“13 Little Blue Envelopes” –A Book Review

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13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson is a sensational summer read! This quirky novel is sure to bring out the adventurous side in everyone.

One day Ginny, a New Jersey native, gets a letter from her Aunt Peg (who died three months ago) containing $1,000 and instructions for her to buy a backpack and a plane ticket to London, then go to a Chinese restaurant in New York to pick up envelope 2.

The instructions for what to bring along to the UK are as follows:

Rule #1: You may bring only what fits in your backpack. Don’t try to fake it out with a purse or a carry-on.

 Rule #2: You may not bring guidebooks, phrase books, or any kind of foreign language aid. And no journals.

 Rule #3: You cannot bring extra money or credit/debit cards, traveler’s checks, etc. I’ll take care of all that.

Rule #4: No electronic crutches. This means no laptop, no cell phone, no music, and no camera. You can’t call home or communicate with people in the U.S. by Internet or telephone. Postcards and letters are acceptable and encouraged.

Now all Ginny has to do is pick up envelope 2, go to London, and see what kind of adventure her (dead) whirlwind aunt has in store for her over the summer vacation. Of course it was hell trying to convince her parents to let her do this, not to mention that it goes against everything well-organized, practical Ginny stands for. But it’s her aunt, and the promise of these 13 little blue envelopes is the last thing on earth Ginny has of her. Thus, she strikes of for the UK.

The premise of this entire Teen novel is for Ginny to travel around the UK in search of these envelopes that her aunt has left for her. With each new envelope comes a new set of instructions: Places to go, people to find, things to do.

Along her journey, the envelopes send Ginny to England, Scotland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Greece, giving her whacky activities to complete throughout her voyage.

And of course, Ginny meets a peculiar artist along the way that she can’t stop thinking about, and who appears throughout her expedition. To give you a taste of the adorableness of this book, here is a quote from a letter she sends to her best friend back home.

“Keith was HERE. In PARIS. And HE FOUND ME. I know it sounds impossible, but it’s true, and it’s really not that magical of an explanation. But what matters is that we made out in a graveyard and slept on a park bench.”

This entire novel is not only charming, and adventurous, but it also gives you a window to the soul of a young girl dealing with grief for the first time. I cannot say enough good things about this tale. I give it five stars!

*And it does have an open ending, but thankfully she decided to go ahead and write a sequel. The Last Little Blue Envelope is equally awesome! 🙂 

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“The Casual Vacancy”—A Book Rant

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Just like millions of Harry Potter fans out there, I could not WAIT for J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy. And let me tell you, I was totally not prepared for the complete and total letdown of this novel. Holy Balls, it was HORRIBLE!!!

 Absolutely NOTHING HAPPENS in this book! I swear there was no plot. It was merely 503 pages of boringness. And I did finish it, I swear…I kept hoping it would have a killer ending that would redeem the rest of the story, but NO, it didn’t. The ending was just as anticlimactic and lackluster as the rest of the tome.

Also, I feel like J.K. Rowling was on a mission to prove that she could do something other than “squeaky clean,” and went out of her way to use profanity and shocking sexual imagery. Some of the narrative descriptions in this volume had me crossing my legs…it was that crass and revolting. I get it J.K, you can use the “F Bomb.” Congratulations. But next time, let’s trying using it in a meaningful way to accentuate the plot and help the story to progress. Not just dropping it wherever, just because you can. (And this is coming from someone who cusses like a sailor.)

The supposed “plot” of this novel:

In the small English town of Pagford, Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly, leaving a seat open on the town’s council. This happens at the very start of the tale. The rest of the book is about several different people and families in this small town and how this open seat on the council (and the town in general) affects their lives. This story literally follows about twenty different around and basically eavesdrops on their mundane lives. That’s it. The whole story.

Besides the fact that there are way too many characters to keep up with, everyone’s life is completely dull and uneventful. Not to mention the fact that pretty much every character was an utterly horrible person. I get it; I know that most people are not inherently “good,” and everyone has skeletons in their closet, but the way this story was written, I didn’t even remotely feel anything for these characters. They were all selfish and ignorant and I wanted to punch every single one of them in the face. And I’m not a violent person. I wanted to like this book, I really did, but WOW, such an epic fail.

In an interview with BBC, 26 September 2012, News Entertainment & Arts, Rowling says, “I don’t mean this in an arrogant way but I did not sit down to write this novel thinking “got to prove”. I had nothing to prove.”

To me, this basically translates to, I’m super rich and I can write whatever the f*ck I want, because I’m J.K. F*cking Rowling and people will buy my books. Period.

 

My advice…DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! I give it one out of five stars. And that’s being generous.

 

People

“A vivid read with great, memorable characters and a truly emotional payoff….Rowling captures the humanity in everyone.”

^ All I have to say about this review is, “False.”