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review 2018-10-16 04:18
Truly Devious for Baker Street Irregulars
Truly Devious - Maureen Johnson

This is weird and why I consider my own ratings to be bunk: In June I picked this up read the first chapter and abandoned it. Just wasn't what I felt like reading. But it was on the list for Baker Street Irregulars, and I usually like Johnson, so...and I made it to the second chapter and then I was reluctant to put it down. Loved it. So Gothic romance and Nancy Drew and Sherlock and a boarding school too. Nom nom nom. I liked Stevie even as she exasperated me.

 

 By this time seems like I should be better at telling the difference between Not for Me and Not for Now, but no. Midnight in the Garden was probably the first book I picked for this Bingo, and I gave up entirely. Twenty five or so years ago I loved it. Go figure. 

 

Library copy 

 

 

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review 2018-10-01 22:05
The Madness Underneath / Maureen Johnson
The Madness Underneath - Maureen Johnson

After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Deveaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends.

But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades - the city’s secret ghost-fighting police - are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.

 

I read this book to fill the Baker Street Irregulars square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

I jumped at the chance to read this second book in the Shades of London series, having enjoyed the first book so much. Although I liked this one just a touch less than the first one, it was still an engaging read.

I think the reason that I found the first book so charming was Rory’s school routine and her friendships. The banter of this Southern girl with her British school mates really made that book into a special thing. That’s why I would rate this book probably at 3.75 stars, because Rory is away from school for most of the story—she’s trying to persuade her parents to let her go back to school, or she’s back at school and realizing that she’s too far behind to be able to finish with her cohort (and therefore skipping school to do her ghostly investigations). Her ghost-fighting police friends are great too, but Rory doesn’t have the same kinds of conversations with them.

This installment also gets much more serious and there is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end—I’ll have to go on to the third book to find out how things resolve for the Ghostbusters. Mind you, I was planning to do that anyway!

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review 2018-09-24 02:59
Thoughts: 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

 

 

The Day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion.  For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school.  But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city--gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific work of Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses.  Except one.  Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect.  But she is the only one who saw him.  Even her roommate, who was with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man.  So why can only Rory see him?  And more urgently, what is he planning to do about her?

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.



I haven't read a lot of YA in a long time, at least a couple years, maybe, or four.  Honestly, I don't remember, because I just kind of drifted away from it.  I might have read one YA book here and there, but I think I eventually gave up picking up anything YA unless by an author I know I love.

But all of that isn't really the point of this review.

I'm glad that I randomly chose The Name of the Star as my read for his year's Halloween Bingo, for the Baker Street Irregulars square (see end of post).  And I'm glad that it turned out much more interesting and fun than I had initially anticipated.  Mind you, I didn't expect it to be bad or anything, I just wasn't really expecting anything at all.

But I found myself quickly loving Rory's tone and her dry snark, and her random tendencies to get excited about the strangest things--like no hockey today!--and loved that she was extremely honest.  And I loved that she wasn't the typical mopey, outcast, and misunderstood YA heroine who is hated on by all the girls, but whom every male has a secret lusting attraction towards.

Rory was just an ordinary girl who traveled to England for high school, who became just another student at Wexford, who made friends and went to class and stressed about homework, like any other normal high school girl.  She had friends, both boys and girls, and there were no mean girls or overly broody alpha boys.

And then she picked up a fancy new gift after a near death experience, and ended up being the sole witness of a Ripper murder.

The truth is, I normally would have hated how dragged out a lot of this book ended up being in the beginning, and even some parts in the middle.  There was a very mundane, everyday feel to each chapter, like a boring "A Day in the Life of Aurora Deveaux."  But Rory's voice and her telling was actually kind of fun, and while a lot of detail was probably excessive, I found I enjoyed the short tangents into her family and her life back in Louisana.  Call me contradictory, because I probably would have condemned another book for being so banal.

But Rory made it interesting.

It took a while for the actual story to start up, truth be told, and meanwhile, there was a nagging voice in the back of my head wondering if we were ever going to get Rory involved in these Ripper copycat murders.  And the moment she starts seeing the ghosts, it wasn't hard to figure out how things would go from there--aside from the continuation of mundane, everyday activities, because I hadn't expected the book to keep that up.

I suppose for many others, this book might come off boring, as there is very little action, and a lot more focus on Rory's school life and her interactions with her fellow Wexford classmates.  I would have liked to have seen more scenes with her and the squad of youths known as the Shades, really, but I'm guessing that will take place more in later books.

Meanwhile, I will admit, I truly enjoyed The Name of the Star a lot, much more than I had thought I would, and that makes me extremely happy.  I will also admit that there was a point that I stopped reading this book at night because I was afraid of seeing the ghostly Ripper at my bedroom door...


***

Halloween Bingo 2018
(mystery that involves children/teens in crime solving)


Other Possible Squares:

  • Genre: Suspense
  • Ghost stories
  • Supernatural
  • Darkest London
  • Amateur Sleuth
  • Terrifying Women
  • Murder Most Foul

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/09/thoughts-name-of-star.html
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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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