Monday, July 26, 2010

Review: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Great fun and a wonderful introduction to Audio Books!

Synopsis: (from
Scarlett is the third of four children in the Martin family. The Martins live in and manage a shabby hotel in NYC that dates back to the 1920s. When Scarlett turns 15, she is put in charge of one of the hotel's 27 rooms- the Empire Suite. Into this room moves Mrs. Amberson, a failed 1970s starlet who has returned to New York to write her memoirs. Soon, Scarlett is taking dictation, running around town with Mrs. Amberson, and getting caught up in her Auntie Mame-meets-Bianca Jagger adventures.

In the midst of all this, Scarlett falls in love - or so she thinks - and it takes Mrs. Amberson to help her see the light.
Despite a few bumps in the road, my first audio book was a great success!  For more on my experiences and lessons I learned about audiobooks, you can read my post here:  Audiobook Week:  Seven Lessons.  Since this is my first Audiobook review, I am going to steal some ideas from the hostess of Audiobook Week, Jen at Devourer of Books.  Thanks, Jen!  I hope that as my experience with this media grows, I'll find my own way of doing things. 

Book Review:
This book was so much more than I thought it would be! 

There were so many different story lines swirling around Scarlett, and she was the glue that held it all together.  Each of her siblings had their own issues with love, trust, forgiveness and maturity and they all came to her to make it all okay.  Scarlett's new boss, Mrs. Amberson always had some scheme that threatened Scarlett's honesty and sanity.  The drama company of Spencer's always seemed to need Scarlett to come to the rescue in one way or another.  In the end, though, she needed to stop being the glue and make some decisions for herself.   As a reader, I cheered for Scarlett and wanted her to be happy.

Of all the relationships in the book, the one between Scarlett and her brother, Spencer, was my favorite.  His character was my favorite as well.  He was the comic relief throughout the book, even though he himself was fighting a pretty tough battle with his parents to let him live out his dream of being a professional actor, while they pushed for him to go to culinary school and return to the hotel as the chef.  It's also through Spencer that Scarlett meets a love interest or more like a love possibility.  Spencer was great - I think it was through him that I saw a little more of the author's voice as well. 

I was SO glad that Maureen Johnson wrapped up her book and left me with a sense of satisfaction and closure, while leaving the door slightly ajar for the next installment in Scarlett's life.  I hate it when the first book in the series is all set up and cliff-hangers and no substance.  This was a wonderful book, on its own and as the first book in a series. 

There was only one question I had to keep asking myself - was Scarlett really only 15?  Were any of us that mature at 15?    I'm sure the YA readers will adore just made me feel like a fuddy duddy mom who kept thinking,  Doesn't she have a curfew?? 

Audio Review:
I have to admit, a part of me was extremely disappointed when I started playing the audio and did not hear Maureen Johnson's voice.  She was our keynote speaker at the Book Bloggers Convention back in May, and she was hilarious!  I could *hear* her voice coming through in some of the characters, especially in Scarlett's brother, Spencer, with his wit and sarcasm.

Even though it was not Maureen's voice, I thought reader Jeannie Stith did a wonderful job.  She had voices for all the main characters, staying mostly consistent throughout.  The biggest thing I was worried about in listening to an audiobook is the narrator's VOICE.  I was pleasantly surprised that her voice did not bug me at all.  It wasn't screechy or whiny, or forced.  It felt very natural. 

There weren't any background sound effects.  For some reason, I thought there would be some.  I'm new to this, so maybe there aren't usually sound effects...unless you're listening to John Grisham or James Patterson, maybe.

All in all, I thought this was a fun book, and one that I recommend to any reader or listener!

*Disclosure:  I received a copy of the CD-Rom from Brilliance Audio in the Book Bloggers Convention swag bag. 
Book Extras:
Maureen Johnson's Website
Publisher's Suite Scarlett page
Video of Maureen Johnson

About the Audio Book:
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Audio CD
Publisher: Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged; Unabridged edition (February 20, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423381041
ISBN-13: 978-1423381044

About the Book:
Reading level: Young Adult
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Point; Reprint edition (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0545096324
ISBN-13: 978-0545096324

About the Author:
Read Bio Here

I had the pleasure of meeting Maureen Johnson back in May at BEA and at the Book Bloggers Convention.  She had me laughing so hard, and at 9 o'clock in the morning!  I knew there and then that I had to read everything she has ever written.  I'm off to a great start and enjoying every minute. 


S. Krishna said...

Great review! I've been curious about this book. I'm new to audio as well, and I might give this one a try on audio.

Amanda said...

So is this your first Maureen Johnson experience? I've really liked all the books of hers I've read except for this one (I don't like all the lying and dishonesty that never comes back to bite them).

bermudaonion said...

This sounds fabulous! I'm glad your first audio book was a success!

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