The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious, #2) by Maureen Johnson

Easily my most anticipated book of January, hell, of 2019 as a whole, was The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson, the sequel to one of my favorite reads of 2018, Truly Devious. In case you weren’t around way back then, here’s a link to the review I wrote of the book that started this fantastic series. It’s one of my favorite reviews I’ve ever written on the blog for a book I still consider highly underrated.

Stevie is such an amazing female character for young girls to be able to see in YA literature. I love that she is filled with such purpose and passion for something so unique and practical. I also think it’s great to see someone who has to deal with anxiety and parents with such different fundamental values. It’s so timely.

Before I go into detail, I just want to say I loved The Vanishing Stair as much as I did the first book! It sufficiently answered just enough questions about the mystery to keep me satisfied and still managed to end in a way that left me aching for the third installment to come out already!

I’ve decided not will not spoil the end of the book, but I will detail the questions I still have regarding the ending. So if you are halfway interested in checking out this series, go away now! I’ve warned you!

• The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson  

The Vanishing Stair picks up maybe a month after where the first book left off the morning after Stevie’s housemate Ellie escaped Ellingham Academy and Stevie learned David is the son of the infamous politician Edward King her parents idolize. As it turned out, Germaine Batt’s report about how Stevie discovered the link between Ellie and Hayes Major’s death became a hit online. After Stevie’s parents read it, they quickly whisked her away from dreamy boarding school and plopped her back into public school.

Honestly, I could empathize with her sadness and frustration. I don’t think I would’ve been able to handle this distress as gracefully as I assume she did. But to her dubious fortune, Stevie is able to return to the academy after Senator King shows up at her parents house and convinces them to allow her to return to school. She discovers that David has been going off the rails since she left and his father has decided Stevie can fix him.

Although she is unhappy with how she was able to return to Ellingham, she is not able to resist the opportunity to return to the scenes of the crime that drew her to the school in the first place.

Much more of the past is quickly revealed in The Vanishing Stair through flashbacks involving the two new characters introduced at the end of Truly Devious. For much of the book I wondered when and if Stevie would become privy to the information we as readers are granted ahead of time! Before Stevie, we are able to find out more about Albert Ellingham’s life and the long-forgotten secret passageways that allowed the founder to keep his secrets. But our girl Stevie eventually pieces together the mystery herself in a scene where I imagined her standing like Sherlock below.

sherlock

In this novel, Stevie is introduced to Fenton, a historian on the crime who needs a research assistant. This older woman is an authority on the case who intends to solve the mystery of Alice’s whereabout in order to win a monetary reward set by Ellingham before he died. Her presence in the book adds new stakes and competition for Stevie as she discovers she’s in a race against the clock to solve the mystery.

There are light moments between Stevie and the gang as they celebrate Halloween. There’s some steamy moments as Stevie and David reconnect. Of course their relationship is complicated by Stevie’s secret deal with his father, which feels rote and thrown in just because our lovebirds can’t have too much fun. There are also some absolutely devastating moments akin which for me harkened to the sadness of that scene in season one of Stranger Things where they think they’ve found Will’s body to the cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes”.

By the end of this book, we discover the true culprit behind the crimes at Ellingham Academy and why it was so hard to identify them! Honestly, the truth blew me away. I feel like I might’ve been able to guess them if it had not been for all the smoke and mirrors, which is why this YA mystery is so fantastic! It’s such a smart series on par with the Six of Crows duology, which is a YA (or perhaps New Adult) masterpiece.

I decided to rate this book 4.5 stars. It’s beautifully crafted and paced, and my main complaint right now is how frustrating David has been for no apparent reason at all! I hope that he is able to redeem himself by the end of the next book or I want a storyline where Stevie learns to avoid broken, troubled boys like him. I’m so over love interests with self-destructive tendencies.

END OF THE BOOK QUESTIONS

  1. Was Ellie working with someone?
  2. What the heck is David doing?
  3. Who at the academy doesn’t want the mystery solved?
  4. What happened to Alice?

I hope you liked this review! I’m really not sure who is going to click on the review for a sequel of a highly underrated book, so if you read all the way through you’re something special in my eyes! <3 ^_^

This is probably my last blog post before the weekend. I’ve been planning blog content for the days I’ll be out of town (Saturday–Tuesday) finally visiting my poor grandma who had a stroke in January. I’ll try to be active on WordPress as much as possible, responding to comments and blog hopping whenever I can. You can also always get in touch on Twitter if you’d like. :)

Thank you for reading!
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March BuJo Theme Ideas

As soon as I started my February bullet journal spread, I was already thinking about next month’s spread. While I knew I was looking for a very simple theme for February, it was inevitable that I would come across more complex and exciting themes than I was currently ready to try out. After discovering so many new bujo artists and more styles of layout than I knew could exist, I starting making a note of my favorites.

Rather than keep my folder to myself, I decided to start sharing what I’ve discovered and learned from primarily Instagram on my blog!

So today I’m sharing the themes I’m contemplating for the month of March, just to get a head start in planning. I started a little late in February and regret not planning ahead for the month so that I could have more flexibility and fun with the layout.

March Theme Ideas

When I think of March, I think of spring time. I think of rain, flowers in bloom, babies bunnies and chicks, Easter, pastel colors. Yuck. Spring is my least favorite time of year. I like rain, but I already did a cloud theme for my January spread.

So it has been a little bit of challenge to think of how to become excited for March. After scrolling through loads of bujo content on Instagram, I found a few themes that I thought would work. I also had some ideas organically based on my life and interests at the moment. I made a theme cloud.

Feathers | I like the idea of feathers because it fits into the spring theme when I think of newborn chicks. I could see myself taking it in a few different directions. I could go the peacock route and really have fun with the feather design and color. I would also go with a more Native American-inspired aesthetic, with dream catchers and other accessories.

Mushrooms / Woodlands | When I think of rain that generally comes with spring showers, I also think of mushrooms. I live in a wooded area that is prone to mushroom sprouts, so that could be a central feature to my March theme that I would enjoy creating. My dad taught me how to draw mushrooms when I was little, so there’s a sentimental aspect to the mushroom design as well. To round it out so I’m not just drawing mushrooms, I figured I could expand it to a woodland theme as well, with grass, wildflowers, and animals if I’m feeling ambitious.

City Hall | I actually had this idea on my own! I drive through city hall every day on my way to work and have appreciated how well kept it is. It was decorated during the holidays, but also looks really nice without lights and decor. I could see myself having fun doing street lamps, benches, industrial flower pots, street signs, and old-fashioned store fronts. It would be an ambitious task because I would have to do a lot of the spread layout design on my own. This theme gives me some Wes Anderson vibes.

Weird Magic | Somewhat associated with my ideas for the feather and mushroom themes is this idea of incorporating weird magic of crystals, moons, black cats, crows, etc. There’s an artist on Instagram (Celine @ enemesis_4) whose work has been some of my favorite in terms of her use of color and illustrations.

Murder Mystery | This is another theme I thought of as I just finished reading The Vanishing Stair, and feel like I have generally always read Agatha Christie on rainy spring days. It would be a really fun challenge to design my own murder mystery spread, but it may be a bit ambitious to complete in just one month. Maybe I’ll save this idea for May…

The theme I will select for March will really depend on how much time I feel I will have to prepare for it and what materials I have at my disposal, because some of my more ambitious ideas would be sad to complete without the requisite color. I think if I feel like going for something more simple, I will just end up doing the feathers or mushroom theme.

Let me know which of these themes are your favorite and if you are a bullet journalist what your theme ideas for March are!

Thank you for reading!
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Base Image of Featured Image: Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash