Friday, June 8, 2018

Looking Ahead: Two Can Keep a Secret

Who's excited about Karen McManus's upcoming book, Two Can Keep a Secret? For more information about the novel, please see below for the following release by Penguin Random House.


TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET to be released on January 8, 2019, with 250,000-copy first printing

New York, NY (June 7, 2018)—A new stand-alone novel from Karen M. McManus, author of the breakout teen thriller of 2017 and New York Times bestseller One of Us Is Lying, will be published on January 8, 2019, with a first printing of 250,000 copies, it was announced today by Beverly Horowitz, Senior Vice President, Publisher, Delacorte Press.

McManus’s debut novel, One of Us Is Lying, has spent 46 weeks and counting on the New York Times bestseller list, has been sold in 37 foreign territories, and is currently being developed into a TV series by E! Network.

With TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET, McManus has penned a murder mystery set in Echo Ridge, a small New England town that’s hiding secrets. Seventeen-year-old Ellery’s aunt went missing there as a teenager, and recently, a popular homecoming queen was killed in a widely publicized murder. When Ellery and her twin brother, Ezra, move to Echo Ridge to live with a grandmother they barely know, things quickly take a dark turn. Another girl goes missing, and it becomes clear that mysterious threats are deadly serious. Ellery soon learns that everyone in Echo Ridge is hiding something, and some secrets have dangerous consequences.

One of Us Is Lying was named one of the best YA books of 2017 by BuzzFeed, Entertainment Weekly, and PopCrush, and was a New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age selection, a CBC Teen Choice Book Award nominee, a Goodreads Best Young Adult Book of the Year nominee, an ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee, and an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick.

“We were so excited about the success of One of Us Is Lying and to see how that book resonated with readers,” says Senior Executive Editor Krista Marino. “TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET further showcases Karen’s incredible talent for crafting thrilling mysteries with unexpected twists and compelling and relatable teen characters.”

Marino acquired North American rights from Rosemary Stimola with Allison Remcheck at Stimola Literary Studio. McManus is represented by Jason Dravis at the Dravis Agency for the TV series.

Karen M. McManus earned her BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and her MA in journalism from Northeastern University. When she isn’t working or writing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, McManus loves to travel with her son. To learn more about her, visit, or follow @writerkmc on Twitter or Instagram.

Join the conversation via #OneOfUsIsLying and #TwoCanKeepASecretBook

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Legendary Tour with Stephanie Garber in Conversation with Mackenzi Lee

On a cloudy and rainy Monday on June 4th, I was fortunate enough to finally meet Stephanie Garber who recently released Legendary, the second book in the Caraval series. I meet up with my friend Rachel prior to the event before heading to Brookline Booksmith. Thank you to Brookline Booksmith for hosting this captivating event! Rachel and I bumped into Stephanie who was with her publicist and one other person who works at Flatiron Books.

Can I say that was my favorite part of the day? Rachel and I had the opportunity to talk to Stephanie about The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw. Stephanie had the book in her hand to purchase and of course it was signed! Swan season is in the air and everyone is buying and/or reading The Wicked Deep this month! Go check it out if you haven't heard of it. We also talked about Gita Trelease's upcoming book, Enchantéewhich Rachel and I hope to buddy read with our other friend Marci. Stephanie loves Enchantée and encouraged us to read it ASAP.

When Stephanie and crew went to get ready for the event, Rachel purchased a copy of Caraval and Legendary before we ventured downstairs to get good seats. We bumped into Ellie, Lyndsay and Andi. Stephanie's and Mackenzi's conversation was perfect. Everything flowed well and they had wonderful questions and answers.

The event started off with Stephanie reading a page from Legendary. Andi called out page 29 and that's the page Stephanie read. This is Stephanie's first time reading Legendary out loud. Mackenzi mentioned that when she reads The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, she likes to read out loud in a British accent when her roommate isn’t home.

The first question Mackenzi asked Stephanie was how did Stephanie come up with book 1, 2 and 3 of the series. Stephanie said the idea came to her when she was reading Code Name Verity. Mackenzi was very excited about this fact and literally said, “No, Really?” Mackenzi loves Code Name Verity for those who don’t know already. Code Name Verity is historical fiction and Stephanie was grabbled with the thought of what if people are playing games? What if there are two possible truths and you don’t know which one is real? She also was inspired by The Great Gatsby’s party scene in the movie where Leo holds the champagne. Stephanie mentioned, “I want to write a book like this scene.”

“Centuries” by Fall Out Boy was on repeat when Stephanie was plotting and writing. The following verse sparked an idea of how she wanted to shape her second book:

Some legends are told
Some turn to dust or to gold
But you will remember me
Remember me for centuries

Stephanie wanted to write a book about a man in charge named Legend. “Who calls themselves Legend?” In fact, she originally thought Legend by Marie Lu is about a character named Legend. She was very disappointed when that wasn’t the case.

Caraval and Legendary are both visual, sensory and over the top novels. Mackenzi asked Stephanie how did Stephanie know what to pull from our world and what to invent. Stephanie sets the foundation of the novel first before she adds the visuals. She often uses Pinterest for idea inspiration. One of her inspirations is fashion by Alexander McQueen. The Deck of Destiny’s Fates are Greek Gods meet tarot cards. When Stephanie saw a pin of a woman with a cage of pearls, she knew this lady would become one of the Fates. Sometimes she sees an image and can get carried away.

With drafting Stephanie likes to layer and layer based off something real and she adds her own unique flair to it. When Stacey Lee was writing her novel, The Secret of a Heart Note, Stephanie wanted Stacey to name the book Rosemary Lily and Jack of Hearts after a Bob Dylan song. However, Stacey and Stacey’s editor were not feeling it. Hence, the Prince of Hearts was formalized for one of the Fates in Legendary. Stephanie actually wrote Caraval as a standalone originally but her editor wanted a sequel.

Mackenzi was talking about how the core of Caraval is about the sister relationship and if Caraval was always going to be a sister book. How did this book evolve? Stephanie mentioned she started outlining the book with Scarlett having five brothers but she couldn’t get past writing chapter two. She revisited the manuscript after talking to Stacey about a story about two sisters and Stacey encouraged Stephanie to write the sister book. The book took around three months after Stephanie committed to writing a sister book. The sister relationship is the heartbeat and is the center of the book.

Mackenzi asked Stephanie what has been the best of the crazy and wild ride. Before Caraval sold, she wrote six manuscripts. Stephanie was living at home with her parents and was an adjunct professor for creative writing but she was doing what she loves. Her agent left the business and there was one point when her mother said “you might have to accept you won’t be a writer.” That hurt Stephanie a lot but she persisted and kept on writing because that’s her passion.

Eventually Stephanie signed with another agent and when she received a rejection, she was excited because someone looked at her manuscript and was reading it. One morning after she went out all night long, her agent texted her “OMG, OMG, OMG! Are you awake?” It was 6:00 in the morning and her agent even texted her “This is your agent,” before telling her about the great news. Her agent texted Stephanie a screenshot from an editor who was reading the manuscript. Stephanie promptly knocked on her parents’ door in her pajamas telling them that someone read her book and loved it. Stephanie told the audience that there was “no offer but it was so validating. I wrote a book someone loves. That was my heart.”

Mackenzi talked about writing and if Stephanie wrote when she was child or was she late to the writing game. Stephanie wrote a lot when she was a kid and wanted to publish a book one day. When she went to college, she found out she likes working with college students during her senior year. She was a Students Director of Orientation aka “Director of Fun.” However, the job wasn’t good for her mental health and a counselor said that she needs an outlet. Stephanie likes to write and writing is her outlet. She mentioned that she is afraid of many things and that she didn’t know how to write but she learned as much as could about writing. Prior to Caraval, Stephanie wrote a space opera, a sci-fi-thriller and a trilogy about two sisters (not about Scarlett and Tella). The books had all of her favorite tropes.

Caraval and Legendary are written in third person POV. Mackenzi asked about how was the voice shaping Caraval. Scarlett and Tella are distinct sisters. While Scarlett has some of Stephanie’s qualities like being cautious and one who calculates things, Tella is the girl Stephanie wants to be. Stephanie absolutely adores Tella. Scarlett is fearful and deliberate. On the other hand, when Tella wants something, she will go out and do it. Tella doesn’t weigh out pros and cons. She hits the ground running. At first it was hard to write Tella but then it got easier. In Finale, both sisters POVs will be showcased compared to Scarlett’s POV in Caraval and Tella’s POV in Legendary. Each sister knows want they want and knows what drives them.

Mackenzi asked Stephanie a non-book related question and centered it around how Caravel sounds like Carvel ice cream and how would a Caraval inspired dessert or cake look like. Stephanie was very excited about answering this particular question. Caraval would be a cake with multiple layers. The cake will be covered in edible glitter but one layer of glitter is inedible. There will be hidden stars and glowing magical lights and an angel. This is when Mackenzi chimes in, “there are lightbulbs in it?” Stephanie mentioned about a layer of red velvet checkerboard filled with stardust with the occasional star in it. The last layer is black like nighttime with a layer of fortunes at the bottom where one must bite the fortune in order to receive their fortune. Also, this cake disappears while you are eating it. The last bite chooses the person who shall consume it. Mackenzi then asks, “Is this the wand that chooses the wizard?”

Mackenzi wanted to know what is something that is making Stephanie happy now. Stephanie responds with AJR's The Click album but she likes listening to "Sober Up". She loves this album because it’s upbeat, fun and has interesting lyrics. Stephanie also likes "I Wish I was Sober" by Frightened Rabbit. Stephanie then turns the table around and asks Mackenzi what makes Mackenzi happy. Mackenzi says, “Um, every dog on Instagram." She is particular fond of St. Bernards since she used to have one named Zoey as a child. “We always need some happy.” Mackenzi loves watching a dog grow up on Instagram and she actually follows a mother who writes a picture journal on Instagram about the dog’s life. Mackenzi is finally going to have a St. Bernard in The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. She also loves Doodles but not so much Poodles. She tells the audience, “you may be a Poodle but you can grow up as a Doodle.”

Someone in the audience mentioned how Scarlett reminds them of the movie Speed. And how when you meet someone, how much do you really know them? How much does Scarlett know Julian. They just met and he’s a performer. Stephanie mentions that Legendary has more information about Scarlett's and Julian’s relationship. Someone else asked what is the easiest part to write and what is the most fun. Stephanie said chapter 5 of Caraval is the easiest because it’s about Legend’s backstory. Chapter 13 in Legendary was the most fun to write.

Another person asked how Stephanie would do in a game of Caraval. Stephanie said it depends what group of people she is with. If she is partnered with her sister, she would be able to win. Stephanie said she is much like Scarlett and is very vigilant. She joked around that if she has to win, she would take a selfie with Legend. At the Legendary launch party, Stephanie’s mother wore a top hat and was telling readers to go to Stephanie saying, “Legend sent me.”

Another question was “did you always aim to write YA?” Stephanie said yes. She always wanted to write YA. She mentioned that she didn’t have a lot of YA to read back in the 90’s. She loves exploring YA and connecting with readers.

The last question was asking Stephanie what books got her into YA. When she was working in Student Development and she was one of the very first to read Twilight and got a good amount of people hooked onto Twilight. She always loved vampires. Other books she mentioned include Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr and Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor, who influenced Stephanie’s love for third person POV. Melina Marchetta's Froi of the Exiles, Mary Pearson’s Remnant Chronicles and Holly Black’s Coldest Girl in Coldtown are also other books she recommended.

I hung back chatting with some friends before jumping in Stephanie's signing line. Stephanie enjoyed last week at BookExpo and BookCon and is having a blast on her book tour so far. If you have a chance to attend a book event with Stephanie, do it! You won't regret it because she is amazing and is super thoughtful. She is very enthusiastic and she is super excited to be on this tour. She really loves her fans and it shows! If you haven't read Caraval and/or Legendary, go read these books ASAP.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Ten Books I Decided to DNF

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their ten books they decided to DNF (Did Not Finish). I usually am pretty spot on whether I will like a book based on the synopsis but unfortunately there are times when I start reading a book and find out it's not for me. This usually happens because I can't get into the plot or because the writing doesn't capture my attention. I may be a black sheep on some of the very popular books or authors but it's a personal preference. The following books are in no particular order. 

1.  The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker 

2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

3. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

4. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

5. The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian 

6. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

7. Carve The Mark by Veronica Roth

9. Even if the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia

10. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Book Events I Hope to Attend This Summer

BookExpo and BookCon kick off this week and unfortunately this year I cannot attend. I want to attend ALA Annual in NOLA at the end of June but that is not in the cards for me this year. However, just because I can't attend big book conferences, there are a lot of book events locally. I am looking forward to a few events in Boston and the surrounding metro area. I am not sure if I can make them all but I can sure try to!

Legendary Tour with Stephanie Garber in conversation with Mackenzi Lee
Monday, June 4, 2018 at 7:00 pm 
Brookline Booksmith

I am super excited to finally meet Stephanie at last. I fell in love in Caraval but Legendary blows Caraval out of the water. I cannot wait to hear more about Legendary and whatever Stephanie has planned for her fans. I am sure the event won't disappoint. Also, Mackenzi is always wonderful to see at events.

Belles and Brujas Tour with Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Cordova, Julie C. Dao and Sasha Alsberg 
Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at 7:00 pm
Brookline Village Library

What a stunning line up with strong authors who write about kickass females! This is an event not to miss! We have a good range from dystopia to a fairy tale retelling. There is something for everyone at this event.

Morgan Matson and Adrienne Kisner Author Event
Thursday, June 7, 2018 at 7:00 pm
Brookline Booksmith

It's wedding season and the kick off to the warmer months. For me, the warmer months are perfect times to read contemporary during relaxing days outside in the sun. Morgan and Adrienne will be discussing their new books at this event.

Naomi Novik Spinning Silver Author Event
Friday, July 27, 2018 t 7:00 pm
Harvard Book Store

Naomi will be discussing her retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Not only do I enjoy retellings but many people I know that had a chance to read Spinning Silver early have been raving about it. Also, who doesn't like this stunning cover art?


Gloria Chao in conversation with Karen McManus
Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 1:00 pm

I love both American Panda and One of Us is Lying. I was fortunate enough to meet Karen last year at the Boston Teen Author Festival. However, I haven't meet Gloria yet. Ironically, she will also be at this year's Boston Teen Author Festival. I just found out not too long ago about this event so I have to prioritize my time and attend this event!

What events are you looking forward to during this summer? Any authors visiting your local book store or library?

Friday, May 25, 2018

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Title: Legendary
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: May 29, 2018
Pages: 416
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun.

M Y  T H O U G H T S 

"Your future can be whatever you wish. We all have the power to choose our own destiny."

Welcome, welcome! Opening with a scene with young Donatella Dragna, Stephanie Garber reconnects her readers with similar magic and intrigue like as in Caraval. Tella likes real adventures while Scarlett likes to daydream. Tella discovers a deck of extraordinary cards in the dingy grey sachet sitting near her mother's jewelry. Exquisitely beautiful, this deck is haunting. Her mother tells her not to touch the Deck of Destiny again in probably the most elegant way possible, not knowing that Tella has secretly hidden The Aracle card. Yet this single card paved the future for Caraval and Legendary to exist.

With Garber's fantastic storytelling, Legendary is about Tella's story. Even though the game of Caraval has ended, the story isn't over. Tella has made a lot of sacrifices but she is still being tested. A friend helped her out and now she owes payment for her freedom as well as Scarlett's from their father. Tella must find out Legend's true identity or everything that she has worked for would be lost. The only way to find out is to play Caraval. However, will she be able to win the sinister game without costing her life? If she wins, will she live in regret?

Garber has reunited readers with characters besides Tella and Scarlett. We see Julian and Dante while we are introduced to the Fates, Jacks and Elantine. With the illusions and no two games are alike, I absolutely loved reading more about a Caraval game but in a different POV and set of new rules. Elantine is one of my favorite characters in Legendary with her wisdom and her motherly instinct. Yet cunning Jacks also steals the show.

Garber has illustrated vivid descriptions of the world of the Meridian Empire's capital city of Valenda. The descriptions tantalizes all the senses and piques the curiosity. Her chilling images have been imprinted in my head running its reel like a movie. The character growth in Legendary is more exponential compared to Caraval. We see Tella grow over time from when she is a young child to young woman. She has changed over the course of two rounds of Caraval. Dante has changed dramatically from the first game in Caraval to the end of Legendary. He practically does a 180. I am curious to see how they transform in the third installment, Finale.

"After all your sister didn't win because she solved simple riddles. She won because of what she was willing to sacrifice for those riddles, and for what she was willing to sacrifice in order to find you."

Legendary is deadly as it is enchanted. With secrets kept and slowly unveiled, Legend is always one step ahead of Tella and can fool pretty much anyone. Yet, can Tella fool everyone else? Is Tella willingly ready to sacrifice anything to find more about her mother? With the unrequited love and betrayal, it's hard to tell what is real and what is not real. What is fantasy and what is reality? Go on ahead and pick up Legendary after you've read Caraval. After all, it's only a game...or is it?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Character Names


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their favorite character names. The following names are in no particular order. Also, I added more than ten names because it was very hard to narrow down amazing character names. 

1. Newt Scamander, Percival Graves and Seraphina Picquery from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Screenplay by J.K. Rowling.

2. Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.

3. Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell from the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco.

4. Alice Alexis Queensmeadow from Furthermore by Tahrereh Mafi.

5. Fleur Delacour, Luna Lovegood, Draco Malfoy and Sirius Black from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

6. Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.

7. Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

8. Amatis Herondale (née Graymark) from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

9. Kestrel from The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski.

10. Mayavati from The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.

11. Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

12. John Ambrose McClaren (aka JAM) from To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han.

What are some of your favorite character names?

Friday, May 18, 2018

From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

Title: From Twinkle, With Love
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: May 22, 2018
Pages: 336
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.  

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Twinkle Mehra is an aspiring filmmaker living in Colorado Springs. She has a major crush on swimmer Neil Roy. Neil's twin brother, Sahil Roy, is a film fanatic and is his part of the film club at school. He asks Twinkle to be part of it and to direct a film for Pike Peak Charter's Midsummer Night. Not only is Twinkle ecstatic that she gets to pursue her passion but it's one step closer to getting know Neil. Sahil and Twinkle decide to film a gender bender version of Dracula. During the first part of the novel, Twinkle is very oblivious that Sahil is flirting with her since Twinkle is very into Neil who by chance hasn't really noticed her. The ironic part is that Sahil and Neil are twins and Sahil likes Twinkle. Let's just say that Sahil likes Twinkle a lot.

I noticed that in the novel, Twinkle does not have a cellphone like many of her peers which was nice to see. Because she doesn't have a cell phone, her communication with people is usually in person or via e-mail. Twinkle receives an e-mail from a secure admirer who signs the e-mail with N. Of course Twinkle believes the secret admirer is Neil.

Sandhya Menon weaves in socioeconomics within the novel with how Sahil and Neil lives in the affluent part of town compared to Twinkle who lives humbly. Indian culture and family values are important for Twinkle's family. Dadi definitely steals the show though! I love her personality and the interactions she has with Twinkle. Yet Sahil is so charming and is generally a thoughtful guy who likes Twinkle for just being Twinkle.

Throughout the novel, Twinkle's character growth is more apparent than anyone else's even though it's a rollercoaster of a ride. She learns a lot from her actions and the things she says. Menon captures the excitement of high school yet she writes about the gossip and the downright ugly parts of high school life realistically. Teens can be mean and a main reason is because people can't seem to communicate truthfully to one another.

The formatting of the novel is as if Twinkle is writing to female film directors that she admires which I found very unique. On the letters, the dates are carefully listed and the location of where Twinkle is located at. Occasionally there are e-mails, Sahil's text messages to his friend's and random blog posts scattered through out the book.

From Twinkle, with Love is an engaging contemporary novel that's inspiring for female teens. In a male dominated industry, Twinkle proves that females can be amazing directors. Her version of Dracula is so well liked, that many prominent schools and figures in the film industry contact her for interviews or to write articles. One place in Mumbai asks her to speak at an event which actually is a way for her to give back to her family. Twinkle has a chance to give her family a gift to visit their homeland.

If you love When Dimple Met Rishi, you will devour From Twinkle, with Love. Trust me, it's pretty grab!