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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Flashback July 2011

And now, a Flashback to what I was reading and reviewing in July 2011!

A Lesson in Secrets, a Maisie Dobbs novel by Jacqueline Winspear. Harper Collins. 2011. From my review: “Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and private investigator, is recruited in 1932 to go undercover for the British Secret Service. Her assignment? Get a job as a junior lecturer at a private college (the College of St. Francis) in Cambridge. The college’s founder, Greville Liddicote, is controversial because of his pacifism. Rumors are that a children’s book he wrote during the War led to soldiers refusing to fight; the government confiscated as many copies of the book as it could. Maisie is asked to examine Liddicotte, his college, his colleagues, his students for “activities  – by anyone – that are not in the interests of the Crown. Liddicote is murdered. Maisie’s job is not to investigate the murder, but to observe and report back, but she cannot help herself. Who killed Liddicote? And why? And, what exactly is an activity that is not in the interest of the Crown?”

Eona: The Last Dragoneye, The Sequel to Eon by Alison Goodman. Penguin Books. 2011. From my review: “Goodman does some masterful plotting and fancy footwork, with just the right mix of being able to surprise me but when I look back at earlier chapters, I nod, seeing clues to what will come. Eon had a few twists — Eon’s a girl, the long-lost Mirror Dragon, returns, and it turns out that dragon is a female which explains its bonding with Eona. Comparing the turns and surprises in Eon to those in Eona is like comparing the rides at the local boardwalk to those at DisneyWorld. The boardwalk is fun and has the ocean, but DisneyWorld, is, well, DisneyWorld. Eona has twists and plot developments that made me sit up and go “woah.” I don’t want to say too much about them, because since I enjoyed the roller coast ride of Eona largely unspoiled, I want to preserve that for other readers.”

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore. Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House. 2011. From my review: “Amy Goodnight’s summer job is taking care of her aunt’s Texas ranch while her hard working aunt goes on a vacation to China. Along with her older sister, Phin, they’re taking care of the dogs, the goats, and the plants that make up Aunt Hyacinth’s herb farm and organic bath products. What Amy didn’t plan on was the destructive neighborhood ghost. Lucky for her, the Goodnights know more than a little about the supernatural. Amy may try to present a typical place to the world, but the truth she hides yet cannot deny is the Goodnight family is a family of witches. Too bad the very cute next-door-neighbor cowboy doesn’t believe in ghosts or witches and just want the trouble-making Goodnights to stay out of his way and off his land. In my review of Clement-Moore’s The Splendor Falls, I compared it to books by Barbara Michaels: “You know all those Barbara Michaels Flashback July 2011 books you go looking for? Young girl, old family home, dueling love interests, with the three s’s: setting, suspense, supernatural? And when they’re done, you wonder what to read next?” Texas Gothic shows that Clement-Moore is this generation’s Barbara Michaels, and I guess it’s more accurate to say that those teen readers who like these books should be shown the Michaels books rather than vice versa. It is 2011, after all.”

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. Viking, an imprint of Penguin. 2011. From my review: “While What Happened to Goodbye has a romance in it, this is not a romance. Rather, it is about a girl whose life fractured, whose sense of self fractured, and who spent two years hiding from what had happened by trying on and discarding new personas. Now, Mclean is at a time and a place, both physically and emotionally, where she can put those pieces together and become herself.”

My Misadventures as a Teenage Rock Star by Joyce Raskin, illustrated by Carol Chu. Graphia, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2011. From my review: “Alex’s older brother, Charles, is about to leave for college. Before he does, he gives her something that will change her life. “I hear my brother say that I could play bass for Tod’s band.” Alex is not yet the rock star — but Charles has pushed his younger sister on the path. It doesn’t happen overnight; at first, Alex is doing this to look cool, for her her crush Tod to like her. In a way, Alex is doing this for all the wrong reasons: her older brother is pushing her, she wants to impress Tod, she wants to be cool, she wants to transform herself.”

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Younger Readers, an imprint of Random House. 2011. From my review: “At first, Kate, Michael and Emma are pinballs. Sent from one orphange to another, with no home. And then what happens in the final place they are sent to? They are pinballs once again, except now they are sent back and forth in time. When stuck in the past, they find themselves running from a witch and into the territory of dwarves, each group looking to use the children to find the mysterious book that allows one to travel in time and space. Finally, though, the three assert themselves, take control, and stop running away and start running to something. They stop being pinballs. Oh, there is still danger. But there is this wonderful shift, about midway through, when they stopped being “acted upon,” when they no longer react and instead act. Along the way, the make enemies and find allies.”

 

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Eliza says:

    This look back lists several books I’ve read.
    A Lesson in Secrets – not one of my favorite Maisie Dobbs novels. Passable but if someone hasn’t read any of the other books in the series, this is not the one with which to start.

    Eona: The Last Dragoneye – I agree with you that this is a much stronger book than Eon. Finally Eona started to take control. Really well done duology

    Texas Gothic – oh my gosh, this book was so much fun! It’s the perfect book to pick up if someone’s looking for a fun summer read. I just found out that a companion novel came out in May. It’s Spirit and Dust and features Daisy Goodnight. I hope Amy and, especially, Phin also appear. Have you read any of her Maggie Quinn: Girl vs Evil series? Maggie fights demons and has a best friend who’s a witch. Sound familiar? Perfect for the Buffy fans out there looking for a new fix.

    The Emerald Atlas – I haven’t read this one and it sounds intriguing. I was super excited when I saw that not only did my library have a copy but it also had the audiobook version until I saw that Jim Dale was the narrator. I tried the Harry Potter books on audio on a long solo road trip and had to quit because his narration drives me up the wall. His accents were so inconsistent and slide all over the place and his female characters all sounded so whiny. I would love to get my hands on the Harry Potter British audiobooks because Stephen Fry narrates them. How awesome would that be? Anyway, back to The Emerald Atlas, looks like I’ll have to try to fit in reading the book rather than listening to it. It’s just that listening allows me to fit in so many extra books into my life.

  2. Elizabeth Burns says:

    Eliza, my favorite Maisie Dobbs remains the first. But even then, I have some issues with the class stuff going on. That Maisie has to be twice as good as anyone else, and that the experiment of educating her never goes further — no education for any other of Maisie’s peers.

    Eon/Eona is quite clever. I like how much the second book reveals of the broader picture.

    Spirit & Dust: if this week goes according to reading plan, then I will be reading it this week!

    Narrators are so important to a book. I would also love to get the Fry versions of HP! Right now, Nick Podehl is excellent, have you listened to anything by him?

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