Recent Reads #54

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! Today’s post features some books that I read in February, as I just missed them off my last Recent Reads. 

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!

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow


TW: anxiety, racism, panic attacks, colonisation, suicide, hangings

I really, really wanted to love this book but for some reason, I really couldn’t. At points, it just felt like it dragged and I couldn’t connect to any of the characters. Maybe sci-fi just isn’t quite my jam. For whatever reason, I just came away disappointed and saddened that I didn’t love it.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris


TW: racism, self-harm, grief, death, car accident, parental death, shooting, murder

This has to be one of the best books I’ve read recently. It’s a tough but necessary read with a fascinating concept and heart-breakingly emotional punch. Morris tackles racism and its insidious nature, particularly how prejudice and casual racism allow for the toxic culture of white supremacy to wreck havoc.

Full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

⭐️🏳️‍🌈 (side characters)

TW: torture, sexual assault, death, grief, parental death, paedophilia, cancer, blood and gore

This was another one that had an amazing premise and I was so hyped to read it. Unfortunately, again I just could not connect with most of the story or characters. However, the plot was somewhat enjoyable and made me fly through the pages. The ending also redeemed it slightly for me.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel

🧠⭐️ (MC is Jewish) 🏳️‍🌈 (side characters)

TW: self-harm, pulling out hair, selective mutism, anorexia, substance abuse, depression, OCD, kleptomania, alcoholism, rape, cancer, death and grief

The Castle School is a nuanced, thought-provoking exploration of mental illness and grief, beautifully told and moving. 

Each of the girls felt fleshed-out, assisted by seeing inside each of their heads at least for a page or two. It created this really cohesive and thought-out exploration of a range of different mental illnesses and raising wider questions about the struggles young people face in today’s world. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep


TW: discussions of trauma, kidnapping, enclosed spaces, death by fire, implied sexual assault, violence, abuse

The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep is a riveting YA thriller that slowly burns into your imagination. 

This story goes to some dark places, but always retains this strangely dream-like element. The mystery is genuinely gripping and engaging, keeping me guessing throughout. It always has this fairy-tale like quality to it, though I’m talking about the Grimm versions here. There’s something not quite right about everything that’s occurred but you can never quite put your finger on it. Here, you become unsure that you can fully trust yourself, let alone Terra. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

That Way Madness Lies


TW: racism, anti Semitism, neo Nazis, white supremacy, sexual assault, fire, blood, death, murder, stabbing, police brutality, physical abuse, emotional abuse, car accident, miscarriage, suicide

This was such an amazing anthology. I loved being reminded of the enduring influence of Shakespeare’s work and how it’s steeped in every part of our culture, but it was amazing to see the canon re-imagined through a new, fresh and more diverse lens.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco


TW: death, threats, sexual assault, abuse/violence, PTSD

This was a fantastically imaginative and creative tale that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever read anything like this.

The characters were stellar and I really connected to all of them. On top of that, the twists and turns the story took were exciting and unexpected. I loved all the betrayals and the ever-shifting alliances.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Kill Joy by Holly Jackson

TW: blood, death, murder

This was a really fun prequel story to one of my favourite YA mysteries ever. It was fascinating to watch Pip try and solve this fake murder mystery and see the spark that leads to A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. I felt myself getting heavily invested in the mystery alongside Pip once more and her theories were so well put together.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Conductors by Nicole Glover

🧠⭐️🏳️‍🌈 (side characters)

TW: racism, slavery, violence, death, mentions of drowning, grief, domestic violence, implied rape, murder

Glover has created such a rich and fascinating world. The more I learnt, the more I wanted from every aspect of the story. 

The central mystery is great. We get led down several rabbit holes in pursuing various leads and watching those dynamics play out was hugely satisfying. There’s an atmosphere of tension and intrigue throughout that kept me hooked to the pages. The reveals, when they eventually appear, are shocking but also make complete sense in the wider arc of the book. There’s all sorts of little hints that culminate in a superb payoff.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This Can Never Not Be Real by Sera Milano


TW: terrorist attack, blood, death, shooting, murder, bombing, violence, graphic description of injury, using a car as weapon – full list can be found here

I cannot stop thinking about this book.

This is a truly claustrophobic, heart-racing and gripping book unlike any you’ve read before. I read this in one sitting as I was simply unable to look away from the devastating, heart-wrenching and all too real events on the page.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw

🏳️‍🌈⭐️ (side character)

TW: blood, death, murder, violence, description of injuries, addiction, parental abandonment

I really enjoyed this YA horror with a 90s twist to it. McCaw has created a fleshed out world, complete with vibrant characters and a highly engaging plot.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales


TW: biphobia, internalised biphobia, toxic parents, drugs, alcohol, vomiting, emotional abuse, cheating

This was such a good book. I really liked this YA contemporary and how it really delved into being bisexual and biphobia. Gonzales is so good at creating slightly messy, very relatable and realistic teenage characters. All of them were so lovable and the dialogue always felt authentic. A rom-com style gem of a book.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

TW: violence, death, past sexual assault, suicidal ideation, abuse, animal death

With Rule of Wolves and the Netflix show both fairly close on the horizon, I decided to have a Grisha trilogy marathon over the course of two days. I really enjoyed being back in the Grishaverse, though I feel like I was more critical this time around. This still stands up as a good introductory novel and I appreciated Alina more.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

TW: blood, violence, death, mutilation, loss of sight, animal death, sexual assault, vomit, attempted suicide

Although this book introduces my favourite character of the trilogy, it still is my least favourite of the three overall. I enjoyed getting to see a bit more of the world and Alina actually having to face the consequences of her actions. That final action sequence is stellar, dark and bloody in all the best ways. This is the book where Alina comes more into herself and her powers and I love that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

TW: blood, violence, death, death of a child, animal cruelty and death; sexual assault, mention of rape, self harm, suicide and suicidal ideation

This was worth all the build up. I feel like this really pays off with a second reading, where you’re aware of everything that comes after. However, I don’t completely agree with Alina’s ending. That part is possibly the part I would want to change the most, but the rest of the book is pretty fantastic.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

2 thoughts on “Recent Reads #54

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