Wednesday, February 24, 2010
by Maureen Johnson
Scholastic, Point (2008)
Humor, Family, Chick-Lit
"According to tradition, when the Martin children turn 15, they inherit a suite in the family's small Manhattan hotel and a job: to take care of the rooms and their occupant. On Scarlett's 15th birthday, Amy Amberson sweeps into the suite that Scarlett has just inherited. The woman is demanding and brash, but she does have her charms (and large amounts of cash). In the beginning, Scarlett is overwhelmed, but then her role becomes that of Mrs. Amberson's assistant for her projects, which change on a whim. When Amy decides to help the theater troupe that Scarlett's brother is involved in put on Hamlet, the teen begins a romance with one of the actors. Then everything starts to go awry, and when things get tough, Amy abandons ship, and plucky Scarlett is left to step in and save what needs saving, something that she does with flair. Scarlett's brand of humor is particularly dry and well articulated.
There's so much to say about this novel, I don't know where to begin! -deep breath- Okay, here we go.
From the first page, when Scarlett was being woken up on her fifteenth birthday by her older brother, I was hooked. Maureen has an amazing writing style that combines the touching story of the Martin family with hilarious (and a little crazy) dialogue and side-characters. There's never a dull moment in this book as Scarlett races to save her brother's career as an actor, her family's hotel, her sanity and still stay out of jail while working for Mrs. Amy Amberson.
As someone who's never been in the theater world, and never had any desire to be, I was a little skeptical about reading a book that would no doubt have so much of the theater in it, but I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed all the scenes of Hamlet rehearsals and Scarlett's reaction to the actors and everything they had to do. And, as if I didn't already want to visit New York, Maureen's descriptions of the city made me want to hop on a plane as soon as I put the book down. Although I think when I do go, I'll avoid the tourist-y spots now.
The characters are, without a doubt, the best part about this book. Scarlett is a sweet girl with realistic problems - like unruly hair - and her interactions with the other Martins were great. I'm still deciding whether I like Scarlett or Spencer more. They're both hilarious. Spencer, her nineteen year old brother, is into very physical comedy, falling down or walking into walls constantly just to make his sisters laugh. In the play, he gets to work with Eric, a charming Southern boy going to NYU who shares Spencer's skills. And, much to Spencer's dismay, he also shares a special connection with Scarlett.
Lola is Scarlett's level-headed eighteen year old sister. By day she works at the makeup counter at a department store, but frequently switches shifts to go out with or do favors for her rich boyfriend Chip. Lola's also the only one who can handle Marlene, their eleven year old bratty sister. I didn't really care for either, just because of Marlene's attitude and Lola's stupidity.
I can't really say anything bad about the novel. I occasionally wanted to slap Scarlett or Spencer on the back of the head and scream "What the hell do you think you're doing?!" But they were very brief moments. I mostly reserved this action for scenes with Mrs. Amberson, who deserved them. I'm now very much looking forward to reading the sequel, Scarlett Fever, which just came out on February first.
Because I can't determine if I like Scarlett or Spencer better, there will be two Quotes of the Day - they both deserve attention!
"This is where I take a long, long nap. And in my happy, happy dreams, this problem goes away. And those Dutch twins who love tall and weedy New York actors come and offer to help me prepare for my role. And we all put on the fuzzy squirrel outfits and get big bags of nuts ... I'm revealing too much about my internal life, aren't I? It's weird between us now, isn't it?" - Spencer, page 341
"I already saw Naked Lady on the roof. I'm damaged. Stop tormenting me." - Scarlett, page 5
Now that I managed to write the review instead of saying "It was awesome -go buy it!" I'm going to rant on for a little bit about Twitter and the live chat with Maureen yesterday. Feel free to leave now. The review is over. =)
Okay, I was on Twitter a few days ago, and suddenly I get a reply tweet from SPENCER MARTIN. Oh. My. God.
So, in reality, I know it was Maureen who created Twitter accounts for several of her characters, but it doesn't make it any more exciting. I mean, an actual, published, famous author talked to me. -squee- I'm sorry, but I've been doing a really good job of containing my excitement for the past few days (except for when my mom asked why I was smiling so much) and it's kinda seeping out now.
To make matters ten times better, I was in a live chat Maureen was doing with a blog called Mundie Moms (link in sidebar) and she answered all four of my questions. And there were like 450 of us in there. Below are the questions I asked, her answers, and the links to all of the character Twitters. Enjoy.
Q: Do you listen to music a lot? If so, what type/bands?
A: I listen to a LOT. I collect music probably more than anything else.
Q: What was the hardest book to write?
A: Devilish was pretty hard to write, but not because of the book.
Q: How do you choose character names?
A: I just kind of . . . pick them. They're usually kind of random.
one character is named after a street I was crossing when I figured out a big part of his life story.
I grab things I see and hear
I recall asking a fourth question, but for the life of me, I can't remember it. And I couldn't find it in the chat records when it was over.
Happy reading, everyone!
P.S. I'm currently reading A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, so expect my review sometime on the weekend, or maybe next week. I'm also re-reading Suite Scarlett with my mom. =D
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Yeah, so I've been kinda busy this month. I'll be making a post on my personal blog in a little while if anyone wants to know why, but it's time to get down to business.
by Eoin Colfer
Miramax Books (2004)
"In the future, in a place called Satellite City, Cosmo Hill enters the world, unwanted by his parents. He's sent to the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys. Freight Class.
Here, the boys are put to work by the state, testing highly dangerous products. Cosmo realizes he must get away, and escapes with the help of the Supernaturalists, a group of kids who have the same special abilities as Cosmo - they can see supernatural Parasites, creatures that fee on the life force of humans. The Supernaturalists patrol the city at night, hunting the Parasites in hopes of saving what is left of humanity in Satellite City. But soon they find themselves caught in a web far more complicated than they'd imagined, and they discover a horrifying secret that will force them to question everything they believe in."
For someone who's not a big fan of Science Fiction - like me - this is the perfect book. It also happens to be my favorite of Colfer's books (I've read eight and a half).
You're immediately thrown into the action of the novel when we see what a day in the life of Cosmo Hill is like, and hear his escape plotting - and see the actual job - all in the first chapter. And the action never stops for long, though it's well balanced with the non-action scenes.
Cosmo is a great protagonist. Someone you really want to see succeed - and just feel sorry for during most of the book. I enjoyed learning about the orphans - or "no-sponsors" - and the results of their upbringing. Like how Cosmo received never went to school, but learned everything from testing educational software, and has perfect teeth thanks to teeth-whitening products. And The Chemist: a boy who watched medical dramas on tv and was the only doctor the no-sponsors had.
The three other main characters, Stefan, Mona and Ditto, were also funny and mysterious. So much so that I can't really decide who my favorite character in this novel is. Stefan, at eighteen, is the guilt-ridden leader of the group with a deep hatred for the Parasites. Mona, the Latina fifteen year old, used to be a mechanic for the Sweetheart gang before a near-death experience brought her to the others. And Ditto, a twenty-eight year old, had been a test subject of Doctor Bartoli as a child and, as a result, has the height and looks of a six year old, along with some very special talents outside of his natural skills as a doctor.
While finding out the pasts of the characters was something that made me love the book, the plot twists were definitely my favorite thing about it. Someone's life is in danger in nearly every scene of the book. You never know who you can trust. Or what's real. Even while re-reading it, it kept me on the edge of my seat!
Attention to detail is one of Colfer's talents. Minor characters and villains like Ziplock Murphy and Marshall Redwood had their moments of glory where we would find out a little bit about them and their histories. Satellite City, weaponry, futuristic car mechanics, and even outer space were described in great detail.
It's hard not to feel a little sad after finishing this book (though Eoin has said he's planning a sequel!). It's even harder not to love it.
Quote of the Day:
"Yes, this grumpy little man is Granddad. And Mona is our kid sister. It's a dysfunctional group, but we're all we have. We're all anybody has. Sometimes it seems like we can never win, but we save who can. You, for example. If it hadn't been for us, that Parasite would've sucked you dry, and no one would have ever known." - Stefan, page 48
I finished Suite Scarlett today, so expect the review for that in a couple of hours - or maybe tomorrow. It's getting kinda late here.
Comments? Pretty please?
Friday, February 5, 2010
Waiting on the library is going to become a regular habit here. I have no money to spend on buying books, and I've read almost every book in my house. I'm not yet sure of how much my library has as I just moved here last Friday, but I'm hoping it's better than the one from my last town.
For this reason, I'm continuing to ask for suggestions. I've gotten five more this week (thank you Ari) and have found five myself. They'll all be put up on the book list post probably sometime over the weekend.
My library list will consist of seven books each time. One for each challenge I'm doing. Some may overlap. This week:
1) Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
2) Liar by Justine Larbalestier
3) Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
4) Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, & Lauren Myracle
5) The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
6) A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
7) Goddess for Hire by Sonia Singh
Also, thanks to the Story Siren, I found a site (I think it's called BookSneeze) and, if they accept me, they'll be sending me free books in return for my reviewing! They should get back to me within a week.
I shall post again in a few days with the review. Happy reading! ;)
P.S. Bookmarked now has a twitter account, so if you're not on Blogger you can get updates on Twitter.
And I'm compiling a list of book bloggers in the sidebar. Just some people I enjoy reading. ^_^