Of all the Book of the Month Club selections, I don’t think I’ve been as excited for a grand reveal as I am with the September choices. Having officially settled into my new place, I’m just beginning to work on a lot of projects which, if I’m being honest, have gotten in the way of my ability to devour books and draft book reviews as rapidly as I know I am capable of.
I’ve been networking all summer long, writing during whatever off-periods I might have, and sauntering the aisles of book stores in hopes of triggering some semblance of motivation. Of course, I love everything about building these stories for our audience, and every comment, every like and share is a constant reminder that despite some social drawbacks, there are people out there, be it a handful or hundreds, who are visiting our blog. If that’s not motivation, then I don’t know what is.
It also helps to have an awesome staff behind this machine called a website, each and every contributor brings something special to Paperback Paris. And it’s because of them and all of you why we keep moving.
Hopefully, September will take it easy on me and provide me with enough time and energy to power through all the selections on my shelf sooner than later. Even so, I am absolutely thrilled to present you all with these amazing reads: from a special novel I’ve raved so much about in the past as “the best book of the year” to a follow-up by a new favorite author of mine, here are my thoughts on this month’s BOTM choices.
These are Book of the Month’s September 2017 Selections
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Disclaimer (11/1/17): Please note that Paperback Paris is no longer affiliated with Book of the Month, and that the links mentioned in this post are no longer active.
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Sourdough, Robin Sloan
Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her—feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.
Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up.
When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?
Thoughts: I chuckled a bit reading this synopsis, and that’s a good thing. It sounds hilarious. However…how does bread and tech meld together in a book? Ehh, I’m not sure this is something on my radar at the moment.
Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers.
Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.
Thoughts: *cracks knuckles* Y’all, there is A LOT I could say about this book—in fact, I did already, and you can read it all here if you have the bandwidth for it—but let me cut straight to the chase: This is the best book of the year (so far). There has only been one other book that I’ve read this year to come as any book could get to rival the might and intellect pulsing within Ward’s forthcoming novel. Stay tuned: I’ll be name dropping that on in a few more weeks, though if you follow me on Instagram, you should already know.
Anywho, I received this one as an ARC earlier in the year (which explains why it’s not my selection, but also because I’ll be opting for the original copy if it has a matte cover because I love matte-finished covers!) and I am not kidding when I say I literally had to fight back the fucking feels while reading this amazing masterpiece. Maybe this speaks to my lack of literary breadth, but this is one of the greatest works of fiction I’ve ever read in my entire life. If you believe so too, stick around for my full review of Sing, Unburied, Sing on its release date. I’d love to chat with you all about it!
(I just realized I wrote an entire two paragraphs about this book…Lord, help me.)
Psst: I’d also highly recommend you pick up her book Salvage the Bones when you get the chance, it won the National Book Award, and it’s fucking incredible. OK, I’M DONE!
Emma in the Night, Wendy Walker
One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.
Thoughts: This one sounds amazing! I covered it in my Paperback Preview for August and I’ve been eyeballing this one at the library, too! Looks like that certain Marvel has amazing taste in not only music but breakneck books as well! Well played, Krysten.
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
My September Pick: I’ve never wanted to rescue a character as much as I wanted to rescue Lydia in Everything I Never Told You. Ng writes with the sort of spot-on poignancy reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro, and that’s something I will gladly surrender my dollar bills for.
Telling by the synopsis,Little Fires Everywhere seems just as provoking as her debut, and I love the fact that we have an author like Ng who takes risks with spotlighting narratives native to her own but isn’t afraid to branch out with plot-twists in her stories.
Lies She Told, Cate Holahan
Sometimes the truth is darker than fiction.
Liza Jones has thirty days to write the thriller that could put her back on the bestseller list. In the meantime, she’s struggling to start a family with her husband, who is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. With stresses weighing down in both her professional and her personal life, Liza escapes into writing her latest heroine.
Beth is a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home alone providing for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, Beth sets out to catch him in the act and make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes it, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the river.
Then the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the Hudson and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Before her deadline is up, Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her, including herself. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.
Thoughts: HOLY FUCKING SHIT THIS BOOK SOUNDS AWESOME. I don’t say this lightly, but Lies She Told sounds exactly like Gone Girl, if Amy Dunne were ever to put the pen to the pad and plot Nick’s death instead of her own. Holy shit, you guys. I was a bit tired of reading thrillers, but I’ll definitely be grabbing this one as an added extra.
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