Genre: Mystery


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

The Infinite Variants of YA: The One Where Caleb Roehrig Chooses b/w an Alpaca and a Pony

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Posted by on 03/28/2017 • 0 Comments

HELLO and welcome back to this fancy feature that Nick (Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist) and I are collaborating on! This month I have a really fun interview to share with the famously amazing Caleb Roehrig to share with you. He is hilarious and just as much fun to talk to as his book is to read! If you haven’t already read Last Seen Leaving, get on it because its a YA mystery you don’t want to miss. NOW. PLEASE PUT YOUR HANDS UP (or flail around, I don’t have a preference) for Caleb Roehrig!!!

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1. You’ve travelled A LOT. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you want to live and why?

Oh, man. I have definitely done a lot of travel, and I’ve…

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A Fun Mystery: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

Posted by on 02/17/2017 • 6 Comments

This book has an unfortunate cover given that its insides are so different. To Catch a Killer as pitched as being great for fans of Veronica Mars yet this cover screams cheesy mystery. Luckily, To Catch a Killer is a well-written mystery that is fun to follow along and hella engaging. It is one of those books you are going to stay up reading saying just ONE MORE CHAPTER (spoiler alert, its never one more chapter, its usually the entire fucking book.)

Sometimes I’ll read mysteries and wonder how the MCs have the resources and ability to solve the big case just based on educated guesses but To Catch A Killer throws in forensics into the mix and everything is GREAT. EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE. I totally guessed the murderer a couple pages in but…

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Posted by on 02/01/2017 • 11 Comments

Holy shit. THIS BOOK GUYS. Allegedly was one of my most anticipated books, but my co-worker who read it before I had a lot of FEELS (not good or bad, just FEELS), so I was a little nervous when I dove in. I had no idea the book would grip me and NOT LET ME GO. I read the 373 page book in a little over 2.5 hours. I GOBBLED IT, all while growing more and more anxious as I could feel something B.I.G. coming.

This book treads all the fine lines ever. There is no easy black and white in this book and it goes to lengths to make sure YOU KNOW THAT TOO. Justice, family, life cannot be put into little boxes and Jackson really explores what is right…

ARC Review: Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly

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Posted by on 11/25/2016 • 0 Comments

I’ve been waiting to read Trouble Makes a Comeback for a while now and it completely exceeded my expectations. It was also a comfort read I picked up post-election because I needed something that would make me feel good even for a short period of time. Trouble Makes a Comeback did just that.

Digby is back (after disappearing for 6 months and not keeping in touch) and so is trouble. Honestly, I was so worried we’d be waiting for a part of this book for Digby to be back. I couldn’t handle that wait but HE WAS BACK starting first chapter and I have so much love for him. He is a precious cinnamon roll too good, too pure for this world. One of the complains I had in Trouble is…

Review: And the Trees Crept in by Dawn Kurtagich

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Posted by on 09/08/2016 • 8 Comments

I read The Dead House last year and immediately fell in love. It was eerie, scared the bejezus out of me, and twisted my mind into a pretzel. I LOVED the thriller aspects, the mystery and just the plain horror of it so I was excited to dive into And the Trees Crept In. While I definitely enjoyed the novel, I wasn’t as blown away by it as I was by The Dead House.

This novel starts with a happily ever after. Silla and Nori  have escaped their abusive household and are ready to start over at their aunt’s but then things go downhill. Kurtagich is the queen of building tension. When I was half-way through the novel, I had no idea how things could get any worse but holy…

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Posted by on 06/14/2016 • 0 Comments

I read this one a while ago and got busy and kept forgetting to post my review for it. I have really been enjoying the Fear Street Relaunch books, and I enjoyed this one too. It’s dark and creepy at times, but not really scary. I thought the story was really fun and interesting. I liked that there was more than one type of danger going on, and how it all came together at the end. The characters were great and well done.

Emmy was pretty much your typical high school girl. She likes to hang out with friends, her boyfriend, party, and do things she’s not supposed to. Only, she gets herself in way over her head when she’s snuck out to go camping with her boyfriend and some…

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Posted by on 04/22/2016 • 3 Comments

This was one of those rare books that actually stumped me until almost the very end. I am usually very good at figuring out a mystery and what is really going on, but this one kept me second guessing myself the whole time. It was fantastic and held my attention the whole time. The characters were great, and the emotional impact was spot on. It was a bit slow moving at times, especially to start, but it really helped build things up. One of the major things I noticed (and loved) was that there was no romance thrown in. It wasn’t necessary and it would have taken away from the story.

Tessa has had a very rough childhood. Her father is in jail, and her sister and mom have abandoned…