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Translate My Heart

I am a twenty-something year old with a fondness for books, snail mail and summer dresses. I work in a bookshop and live in the pages of books.

The Name of the Star (Shades of London)

The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson Before I talk about my thoughts on this book, I have to preface this review with the confession that I am a huge fan of Maureen Johnson’s books since I first read her 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I fell hard for this author and has subsequently been trying to read all her books published since then. So when this book came for me at work, it pretty much made my day.Aurora “Rory” Deveaux has spent her life growing up in a small town in Louisiana where gators are common and she’s surrounded by her quirky family members from her aunt who runs an angel business to her uncle who owns eight freezers and doesn’t believe in banks. When her parents get a job teaching in England, she gets a choice to stay or go.Rory decides to go and she arrives in London at the worst possible time. The day she lands in London is the same day a murderer has struck London. Not just any killer, but one that is copying the work of Jack the Ripper. All anyone can talk about is the Ripper copycat and despite the presence of cameras everywhere, there are few leads and even fewer witnesses. Until Rory sees a man one night the same night a body was found. Soon she gets caught in the middle of “Rippermania” and a very top secret police force.In short, The Name of the Star, takes a gruesome topic (Jack the Ripper) and ghosts spinning it in Johnson’s trademark clever and humorous manner. To elaborate, the Jack the Ripper plot line could easily veer into the macabre with elaborate details about the killer’s methodology, victims, etc. yet it never gets that way. There is touches of grim, but Maureen Johnson also infuses the story with humor that it balances out. I also enjoy the way Johnson approaches the ghost mythology. It’s unique and believable – well, as much as ghosts are.I also enjoy Johnson’s characters. Main character Rory’s voice is so much fun – comical, strong, and unique. Her tangents about life in Louisana and her quirky family levy the chilling atmosphere set by the strange murders. However, Johnson doesn’t put her eggs in one basket – I really enjoy my time with her cast of secondary characters from Claudia – the field hockey loving house-mom to prim headgirl Charlotte.Additional bonus is the way romance is handled here. It is not girl-meets-boy and “I’ll love you forever” kind of romance, which seem to dominate YA literature. Rather it’s “you’re cute so let’s just make out since it probably is one of the more normal things going on in my life right now”. And it does not dominate the story line. And no love triangle, at least for now! And for full disclosure, my favorite boy character is Stephen. I hope there will be more of him in the continuing series.I am definitely anticipating the next Shades of London novel. I hope it’s not too long of a wait.