Book Review: Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen McManus

Book Review: Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen McManus

"If I believed in omens, this would be a bad one."


So, I've read a LOT of Young Adult thrillers in my day (and by "my day", I mean the past year or so). It's probably my favorite, most-read genre: I'm a sucker for a good mystery with some spine-chilling twists. Unfortunately, at least in my experience, the pool of young adult mystery books on shelves today is seriously hit-or-miss. Despite having read more than 10 YA thrillers/mysteries in the past few months, I can only name three that I genuinely think are good. Two of those three happen to be written by the same author: Karen McManus. Her two novels, One of Us Is Lying and Two Can Keep a Secret, are wonderfully entertaining, perfectly creepy stories with tons of twists and turns that will keep you at the edge of your seat until the very last page.

I was intrigued by the plot summary of One Of Us Is Lying before it even came out. After hearing about it, I followed it until its release, preordered it, and began reading it on the release date. I was not disappointed at all! So when wandering aimlessly through the aisles of Barnes and Noble, I came upon Two Can Keep A Secret, I'm pretty sure my heart stopped for a second. How did I not know that Karen McManus had written a second novel?! Of course, I bought it and read the entire thing in the following 24 hours. It's been a while since I finished One of Us Is Lying, but I personally feel like Two Can Keep A Secret was even better!

The story follows Ellery, a teenage, true crime addict with a twin brother named Ezra. When their struggling actress mom runs into some problems with prescription drugs, the twins find themselves moving from Southern California to their mother's hometown of Echo Ridge, Vermont to live with their grandma. On the outside, Echo Ridge looks like your typical, picture-perfect New England town. But it quickly becomes clear to Ellery that there are many chilling secrets hidden just beneath the surface, and she's determined to dig them up.

Aside from the cliche-but-somehow-new storyline reminiscent of Twin Peaks and Riverdale, the characters were easily one of my favorite aspects of the book. all of the characters, especially the main two, felt so real and relatable. Since I am a senior in high school in 2019, I can confirm this. Instead of making dumb decisions and saying weird, cringe-worthy things that most teenagers wouldn't, all of their words and actions felt realistic and in-line with the way that real teenagers interact nowadays. Even the characters' use of social media, something that many YA novels get wrong, was described and portrayed in a very normal way. It was refreshing to finally read something that felt more like a mirror and less like an alternate universe.

As for the mystery part, McManus will keep you guessing the whole time. There were some predictable moments, but it was still super entertaining to watch everything, expected and unexpected, play out!

Karen McManus has easily become one of my favorite writers, and I can't wait to see what's next for her. There is a sequel to One of Us Is Lying in the works, as well as an unnamed fourth novel. These two novels are a must-read for readers and non-readers alike. Trust me on this: you'll love them!

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The 20 Stages Of Instagram-Stalking Your Crush, As Told By 'Mean Girls'

Whether you love the presence of technology in your dating life or not, it's probably there.


Far too often we wait for that follow request or Snapchat add to know that a boy is interested. We look to those notifications for validation of that mutual interest.

There is nothing quite like the freaking treasure trove that opens when a crush approves your follow request(or maybe you're silently looking if he is public). There is so much to do. This has now turned into an ~event~

All other priorities do. not. exist.

1. When he doesn't follow you back immediately


Not mad, just disappointed. Actually, very mad. Seething, if you will. Honestly expected way more from Steve from Intro to Biology.

2. If he follows you first


Hey! It's a little hard to see you down there since I'm ON CLOUD NINE RIGHT NOW!!! You text all your friends. These days, this is practically a marriage proposal. Time to start picking out wedding china? Can Vera Wang do this on such short notice?

3. If one of your friends also has a crush on him


Sorry, Becky. Guess you'll just have to live with being a bridesmaid at our wedding.

4. If you don't follow him, but have a mutual friend who does: you ask them for screenshots


He's private and you want to know what he is like without any consequences. You're just not ready to follow him yet, but you need some screenshots in your arsenal. This is case in point of why I should ABSOLUTELY not be considered a real adult for at least another five years.

5. Reading his bio


The best thing it could be is just his name or school or maybe his frat. Or nothing if that is indicative of being a real live grownup who has a job(and I don't mean working at an IT start up your daddy found you). We don't really need an inspirational quote or something random that only two people understand. Your name is fine, thanks. Gentlemen, take a page out of Avril Lavigne's book and don't make everything so complicated.

6. Seeing how many followers he has


This is something I don't really care about, but it can tell you a lot about the person. Like if they are a SoundCloud rapper trying to make it big and have clearly followed a ton of random people to try to get a follow back which has resulted in a sketchy follower-to-following ratio. If not, then they're probably normal.

7. Seeing how many photos he has


There is nothing worse than thinking you are about to feast your eyes on all his photos only to discover that he has two photos and one is a group shot where his face is practically hidden. This will result in an hour of promising your friends that he is normal and good looking, despite what this feed might suggest.

8. Making sure he is not radiating jerk


Saying "Saturdays are for the boys" is fine sometimes, but not every weekend. If he has more gym mirror selfies than the amount of Cosmopolitans Carrie Bradshaw has drank in her lifetime, it's time to move on. Unless you're working on a street corner, there is no need for you to be "just out here hustling/grinding."

9. Temptation to comment on a recent picture


His hair looks really good! Or if he posts a picture of a party you saw him at this can be more tempting than buying cookies from Girl Scouts outside the grocery store. Resist, resist, resist.

10. Discovering you have a shared interest


Oh my gosh, he went on spring break and you did too!! He went with ten friends to Panama City and you went home and ate Chinese food with your mom, but really, I don't see a difference there.

. 11. Stalking the most recent photo


Is it with a girl? Is she prettier than you? If she commented an emoji it's freaking over. You sprint immediately to your closest grocery store and buy all the Ben and Jerry's.

12. Gathering of all the information


Now we go into detective mode. Assuming at this stage that the dude actually had a decent amount of pictures, we now dig like Bob the Builder. We look for hobbies. We judge these hobbies. If you really like him, you concoct a plan to see how you can relate to these hobbies.

"Oh my gosh, I loveeeee fishing! I love it so much! Oh, you fish, you don't say? Look how much we have in common!"

13. Figuring out how close is he with his family


Looking for how many times his parents surface on the IG. If you see he has siblings then if you are on a date one day you won't be trying to digest their names and ages, you'll already know. He will be blown away by your impeccable memory and interest in them.

14. Seeing something cool he did and becoming obsessed


Maybe he studied abroad. All the heart eyes for the picture of him volunteering with Habitat for Humanity last April.

15. Pictures that make the world stop


This might be him in a tux at a wedding with his grandma. It might be a swoon-worthy pic of him shirtless at the beach. It might be a picture of him and his wait for it… DOG and you die and blush and get so excited because you don't know what's cuter: him or the dog. These are the ones you screenshot for your friends.

16. All of a sudden it's been an hour


You look at the clock, an hour has passed and you're in 2014. Great, now you know exactly what he wore to a middle school dance. Awesome!

17. When going into the tagged photos leads to being 3 people deep


In tagged photos, you find previous girlfriends, and naturally, you have to stalk. Luckily, her account is public and you see that her best friend could easily be the next contestant on the Bachelor and probably win the whole thing. So you click on her profile and stalk her too. Then you see her boyfriend and look at his profile and feel genuinely hurt that you won't be getting an invite to their wedding.

18. Not blurting out everything the next time you see him


You know you can absolutely NOT let on that you stalked him at all. Even though there were ten close calls, you did not accidentally like anything. Consider that a success. They should give out trophies for that. He doesn't need to know that you dropped your phone into the Oreo crumbs that were on your face at 2 a.m. As far as he knows, you simply approved his request and moved on with your life. If it comes up you should say "Oh, I didn't even remember we were friends on Instagram."

19. Crafting your first post with him being a follower


It has to be hot, but it has to be effortless. You could do a selfie but you want him to know you have friends. But they can't look prettier than you. Should you be mysterious and post an artsy shot? Or post a travel throwback? *Books plane ticket to a cool destination just to take a pic he might like*

20. The first time he likes your post


You feel like the definition of fabulous. A Snapchat is coming down the pike for sure. Ugh, how can you hate a culture and love it so much at the same time?

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Why I Love Country Music

It's deep in my soul.


In this day and age, especially for high school and college-aged students, it seems that it is "uncool" to like country music. The music industry in the United States is clearly dominated by the music of hip hop artists such as Travis Scott and Drake, and the pop beats of Ariana Grande and the like. That music is great and all, and I enjoy it just as much as the next person, but for me, nothing beats country music. The truth is that like beauty, music is in the eye, or ear in this case, of the beholder.

Country music is what I grew up with. Driving in the car with my parents, the dial was always turned to the local country radio station. As a child, the words of Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw were ground into my memory. It's deep in my soul. It's sweet to my soul.

One thing that I adore about country music is that there's basically a country song for anything you're going through in life. Every song tells a story. There are country songs about good times and bad. There are country songs about everything from partying and relaxing, to heartbreak and sickness. There's something for everybody. It's comforting to me, and to many.

Country music is feel-good music. Some of my fondest memories involve my friends and I driving through my hometown, windows down, on a sunny and 75-degree day. Days spent out on the lake, the boat speakers blaring Jake Owen and Florida Georgia Line. I even have country music to thank for giving me my best friend.

Don't even get me started on the countless country music festivals I've attended. Many of the best days of my life have centered around the ballads of various country artists, young and old. Country concerts are simply the best live shows. The atmosphere at these shows is like nothing else. It's such an accepting, fun, carefree environment. There's honestly nowhere else in the whole world that I'd rather be. (By the way, if you ever get the chance to see Kenny Chesney live, I'd highly recommend it...I've never had more fun at a concert.)

To each their own. Listen to the music you love. Life's too short.

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