Two Can Keep a Secret Review

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

This is the third of Karen McManus’ books I’ve read so far, and definitely my favourite. It had darker undertones and a tenser atmosphere than the other books, which I loved. It follows twins called Ellery and Ezra as they move to Echo Ridge, where two homecoming disappeared in the past and one was found dead, including the twins’ aunt. When they arrive strange things start happening, graffiti threatening to take another homecoming queen and anonymous threats. Ellery is true crime obsessed after her mom’s twin sister disappeared and her mom refuses to talk about it, while Ezra is more friendly and trusting.
There are two viewpoints followed, Ellery and the younger brother of a main suspect in one of the previous disappearances. Because of the small-town nature of echo ridge, the community is very interconnected and Ellery quickly begins trying to unravel the web of secrets that surrounds it. The plot twists start early and keep on coming, shocking me every single time. I probably should have seen some coming but I was so absorbed in the story that I didn’t put the book down long enough to come up with theories!
The book is brilliantly plotted with an array of individual characters, and a great climax followed by an incredibly satisfying ending. Even if you didn’t enjoy the other books so much, I definitely recommend trying this one, because it does have a slightly different feel. My one gripe is that there was a character called Chad. Why is there always a character called Chad in YA books?
Would I survive this book? Yep, I’m not cool enough to be a homecoming queen.

To Be Perfectly Honest Review

To Be Perfectly Honest by Jess Vallance

I went into To Be Perfectly honest looking for a light, fun YA contemporary read and that is exactly what I got. I should start with a disclaimer that I have not read the first book. However, the story is not adversely affected by this at all and you can enjoy the novel whether you’ve read the first one or not. Seriously, I didn’t even notice there was one before this until I went onto goodreads to log it.

The story follows Gracie, who is in sixth form college and after discovering her family has been lying to her decides to not lie at all for 50 days. Her definition of honesty is questionable, as in she blurts out everything she thinks, but I didn’t find this cringy, only quite funny and exasperating at times. Gracie has a girlfriend, and I loved the fact it was treated like any other teenage relationship rather than some mysterious gay relationship which weirdly goes perfectly. There were no moments that were so unrealistic I couldn’t see a teenager doing which I was thankful for. Yes, some of it was unlikely but then again I randomly buy tickets for talks in London and I have friends who have done all sorts of wild stuff so teenagers can be unlikely sometimes.

This book is very funny and relatable, although sometimes Gracie came off a bit childish especially when she was just rude in the name of honesty. It made me want to try this project but do it properly and tell the truth without needlessly hurting other people. Then again, when I have to explain that I don’t want to go out because I want to read instead it might not go down so well!

February 2020 Round-Up

So here we are again. The end of a month, where I round up my favourite books of the month/ scream into the void hoping it will choose the books for me. Since it is a leap year so February has an extra day, and also because I can do whatever I like on my blog, I am going to give my favourite book from this month, followed by a few more which were awesome

THE WINNER – QUEEN OF NOTHING BY HOLLY BLACK

Let me have everything I ever wanted, everything I ever dreamed, and eternal misery along with it. Let me live on with an ice shard through my heart.

Holly Black, Queen of Nothing

What I liked about it: everything. Jude. Cardan. Faeries. Humour and beauty. Plot twists galore. AN epic conclusion to this trilogy.

What I didn’t like about it: it’s the end of the series 😥

My favourite character: Jude all the wayyyyyyyy. She’s so badass and powerful and unashamed of wanting power.

Position in series: 3/3

Genres: young adult, fantasy, romance

THE OTHERS THAT I LOVED

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

What I liked about it: murder. It is set near where I live. Andie just straight up ignoring everyone who tells her what to do. The tension. The mixture of formats including transcripts and case notes.

What I didn’t like about it: I did not know there’s meant to be a sequel released this year. Also, the sequel hasn’t been released yet, which is very upsetting.

My favourite character: Andie. She just does what she wants but in a nice way.

Position in series: 1/3?

Genres: crime, young adult, contemporary, mystery, thriller

The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

What I liked about it: the emotions. The contrast of past and present. More emotions. The slow unravelling of the story.

What I didn’t like about it: I have mentioned three authors on this page so far and they’re all called Holly. This is beyond confusing.

My favourite character: Amelie, my poor sweetheart.

Position in series: 1/1

Genres: contemporary, young adult, romance-ish

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue and Other Lies

What I liked about it: honest, diverse, emotional, easy to read because it’s made up of lots of short pieces.

What I didn’t like about it: Sometimes I got a bit confused because occasionally a sentence would be in massive letters to emphasise it. But that’s probably just me.

Genres: nonfiction, mental health

Pride, collected by Juno Dawson

What I liked about it: A range of genres, easy to read and lots of adorable LGBTQ+ relationships

What I didn’t like about it:  It wasn’t long enough

My favourite character: Can’t remember her name but the girl with the phoenix

Position in series: N/A

Genres: LGBTQ+, short stories, anthology, poetry

And so that concludes my February roundup! February has seemed a very, very long time, and I don’t think it’s just because of the extra day. With three family birthdays, a hospital appointment, college, half term, two new piercings, a couple of cinema trips, a museum trip, a talk from Mary Beard and 17 books read, I’m definitely ready for some rest and relaxation in March. Preferably with more reading time. I hope you’ve all had a good February, and I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.

Noteworthy Review

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy is a contemporary YA novel following the antics of Jordan Sun, a girl with an alto 2 voice at a performing art boarding school. For those who the words alto 2 mean nothing, it basically means that she has a low singing voice for a girl. She is there on a scholarship, and at home she is not wealthy. After not being picked for the musical three years in a row, she sees a chance in a prestigious acapella group at her college. The only problem is it’s an all-boys group, so she does the obvious thing and dresses up as a boy. Simultaneously, we find out more about Jordan’s relationship which ended not long ago, and her family life. But it was not solely Jordan’s story, for the sharpshooters (the acapella group) and their relationships and group dynamic played a starring role with a range of different characters.

The tone of the novel is humorous while considering some really interesting topics like what it is like to be a boy and how different it is, with Jordan seeing things from a different perspective. Inevitably, she almost gives herself away several times calling out the guys for saying things about girls. While it is funny, the story is also sad as Jordan finally makes some good friends while we know that she is lying to them, and it can’t continue forever. The longer the pretence continued the more heartbroken I got because Jordan was building real relationships with the guys in the group, but all the while they couldn’t be completely real as she was lying to them.

What I really appreciated about this novel is that Riley Redgate considers the implications of what Jordan is doing when pretending to be a boy, Jordan’s discomfort at realising that the tips she is using to look like a boy are actually meant for transgender boys and pretending to be a gay boy when something happens.

I was pleased with the ending, and I will probably check out some of Riley Redgate’s other books. I would definitely survive this book, a performing arts boarding school sounds quite fun.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public Review

The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

I have loved every single one of Holly Bourne’s books I have read, so on picking this one up I knew it would leave me an emotional wreck.

The story follows Amelie, a musically talented year 12 who moves from the north to south of England with her mum and her dad because her dad has a new job. The story is told from two time periods- present, after Amelie has broken up with Reese and the past, starting on Amelie’s first day at her new college. Amelie has left behind her friends and everything she knows and quickly makes new friends including a musical ‘bad boy’ Reese. In the past we see Amelie’s relationship change, while in the present we have Amelie’s reflections on everything that has happened to her as she goes to all the places she has cried because of Reese.

Amelie is a first-person narrator, seemingly a normal, relatable girl starting a new college, something many teenagers go through. She wears granny cardigans and vintage dresses and gets terrible stage fright and misses her friends back home terribly. The authentic, lovable persona of Amelie enhances the changes that happen throughout the story, how Amelie goes from a happy, hopeful girl with plans from the future to skipping lessons, sitting alone in the cafeteria and barely leaving her house.

The contrast between past and present is poignant, as Amelie slowly realise the mistakes she made and the red flags she missed while contemplating if there was anything she could have done to change the outcome. Watching Amelie come to terms with what is, quite obviously to the reader, an emotionally abusive relationship is heart-breaking, desperately begging Amelie to get rid of him while Reese manipulates Amelie repeatedly. Simultaneously, the reader can see why Amelie continues to go back to Reese however horrible he is to her, the subtle digs and preying on her vulnerability that allowed him to isolate her.

This book beautifully illustrates what a healthy relationship looks like, and what definitely isn’t a healthy relationship, as well as showing the nuances that mean it can be hard to get out of one. It is full of painfully real quotes about being in an abusive relationship, and I would definitely suggest checking some out (you can find them on the goodreads page). I didn’t connect with Amelie as much as I did with characters in some of Holly’s other books, but then again I have never been in any kind of relationship so that’s pretty understandable. This book does contain some sensitive topics, based around an abusive relationship, so just be careful if you are not okay with reading about that kind of thing.

If you haven’t read any of Holly’s other books I highly recommend them, they perfectly create what it is to be a teenager and various other issues.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Review

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

I was super excited to read this book, and within a few pages I was ready to cancel the rest of activities in my day to finish it!

I’m going to have to start with the setting. I hadn’t known this beforehand, but Holly Jackson is a British writer and the book is set in one of the counties near me, so I knew a lot of the places and I don’t know why but that always excites me! There were several British aspects to it, including Pippa, the main character doing an EPQ in sixth form. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s an Extended Project Qualification (a project done on a chosen subject that helps with university applications.

Pippa does her EPQ on a murder that happened a few years ago in her town, since she doesn’t believe the boy who was blamed for Andie’s murder truly killed her. As she digs deeper into it, she teams up with the alleged murderer’s younger brother and uncovers layer upon layer of coverups and secrets.

The book is written in prose, as well as having transcripts and written logs from Pippa’s EPQ. I think this was an excellent choice because it allows insights into the conversations Pippa has with suspects and witnesses first-hand, as well as knowing Pippa’s private thought processes through her written logs. The tension is slowly ramped up, until I was really quite anxious! The plot is incredibly intricate and tangled, with each thrilling clue painting a different picture of what really happened with Andie’s murder. I was absolutely addicted to the ominous and dark atmosphere.

I really liked all the characters, especially Pippa who absolutely refuses to put up with prejudices, as well as refusing to stop her EPQ or agree with anyone. I especially liked that she is a high-achieving student and the whole murder mystery began with a school project and she isn’t shown as a boring, no fun nerd. All the characters were complicated, as is necessary with a mystery, and one of my favourite bits is that in the beginning Pippa’s friends are more surprised that she’s already started her EPQ than the subject of the murder, which is very relatable. My one grumble is that when one of Pippa’s friends goes through a breakup and simply sends a text saying SOS, they all rush over to her house with chocolate and face masks and things. That’s just not very realistic, at least in my experience?

In conclusion this is an incredible, tense murder investigation by a schoolgirl who isn’t supposed to be doing it, and I loved it. SO many twists. It was even better than I expected, and it had been pretty hyped up to me!