Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Inside cover blurb:

“Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.”

-from publisher


I tried to read this once, about three or four years ago and I DNF around 100 pages in.

I have since become OBSESSED with Leigh Bardugo thanks to Six of Crows! (Even though I didn’t like the second one as much…) But Six of Crows really got me into the Grishaverse which was just what I needed to commit to this trilogy.

I feel like there is a very obvious difference between Shadow and Bone– Bardugo and Six of Crows– Bardugo. Her writing seems less mature and well-rounded here. But that doesn’t stop it from being an enthralling read. I’m not much of an Alina fan, but I think I she will grow on me. I am also low-key obsessed with the Darkling and want to know everything about him. I just love the feel of the Grisha world- the Russian influence and the rich lore that permeates it all.

There is a sense that there is something wonderful building here, but I want more! I hate when a book feels unfinished simply because it is part of a series.

Plus: I definitely want to live in the Grishaverse! Unless I’m a peasant, then I’ll pass. And the Darkling! Kind of a jerk, but also so mysterious…

Minus: That unfinished business vibe really bothers me. Guess I’ll just have to read the rest of the trilogy, woe is me.

If you like this book, try:


Vassa in Night by Sarah Porter- It’s a super weird book! But very fun and plays off of a lot of Russian folklore, just like Shadow and Bone.

People Like Us by Dana Mele

Inside cover blurb:

Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.”

-from publisher


*Before I start this review, let me just say, the Supernatural fandom really does have a gif for everything. This was the exact gesture I was looking for.*

I think boarding school mysteries are my new thing. I feel like I’ve read a lot of them lately and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

I actually bought People Like Us on a whim- people who know me know that I don’t usually buy books because then I usually won’t end up reading them. But I read this one and I really enjoyed it too!

After finding a dead girl in the lake of the school, Kay gets blackmailed into outing all of her friends’ secrets, in order to keep her own past buried. The story is overall really good, and I had an idea of who did it, but couldn’t quite figure out the whole thing, which is important to me in a mystery. And there are a few different layers too, like what really happened to Kay before she came to the school.

I will say, the actual ending of the story was a bit unsatisfactory. It seemed to be building to a more thrilling conclusion…that just wasn’t there. There were also a few lulls in the plot, like when Kay goes to stay at a friend’s house over a holiday break. It’s supposed to add background, I get that, but I don’t think all the dots lined up in the best way.

Plus: Great set up, almost Pretty Little Liars-esque. The whole blackmail plot is really well done.

Minus: Almost the whole package, but not quite. Some of the plot points could have been stronger, I thought.

If you like this book, try:


As I Descended by Robin Talley- A gender-swapped, queer retelling of Macbeth, set at boarding school. Similar to People Like Us, everyone has secrets, but with maybe just a touch of the supernatural.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Inside cover blurb:

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?”

-from publisher


Tiffany D. Jackson does it again! A highly readable story, with important themes throughout. WELL. DONE.

I became a Tiffany Jackson fan after reading her (very first!) novel, Allegedly, about a young girl who was accused of murdering a baby…who then gets pregnant herself. Jackson drew me in with her ability to keep the twists and turns coming and Monday’s Not Coming did not disappoint.

Not only does Monday’s Not Coming deal with issues of child abuse, gentrification, bullying, and learning disabilities, but it’s also a great depiction of the deep bonds of female friendship. It’s just an overall fantastic psychological mystery/thriller.

Claudia can be a fairly childish narrator at times, but that’s to be expected considering the circumstances, and I think Jackson does a great job of mirroring an actual young adult’s thoughts and insecurities.

My only critique of the book is that the story flips back and forth in time a lot, and it was kind of hard to track what was happening when.

Plus: A twisty, turn-y story about growing up and facing the darkness of life.

Minus: Definitely some heavy themes, but I think it’s worth it. There’s important stuff in here.

If you like this book, try:


Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight- Not quite on the same level in terms of portraying important social issues, but there’s still some of that in Reconstructing Amelia. There is, however, a thoroughly gripping mystery as a mother struggles to find out the true story behind her daughter’s supposed suicide.

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Inside cover blurb:

She has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself.

After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won…and souls will be lost.”

-from publisher


I have to say, I wasn’t much of a fan of And I Darken. I wasn’t planning to read the sequel at all, that’s how completely disinterested I was. However, I found myself craving a slower, political intrigue story lately and thought, why not give Now I Rise a try. Everyone online is always talking about how much they love Lada. And now I can honestly say that I’m a believer too.

Lada is making moves to take control in Wallachia despite the major hurdles in her path. Mehmed finally makes his siege on Constantinople and Radu attempts to help Mehmed, but finds himself questioning his mission. All while Radu is in love with Mehmed and Mehmed is in love with Lada. Juicy!

This is the only type of love triangle that’s truly interesting- one where it isn’t the main point of the story! Not only that, but the characters are actually able to put their feelings aside in favor of their greater motives and I really appreciate that.

And of course, I’m a sucker for any story having to do with the history of the Ottoman Empire. So all around, Now I Rise is a winner in my book, and I can’t wait for Bright We Burn this summer!

Plus: Awesome historical setting, the most interesting love triangle in all of YA, and a hella badass female leader.

Minus: It is a slow burn of a story, so you have to read it when you’re in the proper mood for it.

If you like this book, try:


Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao- Read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns for another historical fiction tale of a badass, unapologetic female protagonist!

From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

Inside cover blurb:

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man ‘N’ begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.”

-from publisher


As much as I loved When Dimple Met Rishi, I am sad to say that From Twinkle, with Love was a shrug of a book.

I do appreciate all of the nerdy references sprinkled throughout (definitely smiled at the Supernatural one), but there’s just not a lot going on here.

To me, Twinkle didn’t undergo much character development over the course of the story. Nor was I very surprised by any of her choices. Maybe I was a bit surprised about how naive she was, but that’s about it.

I feel like When Dimple Met Rishi had many more ups and downs, it wasn’t as straight-forward and, dare I say, bland as From Twinkle, with Love. And I actually feel a little bad writing these things because I think Menon is a good writer. This story just wasn’t for me.

I will absolutely still read Menon’s future books, I just hope that the next ones have a bit more substance to them.

Plus: I do appreciate the strong, feminist characters that Menon writes.And it has a pretty cute ending, I will say that.

Minus: Just don’t get your hopes up too high, that’s all. It’s still a fairly cute story.

If you like this book, try:


Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed- Not as light-hearted as From Twinkle, with Love, but it has many similar elements and it makes you think.