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Book of the Month February 2019 Unboxing & Review

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I love Book of the Month, and if you love books, you’re probably going to love it, too. It’s a monthly book subscription box that offers BOTM subscribers five carefully curated choices. 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 – it’s honestly only happened to me once).

My personal favorite part of Book of the Month is that the 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. Checking out the selections each month has kept me up-to-date on the latest happenings in the book world and given me some (much-needed) cool points with my book worm friends.

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BOTM sends us all five books to review for you guys each month; so here’s the scoop on the February selections!

(And don’t forget to use code YESPLZ for a free book when you sign up for Book of the Month!)

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

What you need to know: This feminist family saga is for anyone who is more interested in books than dating. Bonus? BotM subscribers get Rum’s debut novel a month before the rest of the world. Oh, and Etaf Rum isn’t just an author — she’s also a well-known #bookstagrammer, @booksandbeans. (That’s her account that we’ve embedded up there.)

Synopsis: Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children—four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family—knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Genre: Young Adult

What you need to know: On the Come Up is the much anticipated second novel from Angie Thomas, author of the wildly popular book, The Hate U Give. The wait list at your library is probably already a mile long.

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

Genre: Thriller

What you need to know: It wouldn’t be Book of the Month Club without at least one thriller. This month’s thriller, The Winter Sister, will hook you from the first line: “When they found my sister’s body, the flyers we’d hung around town were still crisp against the telephone poles.”

Synopsis: Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

Genre: Historical Fiction

What you need to know: For fans of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, all you need to know is that this was guest-judge Taylor Jenkins Reid’s selection. For everyone who hasn’t read Evelyn Hugo yet, check out The Age of Light if you like stories about artists, Paris, and women who demand to be taken seriously.

Synopsis: “I’d rather take a picture than be one,” says Lee Miller after she arrives in Paris in 1929. Yearning for a different life and haunted by her past, Lee leaves behind a successful modeling career to pursue her dream of being an artist. She catches the eye of the famous Surrealist Man Ray, and though he wants to use her only as a model, Lee convinces him to teach her photography as well. Man Ray is an egotistical, charismatic force, and their personal and professional lives become intimately entwined as the lines between maker and muse begin to blur.

Lee’s story unfolds against the sumptuous backdrop of bohemian Paris, with nights spent at smoky cabarets, opium dens, and wild parties, and days spent working with Man Ray to discover radical new photography techniques. But as Lee begins to find success as an artist in her own right, Man Ray’s jealousy spirals out of control, and soon their mutual betrayals threaten to destroy them both.

Told in interweaving timelines of 1930s Paris and war-torn Europe during WWII, this sensuous, richly detailed debut brings Lee Miller—a brilliant and pioneering artist—out of the shadows of a man’s legacy and into the light.

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Genre: Sci-Fi

What you need to know: Early Riser is a dystopian novel, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Fforde’s writing is known for being quick-witted, and Early Riser is reportedly no exception. Plot-wise, be prepared for a slow start that builds to an action-packed story.

Synopsis: Every Winter, the human population hibernates. During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness, devoid of human activity.

Well, not quite.

Your name is Charlie Worthing and it’s your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses. You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact borne of the sleeping mind.

When the dreams start to kill people, it’s unsettling. When you get the dreams too, it’s weird. When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity.

But teasing truth from the Winter is never easy: You have to avoid the Villains and their penchant for murder, kidnapping, and stamp collecting, ensure you aren’t eaten by Nightwalkers, whose thirst for human flesh can only be satisfied by comfort food, and sidestep the increasingly less-than-mythical WinterVolk.

But so long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you’ll be fine.

Our February BOTM Pick: A Woman Is No Man

A Woman is No Man is a novel that feels both timeless and timely. It’s also about immigration, which has been in the news more in the past few weeks than it has been in some full years. It’s about Palestine, a country that has been embroiled in conflict for the better part of the last century. And, at it’s core, it’s a story of a woman finding her place in her family and in the world.

Also: I feel like I should come clean and tell you that heading is disingenuous, because honestly my little feminist heart was torn between A Woman is No Man and The Age of Light (I think I was a tortured artist in a past life or something), so I’d likely have gotten both. However, the rules of these reviews say I have to pick one, and I am a sucker for the Book of the Month exclusives. Why wouldn’t you read a book a month before anyone else if you have the chance?

What would you pick this month?

Get it by signing up for Book of the Month now!

Last modified on March 8th, 2019

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