Thursday, August 7, 2014

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson...

Title- Suite Scarlett (Scarlett #1)
Author- Maureen Johnson.
Publish date- 2013.
Publisher- Hot Key Books.
RRP- $16.95

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
This is not a book about a teenage who solves mysteries and crimes for people who stay in the hotel her family owns. It's a very amusing book, but not that. It involves Shakespeare, theater, acting, sibling relationships, hotels, schemes and a romance that turns the protagonist into an unreliable narrator (that last one is just in my opinion, by the by).
Image Credit: Hot Key Books.
Thank you to Hot Key Books for this review copy!

What I thought:
Suite Scarlett. Been on my planned reading for over a year, more likely two. It was a book I wanted to read, wanted to read a lot, the first novel by aureen Johnson I read, hopefully (though I've read at least one of her short stories), but it did take me quite a while.
And for all that, I am conflicted about this novel.

Scarlett, having just turned fifteen in the first pages, is one of the youngest YA protagonists I've read for a while, though it isn't until the romance aspect comes in that she really feels that age. The rest of the time I'd quite happily imagine her as older, maybe 17. She is likable, mostly, and I did enjoy her inner conflict when things start to get tricky, the way she doesn't really lie to herself... well she might, but only once or twice!
And yet, for all that she sees and understands, when romance was bought into the equation Scarlett became a little bit hopeless. She becomes dependent and and it is the main path her thoughts locate themselves too, and... well, she becomes flaky.

Perhaps I hold it against hr, her infatuational love on eye contact, but if that's the case it is because this romance irritated me a bit. For all the charm of the book (and it has plenty) the romance Scarlett involves herself in felt untrue and, though it was probably with reasoning, there was no build up, to my mind. Not from Scarlett and not from he on the other side- they eyed each other and fliterd and I did not like he on the other side as soon as I saw it. Possibly because he is at least eighteen- at least- and when you've only days ago been 14 that feels very worrying.
I was uncomfortable with it. Really, very uncomfortable. And it was always there, a page away from being mentioned.

Apart from the distressingly constant romance, though, this was a really wonderful story, with characters, setting and a plot that shine. The story is set in New York and Scarlett's family live and own and work in an old, small hotel, and I felt like I was there.
A family full of antics and their own lovely, peculiar, odd habits and personalities, this story also boasts a truly fantastic sibling relationship between Scarlett and Spencer, her older brother, and one that felt honestly genuine and true, and was very amusing.

Rating: I really don't know. It's not "Poor" but it's lower than "Hmmm..." so... New Rating! 
So perhaps I'm about 45/100: part of me severely disliked parts of it. Part of me embraced and felt embraced. Now, lets see where the sequel takes me, shall we? (And not comment on the face I thought this was a hotel-situated teenage mystery series.)


  1. The romance sounds like something I might not be too keen on either, but I like the sound of the setting and the family dynamics. I've actually never tried anything by Maureen Johnson before, though I do see her books around a lot. I look forward to seeing what you think of the sequel! :)

    1. Thanks, Sam! I'm really excited for the sequel, too, which is, I believe, next up on my tbr!
      I think you might like this- I know there's a thriller series she's writing set in the time of Jack the Ripper, Shades Of London I think it's called, and I'm wondering what I'll think of that. I'll hold off a full recommendation on this until the sequel, though, I think!

  2. Hmm, not sure I would really take to this one either. Particularly the romance... but I do want to try out Maureen Johnson's writing sometime because I have heard good things! I hope you like the sequel more!

    1. Thanks, Aylee! It's one of the next books I'll be reading, so I'm really interested to see what I feel about it (though I'm still disappointed that she's not a mystery, modern Nancy Drew type character- that was a bit of a let down). Hopefully it'll be better overall than this!

  3. I haven't read anything by Maureen Johnson, I haven't felt that drawn to any of her books. As an adult reader of YA, I do prefer my main characters a little older, and it would bug me too that she just turned 15 and the love interest was 18 or over.
    Great review though.

    1. I know she has a YA thriller series- from what I've seen of the books on your blog, you may like it (I believe it's called Shades of London) though of course I can't completely recommend it since I haven't read it yet. I can recommend it by saying I plan to read it soon!
      I probably wouldn't have been so unhappy/comfortable with the romance if it hadn't seemed like there was *something* wrong going on.

  4. She doesn't look 15 on the cover! I haven't heard of this book before but it sounds interesting. I like the familial aspects to the book, and the age gap doesn't exactly bother me too much. If the love interest was over 20 or so, then I would be bothered...but you know guys are more immature than girls haha. I would probably read this if it was based more on the familial dynamics. Will keep an eye out for it! Wonderful review lovely x

    1. She doesn't really, does she? She looks about 20 on the third cover, or at least 19, I'd say, so I'm wondering how much time passes between the second and third books.
      I think I'd have been okay, maybe still a bit uncomfortable, but for the fact there just seemed to be something wrong with the guy. He was shifty and she felt so naive. It was pretty awful at times.

      I hope you really enjoy it, Joy! The family, especially with the siblings, was such a fantastic part of the story!

  5. The cover doesn't look like this is a YA book at all. I thought that was a woman on the cover. I actually had to read your review twice to make sure I read it right that she was 14-15. What!! It does sound like an interesting book though. Too bad you didn't love it.

  6. I was surprised, too, though lots of things surprised me when I read this. Such as the fact she wasn't a teen crime solving super spy. I obviously went in fairly blind, though I swear I read the synopsis!

  7. I feel like this would be something that would be a lot more fun for me if the protagonist was younger (and without the questionably motivated love interest) because it seems like it would be fun and whimsical if it was a young kid solving crimes and mysteries and the like. I don't know that I can buy it from a teenager (except Veronica because of course) so it feels like I would find it hard to believe.

    1. Well I think it would have been great like that, kind of Nancy-Drew-esq, which is basically what I thought it was, except all set in a hotel, but sadly there wasn't the mystery/crime element to it at all, that was just my misunderstanding. I'm still a bit sad about it, but the sequel made up for it almost entirely!


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