Published by HarperTeen on June 13th 2017
Divided by time. Ignited by a spark.
Kansas, 2065. Adri has secured a slot as a Colonist—one of the lucky few handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house over a hundred years ago, and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate. While Adri knows she must focus on the mission ahead, she becomes captivated by a life that’s been lost in time…and how it might be inextricably tied to her own.
Oklahoma, 1934. Amidst the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine fantasizes about her family’s farmhand, and longs for the immortality promised by a professor at a traveling show called the Electric. But as her family’s situation becomes more dire—and the suffocating dust threatens her sister’s life—Catherine must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most.
England, 1919. In the recovery following the First World War, Lenore struggles with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail to America in pursuit of a childhood friend. But even if she makes it that far, will her friend be the person she remembers, and the one who can bring her back to herself?
While their stories spans thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined.
I have a weakness for books with the word Midnight in them, so I snatched Midnight at the Electric right up when I saw it on Edelweiss. I hadn’t previously read Jodi Lynn Anderson’s first YA book, Tiger Lily, but you bet I will now!
When I found out that Jodi Lynn Anderson and Sarah Mlynowski were coming to the bookstore I work at for an event, I was super excited. And I started prepping like any bookworm would- by reading! YA is kind of my specialty at work, so I was over the moon happy when my boss asked that I host the YA panel, which grew to include Adele Griffin. Despite these all being 3 very different books, they all have threads in common- female friendship, travel, and confronting truth.
In Midnight at the Electric the story is told in 3 different timelines, all connected through a Galapagos turtle. It starts in the future, where taciturn loner Adri is getting ready to be among the first colonists of Mars due to her smarts. She’s shipped off to Kansas to get ready, and ends up living with her distant elderly cousin who is suffering from dementia. Adri has trouble connecting with people, and is a bit… prickly. But she soon finds letters and a journal from the past and we’re transporting back in time. To:
1930’s Dust Bowl- where Catherine is desperate to leave the dust choked plains of the Midwest. She’s desperate for the boy that works on their farm, but even more desperate to save her little sister, who grows sicker with each storm of dust. When a fair comes to town promising miracles (The Electric), Catherine is determined to seize the opportunity it represents. Catherine is so ready to live another life, far away from state she feels trapped in. After loves comes into the picture, Catherine has some tough decisions to make.
1919’s England- where Lenore is struggling with the grief of losing her brother to war. She’s also stuck and longs for adventure, but fear keeps her moored in place. Until she rediscovers a place of her childhood and an intriguing stranger that helps her face her past and start her future.
2065 Kansas- where Adri is struggling with making connections and deciding if Mars is the place for her, a girl who has never felt she has belonged anywhere.
I loved these characters and their stories (especially Catherines). I tend to read a lot of action/fantasy/apocalyptic YA books, or straight up YA romance, so I really enjoyed this book even if it’s not so easy to categorize. All three women are so strong in their own ways and I feel like I learned from all of them. I think part of the reason I gravitate to YA is because it’s a real place for women and girls to shine, especially in more recent years. Jodi Lynn Anderson was amazing in person, and I definitely am adding her to my Author AutoRead list.
Midnight at the Electric gets a Midnight Book Rating of:
I See London, I See France (I See London, I See France, #1) by Sarah Mlynowski
Published by HarperTeen on July 11th 2017
I see London, I see FranceI see Sydney’s underpants.
Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.
In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera… wearing only her polka dot underpants.
I was already a fan of Sarah Mlynowski before I knew she was coming to the store, but I hadn’t read any of her YA books. I actually read her adult books- in a genre I previously use to refer to as Chick Lit, but now I just call Contemporary Romance. Like Midnight at the Electric, I already had her I See London, I See France eArc because I love a good travel story.
Add romance and anxiety into the mix, and I’m yours forever!
I related instantly to Sydney. She’s 19 and the primary caretaker for her mother, who suffers from agoraphobia. For years she and her bestie, Leela, have planned on doing the grand European backpacker trip, but Sydney doesn’t feel like she could leave her mom and younger sister for that long. Already she’s given up going away to college, instead she commutes to a local college and lives at home. She and Leela have been drifting apart, and Syd is just stuck.
Then Leela’s plans to go to Europe instead with her boyfriend abruptly changes when she finds out he cheated on her. She convinces Sydney to go with her instead, and because Sydney’s sister is 16 and can drive, Sydney packs her bags for Europe. She is, however, filled with guilt, anxiety and more guilt.
Sydney is a planner though, and with a tight budget, she’s pretty much mapped out her and Leela’s entire trip. Which is pretty much tossed out the window when Leela realizes that her ex didn’t cancel his ticket and is on the same plane as they are. And he brought his sexy best friend along with him.
You can probably see where this is going, right?
But the book isn’t just a rom com, although there is plenty of romance and comedy (which Mlynowski does so well!). At the forefront is Sydney’s relationship with Leela, the friends are struggling to keep their friendship as tight as it once was, but between Leela’s panic over her ex and Sydney’s anxiety over wanting to take care of everyone else instead of herself, conflict is also on their backpacking agenda.
As a person who has a lot of anxiety, Sydney was just so real. But I’m also like Leela, a tiny bit spoiled and a tiny bit use to my more organized friends handling things for me (ahem, Kim). I’ve never traveled to Europe (bucket list!), but I love traveling vicariously through books like this. From grimy hostels, Italian villas, “coffee shops” in Amsterdam, there’s so much to love here. The romance is complicated too, much like the friendships and other relationships. It was all the fun with a lot of depth too. It’s also part of a series, and I cannot wait for the next one. Also, I really just want to read everything Mlynowski writes (yes, even her middle grade).
I See London, I See France (I See London, I See France #1) gets a Midnight Book Rating of:
Be True to Me by Adele Griffin
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on June 13th 2017
How far is too far to go for love?
Jean: Could it be true? Instead of a summer playing handmaiden to Daphne, was I being delivered something entirely different—a summer in the spotlight? A summer starring Gil Burke and me?
Summer flings and sexy romances were Daphne’s territory. Not mine. I was the one you didn’t pick.
I swatted off my hope like a bumblebee, knowing it was already too late. I’d been deliriously stung.
Fritz: People always joked about summer romances because they didn’t last. Summer romances were made out of ice cream and cotton candy, intensely sweet before they melted into nothing. But I’d never thought of Gil as a summer thing.
Gil was my real love, my real first. We were outsiders together, we had each other, we didn’t care that we didn’t belong.
Adele Griffin was added to the panel a little later, but I actually ended up reading 2 of her books prior to the event. I also had her book Be True to Me in eArc form, and a finished copy because I visited her publishing house in NYC and it was part of the goody bag I got, but I was hoping to listen to it on audiobook because I wanted to make sure I had finished in time for the event. But my local library only had The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone, so I started listening to that one instead (although I ended up buying the book from our store because it’s definitely a book you want to physically read because of the pictures).
Because I read Mlynowski’s book so fast and because I also blazed through The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone, it turns out I had plenty of time to read Be True to Me, which is another page turner.
First of all, let’s talk setting. Be True to Me is set in 1976 (a year before yours truly was born). As much as I worship the 80s, I really love books set in the 70s too. Place it on a small island that’s a playground to old, wealthy families and you’ve got me hooked.
This is a story about two girls and one boy. We have rich and insecure Jean, who lives in the shadow of her gorgeous, talented and popular older sister. We also have Fritz, who is an military brat who spends her summers with her rich bestie on Fire Island. Fritz is confident and bold, and she and Jean have a history of competition between them. Jean sees Fritz as a threat- the interloper who took her friend away, and then won the tennis tournament title that Jean’s mother and sister had previously won.
The boy is Gil, whom Jean first meets in NYC. Gil is the poor relation of a wealthy family, and he has dreams of being a lawyer, dreams he knows he can obtain through the connections he’s making from his family’s name. He’s dazzled by Jean a bit, and she’s completely taken in by him. She’s pinning a lot of hope on their summer at Fire Island together.
But then Gil meets Fritz, a girl with a similar background to him. They almost become an immediate couple, but Jean isn’t willing to let go that easily. Both girls pour their hopes and desires into Gil, who is attracted to both girls for different reasons. He’s trying so hard to straddle the two sides of his life, and his ambition and inability to disappoint either Jean or Fritz is bound to lead to some trouble.
I really loved both girls, although I especially got Jean even though Fritz is definitely the better person. Jean is spoiled and sheltered and hugely insecure. She’s constantly making horrible decisions, but that made her all the more real to me. Fritz, meanwhile, is finally having to feel the divide between herself and her best friend and the other wealthy families on the island. She’s always felt accepted, but dating Gil puts a target on her and her rivalry with Jean escalates.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but Holy Crap That Ending.
Be True To Me gets a Midnight Book Rating of:
The event turned out to be ALL THE FUN! I got fun giveaways based on each author’s book. For Jodi’s Midnight at the Electric I got a turtle rock pet, for Sarah’s I See London, I See France I got a large France magnet that breaks into smaller magnets, and for Adele’s Be True to Me I got a Tie-Dye Kit because 1970’s! The authors were amazing and the conversation really flowed. They were also huge fan’s of each other’s books (another reason I love YA so much, the support in the writing community always blows me away).
But the best part of the night goes to Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Barbie story. It kind of correlates to Midnight at the Electric, but basically when she was a kid, Jodi flung and lost her friend’s Barbie doll in the woods. She always felt bad about it. When she met her husband, one of their trips was to where she used to live. She told him about the lost Barbie… and HE FOUND IT! So Jodi sent it to her friend… despite the Barbie looking like Shark Attack Barbie because it was missing limbs along with her famous chest, and the eyes were all worn away. She told the story much better, but I’m telling you, it was hilarious and creepy!
If you haven’t read any of these authors, you should. They are amazing women, amazing writers, and they write amazing characters. It was- you guessed it!- amazing to get to spend an evening talking about their books, writing styles and humorous anecdotes. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but meeting authors adds so much depth to the reading experience. And, once again, I am so lucky to have my job at Fountain Bookstore (and we still have some signed copies of these books, which you can order and we can ship to you!). <3