Monday Memories: Suite Scarlett

Monday Memories is a weekly feature hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. Just take a photo of a book from your personal library (or a library book that’s significant to you, etc.) and talk about why it matters. Is it your first ever signed book? The first book you reviewed on your blog? Whatever it is, write it up in a Monday Memories post and share it. Just please link back if you decide to join!

mondaymemories

Today for Monday Memories I’m talking about Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson. (This particular book is also special because it has the original hardcover packaging which, though the repackaging has grown on me, remains special. I hope by the time book 3 comes it will have a new package again so I can have three different incarnations on my shelves!)

mmscarlett1 mmscarlettsign

I love this book for a lot of reasons. It has a great heroine with a great family, humor and it’s set in New York. While I didn’t love the male lead in this one–that problem is more than fixed in book two. While everyone else enjoys MJ’s Shades of London books (which I like too), I wait patiently for news of Scarlett 3 because this series has everything I could possibly want.

This book is also special to me because it’s from one of the first book signings I ever attended back in 2009. At that point I had been blogging for two years, I was new to Amazon’s Vine program, new to the book world and new to library school–so many firsts! Another new thing at the time was the NYC Teen Author Festival and I decided to try it out even if that meant going it alone. 2009 was a very special TAF because I got to meet a lot of authors that haven’t done many signings since. This book in particular though was the one that drew me to the event. I”ll probably use the next couple MM posts to talk about other books from that signing.

To join, click the Inlinkz frog below to link up. Then see what everyone else has to say :)

Week in Review: September 21

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LAST week on the blog you could have checked out:

THIS week on the blog you can check out:

In case you missed my pity party on Twitter, I was really sick this week and last week (along with all of my other online friends which, if you in the right mindset can make you really paranoid about germs spreading on the Internet). I got sick almost the moment I left work on Thursday night for a three day weekend and just started to feel better and person shaped on Thursday. I basically did nothing but sleep from Thursday through Monday of this week and the rest of this week has been triage to get through work and try to be a fully functioning human again. (Which I almost am now. FINALLY. And I think I even managed to not infect anyone else including coworkers and, more importantly, my mom.)

Which is all a long-winded way for me to say I was not up to making a Week in Review post last week.

This has been a pretty good object lesson about health being really important. I’m going to try to remember in future that I cannot let myself get so rundown. I am also, at Kayla’s advice, being more mindful of using hand sanitizer at work. I already washed my hands throughout the day but I’m hoping that in between will help. I know it’s just my immune system adjusting to working with the public (especially kids) again but I am so tired of being sick every month. I have literally been sick for every three day weekend I have had since I started this job.

In other news: I went to a back to school meeting for all the J and YA specialists in my library system this week. And my blog (along with several other excellent ones from coworkers) got a shoutout which was very flattering and nice.

I also think I mentioned that I am working as a team on a virtual reader advisory service at work now called BookMatch. I was one of the top book matchers this week. It was nice. It’s actually just nice in general to see at this new job that I have a lot of opportunities to grow and develop my skills and it’s even nicer to know that people are noticing.

Blog stuff got a little wonky with my Sickness of Death but that is getting back under control. I even have the answers for an author interview I am very (very, very, very) excited to share which had been lost in February (the author was on the road so it was hard to get in touch). And I am also in the very early stages of planning something that will hopefully be big(ish) in April.

My reading is completely out of control but mostly with books I want to read (for now). I’m currently reading a very coveted arc of Blue Lily, Lily Blue which I am alternating between wanting to savor and wanting to rush through to see what happens. After that I have My True Love Gave to Me on deck because I need the Christmas stories in my life stat. After that I shift gears to get back to some SLJ and committee work books.

Oh and I almost forgot! I got a bread machine! I got it for review from Amazon’s vine program and I am super excited to try it out. The machine is heavy and enormous but I have really high hopes. I’ve been wanting a bread machine for a couple of years so this is beyond amazing!

I’m also gearing up for Monday Memories which, if you have a blog or even if you don’t, I hope you’ll join!

How was your week?

Miss Print’s Re-Prints: September 2007 Edition, Vol. 3

missprintreprintMiss Print’s Re-Prints is a weekly feature that will post on Saturday. Each week I’ll highlight reviews and other posts I wrote during a previous month in this blog’s run.

Currently I am Re-Printing 2007 posts.

September 2007: Volume 3

  • The Last Days coverSeptember 16, 2007: The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld–“The story is about vampires, of course. And music. But it’s also about friendship and relationships. Westerfeld artfully describes the vicious cycle some friendships have when one friend is always taking whatever the other has to give. He also shows how, sometimes, you have to keep those friends even when it’s the last thing you want to do.” You can talk about the Uglies series all you want. But this vampire duet of Westerfeld’s is pure gold. Magic.

 

 

  • Speak coverSeptember 19, 2007: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson–“Strangely, for a novel where the narrator doesn’t speak to other characters, one of the best features of this novel is Anderson’s dialogue.  Even though Melinda rarely has anything to say to other characters, the dialogue flows, Anderson making used of ellipsis and asides in the narration to fill in Melinda’s half of the “conversations.”” This book is YA canon. If you haven’t read it yet, go pick up a copy right this second.

 

 

  • Zen Shorts coverSeptember 21, 2007: Zen Shorts by Jon Muth–“This is a great book to read with older children because even if they don’t get the philosophy, the stories are approachable and they’ll get something from it. (Even youngsters will enjoy the pictures.) It’s a great introduction to philosophy, a fact that becomes clear after reading the afterward, for “students” of any age. Muth does an admirable job creating a picture book that children and grownups can enjoy together.” My first picture book review!

 

  • Stargirl coverSeptember 26, 2007: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli–“Technically speaking I love everything about this book: the characters, the story, the cover art. This one has the full package. Spinelli’s writing throughout the story is perfect. He captures Leo’s fascination with Stargirl as well as his equivocation as he is forced to choose between Stargirl and “the crowd.”” I still love this book a lot. It’s really a classic. Not to mention flawless.

 

 

  • Fix coverSeptember 26, 2007: Fix by Leslie Margolis–“Margolis really looks at the plastic surgery issue from all sides. The book is interesting but also informative. By the end of the novel, it’s clear that there is no right answer about getting (or not getting) cosmetic surgery. But Margolis intelligently examines all sides of the issue highlighting the risks and the motivations that can lead a girl to the operating table.”

 

 

  • The New Policeman coverSeptember 30, 2007: The New Policeman by Kate Thompson–“Thompson expertly entwines these two seemingly disconnected narratives throughout the novel. The common thread between them remains the music that literally runs through the novel. Chapter breaks are denoted by sheet music for traditional Irish songs whose titles relate to the story in addition to the strong affinity all of the characters have for music. By the end of the novel, Thompson ties together both stories creating a sensational end to a truly enjoyable book.”

Exquisite Captive: A Review

Exquisite Captive by Heather DemetriosNalia is a powerful jinni from the world of Arjinna. After a deadly coup killed almost everyone she cared about, Nalia was captured by a slave trader who sells jinn to humans. Since then she has been on the dark caravan of the jinni slave trade for three years.

Trapped in Hollywood and bound to a handsome master who is as ruthless as he is powerful, Nalia is desperate for the chance to return to Arjinna and rescue her captive brother. Unfortunately, that seems nearly impossible while bound to her master and the bottle that can hold her prisoner.

When Nalia agrees to a dangerous bargain with the leader of Arjinna’s revolution she will have to decide if any price can be too high for her freedom and the chance to save her brother in Exquisite Captive (2014) by Heather Demetrios.

Exquisite Captive is the first book in Demetrios’ Dark Caravan trilogy.

This gritty urban fantasy has a lot going for it. The Hollywood setting, as well as the descriptions of Arjinna, are lush and immediately evocative. Although some of the situations are stilted, most of the story here is exciting and fast-paced.

Nalia herself is a strong and capable heroine. Unfortunately she is also in the middle of an extremely lopsided (read: forced) love triangle. On one side we have Nalia’s master Malek and on the other Raf–leader of the Arjinnan revolution. Raf often feels like a one-note character with his efforts to save his people and his strong convictions. Malek is more nuanced but decidedly less sympathetic as every bit of character development is countered with a new act of villainy. The romance, such as it is, with both men seems to come out of nowhere as feelings bloom suddenly (with varying levels of returned feelings) for all of the characters.

The well-realized world of Arjinna is sadly overshadowed by stiff descriptions and numerous explanations of djinni hierarchies and Arjinnan culture. While it is all valuable information, the sheer volume can be daunting and makes an already long story feel even lengthier.

However, Demetrios does still craft a refreshingly diverse story here (albeit with some unfortunate stereotypes creeping in–most notably with Sergei). With nods to Arabian culture and tons of action, Exquisite Captive is an interesting blend of traditional jinni lore and urban fantasy elements. It is sure to appeal to readers looking for the next big thing in paranormal romances.

Possible Pairings: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, Finnkin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney

*A more condensed version of this review appeared in the August 2014 issue of School Library Journal from which it can be seen in various sites online*

A Spy in the House: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y. S. LeeMary Quinn is twelve-years-old when she is arrested for theft and sentenced to hang in London in 1853.

Rescued from the gallows, Mary receives an extraordinary offer of an education and proper upbringing at Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. Hidden behind the cover of a finishing school, The Agency works as an all-female investigative unit.

Five years later, with her training nearly complete, Mary is offered her first assignment working undercover as a lady’s companion. Stationed in a rich merchant’s home, Mary is tasked with helping along the investigation into missing cargo ships.

As Mary delves deeper into her investigation she soon discovers that everyone in the household is hiding something in A Spy in the House (2010) by Y. S. Lee.

A Spy in the House is Lee’s first novel. It is also the start of The Agency series (and consequently sometimes referred to as The Agency–by me at least).

Lee presents a well-researched, thoroughly engrossing mystery here. A Spy in the House evokes the gritty and glamorous parts of 1850s London with pitch-perfect descriptions. The dialog also feels true to the period with no jarring, obviously modern, turns of phrase.

The story is filled with twists and also some very smart observations about race, feminism and what being a woman with agency might have looked like in 1850s London. Although the ending is a bit rushed there is still an ideal balance between closure and hints of what to expect in future installments. The resolution is quite surprising in a way that is especially satisfying for a Victorian mystery.

Mary is a capable, pragmatic heroine who is as smart as she is endearing. With just a hint of romantic flirtation that is realistic and witty (and decidedly lacking in instant love), A Spy in the House

Possible Pairings:  I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter, The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist: Flight of the Phoenix by R. L. LaFevers with illustrations by Kelly Murphy,  Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevemer

Monday Memories: Stargirl

Monday Memories is a weekly feature hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. Just take a photo of a book from your personal library (or a library book that’s significant to you, etc.) and talk about why it matters. Is it your first ever signed book? The first book you reviewed on your blog? Whatever it is, write it up in a Monday Memories post and share it. Just please link back if you decide to join!

mondaymemoriesStargirl cover

Today for Monday Memories I’m talking about Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.

Stargirl is a favorite of mine and has been for years. Everything from the first line to the cover speaks to me. I love how true Stargirl is to herself and how her story unfolds through Leo’s eyes. If there was any book character I’d want to be it would be Stargirl.

To join, click the Inlinkz frog below to link up. Then see what everyone else has to say :)

Miss Print’s Re-Prints: September 2007 Edition, Vol. 2

missprintreprintMiss Print’s Re-Prints is a weekly feature that will post on Saturday. Each week I’ll highlight reviews I wrote during a previous month in this blog’s run.

Currently I am Re-Printing 2007 posts.

September 2007: Volume 2

  • An Abundance of Katherines coverSeptember 8, 2007: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green–“The tone throughout is quirky, nerdy, and generally fun. I don’t know that reading this novel will change any lives, but it will certainly get a lot of laughs.”

 

 

 

  • The  Rumpelstiltskin Problem coverSeptember 10, 2007: The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde–“The book features six stories.  Questions answered include: Why would Rumpelstiltskin spin gold in exchange for less gold? Why would he want a baby? Why is the miller telling people his daughter can spin straw into gold? Why can’t anyone guess such a bizarre name? And more.” Vande Velde remains one of my favorite authors that no one else has heard of and these short stories are some of her best.

 

 

  • Nothing But the Truth (and a Few White Lies) coverSeptember 12, 2007: Nothing but the Truth (and a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen–“Chen writes with a style unlike any authors I’ve read recently. The narration is snappy and spunky–as is fitting for a teenage girl as vibrant as Patty. I also like that Headley doesn’t take the easy way a lot of the time. The story doesn’t follow any typical girl-meets-boy formula. In fact, Headley has quite a few twists thrown in along the way.

 

 

  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves coverSeptember 15, 2007: Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss--“At first I thought a zero tolerance approach to punctuation sounded a bit extreme. That is until Truss mentioned one of my favorite movies (“Two Weeks Notice”), pointing out that the title should be “Two Weeks Notice”. I was shocked. I had always assumed an apostrophe was there. Then I started listening to The Plain White T’s, a band whose name makes no sense with an apostrophe, and I knew things were getting serious.” I remember being very into this book when I read the copy my editor aunt sent me. Now, in all honesty, I’m not entirely sure why.

 

Check back next week for volume 3!