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Book of the Month is a monthly book subscription box that offers BOTM subscribers five selections to choose from each month. You can choose one hardback book for $14.99, add up to two more for $9.99 each, or skip the month altogether if nothing interests you. (If you don’t know, those are bargain prices.) The BOTM selections are always the 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 July selections!
What you need to know: Although I am not a fan of forbidden love (it never seems to end well, right? Or am I just scarred from Atonement?), but The Summer Wives still caught my eye. It’s definitely the kind of book that is begging for a beautiful movie adaptation, but it’s a page-turner as-is.
Synopsis: In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda’s catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister—all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion—is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.
But beneath the island’s patrician surface, there are really two clans: the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel’s privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he’s determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph’s enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and as the summer winds to its end, Miranda’s caught in a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop’s hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the island for nearly two decades.
Now, in the landmark summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned Shakespearean actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same—determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda’s stepfather 18 years earlier. What’s more, Miranda herself is no longer a naïve teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice for the man she once loved … even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.
Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
What you need to know: Ghosted is a love story that you might think you already know, but there’s more to the story than you think. After a slow build, readers will be engrossed in this quick read and unable to put it down. This mystery is Rosie Walsh’s debut novel.
Synopsis: When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.
Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened—there must be an explanation.
Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
What you need to know: Settle in for a long, epic tale if you choose Spinning Silver. Topping 400 pages, this re-imagining of Rumpelstiltskin is a BOTM-certified long read. If you love female protagonists, fairy tales, magic, and/or Once Upon A Time, this is going to be up your alley.
Synopsis: Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders … but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed—and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.
But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth—especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
What you need to know: The Last Time I Lied is the kind of book you’ll stay up all night reading. It’s a scary, creepy book that will change the way you look at sleepaway camp, by dropping one piece of the puzzle at a time and leaving you unsure which characters you can even trust.
Synopsis: Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she—or anyone—saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.
Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings—massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.
Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from 15 years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.
And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.
The Girl From Blind River by Gale Massey
Genre: Crime Fiction
What you need to know: The Girl from Blind River is a psychological novel that is about more than just murder. It’s a tale of grit and determination, and, well, still a bit of murder.
Synopsis: Everyone says the Elders family members are nothing but cheats, thieves, and convicts―a fact 19-year-old Jamie Elders has been trying desperately to escape. She may have the natural talent of a poker savant, but her dreams of going pro and getting the hell out of the tiny town of Blind River, New York, are going nowhere fast. Especially once she lands in a huge pile of debt to her uncle Loyal.
At Loyal’s beck and call until her debt is repaid, Jamie can’t easily walk away―not with her younger brother Toby left at his mercy. So when Loyal demands Jamie’s help cleaning up a mess late one night, she has no choice but to agree. But disposing of a dead man and covering up his connection to the town’s most powerful judge goes beyond family duty. When it comes out that the victim was a beloved athlete and Loyal pins the murder on Toby, only Jamie can save him. But with a dogged detective on her trail and her own future at stake, she’ll have to decide: embrace her inner criminal, or defy it―and face the consequences.
Our July BOTM Pick: Spinning Silver
This month is a classic example of BOTM’s penchant for selecting four different murder books and claiming that they’re differing genres. I know some people like murder books, but from our videos, you that Elise, who is the other editor who tackles these reviews, definitely does not. That said: We did not pick Spinning Silver just because it’s not murder-y. We picked it because we absolutely cannot resist a feminist fairy tale retelling. Can you?