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If you love books, you’re probably going to love Book of the Month, a monthly book subscription box that offers BOTM subscribers five carefully curated choices each month. You can choose one hardback book for $14.99 (which is a steal), add up to two more for $9.99 each (an even bigger steal), or skip the month altogether if nothing interests you (unlikely).
The BOTM selections are always books that are up-and-coming; books that haven’t been released to shelves yet, books that are about to be the next “must-reads,” and books that are about to be your celeb’s new favorite.
BOTM sends us all five books to review for you guys each month; so here’s the scoop on the August selections!
What you need to know: Caz Frear’s debut novel is full of twists, turns, and family drama. Guest judge (and mystery author) Louisa Luna devoured Sweet Little Lies in two days, and then went back and read the first 20 pages again: just to see Frear’s clues she’d missed at the beginning.
Synopsis: Twenty-six-year-old Cat Kinsella overcame a troubled childhood to become a Detective Constable with the Metropolitan Police Force, but she’s never been able to banish her ghosts. When she’s called to the scene of a murder in Islington, not far from the pub her estranged father still runs, she discovers that Alice Lapaine, a young housewife who didn’t get out much, has been found strangled.
Cat and her team immediately suspect Alice’s husband, until she receives a mysterious phone call that links the victim to Maryanne Doyle, a teenage girl who went missing in Ireland 18 years earlier. The call raises uneasy memories for Cat—her family met Maryanne while on holiday, right before she vanished. Though she was only a child, Cat knew that her charming but dissolute father wasn’t telling the truth when he denied knowing anything about Maryanne or her disappearance. Did her father do something to the teenage girl all those years ago? Could he have harmed Alice now? And how can you trust a liar even if he might be telling the truth?
Determined to close the two cases, Cat rushes headlong into the investigation, crossing ethical lines and trampling professional codes. But in looking into the past, she might not like what she finds…
The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles
Genre: Historical Fiction
What you need to know: The Air You Breathe is a 400+ page portrait of female friendships, chosen by Guest Judge Diane Guerrero. I know Guerrero from her role as Maritza Ramos in OitNB, but she’s also the author of In the Country We Love, a memoir about her immigration experience.
Synopsis: Skinny, nine-year-old orphaned Dores is working in the kitchen of a sugar plantation in 1930s Brazil when in walks a girl who changes everything. Graça, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, is clever, well fed, pretty, and thrillingly ill behaved. Born to wildly different worlds, Dores and Graça quickly bond over shared mischief, and then, on a deeper level, over music.
One has a voice like a songbird; the other feels melodies in her soul and composes lyrics to match. Music will become their shared passion, the source of their partnership and their rivalry, and for each, the only way out of the life to which each was born. But only one of the two is destined to be a star. Their intimate, volatile bond will determine each of their fortunes—and haunt their memories.
Traveling from Brazil’s inland sugar plantations to the rowdy streets of Lapa in Rio de Janeiro, from Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood back to the irresistible drumbeat of home, The Air You Breathe unfurls a moving portrait of a lifelong friendship—its unparalleled rewards and lasting losses—and considers what we owe to the relationships that shape our lives.
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
Genre: Magical Realism
What you need to know: This is a Book of the Month exclusive! The Dinner List doesn’t hit shelves until late this month. The premise is a take on a classic getting-to-know-you-question with a promise of a hint of whimsy. It’s not my usual read, but I will concede that early reviews are quite positive.
Synopsis: At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends with in her utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day and the life-changing romance of Me Before You.
When Sabrina arrives at her 30th birthday dinner, she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past and, well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.
The Line That Held Us by David Joy
Genre: Appalachian Noir
What you need to know: Appalachian Noir is my new favorite genre to say. If you don’t know what Appalachian Noir is, the BOTM judges have helpfully mentioned that The Line That Held Us could fit into the broader genre of “thriller.”
Synopsis: When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only man he knows will answer—his best friend, Calvin Hooper. But when Dwayne Brewer comes looking for his missing brother and stumbles onto a blood trail leading straight back to Darl and Calvin, a nightmare of revenge rips apart their world.
The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed.
Goodbye Paris by Anstey Harris
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
What you need to know: Plenty of relationship drama in this one! Goodbye, Paris is a story of one woman’s messy past, dramatic present, and, maybe, hopeful future.
Synopsis: Grace once had the beginnings of a promising musical career, but she hasn’t been able to play her cello publicly since a traumatic event at music college years ago. Since then, she’s built a quiet life for herself in her small English village, repairing instruments and nurturing her long-distance affair with David, the man who has helped her rebuild her life even as she puts her dreams of a family on hold until his children are old enough for him to leave his loveless marriage.
But when David saves the life of a woman in the Paris Metro, his resulting fame shines a light onto the real state of the relationship(s) in his life. Shattered, Grace hits rock bottom and abandons everything that has been important to her, including her dream of entering and winning the world’s most important violin-making competition. Her closest friends—a charming elderly violinist with a secret love affair of his own, and her store clerk, a gifted but angst-ridden teenage girl—step in to help, but will their friendship be enough to help her pick up the pieces?
Our August BOTM Pick: The Air You Breathe
Although the selections this month were great (as they are nearly every month), I didn’t have any trouble narrowing down our pick of the month. I fell in love with The Air You Breathe because I am drawn stories that feature complex class dynamics. I also happen to love stories that tackle friendship and rivalry. This is the kind of book that will transport the reader to a whole new world. What isn’t to love about that?
Any fans of thrillers out there? If I were adding on a second book, I’d balance out the historical fiction with a modern thriller and read Sweet Little Lies. What would you pick this month?