4 stars

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManusTwo Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 8th January 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery's never been there, but she's heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it's hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone's declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she's in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous--and most people aren't good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it's safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

Two Can Keep a Secret is such a meaty thriller. There was so much going on, and there were so many characters and relationships to wrap my head around. Because there was so much going on, I felt like there had to have been a lot of pressure on the author (and her editor!) to do a good job of it. And I think they did great! Two Can Keep a Secret flows incredibly well, and the suspense is real.

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Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko JeanEmpress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 6th November 2018
Publisher: Gollancz
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren't hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

Oh, this was a juicy fantasy book! I went into this expecting it to focus on the action during the competition where the future empress has to beat four challenging rooms, but it was so much more than that. The world building in Empress of All Seasons was excellent and was truly the most gripping part of the book. I loved it.

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Vengeful by V. E. Schwab

Vengeful by V. E. SchwabVengeful by V. E. Schwab
Series: Villains #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 25th September 2018
Publisher: Tor
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there's Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn't know about his most recent act of vengeance.

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.

I’ve been waiting years for Vengeful along with everyone else and I am so happy to say that it was a hit for me. I love books about people with powers, and books about horrible people (who are supposed to be horrible, anyway) so Vicious was one of my favourite books back in the day. I’d been cautiously anticipating Vengeful because I wasn’t sure if it would be as good as the first book (it wasn’t) but it was actually pretty freakin’ good.

Now, I’m sure you all have some important and pressing questions about this highly anticipated sequel, so I’m here to answer them.

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We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss

We’ll Fly Away by Bryan BlissWe'll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 8th May 2018
Publisher: Greenwillow
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.

But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling. Tense and emotional, this heartbreaking novel explores family, abuse, sex, love, friendship, and the lengths a person will go to protect the people they love. For fans of NPR’s Serial podcast, Jason Reynolds, and Matt de la Peña.

We’ll Fly Away was absolutely devastating, but in the best way. I almost didn’t want to finish it because I knew from the beginning that the ending was going to be brutal, but at the same time I couldn’t put it down. It’s a wonderfully written book about friendship and family, and I would highly recommend it.

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Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry

Heretics Anonymous by Katie HenryHeretics Anonymous by Katie Henry
Release Date: 7th August 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Michael is an atheist. So as he walks through the doors at St. Clare’s—a strict Catholic school—sporting a plaid tie, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow nonbeliever at that. Only this girl, Lucy, is not just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest.

But Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism. After an incident in theology class, Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies. When Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom, or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.

I was a bit hesitant to go into Heretics Anonymous because I don’t tend to read books about religion or religious characters, but this year I’m really trying to make my reading more diverse. I have to say, I’m really glad I did pick this up because I had a lot of fun reading it.

I liked the main cast a lot, and I could definitely relate to the main character, Michael. He reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger. It was a really diverse group of characters, and they all had something to say, which was great. I really enjoyed the inclusion of a character who – I think – could be autistic.

Heretics Anonymous is really light and entertaining, and I’m really glad I read it!