October has been an odd month for me. I’ve read a lot in some sense, binging through middle grade and murder mysteries, but in others I’ve really struggled (it took me 6 days to get 130 pages into a book). It’s a combination of exhaustion and mental overload I think, and I’m hoping it passes soon.
Best New Release
Given that WINTER’S ORBIT was my favourite read of 2021, it probably comes as no surprise that I was extremely excited to get my hands on an early copy of the companion novel, OCEAN’S ECHO, by Everina Maxwell. This book is set in the same universe, but in a completely different part of it and about completely different people. They are linked by the remnants, those mysterious objects that are coveted by the ruling council of the universe and that no one else knows much about.
OCEAN’S ECHO is about a civilian with the strong ability to read minds who is forcibly conscripted into the army to be synced to a strong mind controller. But there is discontent within the system that could not only trigger a civil war but bring the ruling council into conflict with them
Best Backlist Read
THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB, by Richard Osman, is one of those books I’ve seen all over the place for the past few years but only just around to this year. I wish I’d read it sooner, but this way I got to binge the first two books in one go.
It is such a fun murder mystery, set around a retirement home where a group of unlikely friends bond over solving cold cases. When a real-time murder comes along, it’s up to the group of geriatrics to solve the case before too many people die. I loved how much they leant into the stereotypes of their age group only when they wanted to get something from someone. These are people who have so much life experience and are going to use it all.
Most Surprising Read
I’ll be honest, when I saw the blurb of ONE DARK WINDOW, by Rachel Gillig, I was rather sceptical that I’d enjoy it. It seemed a bit too much like the type of fairy tale retellings that I just had not enjoyed of late. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the book.
I think it was the magic system that did it for me. As well as there being specific fever-granted gifts that then lead to their users being hunted down and killed, there is also a deck of magical cards. If you are in possession of one of these cards, you can use a certain type of magic linked to the cards – most of which involve controlling other people in one way or another. But using those cards comes with a great physical and mental cost to the user – just like the fever-given magic. I love a harder magic system with clear rules of use and costs when employed.
Best UK-Authored Read
THE ARCTIC RAILWAY ASSASSIN, by M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, is the sixth and final (for at least the foreseeable future) of the Adventures on Trains series. This middle grade series is Murder on the Orient Express but for MG and in the modern era as Hal and his uncle Nat encounter mysteries on various trains across the world.
This latest adventure sees Hal and Uncle Nat spot an assassin on their arctic trip to see the northern lights for a Christmas treat. A friend of Nat’s has experienced some odd things and might be in possession of a terrifying weapon, but that friend has gone missing. Is the assassin after them? And can they find the weapon and destroy it first?
THE BOOK EATERS, by Sunyi Dean, is a brilliant, dark debut about a society of creatures who look like humans save for the fact that they have to eat books to survive. Different people enjoy different genres, and different types of books. Of course, there are snobs who only eat the oldest books possible (the part of me who has spent the last year vexed by the fact that there is so little Old English text remaining immediately wanted the society taken down as I bet they were responsible for some of the missing texts!)
This book is so pacy and engaging. It’s told in dual timeline, with the present of Devon (the main character) trying to save her son who doesn’t need to eat books but minds from their society’s police. The past charts Devon’s life and how she ended up on the run as their society is falling apart from a coup. I loved the balance of the timelines, learning more about the many flaws within their world.
Most Anticipated November Release
November, much to the relief of my shelves and TBR, is a very slow month for releases I’m interested in. However, one of the books I am very excited for this year is HEART OF THE SUN WARRIOR, by Sue Lynn Tan, and that’s out near the start of the month. It is the sequel and duology finale to DAUGTHER OF THE MOON GODDESS.
I loved the slow pacing and rich world building of this Chinese mythology retelling of the legend of the moon goddess. It’s just a gorgeously written book that definitely reads best if you have a large chunk of time to dedicate to it. I am certainly planning to find a weekend I can put aside to read this sequel!
How was your November?