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Little Willow

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Author Spotlight: Maureen Johnson

Christopher Golden and Maureen Johnson have at least two things in common:

One: I will read anything and everything they write. Their novels, their blogs, their shopping lists... If either ever chooses to write greeting cards, I will read those too.

Two: Each author has a varied backlist, allowing me to recommend their books to an audience just as varied. Like greeting cards, there's something for every occasion.

While the majority of Golden's books are in the horror/fantasy genre, Maureen tends to live in the land of realistic fiction. Her dramatic stories get me right in the heart. Her novels which are infused with elements of comedy make me laugh out loud.

Shiny Objects

Here's a rundown of Maureen Johnson's novels in order of publication:

The Key to the Golden Firebird

Three sisters deal with the loss of their father in vastly different ways. I recommend this book alongside The Alison Rules by Catherine Clark, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, and The Pursuit of Happiness by Tara Altebrando. They make for a well-written quartet of books about grieving. It just so happens that the titles all start with the same word.

The Bermudez Triangle

Nina, Avery, and Mel have been best friends for so long that nothing could ever change that. Right? Their close ties are tested when two of them start dating each other and senior year rears its ugly head.

This book has one of my favorite supporting characters: the instantly likable Parker. I think he would be friends with Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charlie from A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian. In fact, I wish he were my friend.

The Bermudez Triangle: Too Cool for School? details what happened when this book was challenged at a school in 2007.

13 Little Blue Envelopes

Ginny is sent on a journey through Europe via letters from her aunt. Since Aunt Peg recently passed away, this is Ginny's chance to see how she lived and connect with her friends. She is instructed to open the envelopes one by one, which makes for an interesting scavenger hunt which includes airmail, famous sights, and foreign money. Oh, and washing machines, department stores, and braids.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes What a Girl Wants. Mention that movie in my presence and I will tell you about no less than three things, one of which is this book, which I read while traveling myself, though not to Europe.


Warning: While reading this book, you may have a craving for cupcakes, but do not, repeat, do not accept cupcakes from strangers. Even if they are seemingly harmless new transfer students. This modern-day spin on Faust takes place at an all-girls prep school. Can we say dark comedy?

Girl at Sea

Clio was planning on spending her seventeenth summer at an art supply store, working alongside hip, artsy folks who would appreciate her unique style, and hanging out at home with her mom and her cat. Then the phone rang, and she ended up on a ship in Italy with her father and his co-workers.

This book is fabulous, and Clio may very well be my favorite of Maureen's protagonists. Read my full-length review of the book.

Suite Scarlett

Scarlett's story begins on her fifteenth birthday, and the most important gift she receives is a key to a suite. You see, she and her family live in a hotel that's been passed down through the generations, and her parents assign each kid a suite to care for on his or her fifteenth birthday. Scarlett gets more than she bargained for in Mrs. Amberson, the aging actress who occupies the Empire Suite. Mrs. Amberson has money to spare and plenty of opinions to share.

This book has burnt food, fresh bagels, unicyclists, Hamlet, a former actress, and shiny things. What more could you want? It also speaks volumes of truth about family ties.

Read my full-length review of the book.

Stay tuned for a review of Scarlett Fever, the sequel to Suite Scarlett. Quickly, I'll tell you that I liked it just as much as the first volume.

Fan Movies

The creative team of Starlight Productions and Stun Gun, Inc. have made not one but two short films based on Maureen's blog entries. Maureen was very touched.

Random Thoughts

What I admire about Maureen - in addition to her impressive storytelling ability and her witty sense of humor, of course - is her sense of integrity. She has been honest throughout this whole endeavor. She has garnered the support of readers and authors around the world because she's earned it.

Read my interview with Maureen and The Bermudez Triangle: Too Cool for School?

Visit Maureen's blog and website.

Maureen will be blogging at - the YA site for the Centre for Youth Literature of the State Library of Victoria, Australia - from January 21st, 2008 until February 15th, 2008.
Tags: author spotlight, banned books, books, reviews

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