Who will be the newest Aardvark Author?
Apparently trying to predict selections for a new subscription box comes with some growing pains.
I wasn’t kidding last month when I said that I hadn’t sussed out any patterns to Aardvark Book Club’s selections (yet). I was 1/5 last month, although two of my Aardvark picks ended up being Book of the Month selections. Aardvark is new, which means that it is hard to predict their selections. Their unpredictability is compounded by their willingness to pick books released in the previous month. Liar, Dreamer, Thief, for example, was a February Aardvark pick that actually released January 10, 2023. I expect that to change as Aardvark adds subscribers, making publishing companies more willing to work with them.
Will I do better this month? Well, I certainly can’t do worse! Each month gives us more information about the personality of Aardvark’s picks.
Here are my top 8 guesses (and one confirmed pick!) about what could be coming to multi-colored box near you:
Big Swiss by Jen Begin
CONFIRMED PICK– WHICH MONTH UNKNOWN
|Publication Date:||February 7, 2023|
From the Publisher: "A brilliantly original and funny novel about a sex therapist’s transcriptionist who falls in love with a client while listening to her sessions. When they accidentally meet in real life, an explosive affair ensues.
Greta lives with her friend Sabine in an ancient Dutch farmhouse in Hudson, New York. She spends her days transcribing therapy sessions for a sex coach who calls himself Om. She becomes infatuated with his newest client, a repressed married woman she affectionately refers to as Big Swiss, since she’s tall, stoic, and originally from Switzerland. They both have dark histories, but Big Swiss chooses to remain unattached to her suffering while Greta continues to be tortured by her past.
One day, Greta recognizes Big Swiss’s voice at the dog park. In a panic, she introduces herself with a fake name and they quickly become enmeshed. Although Big Swiss is unaware of Greta’s true identity, Greta has never been more herself with anyone.
Bold, outlandish, and filled with irresistible characters, Big Swiss is both a love story and also a deft examination of infidelity, mental health, sexual stereotypes, and more—from an amazingly talented, one-of-a-kind voice in contemporary fiction.”
A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher
|Publication Date:||March 28, 2023|
From the publisher: "A haunting Southern Gothic from an award-winning master of suspense, A House With Good Bones explores the dark, twisted roots lurking just beneath the veneer of a perfect home and family.
“Mom seems off.”
Her brother’s words echo in Sam Montgomery’s ear as she turns onto the quiet North Carolina street where their mother lives alone.
She brushes the thought away as she climbs the front steps. Sam’s excited for this rare extended visit, and looking forward to nights with just the two of them, drinking boxed wine, watching murder mystery shows, and guessing who the killer is long before the characters figure it out.
But stepping inside, she quickly realizes home isn’t what it used to be. Gone is the warm, cluttered charm her mom is known for; now the walls are painted a sterile white. Her mom jumps at the smallest noises and looks over her shoulder even when she’s the only person in the room. And when Sam steps out back to clear her head, she finds a jar of teeth hidden beneath the magazine-worthy rose bushes, and vultures are circling the garden from above.
To find out what’s got her mom so frightened in her own home, Sam will go digging for the truth. But some secrets are better left buried.”
The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise by Colleen Oakley
|Publication Date:||March 28, 2023|
From the publisher: "Twenty-one-year-old Tanner Quimby needs a place to live. Preferably one where she can continue sitting around in sweatpants and playing video games nineteen hours a day. Since she has no credit or money to speak of, her options are limited, so when an opportunity to work as a live-in caregiver for an elderly woman falls into her lap, she takes it.
One slip on the rug. That’s all it took for Louise Wilt’s daughter to demand that Louise have a full-time nanny living with her. Never mind that she can still walk fine, finish her daily crossword puzzle, and pour the two fingers of vodka she drinks every afternoon. Bottom line — Louise wants a caretaker even less than Tanner wants to be one.
The two start off their living arrangement happily ignoring each other until Tanner starts to notice things—weird things. Like, why does Louise keep her garden shed locked up tighter than a prison? And why is the local news fixated on the suspect of one of the biggest jewelry heists in American history who looks eerily like Louise? And why does Louise suddenly appear in her room, with a packed bag at 1 a.m. insisting that they leave town immediately?
Thus begins the story of a not-to-be-underestimated elderly woman and an aimless young woman who—if they can outrun the mistakes of their past—might just have the greatest adventure of their lives.”
American Mermaid by Julia Langbein
|Publication Date:||March 21, 2023|
From the publisher: "A brilliantly funny and razor-tongued debut which follows a writer lured to Los Angeles to adapt her feminist mermaid novel into a big-budget action film, who believes her heroine has come to life to take revenge for Hollywood's violations
Penelope Schleeman, a consistently broke Connecticut high school teacher, is as surprised as anyone when her sensitive debut novel, “American Mermaid”—the story of a wheelchair-bound scientist named Sylvia who discovers that her withered legs are the vestiges of a powerful tail—becomes a bestseller. Penelope soon finds herself lured to LA by promises of easy money to co-write the “American Mermaid” screenplay for a major studio with a pair of male hacks.
As the studio pressures Penelope to change “American Mermaid” from the story of a fierce, androgynous eco-warrior to a teen sex object in a clam bra, strange things start to happen. Threats appear in the screenplay draft; siren calls lure people into danger. When Penelope’s screenwriting partners try to kill Sylvia off entirely in a bitterly false but cinematic end, matters off the page escalate. Is Penelope losing her mind, or is Sylvia among us?
American Mermaid follows a young woman braving a world of casual smiles and ruthless calculation, where she discovers a beating heart in her own fiction–a creature she’ll do anything to protect. By turns both a comic and fabulously insightful tale of two female characters in search of truth, love, and self-acceptance as they move between worlds without giving up their voices.”
The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon
|Publication Date:||March 21, 2023|
From the publisher: "One small town, one big prize, one handsome stranger...
Nothing ever changes in Redford, Georgia. That’s what freelance editor Jess Reid loves about her hometown–and part of what keeps her from leaving. Content taking care of her father, a car mechanic who singlehandedly raised her after her mom skipped out, Jess is resigned to a safe, unremarkable existence…until Jasper Wilhelm, the town’s eccentric benefactor, dies suddenly and leaves behind the opportunity of a lifetime.
Financial advisor Carter Barclay has been too busy to visit his grandfather in Redford, but he’s heard countless stories about the town and its zany residents from Jasper. A small, insular town in Georgia is the last place Carter expects to be spending his summer–but it seems his grandfather had one final trick up his sleeve.
At the funeral, it’s revealed that Jasper has devised a massive, high-stakes game for the people of Redford, with the winning duo taking home his entire fortune. The catch? He’s already taken the liberty of pairing them up. As tensions of all kinds rise between Jess and Carter, and the life-changing prize looms closer, the two must decide what they’re willing to risk to change their lives. A love story full of spirit and hijinks, The Only Game in Town is a funny, quirky homage to the people we get to call home.”
A Likely Story by Leigh Abrasion
|Publication Date:||March 14, 2023|
From the publisher: "The only child of an iconic American novelist discovers a shocking tangle of family secrets that upends everything she thought she knew about her parents, her gilded childhood, and her own stalled writing career.
Growing up in the nineties in New York City as the only child of famous parents was both a blessing and a curse for Isabelle Manning. Her beautiful society hostess mother, Claire, and New York Times bestselling author father, Ward, were the city’s intellectual It couple. Ward’s glamorous obligations often took him away from Isabelle, but Claire made sure her childhood was always filled with magic and love.
Now an adult, all Isabelle wants is to be a successful writer like her father but after many false starts and the unexpected death of her mother, she faces her upcoming thirty-fifth birthday alone and on the verge of a breakdown. Her anxiety only skyrockets when she uncovers some shocking truths about her parents and begins wondering if everything she knew about her family was all based on an elaborate lie.
Wry, wise, and propulsive, A Likely Story is punctuated with fragments of a compulsively readable book-within-a-book about a woman determined to steal back the spotlight from a man who has cheated his way to the top. The characters seem eerily familiar but is the plot based on fact? And more importantly, who is the author?”
At Sea by Emma Fedor
|Publication Date:||March 7, 2023|
From the publisher: "When Cara and Brendan first meet, she’s fresh out of college, recovering from the recent death of her mother and spending time on Martha’s Vineyard while trying to figure out her next steps. She’s swept away by Brendan’s humor and charm and intoxicated by his thrilling, dangerous secret: he claims that he can breathe underwater.
He shows Cara his gills. He dives beneath the waves for many minutes at a time. He offers her the most plausible of explanations: that he is a member of the United States Army Special Forces and has undergone top secret experimental surgery. And Cara, struck by the force of his devotion, his unstoppable charisma, and most of all, the casual truth of his claim, believes him.
Their summer romance quickly turns serious when Cara gets pregnant. When their son, Micah, is born, she is sure their happy ending is underway. Still, she is forced to contend with Brendan’s dramatic moods, and struggles to overlook his unexplained disappearances and the weight of his dangerous secrets. It must be PTSD, and Cara is determined to stay strong for her young family—until he and baby Micah unexpectedly vanish, leaving her desolate and alone.
Five years later, Cara is still struggling to move forward, married to another man and trying to rebuild her life, when a local fisherman announces he’s spotted a man and small child treading water in Nantucket Sound. The news rekindles Cara’s never-abandoned hope that her child may still be alive. As she fights to untangle delusion from reality, and revisits a past she’s worked hard to reconcile, she’s determined to learn the truth about her lost love and finally find her son.”
What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez
|Publication Date:||March 7, 2023|
From the publisher: "A deeply powerful, raw debut novel that's "equal measures hilarious and haunting" (Crystal Hana Kim), of a Puerto Rican family in Staten Island who discovers their long‑missing sister is potentially alive and cast on a reality TV show, and they set out to bring her home.
The Ramirez women of Staten Island orbit around absence. When thirteen‑year‑old middle child Ruthy disappeared after track practice without a trace, it left the family scarred and scrambling. One night, twelve years later, oldest sister Jessica spots a woman on her TV screen in Catfight, a raunchy reality show. She rushes to tell her younger sister, Nina: This woman’s hair is dyed red, and she calls herself Ruby, but the beauty mark under her left eye is instantly recognizable. Could it be Ruthy, after all this time?
The years since Ruthy’s disappearance haven’t been easy on the Ramirez family. It’s 2008, and their mother, Dolores, still struggles with the loss, Jessica juggles a newborn baby with her hospital job, and Nina, after four successful years at college, has returned home to medical school rejections and is forced to work in the mall folding tiny bedazzled thongs at the lingerie store.
After seeing maybe‑Ruthy on their screen, Jessica and Nina hatch a plan to drive to where the show is filmed in search of their long‑lost sister. When Dolores catches wind of their scheme, she insists on joining, along with her pot-stirring holy roller best friend, Irene. What follows is a family road trip and reckoning that will force the Ramirez women to finally face the past and look toward a future—with or without Ruthy in it.
What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is a vivid family portrait, in all its shattered reality, exploring the familial bonds between women and cycles of generational violence, colonialism, race, and silence, replete with snark, resentment, tenderness, and, of course, love.”
Dust Child by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
|Publication Date:||March 14, 2023|
From the publisher: "From the internationally bestselling author of The Mountains Sing, a suspenseful and moving saga about family secrets, hidden trauma, and the overriding power of forgiveness, set during the war and in present-day Việt Nam.
In 1969, sisters Trang and Quỳnh, desperate to help their parents pay off debts, leave their rural village and become “bar girls” in Sài Gòn, drinking, flirting (and more) with American GIs in return for money. As the war moves closer to the city, the once-innocent Trang gets swept up in an irresistible romance with a young and charming American helicopter pilot, Dan. Decades later, Dan returns to Việt Nam with his wife, Linda, hoping to find a way to heal from his PTSD and, unbeknownst to her, reckon with secrets from his past.
At the same time, Phong—the son of a Black American soldier and a Vietnamese woman—embarks on a search to find both his parents and a way out of Việt Nam. Abandoned in front of an orphanage, Phong grew up being called “the dust of life,” “Black American imperialist,” and “child of the enemy,” and he dreams of a better life for himself and his family in the U.S.
Past and present converge as these characters come together to confront decisions made during a time of war—decisions that force them to look deep within and find common ground across race, generation, culture, and language. Suspenseful, poetic, and perfect for readers of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, Dust Child tells an unforgettable and immersive story of how those who inherited tragedy can redefine their destinies through love, hard-earned wisdom, compassion, courage, and joy. “