If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that Karen M. McManus is on of my favorite YA thriller authors. Well, I have read all her releases thus far and wanted to do a ranking of them. Keep in mind that this is just my personal ranking of her books.
There you have my ranking of all Karen M. McManus books from my number one favorite to least favorite. But, as I mentioned early this is my own personal opinion and might not be everyone’s ranking. To read more posts like this one follow my blog to get post notifications.
SynopsisMilly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious. Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. Synopsis from Amazon
My Thoughts I don’t know how Karen M. McManus does it, but her books seem to have a way of pulling me in right from the start. This story was no different, I was immediately intrigued by the story and characters. In this book, we follow three teenage cousins from the Story family: Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah, who barely know each other. They are all very different from one another, but somehow their personalities worked well together. Each of them must drop everything to spend the summer working at their estranged grandmother’s resort. As the three get to know each other, you can see a bond forming between them while they try to uncover family’s secrets.
They were all likable characters, but didn’t stray too much from the author’s typical character personas. They are each facing issues at home, and even though the book was a crazy mystery/thriller, there was definitely some character growth, which was a nice added touch. The Story cousins aren’t clueless, and were immediately suspicious of their grandmother’s sudden invitation. Personally, I enjoy a mystery when the characters aren’t oblivious to things that seem fishy.
As perusal, we have dual perspectives throughout this book, but we don’t just alternate from Story cousin to cousin. There are chapters that take place in the past, which I found very interesting since it helps you piece together the mystery. In the past, you get a glimpse of the cousins’ parents as teenagers, and find out just how different they are from their kids. Let’s just say that money can’t buy you humility. I mean, the word ‘townie’ was used. More than once.
Besides the characters, the plot and mystery was amazing, intense and a roller-coaster ride. I didn’t know what was going to happen next, because there were so many twists, each just as shocking as the last. There were tons of jaw-dropping moments, making it impossible to put the book down. The story is addictive, and I couldn’t wait until everything came together. However, I will say that I figured things out right before the big reveal. Still, I was pretty stunned by the ending.
“Leave the past where it is.”
Of course, there was a romance which I found to be predictable. And truthfully, I wanted it to go another way. Although, I understand that sometimes the most obvious route is the easiest one to take. But make no mistake, the romance is minor, since the book is truly all about the mystery. And, the ending proved that Karen M. McManus is a queen when it comes to YA thrillers.
Overall, I found the story to be incredible, which you have probably already gathered. And, the newfound sibling type of bond amongst the cousins was charming. The Story family were a very dysfunctional bunch, so it was nice to see that not all of them were heartless. If you’re looking for an amazing thriller, with many surprises, then this is a must read! However, I think that all of McManus’ books are must reads. If you want to know my thoughts on her other books view my reviews here.
Leave me a comment letting me know your thoughts on this book. Did you love it as much as me? Did you hate it? Or, maybe you thought it was sub-par? Before you go, give my blog a follow, so that you never miss a post.
If you know me, then you know that I am a big fan of Karen M. McManus books. Well, I decided it was about time I watched the Peacock original series of ‘One Of Us Is Lying‘. The series wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but it did get me thinking about how I imagined the characters. More specifically, their fashion. Whether you have read the book, or seen the series, you can get a feel for each character’s style. And in my opinion, my outfits are pretty spot on.
I love doing fashion and beauty posts every once in a while. Please let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations for beauty or fashion posts! Don’t forget to like and share this blog post with others. If you like all things bookish and more, then don’t hesitate to hit that follow button!
INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of One of Us Is Lying comes a brand-new pulse-pounding thriller. It’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with murder when three old friends relive an epic ditch day, and it goes horribly—and fatally—wrong.
I went into this book knowing that I was most likely going to enjoy it. And I wasn’t wrong. Unlike McManus’ other books, it didn’t start off with a bang, or dive right into the main story. Although I do prefer books that start with a bang, I found the build up to the murder/mystery refreshing.
The main three characters were similar to characters from other Karen M. McManus books. So, I wish there was more variety to her characters’ personalities. However, I found them each likable, and I can see how their friendship once worked.
There is a romance plot, which is typical when it comes to YA books, but I found the romance to be pretty weak. Although it was a second chance/friends-to-lovers type of romance, and I know that a lot of readers enjoy that trope.
I did feel that there was something off with the plot. It could be because I found the backstory about their friendship a little mundane. But she did manage to easily merge their past friendship into a new friendship. The author always finds a way to weave everything together, and make the story flow.
Unlike some thrillers, ‘You’ll Be The Death Of Me’ had a message to it. Sometimes we forget how deadly our emotions can be, and to not let them get the better of us. We always have to pay a price for revenge. And even if you didn’t intend to hurt someone, you can never truly know how things will turn out in the end.
“We all make mistakes, right? And almost never see the fallout coming.”
I found the fact that, throughout the book, the characters didn’t ignore hard topics, and had open communication with one another. This was nice, especially since they weren’t friends anymore. But it was the way they easily reconnected that made you see how they could have been friends, once upon a time.
The book showcased the many sides to a person, and how even horrible acts can be forgiven under the right circumstances. And that it is perfectly okay to ask for help. It also did, however, have some moments where I felt as though the characters were acting like hypocrites. However, they were rare instances.
I did happen to guess the killer, but every now and again, I find it fun to solve the mystery first. Still, this book has so much to offer, and there were a lot of shocking moments are the end. Plus the ending cliffhanger that I didn’t see coming.
I hope that Karen M. McManus doesn’t leave us hanging, because I am dying to see how the rest of this story plays out. In the comments, let me know if you have read this book, and if would like a sequel as well. Follow my blog for more book reviews!
Title: Two Can Keep A Secret Author: Karen M. McManus Published: 2019 Genre: Young Adult/Mystery Rating:
Synopsis 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.
I didn’t expect this book to blow me away, and for the most part I was right. The plot follows a teenage girl, Ellery. She is sent, with her twin brother, to live with their grandmother in Echo Ridge. Their mother, a small time actress, is doing another stint in rehab, so the twins have to make the best of their new lives. Ellery’s only interest is the murder of the homecoming queen that took place five years prior.
This is a dual perspective narrative, which I didn’t anticipate. We get Ellery’s point of view, but we also get Malcom’s, whose brother was the prime suspect in homecoming murder. I didn’t like one perspective more than the other, which I find is good when it comes to books that alternate narratives. However, I did think that Ellery was always jumping the gun when it came to sharing her theories. She didn’t take the time to think things through fully, and went for the easy suspects.
One thing’s for sure, I couldn’t get behind Ellery and Malcom as a couple. Their relationship started instantly, without any development. I didn’t see the chemistry between the two characters. I was fond of, Mia, who is Malcom’s best friend. And, Ezra, Ellery’s twin brother. It was nice that they were both diverse characters, as Ezra is both biracial and gay. While Mia is a bisexual Korean. I could sense that Mia added some spice to Malcom’s life, while Ezra was more level-headed than Ellery. Also, I cannot get over the fact that his name is ‘Ezra’ and the book is titled ‘Two Can Keep A Secret.’ Pretty Little Liars Easter egg?
“I thought she was your mother.”
Something that I am not a fan of when it comes to books is multiple plots. In this book, we are trying to solve the homecoming murder from five years ago. But than there’s this hit and run accident, absent mother story-line and even some found family side plot. As if that wasn’t enough, Ellery is also trying to uncover what happened to her mother’s twin sister, who disappeared many years ago. All the pieces do come together at the end, but I think that was way too much for one book to handle.
The ending has got to be the best part. I think that somewhere around the last two chapters, you get a sense of whose the killer. Personally, however, I was still shocked at the reveal. The motive was done well, and it was jaw-dropping. At one point, you don’t think the characters are going to make it out of alive. Also, the final page had a major twist that I never saw coming.
Even though the book didn’t wow me like ‘One Of Us Is Lying’ did, Karen M. McManus is still an exceptional author. I probably wouldn’t give this one a reread, but I do wish that it was a bit longer since there was sort of a cliffhanger ending. I needed to know more.
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Title: One Of Us Is Next Author: Karen M. McManus Published: 2020 Genre: Young Adult/Thriller Rating:
Synopsis Come on, Bayview, you know you’ve missed this. A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one’s been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts. Until now. This time it’s not an app, though—it’s a game. Truth or Dare.
This is the companion novel to ‘One Of Us Is Lying’, which I have a review up for as well. In this book, we are following a new group of teens, one of whom is Maeve Rojas (Bronwyn’s sister, that we saw in book one), as well as appearances from characters in the previous book. A few characters had already been introduced in ‘One Of Us Is Lying’, which was a nice bonus. The plot walked the line between mystery and thriller. We follow this group of teens as they deal with a dangerous game of Truth and Dare. It was engaging, but then again I find that many Karen M. McManus books are (at least to me).
I enjoyed each character, and not one perspective bored me. There were a few parts that felt like unnecessary filler, and didn’t add anything to the story. However, it wasn’t common enough to be a problem for me. Overall, the story unfolded at a nice pace. I was happy to see that there wasn’t a best friends to lovers story in play. I am not opposed to that all, but it was nice to see the author go a different, less cliche route.
One of my favorite characters was Phoebe. She had a lot going on, and made some stupid choices, but was unapologetically herself. She didn’t hide her faults, and tried her best to own up to her mistakes throughout the book. Maeve was a solid character, and mini Nancy Drew, which is always fun to read about. Knox (Maeve’s best friend/ex-boyfriend) was the nice guy, but out of all of them, he was the least fleshed out. I didn’t feel like I got a true sense of his personality.
“I don’t understand why the world insists on stuffing kids into boxes we never asked for, and then gets mad when we won’t stay there.”
There was a bit of romance in this book, and I adored it. Maeve and Luis had great chemistry, and it was nice to watch their relationship unfold. But the pairing that I shipped most of all was Phoebe and Knox. They had some great moments together, so I could see them having real couple potential. Also, I liked that they were different, but grew closer as the book went on.
I am pretty bad at mysteries, but I did have my suspicions on where the plot was going. And, while I was sort of right, the ending shocked me. It was such a good twist, and the last chapter was amazing. I truly wanted to know what was going to happen next. I think a good book keeps you wanting more, which is exactly what Karen M. McManus achieved with ‘One Of Us Is Next’.
I would say that if you are in between fantasy books, you should give this one a read. It’s a good novel to pick up when you need a break from reading big, plot-heavy books. It’s an easy one to follow, and a fairly quick read. Don’t worry if thriller isn’t your preferred genre, it leans more towards the mystery side.
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Title: One Of Us Is Lying Author: Karen M. McManus Published: 2017 Genre: Young Adult/Thriller
One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide. Source:Goodreads
I went into this book with low expectations, considering that the reviews aren’t the best. The book started off fairly slow, but from there, it got right into the main plot. Unlike others, I was a fan of the writing style. The characters were the typical ‘Breakfast Club’ stereotypes. However, you could see growth and development throughout the story. The author took a lot of time on their personalities and lives. They all had secrets of their own, which I will admit were pretty mediocre. Although, I was spoiled for one of the secrets, but I probably would have figured it out before it’s reveal.
Now, if you’re looking for a shocking mystery thriller, then this book probably isn’t for you. It seemed like a Lifetime original movie that was trying to be “Pretty Little Liars”. Personally, I enjoy Lifetime movies. But I can see readers being split on how the book handles certain topics, especially mental health. I struggle with mental illness myself and thought the representation was a little far fetched. Still it was an interesting take on the topic.
“Things’ll get worse before they get better.”
Most people probably won’t find the twist at the end particularly surprising. Some might even call it predictable. Maybe I am just clueless, because I thought the ending was pretty clever on the author’s part. I haven’t read too many mystery thrillers at this point in my life, so I’m judging this from a newbies perspective. I would be interested to see how I feel about the book in a few years, when I have more mystery thriller reads under my belt.
After reading the book I am excited to read Karen M. McManus other works. She could become a new favorite author of mine. This was a shorter review, but sometimes I don’t have much to say about the book. One last point, try going into it the story with an open mind. Don’t let reviews, good or bad, sway you one way or another. There are trigger warnings for this book, but unfortunately knowing them will spoil the book. If that doesn’t bother you visit Book Trigger Warning to view them all.
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