Tag Archives: truly devious

Gift Ideas for Christmas

Christmas is coming. I mean, some people have had their decorations out all month. And I know that gift lists are already being shared. If you are looking to add to your list or are looking for a gift idea for someone else, I may be able to help. I have read a lot of books this year (and some in years past) that I think are very noteworthy and would make great gifts

For the kid selections, I will preface this with the fact that these books are based on my own experience of having a toddler. Here are some of our favorites this year.

I try to buy a new Christmas book every year, and this year my favorite children’s book author released one in September called All The Colors of Christmas! In a nutshell, it’s a beautifully illustrated, beautifully written book full of nostalgia and the real meanings of the Christmas season listed by color.

The Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson is a double murder mystery set in an elite boarding school. Each of the three books in the series reveals a little more of the clues of each mystery, one set in the 1930s and one present day. The character growth and inclusion in this series is stellar. I wrote about the first one here.

Neal Shusterman’s The Arc of the Scythe series is a bit more science fiction. It faces the ideas of death, mortality, love, and humanity in a three book series. It also strives to be inclusive as well. While the ending wasn’t what I expected, it was still a fun ride. The first book’s review is here.

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton, which is more of a straight historical fiction based on a hurricane that Florida in 1935. It follows three different women as they are searching for different things within their lives, defining what freedom really is in a post-WW1 America.

For a literature friend, or someone who loves Jane Austen books, The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner is an absolute delight. There is the trigger warning of pregnancy loss, but I felt that it was appropriate and well done. I wrote more about it here.

The last three are my favorite authors, so any from them I would recommend, but here are a few ideas.

Deborah Harkness who wrote the All Souls Trilogy. She is a professor and historian which comes across in her books in a beautiful way. I first read Discovery of Witches back in 2014 and wrote this review.

VE Schwab, or Victoria Schwab, is also an amazing author who writes YA, Adult, and Middle Grade. There are so many I could recommend. Most of her books are in paranormal or fantasy genres. Her middle grade series starts with the City of Ghosts which is excellent, and the next (and I think final) book in the series is coming out soon, so it would be a fun series to read straight through!

Erin Morgenstern hasn’t written as many books, but the ones that she has are amazing, lyrical fantasies. I would recommend Night Circus first, though her books are not connected. I just felt like the Night Circus was a little easier to follow for someone who hasn’t read her before.

This year there have been a lot of books about race and racial justice, and a lot of suggestions in this category from years past. I haven’t read nearly as many as I would have like, but if you have someone in your life who is reading these topics, I would recommend How to Be Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi. It follows his own journey in social justice, people who inspired him and mistakes he made.

Another book in this category that leans more towards history, particularly within the church is The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby. I learned a lot about the evolution of the church in America, both white and black.

And finally, Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski has to have been my all time favorite book this year. It changed the way I saw stress and how I was contributing and sabotaging my own life. Game. Changer.

There are so many books that I loved this year, that it was hard to suggest just a few books. What are some books you have enjoyed this year?

November Favorites

It’s almost the end of the year!  On to the November Favorites

Book of the Month

I had a few books I really enjoyed this month, but Truly Devious was really good.  And I’m looking forward to the next book in the series in January.  I wrote a review for this book here.

Baby

So, originally, I bought this outfit by ZOEREA because I thought his Halloween costume wasn’t going to come in on time.  It actually did serve as a warmer version of his costume, but we have actually just had him wear this on cooler days.  Plus, my husband loves the hat.  He basically wants him to wear this hat all the time.  It is pretty adorable.  You can check it out here.

Beauty and Fashion

Sephora at JC Penny had a face mask sample kit available this month, and I’ve been loving a nice face mask or serum at the end of the day lately.  It’s just a little bit of pampering that helps me relax before going to bed.  I tried this one, which was in the kit, and absolutely loved it.  It really does feel like you are putting dirt on your face, but my skin felt so soft and lovely afterward.  It’s definitely in the running as one of my all time favs.  You can get it for yourself here.

Entertainment

I waited until after Christmas to start indulging on all the sappy Christmas movies.  We don’t get the Lifetime channel, but Netflix seems to be bringing their own game this year.  I’ve seen this one, The Princess Switch, and the Holiday Calendar, and I was surprised that I liked this one better than the other.  Although both have their moments of cheese.

The premise of The Princess Switch is pretty straightforward.  One rich girl who longs to be normal convinces an average girl that happens to look exactly like her to switch places.  And there is a baking competition thrown in (with some very elaborate cakes showcased at the end).  Even though it is completely predictable (which is good with my anxiety), it was really well done.  It’s sweet and a nice hour and a half escape to a far-off village where royalty and sugar cookies are the highlights of the day.

What are some favorites you have been enjoying this month?

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Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson: A Review

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had heard so many people talking about how good this book was, and I thought it would be perfect to read in October. It’s a double murder mystery with many twists and turns.
Stevie loves a good murder mystery. It’s an obsession, really. And when she has an opportunity her junior year to attend a ritzy school with free tuition that also had an unsolved murder, she took it. But when there is a death on campus, her detective skills have to work overtime, to the detriment of her relationships and schoolwork.
The plot is pretty fast-paced. Most of the chapters include both the present day story and snippets from the original murder mystery from the 1930s.
Stevie’s character transformation was really well done. She arrives at the school with anxiety and a loner mindset but slowly learns to trust, have that trust broken, and trust again. The ending revealed a surprise that might test that trust yet again. I’m looking forward to learning more in the next book.
There is profanity in the book. It shows up in the later chapters so it took me by surprise. As far as sexual content, there is a makeout scene, kissing, and some discussion of sex but no graphic sex scenes. And the violence in the book is not graphic at all. The deaths are not discussed at length, though they do describe the position the body is present day is found in.
Overall, I thought it was a good mystery, not too scary and perfect for this month. The book ends in a major cliffhanger, so I’m definitely anticipating the next book in January!