Read This: White Devil, Blue Envelope

white-devil-cover.jpgI’ve got a new Shelf Awareness review this morning, for The White Devil, a ghost story by Justin Evans set at Harrow, the boarding school Lord Byron attended as an adolescent—which has a direct bearing on the contemporary supernatural dilemma. I was distracted by a few of the novel’s structural elements, but Evans has come up with a narratively sensible explanation for a prominent lacuna in Byron’s life and built a good ghost story around it, so I was pretty well entertained the whole time.

Today is also the release date for The Last Little Blue Envelope, Maureen Johnson’s sequel to her popular 13 Little Blue Envelopes. If you’ve read that earlier book, you know that Ginny received 13 envelopes from her dead aunt, which sent her on a life-changing trip across Europe, but that she never did get to open and read the final envelope. Now, a few months later, Ginny is struggling with her college application essays when she hears from somebody who’s gotten hold of that last message and is willing to share it with her—for a price. Soon, she’s back in Europe—with the most awkward travel companions imaginable—and this last quest is not only satisfying in its own right, it fills in some of the unanswered questions from the first book. (What was supposed to happen in Amsterdam? Now you’ll know!) One of the great things about Maureen’s writing is that just about every character in these two books, even the ones with walk-on parts, seems like they could have their own remarkable story, if only we went off and followed them instead of sticking with Ginny. I hope this will be as big a hit with YA readers as 13 Little Blue Envelopes was—just as Megan McCafferty was able to take Sloppy Firsts and carry it forward into Second Helpings and the subsequent sequels, Maureen’s found a character who’s interesting enough (and still has enough room to grow) for multiple novels.

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26 April 2011 | read this |

April 27: Cara Hoffman & Chloe Angyal at Greenlight

so-much-pretty.jpgI’m about halfway into So Much Pretty, the debut novel by Cara Hoffman, now and I’m really looking forward to meeting her on Wednesday, April 27, when she comes to Greenlight Bookstore for the Author/Blogger series—she’ll be joined by Chloe Angyal, the interview editor for Feministing, a website that’s described as “the world’s most-read feminist publication.” So Much Pretty is a literary thriller that raises unsettling questions about violence against women, teen violence, and community complacency; as I’ve been reading it, one of the things I’ve been reminded of is the outrage last month over New York Times coverage of a Texas case of group sexual assault on a minor—the first article the Times filed about the case basically shaped the narrative from the perspective of residents’ “how are our town’s young men going to live with this hanging over them, and, really, that 11-year-old girl was running around unsupervised, practically dressed like an adult” attitude. (It’s a case Angyal has written about, and though the Times did redeem itself slightly by putting another reporter on a follow-up story, it’s truly appalling that things had to come to that.)

Greenlight Bookstore is located at 686 Fulton Street in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene nieghborhood, right next to the C train, one block away from the G train, and a five-minute walk from all the trains that stop at Atlantic and Pacific Avenues. Cara Hoffman will read from So Much Pretty shortly after 7:30 p.m., after which Chloe Angyal will engage her in a conversation that’s sure to be thought-provoking, and we’ll also leave plenty of time for your questions. You don’t need to RSVP on Facebook, but it’s always helpful to have an idea of how many people might show up, so you may want to check in. I’ll look for you there!

25 April 2011 | events |

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