Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Book cover for Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson.
Title: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1)Author: Maureen JohnsonPublisher: HarperCollinsPublication Date: January 16, 2018
Summary (from Goodreads): Author Maureen Johnson weaves a tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a new series. 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.

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Review: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Book cover for Batman by Marie Lu.

 

Title: Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2)Author: Marie LuPublisher: Random House Books for Young ReadersPublication Date: January 2, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):  Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

 

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Series Review: The Lone City by Amy Ewing

 

Title: The Lone City
Author: Amy Ewing
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Dates: September 2, 2014 to October 4, 2016
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

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I am not normally a fan of the dystopian genre, but The Lone City impressed me. This series is very political, and there is so much action. I enjoyed the main character’s talents and the descriptions of the city. The Lone City is addictive and the perfect series to binge.

The concept of this series is very intriguing. It tells the story of a divided city with the poor around the edges and the rich in the middle, known as the Jewel. Violet, the main character, is one of the less fortunate and is taken to train to be a surrogate for the wealthy. I really enjoyed the mix of politics and suspense, and the surrogates’ abilities are so unique. The Lone City series is gripping, and I would recommend it to those in search of a dystopian about women’s rights.

Violet has a lot of personality, and I enjoyed her voice. She is compassionate and determined, but also rebellious, as expected of a dystopian novel. Although Violet has no rights, she is not afraid to defend herself and her friends. I loved reading about her past, and I especially loved how she plays the cello. Violet can be pretty naïve, but overall, I found her to be likeable.

The world of The Lone City is well-developed. Sure, a walled city isn’t super original, but the politics and the citizens’ views really make the reader think. What I really enjoyed is the fact that the main characters travel throughout the city over the course of the three books, so we get to see every district. I would have appreciated a bit more backstory about the city, but the story still makes sense.

The Lone City is a dystopian series containing politics and special abilities. The main character is defiant, and the world is logical. I would definitely recommend this series, even to those who don’t necessarily love the dystopian genre.

Series Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

 

Title: Just One Day & Just One Year
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Speak
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
Stars: 3.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left.

Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

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Just One Day has been sitting on my bookshelf for years now, and I am glad that I was finally able to pick it up. It is a story about travel and identity, and the main character is so real. I tried reading the sequel, but it didn’t compare to the first book at all, so I set it aside.

This book tells the story of a girl who spends a perfect day in Paris with a stranger. The next day, he is gone before she wakes up. Allyson returns home and goes to college, but can’t stop thinking about Willem. This book is all about the aftermath of a perfect day and discovering your true identity. I loved reading about Allyson’s adventures in Europe, especially since I am a sucker for books about travel. If you are looking for a book that is both cute and heartbreaking, I would definitely recommend Just One Day.

I really enjoyed Allyson’s character. She is independent and ambitious, and she really transforms throughout the book. Allyson learns to take risks and go out of her comfort zone every once in a while. Her character is so relatable, and the emotions she feels are so real. I just wish she was a little bit more considerate of some of her friends.

I tried to get into the sequel, Just One Year after the massive cliffhanger at the end of Just One Day, but I just couldn’t. From what I read so far, it is basically the same story, but told from Willem’s point of view. To me, it wasn’t as interesting, and I didn’t like the new characters as much. I feel like the two books should have been combined into one.

Just One Day is an inspiring story about the aftermath of a one day adventure. I really enjoyed the main character and her transformation. I personally didn’t enjoy the sequel, but the beginning is worth the read to find out why Willem behaves the way he does.

Series Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter

Title: Heist Society
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: February 7, 2010-November 15, 2016
Stars: 4/5

Summary (of book one): When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

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Heist Society is the second series of Ally Carter’s that I’ve picked up (the first being the Embassy Row books), and I can safely say that she is right up there with my favourite authors. Heist Society is an original series about a group that plans and executes heists. The main characters are all so likeable, even if they are a bit clichéd. This series perfectly balances lightness and action, and it is perfect for those looking for some quick reads.

I love the concept of this series. It follows a group of teenagers who execute heists to re-steal valuables that have been stolen. The heists are so well planned, and every single one is logical. What is interesting about these books is the fact that they are actually based on real events, like the Nazis stealing paintings. The books are suspenseful and action-packed, but are also lots of fun. I have always been a fan of heist stories, so the Heist Society series is just what I’ve been looking for.

Kat is an amazing main character. She is brave and clever, and she is good at working on a deadline. What I especially appreciated about her character is the fact that she understands that she can’t do her job on her own, so she forms an epic squad. I enjoyed how every character has a significant role in the heists, and they all come up with the schemes together. The characters did seem a bit stereotypical, and hearing about Gabrielle’s long legs every chapter does get a bit annoying, but it didn’t ruin the book for me.

Of all the books, my favourite was definitely the first one, Heist Society. I feel like it has the best plot, and it’s the most original. After that, all the other books felt repetitive, and a little bit unnecessary, if I’m honest, but they’re still interesting to read. I do also wish that the holiday novella was a bit more festive, but I guess it’s hard to be super festive in a book about thieves. There are still some loose ends left after the third book, so I am hoping that we get a fourth instalment soon!

The Heist Society is a fast-paced series about a group of teens who plan heists for good. I loved the cast of characters and the main character’s intelligence. My favourite of the books was the first one, but I still enjoyed the whole series. If you are looking for a quick and light series that will also keep you on the edge of your seat, I would definitely recommend this series.