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What I Read: November 2020

What I Read: November

You guys love the book posts! And I love telling you about what books I read because it makes me feel way less guilty about reading instead of blogging. (Note: I totally know that this guilt is in my own head and nothing that y’all have done. I’m all about beating myself up over things I think I “should” be doing. I am working on it. But that is a post for another day). So, without further ado, here are my thoughts the books I read this past month!

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (book)

This is a bit of a weird review set up – The Book of Life is the third book in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness but it’s the only one I’m writing a review for. The timeline just got all scrambled with library holds and what not. Anyway… I’m torn.

On the one hand, I really like this series. I love fantasy (witches, vampires, demons), I love time travel and I love when historical figures are in books that have magic. Also, I love the character of Gallowglass. But all these things are way more present in the second book of the series Shadow of Night. I really enjoyed the series while I was reading it and then I thought about it some more afterwards… and now I feel a bit yuck.

This particular book just kind of felt like Twilight for adults, if Bella had powers instead of just being useless. The main character, Diana, is the type of woman that everyone immediately falls in love with because of reasons. Her love interest, Matthew, is so possessive that it’s scary but I guess we’re supposed to think it’s hot because he loves her? And then Diana fixes the entire world of vamps/witches/demons because she’s so special.

But also, it’s well written and the alchemy! And the magic! I dunno… YMMV.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Before the Devil Breaks You and Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (books)
Please ignore the chaos that is this image. I am irresponsible with taking pics of ebooks.

Speaking of YA books for adults – Ninth House is a killer magical school book. Galaxy (Alex) Stern has always been able to see ghosts and it has led to nothing by chaos in her life. (Can I just say how refreshing it is to have a “damaged” heroine where the damage actually makes sense and doesn’t seem shoehorned in for drama?) However, this ability has also led to her being scouted by a Yale-based secret society tasked with overseeing/keeping all the other magical secret societies in line. You win some, you lose some.

I don’t want to give too much away, because this book is a bit of a slow burn. The timeline hops all around Alex’s freshman year at Yale – with a few earlier memories sprinkled in for good measure – and has two narrators. It is super detailed and full of lush description. And, while there is a mystery afoot, you spend more time learning about the eight secret societies than solving the mystery. Bardugo plans for a series and I think that is very evident in Ninth House. But it’s still so so good.

Lair of Dreams and Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

From my October post, y’all already know that I love the Diviners series. Lair of Dreams and Before the Devil Breaks You do a great job of driving the series forward. I love Evie (and all her messy, selfishness) but these two books allow us much more time in the minds of the other Diviners. I talk about this all the time, but I love the point in a fantasy series when the world expands.

Libba Bray has a huge amount of voices to keep straight and she does an admirable job. In Before the Devil Breaks You, especially, we get a ton of insight into Mabel and… oof. Heartbreaking to be “normal” in an exceptional world.

The other incredible thing about these books is they don’t shy away from the yucky parts of the 1920s. It’s not all bathtub gin and jazz. There is racism, eugenics, PTSD, explorations of sexuality, discrimination. This is not a whitewashed 1920s New York and I appreciate it.

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare (book)

How strange for me! Chain of Gold is the first Cassandra Clare book I’ve read where the next book in the series isn’t just a library hold away. I actually have to wait for the next one to be released!

Look, I’m the ideal audience for this book. I like the world of the Shadowhunters. I like picking up little references to other books in the world while I’m reading. Plus Chain of Gold is about the children of the characters from The Infernal Devices and I love that shit. That said, I know it’s a staple of the genre, but I’m tired of love triangles so I hope that plot element gets dropped real quick in Chain of Iron.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Beach Read by Emily Henry (book)

Finally, I decided to take a pause from all the spooky books and enjoy something light and heartwarming. Beach Read is a warm hug of a book that totally doesn’t need to be read on a beach. In some ways, it’s a traditional rom-com. Oh my goodness, they hate each other at the beginning! Oh, our heroine is recovering from an all too recent heartbreak and is an adorable mess.

But. In Beach Read, the heroine and her love interest are actual functional adults. The conflict in the book does not come from one of them being a garbage baby. It comes from two adults learning how to communicate with each other and express what they need. And our heroine really does heal herself, instead of relying on him to do it for her.

And that is that! I hope you enjoyed my non-structured rambles about the books I read this month – December’s reviews will be coming at you before you know it!

What have you been reading? What books should I read next? Drop it in the comments!

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