In Amanda Sellet’s YA debut, Mary Porter-Malcolm is the new girl at the public school. She is kind and awkward, a bookworm from a literary family who speaks like it’s 1800 and relates better to book characters than her IRL classmates. At first, I found her a bit too uncomfortable, until I realized she reminded me of myself at 15…but I digress. After a disastrous first day, Mary overhears three girls – Lydia, Arden, and Terry - discussing the school’s romantic prospects. When she warns that Terry’s apparent crush is “a Vronsky” and to be avoided, the other girls are confused and fascinated. They integrate Mary into their group and develop The Scoundrel Survival Guide based on literature’s most infamous rogues, cads, and Lotharios. The girls are supportive, fun, and fiercely loyal; in return for her wisdom, they plot Mary’s ‘debut season,’ full of shopping and sleep-overs, and culminating with the Winter Formal. Things become more complicated when “The Vronsky” (aka Alex Ritter) befriends Mary and she finds herself falling for him. Is it possible that Mary cast him as a villain without understanding him, thus giving poor advice to her new friends? And does that make Mary more of an Emma than she realized? Just what would Jane Austen do? I adore Mary; the trio made me laugh and wish I could high-five them, especially Lydia; the Porter-Malcolm family is complicated, but provide Greek Choir-like insight, assistance, and humor; and the romances in the book are sweet, but ultimately take a second seat to the bonds of friendship and trusting yourself
For fans of Kate Morton, Sarah Waters, and creepy houses, “Plain Bad Heroines” spices up gothic tradition with wit, camp, Hollywood dazzle, and a spectacular coastal New England setting. The five heroines will charm and infuriate.Their well-developed humanity is a highlight of the book, as are the vivid illustrations of the supporting cast – the peculiar, creepy, and downright deadly things keen on foiling the five. Our heroines are connected by two things - Mary MacLane’s scandalous 1902 memoir exploring her sexuality and the Brookhants School for Girls in Little Compton, Rhode Island. In 1902, Libbie Brookhants and Alexandra Trills are dealing with the fallout from three tragic student deaths at Brookhants School, all under bizarre circumstances and within curious proximity to the MacLane book. Between the two women are also years of love, secrets, and tensions that will spiral to disastrous consequences. In 2015, mercurial wunderkind author Merritt Emmons’ debut book about Brookhants has been optioned for film. Harper Harper, indie-sweetheart and Instagram’s favorite celesbian, has signed on as producer and lead actress. Audrey Wells, B-listed and suffocating under her mother’s scream queen shadow, somehow lands the other. Curious and unsettling circumstances immediately envelop the film and its stars. A cheeky narrator guides us between perspectives, centuries and locations while supplying mostly trustworthy information and reminding us that curses, history, and women are rarely as they appear.
Willowjean “Will” Parker is a circus runaway-turned assistant detective; and she might be falling for a client, a socialite whose mother was murdered during a Halloween séance…possibly by her husband’s ghost. Working for Lillian Pentecost, infamous NYC private eye, Will guides us on a witty romp through murder, embezzlement, blackmail, and family secrets come to light.