Recent Reads #78

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.

Something Certain, Maybe by Sara Barnard


TW: isolation, mentions of suicide attempt, parental illness, cheating

Barnard’s work is constantly authentic, refreshing and astonishingly beautiful. Something Certain, Maybe continues this trend in a truly wonderful fashion. I have grown up alongside her books and these characters have done too, since Beautiful Broken Things and Fierce Fragile Hearts. I have such a strong emotional connection to this trio and it’s great to get another viewpoint through the eyes of Rosie. She’s always kind of been on the sidelines, but she steps into the spotlight here. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Dearest Darkest by Kayla Cottingham


TW: car accident, vehicular drowning, parental death, body horror, suicide, blood, gore, forced outing, racism, death, eye horror, drowning, animal death

I really enjoyed this sapphic horror YA debut. It was intense, incredibly fast-paced and completely sucked me into the story. That blend of horror, mystery and a touch of romance paid off so well for me. The writing style was completely absorbing and kept me hooked all the way through. I’d be intrigued to read what Cottingham has in store.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen


TW: blood, murder, violence, self-harm (for magical purposes), injury detail, death, war, racism, sexism, classism, fire, body horror

It has been a while since I have sat down and just read a YA fantasy book. This one filled every last box on my ticklist. I mean, we have an interesting and developed fantasy world, full of court politics and fascinating magical abilities. We have an exploration of the power of prophecy, which is personally one of my favourite abilities, and this allows for a thought-provoking exploration of fate and the price of defying it. It has that classic fairytale vibe, but unlocks a totally new and intriguing story. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle


TW: sexual assault

I adore the relationship that forms between Dani and Prince. Their romantic gestures were pulled straight out of fairy tale romances, perfectly tailored to the other person and showcasing their personalities perfectly. It was like the best rom-com you’ve seen, brought to life lovingly by LaDelle. Their dialogue and chemistry was off the charts, with plenty of subtle hints but also grand moments that set off fireworks. This was an effervescent spark of joy and love.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Couple at the Table by Sophie Hannah

TW: death, murder, cheating, blackmailing

To put it simply, I was quite disappointed by this book. The premise and synopsis were enough to grab my attention, but the actual story just did not. I didn’t really care about any of the characters, called whodunnit fairly early on and hated some of the twists. Unfortunately, it was a complete let down for me.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Cuts Both Ways by Candice Brathwaite


TW: death, murder, violence, racism, grief

I was not expecting the beautiful depiction of grief at the centre of this story. This is a story about loss, longing and reconciling the person you thought you knew with the reality. Brathwaite has created this really touching and authentic depiction of grief. It is an all-consuming cloud at times, but it also sometimes melts away for a moment. Cynthia is emotionally vulnerable and open in a way that makes it impossible for you to not fall in love with her. Her process of grief is so detailed and realistic, striking a chord with me. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

TW: murder, violence, death, torture, suicide, stalking

This was another mystery for me that just did not work. The pacing and tension were great, keeping me on my toes in suspense the whole way through. I also enjoyed the unreliability and manipulative nature of our protagonist, but I was completely let down by that ending. It just felt underwhelming compared to the build-up. The characters also felt very flat and one-dimensional.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson


TW: death, violence, transphobia, misgendering, deadnaming, cheating, child neglect, homophobia, racism, sexism,

Now, this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I enjoyed it, finding it highly entertaining, gripping and well plotted. The political aspects of it were well-executed and I appreciated the message Dawson put across. However, something just felt off about it and I didn’t have that same connection to the characters I get in Dawson’s other work. I was also quite uneasy with the way the inclusive coven, Diaspora, got mentioned once and then wasn’t really talked about again.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao


TW: death, violence, murder, hate crimes, racism, anti-Asian hate crimes

How We Fall Apart was one of my favourite reads last year and Zhao continues that winning streak here once more with a completely immersive and gripping mystery. This book really delves into anti-Asian hate crimes and structural racism, deconstructing the outdated traditional expectations of Dark Academia.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Such a Good Mother by Helen Monks Takhar


TW: violence, death, murder, cheating, blackmailing, death of a child, parental abuse, neglect

This was such a nasty, twisted little story centring around obsession, privilege and manipulation. It is a book that is rotten to the core. I loved the characterisation and how deeply we dove into these flawed women playing a despicable game. You get pulled right into this claustrophobic circle full of sharks, only for the twists to hit you thick and fast. The pacing and tension is superb.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Belladonna by Adalyn Grace


TW: death, murder, violence, poisoning, manipulation, abuse, self-harm, gore, blood, description of illnesses, parental neglect, past suicide attempts

Well, I’ve found a new favourite YA fantasy to obsess over this year. I adored the dark Gothic atmosphere, entwined with a captivating mystery and a unique medium of meditating on life, Death and Fate. Signa was a brilliant protagonist, discovering her power and coming to despise the restrictions placed upon her by societal expectations. I will definitely be picking up the sequel Foxglove when it comes out.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Seton Girls by Charlene Thomas


TW: rape, rape culture, misogyny, violence, manipulation, gaslighting, non consensual sexual acts

This was the type of book that makes you want to burn the world down. In the current political climate, it strikes even harder and pulsates with anger at the society we live in. At times, this is an incredibly difficult read. From the very first page, I felt that pit in my stomach drop wide open as I knew where this story was heading. It is a very well-handled depiction of the issue though, igniting much needed conversations around toxic masculinity, rape culture and locker room talk. Thomas dissects the boys will be boys mentality and asks why the voices of survivors are held in less esteem than the reputations of the boys and their sports team.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

3 thoughts on “Recent Reads #78

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