5 star, YA

Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds comes a sweepingly ambitious, high-octane tale of power, destiny, love and redemption.

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.



“You may be done with the Agon, but I don’t think it’s done with you.”

Lore is one of my favourite reads so far this year, a beautifully written story mixing the best parts of The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson.

Nine Greek gods fight to survive every seven years on earth, an event known as the Agon, losing their immortality so that new victors can be crowned with that god’s powers if they succeed in killing them. This was such an interesting premise, but by far the best part came from how Bracken integrated all the pieces together.

Continue reading “Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken”
4.5 star, YA

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

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.



Wow. Honestly after reading her One of Us is Lying series, I was already quite a fan of Karen M. McManus’s work. But after this one, I can truthfully say it’s actually my preferred book out of the three, and definitely makes me want to keep an eye out for whenever she publishes a new one.

In Two Can Keep a Secret, a pair of fraternal twins return to their mother’s hometown of Echo Ridge, where she was once the homecoming queen. Seventeen years ago, their mom’s twin sister disappeared without a trace, never to be seen again. Now, coming back, it seems as if history repeats itself as another girl goes missing around homecoming. Cryptic messages arise, spooking everyone out. Who is behind this whole mystery? Or is perhaps the town just cursed?

This is one of those whodunnits that follow multiple POVs, switching back and forth between chapters. The writing is clear, and actually, the chapters cut off quite suspensefully, making this book a real page turner. There is no shortage of excitement in this town of Echo Ridge, where there seems to be another disaster waiting to happen around every corner. Perhaps I have had less exposure to mystery novels recently, but I found the little twists and turns fairly hard to predict in this one, and that really helped me to enjoy the mystery aspect of it for sure.

I found that this was a really exciting read, and also really grew close to each of the characters despite their flaws and idiosyncrasies. Mysteries are always way more exciting when the reader feels like there are things on the line as the investigation moves forward, and my constant worrying for the main characters (and even their friends) really helped build the suspenseful ambience that I find to be the hallmark of a good mystery novel. The characters were well built, consistent to their character, and generally believable of teenagers/young adults living in a small town with a long history that precedes itself.

If you enjoy trying to guess what will happen and doing your own predictions as you read, I think you’ll enjoy this book. The little clues that are left by the author, and the way things are tied up together at the end make a lot of plausible sense, so the events didn’t feel too forced, and that is another important factor for a well written novel. One of the main characters actually reads a lot of mystery novels/true crime as kind of her core character, so it was also interesting to see how that really shaped her perceptions of what was happening to her, and how she fought to explain phenomena that was happening around her.

Overall Recommendations

Two Can Keep a Secret revolves around the small town, Echo Ridge, and the mysterious circumstances around which they keep losing their homecoming queens. Fast-paced, and full of suspense, you can’t help but feel sorry for these teenagers who get caught up in the cross-fire, or in the shame of their family’s past. If you enjoy a mystery that has lots of elements coming together for a spectacular finish, this may just be the one for you. Following very relatable teenagers caught up in their mess of a hometown, this is sure to be an exciting read for any YA mystery lover.

4 star, adult

Review: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon’s sparkling romantic comedy debut.

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.



The Ex Talk is a fun and heartwarming story about storytelling and connecting with one another. The premise follows two rival coworkers at a radio station, Shay and Dominic, who are told to host a new radio show about exes giving out relationship advice. First of all, do we trust the advice coming from people who have broken up? But then again, if this was a real podcast, I’d probably be one of the first to check it out, let’s be honest.

This enemies-to-lovers trope was super well done. It’s one of the tropes I enjoy reading about, but I find some books have too much bitterness in the initial relationship that I don’t feel the blooming love, or they were practically like friends from the start. It isn’t the case here. Shay and Dominic are very different people. She’s content with her place in life while he’s ambitiously shooting up the ladder as fast as he can, potentially stepping on a couple of toes in the process. I liked that their differences were honestly explored so that their attraction and eventual deeper feelings made sense. Otherwise, it would just be lust, wouldn’t it?

The pacing was a little slow going at first, but I learned a lot about being on the other side of public radio from these parts. We also have other focuses in this story, including Shay’s feelings about her mom remarrying after the loss of her dad a decade ago. I liked that we got so much insight into why radio was so important to her, and the ongoing struggle holding onto the one thing she shared with her dad.

Some interesting things that stuck to me from other books in the romance genre was:

A) Dominic was Korean and I loved that it’s such a nonchalant thing thrown in there. I don’t see nearly enough Asian male romantic leads who are not written by Asian authors. Plus, a bit of the Korean American culture is present when Dominic introduces his favourite Korean restaurant foods to Shay.

B) Shay is about 6 years older than Dominic, a fact that is constantly highlighted. While some people may think this is no big deal and the emphasis Shay made in her own mind about being with someone younger may seem annoying, I kind of get it, especially for people in their 20s with different milestone markers that you hit in the decade. I’m in my 20s and I empathize with what Shay is feeling. Dominic had just graduated from his masters while she had been working for several years now. Maybe he seemed a little young in that sense because he was just starting out.

It’s not quite the norm as much as older men dating women a lot younger than them or in different life stages. But that makes me like this change more because it’s not always seen, and it helps normalize this for hopefully future generations.

C) The show snippets between chapters were some of my favourites. I don’t read enough romances to know if this is absolutely unique, but I really enjoyed the transcripts for some of their episodes and fan reviews of the show. It created a little bubble of fun and airiness as a breath of fresh air even when the emotion of the story intensified.

I also liked the way Solomon went about concluding this story. It wasn’t super neat with a bow on top. There were messy feelings, real life decisions and an understanding that we may not always have it together or know where life is leading, but that’s okay. The romance felt real even with the issues that came up (um, lying to everyone on your show?). This book is definitely cute AND heartwarming, a nice dive into relationships and what makes or breaks them.

Overall Recommendations:

The Ex Talk has a fun premise about fake exes pretending to be exes to host a relationship show. As that description depicts, it’s a mix of laughter and intensity, especially when real feelings chase these rival coworkers where feelings should not exist. The pacing was steady and the emotions just ramp up as you cheer for Shay and Dominic for their show’s success but more importantly for their happiness that may only be found in each other. I liked this more than I initially thought, and it definitely left warm feelings in my heart long after the book was closed.