Recent Reads #69

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 share my full thoughts on some of these books in the future, so I’ll share a brief idea today with the full review to come.

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len


TW: death, violence, murder, xenophobia, racism, blood, drugging, massacre, torture

Right from that action packed opening sequence, Len had me hooked. There were instantly incredibly high stakes and plenty of blood soaked pages to crawl through. This is a book that does not hold back. Everything you think you initially know, you really don’t. On top of this is the use of time travel. This is one of my favourite devices and it felt really Doctor Who esque here (an all time favourite show of mine). Every action they did genuinely had consequences, keeping that intensity and danger constantly high. This made for a really fast paced and entertaining ride. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen


TW: racism, Islamophobia, terrorist attack, death, violence, hate crimes, online harassment, death threats

I was utterly transfixed by this book. It radiates such power and nuance in a way that is sure to kickstart such important conversations. Representation is so profoundly important and it’s wonderful to see the voices of Black Muslims being uplifted. In particular, I loved how three-dimensional and full these characters felt. They deserve to be more than the issues they deal with, though these are discussed with nuance and sensitivity. We also get to see their passions, hopes and dreams explored on page. I personally resonated a lot with the discussion around pursuing an artistic talent and that feeling art can create within you. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins


TW: detailed on page injury, fatal car accident, threat of rape, mentioned abusive mother, death, murder, gore, body horror

I was really excited to read this book based on the premise. However, it felt like it took a long time for the story to really get going and considering it was only 216 pages long, this felt like too much time. The actual horror elements were executed pretty well, but it was all resolved a bit too neatly and quickly for my liking.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

They Never Learn by Layne Fargo

TW: ableism, murder, death, mentions of suicide, mentions of sexual assault/rape, mentions of domestic abuse, anxiety, mentions of nonconsensual voyeurism, vomiting, mentions of past outing, on page sexual assault, misogyny, victim blaming, violence, cheating, mentions of gaslighting, blood


This was the type of book you really want to sit with and let Fargo bring you into this murky, bloody world of twisted vengeance and vigilante justice. The two narratives together form this gripping mystery dripping in gore and death. From the trigger warnings, you can tell that this is a tough read, but it’s one that speaks to that untapped well of anger that can sit within people and spark over into something dangerous and incendiary.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

TW: alcohol and drug abuse, coercion, death, homophobia/outing, suicide, suicide ideation, supernatural possession & slavery, violence, blood magic


As a fan of the Tempest and The Great Gatsby, the synopsis of Bright Ruined Things intrigued me, as Cohoe appeared to blend the two and add a dash of mystery to boot.

Power rules everything, shown here through the use of magic. Unsurprisingly this magic has a darker side, kickstarting a series of mysterious events and deaths that Mae must follow along. The story here transforms into an intimate character study as we unpick the complex dynamics of this twisted, corrupt family. Everyone here has something to hide and their own desires intertwined with their motivations, leading to a suspenseful and intriguing atmosphere. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi

TW: racism, police brutality, homophobia, death, violence, murder, blood, mention of conversion therapy, self-harm, abuse 


Bitter is a firecracker of a book, laced with passion, drive and an unrelenting determination to face down the injustices of the world in order to create change.

As with Pet, Emezi deftly creates these brilliant characters that you fall in love with within the space of a single page. They are all strongly defined and nuanced, with hidden depths to each of them. Bitter is a fantastic protagonist, with a lot on her young shoulders as she tries to navigate her space in this world. This is a book that really grapples with identity and community.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Win Lose Kill Die by Cynthia Murphy


TW: death, murder, grief, drowning, blood, violence, cults, poisoning, graphic violence

Win Lose Kill Die is a duplicitous, conniving and thoroughly cunning book that merges horror and mystery into one spell-binding story.

I adored the dark academia vibes of the mystery, complete with elite school and even more elite and mysterious secret society. Those are just my guilty pleasure and Murphy has created a very fascinating group here. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Murder Isn’t Easy by Carla Valentine

It’s no secret that I am a bit of an Agatha Christie fan.

So when I heard about this book and how it brings together a history of forensics, examples of how Agatha’s knowledge of the topic influenced her writing and real life cases, I knew I needed it on my shelves.

This was such a fascinating and insightful read, providing me with plenty of new knowledge and a deepened appreciation of Agatha’s work.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Gifts That Bind Us by Caroline O’Donoghue


TW: self-harm, homophobia, misgendering, transphobia, ableism

I really enjoyed All Our Hidden Gifts and knew I had to have the sequel in my life. This continuation is incredibly enjoyable. In particular, I really appreciated the character development and O’Donoghue’s enrichment of both the magic system and wider mythology associated with the powers. I loved the ending so, so much, as it was suspenseful, dramatic and you really know that the stakes have been seriously raised.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Eyes of the Forest by April Henry


TW: violence, kidnapping, blood

From the premise of fan culture meets a gripping mystery, I was sold. This is the type of book you should go into knowing very, very little. That being said, I appreciated how this deep dive into the dark side of fandoms also acted as a love letter to classic novels in the genre. In particular, I loved the influence and echoes of Misery on the plotline. The twists and turns were fantastic and I enjoyed how suspenseful it felt, with every page making me feel like I was on the edge of everything spiralling even further.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

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