The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

Summary:
The Truly Devious series continues as Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery.
Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.
But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls—the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.
Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.
But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.

Book Cover

Review:
The Box in the Woods is a standalone Truly Devious mystery. I really loved the Truly Devious trilogy, so I was beyond excited to read this one. I chose to listen to the audiobook. I was going to save it for an 8-hour drive that I had coming up, but I started listening to it the day before my drive while I was packing. I ended up listening to more than 50% of the book before I even got in the car. I just couldn’t put it down. Being back with Stevie and some of her friends, it was really such a joy.
Stevie is spending her summer working at a grocery store and studying dollhouse crime scene replicas. Sounds thrilling, right? Yeah, Stevie didn’t think so either. When she gets an email from the CEO of Box Box (a company that sells…boxes) asking her to come be a summer camp counselor at the camp where the Box in the Woods murders took place, how could she say no? She has Nate and Janelle tag along with her for the summer. She’s supposed to be working with the camp’s owner to create a podcast about the Box in the Woods murders. But as she talks to the owner and to some of the locals, she starts working on her own. I liked Stevie, Janelle, and Nate just as much as I did in the trilogy. It’s a murder mystery so, there’s obviously high stakes and suspense. I think this was well done, just as it was in the trilogy. I think Stevie did a great job finding new details and putting the pieces together.
Overall, I really liked this book. I wasn’t at all surprised by that. I want a million more standalone Truly Devious mysteries, please and thank you. I loved the summer camp setting and the bits of the small-town setting that we got. I just really had a good time listening to this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

GoodReads Summary:
At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem. Deeply atmospheric and ingeniously plotted, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a highly original debut.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn HardcastleReview:
This book was an absolutely wild ride. We follow Aiden Bishop as he’s placed in the mind of eight different guests. He has eight days to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. Each of the eight days, Aiden is in the mind and body of a different guest. I don’t know how to explain the experience that was this book. We didn’t know who the next guest would be, but at the same time, Aiden was still in the mind of his previous hosts. Anything he did in the present host could potentially affect the things he had already accomplished. This book was beyond complicated and confusing. Each new day we learn a little bit more, and the mystery unfolds a little bit at a time. This author did an incredible job of keeping the reader in suspense and giving enough answers to keep the story going at a good pace.
When we find out what’s really going on, I was blown away. I’m not going to spoil anything, so I’m going to keep this review short. The intricacy that was this book is honestly amazing. I am blown away by Stuart Turton’s brain and his capability to make this story what it is. There were so many details and connections.
My only complaint is that I still had a few questions when I finished the story. I felt like there were one or two things that weren’t answered or weren’t clarified enough for me.
Overall, I will absolutely be reading this author’s next book. I was captivated by this story. It sucked me in and wouldn’t let go until the mystery was solved.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

GoodReads 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:
I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book and all the others that Maureen Johnson has written. So when I saw that it was immediately available to borrow as an audiobook from my library I thought I’d give it a try. I’m glad I did.
If you like murder mysteries this will absolutely be a book for you. The story follows two mysteries. One that happened years ago that, while someone was convicted of the crime, many still think of as unsolved, and another following our main character, Stevie, and the adventure she embarks on in an attempt to solve the decades-old murder. I was sucked into this mystery right from the start. I love stories about kids going away to boarding school and Ellingham Academy is one that sounds awesome. The school itself is shrouded in mystery with tunnels and mysterious students and what not. I think this book ultimately left me with more questions than it answered.
The characters were fantastic. Stevie is a Sherlock Holmes nerd and aspires to be a detective when she’s old enough. She’s constantly questioning everything she sees and everything she knows. She’s just an inquisitive person. This seems to rub some individuals the wrong way. Her two closest friends, Nate and Janelle, are great. They both have distinct and unique personalities that made me laugh and kept me interested. I liked this combination of three together. They balanced one another out well enough. Then there were the other three students living in the same dorm as the three friends. Because they all lived together they became a makeshift group of friends who sat together at lunch and dinner times and did other miscellaneous things as a group. Ellie was totally out there. I liked her for most of the book. She was the wild child, the free spirit that did what felt good and said what came to her mind. Hayes was the airhead. An aspiring actor, he came off as kind of flaky to me. He seemed to have a bigger sense of self like he thought he was better or more important than everyone else but didn’t make it super obvious like the typical snob. Then there’s David. I liked him right from the start, even though Stevie didn’t. I don’t know what it was that made me like him, but I liked him the whole book. He was probably my second favorite after Stevie. He was just so intriguing I guess. I think maybe it’s because learning more about him was like pulling teeth. Stevie mostly tried to stay away from him, until she stopped trying to stay away and started to try to get to know him. Much to her frustration, he wasn’t interested in letting her learn a whole lot about him. I think that mystery is part of what made me like him so much. And then, of course, the way this book ended (HELLO CLIFFHANGER) just makes me want the next book so that I can know what is actually going on in the world because the lack of information is literally going to kill me.
Anyway, overall, aside from the cliffhanger that left me asking more questions than I got answered through the whole book, I loved it. I thought the audiobook was read very well. The story was interesting and kept my attention the whole time. I ate up every word of both present day and past mysteries. I can’t wait for the next book to come out so that maybe I can have my sanity returned because I don’t even know what just happened with that ending.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Girl in the Spider’s Web – David Lagercrantz

Summary:
She is the girl with the dragon tattoo- a genius hacker and uncompromising misfit. He is a crusading journalist whose championing of the truth often brings him to the brink of prosecution.
Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female super hacker- a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering. Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. The secret they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, cybercrimials, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it…
The duo who captivated millions of readers in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest join forces again in this adrenaline-charged, uniquely of-the-moment thriller.
Review:
I started this book very skeptical. I really loved the first three books in the Millennium series, but this fourth book, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, is a continuation of this series, but it’s written by a different author. I really wanted to read it because I’ve become very attached to these characters but I wasn’t convinced it would be as good as the first three Millennium books. While I was partially right, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I did enjoy reading The Girl in the Spider’s Web.
The new author, David Lagercrantz, wrote about these characters perfectly. Salander was still portrayed with her with the fiery passion she is known for. In this book, she outdoes herself by hacking the NSA in hopes to find information on the continued operation of the criminal organizations her father started while doing this she finds so much more. This is when Blomkvist comes into the story. He gets a call from a source who wants to give him a story. This source feels that his life is in danger and needs to give his knowledge to someone if anything were to happen to him. Sadly he is killed before Blomkvist can make it to him. And so starts another one of Blomkvist’s crazy scoops.
One of the things I didn’t like about this book was the way it started. The story starts off with Millennium being down and had recently sold shares to a big corporation that had ulterior motives to change the magazine and to get Blomkvist off the staff. While I can understand that The Girl in the Spider’s Web takes place quite a few years after The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s nest, so many things have changed and it almost seems as if they didn’t really do anything in the time between these two books. If so many years have passed it would be reasonable that Blomkvist could have and should have come up with another story in that time. Maybe not nearly as crazy as the stories he finds in these books, but I find it hard to believe that he found so little that the magazine was having trouble staying afloat. That just doesn’t seem reasonable to me.
On the other hand, something I really liked about this book was the villain. I’m going to try not to give anything away because the identity of the villain is definitely a huge plot twist that I didn’t see coming. They brought yet another person from Lisbeth’s past into the mix. And it is indeed very crazy. I also see Lagercrantz writing another book to the series. I have a strong feeling he’s not done with this villain’s story. I don’t think the Millennium series will be able to be over until Lisbeth defeats all of her demons.
I definitely liked this book; maybe not as much as the first three in the Millennium series, but Lagercrantz did a very good job with the characters I’ve come to love and added yet another crazy plot twist to their stories. I can’t wait to see where the next book if there is one, will take us. If you read the first three books in this series you should give the forth a chance, it absolutely surprised me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

The Space Between Trees – Katie Williams

Summary:
Harmless crush-or cunning killer?
Evie’s not sure why she started lying about her friendship with Jonah. Jonah is older, a college dropout with broad shoulders, a streak of scarlet in his hair, and mystery in his eyes. When Evie talks about him to the girls at school she invents a nonexistent romance out of a minor crush. More than anything, she just wants something to happen. But when Jonah discovers a body in the woods-a girl Evie knew when she was little-Evie’s lies grow more complicated. And she finds herself hunting down the killer, she realizes her lies are the only things she can trust.

Review:
The Space Between Trees was one of those books that I judged by its cover. I saw it at the book store and said to myself, “Hmm, this looks like it could be interesting.” I read the excerpt on the back of the book and continued to think that it could be interesting. It took me a little while to actually pick the book up and give it a try after I bought it. This book was kind of strange. I couldn’t tell where it was going until the secrets came out. The story line was pretty easy to follow, it was the usual murder mystery, with some twists. The Space Between Trees started out pretty slow. I struggled at parts. The middle definitely went by a fair bit faster because I just wanted to know what was going to happen. This book kept me guessing the whole time. I was completely wrong about all my guesses (which I usually am). I was kept on my toes through every page. Which is something I really enjoy, I think I get more into the book when there’s more suspense. The Space Between Trees was a good book to break up all of the paranormal books I read. It was a nice change of pace.
The main character, Evie, is a very strange girl. She has a group of “friends” she calls The Whisperers; she really just sits with them on the bus and at lunch. She creates this relationship with Jonah that doesn’t actually exist, which was weird. I mean, sure, exaggerate things to your friends a little. But she doesn’t consider these people her friends and the relationship she talks about isn’t real. She acts as if it’s a game she’s playing. This continues for most of the rest of the book with more than just The Whisperers. When Zabet dies Evie’s lies get worse. She puts herself in a position she has no business being in. Honestly, Evie is really naive, or maybe even just stupid. She lets herself get pressured into situations that she can’t handle. She’s not a girl I’d want anything to do with in real life. At the end of the book Evie does in fact end up doing the right thing and tell everyone the truth. I still didn’t like her very much.
Next is Hadley, the girl that was Zabet’s best friend. Hadley is a very determined girl. She’s headstrong and demanding. If things don’t go her way, she finds another way to get exactly what she wants. Hadley is an excellent manipulator, Evie’s proof of that. I think Hadley has a lot of issues that weren’t actually talked about in the book, but they were very obviously there. She stops at nothing to find Zabet’s killer and ends up going too far. Hadley’s paranoid about anyone and everyone through the entire book. She fixates on one small detail and lets it become her whole world. Hadley takes things too far and in my opinion should be put away somewhere.
Jonah, where do I start? He’s the mysterious older guy that Evie pines over. His job is to go through the woods and collect all the animal corpses. He’s kind of a strange character. Jonah is the one that finds Zabet’s body, which involves him in all kinds of drama. He’s a relatively simple character, a pawn of sorts. He has a huge presence in the book, even though he isn’t actually present. He’s talked about quite a bit but isn’t actually around much. I liked him a lot. I actually felt really bad for him by the end of the book. He doesn’t deserve how he is treated.
Overall, The Space Between Trees was a bizarre book really. It had the predictable story line, then just kind of went all over the place. It was suspenseful and exciting. Any readers that like mystery and suspense would like this book.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.