Thursday, December 30, 2010

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary/Historical

Release Date: 10/12/2010

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About the Book: Andi Alpers is living life just going through the motions. She's angry at her father for leaving, upset that her mother can't handle her emotions, and depressed and wracked with grief over the tragic accident that killed her younger brother. With the threat of failing out of school looming, Andi's father decides to take her to Paris with him on a research project so Andi can do some research on her final project. While there, Andi discovers a diary belonging to a Alex, a girl who lived in Paris two centuries ago. As Andi begins to read Alex's diary, she begins to recognize herself in Alex's words and the girls lives intersect in ways Andi never could have imagined.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I had high hopes for Revolution after loving Ms. Donnelly's previous YA novel, A Northern Light, and I'm happy to report that Revolution did not let me down.

I will admit that Andi is a character that has to grow on you. She's very depressing and hard to care about in the beginning. But once she gets to Paris the story picks up. Her grief comes through loud and clear and she's very hard on herself which at times makes her a tough narrator to read. She can be a tough character to like, but I found myself liking her more as the story went on.

Alex's diary entries, on the other hand, were parts of the story I really looked forward to. Alex's family gives puppet shows on the streets and Alex dreams of being an actress on the stage. When one day her family has a chance encounter with the royal family, Alex finds herself as a companion to the young prince. Her entries about life with the royal family and the brewing revolution are rich and full of historical details, but never feel bogged down with too many facts. Alex is a spunky, strong girl who you know Andi can be like if she tried.

The parallels between Alex's story and Andi's are brilliant and the ways their stories connect slowly unfolds throughout the story. I was drawn into Alex's diary as much as Andi was, and I loved seeing how the two lives paralleled each other and seeing if I could guess the next part of the puzzle. This was a book that I wanted to sit and read for long periods at a time, but at the same time I couldn't because there was so much going on it made my head hurt (in a good way!) because there was so much to take in and I wanted to savor the book.

I loved that music played such an important role in the book. Andi's final research paper is to research a musician Malherbeau and the role classical music plays in modern music. There are lots of musical mentions and various bands named. I read a couple of reviews that stated they didn't like this because it felt like "name-dropping" but I enjoyed it. Maybe because I have a musical background and knew many of the songs and groups that were mentioned, but for me the musical aspects of the book added another layer to the story that I enjoyed immensely.

I didn't find the twist silly-but maybe because I had expected it all along. Instead I loved the way that little things throughout the novel were all connected-to me it was a treat to discover how everything worked out and went together and that made the book even more fun to read.

Revolution is one of my favorite books of the year and I would not be surprised to see this book mentioned during the ALA Youth Media Awards next month.

Book Pairings: For other strong girls in the French Revolution try: Sovay by Celia Rees and The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner. On the music side, go with The Musician's Daughter by Suzanne Dunlop

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC picked up at ALA

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Rating: somewhere between 2.75-3/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 10/26/2010

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About the Book: While wandering the stacks in The Strand, Dash discovers a red moleskin notebook with a list of clues. And so beings Dash and Lily's adventures across New York through a red notebook. Each one leaving messages and clues to the other and sending each other on various dares. But are Dash and Lily destined to meet in real life or is there relationship for the notebook only?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: OK, I really, really, really wanted to like this one-honestly I did. But it just fell flat for me. I loved the idea of trading a notebook back and forth and getting to know each other, but the execution just wasn't what I wanted.

First off, I found Lily to be an annoying character. She was immature and just so ridiculously goofy that I had a hard time taking her seriously. She took quirky to a whole new level! As I was reading, I figured out that Lily reminded me a lot of Luna Lovegood and while I love Luna, she's not the type of character that can really carry a story but works better as a side character. Lily's quirks and immaturity just grated on my nerves after awhile and I tired of reading about her-she drained me as a reader which made the book less fun.

If Lily was the immature, quirky one who wholeheartedly believes in love and happiness, than Dash is the postmodern hipster who instead wants to analyze relationships and be pessimistic. Together I never felt any chemistry between them and I didn't really understand what they would see in each other. I also had problems with Dash's best friend Boomer-was he twelve or seventeen? I thought he and Lily might have made a better match than Dash and Lily!

The adventures they go on are somewhat fun, although full of convience, like relatives with awesome jobs crawling out the woodwork. There is some humor in the book-the one thing I did love was the fake Pixar movie Collation-hilarious!-but not as much humor as I would expect from these authors. There were just parts that didn't work for me. The book started out as a romantic comedy adventure and tried to turn into an examination of relationships yet never quite pulled it off. Instead it ended up loosing the romantic comedy aspect and when it tries to pick it up again it becomes too ridiculous and crazy. The notebook is lost halfway through the book and that's when we try to get this turn into a "let's examine what makes relationships work" story but by that point I was bored with the characters and tired of reading about them. Neither one had anything that made me keep reading, but I did in hopes that it would somehow redeem itself.

I wasn't satisfied with the ending either. I was left wondering if these characters really did like each other instead of the nice happy ending I wanted. Instead I was left feeling like I wasted my time and Dash and Lily wasted their time. Overall I was disappointed-I was hoping for a fun romantic comedy, but instead was left with characters that had no chemistry, that I didn't care about, and that I thought had no future-so much for my romantic holiday read! If you want a fun romantic read for the holidays, I'd suggest Let it Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle instead.

Reviewed From ARC picked up at ALA

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tween Tuesday: Most Anticipated Middle Grade for 2011

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted here at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens! Join the fun and add your own Tween Tuesday posts below.

Here are a few 2011 MG debuts I'm looking forward to reading in 2011. What 2011 tween releases are you excited about?

Vanished by Sheela Chari

From Goodreads: How does a beloved Indian instrument vanish from the hands of a late, renowned musician and end up in the possession of a potato-chip-eating, perpetually tardy eleven-year-old girl?

This is what Neela Krishnan, Arlington's budding veena player, must figure out if she wants her instrument back after it vanishes one day from a church. What she soon discovers is that her veena's "vanishing" is no accident but part of a bizarre chain of disappearances involving a missing, retired minister, a kooky church sextant guarding a dragon teakettle, and Lynne, the new girl at school with a huge wad of cash and a mysterious connection to the dead musician. Hot on the trail of the lost veena, Neela winds up in India, where her success depends largely on her wits, her speed, and unlikeliest of all, a pack of baseball cards.

-I love creative middle grade mysteries and this one sounds like a great adventure! Plus, I love the cover!

From Goodreads: Twelve-year-old Kat Stephenson may be the despair of her social-climbing Step-Mama, but she was born to be a magical Guardian and protector of Society—if she can ever find true acceptance in the secret Order that expelled her own mother. She’s ready to turn the hidebound Order of the Guardians inside-out, whether the older members like it or not. And in a society where magic is the greatest scandal of all, Kat is determined to use all her powers to help her three older siblings—saintly Elissa, practicing-witch Angeline, and hopelessly foolish Charles—find their own true loves, even if she has to turn highwayman, battle wild magic, and confront real ghosts along the way!

-I feel like I've been waiting to read this book forever, so I'm delighted it's almost here!! And it's another cover I just adore!

Aliens on Vacation by Clete Smith

-Grandma's Bed and Breakfast is actually for visiting aliens!

-This one souns hilarious and already has a movie deal in the works! And again, it's another cover I can't help but love!

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Blogging/Reading Resolutions

Last year I posted my Reading Resolutions for the year:

2010 Resolutions

1. Read 200 books in the year. -I didn't quite make it to 200-depending on how much I read the rest of this week, I'll be about ten books away from 200. I can count all the picture books I read to up my total to 200, right?;)

2. Read review books faster.-I fell behind a bit due to school and committee work again, but I think I made progress on this one this year.

3. Post my reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, etc. more often-I'm happy to report I did keep up with this one!!

4. Read the books that win the ALA Youth Media Awards if I haven't read them already-I totally failed on this one-I only ended up reading about half of them. The ones I haven't read are still sitting in my TBR pile...sigh...

So what are my reading and blogging resolutions for 2011?

1. Read 200 (or more) books in the year. I was so close this year I know I can do it next year! Plus, we're having a reading challenge for the staff at my library and I'm totally planning on winning!:)

2. Read the ALA Youth Media Award books-I make this goal every year-I think it's on every librarians resolution list (or at least it should be!)

3. Post more blog posts that encourage discussion-I love having discussions on my blog and I love getting comments and seeing what other people have to say about the things I'm thinking about, so I hope to post more than book reviews (at least more than I do now)

4. Write my reviews sooner (like shortly after I read the book!) and schedule my posts so I'm not scrambling to write something mid-week.-Every week I think to myself I'm going to write and schedule my posts and I only end up getting about half the week done. My goal is to write and schedule my posts more, especially after I've read a book.

5. Read and review some oldies but goodies.-I don't want my blog to focus only on new titles, but I want to highlight older YA and MG. (And OK, by older I mean old stuff and books from the past couple of years that I haven't gotten to yet)

6. Comment on more blog posts.-My feed reader is out of control! I really do read tons and tons of posts and I read it even if I may not comment on it. When I started blogging I commented a lot, but that's fallen away as my reader grew. I hope to get back into the habit of commenting more on the blogs I read.

So what are your reading and blogging resolutions for the year? I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Blogging Break

I've decided that I'm going to take a blogging break this week so I can spend my time off reading! I'll be back Monday December 27.

Have a great Christmas-I hope everyone gets lots of books!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 9/1/2009

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About the Book: Five months ago, Valerie's boyfriend Nick opened fire on their classmates and then turned the gun on himself. As Valerie was trying to stop him, she managed to get shot in the leg and saved the life of one of her classmates Nick was trying to shoot. All at once she being called an accomplice and a hero. Valerie had started a "hate list" which Nick used to choose the people he would go after. Valerie never meant for anyone to get hurt, but she's faced with anger and resentment as she returns to school. Navigating a school year where no one wants her around, her family falling apart in the midst of tragedy, and haunted by memories of Nick, Valerie must come to terms with the tragedy that changed her life and learn how to make amends and move on.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I've had the ARC of this one sitting in my TBR pile since I picked it up at ALA last year and kept meaning to read it, but it would get snatched up by my library teens. Finally I got the chance to read it thanks to the Gateway Reader's Award List and after I finished it I was kicking myself for not reading it earlier.

Hate List blew me away. I couldn't believe this was Jennifer Brown's debut novel. Hate List is a powerful and emotional read that left me thinking about it long after I finished. Valerie's story is unique in that the author makes the reader really wonder about her. Was she truly a victim like everyone else? Or was she an accomplice-knowing or unknowingly? She was bullied and made fun of in school, so did she have the right to fight back in her own way and create her "hate list" as a way to vent her anger and nothing more or did she really want to see those people hurt? Do we ever really mean what we say in our anger?

This one left me in tears. I was so drawn into Valerie's story and I had to read this in one sitting. As hard as it was to read-and honestly, it's somewhat emotionally draining to read-I couldn't pull myself away. I felt Valerie's pain and I understood why she did was she did. At the same time I could understand why her fellow students didn't want her around. The double edged sword Valerie finds herself with during her senior year is something that will make readers think and makes this book stand out. This is a book that begs to be a book discussion title-it needs to be discussed by its readers after they finish.

The story is wonderfully layerd and put together. We get the story told in present day with Valerie going back to school and then in flashbacks leading up to the shooting and the day of the shooting itself. We also get to read newspaper clippings about those that were injured or killed in the shooting and this manages to be an incredibly heartbreaking and effective way for us to get to know all those involved and from various points of view.

Valerie is a character that you want to read about. Not only is she dealing with facing her classmates after this tragedy and dealing with being blamed, but she's also dealing with the loss of her boyfriend. She's struggling with trying to figure out exactly what went wrong-when did Nick snap and what made him do it? Could she have stopped it? And did she ever really know Nick at all? I liked that I never found her voice to be whiny and full of a pity-party and really I think she had every right to be. But instead her voice is honest and real.

Although this book is sad and heartbreaking it's also full of hope-and not in a cheesy way. The whole book rang true for me and I think teen readers will appreciate that the story never takes the easy way out. I can't wait to see what Jennifer Brown has up next-I know I won't put off reading it!

Book Pairings: Readers who like Ellen Hopkins realistic fiction and want more books like that (although Hate List is not written in verse) and readers who like Laurie Halse Anderson's contemporary novels. Also could pair well with You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz for another book with a girl dealing with the loss of a boyfriend and the questions she's left with.

The paperback has a new cover-do you like the hardcover or paperback cover better?

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC from publsiher picked up at ALA

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Need Your Book Suggestions!

It's your turn to give me book suggestions!

Next semester I'm taking an Adult Reading Materials course. I hardly read adult books and if I do, I read it my typical women's fiction/chick lit/romance genre. So I need your help. I have to read adult titles in various genres and I want to know what you think I should read!

Here's the genres I'll be reading in:


Multicultural Fiction
Graphic Novels
Inspirational/Christian Fiction
Historical Fiction
Science Fiction

So please suggest away!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Award Books

Book Award Season is almost here! YALSA has announced the shortlists for the William C Morris Debut Author Award and the YALSA Award for Excellence in Non-Fiction.

I geek out about Book Award Season. But one thing I've noticed lately in talking with friends and co-workers is that not a lot people either know what the award books are or they don't make it a point to read them.

I work in a library, so I'll admit I was a bit shocked when I found out several of my co-workers don't obsessively keep track of mock lists and book buzz. Several of my library co-workers didn't even know what the Printz Award was! OK, so I know not everyone is going to wake up early on announcement day and check their Twitter feed for results. But I like to think that I'm not the only one who knows about these awards and tries to keep up. Isn't it our job to keep up with current literature and wouldn't that mean award books included?

I think most people-either working in a library setting or not-are aware of the Newbery and Caldecott Awards. If you went to library class in elementary school, chances are good you read these books and heard about them. So what happens after that? Why are the other awards not known or recognized? The Printz Award is on the same level as those two awards, yet it's not known. And if you watch the Today Show interviews that happen after the award announcements, it's always the Caldecott and Newbery authors, not the Printz. So where's the love for YA?

My library sadly doesn't do much with Award Books. (I'm working on that!) We keep one copy of all the Caldecott titles in reference so we always have one on hand for storytime, but that's about it. Some of the winning books get stickered, but never the Printz winner. We actually do more with our state book awards which are required reading for students than with anything else. But shouldn't we be recognizing the other award books? These are awarded by our profession by those in our profession and even if we might not agree each year with the choices, we should still be proud of our ALA Award Books.

I guess there's a stigma that comes with award books that adults love them and kids hate them. Yes, this is true on many titles and it's often debated in the library world. And I think that stigma somewhat carries over in the outside world. If you had to read a Newbery winning book as a kid and hated it, you might think they're all bad. But that doesn't mean we should ignore the award books completely. Often times an award will go to a book that wasn't on my radar and then I'll discover something great. And just because the award books might not appeal to all your readers, that doesn't mean there's not a reader out there waiting for that book. Even if you're not a librarian, you can use the award lists to pick out books for your child or teen. The Popular Paperbacks list and the Best Fiction for Young Adults contain lists of great books for teens.

How do we get the Award Books recognized not only in the library profession but with our library patrons as well? Can we break the stigma of award books? And can we get some love and recognition for the awards other than the Newbery and Caldecott? Can we please start getting some more love for YA and the Printz Award?

So I'm wondering if you know about the ALA Award Books. Do you keep track of them and read them? Do you promote them in your library? And if not, why not?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blog Tour: Out for Blood by Alyxandra Harvey PLUS Giveaway

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Genre: Paranormal/Mystery

Release Date: 12/21/2010

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The Drake Chronicles Facebook Page
Alyxandra Harvey's Facebook Page

About the Book: Hunter Wild comes from a long line of vampire hunters and is studying at the Helios-Ra Academy. Thanks to her friendship with Kieran Black, Hunter is invited along to Helena Drake's coronation and Hunter begins to see that alliances between vampires and humans can be a good thing-especially when cute vampire Quinn Drake is involved.

When students at the Helios-Ra Academy begin to fall ill mysteriously, Hunter knows it's more than the flu and is bound to find out what's going on. Hunter suspects that the Helios-Ra are under attack from within and the only person it turns out she can trust is a vampire. If only he wasn't so gorgeous...

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Oh, those Drake brothers are just yummy! Each time I meet a new one, I have a new crush. Out for Blood has everything that makes The Drake Chronicles so much fun-snarky dialogue, hot romance, charming Drake brothers, and an exciting new take on vampire lore.

I love the world Alyxandra Harvey has created-the various vampire tribes and the vampire politics are always intriguing. Out for Blood has a bit of a forbidden romance feel because Hunter is a vampire hunter and Quinn is a vampire prince. The romance is full of witty banter and steamy kisses which makes it that much more fun!

Out for Blood has more a mystery feel to it than the other Drake Chronicles books and I felt that made it even better and really made it stand out within the series. The mystery was engaging and the plot was fast paced. I liked getting an inside look at the Helios-Ra group-I hope we get to explore their world more.

I really enjoyed getting to know both Hunter and Quinn (I still love Lucy and Nicholas the best, but Hunter and Quinn are great rivals for that top spot!) I thought Hunter would annoy me with her vampire hunter background, but she's a fun paradox-a vampire hunter that wants to dress up and not always fight and who isn't blinded by the all vampires are evil doctrine. Quinn is a player, but he quickly grew on me too and it's fun to see how Hunter gets into his head-she's not a wimpy wilting girl, but can hold her own against him and that's what makes their romance fun to read.

Not only do we get to know Hunter and Quinn, but we also get to visit characters from the previous two books and get a glimpse into what's going on with the Drake family as a whole, as well as the two main characters in this outing. I love Alyxandra Harvey is able to weave everyone's stories together so we always get to keep up with the characters we've met in the previous novels.

Out for Blood is another fun offering into the fantastic Drake Chronicles series. Even if you're feeling a bit burnt out on vampire stories, give The Drake Chronicles a try-this family is hard to resist!

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC sent by publisher for blog tour

Love The Drake Chronicles? Check out this preview of Alyxandra Harvey's upcoming Victorian ghost story, Haunting Violet! I can't wait!!


I've got one copy of Out for Blood to give away!
-Must be 13+ to enter
-Must ship to US Address
-Contest ends Sunday December 19 at midnight (central time)

To enter, fill out the form below-good luck!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

So the new year is almost here, so I've been going through various publisher catalogs and making my 2011 wish lists. There are so many awesome books coming out in 2011 but I had to share a few that made me do a little happy dance in my office.

The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines

-Release Date: July 2011

From Goodreads: It’s the Fall of 1942 and Iris’s world is rapidly changing. Her Pop is back from the war with a missing leg, limiting his ability to do the physically grueling part of his detective work. Iris is dying to help, especially when she discovers that one of Pop’s cases involves a boy at her school. Now, instead of sitting at home watching Deanna Durbin movies, Iris is sneaking out of the house, double crossing her friends, and dancing at the Savoy till all hours of the night. There’s certainly never a dull moment in the private eye business.

OMG-I WANT I WANT I WANT!!! When the catalog copy described this one for fans of Veronica Mars I jumped for joy and put it to the top of my wish list.

Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset by Tom Angleberger

Release Date: May 2011

From Goodreads: Tom Angleberger's latest, loopiest middle-grade novel begins when M'Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset (it's never been loosened before!), thereby setting off a chain of events in which all the strict rules of Smugwick Manor are abandoned. When, as a result of "the Loosening," the precious family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump (quite literally a lump), goes missing, the Luggertucks look for someone to blame. Is it Horton Halfpott, the good-natured but lowly kitchen boy who can't tell a lie? Or one of the many colorful cast members in this silly romp of a mystery.

-From the author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda-need I say more?

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

Release Date: May 2011

No summary on Goodreads, but the Gail Carson Levine talks about the book on her website-It's loosely based on Puss N' Boots and is a mystery.

A new Gail Carson Levine? I'm so there!!

What about you? What 2011 releases are making you do a happy dance?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Guest Post: Kathi Appelt

Please welcome author Kathi Appelt to GreenBeanTeenQueen! I love her post about her childhood memories of her library. I think we all can relate!

Hoofbeats in the Park Place Branch Library

The year is 1962. It’s the summer between first and second grades, and the Houston heat is bearing down on me. My sisters and I are staying with my grandmother in her house on Ithaca Street where there is no air-conditioning.

We are melting.

But only two blocks away is the Park Place Branch Library. My grandmother makes us hold hands as we march down the street. The heat shimmers above the asphalt, an invisible ghost. Sweat drips from my temples and straight into my mouth.

After what seems like the longest march of my life, we walk through the heavy glass doors of the Library and we are saved. The cool air wraps its chilly fingers around us and we shiver.

This is heaven I think. And to make it even more heavenly, there is a display of horse books in the children’s section. And smack in the middle: Black Beauty.

At seven, I was one of those girls who loved horses. My chief dream then was to have my own horse, to ride the range, chase outlaws, win the blue ribbons at the fair. But reality was always pushing against that dream. My family’s small house on the southeast side of Houston was hardly a place for a horse. And even though my heart needed a horse, the rest of me surely didn’t.

The closest I could come was through books. And thankfully the Park Place Branch had plenty of them beginning with Black Beauty.

One of the reasons that I believe we read is allow ourselves the experience of re-overlaying the-world-as-we-know-it on top of the-world-that-is-possible. A great book has that power, to fundamentally change our views. With Black Beauty, I was one person at the beginning of the book, and another at the end.

In the pages of Black Beauty, I was no longer a small girl with a dream. I was fully-fledged participant in a world that was bigger than me. In the aisles of the Park Place Public Library, I became a better citizen. I learned how to let my heart break over the horrible treatment of Ginger, and also how to stand firm in the face of cruelty. I learned that love doesn’t end during long periods of time apart, something that held me in good stead when my father left our family for months on end.

I’ve read Black Beauty twenty times at least, and each time I do I find something new to appreciate about it. But oh how I wish I could read it for the first time again. I would do it the same way I did when I was seven, curl up in the aisles of the Park Place Public Library with only the white noise of the air conditioning on a hot summer day in my ears. I would be that dreamy girl again, with her own black horse, galloping between the pages. I would.

Photo Credit: Ken Appelt

Thanks for sharing your story Kathi! I still have young girls come in and curl up in the library to read Black Beauty! I love that books can grab you at a young age and never let you go and Kathi Appelt is doing her part to give kids books they'll want to read over and over!

Be sure to check out Kathi's website. And for the librarians who subscribe to School Library Journal's SLJTeen Newsletter, Kathi Appelt's latest novel, Keeper will be highlighted this week with a special giveaway for librarians!

Kathi will be visiting The Brain Lair next, so be sure to stop by!

Tween Tuesday: Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted here at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens. Post the link to your own Tween Tuesday post and join in the fun!

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary with some fantasy mixed in

Release Date: 5/4/2010

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About the Book: Keeper is out in a boat on a blue moon night hoping to find her mermaid mother. You see, Keeper needs her mermaid mother's help. The perfect blue moon day has gone terribly wrong and Keeper needs to right all the wrongs that happened. So she sets out to find the mermaid mother that left her seven years ago. With BD (Best Dog) and Captain (a seagull), Keeper travels into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But will she find what she's looking for? Will the terrible day be fixed? And can magic really save the day?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Keeper is a quite beautifully written and lyrical book. Although the book comes in at 400 pages, the chapters are short and the pages read quickly, so the book never feels too daunting.

The plot jumps around from present day to past and from this evening to earlier that morning. We slowly see Keeper's story unfold and see what went so terribly wrong on her blue moon day to make Keeper end up in a boat in the middle of the night. Not only do we get Keeper's story, but we are introduced to a cast of surrounding characters-from humans to animals-and we get to know their stories as well. There are three main stories that connect together as one and it's not just the humans that help tell these stories but their animals as well, which I thought gave the book a unique touch. (Now if you know me, you know I'm always nervous to read books with animals, but I can give Keeper my stamp of approval for animal lovers!)

Although the book is marketed to tweens, the writing and the story feels a bit more advanced, so I think Keeper would make a perfect book to hand those advanced tweens who complain that children's books are "too easy." There's also something about this book with the lyrical writing that begs to be read aloud.

While not a fairy tale exactly, there are some fairy tale type aspects to it, so I think readers who enjoy a bit of magic in their stories will enjoy Keeper.

Book Pairings: I think Keeper would pair nicely with Savvy by Ingrid Law (another contemporary book with magic), or Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 3/1/2010

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About the Book: Poncho is alone after loosing his mother, father and now his sister, so he finds his new home at St. Anthony's. Poncho isn't planning on staying long-he doesn't believe the reports that his sisters death was from natural causes and is bent on finding her killer. But while at St. Anthony's, Poncho is assigned to assist D.Q., a teen with cancer who is writing a "Death Warriors Manifesto" which will help him in his final days and maybe win the love of Marisol. As Poncho gets to know D.Q. more he finds himself caught between revenge or becoming a Death Warrior and embracing life.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: So I liked the author's first teen book Marcelo and the Real World well enough, but it wasn't my favorite and I didn't know how much teen appeal it really had. I ended up trying The Last Summer of Death Warriors on audiobook and it worked very well for me as an audiobook (I wasn't as bored with it as I was during parts of Marcelo), but again I found myself wondering about the teen appeal. I think Death Warriors works best for teens who might think they're "too old" for YA and there's nothing high brow enough for them to read or adults who look down on YA books. That's not to say other YA readers won't enjoy it, I just think it has an older appeal to it. I did think this one was more accessible than the author's previous YA novel, so points for that.

I found the story for Death Warriors to be engaging, but part of me wonders if that was due to the audibook narration-I really liked the way the narrator brought the story to life. I also liked D.Q. and his thoughts on life and his Death Warrior Manifesto. There's even a passage about D.Q.'s thoughts on religion (page 109 if you're interested) that I've shared with people because I thought it was brilliantly written.

What bothered me about this book was the fact that it starts out with one story, Poncho wanting revenge on his sister's killer, but then goes into another plot with D.Q. and the two don't always connect. There were times I forgot about Poncho's quest for revenge and it felt like we left that storyline alone and it was almost jarring when we came back to it. That aspect of the plot wasn't as fleshed out as I would have liked it to be and there were times we hadn't read anything about it in a good while, so when it appeared again it felt out of place. So that took away a lot of my enjoyment because I felt there were times the two plots didn't connect as smoothly as they could have.

My other gripe with this book is a minor one, but I'm going to bring it up anyway. We learn in the beginning of the story that Poncho's sister had sex before she died, but Poncho didn't even know she was seeing someone and can't believe his sister would do that (his sister has some sort of mental handicap and Poncho didn't think his sister kept secrets like that from him). There's a point when Poncho is talking about sex and he says " more sex things to her." "Sex things"-really? Poncho is about 17, so I would think he'd be more mature than say "sex things" and I think the teens who read this book would be able to handle it. It just felt immature for the character and the book and really took me out of the book and annoyed me. Like I said, a minor gripe, but one that ended up sticking with me because I thought the phrasing was just so strange.

Overall, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is a decent read and I would recommend it on audio. The narrator made the story compelling and I finished listening to it in two days because it held my interest. It's not just a story about death, but about philosophy, race, and life. Will it be on the Printz list this year? Maybe-in some ways it strikes me as a typical award book that adults love and teens not so much. In some ways it reminded me of last year's winner Going Bovine (another one I enjoyed largely due to the audiobook-maybe I need to read philosophical books on audio??) The discussion of life and death and philosophy makes this a good read alike to Going Bovine I think, although Death Warriors is not nearly as quirky.

Book Pairings: Going Bovine by Libba Bray, Marcelo and the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Full Disclosure: Reviews from audibook I purchased from Audible

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Most Epic Midwinter Party!!

Are you going to San Diego for Midwinter?

Are you a YA blogger librarian, a YA author, or publicist interested in hanging out with a bunch of your kin?

You're in luck. We're having a party.

We'll get together Friday night, starting at 8:30 p.m. Tentative plans have us at the Hilton Bay Front but depending on interest, we might move it somewhere else.

That's why we ask if you're interested to shoot us an email at This is a super informal but fun way to meet one another, chat about our favorite books and authors, gossip over wine and screwdrivers, and relive our own teen years (Dream Phone and The Babysitter's Club game may be involved).

And hey - we're librarians. We're into this whole skype thing. We'd love if anyone interested would dig phoning into our party to hang out for a while. Let's make this multimedia!

Pass along our contact information to anyone you think may be interested. We'll send an email when it gets closer with firmer details.

And HUGE shoutout to Kelly at Stacked Books for getting this together!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

YA Movie News

Some exciting news this week!

-Lily Collins has been cast as Clary Fray in City of Bones, the movie version of Cassandra Clare's novel. What do you think-do you like this casting choice? Thanks to MTV Movie News and Gossip Teen for the news.

-More casting news-Taylor Lautner is set to star as Finn in the movie adaptation of Incarceron, based on the book by Catherine Fisher. Thanks to Deadline for the news!

-Entertainment Weekly has a short article but still pretty interesting about Suzanne Collins' thoughts on writing The Hunger Games movie.

-Not movie news exactly, but Sara Shepard has signed on to add four new books to the Pretty Little Liars series starting in July 2011. The series has seen a renewed interest since the TV show-I know that holds true for the teens at my library-the books are hardly on the shelf. I'm happy about this because it gives the TV show more to pull from!

-Veronica Rossi's debut YA novel, Under the Never Sky, which is set to release in 2012 from HarperCollins has been optioned by Warner Bros. The series is being billed as a dystopian Romeo and Juliet. Thanks to Publisher's Weekly for the news!

Any other news? Please share!!

GreenBeanTeenQueen Gift Guide: Bookish Gifts

You don't just have to give books for the holidays-you can give book lovers all sorts of bookish gifts. These are some of my favorites.

Postertext posters are great for any booklover! It's a poster that features a books text and made into very cool black and white artwork. If you don't see your favorite title listed you can make a suggestion-right now the focus in on classics. The hard part is figuring out which poster you want!

Unshelved has lots of great library t-shirts, but I think this catalog one is my favorite! Sure to make any librarian laugh!

Cafe Press is one of my favorite places to look for bookish gifts. Search "librarian" for loads of gift ideas that are great for the librarian or library lover in your life. You can also search for "booklover" or "reading" for more great ideas.

Journals Unlimited has a great reader's journal. I have one and I love it because it helps me make notes on books I've read that I can use later in my blog reviews (since I should write reviews right after I read a book but don't always do so!) If you like keeping track of what you read, this journal is for you!

And what's a bookish guide without entries from Etsy? I love this banned books locket! What about this adorable book charm bracelets? What about a bracelet that shows off your favorite reads? And I really think I need this print for my office/home library.

Have any other favorite bookish gifts? I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

GreenBeanTeenQueen Gift Guide: Books for Adults

I try to read adult books, but YA and MG take over my life and that ends up being most of what I read. So some of these are books I've read and others are books I've had suggested from friends, but all would make great gifts! If you have any other ideas for books for adults, I'd love to hear them-I'm always looking for ideas!

Zombie Felties: How to Raise 16 Gruesome Felt Creatures from the Undead by Nicola Tedman and Sarah Skeate
-I have friends who are very crafty so I can't wait to share this book with them! One of my co-workers was showing off the zombie baby she made recently and it was so cute! I may have to try my craft skills out just so I can try to make one too!

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

-This is a suggestion from my mom who loves mysteries. This series, set in the 1930's, has the kind of mystery solving main character that you'll fall in love with and lots of madcap adventures.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

-Some readers might say I'm mean for even suggesting this book because the series isn't over and there's no news on when it ever will be! Mr. GreenBeanSexy Man says "it's a well written mystery with darkly complex plot and deeply flawed characters." But there's a new HBO series based on the books that debuts in April, so give this to TV fans to get them excited for the show.

-This is Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan's pick for the list. This is a series that needs to get into the hands of readers who enjoy high fantasy. Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan says "many consider this series to be the gold-standard of contemporary epic fantasy." (I know Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan does-in fact we even named our new puppy Zedd after one of the characters!)

-If you do find me reading an adult novel, most likely it will be by Cecelia Ahern. I adore all her books, but P.S. I Love You remains my number one. And you know, the movie's good and all, but the book is sooo much better! Her later books have a bit of magical realisim to them and I recommend them all.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
-Of all the mashups that have come out, I think one has to be my favorite premise. One of my co-workers loves the mashup books and gave this book rave reviews, so if you have readers that want some humor and history with their paranormal, this book would make a great gift!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

GreenBeanTeenQueen Gift Guide: Teen Books

If you read my blog, you know YA is where my heart is! Here's the GreenBeanTeenQueen Gift Guide for teens! (And there are so many more I could add-if you need more suggestions just ask!)

For the teen who wants to escape to other worlds
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
-If there's one fantasy series my library teens ask for, it's this series by Cinda Williams Chima. Books one and two are available now and teens will be eagerly awaiting more!

For the teen who thinks they've outgrown YA
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X Stork
-This book has so much cross-over appeal to adults that I think you could give it to them not telling them it's cataloged as YA and they wouldn't think twice about it being a "YA" book. The story is heartfelt and full of philosophy but in an accessible way.

For the teen who wants to be swept off their feet
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
-Oh how I can't stop gushing about this book! If you have a reader who loves romance, travel and cute British boys, you can't go wrong with this book!

For the teen who claims they don't like to read
Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford
-If you have a picky reader who claims they never see themselves in any book they read, give them Carter Finally Gets It (it's also fantastic on audio!) I'm sure they'll be laughing out loud after one chapter!

For the teen sleuth
The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee-
The Agency is my new favorite mystery series. Victorian setting, a secret spy school, and witty banter between the two main characters? I'm sold!

For the teens who still love paranormal, but can do without the angst
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
-Paranormalcy has all the paranormal elements teens love, but also packs in adventure and action. There's romance, but it's not an angsty sweeping romance and the main character totally kicks butt!

For the teen who likes humor mixed in with their fantasy
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

-If Harry Potter married Samantha from Bewitched and had a chick lit baby, with a smidge of A Great and Terrible Beauty, and a dash of Nancy Drew’s mystery solving, you would get Hex Hall. Need I say more?

For teens who want their novels in verse
Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder
-I have a lot of teens ask for novels in verse and I always hand them Lisa Schroeder's novels. Chasing Brooklyn combines grief, longing, healing, and ghosts in a compelling novel in verse.

For the teen who wants adventure
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
-As huge as The Hunger Games is, there are still lots of teens who haven't read it! It seems like it's big among readers and the book community and it's growing outside of that, but if you know of a teen who has yet to discover this series, now is the time to introduce them to it!

For the teen who says they won't listen to audiobooks

If you have teens who won't listen to audiobooks, give these a try-these books can make audiobook lovers out of anyone!
(And of course the Harry Potter series on audio is amazing!!)
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tween Tuesday: GreenBeanTeenQueen Holiday Gift Guide

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted on GreenBeanTeenQueen. This week I'm posting my GreenBeanTeenQueen Holiday gift guide, so of course today I'll be posting books for tweens! Join the Tween Tuesday fun and add your link below.

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

-If you work with tweens, most likely you know the name Margaret Peterson Haddix. Found is book one of The Missing series and now that all three books are out, readers won't have to worry about the cliffhanger endings! This series is full of adventure and suspense-what more could you ask for?

-If you know a tween girl who hasn't been introduced to the Anne books, you need to do your book lover duty and get this series into her hands now! Even better, package it with the movie and be prepared to gush over Gilbert Blythe crushes! Anne of Green Gables is a timeless classic that always goes over well with tweens.

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
-I can't say enough good things about this series. If you have tweens wanting humor, action, adventure, fantasy-get them hooked to the Alcatraz series. This series also makes a great tween/parent read-aloud as there's plenty of laugh out loud humor for all ages.

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls by Meg Cabot
-The Allie Finkle series is perfect for younger tween girls who want to start reading some meatier books, but aren't quite ready for YA. Meg Cabot's signature humor is here and Allie is a fun book best friend.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

-This book is one that tweens will pick up just based on the cover and title alone and discover a fantastic book inside. Tweens will be left wondering if origami Yoda is real or not and there's tons of humor and a bit of romance that makes this a perfect tween book for guys and girls.

Vordak the Incomprehensible by Vordak
-If you have Wimpy Kid fans, you need to get Vordak's book in their hands and it will be sure to have them rolling. Vordak will teach them all about becoming evil leaders and the lessons along the way and the cartoon-ish format will be sure to please even the most reluctant of readers.

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

-My all time favorite tween read-I read this book so many times as a tween! Who wouldn't want to run away and live in a museum and solve a mystery? This one's a classic that still holds tween appeal today.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

-From my all time favorite read from my tween years to my new favorite tween read, One Crazy Summer blew me away when I first read it this year. Seriously, I think I might cry if this one doesn't win the Newbery! This is a tale of daughters and mothers and sisters and it's another one that's a great parent-tween read aloud to read together.

Monday, December 6, 2010

GreenBeanTeenQueen Holiday Gift Guide: Picture Books

I love love love giving books for the holidays (really, what booklover doesn't and being a librarian my family and friends have come to expect it!) So I thought I'd compile some of my favorite books to give as gifts this week and come up with GreenBeanTeenQueen's Holiday Gift Guide!

Today I'm featuring great picture books! (And I'm trying not to go overboard in my lists, so this is no way comprehensive and there are so many more books I could add-these are just some of my go-to favorites) All items are linked to the Book Depository-yay free shipping!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr, Illustrated by Eric Carle (Board Book Edition)

-Any baby shower I attend, this is my staple. This is a classic go-to book and I love that it's in board book format. So many books don't translate well to the board book format because they're too wordy, but Brown Bear is perfectly simple and wonderful for all ages. The sing-song tone and illustrations from Eric Carle make it perfect to read with babies.

Baby Einstein: Water, Water Everywhere

-OK, normally I have an aversion to packaged books like this one, but this one's been tested by my niece! Plus, I have to like it because it's a water book and made so babies can take into the tub with them. One of the fundamentals of early literacy is to allow babies to play with and explore books-plus it makes bath time fun!

Big Box of Boynton Collection

-I absolutely love all of Sandra Boynton's books, so how could I choose just one? Her box sets of board books are perfect for babies to toddlers and the humor will delight kids as well as parents. A must have for any kid's library.

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey & Don Wood

-This is my all time favorite picture book from my childhood. The story is simple enough-the king is in the bathtub and everyone has crazy ideas on how to get him out. The story is hilarious but what makes the book are the gorgeous illustrations-I could stare at them all day and always find something new! Audrey and Don Wood have written and illustrated many picture books that are in my favorites list, but in my opinion, King Bidgood tops them all!

A Sick Day for Amos McGee Written by Philip Christian Stead illustrated by Erin E Stead

-Alright, if King Bidgood is my all time favorite picture book from childhood, Amos McGee is my new favorite from adulthood. I read this book and sat on the couch with tears in my eyes and hugging it (needless to say, Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan was very confused!) This book is so adorable and sweet and oh my goodness I just love it-I can't explain it. The illustrations have an old fashioned style to them and the story is perfect for animal lovers. Seriously, go read it! This is another niece tested book and she gives her approval.

The Seals on the Bus written by Lenny Hort, illustrated by G Brian Karas

-Yet another niece tested and approved title! I've used this in storytimes (back when I worked with the kiddos and did storytimes) and it always goes over well. Take the Wheels on the Bus song, add animals, and you've got a hit that will demand it be read over and over!

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood

-This one's another new favorite! The book is all about times that you might be quiet and the types of quiet we experience but it's the illustrations that make the book. In fact, this is my Caldecott pick for this year. The Quiet Book is another you'll want to close it and hug it sort of book.

The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales written by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

-You really can't go wrong with Scieszka and Smith! This is another favorite from my childhood and it's a great picture book for tweens. I just used one of the stories from it (The Princess and the Bowling Ball) in my Storytelling class. Anyone who loves laugh out loud humor and fractured fairy tales will love this book.

Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester

-My mom introduced me to this book when I was in college and we read it together and laughed out loud. Poor Wodney Wat is a rat who can't say his "R's" which poses a problem when your name is Rodney Rat. But shy Wodney just might save the day when evil Camilla comes to school! The play on words is tons of fun and makes Hooway for Wodney Wat another great picture book for tweens.

What are your go-to picture book gifts? Any favorites I need to add?
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