Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) – Maureen Johnson


Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) – Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1)

Title: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1)

Author: Maureen Johnson

Release Date: January 16, 2018

Publisher: HarperCollins

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 416

Source: Barnes and Noble

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.

4 out of 5 stars


I would give the first half of this book 3 stars, but the last 150 pages TOTALLY redeemed it. I couldn’t stop reading the last part of this book because I was completely hooked. Again, I find this to be a common trend that I’m having recently because of my lack of time to read. I always want to be reading and enjoying books, but I just don’t have multiple hours a day to spend reading, but when I have the time, I enjoy the book so much more.

I have a plan to read more consistently, though. I’m going to actually do the #readingafter10 started by Ariel Bissett on her Instagram, and I’m going to limit the amount of time I spend on my phone. I don’t know if anyone else uses the Screen Time setting on your iPhone, but it blows my mind. Last week I spend 18 hours on my phone. 18 hours of wasted time. I could have finished around 3 more books in that time!

Anyway, aside from the little tangent, I really enjoyed this book. It’s been awhile since I read a mystery so it was really fun to try and figure out everything that was happening in the book.

I really liked the characters of this book, and I was kind of shocked that they were so young. I guess that’s just me getting older, but it’s weird to read about 14 year old high school students when you’re 19 and in college. I, for some reason, just always imagine the characters I’m reading about to be my age even if they’re totally not. Again, that’s a me thing, not a this-book-kind-of-thing.

I REALLY can’t wait to read the second book in this series because this one ended on such a cliffhanger. I need to know about the murders, the dry ice, the tea box, the… everything. I want to know what happens next!

I think this was the perfect book to read around Halloween time *even though it’s technically the beginning of November now.* It was spooky and suspenseful, but not scary. Scary books just freak me the freak out, but I love a little spookiness around spooky season.

I can’t wait to read the next book, because the plot is thickening and I’m so excited for it.

Review: Dear Evan Hansen – Val Emmich


Dear Evan Hansen – Val Emmich

Dear Evan Hansen

Title: Dear Evan Hansen

Author: Val Emmich

Release Date: October 9, 2018

Publisher: Poppy

Format: Audiobook

Page Number: 368

Source: Scribd

Dear Evan Hansen,

Today’s going to be an amazing day and here’s why…

When a letter that was never meant to be seen by anyone draws high school senior Evan Hansen into a family’s grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to a lie he never meant to tell, that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.

Suddenly, Evan isn’t invisible anymore–even to the girl of his dreams. And Connor Murphy’s parents, with their beautiful home on the other side of town, have taken him in like he was their own, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his closest friend. As Evan gets pulled deeper into their swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows that what he’s doing can’t be right, but if he’s helping people, how wrong can it be?

No longer tangled in his once-incapacitating anxiety, this new Evan has a purpose. And a website. He’s confident. He’s a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. Until everything is in danger of unraveling and he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself.

A simple lie leads to complicated truths in this big-hearted coming-of-age story of grief, authenticity and the struggle to belong in an age of instant connectivity and profound isolation.

4 out of 5 stars


I heard one of my close friends gushing about this musical when it came out. He told me that I should read the Wikipedia page and start listening to the soundtrack right away. I took his advice, but felt like a poser because I didn’t think I had enough information. So when I saw that this was coming out as a book, I was IMMEDIATELY sold.

Dear Evan Hansen follows Evan as he’s starting his senior year of high school. He has severe anxiety and really doesn’t want to go to the first day, but his mom convinces him to go. He broke his arm over the summer, so she tells him that maybe he can have people sign his cast for him; get him to step outside his comfort zone a little bit. His therapist has been telling him to branch out and “put himself out there,” so he decides to go to school.

It’s just as bad as he thought it was going to be, but he keeps up with his therapist’s assignment of writing letters to himself by starting with: “Dear Evan Hansen, Today’s going to be an amazing day and here’s why…” He’s printing off his letter for his therapy appointment after school, and the school’s bad boy, Connor Murphy, starts talking to Evan while he’s printing out his letter. Connor asks Evan if he can sign his cast, but then Connor notices that the letter mentions his little sister Zoey, and immediately becomes defensive and takes the letter.

Connor committed suicide that very same night of the letter incident, and the letter was found in his pocket. As the letter was addressed to Evan, everyone starts to think that they were friends. Evan is called to the office the next day and is told the situation by Connor’s parents, but instead of telling the truth about the letter, he starts to weave these lies about how he and Connor were secretly best friends, all for the benefit of trying to spare his family’s feelings.

This book was so beautiful and powerful, and I think it would be amazing to read for a high school setting. The soundtrack of the musical is also amazing, and is so wonderful to listen to after reading this book. I loved the message of this book and will recommend it to plenty of people in the future.

I related to Evan as a character because of his anxiety and spiraling thought patterns. I know that anxiety is ridiculously hard to cope with, and sometimes you don’t realize you’re anxious until after the fact. I loved the way his character was written.

I also loved that the perspective changed throughout the book between Evan and Connor. It added such depth to the storyline, and I just can’t gush about the book more.

I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 because I felt like the pacing was a little strange at certain points. This could be because I haven’t had an extended period of time to read so it felt a little scattered.

Again, I think so many people could benefit from reading this book and listening to the soundtrack. I really want to go and see the musical live, but the tickets are so expensive… ugh life is hard. But on the bright side, this book is amazing.

October Wrapup


Read:

  1. Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) – Neal Shusterman *review*
  2. Wanderlost – Jen Malone *review*
  3. Boredom (Death Note Volume #1) – Takeshi Obata
  4. In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It – Lauren Graham *review*
  5. Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) – Cassandra Clare *reread review*
  6. Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don’t – Michael J. Losier *review*
  7. Confluence (Death Note Volume #2) – Takeshi Obata