Review: Karen M. McManus’ Two Can Keep a Secret

TwoCanKeepaSecret.jpgThrillers and mysteries are my jam. There is something about a whodunit that I literately cannot resist. So I was really excited to read Karen McManusTwo Can Keep a Secret. I unfortunately had the ending to her debut novel (One of Us is Lying) spoiled accidentally (thanks a lot internet. kidding), so this was my first read by her. Going into it, I only knew the book had murder and homecoming queens. I had heard it compared to Pretty Little Liars, so I was immediately intrigued. (Ugh that show and book series used to be my guilty pleasure.)

Two Can Keep a Secret essentially kicks off with Ellery and Ezra, teenage twins, who moved back to their mother’s home town, Echo Ridge, to live with their grandmother. Echo Ridge is famous for the murder of Lacey, the town’s Homecoming Queen. Lacey was murdered in the town’s fair ground, known as Murderland. Years before that, when the twin’s mother was in school, the mom’s twin sister disappeared…without a trace. Now the Murderland killer is back. With threats happening all over town, it seems everyone is keeping secrets.

spoiler free review: So, I flew through this book. I loved the autumn atmosphere and the Halloween-themed park (and murder site). It gave off an eerie vibe, which was great for a thriller novel.

I also enjoyed the dual POV. Ellery was always fun to read through, and as a fellow true-crime junkie, I related to her character. I enjoyed her naturally suspicious personality. I feel like I would be the same way if I suddenly found myself in a town where a murderer was sending out threats. Malcolm was also great to read through. Just imagining myself stuck in his situation, I can’t imagine how I’d handle it.

Overall, this was a really fun thriller read. I did not figure out the ending (although there were some things I did guess… I’ll explain more in the spoiler’s section below). There were some strings that I would have liked tied up in the end (see spoiler section). However, the last line of this book literately gave me chills.

Ultimately, I would give it a 3.5/5 stars. I liked it, and I would recommend it.

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get more info: Visit Karen McManus’ website; connect with the author on Twitter; connect with the author on Instagram; find Two Can Keep a Secret on Amazon; find One of Us is Lying on Amazon

This is Karen McManus’ second novel. It is a young adult mystery/thriller, and it was published in January 2019. McManus currently plans to release a third book (a sequel to One of Us is Lying) in January 2020 in addition to a standalone YA mystery as her fourth.

spoiler’s ahead: So I knew there was going to be some type of twin switch when I read the scene with the porcelain doll with the crack down her face. For some reason, in my head this made me think of two halves of a whole and then I suspected that the twins had switched in some capacity. (Then, I remember the bit in the beginning about twin switching, so I became sure of it). I will admit though that I didn’t fully figure it out – I was thinking more along the lines of Sadie had actually died and Lacey was alive (posing as Sadie) although the why/when I wasn’t sure. Clearly, I was somewhat off base, but I was still a little disappointed that I had figured out even that much. My favorite mysteries are when I have all the clues, but absolutely no idea how to put them together.

My only real issue with this book was the situation involving Sarah. I felt like I did not get enough closure on this issue! How did he get the twins mixed up? Did he kill Sarah because he thought Sadie was going to go public with their affair? I need answers!! Although, I guess if the book did answer all these then the last line would lose its punch (and it really was such a great sentence to end on.)

Overall, I recommend this one! I can’t wait to read what McManus comes out with next!

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Mashup: Contemporary Romance Authors

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Hi y’all. Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! In celebration of the holiday, I wanted to share with y’all my top ten contemporary romance authors. Contemporary romance has always been one of my favorite genres. Even though most romance books aren’t necessarily life changing or perhaps the most profound literature…they make me happy. There is just something heart warming about reading someone’s love story. So – enough rambling – here are some of my favorite contemporary romance authors (in no particular order).

Elle Kennedy
I have to start out by recommending any book by Elle Kennedy. Kennedy was the first author that really got me to love the contemporary romance genre. I started out with the Off-Campus series and absolutely fell in love. There are four books in this series – but if I had to choose my favorite (and I really love them all, so this is hard) … I would tell you to check out The Deal (book 1) or The Score (book 3). Kennedy does a great job of creating a dynamic cast of characters that you can keep up with throughout the series. Kennedy also creates some funny and strong-willed female leads, which I love. Plus, the series is about hockey. I mean… need I say more?

Also: recommend trying out her Briar U series (spin-off from the Off-Campus series). Kennedy also has a series Him which she authors with Sarina Bowen. This series is very sexy, but also very heart-warming. It follows the love story of Jamie and Ryan (and again, includes hockey!)

Mariana Zapata
Mariana Zapata continues to give me life with her romance novels. Before you go into one of her books, though, you have to know – her books are sloooow burn. If you’re not into the slow build up between the leads, her books are not for you. However, I will say I have loved the books of hers that I’ve read. She just finds a way to make me fall in love with the leads based on their friendly interactions and the love between them – not necessarily for the sexy scenes. I have to recommend that you try The Wall of Winnipeg and Me (my favorite!) Find more of her books here.

Sally Thorne
Sally Thorne has written one of my favorite books, The Hating Game. This is a romance novel that was so funny and just truly warmed my heart. This is also a enemies-to-lovers romance, which always entertains me. Plus, I love how quirky and happy the main character was. 99 Percent Mine is her new release, and I have a full review on that here. Please don’t miss out on this author! Both books are so witty and she clearly has a talent for writing.

Linda Kage
Ok I have to recommend Linda Kage to y’all. I started the Forbidden Men series and fell in love. First, there is just something I love about a good trope. In this case, it’s obvious, forbidden love! I think I find this trope so entertaining because this trope tends to align closely with slow-burn. I love when the anticipation builds between the two leads. In this series, I have to recommend Price of A Kiss (although trigger warning: includes prostitution), Be My Hero, A Perfect Ten, and Priceless.This series includes ten novels, so it can keep you entertained for quite some time! However, for full disclosure, I could never get into Worth It or The Girl’s Got Secrets. But please – let me know your thoughts!

Sawyer Bennett
I’m starting to think my love of hockey really shines through my romance choices. Regardless, I can’t help but recommend Sawyer Bennett to y’all. I have read quite a few books from her Carolina Cold Fury Series, and I really loved each one I read. She has a mix of tropes in there, but she truly just writes very complex characters with dynamic backgrounds. She writes real people with real issues/baggage – and some of these “issues” aren’t just resolved in one book. She has a spin-off series Arizona Vengeance Series, which I also have loved. Although, if I have to recommend my favorites: try Alex, Garrett, and Bishop.

Kristen Callihan
When I first found Kristen Callihan, I was obsessed. The idea of contemporary romance surrounding famous band members? Um, count me in. The VIP series is one of my favorites! The characters have complex back stories and it’s so fun to see them all interact together. Plus, the setting (a band on tour) makes for such an entertaining read. Out of the three books that are currently out in this series, if I had to choose, I would say that Managed is my favorite – but only barely. I really love them all.

Sarina Bowen
Ok so I guess hockey is a theme for me? Should I be embarrassed or embrace it? Regardless, Sarina Bowen is one of my favorites. I know I’ve already mentioned Bowen’s book Him that she co-authored with Elle Kennedy, but she has another series I love: Brooklyn Bruisers. I love Rookie Move and Brooklynaire. Also, Overnight Sensation. Basically – read the series, I love the whole thing! I fall in love with all the heroes. Plus, I love when a series has a cast of characters that you get to follow throughout each book (although one book is clearly their focus.) Please check this author out if you haven’t already.

Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Listen, we have to talk about Hate Notes. Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward kind of broke my heart with this one. It’s a stand alone, which is a change up from the series recommendations above. I honestly don’t want to give much away, because I went into this unspoiled and it was so worth it. This book was really so much more than your typical surface level romance. This one just hit me right in the heart. Ugh, I can’t recommend it enough. Please check this one out!

R.S. Grey
R.S. Grey has written quite a few of my favorite romance novels. She writes dialogue that makes me laugh out loud and characters that really pull at my heartstrings. One of my favorites from R.S. Grey is The Foxe and The Hound. I’m gearing up to read one of her newer releases soon, so hopefully a review on that one will be up shortly!

Hooray if you’re still here after reading all that! I can’t wait to hear some of your recommendations for contemporary romance authors (seriously! please! I need more!). Let me know if you’ve read or loved any of the ones I’ve recommended above. I hope to eventually have more in depth reviews of some of these books on the blog, because I really do love them that much.

Happy Valentine’s Day y’all.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Fredrik Backman’s Beartown

FullSizeROne of my goals this year is to re-read some of my favorite books. Sometimes I find myself so wrapped up in new releases that I don’t make time for the favorites I’ve already read. So in January, I knew I wanted to re-read Beartown.

I received Beartown as a Christmas gift from my boyfriend, who had read (and loved) another Fredrik Backman novel, A Man Called Ove. I went in to this novel with zero expectations and I was shocked.

This is one of the handful of books that I can say has had a profound impact on my life. At random times I will find myself still thinking about the characters and there are passages of the prose that are still suck in my head.

This book was beautiful. It was hard. It broke my heart. It was dark. It was impactful. Beartown is worth it.

Before I get further into the review, I need to include a trigger warning. Like, a really huge trigger warning. Beartown involves the rape and sexual assault of a young female character. Yet, the previous sentence seriously understates the content of the novel. Beartown goes beyond the details of the violence itself and explores the impact of such an event on the victim, the families, the abuser, and the community itself. Beartown talks rape culture, homophobia, misogyny, and victim blaming. It allows the reader to see how this abuse can occur in a community – and what has allowed it to persist. You can view a more thorough synopsis here on Goodreads.

spoiler free review: I loved Beartown. Fredrik Backman has some of the most beautiful prose I’ve been blessed enough to encounter. (Seriously, though.) Backman writes in such a way that packs a punch. The prose is written in a delicate, but an impactful way. I felt like I could find a meaningful quote on almost every page. (I’ve included a few of my favorites below in the spoiler section.)

Overall, I truly can’t recommend this book enough. It get a full 5/5 from me.

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get more info: visit Fredrik Backman’s website; connect with the author on Twitter; connect with the author on Instagram; find Beartown on Amazon; find Us Against You on Amazon

Beartown is the first novel in Fredrik Backman’s Björnstad book series. It is a work of fiction and it was published in September 2016. It is followed by Us Against You, which was published in August 2017.

note: I wanted to include some resources here for anyone who may be dealing with a similar situation to the sensitive content seen in Beartown. Whether you want resources, support, or if you are looking for ways to support others – please consider some of the links below.

RAINN is a great resource for those in the United States. RAINN provides national resources for survivors and their loved ones. Their hotline number is 800-656-HOPE. RAINN also has international resources here for those who reside outside of the United States.

I reside in the United States, so I’m not as knowledgeable in resources for international folks. However, as I research further, I will add any resources here that may be of help to y’all.

You are never alone.

Continue reading “Review: Fredrik Backman’s Beartown”

Review: Sally Thorne’s 99 Percent Mine

screenshot2019-01-31at9.40.10pmI read Sally Thorne’s new release, 99 Percent Mine, in a day. One thing that you’ll get to learn about me is that I love a good contemporary romance. So, I originally fell in love with Sally Thorne when I read her debut novel, The Hating Game. I loved it (and also finished it in day.) So, when I heard about 99 Percent Mine I freaked out and per-ordered it that day. Then I patiently waited. (Well, ok, maybe not patiently. Let’s just say I waited.)

Going into 99 Percent Mine I had high expectations because I loved The Hating Game so much. But once I read the excerpt for 99 Percent Mine, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Darcy Barrett, the main character, is in love with her twin brother’s best friend since childhood, Tom. Both Darcy and her twin, Jamie, inherit a cottage from their grandmother, which needs flipped before they can sell it. Enter Tom, house-flipper, who’s recently single. Darcy decides to stick around to oversee the renovations and well, maybe also because after all these years, she’s still in love with Tom.

First, I love house flipping. Flip or Flop, anyone? Second, I love a good “forbidden” romance. Add in Sally Thorne’s slow burn style romance and I couldn’t run to the mailbox fast enough to get my hands on it.

spoiler free review: I really enjoyed 99 Percent Mine. I’ll start out with what I loved. Sally Thorne has this amazing and unique writing style that makes it easy to fly through the book. More than her writing style though, she writes the most amazing, strong female main characters. 99 Percent Mine is told through Darcy Barrett’s point of view and man, she does not disappoint. She’s funny, headstrong, and free-spirited.

The romance is slow-burn, which is always my favorite. The tension slow-burn creates always has me speed-reading. I literately cannot handle the build up between the two main characters! Sally Thorne certainly delivered slow-burn. I always appreciate the happy ending more when I feel like I/the main characters really worked for it, as silly as that may sound.

99 Percent Mine certainly had it’s romantic moments, but it was also so funny. Darcy had amazing comebacks and one liners. I wanted to be her real life friend and invite her out to drinks. She was just so cool.

Plus, Darcy’s interactions with her love interest/childhood friend, Tom, were very sweet and, well, very steamy. I found it was a great mix for a romantic comedy.

Now onto some things I didn’t love. I found the first part of the book a little slow (I guess up until the third chapter). I’m not sure if it’s because I was comparing it to The Hating Game, which grabbed me right from the beginning, but I felt like it took awhile the our main leads to interact and for me to get invested in their relationship. Plus, I felt like most of the scenes could have been cut a little bit. I found myself thinking that sometimes the scenes dragged a little, and the entire book could have been sharper/packed more of a punch if it had been edited down. But like I said, once I got into it, the rest of the story flew by.

There were also some plot points that I took issue with. There just seemed to be a few loose threads hanging that I really wish had gotten answered. Some of the character’s actions, I felt like I didn’t really understand, and we never really got these motivations resolved. (See more in depth in the spoiler section at the bottom!)

Overall, I did enjoy 99 Percent Mine. It was a funny, cute, romantic contemporary and I really had fun with it. I will say, I did not enjoy it as much as The Hating Game, and would definitely recommend The Hating Game over 99 Percent Mine. (In that regard, 99 Percent Mine does include an epilogue to The Hating Game, which is definitely worth it to check in with those characters again and get a glimpse into life after the HEA.) However, 99 Percent Mine did have some plot issues that made me feel a bit less connected and invested to these main characters. Ultimately I would give it a 3.5/5 stars. I liked it and I would recommend it.

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get more info: visit Sally Thorne’s website; connect with the author on Twitter; connect with the author on Instagram; find 99 Percent Mine on Amazon; find The Hating Game on Amazon

99 Percent Mine is Sally Thorne’s second novel. It is a contemporary romance, and it was published in January 2019.

spoilers ahead: Ok, let’s talk. There are still some lingering questions that I have. To start, what is up with Tom’s engagement? He was in love with Darcy for years yet just casually was engaged/in a relationship for YEARS? He seems so dismissive of his previous relationship and just casually writes it off, but it feels so bizarre that this isn’t addressed more in depth.

Also, Darcy’s drinking (problem?) It appears throughout the book that Darcy has been heavily drinking, since she found out about Tom’s engagement. So, like, a long while. Then when the main characters get together, it’s completely forgotten about. I feel like for her drinking to be mentioned/seen so many times, and then just so easily resolved seemed a bit unrealistic.

One thing that really bothered me was the characterization of Jamie. He was a total ass throughout the book. I know, I know – siblings fight. But his comments felt unnecessarily cruel, and it made it difficult to want him to be a part of the HEA at the end.

Perhaps my biggest problem, though, was Tom just bailing at the end. I understand he was frustrated.  Trust me, I think I would have been equally mad especially at the two sibling’s behavior. But he just completely deserts his business and just gives up. For a character that has constantly been referred to as stable and dependable, it felt very out of character. Or perhaps his behavior just wasn’t explained thoroughly enough for me to get it as a reader.

With that being said, I really did enjoy the book. It was funny and sweet. There was definitely steamy build up between the main characters, and even though it had its slow moments, overall it was a quick page turner. Even though this book just released, I’m already excited to see what Sally Thorne does next! Comment and let me know what you thought of 99 Percent Mine.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.