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The day our Book of the Month books come in to the office is hands-down our favorite day of the month here at Earn Spend Live! That being said, we’ve decided to take a break from filming our unboxings (you can check out past unboxing videos on our YouTube Channel) and review them here instead—for now, at least.
The rundown: Book of the Month offers subscribers five selections to choose from each month. You can choose one book for $14.99, add up to two more for $9.99 each, or skip the month altogether if nothing interests you. The BOTM selections are always up-and-coming; before The Power was one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2017, it was offered in BOTM’s October 2017 selections. (Plus, one of this month’s selections is being made into a movie right now.) They also get celebrity judges to select their favorites each month. (We’ll be sure to note which one is celebrity-approved for this month’s selections below!)
BOTM sends us all five selections to review for you guys each month; so here’s the scoop on this month’s books!
What you need to know: The first (and potentially only thing) you need to know about this book: a movie starring Kerry Washington is in the works. Other things to know: The Perfect Mother is a fast read, it features multiple viewpoints, it reads like a movie, the focus is female friendships, and it’s recommended by celebrity guest judge Jaime King.
Synopsis: “They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.
“When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar, they are looking for a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: One of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing.
“What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed.”
Small Country by Gael Faye
Genre: Life Journeys
What you need to know: This is a BOTM-exclusive and debut novel by Gael Faye. Also: It’s a slow build and is guaranteed to make you emotional.
Synopsis: “Burundi, 1992. For ten-year-old Gabriel, life in his comfortable expatriate neighborhood of Bujumbura with his French father, Rwandan mother, and little sister Ana, is something close to paradise.
“These are carefree days of laughter and adventure—sneaking Supermatch cigarettes and gorging on stolen mangoes—as he and his mischievous gang of friends transform their tiny cul-de-sac into their kingdom.
“But dark clouds are gathering over this small country, and soon their peaceful existence will shatter when Burundi, and neighboring Rwanda, are brutally hit by civil war and genocide.
“A novel of extraordinary power and beauty, Small Country describes an end of innocence as seen through the eyes of a child caught in the maelstrom of history. Shot through with shadows and light, tragedy and humor, it is a stirring tribute not only to a dark chapter in Africa’s past, but also to the bright days that preceded it.”
How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
What you need to know: It’s a romance, but there’s plenty of family drama. According to author Taylor Jenkins Reid, How to Walk Away has “serious Nora Ephron vibes.”
Synopsis: “Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: A new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.
“In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.
“A masterpiece of a novel, How to Walk Away is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.”
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
Genre: Literary Fiction
What you need to know: It’s a heavy read, featuring social issues, multiple viewpoints, and a non-linear timeline. Also, according to BOTM Editorial Director Siobhan Jones, it’s not like Orange is the New Black. At all.
Synposis: “It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living.
“Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room demonstrates new levels of mastery and depth in Kushner’s work. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined, a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America.”
Still Lives by Maria Hummel
What you need to know:Still Live features a feminist take on our society’s obsession with violence against women. It’s also hella creepy.
Synopsis: “Kim Lord is an avant-garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibition Still Lives is comprised of self-portraits depicting herself as famous, murdered womem—the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Nicole Brown Simpson, among many others—and the works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women.
“As the city’s richest art patrons pour into the Rocque Museum’s opening night, all the staff, including editor Maggie Richter, hope the event will be enough to save the historic institution’s flailing finances. Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own gala.
“Fear mounts as the hours and days drag on and Lord remains missing. Suspicion falls on the up-and-coming gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, who happens to be Maggie’s ex. A rogue’s gallery of eccentric art world figures could also have motive for the act, and as Maggie gets drawn into her own investigation of Lord’s disappearance, she’ll come to suspect all of those closest to her.
“Set against a culture that often fetishizes violence, Still Lives is a page-turning exodus into the art world’s hall of mirrors, and one woman’s journey into the belly of an industry flooded with money and secrets.”
Earn Spend Live’s May BOTM Pick: How to Walk Away
Meleah and I are unanimous on this one. While we love getting our BOTM books in each month, one of our biggest, most consistent gripes is that there are way too many thrillers and mysteries and not enough good-ole-fashioned romance. So hey, BOTM, good job this month!