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Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst - Fantasy
What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet!
Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons--the ordinary one and a magical one--and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.
When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage--and a little magic--to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.
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"Almost there," Grandpa said.
Pressing her nose against the car window, Lily frowned at the strip malls, gas stations, and industrial parks as they rolled by. "Really?" she said. She'd expected to see something a bit more picturesque than Wal-Marts and Home Depots en route to her dream school--at least a stately forest or a field with a few photogenic cows. And she should hear trumpets playing, plus a massive choir announcing in verse the approach of her destiny.
Maybe she'd built up this moment a bit too much.
"Just a few more miles and then I will don my illustrious blazer," Grandpa said.
Grandpa's orange and black striped Princeton University Reunions jacket hung from the back of the driver's seat. Wondering why he'd mentioned it, she met Grandpa's eyes in the rearview mirror. He shifted his eyes toward Lily's mother, who sat slumped in the passenger seat in front of Lily. Oh, of course, she thought. If they were almost there, then it was time to cheer up Mom. "You know it looks like a psychedelic zebra's pelt, right?" Lily said.
"You'll see worse," Grandpa promised.
"I doubt the skinless zebra would agree with that," Lily said.
Grandpa nodded solemnly. "The Class of 1969 wears a vest and headband covered in orange and black yin-yang polka dots."
Lily faked a shudder. "Oh, the horror!"
In front of her, Mom laughed. Her wild, tangled hair (today, dyed a beautiful soft green) shook like willow leaves in the wind. It was the first time since leaving Philadelphia that Mom quit looking half-wilted and smiled. Mom hated car rides. She felt caged, she said, inside all the steel and plastic and glass. If it wasn't for worries about how it would react with her usual medication, Mom would have taken a Valium for the drive.
Normally, Mom avoided car rides altogether, but this wasn't a normal weekend. It was Princeton Reunions weekend. Reunions weekend! Lily couldn't believe Grandpa had offered to take them. He always attended, even in off years like his forty-ninth reunion. It was his "thing," his once-a-year break from mothering both Lily and Mom. But this year, he'd said that Lily should see her future alma mater.
Not that she'd even applied yet. She was a junior, three weeks away from final exams, but Grandpa claimed this place was her destiny. No pressure, though. Yeah, right.
Grandpa pointed to an intersection. "Next left," he said.
Lily's heart thumped faster. She shouldn't be this excited, she knew. It wasn't as if she even had an application interview. At best, she'd take a campus tour and then spend the weekend with a bunch of seventy-year-olds who were pretending to be fifty years younger. But she found herself craning her neck for her first glimpse.
As they turned onto Washington Road, the industrial parks, motels, and malls of central New Jersey fell behind them, and all Lily saw was green, green, and more green. Her breath caught in her throat. Now this was more like it! Elm trees lined the road to Princeton University. Their branches arched over the car in a grand canopy of translucent green that stretched for half a mile. Leaves swayed lightly in the wind, and Lily wanted to reach her arms up and catch the wind in her hands. Her fingers bumped the roof of the car. Self-consciously lowering her hands, she contented herself with staring out the window. Ahead, she saw a stone bridge over a lake and, beyond it, a sprawling boathouse. Crew boats lay crisscrossed on an asphalt shore. It looked like a photograph from a college brochure, and Lily felt light-headed as she drank in the view. It was perfect!
Across the bridge, Grandpa stopped at a traffic light. "We're here," he...
Enchanted IvyBy: Sarah Beth Durst