WWW Wednesday: 20th May 2020

This Book Tag is hosted by Taking On A World Of Words.

What I’ve read, What I’m reading, What’s next.

What I’ve Read

Title: Orphan Monster Spy

Author: Matt Killeen

Star rating: 5 / 5

Mini review/synopsis:

Talented, artistic, oppressed. Sarah has been learning to survive in a world that has become dangerous for her, her mother, and all other Jewish citizens throughout Europe. So what is a girl to do when she becomes unexpectedly orphaned? That’s right. She becomes a spy in a boarding school for the Nazi elite in 1939.

Sarah is one of my favourite novel protagonists in a long time. She is resourceful, ballsy, BRAVE, and mouthy. I love how she deals with her horrific situation, how she strategises and overcomes.

Matt Killeen expertly weaves Sarah’s backstory and experiences of being Jewish in increasing oppressive Austrian/German societies in the 1930s into the wider plot, which I found very educational. I found myself doing lots of research to fill in the gaps where my own knowledge was sadly lacking in this area of European history (this was further sparked by the Author’s note at the end of the novel). The plot was SO GOOD. Excellently paced and the twists towards the end of the novel were so brilliantly unexpected, I found myself moving the book as far away from me as I could whilst still being able to read.

A thrilling, well researched book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I cannot wait to read book 2 and, hopefully, learn some more about the Captain!

What I’m Currently Reading

Title: The Big Four

Author: Agatha Christie

First Impressions: will be at least a 4 star read

The story so far:

I am loving being back with Poirot, my favourite fictional detective. So far we have had a gentleman climb through Poirot’s apartment window and promptly drop dead. Now Poirot is on the tail of The Big Four, a mysterious criminal organisation. What’s more Hastings, Poirot’s friend, is back to narrate the story for us! I’m enjoying this one so far, but then I always enjoy a Christie.

What I’m Reading Next

Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

Author: Holly Jackson

This is a re-read before I read the sequel Good Girl, Bad Blood. Click here to read my review and keep your eyes peeled for a review of book 2.

Blurb:

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . .

Christie 100 Challenge

2020 sees the 100th anniversary of the publication of Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

So…

I’m going to do something slightly crazy

Yep. All of her novels. All 66 in publication order.

For the time being I’m not including any short stories, plays, Mary Westmacott books, or the Detection Club books Agatha collaborated on (with the intention of preventing my brain from melting under the sheer volume of Christie I’m already attempting to read). We’ll see how I get on though.

You can follow this Reading Challenge here on Beauteaful Reads and any of my social media channels. There is a story highlight available on my Instagram and I’ll be posting more regular Christie 100 reading updates there.

If you’d like to join me, please tag your posts and updates with #Christie100. The official website for all things Dame Agatha Christie are staging an official reading challenge #ReadChristie2020 with a category for each month and a suggestion of which of her novels fit the description. So if my mammoth 66 novel challenge seems too much, maybe take some inspiration and try 20 Christies in 2020.


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

Two Can Keep A Secret, by Karen M. McManus

Pages: 336

Published: 10th January 2019

⭐️ 5 / 5

After reading One Of Us Is Lying, I was excited to read another Karen M. McManus book as soon as possible. I would go as far to say that she is a contender for one of my favourite authors. I love that crime/thriller/mystery (a genre I LOVE) is starting to appear as a leading sub-genre of young adult and it’s being done SO WELL. McManus is leading the charge with excellently written YA mysteries and I hope she’s publishing books annually for a long time to come. Those of you who have read my review for One Of Us Is Lying will know that I really enjoyed it, and I preferred this novel so get ready for me to blow the trumpets at Two Can Keep A Secret!

Plot

Two Can Keep A Secret is told from two narrative points of view: Ellery, niece of a girl who vanished during her senior prom decades ago; and Malcolm, brother of the prime suspect in the murder of a second prom queen 5 years ago. This worked really well for weaving the plot threads of the two previous unsolved murders into the central action of this novel. I usually struggle with multiple narrators because I tend to favour one and resent having to endure the other POV, however McManus uses this to build tension and set the pacing which drove me mad – a clear indication of a good mystery novel for me. I got the sense of multiple timelines without time jumping (which is another trope I dislike for the most part and was glad it was so expertly worked around) giving me 3 murder mysteries for the price of one. The choice of narrators was also very cleverly calculated as this expanded the world building. Although Ellery and Malcolm were friends, they didn’t cross over too much meaning that we could explore more of the town through each of our narrators. The small-town setting was done really well and used very well too. Coming from a small(ish) town myself, I felt the local drama/curtain twitching/nosey neighbour elements of the plot were very accurate and added to the mystery as you’re left wondering how such a busy-body community could be harbouring so many unsolvable secrets. I got absolutely lost in this novel and easily polished it off in one sitting, which I would happily do again and again. Honestly, I did guess part of the outcome around half way through (far later than I did with One Of Us Is Lying though) however there were plenty of other twists that I didn’t predict. This book was definitely a firm favourite YA Murder Mystery read of 2019 for me.

Characters

I really enjoyed the point of view of both POV characters. Ellery was very relatable for me as a fellow true-crime addict. I love that fictional young women obsessed with true crime and murder mysteries are starting to emerge in novels, especially in this section of YA. It’s nice to see myself in books – and come on, we all secretly adore serial killer documentaries don’t we 😉 ? She’s a feisty, intelligent character and we need more Ellerys in our fiction. Ellery and her twin Ezra have an excellent rapport/banter going on and McManus has written this sibling relationship very well. Malcolm is the second POV character and I honestly just want to give him a hug. Mia finishes off the 4-strong friend squad that’s central to the novel and she is a diamond of a character too. The extended cast include popular Katrin, who happens to be Malcolm’s step sister, work colleague Brooke, and the twins’ gem of a grandmother. Each of the characters are fully realised and flawed and believable. McManus constructs an air of suspicion around each of them too which constantly played with my opinions of them. I really hope she finds a way back to these characters as she has with Bayview High and One Of Us Is Lying.

Final Thoughts

I hope this somewhat lengthy review conveys just how great this book was. One of the easiest 5 stars I’ve given for all of my 2019 reads, and a book I fully intend to re-read this year too. Keep an eye out for my next Karen M. McManus book review this month as I read One Of Us Is Next after its release this week!

Blurb:

A perfect town is hiding secrets. Two teenagers are dead. Two murders unsolved. And a killer who claims to be coming back. 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. 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 them to Echo Ridge’s upper crust, but it could all change when mysterious threats around town hint that a killer plans to strike again. And the return of Malcolm’s brother doesn’t help matters. But his return is just a coincidence… isn’t it? Ellery and Malcolm both know it’s hard to let go when you don’t have closure. Then another girl disappears. As they race to unravel what happened, they realise 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.

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.