Book review: In The Neighborhood of True by Susan Carlton

Would you fit in for love – or speak out for what’s right?

A timely, young adult romance that examines religion, race and fitting in. In The Neighborhood of True is a beautiful and thought-provoking read.

Thank you to Susan Carlton and Algonquin Books for sending me an e-book of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What is In The Neighborhood of True about?

It’s the summer of 1958 and Ruth Robb’s father has recently died. With her mother and younger sister, Ruth relocates from New York to Atlanta.

Debutante balls, sweet tea, coca-cola, dimple faced boys rival for Ruth’s attention. But as she adjusts to life in the South, it becomes clear who she is may not fit right here. She’s a Jew, and to her new found friends in the ‘pastel-posse’ and the boy she’s falling for, that’s a big deal.

Against the backdrop of racial and religious tensions and the Klu Klux clan, Ruth must navigate what it means to be true. Discovering the truth isn’t always easy.

Book cover for In The Neighborhood of True

What I liked about In The Neighborhood of True?

In The Neighborhood of True has a gripping opening.

Carlton balances this tension with excellent momentum throughout the novel. I was held to the pages, wanting to know what would happen next.

The character development was exceptional, with the main character displaying that exquisite angst that it seems all teens have around fitting in. This is a common theme in young adult novels, the desire to fit in and be accepted by peers is vital. Readers will relate to those feelings of self-doubt and anxiety around social mis-steps.

The Neighborhood of True‘s triumph is in how it goes beyond the typical ‘fitting in’ concerns to discuss deep and complex issues.

Ruth’s is a Jew, and a member of a synagogue with a passion for racial equality. It was moving to witness the characters struggle with these issues and how they relate to her identity.

The conversation of how to be an ally to those facing racial oppression is one that is ongoing and important. In recent months it’s been occurring more often.

In The Neighborhood of True is a useful way for younger readers to engage with this conversation. Ruth must struggle with her own role, and her place in speaking up against the actions of others.

Many young adult books skim the surface of right and wrong, without challenging readers to consider the real world implications of their own actions.

In The Neighborhood of True with its historical fiction setting is positioned well to challenge, and engage readers in this dialogue.

It’s easy to sit back, to omit truths about ourselves or those around us. To convince ourselves its someone elses fight, not our problem. This book shrinks the distancing, and forces the main character, and readers to confront their own discomfort.

What I didn’t like about The Neighborhood of True?

This was an excellent read. It engaged with a historical time period and culture that I am largely unfamilar with.

That being said, it should be noted that this book, does not have many significant characters who are black. Race is an issue that occurs as a backdrop to the exploration of the character’s identity and struggles around acceptance.

Some may critique this book along similar lines to how The Help has been critiqued. It’s important to remember when black lives are being spoken about, rather than with. In these situations, representation can become a major issue.

In The Neighborhood of True is primarily about the main character’s journey with her own identity. This has merit, and is explored intentionally and with clear efforts made by the author for sensitivity.

The conclusions the book draws around prejudice and hatred is one which has merit. This book does not try to speak on behalf of black people. That is an important distinction between The Neighborhood of True and The Help.

Where can I get a copy?

In The Neighbourhood of True is available from The Book Depository here.

Final thoughts

This is a captivating read! Definitely one to check out.

Readers should be aware that this book does discuss the Klu Klux Klan and some descriptions of violence that are distressing. For that reason, I wouldn’t suggest this book for young readers, unless reading with the supervision of an adult they can discuss the issues raised in the book.

This would make a fantastic book club pick, as there’s so many interesting elements in the book to discuss! You’ll just have to read it.

Thank you for reading today’s review. This blog updates weekly with book reviews, writing tips and other bookish content on a weekly basis. If you enjoyed this review – subscribe at the bottom of the page!

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Last Memoria Book Review – Rachel Emma Shaw

Filled with dark fantasy, morally grey characters and beautiful storytelling Last Memoria is one to add to your ‘To Be Read’ pile.

Special thanks to the author, Rachel Emma Shaw for reaching out to me and providing me with a free copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.

What is Last Memoria about?

Last Memoria is a young adult fantasy novel following the main characters Sarilla and Falon.

Sarilla is a memory thief, who hates what her gift allows her to do. She can take the memories of those she encounters with a single touch.

Sarilla is forced by the king to wield her gift and keep his subjects in line. When the opportunity to run away arises Sarilla relishes the freedom. That is until she runs into Falon. The man she once loved, who doesn’t remember her.

Falon knows he has a six month gap in his memories. The absence of those memories, what they may contain plagues him. He’ll do anything to get them back. Including use the woman who once loved him.

What I liked about Last Memoria?

Rachel Emma Shaw weaves a beautifully dark world in Last Memoria. The world building and complexity of the magic system is well executed.

I could picture the dark and hunted world the characters moved through.

The complexity of characters, and their motivations was intriguing. LGBTQ representation of characters is present and considered in this book.

Throughout the reading of Last Memoria the idea of memory and its connection to our identity is explored. I found this fascinating to consider.Are our memories what makes us who we are? What if we lost them, who are we then?

Another concept that is well developed throughout Last Memoria is the idea of monsters, of good versus evil. How are monsters made?

The morality of characters is often blurred with shifts in narration leaving you unsettled in the best kind of way as you strive to sort through your feelings towards a character.

I particularly liked the way the physical appearance of characters changed as they encountered different elements of the world. This was often connected back to that idea of good versus evil.

This is paired with the redemption arc trope that is common across many genres, but in particular fantasy it seems. My expectations were subverted and I honestly was unsure how characters would develop. This was refreshing and kept me turning the pages!

What I didn’t like about Last Memoria?

On occasion, particularly in the third act of the book, I found myself overwhelmed by information and exposition. Though this was necessary for the final climax of the book I would have loved some of this information earlier on in the novel.

I personally don’t enjoy the love triangle trope, but that is down to personal preference of the reader. You might really enjoy love triangles! I still enjoyed Last Memoria as the focus is not primarily on the love triangle.

Overall this was a wonderful book and I think Rachel Emma Shaw has done a fantastic job!

I found the ending of Last Memoria very satisfying, yet Last Memoria is a part of a duology. I’m curious and excited to see where the story goes next.

My Recommendation?

Last Memoria is a young adult dark fantasy with plenty of romance and intrigue. It’s a fast read with a unique premise so I recommend it for fans of fantasy and young adult fiction.

Where can I get a copy of Last Memoria?

Last Memoria publishes on May 10th. Be sure to grab a copy of this book then!

Due to COVID-19 Rachel Emma Shaw has very kindly made the audiobook available now, for free! Isn’t that nice of her?

If you’d like to listen to Last Memoria for free right now, you can listen on Youtube, iTunes or Spotify

After May 10th you can pick up a copy of Last Memoria from Amazon here:

*Buy Last Memoria on Amazon

*Should you choose to make your purchase using the link above I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to yourself. Please bear in mind that I only link to products and companies that I personally believe will benefit my readers. Thank you for your support! If you’d like more information about affiliate marketing please visit my disclosure page.

If you’d like to learn more about Rachel Emma Shaw and her books visit her website or say hi to her on social media @rachel_emma_shaw.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for reading today’s review. If you have any fantasy novel recommendations for me, leave them in the comments on this post!

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Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

Author Sarah J. Maas’ new book House of Earth and Blood has just released to much excitement from many. Before we get into the new book, let’s look back at where the New York Times’ bestselling author started, with a review of Throne of Glass.

What is Throne of Glass about?

Throne of Glass is a young adult fantasy series published in 2012. The series centres around eighteen year old Celaena Sardothien, an assassin serving a life sentence for her crimes.

Then she’s offered the deal of a lifetime. Her freedom, in exchange for acting as the crown prince’s contestant in a competition to find the king’s champion.

If she can survive the competition against fellow thieves and murders, she will then have to make a difficult choice. Will she be able to become champion and ultimately serve the king who imprisoned her?

What Did I Like About Throne of Glass?

Throne of Glass is the first in the Throne of Glass series. Having read Maas’ other series A Court of Thorns And Roses last year, I anticipated I would enjoy this book. I was right.

Throne of Glass delivers rich fantasy elements within a complex world of political struggle. Vivid characters who are morally grey and who must overcome a myriad of struggles.

This level of world building is not commonly witnessed within young adult fiction outside of a few select series. I enjoyed the overarching political plot of the series as a whole, but also the individual plot of Throne of Glass itself.

This book is fast paced, mysterious and laced themes of friendship, love and loss.

Where A Court of Thorns and Roses pushes the boundaries of what should be classed as ‘young adult’ fiction, Throne of Glass is less controversial and therefore perhaps more broadly appropriate. That being said, the main character of Throne of Glass is an eighteen year old assassin so naturally there is some mild violence and sexual content within the book series.

(If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on A Court of Thorns and Roses check out the full review here).

What Did I Like Least About Throne of Glass?

Ah. The trope of love triangles in young adult fiction rears its head once more. Why is this so popular?

Overall, that’s my only peeve with this book. Compared to other books where love triangles occur, the characters seem to conduct themselves relatively maturely.

Is The Series a Big Commitment?

The Throne of Glass series has seven books within the main series, with a prequel book of short stories The Assassins Blade. This is a bit of a commitment.

That being said, I have found this to be an absorbing series, with depth to the plot and vivid characters. I’ve enjoyed discovering new characters as the series has progressed, so it would be a shame to have stopped at the end of the first book.

Throne of Glass is a great read, regardless of whether you continue on with the series. Of the series, it is probably the easiest book to end with, if you don’t want to continue on.

I think once you’ve read Throne of Glass you’ll see what I, and many others are talking about. It’s one of those series you’ll find yourself consumed by and desperate to know what happens next. You may well find yourself flicking through the pages late into the night.

My Recommendation?

Throne of Glass the first book in particular will be popular with fans of dystopian fiction such as The Hunger Games. The competition element of Throne of Glass reminded me strongly of The Hunger Games initially at least.

Throne of Glass unlike A Court of Thorns and Roses doesn’t have any explicit sexual scenes so is appropriate for teens and adults looking for a fantasy adventure series with heart.

Where Can I Get a Copy?

*Throne of Glass is sold in most bookstores, or you can get your hands on a copy from Amazon here. Get the boxset of the whole series from Amazon here and save yourself the need to dash out and get the next one.

*There’s even a beautiful collectors edition of Throne of Glass that I’ve been eyeing off. It’s gilt and pretty.

Throne of Glass Collector’s Edition

*Should you choose to make your purchase using the link above I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to yourself. Please bear in mind that I only link to products and companies that I personally believe will benefit my readers. Thank you for your support! If you’d like more information about affiliate marketing please visit my disclosure page.

Final Thoughts

What’s your favourite fantasy book or author? Have you read any Sarah J Mass books? Share your thoughts and let me know by commenting.

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