Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Truly Clever: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

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Truly Clever: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Truly Devious
Maureen Johnson
Genre: Mystery, YA
Publication date: January 16th, 2018
by Katherine Tegen Books

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Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.
-A copy was provided by Katherine Tegen Books for review-

I somehow missed that Maureen Johnson had a new book coming out this month and only found out like a month or two ago. That shows you how I’ve been doing on keeping on top of all the new releases. Spoiler alert, its not good.  I actually had not read any Maureen Johnson prior to reading Truly Devious but had heard so many good things about her other books. Plus I am absolute garbage for books that have boarding schools and this one even had a fun murder mystery involved. I am going to be a spoilsport though and start off by focusing on the bad because I really enjoyed the book and would rather end on a more positive note.

Ellingham academy sounds amazing but… I felt like it wasn’t conceptualized properly or at least to its full potential. For starters, it’s a free school open to all overachieving children and yet the majority of the population at this school seems rich as fuck. To the point where the MC feels uncomfortable?  Something about that just didn’t sit well to me. If the author had made that decision because she was making commentary on socio-economic classes and privileges, that didn’t not come across in the text at all. And really, it just seems like really bad outreach on the school’s part if the majority of the students are largely from one socio-economic background.

Something about the academy in general doesn’t really seem inviting to me. We know its an exclusive academy but part of it just makes me feel bad about myself. As a reader, I couldn’t help but think I would never be good enough for this academy even though I know I love learning. Perhaps that’s more of a personal hang-up than a fault with the book.

When all was said and done though, I had such a good time with this book. I was a little iffy when we started because the MC seemed to have certain characteristics that I thought would just be written off as ‘quirks’ but Stevie really is such a great character and it helped that she had such a supportive cast of both friends & adults who were there for her and pushed her to be her best self.

A majority of the book is dominated by Stevie and her narrative, and I would have liked to have seen more of the secondary characters BUT that doesn’t mean that their appearances weren’t meaningful. Plus, given Stevie’s personality and the plotline, it seemed to make sense we didn’t get to spend as much time with the lovely secondary characters.

One character who I for sure wouldn’t have minded seeing more of was David. For those who enjoy good banter in romance, I would like to present you with this quote from the book:

“The fact is,” he said,“I liked you from the first moment I saw you, when you looked like you wanted to punch me in the face for just being alive.”

IF THAT DOESN’T HAVE YOU EXCITED, I have NO idea what would do the trick. None whatsoever. The romance in this book is super mellow but it hits all the right notes for my little romance-loving heart.

Now, if you’ve read about a 100 or so of my reviews, you’ve probably noticed that I usually spend a 100 years talking about the plot. I did find it slightly awkward that the book flipped back and forth between past and present but, the focus is on the present and I could live with the snippets of the past. The murder mystery set in the present in Truly Devious is so carefully crafted and ends on A note. It isn’t a cliff hanger per-se butttttttttt I would probably punch someone for a copy of the sequel right now so that’s where I am.

Basically, I am a FAN and truly enjoyed this cleverly written novel. If you love YA mysteries and a boarding school setting, this book might just be for you.

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

A Short Guide To Teas

A Short Guide To Teas

Posted by on 01/15/2018 • 6 Comments

 

First of all, Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. day! Unfortunately we seem to be alive in a time where it feels like all of his work was for naught. I have a lot more feelings in general but today is not for me and I don’t feel like its my place, today of all days to talk about //my// feelings. Anyway, I do hope you’ll take the time to reflect on the work and words of Martin Luther King, Jr on this day.

Today, I am going to be talking about TEA!!! If you know me, you know I LOVE my tea. I constantly joke about getting an IV drip for tea because I run on tea. On a regular day, I consume somewhere between 3-5 cups of tea….

Fresh Batch (January 14th – 20th)

Fresh Batch (January 14th – 20th)

Posted by on 01/13/2018 • 2 Comments

Fresh Batch, posted weekly, keeps you up to date on the hottest releases of the upcoming week.

Flavor of the week:

Truly Devious Maureen Johnson Series: Truly Devious #1 Publication date: January 16th 2018by HarperCollins

Goodreads Purchase

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school…

‘Stranded in an Airport’ Story I’ve Been Waiting For: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

‘Stranded in an Airport’ Story I’ve Been Waiting For: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

Posted by on 01/12/2018 • 3 Comments

The first discovered Jessica Brody with 52 Reasons to Hate My Father. She immediately had my intention and I really wanted to read everything she wrote but I quickly found out that perhaps everything she wrote wasn’t for me. Which is unfortunate because I really enjoyed her writing style. But then I came The Chaos of Standing Still, a book that demanded my attention.

At 403 pages The Chaos of Standing Still is not a short book but don’t let it fool you. Those 403 pages FLY BY. There are books I’ve read where even 300 pages feel like they are too fucking much but Jessica Brody knows how to pace a story well. In fact she probably deserves an award because there have not been many times in my…

Rashika’s Meet Cute

Rashika’s Meet Cute

Posted by on 01/10/2018 • 3 Comments

Meet Cute is an adorable anthology of stories I felt were personally written for me. I didn’t actually know the book was coming out until like mid-way through last year. That in itself isn’t entirely odd in of itself but like for a book that just screams RASHIKA, clearly, I should have known about it. Shout out to my friend Holly who saw the book at ALA in June and thought of me even when I didn’t know Meet Cute was a book I needed.

I digress though. I don’t really want to review this anthology. I can wholeheartedly say it was worth the read and that I didn’t dislike any of the stories. There were maybe 2-3 that didn’t do much for me but even then, I did not…

Self-Care in 2018

Self-Care in 2018

Posted by on 01/08/2018 • 10 Comments

  New Year, New Me, right? 2017 was a rough year for me, personally and just on a larger political scale. I am really hoping 2017 will at least bring good things on a personal scale or at least won’t try to take me on an intense emotional coaster; however, I am not holding any high hopes for not experiencing high amounts of stress because the world is falling the fuck apart. I am not trying to be pessimistic though, I just know that even if good things happen, I ~will~ be stressed out and so since the year has only barely begun and I haven’t experienced any high amounts of stress yet, I thought I’d do a post centering around what ~I~ plan to do for self-care this…

Fresh Batch (January 7th – 13th)

Fresh Batch (January 7th – 13th)

Posted by on 01/06/2018 • 2 Comments

Fresh Batch, posted weekly, keeps you up to date on the hottest releases of the upcoming week.

Flavor of the week:

Nice Try, Jane Sinner Lianne Oelke Publication date: January 9th 2018by Clarion Books

Goodreads Purchase

The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people…

Sequel Smashers: The One Where Rashika Takes On Sequels

Sequel Smashers: The One Where Rashika Takes On Sequels

Posted by on 01/05/2018 • 6 Comments

I have a problem. It’s called me picking up shiny new series and never reading sequels. It doesn’t matter if the sequel was the most anticipated thing or the least, I DON’T READ THEM. A quick browse through my Goodreads showed I have ~at least~ 100 sequels I have NOT read. This is not even including series where more books come out after the sequel I didn’t read. This year, I have decided enough is enough and decided to fix this problem; especially because I even BOUGHT a lot of my anticipated sequels and never read them. Basically, I seem to have a problem where I buy books I am looking forward to and then never read them? Last year, I focused on reading more backlist books and this year,…