Recent Reads #60

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!


This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

TW: grief, death, murder

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

This Poison Heart offers an imaginative and unique tale that will completely immerse you and transport you to a world full of magic, plants and witches. 

I really liked Briseis’ powers and that aspect of the synopsis was what really drew me to this book. This is a magic system like no other, which my mind described as a blend of traditional magic and a pinch of Little Shop of Horrors. The way the world around her powers is gradually drawn out, along with its respective mythology and heritage was so fascinating to read about. 

Yet again Bayron has produced a compulsively readable story. This is such an imaginative and unique story with beauty, heart and a touch of darkness at its core. Between this and Cinderella is Dead, Bayron is putting her own stamp on fairytales and reimaging them as the twisted tales of old. More than that, it is so good to see these antiquated stories retold through a fresh lens that is also diverse. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Don’t Breathe a Word by Jordyn Taylor

TW: death, claustrophobia, classism, sexism

Don’t Breathe a Word is an intriguing psychological mystery spanning two timelines and touching upon some fascinating aspects of Dark Academia. 

I was initially sold on this book based solely on that fantastic premise. The claustrophobic and spine-tingling atmosphere created instantly by the bunker storyline, entwined with my fascination for Dark Academia elements within stories, meant thatI just had to pick it up. Fortunately, Taylor proved she had much more lurking up her sleeves. 

This was an incredibly addictive read. Taylor’s writing just kept me glued to the page, desperate to uncover all of the secrets. Luckily for me, there were plenty of dark and juicy mysteries to be resolved. I liked how the two timelines intersected to create the overall picture. The dark secrets were slowly unveiled and I liked how often the reader was able to put the pieces together early. Also, the little connections that were often unexpected were so interesting to see unfold. Mysteries often fail or succeed based on their twists, turns and reveals. Don’t Breathe a Word not only succeeded, it excelled. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: abuse, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, racism, teacher/student relationship, violence, parental neglect, panic attacks, murder, death

How We Fall Apart is the Dark Academia mystery you’ve been waiting for. The explosive twists and turns, complex characters and compulsively readable writing culminates in an intensely thrilling reading experience. This is a searing exploration of power, status, race and academia.

Full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Off the Record by Camryn Garrett

TW: mentions of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault and fatphobia

⭐️🏳️‍🌈

Off the Record proves once and for all that Camryn Garrett is a force to be reckoned with. This is a scintillating, hard-hitting read that just pulls you towards it with a magnetic force driven by Garrett’s authentic voice and characters that stay with you long after the final page. 

Josie is the shining star of this book. I fell in love with her passion and determination to succeed in following her dream. However, she is complex, often feeling insecure and vulnerable. The intersections of her identity as being a fat, Black, bisexual woman are explored brilliantly and in a way that really opens up discussion and thought. More than that, Garrett infuses Josie with that kind of sparkle that promises greatness and a warm, funny and focused spirit. Josie takes on so many challenges throughout the book and it’s interesting to see how she tackles each one through her own narrative. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Ivies by Alexa Donne

⭐️🏳️‍🌈

TW: murder, violence, bullying, blackmail, cheating, mentions of disordered eating, death

I really liked the social commentary aspects of this book, particularly its exploration of class, power and status. The way this hierarchy related to academia and opportunities was fascinating. However, the mystery element was lacking for me, with a lot of twists and turns that felt predictable and expected. The representation also felt somewhat tokenistic, with not a lot of page time.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

⭐️🏳️‍🌈💙

TW: violence, mass murder, amputation, famine, gender dysphoria, war, violence, gore, death, misgendering, ableism, homophobia, misogyny, mentions of death by torture, child murder

This was such a stunning book. I revelled in the fascinatingly complex narrative voices and how their characters developed over the course of the book. They’re morally gray people who are determined to only survive, but thrive as well as they can in a brutal landscape. This was an epic fantasy tale, with historical elements.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Love & Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: homophobia, mention of parent’s death

Yet again, Sugiura charmed me with her heartfelt writing. Her characters jumped off the page, sparkling with warmth and hidden depths. This is a book primarily focusing on romance and how we can focus too much on dreaming, essentially how realistically fake dating might work out in real life. It’s also a story about the complicated relationships we can have with ourselves and our families.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Universe of Wishes

⭐️🏳️‍🌈💙🧠

TW: death, homphobia, murder, transphobia, abuse, colonialism, racism

This was a really interesting anthology, with a vast array of genres and writing styles on display. I found myself being swept away to so many different world and times. My standouts had to be Cristal y Ceniza by Anna-Marie McLemore, The Takeback Tango by Rebecca Roanhorse, Longer Than The Threads of Time by Zoraida Córdova, Unmoor by Mark Oshiro and The Weight by Dhonielle Clayton.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: death, grief, suicide, drug overdose

Tanya Byrne is a genius.

After finishing this emotional wrecking ball of a book, I just had to sit there for a minute to collect my thoughts. Byrne’s writing is infused with such emotional vulnerability, power and quiet impact that leaves your heart in shards. Instantly, this became a new favourite for me. An exquisite meditation on grief, death, family and love that you should all be preordering immediately.

Full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

⭐️🏳️‍🌈💙🧠

TW: death, murder, gore

It’s been a while since I read a straight up slasher novel, but this was pretty fantastic. Instantly, I knew I was in for a wild ride and Hendrix never let up. This was a relentlessly tense and thought-provoking take on the Final Girl trope, using a multi-media format to engage in a conversation with the trope and its misogynistic undertones.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

7 thoughts on “Recent Reads #60

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