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

Thoughts:

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:

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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

Thoughts:

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:

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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

Thoughts:

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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:

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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.

All of This is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Inside cover blurb:

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .”

-from publisher

Thoughts:

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I wouldn’t say that All of This is True is exactly a good book…but it is definitely compulsively readable.

The plot doesn’t seem highly realistic- a famous YA author becomes friends with a group of teens in order to exploit them for her newest novel. But I think it is really appealing for those of us who are addicted to reality TV. It’s a very high drama story, kind of like reading a really long gossip magazine.

There’s also a lot of appeal in the formatting. The story is told in small snippets- interviews with the girls involved, diary notes, and pieces of the scandalous novel- which makes it easy to digest.

I read this over the course of about a day and a half and that was just because I had to go to work. You could easily read this in an afternoon.

All of This is True is a bit dissatisfying in the end because you don’t really get any resolution to the story, in term’s of Jonah and Fatima’s story lines. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you read it, I think you’ll know what I mean. The book just kind of stops and that’s it.

Plus: A juicy, quick read.

Minus: If you’re looking for a deeper message, this isn’t the book for you.

If you like this book, try:

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher- These two books have nearly nothing in common in terms of plot, but Thirteen Reasons Why will give you the edge-of-your seat, fast pacing effect and story that will actually stick with you.

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Inside cover blurb:

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.”

-from publisher

Thoughts:

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And boy, did this one surprise me! The follow up novel, Love & Luck, was just recently published, so I thought I would finally try out the original…and I loved it!

I can definitely be sucker for an overseas love story (Stephanie Perkins, I’m looking at you), but Love & Gelato really goes the extra mile here. Lina is kid of a mess, which I really appreciate, because it’s believable. Her mom died recently and she gets sent to Italy to live with the father she has never known. Who wouldn’t be kind of a wreck over that?

The journal story line is a bit cheesy, but it was a good way to include her mother’s perspective. And the father story line seemed a bit predictable, but there were some interesting twists to it, which I appreciated.

The only thing I had a genuine problem with is the timeline. The whole story seems to take place in like a week, which doesn’t seem plausible at all. But hey, it’s a small price to pay for such an overall good read.

Okay, I take it back. My second problem is actually the cover. What’s with all these books with serious topics getting such cutesy covers? I know it’s a romance, but hello, her mom did just die…I don’t understand it.

Plus: I love Italy and I love romance, so it’s a win-win.

Minus: It really could use a better cover.

If you like this book, try:

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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins- Guysss. I know this is way too predictable of me, but I really do love this book. A romance set in Paris…you know you want to read it.