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 Рthough I did read The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Page. I was really disappointed with this book Рit 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?

Book Review: Vita Nostra

I had never heard of this book until someone mentioned it in my book club. After A Deadly Education I had a magic school hole in my heart, so thought I’d give this novel a go – a translation from Russian. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was drawn in to a one-sitting read that I just had to finish before I went to sleep! Full of existential despair, I felt like I was reading a really complicated mathematical proof and if I stopped I’d lose the plot.

Star rating: 5 stars

Sasha Samokhina is on holiday when she is first approached by a stranger, Farit Kozhennikov . He tasks her with strange challenges with no explanation, such as swimming in the sea at 4am and running laps around the park. At the end of the summer, he tells Sasha she has been accepted into the Institute for Special Technologies, a school out in the sticks that nobody has ever heard of. With no other college acceptances after failing the entrance exam, Sasha convinces her Mom and new boyfriend to let her go.

The Institute is unlike any other school. Sasha has strange teachers that can be harsh and cruel, is set weird homework to try and read and memorise gibberish, and the second year students are all more than a bit peculiar. Sasha makes friends and enemies among her fellow classmates, including romances. But she works hard despite the confusion, making progress that impresses her teachers and elevates her above the rest of the class.

The world-building is very strange – and the characters even stranger. The meaning is open to interpretation which I love, I could think about this book for a good while. I enjoyed Sasha’s personality, enjoyed the mystery of the world, enjoyed its outlook on what it means to exist.

Without a doubt the book is dark, and very abstract in its nature. I can understand why some people might finish it and be like whaaaat??? that’s for sure. But for me it was addictive and a fascinating read, and I can’t wait to read it again just to see what my second take on that ending will be.