty.

A Brief Synopsis: A quiet, character driven story, A Quiet Life is set over the course of a single winter in a Pennsylvania. Very similar to A Little Hope, the plot follows three individuals grappling with loss and coping with grief. As beautifully crafted and profound as A Little Hope this one is definitely for those hoping to sink into something immersive and cozy this winter- while also tackling difficult issues.

What Reviewers Are Saying: A emotional, character driven story is perfect for people looking to cozy up with some loveable characters. Reviewers are lauding A Quiet Life for Joella’s trademark prose and spellbinding narrative that explores the fragility of humanity. Some readers struggled with the slower pace but we think this a case of: reader know thyself.

Readalikes: The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger, Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro, Valentine by Elizabeth Whetmore

A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw (YA/Repeat)

A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw
on November 29, 2022
Pages: 400

An illness cursing the land forces a teen girl astronomer to venture across the wilderness in search of the stars’ message that will, hopefully, save them all.
If magic lives anywhere, it’s in the stars…
Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But after her mother dies, and Vega sees the fabled twin stars in the sky, it’s an omen she can no longer ignore, forcing her to leave the protective boundaries of the valley. But the outside world turns out to be much more terrifying than Vega could have imagined. People are gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives.
What Vega keeps to herself is that she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from generation to generation—and she is the only one who carries the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to the cure. And so when locals spot the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an astronomer—chaos erupts as the threats her mother warned her about become all too real.
Fearing for her life, Vega is rescued by a girl named Cricket who leads her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos. On the run from the men who are hunting her, Vega, Cricket, and Noah set out across the plains in search of the cure the stars speak of. But as the lines between friend and protector begin to blur, Vega must decide whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomer. Or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.

A Brief Synopsis: Our main character is Vega, a seventeen year old girl obsessed with the stars, who sets out on a trip through the wilderness to discover the message hidden in the constellations. But the world is much more chaotic and terrifying than she could have ever imagined and soon she is hunted by those who would wish her harm. A Wilderness of Stars has a very dystopian, western feel and takes a bit of a science fiction turn that we weren’t expecting. If you love genre fiction with a twist, you’ll want to add A Wilderness of Stars to your box.

What Reviewers Are Saying: This genre-defying YA novel feels like a bit of a departure for Ernshaw and it definitely goes in unexpected directions. The pacing starts out slow and then picks up in thr last 20%. Despite its rather unconventional plot twist and unique setting, what all reviewers can agree on is the depth and beauty of Ernshaw’s characters.

Readalikes: Yerba Buena by Nina Lacour, Outlawed by Anna North, Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

A Fire Endless by Rebecca Ross (Fantasy/Repeat)

A Fire Endless by Rebecca Ross
Published by Harper Voyager on December 6, 2022
Pages: 512

In the stunning conclusion to the Elements of Cadence duology, A Fire Endless finds the delicate balance between the human and faerie realm threatened by Bane, the spirit of the North Wind, whose defeat can only come through fire, song, and heart-rending sacrifice.
East and West. Humans and Spirits. Breccans and Tamerlaines. The Isle of Cadence has always held itself and its residents in a tenuous balance. But now Bane, the spirit of the North Wind, has pushed everyone and everything in his path off-kilter in a bid to claim dominion over all.
In the West, Adaira struggles to adjust to the more brutal, bitter ways of life among the Breccans. Striving to find her place in the clan, she swiftly realizes that it just might be the last role she desires to hold. And while magic blooms effortlessly for the Breccans in the west, the spirits continue to suffer beneath Bane's harsh power, felt in every gust of wind.
In the East, Jack is adrift without Adaira until he sings to the ember-weak fire spirits, acquiring a dangerous mission he never expected. One that is destined to lead him westward. Likewise, Torin and Sidra are consumed by a new mystery as sickness spreads first amongst the crops, and then to the people of the Tamerlaine clan. While Sidra desperately searches for a cure, Torin dares to strike a bargain with the spirits--a precarious folly anytime, but especially now as the days grow darker.
With the island falling further out of balance, humans and spirits alike will need to join together to face Bane, and Jack's gift with the harp will be called upon once more. Yet no one can challenge the North Wind without paying a terrible price, and the sacrifice required this time may be more than Jack, Adaira, Torin, and Sidra can bear to pay.

A Brief Synopsis: A Fire Endless is the sequel to A River Enchanted- a slow building, romantic, YA fantasy with a quest at center. A Fire Endless simultaneously expands the atmospheric world building and concludes the duology. Picking up right where A River Enchanted left off. We won’t get into too much a plot because we don’t want to spoil the first book for anyone.

What Reviewers Are Saying: Many early reviewers are hailing it as even better than its predecessor. At once atmospheric and enchanting, Ross build a cozy world brimming with lovely characters. While it is definitely on the thicker side- over 500 pages- it has a page turning quality to match some of the best thrillers.

Readalikes: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian, Piranesi by Susannna Clark

What’s in Our Boxes?

Haley’s Box #1

Haley’s Box #2

Emily’s Box

What About You?

What did you think of the December selections? Did any of our picks make it into your box? Let us know in the comments!

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