Scarlett's family lives in a vintage hotel in New York City, but they aren't rich-- they have run the hotel for generations, and it has fallen on hard times. Scarlett's older sister is trying to help out by working in a department store, and is dating a wealthy boy. Her brother is trying to make it as an actor. Her younger sister is annoying-- but has battled cancer, so is spoiled. Combine these characters with an odd but appealing hotel guest, let them decide to "put on a show!", and you have a satisfying urban tale worthy of Johnson. The parents, whom one would think might do something to help the hotel fare better, are oddly transparent and the ending a bit predictable, but this was quite fun. Better than Girl at Sea, but not up to the incomparable 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Definitely buy if you have a fan base.
Mitchell's The Roman Conspiracy was clearly written by a graduate student. It tried a little too hard to tie historical events into the book, and was dry. Another disappointing classically themed book was Halam's Snakehead. It follows Perseus and Danae when they are working in a taverna, but was somehow confusing and seemed to start in media res. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that there are now so many books set in Ancient Greece and Rome that I can be picky?
Balliet's The Calder Game followed the same lines as the previous books, Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3. Very complex, with puzzles and clues and a lot of thought. I am debating, as students run either hot or cold on these titles.
Murdock's Princess Ben just didn't grab me. There must be something about this author's style that doesn't appeal to me, because I didn't like Dairy Queen either, and this seems to be universally revered. The same holds true of Jenkins, whose Night Road started off with not one, but two scenes of vampires vomiting blood. Ew. Even my daughter, the big Twilight fan, didn't get into this one, and we both had trouble with Repossessed as well.