4.5 star, YA

ARC Review: The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious #4

After solving the case of Truly Devious, Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.

Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.

But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls—the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.

Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.

But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.

**The Box in the Woods comes out June 15, 2021**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

Did you think the story was over? Guess again.

Our favorite high school sleuth, Stevie Bell, is out for the summer. At home, you guessed it, bored. What’s a summer after you (technically) solved the cold case murder mystery of the century? Well, time to jump into another case, right?

While I, maybe like a lot of you who’ve perhaps read the trilogy, thought that was the end, boy am I glad that there’s more! I think I loved this one even more than the previous books. Why? Because:

A) it’s a self contained murder mystery within this one book instead of spread across 3 books where I will forget details and lose suspense with the wait time between novels

B) we already know Stevie and her friends well that it’s like slipping on old shoes and seeing them at their best (or worst) without unnecessary fanfare

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Let’s Talk Bookish – “I’m Not Like Other Girls” Trope

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where they discuss certain topics, share their opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.


Prompts: How do you feel about the “I’m Not Like Other Girls” trope in general? Have you ever seen the trope done well? Did you ever think you were “not like other girls” OR think that a girl you know wasn’t “like other girls”? Why do you think this trope became so popular? Do you think this trope can be damaging?

Welcome everyone to another week here at LTB! Another interesting topic this week, I think I notice this kind of trope more often in YA novels, although it does rear its head in the mysteries and thrillers occasionally too.

Honestly, I am never looking for this trope. It’s fairly overused, and doesn’t add much value to a story for me. I’m sure it’s been done well, but I think when it’s done well it becomes more of an undertone (setting a protagonist apart), rather than the usual blatant “she’s not like other girls” trope. Thinking back to my high school English days, a novel (almost?) always has a protagonist that is somehow set apart from the others – “noble birth” I think it was called back then. This could be like a special power, literal noble birth, or some sort of outcast perhaps, but either way, I hope it’s not only for the sake of being different from other girls.

I think the main problem about this trope, although this is also probably the main reason it’s popular, is kind of in the definition of what a “regular girl” is. Now I don’t claim to be a spokesperson or even a subject matter expert here, but I’m pretty sure the main definition of what a “regular girl” is supposed to be is super condescending and not looked upon kindly (e.g. ditzy, vain, soft-spoken, etc.). This should not be perpetuated at all. But again, in (at least Western) society, I am not surprised how this becomes the main view, and girls who are strong-willed, sassy, goal-driven (my fave protagonists!!!) are suddenly “different from other girls”.

This trope can definitely be damaging. I imagine that girls (and non-girls!) of all ages will be reading such novels and assessing themselves according to what is being portrayed as desirable or non-desirable. There is something to be said about being unique and your own person, but I don’t think it’s that necessary to define yourself by how you compare to others. I feel that that could possibly lead to unhealthy mindsets.

Is there even really a real thing called a “regular girl”? I feel like society arbitrarily defines what the average girl should be like. But I seriously doubt that if we assessed the traits of everyone on earth and put them on a scale, that we’d come up with any standards of what a “regular person” should be. As unhealthy as toxic masculinity is towards boys, I feel like this “not like other girls” trope could also cause the same damage. Obviously it doesn’t necessarily cause damage, but I think there is that danger when the trope is so widespread.

What do you all think? Am I just overthinking it? I don’t personally hate the trope or anything, it just doesn’t feel like it adds much value for me, and I don’t try and compare people to what I think they “should” be. However, I do really enjoy reading books where the female protagonists are “not like other girls”, haha! That doesn’t mean I have anything against the characters that aren’t though. But see where that distinction is? By putting one type on a pedestal, you inadvertently push down others, which I think is where the danger lies.

Do you all agree? Or maybe I’m just a bit over-sensitive. Let me know in the comments below!

book vs movie, buddy review

Book vs Movie: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Welcome to a book vs. movie review here at Down The Rabbit Hole! As anticipated, we have now finished watching The Woman in the Window together, as well as previously having read the book together in a buddy read (for which we gave a 5 Drink Me Potions rating!). We have decided to rate the movie adaptation at only 3 Drink Me Potions though, and we will discuss a bit below as to why. As usual, no spoilers will be given so don’t worry about that, and read on!

Plot Comparison

Overall, we thought that the movie did a pretty good job at staying true to the plot elements in the book, and the story was generally the same with regards to the build-up, set-up and finale. However, many things were also left out, possibly in the interest of time. Generally the feelings that were portrayed and the atmosphere that was set up was almost exactly as expected, and in fact, the house is more or less what we imagined (albeit a lot bigger).

Some major plot points that were different included her online agoraphobia group that she interacted with – this was not included in the movie at all. Although this was understandable, since this likely would have been more difficult to display on screen, and would take away from the dark mysterious atmosphere they create by only viewing the outside world through the lens of Anna’s house.

Continue reading “Book vs Movie: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn”