Category: young adult

Fairest of All: A Tale of The Wicked Queen by …

Title: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen

Author: Serena Valentino

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Villains, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I
borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               I was
reading an article a few weeks ago and discovered that Serena Valentino’s
series of retellings of Disney villains’ origins is becoming a TV series, so I
decided to start it. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now, but
I couldn’t renew it anymore, so I pushed it to the top of my stack as soon as I
was finished with The Guest Book. I adored this adaptation of Disney’s first
villain; it really gave a new perspective on how Grimhilde became The Wicked
Queen. It humanized her, and I very much enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read the
rest of this book series, especially since it’s officially concluding in July!

               Snow
White and the Seven Dwarves. A beautiful girl, a jealous queen, an apple, and a
happy ending. We think we know the story. But what about The Wicked Queen’s
side of things? How did she become so evil? Fairest of All imagines an origin
for Grimhilde, the only daughter of a renowned mirror maker. Plucked from obscurity
when her father passes away, she marries the King and becomes Snow White’s
stepmother. Fairest of All documents the queen’s decline from a loving wife and
mother to a monster capable of killing her own child. I really liked this book;
I love retellings, but one of my favorite things is one told from the point of
the view of the villain. The writing was simple but gorgeous, and the pacing
was really nice. I liked how it took the Disney movie and expanded on it. This
book really made me sympathize with The Wicked Queen, and I loved watching her
descent into the darkness. The ending, too, really redeemed this book; I loved
the continuity of it. One thing I can’t help wondering about, though, is the
mysterious Odd Sisters. If it hadn’t been for them, would Grimhilde have stayed
good? Or would her envy and insecurities have gotten the better of her anyway?
A thought-provoking novel about beauty, envy, insecurity, and society’s heavy
and unrealistic expectations for women, I never imagined that before now, I
would ever feel sorry for The Wicked Queen! I can’t wait for the next books in
this deliciously dark new series! The bottom line: Beautifully written, dark
and seductive, I loved Fairest of All, and I can’t wait to read more from
Serena Valentino! Next on deck: America Was Hard to Find by Kathleen Alcott!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/fairest-of-all-tale-of-wicked-queen-by.html

Slayer by Kiersten White Review

Title: Slayer

Author: Kiersten White

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Horror

Series: Slayer, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I won a signed copy of this book in a contest from Fierce Reads. Thank you so much!

               Shows like Buffy and Angel were things that I was obsessed with as a teenager because they contained all of my favorite things: monsters, magic, darkness, high stakes, and forbidden love. I haven’t seen either of them in years. But I ordered this book from my local library and before I could finish it, I had to take it back. Which was just as well, because a few days later, I received a copy of Slayer from Fierce Reads, and it was signed! I was so excited. It’s been sitting on my ever-growing book stack for a few months now, and once I was finished with The Everlasting Rose, I started Slayer. Taking place in the same universe as Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer but after the events of the comics. Dark, hilarious, heartfelt and scary, I loved this take on the Buffyverse by one of my favorite authors! One of my favorite books of 2019!

               Nina Jamison-Smythe knows her place in the world. She and her twin sister, Artemis, are both in training to become Watchers, the organization of individuals that help guide Slayers.  She is the healer, the medic, the gentler of the two. She lives in her sister’s shadow, something she both takes refuge in and resents. But when Buffy literally breaks magic, The Watchers are rendered obsolete. Consumed by rage and hatred toward Buffy and Slayers in general, whom she blames for her father’s death, Nina is determined to make a difference in the world. But everything changes when she becomes a Slayer. And not just a Slayer, but the very last Slayer in existence. Forced to bear the burden of powers she never wanted; people begin to die around the castle. Enmeshed in the mystery, Nina must use her newfound powers to save the people she loves. But is she meant to save the world? Or to destroy it?

               Kiersten White is one of my favorite authors, and so when I found out that she was writing a novel set in the Buffyverse, I was so excited! And I was lucky enough to receive a free, signed copy! I loved this book; it felt like I was returning to a place that I had dearly missed, without even knowing! Right out of the gate, I loved it so much. It had all of the darkness, humor, and mystery of Buffy. It’s not a requirement to be a Buffy fan to read this book; it can be read without knowing anything about the comics or show. But I loved the little Easter eggs I kept finding. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved the characters, but especially Nina; I really related to her. I loved her character development, her growth from a timid, resentful child to a fiercely powerful and kind young woman who uses her Slayer powers for the good of her loved ones. Artemis, Leo, Honora, and the girls’ mother were also distinctive characters who provoked a strong reaction with me. Dark, terrifying, and full of humor and heart, this book felt like coming home. I very much enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to read Chosen! At times, Nina butting heads with everyone got on my nerves; it kind of took away from the book, but overall, this series starter was strong, and I can’t wait for the next book! Next on deck: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/slayer-by-kiersten-white-review.html

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton Revi…

Title: The Everlasting Rose

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Belles, book two

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

        I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

           Dhonielle Clayton is one of my favorite authors, and my favorite book in her body of work was this book’s predecessor, The Belles. I’ve been salivating for the sequel to that explosive, thought-provoking and dark series debut since I finished it. So, when I realized there was a copy sitting on the shelf of my local library, I went and grabbed it as soon as I possibly could. It’s been sitting on the top of my library stack for a while, and I was delighted when I realized that it was next in line. Unfortunately, this sequel didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but I greatly enjoyed it nonetheless. Action-packed, thoughtful, shocking and romantic, I loved The Everlasting Rose!

               The Everlasting Rose picks up where The Belles left off, with Belle favorite, Camellia Beauregard, fleeing the royal palace from the mad princess, Sophia. Realizing the rotten core that lies under the luxurious, glittering veneer of the country of Orleans, she is rightfully furious and desperate for revenge and freedom for herself and her sisters, her fellow Belles. Camellia soon realizes that revolution is brewing right under the surface of everything, and that to do what is right, she may have to bargain with an even more secretive enemy, The Iron Ladies. With the help of her sisters, Edel and Amber, and her bodyguard, Remy, Camellia must decide if she is strong enough to see this mission through, or fall into a web of intrigue and deception that she may never claw her way out of…

               I really liked this book! It fell a little short for me, in comparison to The Belles, but it was a solid sequel. I just hope that this isn’t the end! The ending seemed as if it was a cliffhanger, but I couldn’t tell for certain. Sequels unnerve me, every time: all too often, it just doesn’t hold up to the first book. But overall, The Everlasting Rose really delivered! It took me a little while to remember what was going on, but once I did, I was all in. This book grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go, not for a moment. I also adored all of the characters, particularly Sophia, but it was Camellia that really stole the show for me. I loved her development from a naïve, ambitious girl to a fierce, angry warrior of a young woman. I also really liked the way that old and new characters were brought in, to great effect. But I think my favorite part of this whole book was the way that Clayton peeled back the extravagant, glittering layers of Orleans to expose its black, rotten heart.  I really enjoyed the way that Clayton finally elaborated on Orleans, and how it was created, but we finally got to what I was most curious about: The Belles and how they were created. The ending was good, but I’m hoping that there’s more: It can’t end like that! I still have so many questions! Dhonielle Clayton has created a beautiful, dark, gilded world full of thorns and secrets and intrigue, and I was absolutely captivated by it! I really hope that there’s more because this book was just not enough! The bottom line: Dark, beautiful, romantic and twisted, I loved The Everlasting Rose, and I really hope that there’s more, because I won’t be able to deal with it if there isn’t! Next on deck: Slayer by Kiersten White!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-everlasting-rose-by-dhonielle.html

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson Review

Title: The Vanishing Stair

Author: Maureen Johnson

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Truly Devious, book two

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Truly, Devious was one of my favorite books of last year, so I was so excited when the sequel finally dropped back in January. I had to return it to the library the first time I checked it out, as I couldn’t read it before it had to go back. It’s been sitting on the top of my stack for a while, and I realized that I couldn’t renew it anymore, so as soon as I was done with Saving Meghan, I pushed it to the top of my stack. I devoured it in less than two days, and even though I finished it last night, my head is still spinning! Maureen, how could you end it like that?! How am I supposed to wait until 2020 for the last book in the trilogy?! Smart, shocking, and chilling, The Vanishing Stair was a fantastic sequel, and I can’t wait for the next book! A great sequel to one of my favorite books of last year!

               The Vanishing Stair picks up where Truly, Devious left off, with Stevie still reeling from the events of the last book. For the sake of those who haven’t read it yet, I won’t say too much about the plot; I don’t want to spoil it. But Stevie returns to Ellingham, trying to refocus on the famous case that brought her to the school to begin with. Unable to leave well enough alone, she begins to investigate the deaths that caused her to leave. But it turns out that the deeper she digs, the more she realizes that nothing stays truly stay buried, forever…

               The Vanishing Stair was absolutely wonderful! Truly, Devious was one of my favorite books of last year, and I’m so happy that I finally got the read the sequel! I really enjoyed it. Sequels made me so nervous; all too often, they don’t live up to my expectations. But The Vanishing Stair more than delivered; I almost enjoyed it more than the first book. The pacing was breakneck, and it took me a little while to remember what was going on, since it’s been more than a year since I read Truly, Devious. I loved the way that Johnson braided two mysteries together; I was constantly left wondering and scratching my head. I was also screaming, laughing and crying; this book gave me so many feels! The transition between the past and present were really smooth. I also adored the characters, but Stevie and Janelle were my favorites. The twists and turns of the book had me dealing with literary whiplash, and more than once I had to walk away so I could puzzle them out. And that ending! That ending! Oh, my goodness, how on Earth am I supposed to wait until 2020 for the next book?! Come on, Maureen, you’re killing me here! I loved this book, but the ending was what really clinched it for me; I can’t wait for the last book in the series! Absolutely amazing! The bottom line: Dark, twisty, and thrilling, I loved The Vanishing Stair, and I can’t wait for the last book in the series! Next on deck: Cape May by Chip Creek!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-vanishing-stair-by-maureen-johnson.html

Wrecked by Maria Padian Review

Title: Wrecked

Author: Maria Padian

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

     I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Wrecked was the April book pick for one of the clubs I go to, Young Adult for Adults. I’ve been curious about Wrecked since I first heard about it. I attempted to read it when it first came out, but I had to return it before I could. Wrecked is a searing, thought-provoking novel about consent, agency, and the insidious, pervasive nature of rape culture. I’ve always enjoyed books that have been pulled straight from the headlines, but this book did more than that. It showed the taboo topic of rape of college campuses, through the eyes of two witnesses: Richard, roommate to the rapist, and Haley, roommate of the victim. Sucked into the issue despite wanting to stay out of it, these two characters provide an outsider’s point of view on a traumatic and dehumanizing event. This book was heavy and at times it was really hard to get through, but I’m happy I read it. This book should be required reading for everyone.

               Haley’s roommate, Jenny, claims that she was raped after drinking at a college party, by Richard’s roommate, Jordan. Jordan says that it was just a hookup, but Jenny did not consent. Soon, word starts spreading around the entire college, and it seems no one but the two involved really know what happened. Against their will, both Haley and Richard are drawn into the conflict, and lines are drawn as an investigation is carried out. Who is telling the truth? Who is lying? Will justice be served properly, or will a monster walk free?

               This book was hard to get through, I’m not going to lie. It was heavy and at times uncomfortable. But this book is absolutely necessary reading, for all ages, boys and girls alike. Searing, thought-provoking, and unfortunately true to life, reading Wrecked was like watching a trainwreck: terrifying and unforgettable, but you’re unable to look away, even if you want to. The point of view is split between Haley and Richard, two bystanders turned witnesses. The pacing was breakneck and I was immediately transfixed. I really liked the way that Padian used the point of view of two bystanders to get a read on the situation; it was a new, refreshing way to look at an uncomfortable, but all too necessary, topic. I also liked Haley and Richard as characters, and the way that they developed as the novel went on. At first, they didn’t want to be involved, then, through both of their roommates, they are entangled in the terrible, confusing web of lies and deception that surround the case. One of my favorite parts of it was the bittersweet ending because it was very true to life. Jenny and Jordan were also characters that leaped off the page for me. They were a stark contrast to one another, and I hated Jordan. My heart broke for Jenny, as well as Haley and Richard. At times, there were so many different characters that I had to go back and reread; it got hard to keep track of everything at times. Nonetheless, this book was heart-wrenching, thought-provoking, searing, and absolutely necessary. Required reading for all and highly recommended! The bottom line: A searing, thoughtful and necessary book that pulls no punches, I loved Wrecked! Next on deck: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/wrecked-by-maria-padian-review.html

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith Review

Title: Bloodleaf

Author: Crystal Smith

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Bloodleaf, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               I found Bloodleaf on a book recommendation list for the new books of January 2019, and I ordered it. It’s been sitting on my book stack for a while, and I recently had to start over entirely. But I chose not to take Bloodleaf back, as I had already started it and was invested. With Bloodleaf, debut author Crystal Smith pens a dark, surprising fantasy that evokes Grimm’s Fairy tales and classics, like The Lord of the Rings. It wasn’t perfect, there were some flaws, but overall, this was an amazing book, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next for Aurelia, Conrad, and Zan!

               Aurelia is the princess of Renalt, the daughter of the late king. Unwanted, surrounded by spirits, and forbidden from using her powerful blood magic, she is forced to flee to the country of her betrothed after a brutal assassination attempt. Disguising herself as a common girl, she finds the happiness she’s never known in her old life. As she begins to actively hone her magical skills, Aurelia finds herself falling for a man that can’t rule at her side. But the ghosts that haunt her so completely refuse to leave her be, and she finds herself giving in, despite the prejudices she’s carried all her life. But she soon finds herself trapped in a web of deceit, evil, and magic that only she can stop. Will she be able to balance the weight of the crown and her newfound freedom?

               This book was such a pleasant surprise! I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect with Bloodleaf, but I really enjoyed it! I loved the way that it took the classic fantasy tropes and turned them on their heads. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved Aurelia’s voice. I also loved the way that the author paid homage to classic fairy tales, specifically Grimm’s fairy tales and The Goose Girl. I also really liked the worldbuilding and the magical system of the book. But what really won me over about this debut was the characters. Aurelia was the princess no one wanted, who was forced to grow from a meek, passive girl into a strong and powerful young woman who shamelessly fights for those she loves. Lisette, Conrad, Kate, Nathaniel, and Zan made really good foils for her. Zan, though, was my absolute favorite! I almost related to him more than even Aurelia. The ending—oh, my goodness, it was crazy! I was absolutely blown away. I can’t wait for the sequel! There were a lot of times when I had to go back and reread because there were so many different characters and places to remember, and some of the romance between Zan and Aurelia felt a little contrived. Nonetheless, Crystal Smith has created a fun, dark fantasy that left me reeling, and I’m so excited for what’s coming next! The bottom line: Dark, magical, and surprising, I loved Bloodleaf, and I’m so excited for the sequel! Next on deck: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/bloodleaf-by-crystal-smith-review.html

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith Review

Title: Bloodleaf

Author: Crystal Smith

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Bloodleaf, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               I found Bloodleaf on a book recommendation list for the new books of January 2019, and I ordered it. It’s been sitting on my book stack for a while, and I recently had to start over entirely. But I chose not to take Bloodleaf back, as I had already started it and was invested. With Bloodleaf, debut author Crystal Smith pens a dark, surprising fantasy that evokes Grimm’s Fairy tales and classics, like The Lord of the Rings. It wasn’t perfect, there were some flaws, but overall, this was an amazing book, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next for Aurelia, Conrad, and Zan!

               Aurelia is the princess of Renalt, the daughter of the late king. Unwanted, surrounded by spirits, and forbidden from using her powerful blood magic, she is forced to flee to the country of her betrothed after a brutal assassination attempt. Disguising herself as a common girl, she finds the happiness she’s never known in her old life. As she begins to actively hone her magical skills, Aurelia finds herself falling for a man that can’t rule at her side. But the ghosts that haunt her so completely refuse to leave her be, and she finds herself giving in, despite the prejudices she’s carried all her life. But she soon finds herself trapped in a web of deceit, evil, and magic that only she can stop. Will she be able to balance the weight of the crown and her newfound freedom?

               This book was such a pleasant surprise! I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect with Bloodleaf, but I really enjoyed it! I loved the way that it took the classic fantasy tropes and turned them on their heads. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved Aurelia’s voice. I also loved the way that the author paid homage to classic fairy tales, specifically Grimm’s fairy tales and The Goose Girl. I also really liked the worldbuilding and the magical system of the book. But what really won me over about this debut was the characters. Aurelia was the princess no one wanted, who was forced to grow from a meek, passive girl into a strong and powerful young woman who shamelessly fights for those she loves. Lisette, Conrad, Kate, Nathaniel, and Zan made really good foils for her. Zan, though, was my absolute favorite! I almost related to him more than even Aurelia. The ending—oh, my goodness, it was crazy! I was absolutely blown away. I can’t wait for the sequel! There were a lot of times when I had to go back and reread because there were so many different characters and places to remember, and some of the romance between Zan and Aurelia felt a little contrived. Nonetheless, Crystal Smith has created a fun, dark fantasy that left me reeling, and I’m so excited for what’s coming next! The bottom line: Dark, magical, and surprising, I loved Bloodleaf, and I’m so excited for the sequel! Next on deck: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/bloodleaf-by-crystal-smith-review.html

Lovely War by Julie Berry Review

Title: Lovely War

Author: Julie Berry

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               A few years ago, I tried reading one of Julie Berry’s most popular novels, The Passion of Dolssa. For personal reasons, I had to shelve it. However, when I heard that she was writing a brand-new book, this time revolving around World Wars I and II and the Greek gods, I was so intrigued! I reserved it at my local library and was lucky enough to receive the first copy. Brutal, beautiful, and totally unforgettable, I was completely blown away by this epic worthy of Homer himself! This book is definitely one of my favorites of 2019, if not of all time!

Braiding together two bittersweet love stories at the dawn of World Wars I and II, Lovely War is narrated by four of the Greek gods: the lovely Aphrodite, brutal Ares, musical Apollo, and the stoic Hades. After being caught with Ares yet again, her disgruntled husband, Hephaestus, demands that she be put on trial before the entire pantheon of Greek gods. Aphrodite, however, persuades him to listen to her privately. Showcasing her best work, she tells her husband about two love stories that she had a hand in creating, with the help of a few witnesses. What unfolds is two stories, told across time, as the Goddess of Love sets out to show her family her trade.

I absolutely adored this book! Honestly, it felt as if it were written just for me. I wasn’t even in twenty pages and I was hooked. The pacing was breakneck, and I couldn’t put it down. I loved the premise of the novel—Greek gods having a family dispute! —and the different viewpoints from Aphrodite, Ares, Apollo, and Hades gave a great perspective on the events of the novel. Even more than the gods, though, I loved the humans that they watched over: James and Hazel, and Aubrey and Colette. I also adored the way that Berry adhered to historical accuracy; the notes at the back of the book and the acknowledgments fleshed out and answered any lingering questions I had about the historical details. I loved all of the characters and the gods that cupped their lives in their hands. The writing was beautiful, gorgeous, and raw. The horrors of both brutal world wars were a stark, sobering contrast to the glow of new love, against all odds. I was spellbound and horrified all at once. Meticulously researched, beautifully told, and wonderfully unique, I loved Lovely War, and it’s become one of my favorite books of the year, if not of all time! It was utterly wonderful, heartbreaking, and rewarding. The ending, for all involved, made all of the emotional investment worth it! Julie Berry has penned a modern classic in Lovely War! The bottom line: Rich, lush, beautiful and brutal, I loved every moment of Lovely War! One of my favorite books of 2019, if not of all time! Next on deck: Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/lovely-war-by-julie-berry-review.html

Lovely War by Julie Berry Review

Title: Lovely War

Author: Julie Berry

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               A few years ago, I tried reading one of Julie Berry’s most popular novels, The Passion of Dolssa. For personal reasons, I had to shelve it. However, when I heard that she was writing a brand-new book, this time revolving around World Wars I and II and the Greek gods, I was so intrigued! I reserved it at my local library and was lucky enough to receive the first copy. Brutal, beautiful, and totally unforgettable, I was completely blown away by this epic worthy of Homer himself! This book is definitely one of my favorites of 2019, if not of all time!

Braiding together two bittersweet love stories at the dawn of World Wars I and II, Lovely War is narrated by four of the Greek gods: the lovely Aphrodite, brutal Ares, musical Apollo, and the stoic Hades. After being caught with Ares yet again, her disgruntled husband, Hephaestus, demands that she be put on trial before the entire pantheon of Greek gods. Aphrodite, however, persuades him to listen to her privately. Showcasing her best work, she tells her husband about two love stories that she had a hand in creating, with the help of a few witnesses. What unfolds is two stories, told across time, as the Goddess of Love sets out to show her family her trade.

I absolutely adored this book! Honestly, it felt as if it were written just for me. I wasn’t even in twenty pages and I was hooked. The pacing was breakneck, and I couldn’t put it down. I loved the premise of the novel—Greek gods having a family dispute! —and the different viewpoints from Aphrodite, Ares, Apollo, and Hades gave a great perspective on the events of the novel. Even more than the gods, though, I loved the humans that they watched over: James and Hazel, and Aubrey and Colette. I also adored the way that Berry adhered to historical accuracy; the notes at the back of the book and the acknowledgments fleshed out and answered any lingering questions I had about the historical details. I loved all of the characters and the gods that cupped their lives in their hands. The writing was beautiful, gorgeous, and raw. The horrors of both brutal world wars were a stark, sobering contrast to the glow of new love, against all odds. I was spellbound and horrified all at once. Meticulously researched, beautifully told, and wonderfully unique, I loved Lovely War, and it’s become one of my favorite books of the year, if not of all time! It was utterly wonderful, heartbreaking, and rewarding. The ending, for all involved, made all of the emotional investment worth it! Julie Berry has penned a modern classic in Lovely War! The bottom line: Rich, lush, beautiful and brutal, I loved every moment of Lovely War! One of my favorite books of 2019, if not of all time! Next on deck: Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/lovely-war-by-julie-berry-review.html

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus Revi…

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret

Author: Karen M. McManus

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Before now, I haven’t read any of Karen M. McManus’s work. I’ve had an audiobook of her debut novel, One of Us is Lying, in my arsenal for a while now. When I saw her sophomore novel sitting on a shelf at my local library, the creepy cover and strange title caught my eye. It reminded me of that Pierces song that plays on the Pretty Little Liars credits! Creepy, dark, and shocking, I really enjoyed Two Can Keep a Secret, but there was also a lot of different threads that were confusing to me. Luckily, the ending was what saved the book for me; it was like a brutal punch to the gut! I can’t wait to listen to One of Us is Lying, and I can’t wait to see what this amazing author has in store next! This book was a bit overambitious, but it was an awesome read anyway! One of my favorite books of 2019 for sure!

               Echo Ridge is the essence of small-town America. But not everything is as picture-perfect in Echo Ridge as it seems. Twins Ellery and Ezra have to move to their mother’s hometown after an unfortunate accident that forces her to go to rehab. Living with a grandmother they’ve never known, Ellery, a true crime buff, knows that something is going on just under the surfaces of this town’s shiny veneer. When she meets Malcolm, the little brother of the man accused of murdering a missing girl, things grow even more complicated. But another woman disappears, and Ellery and Ezra are determined to unearth the town’s dangerous secrets. Even if it means risking their own lives…

               I really liked this book. For a mystery, though, it was a little too ambitious for me. There were three separate storylines happening throughout the novel, and it was really hard to keep track of all of the different characters and all of the events straight. There were times that I had to go back and make sure of what I was reading. Nonetheless, it was really enjoyable. Echo Ridge felt creepy and claustrophobic, and I constantly found myself wondering who the bad guy was. The pacing was good; I liked the way the viewpoint went back and forth between Ellery and Malcolm. Both of their voices were very distinct, but I think Ellery was my favorite, being a true crime buff myself. I liked all of the side characters, though they could’ve been fleshed out a little bit more for me. I also liked Ellery and Ezra’s family, particularly their mother and grandmother, and I loved how the history of Echo Ridge tied into their own personal pasts. The ending, though, was what really saved the book for me; it chilled my blood and I’m still thinking about it, nearly a week later. What a creepy, dark little book! The bottom line: Though it was a little overambitious for me, I really liked Two Can Keep a Secret, especially the ending, and I can’t wait for what Karen M. McManus has up her sleeve next! Next on deck: Lovely War by Julie Berry!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/two-can-keep-secret-by-karen-m-mcmanus.html