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text 2018-09-09 21:14
Halloween Bingo - Country House Mystery
Truly Devious - Maureen Johnson

With the story taking place at an isolated boarding school with a very small number of students allowed each year, the suspects list for who could have committed the murder is very limited. In an interview, the author even described the novel as a country house mystery, so it seemed like the perfect pick for the Country House Mystery square.



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review 2018-09-05 15:52
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Truly Devious - Maureen Johnson

Overall, I found this to be a bit of a mixed bag - I enjoyed the beginning, the second quarter dragged, and then it picked up again at about 52%. 


There was a lot of classic mystery name-checking, and especially Hercule Poirot and his leetle grey cells. The main character, Stevie, is a true crime and mystery buff, and her obsession with crime fiction, especially Agatha and the inimitable Sherlock Holmes was thoroughly delightful. 


I also quite enjoyed the bits of ephemera, transcripts and the like, that we got from the 1936 disappearance and murders, which is at the heart of the book. Don't go into this book expecting a resolution to any of the subplots, though, because you aren't going to get one, This is a classic cliffhanger and the next book in the series, The Vanishing Staircase, doesn't release until next January. I was wishing that I had waited to read it until the sequel came out.


Because even though it was a mixed bag, I enjoyed it a lot and will be reading book 2 the day it drops. I need answers!


I was planning to read this one for Baker Street Irregulars, but I checked out the first in the Enola Holmes series last night, which fits perfectly in that slot. This one was published on 1/18/18, so I'm checking off "New Release" instead!


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text 2018-09-04 16:02
Reading progress update: I've read 48%.
Truly Devious - Maureen Johnson

This book started strong, with the introduction of Stevie, the main character moving into her dorm room, unpacking her books:


Sherlock Holmes on top with Wilkie Collins. Then Agatha Christie spread over two shelves, leading into Josephine Tey and Dorothy L. Sayers. She worked her way down to the modern era and ended with her books on forensics and criminal psychology. She stood back and examined the overall effect, then tweaked until the arrangement was just right. Where her books were, she was.


It has slowed down and started to drag at this point, with Stevie settling in at Ellingham Academy and meeting the other students. The student bios are a bit too precious for words, unfortunately, with the obligatory zillion-subscriber youtuber, the 16 year old publishing phenom with writer's block, the fashion icon, the brilliant teen engineer who builds particle accelerators out of straws and chewing gum (o.k., I'm exaggerating for effect, but you get the point). I'm hoping something happens. Soon.


Reading for Baker Street Irregulars.

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text 2018-08-28 05:16
First Impression: The Name of the Star
The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star

by Maureen Johnson
Book 1 of Shades of London

Here is a cautionary **SPOILER WARNING**  just in case I have inadvertently given away anything significant to the story itself.  I will do my best not to mention any big spoilers, but I don't always check myself accordingly.
Review for The Name of the Star | link coming soon



Progress on 8/27/18:  61 of 372 pages (16%)


Some other facts I picked up:

Welsh is an actual, currently used language and our next-door neighbors Angela and Gaenor spoke it.  It sounds like Wizard.


England and Britain and the United Kingdom are not the same thing.  England is the country.  Britain is the island containing England, Scotland, and Wales.  The United Kingdom is the formal designation of England, Scotland, and Wales and Northern Ireland as a political entity.  If you mess this up, you will be corrected.  Repeatedly.

The English will play hockey in any weather.  Thunder, lightning, plague of locusts... nothing can stop the hockey.  Do not fight the hockey, for the hockey will win.

I don't know how on point these facts Rory picked up really are, but I have to admit that that last one made me chuckle and decide to write an update post.

I'm actually enjoying this book despite the fact that it's so far pretty mundane as far as stories go.  The book started with the discovery of a dead body and some bloody descriptions.  But then we jump right into Rory's narration, following her from Bénouville, Louisiana, to London.  I've read other YAs before where the main character who has to travel to a new place tends to be a bit pouty and a sour sport about her own situation; too closed-minded, ignorant, and entirely too arrogant and rude for her own good.  And usually always whining.

But I'm finding Rory's "fish out of water" experience kind of fun, if only because in spite of her ignorance, she's actually being a pretty good sport about being in a place she's unfamiliar with.  It probably helps that she DID choose to come to London to study abroad herself.  And it also helps that the tone of the narration is dry, a little sarcastic, and nonsensical in a way that I love.

Rory is just an ordinary girl with no "special snowflake" stats.  She knows she used to be popular when she lived in Bénouville, but now she understands that at Wexford, she is neither popular nor unpopular and "was just there."  She's finding the curriculum grueling and panics accordingly.  She keeps quiet when she doesn't have anything to say, but will quip something sarcastic if it strikes her mood.

The fact that she's not the sporty type endears her to me, and the fact that she admits this, and the book's narration also proves this, makes her all the more likable.  Because, for one, I'm not a sporty type either--give me a couch and a book any time of the day--and second, she doesn't magically become a sporty type and even dreads going to hockey.  Nothing is more annoying than someone proclaiming how un-sporty she is, only to become the best field hockey player on the first day, without having had any idea how to even play the sport in the first place.

Rory's first day of field hockey was spent sitting out because she forgot her mouth guard.  Her second day consisted of pouring rain, heavy goalie equipment, and the inability to move despite being yelled at by the teacher to block with her arms and legs.

Man, if I had to take a mandatory sports class regularly, I'd probably keel over and die pretty quickly.

Back to the story, I'm hoping that things pick up pretty soon, because so far we've mainly been following the copy-cat Ripper murders in the news.  I'm looking forward to the moment Rory gets involved and the supernatural stuff starts to happen--in fact, I think we just met one of our resident supernatural stuff a few pages ago without realizing it yet.  Just the way his introduction was written has "I'm significant to the story plot" written all over it.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/08/first-impression-name-of-star.html
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text 2018-07-31 16:03
Highlights of July 2018
A Perilous Undertaking - Deanna Raybourn
The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson
Bog Child - Siobhan Dowd
A Poisoned Season - Tasha Alexander

I read more this July than I anticipated, chalking up 21 books.  These four really stood out for me and I'll definitely be interested to read more from these authors.


In fact, I already have Tasha Alexander's A Fatal Waltz in my reading pile at home.  I'm hoping to add the second Shades of London (The Madness Underneath) to my Halloween Bingo reading list.  If I'm lucky, I'll also be able to use Deanna Raybourn's A Treacherous Curse in the Halloween cause.


I also note that my public library has two more titles by Siobhan Dowd:  The London Eye Mystery and A Swift Pure Cry.  Once I've notched a few more titles towards this year's reading goals, perhaps I'll wander off mission with one of them.


Still a month left in the Summer of Spies!  I've got lots of good reading ahead.

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