Friday, February 23, 2018

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson {review}

Truly Devious
by Maureen Johnson
publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
release date: January 16th, 2018
hardcover, 420 pages
intended audience: Young adult
series: Truly Devious, book 1
source: received from publisher for honest review
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.

~Amy's thoughts~

All Stevie has ever wanted to do was to solve crimes, and Ellington Academy is notorious for its unsolved kidnapping and murder from 80 years prior. Now Stevie feels she is living the dream of a lifetime, studying at the prestigious school for free, while also having access to inside facts on the case. Stevie just knows she will be the one to crack the case. Until, murder hits the halls of Ellington Academy once again. This time it is a student, and even though the murder looks like a suicide, Stevie isn’t so sure. Now she has two crimes that need to be solved, even though it seems like everyone is starting to turn away from her.  

A gripping page turner with twists and turns at every chapter, Truly Devious leaves readers reeling for answers, while trying to solve the mystery for themselves.  Sherlock Holmes collides with Nancy Drew in this modern day true crime mystery, where murder, riddles and drama keep a fast-paced reading tempo.

However, be warned, like a true crime mystery this book will leave your jaw dropped in shock as you finish the last page and close the cover. The beginning of an intertwining mystery series, each book is written to seamlessly blend into the next, carrying on the mystery, opening more doors than it closes.  Maureen Johnson leaves readers dangling on the edge of a cliff hanger, where readers will be left with the desire to read faster in order to find out answers, but slower so the story won’t end. While some readers might be upset about the abrupt ending, this book gives exactly what a mystery promises, sometimes there aren’t answers right away, but will be even more satisfying when the answers finally come.

I can’t wait for the next installment of the Truly Devious series, especially after the cliff hanger ending. This is the first book that I have read where the end of the book abruptly ends right in the middle of the story’s climax; where I was left sitting in shock looking for the next chapter.


Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls' Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City.

Many of the adventures Maureen's characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlog brothers Hank and John Green.


Purchase the book:   Indiebound   •   BookDepository   •   Amazon

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
by Louise O'Neill

hitting shelves May 3rd, 2018  
from Scholastic 
Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen's original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.

My thoughts: THAT COVER.  Plus yes, please give me darkly reimagined Little Mermaid that portrays her as a smart female character finding her strongest voice. It could be amazing. 

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Book Birthdays! {Feb18, week 3}

It's Book Birthday time!!

In this weekly post, I talk about a few of the books I'm excited to read that are hitting shelves this week.  Are you with me on any of these? Are there books coming out you're running to the store or stalking your mailman for that I haven't mentioned here?  Hey, feel free to comment and sell me on them! :D
And don't forget to enter down below for a chance to win ANY February YA book your little heart desires! 🎁

by Deborah Schaumberg
1880's New York, creepy asylums, mysterious men in plague masks. It sounds wildy atmospheric and I am IN.  (btw---this one is also part of our giveaway here)

by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekus
This one of those series that I haven't sat down with yet, but now that it's out in it's entirety, I'm even more excited to binge-read the whole thing together!
{Swoon Reads}

by Courtney Alameda
The descriptions on this one immediately conjures up images of "space pirates" in my head--- now I'm not sure how accurate that is, but it still has me dying to read it. ;)
{Feiwel & Friends}

Ink, Iron and Glass
by Gwendolyn Clare
So excited for this unique-sounding story about a girl and her mother who can alter reality with the written word in alternate Victorian Italy. This sounds amazing!
by Rhoda Belleza
I really enjoyed book one in this series and can't wait to see where it leads. This one is perfect for fans of The Lunar Chronicles and Star Wars.

Some exciting looking titles hitting shelves this week! Anyone up for a book-buying spree? ;D

Enter to win any YA book published in February 2018!

(note: this is the same giveaway entry form in all book birthday posts for the month.)
One winner will win a YA February 2018 release of their choice! *see note below
• Contest ends February 28
th, 2018 at 11:59 PM
• Must be 13 or older.
• Open internationally. *International winners will be required to choose a book that is available through or up to $20 value.
•Extra entries can be earned by commenting on 
any BOOK BIRTHDAY POSTS or  REVIEWS, and can be done once per post. Come back throughout February whenever you comment on my reviews and get your extra points!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 18, 2018

New Shelf Goodies {198)

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) .  My Sunday post is also where I'll share a little recap of my week, the books I've currently got my nose in and such. ;)

Two lovely things in my mailbox this week!
{out now from EntangledTeen}
Carnival setting and cursed kisses---what not to be excited about?

{coming April 24th from Scholastic}
Super excited to have this in my hands! Daughter and I have both loved this series---sad to see it come to an end, but can't wait to see what is in store for this one!

Did you happen to see yesterday's post?? If not, please click back and meet my new co-blogger, Amy--and also enter to win two prize packs, one contemp & one dark fantasy! 
 This week, I'm starting on Ink, Iron & Glass. I've heard some mixed reviews so I'm eager to see how it goes. I also started listening to Traitor to the Throne on audiobook and the world is every bit as exciting as I remember! 

Have a great week, everyone! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Welcome Amy!! An interview with my new co-blogger (✿◠‿◠)

Guys, I'm super excited about this, but after years of sneaking in a rare guest review from my BFF, I have finally sucked her into becoming an official co-blogger here at Stories & Sweeties!! Wheeeeee! ;D

So officially----meet Amy!!
Here's us!! (left to right: me, her 😉)

This gal has been my bestie partner-in-crime for 18 years. (Wow, has it been that long? LOL). We're the perfect balance to each other---we both love books, but sometimes have wildly different tastes, I'm the ultimate procrastinator, Amy jumps right in and gets things done, I'm probably one of the shyest people you will meet while Amy loves to chat away with perfect strangers---like I said, perfect balance. And through everything, we always bring out the very best in each other. ♥♥♥

So I thought it would be fun to not just introduce her to you, but to do a fun interview! 
So here we go!

From Amy:
Hello everyone! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of the Stories and Sweeties team. I remember when this blog was an idea talked about in car rides and over cups of tea, and have been a supporter ever since. I finally feel that I am home and among literary lovers of all ages.

~You're no newbie to book reviewing---tell us about your bookish history.
I have been a book lover my whole life, but for my professional bookish history I am the Book Review & Special events Editor for the weekly syndicated newspaper column- For the Love of Books for over five years now. I was also a feature writer and reviewer for the International horror magazine, Dark Discoveries, and I review for San Francisco Book Review and their affiliates.

~What got you started reading YA?
I have always been an avid reader, but as I got older I looked for the “adult” books that I was supposed to be reading, but they never really called to me. So, I would find myself sneaking Christopher Pike’s YA horror books, as my guilty pleasure read. It wasn’t until my best friend (yes, Becky) sent me a copy of Stargirl and attached a note saying “read what you love.” I picked up the book and never looked back.

~What fun things do you get up to when you’re not reading and reviewing?
I am a military wife, so I spend a lot of time at military functions or exploring the new areas we move to ( I am usually looking for amazing libraries or old places with a good ghost story attached). I also love spending my time with crafting, sewing and photography.    

~Where's your favorite place to read?
I’m not picky where I read at all. I’ll read on the couch, on my bed, outside or even in the car.

~What was your favorite book series as a kid?
Wow, that’s a hard one. The series that I read so many times the pages were worn was the Anne of Green Gables/ Anne of Avonlea series. However, as any good child of the 80’s I owned every Sweet Valley High book there was. As a teenager, horror books were banned in my house, so I hid The Flower in the Attic Series and Stephen King in-between my mattresses, but that is still a secret.

~What are some of your favorite classics? 
Well, my two childhood reads could now be considered classics, hahaha. But if you go true classic I would have to say Persuasion by Jane Austen.

~What's your favorite genre to read now?
Young adult horror and paranormal, always.

~Top 5 books of all time?
That’s like choosing your favorite child (Ok harder than choosing your favorite child, since I only have one)
I decided that I am making my first two a series, since they are impossible to choose one from.
1.Harry Potter (of course and not to sound cliché) I loved this book from the very moment I picked up a copy in 1999, and have reread the series more times than I can count.
2. The Selection Series by Kiera Cass. This one took me by surprise. I originally picked up The Selection because of the gorgeous cover, and the fact that it was getting bad reviews, and I instantly fell head over heels in love. It made me laugh out loud, cry and even throw the book down.
3. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
4.The Hollow by Jessica Verday ( I  pretty much love any Sleepy Hollow retelling)
5. My ultimate favorite little girl read- Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright. My writing idol and the woman who paved the way for ghosts to be on every little girl’s library shelf, and most likely the reason I love a good ghost story.

~If you could live in (or visit) one literary world, which would it be?
This question took a lot of thought, while there are many amazing literary worlds, there always seems to be its many setbacks as well. I am too old to want to take a tumble down the rabbit hole, or fight for my life in Panem. So, if I had my choice, I would accept an invitation to Hogwarts. I would be in a world I recognize, but I would have the power of magic, fast travel by floo powder, I would finally be able to fly, and I would be surrounded by everyone who talks in a British accent.

~book or movie?
~coffee or tea?
~cupcake or pie? 
Cupcake – of course

~What book are you currently anticipating the absolute MOST in 2018?
The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck

Among many other talents, Amy is also a wonderful photographer (anyone remember when I posted my daughter's bookish senior pics? Yea, that was her handywork!) I recently talked Amy into trying her hand at bookstagram and the girl is rockin' it!! Take a look and give her a follow!


SO to really kick off the joy of having Amy join me, we're giving away a few of the fab books featured here in her Feb reads pic! Two winners, two prize packs, one contemp, one fantasy! 
Enter below!
•must be 13 or older
• US addresses only please
•ends March 2nd, 2018

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

♥ Love @ First Lines ♥

 ♥ Happy Valentine's Day, Lovelies!! ♥

So, something a little different for today!
This week at my library, I did my own sort of take on the "Blind Date with a Book" idea that you see around all the bookstores this time of year lol.  I tweaked it a little, and here's what I came up with: 
I took a few great YA books with exceptionally tantalizing first lines and printed them on their little wraps to catch the attention of browsing patrons.  :D
It was a fun little project and I thought I'd do something similar here.  Are the first lines of these books enough to make you pick them up?
 Will it be LOVE at first lines?? ;)

Fate came for Dottie Epstein a year earlier, in the form of a call to the principal's office. 
It was not her first time there. 

The Metropolitan Theatre simmered with the heat of more than a thousand bodies packed together in red velvet chairs. My nose itched from the lingering scent of cigarette smoke wafting off the gentlemen's coats---a burning odor that added to the sensation that we were all seating inside a beautiful oven, waiting to be broiled. 

It is the first day of November, and so, today, someone will die. 

My big brother reaches home in the dark hours before dawn, when even ghosts take their rests. He smells of steel and coal and forge. He smells of the enemy.

Seven hundred and thirty-three days after my mom died, forty-five days after my dad eloped with a stranger he met on the internet, thirty days after we then up and moved to California. and only seven days after starting as a junior at a brand-new school where I know approximately no one, an email arrives. 

Apologies to the people who love it here, but Claremont, Oklahoma might actually be a circle of hell. 

And lastly--my personal favorite:
I'm on the toilet at the 9:30 club, and I'm wondering how mermaids pee

Do you have any favorite first lines?? Those kind that suck you right in and you must keep reading?  Please share! :D

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

What the Woods Keep
by Katya De Becerra

hitting shelves September 18th, 2018  
from Imprint 
What the Woods Keep is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerized right up to the final page.

On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She's getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it's all catching up with her: her mother's mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father's outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden's own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden's mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

My thoughts: Ooooh, is it just me or do the Macmillan imprints have the market cornered on all the spooky, woodsy fairy-tale sounding stories? This sounds magical and I CAN'T WAIT. :)

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?