Monthly Roundup – October 2020

Happy Halloween! It will be a quiet celebration this year, although I always prefer festivities to be enjoyed with just my little family around me. Daughter will not be able to join us from London where she remains busy on the wards – she did manage a visit earlier this month which we all benefited from.

For me, Halloween is about harvest, and witches – the betimes feminists who lived by their own means, often as healers, and did not kowtow to the men of their time who regarded women as chattels and brood mares. Witches were feared because they challenged rules that were clearly detrimental to a great many people. We need more of this, especially given the current situation in which we are being made to live.

The nights have drawn in and the temperatures dropped this month – hibernation beckons. I continue to visit the gym and run the local lanes but life has contracted further with the turning of the season. Husband  works from home – thankfully unaffected as yet by recent redundancy announcements – and elder son travels to his office each weekday. With masks required on public transport, I allow him to use my little car for his commute – otherwise it would remain garaged. My bike is my favoured mode of transport given I travel only short distances these days. I haven’t used any motorised vehicle in many weeks – others are obviously not so concerned about travelling widely as the roads remain busy and pictures on social media reflect outings and holidays.

University term has commenced for younger son. I am grateful he is studying remotely and living at home given the way so many students are being treated. The accommodation he had to sign up for – having had no confirmation until the last minute that he could remain here – is now an expensive storage facility for the equipment he needs when living away. We wonder if it will be needed at all this academic year.

I have read some truly excellent books this month, and received a bonanza of titles to see me through the days when inclement weather keeps me on my sofa or snug in bed. I posted 9 reviews: 6 novels (1 translated), 1 short story collection, 1 poetry anthology, 1 work of non fiction. Robyn added a further 14 reviews, including 1 in collaboration with Books2Door – I wrote about this here.

You may click on the title below to read the review, and on the cover to find out more about each book.



Orfeia by Joanne M. Harris, published by Gollancz
Real Life by Brandon Taylor, published by Daunt Books

Waiting for Nothing by Tom Kromer, published by the common breath
A Jealous Tide by Anna MacDonald, published by Splice

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, published by Picador

Translated Fiction

The Pear Field by Nana Ekvtimishvili (translated by Elizabeth Heighway) published by Peirene Press

Short Stories

London Incognita by Gary Budden, published by Dead Ink Books


Chaos edited by Anna Johnson, published by Patrician Press

Non Fiction

The Secret Life of Fungi by Aliya Whiteley, published by Elliot & Thompson


Robyn Reviews

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton, published by Bloomsbury
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, published by Titan Books

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison, published by Rebellion
The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier, published by Angry Robot

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow, published by Orbit
Witch by Finbar Hawkins, published by Head of Zeus

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, published by Orbit
Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott, published by Head of Zeus

There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool, published by Orbit
As the Shadow Rises by Katy Rose Pool, published by Orbit

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski (translated by Danusia Stok and David French), published by Gollancz
Northern Wrath by Thilde Kold Holdt (translated?), published by Rebellion

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco, published by Hodder & Stoughton
Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee, published by Rebellion


Sourcing the books

Robyn is on Netgalley and is grateful for all approvals of titles requested. She also purchased or received a number of hard copies (I’ve stopped asking her about the multiple copies she buys of beautifully bound editions).

Publishers have been particularly generous this month, with book post arriving almost daily – some purchased or requested, most offered for review. Such abundance may result in me being unable to post my thoughts on every ARC received at or around its publication date. As I am eager to read most of these books, I will get to them as soon as I can manage.

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their titles to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and as much mental stability as can be mustered in these challenging times. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx


3 comments on “Monthly Roundup – October 2020

  1. I hope next month is equally rewarding Jackie!

  2. thetorzorean says:

    Happy Halloween, indeed. Loved reading this post and especially your reminder of the true nature of witches. May we learn from them to be true to ourselves.
    Above all, Happy Reading!

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