Recent Reads #59

As ever, today I will be briefly reviewing all the books I’ve read since my last post in approximately fifty words. 

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!


Heartstopper Vol 4 by Alice Oseman

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: anorexia, self-harm, OCD, discussion of bullying, biphobia, homophobia

There’s something so magical about this graphic novel series. They always just make my heart glow, particuarly with the adorable romances and fluffiness. However, as the series goes on, Oseman delves into more topics such as mental health, prejudice and hatred. Volume Four pushed forward on these narratives in particular, making some parts difficult to read but not shying away from the dark and tough reality of these situations. There’s real heart to the series. It’s always going to be a comfort read for me.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Trouble Girls by Julia Lynn Rubin

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: sexual harassment, drug use, death, abuse, child sexual abuse

Trouble Girls is a primal scream disguised as a book. This dark and gritty tale reimagines the essence of Thelma and Louise into a modern day context to provide a searing tale that cuts to the bone. The writing style is so addictive. Rubin’s style just made the pages fly past with an effortless mastery of tension and thrilling plot.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Boyband Murder Mystery by Ava Eldred

⭐️🏳️‍🌈

TW: death, murder, manipulation

The Boyband Murder Mystery is an engaging, entertaining and totally bingeable rip-roaring ride. 

I think the main strength of this book is how it is essentially a love letter to the power of teenage fandom. Far too often, teenage girls are belittled and mocked for their fandoms. They’re dismissed and seen as being immature. Eldred instead celebrates the community and power a fandom can hold. It’s a crucial part of being young, to find common interests and a shared love of something with a community that you can build around you.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: colonialism, racism, infidelity, abortion, death, murder

The Chosen and the Beautiful was such a gorgeous book that completely captured my imagination and wrapped me up in its silky cocoon. 

This was a really interesting reimagining of The Great Gatsby, interrogating some of the events from the original text through a fresh new lens. It breathed new life into a classic tale and woven in some brilliant thematic commentary on social issues. Jordan Baker has always intrigued me as a character, but she’s often relegated to the shadows and forgotten in discussion of the original text. Here, she takes centre stage and we get her fascinating voice shining through. She’s a complex heroine, tangled in issues with her identity as a queer, Asian woman. I loved how the representation was discussed and heavily impacted how both Jordan interacted with the world and how the world around her viewed her. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: death, drug use, murder, violence, gore

God, I loved being back with Stevie and her incredible crew of found family. This is the type of book that you just have to binge. The Truly Devious case may be closed, but Johnson has proved that there’s so much more ahead for Stevie. This was a genuinely unnerving and creepy read at times for me.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

⭐️🏳️‍🌈💙

TW: homophobia, hate crimes, suicide, racism, religion as a reason for hatred, cult, self harm, abuse

I really, really enjoyed this curious gem of a story. It just wrapped me up in its pages and cast a spell on me that I couldn’t quite break. I loved the exploration of tarot and how the mystery and story gradually built to its amazing twists and turns.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth

🏳️‍🌈 ⭐️

TW: alcoholic mother, absent father, bullying, toxic friendship, gaslighting

This was a really enjoyable contemporary read. In particular, I loved the relationship dynamic between Aideen and her eventual partner. Their dialogue and snappy wit complimented one another perfectly, though it was often used against one another. Aideen was a fantastically complex protagonist as well, dealing with her own issues but also having a heart of gold beneath her sarcastic exterior.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Both of You by Adele Parks

⭐️

TW: cheating, death, murder, torture, cancer

Both of You is a thrilling and easily bingeable mystery story with plenty of devious twists and turns up its sleeve. The premise is so intriguing and as the story continues, the mystery only grows more complex and fascinating. 

I loved how emotionally fractured and complex this mystery was. It really relies on the various relationships that tie this group of people together in a variety of messy and humanly flawed ways. This is a story that hinges on duplicity and unexpected connections, several of which you will have to wait to fully discover. The chemistry sparks right off the page but often between people you may not first expect it to. Parks has a real ease to her writing that completely compels you and means that the pages just seem to fly by. You become invested in this whole bubble of people and situations that you scarcely notice time passing around you. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Key To You and Me by Jaye Robin Brown

🏳️‍🌈

I loved this light, adorable YA contemporary novel. It just transported me to the warm glow of summer and had these wonderful rom-com touches. I loved the exploration of horse-riding as well, which is something I didn’t know much about. The central relationship and dynamic just worked so well for me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Oseman

💙🧠

TW: dementia, long term illness/disability, ageism, sexism, suicide, death

This was such an unexpected hit that I went in with very, very high expectations. That may not have been wise, as while I did enjoy the book, it didn’t quite meet my expectations. The mystery was solid, well-plotted with some good twists. I loved the central characters and how Oseman infused so much spark into them. However, something just fell a bit flat for me.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn

⭐️🏳️‍🌈

TW: child abuse, gore

It’s easy to say, I am so in love with this series.

I am so in awe at how Dunn blends historical fiction and fantasy so well, while also crafting these three-dimensional characters that learn, grow and make mistakes. They feel so authentic and their found family dynamics are a true highlight. Beyond that, the plot is so captivating and yet again, I was left aghast by that ending.

This is such a strong series that stands out from the crowd.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You’re The One That I Want by Simon James Green

🏳️‍🌈

TW: cheating, emotional manipulation, homophobia

Yet again, I picked up a SJG book and left with my heart a little lighter.

I love how all his books are packed full of heart and humour in equal measure. You’re The One That I Want was so relatable and authentic, but also quietly heart-breaking at the same time. With a little awkwardness dashed in for good measure and a rejection of rom-com cliched endings, you have the SJG formula down.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Crossing by Manjeet Mann

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: racism, xenophobia, death, grief, drowning, hate crimes, extremist groups, war

The Crossing is the type of book that burrows its way into your mind and refuses to leave. It is so profoundly impactful and feels like essential reading. I don’t think I can recommend it highly enough. 

In my review of Mann’s previous work Run, Rebel, I talked about how poetry has this innate emotional power. Mann completely captures this once more in The Crossing. Each word is so delicately chosen in order to wreck the maximum emotional devastation upon the reader. Mann takes on such relevant topics that hold political and social weight in dealing with these issues and weaves this tragically beautiful stories packed full of violence and suffering. This is all achieved in just a few delicately chosen words and that sort of talent just has to be applauded. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

⭐️🧠

TW: racism, micro-aggressions, colourism, gaslighting, sexism

This was gob-smacking.

I cannot exaggerate how much I am in love with this book. It was an absolutely riveting story, brilliantly written and following a heart-pounding exploration of racism, colourism and micro-aggressions in the publishing industry and other white-dominated spheres.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: homophobia, transphobia, physical abuse, emotional abuse, death, suicidal ideation, discrimination, misgendering, bullying, death

I really enjoyed seeing a genderqueer character on page and Carey’s experience of fluidity was interesting to see. I particularly liked how the chapter titles would reflect their gender expression of that particular day. This is a tough book to read at points, as Carey faces trauma and intense discrimination and hatred. However, there are sparks of hope, light and love with Carey’s friends and family.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

8 thoughts on “Recent Reads #59

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