Recent Reads #64

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

I want to write a full review of some of these books in the future, so I’ll just have a quick thought with the full review to come.


To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames

🏳️‍🌈⭐️

TW: death, animal death, gore, blood

This is the type of book that sets itself inside your heart, only to tear it apart. It is an incredibly unnerving and fiendish gem that cries out to be devoured. 

Ames cleverly includes these serialised segments in between the main plot, which really add to the feel of the book and build up suspense and tension. They’re genuinely creepy and spooky segments that only become more horrifying after the final few pages.

Above all else, I fell in love with our central cast of characters. They all felt so well-developed and lovable. Found family is one of my favourite tropes and this group felt like the best type. They mesh together perfectly, but all still stand out with their own vivid personalities and personal growths

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen

⭐️🏳️‍🌈

TW: child abandonment, addiction, whipping, physical & emotional abuse of a child, attempted sexual assault, panic attacks, violence, attempted murder, death

This was just exquisite in every single way. Vanja snuck her way into my life and stole my heart instantly. Owen’s writing is just delectably dark, tinged with notes of humour and hope that crafts this spectacular fairytale with nuance and incredible attention to detail. She picks apart the original tale and carries its dark heart and essence into an entirely new and breath-taking story.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Not Here To Be Liked by Michelle Quach

⭐️

TW: sexism, racism, bullying

I loved how Quach included these really nuanced discussions about feminism, the process of it and being more intersectional. Feminism requires constant education and a willingness to challenge your own misconceptions. In particular, I loved the discussion about being a ‘perfect’ feminist and not a ‘bad feminist’. Quach shuts down any notions of the latter, instead showing how allowing yourself to make mistakes and be just human in all your flawed ways is the way to be true to yourself.

This is a book packed with humour and heart, but it doesn’t detract from the punch of its empowering central message.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn

⭐️🏳️‍🌈💙🧠

The Girls Are Never Gone captures those whispers in the dark and that chilling feeling in your bones. It is the perfect read for the times as the nights grow darker and the temperature drops. 

Great horror novels allow your imagination to create your own nightmares and Sarah Glenn Marsh seems to intuitively understand this. A lot of the book preys upon the darker recesses of your mind, as you create your own figures lurking in the night. There’s these subtle touches of menace that only grow stronger the more you read on. This is a genuinely creepy and unnerving book. The horror slowly grows and then it almost explodes onto you with horrifying moments that feel so real. It’s incredibly immersive, precisely because you’ve been drawn in by the atmosphere and the incredible characters. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Hollow Heart by Marie Rutkoski

⭐️🏳️‍🌈

TW: death, executions, murder, blood, poisoning

Rutkoski more than matches the hype with another gorgeously magical story, though this has a darker heart to it. 

I found this so, so easy to binge with Rutkoski’s writing utterly transporting me into this lush fantastical world. There’s just this gorgeously rich writing filled with magic that I fell in love with all over again. It felt like a really smart build on the first book. In particular, I adored the world-building in The Midnight Lie, but we get even more here. I loved the development of the mythology of the world and the new lands we got to discover. The exploration of the gods and their pantheon was fascinating for me and added this new level of intrigue to the story.

The clear highlight of this duology has to be our central characters. I really enjoyed how this cohesively felt like Sid’s book, making the two books halves of a whole

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dark Things I Adore by Katie Lattari

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: abuse, suicide, mental illness, self-harm, murder, violence, gaslighting, emotional abuse

This is the type of book that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let you go. Lattari weaves a dark, intimate and extremely compelling web that almost makes you complicit. 

There’s this driving thread of art as a medium, an escape and a way of channeling your own experiences. It’s something that is so powerful and provocative and Lattari really digs into the entire world. All at once, it’s glamorous but also deeply seedy. She exposes the nepotism and exploitation that drives many of the characters’ successes. It asks what this gorgeous art can really cost and to what extent is someone’s creative genius seen as more valuable than human life. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Dark and Starless Forest

⭐️🏳️‍🌈💙

TW: Death/disappearance of loved ones, violence, body horror, abuse

I am such a sucker for a good found family and Hollowell has crafted such an amazing one here. In every way, this is the type of book that you will just devour, turning page after page until you can uncover every one of its secrets. This was the perfect pre-Halloween read, building up those spookier feelings as the nights draw closer and darker.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

⭐️🏳️‍🌈

TW: sexual assault, abuse, torture, suicidal ideation, violence and alcohol addiction

This is an interrogative, imaginative and endlessly interesting retelling that combines a personal story of revenge with an epic sci-fi world. 

The entire concept of the mechs was really fascinating. In particular, I loved how it was used to explore the themes of identity, control over sexuality and the disposability of female lives. At every turn, stereotypes are oppressively enforced and used to dictate every action. The marginalisation of women and the pervasive idea of their silence allows them to be seen as lesser and therefore far more expendable. It asks the cost of heroism and celebrity in this patriarchal society.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: death, murder, violence, strangling, shooting, fire, grief, drowning, PTSD

Every so often, a book comes along that just takes control of your very mind, heart and soul. A Lesson in Vengeance is one of those books. It just made an indelible mark on my heart as I fell deeper and deeper into its dark labyrinthine mystery. Lee’s writing is delectable, as it is just so gorgeously evocative and easy to lose yourself in.

Full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Medusa by Jessie Burton

TW: sexual harassment, sexual assault, death, misogyny

I really enjoyed this fresh take on the myth we all think we know. The pairing of Burton’s beautiful writing and the gorgeous illustrations made for a match made in heaven, really helping to pull me into this story. Right from the opening pages, I was utterly hooked and entranced by Burton’s charismatic style, though it definitely also has an edge to it.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House by Audre Lorde

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

Audre Lorde is one of my icons and so I’ve been wanting to delve into this collection of her essays for ages. As I expected, I was just blown away. These are thought-provoking, nuanced and intellectually stimulating pieces that really kickstart a much needed conversation. In particular, I love the way Lorde discusses intersectionality and the importance of uplifting marginalised voices.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

🧠

TW: suicide, murder, death, violence, abuse, Munchausen syndrome by proxy, mentions of cancer, rape, sexual assault, blood, mentions of vomiting, gambling addiction, fraud, death of a child 

I really loved this inventive take on the crime genre. Hallett expertly uses the episolitaroy form to devastating effect, leading you down rabbit hole after rabbit hole as you become enmeshed in this village drama while nefarious acts are being committed right under your nose. I loved how it places the reader squarely in the role of the detective, allowing you to piece together the little details and discover all the shocking twists and turns. This was a highly enjoyable mystery that I will definietly be reccomending.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

⭐️🧠

TW: racism, police brutality, shooting, off page sibling death, grief

I loved this YA contemporary story and the way Colbert delves into the political system, particularly voter suppression. It’s told in a way that emphasises the power of young people’s voices, votes and activism in a way that feels empowering and accessible. On top of that, it also has such an adorable love story where the chemistry is so palpable and it feels like natural progression. Of course, it helps that the dialogue is sparkling, witty and just makes you fall in love with our protagonists.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is Why We Lie by Gabrielle Lepore

🧠

TW: death, murder, violence, drug use, drugging, overdose

This was a solid YA mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Lepore has some excellent twists and turns up her sleeve, making me race through the pages in one sitting. This is definitely a page turner that will keep you up until you’ve discovered every last secret embedded in these tantalising pages.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: rape, child abuse, suicide, murder, death, police violence, sexism, gaslighting, grief

This was a re-read in preparation for delving into Redemptor, so you can check out all my original thoughts here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: death, murder, anxiety, blood, acid, violence, suicidal thoughts, parental abuse

Sequels are always tricky beasts, but Ifueko not only pulled it off, I would argue that this was better than Raybearer. Trust me, I was obsessed with the first book, but I think this sequel just topped it for me. Yet again, this is a gorgeously evocative, rich and original YA fantasy that completely immerses you in its expansive world-building, exquisite character work and precise attention to detail.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

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