What “may” we see in our blue boxes this month?
Last month contained a few surprises. I did not think that BOTM would feature an established writer like Jeannette Walls. A few books were below a four-star rating on Goodreads. BOTM did not choose a single repeat author despite the fact that they had several releasing in April or early May. And let’s not forget about ALL the romances. So many romances last month. Only two of my April predictions and one add-on were selected.
Like I mentioned last month, I feel like BOTM has been experimenting with their selections lately. However, I’m not ready to give up on a few of my selections from last month.
What do I hope to see?
Here are my top 9 guesses about what could be coming to a blue box near you:
The Daydreams by Laura Hankin
BOTM REPEAT AUTHOR (ADD-ON ONLY)
|Publication Date:||May 2, 2023|
From the Publisher: "A deliciously entertaining novel about the stars of a popular teen show from the early 2000s—and the reunion special, thirteen years after their scandalous flameout, that will either be their last chance at redemption, or destroy them all for good."
Back in 2004, The Daydreams had it all: a cast of innocent-seeming teenagers acting and singing their hearts out, amazing ratings, and a will-they-or-won’t-they romance that steamed up fan fiction forums. Then, during the live season two finale, it all imploded, leaving everyone scrambling to understand why.
Afterward, the four stars went down very different paths. Kat is now a lawyer in Washington, DC. Liana is the bored wife of a famous athlete. Noah, the show’s golden boy, emerged unscathed and is poised to become a household name. And Summer, the object of Noah’s fictional (and maybe real-life) affections, is the cautionary tale.
But now the fans are demanding a reunion special. The stars all have private reasons to come back: forgiveness, revenge, a second chance with a first love. But as they tentatively rediscover the magic of the original show, old secrets threaten to resurface—including the real reason behind their downfall.
Will this reunion be a chance to make things right? Or will it be the biggest mess the world has ever seen? No matter what, the ratings will be wild.”
The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer
|Publication Date:||May 9, 2023|
From the publisher: "Mikki Brammer's The Collected Regrets of Clover is a big-hearted and life-affirming debut about a death doula who, in caring for others at the end of their life, has forgotten how to live her own, for readers of The Midnight Library.
What’s the point of giving someone a beautiful death if you can’t give yourself a beautiful life?
From the day she watched her kindergarten teacher drop dead during a dramatic telling of Peter Rabbit, Clover Brooks has felt a stronger connection with the dying than she has with the living. After the beloved grandfather who raised her dies alone while she is traveling, Clover becomes a death doula in New York City, dedicating her life to ushering people peacefully through their end-of-life process.
Clover spends so much time with the dying that she has no life of her own, until the final wishes of a feisty old woman send Clover on a trip across the country to uncover a forgotten love story––and perhaps, her own happy ending. As she finds herself struggling to navigate the uncharted roads of romance and friendship, Clover is forced to examine what she really wants, and whether she’ll have the courage to go after it.
Probing, clever, and hopeful, The Collected Regrets of Clover turns the normally taboo subject of death into a reason to celebrate life.”
Late Bloomers by Deepa Varadarajan
|Publication Date:||May 6, 2023|
From the publisher: "An Indian American family is turned upside down when the parents split up thirty-six years into their arranged marriage in this witty, big-hearted debut.
Equal parts funny and heartbreaking, Late Bloomers is a charming story about starting over, stumbling, and finding yourself at any age.”–Jennifer Close, author of Marrying the Ketchups
I have a soft spot for underdogs. And late bloomers. You’ve told me a lot of things about yourself, so let me tell you something about me.
After thirty-six years of a dutiful but unhappy arranged marriage, recently divorced Suresh and Lata Raman find themselves starting new paths in life. Suresh is trying to navigate the world of online dating on a website that caters to Indians and is striking out at every turn–until he meets a mysterious, devastatingly attractive younger woman who seems to be smitten with him. Lata is enjoying her newfound independence, but she’s caught off guard when a professor in his early sixties starts to flirt with her.
Meanwhile, Suresh and Lata’s daughter, Priya, thinks her father’s online pursuits are distasteful even as she embarks upon a clandestine affair of her own. And their son, Nikesh, pretends at a seemingly perfect marriage with his law-firm colleague and their young son, but hides the truth of what his relationship really entails. Over the course of three weeks in August, the whole family will uncover one another’s secrets, confront the limits of love and loyalty, and explore life’s second chances.
Charming, funny, and moving, Late Bloomers introduces a delightful new voice in fiction with the story of four individuals trying to understand how to be happy in their own lives–and as a family.”
Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs
|Publication Date:||May 30, 2023|
From the publisher: "In this spellbinding debut novel, two estranged half-sisters tasked with guarding their family's library of magical books must work together to unravel a deadly secret at the heart of their collection--a tale of familial loyalty and betrayal, and the pursuit of magic and power.
For generations, the Kalotay family has guarded a collection of ancient and rare books. Books that let a person walk through walls or manipulate the elements–books of magic that half-sisters Joanna and Esther have been raised to revere and protect.
All magic comes with a price, though, and for years the sisters have been separated. Esther has fled to a remote base in Antarctica to escape the fate that killed her own mother, and Joanna’s isolated herself in their family home in Vermont, devoting her life to the study of these cherished volumes. But after their father dies suddenly while reading a book Joanna has never seen before, the sisters must reunite to preserve their family legacy. In the process, they’ll uncover a world of magic far bigger and more dangerous than they ever imagined, and all the secrets their parents kept hidden; secrets that span centuries, continents, and even other libraries . . .
In the great tradition of Ninth House, The Magicians, and Practical Magic, this is a suspenseful and richly atmospheric novel that draws readers into a vast world filled with mystery and magic, romance, and intrigue–and marks the debut of an extraordinary new voice in speculative fiction.”
Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
|Publication Date:||May 2, 2023|
From the publisher: "The explosive, hotly-anticipated debut novel from the New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black, about two top women gladiators fighting for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America's own.
Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker are the stars of Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly-popular, highly-controversial, profit-raising program in America’s increasingly dominant private prison industry. It’s the return of the gladiators and prisoners are competing for the ultimate prize: their freedom.
In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death-matches for packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates. Thurwar and Staxxx, both teammates and lovers, are the fan favorites. And if all goes well, Thurwar will be free in just a few matches, a fact she carries as heavily as her lethal hammer. As she prepares to leave her fellow Links, she considers how she might help preserve their humanity, in defiance of these so-called games, but CAPE’s corporate owners will stop at nothing to protect their status quo and the obstacles they lay in Thurwar’s path have devastating consequences.
Moving from the Links in the field to the protestors to the CAPE employees and beyond, Chain-Gang All-Stars is a kaleidoscopic, excoriating look at the American prison system’s unholy alliance of systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, and mass incarceration, and a clear-eyed reckoning with what freedom in this country really means.”
Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon
|Publication Date:||May 16, 2023|
From the publisher: "Utterly original and wildly entertaining, with a protagonist whose life is a total mess, Killing Me is the laugh-out-loud funny thriller we never knew we needed.
She escaped a serial killer. Then things got weird.
Amber Jamison cannot believe she’s about to become the latest victim of a serial killer—she’s savvy and street smart, so when she gets pushed into, of all things, a white windowless van, she’s more angry than afraid. Things get even weirder when she’s miraculously saved by a mysterious woman…who promptly disappears. Who was she? And why is she hunting serial killers?
You’d think escaping one psychopath would be enough, but Amber’s problems are just beginning. Her close call has law enforcement circling a past she’s tried to outrun. So she’s forced to flees across the country, ending up at a seedy motel in Las Vegas with a noir-obsessed manager and a sex worker as her unlikely companions…and danger right behind. She’s landed in the crosshairs of the world’s most prolific killer, caught up in a deadly game that’s been going on for years. To survive, she’s forced to dust off her old playbook and partner with someone she can’t trust. The odds are against her, but sometimes you just have to roll the dice.”
Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez
BOTM REPEAT AUTHOR
|Publication Date:||April 11, 2023|
From the publisher: "A novel of terrible first impressions, hilarious second chances, and the joy in finding your perfect match.
Dr. Briana Ortiz’s life is seriously flatlining. Her divorce is just about finalized, her brother’s running out of time to find a kidney donor, and that promotion she wants? Oh, that’s probably going to the new man-doctor who’s already registering eighty-friggin’-seven on Briana’s “pain in my ass” scale. But just when all systems are set to hate, Dr. Jacob Maddox completely flips the game . . . by sending Briana a letter.
And it’s a really good letter. Like the kind that proves that Jacob isn’t actually Satan. Worse, he might be this fantastically funny and subversively likeable guy who’s terrible at first impressions. Because suddenly he and Bri are exchanging letters, sharing lunch dates in her “sob closet,” and discussing the merits of freakishly tiny horses. But when Jacob decides to give Briana the best gift imaginable—a kidney for her brother—she wonders just how she can resist this quietly sexy new doctor . . . especially when he calls in a favor she can’t refuse.”
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
BOTM REPEAT AUTHOR
|Publication Date:||May 16, 2023|
From the publisher: "What's the harm in a pseudonym? New York Times bestselling sensation Juniper Song is not who she says she is, she didn't write the book she claims she wrote, and she is most certainly not Asian American--in this chilling and hilariously cutting novel from R. F. Kuang in the vein of White Ivy and The Other Black Girl.
Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars: same year at Yale, same debut year in publishing. But Athena’s a cross-genre literary darling, and June didn’t even get a paperback release. Nobody wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks.
So when June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers to the British and French war efforts during World War I.
So what if June edits Athena’s novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song–complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn’t this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller? That’s what June claims, and the New York Timesbestseller list seems to agree.
But June can’t get away from Athena’s shadow, and emerging evidence threatens to bring June’s (stolen) success down around her. As June races to protect her secret, she discovers exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.
With its totally immersive first-person voice, Yellowface takes on questions of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation not only in the publishing industry but the persistent erasure of Asian-American voices and history by Western white society. R. F. Kuang’s novel is timely, razor-sharp, and eminently readable.
The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane
BOTM REPEAT AUTHOR
|Publication Date:||May 2, 2023|
From the publisher: "From the beloved author of the triumphant New York Times bestseller Ask Again, Yes comes a magnificently told novel about the complexities of marriage, family, longing, and desire.
Malcolm Gephardt, the handsome and gregarious longtime bartender at the Half Moon, has always dreamed of owning a bar. When his boss is finally ready to retire, Malcolm is inspired to buy the place. He sees unquantifiable magic and potential in the Half Moon and hopes to make it a bigger success—but quickly realizes that his customers don’t like change and that making a profit won’t be easy.
Malcolm’s wife Jess is smart, confident, and dedicated to her law career. But after years of trying to have a baby, she’s struggling to accept the idea that motherhood may not be in the cards for her. Like Malcolm, she feels her youth beginning to slip away, and while her hopes and expectations fall short of the current reality, she wonders how to reshape her life.
Taking place over the course of one tumultuous week, The Half Moon shows off Mary Beth Keane’s skilled storytelling and generous spirit as she carefully explores a marriage in crisis, what it takes to make a life with another person, and the true meaning of family.”