Recent Reads #80

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.


The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D Jackson

⭐️🧠

TW: racism, police brutality, colourism, bullying, physical abuse, emotional abuse, violence, blood, child abuse, weaponised religion, fatphobia, death, murder, gore, grief, ableism

This book is truly spectacular. I genuinely feel like I could talk about it and sing its praises forever. The way Jackson exposes the rotting core of racism and white supremacy at the heart of Springville highlights how these are horrors embedded deep in our society and in our present.

Jackson masterfully uses the lens of Carrie to depict the systemic marginalisation and violence against Black people. That blend of horror and social commentary is exquisite. For me, this was encapsulated in prom night, which is just as blood-drenched as you would expect. However, do not assume that you know what is going to happen because trust me, you do not. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Ithaca by Claire North

⭐️(side character)

TW: war, death, murder, slavery, violence, blood, gore, sexual assault, rape

I particularly loved that way this book really digs into femininity and appearances. Nothing is ever fully as it seems here. In particular, North explores how women are dismissed on the sole basis of their outward appearance and associated notions of intelligence. This is often used as a subterfuge to disguise true power or influence here. Often, reading a scene and noting the subtle manipulations of power was so fascinating. They all add up into a rich tapestry that offers a diverse perspective on what femininity entails, what power truly is and also the role of a woman as queen, mother and daughter. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

TW: death, anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks, toxic friendship, grief, loss, gaslighting

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

I have to commend the way Alkaf really pulled me into the story and kept me glued to the page. Also, I really enjoyed the characters and how they were developed beyond first impressions. However, I was really let down by the resolution and reveal of the book – it felt very simplistic and predictable, while not clearing everything up and just felt dissatisfying.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I’m The Girl by Courtney Summers

🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: murder, death, trafficking, rape, sexual assault, grooming, violence, abuse, toxic parent relationship, drugging, death of parent, gaslighting

Summers is one of the few authors that can make me cry. I’m The Girl took me on an emotional journey that I am still reeling from. It is in the way these impeccably constructed characters endure so much and the way it reflects reality far too accurately. These monsters are not fictional, they are recognisable and they are all too human. This book will stay with me forever. 

Full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Marple: Twelve New Stories

⭐️

TW: death, murder, poisoning, blackmail, adultery, anti-Semitism, sexual harassment, Sinophobia, sexual assault

Right from the foreword, I knew this was going to be a treasured love letter to Marple. This anthology is a unique collection that really allows each author’s individual style to flourish, while having this deep respect and reverence for the character and Christie herself. 

Marple brings that quintessential Christie feel to a new generation and reimagines the character in twelve completely intriguing and fresh ways.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Nothing More To Tell by Karen McManus

🏳️‍🌈(side character)🧠

TW: murder, death, abuse, violence, stalking, blood, alcoholism, coma, car wreck, PTSD, trauma

Karen McManus has such a fiendish mind and I have adored her previous work, owning all her books in one form or another. Her writing style is so delectably easy to read, flowing really well and pulling you completely into the mystery.

So, when I heard her new book had elements of true crime investigations and Dark Academia, I was utterly sold. The central mystery is, as to expected with McManus, extremely twisty and throws you for a loop every time you think you have it all pieced together. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

With Fire in Their Blood by Kat Delacorte

🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: murder, suicide, mass killing, violence, blood, injury, death, death of parent, murder, suicide ideation, addiction, immolation, self harm, confinement, emotional and physical abuse, child abuse

With Fire in Their Blood is a beguiling and darkly enchanting gem of a book. It combines intriguing fantasy concepts, excellent character work and a spine-tingling examination of tyrannical rule and ideology. This is a Gothic infused fantasy that will bewitch you and ensure you fall in love with it.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

🧠💙

TW: death, violence, medical trauma, graphic surgical descriptions, body horror, gore, death, drug use, miscarriage, gaslighting

This is a book that truly thrives on its atmosphere. I adore that chilling Gothic atmosphere of candles, darkness, a touch of romance and the stench of death. However, this is also a story that challenges every expectation you have. That rotting, unsettling sense of something not being quite right destabilises you and throws everything you think you know into question. I also loved how this is a familiar but ever so slightly different world to the one we are used to, with references to unfamiliar religions and the war that never was. Even that slight alteration is something that throws you off-kilter and into this twisted world. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: homophobia, racism, grooming, emotional manipulation, sexual assault, manipulation, classism, gaslighting

This was an absolute firecracker of a book, delving into sensitive and nuanced topics as indicated in the trigger warnings. It is a heavy read at times, exploring the full emotional toll this takes on Shay. There are so many layers of manipulation and expectations to unpack, highlighting real life issues. But there is also a gorgeous and hopeful romance blossoming, with a sapphic witches rivals to lovers arc.

Full review to come.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Secrets So Deep by Ginny Myers Sain

🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: death, murder, grief, PTSD, hallucinations, drowning, fire, violence, gaslighting, manipulation, suicidal ideation, self-harm, sexual abuse, grooming

Yet again, this book is steeped in atmosphere so thick you lose yourself in the fog. This is a real meditation on theatre and the pretence of acting, how it can be that space to fully lose yourself in a character and story. Also, it celeverly highlights how the impact of trauma fractures and obscures the narrative through non linear moments and hallucinations.

Full review to come.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fire Becomes Her by Rosiee Thor

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: immolation, fire, arson, bombing, explosion, imprisoned parent, classism,  violence, fire, abandonment, misogyny, sexism, death, murder, detailed injury, gaslighting

This was such a unique and entertaining read. The magic system was so inventive and enjoyable, particularly the way it intersected with the social commentary on the scarcity of resources, classism and the abuse of power. This is a deeply political and inflammatory read. I also loved the representation included in this story, particularly the spectrum of queer representation.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: kidnapping, murder, death, violence, death of parent, domestic abuse, grief, emotional abuse, gun violence, grooming, manipulation

All of the Inheritance Games books have been one intricately plotted sequence of puzzles and games, with The Final Gambit providing that final piece to let everything slot together. Yet again, you get wrapped up in this breakneck, highly entertaining and fantastically imagined story. The twists and turns are as sharp and deadly as ever and leave a bittersweet ending that I never saw coming.

Full review to come.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We Are All Constellations

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: suicide, self-harm, death, grief, sexual assault, harrassment, aphobia, mood disorder, alcoholism

Amy Beashel thrives in these intimate, character-driven stories delving into the messy reality of mental health disorders and the lived experience of grief. Iris is a fantastically complex character, fractured by grief and the trauma of her past experiences. She is trying to find her footing in the world, leading to some mistakes and moments where she is incredibly unlikable and this behaviour is never justified. However, Beashel shows how she is all too human, learning and growing over the course of the story.

Full review to come.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

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