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Read + Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus

 

[Cover]

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Twin siblings Ellery and Ezra Corcoran find themselves moving from sunny California to the small town of Echo Ridge, Vermont to stay with their grandmother after their mother goes to rehab. Although they’ve never stepped foot into their mother’s birthplace, they know all about it. Echo Ridge has been the site of their aunt’s disappearance years before, and it made national headlines when the homecoming queen was found dead in a Halloween theme park fittingly called ‘Murderland’ five years ago. Ellery, being a true crime buff, is determined to find out the truth.

Before school even begins for the Corcorans, someone threatens to make a sequel to the Murderland incident. Everyone dismisses it as an empty threat until a girl goes missing…

If any book can keep me up all night just thinking about it, this is definitely the one. Before reading this book, I never read McManus’ debut novel, One Of Us is Lying, so I went into this book with a blind first impression. Two Can Keep a Secret clearly gave me a modern Nancy Drew vibe, given that Ellery has the same kind of personality and level of determination to crack the curious cases. I give the book four stars mostly due to the slow progression of the plot at the beginning, which is usually clearly evident to me when I want to get through dull moments quickly. The ending completely came out of left field, especially some moments I unfortunately can’t elaborate on in fear of spoiling the book too much. I kid you not, I finished the book with my mouth actually open in shock. When I started the book, I had a lingering fear that Two Can Keep a Secret, like almost all YA books I’ve read before, would leave loose threads hanging loose at the end for the reader’s interpretation. Luckily, I can confidently say that this book is unlike any YA book I’ve read before. On the other hand, the romance was kept at a minimum, which I appreciated greatly. Regarding some flaws the book had, I felt that some things, like old memories recalled by characters, were never thoroughly explored, but rather pushed into the ending just to clear up any loose threads that readers might have. Overall, it was an excellent book that made me wish there was a sequel, or perhaps more of these kinds of YA mysteries.

In my opinion, the most memorable moments for me had to be all the chapters where Ellery works with Malcolm to solve the mystery, but it’s evident that they’re slowly falling in love. While I’m not much of a romance genre fan, I couldn’t help but (heh) fall in love with the way McManus wrote the romance. It’s very minimal and doesn’t get in the way of the plot, but it’s craftily written between the words.

4-stars

Reviewed by Allyson T. , Twin Hickory Library

Read + Review: Come Find Me by Megan Miranda

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Two years ago, Nolan Chandler dreamed of something terrible happening to his brother Liam. The very next day, their family was picnicking in the park when Liam and their dog straight up disappeared. Now their parents are busy sticking their noses in other missing child cases, as if that would make up for them not being able to find one of their own, and Nolan regularly wonders the park with his high-tech equipment, still searching for answers. One and a half years later, an unthinkable tragedy happens in Kennedy Jones’s family, leaving her alone and traumatized. Now she she sneaks into her old house every few nights, using her brother Elliot’s equipment to search for anything coming from space that would indicate intelligent life, just as he had. Back in the present, Nolan and Kennedy were both doing their regular searches, when they suddenly pick up strange readings where there should be none. After a bit of comparing, they deduce that odd signals that they were picking up were connected, and team up to find the truth. Is there really a reasonable explanation for the events that happened? Or is the truth more than a little out there? Either way, sometimes you know nothing about the people closest to you at all…

Let me just start off with saying that after all of the tension and the buildup in the story, the final chapters were a little lackluster. The climax was pretty ‘meh’, and while I am not necessarily disappointed with the direction that the plot took, I feel kind of cheated. Aside from all of that though, this wasn’t a bad book by far. The premise was interesting, the story had an intriguing and eerie vibe, the psychological aftereffects of the characters seemed realistic, and the romantic subplot wasn’t painfully cheesy, unlike a lot of other novels for teens. I’d say that if you have the time, you should go read this book, just don’t expect to be completely blown away.

My favorite part about this book was the overall premise and vibe, as I really like otherworldly sci-fi/horror/mystery stories with eerie atmospheres. The very concept alone of suddenly picking up signals from the empty reaches of space that may or may not have some connection to someone going missing without a trace fits this genre like a glove.

4-stars

Reviewed by, Dahlia S., Twin Hickory Library

Read + Review: Arch Enemies by Marissa Meyer

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In this exciting sequel to Renegades, Nova, an orphaned villain, is now a full member of the Renegades, an elite group of superheroes. Unknown to the Renegades, she is also Nightmare, an Anarchist, working to take them down from the inside. And Nova thinks she has found the way to do it when she finds the Helmet of Ace Anarchy. As a Renegade, her feelings for Adrian, a fellow superhero, grow, but Adrian is also hiding secrets from everyone. As both of them struggle to maintain their double lives, they face their most challenging adversaries yet, each other.

I think this book is a great sequel. It has action, romance, and the characters and their relationships are explored more than ever. The alternating perspectives are a really good insight into how the action of one character has impacted the other. It also makes me want to smack one of them sometimes, which is a credit to the author. It’s not easy to make something obvious to one character, yet have the other completely oblivious while also keeping the situation realistic.

The most memorable thing about this book is the way the double lives are playing out. I kept wondering how are they going to explain this? Or, come on you must have noticed that! Sometimes it was a little unbelievable, but it was exciting none the less.

4-stars-1

Reviewed by, Riley M., Twin Hickory Library

Read + Review: Out of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee

outofleftfield

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This book is about baseball and friendship. Cody plays baseball and Marnie plays softball plus they are best friends. The two of them play pick up baseball in the neighborhood with friends who are also Cody’s high school teammates. When Cody gets hurt, the high school baseball team needs to find the best player to replace him. The next best pitcher is Marnie but the team isn’t sure that they can win with a girl on the team even though Marnie has proven that she is just as good as the boys when they play pick up. Can Marnie take them to the championship with Cody in the dugout?

I really enjoyed this book and think it was written well. While the story line may be predictable, things didn’t happen in the exact order you would expect. The author used colorful and descriptive language throughout which made me want to keep turning the pages. I would recommend reading this book if you are a sports fan and especially if you are a girl who loves to play with the boys.

One memorable thing about the book is that Marnie realized that not only does she love baseball but she loves Cody. Cody had been in love with Marnie since they started high school. Even the baseball team knew before Marnie figured it out.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Samantha H., Glen Allen Library

Summer Songwriting Contest – Week 3 Winner

Congratulations to the week 3 Teen Summer Songwriting Contest winner: Rebekah C., grade 8, at Gayton Library! Rebekah’s country song was randomly selected from this week’s excellent submissions.

Rebekah will receive a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Week 2 Song Genre:
Country

Rebekah’s Winning Song:

{beginning to be sung with strongest country accent possible, and accompanied by very twangy banjo}

I found a pretty girl down by the lake
Held her hand
And everything was alright
One day my country life just wasn’t for her
So she walked away
Left me empty-handed in the dust

{banjo goes away and snazzy violin accompaniment comes in instead}

Now I,
Drive my John Deere tractor
Pet my dog whenever I want
Ride around in my pick-up truck
Just laughing at the dust
‘Cause I ain’t got a broken heart no more
Sure, I really do miss her
But she scared away all the fish

Now I,
Pull up smallmouth bass
Drink sweet tea on my porch
Watch stars in the night sky
And roll around in the mud
Yeah, I ain’t got a broken heart no more
No more
Yeah, no more
Ain’t got a broken heart no more

{instruments silence}

Yeah, I sure do miss her
But I ain’t got a broken heart no more

{snazzy violin solo}