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The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson, the final book in the Truly Devious trilogy. This was a fun mystery trilogy to read, despite some minor gripes!

The Hand on the Wall by Maureen JohnsonThe Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
Series: Truly Devious #3
Genre: Mystery
Release Date: 21st January 2020
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .

She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.

In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.

The Truly Devious series is one that started out really strong. I was hooked by the mystery in the first book, and by Stevie’s love for true crime, and so I absolutely flew through these books.

That said, Truly Devious is still the strongest book in the series. I strongly believe that the following two books, The Vanishing Stair and The Hand on the Wall, should have been combined into one book. The Vanishing Stair turned into a filler, and The Hand on the Wall lacked the same snappy writing that I loved in Truly Devious.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy The Hand on the Wall, because I did. I enjoyed learning even more about Ellingham Academy, and I enjoyed reading about all the reveals and the characters putting everything together. It was a lot of fun, and I always enjoyed how Johnson flicked between the past and the present day with her storytelling.

Another thing I really enjoyed about The Hand on the Wall was the side characters and their relationships. Not David, of course (more on him later), but Stevie’s other friends are all pretty wonderful, and contributed a lot to the story. I could have read a whole book just about the friendship group, to be honest.

Now, David. I hate him. His relationship with Stevie is the most unhealthy thing, and I’m honestly annoyed and upset and offended that Maureen Johnson keeps trying to push this pairing on readers – especially since the majority of her readers are teens.

My exact problem with David is how he spent two books completely ignoring Stevie. He spoke over her, he refused to speak to her, and he flat out pretended she didn’t exist, no matter how much she tried to address him. He later claimed this was partly for her protection, which is bull. I’m so unhappy with this unhealthy relationship, and I’m really unimpressed that Johnson kept it going.

The Hand on the Wall isn’t a bad book, but it’s certainly not the strongest in the series. It was fun to get some closure and to see the friendship group again, but I couldn’t get over the unhealthy relationship or the fact that the final two books should really have been combined into one.

Review: Suggested Reading by Dave Connis

Review: Suggested Reading by Dave ConnisSuggested Reading by Dave Connis
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 17th September 2019
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” hit list. The iconic books on the list have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises. Students caught with the contraband will be sternly punished.

Many of these stories have changed Clara’s life, so she’s not going to sit back and watch while her draconian principal abuses his power. She’s going to strike back.

So Clara starts an underground library in her locker, doing a shady trade in titles like Speak and The Chocolate War. But when one of the books she loves most is connected to a tragedy she never saw coming, Clara’s forced to face her role in it.

Will she be able to make peace with her conflicting feelings, or is fighting for this noble cause too tough for her to bear?

I picked up Suggested Reading because it said it was perfect for fans of Moxie (which I haven’t read yet but I feel like it’s one of those books that I should connect with, ya know?) and I was like “YES! A bookworm fights the system!” So I was super hyped. Unfortunately I was disappointed.
I had multiple issues with Suggested Reading, and they all began because I just could not connect with the writing style. First of all, it was all over the place. You know that writing style that feels really bitty and disconnected and unedited? That’s what this was. I struggled to follow the plot because the writing style just didn’t flow.

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Review: Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

Review: Heroine by Mindy McGinnisHeroine by Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 12th March 2019
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.

The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.

With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.

But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.

I always enjoy Mindy McGinnis’ books, and Heroine is no exception. I went into this book knowing that it was going to be dark and difficult, and it was, but I also greatly appreciated reading about Mickey’s story.

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Review: Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Review: Opposite of Always by Justin A. ReynoldsOpposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 5th March 2019
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.

He almost made valedictorian.

He almost made varsity.

He almost got the girl . . . 

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves.

Opposite of Always is a very hyped book, and I can see why. I read it back in February, and as someone who’s not normally a fan of romance and main characters who are all about their romantic relationships, I ended up really enjoying it.

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Review: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

Review: Sea Witch by Sarah HenningSea Witch by Sarah Henning
Series: Sea Witch #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 31st July 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Everyone knows what happens in the end. A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss. But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends. One feared, one royal, and one already dead.

Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch. 

A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.

Sea Witch had a lot of potential, and I think with some fine-tuning it could have been really good. Unfortunately, I was all hyped up for a dark Ursula origin story, but this book turned out to be more of a romance that really dragged in the beginning.

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