10 BLIND DATES by Ashley Elston

December 24, 2019

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From the publisher:

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.


This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever… or is it?

A live nativity, bowling tournament, and an ugly sweater party.  Those activities wouldn’t exactly scream first date to most people, but to Sophie’s large, and well-meaning family they do.  After being dumped by her boyfriend the first night of winter break, Sophie’s extended family embarks on a plan to ensure that she has a date for every night of the break.  This plan results in a series of ten blind dates, some outrageous, some cringeworthy, and some actually fun.  It has been a while since I’ve read a teen romance that so well balances both humor and heart.  There are plenty of funny moments, a goat at the aforementioned live nativity and a drive-in movie that goes very wrong among them, but I also really enjoyed how Sophie’s family was at center stage in the story.  They are large, loud and meddle, but they genuinely love her and despite her recent heartbreak they always come first to Sophie.  Even though the book is about ten dates, it was refreshing to see a teen romance where the main character put her family and herself before a love interest.  With Netflix’s successful adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I could see 10 Blind Dates being their next teen rom-com.  If you are looking for a heartwarming, but not sappy, holiday story I recommend 10 Blind Dates.

10 BLIND DATES by Ashley Elston. Disney-Hperion (October 1, 2019).  ISBN 9781368027496. 336p.

12/19 Caitlin Brisson

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BLUE VOYAGE by Diana Renn

November 2, 2015
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Zan’s not exactly a bad kid, but things haven’t been easy of late and it’s caused her to act out a bit. So her mom decides they could both do with a change. A blue voyage cruise in Turkey with Zan’s aunt is an opportunity to get away while offering support to the recently widowed Jackie.

Zan’s uncle was killed in an unfortunate hiking accident and, though there’s no evidence to suggest otherwise, it seems Jackie has become convinced it wasn’t an accident at all. Jackie was to accompany her husband on the cruise where he would lead a group on a tour of archaeological sites. Now the cruise is a chance for Jackie to officially say goodbye.

In spite of the fact that the area is under increased watch thanks to a boom in antiquities smuggling, Zan’s trip begins well enough. The small boat is tight, but the scenery is gorgeous and even Zan can’t resist the pull of the blue ocean and the ancient cliff walls. She even makes a friend in fellow traveler Sage. But Zan’s trip to paradise soon turns dangerous when she becomes entangled in the smuggling ring’s plans, forcing her to risk everything in order to save the people she loves most.

Blue Voyage is a teen mystery that’s actually quite perfect as a cross over for adults. Renn’s pacing and plotting are spot on. There are hints of the danger to come as we embark on the tale, but the main focus in the beginning is on setting the scene and giving the reader a chance to get to know Zan and her family.

The story moves from the cruise to Istanbul and eventually Cappadocia with Renn taking readers on a tour of their own through Turkey’s archaeological history. This history, it should be noted, is something Renn herself has taken great pains to portray as accurately as possible. And it’s this history paired with the current political tension and Zan’s own family drama that provides a tense framework for the story.

Between the exotic locale, the promise of a treasure hunt, and a possible underlying murder mystery to connect it all there’s not much more you can really ask for here. Blue Voyage comes together as a fabulously fun read for anyone looking for a great adventure.

11/15 Becky LeJeune

BLUE VOYAGE by Diana Renn. Viking Books for Young Readers (October 13, 2015).  ISBN 978-0670015597.  464p.