Recent Reads #61

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!


Hungry Hearts

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: family death, bullying, racism, parent death, murder, drug use, emotional abuse, child abuse

I really, really liked this anthology where the stories are interconnected by the same neighbourhood. It was so fun seeing little references and connections through the stories, which were a really interesting fix of genres and styles. We hop from fluffy contemporary romances to strongly horror influenced narratives within the space of a few pages. The focus on food and its intersections with family and culture were fascinating to see how each writer had a different take on these themes.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: parental loss, panic attacks, gun violence, non consensual image sharing

I really loved this contemporary tale, particularly how Johnson shows the messiness and complications of love. There is no straightforward path here, with plenty of interesting dynamics along the way. However, the chemistry between the two leads is dynamite to witness. I personally adore the sunshine and grumpy trope and Johnson uses it so well here. 

This was a heart-warming read that perfectly captures the essence of summer and how those balmy nights feel full of possibilities and romance. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Girl in the Headlines by Hannah Jayne

🧠

TW: death, blood, violence, murder, kidnapping, abuse

The Girl in the Headlines is the kind of book that makes you feel like you’re walking a tightrope, balancing tension, an unreliable narrator and a razor-sharp plot perfectly. 

I really enjoyed following Andrea’s narrative voice. This is an unreliable narrator that you can’t help but root for. All the way through, you can never be entirely sure that she is telling you the whole truth. Her voice is rather fragmented and I loved guessing whether this was her deliberately manipulating me, or if it was genuine memory loss. It adds this psychological dimension to the mystery, as you follow her along. Jayne cleverly misdirects and surprises you throughout, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blackout

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: claustrophobia, fear of heights, panic attacks, anxiety, cancer, family death

This anthology left my heart so full of warmth and love. I loved the interconnected nature of the stories, with little details overlapping and ultimately all the stories culminate at the same place. The setting of the blackout allows for new possibilities to flourish, old sparks to be rekindled and realisations of self-love to occur. This is a celebration of Black joy and love in so many different forms. It’s heart-warming and simply gorgeous.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Jake Douglass

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: death, racism, school shooting, bullying, physical abuse, sexual abuse, homophobia

The Taking of Jake Livingston is a fantastic addition to the YA horror canon, combining shocking thrills with razor-sharp social commentary. 

This is a book that genuinely sent shivers down my spine. It is creepy, scary and deeply unnerving, like any good horror should be. I liked how Douglass would often place those lurking moments of dread in seemingly normal scenes, so your guard is constantly up and prepared for danger. At its core, this is a story about identity and family. This is undeniably Jake’s story, as he finds confidence in himself and the fledgling shoots of a romance on the horizon. He has to build up confidence in his own being in order to fight his inner demons and those external monsters as well. I liked how Douglass presented his abilities in the lens of a typical high school student. However, he is also careful to demonstrate how his Blackness and queerness intersect with his abilities to further ostracise him from his peers. They are facets of himself that his peers use against him, resulting in internal turmoil and suffering for Jake. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This Is My Truth by Yasmin Rahman

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: domestic violence, racism, abuse, physical abuse, psychological abusementions of alcoholism and familial death

This  is a book that sits with you long after the final page. Rahman delves into some tough topics, but in a way that is sensitive and nuanced. 

A shining light in this book is Amani and Huda’s friendship. I loved the two of them and how funny their dialogue was. You just felt comfortable around them and it was great to see such a solid friendship. At the same time, they felt so authentic in the way that they were both far from perfect.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: mentions of rape, sexual assault, murder, death, drug use

As Good As Dead is a stunning conclusion to one of the strongest YA mystery series out there. This is a book that leaves you stunned in silence. 

You heard it here first, Holly Jackson is an evil genius. 

Her fiendish mind pulls out yet more amazing twists and turns that genuinely shock and surprise you. I loved how this ties the whole series together. This feels like a solid closing chapter, with so many of the recurring storylines from across the trilogy paying off. Little details from the first case resurface in totally new contexts.

Full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Outrage by William Hussey

🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: homophobia, self-harm, and references to ethnic cleansing and suicide

While I can appreciate how important the central message of this book is, it just fell completely flat for me. I found myself unable to connect with Gabriel or Eric and therefore didn’t feel able to invest in their relationship as well. I found the binary distinction between gay and straight a bit disconcerting as well, considering how they’ve immersed themselves in queer media and education.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Things We Don’t See by Savannah Brown

🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: death, disappearance, murder, abuse, mentions of sexual assault

The Things We Don’t See is a twisted little tale, gorgeously woven together by Brown’s glitteringly ambiguous prose. This is a story enveloped in smoke and secrets, with the fog of the past obscuring the events of the present. 

Beyond Mona, the mystery of what happened all those years ago to Roxy is a gripping story. It is a little bit quieter, allowing for the atmosphere to build around you even more. That being said, there are plenty of amazing twists and turns in store. This is a complex story, with plenty of juicy little details slowly building together a complete picture. The story is tinged with grief and the aftershocks of traumatic events. This seems to feed into the very fabric of Sandown.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: homophobia, child death, murder, claustrophobia, drowning, use of slurs

This was an excellent YA sapphic horror, steeped in suspense and the type of terror that creeps slowly down your spine. It is a beautiful tale about grief and trauma, enmeshed in a dark and unsettling horror narrative that exposes the monsters that greet you with charming smile on their faces. On top of that, it is also an excellent mystery with loads of shocking twists and turns.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

It’s Behind You by Kathryn Foxfield

🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: death, disappearance, murder, gore

Yet again, Foxfield has shown that she is someone to keep an eye on in the YA horror genre. This is a slick, well-paced story that constantly keeps you guessing, toeing the line between human monsters and the supernatural. The central mystery is incredibly gripping and the setting of the caves adds this extra element of unease and darkness to the atmosphere expertly created by the plot. You follow Lex as she delves deeper and deeper, but you’re also aware of the reality TV element, making the story have this meta feel to it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

2 thoughts on “Recent Reads #61

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s