Recent Reads #65

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.


Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain

TW: death, murder, child death, abuse, fire, arson, drowning, physical abuse

⭐️🧠

This is an incredibly bingeable, brilliant book that thrives on its atmosphere of dread, darkness and death.

Sain did not hesitate. She grabs you by the throat with that incredible opening and from then on, you are at her mercy. This is a spectacularly paced book that gives you moments to breathe, but those breaths are tinged with suspense and fear all the while. They’re shallow breaths in between sprints towards the dark danger at the heart of the story. This is an absolutely riveting mystery, packed with so many excellent twists and turns. I genuinely wasn’t sure what was going to happen next and I remember being shocked as revelation after revelation unfolded. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Trial by Laura Bates

TW:plane accident, death, blood, details of injury, homophobia, fetishisation, sexual assault, controlling behaviour, manipulation, emotional abuse, sexual harassment, rape

⭐️🏳️‍🌈 (side characters) 🧠

The Trial is a book with a hell of a bite. This is a vivid, vicarious thrill ride that delves into important societal issues in a way that is so pertinent and leaves an impression on you. 

On this note, I have been a big fan of Bates’ work both on and off page for a while now. Therefore, I thoroughly enjoyed the feminist threads of this story. Bates isn’t afraid to get dark, primarily by delving into the topic of rape culture. She creates this hostile, claustrophobic atmosphere of manipulation and awful behaviour. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

TW: grief, physical abuse, religious trauma, self harm for magic, blood, drowning, suicidal thoughts, previous attempt

🏳️‍🌈🧠

Lakesedge is an exceptional read to pair with nights when the darkness sneaks up on you and the wintry touch of the cold air grips your throat. It captures the autumnal essence of that luminal time of year where boundaries are blurred and anything seems possible. 

I just adored the writing style. It’s no exaggeration to say that I flew through the pages. There was just twist after twist in a way that felt so natural, but heart-racing at the same time. All the way through, you have this sense of foreboding and awful events to come. Clipstone plays with those dangers lurking in the shadows and the monsters just out of sight. This is a story where there is no easy way out and actions always have consequences.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

TW: drug use, death, grief, fire, addiction, mentions of child murder, invasive thoughts, bug phobia

⭐️🧠

Jackson drops you straight in with a creepy, unnerving and honestly unsettling opening. I got shivers down my spine from reading these few pages. It sets tone perfectly and this atmosphere of horror and suspense is created that Jackson keeps sustained for the rest of the book. For me, this was intensely thrilling and so I absolutely sped through the remaining pages. I was buddy reading this and found it increasingly difficult to stop at the assigned chapters. I just was craving what happened next. 

White Smoke captures that whisper in the dark and that unexplainable chill on your arm. Jackson keeps you on your toes all the way through with this atmospheric, unnerving and endlessly surprising offering. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

TW: anti-Semitism, body horror, blood, gore, violence, murder, drowning, vomiting, fire, immolation, death, drowning, rape, sexual assault

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

This is a heartfelt Gothic historical fantasy that utilises its Own Voices representation perfectly to weave a mystery that’s packed with heart and a gorgeous exploration of identity and found family. 

This book is just wonderfully written. I found myself savouring every page, eyes hanging onto every delectable word. The descriptions are so immersive and vividly imagined that you can practically feel your surroundings disappear and those that Polydoros has conjured surround you instead.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

TW: self-harm, child abuse, parent death, death, blood, war, political violence – full list here

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

Right from that gorgeous synopsis, I knew Tan had me in the palm of her hand. Every single part of that description is right up my street. Luckily for me, I think Jade Fire Gold lived up to the hype for me. 

This is a gorgeously rich fantasy packed full of twists and turns that blends historical and magical fiction in a way that captures your mind. Tan’s writing style is so descriptive and vivid that you cannot help but imagine every page coming to life before you. There’s glimpses of beauty amongst the sheer hardship and brutality of life in this realm. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza

TW: shooting, police violence, racism, death, sexual assault, CSA

⭐️

I liked how both authors dug into the inherent corruptness of the system, both within the police and with wider society. There’s a blanant stance against complicity and silence allowing the cycle to continue that is awe-inspiring to see. I loved how this book really delves into the nuances and grey areas in this discussion, showing you complexity but also laying the stark truth of the situation bare. 

We Are Not Them is the type of book that just takes your heart in one hand and holds it close. It’s a vital and vividly emotional read that delves into police brutality, racism and complicity in a way that challenges you and provokes some much needed discussions. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl

TW:suicide, parental emotional and physical abuse, self-harm, parental death, OCD, anxiety, light gore

⭐️🏳️‍🌈💙🧠

I adored the way Pohl blended murder mystery and fairytales. She just taps into the darkly beating heart of the originals and harnesses it into a new story fit for our generation. Similarly, she ensures that both the mythology and world building gradually layer up into this rich, cohesive world. It has this timeless feel to it, being both modern and old at the same time. The plot and pacing perfectly matches this tone, creating a cohesive and incredibly bingeable book. 

The Grimrose Girls flips the script on what you may expect from fairy tale retellings with a dash of murder, mystery and the power of female friendships.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles

TW: grief, controlling behaviour, gaslighting, sexism

⭐️

I absolutely adored Where Dreams Descend; it was just this alluring story that entrapped me in its pages. So, I was beyond excited when I got the chance to read the sequel early.

Sequels always have that difficult task of building on the amazing groundwork set before them. I always love when the world and characters feel developed and evolved, both thematically and stylistically. Angeles more than lives up to this task, with an even more detailed expansion of the world and mythology. It feels so entrancing and I loved how certain moments from the first book are revisited in a whole new light.

When Night Breaks is a spellbinding, romantic and moody tale that perfectly wraps up this enchanting duology. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Stay Another Day by Juno Dawson

TW: self-harm, eating disorders, cheating, biphobia

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

This is such a magical, Christmassy read that just filled my heart with joy. Dawson explores the magic that seems to spark in the air in the holidays. That time of year is so markedly charged with a different kind of energy with the day itself being this bubble of family, be that blood or found. I really appreciated how Dawson explores the snarky bite and less happy side of Christmas that some families experience though and how people can be as happy in their own created communities. 

Fern, Rowan and Willow just stole my heart with their captivating voices and how they’re all struggling with their own path in life. They’re complex, fractured people, but they’re all trying for love and happiness. 

Stay Another Day is ultimately a heartfelt, hopeful story about family, recovery and love.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

⭐️🏳️‍🌈

TW: blood, death, violence, murder, massacre, bugs, gore, suicidal ideation, parental abuse, torture

Chloe Gong has broken my heart in two.

This is an absolutely exquisite continuation of These Violent Delights that only gets better and better at every turn. My expectations were sky-high after becoming obsessed with These Violent Delights but Gong breezed past them.

While this is a darker, bloodier and even more brutal world, Gong’s writing infuses this beautifully ethereal and transcendent nature to the plot that allows for traces of hope. Essentially, this is a book about love above all costs and therefore makes for an incredible re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet.

Full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich

TW: abusive parents, drug use, homophobia, forced closeting, mental abuse, eating disorder, addiction, body shaming

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

I am a huge fan of Sophie Gonzales’ work and after reading this, I really need to pick up some of Cale Dietrich’s books. Their two styles of writing meshed together so well and made the book incredibly easy to read. It just flowed impeccably, with the drama and tension keeping the pace moving along nicely. The entire atmosphere felt cohesive and enjoyable. 

I loved the exploration of celebrity culture and the complex relationships celebrities have with their fans. On one hand, it can be filled with joy, love and admiration for the people who support you, understand you and make you what you are. However, they dig deep into the downsides of the constant scrutiny and censorship from management. 

If This Gets Out is a whirlwind exploration of friendship, fame and finding yourself.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

4 thoughts on “Recent Reads #65

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