Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson

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“A girl from Pittsburgh came to Ellingham Academy and she wanted to see a dead body. She got her wish.”

Friends, you’d think a book that is centered around two different murders would be a lot more exciting and enjoyable to read. I know I sound harsh already, but I just really thought I was going to love this one. But I truly only ended up loving the atmosphere of the setting and the amazing anxiety rep. That’s it.

This story stars a young girl named Stevie, who just got invited to attend Ellingham Academy, a very prestigious, private school for the most gifted of children. Stevie has dreamed of being a detective her entire life and feels like this is going to be an amazing new adventure for her, because Ellingham Academy is also well known for a murder mystery that happened years and year ago, which was never solved, and one body was never found. The only thing that was found was a letter signed truly devious, which also quickly was destroyed.

Stevie thinks it will be so much fun to investigate the school (which is built into the side of a mountain, like, so freaking cool) but another murder soon happens to a person that she recently befriended. Now, she feels like she must get to the bottom of both of these mysteries, and she’s uncovering more and more secrets that were supposed to be kept hidden.

“Schools may be famous for many things: academics, graduates, sports teams. They are not supposed to be famous for murders.”

Trust me, I made that synopsis sound way cooler than the actual book. Stevie is a cool character though, and I liked seeing her dynamic with her very conservative parents, when she is in a much more liberal mindset. And as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Stevie has many anxiety and panic attacks throughout this story, and I honestly have never read a more realistic portrayal of how my attacks actually feel and I am still in awe of it. Like, I completely believe that this has to be an ownvoices portrayal, because it was so expertly crafted.

But another fun thing about this book is that we get to see Stevie interact with all the other kids at this private school, and they are all truly possible suspects. Yet, the reader will also be left guessing how this new murder will correlate with the one from the past that was never truly solved.

“When you have enough power and money, you can dictate the meanings of words.”

Going into this, everyone told me that the ending was going to kill me and probably make me the third victim of this tale, but honestly? It just annoyed me. Like, it was so far out there that I was just left completely flabbergasted. Especially after Stevie’s discovery prior to that wild ending. I don’t know, I just felt like it actually ended up leaving a bad taste in my mouth, and for sure didn’t make me excited to pick up the next one.

Overall, this just wasn’t for me. But please take my review with a grain of salt, because almost everyone I know loves and adores this story. I also think a big reason why this might not have been a hit for me is also because I had just read A Study in Charlotte and completely fallen in love with that contemporary murder mystery. Maybe I was subconsciously comparing the two? I don’t know, but I just didn’t love this one, friends, even though I really wish that I would have!

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Content and trigger warnings for underage drinking, panic attacks, murder, and use of the word cr*zy.

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Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, & Robin Wasserman

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1.) City of Bones ★★★
2.) City of Ashes ★★
3.) City of Glass ★★★
1.) Clockwork Angel ★★★
4.) City of Fallen Angels
2.) Clockwork Prince ★★★★
5.) City of Lost Souls ★★★★
3.) Clockwork Princess ★★★★★
6.) City of Heavenly Fire ★★★★★
*.) The Bane Chronicles ★★★

With the way that City of Heavenly Fire ended, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy! I thought this was going to be everything, but sadly I was a little let down. I mean, a few of the stories in here are the best I’ve read from this universe ( Bitter of Tongue & Born to Endless Night) but most just felt boring to me, if I’m being honest. I know that sounds horrible, but I just feel a little let down, I guess.

This anthology follows Simon during his time in the academy that spans two years and I’m assuming catches the reader up to date for Lady Midnight. But we also get to see so many other beloved characters, both from past and present. But most importantly, we get to see Simon be the person who he wants to be, after so much was taken from him in The Mortal Instruments.

Simon is my second favorite Shadowhunter character. He is Jewish, he is nerdy, he is funny, he is a good friend, he is selfless, and he is so very easy to love. And he really has been through so damn much in his life; none of it he asked for but was just thrust upon him. Him and Izzy are also my favorite ship, even though I think she was a little questionable during some of these stories, too. I feel like a lot of people couldn’t empathize with everything that Simon was struggling with, and it just made me sad every single time.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this, but again I did think that most of the stories were a little lackluster and left a lot to be desired. Yet, I still had a lot of fun while reading this! But I am going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!


Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy – ★★

“He waved good-bye to all these people he barely knew and somehow loved anyway, and he hoped they could not tell how relieved he was to be going.”

Yikes, we aren’t off to a good start. Okay, this anthology picks up right after the events of City of Heavenly Fire, but Simon still doesn’t remember everything that happened, but he is now enrolled at the New York Institute. We get to meet so many new students, since the Shadowhunter world is in desperate need to replenish their fighters! I already love George. I already hate Jon. I will say that at first, I was so happy with Izzy’s declaration of love for Simon, but the more and more I kept thinking about it, I kept realizing that I was showing double standards, because if a dude would have done that to a girl I would have really disliked it. I will say that I always appreciated that Simon is the *nerdy one* and Izzy is the *popular one* and how Cassie Clare really plays that opposite trope up to perfection, but Izzy’s speech was a little too much even for me. I want good angst, not forced angst.


The Lost Herondale – ★★★

“We all have our own story of the Dark War. All of us lost something. Some of us lost everything.”

We get to see Simon and twenty of his classmates try and kill their first law breaking Downworlder, but it happens to be a vampire that new Simon before his memories were lost. We get to learn a story about Tobias Herondale, the younger brother of Will, and it is heartbreaking. This story really shows how there are always two sides to a story, and in this case three. I love Catarina so very much, and I really enjoyed the message about how you have to be the person you want to be, and to always listen to your heart. Also, Jon is such a little shit. Also, also, I’m not here for the Izzy pity party, especially with everything Simon has had to go through since he got thrust into this world even though he never asked for any of it. Also, also, also there is an uncharted Herondale line? Lord, help us all.


The Whitechapel Fiend – ★★★★

“The trick to falling is not to fall…”

Oh, my word, there was a lot to like about this one! Not only do we get to see Jace training Shadowhunter kids to jump out of trees, we also get to see Tessa, Will, and Jem solving… get ready for it… the Jack the Ripper murders in 1888 London! Like, I was for sure not expecting to wake up and read that today! But what a gift!


Nothing but Shadows – ★★★★

“James Herondale was the son of angels and demons,” she said softly. “He was always fated to walk a difficult and painful path, to drink bitter water with sweet, to tread where there were thorns as well as flowers. Nobody could save him from that. People did try.”

My favorite thing about the Shadowhunter world? Seeing all these family trees! Like, it is a little hard to keep straight, especially with the Lightwoods, but it just gives me all the warm and fuzzies. Also, seeing James Herondale and Matthew Fairchild become friends gave me all the feels. Again, if you couldn’t tell by my review of The Bane Chronicles! I need The Last Hours immediately! But I also love the growing friendship between George and Simon, too! Also, that letter he wrote to Izzy? Ah, my heart!


The Evil We Love – ★★

“He just knew, on a level beneath reason and memory, that some part of him belonged with Isabelle.”

Easily one of my least favorite short stories set in the Shadowhunter world. Simon and still struggling with his memories, and Izzy is being unnecessarily cruel about it, in my opinion. Then her dad, Robert Lightwood (yuck), and her come to teach the new academy kids an important lesion, while Izzy just goes out of her way to try to lash out and hurt Simon constantly. And Robert gives the kids a flashback to 1984 when Valentine is starting to show his true intentions, but people choose to follow him anyway, for many different reasons. TW for murder, torture, and homophobia.


Pale Kings and Princes – ★★★★★

“This is how a faerie loves: with a gift.”

Easily one of my favorite short stories set in the Shadowhunter world. Summer is over, and Simon is back at the academy for his second year! But Helen Blackthorn and Aline Penhallow mean more to me than 99% of the characters I’ve spent all of 2018 reading about nonstop. But, can we please kill off professor Mayhew already? Like, I’m begging. What an insufferable asshole. But the Institute brings Helen to force her to tell the story of her half fae parentage, while humiliating and belittling her constantly. But she does it so that she can marry the love of her life, who has stuck by her side even when she was exiled to a cold island just because of how she was born. But the reason I loved this story so much was because the true story that even Helen doesn’t know about her mother and Faerie. Like, it was perfect. Everything I’ve ever wanted. Oh, and Simon and Izzy finally make up, but it for sure didn’t mean as much to me, because the last story was so damn painful to read! Like, can Helen and Mark just have their own anthology? Please. I loved this.


Bitter of Tongue – ★★★★★

“I got distracted making out with a boy, and then locked up by a goblin”

Is anyone really surprised that I loved the story about a sapphic marriage between a fae girl and an Asian girl? I have loved these two since their introduction and… their ceremony was everything! Also, this was so amazing because we got to see more of the fae court! Seriously, all I want is more of Mark and Kieran and the Hunt! Please, Cassie Clare, I’m begging you! I honestly just think the Blackthorns are my favorite family. Plus, seeing Izzy and Mark both try to save Simon in very different ways was pretty perfect. This is also the first story that made me feel like Sizzy was back, and it warmed my heart and made me so excited for the final three stories!


The Fiery Trial – ★★★

“True parabatai are linked long before the ceremony takes place.”

This one I feel really on the fence about. Like, drugging people, even with good intentions, isn’t cool. Basically, this is the parabatai short story! We get to see Julie and Beatriz decide to become parabatai. We get to see Emma and Julian become parabatai. And then we get to see Simon and Clary discuss if they want to be parabatai. And… I thought I would like it more than I did. First off, Maureen is the character in this entire Shadowhunter universe that makes me the saddest. Then, add in the drugging situation. Lastly, the feeling weirdness because you know that Emma and Julian are obviously going to eventually have a forbidden romance (even though they are only fourteen in this… yikes!) I don’t know, I am excited to see Simon and Clary become parabatai, but this story wasn’t that great itself.


Born to Endless Night – ★★★★★

“Obviously you would call them Malec,” said Beatriz. “Are you stupid, Simon?”

Best Shadowhunter story ever! EVER! Seriously, this was probably my favorite thing in all of Shadowhunter history. Besides absolutely loving Magnus with everything that I am, seeing him be able to achieve things he never thought possible, even with his immortal life, is just so damn pure and wonderful. I also really appreciated Catarina and Lily in this story, too. Even though I really am dying to know everything about Tobias Herondale’s baby and the past. But yeah, this story was pure joy to read, and really just celebrate the love and honor for family; both blood and found.


Angels Twice Descending – ★★★

“That they would drink from the Mortal Cup. That they would, like the first of the warrior race, Jonathan Shadowhunter, sip the blood of an angel. That they would, if they were lucky, be transformed on the spot into real, full-blooded Shadowhunters.”

The character death in this was just so… pointless. It completely ruined the story for me and ruined all the previous happiness that happened on Magnus’ couch. This is the final story in the anthology, and it concludes Simon’s two-year journey of being in the academy. All the enjoyment that I had from the start of this one just really just fell flat by that ending. And I think it really left the entire collection off on a bad and sour note, if I’m being completely honest. I don’t even know how I feel about him honoring the last name. Yikes.


I gave Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy three stars overall, because out of a possible 50 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 10 stories) this collection accumulated 36 stars (72%)!

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The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, & Cassandra Jean

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1.) City of Bones ★★★
2.) City of Ashes ★★
3.) City of Glass ★★★
1.) Clockwork Angel ★★★
4.) City of Fallen Angels
2.) Clockwork Prince ★★★★
5.) City of Lost Souls ★★★★
3.) Clockwork Princess ★★★★★
6.) City of Heavenly Fire ★★★★★

I clutched my pearls so very tightly when I found out that there was an anthology that starred Magnus, my favorite character in all of Cassie Clare’s works. Magnus is the bisexual, Asian, warlock of my dreams, and I love him with every bone in my body. I truly believe he is one of the best characters in all of literature.

(Art from the tenth anniversary edition of City of Bones!)

I was a little apprehensive going in to this, because I didn’t realize that all of the stories were cowritten with other authors. But honestly? They blended together very well and read just like all the other Shadowhunter novels thus far. Each of these stories are about fifty pages long, but it was so much fun to dip my toes into all these different cities, years, and adventures.

The Midnight Heir was easily, hands down, without question, my favorite story in this entire collection. And I am willing to grovel, beg, plead, maybe even commit a minor felony, to be able to learn more about James and Grace. (Oh my gosh, my lovely friend Lance just told me about The Last Hours and I’m happier than I’ve ever been!) But I am going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!


What Really Happened in Peru – ★★

“Humans did not live forever. They could only hope what they made would endure.”

This follows Magnus and many of the different years that he spent in Peru. In 1791, with Ragnor Fell, and taverns, and monkeys, and pirates! Then we get to see Magnus in 1885 with Ragnor and Catarina, where Magnus is accepting a mysterious job. Then we jump to 1890 when Magnus meets Imasu and we get to see him drinking, riding magic carpets, mentioning people from TID, and falling in love. This was my favorite year, because there is just something so pure about seeing three very different warlocks coming together to talk about their lives, their demon fathers, and the expectations that have been placed upon them just by living a life that they didn’t ask for. Lastly, we see the year 1962, where Magnus meets a person named Kitty who is also a con-artist, a thief, and someone who is looking for love and adventure. And even though these little glimpses were fun, I was still just let down that we don’t truly know why Magnus was banned from Peru.


The Runaway Queen – ★★★

“A count! Named Axel! A military man! With black hair and blue eyes! And in a state of distress! Oh, the universe had outdone herself.”

This short story follows Magnus in Paris during the French Revolution in 1791. And apparently Paris is the place to be if you’re a vampire (which I highkey love, actually). Magnus attends a party with Henri de Polignac, then meets Axel von Fersen and accepts a difficult mission to smuggle Marie Antoinette and her family out of the city, before the desperate people take matters into their own hands. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Magnus somehow acquires a pet monkey that he names Ragnor, but it was still a really enjoyable story and adventure.

Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale – ★★★★★

“I was born to be a warrior, and I was born to be with her.”

Holy shit, all the stars! ALL THE STARS! I loved this one so much! Not only did we get to see Will’s parents, Edmund and Linette (which broke and warmed my heart), we got to see Woolsey’s older brother, Ralf, a baby Charlotte, Benedict Lightwood (yikes), some Morgensterns, and Camille herself (who I have honestly always liked)! This story surrounds a meeting were the downworlders are trying to make a treaty with the shadowhunters; but like always, the shadowhunters are shitty to them. But seeing so many faces, and so many relatives, of people that we know and love from TID – ahhh, I just loved it so much! This was perfection, and give me all the 1857, London Institute, stories with Magnus going on adventures with these people and fighting demons. Also, this story beautifully emphasizes the power of unconditional love and how it is always worth everything.


The Midnight Heir – ★★★★★

“…For one Herondale to be saved by love, and another Herondale dammed by it.”

Oh my gosh, I loved this one so much, too! I mean, the Tessa, Will, and Jem cameos were perfection all on their own, but seeing their descendants? It still makes me feel equal parts heartbreak and love. Also, ever since finishing City of Heavenly Fire, I have been obsessed with wanting to know more about the Blackthorns! In this story, Tatiana Blackthorn has called upon Magnus to do a terrible job, but before he finds his way to her abandoned garden estate, he finds a young James Herondale and has to escort him back to the London Institute. Friends, I’m not crying over this beautiful co-parenting triad; I’m weeping the happiest of tears. I loved this story so much, and my only complaint is that I hope we get more James and Grace in the future. Also, why does every Herondale just break my heart over and over again? I honestly do not understand.


The Rise of the Hotel Dumort – ★★

“Nothing is permanent,” Magnus said. “I know this from experience. But you can get new things. You can meet new people. You can go on.”

I loved how this short story was set in 1929 New York, while Magnus is trying to run a speakeasy. And seeing his magic camouflage this secret pub into a tea party was pretty much the best thing ever. Sadly, that’s all I truly enjoyed about it. I mean, I guess seeing Hotel Dumort almost become a portal to Hell was pretty cool, too. But this story, and the new characters, just didn’t win me over as hard in this one.


Saving Raphael Santiago – ★★★

“Love did not overcome everything. Love did not always endure. All you had could be taken away, love could be the last thing you had, and then love could be taken too.”

My heart, my poor broken heart. This literally felt like torture to read after finishing City of Heavenly Fire. Raphael Santiago was also a character that didn’t hide his pain and anger; and I always respected that. But everything he had to go through? Man, oh man. I will say that this story got pretty dark and trigger warnings for kidnapping, murder, and maybe even pedophilia. Louis is for sure the most evil person I’ve seen in the Shadowhunter world yet. Basically, in 1953, Magnus is a private detective, and Guadalupe, Raphael’s mother, hires him to find her son. This story just made me feel every single emotion. I also enjoyed seeing Hotel Dumort start to become the vampire lair. But the shining star of this book was obviously Raphael and his mother and the unconditional love that a mother should always have for her child. Ah, I didn’t ask for these tears all over again.


The Fall of the Hotel Dumort – ★

“Because in the end nothing is worse than seeing the fall of one you loved. It was somehow worse than losing a love. It made everything seem questionable. It made the past bitter and confused.”

This was easily my least favorite in the collection. Like, it read like I was back in elementary school watching police officers tell us about the D.A.R.E campaign. Basically, this one is set is 1977 New York, and Camille and her vampires are getting high from drinking the blood of humans on drugs, and they get really addicted. I did enjoy the ending with the memory spell, but that was about it.


What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (And Who You’re Not Officially Dating Anyway) – ★★★★

“This was love, new and bright and terrifying…”

Firstly, I will say that it’s really skeezy that Alec was indeed seventeen when he and Magnus started at least kissing one another. I don’t want to make light of that whatsoever, and I completely think it was wrong. But if you ignore that, I really loved this short story and seeing a glimpse in the Shadowhunter world before everything went down in TMI. I also really loved the scene with Izzy and Magnus; it was pure, perfect, and everything I’ve ever wanted. Also, I love how this heartfelt story was going on with a blue demon just hanging out in the apartment.


The Last Stand of the New York Institute – ★★★★

“It was one of the few things he had to believe in, the possibility of beauty when faced with the reality of so much ugliness.”

The start of this novel and the homophobia really surprised me. I actually loved how Cassie Clare blatantly brought it up, rather than using metaphors with the oppression of the Downworlders, even though it hurt to see. But this short story also made me fall even more in love with Catarina, who is working at an HIV clinic because even people in the medical field can hold hateful prejudices. But the middle of this story, we got to see the behind the scenes start of Valentine and his (mostly) brainwashed circle. But the end of this story was the shining light! Seeing Tessa accept Clary with literal open arms made me tear up. Seeing her talk about her loves, her losses, and giving Jocelyn’s child a new start was really beautiful and made me very emotional. I loved this one, friends.


The Course of True Love (And First Dates) – ★★★★

“And silver, though few people knew it, was a rarer metal than gold.”

Oh lord, this was adorable. This story shows Magnus and Alec’s first date and it was pretty sweet. Again, I will say that it is incredibly not okay that a 300+ year old warlock is dating a seventeen-year-old, but if you take that away from the equation then it was a really sweet and realistic depiction of an awkward and messy first date. Well, besides going to bar and having to fight a werewolf together.


The Voicemail of Magnus Bane – ★★

“Please don’t ever tell Jace I said he was a badass.”

This short story is just a transcript of voicemails that the Shadowhunters left for Magnus after the end of City of Lost Souls, when he and Alec broke up. It just wasn’t enjoyable and was a lot of harassment even though I know that it was coming from a place of good. I just, thought this was honestly a bit pointless, but I know it was supposed to be heartwarming. I will also say that I think it was a really poor choice for a concluding story, because it for sure finished the entire anthology on a low note.


I gave The Bane Chronicles three stars overall, because out of a possible 55 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 11 stories) this collection accumulated 35 stars (~63%)! But I really do think this is such an important addition to this world, and I very much feel like it is a necessary read. Even if it just means that you get to meet James Herondale.

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Buddy read with Lea at drumsofautumn! ❤