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The Black Butterfly

R. Barri Flowers, author of Justice Served
“A very charming, witty, and suspenseful young adult novel about a haunted inn in Maine, ghosts, first love, and getting to know oneself. Highly recommended."
- January 15, 2014 
Marley Gibson, bestselling author of the Ghost Huntress series
The Black Butterfly is a hauntingly delicious mix of ghostly adventures, budding romance, and page-turning intrigue that will have you breathless up until the end.”
- April 20, 2014 
The Show Me Librarian
"Highly enjoyable and hits all the right notes for a teen reader. Penny's voice rings so true."
This book is highly enjoyable and hits all the right notes for a teen reader. Penny's voice rings so true, bouncing back and forth between anger, intrigue, excitement, gratefulness, and everything in between. The plot has great variety, too, with a few unexpected ghosts, slowly-revealed family histories, and the forging of new friendships. All of these aspects are well balanced, with nothing feeling out of place or overdone. The bed and breakfast is well-drawn, adding a great sense of place to the story. There's also a perfect amount of kissing in this book, which I, and many of my teen readers, enjoy.
- April 21, 2014  Visit Website
Books, Teens and Magazines
“A great find for those readers interested in a bit of fantasy and romance … very enjoyable. I was quite pleased to think I might meet Penny and George again. I think you might be too.”
The Black Butterfly is the latest YA book by new author Shirley Vernick. Her previous YA book, The Blood Lie, won the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance’s annual book award. The Black Butterfly will be published in May 2014 and it will be a great find for those readers interested in a bit of fantasy and romance.
The Black Butterfly is part ghost story, part adventure story and part romance. Penny is forced to spend the Christmas holidays with an old friend of her mother’s on a cold and isolated island. Her mother believes in ghosts and spends her time chasing ghost sightings and abandoning Penny. However, what promises to be a dreary holiday turns out to be more enjoyable than Penny could imagine, helped along by the rather attractive George. But who are Blue and Starla and how safe is Penny?
The story is told by 16-year-old Penny in a friendly and chatty style. She encounters a mix of interesting characters and her holiday becomes a journey through which she discovers herself – her strengths, her talents, her family. This is more than just a ghost story – although you need to enjoy some paranormal activity to enjoy the story – and it is very enjoyable. There is the possibility of further books in the series as the story leaves a few unanswered questions. I found that I was quite pleased to think I might meet Penny and George again. I think you might be too.
- January 18, 2014  Visit Website
Young Adult Forever
"There's enough going on in this book to make me want to do more than hold hands at movie night, and for me to look forward to our families going to the same campground again next summer. Mystery, death threats, secrets, dream walking, ghost whispering, amazing food, angst and growing up—well, you get the idea.
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
There's a little bit of Meg Cabot's Mediator series here, with a sexy ghost crush (his name is Blue, though, and the only way I was able to be okay with that choice was to picture him as Callum Blue in Dead Like Me), but the swoon focus is Bubbles' son, George. Before everyone goes all contempt-for-instalove on me (is that a thing people still hate? idk, I've been in a cave lately), think back to high school. What's the first thing you do upon arriving at summer/band/nerd pretend-college/drama camp or a week-long family vacation? Scope out the possibilities, that's what, and develop a crush on the cutest potential there, whether or not you'd actually be interested in real life. It's SO WEIRD, but there really is this almost imperative to crush on someone, anyone, when you're in a new environment, so it would be pretty normal for Penny and George to immediately start making out, since they're the only teenagers stuck at the Black Butterfly in the frozen depths of December.
They don't make out on their first meeting, but Vernick does a great job building up the classic holiday crush, with all the anxieties and jealousies that come with not knowing a thing about a person, and throwing in enough life-threatening situations to bring the two of them together for real. As Baby and Johnny taught us, there's nothing like adversity and someone nearly dying to turn a vacation fling into true love. Plus, George is pretty cute, even if I was mildly squicked out by the college-boy/high-school-girl romance.
Talky Talk: Sass Lite
It's kind of like Easy Listening, except in a good way, like when the station plays Bon Jovi and Pink Martini with the von Trapp family, and not so much Lionel Ritchie or late-career Stevie Wonder (in other words, this book does not just call to say, "I love you.") What I'm saying is Penny's sass doesn't make her a huge pain in the ass teenager, but rather a funny, likable protagonist who makes you smile nostalgically and shake your head, and hope she doesn't get killed by those vengeful ghosts.
Relationship Status: Repeat Summer Fling
There's enough going on in this book to make me want to do more than hold hands at movie night, and for me to look forward to our families going to the same campground again next summer. Mystery, death threats, secrets, dream walking, ghost whispering, amazing food, angst and growing up—well, you get the idea.
- May 16, 2014  Visit Website
The Styling Librarian
“Really enjoyed this novel … This inn is packed with mystery, ghosts, and some romance. Quite an interesting adventure to read with lovely character development.”
Really enjoyed this novel. What happens when you have no control in your life? When you’re mother’s passion brings you from one home to another throughout the years? Would you be able to make friends and connect with people? Penny grew up feeling disconnected and frustrated with her life situation. When Penny’s mom’s obsession sends her on a mission on the other side of the U.S., Penny is sent to an inn run by her mom’s old friend for the Christmas holiday. This inn is packed with mystery, ghosts, and some romance. Quite an interesting adventure to read with lovely character development. What would push you over the emotional edge? I sat wondering how much I could handle when it came to threats on my life, sanity?
There were a few special moments I wanted to note:
First line of the book: “One thing you might as well know about me: I’m a collector…. I collect something that’s legal and takes up a lot less space: quotes.” I adored how powerful quotes were naturally mingled throughout The Black Butterfly. Reminded me of how John Green sprinkled famous last lines quotes into his wonderful book Looking for Alaska. I’ve also enjoyed famous quotes in Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I also appreciated how important writing and reading is to Penny throughout the book, lovely to see how she is able to sit down and get lost in books. One warning I have: do not read this book when you’re hungry. There are numerous delicious treats and cooking scenes throughout the book that make your mouth water!
- May 27, 2014  Visit Website
ALAN Picks
"Aspiring foodies will savor Vernick’s ghostly mystery and romance served up between meals at the Black Butterfly Inn…things get exciting when the relationship between Penny and George heats up and details of an untimely death unfold."
"Penny’s mother is a self-proclaimed ghost hunter who often leaves Penny behind while she investigates potential haunted properties. This time, Penny is forced to spend the Christmas holidays at the Black Butterfly, old inn on the coast of Maine, with a family friend who hasn’t spoken to Penny’s mother for over 15 years. Lonely and feeling abandoned, Penny finds comfort in the hotel kitchen as Bubbles the cook shares exquisite dishes and culinary techniques with her. While trying to uncover reasons for the lack of communication between her mother and her mother’s friend, Penny steps into second mystery involving a friendly ghost, a vindictive ghost, and a handsome, nice, eligible guy. 



Aspiring foodies will savor Vernick’s ghostly mystery and romance served up between meals at the Black Butterfly Inn. Although Vernick starts off slow, things get exciting when the relationship between Penny and George heats up and details of an untimely death unfold."
- Janie Flores, April 1, 2014  Visit Website
VOYA Magazine
"…She is a wonder-filled gateway into the quirky hotel, Black Butterfly, and the sumptuous, lavishly described cooking of chef Rita…George [the love interest] is charming, and his past with the hotel and the island adds to the lived-in feel of the setting… Their relationship grows in a swoon-worthy rush over the course of a week and is fun to follow… Along with romance, Penny also spends her time meeting the Butterfly’s two ghostly residents, going on dream journeys, and learning about her mother. It is all a bit of a mess, but a delicious one, and the family relationships and other hotel residents provide enough grounding to make it work. By book’s end, Penny’s home life looks different…most of the mysteries have been solved, and she is looking forward to a summer of more heavy smooching."
"Penny’s mom is off on another ghost-hunting trip, sending Penny to spend Christmas with an old, previously unmentioned friend in a swanky old hotel on a small, wintry island. Miserable, Penny prepares for a rotten holiday but instead finds new friends and, astonishingly, a love interest. Ironically, she also finds the hotel is haunted and re-evaluates her mother’s life while trying to keep her own safe from a mysteriously angry and jealous ghost.

…She is a wonder-filled gateway into the quirky hotel, Black Butterfly, and the sumptuous, lavishly described cooking of chef Rita…George [the love interest] is charming, and his past with the hotel and the island adds to the lived-in feel of the setting… Their relationship grows in a swoon-worthy rush over the course of a week and is fun to follow… Along with romance, Penny also spends her time meeting the Butterfly’s two ghostly residents, going on dream journeys, and learning about her mother. It is all a bit of a mess, but a delicious one, and the family relationships and other hotel residents provide enough grounding to make it work. By book’s end, Penny’s home life looks different…most of the mysteries have been solved, and she is looking forward to a summer of more heavy smooching."
- Lisa Martincik , 
Youth Services Book Reviews
“This is a unique story about holding on and letting go, about hope and forgiveness, and about ghosts and their stories. I particularly enjoyed the character Blue, as he added so much to the plot.” —Maria Touet
In this series, students share their book reviews with librarian Katrina Yurenka, a librarian for more than 20 years with library experience in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Seattle, Washington.

The Black Butterfly by Shirley Reva Vernick

What did you like about the book? All high school student Penny wants is to spend time with her mother at Christmas, but her mother is off chasing ghosts in Idaho and Penny is sent to spend the holidays in Maine with a stranger who was once her mother’s best friend. Bubbles owns the Black Butterfly Inn on the coast of Maine, her son, George is home from the CIA, not the agency, the Culinary Institute of America, and Rita is the talented European chef who befriends Penny. Not having had a traditional upbringing, Penny finds friendship, good cooking, love, dream journeys and ghosts at the Black Butterfly. This is a unique story about holding on and letting go, about hope and forgiveness, and about ghosts and their stories. I particularly enjoyed the character Blue as he added so much to the plot.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? Not a reader of paranormal fiction, I honestly enjoyed this book, so anyone who likes a great story with some romance and fun and interesting characters, including some ghosts will enjoy this book.
Who should buy this book? High schools and Public libraries to add to their YA/Teen sections
Where would you shelve it ? Paranormal young adult fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? It’s a pleasant diversion but maybe not the top of “to read” pile, near it though.

—Maria Touet is a student at Pope John XXIII High School in Everett, Massachusetts
- Maria Touet, February 27, 2015  Visit Website

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