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All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor

All of This is True by Lygia Day PenaflorAll of This is True by Lydia Day Penflor
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 31st May 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

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. . . .

Well, this was a massive letdown. Don’t you hate it when one of the most anticipated releases of the year turns out to be a poorly written snorefest? Especially when it’s marketed as a thrilling page-turner?

Firstly, I loved the idea of it being told in mixed media format. I think Illuminae kicked off an interesting trend here, and I always look forward to books that are told in a different format. That said, it really didn’t work with this story. I’m not really sure what the point was. It didn’t add to the story at all, and it feels like the author just wanted to try this format out, and perhaps it was easier to write than a normal novel.

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The Girl You Thought I Was by Rebecca Phillips

The Girl You Thought I Was by Rebecca PhillipsThe Girl You Thought I Was by Rebecca Phillips
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 31st July 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

No one looking at Morgan Kemper would think she had a secret-at least not one that she's deeply ashamed of. To everyone she meets, she comes across as sweet, pretty, and put together. But Morgan knows that looks can be deceiving. For over a year, she's shoplifted countless pieces of clothing and makeup. Each time she tells herself it will be the last, and each time it never is.

But when she's caught and sentenced to thirty hours of community service, the image Morgan has carefully constructed starts to crumble. She's determined to complete her punishment without her friends discovering the truth about her sticky fingers, but that's easier said than done...Especially once she meets Eli, the charming, handsome nephew of the owner of the charity shop where Morgan is volunteering. Soon, Morgan is faced with an impossible decision: continue to conceal the truth or admit that she's lied to everyone in her life, including the boy she's falling for.

I’ve decided that I love Rebecca Phillips’ writing and I’ve put her on my auto-buy author list. That’s right, it’s official. I loved the book she released last year, These Things I’ve Done, and as soon as I saw that The Girl You Thought I Was was available to review, I had to nab it. And it definitely didn’t disappoint.

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American Panda by Gloria Chao

American Panda by Gloria ChaoAmerican Panda by Gloria Chao
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 6th February 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Borrowed
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth--that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

American Panda was a pretty solid debut. It was high on everyone’s most anticipated lists because it’s about a Taiwanese-American teenager who goes to college and tries to balance life, family, and two different cultures. I really enjoyed it, and I’d be interested in seeing what Chao comes out with next.

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Missing at 17 by Christine Conradt

Missing at 17 by Christine ConradtMissing at 17 by Christine Conradt
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 1st May 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

For most of Candace’s life she never felt like she completely belonged. But nothing could prepare her for the shocking discovery that her parents have been concealing the truth about who she is and where she came from her entire life.

Feeling like her world has been turned upside down, and unable to trust the people she’s closest to, Candace runs away...right into the arms of an alluring stranger.

But while Candace and Toby have an undeniable connection, it's less certain what the future holds for them as Candace’s family and Toby’s less-than-legal lifestyle threaten to rip them apart.

As things start to spiral out of control, Candace must fight to understand her own identity...and who she can truly rely on.

Missing At 17 really wasn’t the right book for me. First of all, I was expecting an intense thriller, but the story was more of a relaxed contemporary. That would be fine if a) I had been expecting it, and b) it was written well. But it wasn’t.

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Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah VaughanAnatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 23rd January 2018
Publisher: Atria
Source: Borrowed
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?

I wouldn’t say Anatomy of a Scandal is entirely worth the hype, but it’s certainly entertaining and well worth a read. It’s an incredibly interesting courtroom drama that kept me reading.

I liked the different perspectives in this book. Multiple points of view don’t always work for me, but reading from the different characters’ perspectives was a really good insight into various characters and their feelings and behaviours.

The ending was a bit disappointing because something came about at the very end, leaving no room for resolution. I’m not a fan of open endings, even if the main plot has been resolved.

I wouldn’t describe Anatomy of a Scandal as a thriller, as it’s more of a quiet drama, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.