Recent Reads #74

As ever, today I will be briefly reviewing all the books I’ve read since my last post

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


Not Good for Maidens by Tori Bovalino

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: death, blood, gore, violence, manipulation, abuse, trafficking, body horror, eye horror

This book is one that you will not forget in a hurry. At its core, this is a book about temptation and damnation in a way that examines societal pressures and judgements.Bovalino constantly keeps you wanting more, drawing you into this blood-drenched world where every action has consequences and everything has its price. It is evocative, descriptive and endlessly gorgeous, but tinged with such darkness. It resembles the market in the way it shines, but that shine is a veneer of bright promises to conceal the horrific underbelly.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: car accident, homophobia, death, murder, attempted murder, drugging

As ever, Heard’s plotting was meticulous with an intense atmosphere and unsettling tension that only ever increases. I loved how Heard constantly made this story all the more complicated both in terms of plot and ethics Our protagonists are fractured, flawed characters that are not particularly good. They are so set on survival and choosing their own paths in life, at any cost. Inevitably, one mistake leads to another and Heard unleashes this domino effect of death and destruction.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Women of Troy by Pat Barker

🧠

TW: rape, abuse, slavery, gore, violence, murder, death of a child, genocide, sexual assault, PTSD

Barker continued the brutally honest and fascinating look at the unspoken cost of war she began in The Silence of the Girls. Flipping the myth on its head, this book follows the period after the fall of Troy and the aftermath of war. Barker squares this through the silenced voices of the women used as trophies in the war in order to explore these hidden acts of violence. This was another deeply character-focused and intensely emotional story, with some intriguing new voices threaded through that epitomise toxic masculinity and the burden of legacy.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ready or Not by Tracy Darnton

🧠

TW: disappearance, violence, cheating

Darnton is one devilish writer. This is a book that thrives in ambiguites and underlying secrets. There are no easy answers, though the reader can draw their own conclusions. Go into this book knowing as little as you can and be prepared for Darnton to lead you on a wild exploration of deception, coming of age and friendship.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes

🧠

TW: sexual violence, rape, violence, war

Haynes has been an author I’ve been fascinated by since I read A Thousand Ships last year. This comprehensive look through women in Greek mythology was interesting and added a feminist perspective, laid out with different versions of the myths, translations and interpretations. I was spellbound by this precise, cohesive narrative and excited by the flourishes of Haynes’ creative and immersive writing.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hide by Kiersten White

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠💙

TW: death, murder, family annihilation, racism, homophobia, ableism, PTSD, gore, violence, blood, graphic descriptions of injury and death, sacrifice, suicide

This book blew my mind. White has crafted something that shakes your bones, something that whispers in the dark and leaves an uneasy feeling on your skin. This is a tour de force. It is brutal, violent and unrelenting, but also dissects instituional privlege and the true cost of it. It examines the lasting effects of trauma and questions how far you would go to survive.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Vile Stars by Sera Milano

🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: COVID, pandemic, loss of a parent, death, gaslighting, suicidal ideation, loss, grief, transphobia, homophobia, abuse, cancer, emotional abuse, physical abuse, violence, coercive control

This Can Never Not Be Real stunned me last year with its emotional intensity and Milano’s ability to completely draw me into this gripping, immersive story. Vile Stars proves this was no mistake, with another intense and emotional gut punch of a book. 

This was one of those books that you know you will bury deep in your heart. I really loved the narrative format of the story. The way we mix letters, interviews and podcast transcripts gives it that multi-media, layered feel that is that much more true to life. It is scattered and gives multiple perspectives on the unfolding events. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: homophobia, religious trauma, cheatingableist language, misogyny

McQuiston’s writing style is one that seamlessly flows around you and wraps you tightly into their imaginative storytelling. They pour so much heart and soul into their books and you can really feel that burning through the pages. I Kissed Shara Wheeler was straight out of the teen films we all know and love, as it was funny, light and full of heart. The central plotline had some elements of mystery and intrigue to it, which helped build suspense and keep the pacing moving. I loved how well-crafted this was, as it really allowed for the reader to fully disentangle this complicated love affair.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Such a Good Liar by Sue Wallman

TW: murder, death fire, suicide, bullying, cheating, manipulation

Our central character of ‘Lydia’ is one I will not be forgetting any time soon. She is so complex and flawed, yet you root for her still. Her character development was exquisite to watch unfold and her justification is one that rings true. This is a book that really interrogates privilege and how much it might protect you. Wallman examines elements of wealth, class and touches upon race as well. She leads you to question the thin line between revenge and justice, especially in a system that protects those deemed important. Keep your eyes peeled, for nearly everything is not quite as it seems.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch

🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: depression, abusive parents, talk of death, alcoholic parent 

On paper, this is everything I should love: sapphic enemies to lovers with fan fiction and plenty of angsty tension. Unfortunately something just fell flat for me and I was left wanting more. Victoria Ying’s illustrations were amazing and I would adore more of those. I think I was expecting a lighter read and my mood wasn’t aligned with the heavier tones at the time.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed

⭐️🧠

TW: racism, white supremacy, neo-Nazi, xenophobia, racial profiling, police brutality, Islamophobia, threat of massacre

This truly is a book that burns bright. It trembles with rage against these insidious monstrosities and hatreds, the white supremacy and racist ideologies hiding beneath a veneer of societal acceptability. Ahmed questions the way in which this is allowed and encouraged to continue. Personally, I loved the mixed media narrative structure and the way Ahmed blended the voices of Safiya and Jawad. She combines transcripts, newspaper articles and statements to create an overarching view and thread in real statistics and information.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

4 thoughts on “Recent Reads #74

  1. Sophie @ Me & Ink says:

    It was so interesting to hear your thoughts on so many books, especially the ones I am anticipated to read myself. Not Good for Maidens sounds incredible and hearing that you enjoyed it so much is great. It does sound like a dark read. Happy to hear you enjoyed Shara Wheeler too, especially as you said it was reminiscent of teen films because that is what I want… fun with a little romance. Great post 💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

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