Jul 15, 2024

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a fun meme where we gather to share what we've read last week and our reading plans for this week.


Last Week I Read:

Two Sides to Every Murder by Danielle Valentine (4.5 stars)
Truly, Devious by Maureen Johnson (3 stars)



Currently Reading:

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson



What I Plan to Read Next:

The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson



Other Posts of Interest:

Let's Discuss: A Trip Down Memory Lane
Teaser & Top Ten Tuesdays
Can't Wait Wednesday
Books from the Backlog #91
Book Blogger Hop #314
Stacking the Shelves








Jul 14, 2024

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks! The meme is now hosted by Reading Reality.


I'm not doing so good on sleep these days! I try to go to bed early as I know it takes me ages to fall asleep. My mind can just shutdown easily, so I "lay down" in bed early and just try to rest and let the thoughts run. But yeah. I'm just tired. Even on weekends when I don't have to worry about getting up early, I still can't fall asleep easily! It's nearly 6pm as I write this and I am exhausted. Of course, I did have to wake up at 5am to get myself together to make the long drive to get my oil change. You might ask why drive so far away for an oil change? Well, where I bought my car there were some issues before during the buying process so they comped me 6 oil changes! So you know, gotta drive to where it's free! Lol. So combined needing to wake up early 6 days this week with sleep issues some nights or at least last night for some reason, that makes a very tired Jessica! Lol. Otherwise the week was the usual sort. Nothing exciting, nothing dreadful. The BIGGEST surprise of all was when my B&N preorder arrived on TUESDAY...which was RELEASE DAY! It was SHOCKING! I saw that the "it's shipped" emails were coming in early, but I thought they were just pulling my leg or something so I didn't even really check them after that initial glance and then BAM! Tuesday my book was in the mailbox! Now if only they could keep this up! At least through October! But in reality, keep it up for the rest of time! Lol.


Here's what I got this week:



These Deathless Shores by P.H. Low--this literally just popped up in my Instagram feed from Orbit books this week (it also just released on Tuesday) and when I read what it was about I was immediately intrigued. Then B&N had their double stamps promo, so I thought, why not? Sadly, it was the last copy that I could find and it had a minor bent corner but since I really wanted to get it, I thought oh well. The cashier thought it was interesting too and snapped a pic! Then we had a short chat about other Peter Pan/Hook tales!
The Darkness Within Us by Tricia Levenseller
The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber--
this is the German Bucherbuchse edition! I just loved these stained glass edges! It's so pretty! I cannot wait to see what they do with ACFTL!

Then in Evelyn Skye's newsletter she was giving away signed bookplates and stickers, so I thought why not? I might have a book of hers that needs a "signature!"

THANK YOU Evelyn!!

Then I broke down and bought another t-shirt...well technically 2, but the one from Target wasn't book related, but man was it a steal! It was a clearance shirt AND I got 30 or 40% off of that so it was only $5! It was The Powerpuff Girls villains! It was in a size too big but I thought I don't care! I'll wear it around the house as a "lazy day" shirt! For $5 you can't complain! Lol.

But then this shirt...this one was bookish and somewhat on sale, not $5 but less than its usual $15 price tag. I think it was $13?

It's Belle done in red and black (so her dress is amazing!) and there's an open book right there on the bottom with 2 little skulls and creepy candlesticks and ravens...! You can see why I liked this one! It's titled: Brave Beauty!

And that was it for me this week! I placed way too many preorders over the last few days because of B&N's sale. I'm likely to cancel a few when I see authors go on their fall tours...these are my "just in case" orders. What all did you get? 

Did you take part in B&N's preorder sale? I think it's still going til the 17th if I read that correctly, which seems odd as I thought it was usually just a 3 day affair. This gives me way too much time to second-guess myself and order more...I don't like that. Lol. I can't remember if they have one towards the end of the year or if they wait til January? January would be good, I'll have more gift cards then! Lol.

Jul 13, 2024

Review--Truly, Devious by Maureen Johnson

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.

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.

I finally picked up Maureen Johnson's Truly, Devious and was pleasantly surprised by this one! I'll admit, it does start off rather slow, we're talking almost half the book before the current events take a turn for the worst. It's been eons since I read Johnson's work so perhaps I can't remember her style, although I remember loving her Shades of London series, ghosts, mystery, what's not to love? This one is just mystery sadly, no ghosts. But I felt like it took awhile for the current mystery to come into play and what we are left with was a rather long contemporary streak of the everyday lifestyle of one Stevie Bell.

So you all know I am not a contemporary reader, that mysteries and thrillers are as close as I tend to get, so that the mystery element took awhile to come into play, that was a bit of a downer for me. Yes, we have the great mystery that happened in the past that Stevie became mildly obsessed with, it's what she used as her subject for applying to go to Ellingham Academy, but man did it take awhile for something to happen!

In the late 1930s Albert Ellingham opened a school for the gifted to attend and do what they do best, learn. It was a school open for all as Ellingham was very rich and the school was a pet project for him. Then one day, he receives a mystery letter declaring that his wife and daughter have been kidnapped and so begins a lengthy rescue attempt that leads into an investigation. We get glimpses of the past case every so often through some recorded memories of some sort and the occasional recording script of interviews from witnesses. These parts were definitely interesting as there was quite a bit of mystery behind the kidnappings themselves.

Jumping back to modern day, Stevie Bell has been accepted into the elite school for what she does best, solving mysteries. Well, sort of. She's not a Nancy Drew by any means, but she does watch a lot of the crime docuseries and that kind of thing. Unsolved cases fascinate her and none like the Ellingham kidnappings have ever come across her path before. She knows the case is decades old and it's unlikely that she can solve it, but it's a pipe dream so to speak.

The rest of the students she shares a house with, a la Harry Potter style, all have different talents as well. They are all still very prestigious and bright of course, but I don't know if it was because the mystery took so long to actually start that I missed details in the beginning about who everyone was and whatnot that I didn't really take in much for the first half of the book. It was just very mundane and ordinary. But again, this is totally a me thing and has nothing to do with the writing itself. I just thought the mystery and thrilling elements would've been more present at the start of the book as well.

By midway, we finally get to the interesting bits and that involves a murder! It seems accidental at first but the more Stevie pokes at it, she begins to wonder if it might actually be murder instead! There are quite a few suspects as well for this person was not what you would call a "good" person with good intentions, they were kind of a jerk. And so begins another mystery for Stevie to be obsessed with.

This was an interesting read and I can only hope that the series will take off from here since this first book did kind of drag a bit. There was just so much ordinary business going on in the first half that I was ready to lose my mind! Not that I wanted someone to die, but I wanted something BIG to happen because nothing was really happening at all for that first part. 

Stevie was still an intriguing character! I positively loved her personality as she was kind of spunky, and very courageous! She didn't think anything of it to dive into a possible real murder investigation. She was more wanting to know the why behind the murder than really solving it the case, if she solved it, that was just bonus points. At least that's the vibe I got.

There was an inkling of romance going on as well between Stevie and her housemate David. David has an air of mystery around him as well as he's not much of a talker and keeps to himself. But he and Stevie just click and you can see the threads of a relationship budding between them, but then of course, events happen to muck that all up!

The ending was quite exciting too! Lots of things were happening and everything is left with a bit of uncertainty. While we get some whodunit answers, there's still plenty of questions and of course, the mystery from the past doesn't really get resolved either. So it's onto the next book for me! If you're a fan of mysteries and don't mind a slower pace, this could be the read for you! If the slow paces does worry you, I still recommend giving it a try because things really do amp up once the murder happens and the air of mystery becomes so very thick and tense that it made the last half of the book a breeze! Now I'm off to start the second installment!

Overall Rating 3/5 stars

Jul 12, 2024

Book Blogger Hop #314


This meme is hosted by Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addict!
This week's question is: July is the month for reading by the pool or on the beach. What's your favorite summer beach book, and why is it suitable for a sunny day? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer

MY ANSWER: I've never been a seasonal reader. Like what's the best book for summer? Or what's the best book for a rainy day? I usually just read whatever has been calling my name from the TBR pile! At times I try to do a theme, like in October I strive to read spooky or creepy books but sometimes other books can get in the way if I am prepping for an event or am re-reading a beloved author's books in anticipation for her next release! Lol.
But if I were to pick a summer read perfect for waterside reading I would of course go with Jaws by Peter Benchley, ironically! I would be protesting profoundly about going to a beach in general, but if I was forced to go and if I wasn't in the midst of a particular kind of read, then yes, I'd be that reader as far from the water as possible with my cover of Jaws staring pointedly at all the bathers. 

I'm actually kind of tempted to buy this new 50th Anniversary edition! I have what almost feels like a random cover on one of the various reprints as it looks nothing like the OG cover nor does it look anything like the movie posters! But yes, this book/movie right here is why I'll never go in the water!

Jul 11, 2024

Books from the Backlog #91


Books from the Backlog is a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your bookshelf unread.  If you are anything like me, you might be surprised by some of the unread books hiding in your stacks. This is a fun meme hosted by Carole @ Carole's Random Life in Books.


Camelia Hammond's trying junior year of high school is finally over...but her troubles aren't. After she discovers a painful truth about her family, she escapes to a summer arts program in Rhode Island. Determined to put family - and boyfriend - drama behind her, she throws herself into her artwork.









I suppose I could have just left this off at the first book and say I bought the series at large, but at some point I dismissed the idea and just added them to my schedule! Lol! So here we are again! I added Deadly Little Lessons by Laurie Faria Stolarz to my TBR in good ol' October of 2015 or thereabouts! I noted it on Goodreads at this time at least! I do remember finding the entire series at Half Price Books and I thought I picked up books 2-5 at a sale of some kind so you know, I pretty much had to buy them since they were all hardcovers and in fairly good condition!




Jul 10, 2024

Can't Wait Wednesday


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.




I still need to read the second book of the series, but I think since each book focuses on a different couple it's probably one you don't "have" to read in order, but you know I always do! Lol. But I'm just one book behind but I am super excited for this one by the bits and bobs I've been hearing about it so far!


TITLE: Dirty Lying Wolves
AUTHOR: Sabrina Blackburry

PUBLISHER: Wattpad Books
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
RELEASE DATE: September 10, 2024

New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan returns to the high-stakes, sweeping world of dragons, romance, and drama first evoked in her bestselling young adult Firelight series, in a brand-new epic adult romantasy series.

Dragons are extinct. Witches are outcast. Magic is dying.

But human lust for power is immortal.

Dragon fire no longer blisters the skies over Penterra, but inside the lavish palace, life is still perilous…especially for Tamsyn. Raised in the glittering court alongside the princesses, it's her duty to be punished for their misdeeds. Treated as part of the royal family but also as the lowliest servant, Tamsyn fits nowhere. Her only friend is Stig, Captain of the Guard...though sometimes she thinks he wants more than friendship.

When Fell, the Beast of the Borderlands, descends on her home, Tamsyn’s world becomes even more dangerous. To save the pampered princesses from a fate worse than death, she is commanded to don a veil and marry the brutal warrior. She agrees to the deception even though it means leaving Stig, and the only life she’s ever known, behind.

The wedding night begins with unexpected passion—and ends in near violence when her trickery is exposed. Rather than start a war, Fell accepts Tamsyn as his bride...but can he accept the dark secrets she harbors—secrets buried so deep even she doesn’t know they exist? For Tamsyn is more than a royal whipping girl, more than the false wife of a man who now sees her as his enemy. And when those secrets emerge, they will ignite a flame bright enough to burn the entire kingdom to the bone.

Magic is not dead...it is only sleeping. And it will take one ordinary girl with an extraordinary destiny to awaken it.


I read the Firelight trilogy eons ago! Like when it first came out, so yeah...eons ago! Lol. Not only has over a decade passed but we're looking around 1000 books almost later too! I briefly remember the first involving dragons and forbidden love, but I honestly can't remember if Tamsyn popped up in that series or not! And since I am an insanely slower reader these days I won't be able to re-read the trilogy for a refresher but since this is the start of a new series in the same world, I feel like I'll be okay. I just might miss cameo appearances! 


TITLE: A Fire in the Sky
AUTHOR: Sophie Jordan

GENRE: Paranormal Romance
RELEASE DATE: September 24, 2024