Review: You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M McManus

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Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Back in middle school they were best friends. So, when Cal pulls into campus late for class, and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch school and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Why did they stop hanging out, anyway?
As soon as they pull out of the parking lot Cal knows why. Ivy’s already freaking out about missing class, and heartthrob Mateo is asleep in the backseat, too cool to even pretend like he wants to be there. The truth is they have nothing in common anymore.
At least they don’t until they run into the fourth student ditching school that day. Brian “Boney” Mahoney is supposed to be accepting his newly won office of class president. Which is why Ivy follows him into an empty building, only to walk into the middle of a murder scene. Cal, Ivy, and Mateo all know the person lying on the ground of that building, and now they need to come clean. They’re all hiding something. And maybe their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all.

Thank you so much to Penguin for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Karen M McManus has been an auto-buy author for me for a while now, and I was so excited to receive this one as a proof ahead of release – thank you Penguin! I’ve been wanting one of the beautiful ARCs of her books for a while so as you can imagine I was super excited to get my hands on this one.

I read The Cousins back in October finally and I really enjoyed it, so I was even more excited to pick this one up. I have to say, I really enjoyed it and it reminded me yet again how hard I find these books to put down! In previous books by McManus we’ve had small town and even island settings, but this one was a little different in being set just outside of Boston. Even though I did still enjoy this setting, I did slightly miss the small community vibes of other books by her.

You can be right in principle

As usual, this book was super fast paced and I really enjoyed going into it with no idea of the plot as my proof copy had no information on it. I immediately felt intrigued by the 3 main characters and their story, and I feel like McManus has nailed the multiple POV approach. I honestly didn’t want to put this one down, especially towards the end, and finished it in a couple of days.

I always like the mystery element and this one was no different, but as I’ve seen other people mention, the motive was definitely not my favourite. I really liked the family element of The Cousins, and I think in comparison this one just felt a little impersonal in the motives. I did really like the characters, however, and although they’re all flawed in their own ways I still found them likeable and enjoyed how they interacted with one another.

and still wrong in approach.

Overall, this one was another quick and enjoyable thriller from McManus and she definitely remains an auto-buy author for me.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Cousins by Karen M McManus

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The Storys are the envy of their neighbours: owners of the largest property on their East Coast island, they are rich, beautiful, and close. Until it all falls apart. The four children are suddenly dropped by their mother with a single sentence:
You know what you did.
They never hear from her again.
Years later, when 18-year-old cousins Aubrey, Milly and Jonah Story receive a mysterious invitation to spend the summer at their grandmother’s resort, they have no choice but to follow their curiosity and meet the woman who’s been such an enigma their entire lives.
This entire family is built on secrets, right? It’s the Story legacy.
This summer, the teenagers are determined to discover the truth at the heart of their family. But some secrets are better left alone.

I’ve been a fan of Karen M McManus for a long time, but I do prefer her standalone work to One of Us is Lying. Up until now Two Can Keep a Secret has been my favourite book by her, but it might just about be beaten by The Cousins. She is definitely an auto-buy author for me and I’m so glad I finally picked this one up! It feels like it’s been a while since I read a YA thriller and this one was such a quick read and so entertaining.

I enjoyed the dynamic between the 3 cousins who had never met before, and the setting of Gull Cove Island was so much fun and felt like the perfect environment for the family murder-mystery we had going on. I just wish I’d read this one in summer!

You gotta shoot your shot when it comes…

At first, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t like one of the cousins, and since this is a multiple point of view story I thought that I may not enjoy all of the perspectives. However, as the story went on I did sympathise with all of the main characters and feel like having several POV worked well. The way the author uncovered secrets about the family kept me on the edge of my seat and I wanted to read on to find out what was going to happen.

The writing was so addictive and easy to read and I sped through this despite not having much time to read. Once I picked this book up, I couldn’t put it down and just wanted to keep reading. The only negative is that I expected more murder! Having read books by McManus before, I did go into this expecting more graphic content. However, the focus on more of a family drama was still fun to read about and was written really well. The fact the 3 main characters didn’t know each other before the story began gave an extra layer of secrets and lies that were super interesting to uncover.

Who knows if you’ll get another chance?

Karen M McManus is definitely going to still be an auto-buy author for me and I’m glad I picked this one up as it was so entertaining to read!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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

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Ellery’s never been to Echo Ridge, but she’s heard all about it. It’s where her aunt went missing at age sixteen, never to return. Where a Homecoming Queen’s murder five years ago made national news. And where Ellery now has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, after her failed-actress mother lands in rehab. No one knows what happened to either girl, and Ellery’s family is still haunted by their loss.
Malcolm grew up in the shadow of the Homecoming Queen’s death. His older brother was the prime suspect and left Echo Ridge in disgrace. His mother’s remarriage vaulted her and Malcolm into Echo Ridge’s upper crust, but their new status grows shaky when mysterious threats around town hint that a killer plans to strike again. No one has forgotten Malcolm’s brother-and nobody trusts him when he suddenly returns to town.
Ellery and Malcolm both know it’s hard to let go when you don’t have closure. Then another girl disappears, and Ellery and Malcolm were the last people to see her alive. As they race to unravel what happened, they realize every secret has layers in Echo Ridge. The truth might be closer to home than either of them want to believe.
And somebody would kill to keep it hidden.

After reading One of Us Is Next with Alex, we decided to carry on and read Two Can Keep a Secret together! And I’m so glad we did, because it became both of our favourite McManus books so far.

There was something about this book that stood out from her others. For a start, it felt startlingly creepier to me – maybe enhanced by the setting of a somewhat decrepit theme park. The scenes, especially those in theme park itself, felt almost tangible and too close for comfort. It was delightfully creepy and a perfect read for a cold, dark winters night.

“Welcome to life in a small town.”

Problems I had with McManus’ other books were almost banished with this one. In her other books, I’ve struggled with the amount of Points Of View and it tainted the story for me as I found it hard to follow everything going on. In this book, however, we only focus on two POV and I found it much easier to follow. The only criticism in plot is the major rush that seems to come towards the end of her books after such a big build up, which can be slightly overwhelming.

However, another favourite part of this one for me was the characters, especially Ellery. They were so good to read about and I really liked having the POV of both somebody involved in the past crimes of the small town and somebody who had relatives in the town but had only recently moved to it.

“You’re only as good as the best thing your family’s done. Or the worst.”

This was definitely my favourite of Karen M McManus’ books so far and I’d love to read more from her in the future.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: One of Us is Next (#2) by Karen M McManus

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It is a year after the action of One of Us Is Lying, and someone has started playing a game of Truth or Dare.
But this is no ordinary Truth or Dare. This game is lethal. Choosing the truth may reveal your darkest secrets, accepting the dare could be dangerous, even deadly.
The teenagers of Bayview must work together once again to find the culprit, before it’s too late . . .

I’ve had Karen M McManus’ second and third books on my shelves since their respective release dates, and it wasn’t until I’m meeting her at a book signing in a few weeks, and buddy reading with Alex became an option that I finally picked them up! It’s been almost 3 years since I read One of Us is Lying and I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to pick this one up as quick as I wanted to, or would need to re-read the first one.

But I was in luck, because this book is actually a different story that focuses on the younger siblings of the characters from One of Us is Lying, meaning you don’t really have to remember anything to follow their story!

“How do you make that choice?” I ask almost to myself.

I was so intrigued by this book from the very start. I loved the Truth and Dare and felt myself become hooked by the stories quickly, despite them seeming somewhat unrealistic in parts. As with the first book though, the writing is excellent, and I couldn’t help but find myself constantly wanting to read on and being surprised by all of the twists and turns.

The character development was great, and I rooted for my favourites and enjoyed learning more about their lives. But unfortunately, alongside the plot sometimes being unrealistic, I also found the characters hard to follow in parts due to there just being so many different POV. I would find myself reading so quickly I wasn’t always paying enough attention to the chapter I was on, and then not quite understanding which character I was reading about. This became annoying after a while, and sometimes I just wished for one or two POV instead.

“Between what you need and what you want?” 

Overall, this was a really enjoyable sequel and I found it very entertaining to read. I’d love to read more of McManus’ writing in the future!

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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