Monthly Wrap-Up: October 2020

Hi everyone! Welcome to my October monthly wrap-up post. I am sure these will evolve over time, but for now I’ll include Book Coven book club, fave books you can buy now, books to look out for and books I want to read soon. I didn’t read a lot in October, partly because I read some amazing books that I wanted to read slowly to absorb every moment.

Book Club

Every month the mods of the Book Coven get us to suggest books that make up the book club bracket. We then vote all the way through to a final, and that’s the book we read together over the course of 3 weeks. Then the amazing Paragraphs and Pages asks us some super insightful questions and off we go.

This month we read two books, A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. Both of these books were on my 2020 most anticipated list and did not disappoint.

There’s been a lot of controversy about A Deadly Education which we discussed thoroughly. Whilst some elements of the book are problematic, some are very context dependent. I’d advise reading a variety of reviews and trying the book yourself. For me, the main character El is super driven by her morals and has some really heart-warming character growth. You can read more in my review here.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue also has it’s critcisms, but for me it told the story it wished to tell. I first read this book an ARC and just finished my second read of it. I don’t I’ve ever related to a book so much in my life, and discussing it with my friends who felt the same way during Book Club was honestly so validating. You can read my thoughts in my review here.

Next month we’ll be reading…The Once and Future Witches by Alix. E. Harrow. I think I’ll be skipping this one because I didn’t vibe with Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Favourites

So in addition to the Book Club picks, the other books I read really slowly were Jade City and Jade War by Fonda Lee. I read Jade City a year or two ago, so knew it was good, but I think this time it really hit me just how good it is? The plot is clever and intricate, the characters are all really likable despite the fact they do bad things. This book series is the definition of morally grey and I love it.

Check out my reviews:

Jade City | Jade War

I also re-read Ninth House, again a book that I read slowly to absorb all of the world-building. I think I liked it even more on the second read which is a big surprise. Alex Stern is one of my favourite characters of all time and I think the book contains one of my favourite quotes ever. You can see my review here.

I also read Vita Nostra as it was described as similar to A Deadly Education. It has a similar dark fantasy vibe but for me that’s where the comparison ends. I think I enjoyed it even more than Deadly because there was less info dumping. It was also really quite philosophical, asking what does it mean to exist? I can’t say I’ve read translated novels often, and I really enjoyed the different idioms. You can read my review to find out more about this unique magic school story.

Books to Look Out For

I took a little break from reading ARCs this month – though I did read The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Page. I was really disappointed with this book – it was very cliché, and for what could have been a book about strong female friendships their was a lot of betrayals.

November is the month you’ve all been waiting for though! It’s finally time for The Burning God to be released into the wild. You are in for a wild ride with this final book in The Poppy War series! I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book, you can see my review here.

Next month?

I think I should read The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin in November. I would also like to get around to Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko and The Switch by Beth O’Leary.

I also have some ARCs to catch up on – for November I have to read The Awakening by Nora Roberts and The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley.

That’s all from me, hope you enjoyed this book and also had a great month of reading. Looking forward to seeing what everybody has been up to. Have you read any of the books mentioned in this post? What did you think?

Six for Sunday (Scary Stories / Characters)

Hi everyone! This week I’m participating in Six for Sunday, a meme hosted by Steph at A Little But a Lot. This month, the focus is on pumpkin spice goodness, and this week’s topic is: Scary Stories / Characters

1) Mexican Gothic – one of the only horror books I’ve ever picked up is so creepy I can’t even begin to explain. The villains are absolutely vile.

2) Ninth House – another book with elements of horror that is really scary at times. Creepy setting, opens with some horrible scenes, litters them throughout. Excellent world-building.

3) Jade City – this book is fresh in my mind and has some really scary characters in it. Even the protagonists are scary! I feel like Fonda Lee has made me scared to finish this series because she is not afraid to write absolutely anything.

4) Parable of the Talents – the sequel to Parable of the Sower is even more harrowing, scarily relevant to present day and absolutely terrifying in its truths.

5) One Second After – this one isn’t usually my kind of read but my boyfriend got me to read it. It’s awful. Terrifying. Shows all the flaws of humanity. It is real, punched me in the gut a few times, gives you hope only to tear it away.

6) Vox – I must say this was a disappointing read but the premise is terrifying for women everywhere. I hope nobody ever limits our words.

I’m not really a big fan of scary books so this was difficult. Have you read any of these? Looking forward to seeing all of your choices.

Hope everyone is doing well, feel free to share your posts below.

Book Review: Jade War

A stunning, action packed sequel to Jade City. As you can see from my previous review, Jade City is one of my all-time faves, so I was wary of Jade War right from the beginning. Middle books can be hit or miss, but Jade War does not disappoint. This review will contain Jade City spoilers so if you haven’t read it yet I wouldn’t read any more because the plot twists really do make the book.

Star rating: 5 stars

SPOILERS FOR JADE CITY AFTER THE COVER PICTURE

When Fonda Lee killed of Kaul Lan, a protagonist, in about the middle of the first book in the series, I knew this was going to be a wild ride of a series. Jade War re-unites us with Hilo as Pillar, his wife Wen, his sister Shae theWeather Man, Anden the cousin who gave up his Jade and Bero the youth who wants nothing more than Jade of his own.

Jade War expands upon the world even more beyond Kekon. Anden is in Espenia, studying and living with a Kekonese family. Between Shae’s knowledge of the country from her own time there and Anden’s presence, the ties between No Peak and Espenia have never been more complicated – or more important. I really enjoyed seeing Anden integrating with the small Kekonese community in the city of Port Massy. He sees an approach to being in a clan and using Jade different from everything he has known – partly as Jade possession by civilians in Espenia is illegal. Anden even gets a little bit of romance in his life, which was really cute.

Hilo becomes a father, which really highlights his character growth over the course of the books. Wen is less keen for a huge family, and is eager to keep up her secret clan work that Hilo doesn’t know about. Wen is one of my favourite characters in the book and I’m glad we still got to see the friendship between Shae and she. Wen doesn’t let being a stone eye stop her from doing everything she can to support and protect her family which I really admire.

Shae has a romantic plotline herself, but I think her main arc focusses on how much she is willing to push Hilo’s boundaries and operate without asking for his permission. In this book we see a more fierce side to Shae, alluded to from her reflections on her time at the academy and her reaction to Lan’s death in Jade City. I like how Shae is so different from her brother Hilo, but this book showed they’re not actually that different after all in places.

Even though the bulk of the book is No Peak countering smuggling operations and the different threats that brings to Janloon, The Mountain is an ever-present threat that Fonda Lee doesn’t let us forget. The war between the clans is more covert and underhanded than before, but it still exists, underlying most of the plot.

Overall, this is a great sequel that starts and ends with chapters from Bero’s perspective, who comes a full circle. It is well written, fast-paced, and my only criticism is that sometimes it’s hard to understand how much time has passed between chapters. I honestly can’t wait for Jade Legacy, which will be one of my most anticipated books of 2021.

Book Review: Jade City

Jade City is without a doubt the best urban fantasy I’ve ever read. It has plenty of action (well written too!) and knows how to pack an emotional punch. The characters are by far the strongest aspect of the story but the world-building and plot are really strong too. If you’re looking for a book that will have you on the edge of your seat and break your heart more than once, then this is the story for you. Family dynamics, organised crime and a whole lot of loveable Green Bones, Jade City has a place in my heart.

Star rating: 5 stars (what else?)

The story centres on the Kaul family – Green Bones warriors that can wear Jade that lead the No Peak Clan. Jade is a powerful substance which some people can use to gain super human abilities to varying degrees of success. The story follows three siblings: Lan the Pillar – the leader of No Peak, Hilo the Horn – the leader of the warriors and Shae, the sibling who gave up her Jade to pursue a foreign education but is now returning to Janloon. Anden is the youngest (adopted by the Kauls) and is attending the academy for warriors.

The family dynamics in this book are some of the best – each character brings something else to the story. We see into their insecurities, experience their decisions whether good or bad and get each character’s perspective on the others. I really enjoyed Anden’s chapters on the warrior school, Lan’s determination to do the right thing, Hilo’s fierce love for his family and Shae’s intellect. Not one point of view was disappointing and that includes Bero, the youth without Jade who wants nothing more than to experience what the Green Bones have.

The central antagonist is the Mountain Clain, the biggest Janloon Clan who pose a threat to No Peak. When tensions rise, street war breaks out and the reader is sent on such a wild ride.

Overall this is an excellent start to the series and I can’t believe it’s Fonda Lee’s first adult novel because it’s beyond amazing. I can’t wait to read Jade War next.

Have you read Jade City? If you like gritty stories with lots of cool fighting, this is definitely a book you should pick up soon.

WWW Wednesday (21st October 2020)

Hi friends, it’s time for WWW Wednesday again. So, what’s it about? This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived on Taking on a World of Words. Here are my answers to the three Ws!

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Jade War by Fonda Lee. It’s the sequel to Jade City and I love it already. It’s honestly such a good series, Fonda Lee is an absolute genius who definitely knows how to write a gripping plot AND amazing characters.

What did you recently finish reading?

Naturally I just finished Jade City by Fonda Lee. From start to finish it is full of action, twists and turns with some of my favourite characters of all time. Lan, Hilo, Shae and Anden have my whole heart – you should definitely pick up this book and get to know these amazing siblings.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I wish I could say Jade Legacy but it’s not out for almost a year! I think I’ll try and read The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Page – I received the ARC on Monday and I can’t wait to see what it is all about. Sounds so cool. Witchy sorority? I’m all in.

What do you think of these choices? I am so excited to make more progress on my to be read.

In other news, I do not have COVID, so I’m back at work loving life. Hope everyone is doing well.