Thursday, March 19, 2015


[Today’s Book Review is a little different, and very retro. Please bear with me. It’s worth it!]

We all have our comfort foods. We pull them out when the going gets tough. Maybe it’s mac and cheese. Or a chocolate chip cookie. Or maybe a half a dozen chocolate cookies. Whatever it takes to get through it all. You probably also have comfort books—those books that feel like they fit like a well-worn pair of shoes, that take you far away from whatever is plaguing you. Usually these ‘comfort books’ are old favorites. But sometimes, as I recently discovered, they can be a new experience that is just absolutely what you need to get through that tough moment in time.

Yeah, you guessed it—things have been less than pleasant at my house. Home Ownership Nightmare of Never Ending Doom combined with a minor surgery and health scare sent me scurrying to find a Just Right Book that would take me away from it all.

And I found it!! No, I found two its. Two wonderful books that were just what the doctor ordered! God bless the hilarious Maureen Johnson. I cannot believe I’m going to admit here that I had never read any of her books despite being in love with her and her sense of humor for almost two years now. I saw her in 2013 at LeakyCon here in Portland and thought she was one of the funniest people I’d ever seen. Then I started following her on Twitter, and that just solidified my opinion of her amazing humor. So I finally turned to her for some comfort reading.

13 Little Blue Envelopes and its sequel The Last Little Blue Envelope are my kind of books. Adventure: check. European travel: check. Touch of Romance: check. Learning Great Life Lessons: check. Humor: check, check. When 17-year-old Ginny’s late aunt, who was a wonderfully eccentric artist, leaves her thirteen letters with instructions to travel to various European locations she’s on her way to a life changing, life affirming adventure. Aunt Peg’s wish was for her to meet some of the people who had been important to her, and to see and experience some of the places that had influenced her life and art. Which sounds so, uh, pedantic. BUT IT ISN’T, because of course all of this happens with Maureen Johnson’s flair for humor and occasionally the absurd.

But wait! The first book, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, ends before Ginny gets to read the thirteenth letter! I can’t spoil it and tell you why, but I will tell you that it makes you rush out to get The Last Little Blue Envelope. And I liked the second book even better than the first! I LOVE this book!

Yes, these books were published years ago. Thirteen…came out in 2005, and Last…in 2011. Fans had begged for a sequel. She delivered. But if you haven’t read any Maureen Johnson, these are a fun place to start. Of course now I will be reading her latest series, the most recent of which was just released.

Comfort reading. I highly recommend it when life throws icky stuff your way. I also recommend that you read it with a chocolate chip cookie.

Thank you, Maureen Johnson!!

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