Recent Reads #70

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.

We Are The Ashes, We Are The Fire by Joy McCullough


TW: rape, sexism, misgendering, violence, blood, death, murder

This is such a raw and emotional book. I particularly connected with the parallel story written in verse, which is Em’s reimagining of the story of Marguerite de Bressieux. The way these two narratives intertwine and the discussion McCullough digs into is nuanced, heart-breaking and incredibly powerful. She confronts rape culture, vigilantism and the lengths to which we will push ourselves and those around us to find justice.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea by Axie Oh

⭐️🧠🏳️‍🌈 (side character)

TW: death, grief, death of a child

This is an ethereally beautiful story of sacrifice, survival and family. 

I particularly loved how Oh captures the essence of The Tale of Shim Ch’ŏng and pays homage to the myth in such a respectful and gorgeous way. However, it also shifts the focus to characters who did not have the spotlight originally, ensuring that it is both open to those who love the myth and those unfamiliar with the source material. Of course, this is helped by the balance of dramatic and whimsy Oh infuses into the story. Her writing style is effortlessly transportive and evocative, easily whipping up these rich fantastical worlds that you just sit and revel in. 

Full review here.

Survive The Night by Riley Sager

TW: assault, cancer, suicide attempt, violence, torture, serial killer, car accident, death, murder, kidnapping, hallucinations, tooth extraction, gaslighting, parental death

This is an excellent lesson in suspense and terror, keeping you on a knife edge the whole way through. 

Right from the start, Sager grabs you by the throat and never truly releases you. This is a sharp, unsettling book that keeps you guessing. The opening was so well-executed and enticing, with that epic scale and touch to it. From then on, the pacing is relentlessly fast as you try to uncover the exact truth of this twisted situation. Sager has plenty of tricks waiting in store for you. I really enjoyed the many amazing twists and turns, all of which genuinely upend the story and challenge your expectations. 

Full review here.

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

🧠💙 (side characters)

TW: blood, confinement, death, death of parent, emotional and physical abuse, genocide, grief, injury/injury detail, murder, police brutality, poisoning, stalking, violence, torture, gun violence, chronic illness, war, cancer

Yet again, Ruta Sepetys has blown my mind. This is such a claustrophobic read, making you constantly on edge and checking over your shoulder. Sepetys sheds light on another little-known part of history: the brutal regime of Romania in 1989. This historical fiction is genuinely haunting and will stay on my mind.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Elektra by Jennifer Saint


TW: death, murder, violence, war, rape, suicide, child death, sacrifice, gore

I loved Ariadne and knew I needed to get Saint’s next book straight into my hands.

This is another brilliant reexamination of a familiar tale and mythology, through the lens of the women often marginalised and pushed into the shadows. The way their narratives all captivated me so completely is a testament to Saint’s skill. Elektra wrenched my heart straight out of my chest in this emotional examination of family and the forgotten cost of war.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

All’s Well by Mona Awad


TW: violence, abuse, ableism, suicide ideation, substance abuse, light gore, alcoholism, descriptions of chronic pain, medical trauma and panic attacks/disorders

This was one hell of a wild ride. I loved the ambiguity and touches of horror Awad infuses into the story. Narratively, this is a bizarre and confusing book that offers itself up to the reader to untangle and interpret as they wish. The chronic pain representation was stellar and painfully honest in Awad’s depiction.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

TW: murder, abandonment, animal death, blood, child death, confinement, death, death of parent, grief, sexism, violence

I so desperately wanted to love this book. The premise is fantastic and for most of the book I was utterly enraptured. I enjoyed the writing style and how deliciously dark it was. Blake wove this incredible atmosphere, with the feel of the best true crime podcast delving into a mysterious case. However, the ending really fell flat for me and actually disappointed me, based on all the painstaking work Blake had previously done.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson

🧠⭐️🏳️‍🌈 (side characters)

TW: death, grief, school shooting, PTSD, panic attacks

Lawson’s writing style was enjoyable and I liked the way she explored the effects of trauma and survivor’s guilt. She had this emotional touch that made me want to connect with the story. However, I hated the entire relationship and how insta-lovey it felt. I also just never really connected with the characters and despised the entire ending.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi


TW: death, violence, torture, stalking, arson, asphyxiation, cancer, murder

I loved the format and the way in which this story was told. The short story excerpts were the highlight for me, posing some intriguing ideas and of course, plenty of great twists. It was also nice to see nods to Agatha Christie and some of her most ingenious plots. The main plotline was a little bit predictable, but still thoroughly enjoyable and fast-paced.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams


TW: racism, mental illness, mentions of child abuse, mentions of disordered eating, dubious consent, panic attacks, anxiety

This was one of those books that I just devoured. I adored the writing style and how intentionally confused it was, in order to mimic Queenie’s thought process and show the effects of trauma and abuse. This was such an introspective story, delving into the modern day experiences of Black British women. In particular, the fetishisation of their bodies and the adverse effects this has on their mental health are examined, with an important discussion around sexuality and therapy.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo


TW: suicide, homophobia, internalized homophobia, institutional racism, racism, murder, violence, horror imagery, animal death

This was a twisted little gem of a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Dark Academia is one of my favourite genres and this shadowy offering is excellent. I loved the slower pacing and the gradual reveals of certain aspects; it felt like storm clouds gathering on the horizon. This is a dark book, enshrouded in mystery and steeped in blood.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco

⭐️ (side character)

TW: blood, death, gore, grief, murder, sexual content, violence, injury, sexual harassment, torture, confinement, religious bigotry, sexism, misogyny

I really enjoyed Kingdom of the Wicked and was incredibly excited for Maniscalco’s next offering. This is a slower, more character focused book that perfectly bridges the two books, allowing time for more world-building and mythology to be unveiled. However, I would have liked a little bit more action, as some parts felt like filler, rather than doing anything meaningful. That being said, I will definitely be getting my hands on the final book: Kingdom of the Feared.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Silence of Bones by June Hur


TW: violence, murder, death, mutilation, misogyny, gore, animal abuse, suicide, religious persecution & hate crimes, torture

June Hur is a force to be reckoned with.

I really loved The Forest of Stolen Girls and this book is just as good. The way she blends historical fiction with nail-biting mystery and plenty of familial drama is exquisite. Her pacing is so well-executed, allowing time for character development, but also constantly having twists and turns. The central mysteries are always incredibly gripping and the historical details she threads in are sublime.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

2 thoughts on “Recent Reads #70

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