Books I've Read

Book Review – The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

The bad thing about falling behind in your book reviews is that you can never remember which books you’ve reviewed and which you haven’t. For example, I’ve talked so much about The Madness Underneath in Top Ten Tuesdays, Teaser Tuesdays, WWW Wednesdays, and other places, I thought for sure I had formally reviewed it already. Turns out I haven’t.

So let’s begin, shall we?

First off, I just need to say that I adore Maureen Johnson. I want to be her when I grow up. And don’t tell me that, at age 34, I’m already grown up. I will stick my fingers in my ears and stick my tongue out at you. Maureen Johnson is just an awesome person. I picked up The Madness Underneath at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC (which is a cool independent bookstore – if you are any where around the Raleigh area, stop in and see them). Maureen was there for a book signing, along with Stephanie Perkins who I also love, and I got to meet them both. They are super nice, a little crazy, but that’s what makes them fun. I haven’t read all of Maureen’s books yet, but I’m going to.

madness underneathThe Madness Underneath continues the story of Rory Devereaux, a teenage girl from Louisiana living in London. In the previous book, The Name of the Star, Rory barely survives an attack from a ghost who was replicating the murders of Jack the Ripper. Rory’s parents are understandably protective and pull Rory out of school. Rory is understandably frustrated with them. She wants to go back to Wexford, not only to regain her life again, but to get back with the mysterious Shades of London, an underground police force that deals with ghosts.

Something strange happened to Rory when she nearly died. The Shades have an instrument they call a “terminus,” which they use on ghosts to make them leave this world for good. The terminii were hidden in cell phones, but they were all destroyed. Now Rory is somehow a human terminus – every time she comes in contact with a ghost, the ghost disappears forever. The Shades are very interested in this power, and they’re not the only ones.

I haven’t read very many books that are both funny, yet suspenseful as all get out. Somehow Maureen Johnson does both with this book. There are a lot of twists and turns, really cool supernatural mysteries to be solved, and an ending that I did not see coming AT ALL. Let’s just say that Rory’s new gift is about to get super inconvenient. I really liked this book and, although it wasn’t quite as good as The Name of the Star, I can’t wait to get to the next book (The Shadow Cabinet, coming sometime in 2014 according to GoodReads). So yes, check out this series. These books are spooky and fun, which is a great combination.

Drabbles · Trips I've Taken

So I met some people . . .

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to go to a book signing and meet two awesome authors – Maureen Johnson and Stephanie Perkins! It was so much fun! I’ve never really gone to a book signing before, since I always seem to be behind in the times and find out about things just a day or so too late. This time, thanks to my writing buddy Jeff, I was able to make it.

The book signing was held at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC, which is a really neat independent bookstore. I didn’t know this, but they have lots of events like this. Needless to say, I am now signed up to get their newsletter and I have started following them on Twitter! Raleigh isn’t too far away from where I live – only about an hour and a half drive – but since I didn’t feel like going alone, I talked my mom into coming with me. She agreed, despite not really knowing anything about these two authors, except that I really liked them. After listening to them, she now understands why I am so enamored with them both.

Stephanie Perkins and Maureen Johnson

The event started off with a small panel discussion and a Q & A session. It was fun seeing so many younger people excited about reading. There were even a few very small fans (one in particular, who was still in a stroller) that Maureen and Stephanie had fun “talking” to. Actually, at one time, the little kid started laughing in a maniacal sort of way, and Maureen said that was just how she sounded while working on The Madness Underneath.

My favorite part of the panel was when they talked about writing and getting published, which are two very separate things. As a writer who wants to be published one day, it is always refreshing to hear how it sounds like from the other side – the side I hope to one day be on. It is easy to think, while plodding through your own manuscript, that published authors have it easy. Obviously, they’ve been successful, so they must be brimming with confidence and know exactly what they’re doing, right? Nope. Maureen confessed to the crowd that while writing, she often feels like sealing herself in a box and shipping herself off to Spain in order to get away from her manuscript. Stephanie has similar fantasies, except instead of Spain, she would find a small isolated cottage in England, throw her laptop off a cliff, and settle down with cups of tea while her husband plays the piano. Names would be changed, of course, so that no one would ever find her or her writing.

Maureen sees you with that camera!
Maureen sees you with that camera!

After that was the signing, which was set up over in the children’s department. Everything moved pretty fast, but we never felt like we were being rushed. Maureen got very excited when a fan brought metallic gold Sharpie pens, and quickly appropriated one. They were both lovely, stopping to take pictures and sign as many books as you could carry in. I bought two books there, Maureen’s The Madness Underneath and Stephanie’s Lola and the Boy Next Door, and got both of them signed. And got a photo, of course.

Maureen, Me, and Stephanie. Squee!
Maureen, Me, and Stephanie. Squee!

Ladies, it was so nice to meet you! Hope you come back soon!