Review: The Vanishing Staircase by Maureen Johnson

vanishing stairGenre: YA, Mystery, Thriller

Summary:

The Truly Devious case—an unsolved kidnapping and triple murder that rocked Ellingham Academy in 1936—has consumed Stevie for years. It’s the very reason she came to the academy. But then her classmate was murdered, and her parents quickly pull her out of school. For her safety, they say. She must move past this obsession with crime.

Stevie’s willing to do anything to get back to Ellingham, be back with her friends, and solve the Truly Devious case. Even if it means making a deal with the despicable Senator Edward King. And when Stevie finally returns, she also returns to David: the guy she kissed and the guy who lied about his identity—Edward King’s son.

But larger issues are at play. Where did the murderer hide? What’s the meaning of the riddle Albert Ellingham left behind? And what, exactly, is at stake in the Truly Devious affair? The Ellingham case isn’t just a piece of history—it’s a live wire into the present.

Continue reading “Review: The Vanishing Staircase by Maureen Johnson”

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Review: This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

this lie will kill youTitle: This Lie Will Kill You

Author: Chelsea Pitcher

Genre: Horror, Mystery, YA Fiction

Summary: 

One year ago, there was a party.
At the party, someone died.
Five teens each played a part and up until now, no one has told the truth.

But tonight, the five survivors arrive at an isolated mansion in the hills, expecting to compete in a contest with a $50,000 grand prize. Of course…some things are too good to be true. They were each so desperate for the prize, they didn’t question the odd, rather exclusive invitation until it was too late.

Now, they realize they’ve been lured together by a person bent on revenge, a person who will stop at nothing to uncover what actually happened on that deadly night, one year ago.

Five arrived, but not all can leave. Will the truth set them free?
Or will their lies destroy them all?

Continue reading “Review: This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher”

Review: City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

city of the lostTitle: City of the Lost

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Mystery

Summary: Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. But that’s not why she’s on the run. Her best friend’s ex has found Diana again, despite all Casey has done to protect her. And Diana has decided the only way she’ll ever be safe is if she finds the mythical town she’s heard of where people like her can go to hide. Turns out the town really exists, and will take Diana, but only if Casey, a talented young police detective, comes too.

Imagine a hidden town, isolated in the Yukon wilderness, where everyone is pretending to be someone they’re not. Even good people can get up to some very bad stuff. The laconic town sheriff dispenses his own frontier justice, but he’s more accustomed to sobering up drunks in the horse trough, than attempting to solve the series of brutal murders that has rocked the town. As much as he hates it, he needs Casey. As for Casey, coming to the far North may have started out as a sacrifice she was willing to make for her best friend. But maybe, just maybe, she needs Rockton as much as the town needs her.

Reviews:

This is my third time reading this book. I still “Oh my god” and flail at the right times, or attempt to hide from what’s going on even though I’m holding the book in hand which is quite a feat as I’m sure you can imagine.

Kelley Armstrong has never done me wrong, and this series is no different. It is electric, fresh, and so well written I wish she would lend me just a tiny bit of her writing mojo so that I could write something just half as good as this.

This book has characters who are all entirely independent and different from each other, but share a very human commonality; they are in situations beyond their control and trying in spite of it. Their vulnerability does not become weakness, instead it becomes something that gives them strength.

I could gush for hours about Casey, and Dalton, but frankly, I think you would get sick of it. But I love them so much. And Anders.

The setting is a Canadian one, but a Canada unfamiliar to someone like me. It is wilderness, and beauty and danger all rolled into one. It is solitude and isolation. This world is an adventure, rife with adversity and yes, in this case, murder.

The wild awakens something in people that might not have been there before in this novel, or was it always there? And it just needed a push? That is the ultimate question.

Do yourself a favour, and pick this book up. You won’t regret it.

Review: All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth

all these beautiful strangersTitle: All These Beautiful Strangers

Author: Elizabeth Klehfoth

Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Scandal

Release Date: July 10th, 2018

Summary:

In the last day of summer, Grace Fairchild, the beautiful young wife of real estate mogul Allister Calloway, vanished from the family’s lake house without a trace, leaving behind her seven-year old daughter, Charlie, and a slew of unanswered questions.

Years later, seventeen-year-old Charlie still struggles with the dark legacy of her family name and the mystery surrounding her mother. Determined to finally let go of the past, she throws herself into life at Knollwood, the prestigious New Englandschool she attends. Charlie quickly becomes friends with Knollwood’s “it” crowd.

Charlie has also been tapped by the A’s—the school’s elite secret society well known for terrorizing the faculty, administration, and their enemies. To become a member of the A’s, Charlie must play The Game, a semester-long, diabolical high-stakes scavenger hunt that will jeopardize her friendships, her reputation, even her place at Knollwood.

As the dark events of past and present converge, Charlie begins to fear that she may not survive the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life.

Review:

This book was awesome. I delved into the pages, and the plot and the history of the story. The imagery that surrounded me was at times muted, and sepia toned, old memories brought to the forefront in the in between chapters; at other times it was vivid, and vibrant filled with fear and excitement.

The plot is a strong one, a mystery woven together eloquently, pulling the reader in and making them wish to stay to just learn a little bit more. There is scandal, and controversy and wonderment.

The characters are flawed, and spoiled and rich, but not unchanging. They grow between the words, and flourish, but aren’t without their shame.

Overall this is a book that is meant to draw you in and keep you there.

It is good for fans of YA fiction, of mystery, of suspense. It is cerebral in its intensity.

My only question remained: What happened to Dalton?

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

truly devious.jpgTitle: Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: YA, Mystery

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. 

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.

Review:

Love it. Love it. LOVE IT.

This is not my first Maureen Johnson book, and though I was initially sad about not getting another Shades of London book in early 2018 I am certainly not disappointed.

Also, some people say don’t judge a book by a cover, and I try not to but can we take a moment to just stare at the eye catching cover of this book, because it is gorgeous. The blue drew me right in.

I also ended my supposed book buying ban for this book. I decided I needed it that much.

It was definitely worth the money and then some. In fact I bought it as an eBook and I have already decided I need a physical copy so I can lend it to everyone right this moment.

Ellingham Academy is attractive to someone who likes mysteries like me, and I guess Stevie. A supposedly solved but not really solved mystery? Is there anything better in this world.

(Well, I guess a world without killers would be good actually. Like…optimal…)

Stevie is a character I can identify with. While I appear normal, I am often the most awkward human in the room, with some really odd interests.

The other characters in this novel, without giving too much away are also interesting in their own right, each with their own uniquely defined personalities. And some of them don’t seem like they should be trusted.

This book has three mysteries within it, and one of them doesn’t even seem mysterious at first. I was wrong in thinking that, and was rather delightfully surprised. That’s nice for me because I can be downright cynical.

Maureen Johnson is masterful in how the plot of the past case, and the new are woven in, connected to each other and drawing the reader into the novel.

Definitely a good read. I cannot wait for the next book.

Review: Hardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich

hardcore twenty fourTitle: Hardcore Twenty-Four

Author: Janet Evanovich

Genre: Mystery

Summary: Trouble comes in bunches for Stephanie Plum. First, professional grave robber and semi-professional loon, Simon Diggery, won’t let her take him in until she agrees to care for his boa constrictor, Ethel. Stephanie’s main qualification for babysitting an extremely large snake is that she owns a stun gun—whether that’s for use on the wandering serpent or the petrified neighbors remains to be seen.

Events take a dark turn when headless bodies start appearing across town. At first, it’s just corpses from a funeral home and the morgue that have had the heads removed. But when a homeless man is murdered and dumped behind a church Stephanie knows that she’s the only one with a prayer of catching this killer.

If all that’s not enough, Diesel’s back in town. The 6-foot-tall, blonde-haired hunk is a man who accepts no limits—that includes locked doors, closed windows and underwear. Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli isn’t pleased at this unexpected arrival nor is Ranger, the high-powered security consultant who has his own plans for Stephanie.

As usual Jersey’s favorite bounty hunter is stuck in the middle with more questions than answers. What’s the deal with Grandma Mazur’s latest online paramour? Who is behind the startling epidemic of mutilated corpses? And is the enigmatic Diesel’s sudden appearance a coincidence or the cause of recent deadly events?  

Review:

Janet Evanovich puts out a Stephanie Plum book and I buy it. I got this one because I heard Diesel would be back, and I’ve loved him since he first appeared. He was not disappointing here.

But Stephanie, girl, at some point you have to choose, and I’m beginning to think you should probably choose someone who isn’t Morelli or Ranger because it doesn’t seem to be working out too well for you. One of them doesn’t want you to do what you do so well (well sort of) and the other one won’t commit. It’s time.

This book was an amusing romp, and I did enjoy it. It was a nice quick read, and fast paced. The edition of zombies was amusing.

I think it might be time for a bit of a refresh in some way though.

Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

a study in charlotteTitle: A Study in Charlotte

Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Genre: YA, Mystery, Sherlockian

Summary: The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Favourite Quotes: 

“We weren’t Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. I was ok with that, I thought. We had things they didn’t, too. Like electricity, and refrigerators. And Mario Kart.”

“The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.”

Review: 

I bought this book as a vacation read and then proceeded to be so tired on my vacation that I didn’t pick it up. I definitely regret that now.

This book is good. That being said I will read anything remotely to do with Sherlock Holmes. I am that bad. Or good? I can’t tell anymore.

Charlotte and Jamie run the risk of being insufferable, annoying teenagers who think they know everything. But there’s a vulnerability to both of them that keep them from bridging that gap into dangerous territory.

The way the mystery was woven into the plot was quite nice, and there was a slow beginning but a rather speedy middle and end. It was a good romp, an adventure with a new kind of Holmes and Watson.

I will be picking up the next book.