Tag Archive | mystery

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious #1

truly devious -maureen johnson

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 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.


3.5 Drink Me Potions


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

**Truly Devious comes out January 16, 2018**

Truly Devious delivered two interesting mysteries that are connected through time, with a cast of individually unique characters.

Stevie is not your ordinary kind of girl. She loves crime with a passion, and hopes to solve an age-old mystery surrounding the school she’s about to attend. Although it doesn’t necessarily market it this way, I feel this portrayal of Stevie is akin to another young, Sherlock Holmes-esque girl protagonist, such as Brittany Cavallaro’s series. I liked this depiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed the lush descriptions of the settings. It was written very much in third-person view that mimics the feeling of older mysteries like Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. However, the downside to this was the inability to really connect with the characters, particularly Stevie. She’s not the most charming and sociably likeable girl so feeling the extra distance with her didn’t make it any easier in really investing in her and what’s happening in her life.

The vast cast of characters had its ups and downs too. It definitely made the mystery harder to figure out as there’re so many people that have been introduced. It could be anyone! But at the same time, there’s less room to invest in any of these characters, so much so that they start feeling a bit two-dimensional and whittled down to their stereotypical tropes.

The romance was all right, I suppose. I love my romance in any story as I feel it adds another layer of complexity to the characters. Stevie’s not too keen on getting into a relationship, and that’s fine. There is someone I can root for in the romance department, but it’s slow-going, and you never know if he’d turn out to be the culprit.

Although this story seemed to be a rollercoaster ride in my emotions and feelings towards it, Truly Devious was an easy read that I got through in a sitting or two. The mysteries are the heart of the whole thing, and while the ending was definitely by FAR from satisfactory in solving either of the crimes at hand, it hopefully sets the stage for some more amazing twists that are yet to unfold later on. The present-day mystery took a long while to really occur which made the plot a bit slow, yet there’s something beautiful about the way that the past and the present stories really intertwine so well. Overall, it was an interesting read from Maureen Johnson and I look forward to the sequel.

But if I’m honest, I kinda wished there was a bit more closure. And that ending! I can’t believe it just stopped there. You’ll just have to read and find out what kinda twists are in store.

P.S. that letter from Truly Devious at the beginning was really what reeled me in. You’ll know it when you see it. Like a letter from your nightmare.

Overall Recommendation:
Truly Devious fits well into the genre of excellent mysteries throughout the ages, with this book featuring a past and current murder that could very well be linked. I found the book slow going at times, particularly with the present-day mystery, but the descriptions are lush and well-written and the suspense was ramped up high. I love that I couldn’t really guess a culprit in the end, but the ending wasn’t all that satisfactory as it left us with more questions than answers. If that means you have to read the sequel, then what do ya know? Guess I’m hooked till the end. Overall, a good impression of Maureen Johnson for me.

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Book vs Movie: Before I Fall

Hey everyone,

In the midst of so many book-based movies coming out in the last while, I’m trying a new segment on my blog that pits these movies with their books. Who comes out the winner on top?

This month’s BOOK vs MOVIE is Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall. Note: this post does not provide any major spoilers for those who have not read the book or seen the movie in case you wish to do so in the future.

before i fall -lauren oliver

Image result for before i fall movie poster

 

 

VS.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Synopsis:

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

Named to numerous state reading lists, this novel was also recognized as a Best Book of the Year by Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, The Daily Beast, NPR, and Publishers Weekly. It has been optioned for film by Fox 2000 Pictures.


Pros for the book:

  • it dived into more details about each repetition of that Valentine’s day that Sam had to live through, garnering more understanding about her situation and the events she witnessed (and ultimately changed)
  • the relationship with Kent was better explored – ah be still my beating heart
  • having explored the toxic emotions that you’d expect Sam would go through with every repetition (from anger to rebellion to eventual resignation/hope)

Pros for the movie:

  • stellar audio and visuals to really drive home the impact of Sam’s emotions as she learned more about her situation
  • Zoey Deutch’s acting (as Samantha Kingston) has always been amazing in my opinion and she really captured the transformation of Sam’s personality as the same day keeps repeating
  • Halston Sage (as bestie Lindsay) was spot-on for what I’d always imagined a mean girl with some hidden depth would look like. Either way, she was perfect for this role

Cons for the book:

  • uh, the length of the first day took FOREVER to get through – why can’t everything be condensed to movie-length sometimes?

Cons for the movie:

  • No depth into the true motives and characterizations of Sam’s 3 best friends (including the vast amount of information about Lindsay and her relationship to the girl they bully)
  • Emotional insight into Sam and Kent’s relationship, no matter how one-sided it got sometimes with Sam remembering everything but Kent having no recollection each time the day reset

I thought the movie overall followed the book well enough (and it shouldn’t be surprising if author Lauren Oliver was given room to help produce this movie). The tidbits into emotional depth and further character development in Sam would be hard to achieve on screen no matter what kind of movie as that’s the beauty of a book – the first hand experience of the protagonist’s experiences.

However, there is clearly still a winner in this. And that of course goes to the BOOK.

before i fall -lauren oliver

I recommend you read it, especially if you’ve watched the movie. For a full review on the book, you can find that here.

Feel free to comment below on your thoughts/opinions on the book or the movie! Are you a fan of Zoey Deutch as I am?

 

Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

one of us is lying -karen m mcmanusOne of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.


4 Drink Me Potions


One of Us is Lying was as good a mystery as its particular style of narration among 4 main characters. It was a delight to read!

I don’t know about anyone else but the synopsis initially reminded me of The Breakfast Club. A couple of students coming together in detention class, hmm? I find that’s what attracted me to this book in the end. A familiar feel to it while still being completely its own novel that wasn’t exactly like anyone else.

I adored the back and forth POVs between the 4 suspects – er, I mean protagonists. It gave us a chance to slowly discover each person’s backgrounds, and of course, their deepest secrets that Simon somehow found out. The slow reveal had my blood curdling. I couldn’t decide on who I thought was hiding something even from us, the omniscient reader. And that’s half the fun of it, right? For a mystery lover, the culprit wasn’t immediately made known to me and that’s what I love. The ability to guess. And change my mind as more details come to light.

And I think the who-dun-it answer would a) surprise some and b) be the perfect conclusion that made the most sense. I believe it’ll satisfy even the most hardcore of mystery lovers. Hopefully not be too predictable either.

Besides the mystery (which definitely takes the main stage), the amount of character development in these 4 were surprising. Come on. Look at that synopsis. They’re cliched stereotypes of typical high schoolers. The smart one/nerd. The hot jock. The most-envied blonde girl. The hot bad boy. Yet through this ordeal, each had to grow from their mistakes, their secrets. Some secrets were more surprising than others, and likewise, some personal changes were also more astonishing. Either way, this was brilliantly executed.

You romance lovers out there! Never fear. There’s a bit of somethin’ for you too here. Unsurprisingly, a potential love match was developing between Nate and Bronwyn. Maybe I’ve read too many Katie McGarry novels but this didn’t seem so out of the blue to me. It never overshadowed the main components of the book, but it was a relevant component of both their POVs and helped them deal with their own problems. It was cute and just the right amount.

What else can I say? Since the beautiful hook in the synopsis, I was reeled in deep. I might’ve expected something a bit more from this novel (hence the less than full rating) but it’s sure to be a winner for most people.

Overall Recommendation:

One of Us is Lying does not disappoint in its main mystery. From the fun cliched cast of suspects to the craziness of Simon’s death, the slow reveals of this novel kept me happily guessing at the real culprit. With plenty of character growth in each of the protagonists and even a blossoming romance between two of them, I seriously only have good things to say about this book. Mostly fast-paced and steeped in delicious secrets, I’m sure this book would delight you too.