ARC REVIEW: The Unbinding Of Mary Reade – by Miriam McNamara

Title: The Unbinding Of Mary Reade
Author: Miriam McNamara
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: June 19th 2018
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Finished reading: June 11th 2018
Pages: 336

“All that water, bits of land – so many places she could be in this new world. But for all of Anne’s geography lessons, Mary was still hopeless at figuring out where exactly she might fit in it.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Sky Pony Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I love a good pirate story and the blurb of The Unbinding Of Mary Reade sounds just as fantastic as the gorgeous cover, so I’ve been really excited to finally read this one. And with its f/f romance, I thought it would be a perfect story to read during pride month as well. Alas it seems like it wasn’t ment to be. I didn’t check the reviews before starting this one, or at least I would have been warned… Because The Unbinding Of Mary Reade unfortunately turned out to be quite a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the idea behind this book, the possibilities of the setting, the f/f romance, the characters… But the execution was just completely off for me. I will try to explain why this book didn’t work for me below. First of all, I struggled with the writing style, which felt halted with dialogues that didn’t seem natural. The use of ‘bad grammar’ in the dialogues only distracted (aka annoyed) me instead of adding the right historical atmosphere. Also, the constant switching back and forth in time was really distracting and made it hard to stay focused on the main plot. Especially since the chapters set in London basically didn’t add anything substantial to the story and were extremely dull. In fact, I found the story in general quite boring, and how is that possible for a story with gay pirates in it?? For a book about pirates, there were almost no action scenes or even scenes on a boat included in the plot. And that was quite a disappointment, since there was basically nothing of note to fill this huge hole of lack of action. Ok, characters. The characters in general lacked development and were rather bland. Anne almost felt like a caricature and while Mary had all the potential of being a fascinating character, she mostly fell flat for me and I wasn’t able to believe either of their feelings or actions. This lack of credibility extends to the other characters as well. Also, trigger warnings are in place for homophobia, transphobia, (sexual) abuse and sexism in general. I get that we are talking about an 18th century setting, but this was just too much. In short, while I still love the idea behind this story, the execution was rather poorly and The Unbinding Of Mary Reade turned out to be a rather chaoticly written, dull and not credible love story. Did I expect this reaction? No, but unfortunately I can’t change the way I feel about this one.

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When Mary was really young, her mother saw no other way to keep their mouths fed than to disguise her little girl as a boy and pass her off as her dead child Mark. Mark has a wealthy granny that will take care of her only grandchild and heir… So there is no place for a girl in Mary’s world, and she has to be Mark at all time to not see her life fall apart. This gets harder as the years go on and she falls in love with her childhood friend Nat. And when she is discovered, she flees London with Nat and boards a Caribbean merchant ship as a sailor. But what will the future bring?

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I keep repeating: I still love the idea behind this story and I truly wish I could have enjoyed The Unbinding Of Mary Reade better. Unfortunately, I found the execution lacking in various ways, and I had a hard time finishing this one. Between the chaotic writing style that didn’t flow, a rather dull plot, bland characters, lack of action and a not so credible display of emotions, I can’t say I was impressed. Where were the pirates, were was the action? Why did we have to read so much about Mary’s past in London, if her life on the Caribbean Sea is what really counts for this story? Why wasn’t there more focus on Mary and Anne? Why the excessive amount of sexism, homophobia, transphobia and sexual assault? The tone for this supposedly YA rated story was completely off, especially since Mary felt younger than the age group during most of the story. All in all not the story I was hoping for.


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WWW Wednesdays #174 – June 13th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m still reading Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris… Although I might have finished it by the time this post goes live (the power of scheduling posts 😉 ). I’m continuing with the 4MK sequel The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker straight afterwards, because I’m dying to find out what happens next.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland (3/5 stars) REVIEW 18/06
On its own, The Lost For Words Bookshop seems to be having all the right elements. It has a lot of bookish references to fall in love with, complicated and well developed characters, suspense and a mysterious past, drama, a healthy dose of romance for the romance fans… I was expecting to love this one, but somehow I wasn’t completely convinced. Between the lack of connection to the characters, love triangle and past-present storyline switches that didn’t feel natural to me, I ended up taking a lot longer than I thought I would to finish this one. There were elements I loved of course, including the bookish elements and Archie’s character. And I’m positive most of you will enjoy this story a lot more than I did.

2. The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 25/06
What a read! I like my thrillers dark and twisted, and J.D. Barker has definitely created a very disturbing serial killer to follow in this story. We get a glimpse of his childhood through a diary, and hints at his previous ‘work’ as the plot develops. And you will encounter a few plot twist bombs along the way, surprises that will catch you unaware as you are too stunned by just how twisted things were back at the killer’s home or how the case develops in the present. Oh yes, The Fourth Monkey isn’t for those with a weak stomach and if you can’t handle graphic scenes and violence, I advice staying clear. Otherwise, if you have a twisted mind like me, you will have a great time meeting the 4MK Killer and his work.

3. The Unreading Of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara (2/5 stars) REVIEW 22/06
I still love the idea behind this story and I truly wish I could have enjoyed The Unbinding Of Mary Reade better. Unfortunately, I found the execution lacking in various ways, and I had a hard time finishing this one. Between the chaotic writing style that didn’t flow, a rather dull plot, bland characters, lack of action and a not so credible display of emotions, I can’t say I was impressed. Where were the pirates, were was the action? Why did we have to read so much about Mary’s past in London, if her life on the Caribbean Sea is what really counts for this story? Why wasn’t there more focus on Mary and Anne? Why the excessive amount of sexism, homophobia, transphobia and sexual assault? The tone for this supposedly YA rated story was completely off, especially since Mary felt younger than the age group during most of the story. All in all not the story I was hoping for.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably picking up The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli next, both because I have been wanting to for ages and because I’ll need a little break from the thriller genre. Afterwards I’m finally picking up the Kay Hunter sequel Will To Live by Rachel Amphlett in the hope to get through all five remaining books in the next month or so. I’m SO excited to be finally doing so! I also have a copy of the new Barbara Copperthwaite ARC waiting for me on my kindle: The Perfect Friend. My newest TBR jar pick is still When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore.


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WWW Wednesdays #173 – June 6th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland, both a pending ARC due soon and a little break in between my upcoming thriller reads. I’m also starting The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker, a title I’ve been meaning to read for a while and I also have an ARC of the sequel due soon, so it’s kind of two for one with this one. Fingers crossed both will be good reads!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor (5/5 stars) REVIEW 25/06
I already had a feeling about this one, and not just because of the cover… I was going to wait until the sequel was out, but I couldn’t resist and started it anyway. Mistake? I don’t know, but the fact is that this turned out to be my second 5 star read of the year and I absolutely loved it. One of my new favorite characters, gorgeous prose, excellent worldbuilding… What’s not to love? The wait for the sequel maybe.

2. To Die In Vienna by Kevin Wignall (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 14/06
I saw this one on NG when I was actually in Vienna, so of course I couldn’t resist. I ended up reading it only after we came back, but that made being able to revisit some of the places mentioned in the story all the better. This one is a fast-paced and action-packed spy thrillers that will appeal to fans of the genre. Credibility issues aside, this was quite an entertaining read.

3. The Date by Louise Jensen (5/5 stars) REVIEW 11/06
Louise Jensen is one of my favorite psychological thriller authors and she has done her thing once again by writing her newest story The Date. Holy cow, what a read! Not only is the writing sublime, but the suspense is spot on and I’m always a sucker for the whole amnesia element. Especially in this case, where the main character is unable to recognize faces after trauma… Fascinating, highly addictive and utterly absorbing! I literally dropped everything to read this one.

4. What Happened That Night by Sandra Block (4/5 stars) REVIEW 08/06
I just had to request a copy after seeing that gorgeous cover, and the fact that I’m always drawn to dark thrillers does help as well. This story has a lot of trigger warnings (rape, violence, suicide, graphic scenes), but the plot itself is both complex and original. I do have to say I had my doubts about the credibility of it all and unfortunately I was able to guess one or two mayor plot twists early on. But the writing is engaging, the pace superfast and the story itself will chill you to the bone.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to finish my pending June ARCs as soon as possible, so I have three titles lined up next: The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker will be the first, just after I finish the first book. I’ll probably read The Unbinding Of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara after that to take another break from the thriller genre… And I also still need to read Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris. I have a new TBR jar pick as well: When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. I’m really curious about that one!


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