Book Review

Book Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson

Rating: ☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary mystery
Length: 416 pages
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

UNFORTUNATELY. I WAS BORED.

The entire time y’all. I kept reading thinking things were going to amp up, and they never did. And I know it’s a series, but I was more annoyed that I felt like I got ZERO answers than wanting to read the second book. I even had a bookish friend who told me what happens in book two because I really didn’t want to read it (though I will say, it does seem moderately more interesting in case you want to pick it up).

It took til about 200 pages (halfway-ish) for anything to happen. I was way more interested in the flashbacks where the original murder had taken place than I was with Stevie at school. Most of the story focused on being in school and meeting other students (which were all trying way too hard).

The original story was interesting and I wanted that to play a bigger role in the present timeline. That really drove the story for me.

I hated most of the side characters other than Nate and Janelle. This group of three were building a solid friendship and I was enjoying seeing that dynamic. They were supporting each other and being kind when Stevie made some bad choices acting as a wannabe Sherlock Holmes (not on board with her going through people’s things).

I did NOT GET THE RELATIONSHIP WITH DANIEL. It came out of literally nowhere. Luckily, not in an instant-love kinda way, but just a flat-out, wait all of a sudden we’re making out kinda way. I did become a fan of Daniel towards the end of the story though. He was probably my favorite character.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary mystery
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a make-out
  • Violence: multiple descriptions of murder

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Book Review

Book Review: Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) by William Ritter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult supernatural
Length: 377 pages
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: June 28th, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

GETTING BETTER & BETTER.

This installment was my favorite yet, another simple quick read that I devoured in a day.

I love the world that Ritter has built. And each book has added another piece to the world itself. We get to see new locations, adventures and characters that only add to the book.

Jackaby is so fun to watch. He has some of the best small talk and one-liners and seeing him have some feelings?! YES. It’s also great that we got some back-story on him and I like this new layer it added to his character. My favorite is that this book is heavy on the friendship. And while I love romance, when a friendship is done so well you don’t even notice it’s awesome. Abigail and Jackaby have a great relationship and genuinely care for each other, what a great duo.

Charlie and Abigail took a much bigger backseat than in the previous books. Almost as if it might have been best to not even have a romance component for Abigail (unless it all comes together in book four, to be determined). I think they’re SO CUTE, but since I wish we had more of them it’s hard to love this romance wholly.

What I realized in this third book was that so much from the beginning of this series is pulling through to the finale. There’s been a lot of build-up and slowly peeling away the layers to create what I know will be an amazing finale. I love how nuanced some of these aspects have been and how it’s all falling into place.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult supernatural fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss or two
  • Violence: murder, vampires, physical, some magical

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