Recent Reads #55

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!

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

TW: murder, mentions of sexual assault, illness, death, human trafficking, violence, abuse and substance abuse

I really enjoyed this non-fiction book, as it was something a bit different to my usual reads. I loved how Rubenhold really focused on the often neglected stories of the women and their lives, highlighting how awful the taking of that was. It also works to deconstruct and dispel some myths around the case.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

TW: war, death, murder, mentions of torture, discussions of infant death, mention of miscarriage, illegal adoptions, stealing children 

The Fountains of Silence cements Sepetys’ status as one of the best YA historical fiction writers around. Yet again, she weaves an intimate tale of young love with a rich exploration of a period of history that you may not be familiar with. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

⭐️🏳️‍🌈 (side character) 💙🧠

TW: autism-related ableism, past parental neglect 

Act Your Age, Eve Brown is a wonderful, heart-warming and utterly charming story. 

I’m well aware that I’m late to the Talia Hibbert hype train, but I am fully on board. They just write such amazing romances, packed full of heart and wit. The chemistry and dynamics are just perfect, largely due to the strength of both their characters and their immense talent. I really appreciate the inclusion and representation as well. The Brown Sisters trilogy has just been immaculate, so this review is kind of a love letter to them all. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

⭐️🏳️‍🌈 (side characters)

TW: Suicide, arson, death by arson, arranged marriage, teacher-student relationship, terminally ill parent, grooming, racism, rape, mention of abortion

Madam is a dark, Gothic gem of a book that I will be recommending fervently. 

I adore feminist retellings of classical tales and really appreciated how these complex tales of women were woven into the text. On top of that, the discussion they were able to have as a result of these texts were really illuminating in the wider context of the book. This is a story where you have to pay attention to the small details, those hidden within the gorgeous writing of the book and I loved piecing together the puzzle. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

TW: grief, trauma, loss of a loved one, kidnapping, anxiety, shooting, child death, child abduction

Lost in the Never Woods is a hauntingly beautiful, quietly devastating YA mystery and Peter Pan retelling that sits heavy on your heart.

As with Cemetery Boys, I couldn’t help but stop and stare with wonder at Thomas’ writing. This is an intricate, intimate story that ebbs and flows with such heart. The writing flows so easily, making for purely compulsive reading, as you get lost in this dark and dangerous world. Certainly, this is not the Neverland you think you know. I really appreciated how clever Thomas was with the retelling of Peter Pan. The elements that form the core of the original are kept, but fresh life is breathed into them through a more psychological exploration of the lasting effects it may have upon you.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

TW: grief, cheating, drug use, sexual assault, child sexual assault, kidnapping, fire, murder

Everyone Die Famous in a Small Town is such a complex and intricate woven story that I marvel at the skill it took to pull it off as well as Hitchcock does. 

At the heart of this book are realistic, human and very different reactions to grief. This is a deeply sad and touching story that you gradually piece together as you glimpse into different peoples’ narratives. The connections between characters and stories make this such a three-dimensional, layered and complex story. It really examines the butterfly and ripple effects of actions, be they big or little and how their implications ricochet across so many other lives. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma


TW: murder, death, violence, blood, poisoning, electrocution, self-injury, incarceration, bullying, drug use

I so badly wanted to love this book. It sounded like a gripping story and I adore ballet in books, but it just fell flat for me. I couldn’t connect to any of the characters and crucially, guessed whodunnit very very early on. Therefore, I just wasn’t that invested or glued to the pages.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Running With Lions by Julian Winters


TW: body shaming, bullying, Islamophobia, homophobia

This was quite a fun, quick read but again I just couldn’t connect with the characters that much. It was quite a character-driven story, which obviously didn’t bode well with this lack of connection. I enjoyed Winters’ writing style, but this just wasn’t the book for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli


This was such a cute, fun YA contemporary read, where ultimately the true focus is on the power of friendship. Honestly, just a heart-warming, funny and relatable story. However, it felt a bit middle of the road. The characters were lovable and I really enjoyed the homage to musical theatre.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Burning God by R. F. Kuang


TW: death, colonisation, abuse, exploitation, addiction, racism, cannibalism, graphic violence, gore, dead bodies, mutilation, drugs, colorism, war, famine, mentions of rape

This was a brutal, bloody and devastating read that concluded a fantastic trilogy that has left me forever changed. I really enjoyed the pacing, world-building and further investment in characters. As ever, the writing in this series was phenomenal, rich and soaked in death and destruction. This was nowhere near perfect, with some elements feeling rushed and the ending not quite sitting right, but overall I still wholeheartedly loved it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

TW: rape, suicide, death, violence, sacrifice

This was such a beautifully written book that I have utterly fallen in love with. I am a huge fan of Greek mythology retellings and this particular beauty sent me on a binge of feminist reinterpretations. I love books that pick up the unwritten side of mythology, particularly when they offer such a searing exploration of toxic masculinity and how women are often mistreated and abused within mythology.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

TW : mention of rape, violence toward women, death of babies and children, general war and violence, death, familial grief, sexual violence, slavery

As I’ve said, I went on a mini binge of feminist Greek mythology retellings.

A Thousand Ships gave me Haynes’ insight into the stories of the women and how the war and its fallout affected them. I liked the format, which felt like a collection of short stories with some narrative threads stringing them all together. It made it feel like a chorus of female voices exposing the suffering they’d faced. The weakest perspective for me was that of Penelope, as I didn’t feel like I got a lot of her own story, rather that she was reiterating that of Odysseus.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

TW: war, gore, violence, slavery, suicide murder, rape, abuse

This was completely the opposite of A Thousand Ships, despite how it approaches a similar theme. This is a far more zoomed in story on the experiences of the women surrounding Achilles, but it also explores the general brutality and bloodiness of war. I loved how these books centre the experiences of women, whose voices are conspicuously absent from the original texts.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson

TW: suicide, drug use, addiction, murder, blood, violence, controlling behaviour, abuse

What Beauty There is a heart-wrenching, bleak and dark YA thriller that is perfectly complimented by its stark and uncompromising prose. This is a book that you can’t pull yourself away from. 

You get sucked into this book by those intriguing plot hooks, but you end up staying because you become truly invested in these fractured, flawed characters just looking to survive. They’re characterised by the actions of their families and feel the reverberating effects of the past in every moment. They’re down-trodden and barely scraping by, getting pulled into a dark and dangerous web kickstarted years and years before. The atmosphere and environment they inhabit is unflinching and uncaring, striking in its alienation and bareness. You get the sense that even Nature itself has turned its back on these characters, forcing them to combat the merciless cold. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

⭐️🏳️‍🌈💙 (side character) 🧠

TW: violence, blood, gore, drug addiction, death, slavery, forced impregnation, torture, child marriages, implied sexual assault, child abuse, suicide

This was a re-read in preparation for the release of Rule of Wolves and it was just as good, if not better upon a reread.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

2 thoughts on “Recent Reads #55

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