Emily May's Reviews > Black Iris

Black Iris by Leah Raeder
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it was amazing
bookshelves: new-adult, arc, contemporary

Two girls, cherry-mouthed, glitter-lashed, our skin luminous with moonlight and sweat, making out beneath pennants that still shivered with the afternoon’s boy bravado.
If only you bastards could see me now.

You want to know the bad thing about this book? I must have spent hours trying to single out the quotes I wanted to use from all this BLOODY PERFECT writing. It's like Leah Raeder thinks about every single word - simultaneously telling a story AND writing poetry. It's after books like this that my words seem inadequate, but I have to review this somehow... I'll try my best to do it justice.

For a start, this book is nothing like Unteachable; in fact, it's just a completely different animal. The pretty writing style is still there, but this book is much darker, more painful and more, um... important, I guess. It's nasty and there are no heroes and villains, just some majorly screwed up, complex and way too relatable characters.

I have gone on and on about the author's writing in my review of Unteachable and in the little pre-review I wrote for this book, but I have to reiterate again that her books are nothing short of intoxicating. That's the perfect word for it. You close the book after the last page and it's like coming down from some kind of crazy high/blood rush. So I have to take that feeling and try to sum up in a few mediocre sentences what is so amazing about Black Iris.

Atmospheric. That was a word I used for her first novel and I'm going to bring it up again. Though this book spans many months (in non-linear form), I especially love the way Leah Raeder captures that late summer feeling: it's still warm, not quite as bright, the days are fading into darkness earlier and the happy memories of summer are behind you. It's my favourite time of year but it also carries something melancholy about it. In Unteachable, I thought this was shown perfectly in the heady descriptions of the carnival. In Black Iris, summer becomes even more of a metaphor. Laney tells us:

The whole summer was inside of us.

And then later:

Leaves drifted from a tree. Everything was coming undone, tearing itself into little piles of red and gold. The slow disintegration of summer. The slow disintegration of my body as she pushed my legs apart, exhaled against me. I closed my eyes.

This book turned out to be a lot of things I wasn't expecting. It's a suspense novel that looks at the dark depths of the human mind; it's also a contemporary that explores mental illness, intense female friendhsips, being gay, and not quite being able to fit yourself under any sexual label; and it's also a love story, woven with references to poets and philosophers. There was never a dull moment.

As with Maise in Unteachable, Ms Raeder has crafted yet another unconventional (HELL YEAH) narrator who takes drugs, sleeps around, is easy to dislike at times, and still earned my sympathy. I like it when the heroine is a bit of a villain. I wonder what that says about me.

Girls get under each other’s skin. We get too close, too attached, too crazy, and then we can’t let go. Our claws sink too deep. When we separate, we tear each other apart.

I think it's fascinating the way the lines between friendship and love are blurred in Black Iris. When I was growing up, the few female friendships I had tended to be intense. I think a lot of girls experience this, especially as teenagers. We're very touchy-feely, we trust each other with our secrets and desires and it's like hell has been unleashed on earth when we fall out. It was interesting, exciting and captivating to watch the relationship dynamic between Laney and Blythe. And I think I was a little bit in love with the latter too.

I haven't said too much about the plot because you can read what the blurb tells you and I want to avoid spoilers. Also, I'm starting to realise that LR's books are the kind that you remember most because of the way they made you feel, so I will just say that this book made me feel sad, angry, worried, excited, breathless, intrigued and thankful. Thankful that there are NA writers like Leah Raeder.

I never wanted to be saved. I wanted someone to follow me down into the darkness.

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Disclaimer: I didn't have a damn clue while reading this book or typing the above review that I had been mentioned in the acknowledgements so it did not affect my rating. But... OH MY GOD, LEAH, I LOVE YOU. Kept that one quiet, didn't you, you sexy minx.


Reason #8,572,231 why I need Leah Raeder's new book: http://www.leahraeder.com/2014/02/15/...

Here's a gif to give you some idea what Leah's writing does to me:

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Reading Progress

November 18, 2013 – Shelved
February 6, 2015 – Started Reading
February 6, 2015 –
page 1
0.27% "Like a badass...\n \n "
February 9, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 50 (50 new)

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Mindy Before she mentioned it I was hoping she would address the issues she discusses in her new book. I can not wait for her new book! Thank you for the update.

Emily May No problem! I have a feeling this book is going to be AMAZING.

Kyle After Leah's blog spot, I'm convinced that this one is going to be even better then Unteachable! ^.^

Emily May I know! I'm so excited for it :D

message 5: by Cathryn (new) - added it

Cathryn Can't wait for this to come out!,,

Emily May Me too!!

message 7: by Elaine (new) - added it

Elaine Your GIF, pretty much.

Jaime this is EXACTLY what her writing does to me. That is insane.

message 9: by Nora (new) - added it

Nora That gif is just . . . woah. Can't wait for this book either - I've got a real good feeling about it:)

message 10: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel Lucky lady! Can't wait for your review!

Emily May I'm so excited!

Category Is: Book Review Realness! Lol Emily,happy reading :)

message 13: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Vasiliev Oh, what kind of books does she write? If your this excited I am definitely adding a few to my tbr

Emily May She writes beautiful, sexy new adult romance! If you've read some of that genre, you probably know how bad a lot of it is. But I love her debut - Unteachable.

Hannah I'm so jealous!! I'm so excited for this book. Unteachable is one of my all time favorites.

message 16: by Taylor (new) - added it

Taylor Madden I thought her last name was Reader for a second

message 17: by Rebekah (new) - added it

Rebekah Thomas One of the other reviewers I follow (Navessa) just got her ARC on Friday and I've been seeing her status updates for the last 24 hours on Black Iris. Evidently, you need to prepare for your mind=blown and the English language failing you due to awesomeness? So I'm excited for you to read it!

Navessa Yup. Mind = blown. Can't wait to see your thoughts on this, Em.

Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ Beautiful review, Emily! I already wanted to read it but you did it justice perfectly, I can feel the love through your words and well, that's quite the point right?

message 20: by Camillia (new) - added it

Camillia (Twenty Three Pages) You rated it 5 stars so I know I have to read it. You're a tough one to please Emily :)

message 21: by Vanessa (last edited Feb 10, 2015 06:57PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vanessa J. Maaan, now I need to get this. First, you were really excited for this book and then, you rate it five stars. Now I'm the one who's excited. But I agree with you about Leah's writing. So far, based on what I've read of Unteachable, I find her writing addictive and explosive.

Great review! You have no idea how eager I was for this one :)

P.S.: There is nothing wrong with liking anti-heroical protagonists. I also like them a lot :)

P.P.S.: Congrats for getting mentioned in the acknowledgments :)

Hannah Now I want this book even more! Unteachable was one of the best books I read last year.

message 23: by Bianca (new)

Bianca I'm so excited to get my hands on this book. Just reading the quotes from people's reviews gies me the chills. Wonderful review, Emily.

message 24: by Michele (new) - added it

Michele Harrod Wow, the review alone has been a literary moment of bliss - I want this book, in my hands, NOW!! Thanks for such a great review to set my fires of anticipation burning!

Navessa Fuck yes, Emily. Fantastic review. You described the experience of reading this book so well.

message 26: by Hayat (new) - added it

Hayat Great review, Em! I love it when a heroine is a bit of a villain too. I like my heroines to be a bit unpredictable and not quite fit into a previously established female role. I'm definitely reading this one and the one before it too.

Faye, la Patata Oh, lord. I desperately need this one.

Mindy Amazing review Emily!! I love the quotes and can't wait to dive into this one! I so agree that her writing is all about the feels she evokes. Plus, this...

"I never wanted to be saved. I wanted someone to follow me down into the darkness."

So awesome!!

message 29: by Irene (new) - added it

Irene Amazing review! I want to read this book asap, can't imagine waiting almost 2 months

message 30: by ♣Tessa♣ (new)

♣Tessa♣ Wow, not released until April? It doesn't sound like my normal type of read but your review makes me curious enough to want to try it. (I like to explore different types of books now and then).

message 31: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise ahh i cannot wait for this!

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Wow, amazing review. I have yet to read Unteachable, but I'm prioritizing this one.

Heather K (dentist in my spare time) You are making me very excited! Nice review.

Helena Martínez  La Estantería Roja I just can't wait! Great review.

Emily May Helena Martínez wrote: "I just can't wait! Great review."

Thank you :)

message 36: by Amanda (new) - added it

Amanda Garcia always on point Emily!

Emily May Amanda wrote: "always on point Emily!"

Thanks! ^_^

Vanessa J. I'm DYING for this book. Leah's writing in Unteachable left me open-mouthed, I can't even imagine how it is in this one. Great review!

P.S.:ASASAGHSGFAHG. Sorry, I told you I was excited for this book, didn't I?

message 39: by Debra (new) - added it

Debra I'm looking forward to reading this!

yassi Thank you, thank you, thank you for this review! I need to read this <3

message 41: by Erin Cole (new)

Erin Cole Hi Emma. My name is Erin this is actually my daughter's kindle. Her name is Emiley we call her EM as well. Nice to meet you. I am new to this and I am really having trouble. Can you help me with a few questions? I will be forever grateful. Thank you!

message 42: by Erin Cole (new)

Erin Cole ***Emily sorry auto correct. Hello Emily!!

Emily May Yeah sure, I will try :) What were your questions?

Lola I am almost done with this one and, DAMN, it is some crazy addictive dark piece of literature. My first time reading Leah Raeder and I have the feeling she'll become one of my top 10 favorite authors. Lovely review, Emily :) I didn't know you read LGBT. Do you like M/M romances, too? I personally love them. ^_^

Emily May Lola wrote: "I am almost done with this one and, DAMN, it is some crazy addictive dark piece of literature. My first time reading Leah Raeder and I have the feeling she'll become one of my top 10 favorite autho..."

Thanks, Lola! The reason I don't read a lot of LGBT and M/M romances is because I haven't found that many good ones, which is a real shame. What M/M would you recommend?

Lola Oh miii god, I have so many recs for you, but my favorite M/M series is Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat although it is NOT for everyone since there is slavery, abuse, etc. If you want something light and smile-worthy, then I would suggest Loving Jay, but The Magpie Lord might be more your type, because there's real complexity in the plot and it's historical (+ fantasy), too. Let me know what you think!

Julia Thank you for introducing me to this book, Emily. I've read Unteachable a while ago because of you, and now this one, and it blew me away. So thank you :). (I've written a review too, if you're interested)

message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

This book is so uncliche and I love it so much!!!

Leslie I somehow fell into a rabbit hole of your reviews Emily that started with Marlena. Now I’ve added so many more books that I had to remember it was Marlena that I originally wanted to check on.

Emily May Leslie wrote: "I somehow fell into a rabbit hole of your reviews Emily that started with Marlena. Now I’ve added so many more books that I had to remember it was Marlena that I originally wanted to check on."

Haha, hope you enjoy them all! :)

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