13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Published: December 2010
Genre: contemporary, young adult
Summary: Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket. In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat. The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist. Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again? Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.
Mini Review: This was a good mix of Just One Day / Just One Year and PS I Love You. Following the letters of a dead loved one and backpacking through Europe, not knowing what may happen next, and making new friends in new cities (like Carrie and the Australian gang, the Knapp family, Richard, and Keith). I’ve traveled to Europe five times now and I still don’t think I could do what Ginny did: following letters blindly and managing to get by. Ginny managed her quest, and it’s full of art, self-discovery, and love. In a hippie, wanderlust sort of way, I enjoyed the light read. This book shows why it’s important for you to travel. It really changes you in a million different ways!
Sing by Vivi Greene
Published: May 2016
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Summary: After getting her heart shattered, pop star Lily is taking herself out of the spotlight and heading to a small island in middle-of-nowhere Maine with her closest friends. She has three months until her fall tour starts to focus on herself, her music, and her new album. Anything but guys. That is until Lily meets down-to-earth local Noel Bradley. Suddenly, Lily’s “summer of me” takes an unexpected turn, and she finds herself falling deeper than ever before. But Noel isn’t interested in the limelight. Come August, Lily may be forced to choose between the boy and her music.
Mini Review: It started off as a fun, cute, contemporary summer YA read. It was easy to imagine Lily as Taylor Swift, especially because Lily is thinking of changing up her music style and song topics. I was all for this sweet read, especially with her best friends Sammy and Tess — I even thought of this book as a lighter version of Emery Lord. But about halfway through the book it became too predictable. It’s a short read, so if I’m already feeling like the plot is unnecessarily drawn out, there’s a hitch somewhere. That’s when I noticed it had more telling than showing, and relied heavily on dialogue to keep the plot moving. It almost had me! Almost!
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from HarperTeen for review.
Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw
Published: April 2016
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Summary: When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. And if they ever find out what Scarlett truly thinks about them, she’ll be thrust into a situation far more dramatic than anything she’s ever seen on TV.
Mini Review: I thought I was going to be reading a self-deprecating version of Cath from Fangirl — with all the uber nerdy internet lingo. In fact, I know some really funny people who are basically Scarlett in real life, with the same investment in stories and TV shows and sarcastic comebacks. But I didn’t find Scarlett funny. And to be honest, I didn’t see the point of the story. What was I supposed to get from that? I enjoyed her chat interactions with her internet friends, and I liked her relationship with Ruth, the old feminist neighbor across the highway. But when it came down to it, the writing and humor just weren’t my cup of tea.