Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus

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Title: Two Can Keep A Secret

Author: Karen M. McManus

Pages: 327

Publisher: Penguin

Published: 2019

Source: ARC (Gifted by Penguin)

Rating: ★★★.5


Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.


Doesn’t this book make you think of the Pretty Little Liars theme song?

Two Can Keep A Secret is the second book by Karen M. McManus’ following her hugely successful debut novel, One of Us is Lying. I love a good murder and seeing as this one was coming out in January, I knew I had to read it. It’s relatively short being just over 300 pages so I knew it would be quite a quick read. I started it on the 24th January and finished it just after midnight on the 27th January. I probably would’ve read it faster had I not had work in between reading.

Going into this book, I wasn’t sure how I would find it. When I read One of Us is Lying, I found myself just wanting to skip straight forward and find out who the killer was, which is exactly what I ended up doing. I was determined not to do that with this book as I wanted the satisfaction of being right or the feeling after being bested by a murder mystery book.

The plot of Two Can Keep A Secret is a easy to follow, which I think helps it read quite quickly. Like One of Us is Lying, it was told from different points of view, but unlike OOUIL, we only had the story from two different perspectives. One of the perspectives is from Ellery. The story starts with Ellery and her twin brother, Ezra, moving to Echo Ridge after their mother was admitted to rehab. Almost as soon as the book starts, things start happening in Echo Ridge.

Ellery is one of the main characters in this book and one of the PoVs. I liked her character and she was quite inquisitive, particularly when it came to true crime as a result of what happened to her Aunt. I enjoyed it when both Ellery and Ezra were on the page and I enjoyed seeing their relationship. The other main character, Malcolm, was closed off at the beginning of this book, but I felt like his character came out of its shell over the course of the book. I enjoy books where the characters really do develop.

Two Can Keep A Secret wasn’t full of murder like I was actually expecting, but it was still a solid YA thriller, which I feel is a genre in YA that needs expanding on. I feel like Karen M. McManus does a good job of giving us several leads to make us suspect certain characters as that then has you questioning them every time they do something suspicious. Ultimately, I did get the suspect wrong, but I was ok with that. I prefer murder mysteries to surprise me with who did it rather than my guess being right.

img_5539I was a little disappointed partly because I was expecting a little more from the disappearance but also because I felt like some things within the book were just touched on, such as the previous crimes and what happened to the twins Aunt. I expected a lot more sleuthing from Ellery due to how invested she was in crime novels but it wasn’t quite up to Nancy Drew’s level.

I am definitely hovering between 3.5 and 4 stars with this one, I just can’t decide. When I finished it, I gave it 4 stars but I immediately contemplated whether it should actually be a 3.5 star read. Did I enjoy it? Yes. But did I love it? Not quite. I liked the book and it was such a quick read, plus I enjoyed it more than One Of Us Is Lying but I just can’t decide what to rate it at! I think perhaps 3.75 is the most appropriate rating for this book so it’s just in between.

 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Pages: 355

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (US)/Scholastic (UK)

Published: 2014

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.


This isn’t my first time reading this book. No, it’s not my second time either. It is in fact my third time reading this book. When I first read this book, it was 2014 and it had only been released for a few months. Even when I read it 4 years ago, I fell in love with it immediately. I loved the writing, the story line, the characters. I just love it all. I think that’s what brings me back to this book every time. It’s so easy and quick to read.

With the release of the adaptation on Netflix in August which I have watched twice so far (review here), I found the temptation to return back to the pages of this book very difficult to resist. I started it on a Saturday night and by Monday evening, I had finished it.

As I’ve already mentioned, it’s such a quick read and the writing makes it so easy to follow. The chapters are also relatively short and snappy and so I found myself cruising through this book at a really comfortable space. Jenny’s writing throughout all three books is like this. The story is incredibly easy to follow too.

The story follows Lara Jean Covey as she navigates through high school. It really kicks off when Lara Jean’s 5 letters, which she writes when she has a crush on someone but doesn’t know what to do, get sent out to the recipients. This results in a fake relationship which sort of helps get Lara Jean in the clear with the other letter recipients but also helps one of the boys out.

I think Lara Jean is such a cute character. In this book, she has an almost need to fill in for her big sister Margot who has left to go to University in Scotland. Lara Jean has to step in a little for her younger sister Kitty and become a little more responsible, which is difficult for a teenager to do when they have all these other things going in on their life. I thought that she was a good character and that she is perhaps how a lot of teenagers are.

I loved both of Lara’s sisters and really enjoyed reading about her relationship with them and her dad. I thought Josh was also a good character although I found myself both frustrated but also sympathising with him at times. Peter Kavinsky is, of course, a great character and is my favourite of all the boys. I thought he brought a lot of fun to this story and there were plenty of cute moments between him and Lara. I did find myself getting frustrated with him at times, but you have to remember when reading these books that the characters are teenagers and part of being a teenager is doing things that are frustrating but learning from them.

It’s a little difficult to write a review on a re-read because I can’t give you my reaction from reading it for the first time but I think it’s fair to say that I enjoyed this book just as much as I did the first time I read it. Perhaps more, now that I’ve got the imagery in my head from the movie as that’s really helped me imagine things more. To All the Boys is a cute story and it’s always lovely to reread. I feel like I can rely on it to help me out of a reading slump and that I could pick it up and figure out where I am in the book really easily. I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for a quick and enjoyable contemporary and I would definitely advise that you read this if you plan to watch the movie or if you’ve watched it already!

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Title: What If It’s Us

Author: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Pages: 433

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Published: 2018

Source: ARC (Thanks to S&S!)

Rating: ★★★★


Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?


When I received this book, I felt both very happy but also guilty. I’ll be honest with you all, I have read two of Becky’s books and one of Adam’s. Those being Simon and Leah and They Both Die at the End which I read via an audio book. So you may be wondering, why do you feel guilty? Because I feel like I haven’t read enough of Adam’s books and because I haven’t read Becky’s other book. However, after hearing about this book and seeing the reception it’s had on social media, I knew that I just had to request it.

I already knew I was a fan of Becky’s two books I’d read and although I’ve only read one of Adam’s books, I knew from that one that I would probably enjoy this duo writing together. Well friends, I am pleased to tell you that I was not wrong.

Although this book did take me almost a month to read, that is not a reflection of this book at all. It’s simply because I have two exams coming up and so my efforts have been focused on revision instead.

I really liked the characters in this book and thought that they were both written so well. I’m really not sure who I liked more and I’d really love to be friends with both of them. Arthur is a nerdy/geeky sort of guy and is so enthusiastic and interested about things. He’s figuring life out over his summer break whilst in New York. Meanwhile, Ben is going through a rough break up whilst slogging through summer school. Oh, and he happens to be going through summer school with his ex.

This book really gave us two different characters but they both worked really well together. I loved the relationship that developed between them throughout the book and really felt that it was a huge part in the development of the characters themselves. Arthur’s relationship with Ben was a real introduction to love and romantic relationships. With Ben, I felt that though he had been in a relationship before, this was one that really gave him confidence and encouraged him to be a better version of himself, not that he wasn’t great before.

This book didn’t just involve love. It had a good dose of friendship and family. Both families were important to our characters and their friends played a huge part in this book too. There was a contrast between Arthur and Ben’s families but I think that while they both offered different family experiences, they had things in common such as a good support system. Friendship played a big part in this book too, with Ben’s best friend Dylan being a prominent secondary character. Arthur’s friends are also featured but as they are in another state, it was a little more difficult for them to play such a big part in this book.

What If It’s Us? tackled homophobia in this book in one scene which I thought was sad but this is something that lgbtq+ have to deal with on a daily basis. It was interesting to see how two different people handled being in that situation but it was also frustrating to sit through the scene and not see anybody else around them really take a stand against the homophobic treatment they bore the brunt of. I thought that it was fairly important to include this scene as this is something that lgbtq+ people do face and it really made me think about how these characters, and how real life people, must feel on a daily basis.

As well as homophobia, racism was also touched on in this book. It demonstrated how comments can be made with no thought or malice behind them but how it affects people even if offence wasn’t meant. What If It’s Us? also showed how personal identity can be affected by racism. This book tackled two important and serious subjects in a way that really gets you thinking.

The ending isn’t quite the one I was looking for. I love a good happy ending and the one book of Adam’s that I have read did not end in that. And the two books of Becky’s that I have read? Both of those ended in a happy ending. I feel like the ending on this was a compromise between the two and I was really sat there thinking ‘really guys? Come on, why you gotta do this to us?’ But it was a decent ending and I felt like it really left the futures of Arthur and Ben open to the readers interpretation.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m very grateful that I was in receipt of a copy to review. I definitely want to read more of Adam’s books and I would like to finish reading Becky’s so that I have finished her collection of books (so far). I would fully recommend reading this book if you’re looking for a Meet-Cute contemporary that also deals with real world issues.