13 Little Blue Envelopes

( 679 )

Overview

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, ...

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Overview

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.

Ages 12+

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Following the instructions in 13 sealed envelopes provided by her recently deceased aunt, a 17-year-old sets off for the experience of a lifetime. "Equal parts poignant, funny and inspiring, this tale is sure to spark wanderlust," said PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
Ginny begins an incredible summer journey with a package of little blue envelopes from her Aunt Peg. Peg ran away from home at age 17 and traveled to a variety of places where she met artists, studied art, lived above a Chinese restaurant and settled in New York City. Then without warning, she ran away again. But what makes this package of letters significant is that Aunt Peg has died. Yet, Ginny gains parental approval and follows the instructions that Peg has laid out for her. She is to make an odyssey and the first stop is London, where she meets Peg's friend, Richard, who works at Harrod's. She also meets Keith, a college boy who has written and produced a play. Following the instructions in each envelope, Ginny's odyssey takes her to Scotland, to Rome, and Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Greece. In each place, she has a small task to perform—support the arts, visit an art gallery, see the countryside, stay at a particular hostel. With each city, Ginny learns more about herself and about her aunt who had made this same journey before she became ill. She is scrupulous about following her aunt's instructions. Intertwined in her journey are Keith and a romantic relationship. As she comes to the last of the letters, Ginny has grown from the shy teenager she was to one who is more independent, more invested in the life around her. At the end of the journey, she better understands her aunt and her aunt's passion for living even in the face of illness and death. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Harper Collins, 336p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Janis Flint-Ferguson
Children's Literature
Everyone dreams of adventure: traveling the world, doing crazy things, and meeting interesting people. Ginny's adventure starts the day she received the first blue envelope. Shortly after her eccentric aunt, who disappeared over two years ago, suddenly dies, Ginny receives the first letter instructing her to travel to the Chinese restaurant below her aunt's old apartment in New York. There she receives a packet of twelve other letters. These letters send Ginny on a whirlwind tour of her aunt's last few years. Each one contains instructions (get on the night train to Paris or ask an Italian boy to eat cake with you) as well as insight into to why Aunt Peg left. As Ginny faithfully follows the instructions, she slowly comes out of her shell and begins to understand Aunt Peg. This is a fascinating novel. Ginny, although a little too pure and naive for a modern high-school grad, is a likable character and readers will be envious of her trip. The letters are intriguing and propel the reader through the novel; you want to know what she will have to do next. This is a girl's book, though. Boys will find the males in the story a bit silly, but girls will find it delightful. 2005, HarperCollins, Ages 14 to 18.
—Heather Robertson
KLIATT - Janis Flint-Ferguson
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2005: Ginny begins an incredible summer journey with a package of little blue envelopes from her Aunt Peg. Peg ran away from home at age 17 and traveled to a variety of places where she met artists, studied art, lived above a Chinese restaurant and settled in New York City. Then without warning, she ran away again. But what makes this package of letters significant is that Aunt Peg has died. Yet, Ginny gains parental approval and follows the instructions that Peg has laid out for her. She is to make an odyssey and the first stop is London, where she meets Peg's friend, Richard, who works at Harrod's. She also meets Keith, a college boy who has written and produced a play. Following the instructions in each envelope, Ginny's odyssey takes her to Scotland, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Greece. In each place, she has a small task to perform—support the arts, visit an art gallery, see the countryside, stay at a particular hostel. With each city, Ginny learns more about herself and about her aunt who had made this same journey before she became ill. She is scrupulous about following her aunt's instructions. Intertwined in her journey are Keith and a romantic relationship. As she comes to the last of the letters, Ginny has grown from the shy teenager she was to one who is more independent, more invested in the life around her. At the end of the journey, she better understands her aunt and her aunt's passion for living even in the face of illness and death. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.)
School Library Journal
Gr 8-10-This whirlwind adventure begins as Ginny, 17, reads a letter from her free-spirited, unpredictable Aunt Peg, who has recently passed away. She is given several destinations, four rules, and the instruction to open one envelope upon her arrival at each place. Thus begins a rapid tour of Europe as the teen struggles to accomplish the tasks established by her aunt. The motivation: Ginny wants to understand the woman's wanderlust and, possibly, she just wants a connection to her beloved relative. Throughout her adventures in Rome, Paris, Greece, England, and the Netherlands, the teen collects pieces of Peg's past and learns more about her rapid departure. She also learns much about herself. The reason Ginny is sent to meet certain people is not always clear; sometimes she (and readers) wonder about the point of the exercise. Overall, though, the novel drives home the importance of family, love, and the value of connections that you make with people. It is a quick read that will interest high school girls.-Emily Garrett, Naaman Forest High School, Garland, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Aunt Peg was full of wonder, and 17-year-old Ginny always felt more interesting around her. When Ginny receives a letter from Aunt Peg containing $1,000 and instructions for a mysterious journey, she is propelled into a series of experiences that will change her life. She receives a package containing 13 little blue envelopes, to be opened one at a time and only when she's completed the task in each letter. She goes to London, Scotland, Italy, Rome, Paris and elsewhere, ultimately realizing that she can be interesting by herself; she doesn't have to be with Peg to feel interesting. The envelopes draw Ginny around the world and the reader along with her, the letters providing a nice change of pace to the third-person narrative. Johnson's writing is sophisticated and humorous, her characterizations pitch perfect. Aunt Peg seems as real as Ginny, though we find early on that she has died and exists for Ginny only through her letters and memory. A sure hit with fans of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (Fiction. 12+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060541439
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/26/2006
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 68,583
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 770L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Maureen Johnson is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels include The Name of the Star, Suite Scarlett, Scarlett Fever, Girl At Sea, The Key To The Golden Firebird, and 13 Little Blue Envelopes. She lives in New York City, but travels to the UK regularly to soak up the drizzle and watch English TV.

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Read an Excerpt

13 Little Blue Envelopes


By Maureen Johnson

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Maureen Johnson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060541431

Chapter One

A Package Like a Dumpling

As a rule, Ginny Blackstone tried to go unnoticed--something that was more or less impossible with thirty pounds (she'd weighed it) of purple-and-green backpack hanging from her back. She didn't want to think about all the people she'd bumped into while she'd been carrying it. This thing was not made for wearing around New York City. Well, anywhere, really . . . but especially the East Village of New York City on a balmy June afternoon.

And a chunk of her hair was caught under the strap on her right shoulder, so her head was also being pulled down a little. That didn't help.

It had been over two years since Ginny had last been to the 4th Noodle Penthouse. (Or "that place above the grease factory," as Ginny's parents preferred to refer to it. It wasn't entirely unfair. 4th Noodle was pretty greasy. But it was the good kind of greasy, and they had the best dumplings in the world.)

Her mental map had faded a bit in the last two years, but 4th Noodle's name also contained its address. It was on 4th Street and Avenue A. The alphabet avenues were east of the numbers, deeper into the super-trendy East Village--where people smoked and wore latex and never shuffled down the street with bags the size ofmailboxes strapped to their backs.

She could just see it now . . . the unassuming noodle shop next to Pavlova's Tarot (with the humming purple neon sign), just across the street from the pizza place with the giant mural of a rat on the side.

There was a tiny tinkle of a chime and a sharp blast of air-conditioning as Ginny opened the door. Standing behind the counter was a pixie of a woman manning three phones at once. This was Alice, the owner, and Aunt Peg's favorite neighbor. She smiled broadly when she saw Ginny and held up a finger, indicating that she should wait.

"Ginny," Alice said, hanging up two of the phones and setting down the third. "Package. Peg."

She disappeared through a bamboo curtain that covered a door into the back. Alice was Chinese, but she spoke perfect English (Aunt Peg had told her so). But because she always had to get right to the point (4th Noodle did a brisk business), she spoke in halting single words.

Nothing had changed since the last time Ginny had been here. She looked up at the illuminated pictures of Chinese food, the shiny plastic visions of sesame shrimp and chicken and broccoli. They glowed, not quite tantalizingly, more radioactively. The chicken pieces were a little too glossy and orange. The sesame seeds too white and too large. The broccoli was so green it seemed to vibrate. There was the blown-up and framed picture of Rudy Giuliani standing with a glowing Alice, taken when he had shown up one day.

It was the smell, though, that was most familiar. The heavy, fatty smell of sizzling beef and pork and peppers and the sweetish odor of vats of steaming rice. This was the scent that seeped through Aunt Peg's floor and perfumed her.

It rang such a chord in Ginny's memory that she almost swung her head around to see if Aunt Peg was standing there behind her.

But, of course, she couldn't be.

"Here," Alice said, emerging from the beaded curtain with a brown paper package in her hand. "For Ginny."

The package--an overstuffed padded brown envelope--was indeed addressed to her, Virginia Blackstone, care of Alice at 4th Noodle, New York City. It was postmarked from London and had the faintest aura of grease.

"Thanks," Ginny said, accepting the package as gracefully as she could, given that she couldn't lean over without falling face-first onto the counter. "Say hi to Peg for me," Alice said, picking up the phone and launching straight into an order.

"Right . . ." Ginny nodded. "Um, sure."

Once she was out on the street, scanning Avenue A nervously for the cab she was going to have to hail for herself, Ginny wondered if she should have told Alice what had happened. But she was soon distracted by the sheer terror that her task caused her. Cabs were yellow beasts that sped through New York, whisking people who had to be places to the places they had to be and leaving terrified pedestrians scrambling for cover.

No, she thought, raising a timid hand as far as she could as a herd of her prey suddenly appeared. There was no reason to tell Alice what had happened. She barely believed it herself. And besides, she had to go.

Continues...


Excerpted from 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson Copyright © 2006 by Maureen Johnson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 679 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(347)

4 Star

(178)

3 Star

(91)

2 Star

(33)

1 Star

(30)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 683 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 27, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    13 Little Blue Envelopes

    13 Little Blue Envelopes, written by Maureen Johnson, is a well-written story all about a girl who learns how to handle things on her own. It will encourage young minds all over the world to find their inner-beauty and encourage them to try things they never tried before. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is a funny and great adventure story that I think all teens will enjoy. I could not put it down; I read in the matter of a few days. The story line instantly pulled me in with a little bit of romance and Ginny¿s adventurous side. I felt like I was living through every experience Ginny went through. <BR/> Johnson makes her characters come alive and she portrays them as regular people. She made Ginny a regular teenager who has trouble speaking out. I could relate to this 100 percent. Her writing makes you never want to stop reading and the ending was a delicious cherry on top of an ice cream cone. It was the perfect story with the perfect ending.<BR/> I would definitely recommend this to a friend. This is a perfect pick-me-up when you have not read a good book in a while. If you like romance, adventure, and a tad bit of mystery, this is the book to read. You get to discover what it is like to travel through a country alone. You learn all new things about Europe and what life is like on the other side of the world. And surprisingly; it is much the same! <BR/> The reason I started reading this book in the first place was because it had been a while since I had read a truly amazing story that I had thoroughly enjoyed. I was tired of the stories that had no interesting conflict and always ended how I expected. I thought that 13 Little Blue Envelopes would stop my bad streak. I read the first chapter and it felt like I was living in Europe. This book is a great book to pick when you need something to pull you away from the world and the people around you. You become Ginny and open each of the envelopes with her.<BR/> This book is an overall great read for teenage girls. Most of the time it is interesting and I promise: you will not be able to put this book down! I know I look forward to reading more books by Maureen Johnson after I have read this, and I am sure you will too. I recommend this book to everyone who needs a book to read. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is the way to go!

    43 out of 50 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2009

    Disappointing

    After reading the description, I was really excited to read this book. But the more I read it, the more boring the book became. The ending didn't really please me at all and I never once felt for the main character, Ginny. I'm glad I was able to get it from the library and didn't have to buy it; what a waste that would have been.

    Read it if you want. Your taste could be different from mine and you might like it.

    23 out of 52 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Completely original!

    Ginny is convinced that the only thing that makes her interesting is her aunt, a starving artist and constant traveler. When her aunt dies of brain cancer, Ginny can't understand what's ahead of her. Days filled with boring scenes and an unoriginal life? Then she receives a letter . from her aunt. She discovers that her aunt wrote 13 letters before she died, all addressed to Ginny. She sends Ginny off on a journey, to different countries to complete different tasks. Who said Ginny couldn't be interesting and exciting? But it's still her aunt that is making her that way and it's all a game. It finally hits Ginny: her aunt is dead. Now, she has to be her own person.

    13 Little Blue Envelopes is One-in-a-Million. It was completely creative and unusual! The author flowed with a new, fresh idea and it turned out great. I would have liked to read more about Ginny's mom and her home in New Jersey but it seemed that Ginny was caught in the moment and it rarely came across her mind. As the story developed, so did the characters and the descriptions of the settings blew me away! The writing is great and I look forward to reading more by this author in the near future. I could never imagine the countries that were spoken of but now I can with the help of this book. The reasons I rated this book a 4 are specified below.

    Contains:

    *brief nudity
    *homosexuality of a minor character involved in two chapters
    *sensuality
    *sexual references

    19 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing Book; Best I've Read in a Long Time

    Ginny, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, receives a letter from her deceased aunt. She follows the instructions in the letter and sets off to begin her journey that her aunt has given her. She may only take things that will fit in her backpack, but she is not aloud taking any electronics with her. This journey will make her understand things in her life more and help her understand her aunt's previous life.
    At each letter Ginny has to read it and follow the instructions. She is not aloud to look ahead at any of the letters. In each letter she has to complete all the instructions in each letter. Each letter takes her to a different places.
    Ginny gets stuck in some situations and has no clue what to do. But eventually finds her way through each situation.
    She learns a lot of things during this trip, things that she wouldn't even guess that would be true. End the end she lives to learn with the new things she has discovered, and now knows that there was a reason to that trip.

    This book is possibly the best book that I have read in years. I have read it more than twice because I like it so much! I give it five stars. I highly recommend reading this book.
    You will want to read this book a second time once you have read it a first time.
    Enjoy!

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2009

    OK

    In my opinion this was really boring, I draged through the entire thing.

    11 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Amazing Read :)

    13 Little Blue Envelopes is an exciting story about a girl named Ginny who receives a mysterious package from her Aunt Peg who has recently passed away. Inside the package there are 13 little blue envelopes and inside each envelope there are directions that will take Ginny all over the world if she chooses to follow them. However, if she does choose to follow them, there's a catch. The next envelope cannot be opened until she has finished the current envelope's directions. Ginny's journey includes her meeting some interesting people and situations. I think 13 Little Blue Envelopes is a great book and I would recommend it mostly to teenage girls because I think they can relate to Ginny a lot. I would give this book a 5 star rating.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2012

    You must buy it!! It's EXTREMELY good!!

    This book is REALLY fun!! Don't listen to the other ppl who say it's boring!! They're just saying that cause probably they don't want other ppl 2 read it cause it their things and/or cause their weirdos!! THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ!! I CAN'T WAIT TO READ THE SEQUEL, THE LAST LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPE!!!!!!! :)

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2012

    Loved it!!

    This book made me want to read more of it.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2009

    One of my all time favorites

    The book 13 Little Blue Envelopes is a great book. It will take your mind on a wonderful journey. I love how the author makes you feel like you are their experiencing the hole thing. Maureen Johnson sure knows how to get your attention. Ginny is one of the bet characters in the book. Her estranged aunt gives her 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Thats were they get the title. Ginny has to follow all the advice and jobs that her aunt gave her in the letters. She gets to go on many trips through Europe. She got to go to England, France, Italy, and Greece that is just a few of the countries that she went to. You should really give this book a chance.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great book

    This book gives me the desire to travel. I have already gotten my passport. Now it's just a matter of saving the money to go.

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    The whole concept of the book sounded really interesting but the

    The whole concept of the book sounded really interesting but the character didn't sound like a 17 year old and it dragged on. Their is just something about the writing that is greatly lacking. I needed suspense and I wasn't able to myself in the characters position. I couldn't even see what the author wanted me to. You should not read this book.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    from Missprint DOT wordpress DOT com

    Rule #1: You may bring only what fits in your backpack. Don't try to fake it 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.

    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.

    The rules were straightforward, sent to Ginny Blackstone in the first of thirteen letters from her eccentric Aunt Peg. Ginny is used to her aunt's whims and willing to play along because Aunt Peg is the only person in the world who can make Ginny seem interesting--even if it is just by association.

    The letters will take Ginny to England and across Europe on an adventure that starts in the hope of understanding her wayward aunt. Along the way she'll get a behind-the-scenes tour of Harrod's from one of the store's employees, meet artist/sometimes-thief Keith Dobson, and encounter youth hostels of various ilks. She will also karaoke. At the end of the summer, Ginny might discover she's more interesting than she thought--all because of those 13 Little Blue Envelopes (2005) by Maureen Johnson.

    Broken into chapters and separate headings for each envelope, this is a fast read that still has a lot of depth. The cover, along with some of Johnson's other covers, is sometimes slammed for having a semi-headless, midriff-bearing girl on the cover. All the same, I love it. Not so much because it's indicative of the story but of the novel's overall vibe.

    Equal parts travelogue, comedy, and Bildungsroman 13 Little Blue Envelopes is jam-packed with excitement and appeal. It's also a book about an ordinary girl discovering that sometimes just being herself can be extraordinary enough. Ginny is a persistent, resilient narrator that readers will be cheering for throughout this (sometimes) madcap novel.

    Johnson is also working on a sequel called The Last Little Blue Envelope with a projected publication date in 2011.

    Possible Pairings: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Howard's End by E. M. Forster, North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley, Kitty Kitty by Michele Jaffe, Jungle Crossing by Sydney Salter

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Recommend to friends!

    Great book! Didn't put it down until i finished!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    Anonymus

    A fast, fun, flirty, rollercoaster that will take you soaring and clanking up one mountian and swooping down the other.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    ehhhhh

    well its kinda intrestin...... actually no im sry but i must give dis book a big fat NO

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Dissapointing

    I thiught the book was going to be great... it sounded good, and I wass willing to ignor the give-away on the back of the book (An advertisement for the next book, whose title told you that she wasn't able to find the 13th envelope.) But I didn't like this book at all. I barely finished it. It was very bland, and the main character had no personality at all. I didn't feel for her at any point, and I never really got excited. It was unrealistic because she would live with these random people, and she never really talked. And, because the book was written in third person, you also never got to know what she was thinking. The part where she met her 'boyfriend' was dumb abd cliched. But the worst part of the book was, again, that Ginny had no prrsonality whatsoever.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2011

    Well written, page turner, and well worth the time

    Intelligently written but not "too deep" for a summer read or juvie fic, this book is romantic but clean, interesting and adventurous, but not scandalous, and has a cliff hanger ending.... but not in an unsatisfying way. I would heartily recommend this author to others who enjoy romantic fiction, mysteries, Jane Austen, edwardian romances, Christian fiction (although this is NOT in that category, because it is clean I think it would suit well) and anyone who likes a good read. I enjoyed it, as a middle aged lit mag editor, but I would also allow my young preteen daughter to read it.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    Movie

    They should really make this book into a movie, it's that good. I read it and loved it, especially 'The Last Little Blue Envenlope'. Wish something like this would happen to me, wjere I get to go on an adventure!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2013

    Awesome european adventure

    I loved this book anf all the places Ginny goes.its like being there with her.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

    Worst story line ever!

    I thought this book was going to be great because of all of the great reviews. It was a waste of time and energy. The story line was slow and boring and stupid. The charactors were all dumb and frankly, I hated it. When I found out there is a second book I laughed. If the second is anything like the first, God help anyone who wastes their time on it. If you like a story with a lot of depth and an interesting story line, DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And if you do and hate it, don't say I didn't warn you. Thank goodness I never wasted my money on the BS.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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