December 2022 Book of the Month Predictions

When it comes to Book of the Month (BOTM), December has been the biggest toss-up/surprise the last couple of years. In addition to books releasing in December, BOTM has also selected a holiday romance novel (which typically are published in September through November) along with some “yearly look-back” books. These look-backs are essentially great books that have been published earlier in the year but were not selections. (For example, last year, this included Colleen Hoover’s It Ends with Us, Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley Ford, and The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green.) December selections are also likely to include at least one early January release and possibly some late-November books.

Since December is the slowest publishing month, this makes sense. But it also means that predicting the selections is extra challenging. I am still here to speculate, and fairly accurately predict, which books will be selected for BOTM main picks and add-ons. I am not going to specifically guess what the yearly look-backs may be. I think there is a high possibility it will include at least one nonfiction book, likely a memoir. Otherwise, I suggest looking back at all my monthly predictions for some possibilities.

Contemporary & Literary Fiction

The Light Pirate

Lily Brooks-Dalton

When I first learned about this book, it screamed BOTM to me. It is compared to one book that was a BOTM pick and one that was highly popular, so I think The Light Pirate is a good bet for this month.

Synopsis: For readers of Station Eleven and Where the Crawdads Sing comes a hopeful, sweeping story of survival and resilience spanning one extraordinary woman’s lifetime as she navigates the uncertainty, brutality, and arresting beauty of a rapidly changing world.

Told in four parts—power, water, light, and time—The Light Pirate mirrors the rhythms of the elements and the sometimes quick, sometimes slow dissolution of the world as we know it. It is a meditation on the changes we would rather not see, the future we would rather not greet, and a call back to the beauty and violence of an untamable wilderness.

Roses in the Mouth of a Lion

Bushra Rehman

Synopsis: Razia Mirza grows up amid the wild grape vines and backyard sunflowers of Corona, Queens, with her best friend, Saima, by her side. When a family rift drives the girls apart, Razia’s heart is broken. She finds solace in Taslima, a new girl in her close-knit Pakistani-American community. They embark on a series of small rebellions.

When Razia is accepted to Stuyvesant, a prestigious high school in Manhattan, the gulf between the person she is and the daughter her parents want her to be, widens. At Stuyvesant, Razia meets Angela and is attracted to her in a way that blossoms into a new understanding. When their relationship is discovered by an Aunty in the community, Razia must choose between her family and her own future.

Debut

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Most Anticipated New Releases of December 2022

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A Quiet Life

Ethan Joella

It was a toss-up whether A Quiet Life would be a November BOTM selection. I still think there is a small possibility that it will be a pick considering its late-November release date.

Synopsis: Set in a close-knit Pennsylvania suburb in the grip of winter, A Quiet Life follows three people grappling with loss and finding a tender wisdom in their grief. In this beautifully crafted and profoundly moving novel, three parallel narratives converge in poignant and unexpected ways, as each character bravely presses onward, trying to recover something they have lost. Emotionally riveting and infused with hope, A Quiet Life celebrates humanity in the midst of uncertainty.

Repeat Author | November Release

Maame

Jessica George

Ever since I learned about this book, I have kept it at the back of my mind as a BOTM pick. It is a January 31 release, but I think there is a chance it will be an early release this month.

Synopsis: It’s fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting. When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. 

Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Jessica George’s Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism, to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures―and it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong.

Debut | Early Release

Night Wherever We Go

Tracey Rose Peyton

On a struggling Texas plantation, six enslaved women slip from their sleeping quarters and gather in the woods under the cover of night. The Lucys—as they call the plantation owners, after Lucifer himself—have decided to turn around the farm’s bleak financial prospects by making the women bear children. They have hired a “stockman” to impregnate them. But the women are determined to protect themselves. Now each of the six faces a choice.

Visceral and arresting, Night Wherever We Go illuminates each woman’s individual trials and desires while painting a subversive portrait of collective defiance. Unflinching in her portrayal of America’s gravest injustices, while also deeply attentive to the transcendence, love, and solidarity of women whose interior lives have been underexplored, Tracey Rose Peyton creates a story of unforgettable power.

Debut | Early Release

The Bandit Queens

Parini Shroff

This early January release sounds super fun. I am not overly confident that this will be a BOTM selection, but I am hopeful.

Synopsis: Five years ago, Geeta lost her no-good husband walked out on her and she has no idea where he is. But in her remote village in India, rumor has it that Geeta killed him. And it’s a rumor that just won’t die.

It turns out that being known as a “self-made” widow comes with some perks. No one messes with her, harasses her, or tries to control (ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for business; no one dares to not buy her jewelry. Freedom must look good on Geeta, because now other women are asking for her “expertise,” making her an unwitting consultant for husband disposal. And not all of them are asking nicely.

Debut | Early Release


Historical Fiction

Factory Girls

Michelle Gallen

Although this book is published by Algonquin Books, who is not a typical publisher for BOTM picks, I think that this book would really appeal to BOTM members. It is a November 29 release; so, maybe Factory Girls has a shot at being selected for December.

Synopsis: It’s the summer of 1994, and all Maeve Murray wants are good final exam results so she can earn her ticket out of the wee Northern Irish town she has grown up in during the Troubles—away from her crowded home, the silence and sadness surrounding her sister’s death, and most of all, away from the simmering violence of  her  divided  community.  And  as  a  first  step,  Maeve’s  taken  a  summer  job  in  a  local  shirt  factory  working  alongside  Protestants  with  her  best  friends,  kind,  innocent Caroline Jackson and privileged and clever Aoife O’Neill. But getting the right exam results is only part of Maeve’s problem—she’s got to survive a tit-for-tat paramilitary campaign, iron 100 shirts an hour all day every day, and deal with the attentions of Andy Strawbridge, her slick and untrustworthy English boss. Bitingly  hilarious,  perceptive,  and  steeped  in  the  vernacular  of  its  time  and  place, Factory Girls is perfect for fans of voice-driven stories with bite, humor, and realism, such as the Netflix series Derry Girls and novels by Douglas Stuart, Roddy Doyle, and Anna Burns. 

November Release

Winterland

Rae Meadows

I really thought that this book had a chance at being a November selection. Since it is not being published until November 29, I think there is still a possibility that it may be a BOTM pick.

Synopsis: In the Soviet Union in 1973, there is perhaps no greater honor for a young girl than to be chosen to be part of the famed USSR gymnastics program. So when eight-year-old Anya is tapped, her family is thrilled. What is left of her family, that is. Years ago her mother disappeared. Anya’s only confidant is her neighbor, an older woman who survived unspeakable horrors during her ten years in a Gulag camp―and who, unbeknownst to Anya, was also her mother’s confidant and might hold the key to her disappearance. As Anya moves up the ranks of competitive gymnastics, and as other girls move down, Anya soon comes to realize that there is very little margin of error for anyone.

November Release

The Book of Everlasting Things

Aanchal Malhotra

On a January morning in 1938, Samir Vij first locks eyes with Firdaus Khan through the rows of perfume bottles in his family’s ittar shop in Lahore. Over the years that follow, the perfumer’s apprentice and calligrapher’s apprentice fall in love with their ancient crafts and with each other, dreaming of the life they will one day share. But as the struggle for Indian independence gathers force, their beloved city is ravaged by Partition. Suddenly, they find themselves on opposite sides: Samir, a Hindu, becomes Indian and Firdaus, a Muslim, becomes Pakistani, their love now forbidden. Severed from one another, Samir and Firdaus make a series of fateful decisions that will change the course of their lives forever. As their paths spiral away from each other, they must each decide how much of the past they are willing to let go, and what it will cost them.

The Dressmaker of Prospect Heights

Kitty Zeldis

Synopsis: For fans of Fiona Davis, Beatriz Williams, and Joanna Goodman, a mesmerizing historical novel about three women in 1920s New York City and the secrets they hold.

As New York City enters the jazz age, recently arrived from New Orleans, Beatrice is working to establish a chic new dress shop with help from Alice, the orphaned teenage ward she brought north with her. Down the block, newlywed Catherine is restless in her elegant brownstone, longing for a baby she cannot conceive.

When Bea befriends Catherine and the two start to become close, Alice feels abandoned and envious, and runs away to Manhattan. Her departure sets into motion a series of events that will force each woman to confront the painful secrets of her past in order to move into the happier future she seeks.

The Sunshine Girls

Molly Fader

Synopsis: 1967 Iowa. Nursing school roommates BettyKay and Kitty don’t have much in common. BettyKay has risked her family’s disapproval to pursue her dreams away from her small town. Cosmopolitan Kitty has always relied on her beauty and smarts to get by and to hide a painful secret. Yet the two share a determination to prove themselves in a changing world, forging an unlikely bond on a campus unkind to women.

Before their first year is up, tragedy strikes, and the women’s paths are forced apart. But against all odds, a decades-long friendship forms, persevering through love, marriage, failure, and death, from the jungles of Vietnam to the glamorous circles of Hollywood. Until one snowy night leads their relationship to the ultimate crossroads.


Holiday Romance

Kiss Her Once for Me

Alison Cochrun

I am really hoping that the holiday romance will be Kiss Her Once for Me. I absolutely love Alison Cochrun’s books and would be excited to see her books exposed to a wider audience. Plus, I do not recall BOTM having chosen a sapphic romance previously.

Synopsis: One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.

Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

Jenny Bayliss

If BOTM does not select Kiss Her Once for Me, I think it is likely the book will be Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. I really enjoyed Jenny Bayliss’s The Twelve Dates of Christmas.

Synopsis: Elinor Noel—Nory for short—is quite content running her secondhand bookshop in London. Forever torn between her working-class upbringing and her classmates’ extravagant lifestyles at the posh private school she attended on scholarship, Nory has finally figured out how to keep both at equal distance. So when two of her oldest friends invite their whole gang to spend the time leading up to their wedding together at the castle near their old school, Nory must prepare herself for an emotionally complicated few days.

The reunion brings back fond memories, but also requires Nory to dodge an ill-advised former fling. When she falls quite literally into the arms of Isaac, the castle’s head gardener, who has nothing but contempt for the “snobby prep school kids,” the attraction between them is undeniable. And as Nory spends more time with Isaac during the wedding festivities, she finds herself falling hard for the boy she used to consider an enemy. Nory and Isaac explore their common ground, but pressures mount on all sides, and Nory must decide what kind of life she wants to live and what sort of love is worth the risk . . .

All I Want for Christmas

Maggie Knox

I think there is a small possibility that Maggie Knox’s new Christmas book will be selected. However, I have heard it is not very Christmas-y and pales in comparison to The Holiday Swap, so I think it is unlikely.

Synopsis: A pitch-perfect holiday rom com about two oil-and-water reality-star country singers who must fake a relationship in order to win the opportunity of a lifetime, perfect for fans of Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game and Christina Lauren’s In a Holidaze.

When Sadie and Max are selected as contestants on the famed reality singing show Starmaker, each thinks they’ve finally gotten their big Nashville break. But then they’re paired up for duet week and stun the world with their romantic onstage chemistry. With fans going wild for #Saxie the network demands that they remain a duo on and offstage, or exit the competition. Faking a relationship until their final performance in the Starmaker holiday special shouldn’t be too hard, except for one small problem—Sadie and Max can’t stand each other. 

Repeat Author


Romance

The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique

Samantha Vérant

Synopsis: A talented chef discovers how spices and scents can transport her—and, more importantly, how self-confidence can unlock the greatest magic of all: love.

Kate is about to throw in the kitchen towel on her lifelong dream when Garrance offers to use her mastery of scents and spices to help her, but it comes at a price: Kate must work with Garrance’s son, Charles, a world-class chef and total jerk. After Kate hesitantly concedes to the deal, she slowly learns to open her heart and mind to new concepts, not quite sure if the magic she’s experiencing comes from Garrance’s spices, from within herself, or from the growing chemistry with Charles. One thing is certain, though: her kitchen is getting increasingly hot.

In It to Win It

Sharon C. Cooper

Synopsis: Though Morgan Redford.’s never had to worry about money, she’s determined to make a name for herself on her own terms. Her new venture won’t be an epic fail. This time, through the nonprofit she cofounded, Morgan is doing something meaningful—helping teens who are aging out of foster care—and she’s got her eye on a property that could house these kids. But the competition is steep, and one of the bidders is someone she never expected. . . .

When real estate developer Drake Faulkner learns that his ex—the one who ghosted him years ago—is a potential buyer for the property his eccentric mentor is selling, his competitive streak amps up. No way is he letting her win the property he wants. Bitter? Yes. Petty? Probably. But his mentor has a stipulation: potential buyers must participate in an Ironman competition of sorts for the property.

Lunar Love

Lauren Kung Jessen

Synopsis: Olivia Huang Christenson is excited-slash-terrified to be taking over her grandmother’s matchmaking business. But when she learns that a new dating app has made her Pó Po’s traditional Chinese zodiac approach all about “animal attraction,” her emotions skew more toward furious-slash-outraged. Especially when L.A.’s most-eligible bachelor Bennett O’Brien is behind the app that could destroy her family’s legacy…

Liv knows better than to fall for any guy, let alone an infuriatingly handsome one who believes that traditions are meant to be broken. As the two businesses go head to head, Bennett and Liv make a deal: they’ll find a match for each other—and whoever falls in love loses. But Liv is dealing with someone who’s already adept at stealing business ideas . . . so what’s stopping him from stealing her heart too?

Debut | Early Release


Thrillers, Mysteries, & Horror

All the Dangerous Things

Stacy Willingham

Due to the success of A Flicker in the Dark, I think that All the Dangerous Things will definitely be a pick; it is just a matter of whether it will be an early release or not. A Flicker in the Dark was an early release last December.

Synopsis: One year ago, Isabelle Drake’s life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her―literally. Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.

Repeat Author | Early Release

A History of Fear

Luke Dumas

A History of Fear is a debut book somewhere between horror and thriller. I have been surprised by BOTM’s recently horror/gothic fiction selections. It is not a genre they have featured much in previous years. So I have a small hope that this debut may make an appearance in this month’s picks.

Synopsis: A creepy reimagining of the devil-made-me-do-it tale following the harrowing downfall of a tortured graduate student arrested for murder. A History of Fear is a propulsive foray into the darkness of the human psyche, marrying dread-inducing atmosphere and heart-palpitating storytelling.

Debut

The Ingenue

Rachel Kapelke-Dale

I am not super confident that The Ingenue will be a selection. Between its publisher and the books it is compared to, I think there is a slim chance it may be picked.

Synopsis: My Dark Vanessa meets The Queen’s Gambit in this new novel of suspense about the bonds of family, the limits of talent, the risks of ambition, and the rewards of revenge.

When former piano prodigy Saskia Kreis returns home to Milwaukee after her mother’s unexpected death, she expects to inherit the family estate, the Elf House. But with the discovery that her mother’s will bequeathed the Elf House to a man that Saskia shares a complicated history with, she is forced to reexamine her own past–and the romantic relationship that changed the course of her life–for answers. Can she find a way to claim her heritage while keeping her secrets buried, or will the fallout from digging too deep destroy her?

My Darkest Prayer

S.A. Cosby

My Darkest Prayer is a backlist title of S.A. Cosby’s that is being re-released in December. If it was any other month, I would likely doubt it would be included as a BOTM pick. However, this is December when BOTM does not fear choosing backlist books. In fact, I believe last December Blacktop Wasteland, which was backlist at the time, was a selection after the success of Razorblade Tears as a pick. This is all to say, I think there is a distinct possibility that we may see this book as an add-on.

Whether it’s working at his cousin’s funeral home or tossing around the local riffraff at his favorite bar, Nathan Waymaker is a man who knows how to handle the bodies. A former marine and sheriff’s deputy, Nathan has built a reputation in his small Southern town as a man who can help when all other avenues have been exhausted. When a beloved local minister is found dead, his parishioners ask Nathan to make sure the death isn’t swept under the rug.

What starts out as an easy payday soon descends into a maze of mayhem filled with wannabe gangsters, vicious crime lords, porn stars, crooked police officers, and a particularly treacherous preacher and his mysterious wife. Nathan must use all his varied skills and some of his wit to navigate the murky waters of small town corruption even as dark secrets of his own threaten to come to the surface.

Repeat Author

The Villa

Rachel Hawkins

I think that The Villa will without a doubt be a pick (either this month or next), because BOTM has an obsession with Rachel Hawkins/Erin Sterling. I am leaning towards it being a January pick but am including it just in case.

Synopsis: As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to his companions writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, composing a platinum album––and ending up brutally murdered. As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974.

Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the infamous summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle––the birthplace of Frankenstein––The Villa welcomes you into its deadly legacy.

Repeat Author | Early Release


Fantasy, Science Fiction, & Magical Realism

A Fire Endless (Elements of Cadence, #2)

Rebecca Ross

Everyone I know who read A River Enchanted loved it. I hope for their sake that A Fire Endless will be a pick, because who does not hate having mismatching books in a series?! With December being a month with few new releases, I think there is a solid likelihood that this will be a selection.

Synopsis: In the stunning conclusion to the Elements of Cadence duology, A Fire Endless finds the delicate balance between the human and faerie realm threatened by Bane, the spirit of the North Wind, whose defeat can only come through fire, song, and heart-rending sacrifice.

Repeat Author

Hell Bent (Alex Stern, #2)

Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House has turned into a super popular book, and I know that Hell Bent is much anticipated. To be honest, I think it is unlikely to be a December BOTM selection. I am also sad to say that I am not super hopeful it will be a BOTM pick at all, including when it is published in January. But I think there is a very small possibility and am, therefore, including it in my predictions.

Synopsis: In the stunning conclusion to the Elements of Cadence duology, A Fire Endless finds the delicate balance between the human and faerie realm threatened by Bane, the spirit of the North Wind, whose defeat can only come through fire, song, and heart-rending sacrifice.

Repeat Author


Young Adult

A Wilderness of Stars

Shea Ernshaw

A History of Wild Places was a BOTM selection last December and Shea Ernshaw’s debut adult novel. She is back this year with a return to the YA genre. With the success of A History of Wild Places, there is a solid possibility that BOTM will pick up this book and make Ernshaw a repeat author.

Synopsis: In this magical romance from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Long Live the Pumpkin Queen, an illness cursing the land forces a teen girl astronomer to venture across the wilderness in search of the stars’ message that will, hopefully, save them all.

Repeat Author


Nonfiction

This year, BOTM has had fewer nonfiction selections. However, I like to include them in my predictions every month hoping that one will be a pick and to expose people to some nonfiction books that may be of interest.

Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood

Jessica Grose

Perhaps it is just me, but Screaming on the Inside seems like a book that BOTM members would enjoy. I also think it is a book more similar to their (very scarce) recent nonfiction selections.

Synopsis: In this timely and necessary book, New York Times opinion writer Jessica Grose dismantles two hundred years of unrealistic parenting expectations and empowers today’s mothers to make choices that actually serve themselves, their children, and their communities. In Screaming on the Inside, Grose weaves together her personal journey with scientific, historical, and contemporary reporting to be the voice for American parents she wishes she’d had a decade ago.

The Forever Witness: How DNA and Genealogy Solved a Cold Case Double Murder

Edward Humes

True crime is a genre BOTM has included more in previous years. However, I am still wishing to see it make its comeback. I think The Forever Witness would be a great choice.

Synopsis: A relentless detective and an amateur genealogist solve a haunting cold case—and launch a crime-fighting revolution that tests the fragile line between justice and privacy.
 
In November 1987, a young couple on an overnight trip to Seattle vanished without a trace. A week later, the bodies of Tanya Van Cuylenborg and her boyfriend Jay Cook were found in rural Washington. It was a brutal crime, and it was the perfect crime: With few clues and no witnesses, an international manhunt turned up empty, and the sensational case that shocked the Pacific Northwest gradually slipped from the headlines.

November Release

Butts: A Backstory

Heather Radke

Including Butts in these predictions may be more of a hope for me than a firm probability. This book was on a lot of fall most anticipated lists by big publications and is being released by a publisher with which BOTM occasionally works. So I am holding out hope that BOTM will surprise me.

Synopsis: A woman’s butt, in particular, is forever being assessed, criticized, and objectified, from anxious self-examinations trying on jeans in department store dressing rooms to enduring crass remarks while walking down a street or high school hallways. But why? In Butts: A Backstory, reporter, essayist, and RadioLab contributing editor Heather Radke is determined to find out.
 
Part deep dive reportage, part personal journey, part cabinet of curiosities, Butts is an entertaining, illuminating, and thoughtful examination of why certain silhouettes come in and out of fashion—and how larger ideas about race, control, liberation, and power affect our most private feelings about ourselves and others.

November Release


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