Recent Reads #47

Last year, I renamed ‘Weekly’ Wrap-Ups to Recent Reads, as I feel like that reflects the timescale between posts more accurately!

As ever, today I will be briefly reviewing all the books I’ve read since my last post in approximately fifty words. This post also explains my concept of ‘The Chosen Ones’ to highlight my favourite books in each post. As it’s been quite a while since my last Recent Reads post, this will encompass the past few months.

Some of these books either aren’t released yet or I want to write a full review of in the future, so I’ll just have a quick thought with the full review to come.

Nobody Knows But You by Anica Mrose Rissi

🏳️‍🌈 (minor non-binary character) 🧠

TW: cheating, death, obsession, murder

Nobody Knows But You is an incredibly gripping, shadowy YA thriller that delves into obsession and forces you to question every little detail the whole way through. 

Its short, sharp chapters allow for maximum impact of tension and twists in a fast-paced, quick read that will have you up into the early hours of the morning. The use of multi-media, particularly epistolary form, allows for you to get a multi-layered perspective on the events of the summer, though you obviously can’t trust everything you read.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

TW: gore, death of a sibling, self harm, blood, alcohol, non-consensual touching, gambling, loss, magic used to manipulate thoughts and actions, mutilation, violence


Kingdom of the Wicked is a deliciously dark and decadent fantasy novel packed with intrigue and Maniscalco’s trademark flourish of romance. 

Right from the start, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride. That kind of tantalising hook is always going to ensure me and ensure that I will definitely be continuing. Maniscalco keeps this up throughout with plenty of epic twists and turns.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly

TW: violence, gore, self harm, suicide, child abuse

Poisoned offers up a darker, insightful and timely take on a tale that we all think we know and love. 

Both here and with Stepsister, Donnelly allows the darkness of the original tales to take centre stage – holding nothing back in her tales. I love how she incorporates feminist themes and discussion at the heart of their stories, truly updating these tales for the 21st century. She allows her characters complexity, growth and depth in a way that makes them all the more vivid and less like the cartoonish caricatures that we may expect.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

⭐️🏳️‍🌈 💙🧠

TW: transphobia, death, misgendering and deadnaming, gender dysphoria, parental death, references to blood magic

I just loved absolutely everything about this book. Thomas weaves an utterly compelling story about identity, infused with so many wonderful elements of Latinx culture. It grows out of this concoction of fantasy, mystery and romance that just works so well, every element is perfectly balanced. If this book isn’t already on your TBR, rectify that mistake immediately.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe


This book hinges on Henri and his drive to succeed at all costs. His charisma and wholly human flaws shine through the page so strongly, making it hard to not want to connect to him. There’s a really adorable and believable romance, which has great chemistry and dialogue snapping back and forth across the page.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett

TW: grooming and recruiting, murder, bulimia, forced food restriction, sleep deprivation, drug abuse, suicide, death of an animal, conversion therapy and snakes 

Moffett has crafted an incredibly terrifying book. Its terror lies in its realism and the slow, gradual way it pulls you further into the Kingdom and the book itself, as it moves to darker and darker territory. 

The explanation of cult techniques and terminology throughout reminded you how easy it is to prey on and manipulate minds, adding to this hypnotic sense that permeated the entire book.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo

TW: self-harm

This is a stunning companion novel to the Grishaverse series, packed with amazing illustrations and those characteristically Bardugo short stories that leave such an imprint on your mind. It’s magical and easy to lose an afternoon to reading, but there is a hint of darkness trailing through the stories.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Cousins by Karen McManus


TW: death of a loved one, dementia, alcoholism, murder

The Cousins is another smash-hit from a queen of YA mysteries: Karen McManus herself. 

The story includes a multitude of perspectives and two distinct timelines but everything is balanced just so, keeping you constantly in suspense and wanting to chase down the final conclusion. You can’t help but become entangled with our three primary protagonists. Hearing each of their voices really helps you delve deeper into their psyche and reinterpret events through their eyes.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

⭐️🏳️‍🌈 🧠

TW: religion-based self harm, homophobia, internalised homophobia, blood, murder, body horror, sexism, sexual harassment

A Curse of Roses is a brilliant, spell-binding sapphic story that feels like a treasured fairytale for the modern age. 

Pinguicha’s writing is simply entrancing. The story is so gorgeously written, with the prose practically weaving this intricate world around you and drawing you into Yzabel’s story. Her attention to detail is sublime, with the magic, world-building and mythology all being exquisitely crafted and fleshed out.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

These Venegful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

⭐️🏳️‍🌈 (side characters)

TW: deception, paralysis, bullying, blackmail, cheating/adultery and past car crash

The premise of this book initially drew me with its mysterious quality and promise of an exploration of vengeance. It delivered all that and so much more. Laurin captures the essence of high school drama perfectly, with secrets and scandal galore. There’s a darker edge to it though, as the plot delves deeper and deeper.

Full review here.

All The Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault


TW: death, overdose, sexual harassment and assault, suicidal thoughts, domestic violence, self harm, substance abuse

I think this mystery had so much potential, but unfortunately I just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. It’s a dark and intricately told thriller that you’ll be compelled to keep reading and tackles tough but relevant topics. I just felt like something was missing for me. I also wasn’t sure that the sexual assault and harassment aspects were dealt with properly.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan


TW: cheating, death of a loved one, absent parent 

I really enjoyed this summery, romantic contemporary story. It features f/f fake dating in order to attract the main character’s male crush, but the problematic nature of this is discussed immediately. Elle really grows as a person over the course of the novel, eventually having her rom-com realisation moment that brings everything together wonderfully. It invokes all the sights and sounds of summer, completely transporting me and reminding me of all those romantic possibilities in the endless days.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu


TW: emotional abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, manipulation, alcohol use, smoking, death, murder, frequent mentions of a gun, blood mention, suicidal ideation, intense and distressing familial conflict

This is a dark, captivating examination of toxic friendship and the all-consuming nature of obsession. It constantly keeps you on your toes, as you delve into this complex and increasingly codependent friendship. Things just get darker and darker as revenge moments escalate into evermore dangerous territory. Until the final few pages, I wasn’t sure what I could believe. An excellent YA thriller.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What We Don’t Talk About by Charlot Kristensen


This exemplifies the power of graphic novels for me. It tells such an impactful story about racism and the difficulties interracial couples face in such a short space. It left me thinking about it and its gorgeous art for days after. Kristensen is an incredibly emotive visual artist, creating a piece of work that should be savoured but above all, listened to.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole


TW: domestic violence, panic attacks, suicide, racism, murder, violence, death of a loved one, blood, corpses, drugs, kidnapping, fire, police violence, major drug use, over-dosing, white supremacy

I had no idea what to expect going into Cole’s book and I’m really glad of that. Cole slowly ramps up the tension and you’re left with a chill in your spine, while on the surface you’re reading more of a contemporary novel. Then the switch flips and you’re thrust into a wild and thrilling ride that you did not see coming. The twists come thick and fast, leaving you reeling and desperate to reach the final conclusion.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

TW: death, mutilation, violence, starvation, torture, disownment, loss of a parent, loss of a loved one, trauma, rape, paedophilia

⭐️🏳️‍🌈 (side characters)

You are not ready for what Forna has in store for you.

This is an empowering, feminist and rich YA fantasy unlike any other. It’s beautifully written but also steeped in so much blood and violence. Forna is unflinching in her graphic depiction of this twisted world.

Full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth


TW: wasps, death, drowning, homophobia, forced outing, gore, violence, suicide, rape, sexual assault, grief, mental illness

If like me, you need something to fill the Haunting of Bly Manor hole in your life, you need to pick up this Gothic, sapphic and entrancingly beautiful tale.

Danforth does not make it easy for you, with a complex web of characters and story-lines that slowly connect. The whole way through, the story is tinged with acerbic wit and a hauntingly spooky touch to events. Obviously, I’ve fallen in love.

Full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour


TW: death by overdose, toxic parent, teen homelessness

This was a quieter, understated and wonderful sapphic YA romance. You have to allow LaCour to weave this story around you and you’ll become entirely engaged with this softly romantic love letter to film and creativity in general. Her writing just has this ethereally enticing quality that you can’t quite escape from.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

4 thoughts on “Recent Reads #47

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