November 2021 Round-Up

Title in white against book spines

November has been a bit of a challenging month, because it’s been leading up to a concert and three deadlines in the space of two days, so there’s been a lot on! Also, it’s the end of my university term, so you start to feel like things should be winding down when they’re not (and I started to get excited about Christmas!) Plus it gets dark early and generally is just cold, which is never fun.

Despite this, I read a fair bit this month – 36 books in all, with 21 as 2021 releases as I try desperately to catch up with eARCs and new releases!

Best New Release

Book cover for YEAR OF THE REAPER: title in white on red with a mace in the middle of the page and gold decoration around the edges

YEAR OF THE REAPER, by Makiia Lucier, was my most anticipated November Release and it did not disappoint. This is a slow paced but stately secondary world fantasy (no magic) about the aftermath of a plague. It was so gorgeously written, and was very twisty, with a very surprising ending and villain. I loved watching it all unfold, with the sense that these weren’t “good” decisions, but the best ones the characters could make under the circumstances for the ones they loved.

Lord Cas returns after years of imprisonment by their enemies to find the King (and his new Queen from the land where Cas was imprisoned) have taken refuge at his home – and someone is hunting them.

Title on gold on blue like a book with a doornob sticking through

I have two best new releases this month, as I received an early copy of THE UNTOLD STORY, by Genevieve Cogman, from the publishers. This is the finale to THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY series, which I binged back in January. I am sad to say goodbye to this world, but it was a really good send off.

After lots of hints across the last few books, THE UNTOLD STORY delves into the secret history of the Library – and why there are shadowy agents trying to control that information.

Best Backlist

Book cover for A KIND OF SPARK: title in yellow on pink and blue hair

I have seen A KIND OF SPARK, by Elle McNicoll, around for the past two years, and not picked it up. However, as someone in the wake of an ASD diagnosis, I’ve been seeking more representation of it in fiction, so it felt long overdue to pick this up.

It was such a good read. It’s the first time I’ve seen someone write about processing overloads in a way that I could really relate to – and the first person narration really brings out that trapped feeling when you’re in one. Plus it’s a lovely story about fighting for a place to be you when everyone is othering you.

Most Surprising Read

Book cover for PIRANESI: title in white below a faun playing pipes on a column on a blue starry sky

PIRANESI, by Susanna Clarke, was my pick for my church’s book club November read. I’ve seen this book around and been interested, as I loved her debut, JOHNATHON STRANGE AND MR NORRELL, but been rather cautious about this one, as it’s quite literary (very hit and miss for me.)

It was a really interesting, brain scratching read (and I definitely think I enjoyed it more for discussing different interpretations of it.) The setting it so imaginative, and it did not go where I was expecting, with a really deftly done unfolding of the central mystery.

Best UK-Authored Read

Book cover for MIDNIGHT IN EVERWOOD: title in pinkish orange in front of a blue-tone paper cut image of a ballet dancer in a snowy wood

MIDNIGHT IN EVERWOOD, by M. A. Kuzniar, is the author’s adult debut (she writes THE SHIP OF SHADOWS MG series, which I love.) This book is a dark but also quintessentially Christmassy reimagining of the Nutcracker with plenty of ballet references.

I am so impressed at the balance been the dark, dangerous feel of the book and the sumptuous feel of the world. It’s also a deeply feminist read about women taking control of their futures from the men who want to possess them.

Best Debut

Book cover for A MARVELLOUS LIGHT: title in white on blue background with figures in orange and pink flowers behind

Another December release I was lucky enough to get an early copy of, A MARVELLOUS LIGHT, by Freya Marske, is a historical fantasy set in Edwardian England. A struggling baron suddenly discovers that there’s a magical society living alongside his when he’s made the government’s liaison to the magical society – and he has to deal with his highly reticent counterpart.

I love the luxury and sense of being on the precipice of change that comes with the Edwardian era. So much research has clearly been done to create the world, and the adventure (and romance) set against it was a bundle of fun.

Most Anticipated December Release

I was actually lucky enough to get early copies of my two most anticipated December releases (and I don’t like the include a book I’ve actually read here, because ?logic?). So, as A MARVELLOUS LIGHT and THE UNTOLD STORY are off the list, here is my third most anticipated release.

Book cover for DREAMS LIE BENEATH: title in gold on a girl in a mirror with leaves

Fingers crossed that this actually arrives this month, after my first pre-order got cancelled for no discernible reason, but I am really looking forwards to DREAMS LIE BENEATH, by Rebecca Ross. I know it’s already out in the US, but the UK release is this month.

This is the author’s latest YA (and another standalone) about magic turning nightmares real and a warden getting drawn into a conflict between magicians.

How was your November?

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