December 2019 Book of the Month Picks

45294613Dear Edward
by Ann Napolitano 

352 Pages 

Fiction

January 6, 2020 release 

Goodreads Average: 4.15

In the face of tragedy, what does it take to find joy?

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.



43263378The Glittering Hour 

by Iona Grey

480 Pages 

Historical Fiction / Romance 

December 10, 2019 release 

Goodreads Average: 4.38

An unforgettable historical about true love found and lost and the secrets we keep from one another from an award-winning author

Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying on just the right side of scandal, all while running from the life her parents would choose for her.

Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina’s orbit one night and can never let her go even while knowing someone of her stature could never end up with someone of his. Except Selina falls hard for Lawrence, envisioning a life of true happiness. But when tragedy strikes, Selina finds herself choosing what’s safe over what’s right.

Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, Iona Grey’s The Glittering Hour is an epic novel of passion, heartache and loss.


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The Wives 

by Tarryn Fisher 

256 Pages 

Thriller / Mystery 

December 30, 2019 Release 

Goodreads Average: 4.07

Imagine that your husband has two other wives.

You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.

But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.

You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.

Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?

And who is his mysterious third wife?


41150487. sy475 Red, White, & Royal Blue 
by Casey McQuiston 

421 Pages 

Romance / LGBT / New Adult 

May 14, 2019 Release 

Goodreads Average: 4.39

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.


43834909Long Bright River
by Liz Moore 

496 Pages 

Mystery / Thriller 

January 7, 2020 Release 

Goodreads Average: 4.23

Two sisters travel the same streets,though their lives couldn’t be more different.
Then one of them goes missing.

In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.

Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit–and her sister–before it’s too late.

Alternating its present-day mystery with the story of the sisters’ childhood and adolescence, Long Bright River is at once heart-pounding and heart-wrenching: a gripping suspense novel that is also a moving story of sisters, addiction, and the formidable ties that persist between place, family, and fate.


 

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I ❤️ Book of the Month!

I know I’ve talked about Book of the Month on my blog before, and a lot of you may know that I adore this subscription box. There are lot of sub boxes out there that comes with all sorts of frills and merch along the with books, but it definitely shows in the price point (Owl Crate is $29.99 a box plus shipping!) and a lot of that stuff just ends up as clutter. I’ve always loved that Book of the Month keeps things simple, sending you just a book and a bookmark each month, and the cost breaks down to $14.99 per book for brand new release, hardback books. (And you can add up to two more books each month by using another credit or opting to pay $9.99.) This service is how I’ve discovered some of my all-time favorite books (Hello, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I love you so much.)

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Actual light of my life, tbh.

BOTM is now rolling out a new subscription service specifically for young adult books, and I’ve been invited to be an affiliate with them, so I wanted to take a minute to talk about Book of the Month YA!

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If you sign up this month, these are the featured books. If you’re familiar with Book of the Month, you can see it has the same basic setup. The home page gives you the bare basics about each book, with little tabs to mark things like debut authors or repeat authors on BOTM. Clicking on each book will take you to a page with a more detailed synopsis.

BOTM always carries a variety of genres each month, so there should be something that catches your eye no matter what your personal tastes are. And if you’re not feeling the selections for a particular month, you can always skip it and the credit rolls over to the next month.

Book of the Month YA has a coupon code active right now to get your first book for $9.99. Enter FLEX at checkout to get the discount! If you already have a regular Book of the Month account, these selections are also available as add-ons for the regular service, meaning you’d be able to tack one of these onto your order along with one of the August adult BOTM selections. But if you primarily read YA, Book of the Month YA would definitely be the better choice for you!

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Please note that this post contains affiliate links which provide me with a small commission if you sign up after clicking on them. These do not increase the cost to you!

Review – The Air You Breathe, by Frances de Pontes Peebles


The Air You Breathe
by Frances de Pontes Peebles

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 464 Pages

Release date: August 21, 2018

Synopsis: 

The story of an intense female friendship fueled by affection, envy and pride–and each woman’s fear that she would be nothing without the other.

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.

rating

five

“Fame is longing. Not yours, but the audience’s. A star is nothing more, nothing less, than the public face of private desire.” 

The Air You Breathe is a story about music, ambition, power, and love. Dores has a lopsided friendship with Graça, tainted by Graça’s selfishness and Dores’ position as a servant in her home. As the girls grow older, sexuality further complicates things. If your reading experience is anything like mine, you will find yourself in the unusual position of disliking Graça while totally understanding why Dores loves her. Despite all her flaws, she is charismatic, almost magnetic, and Dores would do almost anything for her.

While factors like classism make the scenario in The Air You Breathe particularly extreme, I think most of us will relate to Dores on some level. We’ve all had a friend or significant other who was clearly less invested in the relationship than we were. We’ve all felt unappreciated and stuck around anyway, at least for a while. The relationship between the two girls is so well developed and believable, and watching it change as they grew up together was captivating, with love and resentment playing equal parts.

“If remembering tells us who we are, then forgetting keeps us sane. If we recalled every song we’d ever heard, every touch we’d ever felt, every pain no matter how small, every sadness no matter how petty, every joy no matter how selfish, we could surely lose our minds.” 

The novel is intensely atmospheric, transporting us from 1930’s Brazil to 1940’s Hollywood. Bazil is characterized by the samba music both Graça and Dores fall in love with. Hollywood is equal parts glamour and struggle, as fame and success can’t shield the characters from racism and suspicion.

The author’s writing style is eloquent, almost poetic, and simply watching her play with words was one of the highlights of the novel. This worked particularly well as it is told from Dores’ point of view, and she is passionate about writing. Dores develops a distinct voice and her love of language shines through on every single page. The Air You Breathe is an emotional, beautiful read.

Purchase links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Thank you for reading! If you’ve read The Air You Breathe, please share your thoughts in the comments! What’s another novel you’ve read lately where relationships between female characters were integral to the plot?

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Review – The Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker

The Silence of the Girls
by Pat Barker

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology

Length: 293 Pages

Release date: September 4, 2018

Synopsis:

The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, which continues to wage bloody war over a stolen woman: Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman watches and waits for the war’s outcome: Briseis. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.

When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and coolly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position to observe the two men driving the Greek forces in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate, not only of Briseis’s people, but also of the ancient world at large.

Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war–the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead–all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker’s latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives–and it is nothing short of magnificent.

rating

five

Would you really have married the man who’d killed your brothers?

Well, first of all, I wouldn’t have been given a choice. But yes, probably. Yes. I was a slave, and a slave will do anything, anything at all, to stop being a thing and become a person again.

While it is accurate to say that The Silence of the Girls is a retelling of the Trojan War, that may give you a false impression of the novel. This is not a story about brutality on the battlefield. It’s not a story about the injustice of premature death. While these things make appearances in the narrative, The Silence of the Girls is about the slow, tragic, spiritual death that befalls the women who are held captive in times of war.

The story primarily focuses on Briseis, the unwilling concubine of Achilles. She has been taken as spoils of war and has no opportunity to grieve the deaths of her family before being thrown into Achilles’ bed. Her desperation and simmering resentment are somewhat reminiscent of Offred’s demeanor throughout The Handmaid’s Tale. 

I do what no man before me has ever done, I kiss the hands of the man who killed my son. 

Those words echoed round me, as I stood in the storage hut, surrounded on a ll sides by the wealth Achilles had plundered from burning cities. I thought: And I do what countless woman before me have been forced to do. I spread my legs for the man who killed my husband and my brothers. 

As you might expect, The Silence of the Girls has a fiercely feminist bent to it. The sole aim of this novel seems to be to give voice to women who are largely forgotten in these stories. While it is easy in the abstract to see women like Briseis and know that their fates are tragic, this novel brings that tragedy into sharp focus on each page. Briseis’ day to day life is broken up with moments seemingly designed to break her down. While the nights spent with her captor may be the most sensational aspect of this, perhaps more heartbreaking is are the moments when reminders of her old life bleed into the present in the cruelest ways, such as when she says an enemy solider wearing a tunic she had made for her slaughtered father.

The overall tone of the writing feels very modern considering the subject matter. Depending on yours tastes, you may find it a bit anachronistic or you may simply find it immensely readable. Personally, I thought the style worked very well and allowed the story to flow naturally for a modern audience. And while it deals with tragedy and dehumanization, Briseis seems to find a sense of hope and light, though it may be tinged with anger. Her story will light a fire in your soul.

We’re going to survive–our songs, our stories. They’ll never be able to forget us. Decades after the last man who fought at Troy is dead, their sons will remember the songs their Trojan mothers sang to them. We’ll be in their dreams–and in their worst nightmares too.

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Purchase links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Thank you for reading! Do you have a favorite modern novel that tells the story of an ancient myth? Do you prefer stories which stick closely to the original mythology or do you prefer when an author puts their own spin on the story? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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