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!
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!
Toil & Trouble
TW: substance abuse, sexual assault, racism, murder, violence, torture, death, child sexual assault
This was part of my ongoing reread of my shelves to see what I want to keep and it help up. The core message of this anthology is about women taking back their agency and stepping away from their prescribed destinies, told through a variety of intersectional voices. I still stand my original thoughts on this book.
The Inital Insult by Mindy McGinnis
TW: death, parental death, seizures, kidnapping, torture, blood, gore, graphic description of injuries, neglect, animal death and abuse
This was a dark and absolutely riveting tale, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe and those Gothic touches & unexpected viewpoints serve to make this mystery stand out amongst the crowd.
Full review here.
Tell Me My Name by Amy Reed
TW: racism, drug use, infidelity, sexual assault, child abuse, addiction, schizophrenia
After loving The Nowhere Girls and having a huge obsession with The Great Gatsby, I knew I needed this mystery in my life. I felt like it captures the echoes and familiar beats of the classic book from which it draws inspiration, but offers a fresh new tale through a darker lens.
Full review to come.
None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney
TW: violence, serial killings, graphic mentions of gore, blood, torture, parental death, kidnapping, hostage situations, PTSD/trauma, ableism, racial microaggressions, homophobia, sexism
I really, really enjoyed this psychological thriller, which felt very much like a YA version of Silence of the Lambs. Emma in particular gets drawn into this twisted dynamics with Simon and the interview scenes were stellar examples of how to perfectly use tension and demonstrate their psychological battle of wits. After that ending, it feels like there’s still more to explore in this story and I’d love to read a sequel.
Scared Little Rabbits by A. V. Geiger
TW: violence, death, murder, falling, drowning, murder, blackmail, bullying, mention of hazing, mention of depression, and mention of suicide
I really liked the premise of this YA thriller and I felt like it executed it well. One of the highlights for me was all the technological innovations Geiger mentioned and how close they are to appearing in reality. Nora was a great protagonist and way for us to enter this highly competitive world where not everyhting is as it seems. In terms of the mystery, it was a gripping and well-told story, with some twists I didn’t see coming.
The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
TW: shooting, hostages, mention of car accident, blood, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, fire (full list here)
This was obviously the time for me to read thrillers, but this was easily one of the best I’ve read for quite some time. It’s cliche to say that it was unputdownable, but it was genuinely so tense that I could not tear myself away from its pages. Masterful work from Sharpe.
Full review here.
Ruinsong by Julia Ember
TW: torture, death, mentions of cancer and abortion, animal death, grief, body shaming, gore, blood, emotional abuse
I’m a sucker for an LGBTQ+ enemies to lovers story and when it’s wrapped in a lush Phantom of the Opera retelling, well I’m completely sold. Ruinsong is a dark, entrancing and gorgeous story told through two morally gray perspectives trying to survive in a brutal world. I thought the magic system was so unique and wonderful to read about.
Are You Watching? by Vincent Ralph
TW: murder, violence, stalking, suicide attempt, physical abuse, mentions of terrorist attack
This was another reread, as part of the Penguin Platform YA Book Club. It’s such a phenomenal mystery. The concept is utterly unique and unnerving, then add in a compellingly tangled tale and plenty of suspense and you’ve completely got me hooked.
A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth
TW: anger, arson, blood/gore, body horror (minor), death of a child, depression, disownment, divorce, drug use/addiction, grief/grieving, human trafficking, poverty, psychopathy, stalking, suicide (past, off-page), suicide ideation, toxic relationship/manipulation, trauma/PTSD, racism, violence/gun violence
This is just such a rich, imaginative world that blends fantasy and reality seamlessly. I’m in love with our casually queer cast of characters, all of whom have hidden depths to them and I loved how Shuttleworth has set up what promises to be an explosive series.
Full review here.
People Like Us by Dana Mele
TW: suicide, death, animal harm, animal death, bullying
Yet again, this was a reread and I really enjoyed delving back into this twisty story. It’s been over two years since I last read this and it still held up. The mystery was great, with plenty of dark and hidden secret. My only wish is that I was hoping Kay’s backstory was going to connect with the current mystery.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
⭐️(side characters) 🏳️🌈💙🧠
TW: full list and details here
This was another reread and I still stand by my original thoughts, but have just slightly altered the rating.
Wilder Girls is a complete breath of fresh air into the YA genre. Power’s writing just burrowed itself under my skin, intoxicating my mind and leaving me unable to fully step outside the world of the Tox. The pace is relentless, but there are still moments for the writing to just breathe.
Full review here.
The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang
TW: genocide, drug use, addiction, suicide ideation, war themes (death, murder, violence etc.), self-harm, rape, mutilation, human experimentation, non-consensual medical examinations, racism, colorism, misogyny, depictions of grief and PTSD
I’m going to need The Burning God in my life stat. This is just such a brilliantly crafted and written series, delving into the brutal, blood realities of Rin’s world and indeed our own history. Rin is such a complex, interesting protagonist to follow and there’s no question that she is deeply flawed. Those final few chapters devastated me once more.
Muted by Tami Charles
TW: racism, homophobia, death, murder, rape, sexual assault, controlling behaviour, physical abuse, emotional abuse
Verse, as I’ve said before, has this innate emotional power and Charles utilises it to perfection here. This is not a happy or pretty book, rather it delves into the horrific nature of abuse and manipulation within the music industry. It asks what the cost of celebrity culture and the danger of idolising figures beyond reasonable points.
Full review here.
Other Words For Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin
TW: abusive relationships, implied murder, homophobia and forced outing, Magdalene laundries
I really loved Griffin’s style of writing; it was just so beautiful and lyrical and magical. This was a dark and bewitching story, strange and ambiguous in all the best ways. Personally, I think this is perfectly suited to those dark wintry nights where the supernatural seems to mix with reality. I found myself being drawn to all the characters and rooting for them to achieve happiness, in whatever form that meant for them ultimately.
The Chosen Ones: