Malone, Jen and Nall, Gail. RSVP:You're Invited
May 19th 2015 by Simon & Schuster Aladdin Mix
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Sadie's mother runs a wedding planning business, and Sadie loves to help, but after a particularly disastrous wedding on board a boat, Sadie is told to go do other things with her life. Lauren's parents run the marina in their North Caroline seaside town, and Lauren is very invested in getting good grades and studying for standardized tests. Violet is very sporty and lives with her father in her grandmother's house, which is a step up from the trailer park, and Becca's parents run an information stand in town. Becca is completely boy crazy because she wants a romantic interest to fuel her songwriting, and Ryan, who is visiting for the summer from Ireland, is in her sights. The group start a party planning service, starting with a murder mystery/tea for nine year olds, and are able to get a decent amount of business. Each of the girls brings her own set of skills to the business, but there are lots of problems along the way. Sadie still wants to get her mother's attention, and at the end of the book, manages to do this in a big way, which will be addressed in the sequel. (Which won't come out until 16 March 2016.)
Strengths: The setting is a fun one-- not many of us live in seaside resort towns. The inclusion of a grandmother and senior living facility is a nice touch. The girls are good at solving their own problems. There are a few reasons for the girls to be sad, but they AREN'T because it's summer and they are busy and having fun.
Weaknesses: I love the girl entrepreneur books, but would like to see one where the girls have a business that is less girly-- maybe lawn mowing or landscaping!
What I really think: A little on the long side, but pretty happy and full of girl power. Hooray!
Zeitlin, Meredith. Sophomore Year is Greek to Me
April 21st 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and Reviewed There.
Zona loves living in New York with her journalist father, and she has good friends at her school, where she is the features editor of the school paper. When her father informs her that he is going to Athens for six months to do research, she is crushed. How can she leave the paper and her friends? Her father has an ulterior motive-- Zona's mother was from Greece, but her family disowned her when she married, didn't answer her letters, and are unaware that she passed away due to complications with Zona's birth. Living in Greece will give Zona a way to reconnect with her mother's family as well as a change to experience a new culture.
Zona's strong relationship with her father, and their shared interest in newspaper reporting, is evidenced in the headline notes they leave for each other. As much as they get along, the trip to Greece separates them; the father is busy with his research, and Zona is caught up in the freedom that Greek teenagers are allowed. It was interesting to see the relationship explored as it pertained to Zona's growing independence. I wish more books would explore this topic! Also interesting was Zona's experience in a new school, although it was odd to me that she was able to keep in touch so easily with her friends in the US. When I lived in Greece in the 1980s, there were letters, and to call the states, we had to go across town to the phone company because our apartment didn't have a phone! There was a light romance, and some serious issues with classmates that added to the well-rounded international school experience.
Once Zona traveled to Crete to meet her extended family, the book picked up and became very interesting. Details of life in a small Greek village, as well as details of the Easter celebrations and the politics of an extended Greek family are intriguing and amusing. Readers of Jennifer E. Smith, Sarah Dessen, and Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes will enjoy this terrific tale of discovering one's roots.
I did find it REALLY annoying that Zona whined and complained about going at first. Come on! A lot of people would love to go to Greece. Quit being a spoiled brat. However, the target demographic will understand her feelings. I was also concerned about Zona's interest in news reporting-- not a good career move at all. The news "articles" that appeared in the book were unnecessary, and I would rather have had the information covered in the narrative.Also, until she gets to Crete, she didn't discover much about Greek culture or life in Athens at all, which was disappointing.